Friday, March 21, 2014

TV-Film CONVERGENCE: Veronica Mars, Game of Thrones

Does convergence offer hope to Indies?
The concept of convergence has been widely discussed for years, but 2014 seems to mark a time when its becoming an indisputable phenomenon. Not only is the average Westerner walking around with a smartphone which combines web, HD camera/video, music/video players ... and telephony, but the line between TV and cinema is definitely blurring.

In Britain we've seen even the Indies at this: Warp Films' This is England has had two sequel series on C4 already - and now Shane Meadows has said that the next installment is more likely to see a return to the cinematic form that kickstarted the franchise.
Talking of kickstarting ... noughties cult classic TV series Veronica Mars has seen a triumphant return ... but this time on the big screen. Talking at the 2013 Aesthetica Short Film Festival, Warp's production chief Mark Herbert was enthusiastic about the potential of the likes of Kickstarter, used already for the All Tomorrow's Parties Warp movie. The success of the ...Mars Kickstarter appeal could spark off many more Indie productions.
The big-screen revival of the cult US TV series about Kristen Bell's titular high school (later college) sleuth secured its return after supporters donated a record-breaking $5.702m (£3.70m) via Kickstarter last year. (Guardian)
At a considerably higher budget level, this week also brings news that the Game of Thrones TV series may see its conclusion rolled out as a series of movies:
Multiple movies set in the Game of Thrones universe could be coming to the big screen, creator George RR Martin has revealed.
Speaking at the New York premiere of season four of the popular fantasy TV epic, author Martin said the series might need the bigger budgets provided to film-makers for its grand finale. He also hinted at the possibility of movies based on the Tales of Dunk and Egg, a trilogy of spin-off novellas set 90 years before the events on Game of Thrones in the mythical land of Westeros.
"It all depends on how long the main series runs," Martin told The Hollywood Reporter. "Do we run for seven years? Do we run for eight? Do we run for 10? The books get bigger and bigger (in scope). It might need a feature to tie things up, something with a feature budget, like $100 million for two hours. Those dragons get real big, you know." (Guardian, emphasis added)
The Kickstarter idea still raises some problematic issues though...
More later, time permitting.

Male Gaze: Stop leering at Scarlett Johansson!

That's the plea from Bronwen Clune, a feminist critic writing in The Guardian, fed up with encountering profiles of female celebrities which linger on their bodies, and describe them in excessive detail. She specifically name-checks the male gaze theory:
We’re all familiar with the concept of the “male gaze”, particularly when it comes to Hollywood film – the lens lingering on the curves of leading ladies’ derrieres (Lane talks of Johansson’s “contours” of reputation) – a scopophilic guilty pleasure. And, let’s face it, women’s bodies are delightful things to look at, one of the reasons media executives conveniently argue that the economics of the industry make it impossible to avoid stereotypes of women.
But when respected male writers profile powerful women, is it wrong that we should expect more than lengthy, voyeuristic wet dreams? In the cases of both Hardy and Johansson, the writers of their profiles are accomplished and well-regarded. Their audiences, a “new intelligentsia”, are likely to congratulate themselves on their progressive values. Their subjects are powerful and sexually subversive women. Yet in both cases the women are reduced to something resembling not much more than titillating, slightly fearsome, but ultimately decorative objects.
She notes how one actress was described as having "nice tits" - something the male writer even went as far as to confirm with her housemate - and goes on to note:
I’m reading a profile of Scarlett Johansson by Anthony Lane where she appears as if “made from champagne”, her laugh “dry and dirty, as if this were a drama class and her task was [sic] to play a Martini” and her backside, “barely veiled in peach-colored underwear”. As Slate points out this is not the first time Johansson has inspired “culture writers to do horrible things with words”
Does this chime with your experience? Do you think seemingly respectable highbrow media (as opposed to tabloid press/TV) are just as guilty of needless objectification? Any examples you want to share?