Is 'Small Axe' a Film or TV Series? Director Steve McQueen Clears Up Category Confusion

Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn and Michael Ward in the Small Axe film 'Lovers Rock.'
Courtesy of Parisa Taghizedeh /Amazon Prime Video

Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn and Michael Ward in the Small Axe film 'Lovers Rock.'

While the collection of five films earned a Globes television nom, the project also landed the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s award for best picture.

Steve McQueen's BBC and Amazon anthology series Small Axe has been racking up awards — along with some confusion.

The series that follows West Indian immigrants in London comprises five short films, varying in length from 64 minutes to 128 minutes. While it earned a Globe nom for best limited series, anthology series or motion picture made for TV, the project also landed the Los Angeles Film Critics Association's award for best picture in December (the winner of this prize almost always goes on to earn Oscar nominations). The LAFCA win sparked a heated debate on social media whether McQueen's latest work was a film or a TV series.

McQueen, though, is ready to settle the debate: "This was always made for television, for the BBC, because I wanted my mother to see these stories on TV," he tells THR. "This is nothing new to Europe. Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Alan Parker — that all came from made-for-TV movies. All I wanted to do was to tell as many stories as I could possibly tell in that time and place."

By working with the BBC, the director adds that he felt he would be able to use "a platform which was not beholden to advertising" to create the stories he wanted to tell. "I could do whatever I wanted within that format," he says. "Sometimes, you have to go where people are at, and that's what Small Axe is about."

This story first appeared in the Feb. 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.