Friday, April 03, 2015

INDIE Hooligan film scene flourishing on DVD sales

Note the (highlighted quotes) point that the distribution company always have a figure in mind when approaching the distribution and marketing of a film; right along the chain of the film cycle (production, deistribution, exhibition/consumption), having a clear, specific concept of the target audience(s) is crucial. Boiling this down to a singular image of a person who embodies the characteristics/demographics of your audience - as I recommend you do within a treatment - is also industry practice:
Darren, sales manager at a plastics firm in Milton Keynes, is a force to be reckoned with in the British film industry. In part, he’s the reason why British crime cinema – low-budget, morally dubious and about as disreputable as it’s ever been – is the genre that refuses to die. At least, Darren would if he actually existed. Darren, it turns out, is a theoretical construct; an audience archetype identified by Jezz Vernon, managing director of distribution outfit Metrodome, the people who released recent examples of the form such as The Guvnors, St George’s Day and The Fall of the Essex Boys.
“We always talk about the buyer of a film,” says Vernon. “For someone like Darren, there’s a certain boredom about his existence, and the attraction to gangsters or football hooligans has a certain aspirational element to it. It might sound worrying, but we liken it to music: the mainstream in UK music has always liked poetic thugs, from Byron to Liam Gallagher. People like the paradox; both the masculinity of it, and the denial of it.”

Whilst I've seen several of the films cited in this article - and other comparable flicks not mentioned - I have to admit I was unaware that the British gangster/hooligan movie continues to flourish years since the impact of the Lock, Stock mockney flicks. That these are locked out of the cinema exhibition circuit but flourishing on DVD sales alone, despite the steep fall in physical media sales, points to an industry disregarding a significant chunk of the C2DE audience these films cater to. Indeed, one of the leading players castigates the middle class industry of middle class filmmakers reflecting middle class views ... echoes of the Working Title v Warp Films binary we've been exploring?
He is much more concerned with the class barriers [than race] that, in his view, corral the film industry for the well off. “Film is purely owned by the middle classes. Only the middle classes can make the films, but they can’t have those lives. They belong to the working classes. The stories belong to the East End. It’s like a marriage.”
The DVD figures are quite phenomenal - over 100,000 even for a 'small-scale' release at a time of steep decline in DVD sales. These are films that make ZERO effort at being marketable to a foreign audience.
The existence of a solid, hardcore audience who keep watching means that, on some level, this is a self-perpetuating, self-funding sector; evidence in its rawest form that a British film industry does indeed exist. They don’t get anywhere near state-disbursed funding, and nor, you suspect, would they want to. In some cases, the figures are staggering: two of the original hooligan films, Green Street and The Football Factory, sold well over a million DVDs each, while The Business, the 80s-set Costa del Crime saga that shot Danny Dyer to fame in 2005, shifted more than 800,000. Not every film can achieve that, and Vernon says that DVD sales have declined rapidly in the past year or two; but even a small-scale release, such as the Glasgow-set The Wee Man, can muster 100,000.
That makes the economics of the low-budget crime movie attractive even if, as Vernon is the first to admit, “they don’t export well”. The culturally specific argot, the narrowly British concern with football, and the genre’s fascination with certain key crimes – notably the notorious Rettendon murders in 1995 – mean that unlike other areas of the British film industry, little concession is made to what overseas audiences, particularly in the US, will make of it all.

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