When's the 201 AS (UK) exam? Exams start on the 16th - the G322 exam: Thursday 19th May, 9am. Yr12 Study Leave begins after ? May (Yr13 from the ?)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

WT early days: MBL/WYWH

Today we'll be building on our initial learning around WT's early history and subsequent development into the leading UK film producer.
Back when they started out it was all so very different...

We'll look at their 1st 2 films as WT: MBL (Stephen Frears, 1985) [IMDB] and WYWH (David Leland, 1987) [IMDB]
Chances are you've heard of neither before now, but one of them created a memorable (and slightly rude!) catchphrase: 'up yer bum'...


MBL cost just £650k, WYWH slightly more at £1m; both were acclaimed by film critics and both today are seen as classics. Lets tease out what makes these 2 early WT films so different from almost  all the subsequent releases (4Weds, NotHill, BJD etc).

Here's the trailer for MBL:

We'll look at marketing in some detail, but what expectations does this trailer create for YOU? (remember, part of this topic is the ability to think of how YOU operate as a film consumer)
Does it strike you as typically British - if so, why ... and if not, why?!
A key point to grasp for this exam is that you'll need very specific examples of actual films to write about - particular scenes/shots/elements. So, your note-taking needs to be very detailed and precise, ie your denotation of these scenes picked out as useful. These are effectively the same as quotes for an English Lit exam!
Lets now look at the film's opening - the DVD is available for you to borrow from the library (ditto WYWH and many more WT/Warp films, + some Ealing, Hammer...); I've found the opening on YouTube too:
As You watch this, consider again:
(i) what signifiers there are of Britishness, and what general representations there are
(ii) the general style or genre of cinematography, mise-en-scene etc
(iii) the readings available - do you think as a teen in 2012 you can follow the director/cast/editor's preferred reading?


The early WT was a brave, adventurous company prepared to take risks:
  • the unknown Daniel Day-Lewis got his break in this movie (as Emily Lloyd would with WYWH)
  • with the right-wing Thatcher government in place, supported by an almost entirely right-wing press, creating a film centring on an Asian character was unheard of and far from the commercial, money-making logic that later lead to so many Hugh Grant vehicles
  • to make him gay too was guaranteed to attract 'flak' [THEORY TIP: Chomsky's propaganda model argues that five filters, including flak (criticism/attacks from media 'shoot down' radical ideas/texts), weed out radical/leftie thoughts from our media which exist to serve and reinforce the powerful, NOT to serve democracy]
  • before WT hooked up with PolyGram and then NBC-Universal, it had to fight to find the financing for movies - Film4 was key to getting this film made, though it was only the success of the film at the EIFF that persuaded a distributor to fund a cinematic release and marketing campaign to go with it (it was intended to be a TV-movie only)
  • with WYWH they went back to the past - but unlike the cosy heritage/costume dramas of today, they did so to present a countertypical, radical representation of the repression of women in wartime and 50s Britain

Turning now to WYWH, here's a few clips; as before -
As You watch this, consider again:
(i) what signifiers there are of Britishness, and what general representations there are
(ii) the general style or genre of cinematography, mise-en-scene etc
(iii) the readings available - do you think as a teen in 2012 you can follow the director/cast/editor's preferred reading?


Review your notes; what can you learn from these examples that might help you discuss any of the topic prompts provided by the exam board (see below)?
Candidates should be prepared to understand and discuss the processes of production, distribution, marketing and exchange as they relate to contemporary media institutions, as well as the nature of audience consumption and the relationships between audiences and institutions. In addition, candidates should be familiar with:
  • the issues raised by media ownership in contemporary media practice;
  • the importance of cross media convergence and synergy in production, distribution and marketing;
  • the technologies that have been introduced in recent years at the levels of production, distribution, marketing and exchange;
  • the significance of proliferation in hardware and content for institutions and audiences;
  • the importance of technological convergence for institutions and audiences;
  • the issues raised in the targeting of national and local audiences (specifically, British) by international or global institutions;
  • the ways in which the candidates’ own experiences of media consumption illustrate wider patterns and trends of audience behaviour.

This unit should be approached through contemporary examples in the form of case studies

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