from the rate-this dept
Film ratings and content warnings seem like a perfectly harmless and sensible idea in theory, but in practice they become a tool of censorship and industry protectionism. The UK has its own issues in this regard that are not unlike the ones we see in the US, and one filmmaker has come up with an amusing idea to fight back: crowdfunding a long and uneventful film of paint drying, to at least bore the censors to tears.
The British Board of Film Classification (formerly known as, yes, the British Board of Film Censors) is the UK equivalent of CARA, the film-rating portion of the MPAA. Both were formed by the industry to avoid government-administered content regulations, but where the MPAA’s ratings stranglehold on the industry is based almost entirely on an economic monopoly, the BBFC’s is backed up by ratings requirements in UK law. Where the MPAA can’t actually ban films (instead forcing them to choose self-censorship or economic suicide), the BBFC can.
But the BBFC has one weakness, of sorts: it has to watch the films, even if it decides not to let anyone else do so. In fact, it seems to be quite proud of its commitment to watching every minute of footage that is submitted for classification. This gave Charlie Lyne, a London filmmaker and critic, an idea for how to take a dig at the BBFC while also sparking conversation around this under-discussed issue: force the censors to watch a very long, very boring, very pointless film of paint drying.
One of the most interesting things that this stunt highlights is the pricing system, whereby filmmakers must pay a per-minute fee for work they submit to the board — a fee that is trivial for a big studio production, but not so much for an indie working with a shoestring budget. Of course, in this case, Kickstarter neatly takes care of that problem: the final film will be scaled in length to the amount raised, with the crowdfunded cash paying the per-minute fee. Lyne has 14 hours of footage ready to go, which he figured would be plenty (it would cost a little over £6000 to get all that reviewed), but he’s prepared to shoot more. And it looks like he might have to, since the campaign is past the halfway mark of using up all that drying paint. If it hits 13 hours, it’ll snag a record too, becoming the longest film ever reviewed by the board.
A fan has even set up a website where you can track the length of the film based on the money raised so far. With 24 days still to go in the campaign, it looks like the BBFC is going to be staring at that paint for a very long time. Of course, it’s easy to wonder if they actually will, but at least they confirmed to Mashable that they do watch every minute of submitted footage — plus, it’s always possible someone slipped some objectionable content in at hour 7, right? What choice do they have?
So if you’d like to bore some censors and help spark conversation around the issue of movie ratings — which many people just assume are a system that works reasonably and fairly in the background, rather than a powerful and determining factor in the movie industry — head on over to the Kickstarter page and contribute a minute or two to this groundbreaking crowdfunded film.