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What’s holding the UK film industry back?


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#1 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 11:27 PM

At the heart of this is a simple question of scale: that of the north American continent versus a small island. But there is another issue: should film, straddling the commercial and cultural worlds, be subsidised for its artistic value, or left to commercial producers?

his was one of the arguments debated last July, when the new coalition government said it would abolish the UK Film Council, created in 2000. The Film Council’s role – managing £73m in funding for film and cinema in 2009-10, including £34m of lottery money – has been handed to the British Film Institute, a charity. But, in the absence of any consensus on how British film can best be nurtured, the BFI will likely encounter similar problems to its predecessor. As Ed Vaizey, minister for culture, said in November: “The goal of a sustainable, independent British film industry remains as elusive as ever.”


Read entire article at:

http://www.ft.com/cm...144feab49a.html
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#2 Richard Boddington

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 01:26 AM

"that of the north American continent versus a small island."

But what does he mean when he says, "North American Continent?" Is he including Mexico in that? Mexico is apart of North America.

Plus Canada and the USA don't produce exactly the same content. I think he means the US entertainment industry vs well......the rest of the planet.

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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 03:36 AM

As those who know me personally will be aware, I have spent the last few days shuffling between bed and bathroom, interaction with the rest of humanity limited to the occasional low groan and requests for the immediate delivery of patent influenza remedies. For this reason, I apologise if the following is somewhat coherence-challenged.

What's holding the industry back is as clear as name-brand transparent plastic, and it's the same thing that holds anything back - a complete lack of a worthwhile market. There cannot be a worthwhile market while ninety-plus per cent of all film shown is foreign and I don't think that's very controversial. There are other problems, too - there isn't really a production industry here anymore, by way of funding organisations, but business has a way of providing these things as they become necessary.

Many Americans simply don't get the extent to which the world market in feature films is just absolutely steamrollered by American product; when I say 90% plus I am not joking, I am not exaggerating, and I would be surprised if it wasn't 95 or 98%.

It is very simple. When there is a market for British film, it will be made.
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#4 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 11:06 AM

The rest of the article talks about some of those questions. The "problem" began, according to the article, basically with the differences in domestic market share. The USA simply had more people to sell too which made it easier to make a profit solely from the domestic market, whereas the UK domestic audience didn't have as many customers, making it more difficult to recoup costs.... which of course necessitates having to have a foreign market to sell to.

But they hit a stumbling block: the UK’s limited domestic market. This remains the major differentiator for filmmakers in the UK and the US. In 1920, there were about 106m people in the US. Britain’s 1921 census recorded a population of 44m. “It takes a lot of capital to run a film industry and the US simply had a much bigger domestic audience to sell movies to,” says Cohen.

Because Hollywood studios easily made back their costs in their domestic market alone, they could also sell movies cheaply abroad. By 1927, four of every five films shown in the UK were American; only 4 per cent were British. The stats are better today – in 2009, 17 per cent of the total UK box office came from British films – but UK-financed films are still in the minority.


Of course movies cost A LOT more now, the big tent-pole ones anyway, which means that those studio movies coming from the US can't pay for themselves with only the US domestic market. Toss in Corporate mergers and such which took "filmmakers" out of the decision making roles and replaced them with Corporate bean counters who only care about quarterly returns and we all have a recipe for disaster.

That's partly why the idea of a world-wide film union is such a good idea. With the globalization genie out of the bottle, things like the UK film industry don't really stand a real chance so instead of fighting it, they need to sort of join it somehow. The trick is how to produce movies and have the profits stay in the UK (or elsewhere). I wonder about "The King's Speech" which has a flurry of various production companies listed, most of which are not USA based, but The Weinstein Company IS listed prominently in the credits so it makes one think that it will suck most of those profits into the US.

It's a tough question. Until smaller markets/nations begin to somehow begin making ultra-large tent-pole movies like TRANSFORMERS and the like with A-listers and such that have world-wide Joe-sixpack appeal, I don't know how they could hope to really compete on a regular basis with the popcorn mentality of "Hollywood" which manages to rake it in consistently.
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#5 Richard Boddington

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 01:01 PM

Many Americans simply don't get the extent to which the world market in feature films is just absolutely steamrollered by American product; when I say 90% plus I am not joking, I am not exaggerating, and I would be surprised if it wasn't 95 or 98%.


As much as I hate the idea, quota systems on US films are the only answer. At least as a short term solution to give foreign markets a chance to breath and recover. The UK and Canada could for instance set a target of 30% of theatrical films being "domestic", this would be up from the existing 2%.

Put this in place for 20 years and we'll see some recovery. The idea worked incredibly well in South Korea and it can work elsewhere as well.

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#6 Richard Boddington

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 09:35 PM

So I just got back from The King's Speech. Great movie, nothing blown up and no VFX, it relied on writing and acting. No kidding!

The theatre was sold out here in Barrie Ontario, I arrived 30 mins early and I had to sit in the third row, bending my neck back. The audience applauded at the end, how rare is that?

So Phil you can be proud that the UK has produced a movie that does not meet any of your previously thought agenda of the UK Film Council.

Now, the opening credit went to the UK Lottery for feature film funding, followed by The UK Film Council, then The Weinsteins.

My big question is how much did the UK Film Council put in vs the Weinsteins? I'm sure the UK Film Council put in the lion's share, since they had top billing, but how much more?

I think it's time I use my UK citizenship to get my hands on some of that UK Lotto money, are they still handing it out? :D

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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 03:12 AM

There were probably no more than fifteen people in the 150-seat screen where I saw it.

In general I agree with your other thesis, though. Create a market for the product and the rest of it - facilities, people - will automatically follow.

P
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#8 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 11:16 AM

There were probably no more than fifteen people in the 150-seat screen where I saw it.

In general I agree with your other thesis, though. Create a market for the product and the rest of it - facilities, people - will automatically follow.

P



"THE KING'S SPEECH 2: THE REVENGE," in 3D, directed by Michael Bay, Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Joel Silver, starring Johnny Depp, Will Smith, Angelina Jolie, and Richard Griffiths. Featuring music by U2, The Killers, Justin Bieber, Usher, and John Williams. And every McDonald's Happy Meal will include one of five collectible wind up toys to trade and share with your friends. And look for money-saving coupons on the backs of CHEERIO'S boxes that'll get you and four friends into WeinsteinWorld Theme Park where you can ride the all new "The King's Speech" rollercoaster and feel just like you're in the movie! And put yourself INTO the The King's Speech on the all-new game for Wii and X-Box360 (microphone accessory not included).
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#9 Richard Boddington

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 01:11 PM

"THE KING'S SPEECH 2: THE REVENGE," in 3D, directed by Michael Bay, Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Joel Silver, starring Johnny Depp, Will Smith, Angelina Jolie, and Richard Griffiths. Featuring music by U2, The Killers, Justin Bieber, Usher, and John Williams. And every McDonald's Happy Meal will include one of five collectible wind up toys to trade and share with your friends. And look for money-saving coupons on the backs of CHEERIO'S boxes that'll get you and four friends into WeinsteinWorld Theme Park where you can ride the all new "The King's Speech" rollercoaster and feel just like you're in the movie! And put yourself INTO the The King's Speech on the all-new game for Wii and X-Box360 (microphone accessory not included).


That's actually very funny.

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#10 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 01:19 PM

That's actually very funny.

R,



Thanks! Just sayin', if you want to compete with "Hollywood," then it's all about "vertical" marketing. A movie CAN'T just be "a movie" anymore. Maybe we can credit/blame George Lucas for this, but a movie IS just a product to sell, afterall. And getting the most out of it means that it will attract more investment dollars. "Art movies" are nice and all... they ARE, really!... but if that's ALL someone makes, then it isn't likely that they can compete with someone who makes 3D epic Popcorn movies that appeal to teens, Joe-Sixpacks, and the girlfriends they drag to the theater. Like an Mutual Fund, diversity is the key to long-term financial stability and hopefully profit. So, for every "art movie" that gets made, a viable industry has to also have a steady flow of teary-eyed chick flicks, some kiddie cartoons, and a lot of BLOW EM UP action flicks for the teenage boys and the older men who still behave like teenage boys.
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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 02:58 PM

a viable industry has to also have a steady flow of teary-eyed chick flicks, some kiddie cartoons, and a lot of BLOW EM UP action flicks for the teenage boys




Very much so. There's actually two coincidental problems preventing the UK from doing this: first, simple pretentiousness, because we're idiots, and second the sources of funding. If the film council will only give you a grant to make something wordy and tedious, that's what you'll end up making, and boy, is that what we've got. The King's Speech is a story about a man with a speech impediment which is just exactly what will put the guilt-ridden middle class who run the film council into paroxysms of delight. The fact that it's so massively well written and well performed that it avoids wordiness and tedium is, unfortunately, beside the point: as my experience in that near-empty auditorium made perfectly clear, nobody in this part of the world wants to go and see that film.


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#12 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 04:07 PM





Very much so. There's actually two coincidental problems preventing the UK from doing this: first, simple pretentiousness, because we're idiots, and second the sources of funding. If the film council will only give you a grant to make something wordy and tedious, that's what you'll end up making, and boy, is that what we've got. The King's Speech is a story about a man with a speech impediment which is just exactly what will put the guilt-ridden middle class who run the film council into paroxysms of delight. The fact that it's so massively well written and well performed that it avoids wordiness and tedium is, unfortunately, beside the point: as my experience in that near-empty auditorium made perfectly clear, nobody in this part of the world wants to go and see that film.


P



The screening I saw was being seen by roughly 20 people. Granted, I wasn't there opening weekend, but still, it's indicative of the popularity of that kind of movie. This isn't to say that this kind of movie shouldn't be made... it should. But for an INDUSTRY to function, it has to have a variety of flavors to placate the palates of a hungry audience starved for entertainment. :)
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#13 Richard Boddington

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 04:18 PM

But for an INDUSTRY to function, it has to have a variety of flavors to placate the palates of a hungry audience starved for entertainment. :)


Such as...movies about farting bulldogs. Dang, that's good comedy!

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#14 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 06:07 PM

Such as...movies about farting bulldogs. Dang, that's good comedy!

R,


I don't judge. But the kids LOVE it! :)


But look at it this way, it's the dumb mass-appeal stuff that enables the more niche PRODUCT to be made at all. A Corporation that is in the movie-making business WILL look to make profit at all costs, so if it feels sufficiently comfortable with the mass-appeal catalogue, they seem to be willing to take risks on the other "artsy" stuff. Joe-six-pack and his brood of trouble-makers who watch dumb comedies and action flicks help pay for movies like "The King's Speech" whether they know it or not.
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#15 Ben J

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 02:55 AM

The UK shares one of the same problems as Australia: we speak english. How do you compete with the global marketing of American movies? You can't really. An "industry" supported by tax payers and government will never compete with the US conglomerates. One of the main reasons why countries like Italy, France, China, Germany, and Japan are still able to produce hundreds of movies per year is the fact that people still prefer to see movies in their own language.
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#16 Richard Boddington

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 11:17 AM

The UK shares one of the same problems as Australia: we speak english. How do you compete with the global marketing of American movies? You can't really. An "industry" supported by tax payers and government will never compete with the US conglomerates. One of the main reasons why countries like Italy, France, China, Germany, and Japan are still able to produce hundreds of movies per year is the fact that people still prefer to see movies in their own language.


That is a major issue of course. On the other hand it's also a benefit because it allows movies from the UK and Australia (some times Canada) into the US market to make some extra cash. Clearly in Canada's case the net gain is hugely in favour of the USA since they control 98% of the screen time here.

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#17 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 11:59 AM

The fact that it's so massively well written and well performed that it avoids wordiness and tedium is, unfortunately, beside the point: as my experience in that near-empty auditorium made perfectly clear, nobody in this part of the world wants to go and see that film.[/size]


"The Kings Speech" was No 1 at the UK office.

http://www.imdb.com/...fice/?region=uk

UK Lottery funding isn't a grant, they want a share of the profits like any other investor or they do on any funding agreement I've signed with them.
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#18 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 02:15 PM

For how long, in the face of what?
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#19 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 03:12 PM

For how long, in the face of what?


It's been out for 2 weeks and has a cumulative box office of over £10m. That compares with Harry Potter with over £51m in 9 weeks.

"The Green Hornet" is number 2 and "127 Hours" number 3.
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#20 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 04:44 PM

Well that doesn't really make it number one, does it. Hasn't even made its money back yet, and it only cost £15m

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