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  • AS Media Studies Study Notes Unit G322 Section B Audiences and Institutions The Film Industry Part 1 General Introduction 1
  • General Introduction Preparing for the exam The specification says For the exam you should be prepared to understand and write about the processes of film production, distribution, marketing and exchange as they relate to contemporary media institutions. The nature of audience consumption and the relationships between audiences and institutions. In addition, you need to know about: the issues raised by media ownership in contemporary media practice; the importance of cross media convergence and synergy in production, distribution and marketing; the new 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; the importance of technological convergence for institutions and audiences; the issues raised in the targeting of national and British audiences by international or global institutions; the ways in which your own experiences of media consumption illustrate wider patterns and trends of audience behaviour. 2
  • General Guidance What do you need to do to prepare for Section B of the exam? Undertake case studies of the film industry considering their production, distribution and consumption? You are looking at institutional processes and audience consumption. There should be some focus on YOUR experience of being a consumer of film yourself. Case Studies - what do they need to include? These need to involve the study of a specific studio or production company within the contemporary film industry that targets a British audience. These can be based in the US (Hollywood), in Britain (Film4, BBC Films), or part of World Cinema (Bollywood). They need to include the study of a studios patterns of production, distribution, exhibition and consumption by audiences. This should also be accompanied by study of how contemporary films are distributed (digital cinemas, DVD, HD-DVD, downloads, etc.) and how this has changed the production, marketing and consumption of films. What do you need to know for Section B of the exam? You need to have a good up-to-date knowledge of the key issues involved in production, marketing, distribution and consumption of films. You need to be able to refer to actual examples to support your points. You also need practice at the format of the examination in order to hone your skills. How long should you spend on the section B question? You should spend 45 minutes on your section B question. What sort of questions will be asked in Section B? You will be expected to answer the question using examples from your case studies to support points made in the answer. The questions might ask students to consider some or all of the following: How is the film industry making use of advantages in digital technology? How do film audiences consume/receive a particular text? How and why are changes in the consumption and production of films happening? To what extent are film audiences the agents, beneficiaries or victims of changes in production, distribution or exhibition? What are the methods of distribution/exhibition for the film industry? 3
  • The exam questions will resemble these in format: What impact has digital technology had on institutions in the media industry that you have studied? How does the institution you have studied attempt to target the audience for its product? Discuss the claim that all media institutions will become fully digital or decline with reference to the media industry you have studied. How has your institution responded to the pace of change within the media industry you have studied? Describe the various strategies used by your institution to secure its survival in the contemporary marketplace. How has the institution you have studied attempted to target its audience across different media, platforms and markets? Specimen exam question Discuss the issues raised by institutions need to target specific audiences within a media industry which you have studied. Possible essay plan: By institutions the question is asking for you to write about a particular studio/production or distribution company specifically. By specific audience the question is asking you to write about a cross section of the potential film going audience you might like to think of the typical target audience for most mainstream films. And naturally, you are focussing on the film industry. You will be marked on your ability to illustrate changing patterns of production, distribution, exchange and consumption through relevant case study examples and your own experiences. You should cover the following in your response to the question: How different production practices (ways of making films) allow films to be constructed for specific audiences. Various distribution and marketing strategies that raise audience awareness of specific films or genres of films. The use of new technology to enable (more accurate?) targeting of specific audiences. Different audience strategies (ways of connecting with an audience) that help or challenge film industry practices. You will be given credit for your knowledge and understanding, illustrated through case study material, in any of these areas; there is no requirement that they should all be covered equally. Examiners will be prepared to allow points, examples and arguments that have not been considered if they are relevant and justified. 4
  • Mark Scheme To get a top mark (level 4 out of 50) you need to do the following: 1. Explanation/analysis/argument (16-20 marks) Shows excellent understanding of the task Excellent knowledge and understanding of institutional/audience practices factual knowledge is relevant and accurate A clear and developed argument, substantiated by detailed reference to case study material Clearly relevant to set question 2. Use of examples (16-20 marks) Offers frequent evidence from case study material award marks to reflect the range and appropriateness of examples Offers a full range of examples from case study and own experience Offers examples which are clearly relevant to the set question 3. Use of terminology (8-10 marks) Use of terminology is relevant and accurate 4. Expression and coherence of argument Complex issues have been expressed clearly and fluently using a style of writing appropriate to the complex subject matter. Sentences and paragraphs, consistently relevant, have been well structured, using appropriate technical terminology. There may be few, if any, errors of spelling, punctuation and grammar. 5
  • Introduction Anticipated for almost as long as the second coming, the digital media era is finally upon us and that much misused word 'convergence' has become meaningful. From Rupert Murdoch's deal to buy MySpace to the selling of YouTube for more than a billion dollars after 18 months of trading, we are slap back in the middle of the second dot.com boom. Don't even mention Google, whose founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, must be crossing off the days till it's time to become full time philanthropists and cancel third world debt. (Gibson 2007) Media Studies is all about the contemporary, so while it is useful to have a sense of the history of the film industry in Britain (so we know how successful the industry is at present relative to other time periods) we are really much more concerned with how films are currently being produced and distributed and how this is changing. The key agent of change is convergence. This is because it makes little sense these days to talk about the film industry without referring to other media industries like internet distribution. The word institution refers to the companies and organisations that provide media content films - whether for profit or as a public service. This involves an understanding of media as business, the relationship between film producers, distributors and exhibitors and the public or audience. You need to be concerned with how film companies producing and distributing material operate within a context of ownership, convergence, technologies and globalisation. And you need to be very interested in how things are changing. You can't be expected to feel the pace of change as you will have grown up with online media as the norm, but for this part of your studies you need to acquire a sense of how rapidly institutions and audiences are being transformed by digital technology: The question that needs to be answered is: do new media forms produce both distinctively different content and 'audiences' when compared with their predecessors? The answer to this question is a qualified yes. (Marshall 2004) 6
  • Convergence Convergence describes two phenomena: First, technologies coming together, for example, a mobile phone you can use as a still and moving image camera, download and watch moving images on, use as an MP3 player and recorder and access the internet with. Second, media industries are diversifying so they produce and distribute across several mediafor example, a newspaper with an online version and audio podcasts or the coming together of videogames with films e.g. Quantum of Solace (2008). We no longer live in a media world where television, videogames, films, newspapers, radio, magazines and music exist separately. For this reason it is essential that you study the impact of convergence on the film industry - the focus here is on the con