Film with a view: Droxford farm shows ways farmers are tackling Brexit
For so long, they have remained unexplored by the public's eye but now, through the medium of film, farms might just be the place to be.
Their rural beauty and majestic panoramas are set to be ours to behold – all because of Brexit.
Continuing fears that EU subsidies to UK farms will be cut as the result of Brexit negotiations are leaving farmers with food for thought.
Diversification is the only way forward and one ingenious idea from the mind of a farmer while out in the fields on a morning in Droxford is presenting a possible solution.
Frustrated by the lack of opportunities in the area for independent film showings, Chris Horn decided to use Manor Farm – which is just outside the village – as a place to put a giant inflatable screen and show films to the public through an initiative called Film on a Farm.
It was first tried out in 2015, with hundreds turning out for the two showings over the course of two nights. This was expanded to eight screenings last year and, following its success, Film on a Farm is now spreading out across the country this year, with 10 locations set to showcase 10 different films over the course of this summer.
Chris told The News: ‘Farms have to be able to diversify in this day and age in order to keep everything ticking.
‘The idea of Film on a Farm stemmed from an idea to utitlise the under-used parts of the farm and to showcase the incredible views that we have here over the Meon Valley and South Downs National Park.
‘I’m a huge lover of film and thought that it would be the way to bring film-lovers to a rural setting where they can get a truly different experience from the multiplexes.
‘I just got fed up of having to go to London to do something alternative and we have seen from the last two years that people have really loved it. This land isn’t open to the public, so when the cars start pulling into the fields and they get a glance of the views, you see the cars stop and get the cameras out. It really seems to provide a sense of wonder.
‘We are really proud of what we’ve achieved here and the fact that so many different farms got in touch with us about holding films on their farms, it showed just how much a success it was.’
Chris and colleague Sarah Mulcare toured the country over the last few months to look at farms and see the potential for the locations to host Film on a Farm events.
Not all farms were considered suitable but film fans will be able to munch on their popcorn as they view landscapes from as far as Lincolnshire to East Sussex.
Chris added: ‘We are getting a good buzz from random people who have been talking in the village about how it’s something they are looking forward to.
It is his hope that franchises of the brand will surface over the coming years that will see Film on a Farm become bigger across the country.
He said: ‘I can see it running past the next five years and hope we will be seeing more and more people get involved.’
The need for farms to explore further options for income could be set to increase over the coming years as Britain is expected to radically overhaul agricultural policy following its exit from the EU.
It will see farmers having to fight with other government departments such as health and education for a share of government funds.
Chris said: ‘It is forcing us to review all aspects of our business. The fear of the subsidy cuts is creating big concerns for us in terms of our farms over the coming years. Some farmers will not be able to operate without the subsidies so anything that we can do now to help mitigate that is worth pursuing.’
So what does a farm need to have for it to catch Chris and Sarah’s eye?
Sarah added: ‘Accessibility is a big thing for us. Farms have to be able to get cars on to them and provide a space so we can set up the screens. Of course, they also need to have great views and from what we’ve seen from our tour of the country’s farms, the British countryside is truly spectacular and a perfect backdrop for films.’
The season will start tomorrow with a showing of Raiders of the Lost Ark at Manor Farm. Gates open at 7pm with the film to start at 9pm.