Lesson 3 Ken Loach on Problems getting
Independent Films Made.
The Digital Revolution helps smaller British
• It is not all bad news.
• Despite the dominance of Hollywood Blockbusters, the increased use
of digital cameras, digital projectors and the internet means it is
possible to make films for smaller niche audiences.
“Shifty” and “Dreams of a Life”
• Initiatives such as the Microwave scheme enable low budget British
films that tell British stories such as “Shifty” and “Dreams of a Life” to
be made and distributed.
“Shifty” and “Dreams of a Life”
• Once made though, there is often a problem getting the film shown.
There are only a few Independent Cinemas which have a middle class
audience for films such as “Shifty” and “Dreams of a Life”.
Increasingly, initiatives such as Curzon on Demand means that an
audience can be targeted even if the film is not being shown in a
Distribution Costs and the impact on what
films are shown where.
• Another problem facing audiences across the UK is that until recent
years the cost of making, distributing films meant that studios had to
be selective about where and when they released their films.
• For example, there would be little point in releasing a Bollywood film
in an area that had 100% white citizens as it is unlikely that the film
would attract an audience.
• The same often applies to independent films. The cost of film making
means companies would rather not risk losing money by producing
prints of films that will not be seen or subsequently make any money.
The drop in DVD sales increases the pressure for films to be a box office
Impact of Digital Tecnology
• Fortunately before it was axed in 2010, the UK Film Council promised
in 2007 to increase the amount of digital projectors across cinemas in
• Digital film making allows independent film makers to produce a
larger number of prints at a smaller cost and therefore do not risk
losing as much money if the film is not seen by huge audiences.
• This lower cost eases the path of small independent films into more
cinemas and into new areas across the UK.
Within a media area you have studied analyse the importance of issues raised in the targeting of national and local audiences.
• Hollywood, big six cartel – lots of sequels (15-24).
• Blockbusters – dangers for industry (255-270).
• How audiences targeted for Blockbusters (“Hunger Games” 161-200 +
“Iron Man 3” 210-240)
• Difficult for British films to be made, shown and to attract an
audience. How targeted (“Shifty” 109-131 and “Dreams of a Life”
• Conclusion – positive (digital / on demand) or negative (DVD loss of
revenue / limited choice / too many Blockbusters).
• So sure are film studios of their Blockbuster policy that they are
mapping release schedules for five years ahead.
• Robert Downey Jr has just signed to make two more “Avengers” films
with Disney (release May 2015).
• Sony/Columbia has announced it will release “Spider Man” films may
‘14, June ‘16 and May ‘18.
The effects of blockbuster failure?
• George Lucas (creator of “Star Wars”) says
“It’s a mess. It’s total chaos. In future there will be fewer but bigger
cinemas and a revolution in pricing. Tickets may cost $50 -$100.
Going to the cinema will become an event / experience. The film will be
Hard to get serious films made.
• Paul Webster (Producer of “Atonement” and “Anna Karenina”) says:
• “It is as hard as it has ever been to get serious stuff of the ground.
This is mainly because films have become events and turned into a
spectacle. Big blockbusters are like stadium bands playing big arenas.
If you are trying to do interesting things you are forced to ever smaller
• He believes Television is now at the ‘cutting edge’ of innovation.
Production. Film 4.
• Katherine Butler is the Head of Film 4’s Low Budget Feature
• Katherine Butler took on her role in 2009. Film 4’s Low Budget
Department has turned out award winning titles including
“Tyrannosaur”, “Dreams of a Life”, “Kill List” “The Deep Blue Sea” and
“Berberian Sound Studio”.
• “The Guardian” said:
• These films stand for a bold new wave of British film making:
cinematically confident, generically ‘tricksy’, compelled by disturbing,
ambivalent subject matter.
• Direct quotes from Katherine Butler 31/12/12 “The Guardian”.
• “You are always going to fail.”
• “With risk comes failure as well as success and if we’re doing the films
for the right reasons then you can learn from mistakes and move on.”
• Butler said, “In 2009 I saw several micro-budget films that were
already pushing boundaries with strong directorial voices”.
• “Every year since then two or three really strong, self financed pieces
come through because technology is enabling that to happen.”
Production – Film 4
• Katherine Butler maintains:
• “The job for places like Film 4 and the BFI is to nurture people coming
through this route (micro-budget films) and to help enable film
makers who have already found their voice to continue to work with
the most freedom in an industry that is a business as well as a place
of artistic endeavour.”
Production Film 4
• “What counts as a low-budget for Film 4 – less than £2million – can
still mark a massive increase for a previously self-financed film maker.
• £2 million will not exert the kind of box office pressure that tends to
• Katherine Butler says;
• “Low-budget is a very risk friendly environment. It is an engine room
• “We want to work with directors again and again. Providing a home
for new directors is very exciting.”
• She maintains:
• “There are always films like “Tyrannosaur” and “Kill List” which don’t
do the highest box office but are so acclaimed they become stepping
stones for their directors and have a long life.”
• Finally she says:
• “It is the up and coming directors who get me excited.
• These film makers are so confident in the way they take genre on,
whether it’s comedy, thriller, horror or documentary.
• They are pushing at boundaries, evolving recognisable forms of
cinema into something their own…….”
• “That’s what excites us. The search for a new generation of directors
with the ability to take British cinema to the next stage.”
• Katherine Butler stresses:
• “Pushing at boundaries is a key priority – low budget is the only place
you can do that so you have to be working with directors who want to
take that risk with you.”
British Film Industry in Decline