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Adult; Other Nonfiction; (Market)

Until 1970, Britain had the second biggest film industry in the world. Studios like the Rank Organisation, Associated British Picture Corporation, British Lion and Anglo-Amalgamated made and released more than fifty films per year. British Cinema was thriving and selling its unique product globally. There were countless opportunities for film makers. Tens of thousands worked in British Films. Today we have not one single British movie studio and 98% of the films in our cinemas are made by foreign entities. Every major European country has an indigenous movie culture. What happened to ours? Who killed it? And how can we get it back?
\tIan McLoughlin MBKS

There is no shortage of resources for new and emerging filmmakers; there are courses, free and paid; apps, some excellent and some not-so-good; there are many, many books written about every aspect of the art from writing the script to where to stay in Cannes when you’re sending your new baby out into a world of adoring soon-to-be fans.

All of these, to a greater or lesser degree, have their uses; but, if like me, you are involved in the production of shorts and / or features in the UK, there is one resource that will make you angry, very angry. A book (and documentary film) that will make your blood boil and, if you’re anything like me, wonder why you decided to become involved in the obviously pointless world of UK film making in the first place.

If it doesn’t make you angry; if it doesn’t make you want to scream in rage; if it doesn’t make you say “This has ALL got to change” then you’d better go and do something else because, believe you me, you might think you love film and cinema, but you most certainly don’t!

The book “Who Killed British Cinema?” by Vinod Mahindru and Jonathan Gems, is an in-depth and comprehensive look at the British film industry - or rather, the lack of it - from its glory days when it was the second largest in the world to the present day where there is not one single British movie studio and 98% of the films in our cinemas are made by foreign entities.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not a xenophobic Brexiteer Little Englander who thinks everything ‘foreign’ is bad; far from it. I’m a Remainer who has spent many years of his creative life in Europe, who loves the cinema of Bergman, Fassbinder (Rainer Werner rather than Michael) and Truffaut but who also grew up with, and has deeply rooted in his soul, the magnificent films of Michael Powell, Emeric Presburger, Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Chrichton and David Lean - not to mention Terence Davies, Derek Jarman and Peter Greenaway. Films that truly express our national identity, what it means to be British with all its peculiar sensibilities, films that show our individualities and uniqueness in a way that the current diet of pap served up at the multiplexes could never hope to achieve.

The book examines the way in which film funding has gone in this country, the role of such bodies as the BFI, BAFTA, the erstwhile Regional Screen Agencies, Creative England and, most interestingly the policy of successive governments, that have led to the demise of our most successful creative industry.

Read it. Watch the documentary. Listen to what ex-CEO’s of these august bodies say about spending 65% of their agency’s budget not on film production but on admin and salaries. Read about funding bodies who fund production companies owned by members of the funding bodies who granted the funds in the first place. Do this and don’t get mad, I dare you !

This is not a negative book, nor a negative film. It is rather a call to arms for every film maker in the UK to say “This is not right, this has to change”; I found it inspirational; I found that, though my blood boiled at the sheer injustice of it all, it has increased my determination to succeed ten-fold. As Buckminster Fuller is quoted at the end of the documentary film:

“ You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

If you buy one book about film making, let it be this one. It will change your life and - who knows? - maybe just help you to reinvent our beloved industry.

Who Killed British Cinema? by Mahindru / Gems
Quota films ISBN 9781999842208