David Cameron: The Enemy Of Independent Cinema

January 11, 2012 by  
Filed under - Home, Features

Prime Minister David Cameron doesn’t like movies.  He’d rather watch sequels and remakes than anything new or interesting.  Because as we all know, something only has value if it comes with a price tag.

He’s down at Pinewood Studios today to talk about the future of film funding. Ahead of his visit he made comments that praised the UK film industry’s “incalculable contribution to culture” but said that future funding should be directed towards more “commercially successful pictures”.

“Our role, and that of the BFI, should be to support the sector in becoming even more dynamic and entrepreneurial, helping UK producers to make commercially successful pictures that rival the quality and impact of the best international productions,”

He went on to say, “Just as the British Film Commission has played a crucial role in attracting the biggest and best international studios to produce their films here, so we must incentivise UK producers to chase new markets both here and overseas.”

His comments are likely to reflect the allocation of future National Lottery funds – rewarding those that have box office success while neglecting those who don’t – not great news should you be a fan of films like Tyrannosaur or The Guard, both of which received substantial grants in 2011.

If funding is diverted away from independent film, then these films simply can’t get made which would be a substantial blow to UK culture.  And if money is given to films which are successes at the box office, then you’re giving money to those who don’t need it.  It’s the little guys and the first-time independent film makers that need funding, not box office smashes.

No funding means no films like Tyrannosaur

Cameron also seems oblivious to the fact that it’s often impossible to predict which films (to an extent) will be financially successful before they’re made – The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire, both of which were lottery funded, were unexpected financial monsters.

Even more worrying is the message that this sends out about priorities.  The underlying message of his statement is that the purpose of British films should be to make money; that it’s not worth funding something that has intrinsic cultural, but not financial value.  The British Film Industry contribution to culture doesn’t seem so “incalculable” now does it? 

Only rewarding commercially successful films will inevitably lead to a homogenisation of British films and a stagnation of creative and cultural talent. Expect more sequels and the recycling of old ideas instead of anything new or creative; expect less risk taking and more safe but dull filmmaking. That’s not to say that films shouldn’t be commercially viable – the money has to come from somewhere – but exclusively rewarding box office success is folly.

Independent films make life a hell of a lot more interesting but they also set the bar for the landscape of British talent in the future.  There are talented filmmakers out there who deserve our support – and what we support today determines the make-up of tomorrow.  To do anything less is to encourage mediocrity and let the dreary spectre of boredom into our lives.

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  1. Steve says:

    His politics are as ugly as he is. Cant stand the way he looks, cant stand the way he talks and his politics suck. God help up all with assholes in No.10

  2. Patty says:

    There are so many of these Tory restructuring cost cutting initiatives. David Cameron really scares me!! Forced closures of libraries, selling off proven successful NHS services. He says it is necessary because of the debt left by previous Government, but this behaviour is identical to the Conservative Ideology that has been present for hundreds of years. Remember those promises? Now he is proving he has no interest in intelligent thought provoking films. I think he is afraid they will portray him as he really is. This is purely Machiavellian.

  3. Cameron definitely gave an opinion without valid justification.

    I believe that, in order to tell someone how something should be done, you have to know about it too. Cameron’s only connection with the film industry is the financial aspect and creative geniuses of cinema (especially independent film-makers) know that money was not what gave them the unique idea for their own little masterpiece. The PM’s view of a cinematic masterpiece is anything with a massive box office hit. This is disgusting. He should be told that risk-taking was how this industry was born and continues to thrive as fresh even amongst the dregs of reused ideas and sequels.

  4. John says:

    Its not really fair on him though-why was someone that obviously has little interest in movie making, chosen by pinewood to talk about the future of film making? Just because he is PM? According to the statement above it seems to be all about the money-that comes first, and not creativity. Yet he then talks about the uk maintaining a high quality of movie making, promoting british culture where possible. That doesnt make any sense-slightly ironic. There is no way of predicting or making a reasonable guess of how successful a movie may be either-unless its a generic action movie aimed at a certain audience, or has been done before (remake of a foreign film). In todays world its terrible advice to the artists of today or tomorrow, as those kind of films lack ideas, as they simply grab from elsewhere. He should be saying the opposite. So in the end he ends up saying that the british are just copycats out to make money. Is that part of our culture?

    In any industry, including cinema, money will always be the number one focus, and hardly anyone goes to the cinema anymore, which makes the matter worse. It could be mainly because of the digital age of downloading, but you might want to take into account that the real reason could be that the majority of movies just arent as interesting or original as they could be anymore. Its how we can pull in the majority and make more money, not how we can make this film better. More creativity is required, so our own PM stating the money comes first is not going to help. The west has been remaking movies for years though, with america leading in terms of low creativity-remakes aplenty. A remake is still no guarantee of a hit, but if the original was successful theres a chance that its more likely to happen (girl of the dragon tattoo et al). If you google up ‘list of film remakes’ you may be surprised at how many films were not usa or uk originals-and how many films set for release this year arent originals

  5. Mike says:

    I am tired, so very very tired of the people in politic who are supposed to look after and protect our interests but fail at every count….Yes Cameron is ugly in face and manner and style, but so are all our failing and failed politicly appointed people.
    Independent films and indeed Independent anything is the life blood that fuel’s any civilized culture…..without it all we have is more of the same and as is usual whenever politicians become involved all is suddenly doomed to failure.

  6. Adam says:

    I knew crap like this would happen if Tories were elected, that’s why I voted against them. Sure the other parties were/are dicks too, but I coulden’t see Labour trying to ruin the Brittish film industry to this extent somehow.

    As a film student this makes my prospects look very bleak, thank you very much Tory voters. Thanks a bloody bunch