Sunday, 14 February 2016

LONDON MEDIA TRIP



Friday, 12 February 2016

'PAINT DRYING': A FILM TO PROTEST FILM CENSORSHIP

For those of you who don't know I recently visited London with my college on a Media trip. I usually wouldn't talk about something like this in my blog, but Media is something I feel really passionate about and it's something that interests me. I usually try to avoid having opinions on controversial topics and I don't judge those I don't know. However, this is my blog and my opinions. If you disagree with anything in this post then that's fine, I actually love to see things from other people's point of view - but obviously only when they're polite.

While in London we visited the BBFC Studio in Soho. I already knew a little bit about the BBFC as I had researched a small amount for my media coursework. For those of you who don't know, the BBFC are the British Board of Film Classification, meaning they are in charge of what age rating a film gets: U, PG, 12/12A, 15 or 18. We had a talk by a lady, whose name I unfortunately don't remember, and I actually really enjoyed it. She gave us lots of 'behind the scenes' information and one of the things she told us was about a film that was sent into them called "Paint Drying". I'm sure you're familiar with the expression "watching paint dry", because it was exactly that. A young man named Charlie Lyne made and sent a video to the BBFC of paint drying. Lyne managed to raise enough money to send 10 hours worth of the original 14 hour clip in an attempt to protest film censorship. Not only do I disagree with the protest, I also think there were multiple things wrong with it and I don't think Lyne was knowledgeable enough to make a judgement on the BBFC, despite him being a 'film maker'.

So, why do I disagree with the protest? The idea was that Lyne, and those who helped him raise the money didn't agree that the BBFC have the right to decide what the general public can and can't watch. However, while being at the studio I quickly understood that the ratings given to films are mainly used as guidelines to help parents understand what is suitable for their children, and also to help adults who aren't so keen on the highest levels on violence, gore, drug use and sex (which may be presented in a certificate 18) meaning they therefore opt for a 15 or lower rated film instead. I do believe that film classification is important, especially because it isn't the end of the world if you want to see an 18 but you're underage. You cannot legally go to the cinema to watch a film or buy a film if you're underage but there is nothing stopping you from actually watching the film.

There are well known violent crimes that have occurred as a result of children watching films rated way beyond their age. For example, the James Bulger story. A young boy was brutally beaten and murdered by two older boys, aged just 10 years old, as they attempted to imitate a scene from Child's Play. Obviously, the boys who committed the crime didn't buy or go to the cinema to watch the film, so in some respect the BBFC's rating has nothing to do with the story. However, by having the rating on films it helps (responsible) parents to make quick assumptions in whether or not their child should watch a certain film or not. Obviously, young children should not watch certain things and the BBFC ensure that nothing dangerous is included in younger rated films to avoid imitation.

The BBFC are a non-profit organisation and do not set out to reject films or give them ratings other than what the film ideally wants. In fact, the BBFC are there to help film companies/makers when it comes to giving them a rating in order for them to release their film in cinemas and on DVD. In the past 4 years only one film has been rejected due to it being largely based on sadistic sexual violence. Which as a rule, tells you that adults are pretty much entitled to view anything they wish. I don't know a whole lot about "film making", but if Lyne and other film makers were any good at their job they'd have a target audience (who he films is aimed at). The certificates given by the BBFC are not strict and and allow for any target audience. For example, a good film will never be aimed at adults (certificate 18) and four year old children (universal certificate). This leads me to question why people protest against the BBFC. Also, as mention previously, the BBFC are there to help films receive the rating they want. The BBFC gives film makers/institutions the opportunity to include what they would like their film to be rated. They then make notes on the film and advise, if anything, what needs to be changed in order for that film to achieve a certain certificate.

Not all films need to be certified by the BBFC. Films that can be streamed, for example on Netflix, don't need a rating. However, it's extremely common that they do because the ratings are recognisable and therefore help to cover the film from any complaints. 

For Lyne to have protested in a way like this it must have meant he was passionate about the subject and had done lot of research around the topic to develop a full understanding. However, to me, his story doesn't add up. Originally Lyne planned to send a 14 hour long film, but instead only sent a 10 hour long film after "forgetting" VAT. Lyne relied on the money of strangers to send his film but couldn't even give them reliable information about the protest. Similarly, Lyne thought, and spoke out about how two examiners would watch his film for 8.5 hours per day. However, this was also wrong. Multiple examiners watched different parts of the film in pairs, each only watching a few hours at a time. 
Not only did Lyne tell his donors the wrong information, he also pretty much failed on his attempt to protest; sitting and relaxing for a couple of hours, WHILE GETTING PAID, isn't such a terrible thing, right?

For those of you interested in how the examination went, the BBFC took it extremely seriously as they would any other film - proving that they're an extremely reliable source. In the talk, it was revealed that the examiners had a suspicion of Lyne including some pornographic images etc. partway through the film, however the film genuinely was just paint drying on a wall, meaning the certificate given was U.

I hope you enjoyed this post, whether you agree or not. I'm going to be uploading some images I took in London soon so hopefully, if you didn't like this post, that post will be a little bit more up your street. Thank you for reading and please feel free to leave your own opinion in the comments.