2011 was pretty depressing, reading the paper or watching the news was a miserable experience, and all in all, those who still have a job, or have a business should apparently be chuffed to bits!
Interestingly, a lot of my clients have actually had a pretty good year, not exactly the best ever for most, but many have told me that when they actually worked out the numbers, their figures were actually very good – both freelancers and production companies.
So if this is the case, and for us we had our best year ever (our fifth), what is it that makes us all feel so uncertain about 2012, despite quite a few of us media based companies having surprisingly good revenue? The big thing for many is “Do we expand premises, get more people, invest in new technology, or just keep capital in the business just in case it gets bad in 2012?”. Unfortunately I think the tendancy is to opt for the latter, and I’m inclinned to agree with them, which does nothing for getting the economy going, but most people are just too scared to risk loosing it all when everyone is telling you that 2012 is going to be horrible.
This year we worked on ‘South Riding’ for BBC, ‘Monroe’ for ITV, ‘Top Boy’ for Channel 4, ‘The Fades’ for BBC, ‘Whitechapel 3’ for ITV, ‘The Bodyfarm’ for BBC, ‘Bert & Dickie’ for BBC and ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ for BBC. This adds up to 29 hours of drama for us, and we’re very proud of all of the work. ‘Top Boy’ and ‘The Fades’ stood out for this year as youth orientated shows which both received critical acclaim. With ‘Top Boy’, Channel 4 invested thousands in advertising, which meant that it pulled in a large and very diverse audience. During its transmission week, it was the second most popular thing (trending) talked about on Twitter in London, Manchester and Birmingham. Its fantastic when a series pushes the boundaries of storytelling and its craft, and produces something which is more than just ‘ok’, and ‘Top Boy’, though difficult for many to watch, received such great reviews that everyone involved is genuinely proud to have worked on it. To engage with such a diverse age range from all different walks of life, is a testament to what can be achieved to create great, world leading UK drama – any comparisons to ‘The Wire’ can only be gratifying for those involved.
We were delighted to work on some wonderful TV drama this year, and I genuinely feel like the standard of UK drama is increasing, despite the year on year reduction in budgets from some broadcasters. Although more drama is being commisioned next year from nearly all the broadcasters, the chances are there will be more drama series but a little bit more money spread across quite a few more of them. This does have the unfortunate effect that UK drama has: too few shooting days and prep, too few extras and atmosphere, too few truly realistic locations, and too few decent wide shots if anything other than contemporary UK is the subject – all this hinders UK drama when compared to what the US can produce. The directing, acting and technical craft is so high in the UK, that its a shame that sometimes the budget and subject matter is often so, well, safe. For UK drama to really get to a world stage then broadcasters need to increase budgets to capture the aforementioned, give writers more time to finesse their work, and increase budgets on those dramas that really need it, only then can we hope to create true ‘brilliance’ for a world stage on more regular occasions.
2011 continued to be a very poor year for independent British films, with many directors not able to find funding to bring their film to the screen. Despite successes like ‘The King’s Speech’, and despite post production companies becoming investors, it wasn’t enough for many to get their film off the ground. I cant see this changing in the short-term, but we will continue to actively look out for great scripts and directors for potential investment, if not move in to Production ourselves in 2012. We have to hope that other investors can return to the industry with the support of EIS schemes and tax benefits for those investors.
3D Stereoscopic has been huge for Hollywood, with nearly all children’s movies being in 3D. Here in the UK though, Sky are left to fly the 3D flag for us with sports and natural history programming. Sky are commited to 3D and I’m sure we’ll be hearing of some big commisions in 2012. However, a recent survey discovered over half of people who own 3D televisions don’t actually know they have 3D built in! Viewing 3D in a cinema is one thing, but wearing glasses at home is another. However, the Olympics and Euro 2012 along with transmitting Hollywood 3D movies could be what Sky and also BBC (if they commit to 3D) need to push the audience into the third dimension, and its not going to be quick – but we cant give up now. Fingers crossed Sky and BBC increase the momentum.
Finally, I’d like to thank all those that have supported The Look and the team that work here during 2011, we’ve worked with some of the best UK talent and some really lovely people, and we are very grateful to be chosen to work on some great projects this year.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you