Female Film Directors And The British Film Industry

3948 words - 16 pages

In this essay I will be discussing whether female filmmakers in Britain find it easier to make a documentary feature than a fiction feature film in the current British film industry. I will be referring to the opinions and films of Kim Longinotto, Carol Morley, Clio Barnard and Alison Stirling. I will also be looking at the statistics from film festivals and the British Film Institute, and interviews with various British female filmmakers. I will argue that documentaries are easier to make due to them being less expensive to make and not requiring a large crew. I will try to show that female filmmakers are less like to get funding for a fiction feature film due to the people that make the decisions in terms of granting funding for fiction features are men, and consequently have a male perspective, so think that a ‘female subject’ is likely to bring in big audiences and will not do well financially. I will also look at ways in which films are shown to their audience, and whether those doing the selecting of which films are shown at festival have an effect on the commercial success of a film. Therefore I will be arguing that due to there being very few women in positions of power in terms of funding and distribution for fiction feature films, that female filmmakers find it easier to make documentary features as documentaries do not need as big a budget as fiction feature films.
Both documentary features and fiction feature films do very well within the British Film Industry, however I don’t believe that either are considered easy to make. Both have major barriers, whether a filmmaker is at script stage or at distribution stage, the entire process is very hard work. However, it has been suggested that the world of documentaries is much more forgiving than that of feature films. Generally, documentaries are not made entirely in order to make money, Cara Mertes, director of the documentary film program at the Sundance Institute, says that the documentary field ’is notoriously not a good way to make a living’. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melissa-silverstein/doc-film-makers-keep-wome_b_108115.html) She also believes that male filmmakers are more interested making films ’where there is a lot of potential for a pay off so they will gravitate towards fictional films’. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melissa-silverstein/doc-film-makers-keep-wome_b_108115.html) Fiction feature films often have a big budget and therefore big risk riding on them. Documentary features may be easier for anyone to make, rather than fiction features, due to budgets that are more modest and a smaller crew size. It is quite possible to make a fiction feature film with just a one-person crew, however this is less of a task for a documentary. In fact, a smaller crew does allow for more opportunities. A large crew costs a great deal of money and cannot squeeze into tight or delicate spots. A self-shooter is much more likely to be allowed into private situations or forgiven for...

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