How the BBFC, DCMS and EU VAT Regulations Killed our Movie

Between them, they killed the release of our film The Devil’s Music.

It’s a good film that people like, and they killed it.

The Devil's Music

I was worried this would happen when the BBFC introduced changes to their exemption criteria as a result of a DCMS consultation. I hoped that calmer heads would prevail, and the misguided legislation wouldn’t go through.

It did.

The way the BBFC implemented the DCMS changes within their fee structure took our movie from being ready for release in autumn 2014 to being financially non-viable on UK DVD. The additional charges levied against special features meant that the upfront fees to get it through the BBFC went from being a manageable risk to being potentially suicidal from an investment point of view. You can read all about this in an article I wrote for the Huffington Post back at the time. Back when I hoped it might not happen after all.

Back when the DVD was listed as a pre-order on Amazon.

Two years later it’s still listed as a pre-order, but it’s unlikely to ever be fulfilled. The disc had been put together already by the wonderful people at Cine du Monde, but the disc as created would now cost £2000 or more to put through the BBFC. Given that the DVD market is shrinking almost by the week, that kind of an upfront investment in addition to replication costs and so on rendered the disc non-viable. It’s a real shame. It’s a beautiful disc. I’ve got a test pressing of it.

So what? I hear you cry. The future isn’t DVD anyway. Damn the man, skip the BBFC and just go direct digital distribution!

That was my instinct, too, until I began to try and unpick the additional legislative nightmare that is VATmoss – forcing digital distributors to deal with absolutely impossible requirements for tiny companies. It was apparently created to stop massive companies using loopholes, which it doesn’t really do. What it DOES do quite spectacularly, though, is to close all of the options for direct digital distribution for the little guys by creating such an astonishing amount of legal difficulties and paperwork that nobody could ever properly unpick and administer it all without investing thousands.

So, between the BBFC and the insanity of VATmoss, The Devil’s Music was killed dead. The UK DVD release never happened and the intended direct digital release was binned. Here at Jinx, we’ve been concentrating on House on the Witchpit together with our various screenwriting classes and festival shows. Our most critically acclaimed movie has been hanging in limbo; an unfulfilled pre-order and an unreplicated master copy.

Back in 2014, AintItCoolNews reviewed the intended release, saying “The buildup of tension and horror that takes place in here is outstanding and Higgins makes the entire thing feel like the real thing“.

Just last month, WhatCulture listed it as one of the great modern horror films shot for next to nothing.

I hope we’ll find a new way forward. It strikes me as pretty heartbreaking that the release of a movie we worked so hard on, and that so many people seem to really connect with, got strangled by two pieces of ridiculous and ill thought-out legislation.

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