Capturing thecultural value of filmAHRC Cultural Value Project WorkshopBirkbeck, 11 April 2013Sean PerkinsBFI Research and Statistics Unit
Overview• Context - previous work on the cultural value of film2003-2007• Stories we tell ourselves – the cultural impact of UK film1946-2006• Opening our eyes – how film contributes to the culture ofthe UK• Directions for future research
The economic contribution of film is welldocumented..
Our first plan – to look at the economic valueof film culture…• In 2003-2005, we scoped the idea of a study of the “cultural value ofUK film” to complement our previous studies into the economicvalue of film in the UK• How to place a monetary value on UK film culture, to assistgovernment resource allocation decisions?• We looked at a variety of economic survey methods and the widervaluation literature and consulted with various experts on valuationmethods (in the UK and overseas)• Early thinking published in Cultural Trends (Dec 04)
In the end we didn‟t feel confident enough inthe economic valuation methods…• How feasible is it, in principle, to place a monetary value on filmculture?• The economic methods had a number of practical challenges thatwould be difficult to address successfully (we felt)• A good piece of research would probably be expensive – beyondour budget – because of the need to reach a representative sampleof the population with a quite detailed and tricky questionnaire
So we moved from thinking about theeconomic value of film to the cultural impactof UK film..• In 2007, the UK Film Council Board requested a study into thecultural value of UK film, to complement the economic impactstudies that had helped convince government to extend and reformUK film tax relief• In writing the brief, and bearing in mind the path described in theprevious studies, we decided the best focus for the study would bethe cultural impact of UK film• “Impact” is more qualitative than economic value (though it does notexclude metrics) and it makes no assumption about positivity ornegativity, so we thought it a potentially more interesting question toask
The brief highlighted several dimensions ofpotential cultural impact...• Contribution to understanding and appreciation of the UK‟s history,culture, diversity and values• Knowledge and understanding of identity, community and the widerworld• Cultural impact of UK film over an extended period of time, includingthe part played by film in cultural change in the UK over the lastcentury• “Culture” defined broadly, not only as artistic activity, but as “the waywe live shared traditions, beliefs and practices”
Stories we tell ourselves• The approach taken was a mix of literature review,interview, statistical analysis and case studies• Population of 4,644 UK feature films, 1946-2006• Statistical study of two samples – “intuitive” sampleof 200 significant UK films; random sample of 200films• 30 case studies of British films; 8 case studies ofNational and Regional films; 8 case studies of filmsinvolving black and Asian talent• Interviews with industry professionals and a reviewof the impact of film policy
The case studies – beginnings of a metric ofcultural impactThe researchers developed a set of metrics to look at how widely filmshave circulated and the impact they have had:• Original impact (box office, festivals)• Extended impact (academy awards, DVDs, restorations, “best” listings)• Wider impact:• Citation in other media• Evidence of esteem (commendation by cultural arbiters, prizes etc.)• Evidence of impact on the behaviour of society• IMDb user ratings and number of votes• Number of YouTube clips
Findings – four key categories of culturalimpact:• Censorship and notoriety (Sexy Beast,Pressure, The Life and Death of ColonelBlimp)• Quotations in other media (Chariots of Fire,A Clockwork Orange, The Crying Game)• Zeitgeist moments (Jubilee, Four Weddingsand a Funeral, Saturday Night and SundayMorning, Henry V)• Cumulative impact (Brief Encounter, GetCarter, Local Hero, Bend it like Beckham)
..but what next?Findings debated with academics at Birkbeck seminar in 2009, thenpresented to public and film professionals inBelfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and YorkAlso discussed at San Sebastian Film Festival and EuropeanParliament‟s Committee on Culture and Education in BrusselsParticipants were positive about the report and enthusiastic indiscussing the ways in which cultural value or impact of film isproduced and communicatedBut two persistent questions:• What do the people think?• What about films from other countries?
Phase two – Opening our eyes• Commissioned by UK Film Council/BFI inearly 2011• Survey of the attitudes and opinions of theUK public on a range of questions related tothe cultural contribution of film in the UK• The purpose was to find out how highlypeople value film – whether UK orinternationally made – and how they expressthe meaning film has for them
Methodology• First, we had to discover how to talk to thepublic about film and culture. Ipsosconducted paired depth interviews aroundthe UK to explore key themes• Then Ipsos conducted 2036 online surveyswith a representative sample of UK citizensaged between 15 and 74• The survey findings were used to develop aseries of seven case studies and twentyfollow-up telephone interviews wereconducted on issues of Britishness and theartistic value of film.
Opening our eyes – some key findings• Film has a far-reaching range of impacts onindividuals• People see value and meaning in all kinds of films,including blockbusters• The films most often mentioned as „significant‟ andthose they consider represent the UK best, often donot appear in box office, critical or industry rankings• Film contributes to National and Regional identitieswithin the UK• Two-thirds of respondents said they had seen filmswhich had given them new insights into other culturesand ways of life• The potential for film to make a cultural contribution isfurther increased by the growth in digital access
Next stepsDo the proxy indicators suggested in Stories we tell ourselves(YouTube views, IMDb ratings etc.) confirm the evidence from thesurvey data in Opening our eyes?In a digital multi-platform world of film consumption, would internet-derived data provide a valid and robust source of information on thecultural contribution of film in the UK?In comparison with conventional survey data – which take months tocommission and gather – internet-derived data could provide an instantmeasure of cultural contribution and provide a means of tracking impactover time.
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