Short Film of the Week: Billy Elliot Flipbook

As you know, at Best For Film we’re big on independent cinema. We led the campaign to save the UK Film Council, and since its expensive, entirely politically motivated replacement by a new wing of the BFI we’ve carried on championing the plucky British underdogs that manage to stand up to Hollywood. And, although we don’t make a habit of endorsing gambling, the body that actually makes a lot of this stuff happen is the National Lottery.

Twenty-eight per cent of the money taken by the National Lottery is transferred to the government’s ‘Good Causes’ pot, a chunk of which travels via the DCMS to the BFI film fund, the various Arts Councils and various sporty things . In recent years, films made with the support of National Lottery funding include The King’s Speech, Man on Wire and coal-and-ballet-shoes drama Billy Elliot, which is always being voted the nation’s favourite this, that or the other and has managed to spawn a novelisation, a stage show featuring the music of Elton John and this excellent quiz. But what would Billy look like without the £3m budget that let it pick up £73m in box office receipts and three Oscar nominations? Arguably, like this:

We know the point of this is to think about how awful it would be if Billy Elliot had never got past a storyboard, but isn’t that the cutest? We think Keanu Reeves should consider doing all his films in flick-book form from now on, because it’d be a damn sight harder to tell how wooden his facial expressions are if he were just drawn onto a page. Billy Elliot is just one of the 12,837 film projects funded by a total of £431m of Lottery money since 1994 – and even that number is a fraction of the £31 billion that’s been raised for good causes in general. (Ask not why only 1.39% of the money is going to films; you know what we’re like, we’d cut every old folks’ home and climbing frame in the country to rush out a new Ben Wheatley flick.)

OBVIOUSLY, we’re not trying to talk you into playing the Lottery – there are probably kids on this site looking at all the pictures of dinosaurs, after all, and we don’t want to put ideas into their heads. But if you’re a Lottery hound AND a film fan, you can be secure in the knowledge that as well as funding gambling syndicates and outward bound centres and all the things you probably don’t care about, the National Lottery is also shoring up an industry that matters to you. Just think – where would we be without Sex Lives of the Potato Men?

Are there any Lottery-funded films that you’d actually prefer to see as flick-books? We think Bright Star would have been a lot less painful.

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