Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Yule be watching... Xmas movie traditions in the digital age

Any comments/suggestions (including links)? Add a comment and I'll look out for further links/clips to embed at the bottom of this post
In this article I'll look at some of the movies we most associate with Xmas; why TV channels seem to keep the biggest turkeys for Xmas Day; and Xmas movie traditions around the world. We start with Love Actually and Elf and bad news for C4...

It's something I've become fairly oblivious to - when I do get back home for a family Xmas gathering, music shows tend to be the compromise viewing - but there are many well established Yuletide movies, screened and keenly viewed year after year. An email from Mrs Morgan alerting me to this article reminded me of this curious tradition; it has become newsworthy that Elf won't be on free-to-air terrestrial TV this year, but rather Sky Movies, who have taken up the UK TV rights from under the nose of C4.

I've blogged on Mr Curtis' questionable output on many previous occasions, eg here; however, there is no doubting the phenomenal commercial success of Curtis, regardless of the representation issues raised

My childhood memories of Xmas TV are dominated by the Bond movie reruns (and the Top of the Pops Xmas specials!) ... but also, when I was really young, of this very, very dated kids movie being shown every year (and I always insisted on watching it!): Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World (1973)

Curtisland goes to sea

This is a post copied across from an A2 blog.
Scroll to the end for a great powerPoint on TBTRocked
see for a useful, brief guide on RC's career
Be aware that while animated it is somewhat explicit, but the Monkey Dust cartoon Curtisland is a rather ingenious critique of the issues around Curtis' white-washed movie representations

Opening title for The Boat That Rocked:
Not England. Britain. And it's set on a boat in the North Sea. ... Yet, even in this scenario, there are no Scots, no N.Irish, no Welsh; the only variety from S.Eng characters comes from an American (a US star, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, in to help sell to a US audience), a Southern Irishman and an Australian character.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bechdel Test becomes ratings system in Sweden

The Harry Potter series would fail, so too the Star Wars franchise ... Sweden has made an interesting move in introducing a Bechdel ratings system. Currently run by one organisation, a state rating board has expressed a positive view on this.
Read more here.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Inside: Hollywood blurring audience/producer; are YOU?

'Social film': blurring audience/ad/producer divide
In time, we'll consider various web 2.0 theories that typically argue that the contemporary, highly interactive (as opposed to top-down, one way) web is seeing the traditional dividing line between audience/consumer and producer wither away. Concepts such as UGC (user-generated content) and fan-made videos (a key revenue source for YouTube and record labels, through the advertising attached to these) have become very mainstream. Viral campaigns also present ads as fictional or reality texts (including music videos, not just film/'reality' clips).

The fiasco of Snakes on a Plane showed that democratising and outsourcing creative work to an audience (in that case in an effort to create money-spinning buzz and awareness) can be a disaster, but we will most certainly see more and more of this. I've blogged elsewhere about examples of film production company Working Title's slick marketing campaign for films such as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which used online (spy-style) puzzles as part of multimedia campaign spanning supermarkets, posters and other such traditional fare with social media elements.

If you watch the short video below (3mins), ask yourself where the line is drawn here between audience and producer, and film and advertising (the title meshes with Intel's slogan, Intel inside), with the audience given chances to appear in the film and shape the script, whilst the blogs and other online videos and guides that sprang became part of the meta-text (a postmodern theory term).

Then ask yourself what use YOU are making of social media for producing your work. Have YOU used social media for...
  • casting?
  • initial genre/audience research through fan forums?
  • generating pre-release buzz through a company blog/FB/Twitter/Instagram (etc!)?
  • gaining audience feedback through any of the above (and YouTube/Vimeo of course)?
  • used tagging/labels in Blogger/YouTube etc to attract more hits to help with the above?
  • tried YouTube video responses/messages/comments to link to other film/video-makers?
  • designed a viral-style campaign element which helps to involve an audience and increase publicity/awareness?
  • generated and used a QR code as part of this?
  • generally considered options for direct audience involvement in/influence on your production?

This is the film Inside, which is itself a good example of the viral methods used by conglomerates these days to get through to ad-weary and wary consumers (Toshiba and Intel were behind this movie): IMDB, Wiki, links to their FB/website etc are in this article. They coined the term 'social film' for this approach.

Prominence of student work on YouTube

I've blogged previously on the growing number of made-for-fun short horror films on YouTube (especially zombie flicks), reflecting the ongoing impact of digitisation and the accessibility of digital film-making today, but its worth noting too how the battalions of Media Studies students across the land are leaving their own legacy. As students conduct research into their chosen genre before setting out to create their own genre piece, increasingly they could be accessing other students' distilled research to do so!

When doing some tagging on archive posts I came across a mention of how prominent my students' work was on YouTube search results - so, a year or so on, I had another look, and sure enough, a 'slasher openings' on YouTube (Nov 15th 2013) produced the following top results:
IGS student work came top of the pile in this search
You can help make your work more widely seen by using YouTube categories and tagging.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

WARP: How Shane Meadows/Mark Herbert got into film

Speaks for itself, but its worth flagging up that in 2012 and 2013 Mark Herbert has fronted an excellent masterclass at the ASFF in York...

Here's a really, really useful overview of Warp by the ASFF producers.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Global, not US, market dominates Hollywood (Obst, 2013)

Look out for useful terminology/neologisms below: pre-awareness and tentpoles and tadpoles
$101m global box office, $21m budget (1993)
A few useful nuggests from this article by Phil Hoad, which highlights and critiques some of the points raised by one-time Hollywood hit producer Lynda Orbst in her bio (given an excoriating review by an unimpressed David Thomson, here), but the really important point concerns WHY Hollywood has turned to tentpole CGI/SFX spectaculars, usually within franchises and/or using 'pre-known' brands/books.

Her line of attack, that Hollywood has wrongly turned its back on medium budget concept movies, where the script, not CGI, is king, is a common one - especially from industry veterans...
If it wasn't startling enough when, in 2011, Universal president Ron Meyer commented on the amount of "shitty movies" on his own slate, founding fathers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas stepped up in the same week as Obst's book was published to denounce Hollywood's blockbuster dependency. ... The reckoning – led by baby boomers attacking the recent homogenisation drive in mainstream films – has exposed a generation gap in Hollywood.
Digitisation emerges as one key cause in this shift:
the shrinking of DVD revenue in the mid-noughties halved the studios' profit margins and reduced their appetite for risk