Wednesday, 30 April 2014

AS How does the film industry use new technologies?

Referring to examples from British independent cinema and from Hollywood industrial cinema, how does the film industry use new technologies?

1. At the production stage – digital cameras increasingly used as opposed to film but note that not everyone thinks is a good thing. Potentially lightweight cameras/editing on a computer – or a laptop/CGI and other effects? Look at the way Gareth Edwards was able to compete with big budget special effects. It’s easier to balance/alter the colour using digital technology than analogue. Google this – have any released films been shot with a flip camera or phone…?

2. Distribution and marketing – Advantages of? Websites, social networking, viral marketing. How do YOU see examples of this? On what kind of platform? Give specific examples from both types of film. WHY are these methods commonly used as opposed to only the older methods of posters/print ads/trailers/TV, radio and print interviews/features?

3. Exhibition – Why have cinemas been forced into switching to digital exhibition?

4. IMAX and 3D – expensive and limited, no matter how good it seems – Google it…

5. Look at the cinemas near us. The exam board like to think you can use examples from your own experience, so here you go: but look at this too – think about the effect on arthouse cinemas whose remit is not just to rely on modern Hollywood film. Although we have tried this – unsuccessfully so far – you could email the Tyneside Cinema (the board likes to see local examples) and ask them how it has been affected by digital technology.

6. Beyond that, remember that exhibition does not just include the cinema – so legal downloads/DVD/BluRay – how can film be watched and how does digital technology threaten the modern cinema - and how is the industry responding?

7. Finally, how does a local, filmmaking collective use digital technology -

Remind yourself of the stages of production:

Use these links – as well as your own research and your notes on Monsters - to help you, as well This is a similar question, but has a lot of good information in the plan…

AS The effect of the Hollywood Industrial Model on the UK Film Industry

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?

The film industry in the UK – dominated by six multi-media conglomerates: Universal, Columbia, Paramount, Warners, Universal, Fox and Disney

They work for themselves and collectively under the umbrella of the Motion Picture Association of America they are an institutional force.

The set the technical standards for film production, distribution, marketing and exhibition. For example, they want their films shown via digital projection so cinemas have to have the facility to do this. Although there are directors, like Christopher Nolan, who still prefer 35mm film, they are running against the tide in the move towards digital film-making. The studios' bottom line — they no longer want to pay to physically print and ship movies. It costs about $1,500 to print one copy of a movie on 35 mm film and ship it to theaters in its heavy metal canister. Multiply that by 4,000 copies — one for each movie on each screen in each multiplex around the country — and the numbers start to get ugly. By comparison, putting out a digital copy costs a mere $150.

Of course, Nolan is tolerated because his work is immensely successful and brings a lot of money into the studio, either through profits from the film or promotional partner deals. Digital cinema is becoming standard all over the world.

Art-house and repertory theatres, however, which play classic and older movies, are largely dependent on print loans from studios. Increasingly, the prints are remaining locked in studio vaults. Last November, 20th Century Fox sent its exhibitors a letter to that effect: "The date is fast approaching when 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight will adopt the digital format as the only format in which it will theatrically distribute its films. ... We strongly advise those exhibitors that have not yet done so to take immediate steps to convert their theatres to digital projection systems."

They establish budgets for films. The average budget of a standard Hollywood mainstream film is about $50 million and on average, 50% of that budget is spent on promotion and marketing. What chance does independent cinema have?

Their releases dominate UK cinema over the summer - and these summer blockbusters are now released as early as May.

Large multi-media conglomerates can take a loss - Disney's The Lone Ranger for example, performed poorly at the box office, but the company is diverse and has many ways of making money from its many strands of business. A similar failure - a comparative/proportional one - for an independent film could wipe out the company.

They have created an oligopoly situation and the question is – how can other film-makers compete?

They control distribution in most territories; in fact, they often distribute films by independent film-makers – for a cost. To get the backing of a major studio is often essential if you want your film distributed.

They have set the standards for DVDs and digital downloads.

In essence, they have created the business model for the industry which their product dominates.

Three mini-majors: EOne (Canadian/British), Lionsgate (Canadian/American) and Studiocanal (owned by the Canal+ Group (which is owned for the most part by Vivendi, and Universal Studios (part of NBC Universal)). They have distribution outlets in several territories.

Big Hollywood films get saturation release and are heavily promoted that first weekend. They dominate holiday programming – starting in mid-May through to September. They can be shown in more than one screen in the same cinema and in several screens in the same city/town. 14 weeks later they are typically relaeased on DVD orBluRay, then they’re released to PayTV then to free TV.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

AS Questions on Monsters (Gareth Edwards, 2010)

Monsters (2010)

1. Why did Vertigo produce Monsters?


3. How was it funded?

4. Why was it cheap to make?

5. How was digital technology used throughout the stages of production?


7. How was it distributed? Note the use of film festivals to build its reputation?

8. How was it released in the UK?

9. How was it promoted in the UK?

10. How was viral marketing used?

11. How was the website used to promote the film and – later – the DVD/BluRay? Look at the features available.

12. What were the negative points about the film’s exhibition, distribution and critical reception?

13. Look at the booklets AND the links given below. You can find ‘making of’ features on YouTube.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

A2 Evaluation - what you need to do by April 24

A2 Planning
Planning needs to be thorough and show clear and excellent evidence of research into existing media products. Where possible, link relevant material on the Internet to your work.
Your blog needs to be a media production in itself, so you need to include the trailer or music videos you’ve analysed via YouTube or some other moving image file-sharing site. I know we can’t see that at school, but you can do it at home. You should also upload your music track – and others you have considered.  
You should each have analysed at least two of the media products you’re creating, including those for your ancillary task. If you’re in a group, don’t analyse the same products.
Storyboards and flat plans must be scanned and included on the blog with relevant comments about layout and revisions etc. Because you’re filming, EVERYONE needs storyboards. You could actually film or photograph the storyboards rather than just scan and post.
There’s no rule about what kind of digipack you use (reference sites like, but be consistent within your group – unless one of you wants to produce a limited edition – and produce variants of the cover in that particular style. Song titles can exist ones. 
Compose a synopsis of the film you’ve made the trailer for; BRIEFLY outline the story behind your video; transcribe the lyrics of the song explaining how they inspired you.
You should show that you’ve attempted to contact the record label that owns the music track (for trailer of music DVD) to ask their permission. You may not get a reply, but you can post the email that you sent on the blog. Explain that it’s for a school project and that you’ll send them a copy of the finished article as a matter of courtesy.
You must be able to show that you have edited your work – moving images and still – so reflect this (with images) in your planning and EXPLAIN why. The examiners will want to see the thought process behind such decisions. Try to be sophisticated about this – don’t just say you thought it looked better, even if you did. Use the correct terminology.
Produce a profile of your ideal target audience member. Of course, you can make this up (name included), but you’ll need to suggest interests etc that fit in with what you’re doing and suggest they have enough disposable income to buy CDs, DVDs, downloads, go to gigs, wear the right clothes etc. Those of you who’ve done mood boards in art could do one for a target audience profile e.g.
To break up the blog, you should include some direct to camera pieces, preferably featuring you, but at the very least, you could film interviews members of your intended audience giving feedback on the finished product. This will get better marks.
You should link to any useful examples of work or theory you come across and anything worthwhile in the sidebar of You can change the layout of your blog and create a poll (in gadgets) that you ask (i.e. force) people to fill in as part of the feedback; you should enable comments – you can, after all, delete anything you don’t like; you should create a profile for yourself with a picture and enable followers, encouraging other people in the class to follow your blog – it’s no worse than Facebook and it’ll look as if you’re taking the blog seriously and it may get you higher marks.
Outtakes, even (especially?) embarrassing ones, should be uploaded as an extra track on the DVD and onto the blog
A2 Evaluation
They can be bullet-pointed in places and you MUST address the following questions, so put the questions at the head of the posts. Don’t write the whole thing in one lump and expect the examiners (or us) to sift through it and work out what’s what. Make it as easy as possible for the examiner!our method

Vary your method of presentation - you can have a post that contains several presentational methods - prezi, slideshare, kizoa, podcast, soundcloud, video. You MUST have at least a couple of pieces to camera, though they can include interviews with your target audience.
Make sure you answer the following questions and put the question at the top of your post.
  • In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? Your product may well have done a little of each. Clearly, you need to refer here to the existing products that you researched and analysed, referencing them against what you have done, explaining why you have followed (or otherwise) the conventions). You must refer to your ancillary product as well as the main one.

  •  How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts? You need to consider what you’ve learned about the way the media produce, distribute and share material. You need to consider the synergy between the products and remember, your work will constitute only part of a promotional campaign for the product/artist and you will need to stress how this works – i.e. the need to buy advertising on television or radio; the need to have a PR department that can push your artist to radio and TV stations so they can get airtime and their work played; the use of the kind of posters and print advertising you see in magazines and billboards. Your artist or movie will have a website created by the production which will feature song samples, trailers, video extracts, photographs, interviews, features, competitions, opportunities for fans to air their views so they feel they are being given some kind of ownership of the product so they’ll be more likely to buy it. You will absolutely definitely need to say in the age of Web 2.0 that you world will be promoted virally on the Internet and on mobile phones, particularly as your target audience is of an age range that favours this kind of technology. You might release your work in advance to specific outlets – e.g. exclusive music video on…? Or how about a teaser trailer campaign leading up to a special screening of the movie (or even just the trailer) to a popular horror site like so they can post reviews that you can feature on the trailer? Or arrange for the trailer to be shown with popular movies in the same genre. Your movie may be low budget, but so was Paranormal Activity and this is what the filmmakers did there. Google Paranormal Activity and see the way it was promoted and became the success it is. See You would hope this kind of publicity and releasing the trailer on YouTube would lead to the word being spread on the internet, especially amongst horror fan sites and blogs and influential message board sites like However effective the combination is, you need to point out that what you’re doing would only constitute part of a larger campaign. Even if most people download music, people who do this still make use of cover art (which comes with the download anyhow, so the cover art is still relevant in the age of downloading. You are providing cultural meaning for the music/film trailer through commercial images and aesthetics. Think - How did you attract/address your audience? You need references to theory here – Naomi Wolf, Marjorie Ferguson, Uses and Gratifications - you are exploiting the theory of Uses and Gratifications because your target audience will identify (though it may only be wishful thinking) with the lifestyle it promotes. Some of you have used people of a similar age to your audience to add to this appeal. Your audience will look to your product for a sense of personal identity and possibly aspire to be like some of the people featured or their lives and problems may reflect the lives and problems of people you know. Your theories need dates. You’ve been given theory to look at and there’s more at the bottom of this post. There's plenty of theory on this blog, so use the search tool.

  •  What have you learned from your audience feedback? You need to devise another questionnaire to help you with this - one that you could post on your blog. Is your audience one stable and easily identifiable group? Has the audience reacted in the way you expected? What has it found particularly effective about the product (include both tasks)? Why is feedback important in the media industry; how has it helped you construct your productions and how could you learn from feedback after the production is finished?
  • How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages? It’s important you consider the blog itself as a media production. Unlike previous years, you are not just creating a production that will only bee seen by colleagues, teachers and examiners – you have actually published your work on the web where an audience of millions can see it. Using your blog, you have self-published and some, perhaps even many, of your audience is capable of doing the same, thus breaking down the idea of what constitutes an audience. New digital media “have fundamentally changed the ways in which we engage with all the media” (David Gauntlett, 2007). You also need to talk about your use of cameras and still and moving image editing software to  create your media production, giving some specific examples of how and why you constructed particular images or scenes, texts, edits and so on, to reach your target audience.
Finally, some key points:
 From past experience, I suggest that you don’t be too critical of yourself. If you say, “I could’ve cut out a particular photograph better,” my reaction would be: “Do it now and don’t be so complacent.” If you say, “I didn’t have enough time to do such and such,” then it’s clear evidence you’ve wasted time and you’ll be docked marks. In other words, if there’s anything you haven’t done, get it done now – and quickly. 
This response MUST be illustrated all the way through with examples from your work or existing product when you make reference to it. If you don’t illustrate it, you won’t get a mark of C or above and we will be reluctant to enter it in case it results in the marks of the other students being pulled down.
If you’ve worked as a group, your contribution and that of your partners must be made clear.
You MUST use subject specific terminology – i.e. using the correct terms when writing about the processes you went through on iMovie or Photoshop; talking about the camera angles/distances correctly/ discussing conventions and what colours etc have connotations of, especially in terms of your target audience.
Ensure that you haven’t used ANY images that you’ve downloaded from the internet; this includes backgrounds or background patterns – with the honourable exception of barcodes. - a promotion and digital distribution resource. It will help you consider your music promotion work in the digital age.
Genre quotes:
(Tom Ryall, 1998) “patterns/styles/structures which transcend individual films, and which supervise both their construction by the film-maker and their reading by an audience.”
Steve Neale (1990) argues that Hollywood’s generic regime guarantees meanings and pleasures for audiences.
Neale (1980)- much of the pleasure of popular cinema lies in the process of “difference in repetition” – i.e. recognition of familiar elements and in the way those elements might be orchestrated in an unfamiliar fashion or in the way that unfamiliar elements might be introduced e.g. Scream and its sequels: certain elements are similar in all three films, yet new ideas and material are incorporated into each sequel.
Neale (1990) – Genre is constituted by “specific systems of expectations and hypothesis which spectators bring with them to the cinema and which interact with the films themselves during the course of the viewing process.”
Jonathan Culler (1978) – generic conventions exist to establish a contract between and deviation from the accepted modes of intelligibility. Acts of communication are rendered intelligible only within the context of a shared conventional framework of expression.
Ryall (1998) sees this framework provided by the generic system; therefore, genre becomes a cognitive repository of images, sounds, stories, characters, and expectations.
Genre has come to represent, as John Fiske (1988) has said, “attempts to structure some order into the wide range of texts and meanings that circulate in our culture for the convenience of both producers and audiences.”
Music video quotes:
“They now provide pictures for the songs in our heads. Goodbye, imagination… No need to think, to embellish, to create, to imagine.” (Joe Salzman, 2000)
“Often, music videos will cut between a narrative and a performance of the song by the band… Sometimes, the artist… will be a part of the story, acting as narrator and participant at the same time. But it is the lip-synch close-up and the miming of playing instruments that remains at the heart of music videos, as if to assure us that the band really can kick it.” (Steve Archer, 2004)
The presence of women is often solely for the purposes of display and the purpose of this display is to facilitate a voyeuristic response in the spectators, which presumes a male gaze, regardless of the actual gender of the spectator i.e. a powerful and controlling gaze at the female, who is on display and is, therefore, objectified and passive - paraphrasing Laura Mulvey (1975).
“Is the female flesh on display simply a cynical; exploitation of the female body to increase (predominantly) male profit margins, or a life-enhancing assertion of female self-confidence and sexual independence?” (Pete Fraser, 2005)
           Andrew Goodwin, (1992):
  • There is a relationship between the lyrics and the visuals (with visuals either illustrating, amplifying or contradicting the lyrics).

  • There is a relationship between the music and the visuals (again with visuals either illustrating, amplifying or contradicting the music).

  • Particular music genres may have their own music style and iconography (such as live stage performance in heavy rock).

  • There is a demand on the part of the record company for lots of close-ups of the main artist/vocalist.

  • The artist may develop their own star iconography, in and out of their videos, which, over time, becomes part of their star image.

  • There is likely to be reference to voyeurism, particularly in the treatment of women, but also in terms of looking (screens within screens, binoculars, cameras etc).

  • There are likely to be intertextual references, either to other music videos or to films and TV texts. 
Documentary Quotes

 ‘It’s not so much what you get in the shooting but what you do with it afterwards’ Paul Watson documentary maker.  
Possible models or narrative strategies:   
  • Expository: lecturing, overtly didactic, e.g. with a personal presenter or an explanatory voice-over.
  •  Observational: like a "fly on the wall," the camera, microphone and film crew seem not to be disturbing the scene or even to be noticed by the participants.  
  • Participatory or interactive: the film crew takes part in the action or chain of events.
  • Reflexive: the film exposes and discusses its own role as a film (e.g. the ethics or conditions of filmmaking) alongside the treatment of the case or subject.
  • Performative: the film crew creates many of the events and situations to be filmed by their own intervention or through events carried out for the sake of the film.
  • Poetic: the aesthetic aspects, the qualities of the form and the sensual appeals are predominant.
 From Bill Nichols' work, e.g. Introduction to Documentary (Indiana University Press, 2001).