Thursday, September 25, 2014

Warp's £5m+ '71

(click through on to YouTube for the StudioCanalUK page)

I'll blog again on '71, Warp's highest-budget production to date, reportedly (Screen) around £5m ($8.1m), but take note for now that it is officially released on Friday October 10th, with screenings at the National Media Museum in Bradford amongst others:
I'm hoping to attend the 615 Friday screening - keep an eye out for any marketing of this film; if you spot any billboards or cinema stands, take a snap and pass on a picture!

UPDATE: DVD INTERVIEW JANN DEMANGE [Filmmakers' responsibility with representations; his own background/compare to Elizabeth; Film v TV; prioritising the grey or polysemy]

Would we really expect anything less from Warp ... the DVD (out March 9th; cinema release was October 10th 2014) has some useful extras: interviews with the lead, director and screenwriter. The following aren't quite verbatim, but quite close:
We have a real responsibility making films. This was about a really painful period in many people's lives, and we had to keep that thought and not just make choices for audience entertainment.
He raises his background - you could usefully compare this to Shekhar Kapur getting the gig for Elizabeth (Indian, no knowledge of the era!), an instance of WT taking a big commercial risk (that paid off handsomely: a $30m film that made $82m and spawned a sequel/franchise).
I'm not your natural choice for this film: my background is French-Algerian, I grew up in London, I'm not even a WASP. But I wanted to focus on the story of the challenges facing young men, not make a political film. It was very important to me to bring out the shades of grey with all the different players, and I made this clear when negotiating with the producers. I have no links to Belfast, it was the screenplay that drew me to this.
Working with television you have much more time to draw out an epic character arc, whereas in film its a mere snapshot and you have to work to make every moment count.

Rather stumbled upon this, but very useful context, and real micro-level detail:
I started working on the initial packshot for ’71 back in August 2014 and the final artwork files have just been sent. It’s rare for me to spend so long on an individual title (unless the delays are due to production issues!).
The Blu-ray and DVD packaging has gone down a slightly different route to the Steelbook release. Although using the theatrical artwork as its base, we wanted to create something that had a more military feel. The colours were adjusted and a new textures were added to the background, giving it the khaki texture. There’s also a little adjustment to the composition in “’71” as well a colour change. Both the Blu-ray and DVD releases have a cardboard o-ring sleeve, which has an overall matt varnish with spot UV gloss. The Blu-ray has a cut down O-ring, which shows the black Blu-ray case at the top.
Source: Rogue4 Design.
Khaki colourscheme the key to this design

Great quote here, and a useful one to use in an essay:
“The acclaim for Yann Demange’s ’71 comes as no surprise”, said Hugo Heppell, Head of Investments at Screen Yorkshire and Executive Producer on ‘71. “Its selection for Official Competition at the Berlin Film Festival is much deserved recognition for Yann, Angus, Robin and the whole team at Warp. We are immensely proud to have supported Warp over the last ten years and to see it now as the most significant film production company outside London.”

Screen Yorkshire invested in ‘71 through its Yorkshire Content Fund, the biggest regional investment fund for production in the UK, backed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The £15m fund is open to content producers working in film, TV, games and digital based in Yorkshire or from outside but looking to establish a base in the region thus stimulating local production levels.

From the Screen article:
+ Creative Scotland, Screen Yorkshire
Demange’s enthusiasm and talent inspired his collaborators to give the first-time director what he needed to make the film he had envisioned. And more. Not only did he get his first-choice male lead, a 44-day shoot and multiple production locations across the UK - the film’s thrilling central chase scene was shot in four different locations in two different UK cities - Demange also got a sizeable, for a first UK feature, £5m-plus budget - around $8.1m.
“There was a point when the market was telling us the film’s budget was £3m [$5m], but we knew we couldn’t make this film for that.” Demange also ensured he worked with regular collaborators DoP Tat Radcliffe and editor Chris Wyatt, both of whom showcase impressive skill in the film.
Initially due to shoot in Northern Ireland, Demange could not find the period housing that the film needed. So Sheffield, Liverpool, Leeds and Blackburn stepped in. The money and location-hopping was justified.

The language is strong and the message blunt: the film industry is a tough nut to crack if you're not from a privileged background. However, Demange's story is an interesting one and an uplifting tale at that - he did, after all, win through despite what he perceives as class-based obstacles in his way. Guardian interview.
At 18 he landed a job as a runner on a dance-music video being shot in Ibiza, which led to a full-time assisting job.
“I realised then that all the other runners had been to university, were essentially middle class and well-educated, and I was like, ‘Maybe I should do a degree’.”
After years of knockbacks he got into an arts foundation at the London College of Printing, then made observational documentaries for an anthropology company – “I was in Chicago for eight weeks filming evangelical Christians for General Electric”.
Then Demange applied for the National Film and Television School. “It’s hard to get practice as a director because it’s so expensive,” he sighs. “I was applying to all these schemes and getting turned down. Then I applied to the NFTS and got a place but I couldn’t afford it, so the school helped me out – they got me a full scholarship from Disney, of all things. And once you’re there, you can start shooting. You don’t have to raise the money, you can finally practice.”

‘71 was filmed on location in Sheffield, home to production company Warp Films, at multiple locations including the landmark Park Hill Flats, which also feature in This Is England ‘86. ‘71 also filmed in Leeds, making use of the period housing in Hyde Park and Beeston to double for Belfast; additional scenes were shot in Liverpool and Blackburn. Locations for '71 were sourced by Creative England who also worked with the production to secure filming permissions and regional crew.
In theory (and you can find specific arguments along these lines in work by Dan Gillmor and David Gauntlett), digitisation and web 2.0 provides opportunities for the world's media Davids to take on the global Goliaths... As we see over and over again, however, Warp seem unable to fund design and production of glossy social media content, let alone in multiple languages (which WT/StudioCanal productions often manage).

Search Facebook for '71 and ... there is no specific page for the film, just the main Warp page, as seems to be the case for all Warp productions to date. Same thing on Twitter. The digital haves and have-nots...
There isn't a standalone '71 page, just the main Warp page.

This is an interesting link-up, a little bit unexpected given Warp's reputation for caustic social realist films, not least This is England (in which the graffiti "Maggie is a twat" quite clearly anchors Shane Meadows' take on the late Tory PM - a figure of near-worship for typical Telegraph readers!). The Tele also has the oldest reader profile of all the UK national dailies, its readership quite literally dying off from its once heady million+ levels.

Right-wing broadsheet gets StudioCanalUK exclusive
Might this suggest that there is a conservative ideological slant to '71? The narrative scenario, in which the outsider (the English soldier) is the protagonist we follow, and the general population of Northern Ireland a collective antagonist, and so framed as the "other", an all too common device for films set in NI, suggests this could be the case - though I haven't seen it yet!

Of course, this will be a comparatively challenging, non-mainstream film, which conventionally suggests that it is more likely to appeal to an ABC1 audience (which matches the broadsheet audience) than the C2DE tabloid audience. And, yes, there is a coarse social class stereotype within that statement - but that's how audience/marketing modelling often works (lets add comedy to this romance flick to draw in a male audience; lets centre this horror on a final girl to draw in females etc).

So far as I remember, the Tele was one of those right-wing papers (i.e., every UK national daily bar the left-ish Guardian + Mirror and the centrist Indie!) that frothed at the mouth in outrage over Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes the Barley, a great example of Chomsky's propaganda model (specifically the five filters: flak) in practice - see this past post for much more on this. Presumably then this film won't represent the British Army in a negative light (Loach's film begins with the Army slaughtering unarmed Irishmen).

Government help can boost chances of distribution deals abroad
IMDB entry.
The Wiki.
Warp's website '71 page (notably sparse - contrast with typical WT equivalents).
No direct Twitter account either, just the Warp account.
Facebook page (blocked in school, so can't look at it, but apparently only 188 likes at the time of writing) - announcing production back in April 2013:
‘71 is backed by Film4, BFI Film Fund, Screen Yorkshire, and Creative Scotland. International sales are being handled by Protagonist Pictures and UK distribution by STUDIOCANAL. Shooting will take place in Yorkshire for 8 weeks. 
BritishCouncil - not sure we can read anything into this listing (do they list, say, Loach films?), just useful for the company listing with contact details, but also an interesting indication of how the government can play a role in helping UK films gain foreign distribution.
British Council Film; governmental promotion

Protagonist Films - listed as the company dealing with sales, the fact that their own website contains very little specific content on '71 does not augur well for its prospects of becoming a rare Indie breakthrough drama hit. This seems typical of the fate of most Warp films, though Four Lions did swiftly receive an expanded release following on from its much higher than expected first-week take at the UK box office.

Rather bare bones fare from 'sales co' Protagonist!

Have you found a useful article? Let me know by adding the link + a brief description as a comment to this post.

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