• Controller of Film4 is Tessa Ross.• Film4 is a production house and a channel that produces and broadcasts alternative films.• In 2006, the channel moved from pay TV to being free- to-air allowing more free access to home-grown and blockbuster films.• The website: channel4.com/film users can find a wealth of reviews, listings and interviews.
Film4 philosophy:• Film4 is “committed to enhancing the British film making industry by nurturing and funding new talent.”• It offers a distinctive range of mainstream and independent films “encouraging audiences to broaden their horizons” and by making and showing alternative and challenging films.
Budget:• Channel 4 budget rise of 50% from 2011 to £15m per year, guaranteed for the next five years.• The increased budget will provide the domestic film industry with a financial boost following the governments decision to close the UK Film Council.• "At a time when funding is increasingly difficult to access it will allow us to extend our reach further towards new voices and new audiences.” – Tessa Ross, the controller of Film4 and Channel 4 drama.
Production• Makes around 6 films a year.• Set up a low-budget studio with the Film Council and distributors Optimum: Warp X (digital production house)• Working across TV and film drama also allows for economies of scale and cross-fertilisation.• Ross sees Film4 as part of a wider creative community with, for eg, ‘Working Title’, the BBC and BBC Film and partnerships with Distribution companies as essential.
• Film4oD continues to showcase great films you know, great films you dont - viewers can rent films which amplify the seasons broadcast on the Film4 Channel, from the 9pm seasons like Films For Life, The British Connection and Sci-Fi, to the finest foreign language and home-grown movies, including films made by Film4 Productions.“• Simple and easy-to-use, Film4oD is an on-demand film streaming service which closely compliments the editorial tone and philosophy of the Film4 channel. Almost 1000 individual titles have been bought since launch in late October, and the site has had more than 5.6 million page views and over 1.2 million unique visitors. On average, there are in excess of 8,000 visits a day to the site, of which returning visitors make up nearly 40%.• All movie rentals stream within seconds of purchase and allow for unlimited playback within 48 hours of purchase. Via a personalised login and account, customers can start a movie at one location and finish it from another. All movies are protected by approved digital rights management technologies and the service is geo-blocked to the UK. Available to all PC and Mac users in the UK, the service offers two streaming rates, with users able to select different speeds according to their broadband connection.
Film4s 2011 releases:• Kevin Macdonalds The Eagle• Richard Ayoades Submarine• Joe Cornishs Attack The Block (recently won the Midnight Screening Audience Award at SXSW)• Ben Palmers The Inbetweeners Movie• Lone Scherfigs One Day• Miranda Julys The Future• Paddy Considines Tyrannosaur• Ben Wheatleys Kill List• Terence Davies The Deep Blue Sea• Pawel Pawlikowskis The Woman In The Fifth• Phyllida Lloyds The Iron Lady• Steve McQueens Shame• Walter Salles On The Road• Andrea Arnolds Wuthering Heights• Peter Stricklands Berberian Sound Studio
Key film 1: Slumdog Millionaire, 2008 Danny Boyle• Production: jointly produced by Film4 and Celador Films, the British company that created Who Wants to be a Millionaire?• . Made on a small budget of just $15M with earnings to date of over $243M.• Shoot used highly advanced SI-2K digital cameras which were smaller and more flexible enabling them to shoot quickly with much less disturbance to the local communities.• “The SI-2Ks had this gyro on them, which was stabilising them but they were still very small and they could operate in very small, narrow areas, which is what you get in the slums. You can capture a bit of the life that’s going on around you, without people realising it and becoming self-conscious. We also used what we called a ‘CanonCam’, which was a Canon stills camera, which takes twelve frames a second. If people see a stills camera, they don’t think it is recording live action. So we’d record stuff like that, as well as occasionally using the traditional film camera. So it’s a mixture of different technologies that we used in the film. Whoever was operating the camera would have a hard drive strapped to their back, which would record the images while the camera was in their hand.”
Marketing/ Distribution:• The film has had its setbacks. Its original US distributors, Warner Independent, sceptical about its commercial prospects, pulled out, but Rices Fox Searchlight stepped into the breach.• Its word-of-mouth reputation grew gradually since it was first screened in September at the Toronto Film Festival, where it won the audience award.• Re-branding from the original campaign to one that focused on the romantic element.• Pussycat Dolls and award-winning A.R. Rahman’s soundtrack• TUG – 75,000 new visitors, websites cost-per-click, widgets, viral marketing, new marketing strategy, reliant on success at film festivals digital marketing as an effective and highly accountable route to build awareness of the film with the public.Results• The campaign drove more than 75,000 new visitors to SlumdogMillionaireMovie.co.uk.• Over 73,000 movie goers engaged with and viewed the video trailer and more than 21 million ad impressions were served and viewed by targeted audiences– for free. (on a blind network at £5 CPM that would have cost over £100K)• These results cost £13,000 in media spend over a 5 week burst.And the overall result?• Slumdog Millionaire smashed UK box office records and has won 7 Bafta awards and eight Oscars.• Exhibition: cinema effect on DVD via software
127 Hours is a Pathe, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Film4 presentation in association with Warner Bros Pictures
An action movie about a trapped man for arelatively small budget?With virtually no CGI and no reflective voiceover?127 hours aims to tell the story "compulsively", toremain steadfastly "macro in scale" yet "epic inintensity".
Production• As in Slumdog, the Silicon Imaging SI-2K camera played a dominant role, but other formats included 35mm film (3-perf and 4-perf), S-VHS, a Canon Elura (mini-DV) camcorder and a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV digital SLR. The Canon 1D was used for some HD video, but also for stills photographed in a burst mode. This allows the camera to shoot a series of full-resolution, sequential stills at a frame rate less than 24fps. These clips were assembled by Union VFX in London as motion media files at a variety of frame rates. A Redlake high-speed camera rounded out the camera department’s toolkit.• The challenges of cutting 127 Hours: the mixture of formats didn’t turn out to be as big a challenge as one might expect. “Danny wanted these different formats to blend as seamlessly as possible. Aron kept a video diary, which is where the Elura mini-DV footage fit in and that intentionally had a different look. Each of the other formats was used for its specific production strengths, but the intent was for these elements to match in style as much as possible. The Canon DSLR cameras were used in a couple of ways – in a burst mode to gave us a hyper-real, kinetic look that was used in the flashbacks – as well as for traditional time lapse shots.”
Distribution and Marketing• "127 Hours" has struggled at the box office, where its grossed just under $10 million in limited release (the production budget was nearly twice that). Granted, the film hasnt played in more than 433 theaters at any given time, but Fox Searchlight has had success in past years with modest platform releases, which makes "127 Hours" difficulty in finding an audience even more surprising.”• "Is Fox actually paying people to faint at 127 Hours? Because thats what William Castle wouldve done." -- IFC.coms Stephen Saito (@mfrushmore) on Twitter.• Poor marketing led to 127 hours not being distributed widely and just barely making its way into the mainstream long enough for some people who had heard of its nomination for Academy Award Best Picture to catch it in the cinema in America.• Fox Searchlight released a new trailer and poster for Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours. The film has been picking up highly-positive buzz on the festival circuit. While the first trailer for the movie barely noted that protagonist Aron Ralston (played by James Franco) became trapped under a boulder while mountain climbing, this new trailer spends its second-half showing his desperation. Franco looks tremendous and I’m now even more excited to see this film.• “We are big fans of the film and decided to help market it”. http://www.funnyhumorclips.net/yt/the-marketing-of-127-hours/rR1X8D-LJus.html
Four Lions Chris Morris, 2010• Studio: Warp Films and Film 4 (Wild Bunch for international sales; a division of StudioCanal and therefore a French sales company, who are owned by Vivendi!)• Distributed by: Optimum Releasing (UK)• Budget: £2.5 million Profit: £608,608 from just 115 screens (box office opening weekend figures – this is very high!)• Pre-Production and Funding The project was originally rejected by both the BBC and Channel 4 as being too controversial. Morris suggested in a mass email, titled "Funding Mentalism", that fans could contribute between £25 and £100 each to the production costs of the film and would appear as extras in return. Funding was secured in October 2008 from Film 4 Productions and Warp Films.
• Release The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2010 and was short-listed for the festivals World Cinema Narrative prize. Introducing the films premiere Chris Morris said: “I feel in a weird way that this is a good-hearted film. Its not a hate film, so I would hope that that aspect would come through." The UK premiere took place at the Bradford International Film Festival on 25th March 2010 and nationwide release is scheduled for 7 May.• Controversy London bombing families Fears of trivialisation etc
Web 2.0Four Lions’ website contains:• links for you to link trailers and the website to social networking sites.• a live twitter feed streamed across the webpage to encourage interaction and buzz about the site/film.• Downloads - jpgs and pdfs of the posters too, to continue to support a grassroots media support, in local areas.• interactive software that responds to your ‘click’ – click the four men and they either fire or run for you!• hyperlinks to online multimedia interviews, web content and to the production company websites.• a ‘Where to Watch’ page, if you click a cinema venue, it takes you directly to the booking page of that cinema.
Key film 3: Four Lions in USA• The canny positioning of Four Lions at the hipper end of the festival circuit, which enabled it to accrue critical kudos. As well as attracting many positive reviews at Sundance, it won an audience award at the Los Angeles film festival and went down a storm at Austins leftfield South by Southwest.• Unsurprisingly ignored by major distributors, Four Lions became the first title distributed by Alamo Drafthouse, the Austin-based, Tarantino-approved diner-turned-boutique-cinema chain founded by Tim League.
Secret of their success:• Cracking $71m British profit (leapfrogging both Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and The Hangover: Part II to become the third biggest hit of 2011.)• Also, played best in Australia ($9.1m), New Zealand ($846,000) and Russia ($674,000).• All the above countries the TV sitcom had already sold to with success. (Cynically, with similar drinking cultures that might allow audiences to instinctively grasp the films scenario and forgive its ropier aspects!)
Distribution and Marketing• Whilst Entertainment Film Distributors had the rights to the film for cinema exhibition, Channel 4 retained the rights for sales on the DVD market.• Audience participation was widely encouraged amongst the target audience to create an online buzz:http://www.e4.com/inbetweeners/film- application.html• Share their own embarrassing stories (the importance of web 2.0 and interactive secondary audience appeal)http://www.e4.com/inbetweeners/stories.html• Fan Photos – a text that offers verisimilitude• Trailers from the E4 Website and the same version or variations of the trailer were also available across platforms such as Youtube.• Importance of social networking, premieres, interviews for target audience.
Audience• Primary Audience: TV series fans and those aged mostly 15- 25.• The release date of the summer holidays (and DVD release at Christmas) allowed maximum sales.• Suburban Audiences: the most popular cinema screenings did not come from inner city multiplexes, but cinemas in suburban areas; Kent, Crawley and Romford featured in the top 10 cinema revenues for this film (links to the TV series location and target audiences identification with narrative).• Unsuccessful in USA: American Pie comparison and “because the worlds a village now, and the whole worlds full of the same old idiots" (Cineblog).
• Competitions e.g. upload your video entry o why you should interview the cast at the Premiere.• Follow on Twitter and Facebook• Vote for favourite moments on E4 webpage.• ‘Character’ nights of favourite shows.• Tie-ins• Merchandising• Podcasts
DVD release• On December 12, 2011• Released on DVD and Blu-ray and Triple play by 4DVD, with the latter version sold as a triple pack containing both formats along with a digital copy of the film.• Included a number of special features, such as a making-of documentary, footage from the films London premiere, various deleted scenes, cast commentaries and a blooper reel, an extended cut of the film that restores approximately four minutes of material omitted from the theatrical release. (Asda released the film with a bonus disc consisting of video diaries from the cast).• By December 17, estimated sales reached 1 million, resulting in the film displacing the home media release of ‘Paul’ as one of the five best-selling DVDs of the year in the UK.
What other Film4 movies have we covered in class? • And YOUR Film4 case studies!!
• London-based Working Title first entered into a production deal with Universal in 1999. Since then the two companies have produced films that have grossed more than $4.25 billion worldwide. As of 2007, all its films are distributed by Universal Pictures, which owns a 67% stake in the company.• Their £389 million 1999 deal with Universal gives them permission to okay budgets up to £15 million on their own. They have learnt to make films for export’. Bevan and Fellner are in the same business as smart, major studio connected ex-indies like Miramax. The only difference is that Working Title are based in London.• The film company also has a smaller low-budget film brand, WT2 (Working Title 2)• A key element in the companys working methods has been its attention to marketing, striking deals with American and European companies, thus ensuring world-wide distribution for its products. A frequent observation of the companys methods is the inordinate amount of time spent on developing scripts and extensively working on re-writes. Despite its access to high finance, especially after its deal with Universal and StudioCanal, Working Title is still committed to low- budget films with new writers.• Universal Pictures and Working Title Films have just extended their production agreement through 2015. Instead of being an exclusive arrangement, the new deal is a first-look agreement.