How the Hell Can Indie Films Make Money When the BBFC Charges £8.40 Per Minute to Watch and Classify Them?

By Sam Gibbs on at

We have a pretty vibrant community of indie filmmakers here in the UK. It's something we should be really proud of, but their success is hampered severely by bureaucratic hoops that cost an absolute boatload to jump through. Frankly, it's a miracle there are any indie movies at all.

Every film in the UK must go through the BBFC for classification. In the US and other places you can release films as "unrated", essentially meaning that no one under the age of 18 should see it. The beauty about doing that is you don't have to pay anyone to watch and rate it for you -- just shove it out there for the adult audience and hope people bite.

The BBFC charges a colossal £8.40 per minute to watch and rate a film, plus a handling fee of £120. If you want your film to go to DVD too you have to do it twice; once for the cinema and once for the disc. OK, for a massive movie studio that just sank £40m into a film, that's practically pocket change, but for an indie filmmaker, that quickly adds up.

Unfortunately it doesn't stop there though. In the UK, indie movies get a raw deal once they actually get into the cinema too. One indie movie guru says that he gets just 25 per cent of ticket sales in the UK -- that's a whole 25 per cent less than he'd get in the US. Considering indie films generally only get shown in select "art house" cinemas, it's really hard to make any money from the small numbers of bums on seats, putting indie moviemakers out of business fast.

I'm not advocating that classification isn't useful in Britain, and that the BBFC doesn't do a decent job for the most part. But surely films should be allowed to go "unclassified", especially for indie films that can't afford the relatively high costs. I don't mind watching unrated films, as long as I go in knowing it's unrated and isn't going to be utterly horrendous.

Anyway, it seems we're all in the wrong job -- who doesn't want to get paid over £8 a minute to watch movies in the comfort of your own home? Time to apply for a position with the BBFC I reckon. [Twitch Film via @Katiesol]

Image credit: Ticket from Shutterstock