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Let’s go to the movies (or at least read about them on Twitter)

March 2, 2014

I love movies. I like watching them, I like reading the scripts – and sometimes I do both at the same time. (Here’s a tip: don’t do this when you’re watching with someone else. For some reason they get annoyed when you read aloud the set direction, and aren’t interested in pausing whilst you catch up reading the omitted scenes.)

I like writing movies too. One day, I hope that one of my scripts will get made, and I’d truly love for some geeky film nerd to be sat on their sofa, reading my script and yelling indignantly that the director had cut out the really cute scene with the dog, or knowledgeably pointing out that, in the script, the main character should in fact be a brunette. Not the ridiculous bottle blonde the casting expert thought would be appropriate.

At this time of year, movies is all anyone’s talking about. It’s awards season, and tonight it’s the Big One – the Oscars. Although torrential rain is threatened in Hollywood (how rude!) that won’t stop thousands of fans lining the streets of Los Angeles, and over a billion people tuning in to see all the celebrities get soaked on their trip up the red carpet.

Except, only if they’re watching in America. Notwithstanding the crazy time difference (things don’t really get started until 2am), it’s virtually impossible to watch the Oscars outside of the States unless you pay a ridiculously over-priced satellite subscription, or are inclined to continually press the refresh button on an over-subscribed (and most likely illegal) online stream.

I don’t get it. We have a thriving film industry in the UK, and a huge movie-loving culture. Everyone loves film. But we only have one film review TV programme, showing 14 episodes a year, of 30 minutes each, broadcast at 11.30 at night on a secondary TV channel. We dedicate over 50 hours a year to watching an unfunny comedian passing unfunny judgement on unfunny home movies, yet only seven hours for reviewing the collective worldwide output of a multi-billion pound industry. And we completely ignore the main industry event – there isn’t even a review show.

Contrast this with sports, the Olympics, even music. I think it’s amazing that the BBC and other UK channels broadcast live from music festivals, music awards (even the Grammys were shown on 4Music), and on one night both the Brits and the Radio 2 Folk Awards could be experienced live. It’s really inspiring for young musicians, and, assisted by the myriad singing talent shows, really helps young people believe they could have a career in the music industry.

I just wish the same could be said with film. I’d happily stay up until four in the morning in order to watch the entire Academy Awards (especially in a year in which it’s guaranteed I’d get to perv at George Clooney, Leonardo di Caprio and Bradley Cooper). I’d love to watch a talent show in which young actors get a chance to compete for a place in a new TV show, or where script writers could be mercilessly booted off each week because their characters were two-dimensional or their dialogue hopelessly on the nose. Instead of a sing-off there’d be a dialogue duel – the remaining contestants feverishly scribbling the literary equivalent of a show-stopping high note or an acapella Grease medley. I’d call it the Write off.

Sadly I don’t think it’s ever going to happen. Instead I’ll content myself with reading a brief review in the Metro on the train tomorrow, or scrolling the Twitter feed over my cornflakes. For the record I think American hustle will bag most of the acting accolades, and 12 years a slave Best Picture. And if I ever want to actually see the Oscars live, I’ll just have to get myself an invitation. And, short of bagging myself a date with George Clooney (which seems unlikely), there’s only one way I’m going to get an invite. And maybe that should be what inspires me the most.

From → Blog, Film, Script

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