Straight off the back of the success of Secret City, Lee Salter and Elizabeth Mizon set about making The Fourth Estate. The film began life as two different ideas – Liz’s desire to make a film about film, Lee’s to make one about journalism and the media.
Starting The Fourth Estate
The beginning of The Fourth Estate lay in a chance encounter with Lee’s friend, Terryl Bacon, who’s grand daughter had been telling her about her experiences as a young girl at school. We asked the parents if I could film her and the result was this.
With no funding and no plan in mind, Lee took his camera wherever he went to film life and the media, and with Liz arranged ad-hoc interviews, allowing the interviewees to determine the direction of the film.
As the Leveson Inquiry into the British press’s illegal phone hacking scandal was unfolding, it provided a natural entry point for the investigation – is hacking phones really the worst that the press does?
The Leveson Inquiry merely touched the surface of the British media system and its international link. So The Fourth Estate moved to tell the history, politics, economics and ideologies that underpin the UK press.
Somewhere between a propaganda vehicle, a lie machine and a simple business, media organisations build and destroy – to use the title of Jame’s Curran’s excellent book on the subject, they have Power Without Responsibility.
Shown across the UK and beyond, The Fourth Estate just begins to show how deep media corruption and its control of public consciousness has progressed. The other achievement of the film is to stimulate considerable dislike for Salter on the part of the British media.
After The Fourth Estate
After finishing the film, Liz and I re-edited Lila’s film, adding Liz’s particular view of the issue. The film can be seen here
The next two outcomes were based on two interviews about the then dominant topic – the election of Donald Trump and how it was perceived. Professor Olivia Guaraldo of Verona University gave her account of how anger had become a dominant emotion and how it and identity politics affects the public sphere.
Shortly after Dr Deidre O’Neill gave her account of class and identity politics in the Trump era.