Why British Film Censors Spent Two Days Watching Paint Dry

Artwork by Norah Stone
Over the last two days, the British Board Of Film Classification, the body that decides if each new cinema release is given a U, PG, 15 or 18 certificate, has been forced to endure watching paint dry. A 10-hour film of paint – a drab white emulsion, no less – drying on a brick wall was submitted to the BBFC earlier this month by the 24-year-old journalist and filmmaker Charlie Lyne to protest the fees that the censorship board charges to classify films. The mandatory process costs about £1000 for a standard 90 minute film and, Lyne argues, is an unnecessary financial burden on young filmmakers. After starting a Kickstarter last November, he raised a whopping £5963, which covered the cost of making the film as well as submitting it to the BBFC. Because the BBFC charges filmmakers by the minute, the more money he raised, the longer he could make the movie. “For many independent filmmakers, such a large upfront can prove prohibitively expensive,” Lyne wrote on the Kickstarter. As the board is not allowed to watch more than nine hours of film a day, the examiners were forced to watch it over a two day period. Still, at least it wasn’t Inherent Vice. Today they have officially rated the scintillating film a U, meaning it “should be suitable for audiences aged four years and over.” Last year, the BBFC was criticised for giving The Diary of a Teenage Girl, a film following a young girl’s sexual awakening an 18 certificate, while films handling the male equivalent were repeatedly awarded a lower rating.

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