Wednesday, 23 September 2009

‘Mad Men’ Strains to Stay as Button-Down as Ever - a review

New York Times's Alessandra Stanley's review of Series 3 is helpful for understanding post modern audiences' reactions to characters and scenes in the program. Her examples span all three series.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Key Words and Ideas to Help With Your Posts for Institutions and Audiences (Production Issues)

Use some of these topic-specific words begin posts, or perhaps support points in your posts. I've tried to group them under suitable headings.

Begin your blogs by selecting a British film production company that you then focus on for your research.

Begin by focusing on production issues so you can write some posts on them. You could begin generally by giving a summary of the history or background of a production company and follow up with a post on the backgrounds of its key personnel, such as producers. You could then go on to write posts on a recent film produced by the company; you might also include some film images from stills, a poster, etc. Consider the decisions that the company makes in bringing its films into production.

Once you have posted on a film that institution has recently made go on to research and post on a film currently production. Never forget that these institutions always consider their prospective audiences during the film production process.

Remember also that you can find good links to British film companies (institutions ) in the last post in August from this blog. Here's a link for this page: The UK Film Council, Screenonline and IMDB are also great sources for information.

Your main task
What kinds of decisions are made by intitutions while they produce a British film? What were the problems? (issues) Try to find production notes for films that you use as focuses for your posts. You could use a recent film by the institution and another in production.

The institutions (film production company's) decisions/issues
Research and write about the production company– its track record, successful films, its favoured genres, and other companies that its linked with.

Consider and post about the slate of films that the institution has made in the last year - the successess and failures.

Focus your research and posts now on a key producer and a film this producer (who may work with other producers) has brought into production
Who is the Producer - cite other films this producer has helped bring create
Where did the idea for the film originate? - From another film, a book, comic books, a novel, a short story, etc.
Casting - who and why?– What were the issues here? Does the film have A-list stars or unknowns? Why were actors cast in certain roles? Had it to do with the associations that they would bring with them from other films, budget reasons, etc.
Commissioning and Greenlighting films. Producer-wise who greenlighted the film? What were the issues here?
Who was chosen to be the Director? – what other films have they made? Why did the institution/producer pick him or her? What special expertise would they bring? Did the institution take a chance on an unknown or untried director? Why?
Script - who is behind it? What else did they write?
– other films, track record
Composer - what is their track record; what genres are they associated with?
How important is the music choices and tracks chosen for the film?
Funding - how did the institution fund the film? Did they "beg, steal and borrow" by calling in favours, as with the makers of "London To Brighton"?
Budget (What is the production company’s overall budget for making several films and individual films.)
Locations - What were/are the issues?
Special Effects - technology issues, expense, blue-screen, etc. Are they an issue for the film in any respect, say, for genre or audience expectations? Expense?
Audience Considerations (Issues)
Is the focus film a mainstream film?
An independent film?
An art-house film?

What are the considerations for the institution?

Other important Issues and Key Terms
the increase of films in a genre or the use of technology, etc.
Are your focus films in a particular genre? Are they benefitting from new technology, including software in their production, editing and distribution? Are they available for downloading from the Net.
Synergies – the involves the benefits of working within a larger organisation or working in co-operation with other companies. Does, for instance, how does Film4 benefit from being part of being Channel 4?
Cross media convergence – how does the institution and its film(s) benefit from the coming together of other technologies, i.e. the internet, digital downloading, television, cinemas, mobile phone promotions, Youtube, play-station 4, digital games, etc.

Other terms and words you think are important for production issues and are topic specific.

Give each post a title and a labels. You can multi-lable some posts.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Mad Men 'promo' trailers

The first trailer by AMC is a 'promo' for Season 1, the second is for Season 2. The others are for Season 3. They are quite 'retro' as they pastiche TV trailers from the past. However, being post modern, these ones are less naive and more cleverly stylised. The cinematic nature of the show is highlighted in each trailer. Postmodernists would argue that the generic boundries between television and cinema are being blurred here. Perhaps this is to be expected as AMC stands for American Movie Channel.

Postmodern unpacked

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Basket of Kisses - a blog dedicated to Mad Men

Basket of Kisses - a great looking blog by the Lipp sisters dedicated to all things Mad Men.

Advertising Age - on "Mad Men"

Several pastiche news story pages from the early 1960s featuring Mad Men characters, the agency, Sterling Cooper, mixed with actual news stories from the time.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

What Would Don Draper Do?

There's a link to a quirky blog below on how Mad Men's Alpha male, Don Draper, would handle the problems that life throws at you. 'Don' often offers his 'advice' with copious examples drawn from the series. It's funny in a strange kind of way with its interplay for audiences between the alienation felt within late modernism and our post modern attitudes and sensibilities towards it. Mad Men offers a post modern representation of a late modern world.

Set against real events in the early 1960s fictional characters experience situations and dilemmas which expose unconscious feelings and beliefs that we no longer find appropriate. Each episode has several scenes where there are attitudes, feelings and actions for post modern audiences to gawp at and reflect on. In Series 1 a young child mixes a martinis for her parents. In a rare scene of idyllic family bliss in Season 2, Jon Hamm's Don Draper reveals his thoughtlessness over the environment as he hurls a spent can of beer between some trees after a family picnic in a beauty spot; his wife, Betty (January Jones), shares this lack of concern as she casually flicks her blanket clear of of food-wrapper garbage and leaves it on a grassy bank as the family returns to their car. We no longer think or do things like this. The 'garbage' motif is cleverly echoed later in the same episode when a comedian justly accuses Don of sleeping with his wife. The comedian angrily sums up the shell-like Don with "You know you're garbage!"

Other episodes feature casual racism, sexism, ambition and class. The programme provokes 'intelligent' audiences into thinking about our unconscious ideas and attitudes - our ideology. Audiences are not expected to be passive viewers. They are expected to be active by reflecting on the present when comparing it with the past. It is this active participation of the audience that makes this ground-breaking programme so post modern.

Roger Sterling is as un-PC as it is possible to be. As well as being born with a silver spoon he has silver hair and a silver tongue:
Here's a link to quotes favoured by the viewers of AMC