G322 section b using your case study new version


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G322 section b using your case study new version

  1. 1. G322B Audiences and Institutions FILM INDUSTRY: USING YOUR CASE STUDY
  2. 2. 1: The issues raised by media ownership Some background: · Vertical Integration pre-war studio system based on a principal of studio had ownership of all stages of a film’s life from pre-production through production, distribution and exhibition. · The Paramount Decree 1948 put a stop to this in but since the mid-70s we have seen a re-assertion of Hollywood’s power as the studios have been integrated into huge media conglomerates (A conglomerate is a collection of diverse companies not bound by common activity or product, but often reinforcing – even promoting each other’s interests). · Oligopoly the control of a market for a particular product by a small group of companies in which no one company is dominant…but where the combined might of the companies makes it difficult for other companies to enter the market.
  3. 3. What are the issues raised by this for: PRODUCTION DISTRIBUTION AND MARKETING AUDIENCE
  4. 4. PRODUCTION – Film production is dominated by films made by the major studios. Projects are given the green light because they: can reach large, global mass audiences have huge potential spin-offs in other areas of media (games, merchandise etc) It is difficult for films made by small independent production companies to compete against products made by huge media conglomerates. Films that appeal to particular sections of the audience are more difficult to get made (films for older people). Difficult to make a film that reflects local/national themes or issues and films need to have universal (or at least transAtlantic) appeal if they are going to be made.
  5. 5. DISTRIBUTION & EXHIBITION – Independent film makers have to seek a distribution deal with a distributor to make sure their film reaches an audience. Major studios have their own distribution arm, and the distribution and marketing planning of a film can begin months (even years) ahead of release. Major studio can bring the huge financial power to bear on the distribution and marketing of the film to make sure that the film is given the very best chance. Independent distributors cannot compete with the spending of the distribution arms of major studios.
  6. 6. AUDIENCE The argument here is that audiences are bombarded with films from major studios. Smaller, more independent films are edged out of the marketing spotlight, often go unnoticed and are difficult to see (at least in cinemas). How does this effect the range and diversity of films that reach the cinema? More challenging, intelligent and artistic productions (independent and arthouse films) are overlooked in favour of mainstream blockbusters etc.
  7. 7. CASE STUDY – Working Title Films A film producer creates the conditions for making movies. The producer initiates, coordinates, supervises and controls matters such as fundraising, hiring key personnel, and arranging for distributors. The producer is involved throughout all phases of the filmmaking process from development to completion of a project.
  8. 8. Working Title’s first film My Beautiful Launderette (Frears, 1985) part-financed by Channel 4. Small independent production companies seek co-production deals, financial support and investment from larger media companies. Because the investment came from Channel 4 it was originally intended that this would be a made-for-TV film, but the film was highly praised at the Edinburgh Festival and subsequently came to have a theatrical (cinema) release.
  9. 9. Tim Bevan of Working Title describes how they financed films in those early days: “…it was very hand to mouth. We would develop a script, that would take about 5% of our time; we'd find a director, that'd take about 5% of the time and then we'd spend 90% of the time trying to juggle together deals from different sources to finance those films. The films were suffering because there was no real structure and, speaking for myself, my company was always virtually bankrupt.“ “This was not a totally satisfactory state of affairs because you have no single strategy for releasing the film and it's very hard to make your money back.”
  10. 10. Working Title developed a close working relationship with Polygram (a large media company that was mostly active in the music industry). Although Working Title had a strong independent ethic, it had to seek financial support and investment from other media organisations. At that stage, Working Title was what Tim Bevan describes as: “a company that’s independent in spirit but with studio backing”
  11. 11. Polygram Filmed Entertainment was sold and merged with Universal Pictures in 1999. Universal Pictures is a division of Universal Studios Universal Studios is part of NBC Universal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of · news and entertainment networks, · a premier motion picture company, · significant television production operations, · a leading television stations group · world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric, with 20% controlled by Vivendi.
  12. 12. Universal Pictures own a majority stake in Working Title Films. Essentially, Working Title Films now make films for Universal. Essentially, Working Title Films is now part of Universal Pictures which is part of Universal Studios which is part of NBC Universal: a major multinational, multimedia conglomerate.
  13. 13. NBC Universal is an example of a company that is able to have a major impact on the market partly because of horizontal integration (it operates so many different industries which (potentially) can all have a positive impact on each other. The ways in which its different companies and subsidiaries might work in combination is an example of Synergy.
  14. 14. What's the difference in your relationship with Universal than it was with PolyGram? Tim Bevan: “Previously we didn't have the power to green-light ourselves but now we have considerable creative autonomy and can in fact green-light something if we want to. I should also point out that we really try and keep our budgets as low as possible and we won't green-light a film if we think the budget is greater than what we think the film is worth.” The success of their films has secured Working Title a degree of trust from the studio bosses in Hollywood.
  15. 15. Tim Bevan talks about the structure of Working Title It is significant that Working Title have stayed in England and although they have a small office in Hollywood, their operation is very much based in London. The core pool of talent on which they rely is also English. Variety Magazine describe them as being “transformed into one of the cornerstones of Universal Pictures while remaining true to their British roots and indie spirit.”
  16. 16. In writing about media ownership you can argue that Working Title has not been completely swallowed up by Universal and instead has simply gained the security to make the films it wants to make. Fellner says: "I guess technically not owning the company means we lost control, but the way the film business works is that it's people-driven rather than structure-driven. Tim and I are by profession film producers, and the business of Working Title is producing films. By dint of that we get to run it how we want.” Bevan says: . "We turned the whole thing upside down. We were now part of a big structure, so we spent much less time on finding the money and much more on developing decent scripts ... It's no surprise that two or three years after [1992] we started to have a considerable amount of commercial success from those movies." "When we were independents we were very wary about the studios. But what we realised through our experience with Polygram is that being part of a US studio structure is essential if you want to play the long game in the movie business. Six studios control movie distribution worldwide. The various supply engines, like talent agencies and marketing people, understand the studios and everyone who is playing seriously in the film business will be part of a studio structure."
  17. 17. So how involved are Universal? Universal's involvement will vary widely from project to project. Bevan gives two contrasting examples - Pride and Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley and with a budget of just over $20m, and The Interpreter, a thriller directed by Sidney Pollack and starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn. Pride and Prejudice The Interpreter "With Pride and Prejudice they said OK - they hadn't met the director, they didn't question any part of the casting, when they saw the movie they were delighted with it. The Interpreter is patently a huge movie, one of their cornerstone films of the year. By the time you've taken into account marketing and so forth, it's a gigantic investment. Collective heads are on the line for a film like that, rather than just our heads."
  18. 18. However, being part of Universal does NOT mean, that Working Title Films do not have to worry about money any more. Yes, they do have the security of bigger budgets for production and they don’t have to chase around for deals with independent distributors. But, they still have to come up with projects that are going to work and indeed, you could argue that there is more pressure on them to secure the sort of box office success that Universal expects.
  19. 19. CONCLUSION: - Independent production companies simply cannot sustain themselves and grow without investment from major media organisations? - Investment is necessary if production companies are not going to spend all their energy chasing funding. With the security of studio backing, they can devote their energies to the development of the film. - It could be argued that Working Title has managed to retain its British identity and made resolutely British films despite its involvement in Universal. Interestingly, however, you could argue that the version of Britishness that it promotes is packaged for American audiences and distorts the reality of modern British life: Historical/Heritage Dramas – Atonement (literary adaptation), Elizabeth, Elizabeth: the Golden Age, Les Miserables, Tinker, Tailor Soldier Spy. White upper/middle-class rom-coms; Bridget Jones’s Diary; Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Four Weddings and A Funeral, Love Actually, Pride and Prejudice.
  20. 20. Looking at it very cynically, you could even argue that Working Title shows how it is not possible to sustain a genuinely alternative/subversive approach to filmmaking. It is ultimately necessary to ‘sell-out’ to a big audience and ultimately ‘sell-out’ in terms of chasing the biggest audience. It is arguable that My Beautiful Launderette (1985) the first Working Title film was also the most radical/controversial/political/subversive. State of Play is an interesting example of the Americanisation of Working Title. It’s made by a British Director (Kevin Macdonald), has a British star (Helen Mirren) and is based on a British TV drama set in Britain (State of Play written by Paul Abbott). However, no doubt to appeal to an American audience, the film’s action has been transplanted to Washington DC and the film stars a major Hollywood star, Russell Crowe.
  21. 21. · It is also interesting to note that Working Title has a very strong and longstanding relationship as producers of films by the highly successful American film-makers Joel and Ethan Coen. They have described their role as very handsoff and it is difficult to see these films as being British in any real way. http://www.workingtitlefilms.com/features/qa nda/id/7
  22. 22. State of Play is an interesting example of the Americanisation of Working Title. It’s made by a British Director (Kevin Macdonald), has a British star (Helen Mirren) and is based on a British TV drama set in Britain (State of Play written by Paul Abbott). However, no doubt to appeal to an American audience, the film’s action has been transplanted to Washington DC and the film stars a major Hollywood star, Russell Crowe. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUG5QeO pi2c