You see, I want to be positive and constructive. Above all I would like to be helpful in some very, very small way. I am longing for improved EU communications – OK, maybe longing is a bit exaggerated, I am not that sad. But I can assure you that it gives me no pleasure whatsoever to continuously criticise the audiovisual material coming out of the institutions. OK, if I am totally honest, it does give me a little bit of pleasure, but I am certainly not happy to be persona non grata in a couple of production companies here in Brussels!
What the hell. Don’t you think that if I name a programme ‘Creative Europe’ I should at least make sure that the video that introduces such programme, shows an understanding for the meaning of the word ‘creative’?
We are talking about very good news: an increase in the funding for European culture, i.e. cinema, TV, theatre, music, literature, performing arts and so on. For the next seven years, the programme has at its disposal 1.8 billion euros to boost the cultural and creative sector in the continent. So, great news. Now, here is the video:
Forget the screen shot (a shot of a truncated graphic! It’s not that difficult to change, you know?), the video shows a series of numbers – money and people – on a backdrop of … well, a bit of everything, really: musicians, dancers, cinemas, libraries. Ah, I nearly forgot: there are also two clips of the commissioner in charge of culture, Androulla Vassiliou.
Creative? Not really. I did not expect Almodovar-style quality (although, imagining Commissioner Vassiliou directed by the Spaniard, à la Penelope Cruz, would be very entertaining..). And to start with the positive, I am really happy that the Commissioner was filmed in the Strip Museum rather than behind her desk (comic strips, I mean. Don’t even go there!).
But the problem is that, despite the good news, and despite the fact that we are talking about something potentially very visual, the video is boring. And it is boring for a simple reason: it’s too literal. So, when it talks about funds to translate books you see…books! And when it mentions an increased budget for cinemas you see…..cinemas! You get my drift.
I would like to suggest two alternatives that could have been chosen instead of the literal approach (I am trying to be constructive here!):
The first was to use only one of the cultural expressions mentioned and shown in the video, for example the dancer being filmed for a performance. This would have easily sustained the two and a half minute length. A short edit of different kind of shots, interesting movements, close-ups or top-shots; as a result the whole performance would have looked quite abstract – to symbolise culture in general and not just dance, for instance – and would have allowed the viewer to focus on what really matters, i.e. the graphics. But all the while watching a consistent set of nice pictures, AND a bunch of numbers.
Or, and this is alternative number two, if the focus were indeed the numbers and the increased funding in the different sectors, then maybe it would have been simpler and clearer to do a good animated video such as the one just produced on EU trade policy. But there is a reason why they chose an animation for trade and not for culture. Trade is not very visual. Culture is. More importantly, European culture is possibly THE one thing that gives us some sort of continental identity. So we should not waste any opportunity to show how amazing it really is.