Jonathan Gems on the abolition of the UKFC

I've just had the go-ahead to make this public, it's a letter that screenwriter Jonathan Gems (Batman, Mars Attacks) sent to one of Jeremy Hunt's aides. It's a worthy and eye-opening read. An antidote to all of these misguided "save the UKFC" cries and petitions on the web. Many thanks for this Jonathan, you are a true gent!

Dear Oscar Tapp-Scotting

Thank you for your email. I and others welcomed the abolition of the UKFC not so much because it was a way for the government to save money but because the UKFC actively suppressed British Cinema.

You must be aware that, apart from a portion of UKFC funds going into 'educational projects' (i.e.wasted), and a small cosmetic portion going to a few rare and already-financed British films, most of the funding went to Hollywood film companies to induce them to shoot their films at British production houses.

The British film community felt coruscating spasms of pain every time a government official bragged about the 'success' of the so-called British film industry when what was being referred to were successful American films that had been partly made at British production houses. We all remember seeing Tony Blair, for example, in the House of Commons, claiming that the success of the Harry Potter films (Warner Bros) were due to "his" policies and represented a success for British films when, in reality, they demonstrated the humiliating failure of British films.

In a newspaper interview the patriotic J.K. Rowling announced she would not 'go Hollywood' but would sell the rights to her Harry Potter series to a British film company. She didn't know there were no British film companies capable of financing and releasing the Harry Potter films. Later, she had to sell her rights to Hollywood or not see the films made. She had no choice.

Another recent ignominy was the drubbing received by Channel 4 when it made the excellent low budget film "Slumdog Millionaire" only to be forced to give it away to foreign studios in order to see it released. All the profits went to these foreign studios, not Britain.

And this is an old story. The film "1984" (which I co-wrote) starring John Hurt and Richard Burton has been seen by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. This was a British film financed by Richard Branson (Virgin Films) that was released in only one cinema in the UK. Why only one? Because Britain's cinemas are controlled by Hollywood and the Hollywood cartel was threatened by Richard's intention to start a British studio, so made sure to strangle it at birth.

In most years, about 99% of the films shown in UK cinemas are foreign films. (About 95% are American; 3% from other countries and 2% indigenous.) There is no nation in Europe whose film culture has been so thoroughly wiped out as ours has been.

Back in 1970, Britain still had its own cinema. We had three major studios: Associated British Pictures, British Lion, and The Rank Organisation. Between them, they produced and released between 30 and 40 films a year. In those days, we had home-grown stars like Michael Caine, Peter Sellers, Dirk Bogarde, Alec Guinness, Vanessa Redgrave and Norman Wisdom - and a plethora of character actors. For example, John LeMesurier (best known for Dad's Army) appeared in over 100 British films.

Today, to become a star, a British actor must go to Hollywood. To write movies, a British writer must go to Hollywood. To direct movies, a British director must go to Hollywood. Okay, there are a tiny few exceptions - such as directors Ken Loach and Mike Leigh. But their films were made by British TV companies until they stopped funding films in the early 90's since when their films have been made by French and Spanish studios.

By helping to fund American films, the UKFC suppressed any chance of a revival of British Cinema, which is why it's good news it has been abolished.

We have tremendous talent for filmmaking in this country. But most of that talent has left (or wants to leave) this country because there is no real film industry here. Sometimes people are confused because American-financed production companies (such as Working Title) have offices in London and purport to make 'British films'. In truth, Working Title, and other such production companies, are part of the Hollywood industry. Their business is done in LA and their films are owned and controlled by Hollywood studios.

Why did British Cinema disappear 40 years ago? Simple. Protections were removed. Without protection British Cinema could not compete with Hollywood so it disappeared.

Britain is the only country in Europe that does not protect its film industry.

In the past, when Norman St John Stevas - Arts Minister in Margaret Thatcher's government - lobbied to bring back protections, he was told 'no' on Free Market grounds.

This was puzzling because the American film market has never been free. It has always been closed to foreigners. No French, German, Spanish or Scandinavian film company is allowed to release a film in America. No British film company is allowed to release a film in America. And yet we allow America 100% access to our domestic market. Hardly fair, is it?

When we finished "1984", we could not release it in America but were allowed to sell it (at a loss) to a Hollywood studio. Richard Branson lost £3 million but the film went on to make a fortune for MGM.


The solution:

Write and pass a bill reserving, say,15% of the UK film market for UK films. This is what's done in other countries.

How it works is the government decrees that (say) 15% of all the films shown to the public in cinemas are indigenous. Cinema owners - to retain their licenses - must show that, each year, 15% of their screen time has been devoted to British films. This is not a lot to ask. Hollywood will still control 80% of the UK market.

The French government reserves 12.5% of France's film market for French films. Although done for cultural reasons, it has created a very lucrative industry that releases over 100 movies a year - in spite of the fact that roughly 80% of the screen time of French cinemas is devoted to Hollywood movies.

When, in 2003, the Spanish government reserved 20% of its domestic market for Spanish films, there was (unsurprisingly) a boom in Spanish filmmaking and now there are three robust Spanish movie studios not only releasing Spanish films in Spain but also selling them world-wide and earning foreign currency.

I urge Jeremy Hunt to take up the standard and champion British films. The restitution of protections will revive British Cinema, give us back our own indigenous cinema and improve our balance of payments. Not only would this be of ineffable value culturally but would, I think, be a vote-winner.

There is no rationale for not protecting British films. After all, terrestrial British television is protected. The percentage of foreign material permitted on the BBC and ITV channels is limited to 40%

Please promote this policy to Jeremy Hunt. And I'm sure David Cameron would see the sense in it.

Once again, many thanks for delivering us from the treasonous UKFC. (Hm...UKFC - looks like an anagram, doesn't it?)


Best wishes,

Jonathan Gems
 

Comments

#2
Jonathan Gems eloquently makes the incontrovertible case as to why we need to join with the rest of Europe and (re)instigate the quotas that are essential to our ever having a viable UK film industry.

But we need other measures as well.

European film policy has sought to counter American dominance through a set of three different measures. Firstly quotas on cinema exhibition which guarantees that at least a measurable percentage of French films are screened in France, Spanish films in Spain, and so on. But this still means that American companies are still in a position to use their muscle and dominate the remaining 85% or so. In order to make the playing field just a little more even the EU provides a range of subsidies - to films, cinemas and festivals - which support the screening of 'non-national' European films - which, for example, is why Ken Loach's films are widely exhibited in France.

But in the UK this means that not only are British films excluded from mainstream cinemas, but also both art-house screens and film festivals receive subsidies for screening non-British European films - so British films are squeezed out of those sectors as well!

Lastly in the rest of Europe we find that considerably stricter quotas are applied to the screening of films on television, with imports restricted to, typically, 60%. As Jonathan Gems points out, in the UK imported TV programmes are limited to 40%. But that's an 'overall' figure; film is not specifically protected, and films on television have come to be just as dominated by American product as is cinema. And it should not be forgotten that TV screenings, along with DVD sales are the lifeblood of films which get little or no cinema exhibition.

Given the lack of access to both cinema and TV, together with generous subsidies for 'non-British' films, it is hardly surprising that the only British-owned film distribution companies of note, 'Entertainment' and 'Artificial Eye' specialise in distributing either American or European films - and it is European subsidies which keep many of the 83 tiny UK distribution companies which, together, have a combined share of about 1% of the market, afloat.

Lastly, since 2000, the whole landscape has changed. Once the price of entry into filmmaking was very high indeed. But today high quality equipment is affordable virtually to all. And, as we for example have demonstrated through such as "Diary of a Bad Lad", it is possible to develop royalty-based contracts through which whatever the film may make throughout its lifetime is divided between the people who actually made it. It is this 'no-budget' filmmaking which is the seed bed for developing the major talents and stars of tomorrow and it should thus be supported by measures which will get rid of the current barriers which keep it off both the large and small screens, out of UK festivals, and impede the sale of DVDs.

Hence I would add the following to Jonathan Gems' call for a 15% theatrical quota:

A requirement that 40% of films screened on British television must be British productions distributed by British companies.

A lowering of the threshold at which films become eligible for tax-breaks, thus benefiting micro-budget productions as well.

Active support for festivals where more than 50% of the films are of British origin.

The reform of the 1984 Video Recordings Act so as to allow British filmmakers to release their own films on DVD as 'unrated 18', thus giving them the same rights as in the USA, Denmark, Canada, Austria, and so on. (At present it is possible to make a film, and make it available as an internet download, for virtually no money. However DVDs are the main market and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Current BBFC fees for a DVD which is fully-loaded with the sort of extras that consumers expect can easily total as much as £3,000. Making that optional would effectively make anyone planning a feature film £3,000 better off - at no cost to anyone).
 
#3
Joe O'Byrne recently posted the following about the Save the UK Film Council group on Facebook which now has 26,629 followers.
Joe O'Byrne said:
"Turkeys voting to save Christmas."
Although I'll say in the defence of those 26,000+ people, it's testament to the UKFC's propaganda machine that there's been so much of a knee-jerk reaction. It's no wonder people are confused by all of this and see it as a mainly bad thing. And it's encouraging to see that a large amount of people care about our film industry.
 
#4
I have a problem with the notion that the British film community feels "coruscating spasms of pain" over a Hollywood-funded, UK-shot film. Encouraging inward investment is an important part of the Film industry. Most governments offer incentives to foreign productions to shoot in their country, recognising the employment opportunity as well as the significance culturally and to tourism. I'd argue that Harry Potter is incredibly important for the British Film Industry. It has given thousands of crew members employment for 10 years.

As for the UKFC, these incentives will continue with or without them.

Secondly, I want to question the notion that these incentives have an adverse effect on local productions. Offering incentives to foreign productions and funding local, independent film are both important and not contradictory.

The reason Slumdog Millionaire got picked up by a US Studio is that others saw too much of a risk and didn't fancy it. That's their own misjudgement and nothing to do with the UKFC (or tax breaks on foreign productions). In fact the UKFC does have initiatives to encourage UK distributors to be bolder with their choices and to promote UK film. I've written about one in this post http://bit.ly/cQ2H00.
 
#5
I think it's more that these films were being hailed as British films, especially Joe Public. There are lots of people who think that Harry Potter is a British film, despite the Warners logo that appears at the beginning of it. The Film Council and New Labour, including the Prime Minister at that time, did everything in their power to supplement this myth. This is wrong and misleading.

It's certainly great that thousands of crew members are given employment. But what about all of those that must move to Los Angeles in order for their career to evolve (at best) - or the other alternative is to go into television. There's also the thousands of graduates who give up and get a "proper job". It could be argued that only a percentage of those would make it anyway, but then there must be a percentage that if we had a film industry, they would flourish and perhaps make great filmmakers. I think it's sad that a lot of those that would give up, would do so because they cannot afford to uproot to somewhere so far away. Not everyone can move to LA, or even London on leaving education.
 
#6
j0nny said:
The reason Slumdog Millionaire got picked up by a US Studio is that others saw too much of a risk and didn't fancy it. That's their own misjudgement and nothing to do with the UKFC (or tax breaks on foreign productions).
Unfortunately there's no truth in this. FilmFour supremo, Tessa Ross, is quite clear about all this in her evidence to the House of Lords Communications Cttee, where she stated, that because of the buzz created by 'Slumdog', FilmFour and Celador were in a position to actually sell the UK rights to Pathe, and the rest of the world to Fox, for a small profit with the result that that year FilmFour did not make a loss. If the rights had not been bought by Pathe and Fox, but by a British distributor, then the best Slumdog could have hoped for would have been a very limited UK and Ireland theatrical and DVD release.

Their lordships were surprised by how such a film could only make a small profit, but they failed to press the point. The reason is, of course, that the only way your film will get a general UK release and world-wide sales is if the rights are bought by Hollywood (with maybe one or two territories going to Pathe). However the nature of Hollywood's accounting practices is that you will never see a penny in royalties. Even Warner's Harry Potter franchise, which has grossed something like $4 billion, has strangely not made a profit.

Interestingly enough UKFC John Woodward and Stuart Till, the ex-Hollywood film export boss and at that moment UKFC chair, in their submission to the same Cttee managed to avoid much of the flack that they had received when previously subjected to parliamentary scrutiny by saying that none of the issues mattered anymore because the future for the British film industry lay in such as 'digital distribution'. Unfortunately their lordships swallowed this fairy dust and let them off the hook.
 
#7
I've just had to send a press release regarding Mancattan to the Manchester Evening News. They asked me what I thought of the UKFC, so here's my distilled initial thoughts to the press.

The reaction to defend the UKFC from people all over the country and the industry is understandable, but completely wrong. THey have managed to be brilliant propaganda artists during their entire existence, making, supporting or developing the bare minimum amount of British films (mostly in London) they have to in order to stave off their critics. They were actually a body that we never voted for, who took control of all Film decisions in this country and are made up of Executives with explicitly American Interests.

The digital screens debacle is a case in point. These screens were installed and trumpeted by them to help promote Independent film-makers such as myself. Films like Mancattan are shot digitally, and so in theory would have had access to this new screen network.However, once installed, the UKFC listened to AMerican demands and installed a security system for digital projection which costs £5000 to get around; instead these "independent digital screens" are the reason why you now see so many Hollywood 3D animated films at present. We were robbed quite simply, but the UKFC wield this fact, and many others, jiggling the facts and figures trying to defined themselves.

They have turned the UK into a facilities house, making films in our country FOR other countries. So yes, it is sad because many skilled craftspeople may lose work if American films are not made here so much, but in terms of BRitish Cinema and British culture on screen? Well, most Independent film makers won't even notice they have gone, if anything, our chances are now better as hopefully the BFI will have more say in film decisions in this country. As far as Independents are concerned, especially outside of London, they haven't helped one bit, in fact they've held us back for many, many years.

On the whole, it is testament to the Cult of the UKFC; everyone is duped into thinking they are representing BRITISH FILM when they are not. It is clever wording again. There is a huge difference between the BRITISH FILM INDUSTRY and an INDUSTRY OF BRITISH FILM. The former is making us a facilities house to the US and that is what the UKFC represent. The latter, well, doesn't exist formally outside of Independent filmmakers like ourselves. That's not jigging any facts and figures, it is just the sad truth.

Incidentally, our feature film MANCATTAN was made without funding of any sort, and we're distributing it for FREE online. It isn't as if we had a choice in this country as independents to do otherwise thought is it? So rather than be beaten and having the film go unseen, we're putting it out there on the web and donating our profits to charity.

On it's opening day, it is getting over a hundred hits an hour. Not bad for a Northern British Indie Rom-Com that would never get seen by the UKFC in the first place is it?



WATCH MANCATTAN

http://www.mancattan.co.uk
 
K
#8
Maybe I'm not understanding this fully, but it seems to me that the problem is with the lack of British distributors and not with the UKFC itself. But like I said, maybe I don't quite understand.

Also, isn't it true that the Harry Potter films are made by Heyday Films - a British production company? And with an almost entirely British cast and crew, does that not make it a just a "British film" with an American distributor?
 
#9
Ken Woods said:
Maybe I'm not understanding this fully' date=' but it seems to me that the problem is with the lack of British distributors and not with the UKFC itself. But like I said, maybe I don't quite understand.
Also, isn't it true that the Harry Potter films are made by Heyday Films - a British production company? And with an almost entirely British cast and crew, does that not make it a just a "British film" with an American distributor?
Let me clarify. Heyday films run by David Heyman. For ten years Heyman was a Warner Bros executive. Heyday is basically a front company for Warners which meant they were eligible for tax avoidance in the UK. Warners also don't distribute the Harry Potter films, they are distributed by subsidiaries which Warners create and then charge huge amounts to for 'services'. As a result, although the Harry Potter franchise has made Warners in excess of $4billion, none of the films has made a profit - which means that they have paid no tax and no one has received any royalties. Heyday was merely paid as a sub-contractor in this murky world.

You might then ask, how do they get away with these fiddles? The answer lies in the relationship between Hollywood and the US State Department which allows all this in recognition of the importance of Hollywood's propaganda function in relation to America's continuing global dominance.

I happen to have in my possession some leaked Warner Bros balance sheets which clearly show how they've fiddled the Harry Potter accounts - so watch this space for further details.

BTW the rise in the number of countries resisting Hollywood dominance through quotas etc - and the fact that this debate is now taking place, is a result of America's declining global dominance. It's just not as easy for them to do it anymore. So, make your mind up: who's side are you on?

Hope that clears things up a bit.

Always on your side.

Jon
 
R
#10
We are very proud to announce that you can now watch full length independent feature films and documentaries on the new Renderyard Free Video On Demand web page at http://renderyard.com/page.php?page=14

We support the filmmakers by providing a unique film viewing platform for the films to be watched by the global indie film community. Whats more the films are also featured on the home page of Dailymotion and receive a limited weekend promotion that gets them seen by millions of viewers around the world. Filmmakers also make money from each film view they receive. We have a collection of over ten great films and we will be adding and screening new film each month. If you have a feature length film that you would like to add to our platform please contact us with a link to your trailer.

This month sees the release of Mancattan a comedy feature film homage to Woody Allen and the city of Manchester. By watching this film you will also be helping two fantastic charities (The Glossop Mountain Rescue Team and Neurofibramatosis UK)

Renderyard started the feature film promotional system last October and gave Diary Of A Bad Lad its global online premiere getting it seen by over 185,000 viewers in under a week and making it the 4th most watched film on Dailymotion since it was launch as a video platform that is one of the largest in the world after You Tube. Renderyard has been supporting Independent filmmakers in the UK and abroad for over 6 years and platforms such as ours will continue to be even more important to the film making community now the UKFC is to close. Working together with other groups such as Future Artists and Pleased Sheep and Dailymotion we are all able to achieve impossible possible and get your films seen by the people that matter which is the global film loving audience.

Watch Free Independent Feature Films & Documentary Films Each Month - Get Your Film Screened On Renderyard & Dailymotion & Get Paid - Contact Us Today

http://renderyard.com

http://www.dailymotion.com/renderyardchannel
 
F
#11
A very well written article and some of the stats and info shine a balanced debate on the facts on the ground which seem to lead to the simple fact that, under new labour, it was'nt so much about policys and change as to feathering one's own nest for the greater good of a few,

The money and support that the film council distributes in very important, but they way the 'Council' is elected and created appears now to be under observation, the above formentioned article shines a light on a major issue of to 'invested interest' , how many times have we see that come out in the past year since the collapse of the economy, across all industy's, MPs expenses anyone!

Film is the greatest art form for free expression, and for many years independent voices who hung outside the club house have been silenced by not having the finanical support to be heard,

this has changed, not with the scrapping of the UKFC, but because social networks and cheaper forms of mass communications allowed those voices to find other 'like-minds' who where critical of the imposed status quo, they, we have found a common voice....

we are in the age of stupid.... but now with voices like Renderyard, Pleesed Sheep, Jon Williams and the North west new wave, joining forces and our own http://www.futureartists.co.uk watching on the sidelines, as you all read this article and discuss it in detail over twitter, facebook etc, you can now un learn what you have learnt.... and find a space to lead your community of film-makers and do it with others (DIWY) instead of doing it for yourself or looking to the government for help with your art.... so create your own space, develop yourself, do what we did, ask us how we did it!

you have just entered the 2nd age of enlightenment, the first came about with the invention of the first mass copying device, the printing press, the 2nd age, is with the internet, it can replicate and distribute free speech across the world in seconds... and i'm glad to be part of this, and once again it falls to the future artists of the north of england to lead the way........

find out more google future artists and north west new wave..... and go buy 'Diary of a Badlad' from your local Asda store or online, its a great gangster film, all the better for not being directed by Guy Ritchie and it does not feature Danny Dyer!

Mark Ashmore 'without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible'
 
#12
Tim Bevan has written an article in The Times, and he's obviously none too happy with our friend Alex Cox.

http://www.facebook....75080&topic=123

By the way, any of you guests posting if you click sign in at the top you can log in with Facebook if you want, then you will have signatures and suchlike
 
#13
Jon Williams said:
Unfortunately there's no truth in this.
Jon, I promise you that Slumdog Millionaire was offered to other UK distributors during development who passed on it.

Anyway, I get the broader point here and in the rest of this thread that the UK needs to be capable of funding big films and overseeing their global release. I am though highly sceptical that Jeremy Hunt and the government share this ambition in their plans for closing the UKFC.

Jon Williams said:
As far as Independents are concerned, especially outside of London, they haven't helped one bit, in fact they've held us back for many, many years.
This may be your personal experience, though is absolutely not the view of all independent filmmakers. I think your frustration, like many of the opinions here, is actually targeted at overly conservative UK distributors not prepared to diversify and take the risk of releasing your films. The UKFC really is taking action to encourage more risk-taking and diversity.

I'll cite one example I've been personally involved in... in 2003 I worked on the release of Bille Eltringham's low budget, DV-shot "This Is Not A Love Song" (shot entirely in the Lake District). Having failed to find theatrical distribution, the UKFC released this film under their own steam (Soda were brought onboard for the DVD release). What's more, the UKFC decided to take the initiative of making the film's release the world's first simultaneous online and theatrical release of a film. A feat you'd probably assume would come from Hollywood was granted to a UK (and not London) Indie at the sole initiative of the UKFC.

The UKFC are also doing great work with their Digital Innovation in Distribution fund which I highly recommend (if they stick around) you investigate for future releases.
 
#14
J0nny said:
Jon, I promise you that Slumdog Millionaire was offered to other UK distributors during development who passed on it.
Anyway, I get the broader point here and in the rest of this thread that the UK needs to be capable of funding big films and overseeing their global release. I am though highly sceptical that Jeremy Hunt and the government share this ambition in their plans for closing the UKFC.
Who was it offered to? Were any of these distributors capable of putting the film into cinemas to make money out of their investment? I strongly doubt it, and that's why they would have passed on it. Getting a film into cinemas, unless it carries the UKFC logo (not that that matters in a lot of cases) or is an American or European film is immensely difficult and everyone in the business knows this. The Americans have a monopoly on our cinema chains and even the arthouse chains are ran by Cine-Europa who are more likely to show foreign films than British.

The UKFC some years ago decided to start the DSN - the Digital Screen Network. This entitled cinemas to a digital projector in one of their screens. The proviso was that they showed films from their own list. The films were mainly British produced, some were foreign, some were American indies.

This didn't happen. Instead the projectors were installed in the larger screens in the multiplexes, and were used purely for showing Hollywood films. The films they were meant to show, were ignored. The UKFC allowed this to happen. Many British distributors and filmmakers will have seen their films go into distribution hell. A cinema release, even a small one, for a film means PR and reviews in the nationals - it also means more chance of foreign sales. The importance of this for distributors, even if the box office isn't big, is huge. They see it as a means to get word out for the home video market. These projectors were therefore freebies funded by National Lottery money to American cinema chains, further allowing the monopolization of our screens. It was a disaster, the cynical part of me thinks it was an organized disaster.

I too am sceptical about the motives behind the Tories axing the Film Council but hope that it carries a silver lining at some point.
 
B
#15
bmorgan@brainshack.co.uk

Hi Jonathan the UKFC never did Andrew and I any favours (Brainshack Productions) yet I wince at its abolition. I wince at the cancellation of the BFI building & archive also.

These people are not just philistines - they are also lousy businessmen. After all, they have never run a business between them unless you include the Eton tuck shop. As for "culture" the closest they got was Carlton TV and even the logo was off-putting.

Apparently Cameron is shit at PR and his recent "foreign policy" just serves to reinforce that theory. My end point is that I doubt that the UKFC will be "replaced" by anything including a better model.

Read the papers: they are even abolishing the NHS by the back door. No! Not those papers - the 500 page document a PR guy (note) showed me the other day.

As I implied - I agree with much that you argue, however in a recent meeting a Producer colleague argued that the UKFC had financed or enabled a few home grown films (I do not include Creep nor do I, Creep 2) worth their DNA. Little did he know that two days later it would be summarily executed - much like Cameron's ancestors executed innocent Indians in his family's holidays in the Raj and their other colonies and playgrounds. Of course it's political!

Best wishes

Brian Morgan
 
#16
Michael, I'm certainly aware of the UKFC failings. You're absolutely right about the DSN debacle. I've witnessed at first hand a UK indie distributor, who banked on a largely digital release, ultimately having to go to the expense of additional prints as exhibitors favoured the digital screens for larger studio releases. I do think UKFC intentions were good but that the rollout was naive, rather than a Hollywood collusion, but a mistake none the less and a massive opportunity for UK indies missed. Another irritation of mine has been the UKFC's funding of TV spots for UK distribution of US indie films.

But despite these failings, which Tim Bevan has alluded to, I'm also aware of the dozen or so UK indie productions I've worked with in the last eight years who would certainly count the UKFC as an ally in the struggle to get their film made and released.

Also, at the risk of repeating myself, I just can't see the government seeking to reduce US influence on the UK industry. Jonathan Gems and the Tories make odd bed fellows on this one. But then so does Vince Cable and the Tories. We shall see...
 
#17
I think it's that some of us felt no hope before whereas now there is always the chance of a silver lining.

The fact is, these days, around £200,000 will produce an excellent to comparable to 35mm digital image with good audio. Good scripts cost nothing. So £200k will get you a nice looking, nice sounding film and if you have done your homework, it'll be a good story too. So with that, there's no reason why more productions can't be financed by newcomers and already established filmakers alike as long as they are willing to fit within that kind of budget. It'd be more like the Hollywood system where they make lots and expect to make money back from few. The hits will take care of the misses. People will have gained education, employment and careers will be forged. It'll mean people can take risks rather than trying to be commercial and failing.

The second thing is that distribution in cinemas needs to be sorted out. You shouldn't have to have a Hollywood studio owning your film in order to do get it into cinemas - or be funded by the UKFC/BFI whatever. And with having so many digital screens in the UK now, there is no need for expensive film prints. It's crazy that getting a British film in British cinemas is so tough. Making a film is the easy part


In short, we need less hoops to jump through, more films being made for less, getting them into cinemas even if just for a short run and getting them out on home video. The organization that provides funding and rule over the cinemas should not have conflicts of interest. And education and selection should be done by those qualified to do so - no bureaucrats or somebody who once strolled down Rodeo Drive. Only then will we have a chance.
 
C
#18
Well, it’s a long time since I read such a load of uninformed and inaccurate tosh about the British Film industry as is contained in Jonathan Gems’ letter. I hardly know where to begin.

Let’s start with “You must be aware that, apart from a portion of UKFC funds going into 'educational projects' (i.e.wasted), and a small cosmetic portion going to a few rare and already-financed British films, most of the funding went to Hollywood film companies to induce them to shoot their films at British production houses.” THIS IS UNTRUE IN EVERY RESPECT. The UKFC never once allocated Lottery Funding to the Hollywood Studios. It all went to many (not “rare”, and not “already-funded”) British Films. Anyone interested in the facts can easily verify this by reference to the UKFC’s annual reports and accounts since its inception.

Or what about “In a newspaper interview the patriotic J.K. Rowling announced she would not 'go Hollywood' but would sell the rights to her Harry Potter series to a British film company. She didn't know there were no British film companies capable of financing and releasing the Harry Potter films. Later, she had to sell her rights to Hollywood or not see the films made. She had no choice.” THIS IS COMPLETELY UNTRUE. As has been previously noted on this thread, J.K Rowling licensed the film rights at an early stage to a British production company run by David Heyman. The fact that he later sought production funding from Warners is an entirely different matter.

Moving along, the claim is made that “Another recent ignominy was the drubbing received by Channel 4 when it made the excellent low budget film "Slumdog Millionaire" only to be forced to give it away to foreign studios in order to see it released. All the profits went to these foreign studios, not Britain.” AGAIN THIS IS 100% FALSE. This film was primarily backed by the British film company Celador, who did not “give it away” to foreign studios but sold it to them on extremely advantageous terms.

And what about “In most years, about 99% of the films shown in UK cinemas are foreign films. (About 95% are American; 3% from other countries and 2% indigenous)? THIS IS TOTAL RUBBISH. In 2009, British films accounted for 23% of all UK releases.

And the solution? “Write and pass a bill reserving, say,15% of the UK film market for UK films. This is what's done in other countries.” NO IT ISN’T.

Or, let’s look at “The French government reserves 12.5% of France's film market for French films.” NO IT DOESN’T. Or “in 2003, the Spanish government reserved 20% of its domestic market for Spanish films,” NO IT DIDN’T. Or, “the percentage of foreign material permitted on the BBC and ITV channels is limited to 40%”. NO IT ISN’T.

And so on….
 
#19
Churm Rincewind said:
THIS IS UNTRUE IN EVERY RESPECT. The UKFC never once allocated Lottery Funding to the Hollywood Studios.
Anyone - go to the UK Film Council Awards Data base and type in the name of any major American production company. For example' date=' "Warners" will immediately bring up of over £400,000 pounds of lottery money from the Prints and Advertising fund - a subsidy to promote their films to UK audiences. Most independent UK distributors are lucky if they get £5,000.

[url']http://www.ukfilmcouncil.org.uk/awards[/url]

This is from the same fund Lionsgate received about £800,000. And Universal Pictures received £505,000.

All this this was national lottery money. And that's just from one of many funds.

I don't think I need to bother going any further.....
 
#20
I typed in 'Warner Bros'

View the results here: http://i27.tinypic.com/98c0gk.jpg

March of the Penguins Production Companies

* Bonne Pioche (FRENCH)

* APC (co-production) (FRENCH)

* Buena Vista International Film Production France (participation) (FRENCH)

* Wild Bunch (in association with) (FRENCH)

* Canal+ (participation) (FRENCH)

* L'Institut Polare Français Paul-Émile Victor (in collaboration with)(FRENCH)

* National Geographic Films (USA)
 

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