Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Research


Research the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens directed by JJ Abrams.

Find out about the following:
  • Producers/ Production companies
  • Director
  • Screen writer
  • Actors
  • Budget
  • Locations
  • Greenlight date
  • Screens shown on (opening weekend, peak figure, weeks at cinema)
  • Critical reaction (Rotten Tomatoes & Metacritic)
  • Box office figures: worldwide, US, China
  • Music (composer of score/ soundtrack)
  • Marketing (teaser trailers, trailers, TV spots, posters, websites etc)
  • Tie-in products
  • SFX (special effects - technology used)
  • Any issues
Present the research in a suitable format of your choice. Post on your blog.

Mark Kermode reviews Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Chinese Trailer

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Film Production



Film production is the process of making a film. 

For the exam you'll need to understand all the stages of film production, these are:


Development - This is simply the process of 'finding' a story. Ideas for films come from a variety of sources, they can range from novels, real life events to computer game adaptations. Once you've got an idea you'll need someone to write a pitch for you which you take to a film producer in an attempt to get some funding to make your film. Even at this very early stage you need a very clear idea of who you're aiming you film at so you can include elements that will appeal to them.
Pre-production - Once you've got funding you establish your budget and can begin to get a film crew together, you can storyboard the script. You also need break the script down into individual scenes and identify all the locations, props, cast members, costumes, special effects and visual effects needed.
Production - This is simply the process of 'making' the film. Provided you've done your job properly in the pre-production stage making the film should be straight forward. 'Film' is very expensive and difficult to store so an increasing number of film makers are using digital cameras to save money.
Post-production - During this stage you take all the 'film' you've shot and give it to a film editor. They will then begin putting it together. Special effects will be added, a soundtrack will be added, any missing dialogue will be re-recorded and added resulting in a 'rough cut'. This will be shown to the director and a test audience who will offer feedback. Often this causes scenes to be filmed and added or removed.

In today's lesson you need to find out what the following key roles and areas entail:
  • writer
  • producer
  • casting director
  • director
  • film finance
  • camera operator
  • editor
  • production designer
  • marketing
  • exhibition
You must write a description of each role/area and add a relevant image to illustrate.

These sites (alongside wikipedia) will help (click on images):





Complete the work in Word, Illustrate with relevant images, upload to Scribd and then post to your blog.

Selected Key Terms for Institutions and Audience



 1.An institution (in the film industry)

Definition: any company or organisation that produces, distributes or exhibits films. The BBC makes films with their BBC Films arm; Channel4's Film Four produces films, Working Title also produce films, as does Vertigo Films, etc. Some institutions need to join with other institutions which distribute films. Vertigo Films is able to distribute its own films, Channel Four distributed Slumdog Millionaire through Pathe. Working Title's distribution partner is Universal, a huge US company which can make, distribute and show films. The type of owner ship within an institution matters as, for instance, Channel 4 and the BBC are able to show their own films at an earlier stage than other films made by other institutions. They are also better placed to cross-promote their in-house films within their media organisations. Use you work on Film Four as the basis for most of what you write, Moon is a good cross comparison as Duncan Jones had to create his own institution just to get the film made.


2.Distribution and Marketing

Definition: the business of getting films to their audiences by booking them for runs into cinemas and taking them there in vans or through digital downloads; distributors also create the marketing campaign for films producing posters, trailers, websites, organise free previews, press packs, television interviews with the "talent", sign contracts for promotions, competitions, etc. Distributors use their know-how and size to ensure that DVDs of the film end up in stores and on supermarket shelves. Distributors also obtain the BBFC certificate, and try to get films released as the most favourable times of the year for their genre, etc.


3.Exhibition

Definition: showing films in cinemas or on DVD. Media attention through opening nights and premieres How the audience can see the film: in cinemas, at home, on DVD, through downloads, through television, including premieres, the box office take in the opening weeks; audience reviews which includes those of the film critics, ordinary people, cinemas runs; awards in festivals, The Oscars, BAFTAS, etc.


4.Exchange

Definition: The unintended use of an institution’s media text (i.e. a film) by OTHER PEOPLE who use the film or parts of it to form new texts. What happens to a film, etc. after the public get their hands on it using digital technology.  Also relates to the selling of the product to the audience.

Examples: People unconnected to the institution/ film using WEB 2.0 applications such as Youtube, Blogger, reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, buzzfeed to discuss the film or edit parts together to form a new text which they may then put a new soundtrack to and publish on Youtube, etc. When you add a trailer from a site like YouTube on your blog you have been engaging with exchange. 


5.Vertical and Horizontal Integration

Definition: Absorption into a single firm of several firms involved in all aspects of a product's manufacture from raw materials to distribution.

Example: Vivendi Universal have integrated film, music, web and distribution technology into the company, including owning big stakes in cables and wires that deliver these services. Therefore they are vertically integrated because they own all the different companies involved in film, from production to distribution to exhibition. They are also horizontally integrated because they have all the expertise for producing media content under one roof – films, TV, magazines, books, music, games thus being able to produce all the related media content for one film under the same roof (see synergy). This is important for the control the institution has over their product/film.


6.Synergy/Synergies 

Definition: The interaction of two or more agents (institutions/companies) to ensure a larger effect than if they acted independently. This is beneficial for each company through efficiencies in expertise and costs.

Examples: Working Title know how to make films and they have formed a business partnership with Universal, a massive US company, who have the experience and size in the marketplace (cinemas, stores, online, etc.) to distribute them. (They create the marketing campaign to target audiences through posters, trailers, create the film’s website, free previews, television and press interviews featuring “the talent”, drum up press reviews, word of mouth, and determine when a film is released for the best possible audience and the type of release: limited, wide, etc.) Channel Four’s Film 4 and Celador Films (Celador also produce Who Wants to Be A Millionaire and films, too) benefited by pooling their know-how, experience and expertise to jointly produce Slumdog Millionaire. These companies formed a business relationship with France’s Pathe to distribute this film. In the UK Pathe helped create the poster, trailer, website, etc. In the USA the film found another distributor after being nominated for the Oscars.


7.Viral Marketing

Definition: A marketing technique aiming at reproducing "word of mouth" usually on the internet and through existing social networks. YouTube Video pastiches, trailers, interviews with cast members, the director, writer, etc. You can find interviews of “the talent” trying to gain publicity for your case study films on YouTube. Find some clips from the films we have studied to help you in the exam.

8.Guerilla Marketing

Definition: The use of unconventional and low cost marketing strategies to raise awareness of a product. The aim is usually to create “buzz” and “word of mouth” around a film. Unusual stunts to gain publicity (P.R.) on the film’s opening weekend, etc.

Examples: Sasha Baron Cohen created “buzz” before the release of his film “Borat” by holding fake press conferences. The studio also accessed the popularity of YouTube by releasing the first 4 minutes of the movie on YouTube, a week before it’s release, which can then be sent virally across the nation. At a special viewing of “Bruno” Cohen landed on Eminem “butt first” from the roof MTV Awards venue, dressed in as an angel outfit with rents in the rear end.


9.Media Convergence

Definition 1: Convergence of media occurs when multiple products come together to form one product with the advantages of all of them.

Examples: More and more films are being marketed on the Internet and on mobile phones. You no longer need even to buy the DVDs or CDs as you can download films and music directly to your laptop, Mac or PC. Blue Ray DVDs can carry more features than ordinary DVDs and can be played on HD televisions and in home cinemas for enhanced/cinematic picture quality. You can save films on SKY digital, Free-box digital players, etc. You mobile phone has multiple features and applications. With media and technological convergence this is growing year on year. Play-Stations, X-Boxes and the Wii can can connect with the Internet and you can play video games with multiple players.


10.Technological Convergence

Definition 2: The growing interractive use of digital technology in the film industry and media which enables people to share, consume and produce media that was difficult or impossible just a few years earlier.

Examples: For instance, the use of new software to add special effects in editing; the use of blue-screen; using new types of digital cameras like the one Danny Boyle used in “Slumdog Millionaire” (The Silicon Imaging Camera to shoot high quality film in tight spaces); you can use the Internet to download a film rather than go see it in the cinema; you can watch it on YouTube; you can use special editing programs like Final Cut Pro to edit bits of a film, give it new soundtrack and upload it on YouTube; you can produce illegal, pirate copies on DVDs from downloads and by converting the film’s format; you can buy Blue Ray DVDs with greater compression which allows superior viewing and more features on the DVD; distributors can use digital software to create high concept posters; cinemas can download films to their projection screens and do not have to depend on a van dropping off the film! The is also the Digital Screen Network. There are tons of ways in which technological convergence affects the production, distribution, exhibition and exchange by prosumers. ( A prosumer is someone who not only consumes (watches films) but also writes about them the Net, blogs and make films out of them, often uploading them on sites like YouTube, etc.

11.A Mainstream Film

Definition: A high budget film that would appeal to most segments of an audience: the young, boys, girls, teenagers, young people, the middle aged, older people, the various classes in society. Distributors often spend as much or more than the film cost to make when distributing mainstream films that are given wide or universal releases.

Example:The Boat That Rocked was a mainstream idea and was given the mainstream treatment on wide release. The film flopped at the UK box office on release ( and has not done too well since mid November 2009 on release in the USA. This was mostly because of its poor reviews, particularly from “Time-Out”. However, when young and older audiences see the DVD they generally like the film because of its uplifting storyline and the well-chosen soundtrack.


12.Art House Films

Definition: A low budget independent film that would mostly appeal to an educated, higher class audience who follow unusual genres or like cult directors that few people have heard of. Therefore it is usually aimed at a niche market. Foreign films often come under this category.

Examples: The low budget film, Once (2007) which found a specialised, boutique distributor in Fox Searchlight fits this label. (FOX the mainstream company usually distributes big budget film and blockbusters); So does “Juno” from 2008 which began as a low budget film about teenage pregnancy that the big studios thought too risky to touch – but it found popularity through its touching storyline, engaging music and its Oscar nomination for best script. Like “Slumdog Millionaire” the film crossed over between art-house cinemas and audiences to mainstream ones because of the recognition it received from Canadian film festivals and award ceremonies like Britain’s BAFTAS and the Hollywood’s Oscars.


13.Ratings bodies 

BBFC - The British Board of Film Classification

How your institutions films are rated will affect audiences in so far as WHO can see them. Remember that sex scenes, offensive language, excessive violence, the use of profanity, etc. can affect the rating and certificate the film receives and therefore affect who is able to see the film.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Mark Kermode's Blockbuster Rules

Mark Kermode's Rules



Mark Kermode believes it is impossible for a Blockbuster to lose money if they just follow some simple rules. Those rules are

1. A newsworthy budget
2. Spectacular visuals
3. NOT be a comedy
4. Include an 'A list' star

These rules can be seen to fit into the five categories of film production
Pre Production (all the stuff that happens BEFORE you begin filming)
Production (all the stuff that happens whilst filming)
Post Production (all the stuff you do after filming to put the film together)
Marketing (advertising your film)
Distribution (how the film is sent to cinemas, how long its on in cinema and how many screens is it on)






World War Z

Budget $190 million
Box Office $540 million

After Earth

Budget $130 million
Box Office $244 million