Mike Figgis wrote an article in the Guardian about the state of the British Film Industry. You can read it here: Mike Figgis Guardian Article
There are several threads to his piece, including the bit about there being two clubs. The 'isn't London sweet' club (a poke at Working Title's output) and the 'isn't the UK depressing' (a poke at the many gangster and social depravity films).
I agree that these two 'clubs' as he calls them do exist. If you want to find industry funding, these genres are a safe bet. They've done well in the past and continue to do so, albeit less regularly.
What i don't agree with is the opinion that the BFI and the UK 'Film Industry' should provide finance and backing for Directors to make the films they want to make. Last time i checked, this industry wasn't a charity. Everyone knows this is a big business. No one would ask for funding to make a pop album...why should film be any different? Because it costs more? Because it's good for 'the industry'? And what is 'the industry'? Anyone who sees the film 'industry' as a closed shop they can't get into needs to get more creative and stop seeing barriers that aren't there. When i want to make a feature film, i'm well aware that it has to have the potential to make money or it's a non-starter. Therefore, once we know there's a good chance it will turn a profit, we can find investment - either from private investors or by raising the money ourselves. Don't want to put your own money into your film? Why not? Scared you won't get it back? But it's ok to risk someone else's? Or tax money? Grow up.
This is a business. Film Makers have a responsibility to stop the ridiculous gravy train of the mythical 'industry' that just serves to slow everything down and put barriers up. Can't find investment to get your next feature made? Maybe it's a bad idea?...otherwise you'd have no problem...or at least less of a problem. I do not believe that films should ever be 'funded' by arts councils or governments. The idea that someone considers themselves a worthy artist and deserving of 'funding' stinks to me. Who decides? I'd prefer them to fund courses, start-up help for production companies looking to make films in the UK and better support for British films at film festivals. I'm always staggered how un-helpful the the British Pavilion is in Cannes compared to the American Pavilion. (and i'm British!)
A lot of the crap that comes out straight to DVD featuring the usual gangster suspects in the UK is only made because people want to buy it...there is a demand - however crap it is. Snobbery is everywhere. If people didn't buy these films...they would die out. I'd love to make something deep and meaningful and totally ignoring the rules that will make it sell... but if i want to do that, i'll have to find the money myself and rightly so. Why should public money be spent on my arty whim?
Clearly, there are problems in the UK film industry... but the industry itself is just a reaction to what the market can support. Making film makers get creative and work outside of the industry is what we need. Pioneers don't let barriers stand in their way. Coppola, Lucas and many others have done just great by going their own way.
The closed-shop mentality is further down the food chain from what i can see. It's wannabe Directors desperate to get into the established scene...they can't wait to have a huge crew and budget at their disposal. The thing is, there's just no need for a lot of films... it's just a self serving 'club'.
The solution is really simple. Get a camera, get a small crew, get a cast and get on with it. Make films for a lot less money. Find small investment privately or invest in yourself if you can. Learn to edit, learn to produce, cast it... just get on with it and make films. Ok, you'll have a huge hill to climb if you want to compete with the 'establishment'... but you'll be making films and if you're good, you'll get there in the end.