Results 1 to 18 of 18
  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain Captain Oates's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    341
    Liked
    0 times
    OK, so on Britmovie I preach to the converted � I�m saying nothing new on this forum but sometimes things can�t be said too loudly. Director Peter Watkins has ranted often enough about the Global Media Crisis but I�m not qualified to consider anywhere but the UK. I�m talking about the British Media Crisis.



    I use the past as the yardstick. I grew up loving British films and television. We did it very well � we had theatre-trained actors, imaginative writers, genius directors that had thankfully not strayed within five miles of Media Studies, Film Schools or BA in Auteurism. Also we had no compunction to try to compete with Hollywood. Why should we?



    But now I feel betrayed and insulted. Why have we let things slide so far into mediocrity? Who is to blame? Who is still in denial? Too many it seems�



    Where is Lindsay Anderson�s epic, anarchic surrealism?

    Where is Ken Russell�s glorious fusion of high art and low sleaze?

    Where is Powell and Pressburger�s romantic inventiveness?

    Where is Play for Today?

    Where are all the original series that were commissioned from Nigel Kneale, Jon Finch, James Mitchell, Philip Mackie, Trevor Griffiths?



    Maybe the modern day equivalents are just as talented but that good scripts don�t get filmed anymore. Interesting novels don�t get adapted (we have Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, a bit of Hardy and Gaskell ) � what about the 15,000 other interesting novels that have been written since 1600? Remember when we could turn The Citadel, Strangers and Brothers, The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists, Cousin Bette, The Secret Agent, Coming Up For Air, and The House with Green Shutters into fabulous TV? These kind of books wouldn�t get a look in today � who wrote them?



    Even one of the so-called �best� of the current British films, the celebrated This Is England, is actually a middling re-hash of Made In Britain, Meantime, Quadrophenia and Bronco Bullfrog.



    We as viewers just accept and consume (and pay � in more ways than one). Is the media a mirror, a mere product of the view really wants and deserves? Do we demand of the machine merely reality TV, police, doctors, nurses, more police and re-makes that downgrade the original?



    We don�t even think it an outrage for closing credits and theme music (very important for programmes to leave a distinct mood) to be violated by gross voice-overs. Makers assume a zero attention span � much recapping, fast editing, simplification and insults to the intelligence.



    The best art makes people think more; current TV and film is designed to prevent thought. The best entertainment also stimulates. Can anyone who has any influence on this wake up and face the crisis? Must we spare the fragile egos of a whole industry that is too self-congratulatory by far? How can anyone stomach such disingenuity as the BAFTA awards?



    The media is in denial. There IS a creative crisis. We don�t nurture, commission, encourage originality, radicalism. We force conformity because that equates more clearly with profits.



    We still think that it is natural to feast upon Hollywood product � with its assertion that the American dream is actually a worldview. But it isn't - it's actually propaganda more blatant than any Socialist Realism.



    Why does not every broadcaster, producer, director, writer, actor, agent, investor, share-holder TAKE OWNERSHIP of these facts? Get your heads out of the sand. Have we really lost all the threads of how to make decent films and TV? If we have, it is tragic � but then at least please can we not pretend otherwise.

  2. #2
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Posts
    29,732
    Liked
    418 times
    I would query the claim that This is England was one of the best productions of recent years. It might just make the best million



    Steve

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Country: England
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    4,804
    Liked
    7 times
    I probably basically agree with your sentiments, as one who watches predominantly pre'50's films and pre '90's TV.....but the problem with, to quote your piece, "Using the past as the yardstick", is that there is an awful lot of past, and you're quoting very selectively from artists that were, almost without exception, decades apart in a timeline, and pretty much either critically disparaged or ignored by paying audiences. And by doing that, you are also ignoring - either through self-selection, or the selection process that makes such material nigh-impossible to find now, the vast quantities of absolute dross that this nations film and TV industries - don't forget it's an industry - have always seen fit to produce. Genuinely, I have seen films from the last 8 decades of British film and TV that makes Bonekickers seem like King Lear.

    You mention Ken Russell - fine, I'm pretty much a fan. But to have him as representation of the British Film of the seventies, and leaving out the mainstream - the Confessions, the death-throes of Carry On, the awful TV spin-off comedies - that people apparently paid money to see at the time - I'm sorry, but that's rewriting history.

    There is still good drama around - like currants in a cheap cake, it was always thus, but it's still there...off the top of my head, Life on Mars, Longford, Poliakoff isn't to everyones taste, nor Russell T Davies or Steven Moffatt, but then neither was Lindsay Anderson....

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    232
    Liked
    0 times
    Well said, penfold: I agree entirely.



    On the question of television drama, I would love to see the return of the drama anthology series, and, more specifically, studio drama. I am struggling to understand why studio drama is eschewed as it is today. David Hare's My Zinc Bed was on TV last week and I have been thinking about it ever since, trying to work out why it seemed so unsatisfactory. I came to the conclusion that such an overtly theatrical play (it was originally written for the stage) would work best as a studio drama, and that the inherent realism (or should that be naturalism? I'm not quite sure of the difference) of film works against the theatrical mode of speech. The result is jarring.



    It seems that the commissioners of drama at the BBC are afraid of theatricality. It's "old-fashioned" and elitist, not what "the public" wants. I don't understand why television embraces all that is cinematic, yet gives the theatre the cold shoulder. OK, we get the occasional piece by the likes of Hare or Frayn or Poliakoff, big budget productions with big name stars and glitzy locations, made with an eye to global sales I presume. What a shame room can't be found in the schedules (and there's plenty of room!) for an anthology series of plays, adapted from stage productions or - even better - written for television that take advantage of that particularly televisual space, the studio. I'd tune in.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Country: England
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    4,804
    Liked
    7 times
    name='lupinpooter']. What a shame room can't be found in the schedules (and there's plenty of room!) for an anthology series of plays, adapted from stage productions or - even better - written for television that take advantage of that particularly televisual space, the studio. I'd tune in.


    And there I agree with you and with Captain Oates...apart from a series of pilots on BBC3 earlier in the year, which were in the main very good, there's seldom room for a one-hour drama these days; a revival of the Play For Today strand would be an excellent idea......

  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain Captain Oates's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    341
    Liked
    0 times
    name='penfold']you're quoting very selectively from artists that were, almost without exception, decades apart in a timeline, and pretty much either critically disparaged or ignored by paying audiences. And by doing that, you are also ignoring - either through self-selection, or the selection process that makes such material nigh-impossible to find now, the vast quantities of absolute dross that this nations film and TV industries - don't forget it's an industry - have always seen fit to produce. .


    Yes, I accept your point here Penfold, it is nothing but a rant and so my rationale was entirely subjective. It isn't a level playing field. I suppose I would say that I don't think the best we produce now is as good as the best from the past - and it's not just rose-tinted glasses - although that comes into it. But elsewhere on the site this week someone commented that rubbish from the past was better rubbish than we produce today, another way of saying the same thing?



    I think I have to moderate my rant slightly in deference to those currently working in the industry - it is not their fault that they fall into the chronological place that means ideas were fresher to those who came before. It is diminishing returns, this business of human life as we know it...

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Country: England
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    4,804
    Liked
    7 times
    The other point to remember is that the peak of the British industry - which if you ignore the sunny uplands of 1900-1907, was WW2 - had two things going for it, unique to that time; a raft of ambitious young talent who had been cutting their teeth on thirties Quota Quickies on documentary shorts, and had been biding their time waiting for the opportunity decent budgets would give them....and the coming of War, with the MOI and the government-backed budgets that came with it. The momentum created lasted past the war until the early fifties, but faded again when the budgets (primarily) and ideas dried up, and that little box in the corner made inroads into the public imagination.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: UK
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    315
    Liked
    4 times
    Captain Oates, and several others who have raised similar points about the dumbing down of TV drama, might be generalising though he certainly has my sympathy after watching this very afternoon the first two episodes of Frederic Raphael's The Glittering Prizes. My mind is reeling from the intelligence of the thing and the surety that no one would ever sanction it today, at least not in that form. The second 80-minute episode basically consists of a single scene, at a students' ball, with the camera prowling around Altman-style, picking up individual dramas and characters, and with the main character (Tom Conti) entirely absent. It dates from 1975. What an era that was! And what an actress Angela Down was, too.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    9,605
    Liked
    151 times
    We simply don't value the cultural output of tv/film like other European countries, don't reinvest cinema receipts adequately, and have allowed the US to monopolise our cinema distribution.



    This is an apt quote from director Roger Michell 5 years ago:

    The success of US films at our box office is not necessarily a matter of taste. It's largely a distribution issue. People don't necessarily like McDonald's more than anything else they eat, but if that's what's on the high street and almost thrust down their throats, it is hard to go to the wholefood restaurant round the corner.



    'Let's make movies about our own life and times' | Media | The Guardian

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    1,812
    Liked
    1 times
    I find that with so many channels available now, the quality has gone.



    Kids don't seem to have the 'staying power' to see a plot develop. It has to be CGI fights/monsters/explosions etc around every corner or they call it 'crap'.



    Book sales are declining as TV audiences lap up BB, Last Choir, IACGMOOH, etc etc



    Pan for gold and you do find a nugget but in my opinion, the only upside to modern TV is how Sky has upped the ante with regard to Sports coverage.



    I seem to be buying pre 1990s films and TV on DVD cos if I don't have that, there is very little I'd choose to watch each night.

  11. #11
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    27,595
    Liked
    255 times
    name='penfold']And there I agree with you and with Captain Oates...apart from a series of pilots on BBC3 earlier in the year, which were in the main very good, there's seldom room for a one-hour drama these days; a revival of the Play For Today strand would be an excellent idea......


    Can anyone tell me why the word 'play' has been replaced by the phrase 'one off drama'. If it's because most drama is now put on film, why don't they just call them TV films?

  12. #12
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    232
    Liked
    0 times
    name='batman']Can anyone tell me why the word 'play' has been replaced by the phrase 'one off drama'. If it's because most drama is now put on film, why don't they just call them TV films?


    I think the word "play" has been dropped because it's seen (by the powers that be in broadcasting) as old-fashioned and offputting owing to its high culture connotations.



    The boundary between TV plays and feature films is definitely blurred. Some of these single TV dramas do get shown on the big screen (I'm sure I read somewhere - probably on imdb - that Boy A was shown at a film festival). But the BBC do make a clear distinction between films (funded by BBC Films) and single dramas (funded by BBC Fiction), and, although most British single TV dramas are made on 16mm film, few of them have the look of a cinema film. With the huge tellies that people have today, perhaps new television drama will be more cinematic?

  13. #13
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    27,595
    Liked
    255 times
    Thanks lupinpooter ..... I miss those 'old style' studio bound videotaped plays. They had a wonderful initmacy that is lacking with most modern filmed TV drama.

  14. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    232
    Liked
    0 times
    name='batman']Thanks lupinpooter ..... I miss those 'old style' studio bound videotaped plays. They had a wonderful initmacy that is lacking with most modern filmed TV drama.


    The only time we see this sort of drama now is on the odd occasion that Eastenders does a "special", like the recent Dot Cotton (OK, I know she's Dot Branning now, but she'll always be Dot Cotton to me) monologue, or the famous two-hander with Dot and Ethel. I can't think of any other examples of intimate, studio drama from recent times. Even those Hugo Blick "Last Word Monologues" were shot on film!

  15. #15
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    27,595
    Liked
    255 times
    Soaps and sitcoms appear to be the only programmes using videotape, and even a lot of sitcoms are now filmed. Thanks heavens for dvd, which enables us to watch lots of videotaped classics!

  16. #16
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    232
    Liked
    0 times
    name='batman']Soaps and sitcoms appear to be the only programmes using videotape, and even a lot of sitcoms are now filmed. Thanks heavens for dvd, which enables us to watch lots of videotaped classics!


    Yes indeed! I just wish I knew why this sort of drama isn't made any more: it seems like such a waste. Maybe I'll start bombarding Jane Tranter with crackpot letters about it

  17. #17
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    27,595
    Liked
    255 times
    name='lupinpooter']Yes indeed! I just wish I knew why this sort of drama isn't made any more: it seems like such a waste. Maybe I'll start bombarding Jane Tranter with crackpot letters about it





  18. #18
    Senior Member Country: Europe
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    480
    Liked
    0 times
    name='lupinpooter']Maybe I'll start bombarding Jane Tranter with crackpot letters about it


    Excellent. Wasn't it Ms Tranter who came out with the cunning response to the moans about constant repeats on BBC?



    A repeat is not a repeat if someone hasn't seen it before.



    I've just been watching the Granada series of studio plays under the Laurence Olivier Presents banner. Watching a studio play has the immediacy of theatre about it. It allows us to listen to the playwright's words, to appreciate the art of acting and the use of heightened language.



    Alas, that's not what telly's about these days.



    There was an important report published at the beginning of this year, Supporting Excellence in the Arts, commissioned by the Dept for Culture, Media and Sport. In it, Sir Brian McMaster finds that arts organisations' difficulties in engaging with new audiences:



    . . . have been exacerbated by the decline in the provision of cultural programming through the public service broadcasters. This is an issue that few can fail to have noticed, and I believe it has been to the detriment of public understanding of the arts and the depth of engagement in cultural activity.

Similar Threads

  1. Media - TV PC
    By Bernardo in forum Home Entertainment Equipment
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 31-12-10, 12:10 AM
  2. Replies: 0
    Last Post: 28-04-09, 02:42 PM
  3. A-Level 'Media Studies'; Women and the Media
    By IanIII in forum Media Studies
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: 28-01-09, 12:52 PM
  4. The big exodus: Is the British film industry in crisis?
    By DB7 in forum British Films and Chat
    Replies: 16
    Last Post: 08-01-09, 10:26 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts