Agreed, absolutely

Hands off British film, Mr Cameron

A Guardian headline I thoroughly agree with.

Of course the Prime Minister should have nothing to do with film.

No politician should have anything to do with it. Which of course means that there will be no taxpayers\’ money either.

Sink or swim on your own luvvies. And the very best of British luck to you as well.

24 thoughts on “Agreed, absolutely”

  1. as far as I can make out the argument seems to be “British film is so successful that it doesn’t need politicians to meddle”. In which case, as you say, why the need for subsidy.

    I have also seen the view put forward in the Graun today that what are traditionally seen as arthouse movies are seen by so few people not because people don’t want to watch them but because they can’t get distribution. If many many more people wanted to see them then surely we wouldn’t have tiny arthouse cinemas (like Bath’s very own Little Theatre) eking out a living but larger cinemas doing good business. At the very least they should be doing a roaring DVD trade somewhere like Amazon.

    I do wonder what the internet piracy stats would say about the popularity of Ken Loach’s films, for example. Perhaps he should try seeding some on a popular torrent site and see how many culture-starved punters rush to download them? There’s an experiment there for some brave soul in a think tank, I reckon, if they can find a way round the potential prosecution for copyright theft.

  2. A classic example of an headline I agree with attached to an article which I don’t. Why would we want politicians to pick winners? If they believe in the industry so much perhaps they should go work in it using their own money.

  3. Classic conundrum for the fluffy headed libertarians : Britsh cinema is controlled by a distribution cartel which also owns cinemas that makes sure the small independent producer ,Brit or not Brit ,does n’t get a showing . It picks the winners.
    This problem has been tackled any number of times i.e. Eady money ,so naturally Smoothy Chops Cameron is going to wade in with his usual mix of naivety and a” strange sense of entitlement”direct quote from key Coalition
    narrative “Stepbrothers”.We’re just lucky he can’t use armed forces as he does with with foreign policy adventures.

  4. I fail to see the conundrum for libertarians, fluffy headed or otherwise. Government should not be meddling with or funding the film industry, no conundrum at all.

  5. “…Britsh cinema is controlled by a distribution cartel which also owns cinemas …”

    So, let’s see what happens with DVD releases, or Flatcap Army’s proposed BitTorrent experiment then.

    Or are they controlled by a ‘cartel’ too?

  6. Perhaps [Loach] should try seeding some on a popular torrent site and see how many culture-starved punters rush to download them? There’s an experiment there for some brave soul in a think tank, I reckon, if they can find a way round the potential prosecution for copyright theft.

    He doesn’t need to seed them himself, because they are probably already seeded; just have a look at Pirate Bay (or whatever) and see how many ‘seeders’ and ‘leechers’ there are for his and other people’s films. At a glance, Route Irish is less popular than Inception (released in the same year).

  7. Ken Loach – Land and Freedom (1995)
    Seeds 9
    Loaches 4

    Ken Loach – Family Life (1971)
    Seeds 9
    Loaches 2

    Ken Loach – Cathy Come Home (1966) (+extras)
    Seeds 6
    Loaches 1

    Ken Loach – It’s a Free World (2007) [DVBRip].avi
    Seeds 6
    Loaches 1

    The Wind that Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach, 2006)
    Seeds 10
    Loaches 0

    In questo mondo libero (Ken Loach – 2007)
    Seeds 0
    Loaches 1

  8. DBC

    Whether that’s a conundrum or not is moot, but it’s definitely now outdated. The internet means we’re all free from the cartels – be we content makers or content consumers.

    It’s early days, and there are issues to resolve (most notably, making sure someone gets paid!) but the game has changed. Music is ahead of film, because music was floating around the internet before film was, but despite all the piracy that goes on there’s a lot of money being spent and anyone can get their stuff out there.. no longer does The Man get to decide what the rest of us get to enjoy. Or, at least, where he does it’s because we couldn’t be bothered seeking out the alternative.. and there’s certainly no Libetarian conundrum there!

  9. Not quite ‘QED’, given the likely demographic that BitTorrents (who you wouldn’t expect to be rabid Loach fans), but persuasive.

    Sorry, Ken, you’ll have to find some other pot of taxpayer money to loach off… I mean, leech off… 🙂

  10. Route Irish is widely available on torrents, (720 seeders in top 10). This is more than Iron Lady, but one suspects potential viewers of the latter will be more prepared to buy legitimate copies.
    Other Loach films are also available but less so.

  11. Epic Groan Fail as usual, this is funny :

    “but one of his administration’s most sensational acts of party political grandstanding and spite was to cancel the UK Film Council – a creation of the Labour years – just when it was delivering not merely critically admired work but precisely those commercial hits of the kind Cameron professes to yearn for.”

    Er, yeah, that would be the time to cut a subsidy, when the activity it was subsidising no longer required it.

  12. Funny that a leading light in the SWP, an organisation that uses thuggery and intimidation to try and realise its undemocratic goal of socialist revolution, has such an easy time getting onto the BBC and Guardian.

  13. Instead of taking money from the public purse, perhaps they might like to try appealing directly to the public via something like

    As with funding of political parties, a small amount of money (say a quid) from a lot of people adds up to a lot of money.

    If it’s popular, of course.

  14. Could there be any better example of the classy, Brit-heritage smash than The King’s Speech, a film which would not have existed without the UK Film Council’s support?

    Complete bollocks.

    The UK Film Council invested £1,021,080 into a film with a budget estimated at £10m, or around 10%.

    I suspect based on the results in Hansard of their investments is that they were simple shopper investors who weren’t as demanding about their returns as most backers, so the filmmakers could get to keep a lot more of the spoils.

    2 of their 33 films have made back their investment, both at 101% (which sounds pretty suspicous).

  15. There are arguable non-economic reasons to support a subsidy for British film and arguably TV, drama, even literature. These things make us a “culturally richer” nation, or summink.

    But if you’re going to subsidise anything, it makes sense to subsidise the stuff that wouldn’t otherwise be made – i.e. not the primarily commercial stuff. Hence the state heavily subsidises regional and experimental theatre more than it does hit West End musicals. It subsidises poetry (to a surprising degree – e.g. via “poet in residence” schemes) but it does not subsidise best-selling crime thrillers.

    I can’t see the point of “picking winners”, not the state’s job, not something we’d expect it to be any good at, and definitely not with my tax money (or to put it the other way: not with the money that could be coming back to public spending in other, more useful ways). I can understand the argument that our shared culture is a “public good” (in the technical sense) and some of us don’t want either our poets to starve, or our supply of poetry to dry up. The Big Question is, with things like subsidies to ballet or opera or experimental poetry, are we basically subsidising the upper middle class arts graduate’s sense of “worthy but unpopular”? Not clear to me at all, how you can decide what is “good enough” to deserve public support, especially when the public themselves don’t seem too keen on buying the end-product…

  16. “Not clear to me at all, how you can decide what is “good enough” to deserve public support, especially when the public themselves don’t seem too keen on buying the end-product…”

    Public support IS the public buying the end-product.

    If they don’t buy, there’s no support.

    And why not widen the argument? Why should it just be the arts getting taxpayer’s money, why not every failing venture?

  17. Since these days we tend to think of nation-states as bound more tightly by culture than by blood, there’s an arguable case that government should play a role in guiding the development of the national culture (c.f. complaints about “Americanisation” of British culture). I doubt there’s a strong economic case for it, though I suspect the route to such an argument would be via the definition of “public good” and showing that the national culture is non-rivalrous and non-excludable… Personally I’d be prepared to accept that state intervention in arts/culture is something which brings economic costs, but those costs may be “worth” paying. My principle doubt is on the democratic mandate of cultural intervention and my secondary doubt is that state-subsidised culture may have a corrosive effect on the product – those issues seem more problematic to me than the economic ones.

  18. Film distributors and marketers have lots of fixed costs, and are generally delighted if someone presents them with an already produced movie that they think will make money if they book it into cinemas. Every now and then someone shows up with a fil at the Sundance or Toronto film festivals or somewhere else which nobody has previously heard of and which ends up being a big worldwide hit. Distributors do get into bidding wars over such films.

    Where the current distribution system is going to keep you out is if you make dross. They are obliged to book pretty much everything the major studios produce themselves into cinemas, even if it is dross. Studio produced dross does have priority over non-studio produced dross. However, there’s always room in the schedules and cinemas for non-dross that is actually likely to be profitable: everyone loves that.

  19. MyBurningEars:

    “some of us don’t want … our poets to starve”, they just want someone else to feed them.

    “I doubt there’s a strong economic case for it”. There’s certainly no moral case for it.

    The notion that the UK Film Council has been abolished is just silly; it’s been renamed to the British Film Institute, just as the “Learning and Skills Council” was renamed to the “Young Persons’ Learning Agency”. There’s still a boatload of tax money being dropped into the pockets of the state’s favoured luvvies.

    The same old argument applies to films as to theatre, sport, public transport and the rest of the coerced sector; if you think something is worth paying for, pay for it yourself.

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