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Monday, November 16, 2015

Watching "Paint Drying" (2015)

For better or worse, United States law currently imposes vanishingly few legal restrictions on the subject matter of motion pictures. Other than child pornography, almost anything goes, even though Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973), at least purports to leave some room for "censorship" or "content regulation" (depending on your normative views). Of course, that wasn't always the case. Throughout the 20th century, there was a smorgasbord of state and local censorship boards, most famously the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America's "Hays Code." It wasn't until Roth vs. United States (1957) that content regulation began to wane, and until the Motion Picture Association of America adopted a voluntary ratings system in 1968 that censorship boards began to disappear.

Anyway, I was surprised to learn today that the British Board of Film Certification, established in 1912, continues to review motion pictures released in the UK, and that movies effectively cannot be shown in British theaters without a certificate, which costs about £1000 for a feature film. Now, that's a typically drop in the bucket for even the lowest-budget feature film or documentary, but many artists make films and videos with a total production budget lower than the cost of certification. And then of course, there is the principle of the thing. 

In response to continued certification/censorship in the UK, British artist Charlie Lyne has created a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds to obtain certification for his new movie, "Paint Drying." The cost of certification depends on the length of film, so the length of the film that Lyne submits for certification will depend on how much money he raises. He shot fourteen hours of footage, but promises to reshoot if he raises enough money to submit an even longer film. The British Board of Film Certification's censors are legally obligated to watch every film submitted for certification, in it's entirety, in a theater-like setting. So, why not chip in a few quid to ensure that the censors have to spend as much time as humanly possible watching "Paint Drying"?

I submit that Andy Warhol would have approved of this project, although I imagine that he would have advised Lyne to ask for more money.


Posted by Brian Frye on November 16, 2015 at 06:58 PM | Permalink


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