David Cameron is announced today plans to drastically overhaul the British film funding system. Essentially the PM's plan is to divert lottery funding away from independent cinema and instead push the onus toward high budget, commercially successful films. Inspired by the success of The King's Speech and Slumdog Millionaire Cameron stated:
"Our role should be to support the sector in becoming even more dynamic and entrepreneurial, helping UK producers to make commercially successful pictures that rival...the best international productions."
It's been a confusing couple of days for Cameron where culture is concerned, whilst on the one hand channeling his inner 'hipster' by championing niche musical acts Lana Del Rey and Band Of Horses as well as declaring his admiration for the Malcolm McDowell movie classic If... Today's decision to become part of the crowd and play up to the Hollywood standards of film production is predictable but nonetheless disappointing.
The internet and particularly Twitter has been up in arms with the hashtag #fundablefilms settling in for a long stay on the trending topics board. Personal favourites so far include The Return Of The King's Speech and Bridesmaids Revisited. The internet has a big part to play in this latest development though and could be the key to safeguarding all of those homegrown directors, filmmakers, writers and actors that we all enjoy and who will now be completely disenfranchised by the new push for commercial success.
Online video is one of the largest parts of the web. It is both extremely popular as a search engine for various clips but also as a means to catch up with or watch television, films and various other video productions. Posting content to the internet is by and large free, and can in some cases cost the viewer nothing to watch.
Big name studios are already turning to the internet to release streams of their films, sometimes even on the point of release to the cinema. Now whilst the magic of the cinema is undeniable and it is a massive shame to see filmmakers like Ken Loach, Shane Meadows and Steve McQueen left out in the cold for funding, there will always be a place for their films online, and with the right kind of attitude and marketing the independent film world could make online video productions a real success.
Netflix and YouTube have already begun making original content. Google, Apple and Microsoft are bringing the online world to our television sets. Content is king on the internet and Britain has a slew of incredible talent that could use it to raise the funding needed to bring great films back to our cinemas.
As it stands for now we are going to have to watch a public funded body blow millions on what will probably be commercial failures at the box office in order to fulfil some kind of colonialist ideology that we can impress the world with giant British productions that are purely made to stand up to whatever sequel or remake Hollywood has released that week.
Follow Jonathan Heath on Twitter: www.twitter.com/yureisrevenge