Ben Wheatley and Film4 go where no British film has gone: A Field in England’ to be shown on TV
on the same day as its cinema release

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The cult director strikes a unique multi-platform deal with Film4 for his latest film

It could be the model that revolutionises British film: shoot it in the open air, wrap inside 12 days and get it launched on television.

The cult director Ben Wheatley has struck a deal with Film4 for his latest feature, A Field in England, to be shown on television on the day of its cinema release. The film will be released on DVD the same day in a ground-breaking multi-platform distribution strategy.

Wheatley, best-known for the critically-approved films Sightseers and Kill List, persuaded Film4 to screen his quirky movie about English Civil War combatants getting high on magic mushrooms after making it on a budget of just £300,000 – a fraction of the normal cost of a television period drama.

“The model is using technology to make stuff that doesn’t cost loads of money, which means you can explore niches you could never have got to before,” he said. “This film has already been successful. They have got an hour and a half on the channel for £300 grand and drama costs £650 grand an hour. Anything else is all gravy on top of that.”

He compared the multi-platform release on Friday 5 July to Radiohead’s free release of the In Rainbows album and said the television broadcast was a unique marketing opportunity. “If 1 million people see it on Friday on telly that’s as good word of mouth as you are ever going to get,” he said. “People say you are putting it out for free but we will have a general audience of people who otherwise wouldn’t have seen it at all.”

Wheatley said only Hollywood films could enjoy a release that ensured a movie was available at local cinemas. By the time most niche films have enjoyed the marketing boost of being shown on television, they are several years old and the price of the DVD has fallen. “The spike in sales comes when the DVD is only three quid but you want it at the beginning when everyone is excited about it.”

The growth in popularity of movie providers such as Netflix and Love Film, has forced broadcasters and cinema groups to reassess their models. “That whole culture of watching a film on BBC or ITV is over, because of Netflix and when everybody started buying DVDs,” said Wheatley.

Sue Bruce Smith, Film4’s head of commercial and brand strategy, said that younger film fans were less inclined to go to cinemas. “With the younger generation, they still appreciate the beauty of [independent] films but want to see them on their own [media] devices. We have to let them choose how they want to see films – otherwise the result is piracy.”

A Field in England was shot in countryside outside Guildford last September and stars Michael Smiley, Julian Barratt (The Mighty Boosh) and Reece Shearsmith (The League of Gentleman).

The director said the 12-day shoot had been popular with the cast. “Actors love that stuff. Normally they spend loads of time in trailers waiting to be called,” he said. “Costume drama sounds expensive but the reality is that people didn’t change their clothes and it was outside so you don’t light it. Suddenly things become easier – that’s why so many cowboy movies were made in the Fifties and Sixties, because they were filmed in landscapes outside.”

Wheatley became interested in Civil War history after making a documentary on the Sealed Knot re-enactment society. His research led him to seventeenth century use of hallucinogens. “People were grinding mushrooms into dust and blowing it into people’s faces and then doing magic tricks,” he said.

Gabriel Swartland, of the cinema Picturehouse cinema chain, a partner in the launch, said the multi-platform release would demonstrate the unique appeal of the big screen. “The key aim for the cinema aspect of the release is to demonstrate that the theatrical experience stands up on its own, even when presented concurrently with alternative - and potentially cheaper - platforms.”

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders