Section A Producers and Audiences

Section A

There are three basic FRAMES of content for this section according to the AS guidance. These include:

1. The UK and US contemporary production contexts (finance, product, stars, etc)

2. The selling of film (marketing, distribution, exhibition) and the choice available to audiences

3. Audience behaviour as consumers and fans

FM2 Section A Essay Guidance

The following consists of real past examination questions with some guidance on points that could be made and a number of relevant examples.

1. What are the key factors influencing what kind of films get made today?

Audience Demographics 16-25 is the biggest target audience – influences producer choices – RomCom, Horror, Comedies, Action, Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Younger Audiences – Children’s films –  Frankenweenie, Paranorman, Despicable Me 2 & Monsters University.

Success or Appeal of Certain Genres:

RomCom – New Years Eve, Valentine’s Day, The Ugly Truth,

Action – Bourne franchise, Taken,

Horror, Hostel, Paranormal Activity,

Fantasy & Sci-Fi, – Avatar, Prometheus, Harry Potter and The Hobbit

Comedy – Shaun of the Dead,  Hot Fuzz

UK Independent Production – Control, London to Brighton, Fishtank and Wuthering Heights – the role of the UK film Council – The audience is more diverse and has a wider set of tastes than the distributors imagine. Note the example of Crouching Tiger which couldn’t get a distribution deal for mainstream theatrical release and then following an independent release distributors woke up! Also note that this was NOT an independent  UK production.

Different UK Film strands:

Museum / Heritage / Costume Drama piece

Elizabeth, Atonement, The English Patient, The King’s Speech, Chariots of Fire, A Room with a View.

Social Realism

London to Brighton, Nil by Mouth, Quadrophenia, Trainspotting – availability of funding through the UK film council, popular with a loyal and significant minority of cinemagoers and in the case of Quadrophenia and Trainspotting were also massive commercial successes.

Tourist View –  Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Notting Hill – earned huge worldwide revenues – can drive more of the same

Comedy – Mr. Bean, Johnny English, Simon Pegg’s trilogy very large popular appeal

Franchises – trusted by audiences and producers. Why?

Audiences – familiar territory, characters and narrative, allows for narrative development. Different directors handle the franchise in different ways and bring new twists – Harry Potter and Bond, typically English but have universal appeal. Producers trust franchises, cheaper, already established audiences. Established cast and Crew, past record of box office success, they can capitalise on the hype surrounding the franchise.

Dominance of UK distribution by Hollywood majors. UK produce has fierce competition to even get a release. 80% of UK distribution owned by Time Warner, Universal etc. Rise of the Multiplex – lends itself to multi screenings of mainstream and usually Hollywood products.

Economics – merchandising, DVD sales, television and internet rights, soundtrack resales. Drives production towards the derivative, safe and mainstream. Foreign language films are less likely to get theatrical release because they are less likely to secure a TV distribution deal.

Technology – 3D – spectacle over substance, e.g. Avatar, Life of Pi, Titanic re-release in 3D

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 13.53.30

Remakes – Generic, Formulaic, Mainsteam, Blockbuster, Spectacle – largely due to Hollywood dominance

Documentaries – mainstream audiences are showing an increased appetite for documentary. E.G. Bowling for Columbine, Touching the Void, Super Size Me, Man on a wire. These are cheap to make and therefore hugely profitable.

2. What are the ways in which films of the past are made attractive to contemporary audiences?

TCM – Turner Classic Movies – one of the largest film libraries in the world, readily available on cable and satellite. Catalogue dates back to the 1920s

The internet – Youtube, accessibility of clips, P2P and file sharing, iTunes Movie Store, Netflix, Blinkbox (good appeal because films are often free and legal) LoveFilm (70,000 +) instant sharing. Internet marketing through social networks. Increased corporate presence on facebook with promotions.

Remakes might stimulate interest in the original, e.g. Psycho (1998) might stimulate interest in Hitchcock’s 1960 original. The Italian Job, Alfie are also examples of 1960s classics remade for a contemporary audience

DVD – re-release in the form of anniversary box sets. Star Wars, Alien, ET, Jaws, Bond. Director’s cuts.

Retrospectives – e.g. recent Hitchcock retrospective at the BFI. Theatrical re-release Titanic, Blade Runner, The Shining

Television – documentaries on past film makers or on the making of films e.g. Dangerous Days: The Making of Blade Runner might stimulate interest in the original

Controversy – films subject to past controversy can find new audiences. The Exorcist was refused a home certificate for almost thirty years. It’s DVD release created a demand amongst a new younger audience. On a smaller scale the same thing happened with Straw Dogs which was also refused a home certificate for nearly 30 years. Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (banned from UK distribution by the director himself) found a new audience following Kubrick’s death in 1999.

Independent and Art House Cinemas often show reprints or limited re-releases of classics such as Lawrence of Arabia.

3. How do independent films sometimes achieve success?

Good Festival Reception (Cannes, Berlin, Toronto, Sundance, Venice) often be used in the poster design and in Billboards

Clever marketing strategies that are cost effective such as viral campaigns e.g. 28 Days Later

Critical Reaction – often quite positive from film critics. Conventional reviews that support the marketing

Prior track record of the production company (Working Title has a near 30 year reputation for producing excellent independent films)

The audience is more diverse and has a wider set of tastes than the distributors imagine

Word of mouth –peer reviews both in person and on social networking sites

Good track record of the director widens or broadens the appeal (Andrea Arnold)

Independent and art house audiences are very loyal

4. How far are new technologies changing the way audiences watch films?

Steaming Services Netflix, iTunes, LoveFilm, Blinkbox – streaming on demand or purchases. Airplay function from laptop through Apple TV.  iCloud allows an iTunes Library to be streamed wirelessly to other devices such as iPads. Increasing trend towards on-line viewing and away from television. Audiences are no longer limited to television schedules. Also Youtube.

Television Services; Sky Box Office and Sky Plus. – 3D television screens more widely available. 4oD and BBC iPlayer. Amazon

DVD and Bluray – immersive interactivity features such as in screen menus. Features: Commentaries, Hidden Features, Subtitles, Interactivity, Chapters, Games, Featurettes
+ directors cut’s, alternative endings, out-takes, trailer campaigns, filmographies

problems of watching 3D on hand held portable devices

Exhibition technologies – Digital Distribution (Experiment at the NFT January 2005), More digital cinemas than anywhere else in Europe, IMAX, IMAX 3D, Futuroscope 360 Screens Pirate Rides

5. How important is film marketing in attracting an audience? [40]

Film Marketing is promotion of the film upon completion. There are a range of strategies including posters, press screenings, previews, media presence including interviews, physical advertising such as billboards, press advertisements, festivals, posters in commuter spaces, special television previews, cinema trailers, radio advertisements.

There are also a range of methods which make heavy use of new technology such as viral marketing through social network sites (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube). There is also a heavy web pop-up presence on sites such as yahoo, imdb and Lovefilm.

In addition iTunes features trailers very heavily.

All of these methods suggest that an effective marketing campaign is critical to a films success.

It is also the case that pre –release marketing can kill a film – John Carter.

References to the marketing campaigns of ‘Paranormal Activity’, ’28 Days Later’, ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘The Kids are Alright’.

Some students were able to draw on historical examples studied in class such as ‘King Kong’, ‘Psycho’ and ‘The Godfather’  – the distribution for this was innovative in that it was a huge simultaneous theatrical release across the USA after heavy advertising

The use of ‘bankable’ selling points such as directors, stars, genre.  The new Tom Cruise film Jack Reacher where the film’s name appears only once on the poster but the star’s name appears twice.

The very best candidates were also able to consider the role of producers and audiences in film marketing. There were many possible approaches to this question and students were not expected to use them all.

6. What are some of the issues for UK producers and audiences in Hollywood’s domination of the UK film industry? [40]

UK produce has fierce competition to even get a release. 80% of UK distribution owned by Time Warner, Universal etc. Rise of the Multiplex – lends itself to multi screenings of mainstream and usually Hollywood products. “Temples of American culture which do nothing to promote diversity”

Hollywood’s international circulation is due to a number of factors acting in concert:

  • Hollywood’s textual attributes (Generic conventions, star vehicles, narrative closure, spectacle)
  • its quality of the image
  • its system (Studio System)
  • its production in the English language
  • its commercial media marketplace (web of connections worldwide)

Hollywood’s popularity is partly an economic and structural consequence of its positioning in the international audio-visual system.

The sheer size and wealth of the USA market gives Hollywood a domestic market edge not available to other national film industries.

Hollywood is advantaged by the important structural position of English as the wealthiest of the largest languages

It has benefited from the existence within the USA of a media marketplace generally unfettered by non-commercial considerations.

It has at its disposal the USA’s preeminent political, economic and military position in the world economy to garner advantages to it in foreign markets. The Hollywood majors have seized upon these advantages. They have been able to exploit the size of the North American and other English-speaking markets. From this base they have been able to wield market power in other linguistic markets.

Through their continuing overseas sales effort they have been able to function as multinational distributors in the international film, television and video marketplace.

However British Cinema does very well to compete

UK Independent Production – Control, London to Brighton, Fishtank and Wuthering Heights – the role of the UK film Council – The audience is more diverse and has a wider set of tastes than the distributors imagine.

Different UK Film strands:

Museum / Heritage / Costume Drama piece Elizabeth, Atonement, The English Patient, Wuthering Heights, Young Victoria, The King’s Speech, Chariots of Fire, A Room with a View.

Social Realism – London to Brighton, Nil by Mouth, Quadrophenia, Trainspotting – availability of funding through the UK film council, popular with a loyal and significant minority of cinemagoers and in the case of Quadrophenia and Trainspotting were also massive commercial successes.

Tourist View –  Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Notting Hill – earned huge worldwide revenues – can drive more of the same

Comedy – Mr. Bean, Johnny English, Simon Pegg’s trilogy very large popular appeal

Franchises – trusted by audiences and producers. Why?

Audiences – familiar territory, characters and narrative, allows for narrative development. Different directors handle the franchise in different ways and bring new twists – Harry Potter and Bond, typically English but have universal appeal. Producers trust franchises, cheaper, already established audiences. Established cast and Crew, past record of box office success, they can capitalise on the hype surrounding the franchise.

7. ‘The current revolution in technology is changing the way both producers and audiences think of film and the film experience.’ How far do you agree with this statement? [40]

8. ‘Neither producers nor audiences need stars any more.’ How far do you agree with this statement? [40]

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