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.

1 comment:

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