This is hastily written because I’ve had a long day, maybe later in the week I’ll rewrite it with less swearwords and more actual examples….
To everyone who’s bitching about the UK Film Council being abolished:
As someone who has been trained by, taught for, been through the funding process and had to attend seminars with the organisation, I’d just like to say this: THANK FUCK IT’S BEING SHITCANNED. It is without doubt the most ineffective, bureaucratic gravy train I have ever had the misfortune to witness. If you think that the organisation has been some kind of saviour for British film, you are HUGELY mistaken.
The UKFC was basically a place where a handful of people who didn’t seem to have had any obvious practical film-making experience lauded over all those who wanted to get interesting films made. For the best part of a decade, I’ve watched them waste money on lavish parties, regular ‘networking’ trips to L.A. and schemes which channeled money into the pockets of endless ‘experts’ and ‘consultants’ and not into films. Most of the films which have their name on it were actually independent productions which got off the ground completely independently and, at the point the film was looking like a sure bet, the UKFC would kick in a few thousand ‘completion money’ to get their name on the poster and justify their existence.
I’ve seen fantastic screenwriters have their scripts endlessly ‘workshopped’ until the script has no meaning on character and ends up not being made. I’ve seen huge amounts of money wasted on predominantly awful short films.
My main personal experience of them was that they spent a load of money training me to teach the screenwriting course – putting me up in hotels in London and paying my expenses, paying a guy to create and the course and train us to deliver it, then they never once asked for feedback. Not once. Not only this, they complained about having to spend money on script readers to find screenplays to produce but constantly ignored my offers to recommend to them excellent screenwriters who’d just spent 22 weeks doing their bloody course.
The times I have applied for funding have generally consisted of being sat in rooms with arrogant idiots spouting non-committal rubbish.
Back when film funding came through the Arts Council, they didn’t interfere. You applied, got some money, made your film warts n’all. That’s how we developed great filmmakers in this country.
In the decade that it has been operational, the ONLY filmmaker I can name who possibly owes their career to the UKFC is Andrea Arnold – director of Red Road and Fishtank. I don’t consider that much of an achievement.
The BBC today quoted Chris Atkins – director of the excellent doc Taking Liberties and Starsuckers as saying:
‘UK FILM COUNCIL ABOLISHED! Fabulous day! I wonder what 70 incompetent overpaid bureaucrats are going to do? I could use a couple of runners. [It had] far more misses than hits. Funded Sex Lives Of Potato Men, U2 3D, 4321, Rolling Stones, St Trinian’s, I could go on…’
I think you’ll find that to be the response from most actual film-makers.
I’m no Tory and I object to actual arts funding cuts but the UKFC was a gravy train for a bunch of arseholes and I’m absolutely chuffed to bits that it’s gone.