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BRITISH FILM INDUSTRY


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#1 Milo Sekulovich

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 04:24 AM

Hi,

I find the status of the British film industry very sad indeed.

Remember the glory days? Hammer horror films,various
Hammer horror type knock offs (Amicus et al), Brit films
made in-house so to speak.

If you go back a decade ago there was some semblance of an
'independant' movement.

And now?

Is everything relegated to shot on video jobs?
I mean,when was the last time a privately financed
Super 16mm feature was shot in the UK? And got distributed?

I've heard from various distributors that in the past low budget British
films with no names/medium tier names just don't do well internationally.
The accents,Brit specific peculiarities and so forth just make international buyers
reluctant.

I don't count faux Brit type Hugh Grant movies in this.

Do any of you guys in the UK currently know of one Super 16mm feature (35mm I'm sure is unheard of)
being currently shot in the UK without any big institutional affilliations financially?

Regards to you all,
Milo Sekulovich
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#2 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 05:37 AM

Do any of you guys in the UK currently know of one Super 16mm feature (35mm I'm sure is unheard of)
being currently shot in the UK without any big institutional affilliations financially?


Sometimes I think this forum needs a sub-category for moaning about the state of the British Film Industry as somebody seems to do it every fortnight or so, well even in the 1930s people were fustrated about aspects of the Industry here. Hitchcock wrote some articles on it infact, one I remember specificly was trying to improve production values.

And of course it got worse when TV took over, but that also gave an opportunity for fresh talent to develop and come out. Directors like Stephen Frears and Ken Loach were launched off their TV successes.

Then of course we had a little high point a decade ago when Film Four took off and decided it could make feautres for around £1.2, the small budget meant they had little studio pressure/rewrites and also large numbers of these films could be produced and by the rules of probabiltiy some were actually very good or very watchable.


Now of course it didn't last long, people got overexcited and public money was poured in without restraint - naturally there was a critical backlash. Whats worse Film Four got greedy and starting chasing the US dollar, and subsequently Edward Nortons fee for Death to Smoochy hit them hard when the film bombed.

Now things arn't to bright, The Film Council is busy pouring money into 'Digital Cinema' without little consultation with Industries technical personel, and in some cases banning the use of shooting on film. Shane Meadows (god bless him) is still clogging up the new directors fund, and the insistence of joint funding (even from Film Four) is often just stopping films getting made.

So yes things arn't to bright.

Films are still made on super 16 though, I don't know of any currently but the two fairly(ish) recent Vera Drake and My Summer of Love were shot on super 16.

Of course those films were from two established and experienced directors, the younger talent seems less insistent about film. This is probably for two reasons, (1) They are more comfortable with the visual aspects of HD video than their older collegues, and (2) many are less uninterested with the quality of the image and just want to see their name in lights.
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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 06:52 AM

> Do any of you guys in the UK currently know of one Super 16mm feature (35mm I'm sure is unheard of)
> being currently shot in the UK without any big institutional affilliations financially?

I doubt there's one a year. Probably one every three to five, which obviously bombs.

Phil
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#4 NathanCoombs

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 07:35 AM

> Do any of you guys in the UK currently know of one Super 16mm feature (35mm I'm sure is unheard of)
> being currently shot in the UK without any big institutional affilliations financially?

I doubt there's one a year. Probably one every three to five, which obviously bombs.


Off the top of my head in the last year: The Queen (16mm), Notes on a Scandal (35mm), Last King of Scotland (16mm), History Boys (16mm), Red Road (35mm) ...all Film Council affiliated.

But then again nearly all features with any sizable buget in the UK are Film Council affiliated.

One of the NTFS Fiction direction graduates this year shot a B&W 35mm feature as his graduation project. I know of some super-8 features being made in the UK.

Just becaue you haven't heard of them doens't mean they don't exist.

Plenty of tv stuff being shot on film too in the UK.
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#5 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 07:46 AM

Off the top of my head in the last year: The Queen (16mm), Notes on a Scandal (35mm), Last King of Scotland (16mm), History Boys (16mm), Red Road (35mm) ...all Film Council affiliated.


The Queen was shot on a combination of 35mm and super 16mm - Tony Blair's scenes were shot on Super 16, and I wouldn't say they were a great example for the format at all.

Nor perhaps The History Boys
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#6 NathanCoombs

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 07:53 AM

The Queen was shot on a combination of 35mm and super 16mm - Tony Blair's scenes were shot on Super 16, and I wouldn't say they were a great example for the format at all.

Nor perhaps The History Boys


They both looked awful, but that was not the question was it?

History Boys was shot all on Fuji-500T, a stock which showed it obvious limitations.

The Queen must have used a DI, because it looked so bad I presumed it was shot on digital.
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#7 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 08:49 AM

They both looked awful, but that was not the question was it?

History Boys was shot all on Fuji-500T, a stock which showed it obvious limitations.

The Queen must have used a DI, because it looked so bad I presumed it was shot on digital.


Fuji Eterna 500T is a great stock - I shot my sisters wedding on it, but it does seem a bit strange (if true) that for a film intended for the big screen and shot largely in small and moderatly sized locations would use such a high speed stock uniformly - why not 250T and 250D for most scenes and 500T for when really necessary.

Maybe it provided the look they wanted, but then again the film didn't really have a very strong look.


In regards to the Queen the 35mm scenes looked very decent, but the Tony Blair Super 16 scenes felt like they had been underexposed and corrected in post.


The Last King of Scotland, My Summer of Love and Vera Drake are much better examples of well used Super 16.
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#8 Max Jacoby

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 08:51 AM

'Red Road' was shot on HD. Anyone who has seen the film in the cinema will have noticed.
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#9 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 09:09 AM

'Red Road' was shot on HD. Anyone who has seen the film in the cinema will have noticed.


I believe, Nick Love's new film Outlaw is shot on HD... it looks it blatantly from the trailers - not that I would ever bother watching it after the terrible precious Nick Love films.
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#10 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 10:11 AM

Hi,

I think the operative phrase is this:

> without any big institutional affilliations financially?

The UK film council has a structure of rules and requirements which seems to be set up to minimise the possibility of their ever being involved in a worthwhile, watchable, financially successful film.

Phil
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#11 NathanCoombs

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 10:19 AM

The UK film council has a structure of rules and requirements which seems to be set up to minimise the possibility of their ever being involved in a worthwhile, watchable, financially successful film.


This is just nonsense. They may be a conservative institution sewn up by a bunch of insiders, but many FC sponsored films are very successful: critically and financially.
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 10:25 AM

The UK film council has a structure of rules and requirements which seems to be set up to minimise the possibility of their ever being involved in a worthwhile, watchable, financially successful film.


What, more films like "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and "Full Monty"? What do you expect? What other commercial genres than contemporary comedies are affordable to make? Should they start making "Saw"-type horror/torture movies?

You can't compete with big-budget Hollywood films because all it would take is one expensive flop to get everyone to start pointing the finger at everyone else, looking for someone to blame. What makes Hollywood successful is the ability to survive multiple flops to get the one big hit that subsidizes the rest, one "Pirates of the Caribbean" that pays off the several box office disasters.

So given that the budgets will always be limited when you're talking government subsidized films, then you're not going to please anyone. If all you make are comedies in the mode of "Notting Hill" someone is going to complain. If all you make are kitchen-sink dramas like "Vera Drake" someone is going to complain. And you are not going to be able to afford to make "Pirates of the Carribean" on a regular basis so that one success pays for multiple flops. So what's the solution? What movies should the UK film council be funding, Phil? Just saying "worthwhile... watchable... financially successful..." -- well, that's meaningless. Everyone wants to make those; the trouble is no one can agree on what that means.

So could you be more specific as to what these worthwhile, watchable financially successful (but not too expensive) movies would be? Any examples? I'm sure some studios here would like to know the answer to that question too.
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#13 Max Jacoby

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 10:34 AM

I believe, Nick Love's new film Outlaw is shot on HD... it looks it blatantly from the trailers - not that I would ever bother watching it after the terrible precious Nick Love films.

According to imdb it's shot on HDV. I actually snuck into a screening after another film I saw finished (I'm allowed, I do have an Unlimited Card!) just to see how it held up on the big screen. The answer: not too well. Too bad Charlie Seper isn't around anymore to argue otherwise.
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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 10:42 AM

Looking at the IMDB, I've never heard of any of the films of this guy, yet the name is familiar -- he must be good at self-promotion. So why does "Outlaw" have 34 producers listed in the IMDB???

The problems of film production in the U.K. are somewhat echoed worldwide -- I'm not sure what the solution is when the population mainly wants to see big-budget CGI-laden Hollywood crap all around the world. And I'm not sure it's a bad thing when a country's productions are somewhat insular and local in temperment and taste, even if that means it's not internationally successful.

Even here in the U.S. the true indie film movement seems a bit moribund, taken over by the studios' indie wings to make their low-budget dramas and whatnot. But at least what we have in the U.S. is a lot of capital to waste on unsuccessful movies. We're a nation of reckless spenders, which unfortunately is a key element of film production. The financial institutions of the U.K. have historically been too conservative to throw money away on movies, so for decades, it was propped up by a few rich entrepenuers like J. Arthur Rank, then kept alive by all the international co-productions of the 1960's / 70's, which the "Harry Potter" films almost resemble.

Having been on a kick of watching old 60's movies, after "Shoes of the Fisherman", I saw "The Chairman" (J. Lee Thompson movie starring Gregory Peck, sort of a poor-man's James Bond thriller.) Weird British / American combo productions in tone, usually U.K. technical talent backed by American star power. What was the cause of that trend in the 1960's/70's? Some sort of U.K. tax break that Thatcher killed?
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#15 Chris Burke

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 10:45 AM

They both looked awful, but that was not the question was it?

History Boys was shot all on Fuji-500T, a stock which showed it obvious limitations.

The Queen must have used a DI, because it looked so bad I presumed it was shot on digital.



Haven't seen the Queen yet, but History Boys was visually a let down. Super 16 can and most of the time does look much better. What stock they used doesn't really matter. It seems that they went for a very flat, bland look that was soft and without much character or nuance. I feel the entire industry is hurting immensely in the creativity department. I am in the states and we or at least I have always looked to the UK as our much more creative cousin. So it is very sad indeed to here that you are feeling the vapid crush of the digital age. Here on PBS, I am a junky for your imported cop shows; Prime Suspect et al, and period movies of the week. I love Life on Mars. But our woes are much the same. The art, worth, life, meaning, call it what you will, seems to be hemoraging from all but a few film productions. The problem is world wide and one of the major culprits is technology. I don't want to turn this into a digital versus film argument, but producers and the powers that be seem to be much more interested in the latest greatest format and less on the quality of content. Reality TV epitomizes this. Quickly produced sh*te void of any reality or meaning is the mainstay of programing here. Would this TV format be possible or even exist with out the current high tech advances? We are all indeed living in a sci fi novel where the worth of life/art here on earth is measured more by a 1 or 0 than a true, meaningful human story. Look at the pages of posts about "300", pretty to look at but void of any true worth. "But is looked so much like the comic book." So what? Really, what does that really get us? We need more Vera Drakes, Children of Men and the like.

chris
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#16 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 11:01 AM

Hi,

Neither The Full Monty nor Four Weddings are listed under the UK film council's production or funding credits on IMDB. I would object to the idea that Working Title need or deserve lottery funding anyway - as I believe I've said before, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner seem to attract a suspiciously large share of what's basically public money, especially considering the company is two-thirds owned by Universal.

Yes, you can keep making the same tired old Hugh Grant vehicle, but apart from that the only stuff that gains any sort of international distribution does nothing more than imply that the only thing the UK is good for is romantic comedies and hasty, cash-cow Jane Austen adaptations. Producing such a narrow raft of stuff does a lot more harm than it does good.

Quite the contrary. I would much rather see them produce something truly upscale. It's charity money anyway, and when the movie goes down the drain you have to remember that where the money has actually gone is into the pockets of UK crews and facilities companies. At least then we'd be attempting to compete, rather than sitting here on our hands freely admitting we're incompetent.

The UK film council is also a racist organisation. There's no such thing as positive discrimination; the entire concept is ludicrous; there is not, cannot ever be, any justification for it. I know at least two people who produce feeble short after feeble short with no real love or thought put into them and get given tens of thousands of pounds because they're black (and actually one other person who's very talented and uses the fact that she's black to get funding, which is of course just as wrong).

Phil
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#17 NathanCoombs

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 11:26 AM

Look at the pages of posts about "300", pretty to look at but void of any true worth. "But is looked so much like the comic book." So what? Really, what does that really get us?


300 caters for the lowest common denominator, adolescent mainstay of the industry.

I guess from the fanboy posts in the other forum, that many of the aspiring DOPs also fit that demographic.
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#18 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 11:27 AM

I know conservatives here would agree with you, but I am not confortable with calling any sort of public aid to minorities as a "racist" policy. It's too easy when you're a white male to sit around and talk about how minorities get all the breaks and you don't, when the society at large, and its wealth, is still primarily controlled by white males. If we lived in a truly equal society where weath and power were equally distributed among the different sexes and cultures... but we don't.

And because we live in an unequal world, there is a need for unequal aid to create a countereffect. Afterall, for all of these black filmmakers that you say are unfairly getting government aid, is the U.K. film industry now dominated by black directors? I suspect it's mainly dominated by white male directors, white male cinematographers, etc. Maybe you don't see a problem with that lack of representation in the industry, but some people do.

Maybe some would argue that the lack of representation is a sign that government aid doesn't help or is ineffective, and maybe there is some validity in that argument, but if the solution is to do nothing instead, well, that's really just giving up on the problem, not looking for a solution.

It's like Richard's non-sensical argument that he won't lift a finger to help a woman in the film industry as long as there is some sort of industry anywhere in the world where women get unequal access to jobs or have an undo success in compared to men. That's like saying he won't help to end prejudice until there is no more prejudice in the world. It's a convenient argument for maintaining a staus quo that keeps those in power in power, but I guess that's the very definition of conservatism.

I think in your example, it's not so much a sign of racism, it's a sign of government laziness to not bother to make sure that the minorities getting this aid is putting it to good use -- it's the inevitable abuse of a welfare system that happens because it's not being monitored, regulated, and managed properly... but has become just on auto-pilot. Otherwise, you'd be calling any help to a minority an act of racism.
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#19 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 11:37 AM

Looking at the IMDB, I've never heard of any of the films of this guy, yet the name is familiar -- he must be good at self-promotion. So why does "Outlaw" have 34 producers listed in the IMDB???


Ha! There you are, David has high-lighted the very problem. If a film shot on HDV requires 34 producers these days how is a film shot on 35mm ever going to come about.


David, his previous film The Business was shot on HDCAM in Spain, mostly day exteriors. See it if your interested to see how the technology holds up, but otherwise its a dreadful film - supposedly a sexy violent gangster film, which is about as sexy and violent as a dried prune!
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#20 NathanCoombs

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 11:55 AM

I know conservatives here would agree with you, but I am not confortable with calling any sort of public aid to minorities as a "racist" policy. It's too easy when you're a white male to sit around and talk about how minorities get all the breaks and you don't, when the society at large, and its wealth, is still primarily controlled by white males. If we lived in a truly equal society where weath and power were equally distributed among the different sexes and cultures... but we don't.

And because we live in an unequal world, there is a need for unequal aid to create a countereffect. Afterall, for all of these black filmmakers that you say are unfairly getting government aid, is the U.K. film industry now dominated by black directors?


I am perhaps one of the least conservative persons you will meet (politics wise) but i have to agree with Phil. Racism is the wrong word, but the media industry - from tv, to the film council etc. - throw money at black and Asian directors and stories purely based on that trait.

To apply for an FC short film grant you have to go through pages of these 'positive discrimination' sheets.

Now, the FC short film fund is theoretically a meritocratic mechanism (with the potential to promote traditional outsiders) in any case, so the addition of these explicit racialist and culturalist elements clearly just encourages unworthy productions - and is pretty condescending in the way it does it.

Who does that help?
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