UK films urged to be more 'mainstream' in new report


Ken Loach: "Public money should go to fund a wide variety of projects"

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The British film industry should back more mainstream movies, a report is expected to recommend next week.

Ahead of a visit to Pinewood Studios on Wednesday, Prime Minister David Cameron said the film industry should support "commercially successful pictures".

His comments come before the publication of Lord Smith's review into the government's film policy on Monday.

The review was commissioned to find out how the industry could offer better support to UK film-making.

Mr Cameron praised the UK film industry but said "we should aim even higher, building on the incredible success of recent years".

He acknowledged the British film industry had made "a £4bn contribution to the UK economy and an incalculable contribution to our culture".

Lord Smith, the former Labour culture secretary, is also expected to recommend developing an export strategy to increase the profits of British films.

Speaking to the BBC, director Ken Loach said it was important to have a diverse film industry with a wide range of films to choose from.

"If everyone knew what would be successful before it was made, there would be no problem," he said.

"What you need to do is fund a lot of different, varied projects and then you'll get a really vibrant industry."

Loach added he would encourage more independent cinemas, saying: "The market does not provide choice if you don't intervene."

Oscar-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes, who was a member of Lord Smith's panel, said it was necessary to support mainstream films.

"There has been the thinking in the past that public money should only go into films that can't get any investment anywhere else," he told Sky.

"When you actually analyse that it means it should only go into films that nobody could conceivably want to see and there's no logic in that - you want to make a film-friendly, audience-friendly industry.

"It's not a question of not having minority films, it's just opening it up so we're also getting behind films that people might want to see."

Grassroots support

Mark Herbert, chief executive of Warp Films, which has made films including This Is England, Submarine and Tyrannosaur, said it was impossible to predict which films would be commercially successful.

He said the company's biggest commercial success had been Four Lions, a comedy about inept suicide bombers.

"It took £3m at the box office, won festivals, did brilliant business in Germany and France and is up there with big studio films in terms of DVD sales.

Bafta rising star nominee Adam Deacon Adam Deacon wrote, directed and starred in the comedy Anuvahood

"Yet nobody backed that. There was no public money in that. When I was trying to raise the money, I had very experienced funders and producers saying 'Nobody will go and watch this film.'"

He also pointed out that black and white silent film The Artist was making more money per screen than any other film currently on release in the UK and is favourite to win best picture at the Oscars - but would not have looked like a hit on paper.

"You can imagine people saying 'Who's going to watch a black and white silent film?' But they are, and people are loving it," he said.

Mr Herbert added that independent regional film-makers must continue to be supported as well as major film studios, and that new talent must be nurtured by supporting low-key, low-budget films.

"For talent to get to the stage where they can pull off [making] a blockbuster, they need to support the grassroots. It's like having an elite England football team and not supporting any young players."

Speaking at the announcement of this year's Bafta rising star shortlist, nominee Adam Deacon, who wrote, directed and starred in Anuvahood said: "2011 was a great year and our films like Attack the Block and The Inbetweeners were competing against America.

"It shouldn't all be about The King's Speech and these sort of films. We need fresh talent and fresh ideas."

The Inbetweeners movie The Inbetweeners earned more than £45m at the box office

Film critic Mark Kermode, at the same Bafta event, said it was "impossible" to judge what was going to be a commercially successful film.

He said that independent cinemas and adventurous programming were an important factor.

"There are loads of great British films made every year and only a fraction of them actually find a foothold in cinemas. If you really want to address the way the British film industry works address exhibition and distribution - that's the answer."

The British Film Commission welcomed the prime minister's recognition of the economic impact of the movie industry.

Chairman Iain Smith said: "It is reassuring to hear the Government understands the role big budget, international movies shooting in the UK plays in building a world-class skilled workforce, while boosting the UK economy."

The report follows the abolition of the UK Film Council last year, which handed over its funding responsibilities to the British Film Institute (BFI).


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  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    We are bombarded by WW2 brain wash movies by the regime since 1950's. Winning a war means nothing most of the time. Germany lost the war but they are United. Britain won the war but It's devided, well, already devided, but hasn't named officially. Republic of Scotland, Republic of Wales. Dictators country England. By the way, there is already Nationalist movements started in Cornwall.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    The last thing the british film industry needs is to go for the 'casino' way of making films, gamble massive amounts of money on a current trend for x type of film, and potentially close the studio if a film dares to be anything other than a massive box office smash.

    The best films don't come from massive budgets, they come from bright ideas.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    There's nothing wrong with making good indepdendent films, but that shouldn't be at the expense of making successful films.
    Far too often British filmmakers start with a brilliant idea but then rather than follow it through and deliver what the audience wants say "let's not be formulaic, let's be different and quirky!".
    Please, a bit less snobbery and a bit more commercial nouse, for all our sake!

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    we make some cracking films, i mean its one of the few things we do really well, but what the flip is mainstream, does it mean absolute yawnfests with that gonk hugh grant??

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    Cameron wants to see more Rom Coms starring Hugh Grant. perhaps about the Royal family or funny cos they're like, so normal?! women wearing big pants. I'd imagine he'd be into films like that. Not against making comercial british movies as long as we dont either make the same .... over and over again or try to copy Hollywood to closely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    I'm sure there's an audience for socially relevant true stories but there's also an audience for entertaining escapism. Films that are made to entertain people not win awards. I want to see films like that. Can the british film industry cater for me as well? You went the right way with attack the block. More of the same please.

  • Comment number 158.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    I've just realised this fits in nicely with his "be more like the Americans" policy he applied to everything else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    148.SurfingSharka 'You're kidding yourself.'

    Nope. Just know how to match a product attribute with a market, and then scope the market. What I don't know about a particular product or market I know someone who does. I don't need to see it to know whether it will have popular appeal or not.

    As for putting the money in - would depend entirely on the pitch, and my opinion of those asking for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    It's silly to say that the film industry should back "commercially successful" films. The King's Speech has a premise that would never had got past that blinkered nonsense. We already make films that would be successful if they received adequate distribution and marketing. Why not take a leaf out of South Korea's success and make it law that a certain proportion of films shown have to be British?

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    Should the Gov gamble money on box office successes or spend it on giving the young a chance of a future? Do big money British films ever do well in the US (the biggest market for films) without expensive foreign stars? Should Gov money be used when private money is available? Isn't the real problem getting the distributers i.e. cinemas to show them rather than actually making them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    I don't know the exact percentage but I suspect that 30% of British films are a real commercial success and the rest are are either mediocre or flops. If the film industry needs more Lottery funding then it should come with certain strings attached and part of the successful profits pro rata should be reclaimed for the Exchequer - that's only fair surely?

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    Cameron wants Stalinist style propaganda movies. ASSADMINSTER PARLIAMENT leaders united. Scotland will remain as captured Nation. Stick with your dictatorship regime, ships soon will be sailed to find new continents, new colonies will be established to exploit, only your dictators can bring these promised glories back to you. Make movies like that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    But Mr Cameron - the mainstream is often bland, dull, boring, unimaginative, and attracts the usual riff raff. And, they sometimes fail.

    Films like the Kings Speech are just so more imaginative and interesting. And when they catch on - they make the millions!

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    George nothappy Orwell
    The reason most of those types of films get made and distributed - because a lot get made but never seen in cinemas - are because they're precisely what "commercial and mainstream" mean. If Cameron gets his way, it'll be rehashes of Green Street and Notting Hill forever and ever.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    Is 'mainstream' a code word for 'not challenging the government's world view'?

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    Really? Look at the films people are talking about above. Would you put your own money into making The Artist or Four Lions? Do you think they're mainstream? A black and white silent film, and a comedy about suicide bombers. Really mainstream.
    You admit not seeing films yet you could have predicted they'd be worldwide smashes. You're kidding yourself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    About time. Currently British cinema comes in 4 flavours:

    1. boring, tedious period drama (mostly for the old and upper class).
    2. miserable, violent gangster films (for chavs and thugs).
    3. annoyingly artistic guff (for the pretentious).
    4. common man overcomes obstacles and becomes successful (yeah, hope for the hopeless)

    But, there's plenty of good stories out there. So get to it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.


    I haven't seen either personally but from their attributes I would have predicted that they would do well, why do you consider it so unpredictable? Films are products approach them that way and you take a pretty good stab at what will do reasonably well.
    Also I don't DC was talking about making blockbusters just things that are more mainstream

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    Cameron, keep your nose out. You know nothing about film making. Lets make great British films and if every once in a while, one, like The Kings Speech is a massive hit, it funds further films


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