Thursday, May 28, 2009

AS Exam guides

If you weren't at the revision sessions on this, it may be useful to catch up with some of those who were. I focussed in particular on the issue of DISTRIBUTION, which exam board feedback from January suggests was an area students countrywide didn't tackle too well. This doc briefly summarises some key points on this, though I went into more detail in the revision classes. If time permits, I'll type up further notes and add them here.
This doc takes you through the outline of content covered in this question, and the assessment criteria. I also focussed on the issue of the Key Concepts in the revision slots, as cited here.
Some key points to work on for the exam:-
  • look closely at the issue of distribution; the doc above gives a brief summary of this, with links for further reading; I'll add to this if I get time (distribution co's pay a flat fee and/or a % of potential profits for the rights to sell a production co's film to exhibitors - cinema, TV, DVD etc. Distributors pay for the marketing of a film, not the production co - tho' WT are unusual as they insist in being involved in the marketing campaign - use BJDiary as a case study, but also ref Love Actually)
  • do focus your answer on the case study of WT, but put this into context with reference to Warp Film/X as a more typical Brit production co (working on much smaller budgets than even WT's 'Indie' arm, WT2; social realist films; genre films 'with a twist'; working with Optimum Releasing and Film4/C4 for distribution; tho WT was sim to Warp when it started out) AND some specific comparison too to a Hollywood producer (use Universal, obviously part of the NBC-Universal conglomerate)
  • how do these sometimes giant corporations go about targeting an audience? Marketing is key to this (BJD cleverly taps into a wide aud thru its soundtrack etc), but so is the use of stars (Richard Dyer's star system), setting/accent (focus on white, S.Eng, m-class?), and the trend of hybrid genres (rom-COMs reach out to males thru comedy aspect; LActually makes this explicit with its 'ironic' sexist music vid with Bill Nighy, a parody of Robert Palmer's 1980s 'Addicted to Love' music video. For a company like Warp X, use of stars generally won't be an option; they focus on working within familiar genres - eg the slasher Donkey Punch taps into the wide fanbase of horror/slasher movies, featuring a 'final girl' - a tough, resourceful female character who overcomes the typically male killer - to reach out to a female audience for this primarily male genre
This part of the exam may focus on Aud/Inst'n, but there's certainly scope for touching on issues of representation - do you feel the typical WT film represents you as British person? Look at the fate of Mickybo & Me, a $5m WT2 film that, unlike the similar Son of Rambow with its S.Eng protagonists, flopped - it was only shown for one week in N.I. cinemas, the decision then being taken not to fund a UK wide cinema distribution.
On this topic, but also for some light relief, have a look at the BBC3 satire 'Curtisland', which savagely critiques the WT/HGrant/RCurtis rom-coms narrow white (upper-)middle-class, S.Eng representation of Britain (NB: the humour is fairly adult):

For the TV Drama Q, though, nothing will help more than practicing note-taking and writing up your analysis - using the exam timings [30 mins for 4 viewings of 4-5min clip of recent British TV drama; 45 mins for writing essay on this]. Look at the listings for programme descriptions, and make an educated guess at which area of representation it might be useful to look at - a female lead for gender [eg Ashes to Ashes], a northern setting for region, etc - record, play, write...
If you want me to add docs from earlier in the year on semiotics and TV drama send me an email and I will:

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