The innovative release was the result of a partnership between the film-makers, Film4 (which wholly funded the £316,879-budget film), and exhibitor Picturehouse, which also acted as a distributor.
A Field In England was released simultaneously in theatres, free television, VOD and DVD. It was also supported with live Q&As, an online masterclass and heavy social media activity.
The Insight report is published by the BFI, which supported the project through its Distribution Fund. It covers the full scope of the release and offers some lessons that might be more widely applied.
As part of the commitment to transparency, Film4 hosted a forum with a wide-ranging and open debate on future models. SampoMedia’s Michael Gubbins chaired a discussion with all the key participants in A Field In England at the event (Rook Films, Film4, Picturehouse, Film 4.0 and BFI).
The panel suggested that the film had been a success in reaching far beyond the standard audience for a challenging low-budget arthouse film, and Andy Starke, of producers Rook Films, rejected the idea that the film had just been an “experiment.” He said the production team and Wheatley saw the release strategy as entirely in tune with the spirit of the project.
An innovative risk-sharing partnership between the different platforms was considered significant for others wishing to follow the lead but there was general agreement that A Field In England did not represent a definitive new model that could be applied to all films.
But Anna Higgs, who leads the Film4.0 operation which works at the cutting edge of new film-making and distribution, said the film highlighted the potential of a more “holistic” approach, in which great talent explored many new ways to connect with audiences.
* SampoMedia has also published reports on the multiplatform release of A Late Quartet and What Maisie Knew, also available for free. Coming soon is the final report in this series on the innovative release of low-budget bittersweet comedy, Borrowed Time. Also coming soon is SampoMedia’s eye-opening report on audience attitudes towards day-and-date Premium VOD, based on focus group studies around the UK.