Further to an earlier post about ‘local filmmaking’ being a dirty expression when seeking publicity, I went looking for evidence to the contrary. Indeed, the very same day that I posted that post, this appeared on the BBC:
This is an example of the ENTIRELY local that I mentioned before, that constitutes a SCENE. I think it is awesome that this exists, but I wonder whether it really is ‘sending a message to industry’ in the way the BBC tout it as? There is no doubt that it is a demonstration of the talent that exists here, but it sends a really mixed message of economics. On one hand, it’s great that the film can be made for £2000, but it means we’d need 1000 features made here for it to be of £20m value to the region. Obviously, this isn’t what anyone is suggesting, but if anything will attract film business to the region, it will be the economic benefit. We’ve written about this before, but the fact remains that the only tool in our policy arsenal is grants or financial incentives to bring business to the region, presumably in the hope that they stay once the breaks are over and/or no-one else offers such deals. The example often cited in this region is Screen Yorkshire, who channelled European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) money into incentives that would encourage businesses to spend more money in the region that the ERDF originally outlaid.
Quite simple: if you come with two pounds, I’ll give you one pound, you’ll have three pounds, but all of it will be spent here.
It is a great idea, and it is essentially sustainable if you keep offering the incentive. But what if someone undercuts you? Is it a race to the bottom? And why are you offering cuts to businesses (like Disney in London for Star Wars) when they are going to be getting great profits? Sure, the Pinewood got the production dollars and Hollywood didn’t. But they do get the dollars in the end, right? They’ve outsourced the labour. In the same way that Nike don’t make shoes in America, Hollywood won’t make movies in Hollywood, because Britain has a sweatshop that will do it for them.
Is that what we want in the Midlands? I’d argue no. I’d base policy around the same methodologies that made Birmingham so great in the industrial revolution. Invest in the tools and spaces that would encourage the entrepreneurial people in the video above to make content for all kinds of platforms and seek profits in the niches of the under-represented. You don’t believe that it is happening in Birmingham? Check out the work that Raja Khan is doing at BooomTV. Or Mat and Ben at Nexi TV. These are ENTREPRENEURS, making content in the spaces that homogenised, global media doesn’t reach.
And then there is us. We are trying to demystify what is going on in the industry through this project. So let us be blunt. If you really want an industry in your local economy, it comes at a PRICE. Even the £15 ticket that we are charging for the 72 premiere doesn’t touch the sides of what we are spending in the region (and not spending, thanks to all the volunteers). Because the reason your cinema ticket is usually so cheap, is because everyones tax has subsided the cost of production and a company is still taking a shit load of profit.
There are 25 early bird tickets left. You can buy yours here.