Graham Eley's Comments
You have hit the nail on the head. The festivals also play absurd box ticking games but, on balance, they are a better guide than the awards season for recognising genuine achievements. The top five charter selections for best director has an ominous look to it for other contenders in the prestigious awards categories. Four received nominations for best drama picture and best director at the Golden Globes and the other has obvious BAFTA street cred. In the truly amazing omissions category, it was disappointing that John Hawkes did not receive recognition for his supporting role in Winter Bone. If there was any justice, Lambert Wilson (Of Gods and Men) would have received a best actor nomination but it was never going to happen. The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo's inclusion in the non-English lang category (ahead of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives and many more) lays bear the critical/commercial balancing act at play in the awards season genuinely. And rough justice for The Ghost (Writer), which should, at the very least, have received a best directors inclusion.
Comment on: Embracing change
A timely reminder also that we need greater focus upon film distribution. Soda Pictures excellent New British Quarterly Series provides a workable model for showcasing new innovative work from UK filmmakers. The aforementioned Skeletons was one of the most original and compelling UK films for some time and its inclusion in Soda's 2010 collection provided a key platform for building upon its Edinburgh succeeds. More schemes of this kind are essential.
Comment on: Falling Stars?
Perhaps the demand for originality will coincide with the deep sense of political dissatisfaction to produce something genuinely interesting that will perform in the multiplexes based on its merits instead of star or director power. More likely though, the so-called shift in favour of originality merely reflects the law of diminishing returns and sheer mind blowing boredom eventually kicking in following 30 years of lazy repetition rather than a more discerning audience. Expect more mainstream nonsense of a slightly different character replacing old nonsense with the only exceptions coming from those films that also perform in the independents.
And thereby lies the problem. There is no greater similarity between genuine art house films and commercial fare as between literary fiction and the airport bestseller. Unfortunately, though, art house films are dependent upon the infrastructure that the commercial sector provides and a sustainable film industry is as important to art house films as any other. This integral link between the two sectors notwithstanding completely different ambitions - one long term cultural gain and the other instant commercial profit - massively complicates the industry and its funding. There are no easy solutions but it is of paramount importance that we have an integrated policy that provides the necessary support to all parts of the industry.
On the contrary, UKFC appears to have acted in a professional and measured manner whilst prioritising the wider interests of the industry. The consequence of the d(r)aft proposed closure without alternative plans is uncertainty. Everybody knows that uncertainty equals risk, and speculation was inevitable that the major studios would mitigate against it by relocating elsewhere. The words 'clutching' and 'straws' spring to mind.
Comment on: Redistributing the wealth
With the narrowing at both ends of the festival season - producers and sales agents passing on Berlin in the hope of a slot at Cannes in addition to the Venice/Toronto logistical nightmare - the revamped Locarno does indeed provide an opportunity for some titles to escape the congestion but the first post above does rather illustrate the challenge that OP faces in persuading industry figures generally to change their working habits and prejudices.
Comment on: Have your say: UK film industry's future
Additional comments: 1, The levy payment would place a corresponding pressure on the industry at some point notwithstanding how seductive the figures might seem at first sight, 2, We should limit any levy to the most basic gap funding so as to mitigate against the risk of the DCMS using it as an excuse/soft option for reducing lottery funding and tax credits, and 3, The transfer from DVD sales to other platforms is already slower than anticipated and we should not impede this process with a premature levy.
Comment on: Have your say: UK film industry's future
Model: 1, Retain Lottery funding, 2, Retain tax credits, 3, Retain UKFC but with simplified processes & proportionate overheads, 4, Establish voluntary committee of respected industry representatives from all sectors to monitor UKFC funding decisions and publish findings on defined dates, 5, BFI to report direct to DCMS, 6, Producers to retain the public sector profit share, 7, Closer integration of all sectors of the film industry via funding conditions and incentives, and 8, Bridge funding gap via a modest levy against ticket sales subject to impact study.
Film’s text on this point: 1, Migration - The exposition made it explicit that Mike Campbell moved to Zimbabwe in 1974, and 2, Acquisition - Campbell’s lead attorney for the appeal confirmed unequivocally on camera that Campbell acquired the farm “in 1980 after independence, purchased on the open market and on a certificate of no interest from the Zimbabwean Government” (4.08m, Chapter 4, DVD version).
Focus on Lord Puttnam’s response that the UKFC has been the “strategic glue” that has helped “bind the many parts of our disparate industry”. It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of integration to any film industry but there are particular challenges ahead in the current economic climate that make it even more crucial than normal. With extremely limited prospects for any meaningful improvement in public funding it is essential to structure more precisely the allocation of the existing or reduced funds across all sectors so as to enhance the prospects for films to achieve some kind of release. It would be logistically impossible to provide a fully coordinated approach without one central body having responsibility for industry functions. For this reason alone, it is possible - as some are speculating - that the DCMS may transfer these functions to the BFI but it remains to be seen whether an expanded BFI would achieve greater cost savings than a BFI/UKFC merger. Any division of functions will inevitably lead to a corresponding division of policy.