Friday, 31 December 2010

Viral Marketing

Something you might find useful, though it's not about a British movie. Of course, you could argue that viral campaigns are only effective when picked up by the wider media, which then point people in the direction of the viral campaign...

Viral marketing: how film fans have caught the bug
More than a trailer, director Neill Blomkamp's new video leads fans on a digital treasure hunt for clues about his next movie. It's a game increasing numbers of film-makers are playing

When South African film-maker Neill Blomkamp's strange new short went viral last month it prompted many questions: is this a clue to Blomkamp's mooted District 9 sequel? Or his forthcoming new sci-fi project Elysium? And is that a pig or a cat, or – gulp – a little bit of both? It said as much about contemporary movie marketing as it did about the director's creativity.

Social networking encourages a see-and-then-share habit for moviegoers, and it's taken a step further this year – just observe the excitement and commercial reward generated by this year's viral campaigns for Inception and Tron. Yet despite the commercial motivation, most fans appear to be enjoying the shift. Viral movie marketing encourages engagement with cinema, wider conversation and expands the worlds of movies people love. In the case of Blomkamp's new video, far from merely being a trailer for a forthcoming project, the short might be seen as a starting point for a digital egg hunt.

If you've managed to come out unscathed after sitting through the video's impressively tense minute-long running time, you'll notice that the creature in Blomkamp's video is stamped AMG Heartland. Cue film fans doing some digging and discovering this is a phrase trademarked to communications company Sable, which suggests more videos will follow over the coming months.
Most movie fans enjoy the way things are now, but there's some who really enjoy it – in fact, there's a growing subculture of movie fans for whom this hunt for information is as exciting as the films themselves. Over at Movieviral.com, there's a website full of people picking through the detritus of the web and correlating clues with existing release schedules – asking themselves and each other, what does it all mean? Their forum asks if this website provides clues to Battle: Los Angeles, or is just the musings of a UFO enthusiast. It doesn't really matter which – what's most important is getting excited about the movie.

Yet some of the website's subscribers have certainly found more to enjoy in movies than mere speculation – it was Movieviral.com forum users who first cracked the code to ijustwanttobeperfect.com, the website for Darren Aronofsky's forthcoming psychological horror Black Swan, discovering, after a tipoff from the lead character's @theswanqueen twitter account, that if you typed the name of the film's villain Rothbart on the site, you were rewarded with access to view unseen footage from the movie.

Sci-fi and horror are the perfect subject matter for this kind of fan engagement – after all, what's scarier than what you don't know? – and when they're not trying to deduce whether a strange alien autopsy video entitled Apollo 20 has any relation to the forthcoming Apollo 18 movie, they're trying to crack the DOS-style setup of thescariestthingieversaw.com, a website reporting to provide access to the home computer of D Morris, a character from JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg's forthcoming Super 8. That film's not out until June 2011, they've got plenty of time.

But what is perhaps most exciting to this community is that the internet provides more clues about forthcoming movies than the release schedules. Nobody really knows what theclearpill.com means, other than suggesting that a Bradley Cooper movie about a wonder drug called Limitless appears to be in the works. Likewise the potential resurrection of the Mortal Kombat franchise when a video entitled Mortal Kombat Rebirth was put on YouTube this summer. Fans weren't given any explanation as to whether this was a new shonky beat 'em up video game, or another shonky movie based on the shonky beat 'em up game – but three million users debating which one it is can't be bad for business.

Of course, there is a school of thought that wishes things remained as they always were, that digging around and hunting for clues spoils the magic of cinema, like asking a magician to reveal the secrets of his tricks. Another thinks fans should know better than to fall for smart marketing, that they're just feeding the machine and wasting their lives searching for information that will be revealed to them in due course.

Both schools are entitled to their views, yet as they sit down to watch their summer blockbusters next year, inquisitive fans such as myself will be even more exited, knowing we've been part of the conversation for longer.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/filmblog/2010/dec/17/viral-marketing-film-fans?INTCMP=SRCH

Sunday, 5 December 2010

GCSE Horror Posters III

Josh Dodds


Beth Hunter


Michael Watson


Jessica Dos Santos


Lauren Tearney

Get Ahead OCR Media

http://getaheadocrmedia.blogspot.com/

The exam board's own blog with loads of good information and ideas for your own own blogs and how to achieve better grades...

Essay titles

Explore the exhibition issues faced by a media industry you have studied

Explore some of the ways in which new technologies have had an
impact on a media industry you have studied.

Explore the funding issues faced by the media industry you have studied

Explore the issues raised by the institution’s need to target specific audiences with a media industry you have studied

You must try to refer to examples from outside your particular case study (which is Slumdog Millionaire) - so... Amber, Working Title, Sony/Columbia and an example of its recent product, Paranormal Activity.

Most of this stuff is on the blog, a few pages back.

Explore the funding issues faced by the media industry you have studied

UK and the USA - In the practice of Hollywood and other forms of industrial cinema, the phases of production, distribution and exhibition operate most effectively when 'vertically integrated', where the three stages are seen as part of the same larger process, under the control of one company. In the UK, distribution is very much focused on marketing and sustaining a global product in local markets.
British cinema had a considerable advantage over European cinema in that the American market is huge and English is the national language. Many people across the world speak English, so the potential audience for British film is huge.

However, there is a downside: American cinema has the same advantage and on top of this, American studios have enormous capital at their disposal. They produce more films, both of the expensive, mass-appeal kind, as well as the more risky films with an independent feel. One success will pay for approximately nine failures at the box office. While British cinema does experience boom years when our films and film-makers ate feted throughout the world, we are generally consuming an increasingly large diet of American films, from the excellent to the awful and everything in between. On top of this, because of the popularity of American films in the UK, the distribution of British films into our cinemas and of British DVDs into shops is dominated by US companies, who are obviously going to put their resources into pushing their own products.

Distribution 50% of money spent on a film often goes on promotion. Film is a business like any other; it doesn’t rely on waiting and listening to audience response before delivering the product; it relies on knowing which part of the world and the media need its products and will pay for them. Does market forces competition give the consumer more power and choice and, therefore, influence, what’s made OR does it convince us that what we want is being made for us? Do millions go to see The Dark Knight when it opens because it’s a great film or because it’s been well-marketed? Or both?

Film distribution = everything that happens between the film being made and it being exhibited, whether in a cinema, on DVD, TV, the internet or anywhere else. Promotion involves above the line advertising, such as posters, trailers, billboards and spin-offs and promotional partners. It also involves related merchandising and below the line publicity which is not paid for but generates mutual interest. For example, an interview with a star in a newspaper or reviews in a magazine. Not all films are treated equally. Bigger companies have more financial muscle to promote their product and the big companies who control much of the industry, control not only the distribution of their own products, but that of others.

Five major companies dominate the UK film industry: United International Pictures, Warner Brothers, Buena Vista, Twentieth Century Fox and Sony. Nine out of every ten films shown in the UK are viewed as a result of these distributors and in most cases are linked to the Hollywood production companies who make the films. They deal with exhibitors who are no longer owned by the same Hollywood companies but, to make a profit, prioritise Hollywood films over others. Blockbuster films are often distributed via blanket release, so even if a small independent UK company gets its product into cinemas, it’s facing stiff, well-marketed competition from films that often take on the status of an event. Half the films released in Britain do not get shown around the whole country.

In the independent film sector, vertical integration does not operate so commonly. Producers tend not to have long-term economic links with distributors, who likewise have no formal connections with exhibitors. Here, as the pig-in-the-middle, distribution is necessarily a collaborative process, requiring the materials and rights of the producer and the cooperation of the exhibitor to promote and show the film in the best way possible. In this sector, distribution can be divided into three stages - licensing, marketing and logistics.

Although British film industry is doing relatively well and profits from British films worldwide are up 50% from 10 years ago, funding remains a perennial problem.

Small companies like Amber Film and Photography Collective have smaller budgets – shooting costs and their expectations of distribution are low and their working methods are necessarily low key (e.g. using digital video cameras and a non-professional cast) . They don’t work on a project basis. For Shooting Magpies (2005), there was a £17,000 development grant from Channel 4 and £40,000 from Northern Film & Media. Some of the work was supported by taking on a commercial project for Tyne & Wear Museums and some of the revenue money from Northern Rock Foundation into it (say £40,000 of £100,000). Over a three year period, they raised/spent maybe £100,000 to £120,000 on the film. At the same time, there were the Coalfield Stories photography projects, which, while they all delivered their own exhibitions/videos etc, contributed significantly to the research for the film. Amber raised around £170,000 for Coalfield Stories between 1999 and 2005.

Other companies like Working Title look for a global/wider distribution and exhibition – have found success in using an American actor and establishing its own stars like High Grant; now co-owned by Unversal/Vivendi, so they have American/European money behind their productions which can help promote them. Check your notes on the company or Google it!

Funding Slumdog Millionaire (2008): Film 4, the Channel Four film unit has only 11 staff and a budget of £10m; Tessa Ross had to find partners to help fund Slumdog. Key decision – took the film to head of Celador Films (an independent production company formed in 1983. It has produced a number of popular light entertainment shows but is probably best known for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?) – Christian Coulson. Experienced producer with several important credits e.g. Dirty Pretty Things (2002), and The Descent (2005). More than that, Celador International owned the rights to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Though Swarup (author of Q&A) had been inspired by the cheating scandal in millionaire, he had used a fictional quiz in the book. Ross wanted the rights to use Millionaire – the film would be an advert for the quiz worldwide – excellent example of cross promotion and synergy – people who are familiar with the quiz (and it is known worldwide) may be more likely to se the film; people who see the film may be more likely to watch the quiz. Once Celador produce the film there will be no payments to an external agency for the rights of Millionaire. Celador International was breaking up but Coulson ensured Film 4 would get the rights. The deal put in a small amount in equity and a TV rights payment. Celador Films then added £8m for the production budget with the assistance of a UK tax credit.

British films can apply for tax credit if they pass the UK Film Council’s definition of ‘British’. This has fairly strict criteria, based on cultural content, cultural contribution, cultural hubs and cultural practitioners and films have to score at least 16 points out of a possible 31 to pass. On cultural content it may get 5 or 6 – the subject matter has some British cultural connection and the dialogue is mainly in English; cultural contribution – it uses British creativity; cultural hubs – although it was filmed abroad there was post-production work in the UK , cultural practitioners – most cast and crew are Indian, but key figures are British. Be lucky if you could award it 12 or 13 points. However, it is believed it passed on the strength of a letter of support written by Christian Coulson, in which he argued the film was a meaningful contribution to British culture. Film4 came in with the UK TV licence and a small equity position, the UK government provided a tax credit ('I wrote an essay to the Film Council on why it was a meaningful contribution to British culture,' he says with a smile), while Celador would majority finance the £8m production using its own funding capability.
Still small budget – average Hollywood film costs about £30m. A blockbuster can cost much more; the new Star Trek movie cost $150 million!

Coulson, as producer started preparing the film even without any overseas distribution deals in place. Six months later, March 2007 – Celador and Film 4 offered the film to Danny Boyle who read the script and accepted it. The presence of Boyle (Trainspotting (1996), The Beach (2000), 28 Days Later (2002), Sunshine (2007)) and writer Simon Beaufoy (scripter of the most successful UK movie up to that point (The Full Monty) would be a pull factor for distributors.

At the point where the casting was complete, the movie was greenlit and Colson went with the script to distributors, asking for the entire budget on a negative pickup basis for worldwide rights. The major US studios generally have their own distribution offices in all the major territories. By contrast, independent producers have to sell their films to different distributors in each territory. Eventually Celador decided to pre-sell North America separately from an international deal. In the end the Warner Independent Pictures (WIP)/Pathe International combination put down minimum guarantees that justified making the film for the price they wanted.

Financing the film with Celador/Film4 equity, Colson believes, enabled Boyle to make the film that is so beloved today. 'The price would have been forced down if we'd made it for a studio,' he says, 'so we had the right amount of time to shoot it. We were also in a creative protective bubble, if you like. The script read tough - there were torture scenes and children having their eyes poked out. I am sure we would have been asked to tone that stuff down significantly.'

The film wasn't cheap for WIP and Pathe.It was budgeted at around $13m and the Warner slice alone was $5m. One issue that delayed the WIP contract was the Hindi dialogue. If the film ended up containing a certain amount of foreign dialogue, it would fail to meet criteria for the studio's TV output deals. It has been claimed that in order to secure financial aid from Warners, the film-makers claimed the amount of Hindi dialogue was significantly less than the actual amount of close to a third!

The film was shot from November 5 2007 through to February 12 2008, by which time Pathe International had already started preselling rights at Berlin. Based on what Colson says was a 'fantastic promo reel', Pathe sold 'loads more' territories in Cannes.

But just before Cannes, the call came through to the production that Warner Bros was preparing to shut down Warner Independent Pictures. Scheduling issues made it 'impossible' for Warner Bros to handle the release that calendar year. However, they went into partnership with Fox Searchlight, which handled marketing and distribution of the film in North America.

There was a real danger the film would only be released on DVD in the USA – which would have been disastrous to its commercial aims. The choice to show the film to Fox Searchlight was no surprise to anyone. Boyle had a long history with the Fox specialised label and its president Peter Rice had even overseen his big Fox production The Beach not to mention distributing 28 Days Later and Sunshine. Fortunately for Boyle and Colson, Searchlight didn't have an awards hopeful for late 2008 and Slumdog came at the perfect time.

Fox Searchlight stumped up $2.5m for the US distribution rights to the film and Warner Bros remained a financial partner. 'Warner Bros did the right thing by this film,' says Colson. 'But it came just in the nick of time. We had invitations from Telluride and Toronto [film festivals] and we closed the deal with Fox a day before Toronto started.'

Ironically, despite the worldwide success of Slumdog, Channel 4, on which Film4 depends for its funding, recently admitted it was facing a £150m shortfall. There are hopes that a strong showing at the Oscars will send a message to the British government that Film4 is worth protecting as a world-class part of the channel's public service broadcasting remit. On the face of it, times couldn't be better for British film - with Slumdog Millionaire's awards success so far adding to a huge growth in audiences. Cinema admissions are bucking the downturn trend- the UK box office had the strongest January performance for five years with takings of £100m, while total admissions rose 7.7% year on year.

At least three major Hollywood productions start shooting in the UK this year - Gulliver's Travels, Nottingham, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - as well as Film4's post-Slumdog projects such as Peter Jackson's and DreamWorks's film of The Lovely Bones and Sam Taylor Wood's Lennon biopic, Nowhere Boy.

Behind the scenes, however, there are problems - TV and DVD revenues have fallen, the credit crunch has stopped British banks lending to indie producers, and the consequent delays are threatening to wipe out indie productions before they've even started. There are those who fear a more fundamental threat in 2009 - that a possible merger between Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide could permanently damage both BBC Films and Film4. If it does, Slumdog, In Bruges and Revolutionary Road could be the last of their kind.

Tessa Ross, head of Film 4 has a relatively limited budget of £8-£10m a year for Film4's entire output. Typically, independent producers looking to make £4-5m movies will use public money to develop projects, then take the script and proposal to film festivals in the US, Cannes and Berlin to secure distribution agreements. Each distribution contract acts as collateral in securing bank loans to start production. Adam Kulick, a partner at Goldcrest, warns that the credit crunch means those loans have dried up. "Producers are having real trouble starting productions and they survive on production fees - which means some may go out of business in the downturn," Kulick explains. "At the same time, those distribution agreements they can secure are worth less this year as overseas markets struggle with their own recessions.”

Only a few companies, with Working Title the biggest, operate like commercial studios – and they are backed – and part-owned by Universal/Vivendi. Kulick, however, does praise the film-financing tax break that the government launched two years ago. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has got a very good reputation in the industry - here and abroad - what money we do have tends to end up in the best films.

The other plus for UK film is that the fall in the value of sterling is making the UK a very attractive place for Hollywood studios to film. "The UK's talent and creative base is very strong," says David Kosse, president of Universal Pictures International, who is preparing to release Richard Curtis's new Working Title movie The Boat That Rocked, in April. "Couple that with the weakness of the pound and that's attracting strong inward investment from the US. Some of last year's biggest pictures - such as The Dark Knight and Mamma Mia! - were shot in the UK so Pinewood and Shepperton [studios] are feeling pretty optimistic after a difficult few years. However, he added, "You can't have actors, craftspeople and camera crews who only work on a couple of big pictures a year - they need to be working all the time to make sure the creative base remains strong."

Which brings the argument back to Film4. Sadly, Oscar recognition is unlikely to secure much more cash for the unit. Slumdog is highly profitable - having returned four times its initial costs - but only a small proportion of this profit will return to C4. For Ross, however, the profit isn't the main point.

BFI and the future of British film-making

More Harry Potter or another Another Year? The BFI must decide
Taking over from the UK Film Council will see a clash between commerce, Hollywood and commitments to UK heritage and art

In his speech outlining the future of the UK film industry, culture minister Ed Vaizey made an interesting point about the relationship between British film-making and Hollywood. In the same breath, Vaizey praised Tamara Drewe, Made in Dagenham and the Harry Potter films as signs of the British film industry's current and continuing success. He went on to say:

Some people think there are two film industries in this country – the US film industry, and the UK film industry – and that somehow one side's success is dependent on the other side's failure. I do not share that view. I believe that the two industries are two sides of the same coin … We benefit massively from Hollywood's investment in this country.

The plans he went on to outline reflected this assumption. The duties of the UK Film Council, it turns out, have been handed over to a beefed-up British Film Institute, which will have an even greater pot of lottery funds to distribute than its predecessor, although with a significantly reduced infrastructure. The rationale for abandoning the UK Film Council was, in part, that it supposedly spent too much on operating costs (although the UKFC vehemently disputes this). One can presume that the BFI will have to manage its budgets, and work with film-makers, at a significantly discounted rate.

In many ways, it's an uncontroversial move, which reinforces the status quo, rather than radically breaking with it. The BFI simply replaces the UK Film Council as a one-stop shop for film investment. The decision to keep film funding centralised, rather than establishing a handful of separate bodies with different remits, will help to keep costs down, although it does mean that film-makers have to be on good terms with the BFI in order to qualify for resources. If they are not, for whatever reason, then there's not really anywhere else to go. The decision also makes one wonder whether it might have been cheaper to simply reform the UK Film Council.

So, it remains to be seen how the BFI will deal with this new mandate. Vaizey told us to expect announcements about significant structural changes very soon, and the BFI faces a substantial challenge. Throughout its history, it has been a successful force for disseminating and educating the public about the value of movies and screen heritage. When it has funded film projects in the past, it has tended to stick to its mandate by focusing on more commercially obscure but artistically worthwhile projects. By contrast, the UK Film Council was established to ensure that the UK film industry became more substantial and sustainable in terms of its value to the UK economy. It had a cultural mandate, but it was ultimately a commercial institution.

Despite some missteps, it achieved notable success in this regard. Relatively few UK Film Council-funded films have been breakout hits, but many more were small-budget affairs which likely recouped their costs, and the UK Film Council's hit-to-flop ratio was probably no worse than the average Hollywood studio. After all, film-making is an enormously risky business, because it is almost impossible to fully anticipate audience preference and demands. The great screenwriter William Goldman, described this problem neatly in his much-quoted maxim, that, in Hollywood, "nobody knows anything". Crucially, no one knows for sure what audiences want to see, and this is as true of the British market as it is of America. Therefore, the challenge for the BFI will be to find some way of dealing with an inherently uncertain and relatively unpredictable market.

One strategy is to fund very small films and expect small returns. Another is to contribute to the funding of bigger British films, assuming a minor role, but assisting with administration. The BFI clearly has some solid commercial instincts. It operates a great facility on the South Bank, including an extremely successful Imax cinema. But now it needs to find a way of balancing its cultural and education remit with the financial realities of film production, while keeping operating costs low.

However, it seems to me that the real focus of Vaizey's interest is revealed in the suggestion that visiting Hollywood productions, and American investment, has really driven the growth of film-related industry in Britain. Tax breaks for overseas production will continue, and Vaizey went out of his way to declare the need for further American investment. Some will no doubt see this as a mistake, or as confirmation that the coalition is pursuing the neoliberal policy of ensuring that Britain remains little more than a production base for companies whose revenues ultimately migrate overseas (as occurred with so much British manufacturing in the 1970s and 80s). However, Vaizey is right that many ostensibly American productions do bring work to Britain, and are culturally British in some sense. I argued last week that the success of the Harry Potter films clearly indicates that British subjects are eminently suitable for highly budgeted, commercially successful blockbusters. Next week, Michael Apted's new Narnia film is likely to generate substantial revenues across the world too (even if it does not quite match the stratospheric profits of the latest Potter film). The newly minted BFI probably will not want to dip its toe in the choppy waters of blockbuster film production, so Hollywood does still have a role to play in supporting a certain kind of nominally British film. But it must be possible for British film-makers to successfully address regular British moviegoers – not the minority audiences attracted to a movie like Fish Tank or Another Year, but the masses, the sort of people who turn out in droves for Harry Potter. The BFI now needs to build upon the work of the UK Film Council, and figure out what role it wants future British films to play in the lives of British people.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/filmblog/2010/nov/30/bfi-uk-film-council-takeover?intcmp=239

BFI takes over from the UK Film Council

British Film Institute to take over from UK Film CouncilBFI will distribute lottery money to film-makers, the culture minister Ed Vaizey announces

Mark Brown, Arts correspondent
guardian.co.uk
Monday 29 November 2010 19.22 GMT

The culture minister Ed Vaizey, who announced the BFI's new role today. Photograph: Nils Jorgensen/Rex Features The British Film Institute will distribute lottery money to film-makers from next year, ministers announced today, ending – they hope – an acrimonious row that even prompted Clint Eastwood to write a concerned letter to the chancellor.

The government revealed its plan to abolish the 10-year-old UK Film Council in July. Even those who sympathised with the decision criticised the lack of a plan for who would take over.

Today the culture minister, Ed Vaizey, tried to alleviate those worries by announcing the BFI would take on most of the UKFC's functions apart from the task of encouraging inward investment, which would be in the hands of Film London.

Vaizey said the BFI would have to "change fundamentally" to be "more able to realise an exciting vision of a coherent, joined-up film industry".

It will be responsible not only for heritage and education, but for helping the production, exhibition and distribution of new British films.

In a speech at Bafta's headquarters in London, Vaizey said the intention was to build on the already considerable achievements of the British film industry. "Despite the success, we cannot be complacent," he said. "The goal of a sustainable, independent British film industry remains as elusive as ever."

The BFI immediately announced a rise in the money available for new films in the coming year from £15m to £18m, made possible by the cut in overhead costs because of the film council's abolition.

More than a year ago the Labour government planned to merge the BFI with the film council, with the BFI as junior partner. Today's announcement, a merger in all but name, puts the BFI in charge.

Its chairman, Greg Dyke, said: "It makes sense for there to be a single voice for film in this country - and that's going to be us." He added: "We can certainly do it significantly cheaper ... how much cheaper, we don't know yet. The UK Film Council carried quite a large overhead."

There are still lots of questions. How much bigger will the BFI have to become? How much more money will it get? How many film council staff will transfer? Vaizey said he expected a detailed transfer plan to be sorted in the new year.

He reaffirmed that lottery funding for film would rise from £27m to more than £40m by 2014 and said there were no plans to change the tax credit scheme which has encouraged Hollywood studios to make films in the UK.

Vaizey praised Channel 4 and the BBC for its investment in film-making but said he could not understand why Sky did not make films. "As one of the country's most innovative broadcasters, they would bring a new dynamic force to the table that would lift everybody's game."

The job of attracting foreign – principally Hollywood – studios to Britain will go to Film London, but Vaizey stressed that it would be working for the whole of the UK, not just the capital.

The announcements were generally welcomed by the industry. Film producer David Parfitt, incoming chairman of Film London, said: "The key thing for us is that the money is still there and there is a promise to increase it and also a guarantee of the long-term future of the tax credit.

"Those are the things that the industry really wanted to hear."

There was a more understandably downbeat response from the UKFC as it continues to help out in its own abolition. Tim Cagney, managing director, said: "We are relieved that, after over four months of uncertainty, the government has made up its mind on where public support for UK film will sit. There are still many unresolved issues so, to benefit the industry and to protect our staff, we will continue to work with the relevant organisations on a smooth handover of film functions and expertise."

Privately, ministers acknowledge that the film council's abolition was badly handled. It led to angry letters to newspapers, and the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, even travelled to Los Angeles to assert that the UK was open for business when it came to film.

Since then, Vaizey has consulted widely and also announced today that he was setting up a ministerial film forum to meet every six months or so to debate issues and concerns.

Vaizey also announced that the eight regional screen agencies outside London would be streamlined into a single body, Creative England.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/nov/29/bfi-takes-over-from-ukfc

Slumdog Millionaire - key notes (in case you've lost them)

Slumdog Millionaire (Danny Boyle, 2009)

Origins
a) CNN news item about the Hole in the Wall Project in Delhi giving street kids access to computers – kids taught themselves skills and enjoyed themselves
b) Vikas Swarup, an Indian diplomat posted to London, saw the news story about the ex-Army major who cheated on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Saw this was top-rated show in India too – recognised a global format and wanted to write a novel.
c) Most unlikely person to win - most likely to be accused of cheating if he won in India – uneducated kid from the slums
d) Had to be about hope, survival and redemption to appeal to a wide audience
e) Q&A published 2005 in UK and India. Success – Book at Bedtime on BBC Radio 4

First moves towards adapting it for the screen
a) Even before it was published Swarup’s agent sent a proof copy to Tessa Ross, Head of Film 4; saw possibilities, purchased it, pitched the idea to writer Simon Beaufoy.
b) Beaufoy is a known ‘name’ in the business, a writer with a successful track record – he was needed to secure more funding.
c) Beaufoy – scriptwriter of the Full Monty, one of the most commercially successful Brit films of all times, making $240 million worldwide on the back of considerable promotion by Fox Searchlight. Rather than go to Hollywood, worked with Bille Eltringham on small-scale Brit films about the Asian community, like Yasmin (2004) – much more in common with the films of Ken Loach – script arose from discussion and workshops among the Asian community in Keighley, Yorkshire. Not released in cinemas but broadcast on Channel 4.
d) Beaufoy – background contained elements that seemed relevant to Slumdog and his name would be attractive to potential backers and directors.
e) Q&A is a book comprising various narrative strands and Beaufoy saw the need for as strong narrative – visited Mumbai for research – decided on the idea of explaining the story through the answers the boy gives – which is in the book – but got rid of many of the subplots and extra stories to trim the narrative, making it streamlined to fit the Hollywood model and make it more filmable and, of course, widen its appeal.
f) Key change – instead of the central character being an orphan brought up by an English clergyman, Beaufoy changed him to a Mumbai Muslim slum dweller with a brother Salim. In the novel, Salim is a friend and Mumbai featrures later.
g) Stronger focus on the romantic elements came later at Danny Boyle’s request, as was the structural change that saw Jamal arrested BEFORE the final question, thus adding suspense and tension.
h) Beaufoy certainly introduced some elements to appeal to the UK audience – the call-centre scenes and the way the staff have to soak up elements of British culture, but overall he remains faithful to the spirit of the novel.

Novel – British or Indian?
a) Indian characters, Indian setting, Indian cultural content, so…
b) BUT, not a literary novel in the same way as those Indian novels that win literary prizes and praise in the UK (i.e. the books of Vikram Seth); this is more of a deliberate attempt to write a novel that would be popular, using a recognisable ‘global standard modern English.’ The writing assumes an understanding of global culture rather than specific regional Indian culture – increase its appeal overseas – something reflected in the film itself.

Funding Crisis
a) Film 4, the Channel Four film unit has only 11 staff and a budget of £10m; Tessa Ross had to find partners to help fund the film.
b) Key decision – took the film to head of Celador Films – Christian Coulson. Experienced producer with several important credits (Dirty Pretty Things (2002), The Descent (2005) and Eden Lake (2008)). More than that, Celador International owned the rights to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Though Swarup had been inspired by the cheating scandal in millionaire, he had used a fictional quiz in the book.
c) Ross wanted the rights to use Millionaire – think of how the film would be an advert for the quiz worldwide – it’s an excellent example of cross promotion – people who are familiar with the quiz (and it is known worldwide) may be more likely to se the film; people who see the film may be more likely to watch the quiz.
d) Problem – Celador International was breaking up but Coulson ensured Film 4 would get the rights. The deal put in a small amount in equity and a TV rights payment. Celador Films then added £8m for the production budget with the assistance of a UK tax credit. Still small budget – average Hollywood film costs about £30m.
e) Coulson, as producer started preparing the film even without any overseas distribution deals in place.
f) Six months later, March 2007 – Celador and Film 4 offered the film to Danny Boyle who read the script and accepted it.

Danny Boyle and British Cinema in India
a) Long history of ‘British’ films made in India – many American using British actors.
b) More relevant to are ‘Diaspora' films – made by Indians not living in India or by British Asians – funded by the UK - Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay! (UK/France/India, 1988) and Gurinder Chadha’s Bride and Prejudice (UK/US, 2004).
c) Boyle – a ‘name’ director – Trainspotting (1996), The Beach (2000), 28 Days Later (2002), Sunshine (2007), but necessarily someone whose name guarantees box-office success. Had a bad experience on The Beach – didn’t have control and had problems with the British and America crew on location; this time, he wanted complete control and wanted to use Indian cast and crew, though with British heads of departments.
d) Style is obviously European/American – lots of moving camera shots, slow-mo, sped up shots, tilted camera, atmospheric lighting (it could, I suppose, be argued that he makes the slums look photogenic, even the bit when the boy is covered in shit).
e) He had no obvious Indian/Asian connection and for preparation watched Indian films like Ram Gopal Varma’s Company (2002) and those by Mira Nair, such as Salaam Bombay! (1988), which was part funded by Film 4.
f) Insisted on Anthony Dod Mantle, whom he’d worked on 28 Days Later as Cinematographer and who had worked on the Dogme films for Lars von Trier and had recently worked on Wallander for the BBC.
g) Tabrez Noorani - Line Producer who had worked in India and who had worked with Loveleen Tanda, who is credited as co-director (India) and Casting Director and who had worked with Mira Nair
h) Heads of departments were British but most of crew and cast (with the exception of Dev Patel) were recruited in India. Lots of the second unit crew and assistant directors were well-respected Bollywood technicians.
i) Two of the cast were major Indian character actors – Amil Kaur and Irrfan Khan.
j) Film was shot with combination of 35mm and digital film with a ratio of 40:60. Smaller, lighter digital films were useful in action scenes in narrow streets and alleys; some cameras were in fixed positions to catch action from different angles; second unit work was carried out by Bollywood crews in different locations.
k) Shooting took place between Nov 2007 and Feb 2008.

Music
a) Boyle sent a rough cut on DVD to A. R. Rahman, major composer on the World Music scene who has scored many Indian films of varying styles and who has a huge fan base in India, so he could write a soundtrack – another selling point for the film.
b) Rahman teamed up with M.I.A. for two tracks, thus adding to the movie’s appeal to an audience interested in World music. One track, Paper Planes, was nominated for a Grammy for Song of the Year.

Festivals, Release Pattern and Distribution
a) Coulson sells film negative pickup rights to two distributors – Warner International (for distribution rights in North America) and Pathé International (a French company) for the rest of the world. These deals accrued $13m which covered the budget and the equity costs of the producers.
b) Feb 2008 – Pathé sold international distribution rights again to more partners at Berlin Film Festival
c) May 2008 – film promoted at Cannes BUT Warners closed their specialty divisions – looked like they would cut their losses and release the film straight to DVD in North America (but cinema release would still have gone ahead in the UK and the rest of the world because the distributor for those regions was Pathé).
d) Warner allowed Coulson and Ross to show film to Fox Searchlight, which distributed much of Boyle’s earlier work, and an agreement was reached that left Warners with a stake but allowed Fox Searchlight distribution rights for North America.
e) Fox deal just in time for Toronto Film Festival – a major international festival and one which is crucial for the success of non-Hollywood studio films in North America. Fox had a history of recent success with the American indie film Juno in 2007 and this became a platform for its Oscar campaign. Slumdog won audience award – a sign of how popular it would become.
f) Platform release in US and Canada – started in 10 screens on Nov 16; by Christmas week – 589 screens; 1500 by late January. 2900 in March after Oscar success.
g) Wide release elsewhere – 324 screens in UK on Jan 9, building on success in US and Canada. Increased box office takings in first three weeks – number of screens increased as did takings – due to word of mouth and promotion on TV, radio, press.
h) Release in India on Jan 23rd – English language prints (still with 1/3 of the film in Hindi) in multiplexes in city centres; Hindi-dubbed prints in traditional cinemas in suburbs and in the country. English language version more popular and Hindi-version has been listed as an ‘average’ box-office performer – though this is quite an achievement as many Bollywood films are ‘flops’ or ‘disasters’.

Success
a) Most British films that have done well abroad have been made by companies with direct Hollywood studio connections – like the films made by Working Title which is owned by Paramount; Slumdog looks set to be the most commercially successful British independent film of all time – earned approx $300m at the box office so far.
b) Won eight Oscars and nominated for two more; won seven BAFTAs and nominated for another four; plus a host of other awards in the USA and around the world.
c) At the time of writing, still a release of 2000 prints in China, Japan and Korea.
d) Success in Britain. In a proportionate way, Slumdog has been the biggest success in the UK, making $45-50m. Possible reasons why – appeals to the multi-cultural society that the UK has become; the appeal to mid-teen-early20s audience of a young British lead actor known for his role in Skins; the use of the very recognisable and popular Who Wants To Be A Millionaire; plot elements with universal appeal – hope, love story, rags to riches; the film features some aspects of India we’re familiar with – Millionaire, scenes in the call centre, cricket; flashy kinetic camera work with unusual angles and tilts; dramatic lighting, narrative style – appeal to a cine-literate audience A lot of it may down to its success in the USA and Canada, the press coverage this received (British films that do well in the USA always receive a lot of press coverage – there seems to be a feeling that when a UK film does well, we’re putting one over on the Americans but there’s also the feeling that we’ve achieved something to be proud of culturally which is not an everyday event!
e) Success in the USA. Many of the same reasons (including Millionaire, which is a hit there too) – the rags to riches story resonates with the idea of the American Dream where anyone can make it as a success, no matter your background. However, flashy as the camera work and editing are, there are none of the explosions or special effects that are normally associated with big box office hits in the US (though there is the romance), nor are there any actors the bulk of the audience would be familiar with. The key to its success may be down to the ethnic diversity of the audience – there are large southern Asian populations in many North American cities, especially in the northeast, including Toronto, where the movie first took off and New York; however, the film received heavy promotion in the US – Boyle and Patel devoted themselves to hundreds of interviews on TV channels across the US (especially on Fox subsidiaries) as well as in print media and there is a mass of promotional material on the official Fox website. It should be noted, however, that the trailers in the US didn’t play Indian music. The platform release strategy, picking up momentum as it received nominations which were widely covered in the media, also boosted audience interest and you could say its success was driven by awards and nominations.

Slumdog as a British film
a) A key issue about the British film industry is what defines British cinema
b) Slumdog – set in India; source material was by an Indian writer, although not written in traditional Indian literary style; many of the film’s crew were Indian; all but one of the principle and the majority of the supporting cast were Indian; almost a third of the dialogue is in Hindi.
c) Director, writer, lead actor, key members of the film crew were British; two-thirds of the dialogue was in English; the initial funding for the production was British; the production company and producer were British.
d) It was passed as British by the UK Film Council and thus received tax allowances. However, this has fairly stringent criteria, based on cultural content, cultural contribution, cultural hubs and cultural practitioners and films have to score at least 16 points out of a possible 31 to pass. On cultural content it may get 5 or 6 – the subject matter has some British cultural connection and the dialogue is mainly in English; cultural contribution – it uses British creativity; cultural hubs – although it was filmed abroad there was post-production work in the UK , cultural practitioners – most cast and crew are Indian, but key figures are British. Be lucky if you could award it 12 or 13 points. However, it is believed it passed on the strength of a letter of support written by Christian Coulson, in which he argued the film was a meaningful contribution to British culture.

It could have received tax allowances had it been a co-production with an Indian company as the UK has co-production agreements with certain countries; or if it had qualified as British under European conventions (for which it could’ve received support for screenings, distribution etc.). However, it was a wholly UK-financed production (US money was only involved for distribution) and it was not a co-production with an Indian company.
Influence of British production background as opposed to British/American like Working Title films – no American star.

Slumdog as ‘Global’ film
What are global media?
I’ve taken global media to be concerned with media forms that are produced in several different production contexts around the world, which then circulate in more than one market and in so doing influence production in the second market. In this way the medium is increasingly globalised as domestic industries mutate through a process of interaction.

In terms of film, up until now the predominant form of change in the international film industry has been of a hegemonic Hollywood across most markets slowly absorbing new talent and ideas thrown up by smaller commercial industries, which have in turn often imitated and stolen Hollywood material. In this paradigm, Hollywood has had little contact with the major film industries of India and has recently found itself to a certain extent rebuffed by renascent industries in Japan, South Korea and the ‘three Chinas’. This challenge to Hollywood has been met by the activities of the major US studios in seeking production deals with South Asian and East Asian producers. In historical terms, this represents something of a return to the 1960s when Hollywood studios attempted to create co-production deals in Europe, especially in Italy and with Japan, but the current engagement with India and China is new. However, the early attempts to engage directly with Indian producers on films such as Chandni Chowk to China (2008) has so far proved strikingly unsuccessful. It is in this context that the distribution and exhibition of Slumdog Millionaire has been so striking.

What makes Slumdog Millionaire so different?
• An Indian property – an Indian novel, Q & A, written in English by Vikas Swarup;
• A UK production company, Film 4, and its partner, Celador, the owner of the rights to the TV format at the centre of the novel, WWTBAM;
• A UK scriptwriter, Simon Beaufoy and UK director Danny Boyle
• Indian musical composer, A R Rahman
• UK dept heads and Indian crew
• One UK actor plus stars of Bollywood and parallel cinema plus non-professional actors
• An Indian shoot and shared post-production India/UK
• A Hollywood studio as North American distributor via its specialist label
• A British/French distributor in the UK
• An Indian subsidiary of a Hollywood studio (Warners) as distributor in India
• Appearances at international film festivals, culminating in awards in the US and UK
• Given a budget of either $10 million or £10 million (sources vary), Slumdog has been a major commercial success. As of 3/3/09 box office grosses were as follows:
US $100 million; UK $37 million; after these, the biggest markets have been France, Australia, Italy, Spain; India (Hindi) $2.6 million; India (English) $3.4 million.
Note that the film has not been a big hit in Hindi markets, but has done very well in English language markets (don’t forget it is still a third Hindi in the English prints). Since tickets for Hindi halls are generally likely to be lower priced than the English language screens, it still means a sizeable audience of around 8-10 million Indians (plus pirated DVD viewings etc.).

Cinema in India
There are many myths about Indian Cinema, not least the confusion between Hindi Cinema, Bollywood and Indian Cinema generally.

• There are around 800-1000 films produced each year in India.
• The largest number of films are produced in the four South Indian languages of Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam. These four regional industries account for more than half of all Indian films.
• The highest profile films with the most promotion and usually the biggest box office (by revenue) are the 200 or so Bollywood films made in Hindi.
• The remaining 200 films are produced in other so-called ‘regional’ languages, including Bengali, Marathi, Bhojpuri etc.
• Some of the films made in Hindi, Bengali and Malayalam plus occasional Tamil and Telugu films and several made in English are classified as artfilms, specialised films or ‘Parallel Cinema’.
• Bollywood film producers increasingly export films to the diaspora of NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) in the UK and North America as well as Africa and other parts of Asia. Other Indian film industries also export films, especially the Tamil industry to Malaysia, Singapore and again to the UK and North America.
• Indian cinemas in most major cities play films in several languages – usually Hindi, English and the regional language.
• Slumdog Millionaire was released in English and Hindi versions. American films such as March of the Penguins have also been dubbed into Telugu and Tamil.
• What makes Slumdog unique is that its typical Danny Boyle style was influenced by several Indian film industry characteristics including Parallel Cinema and South Indian films as well as Bollywood.

Slumdog style
Danny Boyle built up a reputation, largely based on his successful British pictures (Shallow Grave (1995), Trainspotting (1996) and 28 Days Later (2002)), for stylised cinematography and fast cutting. A feature of his work has been partnerships with cinematographers and editors prepared to work in his style (much of which recently has been developed using digital cameras). Anthony Dod Mantle, Director of Photography on Slumdog was with Boyle when he experimented with early digital cameras on UK television films in 2001. Mantle was also a major player in the so-called Dogme movement starting in Denmark with Festen in 1998.

A distinctive UK/Danish approach was adapted on the Slumdog shoot after Boyle had studied a range of Indian filmmaking styles. These included Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay (all of her Indian films in fact) and Aamir Khan’s films as actor and director and Ram Gopal Varma.

Slumdog and Reception Studies
Slumdog has quickly become one of the most discussed films of recent times. This is perhaps less to do with the film in terms of its narrative (although audiences seem genuinely entertained by its ideas and their presentation) and more to do with its status as a cultural object. The critical and industry discussion of the film started as soon as it was released in the US in December and at the time of its UK release in late January this intensified into a debate in the press and the media more generally. This in turn was revived and extended at the time of the 8 Oscar triumph in February. At the same time, the film created a mixed response in India (again affected by Oscar success with some Indian commentators caught between wanting to condemn the film for being ‘not Indian enough’, but at the same time wanting to celebrate Oscar success for A R Rahman (twice) and sound recordist Resul Pookutty.

Range of debates around the film which make it a candidate for a global or possibly ‘globalising’ product. One focuses on ideas about realism – is the film denigrating India by showing the reality of poverty or denigrating it by offering a ‘Western view, a tourist’s view rather than a realist view? These are mutually exclusive arguments frequently presented.

A second argument surrounds the extent to which the film draws on existing Indian Cinema (in all its manifestations) and mixes it with Western styles. This is my position, but others argue forcibly against it. Much depends of course on the width of viewing experience of the critic. It is worth remembering that some Indian commentators may not watch any other Indian films outside of Bollywood. The extent of the release in both English and Hindi versions of the film is important, as is the success of the soundtrack album in reaching a wider Indian audience.
• What kinds of audience behaviour and consumption are increasingly global?
• What are the arguments for and against global media, in relation to content, access, representation and identity?
I would contend that Indian cinema audiences are moving towards a mode of cinemagoing that is more closely aligned to that of North America, Europe and East Asia, i.e. through the new-build multiplexes, now with digital projection. However, there is a distinct divide between the poor and the new middle class and between the rural and urban audiences. There are thousands of traditional cinemas in India in which audience behaviour will be much slower to change (see Indian research into audience behaviour quoted in Understanding Audiences and the Film Industry, 2007: 158). At the same time, satellite TV (often pirated), VCDs and DVDs (also pirated) may be supplying poorer audiences with greater access to films (as well as ‘World Cinema’ to upmarket audiences).

Is this a ‘good thing’ or a ‘bad thing’? Cultural imperialism? Hollywood is approaching the newly emergent Indian media conglomerates with rapidity, but also some trepidation. (DreamWorks was effectively bought by the Indian major, Reliance, not the other way round.) In an Indian context, issues over identity may be played out much more in a Hindi v Tamil/Telugu stand-off or fears that a ‘globalised’ and unified Indian national identity might threaten as a regional power to overwhelm Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Other aspect of debate - is the role of the Non Resident Indian audience in the UK. To a large extent, Bollywood films in the UK are still playing to a ‘diasporic (i.e. Indians living in the UK) audience’. Both Hollywood and Bollywood seek that potential crossover hit – an Indian produced film that attracts a general UK and US audience. Slumdog is arguably nearer to that goal than the Hollywood co-produced Indian films so far released.

Viral Marketing

Viral marketing and viral advertising refer to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives (such as product sales) through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of pathological and computer viruses. It can be word-of-mouth delivered or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet.[1] Viral promotions may take the form of video clips, interactive Flash games, advergames, ebooks, brandable software, images, or even text messages.

The marketing campaign for the 2008 film The Dark Knight combined both online and real-life elements to make it resemble an alternate reality game. Techniques included mass gatherings of Joker fans, scavenger hunts around world, detailed and intricate websites that let fans actually participate in "voting" for political offices in Gotham City, and even a Gotham News Network that has links to other Gotham pages such as Gotham Rail, a Gotham travel agency, and political candidate's pages. The movie also markets heavily off of word of mouth from the thousands of Batman fans.

How can you apply this to the case of Slumdog?

Slumdog on DVD

In some ways, the theatrical release is like a huge promo for the DVD/Blu-ray - IF it's successful. When you're talking about the importance of digital technology, you MUST refer to the DVD/Blu-ray release.

Bonus features to be found in both home video versions include a "making-of" documentary, deleted scenes, and a Slumdog Cutdown. Commentary from director Danny Boyle and actor Dev Patel in addition to commentary from producer Christian Colson and writer Simon Beaufoy can also be seen in the special features section.

The sparkling Blu-ray package adds a dozen deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, a music video, an Indian short film, a breakdown of the infamous toilet scene, commentary by Boyle, actor Dev Patel and writer Simon Beaufoy, and a separate digital copy for play on iPods and other portable devices as well. Pre-orders for the Blu-ray Disc and the DVD could be made via Amazon.

Shot with a combination of film and video cameras, Slumdog Millionaire comes to Blu- ray with its distinctively stylized appearance intact. It's a unique looking movie with an abundance of moody, almost monochromatic photography, designed to depict the seemingly infinite mass of Mumbai residents in a style that never glamorizes their suffering. As a matter of fact, director of photography Anthony Dod Mantle's rich photography was honored with the Academy Award for achievement in cinematography just last month. Given the film's pedigree and award recognition, Fox has given Slumdog Millionaire a high bitrate AVC Mpeg-4 1080p encode, in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, that captures the movie's groundbreaking style to perfection.

Once upon a time, winners of the Oscar for Best Picture would take their good-natured time making their way from the nation's multiplexes to the local video store. The idea was to milk as much money from theater-goers as possible, then build anticipation for the video-cassette release by keeping the movie out of circulation for as many as six months. This system worked to the benefit not only of theater owners, but also the pirates who, we were told, used the extended window to pick the pockets of studio executives.

Slumdog Millionaire arrives in DVD and Blu-ray only FIVE weeks after the Academy Awards bonanza helped squeeze another $40 million from the domestic box-office, bringing total grosses to a very respectable $137 million. Indeed, last week, the Mumbai fairy tale was still playing on more than 2,000 screens nationwide. It leads one to wonder if the temptation to exploit the Oscar hype was as strong a reason to release Slumdog on video as the desire to trump the pirates at their own game.

Bear in mind the competiton this will have from illegal downloads and dodgy bootleg copies - the makers have to ensure that the DVD is an attractive option...

Explore some of the ways in which new technologies have had an impact on a media industry you have studied

Digital cinematography is the process of capturing motion pictures as digital images, rather than on film. Digital capture may occur on tape, hard disks, flash memory, or other media which can record digital data. As digital technology has improved, this practice has become increasingly common. Many mainstream Hollywood movies now are shot partly or fully digitally. The Academy Award for Best Cinematography was awarded to Slumdog Millionaire, a movie shot mainly digital in 2009.

Better sense of how the image will look - When shooting digitally, response to light is determined by the sensor(s) in the camera and recorded and "developed" directly. This means a cinematographer can measure and predict exactly how the final image will look by eye if familiar with the specific model of camera being used. On-set monitoring allows the cinematographer to see the actual images that are captured, immediately on the set, which is impossible with film. With a properly calibrated high-definition display, on-set monitoring can give the cinematographer a far more accurate picture of what is being captured than is possible with film.

More portable - Ultra-lightweight and extremely compact digital cinematography cameras are much smaller and lighter than mechanical film cameras. On Slumdog, film was shot with combination of 35mm and digital film with a ratio of 40:60. Smaller, lighter digital films were useful in action scenes in narrow streets and alleys. Danny Boyle had previous experience of digital shooting with his director of photography, Anthony Dod Mantle, on 28 Days Later.

Digital filiming offers better performance than film in low-light conditions, allowing less lighting and in some cases completely natural or practical lighting to be used for shooting, even indoors. This low-light sensitivity also tends to bring out shadow detail. However, the sensors even in most high-end digital video cameras have less exposure latitude (dynamic range) than modern motion picture film stocks. In particular, they tend to 'blow out' highlights, losing detail in very bright parts of the image – you saw this in Shooting Magpies!

Films are traditionally shot with dual-system recording, where picture is recorded on camera, and sync sound is recorded to a separate sound recording device. Picture and sound are then synced up in post-production. In the past this was done manually by lining up the image of the just-closed clapper board sticks with their characteristic "Click!" on the sound recording. Nowadays this is normally done automatically using timecodes burnt onto the edge of the film emulsion. Digital cinema cameras can record sound internally, already in sync with picture, eliminating the need for syncing so work can be faster.
Cheaper - For the last 25 years, respected filmmakers like George Lucas predicted electronic or digital cinematography would bring about a revolution in filmmaking, by dramatically lowering costs. Amber used digital on Shooting Magpies due to problems with funding when Channel 4 were undergoing restructuring - felt the need to reclaim some kind of control so they decided to make the feature with considerably less expensive digital video, particularly when the filmmakers were pleased with the quality of the material that had been shot to research the production. The film was shot with available light and virtually no location budget. Digital video takes cost pressures off improvisation and experiment and digital editing allowed access to a far wider group of the filmmakers than traditional analogue editing.

For low-budget productions, digital cinematography has cost benefits over shooting on 35 mm or even 16 mm film. The cost of film stock, processing, telecine, negative cutting, and titling for a feature film can run to tens of thousands of dollars. Editing is also easier and the equipment can be portable and viewed immediately. Most extremely low-budget movies never receive wide distribution, but this may change with the advent of disgital distribution.

Improved speed, security and the ability to connect to the postproduction already while shooting, play a role when A-budgets are shot digitally and not mechanically. Skipping developing the negative, linking live via satellite or data networks, on set backups of the shots and immediate availability of high-quality dailies on blu-ray, hdcam or file-base have become commonplavce for many directors and Directors of Photography. The ability to check expensive shots at once on set, the possibility to backup and copy shots in high quality on the set, the immediate transfer to postproduction and remote viewing of second unit work by directors allow massive cost- and timesavings and reduce risks.

Recent films, such as Sin City and Superman Returns, both shot on digital tape, had budgets of $40 million and close to $200 million respectively. The cost savings, probably in the range of several hundred thousand to over a million dollars, are not negligible for today's producers. Consider, for example how small Slumdog’s budget was – it would have been much more – beyond what the producers had – to shoot the whole movie on film.

In 2009, the Academy Award for best cinematography was awarded for a film where more than half was shot digitally, Slumdog Millionaire. Another nominee, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, was also shot digitally.

Digital distribution and exhibition - For the over 4000 theatres with digital projectors in the USA, digital films may be distributed digitally, either shipped to theaters on hard drives or sent via the Internet or satellite networks. Digital Cinema Initiatives, a joint venture of the major studios, has established standards for digital cinema projection.

Distributors prefer digital distribution, because it saves them the expense of making film prints, which may cost as much as $2000 each. Digital projection also offers advantages over traditional film projection such as lack of jitter, flicker, dust, scratches, and grain. They are also far more flexible with regard to running trailers, pre-feature advertisements and the like. In the majority of cases, rather than being a complete conversion to digital projection, the likely scenario is digital projectors sitting side-by-side with film projectors in the projection booths, (often replacing the pre-feature slide projector) or only some units in a multiplex being Digital Only. New cinemas use a mixture of film and digital projection.

Digital distribution in the UK – near the end of 2005, the UK distribution and exhibition sectors were starting to move towards digital distribution and exhibition. For exhibitors, digital projection, especially when married to the increasing use digital formats in production, can now replicate - if not surpass - the image quality of conventional 35mm cinema presentation. And, of course, digital sound systems have been used in cinemas for some time.

At the stage of distribution, the advantages of digital technology are even clearer. Digital technology is seen to offer a more cost effective and logistics-light alternative to the tried and trusted, but unwieldy model of 35mm print distribution described above. Eventually - cheaper and much less stressful to send films as computer files to cinemas across the UK, than to transport 20-25kg tins of film in the back of a van.

The force of this change and the new capacity of technology to replicate 35mm imaging, has led the UK Film Council to establish a digital distribution and exhibition programme for the theatrical sector at the end of 2005. The Digital Screen Network (DSN) will eventually support new facilities in 211 screens across the country (out of a total of just over 3,300 screens in the UK) - a small but important step change towards full digital cinema.

The DSN will initially work with files transferred from a high definition digital master (either HDD5, or HD Cam). The compressed and encrypted files will be sent directly to cinemas to be opened as files for screening with digital projection equipment. In the future it will be possible for the distributor to send feature film files electronically, via broadband networks, thus eliminating dependence on transportation.

The advent of digital distribution has the potential radically to alter the work of distributors around the world. The comparatively low cost of film copies and additional logistical effectiveness of digital distribution provide the distributor with greater flexibility. It will be less expensive in the coming years to offer a wide theatrical opening with many copies, and also conversely, to screen a film for just one performance at any cinema. In theory - possible for both distributors and exhibitors to respond more precisely to audience demand.

In the future, more titles, both mainstream and specialised, could receive wide theatrical openings, and that this broadening of access at the point of release will dramatically reduce the overall theatrical period from 3-6 months to perhaps 1-3 months. Films will then enter into a second-run and repertory programming market aided by lower costs.

The shortened first-run period will in turn bring forward the distributor's release of the DVD. And there's the rub. The adoption of digital technologies offers greater opportunities for distributors to create joined-up campaigns for theatrical and DVD releases, in which, increasingly, the theatrical opening is used as a way of providing a loss-leading marketing platform for the highly lucrative DVD leg.
Currently, however - not all theaters currently have digital projection systems, even if a movie is shot and post-produced digitally, it must be transferred to film if a large theatrical release is planned. Typically, a film recorder will be used to print digital image data to film, to create a 35 mm internegative. After that the duplication process is identical to that of a traditional negative from a film camera. Slumdog, of course, was a mix of 35mm film and digital.

Digital special effects – creation of crowds, buildings, fantasy worlds – can cut costs but the artificial nature can be off-putting e.g. Beowulf as opposed to the more arty look of Sin City. On Sunshine (2007), about a spaceship heading for the sun to save earth, Danny Boyle used CGI to create the effect of the craft moving through space.

Marketing - New technology can target specific audiences in a variety of ways - creation of standalone studio-sponsored per-film websites such as "example-the-movie.com" – which will include trailers, teasers, competitions, infiormation, stills, short excerpts, music etc

Slumdog – stories, reviews and interviews in traditional print and audo-visual media were bolstered by word of mouth – supported by new technology – twitter, email, social networking sites, blogs - in today’s highly networked world, the buzz spread so fast.

Viral marketing: free distribution of trailers on movie-oriented websites and video user-generated-content websites (e.g Youtube), and rapid dissemination of links to this content by email and blogs. Includes alleged leakage of supposed "rushes" and "early trailers" of film scenes. E.g.- a remixed viral trailer for the UK release of the Oscar-tipped Danny Boyle film Slumdog Millionaire, using only images and sounds from the film has been produced by audiovisual artists Addictive TV.
Addictive TV was approached by French film company Pathé (distribuor of the film in Europe and the UK) and filmmaker Boyle to create a mash-up video for Slumdog Millionaire after giving similar treatments to previous blockbuster film releases such as Iron Man. Their purpose was to help market the film through online video sharing sites, like YouTube.

The mobile phone is the ultimate platform for targeted advertising – trailers etc - right in front of your face all day; it’s your most personal device, your conduit to the outside world. It’s a marketer’s dream location.

Take the example of Watchmen on iphones - this application has a head start, as there are already superb visuals to work with from the graphic novel. Its main screen features one character watching a bank of TVs (like the bank of icons on the phone) - one of the recurring points in the graphic novel - and is scrollable. Clicking on those TVs releases further content, and when you return to the main screen, more TVs are available to click. It’s a nice interface, and in keeping with the source material. Content available includes: trailers, “motion comics” that were developed from the original novel, photos, which are saveable to the Photo Library, character profiles, video journals, links which open up Safari (the internet).
Ads for films can be placed on social networking sites – targeted at specific age groups and gender based on information gathered on users’ profiles.

Audience strategies in facilitating or challenging institutional practices – in the past, studios tended to control film publicity, allowing interviews and sending out press releases. Now, in the era of mass popular access to the internet, people express their views on films on blogs, social network sites etc and some have become well established enough to be accesses and referenced in newspaper reviews e.g. Ain’t It Cool News (aintitcool.com); negative comments about Slumdog Millionaire were written by the Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan on his blog and then picked up by The Guardian in the UK, then referred to by film scholars like Roy Stafford and David Bordwell on their blogs.


Of course, you now have to factor in the loss of the UK Film Council and its replacement by the BFI...

British Film Industry and New Technology question

How was new technology used to promote/market the product from your chosen media industry?

Use Celador and Film 4's Slumdog as an example, but note how it compares to other companies' works.

For example - Amber's product; Paramount's Paranormal Activity; the particular film that your group has been researching.

Slumdog and Audience

Discuss the issues raised by the institution’s need to target specific audiences with a media industry you have studied

i.e. using the production of Slumdog Millionaire as your primary example.

Low budget compared with many average Hollywood film of $30-35m; approx $21m.

Production practices which allow for specific audiences – Original source material Vikas Swarup’s Q&A – written in a way to appeal to the largest audience possible – global standard English; look at the way the novel was altered and streamlined by Simon Beaufoy in the adaptation, increasing its appeal to a global audience;

Appeal to Indian audiences in India and in the West– setting and subject matter; some cast members are well-know in India - two of the cast were major Indian character actors – Amil Kaur and Irrfan Khan. Boyle worked with Tabrez Noorani - Line Producer who had worked in India and who had worked with Loveleen Tanda, who is credited as co-director (India) and Casting Director and who had worked with director Mira Nair to get a feel for the place and people. One third of film is in Hindi. When released in India, dubbed into regional languages to aid its reception.
Visual style - Danny Boyle studied examples of Indian cinema, including Mira Saiir’s Salaam Bombay! And was influenced by Ram Gopal Varma’s Company (2002), with its thrusting wide angles, overhead shots, and jump cuts.

Music - Boyle sent a rough cut on DVD to A. R. Rahman, major composer on the World Music scene who has scored many Indian films of varying styles and who has a huge fan base in India, so he could write a soundtrack – another selling point for the film. Rahman teamed up with M.I.A. for two tracks, thus adding to the movie’s appeal to an audience interested in World music. One track, Paper Planes, was nominated for a Grammy for Song of the Year.

Appeal to UK audience – several points of reference – things it would be familiar with – cricket, the conversation about Eastenders, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, the call centre, Dev Patel – a known face on UK TV – appeals to 15-25 audience who are familiar with Skins. Danny Boyle is a name director and has had hits with Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, for example; 2/3 of the film is in English.

Universal appeal – Millionaire – a hit around the world, including the USA, the largest market; the love story, which was foregrounded by writer Simon Beaufoy; age of average cinemagoer in the west between 15-25 – film features a young cast, with the present day characters within that age range, allowing the audience to relate to them; Boyle has an international reputation; writer Simon Beaufoy is known for The Full Monty, formerly the most successful British film in the world; 2/3 of the film is in English

Universal style: Boyle’s flashy style - lots of moving camera shots, slow-mo, sped up shots, tilted camera, atmospheric lighting – has a lot in common with current American action films and TV – will appeal to Western audiences. Despite the fact that Boyle studied some Indian cinema, critic and theorist David Bordwell pointed out on his blog that although it’s set in India and filmed with an Indian crew (apart from Heads of depts) and a largely Indian cast, style is a hybrid of various styles common to many forms of cinema and television throughout the world. Bordwell claims Indian popular films have long been hybrids, borrowing from European and American cinema on many levels. Their mixture of local and international elements has helped the films travel overseas and become objects of adoration to many westerners.

Distribution and marketing strategies to raise audience awareness of specific products or types of products

How distributed – look at your notes to see how the film came to be marketed by the French company, Pathé (in Europe and the UK), and Warners in North America, until cutbacks meant the film might only hve been released on DVD in the USA, which would have had a drastic effect on their finances – then Warners allowed Coulson (from Celador) and Ross (from Film4) to show film to Fox Searchlight, which distributed much of Boyle’s earlier work, and an agreement was reached that left Warners with a stake but allowed Fox Searchlight distribution rights for North America.

Successful screening at film festivals – positive media and audience response, especially at Toronto Film Festival where it won the audience award– which garnered much positive publicity to help the film’s launch in North America - platform release in US and Canada – started in 10 screens on Nov 16; by Christmas week – 589 screens; 1500 by late January. 2900 in March after Oscar success. Big Indian population in several North American cities, especially in the northeast, helped its popularity – and, indeed, journalists catering for South Asian communities were invited to press screenings a month before the film’s release so they could do stories and raise awareness. Trailers were released in the US that weren’t accompanied by Indian music, in case some sections of the potential audience found that off-putting. Intensive media campaign throughout the US – TV, Print and online interviews (e.g one between Boyle and Oprah Winfrey) to promote the film – particularly on the Fox network; Fox website – trailers, interviews etc.

Rest of the world – released later. If it’s a success in the USA, other countries take notice. Wide release elsewhere – 324 screens in UK on Jan 9, building on success in US and Canada. Increased box office takings in first three weeks – number of screens increased as did takings – due to word of mouth and promotion on TV, radio, press.

Release in India on Jan 23rd – English language prints (still with 1/3 of the film in Hindi) in multiplexes in city centres; Hindi-dubbed prints in traditional cinemas in suburbs and in the country. English language version more popular and Hindi-version has been listed as an ‘average’ box-office performer – though this is quite an achievement as many Bollywood films are ‘flops’ or ‘disasters’.

The use of new technology to facilitate targeting of specific audiences

A variety of ways: - creation of standalone studio-sponsored per-film websites such as "example-the-movie.com" – which will include trailers, teasers, competitions, infiormation, stills, short excerpts, music etc
Viral marketing: free distribution of trailers on movie-oriented websites and video user-generated-content websites (e.g Youtube), and rapid dissemination of links to this content by email and blogs. Includes alleged leakage of supposed "rushes" and "early trailers" of film scenes.e.g.- a remixed viral trailer for the UK release of the Oscar-tipped Danny Boyle film Slumdog Millionaire, using only images and sounds from the film was produced by audiovisual artists Addictive TV. Addictive TV was approached by French film company Pathé and Boyle to create a mash-up video for Slumdog Millionaire to market it through online video sharing sites.The video can also be accessed in as a high quality version on YouTube.
The mobile phone is the ultimate platform for targeted advertising – trailers etc. How do you market a film these days? Billboards, newspapers and TV channels are everywhere. But none of them are right in front of your face all day; you don’t constantly check them. The same is not true of your mobile. It’s your most personal device, your conduit to the outside world. It’s a marketer’s dream location. e.g. Watchmen application for iPhones. There are superb visuals to work with from the graphic novel. Its main screen features one character watching a bank of TVs (the icons on the phone screen) - one of the recurring points in the graphic novel - and is scrollable. Clicking on those TVs releases further content, and when you return to the main screen, more TVs are available to click. Content available includes: trailers, “motion comics” that were developed from the original novel, photos, which are saveable to the Photo Library, character profiles, video journals, links which open up Safari (the internet).
Clearly, film studios want closer customer engagement. Marketing to your mobile is about as direct as they will get. But they have to make it worth our while. These apps will need to offer a genuinely interesting glimpse into the movie to come; and even so, they are likely to only have a short lifespan on our devices. The content needs to be accessible anywhere - not dependent on connectivity - is important. If I’m stuck in a mobile dead zone, and this promo app gives me nothing, that’s clearly no good; also, at the moment, you don’t see these sorts of apps on other mobile platforms - it’s only on the iPhone.

Other new technology - ads for films can be placed on social networking sites – targeted at specific age groups and gender based on information gathered on users’ profiles. What gave Slumdog so much momentum was word of mouth – supported by new technology – twitter, email, social networking sites, blogs. Mostly positive - so, everyone relevant (and not so relevant) had an opinion, and in today’s highly networked world, the buzz spread so fast.

Audience strategies in facilitating or challenging institutional practices
In the past, studios tended to control film publicity, allowing interviews and sending out press releases. Now, in the era of mass popular access to the internet, people express their views on films on blogs, social network sites etc and some have become well established enough to be accesses and referenced in newspaper reviews e.g. Ain’t It Cool News (aintitcool.com); negative comments about Slumdog Millionaire were written by the Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan on his blog (stating that a film set in an Indian slum directed by an Indian wouldn’t get that much attention and pointing out that the deprivation shown in the film exists in cities in developed nations too) and then picked up by The Guardian in the UK, then commented on in their blogs, allowing more people to respond (although Bachchan later denied he had intended to be critical of the film), then referred to by film scholars like Roy Stafford and David Bordwell on their blogs.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

GCSE Horror Posters II

Sarah Connelly


Jan Labro


Katie Gouldburn


Laura Hetherington


Dominic Lisle

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Marx and Re-Marx

Written by Andrew Smith, one of our former students!


In 1932 the legendary Marx Brothers began work on one of their most hilarious and enduring feature films, Duck Soup. At the same time work also commenced on their first ever radio series, a half hour sitcom that featured the adventures and mishaps that befell the underhanded lawyer Waldorf T. Flywheel (Groucho) and his hapless assistant Emmanelle Ravelli (Chico). This series, eventually entitled Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel, written by Marx collaborators and comic geniuses Nat Perrin and Arthur Sheekman, was popular with audiences but short lived and soon forgotten. The scripts were shelved, the recordings discarded and the Marxes went back to work on Duck Soup, A Day at the Races and other comedy classics.

Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel, however, refused to remain buried and tantalizing glimpses of routines from the series went on to be reused in classic films like Duck Soup, A Night at the Opera and The Big Store.

Luckily for Marx fans everywhere the scripts to these classic radio broadcasts were rediscovered in the early 1980s, their publication eventually leading to a affectionate and side splittingly funny British remake of the series for BBC Radio 4.

You can't keep a good joke down.

For the first time in detail Marx and Re-Marx takes a look at the history of this enduring series, its genesis, its death and its resurrection.

Featuring:

Previously unpublished letters from the desk of Flywheel creator Nat Perrin.
Full Episode Guides for both incarnations of the Flywheel and a guide to related productions.
Contributions from the cast and crew of the BBC remake of Flywheel; Mark Brisenden (Weekending, Spitting Image), David Firman (Dinner Ladies, Norbert Smith: A Life), Graham Hoadly (The Adventures of Sexton Blake, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Stageshow), Dirk Maggs (Superman: Doomsday and Beyond, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency), and Frank Lazarus (Pennies From Heaven, Our Friends in the North).
Transcripts of the remaining recordings of the original series.

http://bearmanormedia.bizland.com/id448.html

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Marx-Re-Marx-Creating-Recreating-Brothers/dp/1593936095/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1288006116&sr=8-7

Friday, 29 October 2010

GCSE Horror Movie Posters

Jack Elliott


Cory Bainbridge


Charlotte Mattinson


Jack Richmond


Rachel Fenwick

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Teaser trailer for the Coen Brothers' True Grit



Watch and learn: note how there's movement in virtually every shot to build pace and engender a sense of excitement; nite how the edits are used to puncuate the piece and the style adds to the sense of the story unfolding before you...

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Mise-en-scène

Mise-en-scène refers to everything within the frame of the screen. Some theorists and critics make a point of including diegetic sound (i.e. the sound that comes from within the scene, not sound coming from an external source). Otherwise, the key areas under consideration are the following:

• Production Design, such as sets, props and costumes - this includes colour!
• Lighting and shadow - also includes the use of colour!
• Actors’ performance (including make up), movement, gesture and position (blocking)
• Framing - including position; depth of field; aspect ratio; height and angle (but not movement)

The intepretation of the mise-en-scène will depend on the broader context of the film itself, but its construction can support the narrative and help raise (or play with) audience expectations and contextualise the camera shots, movement, editing and dialogue.

Here are several great shots from three movies; even if you don't know the storyline, you can certainly make an attempt to 'read' them based on the mise-en-scène. Click on the images to blow them up to A4-size.