Innovation

by Leigh Beadon


Filed Under:
awesome stuff, bbfc, censorship, mpaa, uk



Awesome Stuff: Let's Bore The Censors

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.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Nov 2015 @ 9:11am

    A suggestion

    Add a voice-over reading something boring like the farm report or shipping manifests in a dead monotone for the entire length of the film.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), 21 Nov 2015 @ 10:13am

    You have to throw in a few seconds near the beginning of some half dressed person just to keep them on their toes - something that would get missed if you fast forward, which is exactly what they'll do. Audio's a good idea too, since they have to listen for something objectionable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 21 Nov 2015 @ 10:25am

    Intersperse cuts of grass growing, and every fifteen minutes or so (irregularity is important here) some commentary on the quality of opinionated censorship that ranges the gamut from for to against, between segments of an artificial farm report from Antarctica (on growing icicles in greenhouses).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Nov 2015 @ 10:46am

    it would really lolzy if someone submitted bestiality porn.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Aaron Walkhouse (profile), 21 Nov 2015 @ 10:47am

    Better yet, waves or something that makes them drowsy.
    They'd have to start over every time they fell asleep! >BD

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Nov 2015 @ 10:54am

    All age rating systems with regards to entertainment need to be abolished altogether, and the insufferable dunces who watch stuff but think others can't watch the same stuff as they did, and somehow survived, clearly don't have real jobs. Well played, and may they be flooded with similar footage.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jake, 21 Nov 2015 @ 11:03am

    This strikes me as being just a bit mean-spirited, because the BBFC are usually quite good about only outright banning stuff that goes into flat out torture porn territory. This list on Wikipedia should give you some idea.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 21 Nov 2015 @ 11:46am

      Re:

      Well, I think it's largely about calling attention to the fee structure, and the general problems with the rule in principle.

      If you've gotta have censors, I suppose it's best to have thoughtful, measured, reasonable censors — but there's still a bigger argument for not having them at all. Plus, when you're forced to pay the censors by the minute, it's a bit galling, and it unfairly punishes small filmmakers (a few thousand pounds is nothing to a major studio picture, but could easily represent a double-digit percentage of an indy's entire budget).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Jake, 21 Nov 2015 @ 4:24pm

        Re: Re:

        True, true. Still, if it comes to a choice between a government body deciding age-ratings and leaving it up to an industry association run by the big studios... Well, who do you think is more biased against the independent filmmaker?

        And "a few thousand pounds" is a significant exaggeration, I might add. A bit of fiddling with the fee calculator suggests a 90-minute film would cost just under £750 to review. That's not an insurmountable burden even for a pure hobby-project.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Leigh Beadon (profile), 21 Nov 2015 @ 4:42pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You're right, I was distracted by the numbers in the campaign. Though, there are still a lot of projects for which the amounts while surmountable would still be significant (keeping in mind also that if you end up needing to make changes, you probably have to pay the fee multiple times - though I admit I'm just guessing that, maybe UK bureaucracies are friendlier...) At least this filmmaker clearly takes issue with it.

          On the other subject: as far as I understand it, the BBFC is not actually a government body - it's an organization founded by film studios, much like the MPAA/CARA. The key difference is that in the UK, there are actually laws that prevent or limit the sale/screening of unrated movies, and which designate the BBFC as the ratings authority, but the government doesn't actually control the board — whereas in the US, film ratings are "voluntary" but there's an oligopoly of cinemas and retail stores that all play along and making selling an unrated film essentially impossible.

          The result for the filmmaker and the public is pretty much the same in both cases — though I'm not surprised to learn that the BBFC may be somewhat less subservient to industry whims than CARA. I'd also be curious to know what it's like interacting with them, as one of the biggest problems with the MPAA ratings is the opaque process that gives filmmakers few hints about how to get the rating they want.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        icon
        Whatever (profile), 21 Nov 2015 @ 9:16pm

        Re: Re:

        It seems mostly about being childish and not being able to mount a proper campaign against something. Instead, they force an innocent worker type to have to deal with their stupid movie to try to make a point. The only point they seem to make is that they know what a meaningless gesture is.

        Apparently this person has no problem paying thousands of pounds to bore an employee. Seems they doth protest too much.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Nov 2015 @ 9:25pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Here here, as the British are won't to say.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Nov 2015 @ 2:02am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Like 4' 33", you mean?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Nov 2015 @ 7:15am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Hey, I hear being a jerk is the best way to get things done! It works in america, at least :^)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Nov 2015 @ 9:28am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It seems mostly about being childish and not being able to mount a proper campaign against something. Instead, they force an innocent worker type to have to deal with their stupid movie to try to make a point. The only point they seem to make is that they know what a meaningless gesture is.

          So kind of like an open, honest, one-time version of your presence here in the comments.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2015 @ 11:53am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Seems they doth protest too much."

          If you cared at all about artists the BBFC and the expensive requirements to get a film to screen would be the first thing you would complain about. You would be here, like the rest of us, protesting and complaining how stupid it is to have such arbitrarily expensive requirements to get a film to screen because that hurts artists. But no, you don't care at all about artists so instead you waste your time complaining about someone that's at least trying to do something about it.

          Every opportunity you are given you either side with the distributors or you fail to focus your complaint on how the system is so broken to harm artists. Instead you focus your attention on how the person that's trying to fix the system is wrong and childish.

          While I agree that raising funds to the BBFC to make a statement is counterintuitive (making a statement by funding and hence financially supporting them) and if it were me I would probably be tempted to make a documentary about how the BBFC are a bunch of scumbags and how these scumbags should quit their jobs or else feel guilty about how they are getting paid to contribute to a social harm, the fact that your focus seems to insult those that are trying to fix the system (ie: calling their efforts childish in opposed to giving them criticism in a constructive manner with a tone supportive of their cause) instead of delivering your message in a way supportive of their cause suggests that you don't care about artists at all. You never focus your efforts on supporting something pro-artist. Here is a perfect opportunity to show how much you care for artists by expressing your outrage at these expensive requirements and instead you focus your efforts on calling someone that's trying to fix the system childish. Everything you do seems to be pro-distributor. How do you expect to convince anyone that you are pro-artist because if you really are you sure could have fooled me into thinking otherwise. and how do you expect your posts to actually contribute to your cause when all they do is give people the impression you don't care at all for artists, the public, or the art but you only care about the distributors. Your posts are only harmful to your cause. It's unbelievable that you don't have the competence to see that.

          A somewhat relevant quote

          "But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error."

          ~John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

          https://soylentnews.org/article.pl?sid=15/11/22/1618245

          The truth is those supportive of IP laws don't care about the artists or the public or the quality of art. The error is that they do. When IP extremists come here and present themselves the way you do they are only harming themselves because it allows the truth to collide with an error giving people a clearer perception and livelier impression of truth. The truth presents itself much stronger when presented side by side with an error. At the very least you can try to minimize that effect by at least pretending you cared for artists but you won't even do that.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Nov 2015 @ 12:03am

        Re: Re:

        Having looked at the page "I think" would be the optimum term. This guy's got no 'protest' or 'beef' laid out, he's just shit stirring. Or it's art?. There are no clues or reason.
        I pity the two workers that have to sit through this. It's already up to 4 hours.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Nov 2015 @ 2:15pm

      Re:

      Not a single movie on that list should be banned, but thanks for reminding me about the one good thing about censorship: databases like that are great for finding good movies.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Jake, 21 Nov 2015 @ 4:29pm

        Re: Re:

        Just how far down that list did you get?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 25 Nov 2015 @ 7:30am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Well I read the whole thing and I saw a whole lot of stuff that ought to be kept away from children, but nothing that adults shouldn't be allowed to watch*. I mean, are we adults, or not? Seems the British government believes its citizens are children who need to be protected by a parental government. On the other hand, most did not look likely to be good movies.

          * IMO there's no expression outside of narrow criminal bounds such as fraud and threats that should be banned

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 25 Nov 2015 @ 1:04pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "IMO there's no expression outside of narrow criminal bounds such as fraud and threats that should be banned"

            So... Snuff films = OK, Incest films = OK. But, the Grifters = not OK (about fraud),
            DieHard = not OK (about threats)

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              nasch (profile), 25 Nov 2015 @ 2:32pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "About fraud" is not the same as "fraud". "About threats" is not the same as "threats". Just like "about murder" is not the same as "murder". I don't know if you were just trolling or actually didn't understand the difference.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 25 Nov 2015 @ 3:11pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Neither, or both.
                Movies, by their very nature, are 'about' stuff.

                But if Fraud and threats rank as worse to you than incest and rape then you are beyond hope, and calling someone else a troll won't elevate your position. SickF**k.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  nasch (profile), 25 Nov 2015 @ 5:15pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Fraud: bad
                  Rape: bad
                  Murder: bad
                  Threats: bad

                  Movies about fraud: OK
                  Movies about rape: OK
                  Movies about murder: OK
                  Movies about threats: OK

                  You get it now?

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 25 Nov 2015 @ 5:25pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    I dunno, that's really hard. Can you explain it just one more time.

                    You say 'expression" in thread about movies, but it's not about movies?Even though you are listing two things you specifically say that adults should not be allowed to watch - that fraud and theft films should be banned.

                    Yeah so tell me how you weren't talking about movies.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      nasch (profile), 25 Nov 2015 @ 6:14pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Even though you are listing two things you specifically say that adults should not be allowed to watch

                      Fraud and threats are a form of expression. They are a form of expression that is appropriately illegal. Here is my quote again: "IMO there's no expression outside of narrow criminal bounds such as fraud and threats that should be banned". If I had been talking about movies, I would have said something like "IMO there's no expression outside of narrow criminal bounds such as movies about fraud and threats that should be banned". I emphasized the difference to make it stand out more. If you still cannot understand the difference I'm afraid I don't know how to make it any clearer.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 25 Nov 2015 @ 6:36pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        But what you wrote was a footnote to a sentence about movies. Read as one you say...
                        "... but nothing that adults shouldn't be allowed to watch, IMO there's no expression outside of narrow criminal bounds such as fraud and threats that should be banned"

                        See you were talking about movies ( and if you weren't then what context are you talking about, and why did it shift so suddenly)

                        Again, still interesting that you can condone all the acts described in the banned movies list, esp incest, but have a bugbear about fraud and threats.

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Nov 2015 @ 11:38am

    Can't wait for the extended Blu-ray release.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mark Wing, 21 Nov 2015 @ 3:25pm

    Those cheeky wankers. I hope it wins an Oscar for best picture.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2015 @ 3:54am

    Multiple Releases

    Wouldn't it be more of a pain to the board to split the film up into minimal lengths? Sure boredom is painful but how much of a pain would it be to sit there and have to review a boat load of slightly different filtered paint drying for 2 minutes, slightly red filtered paint drying for 6 minutes, Blue filtered paint drying (reversed its now getting wet!) for 3 minutes. Each and every time having unique audio of some profane some just mind boggling boring. Can you imagine the paperwork to deal with that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Nov 2015 @ 12:47pm

    This movie is triggering and racist. Why is the paint all WHITE? On a wall, like that anti-Hispanic bigot Trump wants to build? This is LITERALLY "structural" racism!

    I'm reporting this site to my professor and making you write a letter acknowledging your privilege! Then I'm running home and telling mom!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.