On the day that Danny Boyle's frenetic couplet of made-for-television DV films -- Strumpet and Vacuuming Completely Nude In Paradise -- had well-received industry screenings at Edinburgh, UK film-makers were urged to embrace lower budgets and "liberating" new styles of production.
"A lot of what goes on in UK production is driven at times by the illusion that we are up there with the US," said Elemental Films' Owen Thomas at a panel discussion on new cinema and low budget film-making. "It's increasingly apparent that what are $5.8m (£4m) budgets in the UK are not £4m because that money needs to be spent, but because they're often packed with wastage because [producers] are not rethinking how things can be done."
Such a rethink, Thomas argues, means cutting back on the mores of traditional production through the autonomy offered by DV. Elemental Films' own low budget DV feature One Life Stand, directed by May Miles Thomas, was fast-tracked through development, shot quickly with a streamlined crew and edited on a home computer.
This Is Not A Love Song, a DV feature from director Bille Eltringham and writer Simon Beaufoy, underwent a similarly fast-tracked production process. The film -- the pair's second collaboration after The Darkest Light, which was shot on 35mm -- saw a similarly swift development process. "We could make something really, really fast and not have anyone saying that we couldn't do it," says Eltringham on Love Song, which is currently being edited after shooting in under two weeks. "And that's a very, very attractive proposition -- it's much more liberating."
Low budget film-makers and writers were also urged to look for original UK stories rather than trying to emulate the themes of recent box office successes.
"People read off what is commercial from what exists," said Robin Gutch, head of FilmFour Lab, the low budget experimental arm of FilmFour. "So you had the phenomenon of the gangster scripts two years ago, and there tends to be a lot of supernatural scripts now because of The Sixth Sense."
"I'm amazed by the lack of filmmakers embracing British culture," said Paul Trijbits, head of the Film Council's New Cinema Fund. "In almost every European country -- and for that matter, the US -- independent cinema is portraying certain parts of the culture and we do that very little. There is an enormous amount of derivative material. Projects that deal with gangsters aren't particularly interesting in reflecting British culture."