For aspiring filmmakers, trying to get their film off the ground can be difficult and can leave many out of pocket. The process can be grueling and disheartening, which is why young British filmmaker, Charlie Lyne, has decided to take matters into his own hands.
In protest against the British Board of Film Classification’s (BBFC) rules on certifications, censorship, and large fees, Lyne has submitted a crowd-funded 10-hour epic of paint drying, aptly named Paint Drying.
Based on the BBFC’s Theatrical Fee Tariff, Lyne deduced that with a £101.50 submission fee and £7.09 per-minute fee, a 60-minute film would set him back £526.90 and would become more expensive the longer the run-time. Setting up a Kickstarter campaign entitled Make the Censors Watch Paint Drying, Lyne asked his supporters to pledge to his campaign in order to make the film as long as possible because, in his words:
While filmmakers are required to pay the BBFC to certify their work, the BBFC are also required to sit through whatever we pay them to watch.
And thus, a 10-hour exploration into the art of paint drying was born. It seems a fitting means of payback against the censorship giant from a man who admitted the project is “the culmination of a decade spent aimlessly railing against the BBFC.”
During the campaign’s run from November 16 2015 to December 16 2015, the project raised £5,936, resulting in Lyne’s film reaching a total run-time of 607 minutes. That’s 607 minutes that two BBFC examiners had to actually sit through on January 25th – a time which even Lyne, in his Reddit Ask Me Anything, admitted to not having sat through.
Lyne also explained that due to the BBFC’s requirement that a maximum of nine hours of material could be viewed each day, the examiners would (only) have to sit through nine hours on the first day and watch the remaining 67 minutes the following day.
In the hopes of ensuring the examiners sit through the entire film, and pay close attention, Lyne responded to a question in his AMA about splicing subliminal flash frames into his film with:
Anyone who's seen Fight Club knows the appeal of the subliminal flash frame. BBFC examiners have definitely seen Fight Club (they censored it in 1999) so hopefully they're asking the same question you are and watching closely to make sure they catch anything untoward ... I trust that they're not going to defraud me and go to the pub instead.
Since the examiners' viewing of the film, the BBFC have issued Paint Drying a U classification, meaning Universal and suitable viewing for all.
Whilst some people would dismiss Lyne’s work as a waste of time, he insists that the film is a work of protest against “censorship and mandatory classification” and a fight against the repressive nature of the U.K. film industry.
The BBFC justifies its censorship activities on the grounds that some films pose a 'risk of harm' to the public, with 'harm' defined broadly enough to encompass such wooly concepts as "encouraging anti-social attitudes" and "distorting a viewer's sense of right or wrong". But if we censor art on the basis that someone somewhere might be hurt by it, we'll be left with no art at all.
In his Vice article, he uses the examples of The White Album, The Catcher in the Rye, and The Last House on the Left when asking whether they should be banned based on their relation to past crimes committed.
While Paint Drying is entirely inoffensive and unlikely to cause any violent outbursts from viewers, it does encourage conversation around the issue of censorship and the need for the constant updating and revitalization of film censorship boards, as he told The Telegraph:
"It's not like if the BBFC hasn't got to fall to its knees and close the building by the end of the week, it's failed. People are discussing how the BBFC works and that makes it worthwhile.
Since the certification ruling, Lyne has been in talks with an undisclosed cinema in London about a one-time screening of the film, but so far there has been no word on whether this will go through.
For updates, you can follow Charlie Lyne on Twitter.