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Film Industry in Wales

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Film must first be recognized as an industry before it is considered as a cultural object. Critically examine the meaning and implication of this statement with particular reference to Wales

When looking at this statement, that film must first be recognized as an industry before it is considered as a cultural object and the meanings and implications of this statement in regard to Wales, many factors need to be taken into account. Firstly, the meaning of the film industry in Wales will be looked at in regards to what an industry is, in terms of film being a commodity to be produced and sold due to economical factors. The issue of where monetary funding comes from for Welsh film will also be discussed. Welsh films will be looked at in terms of the historical implications in relation to main stream and well known Welsh film's that have contributed to enforcing stereotypes and misrepresentations of Wales and its people in an industrial framework. Concerns such as accurate images of Wales and issues of representation in terms of the lack of Welsh language in films will also be discussed. Comparisons with the Scottish film industry will be made with Wales, as Scotland can be seen as a model for the Welsh film industry, and the problems that have arisen in the Scottish film industry will be discussed in relation to the development of a Welsh film industry and the introduction of National Assembly for Wales and Sgrоn.

The meaning that film in Wales will be firstly looked at as an industry suggest that film making, production and distribution etc will be driven by the economy factors, this can be seen by political economy theory and approach that "the production of media products whether news, journalism, film, .... or whatever is structurally constrained by economic factors" (Williams, K. 2003, p: 56) Therefore, film will be looked at as a commodity first, moreover, the Welsh film industrial agenda will be constrained by the hunt for as big an audience as possible. This will become central to the film making process and the emphasis will be place on "the creation of cinema rooted in narrative-based storytelling derived from Hollywood film practice" (Blandford, S. 2005, p: 184) This can be put on the basis that the film that will typically sell the most will be the one that is produced. Furthermore, as economic reasoning will prevail over cultural concerns if film in Wales will be recognized as an industry first, cultural relevance in film narrative will take a back seat. And cultural policy in regards to Welsh film will be considered as unimportant. This can cause problems in terms of true and accurate representations and issues of identity. However, it must also be recognized that "'market-driven' cinema has remained ascendant since its emergence in the early years of the twentieth century" (Barlow, D. M. Mitchell, p. & O'Malley, T. 2005, p: 93). The meaning that film is considered as an industry first and cultural objectives second, is not a new concept, this can be seen in the Hollywood system and the commodification of film. In addition, it should be recognized that Wales historically has had no control over policy making or funding and there has not been a tangible Welsh film industry to speak of due partly to the historical hegemony of American (Hollywood) cinema, which has lead to a limited Welsh domestic market.

Furthermore, the Welsh's film industry has been under the control of Britain (London) in terms of policy and funding etc; and additionally Britain can be seen as a colony of America in terms of an industry, and inside that film colony Wales can be seen as a colony of Britain (England) "Welsh as a periphery to that colony" (Stead, P. 1986, p: 162). That stated, Wales has been partly devolved with the development of the National Assembly for Wales (NAfW), the NAFW, however the NAfW is not in control of monetary distribution in regards to film "there is, as yet, no solid, adequately-funded industry infrastructure in the region" (Berry, D 1996, p: 197). Therefore it has been said that as there is no real film industry to speak of, and that funding has also been inadequate and Welsh cinema has, "for the most part, had little choice to be 'poor cinema', relaying on short term film schemes imaginatively stitched together by producer's from scraps from the broadcasters, the lottery and British wide funding bodies" (Blandford, S. 2005, p: 184)

Historically Welsh film has been traditionally inept to fully represent authentic non-stereotypical portrayals of Wales and its people. This is partly due to the fact that Welsh film has been shaped by economic factors and not cultural ones. The film that often gains most criticism in terms of its representation of Wales is 'How Green is My Valley', furthermore; it is still seen as the defining Welsh film of it's time. Regardless though, it still is heavily criticized by many especially for its in-authenticity with only one Welsh actor being used. In addition, as Barlow, D. M. et al (2005 p: 82) suggests that "it failed to distinguish between Celtic nationalities, showing an Irish jig being preformed at a Welsh wedding". Main stream 'mining' genre films such as 'How Green is My Valley' was that, they were influential, yet, the way people were introduced to Wales through film "were made by outsiders." (D, Berry. 1994, p: 5). Films and conditions such as these have led to Wales's image being under or mis-represented either, or in the case of a more contemporary film 'Twin Town', can be seen as showing a complete disregard for Welsh culture and making a mockery of traditional Welsh heritages and imagery in regards to the "films less than idyllic depiction of Swansea, it's disrespect towards and male voice choirs" (Barlow, D. M. Mitchell, p. & O'Malley, T. 2005, p: 88). The problem therefore, as seen by these examples is that mainstream cinema which adheres to an industrial logic, being profitable etc, often portray Wales in the extremes rather than attempting to represent Wales in a more realistic light in regards to aspects of its true culture and the identity of its people. Therefore prevailing stereotypes and misrepresentations such as these will continue to accrue and people outside of Wales will not receive a valid accurate image of Wales, due to the fact that there is no Welsh funded film industry or infrastructure that takes cultural concerns into account alone with economic ones.

Issues of national identity and representational concerns also arise if film is firstly recognized as an industry first and that industrially logic is put ahead of cultural logic, as there is concern of production and lack of representation of Welsh



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