Interview with Adam Deacon: ‘The days of paying £13 and just getting one film are gone’
Adam Deacon is a British actor, writer and director and the winner of last year’s BAFTA Rising Star award. He recently wrote a piece for Independent Blogs about the importance of the “Moments Worth Paying For” campaign; whilst I’ve written before about how I think that responsible filesharing may benefit the film industry. I recently spoke to Adam about how the industry is dealing with filesharing, and how independent British films have managed to thrive despite diminishing DVD sales.
How do you feel the industry is dealing with filesharing?
I think people are always going to download films, and it’s up to the studios to start thinking of ways to change that. I don’t know the answers, but I know downloading is going to happen. I think the music industry has worked really hard to find new ways to make money, and the film industry hasn’t caught up yet. There are so many free sites to watch films, and people need a cheap option where they can get a little bit more for their money now; and it’s up to the producers to think of new, inventive ways to give them that. Whether it’s lowering the price of the cinema so people will go to watch a film, or a number of things, there’s got to be options with the internet and ways of enticing people to actually spend money on a film. There are schemes where you pay a set amount a month for as many films as you want, and that’s the way to go forward. The days of paying £13 and just getting one film are gone. There are so many options and the film industry needs to consider what they have at their disposal.
I think a lot of people want the full product, but the problem is not a lot of young people know of those options, so their first thought is to go to an illegal site. There’s definitely a middle ground to capitalise on how many people want to watch a film and get good quality. Low budget films are always going to find it really hard to compete with Hollywood films, and it’s about letting people feel like they’re part of something. I think, compared to the music industry, the film industry rests on their laurels a little bit too much. Now there’s smart TVs and new technology, they’ve got to realise there’s new ways to make money. I know that a lot of films aren’t making back their budgets, and if it’s not working, you have to change it.
For someone who has worked on low-budget films that can’t compete with the promotional campaigns of huge American blockbusters, do you feel that the accessibility to your previous work via filesharing is beneficial? For example, if you’re appearing in a film that’s only received a small amount of publicity; would you prefer it if someone had seen your earlier work for free, and therefore wanted to pay to watch your latest release?
That’s really a producer question; producers are all about the money. As an actor, I just want people to watch the film – I don’t care how they watch it. You do want people to be able to see your films, but if Anuvahood hadn’t made enough money back I wouldn’t be able to go on and make another film. You need to know how much budget you’re putting into something and how much you’re going to get back. You don’t want to make a film that no one watches, and the more that watch it the better. There’s now a middle ground for new ideas and new ways for people, who don’t necessarily have the money to watch those films.
Last year’s iLL Manors was an excellent film made on a budget of around £100,000 and goes to show how creative British filmmakers can be.What do you think is the best way to get people back into the cinema?
I think it is about people wanting to go to the cinema. People are getting bored of seeing Hollywood making the same old action film, and the same film getting revived all the time. I think that’s why the UK is doing so much better now, because we’re thinking of new ideas and showing life in a different way. It’s more about story here, because we don’t necessarily have the budgets for special effects. When you watch This Is England, it’s about character and real people that the audience can relate to. People in this country really want to support UK films now, which is a great thing because we have to start competing with America. The fact that Ben [Drew] made his film on such a small budget is amazing and more actors need to do that.
But people don’t just want to see their real lives on TV and film, they want to escape as well. That’s where I think I come in with films like Anuvahood. I don’t want people to constantly see depressing films about a kid with a gun, I want them to laugh and be entertained. I think that’s important, and that’s what the UK needs to be thinking about as well. I’m a massive fan of Ray Winstone, looking at where he started and where he is now. There’s so much talent in this country and we need to keep them here, rather than letting them go off to America. We need to embrace the scene a little bit more.
Your work, including your new release Comedown, is part of a current wave of British exploitation films. Directors like Noel Clarke, Ben Drew and Shane Meadows have shown that British directors can make bold and challenging films on a low budget. What do you think the future holds for Britsploitation? It seems like a great way for young filmmakers to get into the industry.
It’s amazing for me to see what’s going on at the moment, because it’s such a close unit of actors that have been doing this for so long. We go to auditions and sometimes we can’t get them – so why can’t we just write our own work? I think that’s the way we want to go now. It was the case that the people who were writing didn’t know about our world, and I think it’s now about people from that world writing authentic films. So I think it’s not going to stop, to be honest. There’s so many ideas floating about with young actors at the moment, and some are picking up a computer and writing their own work because it can be possible. Budget doesn’t really matter any more, now it’s all about new ideas and concepts. You don’t need to come from a rich drama school to make that happen, you just need a good idea.
‘Comedown’ is released on DVD on March 11th 2013.Tagged in: Adam Deacon, filesharing, Noel Clarke, Shane Meadows
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