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Sci fi exam pres

Preparation for AQA GCSE Media exam - science fiction.

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Sci fi exam pres

  1. 1. Science Fiction Film Year 11 Media Studies: boldly go…
  2. 2. The Exam • Assesses your knowledge of all of the key concepts - media language, audience, representation and institutions. • 1.5 hours • 4 questions, equal marks • 40% of final grade • Based on a brief which will be given to you 4 weeks in advance • Essay questions - require knowledge of theory and case studies • Design questions - require knowledge of conventions and creativity • Needs to be PREPARED and CHECKED IN ADVANCE!
  3. 3. MEDIA LANGUAGE • Conventions • Mise-en-scene • Narrative • Genre • Exam Practice
  4. 4. MEDIA LANGUAGE: Conventions A convention is a key ingredient in a specific genre of media text. They are the things that we expect to see in particular types of films. Make a list of any conventions you associate with the Science Fiction genre. Remember, it is a complex genre as it is very wide-ranging.
  5. 5. MEDIA LANGUAGE: Conventions We are going to watch the trailer for three very different Science Fiction films. Whilst watching, see if you can add to your lists. The trailers are: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part Two WALL-E Star Trek: Into Darkness
  6. 6. MEDIA Language: miSE-en- scene • Buscombe’s theory: A genre is defined by its use of iconography. If we change the icons, we change the genre. (Reminder; an icon is a visual symbol.) We find these icons in four places. • Location (Place, primarily, but also time) • Character appearance (including clothing) • Tools used (guns, vehicles and so on) • Miscellaneous (anything else!)
  7. 7. MEDIA Language: miSE-en- scene • Apply Buscombe’s theory to these four posters. As well as Buscombe, also consider graphology, palette and layout and design. Make a list of the conventions of sci-fi mise-en-scene.
  8. 8. media language: narrative theory • SOME IDEAS TO HELP DISCUSSIONS • Barthes’ Enigma Code - successful narratives depend upon the construction of a series of mysteries. • Levi-Strauss’ Binary Opposition - successful narratives depend upon the construction of oppositions or conflicts • Todorov’s theory - most narratives have a three-part structure; equilibrium, disequilibrium, new equilibrium • Propp’s Theory - Fairy tales have seven character types (hero, villain, donor, helper, princess, false hero, dispatcher.)
  9. 9. media language: narrative theory • Watch the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens • In groups, consider these questions and be ready to feed back to the class: • Does there appear to be a three part narrative here? How much of the plot can you figure out from the trailer? Which aspects of the plot are being emphasised? • How many instances of binary opposition (conflict) can you find? Think of opposition between people and ideas. • How many different enigmas are being offered? Are any of them answered in the trailer? • Are Proppsian character archetypes evident here? Is there a clear villain, hero, helper and so on? Are any of the Proppsian archetypes no longer relevant (e.g. the Princess?) Does sci-fi have its own conventional character types (e.g., the mad professor, the kindly alien, the hot- headed young soldier…)
  10. 10. media language: narrative - characterisation Luke Skywalker Darth Vader Princess Leia Han Solo Obi Wan KenobiYoda Which character function? How do you know? (from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  11. 11. media language: narrative - themes • As with any genre, certain themes repeat in sci-fi. • Good versus Evil • Freedom versus oppression • Reality vs illusion • Oppressive societies • Rebellion and conflict • Watch the trailer for The Matrix (Wachowskis, 1999): are any of these conventional themes evident?
  12. 12. media language: narrative - Reflection theory • Reflection theory suggests that the themes and representations in film (or any cultural form) mirror those which are dominant at the time and place of making. • Sci-fi themes are often thought to have changed to reflect what people are concerned about at any give time.
  13. 13. media language: narrative - Reflection theory Period of time Global issues and concerns Film that reflects 1950s Fears of nuclear war, communism and views on the cold war. Godzilla The film focuses on a prehistoric monster resurrected by repeated nuclear tests in the Pacific 1960s Fears about automation replacing workers and the dehumanization of society through science and technology. 2001: A Space Odyssey A computer named HAL 9000 controls a space shuttle and later harms its crew 1970s Fears about the lack of morals existing in society, especially amongst young people. A Clockwork Orange Horrific portrayal of a youth gang engaged in rape and murder 1980s Fears about the future being dark, dirty, dangerous and chaotic. Blade Runner Set in Los Angeles in 2019, there are genetically engineered replicants, which are visually indistinguishable from adult humans Early 2000s Following the events September 11th, 2001, people were afraid of police powers, privacy and civil liberties. Minority Report A PreCrime police unit arrests people before they commit crimes based on knowledge provided by three psychics. Mid 2000s Fear of issues surrounding cloning. The Island Focuses on a compound of inhabitants who are used for organ harvesting and surrogate motherhood because they are not ‘human’ Mid 2010s Fears of environmental disaster, immigration and overpopulation. Elysium Takes place on a struggling Earth with most citizens living in poverty and in a luxurious space habitat where the rich and powerful live.
  14. 14. media language: genre • A descriptive approach to genre simply lists all the conventions which define that genre - icons, plots, character types, themes, ideologies, locations, characteristic cinematographic or editing or sound design styles, and you should now be able to do all this. • Some movie genres go out of fashion. Musicals and westerns, for example, are pretty much obsolete now. • Some, like sci-fi, are eternally popular. • This is possibly because the themes and representations in them keep changing and thus keep appealing to new audiences.
  15. 15. media language: genre • HYBRIDITY is an important part of current thinking about sci-fi film. • Traditionally, the studios stayed with the genres they knew - they would use the same sets, actors, directors and plots over and over because they were pretty sure audiences (mostly made up of mainstreamers) would keep buying the same thing over and over. • As audiences became more sophisticated and choosy, such films became less popular. As such, it is now common to blend genres in order to maximise audience appeal. (It’s not a new idea. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, saw it as a Western set in space.) • In groups, watch one of the following trailers. Make notes on which genres are being blended and which conventions of those genres are being used. Be ready to feed back to the class. • Alien (1979) • Blade Runner (1982) • Independence Day (1996) • Mars Attacks (1996)
  16. 16. media language: genre • We can also divide the PARENT genre - sci-fi - into SUBGENRES. Each of these have their own particular conventions, representations, ideologies and audiences. Subgenre Premise Example Alternate History What if history had developed differently? Stargate Apocalyptic Humans struggle for survival after devastation of Earth Mad Max Artificial Intelligence Machines become more intelligent than humans AI, Ex Machina, Space Odyssey Cybernetic Revolt Robots turn on the humans who invented them Blade Runner, Terminator, I Robot Cyberpunk Urban noir, set in a near future where survival depends on ability to manipulate technology The Matrix Dystopian A view of the future as worse than the present The Hunger Games, Divergent, Wall- E Alien Invasion Humanity must defend Earth against invaders Independence Day First Encounters Narratives based upon aliens meeting humanity for the first time ET, Star Trek (First Contact) Horror sci-fi Scary aliens chasing humans Alien, the Blob, The Thing Space Opera Huge narratives, multiple locations, often many sequels Star Wars Superhero movies Superpowers, supervillains, super-franchised Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men Environmental sci-fi Narratives about the impending collapse of the ecosystem Wall-E, Sunshine
  17. 17. AUDIENCE • Audience Profiles • Audience Appeal • Subcultures and Imagined Communities (A* extra!) • Exam Practice
  18. 18. audience: profiles • We use several parameters to define audiences; age and gender, most basically, but also social position or income (demographics) and psychological make-up (psychographics.) Race, location, interests and sexuality can also be used to define audiences. • To remind yourself about these things, go here.
  19. 19. audience: profiles • Sci-fi is an expensive genre (of the top ten most expensive movies ever made, all are sci-fi or fantasy.) This means that the studios target vast, wide ranging audiences and it becomes bit artificial to say that certain movies are aimed at certain audiences. These big, mainstream movies are aimed at both genders, most ages, all income levels and the mainstreamer psychographic group. They are generally very conventional and ‘safe’ - they need to be, to ensure a sufficient audience to make back that massive budget. • It has been said, though, that the dominant audience is males aged 17- 29.
  20. 20. audience: profiles • Some films do have obvious audiences, though. In general, there is more of an effort to target a young, female audience (in keeping with reflection theory, which suggests that women are increasingly less likely to accept media in which they are not positively represented.) • The Hunger Games is an obvious example - female protagonist, themes about empowerment, no sexualisation or male gaze and so on. Can you think of similar films designed at least in part to appeal to a postfeminist audience?
  21. 21. audience: appeal • You know some different theories about audience appeal • Hypodermic Needle Theory: the text communicates in a direct, denotive way with the audience, with no room for connotation or alternative interpretation. • Two-step flow: the text deliberately targets opinion leaders who then influence opinion followers. • Uses and Gratifications: texts offer pleasure in four areas - diversion, personal identity, personal relationships, surveillance. • Reception theory - Audiences are made up of individuals. Producers should try to make the text adaptable for the audience so they can make it different of themselves and adapt it to their own needs. • When discussing sci-fi film, by far the most useful is Uses and Gratifications. • The others will be useful when discussing the marketing of the films.
  22. 22. audience: appeal - Uses and Gratifications • Watch the trailer for Sunshine (2007) • Diversion - Enigma and opposition make it interesting. Editing, sound and cinematography make it exciting. Characterisation makes it engrossing. Suggestion of conventional three part narrative and familiar iconography/ media language makes it recognisable and easy to accept. • Personal identity - Emphasises the environmental theme. Might be an effort to make the audience feel like they are intelligent, engaged with global affairs. Appeal to ‘reformer’ psychographic group? • Personal relationships - Emphasises the previous films made by the director. Perhaps an effort to suggest that everyone watches his films, so you should too. • Surveillance - Emphasis on a global issue of immediate concern.
  23. 23. audience: appeal - Uses and Gratifications • Watch the trailer for District 9 • In terms of media language, how does it adhere to or diverge from the conventions? Think about iconography, palette, editing and cinematography, genre and narrative (characters, plot, narrative structure.) • In terms of audience, to whom does it appeal and how?
  24. 24. A* EXTRAS! audience: cultural capital • Pierre Bourdieu, writing in 1977, formulated the idea of Cultural Capital. He said that people consume or adopt certain elements of culture because they are associated with affluent or successful social groups. Likewise, they avoid those elements of culture which are associated with the ‘lower’ classes.
  25. 25. A* EXTRAS! audience: cultural capital ‘Highbrow’ ‘Middlebrow' ‘Lowbrow' Shakespeare Film Computer Games Croquet Golf Football Foreign/ old cinema Sundance-nominated films Blockbusters Traditional professions Middle management Labouring/ service work Ballet Popular theatre/ musicals Pantomime Tarkovsky’s ‘Stalker’ Kubrick’s ‘Space Odyssey’ Lucas’s ‘Star Wars’ Classical music Jazz Pop music So, Bourdieu argues that people ‘buy’ certain types of social approval or respect by associating themselves with certain cultural forms or artefacts. This is not necessarily deliberate or conscious. Some sci-fi films are marketed as being more ’intelligent’ than others - those which deal with serious issues, for example, as opposed to those which are primarily action-based. We can see how cultural capital is being offered as bait; it is a marketing technique designed to hook an audience who value social approval or respect - an audience of succeeders or aspirers, perhaps.
  26. 26. A* EXTRAS! audience: subcultures • Sarah Thornton, writing in 1995, applied Bourdieu’s ideas to popular culture - specifically, clubbing or rave subcultures. • A subculture is a smaller group, defined by a shared interest or lifestyle, which often identifies itself by its opposition to the dominant cultural ideologies or forms. That is, they often identify as rebels. Youth culture is often subcultural - examples of subcultural groups might be gamers, emos, computer geeks, drug users and so on.
  27. 27. A* EXTRAS! audience: subcultures • Thornton found that subcultural capital worked in the same way as cultural capital; people are very aware of their own position in the subcultural group and seek out ways to enhance their own standing. • People who produce films know this. Certain films provoke very powerful opinions and attract very committed fans (who might become experts or aficionados.) • The most obvious examples are probably Star Wars and The Matrix. If you look at various forums for these films, you will find a degree of competition amongst people who want to be seen as the most knowledgeable, the first to receive new information, the first to see new films or collect new merchandise or whatever. • Those who make and market films see these aficionados as a valuable group of opinion leaders and a reliable market in their own right. Websites, promotional materials, franchise extensions and expos are often planned with these people in mind. Marketers will very often try to give some subcultural ‘cool’ to their products.
  28. 28. A* EXTRAS! audience: Imagined communities • Benedict Anderson, writing in 1983, thought that people were identifying with communities which were ‘imaginary’- that is, consisting of people who often don’t actually know each other. Anderson offered sports fans as an example - they are a ‘community’ only through their support of a team. • Obviously, since digitisation has reshaped our world, these imagined communities are much more evident. Facebook depends on people valuing a community which does not actually exist in the ‘real’ world. • Sci-fi official and fan sites are an extremely important part of any marketing campaign; the discussions and ideas shared on these sites keep interest in the franchises alive. Producers very much strive to create these imagined communities.
  29. 29. A* EXTRAS! audience: So what? • Let’s say you have a question like this: • Design a website to promote a sci-fi film aimed at a young audience of both genders. • Everyone will design a website. Hopefully, they will all follow the codes and conventions of website design. This basic understanding will get you up to about a ‘C’ grade. • Good students will think in terms of uses and gratifications and try to offer a blend of all four gratifications. They will also include things which are explicitly designed to attract both males and females. They will think of different audiences and use the themes, the stars, the style, the genre - anything! - of the film to attract groups of people who will respond to that particular thing. This is starting to look like an ‘A grade. • An A* student will do all of that and be able to incorporate ideas about imagined communities and subcultural capital; they will suggest that the film is anti-authoritarian, or rebellious, and that there is a community of like-minded people who associate themselves with it. Various Matrix sites, for example, strive to create a sense of secretive, subcultural hacker cool that only certain people can access or understand. The site itself might only be accessible to certain people (people who pre-order tickets to see the film, for example) or it might offer the kind of additional materials only aficionados would be interested in - interviews with crew, for example, or detailed histories of the characters.
  30. 30. REPRESENTATION • Gender • Nationality • The Future • A* Extra - Gramsci and Ideologies • Exam Practice • As with any genre, representations in sci-fi need to reflect contemporary thinking. • It has often been said, though, that the world of sci-fi is very male and very white. • The films have traditionally reflected this, but there is evidence that they are now moving away from such heavy reliance on dominant representations. Your work should probably reflect this change.
  31. 31. REPRESENTATION: gender - theory • Male Gaze - Laura Mulvey wrote that the media industries were mainly staffed by men, and thus most of what they produced was shaped by male sensibilities and designed to appeal to a male audience. • Virgin/ Whore dichotomy - a Freudian idea further developed by many theorists including Molly Haskell. While men can be many things in films and can be judged as ‘good’ because of any of them- clever, heroic, articulate, kind, funny, whatever - women are judged purely on their sexual behaviour They can only be ‘virgins’ or ‘whores’ and if their sexual behaviour is ‘wrong’, they are ‘bad,’ regardless of what else they do.
  32. 32. REPRESENTATION: gender - theory • Hypermasculinity - the characteristics and behaviours associated with a dominant representation of masculinity - e.g., developed muscles and aggression- are exaggerated. • Hypersexuality - the sexual characteristics associated with dominant representations of femininity - big breasts, or flirtatiousness, for example - are exaggerated. • Postfeminism - A modern representation of women which combines independence and conventional attractiveness.
  33. 33. REPRESENTATION: gender• As mainstream films which need to make back their huge budgets by appealing to a large audience of mainstreamers, we generally expect to see a lot of dominant representations in sci-fi. • When applied to gender, this generally means that women will be sexualised to some degree and men will be hypermasculinised. • A classic representation of femininity in sci-fi is Princess Leia in Star Wars - most famously, enslaved and half-naked. It is possible to see Star Wars as a Proppsian narrative rooted in very old thinking about gender and in this instance Leia is the passive Princess, waiting for the men to rescue her. It is important to note, though, that Leia is also an active, independent character with agency in the film - she kills her own captor and is frequently involved in driving and changing the narrative of the story. Perhaps this is one reason for the continued success of the Star Wars franchise amongst both genders. • A more recent example of gratuitous sexualisation comes from Star Trek: Into Darkness. The writer, Damon Lindelof, eventually apologised for including a scene where one of the few female characters appeared for no particular reason in her underwear. Although this was a relatively minor incident which did little to affect the film’s success, the backlash to it does show that audience expectations are changing and the apology shows that film producers are very sensitive to such accusations of sexism and male gaze.
  34. 34. REPRESENTATION: gender • There have always been more active representations of femininity, though. One of the most famous is Ellen Ripley in the Alien franchise (starting in 1979.) She is the protagonist, and by far the most capable and competent character. She is never sexualised; indeed, she becomes very ‘masculine’ at various points in the franchise, constantly being associated with iconography we usually associate with men - guns, army fatigues, muscles, shaved head and so on. In this poster, we see her combining representational elements associated with both genders - the gun, fatigues and low-angle shot connote masculinity while the protectiveness towards the child connote a dominant representation of caring feminine motherliness. • More recently, there are several films which construct more postfeminist representations of women who are simultaneously active and conventionally attractive. The most famous examples are Katniss Evergreen from The Hunger Games and Tris Prior from Divergent. Katniss is the effective head of her family and eventually the leader of an uprising; she is completely independent, frequently responsible for rescuing other characters and, although she is young and conventionally attractive, she is never defined by or judged according to her sexuality. Likewise, Tris in Divergent is the main protagonist and the antagonist, Jeanine Matthews, is also female. See the media language in the promo shots here; low angle shots, muted colours, weapons, functional clothing, direct address - all things we more conventionally associate with men.
  35. 35. REPRESENTATION: nationality/ Ethnicity • The issue of race, minorities and prejudice are often explored within science fiction film. Star Trek, for example, made a big point of making sure all ethnicities were represented in its original crew. • Sci-fi films are often actually about racism (see The X-Men, for example, where the mutants experience what is effectively racial oppression.) • However, as with many mainstream films and genres, there is some tension about how races are represented or how actors and characters of colour are deployed and represented in the films.
  36. 36. REPRESENTATION: nationality/ Ethnicity • ORIENTALISM - based on the theories of Edward Said, this theory suggests that Asian characters are typically stereotyped as exotic, whilst being secondary in importance to white characters. They are defined by their race in a way white characters are not. Sulu from Star Trek, for example, is forced to use a katana while fighting; seems like a strange choice when everyone else has blaster pistols. • TOKENISM - When minority characters are included in narratives but given no agency or activity. Example might be Uhuru in Star Wars - a black, female character, but at first not one of the central characters who affect narratives. (This changed, to some extent. Star Trek was very forward- thinking in the ay it treated racial representation.) Audiences are very sensitive to racial representation, and not always in the way we might expect; there was some outcry when Rue from The Hunger Games was played by a black actress (despite her skin being described as ‘dark’ in the novels.)
  37. 37. REPRESENTATION: nationality/ Ethnicity • Patriotism is often encoded into mainstream media in order to construct appeal to an audience of mainstreamers. American film is, perhaps, more prone to this than most. Watch the speech scene from Independence Day and note how an appeal to patriotism is being used to increase audience engagement and excitement prior to the final fight between Earthlings and aliens. • Somewhat less mainstream movies, aimed perhaps at a more independently-minded audience, often show national pride as a less attractive, more problematic characteristic. District 9, for example, uses sci-fi conventions - aliens settling on Earth - to discuss problems around immigration. The central character, Wikus, the representative of white South African nationalism, is forced to change his attitudes as he transforms into one of the aliens he hates so much. He is seen to be a much better person at the end than at the start.
  38. 38. REPRESENTATION: the future • UTOPIAN THEORY: Richard Dyer, in a development of Uses and gratifications theory, wrote that people consume media primarily for ESCAPISM (a form of DIVERSION.) He said there are three main elements of modern life which people are striving to block out: • Social tension • Inadequacy • Absence • So, the media constructs worlds (DIEGESES) where these things are overcome or cease to be a problem. People have meaningful relationships; people are more than equal to the tasks set for them; couples and families are reunited and are happy to be with each other. The world is represented as a predictable place where good always triumphs and happy endings are usually guaranteed.
  39. 39. REPRESENTATION: the future • A popular sub-genre of sci-fi is Dystopian Sci- fi. A dystopia is an unpleasant view of the future. • The world in these films is often under he control of dictatorships; people often live in danger and poverty and the world is generally a threatening, impoverished place. • If we apply Dyer’s theory to something like The Hunger Games, though, we see that it hods true. We pretty much know that the good guys will win; Katniss will find true love and be happy; Katniss will be more than equal to solving the problems life throws at her. So, although the world is shown to be unhappy, it is still a predictable place where people can solve their problems and good will triumph.
  40. 40. A* EXTRAS! REPRESENTATION: ideologies• Antonio Gramsci was an Italian anarchist who was imprisoned in 1929. For a while, he struggled to understand why the prison guards, who were poor men, just like him, were holding him at the request of rich, powerful men who did nothing to help them in return. • He decided that the men had been brainwashed into obedience by the institutions of society - the family, schools, the army the police, politics and government and so on had all conspired to make them believe that they ‘belonged’ at the bottom of the social order and their ‘job’ was to be obedient and take instructions from those in more privileged positions. • These beliefs are called IDEOLOGIES. They are encoded into many areas of society, including media texts (the media is now one of the social institutions Gramsci criticised.) They are used to keep the people eat the top of society in their positions (that is to defend the status quo or HEGEMONY.) • Representations are always built on underlying ideologies. • For example, if woman are sexualised, then it reveals an underlying belief that ‘being sexual’ is the prime purpose and talent of women. • If men are always represented as capable, competent and in control (see Captain Kirk in Star Wars as an example) then it suggests that men are the most reliable people around and they should be trusted with power. • If aliens are represented as threatening and predatory, it reveals an ideology that ‘outsiders’ are not to be trusted and it is better to trust people like yourself. • If gay or black or female or young characters are always represented as funny or mischievous this reveals an ideology that these groups are less serious and less worthy of respect than those who are no represented like this; often, white, middle-aged, heterosexual men. • So what? • An A* student understands that in her own work, she is representing the world and people in some way or another. She understands that she is revealing her own ideologies through her work. • She will also understand that sci-fi has conventional ideologies; for example, that freedom is more important than almost anything else. This is not actually necessarily true, but it is frequently treated as though it is in sci-fi.
  41. 41. INSTITUTIONS • Film Industry Structure • Regulation • Franchising/ Branding/ Marketing • Convergence and Transmedia • Exam Practice
  42. 42. INSTITUTIONS: Industry structure • There are currently 6 major Hollywood studios: Warner Bros, Disney, Universal, Columbia, 20th Century Fox and Paramount. • These companies are owned largely by shareholders who demand profits every year. • That means everything they make needs to turn a profit to be deemed successful… • … which means they need to reach the biggest audiences possible… • … which means very conventional media language, lots of star appeal, dominant representations and ideologies… • .. and lots of remakes, franchises and sequels, because they are pretty much guaranteed to succeed. • So when you are talking about major film releases, which will cover practically every film mentioned in this presentation, you can discuss it in these INSTITUTIONAL terms. The films are the way they are because of the nature of the institution which produces them.
  43. 43. INSTITUTIONS: Industry structure • Smaller studios have smaller budgets, so their films have fewer stars, less promotion, less in the way of special effects, lower production values and so on • However, they are also less dependent upon making profit, so they can be rather more adventurous with representations, media language and ideologies. District 9 (produced by QED International, so not a major studio) plays with hybrid genre, for example, blending sci-fi and documentary realism. This is a slightly risky move, since realism is not a particularly popular genre, and probably wouldn’t have been undertaken by a major studio. • Look at the trailer for Upstream Colour (produced by ERPB, definitely not a major.) Considering media language and representations, how can you tell that this is not a major label production? • The budget for Upstream Colour was $50000 - compare something like Elysium which had a budget of $115 million, so 23 times bigger.) Upstream Colour made ten times its budget at the box office. Elysium made just under twice its budget.)
  44. 44. INSTITUTIONS: regulation • The British Board of Film Classification is an independent, non-governmental body which has classified cinema films since it was set up in 1912 and videos/ DVDs since the Video Recordings Act was passed in 1984. • The BBFC regulates films shown in Britain and gives them rating depending upon their content. • The BBFC guidelines are long and detailed, but in general they are concerned about areas such as: • discrimination • adult themes • profanity • nudity • sex • violence • dangerous actions • references to suicide • detailed criminal acts • misuse of household chemicals • horrific or disturbing content • glamorisation of drug abuse • animal abuse • child abuse It is important for film producers to have an accurate idea of guidelines since they are aiming for particular audiences and f they are awarded the ‘wrong’ classification, they will lose part of the audience. If a film is awarded 15 instead of 12A, for example, they have lost millions of potential viewers The producers of Prometheus had to appeal in Australia to get their classification moved from MA to M so 15 year olds, a sizeable chunk of they raudience, could see it unaccompanied.
  45. 45. INSTITUTIONS: regulation • Go rate a trailer for the BBFC yourself
  46. 46. INSTITUTIONS: franchising• Some sci-fi film brands manage to develop into FRANCHISES - whole networks of media and other products which can, of course, reach bigger audiences. • Note the Star Wars profit chart here; the most profitable part of the entire franchise is toy sales, worth almost as much as everything else put together. • The most successful movie franchise of all time, depending on how it is measured, is the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise.With a core of central characters - the Avengers - each of whom can be the focus for individual films, as well as a whole host of other characters who can also be brought into play (Ant Man, Captain Marvel, Ragnok, Black Panther, Wasp…), they currently have at least two films a year planned all the way up to 2028.
  47. 47. INSTITUTIONS: franchising• Producers like franchises for obvious reasons - predictable success, predictable costs and so on. The success of Marvel since the release of Iron Man in 2008 has influenced The success of Marvel since the release of Iron Man in 2008 has inspired other studios to create or re- energise their own franchises. • It has been said that the renewed focus on franchises has had some negative effects on the industry. Budget shave gone up a lot, so it is difficult for smaller companies of filmmakers to compete. Likewise, films have become more formulaic so it is more difficult to be genuinely creative or to find anything ‘different.’ • More positively, Marvel has given the whole concept of a ‘franchise’ a more positive connotation. It used to be the case that sequels were expected to be worse than the original film; now, they are expected to top the original in every way. In general, it i s widely agreed that the Marvel franchise has raised audience expectations for these sorts of films. STUDIO FRANCHISE Marvel/ Disney Avengers Sony Spiderman 20th Century Fox X Men DC Comics/ Warner Brothers Batman/ Superman Disney Star Wars
  48. 48. INSTITUTIONS: synergySynergy is when two or more institutions work together for mutual benefit. Sci-fi franchises are obviously in a position to extend their franchises by licensing their stars and characters and branding to be used as adverting hooks for other products. Marvel in particular excel at this. Synergy is when two or more institutions work together for mutual benefit. Sci-fi franchises are obviously in a position to extend their franchises by licensing their stars and characters and branding to be used as adverting hooks for other products. Marvel in particular excel at this. Synergy is important because many sectors of the media depend upon each other for survival. As an example: • The stars need the studios to produce films • The studios need the magazines and TV shows to promote the films • The magazines need the stars to appear on their covers and attract audiences • The musicians who feature on the soundtrack need the studios for access to a new audience • The films need the musicians to attract an existing audience • The games producers need the studios to give them access to ready-made characters and narratives • The studios need the games producers for access to a younger audience • And so on.
  49. 49. INSTITUTIONS: convergence and transmedia • The adoption of high-performance computers, shift to digital platforms, and creation of high-speed computer networks have brought us new ways of doing things. • Convergence means ‘coming together.’ In a technological sense, it means that what used to be separate technologies are now united. • Consider the device on the right. What devices or tools can it replace? A phone, a book, a TV, a games console, a radio, a computer, newspaper, a camera… this is what convergence looks like in technical terms. All these devices have come together or converged. • What effect does this have? Media producers know that they can and need to work across many platforms now. Many forms can be accessed easily and simultaneously, so franchises need to work as films, websites, games, comic books, soundtracks… This is convergence in Media terms; when platforms which were once mo or less independent of each other become part of the same thing.
  50. 50. • The first franchise to see the value of this was The Matrix. • There are three Matrix films. Bu they do not tell the whole story. • In oder to actually understand the entire narrative, audiences need to play (and complete!) the computer game, watch the animated series, read the comic books and engage with the website, This splitting of a narrative across multiple platforms is called TRANSMEDIA. • It has pros and cons. Aficionados, predictably, love it because it allows audiences to get very deeply involved in the diegesis of the franchise. It also allows producers to make many products based on the same characters and locations, so it’s economically sensible. • Other audience, however, dislike the concept because it necessitates huge outlays of money and time just to complete a narrative. • As such, franchises like Marvel retain the idea - Marvel also has TV series, comic books, computer games and so on, bu the narratives tend to be free standing (they are BLOCKED rather than CONINUOUS narratives.) As such, audiences can choose parts without having to consume the whole thing. INSTITUTIONS: convergence and transmedia
  51. 51. EXAM PRACTICE: Media Language 1. Describe and compare the settings of two contrasting Science Fiction films. 2. Watch the opening scenes of two contrasting Science Fiction films. What conventions of the genre do you see? 3. Design a poster for a new sci-fi film. Explain how it would appeal to an audience. 3. Write a treatment for a new Science Fiction film. Include suitable conventions and explain how it would appeal to its intended audience.
  52. 52. EXAM PRACTICE: Audience • How are sci-fi film producers striving to appeal to younger audiences? Refer to two or more films in your answer. • Why are sci-fi films so popular? Refer to two or more films in your answer. • How are films marketed to appeal to various audiences? Refer to two or more films in your answer. • Design a website to promote a sci-fi film aimed at a young audience of both genders.
  53. 53. EXAM PRACTICE: Representation 1. Compare the ways heroes and villains are portrayed in a Science Fiction film. Refer to two or more films in your answer. 2. Create character profiles for the lead character in a new Science Fiction film. How would this appeal to the target audience? 3. Sci-fi films have been accused of sexism in the past. Do you agree that women are unfairly represented in the genre? Refer to two or more films in your answer. 4. How is the future represented in sci-fi? Refer to two or more film sin your answer.
  54. 54. EXAM PRACTICE: Institutions 1. Why are so many sci-fi films developed into franchises? Refer to two or more films in your answer. 2. Why is film certification important? Refer to two or more films in your answer. 3. Explain how synergy is used in the promotion of sci-fi films. Refer to two or more films in your answer. 4. Write a proposal for a marketing plan for your own sci-fi film. You should consider pre-promotion, several different kinds of marketing, and subsequent franchising and synergising opportunities. 5. What effect has convergence had on the sci-fi film industry? Refer to at least two films in your answer.