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AS MEDIA STUDIESG322 Institutions and Audiences
Section B of the exam: Institutions and AudiencesCandidates 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.
Write down your definition for the term production and give examples from film case studies.
Write down the role/responsibility of a producer.
Involves the creation of the media product and is the responsibility of the production company.
Before that the writer/director/producer must find finance for a film – which may come from one or many production companies (a co-production)
Producers are frequently the first person to become involved in a project; they participate directly in all the main producing phases; and see the project through production, to post-production, marketing and distribution.
The Producer's is role to turn story ideas into profitable cinematic entertainment, and to persuade others to share in his or her commercial and creative vision. Producers usually report to the production company, or to the Executive Producers appointed to supervise the production on behalf of the financiers and Distributors.
Responsibilities Producers have overall control on every
aspect of a film's production, bringing together the Screenwriters, Director, cast, finances and production team.
Their primary responsibility is to foster an environment in which the creative talents of the cast and crew can flourish - Producers are therefore ultimately accountable for the success of the finished film.
Producers many responsibilities span all four phases of production:
Producers are often responsible for coming up with the underlying premise of a production, or for selecting the screenplay. Producers secure the necessary rights, select the screenwriter and story editing team, raise the development financing, and supervise the development process.
Producers typically bring together the key members of the creative team, including the Director, Cinematographer and principal cast. They assist the Executive Producers to raise finance for the production.
Once this is in place, they select other key personnel, such as the Line Producer, Associate Producer and Production Manager, as well as the remaining Heads of Departments, such as Production Designer, Editor and Composer.
Producers also participate in location scouting, and approve the final shooting script, production schedule and budget.
3. Production Producers are responsible for the day-to-day
operations of the producing team, though many practical functions are delegated to the Line Producer and any Associate Producers.
Producers are also in constant communication and consultation with the Director, and with other key creative personnel, on and off set.
Producers approve all script changes and cost reports, and continue to serve as the primary point of contact for all production partners, investors and Distributors
4. Post-production and marketing Producers are expected to liaise
personally with post-production personnel, including the Editor, Composer, and Visual Effects staff.
They then consult with all creative and financial personnel on the production of the answer (or final) print.
They are usually involved with the financial and distribution entities in planning the marketing and distribution of the finished film.
Production 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?
Other important Issues and Key Terms
Proliferation – 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.
Revision Concept/Mind Map
In pairs, create a concept map or mind map on the production issues of ONE of the following Working Title Films.
The Boat That Rocked Love Actually Notting Hill Bridget Jones’s Diary
Convergence and new technologies in production, distribution and marketing & its importance for institutions and audienceshow 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?
Film distributors are responsible for prints and marketing:PRINTS – producing physical copies of a film for cinema/home release and finding the exhibitors/retailers to sell the filmMARKETING – raising audience awareness and anticipation of a new release
A distributor may:-Be a part of the same parent company as the production company-Have a long term arrangement with a production company and provide financial assistance for many of their productions-Provide financial assistance for a single film by a production company-Acquire a film after it has completed production
A film will likely have different distributors for:-Releases in different countries-Cinema Release-Home-Video Release
In 1993 Clerks was bought by distribution company Miramax for just over $2million
Write down your definition for the term film distribution and give examples from film case studies.
Write down the role/responsibilities of a film distributor.
Is the process of launching a film into the market place and sustaining public interest in the film.
World-wide distribution is dominated by US Companies such as Paramount, Warner, and Universal.
Distributors may be involved in a film in any or all of the following three ways: It may invest in the film’s production. The distributor might buy the rights to the film once
it is made. If the distributor is part of a larger organisation that
has made the film, then it will automatically distribute films made by the parent company.
Film Distribution: Key Elements Positioning:
Involves how and when the film should be released. Elements to be considered are the time of year, other film releases and the target audience.
Circulation: how many copies of the film should be
circulated to cinemas. Each print costs around £1000. The distributor should decide whether the
film requires a ‘saturation release’ (700-1000 prints) or an ‘art-house release’ (around 20 prints)
Film Distribution: Key Elements Release:
Timing is crucial. School holidays are a prime time within the year for the release of blockbusters.
If the film is a potential award winner, then it will be released during the traditional season of awards competition: January to March.
Competition must also be considered. Marketing:
Can often cost as much as making the film!!! Main aim is to create a ‘must see’ feeling about the
film. Word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing aid for a film.
Film Distribution: Marketing: Key Features
Several elements can be used in marketing to generate interest in a film.
Posters: Contain standard elements that are used to sell
the idea of a film to the potential viewer. The main image will often echo a key moment in
the film. Any stars or possible key personnel, will have
their names featured. Posters usually have a Unique Selling Point. This
is the element that offers something special or different about the film.
Some blockbusters use a ‘teaser’ poster campaign. The teaser posters offer a few key elements of a film to generate interest.
Analysing Film Posters:
As film themselves do, posters draw on key elements of genre to communicate through the poster, and hopefully generate interest in the film.
Iconography Narrative Characters Themes
Film Distribution: Marketing: Key Features
Trailers: Need to present a number of key elements to the
audience. The genre – through key scenes, iconography, dialogue,
or other sound elements. Narrative elements have to be introduced, being careful
not to ruin the film though. Is there is a star, then they will likely be featured.
Again a USP will be created this could be: Images of an actor playing a different role to what the
audience expects A location that differs from that which is conventional
within a particular genre The presentation of a story not told before.
As with posters, there may also be a teaser campaign.
Film Distribution: Marketing:Key Features:
Media Advertising: Using other media texts to promote the film.
Posters in magazines and newspapers, and on billboards and bus stops.
Trailers on TV and radio (depending on the budget) Stars and director appear as guests to be interviewed about the
The Internet: A ‘buzz’ about a film can be generated in an internet chat
room, for example. If positive word of mouth spreads this is good promotion, however, there is the other side of the coin too.
Individual films have their own website, which feature clips, images, interviews and so on. This helps create public awareness.
E.G. The Blair Witch Project. The film’s website provoked great debate about whether the film was based on a real incident or not. This created a large amount of publicity for a low budget film.
Film Distribution: Marketing:Key Elements.
Promotions: Big films often have tie-in promotion campaigns. E.G. toys given away in fast food
outlets, displays in shop windows. Merchandising:
A large potential for profit lies in this area. The distributor will oversee the sale of licenses to approved companies to allow
them to use film images and logos. Star Wars was perhaps the first film to profit through merchandising.
Premieres: Are a carefully organised promotion tool. They generate articles in newspapers,
magazine articles about those who attended, and T.V. interviews with stars. Press Junkets:
The endless short interviews given to the members of the press. It is an official element of the publicity campaign.
Preview Screenings: Free tickets might be given away or won in competitions. Distributors are careful
to attract to the preview the intended target audience for the film, in order to try and generate a positive word of mouth.
Festivals: Film festivals have a dual function. They are competitions in which if a film wins
an award or receives critical acclaim, it will provide positive publicity for the film. Secondly they are a promotional tool where reviews are created and interviews conducted.
Distribution/Marketing 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?
Distribution/Marketing 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 YOUTUBEHow 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?
Revision Concept/Mind Map
In pairs, create a concept map or mind map on the distribution issues of ONE of the following Working Title Films.
The Boat That Rocked Love Actually Notting Hill Bridget Jones’s Diary Atonement
Write down your definition for the term film exhibition/exchange and give examples from film case studies.
Exhibition is divided into two sections:- Cinema – the distributor is paid by the cinema
for a copy of the film- Home – the distributor is paid by the company
who is selling the film for a copy
A film’s success is often decided on the amount of money it makes during it’s cinema release. This is known as the Box Office Takings
Home Exhibition is becoming an increasing valuable and varied source for distributors to increase profits.
The Premiere UK Cinemas Prints and Logistics Box Office Performance Revenues Recoupment
The Premiere Fame helps sells films and stars have
loyal fan bases.
The biggest stars are those who can ‘open’ a film – guarantee that it will do well in it’s opening weekend.
Star power can extend to big name directors like Tarantino.
Working Title retain great popularity with the fans from the type of films they are associated in making eg Rom coms.
The major revenue that exhibitors gain comes from popcorn sales, drinks sales etc.
They are dependent on the popularity of the film they show and the work of the distributors marketing team, to sell more popcorn and increase their profits.
Therefore they are very selective about the films they show.
British films can struggle when competing against big Hollywood films but niche exhibitors can afford to show British and International films.
Prints and Logistics Making so many prints of films requires
substantial investment from distributors. They will try to reduce costs by making a smaller number of prints and releasing the film in waves.
This is the chief reason why many films are released in the UK and Europe some months after their US release: to save the distributors money on reproduction costs.
Digital Revolution has been transforming film distribution in two key ways.
Piracy has lead distributors to ‘day and date’ releases, in which the film is released in all territories simultaneously.
This requires a great deal of investment and is usually reserved for big blockbusters.
2. The development of digital data storage and
transmission via the internet has made digital film distribution a serious possibility for the future.
50% of US and UK cinemas will be capable of digital projection by 2010 so distributors of low budget films can distribute films digitally at a reduced cost.
In the future distributors will be able to distribute their films via electronic prints.
Box Office Performance
Data about film attendance is collected continuously, and used by the cinemas to decide which films o cancel and which to prolong.
Some films that flopped in the cinemas can find their audience on DVD and can make a healthy profit some years after their initial release.
The box office gross is the starting measure for what everyone involved will make from the film.
In reality most of this money will go back to the exhibitors who screen the film and the distributor to pay for the marketing costs.
The profits for the film will come from other distribution ‘windows’ such as DVD sales and broadcast.
The length of time it takes to sell the film in all the available windows means that it may be several years before all the investors receive their money – and even longer before the producer can get paid.
Exhibition and Consumption
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 featuresConsider 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?
Exhibition and Consumption
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: from the institution to audience.
Revision Concept/Mind Map
In pairs, create a concept map or mind map on the exhibition issues of ONE of the following Working Title Films.
The Boat That Rocked Love Actually Notting Hill Bridget Jones’s Diary Atonement
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 audiencemarketing
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
The Boat that Rocked Review http://www.timeout.com/film/reviews/