Monday, 26 October 2009

Film Council kicks Starsuckers in the teeth

The UK Film Council has, for one reason or another, had it in for this film from the get go. Over 2 years ago we went for a meeting with the New Cinema Fund (the bit that's allegedly there to support and promote low budget films) to see if they were interested in funding this project. We were first admonished for making our previous film (Taking Liberties) for its anti- government stance, and were then told that they would have no interest in a film that critisised the media, and we were essentially warned off applying for funding. On hindsight it did seem a bit of a fools errand to ask for cash from a public body who's Chairman is Tim Bevan (Head of Working Title - owned by Universal) and who's board members include Elizabeth Murdoch (daughter of Rupert, wife of Matthew Freud, sister in law of Richard Curtis etc etc). 

But today they really stuck the knife in by rejecting an application for what is supposed to be a compulsory £5k grant that they are supposed to give to all British films to help with their releasing costs. The Film Council's P&A Fund was allegedly set up to help support Independent Films fund their theatrical release. Putting a film into cinemas costs an arm and a leg, so this fund was set up with great intentions to help distributors cover the costs of advertising, marketing and so forth. In reality the majority of this money actually goes to promote foreign films with famous people in. Over the years your tax funded mandarins have given six figure sums of your money to impoverished artistes like U2 ("U2-3D" awarded £166,000) The Rolling Stones ("Shine a Light" awarded £154,000) and Harvey Weinstein, instead of giving it to genuine indie brit producers. Nonetheless they do have a "fast track" scheme which is essentially there to give a derisory bung to actual British film makers to make them go away and not complain. The standard grant that is doled out is £5,000 (which is about 5% of the minimum money needed to release a film theatrically in the UK) and has become known as the "f*ck off five grand" in film making circles. It's just about enough cash to pay for an advert the size of a postage stamp, but better than a kick in the teeth.

Starsuckers applied for this and has instead been given kick in the teeth. As of today - to the best of my knowledge - we are officially the first British Film to be rejected for the F*ck off five grand based on the content. They have taken the view that because this film is (oh-er!) controversial, and critises lots of important media people - some of whom are on the board of the Film Council - then they as a public body are rejecting what is supposed to be a standard & automatic grant. If we had made a piece of marketing for a record label masquerading as a film about some tax dodging rock stars then presumably we'd have money thrown at us. We'll know for next time.

Meanwhile we are now getting more cinema bookings by the hour, and we will be proceeding ahead with out the Film Council's help.

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