2“Britishness” When we talk about Britain what do we mean? TASK 1: What is “Britishness”?Brainstorm a list of elements that you consider make something British.LanguageCultureFoodSense of humour?
3British TalentSince the 1930s the British film industry has struggled to compete with the influx of Hollywood films and the power of the Hollywood studio system.Unlike the US, Britain has never had a studio system.In addition many of the best British talents have emigrated to the Hollywood system.Task: How many British actors and directors that are now ‘big’ in Hollywood can you name?
4Recent example: Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright Simon Pegg began as a TV actor on shows like Spaced.The success of both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, led to interest from Hollywood.He has since appeared in US films like Mission Impossible 3 and Star Trek. In the US he is seen as a character actor and not a leading man.He has worked on UK/USA productions such as Run Fatboy Run and Paul.Edgar Wright the director of Shaun…. and Hot Fuzz has now gone to Hollywood and directed last year’s Scott Pilgrim.
5What is British cinema?British film is not as straightforward as it might initially seem. Some films are made in Britain by Hollywood, some films are about Britain but not made in Britain and so on….the film industry is incredibly international!TASK : Discuss these questions:Does the subject, story and / or setting of the film have to be British?What are British films about? Is there such a thing as a typical British film?Does it have to be made by a British director? Can you name any?Does it have to be made in Britain?Does it have to be funded by a British company? Do you know the names of companies that produce British films?Should it be made mainly for a British audience? Do you know any examples?
6Definitions of British film Legally a British film should have:Been mostly made in Britain with mostly a British cast and crew.Must be mostly be British financed.Must represent Britain.
7British Film finance UK film investment: Recap: how are Hollywood films financed?In the UK films are invested in like any other new product. Investors want some sort of guarantee that ‘the product’ will make money. However UK films are greater risks because of competition with US films.UK film investment:The government: a very small percentage of taxes are given to the UK film council to fund films. The current Conservative government have stopped using the UK film council.The lottery: the lottery was established in 1994 to fund the arts, including film.TV companies: UK TV companies have been the most important source of funding for the UK film industry. The BBC and Channel 4 have had a big influence on the industry particularly Film Four which has subsequently closed.
8UK co-productions Have a look at the two film grossing tables. Make notes on the sheet regarding:The types of film that feature in both lists.The money that the films gross and the differences between the tables.The kinds of distributors.
9Case Study – ‘The King’s Speech’ Watch the trailer:‘The King’s Speech’ is very much an example of a UK ‘sleeper hit’. What does that mean?It is a fairly rare example of a UK film that has been commercially and critically successful in the US.But why?
10King’s Speech- why such a hit? Culturally one of the reasons for its success is that it deals with class and the royal family, two things US audiences love. Its also about someone with a disability overcoming it and ending up a better person, again a winner with US audiencesAs discussed previously, there are few guaranteed successes in Hollywood, which is why they produce so many remakes, sequels and TV/comic book adaptations.The King’s Speech is a low budget, human interest story that although based on real life is not a remake or sequel.It is also a film that older audiences (35+) will go and see as possibly there only visit to the cinema this year. The majority of films are marketed at year olds at they are the largest cinema market.It is a ‘word of mouth sleeper hit’. A film that did not aggressively market itself but spread as more people saw and as it won more awards.
11To conclude- problems with British film? Hollywood power: Most UK films are independently made and find it difficult to compete with the big US multi- national companies. The market is saturated by US imports. US films have more money to market/advertise.American imperialism: We are living in an ‘Americanised country that is generally dominated by US culture( think of the music and TV industries as well).The idea of ‘Britishness’: until recently the British film industry was accused of ignoring issues and subject matter of those outside of the ‘white mainstream’. Recently films like ‘Bend it Like Beckham’, East is East, ‘Dirty Pretty Things’ and ‘Bullet Boy have begun to challenge British cultural stereotypes.No structured studio system. Too much onus on independent financing and govt/lottery money.