Jane Campion: Netflix may be more picky over projects after subscriber fall

By Rebecca Jones
Arts correspondent, BBC News

  • Published
Jane CampionImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Campion won best director at the Oscars earlier this year

The Oscar-winning filmmaker Jane Campion says she fears Netflix will be more "picky" about the projects it funds in the future, after the streaming giant saw subscriber numbers fall.

Speaking to the BBC, the director says her most recent film, the tense western The Power of the Dog, "couldn't have been made" without the support of Netflix.

But since then, the company has lost more than 200,000 subscribers, seen its share price plummet and cut staff.

Campion says: "I do think they're going to be more picky about other projects or, maybe, what's sad is not taking risks on people without names."

The BBC has contacted Netflix for comment.

But while she thinks Netflix may be more careful about what it funds in future, Campion is confident the streaming service would still invest in her work.

"I don't think it would be hard for me if I wanted to do something because I've established a relationship and they're incredibly loyal."

Image source, Netflix
Image caption,
Benedict Cumberbatch starred in The Power of the Dog

"They didn't offer me that much, that would have been nice. They offered something close-ish and no, the film couldn't have been made without them because we took it to the market and there were several different people interested. But we had budgeted the cost of it and the only people that were willing to go near that was Netflix."

The cast and crew of The Power of the Dog, which starred Benedict Cumberbatch, won dozens of awards around the globe, including best film at the Baftas.

It was nominated for 12 Oscars but won only one - for Campion herself as best director. It lost out to Coda, the drama about a family with a hearing daughter, in the race for best picture.

Responding for the first time, Campion is diplomatic.

"With the Academy it seemed that Coda really captured the hearts of people. It was an easier film to understand and, you know, that's the way it went and I'm happy for them."

Image source, Grant Matthews and Eliana Donini
Image caption,
Campion is reciting the opening lines of Shelley's final and unfinished poem, The Triumph of Life

Campion is talking to the BBC ahead of an event to mark the 200th anniversary of the death of the romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

He was only 29 when he drowned after his boat capsized off the coast of Italy on the 8 July 1822.

To mark the anniversary, there will be a special global reading of his final, unfinished poem, The Triumph of Life, read by 26 different people from around the world, with Campion reciting the opening lines.

But despite her many successes, including becoming the first female director to win the Palme d'Or at the Cannes film festival for The Piano, Campion, 68, says delivering those lines did not come easily.

"I was recording it and I thought, I'd better listen back. I thought, 'Oh that sounds a bit plain, a bit sort of flat.' So I was trying to direct myself, to give it more vitality or life.

"I probably did about 14 takes, I would say. I'm just one of those people that if I don't think something's right, I just keep going until I think it is - or better. If I can think of a way that it could be improved, I want to do it."

She became a fan of Shelley after making her 2009 film Bright Star, starring Ben Whishaw, about another romantic poet, John Keats.

Next generation

The Power of the Dog was Campion's first feature film for more than a decade. She has, she says, no plans at the moment to make another.

And she is relieved that despite the financial challenges it faces, Netflix will continue to fund the project.

"I was thinking, 'Oh gosh, they might withdraw the money, they can't make sense of it.' But I'm really thrilled that they're not doing that.

"You don't have to have a privileged background to participate and you don't have to pay any fees, so it's free, plus you get paid to go. So the hope is that we'll just make a level playing field for talent.

"Right now I'm just really feeling this desire to give back to the next generation and I just feel like, wow it really sucks, education these days. There's not enough finance for it.

"How are people supposed to get a go? I really don't like it. And if I've got any power to do anything, which I seem to have, I'd like to change it."

The Shelley bicentenary celebrations will be streamed free on the Keats-Shelley House YouTube channel. More information can be found here.

Related Topics