Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Found on the interweb...

Interesting paper by former Film Board CEO, Rod Stoneman - Chance and Change - a consideration of the part played by chance occurrence in audiovisual production (20 October 2010).

On production risk...
Sometimes we were party to the miscalculation of cash flow needs and a few years after An Gobán Saor, Deborah Warner‟s Last September (a much bigger feature project) was in great jeopardy in the second week of its shoot in October 1998. As one
of the producers Nik Powell was working with lawyers to interlock and make two complex national tax incentive schemes compatible in the financial structure, the electricians (a crew of sparks imported from Britain) threatened to abandon the production unless they were immediately paid. Searching for €10,000 in cash Neil Jordan, an executive producer on the project, turned to me with the half-joking but memorable remark “do you know any drug dealers?”–presumably they might be a source of ready cash. I had to admit that I had no such relevant acquaintances and in the end it was said that the urgent money was borrowed late that night via Paul McGuinness (manager of U2) from the safe of the Clarence, a Dublin hotel that the group owned.

And on the role of the IFB...
It was essential for a national film agency like BSÉ / IFB that there be some combination of success in both cultural and commercial domains. Film agencies and institutes in the 1960s and 1970s had more of a purely cultural remit, but the neo-liberal economistic discourses of the later 1970s and 1980s provided pressure for economic performance. In Ireland the Coopers and Lybrand Report from 1992 argued for the reconstitution of the Film Board, which had been dissolved in 1987, on the grounds that it would stimulate economic activity and thus employment. Of course these were important arguments to make and we produced figures to show the economic effects of our support for production. However we were concerned to maintain a judicious equilibrium between cultural, social and financial motives; there are always reasons for „thinking of the audience‟–if one is to avoid solipsistic or unthought-through forms of filmmaking practice.

It was important to keep the relentless financial tendencies at bay by balancing them with cultural arguments and so I wrote polemical comments like “In all its forms film is at its most innovative when it is experienced as unexpected, challenging social norms and complacencies of taste, extending the boundaries of the possible . .” in the annual report. [xxxi] In 2003 we came up with a mission statement: “We intend to encourage bravery and embrace creative risk. Paradoxically, in cinema, the further you push artistically the more genuinely commercial you can be.” [xxxii] Uttering these 'neither/nor' verbalizations and myriad other oxymoronic policy formulations seemed like indispensable discursive manoeuvres and the only way to absorb and deflect the implacable pressures of increasingly economistic discourses. Utilising public monies for the expensive business of film needed justification as right-wing public representatives and a hostile tabloid press were always pleased to indulge in a feeding frenzy the minute we failed to maintain a robust sense of purpose allied with some quick footwork.

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