Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Researching and analysing budgets

This post links into a lesson looking at production practices, especially with regards to budget and digitisation, and impact on 'box office'.
You will be tasked with researching actual budgets and box office yourselves, and perhaps looking up some further figures to help with a pitch of your own idea later...
Use 1 or more of the sites below to help with this - click on the TEXT link to go to the link, holding in the CMD key so it opens in a new tab:

Sunday, January 25, 2015

UK films in thrall to upper classes? Kingsman eg

In a colourful review, replete with some strong language, the central theme is:

The film gives international audiences what they expect from Britain – a nice bit of posh – while also titillating natives with convincing oik detail. 

The film is summed up thus:
In Kingsman: The Secret Service, out next month, a tasty little herbert called Eggsy from a London sink estate is recruited by the impeccably soigné, lah-di-dah spook Harry Hart, played by Colin Firth. Hart detects that Eggsy has the right stuff, the true Brit if you will, to transcend his oikish upbringing and become One Of Us. Now if Eggsy, played by Taron Egerton, can survive the training course in which he is pitted against a bunch of stuckup, over-entitled Oxbridge ponces (plus the token bit of hottie posh whose snobby froideur melts at our hero’s bit-of-rough charms), then he can become a Kingsman.
Sounds rather like the M.O. of Working Title ... but is primarily a 20CFox produced and distributed film (with TSG and Marv).

WHY do film-makers keep insisting on this narrow, ultra-clichéd stereotypical representation of 'Britain'? Simple really: because it is so familiar, it is easier to market. Furthermore, whilst often used within US-set films as characteristics of a villain, the posh Southern English chap/dame is at the same time an aspirational (cf. the 'uses and gratifications theory', explained in this post; the aspirational point could be applied to the 'personal identity' category) figure for many ... not least many in the US audience who might condemn a class system in the USA but simultaneously perceive the same thing in a 'British' context as glamorous and appealing.

The major brands who have paid $100m+ for product placements in the most recent Bond movies clearly perceive this to be true! (See Telegraph gallery, Guardian analysisetc!)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Male gaze and taboo of phallus on screen

Delicate issue here, but timely given we've just been exploring Laura Mulvey's male gaze theory. Legendary writer Russell T Davies (Dr Who... and actual good TV as well! Not least the groundbreaking Queer as Folk) argues we should loosen the tight regulations around screen depictions of the phallus, that this has important cultural effects:
Sex – whether we have loads of it or none of it – is a part of all of our lives. But on the screen, its depiction is often met with shock or silliness. Female actors are often objectified, the reasons for their nudity sometimes having little to do with character, and everything to do with satisfying the male gaze
We need more penises on our screens

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Working Title referenced as byword for bland

Spotted the WT reference in this opinion piece*, which worries that the push for global audiences will see TV sitcom producers squeeze the distinctively British characteristics out of 'our' TV, hoping to make the shows easy to sell to foreign markets, especially America:
Pulling was a classic British sitcom in that it was riven with self-loathing, and its situation – the gap between its characters’ desire to pull and their capacity to do so – inherently fraught and fruitful.In Catastrophe, Horgan plays a woman who gets pregnant after a brief fling with a visiting American, played by the standup Rob Delaney. Already, this feels Working Title-ready: a sit- that more readily begets rom than com. Then there’s the detail.In, say, the similarly plotted Knocked Up there was some tension over whether a groomed high-flier and an unemployed stoner would be able to make it to the delivery room. In Catastrophe they seem ideally suited from the get-go. He’s a successful businessman who wants to move to the UK, marry her and sit through awful suppers with her friends. They are a happy couple expecting a baby. They have hot sex and give each other justifiable compliments. This is not how I want my British sitcoms to be.I don’t want them to be like Friends – soaps in disguise, scripted by a crack squad of gag writers. I don’t want them to be Americanised; to be glossy and hopeful.
I wonder if this will catch on, WT as a byword for 'British' media productions rendered culturally void by the process of Americanising to boost export potential?
[*SOURCE: The push for a global audience could be a catastrophe for British sitcoms by Catherine Shoard,]

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

WT: The Theory of Everything

Working Title's latest could be taken as a 'chick flick' - the marketing heavily centres on the romantic narrative - but, even if it's hardly a four quadrant movie (youth appeal?!), the biopic format and the science sub-plot should help boost male appeal too (being stereotypical in the manner that distributors are).


You don't need to have viewed a film in full to get to grips with analysing, the trailer generally reveals a lot you can utilise: good examples of mise-en-scene and key information on characters and setting; genre/s and which are being emphasised - title font and soundtrack also contribute to possible semiotic analysis here; target audience/s; intertextuality; distinctive (or uniform) marketing for different territories. You may also spot age ratings (MPAA and BBFC); occasionally there will be a sharp contrast between the US (which tends to heavily penalise sexual content but go very lenient on violence) and UK (which tends to be more liberal on sexual content but stricter on violence - so, the BBFC passed Baise Moi with an 18 despite its unsimulated sex scenes, but sought to ban The Human Centipede; Meadows and Warp were disgusted when TisEng got hit with an 18 which sharply undermined its box office prospects).

1: We open on a grand historic building in the South of England - a world away from TisEng's Shaun and the council estate he resides in