In our topsy-turvy modern world, there seem to be an awful lot of bad people doing the wrong thing, then barefacedly lying about it loudly and repeatedly. Not to mention any names, but I think we all know who I mean. That is the dark side. On the side of light there are those who are resisting all the vitriol and divisiveness by countering it with collaboration and creative thinking.
This week, The Bookseller reported that the Northern Fiction Alliance – founded two years ago by a group of Northern indepdent publishers to showcase their books and authors and promote regional diversity – have seen significant increases in their book and rights sales as a direct result of their coalition. The group, whose nine members include Yorkshire indies Valley Press, And Other Stories, Bluemoose, Route, Tilted Axis and Wrecking Ball, are proving themselves a force to be reckoned with in the UK publishing industry. They are writing their own good news story.
Also this week it was announced that Danny Boyle had pulled out of directing the next Bond movie, citing ‘creative differences’. There has been a lot of speculation around what those differences might be, but it sounds as though it might have something to do with Boyle, who also co-wrote the script, trying to modernise the franchise. He had suggested his approach, which included featuring topical themes, might help it evolve in the era of #Me Too and #TimesUp. Oh, and the main villain is Russian... too close to reality, perhaps? Possible replacements mentioned include blockbuster supremos Christopher Boyle and Christopher McQuarrie and – much more interestingly – Danish director Susanne Bier. Yes, she’s a woman – whose recent work includes the 2016 hit BBC series The Night Manager, an intelligent thriller with Bond-style flourishes that’s the perfect showreel for a potential 007 director. Earlier this month the European Women’s Audiovisual Network wrote a strongly-worded open letter to Alberto Barbera, the director of Venice Film Festival, for the lack of female directors selected – again – for the main competition. And just on Wednesday, a new report from Directors UK entitled Who’s Calling the Shots? revealed the widening gender gap in the UK TV industry with an almost 10 percent fall in the number of episodes directed by women between 2013 and 2016. If the Bond producers have any desire to pull themselves into the 21st century, they should, obviously, give the leading role when it comes up to Idris Elba –and they should put a woman in the director’s chair.
Now, that would be the right thing to do.