Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Web-Only film: Microsoft's Halo 4

Cinemas have had to compete with TV, DVD, piracy and the increasing quality and affordability of home cinema setups. Now some film producers are ignoring cinema altogether and pioneering web-only releases for relatively high budget productions, with computing giant Microsoft's web-release of Halo 4 suggesting this could be a growing trend. Released as 5 15min episodes over a 5 week period (each launching once a week on YouTube), the budget is higher than for many films that will get cinema releases.
As the article notes, there have been several examples: 'Warner Brothers recently aired a web-only series based on Mortal Kombat, as did Ubisoft with Assassin's Creed, the latter currently being redeveloped as a film without a Hollywood studio. It is not only games, either. A new series of Arrested Development is under way for online distributor Netflix, as is a remake by David Fincher of the British series House of Cards.'

Halo 4: the film of the game

A web-only film based on the Halo series (previewed below) is the start of something special
Halo 4, film, games
Filming of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, which will air once a week on YouTube.
Given that both are such strong visual mediums, video games and films have endured a surprisingly fractious relationship. Yet it is one that neither seems willing to walk away from – the symbiotic allure at its heart is just too strong. The games industry brings ready-made scenarios, characters and a fanbase to movie producers, while exposure on the big screen feeds back into game sales.
Tempting, yes, but the relationship has been repeatedly tarnished, House of the Dead and Wing Commander being prime examples. Now, however, the very model of how film is made and distributed is being examined anew. In Microsoft's first foray into the market, it has chosen to debut its films based on the Halo games not at the cinema but in the form of a free-to-view online series that begins on Friday.

BFI replaces UKFC: 5 year plan announced

See below for full details (from this Guardian article), or go on to the BFI (British Film Institute) site (or the Wiki, or the Guardian's BFI microsite). Some key points:
  • BFI took on the UK Film Council's responsibilities in April 2011
  • by 2017 they'll be spending £24m a year on film production
  • that includes allocating the production finances which help many British films get made
  • they plan a 'BFiPlayer' for 2013, with 10,000 films to be digitised and made available by 2017
Here's a snippet of what they said about film production plans:
The BFI has also taken over responsibility for providing money for film production – The King's Speech, for example, benefited from £1m of lottery money.
In the five-year plan the money given out for production and development will rise annually to £24m by 2017 with "new opportunities for film-makers working in documentary and animation".
There is always lively debate about where money should be given, with David Cameron reported as saying it should be films that have wide commercial appeal.
The BFI's film fund head, Ben Roberts, said tough decisions had to be made. About 20 films a year will be funded, but another 300 will be turned down. But he said: "I don't believe commercial appeal and critical appeal can't co-exist. We can't underestimate how much audiences respond to strong, original film-making."
"The criteria for everybody is that we support film-makers with strong, original, inventive ideas," said Roberts. "It is up to us to have instincts about what we think is going to strike a chord with its audience."
He promised that the "doors are open to all kinds of film-makers" and that the process would be "very open and transparent".

BFI to launch online player with 10,000 films from its archives

Player scheduled for end of 2013 with experts and public helping to choose which films will be digitised over next five years
Still from the The Cumberland Story by Humphrey Jennings
The Cumberland Story by Humphrey Jennings (1945): the BFI's creative director says the online player will give the public access to films that have 'changed our understanding of our film culture'. Photograph: BFI
An internet "player", which will give unprecedented access to Britain's film heritage online, whether that's the innovations of the early pioneer RW Paul or the Mass Observation documentaries of Humphrey Jennings, was announced on Tuesday as part of a five-year plan for British film.
The British Film Institute, which has taken on a lead role for all aspects of film since the abolition of the UK Film Council outlined how it plans to spend over £500m over the next five years.