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  1. 1. AS Media Section B: G322 Audiences and Institutions Exam Revision BookletTIPS  Look out for hyperlinks to the internet and videos  Know key words in red and you’ll find some here Past exam questions Jan ‘09 Discuss the ways in which media products are produced and distributed to audiences, within a media area which you have studied Jun ‘09 How important is technological convergence for institutions and audiences within a media area which you have studied Jan ‘10 ‘Media production is dominated by global institutions which sell their products and services to national audiences.’ To what extent do you agree with the statement June ’10 What significance does the continuing development of digital media technology have for media institutions and audiences?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 ofthe exam paper will assess: 1. Your understanding of how media institutions (film companies) currently operate 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 mediacontent, whether for profit, public service or another motive. We need to talk aboutmedia institutions in the plural and to recognise that it is possible, through suchdistribution networks as MySpace and YouTube, to be a producer and distributorof content some time, and a consumer of media produced by powerful corporationsthe rest of the time.For this part of the exam you will be concerned with how media institutions produceand distribute. The average AS Media student will be a digital native and your eyeswill glaze over when your teacher speaks of an analogue past (when there were only4 channels). You can’t be expected to feel the pace of change as you will have grownup with online media as the norm, but for this part of your studies you do need toacquire a sense of how rapidly institutions and audiences are being transformed bydigital technology. 1
  2. 2. CONVERGENCE (VIDEO)Convergence describes two phenomena: First, technologies comingtogether, for example, a mobile phone you can use as a still andmoving image camera, download and watch moving images on, use asan MP3 player and recorder and access the internet with. Second,media industries are diversifying so they produce and distribute acrossseveral media—for example, a newspaper with an online version andaudio 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 isessential that you study the impact of convergence on the film industry — thefocus here is on the contemporary.AUDIENCESAudience is a huge area of media studies, so it’s important to beprecise about our focus in this section, which is on the relationshipbetween audiences and institution. You will need to analyse the morecomplex nature of new media audiences and how digital media distributionand consumption has allowed consumers to become producers(prosumers) or at least interactors, and thus far more active users ofmedia. Gauntlett (2007a) goes as far as to say that new media erodes theboundary between producer and audience to the extent that it makes little senseto talk about media audiences at all anymore—he calls this rethink MediaStudies 2.0. Conventional research methods are replaced—or at least supplemented by new methods which recognise and make use of peoples 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)Media 2.0Charlie Brooker parody on web 2.0Is Cinema toast?Social media changing the world (start it from 2mins in)The Concept formerly known as AUDIENCEThis phrase is now commonly used by media professionals to describe theways in which people engage with media, and it shows how contested theidea of audience is in the digital era. The ways in which convergence,user-created content and social networking have transformed theaudience are often thought about in terms of audience fragmentation. Inthis climate media institutions are desperately trying to provide 360-degree branding (link) for their products—to surround us with them acrossall the various converged media forms that we come into contact with—agood example of this is Avatar.Csigo suggests that media institutions are no longer interested in keepingthe audience together, but in triggering engagement in people. Converging 2
  3. 3. media, then, can lead to both control by media producers and resistance bythe consumers, who now get to produce their own media. For mediainstitutions, this imposes key changes: the media world changes from a valuechain (cultural products made and distributed to audiences) to a socialnetwork (a complex system where producers and audiences are mixed up).Another way of describing this is the shift from push media (video) (whereproducers 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 itin ways that suit us). The key term that is often used to describe theproliferation of people making and distributing their own video is the longtail. (video)To succeed in this section of the Key Media Concepts exam you need todevelop a case study on a particular studio or production company. Thisinstitution must be located in a contemporary film industry and it must produceand/or distribute films to the UK. The focus will be on how this institution relatesto:  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 DVDs/UMDs, downloadingFILM DISTRIBUTIONDistribution: Introduction: What is Distribution?What is a Distributor?Distribution and MarketingConsider these two competing views of who holds the most power interms of influencing what films get made and seen:If you break it down and look at it as a businessthen the audience has the greatest power. Its theaudience that tells you what they like. So if theaudience likes a particular superstar, thenHollywood is forced to use the superstar and thatstar 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 doesnt 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. 3
  4. 4. The first statement is from Tony Angellotti, from within Hollywood, and thesecond is from Toby Miller, an academic, both quoted in an article by HelenDugdale (2006, p. 52). They cant both be right and you therefore need tocome to an informed judgement on this dynamic. In reality, the question ismuch broader and is really to do with the nature of capitalism as a way oforganising society! Put simply, does market forces competition give theconsumer more power and choice and thus influence what gets made for usto buy? Or does it actually convince us that what we want is what is beingmade for us? In the case of film marketing, it is a complex issue. Do millionsof people go to see Pirates of the Caribbean 2 in the first week of releasebecause 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 onDVD/UMD, on television, via the internet or on a plane, or anywhere else). Farfrom being a straightforward state of affairs, distribution involves all of thedeals done to get films shown (many films never get seen) and, just asimportantly, promoted. This promotion involves paid for above the lineadvertising, 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 filmand another commercial agency, for example a McDonalds Happy Meal witha film theme. It also includes related merchandising and below the linepublicity which is not paid for, but again generates mutual interest. Forexample, 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 greatunknown for film producers).It is crucial not to see film distribution as a helpful stage in the life of a filmwhereby distributors treat all films equally and ensure fair play in getting films tothe publics attention. The key players, the big companies who control much ofthe industry, control distribution of their own products, and of others (example20th Century Fox and Avatar). Effectively films are loaned out to cinemas for afinite period and release deals are done that secure access to a certainnumber of screens at a time. In the UK film market, an increase in the quantityof screens showing films has not led to an increase in the number of filmsshown.Five major distributors dominate the UK film industry: United InternationalPictures (Universal is part of this company), Warner Brothers, Buena Vista,Twentieth Century Fox and Sony. Roughly nine of every ten films seem in theUK are viewed as a result of these distributors. In most cases thesedistributors are directly linked to the Hollywood production companies whomake the films. They deal with exhibitors who are no longer (as used to be thecase) owned by the same Hollywood companies, but who do, for reasons ofprofit, prioritise Hollywood films over others. Usually the blockbuster films weare familiar with are distributed via blanket release, so even if a small UKindependent company manages to get its product into cinemas, it isusually competing for attention with one or more films that take on thestatus of an event. One of the outcomes of the distribution arrangementoutlined above is that half of the films released in Britain do not reach thewhole country.Perhaps surprisingly, given we live in the digital age, one of the obviousproblems smaller companies face is a rather old fashioned one. Every film 4
  5. 5. shown in a cinema is a separate print of the film, projected via a reel. Themajor companies can afford to produce far more prints than the smallercompanies, knowing the expensive outlay of funds at this stage will be worth itin relation to box office returns. A small company producing a less commercialproduct cannot afford to do that, so people who do want to see morealternative films often have to wait until their local independent cinema hasa print, and often there is little choice over where and when to see it. The UKFilm Council is addressing this problem via its Digital Screen Network —thedeal is that cinemas receiving financial support to equip themselves withdigital facilities (thus avoiding the issue of prints) will in return be expected toshow more films from independent distributors.DEFINING A BRITISH FILMThere are various different official ways of categorising British film. The BritishFilm Institute (BFI—not to be confused with the British Film Industry which hasthe 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 are British. 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 Dand E descriptions, a decent number in categories B and C and very few thathave been successful as category A films. There are few well known purelyBritish films. And this equation becomes even more complicated when westart to explore the notion of where the money comes from. For example, if afilm is made by a British film company, but that company is owned by a largerAmerican group, is the production financed in the UK? And what is thesignificance of distribution? If a film is purely British at the production stagebut it is distributed in this country by an American company (who then clawback a chunk of the box office profits), is this film really a success story for theBritish Film Industry? For your case study, you will need to ask these questionsand explore the way the studio/company operates both in old fashionedproduction and distribution contexts and in the current online distribution andintermediali ‘spin off’ climate.THE CURRENT BOOMUK film production experienced a crisis in 2005 and early 2006. Investment inthe making of films dropped, largely due to the rate of the English poundagainst the American dollar and the availability of low cost studios in EasternEurope. But later in 2006 and since, investment has returned, and this isrelated to a new Government policy of tax relief. This allows producers to be 5
  6. 6. exempt from certain tax payments. Previously there had been a compulsionfor films to be mainly shot in the UK for them to qualify for the avoidance oftax, but in March 2006 this was revised to allow for more overseas filming, anattractive amendment for investors. This is a great example of the importanceof politics in understanding the media. It is impossible to critically assess therelationship between British films and audiences by only thinking aboutcultural reasons why British cinema is more or less successful in relation toHollywood blockbusters. ‘Behind the scenes there are financial, politicaland institutional reasons why films do or dont get made and releasedand seen by a potential audience.A recent good example of Hollywoods dominance is the record-breaking boxoffice performance of Pirates of the Caribbean 2, seen by industrycommentators as a victory of blanket marketing. Cynics suggest that a film ofthis scale does not need to be critically well received, as the efforts anddollars put into promoting the film so lavishly will guarantee an audience onthe opening few nights and subsequent buy first, review later DVD sales. Inthis case over £50 million was made at the UK box office, and 1.5 millioncopies of the DVD were purchased in the ten days after release. A more upto date example that is comparable and even exceeds the success ofPirates of the Caribbean would be James Cameron’s Avatar.A study of the ways in which the big Hollywood studios time the release offilms is another area of key institutional knowledge for a Media student. Thetiming of releases in relation to the Oscars, school holidays, thespring/summer blockbuster period and DVD releases at Christmas isstrategic, and any British release attempting to get attention amidst thismarketing stealth will be at the mercy of this.THE IMPACT OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGYAs with all media, any attempt to ignore the fast approaching world of legalfilm downloading is seen as swimming against the tide. Piracy is a majorconcern of all film distributors, with Hollywood investigators claiming a 10per cent increase each year in revenue lost to illegal distribution. In the UK theFilm Councils report Film Theft in the UK (2004) claimed that only Austria andGermany have a higher degree of DVD piracy.The industrys recommendations include a strategy for responding to internetdistribution opportunities, and for working with other media andcommunications industries. Ultimately the report sought to remind the publicthat small production companies are actually hurt more by piracy thanmultinational conglomerates, as they cannot bear the impact withalready acquired capital. Another aspect of technological change that theFilm Council is concerned with is digital filming and projection. The DigitalScreen Network project is the Film Councils attempt to provide cinemas withdigital projection facilities, and it is hoped (but by no means guaranteed) thatmore small-scale independent films will get seen this way.At the other end of the food chain, digital technology has made life a lotbetter 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 ofhosts, from the UK Film Council to The UK Media Desk, BBC Film Network andBig Film Shorts, Film Londons Pulse and a host of short film festivals, all of 6
  7. 7. whom have online submission.DIGITAL DISTRIBUTIONAs far as the major studios and distributors are concerned, digitaltechnology offers great potential to increase profits and dangers in equalmeasure. Digital distribution will certainly transform the film industrymore than any previous technological change since sound. Once itbecomes the norm to download film via broadband, the potential for a newform of ‘blanket distribution is obvious—not only do you no longer needmultiple prints, you can also bypass the cinemas (although the big screenoffers a separate experience that is likely to remain attractive).Digital film has the advantage of offering identical versions of the film to eachviewer, and this will without doubt save billions of pounds at the distributionphase. Despite the hype over piracy and the digital enabling of this illegalactivity, industry commentators believe that one advantage of digitaldistribution will be control and security, as most piracy is the result of acinema-goer with a hidden camera distributing a poor quality versionof a film to parts of the world where it has not yet been released(because the prints are currently somewhere else). Simultaneousglobal distribution via the internet will put an end to this time gap andthus its exploitation by pirates. One issue for debate is about the qualityof digital movies. Whereas some film makers and critics argue that thebinary reduction of images in the digital compression process reduces thecomplexity of image and light, it appears that just as music in MP3 comeswithout the parts that the human ear cannot hear, so digital films removethe degrees of texture that most viewers wouldnt notice anyway. Randleand 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. Whats 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 speculatethat film extras (another costly necessity for the film industry) may soonbe replaced by digitally generated synthespians—time will tell.To summarise, the digitalisation of film offers a range of new institutionalpractices. There are greater possibilities for the manipulation of theimage itself, the editing process becoming more creative andcomposite images can be produced to incorporate digital animation. 7
  8. 8. The one way process of film making and consuming is threatened by theinteractive Zeitgeist, so that the generation of media users who areimmersed in online media and videogames are likely to require new forms ofinteractivity in the film medium.Digital technology has reduced the costs of film making so much thatDV can be seen as widening access to the means of production for newcreative talent. And the convergence of media through digital technologycreates new opportunities for distributing and exhibiting. Marshall (2004) sumsup the scene like this: The (digital) rejuvenation of film is not limited to the grand-scale strategies of a lugubriouslyii 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 thisCinema as an institution has survived several threats to its life. Most notably,it was predicted that television would make it extinct, but cinema survived bysecuring 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 thecoffin, but this time cinemas redefined themselves as multiplexes, offering abroader leisure experience on an American model, together with theemergence of the blockbuster and its associated expensive marketing.Despite multi-channel television offering viewers the opportunity to downloadfilms to watch at their convenience, hard drive recording, specialist filmchannels that are now relatively cheap to subscribe to and online rentalsmaking the visit to the local Blockbuster unnecessary, cinema stillsurvives (as does Blockbuster).So the question is—will cinema always survive technological change, or isthe latest technology a bigger threat because it is at the exhibition end of thechain? Whereas the changes in accessibility given above are to do withdistribution, the pleasure of the filmic experience is determined greatly by thesize and quality of the screen. Hollywood films in particular are still largelydriven by spectacle and noise, as well as character and narrative (perhapswith an eye to the preservation of the cinema box office), and people still wantto see these films on the biggest screen with the loudest sound.If you owned a next generation HD television and had access via broadbandto new releases instantly via the kinds of digital distribution processes outlinedabove, how likely would you be to give up on the cinema? 8
  9. 9. KEY AREAS OF STUDY FOR THE EXAM 1. The issues raised by media ownership in contemporary media practice:WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: - What is the affect on the British film industryand 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 filmmakingprocess –These humongous-sized mammoths are able to use their size and ownershipof a wide range of media to cross promote their films (and other media)across their wide media empires. The synergies of cross-promotion thatcan be created by these media organisations is mind-boggling. For 20thCentury Foxs Avatar it resulted in the greatest word-of-mouth evergenerated for a big budget film and no doubt this helped the film become ablockbuster. (Fox with-holding the trailer from the summer and earlyAutumn 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 giantinstitutions.To see examples of the range of institutional ownership click onNewscorp who own 20th Century Foxs "Avatar" as your starting point.Click here for what the huge media conglomerates ownThe dominance of companies like 20th Century Fox – allows for films thatthey back to achieve 360 degree status – since 20th Century Fox owns arange of different media companies.KEY POINT: The success of Avatar was ensured when the film achievedcritical acclaim, since it had the backing of a company that was able to usecross media convergence since it owns companies within a range ofindustries.YOUR REVISION NOTES SHOULD INCLUDE – WHAT DO YOU THINK THEISSUE IS WITH MULTI MEDIA CONGLOMERATES OWNING A RANGE OFCOMPANIESIssues raised by media ownershipWorking title has been apart of Universal since 1999, when the partiessigned an agreement due to expire at the end of 2007. Despite alleged offersfrom Dreamworks, and Sony. working Title co-chairs Eric Fellner and TimBevan signed an agreement at the end of 2007 to extend their stay atUniversal for seven more years.The previous deal seems to have worked well for both parties, Working Titlehas produced a number of low budget films and the slate does consistentlywell internationally. And no, it’s just because everyone likes Hugh Grant. TheLA times claims that Working Title is second only to Imagine Entertainment as 9
  10. 10. “Universals most consistent supplier of films”.Although Universal and Working Title have a healthy and productiverelationship, it’s not to say that converging with a major film ProductionCompany doesn’t have disadvantages. For instance a British film makermay find it difficult in making his film entirely ‘British’ if it is beingfinanced by an American production company, or business. The filmmaker may well find himself tied down to creating a main stream film, as itsonly expected that there be some sort of influence from the American side ofthe company. Potentially destroying his creation, or finding it’s beenmanipulated in such a way it no longer resembles what he imagined initially.An example of a British production company having a disagreeing relationshipwith their distributor was Aardman productions and Dreamworks. They endedtheir 5 film distribution deal after just 3 films. The companies converged in1999, producing ‘Chicken Run’ Curse of the Were Rabbit’ and ‘Flushed Away’However the last two reportedly generated losses, prompting Dreamworks toannounce 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 Englishcompany. We embrace the international market but we think part of ourstrength is our English sense of humour, and we want to continue with that”Unfortunately in this case Aardman productions were dropped byDreamworks, as they wanted to move to focus on to computer animation, andno longer saw a demand in stop motion animation pictures. But Aardmanproductions were no push overs and although they were being supported byDreamworks financially, they didn’t want to make a leap into CGI, and ruinwhat they had become leaders in creating.The Dreamworks Aardman split illustrates the effects of being tied down to amainstream company, what might appear to be a solely ‘British’ companywas, in fact governed by its American co owner. 2. The importance of cross media convergenceWhat 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 promotefilms on TV? Radio? Magazine. 10
  11. 11. KEY POINT: The film industry is an industry which utilises convergence on agrand scale. Blockbuster films often become 360 degree products, sincemajor distributors like Warner, 20th Century Fox have enough money to fundmultimillion dollar campaigns. Avatar is an example of a film that was subjectto 360 degree promotion in that the films distributors ensured the film waspromotedWhat examples can you think of – that you can use in the exam of Avatar’sproducers and distributors using Cross Media Convergence?Avatar and Coca-ColaAvatars Augmented Reality CampaignInteractive WebsiteExchange – below the line promotionSynergy 3. What has been the impact of digital technology on the production, distribution, marketing and consumption of filmDigital technology is currently revolutionising production, distribution,exhibition and consumption of film. Films are now cheaper and easier tomake, cheaper to distribute and the film watching experience is beingenhanced by digital cinemas (known as D-Cinemas). You need to know how 11
  12. 12. production, distribution and exhibition is being changed by digitaltechnology.WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY ON FILMPRODUCTION?Refer to Avatar – provide specific examples of how digital technology effectedthe production of this filmUntil recently Hollywood studios were the only ones who had the money topay for digital tools, and for the labour involved in producing digital effects.However the shift to digital media effects not only Hollywood but film makingas a whole. As traditional film technology is replaced by digital, the logicof the film making process is being redefined.In Production-In today’s movie making, the creative work that takes place on a computercan be as important as what goes on in front of the camera, this technology isnow a standard part of the movie making tool kit. The impact of digitaltechnology on Hollywood has been gradual but all-encompassing. Today amovie can be shot, edited, and distributed from camera to theatre andbeyond, 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 toembrace the use of digital cameras, shooting clean-looking footage that’seasier to manipulate than film. Commonly available software allows smallspecial effects shops such as Hybride to render entire virtual worlds, andblend them seamlessly with live action shots. Scenes that would haverequired elaborate sets 25 years ago can now be shot against a blue or greenscreen; the setting can be filled in later and then tweaked until the director issatisfied. Elements and tools – from digital characters and environments, tomotion capture techniques that records actors’ movements and facialexpressions – are now handled routinely, with confidence rather than crossedfingers.Cinematographers are the film era’s last holdouts. As the people most directlyresponsible for the colour, texture and clarity of the images on screen, theytend to be conservative. Many still prefer the richness, highlights and grain offilm over the cleaner, harsher look of digital image recording. But othercinematographers say they are drawn to thecapabilities the technology provides.Cinematographers have long used low- res videoplayback to check their work on set, but theimages on film often look quite different. Digitalmovie making solves that problem.“There’s a huge comfort factor in looking at animage you know is going to look the same way itis on the screen”- Industry veteran Dean Selmer,an Oscar winner for ‘Dances With Wolves’ hasused Panavision’s digital Genesis camera on hislatest movie, the Mel Gibson – directed epic 12
  13. 13. Mayan ‘Apocolypto’.For directors, less cost pressure means more creative freedom, andcompared to film stock, digital tape is almost free.“Sometimes you can roll for an hour without cutting, because you can, youfind moments there that you might loose otherwise” -Director RobertRodriguezRodriguez, who often doubles as his own cinematographer, shot his last twomovies digitally. Sin City is a film creation that best represents the outfitHybride, which is best known for rendering stylized digital backdrops. SinCity’s dark comic book atmospheres melded the live action of the movie withthe raw visual approach of graphic novelist Frank Miller, who also wrote thebook upon which 300 is based on.300 is a shot-for-shot adaptation of the comic book, without advanced digitaltechnology, these types of adaptations wouldn’t have as much scope tocreate the surreal fantasy world in which the story is set. The film was shotalmost entirely in a sound studio, relying solely on the after affects in theediting process to give the film its flesh.“I wanted to get at the book as much as could, Shooting outside we couldn’tcontrol the skies and the lighting to the extent I wanted to. And thelandscapes are different in real life. They don’t exist in the real world only inFrank Millers imagination” – Director Zack SniderPost production of the film washandled by Meteor studios andHybride technologies filled in theblue screen footage with morethan 1500 visual effects shots,such as manipulating colours byincreasing the contrast of lightand dark, also certain sequenceswere de-saturated and tinted toestablish alternate moods. Givingthe film it’s realistic but yet grittyillustrative feel.During the battle sequences, theblood never appears to be on theground. In one scene, the bloodhits the ground and disappears,in many it vanishes in to the air.In another, the droplets fall andstick out of the ground likearrows. -This whole scene hasbeen incorrectly regarded as an error in 300, it was in fact a deliberate stylisticchoice to reflect the ‘graphic novel’ origins of the film.Post production on 300 lasted for a year and was handled by a total of tenspecial effects companies, who without, the production would have neverbeen the ‘graphic epic’ like it promised. 13
  14. 14. DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY AND DISTRIBUTIONWHAT IS THE IMPACT OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY ON DISTRIBUTION OFFILM?Key points:Distribution is cheaperQuickerSimultaneous global releases of films to cut down the attraction of piratecopies.Digital distributionDistribution: The Logistics of DistributionDigital Distribution on the blogFor the exam be aware the various ways that a film can be distributed and theadvantages/ disadvantages for institutions and audiences. Rememberdistribution includes marketing!Advances in TechnologyIn Distribution, marketing, exchange-New digital technology not only affects the actual production, but also the wayin which the film is distributed to audiences all over the world. Moviesencoded as digital data files –either recorded on optical disc andphysically shipped or broadcast via satellite, has increasingly replacedfilm prints as the preferred method for distributing movies to theatressince 2005. Another advantage of broadcasting via satellite eliminates thecurrent need to return and destroy film prints, as well as reduce the risk of filmprints falling in to unauthorized hands.Using digital film is much easier than using just film.Film is heavy, hard to work with and fragile. Theprocess of receiving, prepping, and showing,dismantling and returning a movie requires skilledlabour and resources. Digital cinema movies can bemanaged with the simplicity of basic computercommands and operated just like a VCR.Compared with film cinema, the digital film has theclear superiority in maintaining constant quality withuse. The first showing of a digital movie will beidentical in quality to the 1,000th. Digital movies donot get scratches or break the way regular film does.Every copy of a movie is identical to the master reference print. Normal filmwears out, gradually becoming too damaged for use. Digits on the other handwill never wear out.Another benefit is that the new technology will allow simultaneousglobal release of new movies, thereby reducing the ability of pirates tocopy a movie in one region and sell DVDs in areas where the studioshaven’t yet released the movie. Additionally, delivering a single copy or 100copies ends up costing exactly the same amount for the cinema, thereforemore cinemas are able to buy the latest releases, increasing their owncustom. 14
  15. 15. With digital cinema, the movie studios also have the ability to modify theircontent whenever it is found desirable. Movies can be changed even afterthey are released. In effect, extras on DVDs are becoming increasinglypopular. Giving the director a chance to give an insight in to his latest piece ofwork, 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 filmprints, studios could eliminate the £2,000 to £3,000 cost for each print madeof a motion picture. This translates into an expense equal to about 10% of amovie’s production budget.EXHIBITION:WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY ON THE EXHIBITIONOF FILM?KEY POINTS:Better quality of pictureMore flexibility in what you can watch in the cinemaDisadvantages expensive to change all of the cinemas to digital technology.Case study example - AvatarDigital technology is beginning to bring flexibility to the cinema goingexperience – since Avatar was available in ordinary cinemas – not just atImax. It was available in 3D and normal quality and was very popular withaudiences.READ UP ON THE DIGITAL SCREEN NETWORK – WHAT IS THEIR ROLE?HOW WILL THIS IMPACT ON FILM PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION INTHE UK? 15
  16. 16. 4. WHAT DO FILM COMPANIES HAVE TO THINK ABOUT WHEN THEY ARE TARGETTING GLOBAL AND LOCAL AUDIENCES?Key point:The consideration of local and global audiences begins at the stage ofPRODUCTION: 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 forwatching the film – They need to decide whether it will be a film with global orlocal appealWHEN PRODUCING A FILM – the following impact on whether the audiencewill be local or globalTHE CAST (Hollywood actors tend to have more global appeal than actorsfrom 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 ofthe film be something that people from a variety of cultures can relate to orpeople from a specific culture.THINK ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KIDULTHOOD AND THEBOAT THAT ROCKED OR AVATAR AND THIS IS ENGLAND – WHATWERE THE USP’S OF THESE FILMS – WHAT MADE AVATAR A FILMWITH GLOBAL APPEAL? (AND SUPPOSEDLY THE BOAT THAT ROCKED?– REMEMBER THIS WAS MARKETED GLOBALLY BUT ONLY MANAGEDTO HAVE SUCCESS LOCALLY – WHY?)WHAT MADE KIDULTHOOD AND THIS IS ENGLAND FILMS WITH LOCALAPPEAL?DISTRIBUTION – LOCAL VS GLOBALKey points: INDEPENDENT distributors tend to be the people that distributefilms with local appeal. (Like Warp/ Warp X)A distribution campaign is based on whether the film has global or localappeal. A film with local appeal may have an understated promotionalcampaign, so you will see it advertised in the local press, on radio and onlocal news programmes.The films distribution budget will not be as big as the distribution budget for aglobal film.This is because a film with local appeal – will draw much smaller audiencesthan a film with global appeal – so because local films will not make as muchmoney as films with global appeal – distribution companies will not be willingto spend a fortune on promoting a film if they are not going to make a profitfrom box office sales. 16
  18. 18. 5. Issues raised in the targeting of British audiences by international/global institutionsNo film is for everyone. Every film made has a target audience. It’s the filmcompany’s job to know specifically who they are. A film may not communicateeffectively or succeed at the box office unless the audience is determinedinitially e.g. The Boat That Rocked. Identifying with a target audience is notabout selling out or being formulaic, it’s about being relevant and appealing tothe audience without breaking the integrity of the film.Most film studios will make an educated guess, as to which targetaudience will be interested in their film. A film producer once said when hewas figuring out the target group for his audience he would ask himself “Whowould stand in aqueue outside, atnight, in January tosee this film” Andthere, he had histarget audience.However, as simpleas his questioningmay seem, a lot more research goes in to determine the target audience.A target audience is defined primarily by gender and age range. Additionelements include socioeconomic status, rural or urban, race, family status,theatre goers or not, and special interest. These interests can be anythingfrom 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 theyenvisage for the film before they bring a director on board, matching thedirector to the nature of the project and the target audience. When thefilm 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 willbe received. The chairmen of Working Title claim good luck has played ahuge part in their success. They are constantly surprised by reactions to theirfilms.“We often put down the number of what you think a film will ultimately doworldwide in gross revenue, but it’s amazing the one you didn’t think wouldwork is suddenly huge” -Eric FellnerThis was the case when Working Title released ‘Four weddings and a funeral’in 1994, gaining the company mainstream traction, after an unexpected globalbox office success. It is one of the highest grossing British films in cinemahistory, with world wide box office in excess of $260 million. Four of WorkingTitle’s films still remain in the highest grossing British films of all time,including ‘Bridget Jones Diary’ ‘Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason’ ‘LoveActually’ 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 hugeworldwide were its universal themes, witty dialogue, and colourful supportingcast. ‘Four Weddings’ had at its helm, a group of hip Londoners who were 18
  19. 19. bent on making a piece about people much like themselves, writer RichardCurtis included, sought to ‘modernize’ some of those old Hollywood romanticcomedies.The success of ‘Four Weddings’ was as much a surprise to Working Title as itwas to film makers alike, whilst other British films fell at the wayside, WorkingTitle film formed an award winning formula to creating a global success. AllWorking Title films tell the same story of unfashionable people humiliated intheir pursuit of romance.An all American star in one of the leadroles (Andie Macdowell) wasparamount, a goofy, intelligent,confused, attractive male in a lead role(Hugh Grant) plus a backdrop ofwacky friends, and even wackierrelationships. We see an assortment ofquirky Brits, beloved by Americans,who provide a hefty portion of wittybanter. Everyone in the audience hassomeone they can identify with, it’sthis mixture of personalities that drawsus right in, we want these people tosucceed. Yet we love witnessing their downfall, and cleverly the comedycarries 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 asAmerica enjoy seeing Britain, especially England represented as a charminglyquaint country, with chocolate box cottages, tea shops, and posh accents.However, this sort of idealization in British film is looked upon by some Britishfilmmakers as a problem. After films such as ‘Four Weddings’ many UK filmmakers embraced the new idea that they could make an impact on the worldstage, and started making films designed for universal appeal, rather than justaiming to impress or be true to Britain. Here’s where the problem lies with somany British film makers. Many of them felt that some British films werereally American films with an English accent, determined to relay a lighthearted Britain, with all social struggle put to one side, concentratingonly on insignificant story lines, with a bright outlook in general.“As British films go, it’s not merchant ivory, not angst ridden streets ofLondon, while its slightly old fashioned-the first 10 words in the film are ‘fuck’which helps the audience get in to it” – Tim BevanOne filmmaker at the time of this new era of ‘internationalism’ was directorDanny Boyle, whos directional debut was the 1994 crime thriller ‘ShallowGrave’ 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 aworld of drugs, deception, betrayal, addiction, and ultimately death, laced withpitch- 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 wascritically appraised for tapping into the youth subculture of the time, beinggiven the title as ‘a true representation of British social realism’ the main 19
  20. 20. theme being the exploration of urban poverty and squalor, in ‘culturally rich’Edinburgh. The film did incredibly well in Britain, revealing that the heroinculture, 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 andlanguage of the characters, it was believed that American audiences wouldhave difficultly understanding them, as they were so culturally specific. Thefilm was a huge success; it demonstrated that the American public hungeredfor glimpses into Britain’s dark and mysterious heroin culture. American criticRodger 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 objectivewithin the film. Proving that filmmakers don’t have to ‘sugar coat’ their film, orput famous actors or actresses in the lead roles, just to relate to an audience,especially an American audience, as once thought before. 6. HOW DOES THE WAY IN WHICH YOU CONSUME FILM GIVE AN INDICATION OF THE PATTERNS OF CONSUMPTION OF FILM 20
  21. 21. Key points:How has the nature of audience consumption changed over your lifetime?What is the current situation with film consumption?Cinema viewing figures are currently at the highest they have been for 40years. Last summer – cinema audience figures reached - 17.56million whichis the highest since the early 1970’s. What could be the reason for thisincrease?HOW DO PEOPLE CONSUME FILM:  Cinema  DVD and Blue Ray -  TV – VOD  Internet  Pirates  Illegal downloadsDo 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. 21
  22. 22. i Lying between; intervening; intermediateii Mournful, dismal, or gloomy, especially to an exaggerated or ludicrous degree