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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    <span style="font-size:18pt;line-height:100%">Time for the credits to roll</span>



    <span style="font-family:arialhelveticasans-serif size3"><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:100%">Unlike their French and US counterparts, British film directors are largely unheralded and unvalued</span></span>



    <span style="font-family:GenevaArialsans-serif size2"><span style="font-size:10pt;line-height:100%">Don Boyd

    Monday November 14, 2005

    <span style="color:#cc6600">The Guardian</span>




    </span></span><span style="font-family:GenevaArialsans-serif size2"><span style="font-size:10pt;line-height:100%">Most people know that film producers primarily raise and manage money. But the talents of movie directors remain shrouded in mystery and ignorance. One of the complications is an ambiguous label - that of "auteur", which attracts as much derision as it does respect and eulogy. In The Writer's Voice, Al Alvarez articulates the special qualities which give a writer authorial personality and cultural status. Many of Alvarez's observations about great writers should apply equally to the genius of film directors. Extraordinarily in Britain, despite a treasure chest of talent (Hitchcock, Powell, Jarman), they do not enjoy such status



    The Directors Guild of Great Britain is trying to persuade the government to continue state funding of British films. Its submission, delivered last month, explains that, unlike producers, directors have been marginalised during government consultation, and it re-emphasises their pivotal creative contribution. Sadly directors' authorial authority is not being nurtured by the new generation of British film-makers, especially in the independent arena.







    Furthermore, state subsidy is being used to develop foreign film-makers' talents. This is most clearly demonstrated by The Proposition, a new Australian film financed by the British taxpayer and given handy subsidies from the UK Film Council and two lottery-funded production companies. Written by an Australian rock star, photographed by an Australian cinematographer, shot in New South Wales and directed by an Australian, the production's only nod to contemporary British culture is its superb cast, which includes Ray Winstone, Emily Watson and John Hurt - vital ingredients in its qualification as a "British" film.



    Gordon Brown has been a champion of British cinema and has provided generous tax incentives to stimulate investment. But when the Treasury was confronted with examples of this kind of fiscal manipulation, it cried "foul" and is reforming the law. Brown has mooted a new scheme that has one crucial frisson - subsidy will only be given to producers whose films attach more importance to their British origins and to the role of directors and their creative collaborators.



    In America, great directors characterise their society so much that just their names are metaphorical - Scorsese, Tarantino, Lynch. US directors have a trade union which negotiates their working conditions, collects their royalties and protects their editorial status. In Britain, despite the international reputation of stylists like Leigh and Loach, directors' unions have no such power. They have to mortgage their artistic rights to finance their films - forced to sign away the same moral rights enshrined in international law for novelists. This is outlawed in France, where cinematic heritage is emblematic in their culture and epitomised by the intellectual status accorded great directors like Godard and Malle.



    Even the culturally oriented British broadcasters tend to only recognise directors' rights through their contracts with independent producers. This kind of marginalisation must change if Britain is to consolidate its innovative influence in the emerging digital age, where creative industries will be of paramount importance. Brown's support for British film culture is, in this context, vital. At the end of The Proposition, Winstone's character is mortally wounded. Wrapped in a blood-soaked Union flag, he is forced at gunpoint to watch the rape of his wife (Watson) by an Australian serial killer. An apt metaphor for the perilous state of British cinema?



    </span></span>

  2. #2
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    I notice that the 3 American directors they mention are 3 of the most independent directors working in feature films.



    Steve

  3. #3
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    Interesting argument, but I'd suggest instead that British screenwriters be given that respect. They, not directors, tend to be ignored while at the same time being the ones who have the original creative vision -- they, unlike directors, often create something from nothing (even most adaptations from novels and plays and true-life stories are incredibly demanding). A few directors like Hitchcock were once writers and/or made a life-long practice of working closely with writers. Mike Leigh (with the actors) and Tarantino write their own movies. That's wholly different from most directors. Cinematic heritage has nothing to do with enshrining directors as auteurs, which is one of the most fanciful and unreal notions around. As Robert Riskin said to his rather more famous colleague as he slammed some blank sheets in front of him, "Here, put the Capra touch on that!"

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    (AndrewLA @ Nov 26 2005, 10:29 AM) Quoted post</div><div class='quotemain'>

    Interesting argument, but I'd suggest instead that British screenwriters be given that respect. They, not directors, tend to be ignored while at the same time being the ones who have the original creative vision -- they, unlike directors, often create something from nothing (even most adaptations from novels and plays and true-life stories are incredibly demanding). A few directors like Hitchcock were once writers and/or made a life-long practice of working closely with writers. Mike Leigh (with the actors) and Tarantino write their own movies. That's wholly different from most directors. Cinematic heritage has nothing to do with enshrining directors as auteurs, which is one of the most fanciful and unreal notions around. As Robert Riskin said to his rather more famous colleague as he slammed some blank sheets in front of him, "Here, put the Capra touch on that!"

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