Having just got an email to say that Row Row is to be in Video Lisboa I thought it worth trying the British Council to see if they might help with the travel costs of getting there. I contacted the Film department and was emailed a list of festivals that the British Council support. These include Premiers Plans, European First Films Festival, Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival and, more of the same. The point is these are all festivals aimed at the "short" narrative film with the odd animation thrown in for good measure. Nothing remotely "experimental" appears on the list. And if it is not on the list its no go apparently in terms of funding.
Mainstream narrative filmmakers in the UK are a tiresome bunch always whinging about lack of funding and opportunities. The truth however is that in recent years they have had money thrown at them by the Film Council. Millions have been spent on shorts and feature length nonsense that don¹t even make it to DVD. A cosy little state-funded industry has grown up of scriptwriters, developers and directors churning out unwatchable celluloid. Every few years there¹s a "Weddings" or a "Lock Stock" and the media buzzes with the expectation of a renaissance in British Cinema. But there is no British Film industry it died with the advent of the small screen.
Artist Film & Video in contrast gets almost nothing, in recent years what little funding there was has all but dried up. A sort of twisted logic says that "artists" can get by without support but that the graduates of the Film Schools need time and money developing scripts and then funding for a full crew with catering facilities and then of course a few 35mm prints for distribution and lastly the BC help out with the cost of getting to the festival. Of course all too often what happens is that the graduates of Borehamwood use their efforts as a show-reel to get work in advertising or television or a job on an American production ("we have the best techies in the world").
The Film Council could be closed down and the money used to support artists working in whatever media. If mainstream would-be moviemakers insist on making second rate narrative films then they are the one¹s who can get by with a handycam and iMovie.
Update 2012: Well the Film Council was closed down in 2010 partly in response to some of its more rampant excesses though that did not mean a surge of money for artist film & video, which in any event I would be probably unsuccessful in applying for anyway (HAH).