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Summary of Topic
From the first moving pictures shot in London by Louis Le Prince, the “father of cinematography” in 1896 to the 1960’s British New Wave movement which introduced the iconic James Bond films, British film has always had a strong positive influence in the world of cinema. However, the nation which gave us some of the most influential filmmakers in cinema history (Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, Ridley Scott, and David Lean, to name a few) has had a very discordant love affair with stable industry success. Lack of funding and distribution has made it nearly impossible to compete with Hollywood as a totally independent industry. A great number of British films are American funded. Many attempts to revive the declining industry have been put into effect, the earliest being the Cinematograph Films Act of 1927. The act was passed to encourage the prosperity of the developing industry by boosting local production in an attempt to compete with Hollywood. More recently, the UK Film Council (now merged with the British Film Institute) has been working towards similar goals, granting funds to UK filmmakers in an effort to see more British films made while preserving the culture established by the renowned artists of the past. Despite these challenges, the industry has made numerous contributions to world cinema. The story of British film history is one of endless perseverance resulting in timeless creative masterpieces and innovative technical advancements.
Cinema is not merely a source of entertainment, it is a collection of cultural contributions. It is visual evidence of technical advancement throughout history. It is an art form directly influenced by each country, culture, and time era. Each country’s cinema is unique in that it conveys the ideological beliefs shared by that specific culture. It is a mirror of the people themselves. This film focuses specifically on British cinema. This documentary will be a compilation of conversations with various British film industry professionals sharing the stories of their personal contribution to the industry as well as addressing present issues. As the discussions unfold, we will hear about the early history of British cinema and how the work of influential filmmakers of the past paved the way for those involved in film today. Filmmakers, screenwriters, critics, producers, film historians, and the individuals involved with the world renowned BFI and BAFTAs will share their personal experiences working in different areas of the industry. In order to fully understand an entity as a whole, you must be familiarized with each piece that makes it work. Hearing from different professionals and the role they play in the industry will expand the audience’s knowledge while deepening their appreciation.
Everyone involved will discuss which films and artists initially inspired their interest in cinema. Directors will share stories from productions they have worked on. Film historians will discuss the industry’s development throughout the ages. Critics will discuss the greatest British films ever made and actors will share their experiences working on these projects. Aside from this general celebration of British cinema, various industry concerns will be addressed such as the constant search for identity, competition with Hollywood, how the creative industries affect the economy, and the lack of film funding and distribution. Ultimately, this film will answer the question “What is the cultural and economic relevance of cinema in the UK?”
The “characters” in the film will be the industry professionals interviewed. The film predominantly consist of interviews, conversations, discussions of various topics relevant to British film culture.
The film will begin with establishing shots of London, where the documentary will be centered. Starting with well known landmarks and moving on to locations relevant to the subject of the documentary: cinemas, the BFI, BAFTA building, studios. Iconic film locations paralleled with the footage from the film itself. A montage of British films made by the filmmakers featured in the documentary, with a voiceover setting up the film by giving a brief history of the industry and its current state. A local cinema. Moviegoers give their general thoughts on cinema.
From here, we are transitioned into the discussions with our interviewees.
Different topics will be discussed. For the most part, the discussions will flow as one conversation touching various points as we hear from different members of the industry.
For example: a director will discuss the challenges he faced making a film, we then hear about the funding crisis from a producer, a film historian will touch on the British film industry’s constant battle with consistently funding their own projects, etc. In some cases segments will break up different topics being touched.
The making of this film will give people the opportunity to sit down with talented industry professionals to hear them discuss their work. Interviews will be done person to camera, having the questions asked off screen and essentially, edited out. The audience will feel as though they are directly involved with the people in the film; with the feeling they are being spoken to directly, rather than witnessing them being interviewed. The elimination of a middle person will create a palpable intimacy between the audience and the filmmakers featured. In some instances, a group discussion between professionals will be captured. The audience will always be brought into the world of the film as close as possible. Natural settings will be used for some interviews: homes, offices, pubs, cinemas, parks, landmarks, etc. Other interviews will be held in front of a backdrop in a more business/professional setting. Discussions will also be filmed in places of relevance/historic value.
Archived footage of films will be shown while subjects reflect on the UK’s rich cinematic history. Juxtapositions between the past and the present. We will hear of the people who impacted the world of cinema in an unforgettable way, relive the moments that marked history with relevance, and visit the places that silently cling to those memories still. We will hear the voices of new British talent; the individuals who ultimately possess the power to shape the future of the industry.
In many ways, this film is a cinematic time capsule. Collecting the historical information of the state of the British film industry leading up to the present, capturing the ardent passion of those involved, and expressing the importance of preserving and investing in this unique and limitless art form.