Wednesday, February 10, 2010

BritFilm used to campaign for social issues

Intriguing article over at your much beloved Guardian site:
Richard Curtis is making some amends for giving Hugh Grant a career by getting involved, with Bill Nighy, in a campaign to add a tax to bank transactions (to fund developments in poorer nations), echoing his role in Red Nose Day (which was largely his creation).
RC naturally can't help himself and uses stereotypes to get his point across, but still...
Certainly a useful example for you A2 folk, and an intriguing addition to our AS case study of WT.
I'm curious as to how the right-wing papers (the Guardian being ideologically centre-left) will cover this, being ideologically opposed to regulation of the private sector/in favour of free markets. If anyone spots coverage of this, please add any details/a link as a comment.
The film, directed by Curtis, is being premiered on and YouTube.
Presumably The Guardian was selected as a paper likely to be sympathetic to the idea of raising taxes to help the poor (the tabloid Mirror would have been another option, as the only other centre-left national daily paper, though The Indy is also centrist in its political outlook).
I've embedded the short film below.

What do you think?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Archive of Brit comedy

See full article at
Archive footage, audio and never-before-seen stills from some of the biggest British comedies of recent years featuring the likes of Steve Coogan, Robbie Coltrane, Julian Clary and Jack Dee will be made available to the public from today as part of a new website billed as the "online encyclopedia of British comedy".
The portal, created by the independent production company and comedy specialist Pozzitive , will include 70 video and 100 audio clips, including trailers and out-takes, as well as 570 photos. These will include many behind the scenes pictures of hit shows such as Coogan's Run, Armando Iannuccio's Charm Offensive and TLC, which have been collated over 20 years by Pozzitive's founders Geoff Posner and David Tyler.
The pair, who set up the company in 1992, are two of the leading lights of British comedy, between them having worked on shows such as Spitting Image, Not The Nine O'Clock News, French & Saunders, Harry Enfield & Chums, Dinnerladies, Little Britain, The Paul & Pauline Calf Video Diaries, Absolutely, Saturday Night Live, Radio Active, Victoria Wood – As Seen On TV and The Young Ones. Pozzitive is also a specialist in radio comedy, with shows including Jeremy Hardy Speaks to the Nation, Another Case of Milton Jones and Cabin Pressure.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Audience tests + using festivals for distribution deals

There is significant overlap between the two points of the post title: every movie will go through audience testing before the final cut is released to cinemas (if at all); if the studio doesn't like the feedback they may re-edit or even order re-shoots under a different director (and in some cases simply refuse to sanction further spending on distribution other than as straight-to-DVD); film festivals are used by producers and distributors alike as informal forums for audience testing - good 'word-of-mouth' can transform a film's fortunes.
From the AS case studies we know that very small details can be crucial (the bewildered US audience, with an unamused Harvey Weinstein looking on, finally laughed as Colin Firth turns round to reveal his novelty reindeer jumper, securing a costly promotional campaign for Brisget Jones' Diary).

The typically low-budget Indie production, Four Lions, was recently entered into the Sundance Film Festival, a key event for Indie film-makers looking to find a deal to get their movies into cinemas or just a DVD release with some financing for marketing. Their diary is published on ... the Film Guardian! An excerpt:

[Sam Bain:]Back to the big event. Chris introduced the film (brilliantly) and as the lights went down it was gratifying to hear a lot of laughs, as well as the odd gasp as the story got more intense and the ­audience didn't seem sure whether they really should be laughing. Anxiety set in when I ­remem­bered just how many British references there are in the film – from Boots to Gordon Ramsay to Mini Babybels – not to mention the Sheffield accents which, unlike the Urdu and Panjabi dialogue, didn't have subtitles. But there was a genuine sense we'd grabbed the audience and they were very much along for the ride – and with absolutely no idea where that ride might end up. Exciting.
[Jesse Armstrong:] The screening goes well, but I find it excruciating. Sometimes when I'm scared of flying, I have this feeling like it's taking my full powers of concen­tra­tion to keep the plane in the sky. It's the same at the screening – as little pockets of laughs emerge here and there, I'm examining them for tone, timbre and implications. In my head I'm a sheepdog – circling the room wanting to shepherd people to draw the right inferences, go the right way.
Afterwards, I try to make a frank assessment of how the film has gone down. If it's possible for something to go rather well while simultaneously taking you repeatedly to the brink of throwing up throughout, that's what it felt like.
[Sam Bain]: The evening ended at about 4.30am with me and Mark Herbert listening to the Today ­programme piece on Four Lions, which included Robert Redford talking supportively about it. Who cares that he's not actually seen it? Most of the people who'll probably take a pot shot at the film in the UK press won't have seen it either.
 SOURCE: "Four Lions Sundance diary"
What happened when the co-writers of Four Lions, Chris Morris's 'jihadist comedy', took the film to Sundance? Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong open their diaries

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Yorkshire on the big screen

A fantastic resource at - an excerpt:
What image does Yorkshire conjure up for you? Rolling green hills and desolate moors, or gritty, industrial cities? The eclectic Yorkshire landscape, so full of contrasts, has long been a favourite for filmmakers. From Billy Liar to Calendar Girls, Yorkshire has played host to many famous films.

In a recent poll by the Film Distributors Association on the most atmospheric use of location in British cinema, four of the top ten films were set in Yorkshire, proving that Yorkshire has a rich and recognisable heritage in film. Despite Leeds being the chosen location for the first moving image film by Louis le Prince in 1888, it was perhaps the 1960s New Wave that really put Yorkshire on the cinematic map.

BBC doc on the British thriller

Haven't had time to test if its still plays, but came across this useful link to a BBC doc on British thrillers: