28 August 2013

First things first, an introduction: my name is Joe Cornmell, and I am the director of Liverpool Film Tours. We offer a two-hour coach tour of the city that, after London, is the most filmed in the UK. Combining location visits with DVD clips, we offer you the opportunity to see Liverpool differently and a completely new way to enjoy film.

On our tour we visit to Elswick Street, in the Dingle area of Liverpool.  You will not find Elswick Street amongst the must-see areas within a Lonely Planet guide of Liverpool, but in 1988, 21 million people tuned in to watch the exploits of its fictional inhabitants, the Boswells, in BBC One’s Bread. It was second only to Eastenders in the ratings for that year’s most watched programmes. Now shown on GOLD at 6am, Bread does not even feature in the 10 most watched programmes on that channel in any given week. How times change. Or how viewing habits and greater choice force change.

The way we consume film and television is constantly evolving: from the silent film to talkies; from analogue to digital TV; from a 3D, digital surround-sound experience to watching the latest episode of Breaking Bad on your smartphone on the train home - we now have more ways to enjoy our favourite movies and shows, and more content to choose from than ever before.  Whether we are using our FACT membership to enjoy A Field in England, or a blockbuster comic-book sequel or spin-off; we are all consuming film.  Whether we tune in like clockwork to enjoy the latest episode of Mad Men, watch it on catch-up TV, or wait for the DVD box set; we are consuming television.

The online streaming giant Netflix demonstrated recently with House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey, that they can control the production, distribution and exhibition of new TV shows exclusively to their subscribers.  Speaking at the recent Edinburgh Television Festival, Kevin Spacey supported this approach, urging production companies “(to give audiences) what they want, when they want it". Through the advent of internet-enabled televisions, Netflix has leapt from the computer screen onto the household TV for all the family to enjoy.

In July this year, A Field in England marked the first time a feature film was released simultaneously in cinemas, on DVD, on free-to-air TV and on demand.  In order to reach the widest possible audience, producers have to be just as creative in their approach to distribution and exhibition as they are during the production process, in order to find an audience.

Could a show such as Bread be commissioned today? And if broadcast would it be launched on primetime BBC One or would it find an audience on BBC Three, before graduating through the ranks? 

More information on Liverpool Film Tours and tickets are available from the website, liverpoolfilmtours.com. FACT members can enjoy a 20% discount on all tour tickets.