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
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
Arts and Entertainment
Crowd control: institutions like New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art are packed

Art
Arts and Entertainment
Cillian Murphy stars as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices