I am a published author, and my inquiry is in regards to offering my manuscript (part one of a trilogy) as the basis for a film. If this isn't the proper avenue in which to pursue this idea, would you please provide me with direction? Thank you, Angelo Lagana
The UK Film Council is dead. Let's give the British Film Institute a chance
The closure of the public body which put money into films like 'Hunger' and 'In the Loop' is a sad thing. But might this be an exciting new time for British cinema, asks Dave Calhoun?
Without doubt, the end of the UKFC is a blow, and directors like Mike Leigh and Mike Figgis have understandably spoken out against the move, not least because it creates huge uncertainty at a tough time. But should we run along uncritically with all this surprise and shock? The end of the UKFC is being portrayed as Tory axe-wielding, but the truth is, firstly, that the trouble started under Labour and, secondly, that a new approach to how and where we spend public money on film could be a good thing for British cinema.
To understand last week’s move, you need to know that last August Labour culture minister Sion Simon proposed a merger of the UKFC with the British Film Institute, the country’s other big film body, which manages the National Film Archive, runs BFI Southbank and organises the London Film Festival. The plan was to cut costs and prevent overlap. It’s now clear that the Tory solution is to run away with Labour’s plans by getting rid of one body entirely – and the UKFC was always more vulnerable. The UKFC was a New Labour quango and the sort of bureaucracy for which the Tories have been sharpening their knives for ages. Moreover, the BFI is a charity, protected by royal charter – it can’t be dismantled. Even more importantly, the BFI is a cultural body; too many of the UKFC’s activities existed to help the industry turn a greater profit – is that really the job of money designated to promote culture? Neither did it help the UKFC’s cause that so many of its execs were on high salaries compared to those doing similar jobs at the BFI. It looked bad.
Behind closed doors, the BFI and its canny chairman Greg Dyke will be thrilled. Not only have Dyke and his colleagues fended off talk of a merger but they find themselves back in the pre-2000 position of being funded by government rather than in the pay of the UKFC, an organisation too often embarrassed to treat film as culture. In the end, that was Chris Smith’s biggest mistake: to subjugate the BFI, a cultural body, to the UKFC, a trade one. That mistake has been corrected.
Yet this is no time for dancing on tables. Whatever its faults, the UKFC performed a crucial role in developing and producing British films. There has been wild talk about the UKFC only producing box-office disasters like ‘Sex Lives of the Potato Men’ or big films in no need of support. Neither is true. Filmmakers like Andrea Arnold and Steve McQueen needed government help and received it from the UKFC. It’s these filmmakers we should now be most concerned about.
However, let’s not call time on British independent film just yet. The Tories’ announcement last week suggested that the money given to film by the UKFC – £15m a year – is safe (even if the exact figure is not clear). The big question is: who will dish it out? Will the BFI be asked to manage a production fund, as it did pre-2000, producing films like ‘Under the Skin’, ‘Gallivant’ and ‘Love is the Devil’ ? Will the Arts Council assume a role? Or will a new body be established, with key roles for BBC Films and Film Four?
I think the most exciting – and daring – result would be for the BFI to take on the most essential of the UKFC’s work – meaning that a cultural body would be putting money into film as culture. But at the same time we must redefine what needs support. If the demise of the UKFC means that films on the level of ‘The Constant Gardener’, ‘Bend It Like Beckham’, ‘Gosford Park’ and ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’ – all of which received UKFC help – have to go without, so be it. With its archive and twin focus on heritage and education, the BFI celebrates film as an art form, a principle that should apply to future funding. Our culture needs raw visions, new talent, difficult stories. We need to take risks. We need to be prepared to put money into films that might not make a single penny but which nurture and develop both talent and audiences and which progress British cinema rather than just repeating past successes and chasing foreign awards. Let’s ask ourselves why we give public money to film. Is it to provide support to an art form? Or is it to provide extra capital to an industry? I’d argue that it’s the former – and no organisation is better placed to honour that approach than the BFI.
Author: Dave Calhoun
The new Bfc ownership of sponsoring British Independent films seems like a cloaked farce to me. To recieve any kind of production funding dor small film makers meand signing up to sharing copyright and allow the funding organisation to have last word on the final cut and edit of the film. Now... where is the artistyic merit in that? Fifteen million is a paltry sum. What will that kind of silly penny in a charity box amount do for anything? Any well-produced film requires a budget between 250,000 to 1 million. What is the UK going to achieve: a handfull of films a year which favour profit at the expense of art. Independent films are there to introduce a different perspective to people and their lives through visual entertainment. If the foucus is on profit alone, which it appears to be, then fewer movies will be made which offer an alternative and perhaps a more informed view of the world and the human encounter with it. The British Film Council did a magnificant job of really helping Independent film makers. Al that effort and expertise has now been sacrificed in the name of corporate greed. Let us not forget where Lottery miney comes from and how tiny an amount spills out from coffers that exploits human hope for a better life, and a gaming industry which benefits no-one but the gaming businesses which wish to advantage themselves from the desperate hpoe of the comon people. I am a film maker. I would not accept one penny of Lottery money dragged from the Tesco queuing lines of the poor looking for a 'no-chance' hope of bettering their lives. Your optimistic article probably does not agree with your personal attitude and knowledge. You are intelligent. You see it too. mol
Director Tom Hooper and his cast tell us how they turned the super-musical into movie blockbuster.
The Time Out film team weighs in on the nominees for the 2013 Academy Awards
Get ready for the big guns… Spielberg, Tarantino and Bigelow
Daniel Craig’s 007 comeback, a genius indie romcom and all the mysteries behind ‘The Shining’ unravelled.
The results of our study on the state of films and filmgoing in 2012.
Read 'Time Out film debate 2012 highlights'
'The Hobbit' actor tells us why he wouldn't have a pint with Bilbo Baggins.
Dave Calhoun speaks to the director of 'Skyfall' about the latest film in the Bond franchise.
The genre-hopping director tells us how he invented a new genre with 'Life of Pi'
The twice Palme d'Or-winning director discusses 'Amour'.
Read our interview with Michael Haneke
The Danish director talks about his powerful new drama 'The Hunt'.
Read our interview with Thomas Vinterberg'
Time Out looks back at the impact of the 'Twilight' saga.
Discover what 'Twilight' has done for us
Time Out heads to the Lake District to visit director Ben Wheatley on set.
Read about our visit to the 'Sightseers' set
The director talks about 'Frankenweenie', which he describes as 'the ultimate memory piece'.
Read our interview with Tim burton
Our pick of the best films showing over the festive period.
Read 'The top ten Christmas films of 2012'
Mean Girls? Dirty Dancing? Tell us your favourite film guilty pleasure.
Read 'Film guilty pleasures'
What will Disney do to 'Star Wars'?
Read about the new 'Star Wars' trilogy
Ten young actors come of age on the silver screen.
Read 'When teen stars turn serious'
From Connery to Craig, we revisit all 22 Bond films.
Read '50 years of James Bond'
The director talks Scientology and working with Joaquin Phoenix.
Read the interview
Ten funny horror movies which went spectacularly off the rails.
Read 'Hilarious horror films'
The director talks psychopaths and theatre – 'my least favourite artform'.
Read the interview
We round-up the five best horror movies of Autumn 2012.
Read about this Autumn's best horror movies
Time Out visits Istanbul to see the latest Bond movie being made.
Read 'On the set of Skyfall'
Does Skyfall refresh or rehash the James Bond franchise?
The British director explains why 'Ginger and Rosa' is her most mainstream film yet.
'I’m almost as in demand as Brad Pitt’