When visiting the Film Council website I got confronted by this message:
"Only 2 weeks left to make the case for more money for film.
We’ve got until the end of February to make the case that film should get a bigger share of National Lottery money. Please spare a few minutes of your time to fill in the questionnaire."OK, I question their maths as I make it less than a week to the end of the February but that's beside the point. The real point is that I didn't fill in the questionnaire at the time. I thought "yeah, I should support British film", then immediately thought, "well, I watch British films in the cinemas and they're mostly rubbish".
However I now recall the outrageously over-the-top media campaign against such funding and, if I have to choose sides, I have to choose to support British film. The most sustained and unjustified campaign was against the film Sex Lives of the Potato Men. It was called the worst film of all time but then some people saw it for themselves and found it was actually quite good. I remember discussions with people who hadn't seen it who were slagging it off:
"But it's not funny."
"I found it funny."
"I heard it wasn't funny."
"So? See it and then you have a right to an opinion."
It was sort of along those lines but with more swearing. Through word-of-mouth, it managed to stay on cinemas longer than the usual week and people made the effort to catch up with it on DVD. I'm not saying it's a classic and it could have done with another re-write but I was entertained and not bored and didn't feel robbed of my time and money.
The Trevor McDonald fronted ITV news show, devoted an episode to slagging off the lottery and loans/grants to film. They gathered together a group of people - none of them in the target group for the film incidentally - and asked them to watch Sex Lives of the Potato Men. Not surprisingly they didn't like it. But somewhat dishonestly, the reporter concluded that money therefore shouldn't have been given to the film as it wasn't popular but he failed to mention that, in the real world, the film was popular enough to be able to pay the money back to the Film Council to be re-invested in other new films.
While winding up scumbag hacks is a good excuse for supporting British Film in itself the Film Council actually presents a very strong case for what they do on the link below. Yes, some money does go to shitty first-draft scripts rushed into production but money also goes to proper well-written films as well and to help prevent every screen in your multiplex being taken up with tedious but well-made Hollywood pap.
You do have to register but the questionnaire only takes about ten minutes to complete.
Deadline: 28 February 2006
The Film Council: Background to the National Lottery Shares Consultation
National Lottery Shares Consultation