Friday, 12 December 2008

Institutions and Audiences - Institution Case Study Prompt - updated

The Film Production case study films for the exam (audiences and institutions). Consider the issues for the studios and audiences at every stage.

When writing the exam essay - candidates should look for modern examples in their industry and be able to write a paragraph about:
  • the processes of production – how the product is created

  • the methods of distribution – how does the product reach its audience

  • methods, and processes of marketing as they relate to the institutions

  • the way audiences consume the product

  • the relationships between audiences and institutions

  • issues raised by media ownership within your topic

  • convergence and new technologies in production, distribution and marketing and its importance for institutions and audiences

  • issues raised by global institutions targeting British audiences

Advice from the exam board (OCR)
Section B of the exam: Institutions and Audiences
Candidates should be prepared to understand and discuss the processes of production, distribution, marketing and exchange as they relate to contemporary media institutions, as well as the nature of audience consumption and the relationships between audiences and institutions. In addition, candidates should be familiar with:

• the issues raised by media ownership in contemporary media practice;
• the importance of cross media convergence and synergy in production, distribution and marketing;
• the technologies that have been introduced in recent years at the levels of
production, distribution, marketing and exchange;
• the significance of proliferation in hardware and content for institutions and
audiences (i.e. digital technology)
• the importance of technological convergence for institutions and audiences: the
internet, digital downloads, DVDs, High Definition, CGI, etc.
• the issues raised in the targeting of national and local audiences (specifically,
British) by international or global institutions;
• the ways in which the candidates’ own experiences of media consumption illustrate wider patterns and trends of audience behaviour.

This unit should be approached through contemporary examples in the form of case studies based upon one of the specified media areas.

A study of a specific studio or production company within a contemporary film industry that targets a British audience (eg Hollywood, Bollywood, UK film), including its patterns of production, distribution, exhibition and consumption by audiences. This should be accompanied by study of contemporary film distribution practices (digital cinemas, DVD, HD-DVD, downloads, etc) and their impact upon production, marketing and consumption.


Choose a British institution that makes films, i.e. BBC Films, Film 4, Working Title Films or Vertigo Films, and research the production cycle of a recent film that they made. This is so you can trace the issues and patterns of how your chosen institution goes about making films and their state as a player in the British marketplace.

For each point consider how and why the film-makers (the institutions) targeted the audience for each film.

Trace how your institution’s film progressed from the initial idea to its box-office success (or failure). Use the internet/film magazines/books to help you with your research. But be practical about the choice of your other film; make sure that relevant information will be available before you make your choice. Choose a film that you have a good DVD with plenty of extras!

The one limitation on your choice is that the film must have been targeted at British audience.

Treat these questions as guidelines. You will not always be able to answer for some of these questions and you might have ideas of your own.

Research the production and distribution companies that made and distributed your film. Produce a mind-map for each one so you can:

-Understand the film genres associated with each company. What issues do they suggest?
-Consider the budgets and prospects of how companies might distribute and market a film. Again, issues?
-The synergies (benefits, cost savings and implications) of being part of a wider organisation? How does it benefit the production company or distributor by being part of a media organisation?

-How is convergence an issue during production, distribution and with audiences? (Think here about how technology is used in the making and distribution of your film.)
-Has the production company or distribution company been taken over by another company? What issues are created or resolved by this?

How have audiences, the consumers of films, reacted to changes of ownership or films of the media company ?

What are the pre-production issues for the production company when making films?
Whose idea was the film? Did the idea start with the writer, or were writers brought in to develop a preconceived idea?
What are the issues with the genre of the film?
Where did the idea come from? Was it an original idea, or perhaps a book first, or TV series, or comic strip, or from some other source?
Who wrote the original script? Did other people become involved in the writing as the project progressed?
How easy was it to arrange the financial backing to make the film? Who were the financial backers? Why?
Casting – who were cast in the main roles and why? What other films featured the stars? What were the associations they brought with them?
Who was the producer? How did he or she become involved?
Who was the director? How did he or she become involved?
Who composed the film music and why was he or she chosen? Consider the sales of the CDs on Amazon, etc. Seek out reviews.

What were the issues for the production company during the production phase?
Was it an easy ‘shoot’? If there were difficulties what were they? Were there tensions between any of the creative personnel, often known as ‘the talent’?
Was any part of the film shot on location? If so, where? Why were some locations chosen over others? Were costs a factor?
Where there any difficulties with casting or with acquiring the stars/actors the producer wanted?
How significant was casting to reach specific audiences?
What did the studio film cost to make? How much did the stars get? Where did the budget go? Was the film shot within budget? Was it ever in any danger of going over budget?
Were there any changes to the script during production? How many changes or re-writes? Did the same scriptwriter(s) stay ‘on board’ all the time, or were some replaced?
List some of the key people who made contributions to the production and highlight some of their individual contributions.

What were the technological issues for the studio for producing and distributing the film?

Convergence and new technologies in production, distribution and marketing & its importance for institutions and audiences
how important was new technology such as CGI, blue or green-screen, etc. important for the film and its audiences?
how important is digital technology for the distribution of the film? (in cinemas,
how significant is internet, digital downloads, DVDs, high definition, CGI, digital television, etc for distributing the institution’s film? Again, what are the issues?
What was the impact for production, marketing and consumption from the following aspects of distribution for your film?

What was the impact for marketing and consumption from the following aspects of distribution for your film?
Who were the distributors? How well known is/was the company? What is their track record as distributors? (other films they have distributed)
Who was the target audience for your film? How do you know?
How did the film-makers decide where to release the film and when? What was the eventual release pattern nationally and locally?
What deals were made for distribution abroad? How easily were these deals secured?
Why did they at any stage change their plans for the release pattern, and if so, why?
What was the marketing and advertising strategy for the film?

Was there a premiere, and if so, where?
Was your film distributed to digital cinemas?
When did it go to DVD, HD-DVD and what are the sales figures?
How important are internet downloads and YOUTUBE
How does the official film website market the film? Are there any official and blogs, etc.?
Find film posters and analyse them for how they reach their audience(s) targeted British audiences to see the film.
What outlets were used for advertising? Were TV spots used?
Were there any merchandising tie-ins? (products/toys, posters, photos, etc. Who were the consumers/audiences for those?) How were they introduced (as a marketing campaign in the weeks leading up to the release of the film?)
Was any additional publicity gained, and if so, how?
How did the distributors market the film by utilizing “the talent” to appear on TV and radio shows? What kinds of press stories were released as and before the film came out?

What were the issues during the exhibition and consumption /audience phase of your film?
When was the film released; also where and on how many screens?
Was there a particular strategy attached to increasing the number of prints available?
Were there any difficulties with the censors? How did the censors classify the film?
Were there any other special restrictions placed on the exhibition of the film?
What were the reactions of the critics to the film? Was it considered a critical success? Has it been re-assessed since then?
Find several good film reviews and make notes on common features
Consider the public’s response to the film; read and make notes on features from reviews on AMAZON, etc.
Did the film create a particular media debate, or create news headlines?
How much money did the film take in its first year? Was it considered a commercial/financial success?
Did it have ‘legs’, that is did it continue to run in the cinema for some time?
Carry out some primary research of your own (a survey) to establish who in your age group has seen the film and the reasons why. Form a few questions on this. One might consider the effectiveness of the marketing campaign and which aspect of it encouraged or discouraged your age group to see or not see the film.
How did the audiences’ reactions affect the institutions (producing studios/distributors) and the decisions that they might make to “green-light” future films? For instance, is the production company making more films in the same genre with similar stars, etc. Or, has the studio decided to target audiences through a different genre, actors, use of technology, etc. Have audiences’ tastes changed? Why?

All the questions are offered as guidelines; there will be questions that you may not be able to answer; it is down to you to work on the development of your own chosen film from concept to screen: form the institution to audience.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

An excellent website for finding and analysing film posters

Find the film poster(s) for your case study film poster and then click on the green cross on the side of the poster to enlarge it, etc.

Otherwise find your film posters on the web or in Google Images.

Remember that several posters will possibly have been made for your film, i.e. a teaser poster, the theatrical poster and perhaps a poster with snippets of press reviews or Oscars or awards claimed for it. Think also how some films begin with art-house or minority audiences and cross over into the mainstream (audience-wise) if they become more popular than first expected.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Typefaces and Film Posters

As you click through the posters in the link below read Sebastian Lester's commentary about why each type face was selected by the films' distributors. You should try to indentify the typeface used for film posters on your case study films and the reasons for selecting them. This will prove useful when you discuss in your essays how your case study film was marketed.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Movie Terms Explained by USA Today Critic, Kevin Maynard

What is "platforming" when distributors release films? This and other questions are answered by Kevin Maynard, film critic of USA Today. For other terms explained go to:

Monday, 3 November 2008

How might music programmes be described as multi-modal?

Definitions: can music programmes be defined as a specific genre?
Music programmes may not fit into any one genre at all as they can be interpreted as varied a form of communication that is made up of a range of elements (recorded music, music performance, music video, documentary, etc.) If you agree with this than you will accept that music programmes are multi-modal, which means that they combine a variety of forms of communication (dance, spoken language, visual language, editing, rhythm, and various elements of music).

Kress Van Leeuwen (in 1996) argues a social trend away from the dominance of the written word (language-as-writing) and towards technological modes that stress the visual and the integration of multiple modes at the same time (multimedia, hypertext, etc.).
Kress Van Leeuwen offers a theoretical approach for multimodal analysis. Looking at videos this way we need to:

· the medium (or media) for production (i.e. Pop, Rock, Rap, Classical, Hip Hop, etc.)
· the modes (types) of communication chosen for the design of the text. (i.e. live show, music video, dance, singing, talking, adoption of a genre, reality TV, intertextual references, etc.)
· the various ways in which the text is distributed. (i.e. MTV and its channels, TOTP’s, The Chart Show on ITV, etc.)
· the kinds of discourse (language and messages) being communicated (the dominant representations of people and the world), i.e. for sex, race, age and class.

Music programmes are multimodal in their reliance on the above combinations. It is useful to use this theory if we think that the kinds of media texts we are dealing with are more complex and involve combinations (mainly due to technology and new audience behaviour) than the traditional concepts usually associated with Media Studies.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

A history of film distribution

A useful site for the history of film distribution and for other links for this topic.

Film Distribution and Marketing in the UK

This article and the related articles on the right of this link's page are crucial for understanding how distribution and marketing is carried out in UK cinema. For students studying independent films this and the related articles offer valuable insight into how independent films are released and marketed. Hollywood films have a major advantage over independently produced films as they are often made by studios owned by companies that have control over every aspect of a film's production, distribution, marketing and exhibition. In other words the companies are vertically integrated in terms of ownership.

Build your understanding by reading the related articles in order as the case study article on "Bullet Boy" refers back to points made in the previous articles. Apply your new knowledge to your own case studies by finding out the relevant information and including it in your blogs, Power Points, Word documents, etc.

If you haven't already started one, begin an Audiences and Instutions Glossary with words and terms under each of the key areas: Production, Distribution, Marketing and Exhibition in Word.

Add topic specific key words and phrases to your glossaries as you read. For instance for distribution and marketing add the following and others that you notice during your studies:
'vertical integration'
'viral marketing',
'local distribution' (in a particular country)
'a release date',
'a release pattern'
'the big screen'
'theatrical openings'
'market territories'
'the marketplace'
'free to air television'
'theatrical rights'
'theatrical distribution'
'theatrical leg'
'word of mouth'
'marketing platform'
'marketing - when and how'
'a light week'
'P & A'
'Other films with similar traits (story, subject, country of origin)'
'The cinema poster - in the UK this means the standard 30" x 40" 'quad' format - is still the cornerstone of theatrical release campaigns. Numerous recent examples indicate that the poster design is highly effective in 'packaging'
'favourable press response'
'advertising campaign'
'Press advertising campaign for specialised films will judiciously select publications and spaces close to relevant editorial.'
'Press materials, clips reels, images, press previews, screener tapes'
'The use of talent - usually the director and/or lead actors - wins significant editorial coverage to support a release.'
'A pre-release campaign.'
'Preview screenings to create ''buzz" and "word of mouth" (usually amongst the press although the public can also be asked, too.)
'mainstream films'
'specialised films'
'For mainstream films scale and high visibility is the key'

These are just SOME of the topic's key terms that you need to use in your essays. Add others to your glossaries as you notice them.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Financial Crisis Puts Squeeze on Hollywood

Essential reading for understanding the current climate for financing films in Hollywood and elsewhere!,8599,1842122,00.html

Film distribution - an essential article in three parts

As part of your research into the production, marketing, distribution and exhibition of films this workshop on film distribution is necessary reading for understanding current developments in this changing aspect of film.

It's in three parts. Read each one and make notes so you can apply the information for your case study films.

For more links on film distribution see my AS and A2 Film Studies Blog and look in the links section.

The tomb of the general who inspired the film "Gladiator" has been found

This is useful for our class case study film. Consider the reasons why the plot of the film differed from the story of the real general and the impact this might have for generating audiences.

Read also this important BBC artcle written in the year 2000 which reveals how Russell Crowe was on the verge of joining the 'A' list of Hollywood stars from being just another 'respected' actor. This short article also draws attention to how the empire of ancient Rome can be interpreted as an allegory (a comparison) for the modern empire of an imploding USA.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Articles on the Current State of Music Programmes on TV

These are significant articles which set out the current context of music programmes shown on British TV. They should be read as background reading for your case studies.
'It's 8am and Alan McGee is gurning' (useful)
'Later with Jools Holland is 200 episodes old'
'Branding has ruined music programmes on television'

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Charlie Brooker on the edited illusions of Reality TV

He is somewhat risque with some jokes but what he has to say about how editing in so-called "Reality TV" is not. Focus on what Brooker has to say about editing here.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Charlie Brooker on The X Factor

He is earthy, astute and funny. He is also one of the sharpest critics around. Charlie Brooker's review of The X Factor adds an extra dimension of analysis for those studying this programme for their Music Programmes on TV case studies.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Music and Scenes from "Gladiator"

Here's a post for the student charged with researching Hans Zimmer, the composer of most of the music in "Gladiator". I'm looking forward to the feedback on the research on the Russell Crowe, Joachim Phoenix, Ridley Scott, Hans Zimmer, The Producer, David Franzoni (there are two) and how technology was used to cover up the fact that Oliver Reed died part way through the film. Consider also how speeches early in the film seem to foreshadow America and Britains' "War on Terror" in Afghanistan and Iraq with the US as the modern equivalent of The Roman Empire.

Students should also notice how "Gladiator" links the past with present with the current vogue of the Reality TV shows in which contestants try "do one another in" and then rely on audiences "saving" them in phone votes, etc. (For instance, The Weakest Link", "The Apprentice", "I'd Do Anything", etc.). Is it any wonder that Gladiator, made during the turn of the last century and the new Millennium in which audiences were encouraged to look back and look forward, appealed to modern audiences who have since been schooled in gladiatorial television series? The caesars are the panel show hosts with Carphone Warehouse sponsoring the plebs who vote from their armchairs and setees.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

The Film Production Cycle

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article needs additional citations for verification.Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (January 2008)

Filmmaking is the process of making a film, from an initial story idea or commission through scriptwriting, shooting, editing and finally distribution to an audience. Typically it involves a large number of people and can take anywhere between a few months to several years to complete. Filmmaking takes place all over the world in a huge range of economic, social and political contexts, using a variety of technologies and techniques.

1 Stages of filmmaking
1.1 Development
1.2 Pre-production
1.3 Production
1.4 Post-production
1.5 Distribution and Exhibition
2 Independent Filmmaking

Stages of filmmaking
Development. The script is written and drafted into a workable blueprint for a film.
Pre-production. Preparations are made for the shoot, in which cast and crew are hired, locations are selected, and sets are built.
Production. The raw elements for the finished film are recorded.
Post-production. The film is edited; music tracks (and songs) are composed, performed and recorded; sound effects are designed and recorded; and any other computer-graphic 'visual' effects are digitally added, and the film is fully completed.

Sales and distribution. The film is screened for potential buyers (distributors), is picked up by a distributor and reaches its theater and/or home media audience.

This is the stage where an idea is fleshed out into a viable script. The producer of the movie will find a story, which may come from books, plays, other films, true stories, original ideas, etc. Once the theme, or underlying message, has been identified, a synopsis will be prepared. This is followed by a step outline, which breaks the story down into one-paragraph scenes, concentrating on the dramatic structure. Next, a treatment is prepared. This is a 25 to 30 page description of the story, its mood and characters, with little dialog and stage direction, often containing drawings to help visualize the key points.
The screenplay is then written over a period of several months, and may be rewritten several times to improve the dramatization, clarity, structure, characters, dialogue, and overall style. However, producers often skip the previous steps and develop submitted screenplays which are assessed through a process called script coverage. A film distributor should be contacted at an early stage to assess the likely market and potential financial success of the film. Hollywood distributors will adopt a hard-headed business approach and consider factors such as the film genre, the target audience, the historical success of similar films, the actors who might appear in the film and the potential directors of the film. All these factors imply a certain appeal of the film to a possible audience and hence the number of "bums on seats" during the theatrical release. Not all films make a profit from the theatrical release alone, therefore DVD sales and worldwide distribution rights need to be taken into account.
The movie pitch, or treatment, is then prepared and presented to potential financiers. If the pitch is successful and the movie is given the "green light", then financial backing is offered, typically from a major film studio, film council or independent investors. A deal is negotiated and contracts are signed.

In pre-production, the movie is designed and planned. The production company is created and a production office established. The production is storyboarded and visualized with the help of illustrators and concept artists. A production budget will also be drawn up to cost the film.
The producer will hire a crew. The nature of the film, and the budget, determine the size and type of crew used during filmmaking. Many Hollywood blockbusters employ a cast and crew of thousands while a low-budget, independent film may be made by a skeleton crew of eight or nine. Typical crew positions include:
The director is primarily responsible for the acting in the movie and managing the creative elements.

The assistant director (AD) manages the shooting schedule and logistics of the production, among other tasks.

The casting director finds actors for the parts in the script. This normally requires an audition by the actor. Lead actors are carefully chosen and are often based on the actor's reputation or "star power."
The location manager finds and manages the film locations. Most pictures are shot in the predictable environment of a studio sound stage but occasionally outdoor sequences will call for filming on location.
The production manager manages the production budget and production schedule. He or she also reports on behalf of the production office to the studio executives or financiers of the film.
The director of photography (DP or DOP) or cinematographer creates the photography of the film. He or she cooperates with the director, director of audiography (DOA) and AD.

The production designer creates the look and feel of the production sets and props, working with the art director to create these elements.
The art director manages the art department, which makes production sets
The costume designer creates the clothing for the characters in the film working closely with the actors, as well as other departments.
The make up and hair designer works closely with the costume designer in addition to create a certain look for a character.

The storyboard artist creates visual images to help the director and production designer communicate their ideas to the production team.
The production sound mixer manages the audio experience during the production stage of a film. He or she cooperates with the director, DOP, and AD.

The sound designer creates new sounds and enhances the aural feel of the film with the help of foley artists.

The composer creates new music for the film.

The choreographer creates and coordinates the movement and dance - typically for musicals. Some films also credit a fight choreographer.

Sesame Workshop crews film an improvised segment of Sesame Street, a children's series, on location in Washington Square Park in New York City.
In production the movie is created and shot. More crew will be recruited at this stage, such as the property master, script supervisor, assistant directors, stills photographer, picture editor, and sound editors. These are just the most common roles in filmmaking; the production office will be free to create any unique blend of roles to suit a particular film.

A typical day's shooting begins with the crew arriving on the set/location before the calltime. Actors may arrive several hours earlier for make-up and costume. Crew will prepare for that day's filming and get any equipment (cameras, track and dolly, microphones, props). The assistant director will follow the shooting schedule for the day. The film set is constructed and the props made ready. The lighting is rigged and the camera and sound recording equipment are set up. At the same time, the actors are wardrobed in their costumes and attend the hair and make-up departments.

The actors rehearse their scripts and blocking with the director. The picture and sound crews then rehearse with the actors. Finally, the action is shot in as many takes as the director wishes.

Each take of a shot follows a slating procedure and is marked on a clapperboard, which helps the editor keep track of the takes in post-production. The clapperboard records the scene, take, director, director of photography, date, and name of the film written on the front, and is displayed for the camera. The clapperboard also serves the necessary function of providing a marker to sync up the film and the sound take. Sound is recorded on a separate apparatus from the film and they must be synced up in post-production. Most recordists have now progressed onto digital hard-drive recorders but some will still record onto DAT (digital audio tape).

After each take the director will then decide if it was acceptable or not. The script supervisor will note any continuity issues and the sound and camera teams log the take on their respective report sheets. Every report sheet records important technical notes on each take.

When shooting is finished for the scene, the assistant director declares a "wrap." The crew will "strike," or dismantle, the set for that scene. The director approves the next day's shooting schedule and a daily progress report is sent to the production office. This includes the report sheets from continuity, sound, and camera teams. Call sheets are distributed to the cast and crew to tell them when and where to turn up the next shooting day.

For productions using traditional photographic film, the unprocessed negative of the day's takes are sent to the film laboratory for processing overnight. Once processed, they return from the laboratory as dailies or rushes (film positives) and are viewed in the evening by the director, above the line crew, and, sometimes, the cast. For productions using digital technologies, shots are downloaded and organized on a computer for display as dailies.

When the entire film is in the can, or in the completion of the production phase, the production office normally arranges a wrap party to thank all the cast and crew for their efforts.

Here the film is assembled by the film editor. The modern use of video in the filmmaking process has resulted in two workflow variants: one using entirely film, and the other using a mixture of film and video.
In the film workflow, the original camera film (negative) is developed and copied to a one-light workprint (positive) for editing with a mechanical editing machine. An edge code is recorded onto film to locate the position of picture frames. Since the development of non-linear editing systems such as Avid, Quantel or Final Cut Pro, the film workflow is used by very few productions.
In the video workflow, the original camera negative is developed and telecined to video for editing with computer editing software. A timecode is recorded onto video tape to locate the position of picture frames. Production sound is also synced up to the video picture frames during this process.

The first job of the film editor is to build a rough cut taken from sequences (or scenes) based on individual "takes" (shots). The purpose of the rough cut is to select and order the best shots. The next step is to create a fine cut by getting all the shots to flow smoothly in a seamless story. Trimming, the process of shortening scenes by a few minutes, seconds, or even frames, is done during this phase. After the fine cut has been screened and approved by the director and producer, the picture is "locked," meaning no further changes are made. Next, the editor creates a negative cut list (using edge code) or an edit decision list (using timecode) either manually or automatically. These edit lists identify the source and the picture frame of each shot in the fine cut.

Once the picture is locked, the film passes out of the hands of the editor to the sound department to build up the sound track. The voice recordings are synchronised and the final sound mix is created. The sound mix combines sound effects, background sounds, ADR, dialogue, walla, and music.
The sound track and picture are combined together, resulting in a low quality answer print of the movie. There are now two possible workflows to create the high quality release print depending on the recording medium:
In the film workflow, the cut list that describes the film-based answer print is used to cut the original colour negative (OCN) and create a colour timed copy called the colour master positive or interpositive print. For all subsequent steps this effectively becomes the master copy. The next step is to create a one-light copy called the colour duplicate negative or internegative. It is from this that many copies of the final theatrical release print are made. Copying from the internegative is much simpler than copying from the interpositive directly because it is a one-light process; it also reduces wear-and-tear on the interpositive print.

In the video workflow, the edit decision list that describes the video-based answer print is used to edit the original colour tape (OCT) and create a high quality colour master tape. For all subsequent steps this effectively becomes the master copy. The next step uses a film recorder to read the colour master tape and copy each video frame directly to film to create the final theatrical release print.

Finally the film is previewed, normally by the target audience, and any feedback may result in further shooting or edits to the film.

Distribution and Exhibition
This is the final stage, where the movie is released to cinemas or, occasionally, to DVD, VCD or VHS (though VHS tapes are less common now that more people own DVD players). The movie is duplicated as required for distribution to theaters. Press kits, posters, and other advertising materials are published and the movie is advertised.

The movie will usually be launched with a launch party, press releases, interviews with the press, showings of the film at a press preview, and/or at film festivals. It is also common to create a website to accompany the movie. The movie will play at selected cinemas and the DVD is typically released a few months later. The distribution rights for the film and DVD are also usually sold for worldwide distribution. Any profits are divided between the distributor and the production company.

Independent Filmmaking
Main article: Independent film
Filmmaking also takes place outside of the studio system and is commonly called independent filmmaking. Since the introduction of DV technology, the means of production have become more democratized. Filmmakers can conceivably shoot and edit a movie, create and edit the sound and music, and mix the final cut on a home computer. However, while the means of production may be democratized, financing, distribution, and marketing remain difficult to accomplish outside the traditional system. Most independent filmmakers rely on film festivals to get their films noticed and sold for distribution. However, the Internet has allowed for relatively inexpensive distribution of independent films; many filmmakers post their films online for critique and recognition. Although there is little profitability in this, a filmmaker can still gain exposure via the web.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Across Racial Lines - an essay on THE WIRE

This essay examines the most expressive racial reprensentation in a US TV programme since "ROOTS".

Video Essay on the Kings and Pawns scene from THE WIRE

After you click on the link click on the smaller video image.

TV Drama - 5 video essays on the opening sequence of THE WIRE

This video essay is by a leading academic on what many critics are saying is greatest TV drama of all time is goldust! Check out the links to other video essays in The Museum of the Moving Image.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

An interesting link for analysing and studying media corporations

A condensed concept map of what the major media corporations own just in the USA! Click on the map to enlarge.
This is a useful site with good posts and links on mass media organisiations.
Check out the analysis and the links for extending your own knowledge of institutions and the issues surrounding them.

I've also place this link in the media ownership section of links on the right of this blog.

Gladiator case study information

Jill Nelms's book "An Introduction to Film Studies" is essential reading for our class case study film, "Gladiator". Do not ignore the value of what can be found in books for your individual case study films.,M1

NBC Universal Cable Networks

Look what they own! And that's just the TV cable networks.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

The concentrated ownership of the media - charts on media ownership

The media ownership charts that you can see with this link offer ready understanding of this difficult issue.

Brief essays on Mass Media Ownership and how it manipulate the young

What is a Film Distribution Company?

This information was found on the Net and it some of it may be somewhat out of date. Still, it's a starting point.

What is a Film Distribution Company?
The motion picture industry is very much dominated by large and very diversified conglomerates, such as The Walt Disney Co., News Corp., Sony Corp., Time Warner Inc., and Viacom Inc. which finance the development of new products, in this case motion pictures, own vast libraries of older products, and often own distribution channels for bringing these new products to the public. Sometimes the distributor will finance the movie from beginning to end and other times, they provide a portion of the finances and subsequently receive a cut of the profits.

According to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), films financed by major distributors cost $53 million in 1998, almost triple the price tag of 10 years ago. Some films such as Titanic may cost in the range of $100 million while others, such as The Blair Witch Project, may be produced for $15 million or less, especially when they generate box office sales of nearly $140 million as this one did.

Where do Distribution Companies get their finances?
According to Standard & Poor?s, 20% is derived from domestic theater rentals (the movie theater renting a copy of the film of a new movie), 20% coming from foreign theaters, 40% from home video, and television provides the remaining 20%. The distributor?s portion of the theater rentals usually comes to about 50% of the box office total.

They consolidate their costs by taking on the marketing functions for more films produced by other companies. However, they also may have a lower payoff if the movie should have extraordinary success.

Where is the power of the industry concentrated and what are its sources?
The power of the industry is very much dominated in the distribution companies, for the product, the film, can not be completely produced without the finances and influence of the distribution company. These vast entertainment conglomerates very much dominate the industry because they do have more clout with theater owners and TV networks, if they do not own their own subset within the very conglomerate. They can offer brand name recognition to the viewer, and have more connections to the creative talent and experience with effective management. Having copyrights to any popular characters or brand names may seriously affect the success and thus the power of the distribution company, as seen in MTV, CNN?s Larry King Live, and of course Walt Disney. Access to capital is also a very significant factor in a distributor?s potential power. By examining the operating cash flow and the severity of debt as well as the ease with which the company may repay its debt is often an indicator of possible power.

Monday, 15 September 2008

British Films In Production

Gladiator's director, Ridley Scott talking to Russell Crowe during production.

This is a good site to find a film that you can track for its production, distribution, marketing and exhibition. Very useful for case studies.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

This is a useful site for studying Music Programmes on TV

Excellent resources and the tutor is the chief examiner!

Film Distribution

For links on film distribution in the US and UK see my AS and A2 Film Studies blog. The link is in the top right hand column of this blog.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

This blog has been renamed AS and A2 Media Studies

This blog was once called St. Luke's AS and A2 Media and it has been renamed AS and A2 MediaStudies. Doubtless older posts will be harder to access under the old name, so I'll repost some of the more favoured older ones over the next few days and weeks. Older posts and concept maps can still be accessed once you arrive here by using the archives.

Characteristics of a Music VIdeo

Characteristics of Music Video

Characteristics of Music Video

Ultimately we will advocate using cultural models for the rhetorical analysis of music video. To fully understand how a cultural model facilitates rhetorical criticism of music video, it is first necessary to explore the unique features of the genre. Music, particularly rock, has always had a visual element. The album cover, the "look" a band strived for in performance, concert staging, and promotional publicity have all helped create a visual imagery for rock (Goodwin, 1992). The use of video to stimulate album sales and the birth of MTV as a continuous outlet for viewing simply served to enhance the visual potential present in rock.

Viewers typically do not regard the music video as a commercial for an album or act. Aufderheide (1986) describes the connection of viewer to video."With nary a reference to cash or commodities, music videos cross the consumer's gaze as a series of mood states. They trigger nostalgia, regret, anxiety, confusion, dread, envy, admiration, pity, titillation--attitudes at one remove from the primal expression such as passion, ecstasy, and rage. The moods often express a lack, an incompletion, an instability, a searching for location. In music videos, those feelings are carried on flights of whimsy, extended journeys into the arbitrary." (p. 63)

That music videos present compelling mood states that may claim the attention of the viewer is not a matter of happenstance.
Abt (1987) states that "directors of videos strive to make their products as exciting as the music. In the struggle to establish and maintain a following, artists utilize any number of techniques in order to appear exotic, powerful, tough, sexy, cool, unique" (p. 103). Further, Abt indicates a video must compete with other videos.

"They must gain and hold the viewer's attention amidst other videos; help establish, visualize, or maintain the artist's image; sell that image and the products associated with it; and perhaps, carry one or several direct or indirect messages . . ." (p. 97).

Music videos may be further characterized by three broad typologies: performance, narrative, and conceptual (Firth, 1988).
These types describe the form and content selected by the director or artist to attract viewers and to convey a direct or indirect message.

Performance videos, the most common type (Firth 1988) feature the star or group singing in concert to wildly enthusiastic fans. The goal is to convey a sense of the in-concert experience. Gow (1992) suggests "the predominance of performance as a formal system in the popular clips indicates that music video defines itself chiefly by communicating images of artists singing and playing songs" (pp. 48-49). Performance videos, especially those that display the star or group in the studio, remind the viewer that the soundtrack is still important. "Performance oriented visuals cue viewers that, indeed, the recording of the music is the most significant element" (Gow, 1992, p. 45).

A narrative video presents a sequence of events. A video may tell any kind of story in linear, cause-effect sequencing. Love stories, however, are the most common narrative mode in music video. The narrative pattern is one of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. Action in the story is dominated by males who do things and females who passively react or wait for something to happen (Schwichtenberg, 1992).Conceptual videos rely on poetic form, primarily metaphor (Firth, 1988). The conceptual video can be metaphysical poetry articulated through visual and verbal elements. "These videos make significant use of the visual element, presenting to the eye as well as the ear, and in doing so, conveying truths inexpressible discursively" (Lorch, 1988, p. 143). Conceptual videos do not tell a story in linear fashion, but rather create a mood, a feeling to be evoked in the experience of viewing (Firth, 1988).

Conceptual videos contain the possibility for multiple meanings as the metaphor or metaphoric sequence is interpreted by the viewer.
"Thus the metaphorical relations between images structured according to musical and visual rhymes and rhythms play a suggestive role in soliciting multiple meanings from us, the viewers/listeners, that resonate with our experience--something we can feel and describe" (Schwichtenberg, 1992 p. 124).

A given music video may actually have elements of more than one category. Goodwin (1992), in describing Madonna's videos, suggests that the essential narrative component of a music video is found in its ability to frame the star, "star-in-text," as all Madonna's videos seem to do. A story exists solely for its ability to create, or in Madonna's case recreate, the star's persona. This blending of elements can also enable a type of music such as rap to have cross-over appeal to a wider audience.Although we may profitably interpret the message potential of music video using these three categories as a basis for content analysis, certain limitations exist if we remain on that path. "Analysts of music video narrative have been all too eager to freeze the moment and study videos shot by shot, but here the problem is that this generates not too much but too little knowledge, because the individual narrative is highly intertextual" (Goodwin, 1992 p. 90).

As a blend of video technique and imagery from film and television, music video offers us a new perceptual agenda by providing allusions to and incorporations of old iconic imagery from film, allowing us to reconstitute the pieces of the 20th century information explosion (Turner, 1986). The brevity of the music video has created a new grammar of video technique particular to this miniscule video form.

"Visual techniques commonly employed in music videos exaggerate . . . Interest and excitement is stimulated by rapid cutting, intercutting, dissolves, superimpositions, and other special effects, that taken together with different scenes and characters, make music videos visually and thematically dynamic." (Abt, 1987 pp. 97-98)

Born of an amalgam of commercialism, television, and film, for the purpose of selling rock albums, music videos frequently employ well-established verbal and visual symbols in telling a story or making a point. If no such symbols exist, music videos coin their own which, given the ubiquity of the medium, quickly find their way into the vernacular.How then to best understand the rhetorical properties that such a media form has for the audience? Schwichtenberg (1992) suggests that what critics should consider "is how music videos are woven into a complex cultural context that includes performers, industries, and diverse audiences who attribute a wide variety of meanings to the music and visuals" (p. 117).

These characteristics suggest that the most methodologically appropriate approach to understanding how music videos might function as rhetoric is to view them as cultural acts, intertextually located in the viewer's own experience. We define culture, with a little help from Bruce Gronbeck (1983), as a complex of collectively determined sets of rules, values, ideologies, and habits that constrain rhetors and their acts. This complex leads a society to generate meaning through various message forms to establish a series of societal truths. The extent to which any form of communication such as a music video plays a part in the process of truth-making is what the rhetorical critic attempts to discover through criticism.

Karyn Charles Rybacki and Donald Jay Rybacki Northern Michigan University

Thursday, 14 August 2008

How we watch now: tune in, log on, call up

Very useful info. on how we use technology, what we do while we watch TV and what we watch. Have a look at the great graphics at the bottom of this article. This is really useful stuff for applying statistics for Britons' use of technology in the home.

Britons embrace digital lifestyle

This is an important piece of research for understanding how Britons allocate the time they use for technology. It's a must know for the Institutions and Audiences paper.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Representatation and Ideology - as a concept map

Click on the image to enlarge.

Media students should find this concept map useful when analysing all types of media texts for representation in AS and A2. Remember that meaning in film and media texts is created in a social context and not individual one.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

A High School Movie On Film Techniques

This is a must-view for seeing the various aspects of film-making under readily accessible headings. Check out this nine and a half minute film as it will help extend ideas and film language for making short films, including music videos. A big "thanks" to Curtis Brownjohn and his fellow Australian high school students and teachers for sharing this short film.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Hurtwood House's students' work on music videos

Have a look the students' version of "Making Plans For Nigel" and other videos and adverts made by students from Hurtwood House. Regardless of the equipment that may be available to you there's no harm in looking at the benchmarks set by others!

Monday, 9 June 2008

Censorship and Film - a concept map of issues (repost)

For A2 students studying Censorship and Film

Click on the image to enlarge. You should be able to apply several issues and points in this concept map with the case study films that you watched.

Music Programmes on TV - Revision Concept Map

Click on the image to enlarge

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Media Statistics - but they are dated

This is an interesting website with a range of information that has a cut off point in the 1980s. It would give you a historical understanding of the development of the media in Britain if nothing else.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Writing essays for action-adventure films

View the film four times.

After making your notes as each area of film do the following:

  • Briefly explain WHAT is there in the scene and how it includes action-adventure conventions including locations. (If you can work out the director’s purpose for constructing the scene state it now.)
  • Give examples from each aspect of film language on HOW THE FILM LANGUAGE creates meaning and fits or subverts conventions of the film’s genre.
  • Conclude with an evaluation WHY the film language is used/there and its impact on the viewer.

When using theory you can apply it directly to your points when discussing conventions and their representation in the scenes/films.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Audience and Institutions paper (New Media Technologies)

Question 2b often encourages the use of statistics to establish the usage of a "new technology". Here are a few links with some of those statistics. If you cannot find the statistics on users and sales that you need for your particular case study enter appropriate terms in the search boxes of the same site for your new media technology. Remember also that user and sales statistics can also be useful for issues and future developments. The exam is now only a few weeks away!

This link is useful for broadband usage/users. The others are self explanatory.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

A template to help you plan your revision

Here's a great template that you can use to plan the revision of your topics. You can print it off after filling it in.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Toshiba drops out of HD DVD war

From the BBC on the new format DVDs

Toshiba drops out of HD DVD war
Sony's Blu-ray has won the backing of the biggest film studiosToshiba has said it will stop making its high definition DVDs, ending a battle with rival format Blu-ray over which would be the industry standard. Following a review of its business, Toshiba said it would stop production of HD DVD players and recorders.

The HD DVD format has suffered as major US film studios backed the Blu-ray format, which is being developed by electronics firm Sony and partners.
For more:

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Media Magazine

St Luke's Students

You should have your passwords to get into site. It has essential articles and case studies for every unit that you are studying in AS and A2.

See either Dave or myself if you do not have the password.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Music Programmes on TV – Case Study prompts

What you need to cover in your case studies - the importance music programmes on TV for:


Programmes, TV stations, ownership, record companies, advertising and management agencies, for the creation and projection of the image and the sales, statistics, marketing of your chosen singer, band or music programme.


How singer’s images are projected inside and outside their music videos. Think about race, gender, class and age. Think also about ideology associated with the band, singer or programmes image, depending on your case studies.
Remember that adverts, TV appearances in chats shows, or shows such as “Never Mind The Buzzcocks”, televised live appearances, awards, etc. are also Television.


Analyse one or two videos of your band for representation using film language that you learned from action adventure films. If you are studying a particular music programme you need to focus on how it is presented and the film language associated with it.

Genre is associated with this area.

This is where you can use theory – Andrew Goodwin or Kress Van Leuwen.


Consider target audiences and how bands, singers or programmes reach them through TV and through their image or recreation of the images.

You NEED specific examples of most of the above so you can give details in your exam essays.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Blogs and Podcasts - the way forward in Media Studies from September

From next September students will be expected to produce blogs, websites and/podcasts to showcase their work and gain 20% of their grades next year. Students who want to get ahead of their peer group are already using this technology this year! I like to see students showcase their New Media Technology case studies using the best technological approaches that they can.

I support Pete Fraser in what he is doing. His innovatory approach has helped put Longroad Media way ahead of other media/film studies colleges.

For more:,,2235512,00.html

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Representation and Gender in Sitcoms

This is an excellent link for analysing sitcoms using the key criteria - representation and gender. Ben Paulley's pages help students understand how they need to tackle the questions in the example.

Sitcom: What It Is, How It Works

By R.F. Taflinger from 1996. Taflinger's examples are US comedies but the same analysis can be applied to UK ones.

Taflinger's main page for sitcoms