FILM INDUSTRY: USING YOUR CASE STUDY PART 6: The issues raised in the targeting of national and local audiences (specifically, British) by international or global institutionsWorking Title and a British audience It could be argued that many of the films appeal to an audience who want to indulge in a rather comfortable, often nostalgic sense of Britain and Britishness. Characters in the films are overwhelmingly white, educated, middle-class (and often middle-aged). The tone of many of the more successful films is generally upbeat and the films do not really explore contemporary social-political issues and debates. The films are generally much more ‘comfortable’ and less provocative and demanding than films by significant British auteurs Mike Leigh, Ken Loach and, in recent years, Shane Meadows. Many of the characters seem to conform with old- fashioned ideas of Britishness (ie Hugh Grant’s performance in a number of films as a slightly bumbling, awkward but nonetheless charming Englishman).Working Title Films and Multi-Cultural Britain It is interesting to consider whether these films are particularly attractive to certain strands of the British audience when the new multi-cultural Britain seems to throw out any certainty about what Britishness is. It could be seen as comforting and re-assuring for sections of the audience to wallow in a version of Britain that actually bears increasingly little relation to the Britain outside their doors. The area of London called Notting Hill has for a number of years been associated with black culture – most notably the Notting Hill Carnival – but the film Notting Hill does not feature a single black character. There is also pleasure for audiences in watching a film which has British stars and British locations. This should not be underestimated.Working Title and an American, or international audience. All British films must, to a certain extent, try top secure some level of success overseas. Now that Universal Pictures have a majority stake, this is perhaps particularly true of Working Title. They have not enjoyed huge success in the USA, but it is significant that
their biggest success, Notting Hill, plays on a particular type of Britishness. American audiences are perhaps particularly drawn to British films which seem to corroborate their own sense of Britishness. It is notable that a film like Notting Hill actually features many of the landmarks of London that Americans would be most familiar with. Atonement recently secured an Oscar nomination for best film. It is interesting to reflect how this film also includes features that American audiences might most easily associate with Britain (stately homes, pale elegant girls, domestic staff etc). Getting international audiences to watch a British film is not always easy. Perhaps the best way is to make sure that the film is seen to be in some way quintessentially English. Could we argue then that much of Working Title’s list packages a comfortably version of Britishness for consumption overseas? What do you think?