Jeremy Seabrook & Plenary Session

As Amber began its Channel 4 Workshop franchise, it organised a weekend exploring the possibilities of film and television as a means of engaging with working class audiences, experience and concerns. Each session focused on one of the invited writers.

0.00 Intro to Jeremy Seabrook by ACTT’s Martin Spence

0.15 Jeremy Seabrook not worked in TV except a film made by Save the Children with Ken Loach and Tony Garnett. an unfavourable film on charity. Never screened

2.45 Witness working class life as a commodity. Betrayal of media to their subjects.

11.45 Where to make an intervention to Capitalism and Thatcherism?

11.50 Cheered by Barry Hines and Jim Allen. Retrieve epic sense of what people had in the past. Achievements in labour movement. Sustaining that pervasive culture.

15.50 Audience? Fragmented. Passivity. New relationship with the audience of an involved audience.

17.40 New technology. Videotape. Puesdo-debate of discussion on TV. Privacy – invasion of capital into your home.

19.10 Intrusive/ubiquitous of capitalism. Working class are the main target.

20.00 Philip Donnellan – Experience and history put into a liquidisers creating pap. Technical expertise very small within the industry. Birmingham, The Crown pub. Oil Paintings. Nudes. Newell Hill, Reform Act, 250,000 workers met on that hill. The period of the Great Exhibition. Collapse of Chartism. A parallel to now.

22.25 Greatest year of emigration 1913. Seen as Golden Victorian Age. Recurrences within the Labour Movement. 1945. Epic plunder of working class triumphs and consciousness. Falklands triumphalism. Thatcher.

25.40 Spit on Your Grave. Entertainment Industry. Want people want – Cable TV. Let the people choose not the intellectuals. Freedom of Choice as a political weapon deployed by the Tory Gov.

27.55 Left cultural intervention. Changing the form taken in the past. Narrow band of Left writers.

30.15 Barry Hines – Member Labour Party. Revitalising Labour Party. Bennite. Propaganda very strong from Right. Alternative media for working class. People more and more private. Take people out of their homes. People went out to the cinema, An Event.

31.55 Philip Donnellan – Raymond Williams – Centralised Television, privatised reception. Winston Smith in his cell.

32.12 Barry Hines – need for a socialist government. How to get rid of Margaret Thatcher. Meetings like this will become less frequent. Need to get organised.

33.33 Labour Party. Purge is healthy for accountability. To know what the Labour Party stands for.

34.40 Philip Donnellan – What is your answer? (for an alternative media)

34.50 This meeting is an alliance. Divide politics from culture activity.

38.00 New technology now – culture is computer games etc. How day is divided. Need for a broader definition of what culture is.

39.00 Philip Donnellan – Media. Dominating culture fact. weapon in hands of the ruling class. Workshops deeply non-political. Marginal areas of self-indulgence. Newcastle political commitment – a shining light. The workshops are marginal.

40.40 “Workshop sector. Absence of framework. The outset is marginal. Is it that correct place to start? Jim Allen approach limited. Can socialists work inside TV?
Workshop Agreement with support from Union, developing a cultural policy.”

42.55 Barry Hines – How will the programmes be produced? How will the programmes made by the workshop alter from before? Who will they be shown for and on what? More effect?

43.15 Finance. BFI Production Board £500,000 budget. Spent on two films. Same money ask ten films are the new argument. Wider range of work. Begin to producing an alternative product in cost. History of cinema – interventions. Workshop movement is where you build the technical skills. Cheaper technology. Editing facilities.

46.26 Graeme Rigby. Audience. The Filleting Machine. Not seen by too many people. Train technicians. Workshop. Where can it be distributed?

47.54 Agreement to be shown on Channel Four. Eight Workshops. Access. Demands of Cable TV. Develop dialogue with the audience.

49.55 Graeme Rigby. Perpetuating the marginal nature.

50.00 “Workshop funding. Channel Four. BFI. Regional arts funds.Eady Levy – funds from seat purchase back into National Film School.
Battle of Channel Four rather than ITV2
Workshop. autonomous. Regional. Democratic. No reason it shouldn’t build.”

53.10 “Murray Martin – Copyright remains with the workshops. Create own distribution network. Filleting Machine used in Birmingham. Issues of rent.
Looks and Smiles £450,000
Filleting Machine – £7,000 basic union rate on the workshop declaration.”

54.48 Philip Donnellan, pessimism. No talent in the workshop, lack technical expertise.

55.35 Murray Martin – people never had the opportunity.

55.45 Desire not to insulate the workshop movement.

56.23 Philip Donnellan – BBC over-paid. We represent the strategic resources of the ruling class.

57.23 Feminist films. Workshops £8,000 a year. Stable income. Salary structure.

58.49 Barry Hines – What happens to BBC/ITV? Abandoned?

59.40 Immediate struggle – the threat of cable. Public debate on cable. Defending the BBC/ITV.

60.30 Philip Donnellan – Taken 15 years for BBC Two to get to an audience of 12%. How high are audiences going to be on Channel 4 after 6 months.

61.00 10% of the audience. 12 month strategy of workshop movement.

62.15 Previews of Channel Four not anything different from the other channels.

62.30 Philip Donnellan – Channel Four – different editorial control. Ex BBC Cut-throats. Change nature of society before change broadcasting.

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