Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Dear David Cameron

I read with great interest your comments on the British film industry this morning, particularly your contention that it be encouraged to make "commercially successful pictures". It comforts me that you have such a steady, sure-footed grasp on the mechanics of production/reception, and makes me wonder why, with your expert knowledge on what makes a film good – sorry, "commercially successful" – we didn’t appoint you Movie Tsar years ago. In fact, I’m sure that Hollywood would be grateful to hear from you, what with this miraculous, all-encompassing magic formula of yours.

Thanks for acknowledging that British films made "a £4bn contribution to the UK economy and an incalculable contribution to our culture" last year (interesting choice of precedence there, though I appreciate these are cash-strapped times), although I would perhaps question the wisdom of then advocating that resources now be ploughed solely into a select few projects, thus negating the potential livelihoods of those seeking to nurture their own creative aspirations. But never mind that, Dave – you know best.

It’s comforting that we can now forget those “niche” people – you know, those pesky minorities whose circumstances don’t feed into the “mainstream” (read: your) experience. Forget the millions of multiplex-averse viewers, the ones who - God forbid - might like to be bothered ever-so-slightly by the intellectual or emotional challenge of watching a film. Forget Fish Tank, Tyrannosaur, Regeneration, Kes, A Room for Romeo Brass. Forget those with a bothersome pretension towards actual artistry. Buh-bye, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, Shane Meadows – come back again when you’ve put some more guns and that in there (probably just as well that you’re all established directors now, since there wouldn’t be a hope in hell of your first features ever securing funding so that you could actually get to this stage).

In the meantime, YAY for James Bond. YAY for The Inbetweeners. YAY for quaint, Hollywood-friendly misrepresentations of British middle-class life, Heritage films and costume dramas populated by American actors for a bit of “star power”. YAY for limp, lowest-common-denominator comedies starring Mackenzie Crook or Rowan Atkinson, Billy Elliott and Calendar Girls. YAY for Richard fucking Curtis.

Cheers, Dave. Cheers for your contribution, especially after you helped to axe the Film Council and have been steadily withdrawing funding from the BFI ever since. Cheers.


All the fucking best,

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