Hi Reddit, my name's Charlie Lyne and I'm a filmmaker from the UK. Last month, I crowd-funded £5963 to submit a 607 minute film of paint drying to the BBFC — the UK's film censorship board — in a protest against censorship and mandatory classification. I started an AMA during the campaign without realising that crowdfunding AMAs aren't allowed, so now I'm back.

Two BBFC examiners are watching the film today and tomorrow (they're only allowed to watch a maximum of 9 hours of material per day) and after that, they'll write up their notes and issue a certificate within the next few weeks.

You can find out a bit more about the project in the Washington Post, on Mashable or in a few other places. Anyway, ask me anything.

Proof: Twitter.

Comments: 4045 • Responses: 19  • Date: 

Dommeister3807 karma

How long did it take you to decide on the colour of the paint?

stayblackbert4857 karma

'Brilliant White' felt like it had a certain Tom Sawyer charm that matched the simplicity of the premise.

Fantomfart2805 karma

How many times have you watched the film in its entirety?

stayblackbert4463 karma

To my great shame, I have not watched the film in its entirety.

Epicnightt2120 karma

What are you hoping to achieve? Whats the point youre trying to make?

Edit: Im letting my question stay in protest against censorship and deleting comments.

starstarstar423065 karma

My guess is a smooth even surface free of paint runs.

stayblackbert1933 karma

Harder than it sounds.

HerrScheitz457 karma

in a protest against censorship and mandatory classification.

Says right in the post.

stayblackbert1374 karma

Happy to go into more detail. Basically, I'm hoping to provoke a discussion about the unchecked role that the BBFC plays within the British film industry. Unlike the MPAA in the US, or various other international rating boards, the BBFC has a government mandate to classify all films released in the UK. That means it's effectively impossible to release a film in Britain without a BBFC certificate.

You have to pay around £1000 ($1500) to have a 90-minute film rated by the board, whether you're a major studio or an independent filmmaker. Inevitably, that cost hurts the latter more than the former.

And if your film is censored or rejected altogether by the BBFC, that's essentially the end of the road. You can't just release the film unrated like you can in the US.

lolnoob14591833 karma

Did you sneak in any questionable material in a few frames to ensure they did watch through the entire material? Not necessarily nudity.

Personally, I wish you would have filmed something equally boring but less static, like traffic. With such a static film, someone lazier and more enterprising would just run a differential algorithm on the film, similar to ones for compression of video via keyframes I guess, to find any large changes in the film and take the two days as paid leave.

stayblackbert2408 karma

Anyone who's seen Fight Club knows the appeal of the subliminal flash frame. BBFC examiners have definitely seen Fight Club (they censored it in 1999) so hopefully they're asking the same question you are and watching closely to make sure they catch anything untoward.

As for algorithms and the like, the BBFC has reserved 607 minutes in its screening schedule to show the entire film, so I trust that they're not going to defraud me and go to the pub instead.

randomnameforthis1820 karma


Golanthanatos2677 karma

He can't release it until the censors approve it.

stayblackbert3514 karma

Please disregard my earlier answer. This is obviously correct, and it would be presumptuous of me to discuss screening the film before I have permission from the board.

stayblackbert563 karma

No plans as of yet, but I'm talking to a cinema here in London about showing it. It was a real headache making a 10-hour DCP, so it'd be nice to get more than one use out of it.

istara182 karma

Out of interest what is the file size?

stayblackbert591 karma

310GB. Here's the DCP before I dropped it off.

MrButterFingers11022 karma

Is there any example of censorship, or anything that happened in particular, that caused you to think this was something that needed to happen?

stayblackbert994 karma

About a year ago, I went to a filmmaker open day held by the BBFC at their offices in Soho. I'd expected to see quite a lot of conflict between the BBFC examiners and the visiting filmmakers whose work was at the mercy of the board, but there was nothing like that. Most of the filmmakers — even those who'd had trouble with the BBFC in the past — seemed totally resigned to the censorship imposed by the board, even supportive of it. I think that shocked me into action.

sirnana567 karma

Honestly do you think it will have any meaningful impact?

stayblackbert1332 karma

It depends what you mean by 'meaningful'. Obviously my little protest isn't going to singlehandedly eradicate film censorship in the UK, but I do think it can help combat one of the most powerful things that the BBFC has on its side: tradition.

The board has been censoring films for 104 years, so as far as anyone living is concerned, it's just the way things are done. If a new organisation came along and wanted to censor literature or music, there'd be uproar, but tradition makes the BBFC look like a natural part of a landscape.

If this project encourages people to debate that status quo — whether they're with me or against me — I'll be happy.

harlequinix508 karma

Does the paint dry by the end of the movie? I'm curious but I don't want to watch 9 hours of it just to know.

stayblackbert1228 karma

Would you ask Tolstoy how War and Peace ends?

jaredce163 karma

How do you feel films could be classified better? I agree censorship is maybe outdated, but also believe age ratings are probably for the best. That said, i do feel once an 18 has been given, it should be up to the director (or whoever makes the decision) as to what scenes should be included or left out, and not the BBFC or anyone else saying that there are too many "cunts" for even an 18 certificate.

I certainly hope your film brings about a discussion on film classification and censorship in this age, though the glass half empty side of me says you face an uphill battle.

stayblackbert226 karma

I agree totally.

I'm not trying to destroy the BBFC. The board provides valuable guidance for anyone looking to understand whether a film is suitable for them or their kids. But as you say, it could provide that service without also telling adults which works of art they are and aren't allowed to watch.

heroesforsale144 karma

That's really interesting! How much power does the UK Censorship Board have? Can they outright pull a film from circulation for content or is it similar to the MPAA where they can issue a rating that disallows certain viewers discourages most theaters form screening it?

stayblackbert308 karma

The BBFC can go much further than the MPAA can.

If the MPAA refuses to grant a certificate to a film because of its content, that may limit the film's ability to get into multiplexes and Walmarts, but plenty of smaller US cinemas show films without ratings.

If the BBFC refuses to grant a certificate to a film because of its content, that's it. The film cannot legally be shown in the UK. Filmmakers can seek permission from local councils to show the film without a certificate, but in practice this almost never works (there are 418 local councils in the UK and the vast majority have never overruled the BBFC).

stayblackbert11 karma

Update: the BBFC have released their rating for the film.

'U' for 'no material likely to offend or harm'.