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Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
FilmFour closure: What does it mean for the UK film industry?
FilmFour has lost out in rivalry with heavyweight Hollywood studios as Channel 4 plans to close its sales and distribution arms.
After two years of financial losses the film production division is to be re-integrated into Channel 4's main television operation.
FilmFour has a history of producing successes such as Trainspotting, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Crying Game and East is East.
Recently positioning itself to compete with American studios, the company suffered a series of box office flops such as The Parole Officer and Birthday Girl.
Abandoning large international projects, outside investment will be sought to bolster the experimental, low-budget FilmFour Lab in making more cutting-edge British films.
What effect will FilmFour's lower profile have on the British film industry? Do you welcome the re-focus on fringe film-making?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
That means farewell to the memory of the best British movies of the 90s... can you imagine what British cinema would have been with out movies like Trainspotting?
It's the end of an era - FilmFour actively read and returned my unsolicited scripts with constructive criticism to give me encouragement to get into film. The problem is, a British film has to be successful abroad to get critical support even if it's a proper financial hit here. Once the market for the FilmFour channel had been eroded by the DTT deal, there was less retrospective money via subscription to be generated for new movies so it's simple economics.
Every film industry in the world has its flops. Even MGM which only has the Bond films re-allied with Fox to save on distribution costs. Where will these new fringe films go? Saying "Make your art films and don't compete" isn't going to get the UK film business back on its feet. Come on C4, get more aggressive on promoting your subscription film channel to get more retrospective revenues in, and come back next year!
Rich Johnson, Australia
Prime quality films such as The Crying Game and East Is East took major risks and had amazing cinematography. They dealt with brilliant, stark issues prevalent in British society. There was nothing Hollywood about these films. As FilmFour's profile grew there appeared to be a more American essence to it and understandably, backers had to be kept happy. However British film is a reflection of what Britain is about. If we are to continue making groundbreaking films like Nil By Mouth then going back to fringe film-making is a very positive move.
All of FilmFour's best work has been low budget stuff, so hopefully this will signal a return to greatness!
I blame marketing. Some FilmFour productions may not have been absolute classics, but many very average, or terrible American films do really well in the box office.
Essentially this down to vast marketing budgets American studios have. These make sure everyone and their dog know about a film, regardless of quality.
FilmFour just can't compete with this. And if the paying public aren't bright enough to see through the marketing glitz then they can share some of the blame too.
J Duncan England
It was obviously a foolish idea to try and compete with America - we should always work to develop our writers, directors and film technicians, and not worry about whether or not the Americans will like the films we produce.
This is a shame, they almost always produce interesting (if not good) films. They definitely have a much better average quality than the Hollywood studios.
Looks like we will go back to American companies reaping all the profits from British films. The government really should have given them every break they could.
If you want to be in the film industry, you have to make films people will pay to watch. It is fine to make alternative films but if they aren't good enough and no one wants to see them, it is hard to justify the spending.
What it really means is less self-indulgent, pretentious films that no-one wants to watch.
The real competitive pressures are coming from upstarts like Canada and Australia who provide great low-cost locations to make movies.
I'm not that worried about luvvies making films. However demands made by the film industry are often a spur to development of technology so the knock-on could be unfortunate for some of the techies in the UK.
Why did they ever think they were able to compete with Hollywood? This country has plenty of expertise in the special effects and other back room skills: why did they continue making small conventional boring films? If the BBC could make Walking With Dinosaurs why couldn't this failed film-maker use this technology to make sci-fi or fantasy blockbusters? Their answer seems to be to make even more esoteric rubbish. Stop trying to be cutting edge and try making some entertainment, then we would have something to watch.
The idea of producing fewer movies with bigger budgets was always doomed to failure given FilmFour's tenuous finances and the very competitive nature of film making and distribution.
They should have simply carried on with the original formula of producing lots of quirky, low budget films in the mould of Trainspotting.
FilmFour no more?
No more awful films starring Hugh Grant.
Sorry Ian. But we still have Working Title to give us those Hugh Grant films.
09 Jul 02 | Film
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