Some work has been taken from the OCR Media Studies for AS book
Look out for hyperlinks to the internet and videos
Know key words in red and you’ll find some here
Past exam questions
Discuss the ways in which media products are produced and distributed to
audiences, within a media area which you have studied
How important is technological convergence for institutions and audiences
within a media area which you have studied
‘Media production is dominated by global institutions which sell their products
and services to national audiences.’ To what extent do you agree with the
This revision booklet is designed to help you prepare for the AS G322 exam,
BUT only section B, remember section A is the TV Drama part. Section B of
the exam paper will assess:
1. Your understanding of how media institutions (film companies)
2. Your ability to explore ideas about how audiences use media
3. Your understanding of the relationship between audiences and
institutions (film companies)
The word institution refers to the companies and organisations that provide
media content, whether for profit, public service or another motive. We need
to talk about media institutions in the plural and to recognise that it is possible,
through such distribution networks as MySpace and YouTube, to be a
producer and distributor of content some time, and a consumer of media
produced by powerful corporations the rest of the time.
For this part of the exam you will be concerned with how media institutions
produce and distribute. The average AS Media student will be a digital native
and your eyes will glaze over when your teacher speaks of an analogue past
(when there were only 4 channels). You can’t be expected to feel the pace of
change as you will have grown up with online media as the norm, but this
part of your studies you do need to acquire a sense of how rapidly
institutions and audiences are being transformed by digital technology.
Convergence describes two phenomena: First, technologies coming
together, for example, a mobile phone you can use as a still and
moving image camera, download and watch moving images on, use as
an MP3 player and recorder and access the internet with. Second,
media industries are diversifying so they produce and distribute across
several media—for example, a newspaper with an online version and
audio podcasts or the coming together of videogames with films.
We no longer live in a media world where television, videogames, films,
newspapers, radio, magazines and music exist separately. For this reason it is
essential that you study the impact of convergence on the film industry — the
focus here is on the contemporary.
Audience is a huge area of media studies, so it’s important to be
precise about our focus in this section, which is on the relationship
between audiences and institution. You will need to analyse the more
complex nature of new media audiences and how digital media distribution
and consumption has allowed consumers to become producers
(prosumers) or at least interactors, and thus far more active users of
media. Gauntlett (2007a) goes as far as to say that new media erodes the
boundary between producer and audience to the extent that it makes little sense
to talk about media audiences at all anymore—he calls this rethink 'Media
Conventional research methods are replaced—or at least
supplemented by new methods which recognise and make use of
people's own creativity, and brush aside the outmoded notions of 'receiver'
audiences and elite 'producers'.
(Gauntlett, 2007a: 4)
Web 2.0 (video)
David Gauntlett explain the difference between Web 1.0 and 2.0 (video)
Charlie Brooker parody on web 2.0
Is Cinema toast?
Social media changing the world (start it from 2mins in)
The Concept formerly known as AUDIENCE
This phrase is now commonly used by media professionals to describe the
ways in which people engage with media, and it shows how contested the
idea of audience is in the digital era. The ways in which convergence,
user-created content and social networking have transformed the
audience are often thought about in terms of audience 'fragmentation'. In
this climate media institutions are desperately trying to provide 360-
degree branding (link) for their products—to surround us with them across
all the various converged media forms that we come into contact with—a
good example of this is Avatar.
Csigo suggests that media institutions are no longer interested in keeping
the audience together, but in 'triggering engagement' in people. Converging
media, then, can lead to both control by media producers and resistance by
the consumers, who now get to produce their own media. For media
institutions, this imposes key changes: the media world changes from a 'value
chain' (cultural products made and distributed to audiences) to a social
network (a complex system where producers and audiences are mixed up).
Another way of describing this is the shift from 'push media' (video) (where
producers push media at us and we receive and consume it) to 'pull media'
(video) (whereby we decide what we want to do with the media and access it
in ways that suit us). The key term that is often used to describe the
proliferation of people making and distributing their own video is the long
To succeed in this section of the Key Media Concepts exam you need to
develop a case study on a particular studio or production company. This
institution must be located in a contemporary film industry and it must produce
and/or distribute films to the UK. The focus will be on how this institution relates
Production: making films
Distribution: promoting films and getting them into cinemas and out on
DVD/UMD, as well as any spin offs/related media products
Consumption: people paying at the cinema, renting or buying
Distribution: Introduction: What is Distribution?
What is a Distributor?
Distribution and Marketing
Consider these two competing views of who holds the most power in
terms of influencing what films get made and seen:
If you break it down and look at it as a business
then the audience has the greatest power. It's the
audience that tells you what they like. So if the
audience likes a particular superstar, then
Hollywood is forced to use the superstar and that
star then becomes extremely powerful.
In a world where money spent on the budget of a film often
sees 50 per cent going on promotion as opposed to what
you actually see on screen, the idea that we have a world
where the consumer can exercise authority is absurd. This
industry is like any other. Of course it has to sell things, but it
doesn't rely on waiting, listening, responding to what
audiences want and then delivering that to them. It relies on
knowing which parts of the world and the media need its
products and will pay for them.
The first statement is from Tony Angellotti, from within Hollywood, and the
second is from Toby Miller, an academic, both quoted in an article by Helen
Dugdale (2006, p. 52). They can't both be right and you therefore need to
come to an informed judgement on this dynamic. In reality, the question is
much broader and is really to do with the nature of capitalism as a way of
organising society! Put simply, does 'market forces' competition give the
consumer more power and choice and thus influence what gets made for us
to buy? Or does it actually convince us that what we want is what is being
made for us? In the case of film marketing, it is a complex issue. Do millions
of people go to see Pirates of the Caribbean 2 in the first week of release
because it is such a great film, or because it is so well marketed? Or both?
Film distribution describes everything that happens in between production
(making the film) and exhibition (people watching the film in cinemas or on
DVD/UMD, on television, via the internet or on a plane, or anywhere else). Far
from being a straightforward state of affairs, distribution involves all of the
deals done to get films shown (many films never get seen) and, just as
importantly, promoted. This promotion involves paid for 'above the line'
advertising, which will be funded as part of the project, such as trailers,
posters, billboards and various spin-offs which are of mutual benefit to the film
and another commercial agency, for example a McDonalds 'Happy Meal' with
a film theme. It also includes related merchandising and 'below the line'
publicity which is not paid for, but again generates mutual interest. For
example, an interview with a star in a newspaper or magazine and reviews
(the former will generally be positive, but the latter is, of course, the great
unknown for film producers).
It is crucial not to see film distribution as a 'helpful' stage in the life of a film
whereby distributors treat all films equally and ensure fair play in getting films to
the public's attention. The key players, the big companies who control much of
the industry, control distribution of their own products, and of others (example
20th Century Fox and Avatar). Effectively films are loaned out to cinemas for a
finite period and release deals are done that secure access to a certain
number of screens at a time. In the UK film market, an increase in the quantity
of screens showing films has not led to an increase in the number of films
Five major distributors dominate the UK film industry: United International
Pictures (Universal is part of this company), Warner Brothers, Buena Vista,
Twentieth Century Fox and Sony. Roughly nine of every ten films seem in the
UK are viewed as a result of these distributors. In most cases these
distributors are directly linked to the Hollywood production companies who
make the films. They deal with exhibitors who are no longer (as used to be the
case) owned by the same Hollywood companies, but who do, for reasons of
profit, prioritise Hollywood films over others. Usually the blockbuster films we
are familiar with are distributed via 'blanket release', so even if a small UK
independent company manages to get its product into cinemas, it is
usually competing for attention with one or more films that take on the
status of an 'event'. One of the outcomes of the distribution arrangement
outlined above is that half of the films released in Britain do not reach the
Perhaps surprisingly, given we live in the digital age, one of the obvious
problems smaller companies face is a rather old fashioned one. Every film
shown in a cinema is a separate 'print' of the film, projected via a reel. The
major companies can afford to produce far more prints than the smaller
companies, knowing the expensive outlay of funds at this stage will be worth it
in relation to box office returns. A small company producing a less commercial
product cannot afford to do that, so people who do want to see more
'alternative' films often have to wait until their local independent cinema has
a print, and often there is little choice over where and when to see it. The UK
Film Council is addressing this problem via its Digital Screen Network —the
deal is that cinemas receiving financial support to equip themselves with
digital facilities (thus avoiding the issue of prints) will in return be expected to
show more films from independent distributors.
DEFINING A BRITISH FILM
There are various different 'official' ways of categorising British film. The British
Film Institute (BFI—not to be confused with the British Film Industry which has
the same initials) divides films into the following categories:
Category A: films made with British money, personnel and resources.
Category B: films co-funded with money from Britain and from foreign
investment, but the majority of finance, cultural content and personnel
Category C: films with mostly foreign (but non USA) investment and a
small British input, either financially or creatively.
Category D: films made in the UK with (usually) British cultural content,
but financed fully or partly by American companies.
Category E: American films with some British involvement.
It is fairly obvious that Britain can claim a great number of films under the D
and E descriptions, a decent number in categories B and C and very few that
have been successful as category A films. There are few well known 'purely
British' films. And this equation becomes even more complicated when we
start to explore the notion of where the money comes from. For example, if a
film is made by a British film company, but that company is owned by a larger
American group, is the production financed in the UK? And what is the
significance of distribution? If a film is 'purely British' at the production stage
but it is distributed in this country by an American company (who then claw
back a chunk of the box office profits), is this film really a success story for the
British Film Industry? For your case study, you will need to ask these questions
and explore the way the studio/company operates both in 'old fashioned'
production and distribution contexts and in the current online distribution and
intermedial1 ‘spin off’ climate.
THE CURRENT BOOM
UK film production experienced a crisis in 2005 and early 2006. Investment in
the making of films dropped, largely due to the rate of the English pound
against the American dollar and the availability of low cost studios in Eastern
Europe. But later in 2006 and since, investment has returned, and this is
related to a new Government policy of tax relief. This allows producers to be
exempt from certain tax payments. Previously there had been a compulsion
for films to be mainly shot in the UK for them to qualify for the avoidance of
tax, but in March 2006 this was revised to allow for more overseas filming, an
attractive amendment for investors. This is a great example of the importance
of politics in understanding the media. It is impossible to critically assess the
relationship between British films and audiences by only thinking about
cultural reasons why British cinema is more or less successful in relation to
Hollywood blockbusters. ‘Behind the scenes' there are financial, political
and institutional reasons why films do or don't get made and released
and seen by a potential audience.
A recent good example of Hollywood's dominance is the record-breaking box
office performance of Pirates of the Caribbean 2, seen by industry
commentators as a victory of blanket marketing. Cynics suggest that a film of
this scale does not need to be critically well received, as the efforts and
dollars put into promoting the film so lavishly will guarantee an audience on
the opening few nights and subsequent 'buy first, review later' DVD sales. In
this case over £50 million was made at the UK box office, and 1.5 million
copies of the DVD were purchased in the ten days after release. A more up
to date example that is comparable and even exceeds the success of
Pirates of the Caribbean would be James Cameron’s Avatar.
A study of the ways in which the big Hollywood studios time the release of
films is another area of key institutional knowledge for a Media student. The
timing of releases in relation to the Oscars, school holidays, the
spring/summer blockbuster period and DVD releases at Christmas is
strategic, and any British release attempting to get attention amidst this
marketing stealth will be at the mercy of this.
THE IMPACT OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY
As with all media, any attempt to ignore the fast approaching world of legal
film downloading is seen as 'swimming against the tide'. Piracy is a major
concern of all film distributors, with Hollywood investigators claiming a 10
per cent increase each year in revenue lost to illegal distribution. In the UK the
Film Council's report Film Theft in the UK (2004) claimed that only Austria and
Germany have a higher degree of DVD piracy.
The industry's recommendations include a strategy for responding to internet
distribution opportunities, and for working with other media and
communications industries. Ultimately the report sought to remind the public
that small production companies are actually hurt more by piracy than
multinational conglomerates, as they cannot bear the impact with
already acquired capital. Another aspect of technological change that the
Film Council is concerned with is digital filming and projection. The Digital
Screen Network project is the Film Council's attempt to provide cinemas with
digital projection facilities, and it is hoped (but by no means guaranteed) that
more small-scale independent films will get seen this way.
At the other end of the 'food chain', digital technology has made life a lot
better for low budget film makers and distributor-In the case of short films,
it is now possible for these to reach a potentially wide audience via a range of
hosts, from the UK Film Council to The UK Media Desk, BBC Film Network and
Big Film Shorts, Film London's Pulse and a host of short film festivals, all of
whom have online submission.
As far as the major studios and distributors are concerned, digital
technology offers great potential to increase profits and dangers in equal
measure. Digital distribution will certainly transform the film industry
more than any previous technological change since sound. Once it
becomes the norm to download film via broadband, the potential for a new
form of ‘blanket distribution' is obvious—not only do you no longer need
multiple prints, you can also bypass the cinemas (although the big screen
offers a separate experience that is likely to remain attractive).
Digital film has the advantage of offering identical versions of the film to each
viewer, and this will without doubt save billions of pounds at the distribution
phase. Despite the 'hype' over piracy and the digital enabling of this illegal
activity, industry commentators believe that one advantage of digital
distribution will be control and security, as most piracy is the result of a
cinema-goer with a hidden camera distributing a poor quality version
of a film to parts of the world where it has not yet been released
(because the prints are currently somewhere else). Simultaneous
global distribution via the internet will put an end to this 'time gap' and
thus its exploitation by pirates. One issue for debate is about the quality
of digital movies. Whereas some film makers and critics argue that the
'binary reduction' of images in the digital compression process reduces the
complexity of image and light, it appears that just as music in MP3 comes
without the parts that the human ear cannot hear, so digital films remove
the degrees of texture that most viewers wouldn't notice anyway. Randle
and Culkin explain the issues here:
The movie we see at our local multiplex may have been shown many times
over and the wear and tear on it will be considerable: scratches, dust and
fading—as a result of having been exposed regularly to bright light—ail
reduce the quality of the presentation. Even before wear and tear kicks in,
what we are watching may well be a third generation copy—a process
similar to making a photocopy of a photocopy, where some of the original
definition is inevitably lost. Some experts believe that D-cinema will overtake
the quality of the best conventional cinema within the next year or two, and at
the same time address age-old industry problems. Prints are bulky and their
manufacture, distribution and exhibition are labour intensive and therefore
expensive. What's more, in a world increasingly concerned with the impact
industry has on the environment, it is hard to justify the use of a technology
(film manufacturing), which involves a highly toxic process, when a cleaner
alternative is available.
(Randle and Culkin, 2004:10)
Another interesting prediction that Randle and Culkin make is to speculate
that film extras (another costly necessity for the film industry) may soon
be replaced by digitally generated 'synthespians'—time will tell.
To summarise, the digitalisation of film offers a range of new institutional
practices. There are greater possibilities for the manipulation of the
image itself, the editing process becoming more creative and
composite images can be produced to incorporate digital animation.
The 'one way' process of film making and consuming is threatened by the
interactive 'Zeitgeist,' so that the generation of media users who are
immersed in online media and videogames are likely to require new forms of
interactivity in the film medium.
Digital technology has reduced the costs of film making so much that
DV can be seen as widening access to the 'means of production' for new
creative talent. And the convergence of media through digital technology
creates new opportunities for distributing and exhibiting. Marshall (2004) sums
up the scene like this:
The (digital) rejuvenation of film is not limited to the grand-scale
strategies of a lugubriously2 large industry. The digital has created new
cultural economies. There is clearly a place for short film via the
internet. Through different websites, the digital version of film breaks
down the limitations of exhibition that have controlled what it is possible
for audiences to see. Digital cameras have made it possible to have
filmic qualities in the smallest of productions. Although this expansive
development of film is still quite circumscribed, it demonstrates how
'film' has been more accessible and is connected to the wider new
media and cultural phenomenon of the will-to-produce.
(Marshall, 2004: 87)
Think about this
Cinema as an institution has survived several threats to its life. Most notably,
it was predicted that television would make it extinct, but cinema survived by
securing cinema releases prior to TV broadcast and because of its social,
'night out' context. Later, the VCR seemed to have put a bigger nail in the
coffin, but this time cinemas redefined themselves as multiplexes, offering a
broader 'leisure experience' on an American model, together with the
emergence of the 'blockbuster' and its associated expensive marketing.
Despite multi-channel television offering viewers the opportunity to download
films to watch at their convenience, hard drive recording, specialist film
channels that are now relatively cheap to subscribe to and online rentals
making the visit to the local Blockbuster unnecessary, cinema still
survives (as does Blockbuster).
So the question is—will cinema always survive technological change, or is
the latest technology a bigger threat because it is at the exhibition end of the
chain? Whereas the changes in accessibility given above are to do with
distribution, the pleasure of the filmic experience is determined greatly by the
size and quality of the screen. Hollywood films in particular are still largely
driven by spectacle and noise, as well as character and narrative (perhaps
with an eye to the preservation of the cinema box office), and people still want
to see these films on the biggest screen with the loudest sound.
If you owned a 'next generation' HD television and had access via broadband
to new releases instantly via the kinds of digital distribution processes outlined
above, how likely would you be to give up on the cinema?
KEY AREAS OF STUDY
1. The issues raised by media ownership in contemporary
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: - What is the affect on the British film industry
and Independent filmmakers of Major Film Studios?
KEY POINT: - The film industry is dominated by major Hollywood studios –
these studios often own companies that cover all aspects of the filmmaking
These humongous-sized mammoths are able to use their size and ownership
of a wide range of media to cross promote their films (and other media)
across their wide media empires. The synergies of cross-promotion that
can be created by these media organisations is mind-boggling. For 20th
Century Fox's Avatar it resulted in the greatest 'word-of-mouth' ever
generated for a big budget film and no doubt this helped the film become a
blockbuster. (Fox with-holding the trailer from the summer and early
Autumn also created an itch to see film and this also added to the 'word-of -
mouth'.) Such are the benefits of cross-media ownership by these giant
To see examples of the range of institutional ownership click on
Newscorp who own 20th Century Fox's "Avatar" as your starting point.
Click here for what the huge media conglomerates own
The dominance of companies like 20th Century Fox – allows for films that
they back to achieve 360 degree status – since 20th Century Fox owns a
range of different media companies.
KEY POINT: The success of Avatar was ensured when the film achieved
critical acclaim, since it had the backing of a company that was able to use
cross media convergence since it owns companies within a range of
YOUR REVISION NOTES SHOULD INCLUDE – WHAT DO YOU THINK THE
ISSUE IS WITH MULTI MEDIA CONGLOMERATES OWNING A RANGE OF
Issues raised by media ownership
Working title has been apart of Universal since 1999, when the parties
signed an agreement due to expire at the end of 2007. Despite alleged offers
from Dreamworks, and Sony. working Title co-chairs Eric Fellner and Tim
Bevan signed an agreement at the end of 2007 to extend their stay at
Universal for seven more years.
The previous deal seems to have worked well for both parties, Working Title
has produced a number of low budget films and the slate does consistently
well internationally. And no, it’s just because everyone likes Hugh Gant. The
LA times claims that Working Title is second only to Imagine Entertainment as
“Universals most consistent supplier of films”.
Although Universal and Working Title have a healthy and productive
relationship, it’s not to say that converging with a major film Production
Company doesn’t have disadvantages. For instance a British film maker
may find it difficult in making his film entirely ‘British’ if it is being
financed by an American production company, or business. The film
maker may well find himself tied down to creating a main stream film, as its
only expected that there be some sort of influence from the American side of
the company. Potentially destroying his creation, or finding it’s been
manipulated in such a way it no longer resembles what he imagined initially.
An example of a British production company having a disagreeing relationship
with their distributor was Aardman productions and Dreamworks. They ended
their 5 film distribution deal after just 3 films. The companies converged in
1999, producing ‘Chicken Run’ Curse of the Were Rabbit’ and ‘Flushed Away’
However the last two reportedly generated losses, prompting Dreamworks to
announce the split, and explain the couple had “different business goals”.
Spokesman for Aardman, Arthur Sheriff said
“We always knew America would be a hard task for us, we’re a very English
company. We embrace the international market but we think part of our
strength is our English sense of humour, and we want to continue with that”
Unfortunately in this case Aardman productions were dropped by
Dreamworks, as they wanted to move focus on to computer animation, and no
longer saw a demand in stop motion animation pictures. But Aardman
productions were no push overs and although they were being supported by
Dreamworks financially, they didn’t want to make a leap into CGI, and ruin
what they had become leaders in creating.
The Dreamworks Aardman split illustrates the effects of being tied down to a
mainstream company, what might appear to be a solely ‘British’ company
was, in fact governed by its American co owner.
2. The importance of cross media convergence
What is cross media convergence?
Describes the way in which industries produce and distribute (show or sell)
texts across several media. For example how do the film industry promote
films on TV? Radio? Magazine.
KEY POINT: The film industry is an industry which utilises convergence on a
grand scale. Blockbuster films often become 360 degree products, since
major distributors like Warner, 20th Century Fox have enough money to fund
multimillion dollar campaigns. Avatar is an example of a film that was subject
to 360 degree promotion in that the films distributors ensured the film was
What examples can you think of – that you can use in the exam of Avatar’s
producers and distributors using Cross Media Convergence?
Avatar and Coca-Cola
Avatar's Augmented Reality Campaign
Exchange – below the line promotion
3. what has been the impact of digital technology on the
production, distribution, marketing and consumption of
Digital technology is currently revolutionising production, distribution,
exhibition and consumption of film. Films are now cheaper and easier to
make, cheaper to distribute and the film watching experience is being
enhanced by digital cinemas (known as D-Cinemas). You need to know how
production, distribution and exhibition is being changed by digital
WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY ON FILM
Refer to Avatar – provide specific examples of how digital technology effected
the production of this film
Until recently Hollywood studios were the only ones who had the money to
pay for digital tools, and for the labour involved in producing digital effects.
However the shift to digital media effects not only Hollywood but film making
as a whole. As traditional film technology is replaced by digital, the logic
of the film making process is being redefined.
In today’s movie making, the creative work that takes place on a computer
can be as important as what goes on in front of the camera, this technology is
now a standard part of the movie making tool kit. The impact of digital
technology on Hollywood has been gradual but all-encompassing. Today a
movie can be shot, edited, and distributed from camera to theatre and
beyond, without involving a single frame of film.
The shift to digital, changes both the business and the art form of cinema.
Cinematographers, long resistant to digital image recording, are starting to
embrace the use of digital cameras, shooting clean-looking footage that’s
easier to manipulate than film. Commonly available software allows small
special effects shops such as Hybride to render entire virtual worlds, and
blend them seamlessly with live action shots. Scenes that would have
required elaborate sets 25 years ago can now be shot against a blue or green
screen; the setting can be filled in later and then tweaked until the director is
satisfied. Elements and tools – from digital characters and environments, to
motion capture techniques that records actors’ movements and facial
expressions – are now handled routinely, with confidence rather than crossed
Cinematographers are the film era’s last holdouts. As the people most directly
responsible for the colour, texture and clarity of the images on screen, they
tend to be conservative. Many still prefer the richness, highlights and grain of
film over the cleaner, harsher look of digital image recording. But other
cinematographers say they are drawn to the
capabilities the technology provides.
Cinematographers have long used low- res video
playback to check their work on set, but the
images on film often look quite different. Digital
movie making solves that problem.
“There’s a huge comfort factor in looking at an
image you know is going to look the same way it is on the screen”- Industry
veteran Dean Selmer, an Oscar winner for ‘Dances With Wolves’ has used
Panavision’s digital Genesis camera on his latest movie, the Mel Gibson –
directed epic Mayan ‘Apocolypto’.
For directors, less cost pressure means more creative freedom, and
compared to film stock, digital tape is almost free.
“Sometimes you can roll for an hour without cutting, because you can, you
find moments there that you might loose otherwise” -Director Robert
Rodriguez, who often doubles as his own cinematographer, shot his last two
movies digitally. Sin City is a film creation that best represents the outfit
Hybride, which is best known for rendering stylized digital backdrops. Sin
City’s dark comic book atmospheres melded the live action of the movie with
the raw visual approach of graphic novelist Frank Miller, who also wrote the
book upon which 300 is based on.
300 is a shot-for-shot adaptation of the comic book, without advanced digital
technology, these types of adaptations wouldn’t have as much scope to
create the surreal fantasy world in which the story is set. The film was shot
almost entirely in a sound studio, relying solely on the after affects in the
editing process to give the film its flesh.
“I wanted to get at the book as much as could, Shooting outside we couldn’t
control the skies and the lighting to the extent I wanted to. And the
landscapes are different in real life. They don’t exist in the real world only in
Frank Millers imagination” – Director Zack Snider
Post production of the film was
handled by Meteor studios and
Hybride technologies filled in the
blue screen footage with more
than 1500 visual effects shots,
such as manipulating colours by
increasing the contrast of light
and dark, also certain sequences
were de-saturated and tinted to
establish alternate moods. Giving
the film it’s realistic but yet gritty
During the battle sequences, the
blood never appears to be on the
ground. In one scene, the blood
hits the ground and disappears,
in many it vanishes in to the air.
In another, the droplets fall and
stick out of the ground like
arrows. -This whole scene has
been incorrectly regarded as an error in 300, it was in fact a deliberate stylistic
choice to reflect the ‘graphic novel’ origins of the film.
Post production on 300 lasted for a year and was handled by a total of ten
special effects companies, who without, the production would have never
been the ‘graphic epic’ like it promised.
DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY AND DISTRIBUTION
WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY ON DISTRIBUTION OF
Distribution is cheaper
Simultaneous global releases of films to cut down the attraction of pirate
Distribution: The Logistics of Distribution
Digital Distribution on the blog
For the exam be aware the various ways that a film can be distributed and the
advantages/ disadvantages for institutions and audiences. Remember
distribution includes marketing!
Advances in Technology
In Distribution, marketing, exchange-
New digital technology not only affects the actual production, but also the way
in which the film is distributed to audiences all over the world. Movies
encoded as digital data files –either recorded on optical disc and
physically shipped or broadcast via satellite, has increasingly replaced
film prints as the preferred method for distributing movies to theatres
since 2005. Another advantage of broadcasting via satellite eliminates the
current need to return and destroy film prints, as well as reduce the risk of film
prints falling in to unauthorized hands.
Using digital film is much easier than using just film.
Film is heavy, hard to work with and fragile. The
process of receiving, prepping, and showing,
dismantling and returning a movie requires skilled
labour and resources. Digital cinema movies can be
managed with the simplicity of basic computer
commands and operated just like a VCR.
Compared with film cinema, the digital film has the
clear superiority in maintaining constant quality with
use. The first showing of a digital movie will be
identical in quality to the 1,000th. Digital movies do
not get scratches or break the way regular film does.
Every copy of a movie is identical to the master reference print. Normal film
wears out, gradually becoming too damaged for use. Digits on the other hand
will never wear out.
Another benefit is that the new technology will allow simultaneous
global release of new movies, thereby reducing the ability of pirates to
copy a movie in one region and sell DVDs in areas where the studios
haven’t yet released the movie. Additionally, delivering a single copy or 100
copies ends up costing exactly the same amount for the cinema, therefore
more cinemas are able to buy the latest releases, increasing their own
With digital cinema, the movie studios also have the ability to modify their
content whenever it is found desirable. Movies can be changed even after
they are released. In effect, extras on DVDs are becoming increasingly
popular. Giving the director a chance to give an insight in to his latest piece of
work, the production process, along with background facts and figures,
interviews with cast members, snippets of the film, etc.
Overall the transition from film cinema to digital cinema, has in fact,
lowered the cost of movie distribution for studios. By eliminating film
prints, studios could eliminate the £2,000 to £3,000 cost for each print made
of a motion picture. This translates into an expense equal to about 10% of a
movie’s production budget.
WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY ON THE EXHIBITION
Better quality of picture
More flexibility in what you can watch in the cinema
Disadvantages expensive to change all of the cinemas to digital technology.
Case study example - Avatar
digital technology is beginning to bring flexibility to the cinema going
experience – since Avatar was available in ordinary cinemas – not just at
Imax. It was available in 3D and normal quality and was very popular with
READ UP ON THE DIGITAL SCREEN NETWORK – WHAT IS THEIR ROLE?
HOW WILL THIS IMPACT ON FILM PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION IN
4. WHAT DO FILM COMPANIES HAVE TO THINK ABOUT
WHEN THEY ARE TARGETTING GLOBAL AND LOCAL
The consideration of local and global audiences begins at the stage of
PRODUCTION: producers think about who will be the audience for the film,
how the audience will relate to the idea, how many people would be up for
watching the film – They need to decide whether it will be a film with global or
WHEN PRODUCING A FILM – the following impact on whether the audience
will be local or global
THE CAST (Hollywood actors tend to have more global appeal than actors
from other countries – unless they have acted in a Hollywood film).
THE DIRECTOR (big name directors help to sell the film to a global audience
– especially if they have created a global hit before).
THE IDEA OF THE FILM: -Producers must ask the question – will the idea of
the film be something that people from a variety of cultures can relate to or
people from a specific culture.
THINK ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KIDULTHOOD AND THE
BOAT THAT ROCKED OR AVATAR AND THIS IS ENGLAND – WHAT
WERE THE USP’S OF THESE FILMS – WHAT MADE AVATAR A FILM
WITH GLOBAL APPEAL? (AND SUPPOSEDLY THE BOAT THAT ROCKED?
– REMEMBER THIS WAS MARKETED GLOBALLY BUT ONLY MANAGED
TO HAVE SUCCESS LOCALLY – WHY?)
WHAT MADE KIDULTHOOD AND THIS IS ENGLAND FILMS WITH LOCAL
DISTRIBUTION – LOCAL VS GLOBAL
Key points: INDEPENDENT distributors tend to be the people that distribute
films with local appeal. (Like Warp/ Warp X)
A distribution campaign is based on whether the film has global or local
appeal. A film with local appeal may have an understated promotional
campaign, so you will see it advertised in the local press, on radio and on
local news programmes.
The films distribution budget will not be as big as the distribution budget for a
This is because a film with local appeal – will draw much smaller audiences
than a film with global appeal – so because local films will not make as much
money as films with global appeal – distribution companies will not be willing
to spend a fortune on promoting a film if they are not going to make a profit
from box office sales.
DOES A FILM ACHIEVE SUCCESS BECAUSE OF ITS APPEAL – OR
BECAUSE OF THE MONEY GIVING OVER TO ITS MARKETING
USE YOUR NOTES TO FORM ARGUMENTS (think Avatar vs. This Is
5. Issues raised in the targeting of British audiences by
No film is for everyone. Every film made has a target audience. It’s the film
company’s job to know specifically who they are. A film may not communicate
effectively or succeed at the box office unless the audience is determined
initially e.g. The Boat That Rocked. Identifying with a target audience is not
about selling out or being formulaic, it’s about being relevant and appealing to
the audience without breaking the integrity of the film.
Most film studios will make an educated guess, as to which target
audience will be interested in their film. A film producer once said when he
was figuring out the target group for his audience he would ask himself “Who
would stand in a
queue outside, at
night, in January to
see this film” And
there, he had his
However, as simple
as his questioning
may seem, a lot more research goes in to determine the target audience.
A target audience is defined primarily by gender and age range. Addition
elements include socioeconomic status, rural or urban, race, family status,
theatre goers or not, and special interest. These interests can be anything
from political interests, to religion. Or the particular subject matter of the film,
such as visual art, human rights, faith, relationships, or even the use of music.
In Working Titles’ case, they have a clear idea of the audience they
envisage for the film before they bring a director on board, matching the
director to the nature of the project and the target audience. When the
film is complete, they usually test completed projects with UK audiences first,
and then with American audiences, to get a good idea of how the movie will
be received. The chairmen of Working Title claim good luck has played a
huge part in their success. They are constantly surprised by reactions to their
“We often put down the number of what you think a film will ultimately do
worldwide in gross revenue, but it’s amazing the one you didn’t think would
work is suddenly huge” -Eric Fellner
This was the case when Working Title released ‘Four weddings and a funeral’
in 1994, gaining the company mainstream traction, after an unexpected global
box office success. It is one of the highest grossing British films in cinema
history, with world wide box office in excess of $260 million. Four of Working
Title’s films still remain in the highest grossing British films of all time,
including ‘Bridget Jones Diary’ ‘Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason’ ‘Love
Actually’ and ‘Notting Hill’.
‘Four Weddings’ was a huge success in America right from its first screening,
which was in fact, before the English release. What made the film so huge
worldwide were its universal themes, witty dialogue, and colourful supporting
cast. ‘Four Weddings’ had at its helm, a group of hip Londoners who were
bent on making a piece about people much like themselves, writer Richard
Curtis included, sought to ‘modernize’ some of those old Hollywood romantic
The success of ‘Four Weddings’ was as much a surprise to Working Title as it
was to film makers alike, whilst other British films fell at the wayside, Working
Title film formed an award winning formula to creating a global success. All
Working Title films tell the same story of unfashionable people humiliated in
their pursuit of romance.
An all American star in one of the lead
roles (Andie Macdowell) was
paramount, a goofy, intelligent,
confused, attractive male in a lead role
(Hugh Grant) plus a backdrop of
wacky friends, and even wackier
relationships. We see an assortment of
quirky Brits, beloved by Americans,
who provide a hefty portion of witty
banter. Everyone in the audience has
someone they can identify with, it’s
this mixture of personalities that draws
us right in, we want these people to
succeed. Yet we love witnessing their downfall, and cleverly the comedy
carries off some otherwise excruciating moments.
‘Four Weddings’ like most of Curtis’ films are all quintessentially
‘British’ therefore appealing to a wider target audience. Countries such as
America enjoy seeing Britain, especially England represented as a charmingly
quaint country, with chocolate box cottages, tea shops, and posh accents.
However, this sort of idealization in British film is looked upon by some British
filmmakers as a problem. After films such as ‘Four Weddings’ many UK film
makers embraced the new idea that they could make an impact on the world
stage, and started making films designed for universal appeal, rather than just
aiming to impress or be true to Britain. Here’s where the problem lies with so
many British film makers. Many of them felt that some British films were
really American films with an English accent, determined to relay a light
hearted Britain, with all social struggle put to one side, concentrating
only on insignificant story lines, with a bright outlook in general.
“As British films go, it’s not merchant ivory, not angst ridden streets of
London, while its slightly old fashioned-the first 10 words in the film are ‘fuck’
which helps the audience get in to it” – Tim Bevan
One filmmaker at the time of this new era of ‘internationalism’ was director
Danny Boyle, whos directional debut was the 1994 crime thriller ‘Shallow
Grave’ shortly followed by ‘Trainspotting’ in 1996, both as far from ‘quaint’
‘rose tinted’ representation of Britain as you can get. The films delve in to a
world of drugs, deception, betrayal, addiction, and ultimately death, laced with
pitch- black comedy moments that left audiences undecided to whether
‘Trainspotting’ promoted drug use or not. ‘Trainspotting’ is often accused of
‘glamorizing’ the gritty lifestyle of heroin addiction, however the film was
critically appraised for tapping into the youth subculture of the time, being
given the title as ‘a true representation of British social realism’ the main
theme being the exploration of urban poverty and squalor, in ‘culturally rich’
Edinburgh. The film did incredibly well in Britain, revealing that the heroin
culture, although dark and forbidden, was also equally as fascinating.
On its release in the United States, the first 20 minutes of the film were re-
edited, with alternate dialogue. Because of the strong Scottish accents and
language of the characters, it was believed that American audiences would
have difficultly understanding them, as they were so culturally specific. The
film was a huge success; it demonstrated that the American public hungered
for glimpses into Britain’s dark and mysterious heroin culture. American critic
Rodger Ebert heaped praise on the film for its portrayal of addicts’
experiences; the film demonstrated that there will always be a market for
‘precise observation’ which in fact was director Danny Boyle’s main objective
within the film. Proving that filmmakers don’t have to ‘sugar coat’ their film, or
put famous actors or actresses in the lead roles, just to relate to an audience,
especially an American audience, as once thought before.
Connoisseur of film Shane Meadows mostly know for his revenge drama
‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ and the bold but brilliant ‘This Is England’ is
typically unorthodox in his approach to modern film making, general
rules and regulations of film are pushed aside, creating unique modern day-
British social realism masterpieces. This Is England is a poignant state-of-the
–nation address that shows Meadows at his most mature. He has shown
time after time his ability to work with limited budgets and talented non
professional actors; the route of why his films have become so
successful. Meadows tends not to write a script as a starting point, what
really drives him are occurrences that have affected him throughout his life.
He believes you don’t have to be an amazing writer to make a good film, life
experience is more important, if you’re going to make a film about working
class people, you have to have experience of a working class upbringing,
otherwise, how are you going to represent that class accurately.
“How can he make films about something he don’t know or understand… your
not from their man… it’s just not real” – Shane Meadows on director Mike
Leigh (Vera Drake)
“I really like Lock stock, but they’re all really cool criminals, cool music and
that, but seriously how many criminals do you know going about stealing
diamonds! As where in my films… they steal dog food” –Shane Meadows
Meadows recognized a large gap in the film market, he saw that directors
were ‘detached’ from their films, as where he wanted to make films that he
had connection to, and understanding of, also because he cared about the
people he was going to portray on screen. He makes all his films
instinctively, leaving it up to the audience to perceive the film as they
wish. Therefore, he doesn’t have a specific target audience in mind, and
doesn’t make films for large audience consumption. However, after
releasing four critically successful films, Meadows was quickly becoming
recognized as one of the most distinct British voices in cinema, and found he
was being approached by various production companies, requiring his vision.
Although, once in collaboration with Film Four Meadow’s saw quite a
difference in attitude towards the production of his film overall. He felt forced
into casting famous actors in his roles, using cinematographers and editors he
wasn’t familiar with, also he was far more aware of the ‘targets’ he was
supposed to be reaching , and when he did, he totally regretted it.
“They said you need to make a breakthrough film! And when it happened I
totally regretted it… it was an absolute crock of shit, I totally hate it!” –Shane
Meadow on his film Once upon a time in the Midlands
6. HOW DOES THE WAY IN WHICH YOU CONSUME FILM
GIVE AN INDICATION OF THE PATTERNS OF
CONSUMPTION OF FILM
What is the current situation with cinema going?
Cinema viewing figures are currently at the highest they have been for 40
years. Last summer – cinema audience figures reached - 17.56million which
is the highest since the early 1970’s. What could be the reason for this
HOW DO PEOPLE CONSUME FILM:
DVD and Blue Ray -
TV – VOD
Do you and your friends buy pirates or illegally download?
Here are some key facts about illegal downloading and pirates
The film industry (according to experts) loses around £500- £700m a
year to piracy
The revenue gained from pirate DVD’s alone is approximately £278m
pounds a year.
THIS IS ENGLAND
This is England is directed by the Midlands director, Shane Meadows. The plot
couldn't be more 'indigenous3', but this is not the England of The Queen,
Notting Hill or Pride and Prejudice. Instead the 1970s Skinhead movement, its
uneasy relationship with West Indian culture (from respect for which it grew)
and its distortion by the racist National Front forms the backdrop for a story
about the adolescent life of a bereaved boy.
Meadows previously had varied box office and critical success with a range of
other films all based on domestic life and relationships in the Midlands, including
Twenty Four Seven, A Room for Romeo Brass, Once Upon a Time in the
Midlands and Dead Man's Shoes. In his films the presence or absence of
fathers and older male authority figures and the effects of such on young
working class men are depicted with a mixture of comedy and sometimes
disturbing drama. Another major difference between Meadows' output and
the more commercially 'instant' British films from Working Title and
similar companies, is the importance of cultural reference points—
clothes, music, dialect—that only a viewer with a cultural familiarity with
provincial urban life in the times depicted would recognise.
This is England was produced as a result of collaboration between no less than
seven companies—Big Arty Productions, EM Media, FilmFour, Optimum
Releasing, Screen Yorkshire, the UK Film Council and Warp Films. It was
distributed by six organisations—IFC Films, Netflix, Red Envelope Entertainment
and IFC First Take in the USA, Madman Entertainment in Australia and Optimum
Releasing in the UK. ("This is England" released digitally in Norway thanks to
the European project: D-PLATFORM)
The critical response to This is England has largely been to celebrate a
perceived 'return' to a kind of cultural reflective film-making that was
threatened by extinction in the context of Hollywood's dominance and the
Government's preference for funding films with an eye on the US market, as
this comment from Nick James, editor of the BFI's Sight and Sound magazine
I forgot, when watching Shane Meadows' moving evocation of
skinhead youth This is England at the London Film Festival, how
culturally specific its opening montage might seem; it goes from Roland
Rat to Margaret Thatcher to the Falklands War to Knight Rider on
television. What will people outside of Northern Europe make of the
regalia of 1980s skinheads from the Midlands? Hopefully they will be
intrigued. This Is England made me realise, too, that some British films
are at last doing exactly what Sight and Sound has campaigned for;
reflecting aspects of British life again and maybe suffering the
consequences of being harder to sell abroad.
WORKING TITLE PRODUCTIONS
Working Title is one of the worlds leading film productions companies
making movies that defy boundaries as well as demographics. Working
Title was established is 1984 by Tim Bevan and Sarah Radclyffe, at that
moment in time money for film production was exceedingly tight, so in 1992
Working Title went looking for a corporate backer. Soon after fusing with
Universal Radclyffe left the company, making way for Eric Fellner, who took
New Zeland born Bevan started his career as a runner on a soap opera,
before serving his apprenticeship at the National Film Unit. In the early
eighties he moved to Britain and started working at Video Arts –John Cleese’s
successful corporate training production house.
In 1983 Bevan started a music video production company, Algebra, which
was to become Working Title a year later. Its first feature ‘My Beautiful
Laundrette’ helped launch the careers of director Stephen Frears and Daniel
Fellner also started in music
videos making promo videos
for bands such as Duran
Duran, and Fleetwood Mac.
He then moved into British
films, producing ‘The Rachel
Papers’ and ‘Sid and Nancy’
among others at Initial
Pictures. Bevan left Initial
pictures in 1992 to join
Bevan at Working Title.
Working Title’s films were a mixture of Left-off-centre independent films such
as ‘Sammie and Rosie Get Laid’ and support for American indie productions
such as Tim Robbins’ Bob Roberts.
Working Title’s breakthrough hit was 1994’s ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’.
After a long dry period with few international hits, the production company
proved that the British could once again fashion films with global appeal.
International successes followed: among them ‘French Kiss’ ‘Dead Man
Walking’ ‘Fargo’ ‘Bean’ and ‘Elizabeth’ mixing critical with commercial
That’s not to say that all Working Title films are a success, their biggest
flop being ‘Captain Correlli’s Mandolin’ it was their most expensive film
and, ironically the one that seemed most likely to succeed. Adapted
from the widely popular book of the same title, with an all star cast, it
still managed to disappoint with the critics and in the box office.
Working Title has made over 90 films that have grossed over $4.5 billion
worldwide. Its films have won 6 academy awards, 26 BAFTA awards, and
also prestigious prizes at Cannes film festival, and also at the Berlin
international film festival. Bevan and Fellner have been awarded with the
highest film awards given to British film makers, the Michael Balcon award for
‘outstanding contribution to British cinema’ at the Orange British academy
(BAFTA) film awards. They also received the Alexander Walker film award at
the Evening Standard film awards. Lastly both chairmen were honoured with
CBE’s (Commanders of the Order of the British Empire) for their years of
commitment to British film making.
Process of post production, production, marketing and distribution
‘The Boat That Rocked’
The Concept: The idea/Production company
In thinking about the processes that occur during the life of a film, it is
easy to forget the first step in that journey is the original idea. This can
either come from a writer, a director or producer in the form of a book, a play,
or an original treatment for a script. In the case of ‘The Boat That Rocked’,
the idea is an original one. Writing the script is only the first stage in getting
a film to the screen. What Curtis (Writer) needed was finance in order to get
‘That Boat That Rocked’ actually made. He turned to Working Title, one of the
leading British production companies with whom he had worked successfully
in the past. Eric Fellner knew audiences would react well to the film, it
was a great mainstream idea, with amazing music and cast.
“It had a number of things going for it, the first being that its Richard Curtis,
he’s almost like a brand in this country, people look out for his next film” -Eric
The big advantage of making the film with Working Title was that they
were already allied with Universal Pictures, a major Hollywood studio.
This meant the producers had a direct line to finances, as well as a way
of distributing the film and ensuring that it would be screened in
One of the first people on board the project is the producer, it is usually the
producer who works on the film longer than anyone else, seeing it through
from the moment they pick up an idea, to the film being made and sold; the
producer is critical to its success.
One of the first jobs for the producer is reading through the script, Co
producer Hilary Bevan finds that the first reading of the script is an extremely
important time, and she never begins the script if she hasn’t the time to finish
it in the same sitting.
“I never rest with a script, I’ve learnt that there’s always something funnier to
be found within the script” – Hilary Bevan (co producer)
Starting with the script is very important as a producer; the script is the
blueprint for the whole film. From the script it is possible to:
• Calculate what certain costs will be in the budget
• Work out the most efficient way of filming
• Work out which locations are needed
• Work out what sets need to be built
• Work out what other actors are needed for both major and minor roles
Whilst the script is being developed the producers put together the key
members of a creative team, who will work on the budget and who will be vital
in the planning of the film. Usually, once a head of department is chosen, they
will usually bring their own assistants or crew -who they usually work with on
projects, who automatically also come part of the crew.
Whilst the script is being developed and the
creative team are starting to form ideas,
Hilary Bevan works with others on the team
to draw up the budget for the film, although,
one key person is usually responsible for
working out the final budget. The budget
gets broken down into sections; costumes
and makeup, actors, the set, music
clearance etc. Essentially it’s not difficult to
budget as long as you are disciplined, and
have good knowledge and understanding of
A major part of the budget is spent on
the cast, they have an effect not only on
the budget, but also the final feel of the film.
“All parts are crucial, because if you have
just one person that doesn’t quite fit, and a
note of unreality comes into the film, then you’ve lost it” – Hilary Bevan (co
The choice of actors that appeared in the film was vital on two counts.
Firstly being able to convincingly play a particular character, and
secondly their names would be just as important for the marketing of the
film –to attract audiences. Some of the parts were known in advance, and
some were auditioned, the right balance of actors is key. The characterisation
of each cast member has to be determined and counteracted, also how they
look together, how they act together, how they react with each other, is it
The script provides the blueprint for the film. Once the producers are happy
with the script its time for the production team to start planning the actual film.
The team needs to consider what the writer was trying to achieve, what the
director wants to accomplish and what the audience would find believable.
Once the budget for ‘The Boat That Rocked’ has been set, producer, Hilary
Bevans Jones’ new task is to work with her heads of departments to ensure
that all the necessary planning is complete. This involves planning locations,
booking technicians and camera crew, organising insurance, scheduling the
film, and working on the ‘look’ of the film, discussing this with designers and
looking at issues of accommodation, travel, and equipment.
‘The Boat That Rocked’ is set in 1966 and therefore requires a ‘60s’ feel to
what is seen on screen. Because the setting is less than 50 years ago, certain
members of the audience might have clear or vague memories of that period.
Therefore the ‘look’ of the film would need to carefully reflect that period of
time, places, fashions, surroundings, objects, hairstyles, and clothes.
As well as planning the look of the film, the production team then has to find
locations where they can film, which could be made to look like 60’s buildings
and rooms. From this they can decide on when the film will be shot and which
scenes will be filmed on which day, - in short to construct a filming schedule.
A schedule is basically a timetable for the shooting of a film. A film is rarely
shot in the order that we finally see it, restrictions on when people and
locations are available mean that shooting has to be carried out with all these
complex considerations in mind. For sake of the economy, all scenes on one
set or location will be filmed at the same time out of sequence. The team will
have looked at the various locations, the availability of the actors, then very
carefully plan the order of shooting.
As filming begins, editor Emma Hickox is starting to put together scenes from
the film. At this stage she works closely with the head cinematographer Danny
Coen. Everyday vast quantities of film rushes are sent to the editing suite
where they are digitalized on to the computer, the material is then watched
and checked. From a technical point of view there may be issues that crop up,
for instance dodgy lenses, or unstable shots, it’s the job of the editor to spot
these problems. So apart from a creative angle, the editor is used for keeping
everything on track, and will also highlight any arising issues. The turn around
in the editing suite is extremely quick, so if any issues do arise they need to
be dealt with instantly.
The art of editing is based around
choice and selection, the more
filmed material that Emma has,
the more choices and options
there are when it comes to the
editing process .Key to the whole
film is the music from the 60’s,
which forms not only the soundtrack to the film, but also helps Emma make
decisions when it comes to editing sequences which have music over the
action. Editing a comedy film presents its own challenges to an editor; key to
any film is the development of the story and the characters who play out the
events. Emma has to bear both these points in mind when she’s constructing
By the end of filming Emma has made a construction of the film –consisting of
the first edits of all the scenes in the script. This is the first stage of the editing
process –putting together the assembly. The assembly uses as many shots
as possible to make the scene look as it is written in the script. As the film is
edited, Emma cuts many of the characters lines, this is due to the actors
embodying their character, and they don’t need to deliver as many lines –as
their body language tells the story.
In the case of ‘The Boat That Rocked’ the first construction of the film was 5
hours long, the actual final cut is 2 hours 6 minutes long.
When marketing a new film the studio has to bear in mind, who they think will
come and see the film, and how they can attract them to see the film. In
creating their marketing campaign they need to consider what the films
unique selling point is, what makes the film different from the other films
out in the market already. Whilst also thinking about who the target
audience is for the film, which part of the cinema-going public might most
want to see the film; the distributors’ main focus is working out this audience,
and to build up early awareness for the film amongst the public.
A film distribution company will know what attracts people to the film,
therefore tailoring their campaign to what audience they want. In doing
this they will need to communicate information about the film to audiences – in
such a way that will make them not only aware of the film, but want to come
and see the film also.
Trailers- After a teaser trailer has been running in cinemas for a few months,
the distributor will then release a full trailer which will be longer and give more
information about the film then the previous teaser trailer. The teaser trailer for
‘The Boat That Rocked’ was 39 seconds long, the full trailer is 1 minute 30
seconds long, giving the public a much more ‘rounded’ idea of the film.
However there must be a synergy or relationship between the two trailers,
having given audiences and ideas about the film, the main trailer takes this
idea and develops it further.
Posters- The use of
posters in a film
campaign is just as
important as the
trailers, mainly due to
the availability of
space. Billboard space
is cheap as is the production of posters. The reach is also an important factor,
as poster use allows the distribution company to advertise elsewhere other
than inside a theatre or cinema building.
A poster has to try to capture in a still image the excitement and promise of
the moving images they will see in the cinema. The poster for the film has to
give the viewer as much information about the film as it can in one short ‘look’
of the image.
At the beginning of the campaign the distribution company will produce
what is called a ‘teaser’ campaign (much like the teaser trailer) in which one
or two posters are released which will make the public aware the film is
coming without giving too much away. More information will be given in the
main campaign which will appear closer to the release of the film.
Shelf Space- Once the film is released on to DVD, the new task for the
distributor is to find shelf space within stores. In most shops usually only the
top 10 DVD’s of the time are presented in a priority position, as where most
other DVD’s are put in to one large section. Once the DVD has been
released the distributor will fight for physical shelf space within a store,
to get a good position for the DVD. Studio’s like Universal Pictures have
the clout to get their films into the shelves in a good priority position,
the effect of the position can ultimately make or break the sale.
TV/Radio spots- Just before the films release interviews with various
members of the cast or crew will appear on a number of TV and radio shows,
to promote the films release. This sort of advertising is usually free for the
production company and also the TV/Radio show - as both parties get
something out of the deal. TV show will also usually play a small clip of the
film, mostly taken from the trailer, giving the guest the chance to discuss the
film etc. As where radio shows may play sound bites from the film, and in the
case of ‘The Boat That Rocked’ the main point of emphasis being the music
used in the film, - gives the film a good selling point to audiences listening.
Other marketing strategies
are slowly introduced after
the film has been released
products such as, DVDs,
Books, Posters etc. There
is also marketing that
comes from the audience
of the film, including
reviewers’ pages on the
internet, Myspace and
Facebook pages, and fan