The British Board of Film Classification (the British equivalent of the American MPAA) was founded in 1912 to classify and censor new films prior to their theatrical release. Its goal, officially set down in writing in 1916, was to protect audiences from such corrupting subject matter as “indecorous dancing,” “scenes holding up the King’s uniform to contempt or ridicule,” and “men and women in bed together.”
Though those criteria have changed a bit in the last hundred years, BBFC censors continue to inspect and censor each film released in Britain. Without a BBFC certificate, a film cannot be screened in British theaters. But BBFC certificates are expensive: On average, the certificate for a feature length film costs around £1000, but that number goes up the longer the film is, making it difficult for independent filmmakers to get their work approved.
This is why filmmaker Charlie Lyne has decided to protest what he sees as the BBFC’s outdated censorship policies, and its prohibitively expensive certificate fees, by forcing the BBFC censors to watch an extremely long, obscenely boring film.
Entitled Paint Drying, the film is a single, unbroken shot of paint drying on a wall for 14 hours. Since BBFC classification costs £101.50 with an additional £7.09 per minute, the length of the final film will depend on how much money Lyne can raise.
Lyne, a 24-year-old independent filmmaker, spent £900 on a BBFC certificate for his first feature film Beyond Clueless. He has launched a Kickstarter to raise money for Paint Drying. For each £7.09 raised on top of the initial £101.50, BBFC censors will be forced to sit through an additional minute of film. As of this writing, Lyne has raised enough money for around 10.5 hours of slow-drying paint. A continuously updated calculation of how long the film will be based on money raised can be seen here.
Lyne told Mashable that he hopes the film—and the publicity it has generated—will help start a dialogue about the role of the BBFC in British filmmaking. "It's an intentionally petty act of protest to make the BBFC watch Paint Drying, but hopefully it will also get people thinking about the board and its role within the British film industry,” Lyne said. “The BBFC was established more than a century ago, so it's easy to just see it as part of the landscape, and not question whether we actually want it and need it."
Check out Lyne’s Kickstarter here.