Tuesday, 7 November 2017

CSP FILM I Daniel Blake

I'll add resources here (and format text etc) on this over time.
For more than 50 years, Ken Loach has been making social-realist dramas tied together by a prevailing thread — the compassionate observation of the struggles of the working class to hold onto such fundamental dignities as a home, a job and food on the table within a hostile system that often views them unfairly as the cause of their own misfortunes. His latest feature, I, Daniel Blake, is quintessential Loach, which means you have a good idea of what you're getting as soon as the core elements are established. And yet while the framework and perspective are familiar, the veteran Brit director's films can still have the power to grip us in an emotional chokehold. (Hollywood Reporter)

This is the type of thing you need to research and analyse: the movie was partly funded by government grants (National Lottery payments through the BFI) - not loans, grants - and is available to stream through platforms such as BFI Player (which is highly selective).

This is the guidance the exam board have given to you on this CSP, which is focused on Key Concept INDUSTRY only.


In common with many Indie productions, there is no quoted budget to be found online. However, the cinematographer notes they saved £150k by filming digitally for the 1st time; there was a £300k FilmFund (BFI, funded by the UK government/National Lottery) grant and another €100k grant from Creative Europe, as well as tax breaks for filming in Britain and Belgium (as a UK, France, Belgium co-production!). Shane Meadows' 2006 social realist This is England cost Warp Films £1.5m, while Ken Loach's 2009 Looking for Eric was £4m and the 1920s war drama The Wind That Shakes the Barley a similar €6.5m.

Lets estimate IDB at a £2m budget, lacking the expense of Cantona or 1920s period costume, props and action. The important point, and I'm quoting the chief examiner in an email to me, is:

The production budget is unknown but certainly only a tiny fraction of the $165 million it cost to make Dr Strange. ...

Students need to know that in terms of actual production budget IDB costs were low, particularly in relation to Dr Strange.


Director Ken Loach has a long, distinguished career, as reflected in the recent documentary about him and his films:

Here's a BFI 4min overview;
NB: it contains swearing, reflecting the frank, realistic style of his movies:

Loach is known for his social realist movies:
  • low budget
  • often reflected in handheld cinematography (quicker and cheaper to film)
  • no stars (he often even uses non-actors)
  • non-franchise (Warp's This is England is a rare exception)
  • no CGI/SFX
  • minority/underprivileged central protagonist (eg working class/poor, sexual or ethnic minority)
  • as such people are under-represented in mainstream, commercial cinema, there is government funding to support such films
  • but as Loach usually refuses to write a script, he typically finds the production budget by pre-selling rights to France, Germany and other European markets where his films have a following
  • he also usually picks up funding from the BBC or Film4 (part of the Channel 4 group)
  • he can struggle to get his films into UK cinemas (theatrical release); they are usually stuck in the arthouse circuit, meaning low box office prospects - but IDB was an exception...
  • social realist movies explore serious social issues
  • this lack of light relief is another reason these movies rarely make much money, but...
  • Billy Elliot, The Full Monty, Secrets and Lies and Slumdog Millionaire are all exceptions to this general rule
Loach is seen as an auteur:
  1. a filmmaker with a recognisable style who...
  2. tackles serious social and cultural issues in their work 

Monday, 6 November 2017