Show menu
Shooting People
By continuing to browse this website you are agreeing to allow us to use cookies

Is the documentary "Who Killed British Cinema" an accurate representation of independent UK cinema?

After watching the documentary "Who Killed British Cinema" on Amazon Video [link updated] - is this an accurate representation of independent UK cinema?

It seems like there was a combination of collusion, cronyism, incompetence and greed that caused the British studio system to crash. Various British politicians, ministers and executives all seem to have a part to play in this sad state of affairs. What they've done is instead of promote, support and push British studios, they've focused on attracting "inward investment" from Hollywood, persuading them to film here through tax breaks and promoting our world-class filming facilities at Leavesden and Shepperton, technicians and special FX and post-production facilities in London like Framestore.

I think this course of action reflects the UK as a whole: we're now a service economy always seeking to attract foreign investment from America, Russia, Middle East and China which goes into property, sport, shopping and filmmaking. Yet, when the profits are made, the majority of the money flows back home to their countries!

We had Ealing Studios, Rank Organization and British Lion constantly making films, good and bad. Where are their successors? It can't be that hard to run a studio making films for £1-5 million in the comedy, horror and thriller genres?

The documentary is eye-opening: from claims that Harry Potter and Gravity are hailed as "British" successes yet American-financed, with production here (J.K. Rowling wished for a British studio to make the Harry Potter movies, but none exist!), film council execs funnelling funding into their own production companies, independent British filmmakers finding it impossible to take advantage of British tax breaks and the removal of levies that balanced the playing field for British films!

Please watch and discuss!

  • It's kind of long for a youtube video. Before I watch it, can you verify that the doc is on there legally? A search shows a documentary by the same title as being available for sale.

    If it's not on there legally, there's another part of the problem.

    One thing about documentaries is to know that they should always be taken with a grain of salt. Since Nanook of the North, many docs have been made for maximum impact, not maximum accuracy. Especially when you talk about money, politics, or blame, there's a danger of not only bias but also hyperbole for the sake of getting attention.

    1 year ago
    • I can ask the director! I went to the London screening for this film

      1 year ago
    • The Director has submitted a takedown notice as they did push hard to get it made. It will be released properly soon

      1 year ago
  • I watched it and thought it was definitely interesting, if not unsurprising unfortunately... If it had been better polished, both in the filming and editing, It would have been much more engaging. Still interesting though and def worth watching for anyone involved in UK filmmaking.

    1 year ago
  • The profits may go back to America but then a lot of that profit comes back again to the UK in the form of more inward investment. After all, that is where the money comes from that the Americans use to fund materical that they make here; from their profits. Film making is a global business, with many productions being international in nature and having nationals of many countries working on them. None of the big studios can be said to be American anymore; they are all multinational. And Netflix is now opening a UK base.

    1 year ago
  • you should also read Icons in the Fire: The Decline and Fall of Almost Everybody in the British Film Industry
    by Alexander Walker.... that also explains what happened

    1 year ago
  • It's a shame the doc was removed. It is available legally to stream at Amazon Video: . I bet you'll never see it on Sky Arts or Film Four! Everything in the doc contributes to the situation we have today.

    1 year ago
    • The shame is that someone decided to upload something that wasn't theirs.

      1 year ago
  • Its ironic that people are discussing the fate of the British Film Industry from the stand point of discussing a documentary that is a pirated copy posted illegally on Youtube. The very piracy that is threatening the Film Industry (certainly the Indepentant Film Industry). I haven't watched it but I assume it is monetised (adverts at the beginning) so anyone who watches it is fueling this piracy.

    1 year ago
  • The documentary can be seen legally as I pointed out. Why don't we talk more on the original subject?

    1 year ago
  • As I suggested in the recent conversation about 'Why London?'. The premise of Matthews question and the presumption of those who can only see the tip of the ice berg, no matter how learned they might be in the study of ice berg tips, is emphatic but only within an artificial paradigm.

    Exactly what does the term 'independent cinema' mean? Commonly it refers to films made outside of the big studios or some other large corporate structure. Apart from some niche low budget examples the existence of such films though are rarely wholly independent, especially where distribution is concerned.

    In an industry where even a million pounds is regarded as low budget such risky sums in any other context are usually regarded as being beyond the means of 99.999% of human beings. It's a globalised multifaceted thing in which the UK, regardless of what it might say on the credits, is a very major player and stake holder.

    1 year ago
  • I watched the documentary on Amazon and enjoyed it. It raises the interesting question about national cinema and how we ought to be doing more to promote independent "British" films. One suggestion is to introduce a quota as the best solution for a 'bad market' as Ken Loach put it. That's something the French do, and they also restrict blockbuster releases to two screens in multiplexes to encourage greater diversity. Well, that probably depends on whether we view film production primarily as a commercial activity or a cultural activity worthy of nurture and cultivation. Unfortunately I'm not entirely sure what a "British" film is.

    1 year ago
  • Commerce is a great part of British culture, so I don't see a separation between commercial and cultural. Commerce isn't all about money either. It's a very social thing.

    Globally, I also think film tax credits (and cultural tests) encourage unimaginative franchises that could be shot anywhere.

    Did you know that a Transformers film qualified as culturally Korean? What a farce. I could go on, look at the DC movies, find out how they were financed. Does the film subsidy make better movies? no. Does Transformers make you want to visit Korea? The money would have been better spent on schools and hospitals.

    Perhaps we should bring GATT or the World Bank or some other global agreement to ban the farce of corporate welfare. All incentives to get a business to locate in a certain area end up failing. I lost count of how many global companies came to Wales, soaked up money, and then left and went home. Amazon also does it with warehouses in the US.

    The film industry is just the tip of the iceberg. It's all corruption, making the silicon valley and other billionaires richer at taxpayer expense.

    1 year ago
  • I interviewed the filmmaker for Britflicks podcast ... there's links in the show notes to where you can buy the DVD and of course it's available via Amazon as pointed out ...

    UK wanted to appease USA and that destroyed the film industry as was... everything in the doc is consequences of those public policies and latter-day well meant attempts that got corrupted by ineptitude and dodgy ethical practices

    It's a sad tale that's for sure

    1 year ago
  • I listened to the podcast, it was illuminating. It's so frustrating now that there's no studio structure for filmmakers to go to, to make regular films.

    1 year ago
    • Tell it to the Thatcher lovers... The removal of the levy from foreign films (read USA) shown in the UK that went into the pot to help UK films get made was the beginning of the end :)

      11 months ago
  • I was at Pathé back in the 60s when, amongst other films, we produced Pathé News for which we charged each cinema £25pw. 350 prints had to be out at our 350 cinemas by Sunday afternoon and as (usually) it included a Saturday football match we were dubbing on Saturday night. No time for a rush print and we projected the original neg and the projector had felt gates. Bob Danvers-Walker came in and we started around 11pm on Saturday night, finishing maybe 2am on the Sunday. Union rates were 8 hours double time minimum for each day. 32 hours pay for 2-3 hours work - and this went on for all the years I was there. You do the maths! Who destroyed the Cinema?

    1 year ago