Saturday, May 30, 2015

4D breezes in with San Andreas

As inevitable as razor blade manufacturers adding another blade to hype a new product, news of 4D on the horizon.

As with 3D, its not a new idea; there were experiments with this in the 1950s!

I've seen '5D' cinema vans/trailers at a seaside resort in Latvia too (3 years ago).

Will this take off? Eventually, I'm sure it will, but not until costs drop significantly...

Monday, May 25, 2015

CONVERGENCE WEB 2.0 IGSMediaStudies + student YouTube channels

The syllabus asks you to reflect on your own experiences, and the A2 exam requires analysis of all alspects of production work, including its reception. Well, lets take a moment to consider YouTube as part of this. The IGSMediaStudies alone has had over 50,000 views since I set it up 5 years ago, and thats a TINY fraction of the overall views student work has had when you consider that ONE film piece on ONE of several student channels had over a quarter of a million views...

IGSMediaStudies uploads have been viewed worldwide...

This blog itself seems to have picked up an international readership...
Top 10 countries by views as of 25th May 2015

These have been viewed on gadgets as much as on computers...

Sunday, May 24, 2015

CONVERGENCE 4K TV, 4K Blu-Ray, 5K Macs

I'll add further links to the one below when not on my converged smartphone! Hollywood has to keep on its toes as TV tech keeps rising, even if 3D TV has essentially failed, with smartphone and gadget camera specs also continuing to rise, and Macbook/iMac screen resolution hitting 5k, boosting the potential of prosumer tech such as Final Cut Pro X!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

DISTRIBUTION FOUR-WALLING Getting newspaper review still vital?

That's a new term to me: four-walling, the practice of Indie producers renting a cinema primarily in the hopes that their screening will attract a newspaper review.

In the US its not uncommon to do this for a full week's run, though the practice in the UK seems to be for a single screening - kind of a Gant Rule effect I suppose!

Coz Greenop used this approach to great effect with Wandering Rose, the screening leading to a deal with Curzon Cinemas. I think Harry MacQueen did likewise with Hinterland [needs checking]. Remember too Warp using cinema ads trumpeting the cinema release date of Le Donk, which was really a DVD release - that helped get those vital newspaper reviews, much harder for a straight-to-DVD release to achieve.

In this web 2.0 (3.0?) age, can the dinosaur print media really be that important?

Yes ... and no. One of my favourite phrases! As with so much, there are two sides to this...

Look at '71. The National Media Museum box office told me, when I raised with them the very sparse crowd for the opening night screening, on a Friday, that it would pick up dramatically once the Guardian review had been digested.

The no part flows from the same example. The ABC1 Guardian readership may be more likely to pay attention to the paper's film coverage than, say, a tabloid's C2DE readership - that's speculation on my part.

What isn't is the indisputable fact that newspaper readerships are older than the core cinema audience, a trend which is accelerating.

Haven't covered yes and no, there is another angle to this - its not just about any immediate pick up in audience, its the possibility of featuring 'pull-out' phrases from reviews (and thus the publication names) on posters, DVD sleeves, in pitches to distributors, and on CVs when looking to finance and cast future productions.

Its easy to simplify digitisation as a killer of old media, but that's never been the case; the disruptive power of digitisation more often leads to a symbiotic relationship. So, the Guardian's '71 review was arguably secondary in impact to its leading the paper's weekly film vodcast, an example of convergence.

Who knows, someday YOU might be four-walling ... just don't forget to send me a ticket!

'Four-walling': how film-makers pay to see their work on screen

Thursday, May 21, 2015

VERTICAL, HORIZONTAL INTEGRATION an illustration: Warp, Working Title, Marvel, Avatar

Some of NBC-Universal's film subsidiaries

Working Title is part of a vertically integrated conglomerate, NBC-Universal, itself part of a much larger parent company, Comcast. NBC-U turns over an incredible $25bn a year and combines production through such subsidiaries as Working Title, distribution through Focus Features, StudioCanal and Universal International Pictures, as well as exhibition arms ranging from the US TV network NBC to the subscription streaming site Hulu. Horizontal integration and the synergies from this are part of their strategy, with the films fuelling interest in the Universal theme parks for example. Working Title have been part of horizontal integration strategies ever since they expanded into the American market and sold off 67% of their shares to PolyGram (later bought by NBC-U). One of their earliest global hits, 1994’s £3m Four Weddings and a Funeral which grossed an incredible global £150m, had an OST (soundtrack) on Island Records … a subsidiary of PolyGram!

Working Title and Warp - selected box office stats

As I've written on/discussed these elsewhere, I'll simply add the screenshots. You would never try to remember all, but rather pick out a few, looking for one or more of:
  • the total UK box office
  • the total US box office
  • the rough % of world box office the US (or UK) represents
  • the length of run [how many weeks it was in cinemas for] - especially useful looking at Indie films that basically tour the arthouse circuit with a limited number of prints
  • the number of screens
  • if the Gant Rule can be seen with the figures
  • the number of countries it got theatrical distribution in (many WT films get 40+; World's End was notably quite disappointing)
You can find some tallies and notes on this in both the Warp pack and the list of WT films

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


IN THIS POST: This links into several posts on convergence and ownership issues, and explores just how converged a company WT really is ... and the influence of ownership on this. I briefly raise points discussed in detail in previous posts.

Screenshot of the Wiki.

Great academic research, eh?!
This tells us three key things before we consider more recent developments:

Monday, May 18, 2015

2015 exam materials

I'll add all updates here between now and Friday
Starting with an overview of whats expected

More coming below, plus anything new on TV Drama/Representation

PAUL AVATAR CORNETTO TRILOGY audience, marketing, distribution, digitisation

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

CONVERGENCE A list of resources

I'm working on a fresh guide on convergence (and the wider issue of digitisation). Instead of putting all the sources I'll use into one over-long post, or adding yet another links list, you can find here, with summaries and some notes, a list of further resources. Convergence is also dealt with in many journal articles and book chapters!!!

When I put together guides I'm inevitably summarising, reducing, a wide range of material; if you want to look deeper, this (and the Library/classroom resources!) is a good starting point.

Rob Carlton (senior OCR examiner) Medi@CHS blog
Rob is a useful source, as someone involved in the syllabus design for OCR, and his school blog has lots of useful links.

Hendry, Steph (2015) "Two Key Concepts: The Relationship Between Audience and Institution", in Media Magazine, April 2015.

The link above requires a login (ask myself or Librarian). Much of the analysis below is my own, but linked to Hendry's points.

Nice example of how large conglomerates integrate seemingly contrasting brands:
According to one definition, brand = product + personality. Knowing the brand means that the audience can feel reassured when they access a product produced by a familiar, wellloved brand. Consider the ‘personalities’ constructed by two very different institutions: Disney and Marvel. Both are associated with blockbuster film, but our expectations of their products may be quite different.

Female gaze?

UPDATE, 2015: Rather than add another post, I'll add to this one which looked at the example of Magic Mike as an exemplar of an emerging female gaze. That was rather limited to the notion of objectifying; I've added more below on an article for Media Magazine by Sean Richardson in which he challenges us to think more carefully about how a female viewer (de)constructs and receives media images. Yes, media and not least cinema remains somewhat patriarchal overall, but it is just too simplistic to view media entirely through the prism of sexist objectification.

The director, Todd Haynes, agreed that same-sex female relationships had been even less well-served by mainstream movie-makers than those between two men. The reason that the likes of Brokeback Mountain and Milk had preceded Carol was, he suspected, “because male audiences will not be excluded [by them]. They are the prime audience Hollywood are marketing films for.” (From a feature on Cate Blanchett, star of Carol)

The Female Gaze: Rethinking Representation
Following quotes are from an article in the always excellent Media Magazine (subscription needed - ask the Librarian or me for login details). Sean Richardson wrote in April 2015 on this topic, starting with a simple statement on the impact of male gaze:
Research suggests that advertising campaigns for a female audience are dominated by heterosexual Caucasian size 0 to 2 models. This is a fact, despite what we might think or want, in a multicultural, complex world. Increasingly, accusations have been made by the likes of Naomi Campbell and Dame Vivienne Westwood that representations of women in advertising are too white and nearly exclusively under size 6.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

WOMEN underrepresented even in crowd scenes

Anything but a fan of Freeman (I'd usually approach her writing with the appetite I'd have for a Marmite cake...), the 80s movie headline drew me into this, an excerpt from what appears to be her autobiography (correction: turns out to be a book on 80s movies).

It turns out to be a very interesting piece, discussing:
Female, teen and tween viewership (yes, uses and gratifications ahoy...), not least of sexual scenes or storylines
How contemporary films appear to punish female teen characters for sexual activity
Studios customary cutting of any counter-hegemonic messages (including, in these examples, abortion)
The role that sponsorship or tie-ins or product placement can have in ensuring conservative messages prevail (ie, reinforcing the studios' conservative instincts, the point above)
A study, and research institute, launched by an iconic actress who began to worry about the messages subliminally sent to her own young children, especially noting how women were given less space and visibility on screen

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

OWNERSHIP, EXAM How ownership impacts range of products available

JAN 2013: What impact does media ownership have upon the range of products available to audiences in the media area you have studied? 



  • Indie v conglomerate/subsidiary
  • Budgets; tentpole dominance (Elberse v long tail)
  • Co-productions norm at every level

WOMEN IN INDUSTRY Tumblr blog reveals film biz sexism

NB: The full article referred to below, and the Tumblr blog it is about, contains some quite frank sexual terms, reflecting the nature of much of the verbal abuse faced by female film-makers.
Quite a racy title, but this has generated a lot of attention:  
Nicole Kassell first heard about the Tumblr blog Shit People Say to Women Directorslast week, when a female film-maker friend she was dining with mentioned it on the assumption she already knew of it. “I did go look at it and proceeded to get very depressed,” says Kassell, director of the films The Woodsman and A Little Bit of Heaven and episodes of TV shows such as Better Call Saul, The Killing and The Following.The site, which launched on 22 April and is causing a storm among film industry insiders, especially women, is a catalog of anonymous stories about the sexist things that happen to women working on film sets. [Shit People Say to Women Directors blog spotlights Hollywood's blatant sexism.]

Use the tags to find more linked content on this topic. There are also further articles, such as this one, which draws together research showing that female directors seem to get inferior distribution deals to their male peers.


Another critic (Jason Wilson) rather irked at the hegemony of superhero tentpoles. If you use the superhero tag in particular you'll find several linked articles analysing the rise of these films and this me-too strategy.

A quick summary follows of key points you can utilise to show your understanding of how (British and global) cinema functions ...

Monday, May 04, 2015

AUDIENCE BBFC 18 rating usually a disaster but not Fifty Shades

I've raised this point in several blog posts, and frequently in lessons, so a short post to emphasize quite an important point. As teens and tweens are the key cinema-going audience, producers and distributors will generally seek to avoid 18-ratings (the US, MPAA, equivalent of R means that the biggest DVD retailer, Wal-Mart, won't even stock it).

There are always exceptions, and Fifty Shades of Grey was one where anything lower would have been distinctly off-putting, given audience expectations of realistic sex scenes:
Whatever happens, Fifty Shades looks absolutely certain to overtake The Wolf of Wall Street (£22.7m lifetime) to become the biggest ever 18-certificate title in this market. This is a movie where the 18 certificate can be considered in no way a hindrance – in fact, audiences would have been rightly suspicious of a Fifty Shades film that won a 15 rating. Usually, film distributors push for the lowest possible rating, but it’s easy to envision Universal asking the question of the UK censor: what exactly do we need to include to secure an 18?
(Charles Gant, Feb 2015)
There are very few 18-rated Working Title films; contrarily, there are very few PG or 12 Warp films. Working Title generally aim for a mass, mainstream market, and thus mostly avoid 18-ratings. They sacrifice realism to do so, something Warp are less willing to do. If WT present an idealised representation of the UK, Warp tend to present a grittier, rougher representation, with the very title of Meadows' This is England arguably a direct riposte to the Notting Hill, Bridget Jones (etc) depiction of a twee middle-class Britain, as viewed by Richard Curtis (and savagely satirised in the Curtisland animation).