UK Film Council – RIP?

(I rarely do TWO blog posts in a day, but as a film director, this seemed appropriate)

The UK Film Council is no more.

Now, on one hand, I, as a struggling film director should be worried. As a lover of films, I should also pause to think. But on the other hand, I have to ask, is it really a bad thing? After all, in the ten years of their existence, has there been any classic films produced by the UK? Something that you will look back on and think, WOW?

The reaction in the media has been predictable. Almost political. Here is an interesting look at the Film Council’s work over the past few years, something that is at odds with the seemingly rosy picture painted by the organisation.

But what do I think?

Good question.

Firstly, my initial reaction was and?

You see, for the small time film maker such as myself, the UK Film Council was an inaccessible place which promised cash and distribution help, but was a labyrinth to navigate. In fact the only time I managed to access the Film Council’s help, was while I went to the Cannes Short Film Market. I had to bark at the front desk to remind them that I am British, I am in Cannes and I want the help of the UK Film Council, to which my taxes pay for. Then I got to meet up with a couple of execs and advisers, who gave me some pointers, but nothing else. Like now, I was just small fry.

But in the UK, I have never received any help from the UK Film Council.

And now it is gone.

On one hand, a funding pot for films has been removed, but realistically, was I ever going to access those funds for myself – that was always going to be questionable.

Now you can see why my first reaction was so.

It was interesting, as a film maker to see ordinary people’s comments at the end of news articles relating to the demise of the film council. But the most telling one came from the Gaurdian’s website, where the user Vraak posted this:

Gritty’ gets 12 mentions out of 50 odd posts now. It must be the thing.

“And America still manages to produce interesting, non-commercial cinema.”

Ahh – but are they gritty? And does it rain an awful lot? Are they about unemployed miners or millworkers?

I find this constant diet of a lot of UK produced ‘twee’, where everyone is loaded, or ‘grit’ a bit bleak and tough to bear. Can’t we have more joyful, uplifting films for a change? People want to escape from time to time, not to have reality rammed down out throats.

Vraak has a point. Films are there to entertain. We film makers have to be entertainers. Have the last ten years of British film making been entertaining?

Anyway, I am out of here. Just some words to reflect on. And while, I rarely engage in dancing over someone’s grave, the fact is, as a tax payer, sod the lot of them. They’ve done nothing for me, so don’t expect me to shed a tear. For films in general – I’m sure they will survive as they always do…

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