Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Some more useful revision - try re-writing in relation to your case studies 'Gravity' and 'In Our Name'.

Planning a response to G322 Section B: Film.
Example question: Whatsignificance does the development of digital technologies have for media institutions and audiences?

Whilst there is no golden rule to writing a correct essay answer, you can effectively plan and map out a successful response in little time, thus giving your writing a clearer focus and opportunity to respond to the question using all of your knowledge and ideas.

This writing frame is a six point guide to approaching an exam question.

1 Introduction: Don’t just launch into the question, you must define certain parameters, including what industry you intend to reference and what areas of that business you will explore in relation to the question. You should also define your success criteria and what you interpret as ‘significant’. You have studied two or three media texts, therefore you need to explain to the examiner how you intend to shape your response the pattern you follow should then make more sense both to you, adding to your flow, and aid the examiner.

2 Try and complete this response in a linear way; you should address the impact of digital developments in technology at the various stages of production, unless the question gives you a particular focus. Why not start with preproduction and how institutions use technology to create a buzz about their forthcoming product. If a film is going to be filmed in 3D or have a particular star name attached to it, this can attract the attention of investors and distributors. Once contracts/deals are signed there may be a press release. Take, Skyfall; a year before production there was an online buzz about who would be in it. Youtube is full of fanmade trailers which add to publicity; therefore this is significant for institutions and predicting popularity. Audiences trawl new media websites to discuss and share thoughts about production. Directors and actors also now use Vlogs (short for video blog) to keep audiences wanting more. Also Vines are used in this way - to create a buzz. 

3 Production: think about the technologies used to create the film. If it’s a Hollywood, high concept film it may have a large part of its budget dedicated to CGI, which is significant to digital technologies. You can contrast this against your British Film, which may or may not use CGI you could also discuss affordability of special effects in editing today (verisimilitude) and productions made 510 years prior. Imax and 3D camera technology may have been used, again this is linked to profitability at the box office and drawing new audiences in; however, they may not want to visit the cinema because of improved technology at home (think HD, 3D TV) so institutions may be responding to audience demands. REMEMBER to highlight the link/relationship between institutions and audiences; the development of Apps and virals; trailers and fan pages; interactivity and games to raise awareness.

4 Distribution: the companies responsible for publicising and marketing the film. New technology now plays a greater part than ever in attracting the eye of cinema goers. The careful selection of social network sites like Facebook and Twitter is now seen as the norm. The impact of likes, trending and retweets is significant in today’s media. You should have a detailed knowledge regarding marketing campaign, whether it was a saturated release and how critics and fans received the film. There may well have been synergistic processes involving video games and other media industries to reflect upon perhaps made significant by digital technology. How TV spots, theatrical trailers, posters offering digital content and product tieins use the web to extend and attract niche audiences or enforce marketing strategies to hook their primary and secondary audience.

5 Exhibition: Focus on the performance at cinemas and on the home entertainment market (DVD, BluRay, download). What factors, e.g. piracy and cloud based exhibition systems are changing markets (lovefilm, Netflix). You should think about new concepts like Ultraviolet and Phenix, designed to allow audiences to have access to legitimate copies of films for portable media devices (borrowed from gaming). Think about what devices audiences now use to watch films, relate this to the significance of new technology developments.

6 Conclusion: Draw together your findings from paragraphs 25 and conclude just how far digital technologies have made significant developments for media institutions and audience. Level 4 responses would make predictions about future trends affecting either party.

Free resource taken from www.alevelmedia.co.uk

Key concepts

  • Convergence – the coming together of digital initiatives to form a single platform for media technologies, for example the television to use digital shopping services, the phone to use the internet, listen to the radio and watch TV.
  • Synergy – the institutional practice which creates multiple and secondary forms of marketing of a single sourced product to many audiences, formed as a campaign. For example, the use of a film which can be promoted through licensing, promotional tie-ins and other media. An example of media synergy is a Disney film which is easily promoted through fast-food deals, the use of a soundtrack and the sale of toys.
  • Cross-Media Ownership – the ability of media institutions to own different media to diversify their interests and provide multiple profit points; fot example, Disney owns four TV channels, the ABC television network, a record label, a chain store, an internet business (Disney.com) and for film Production and Distribution: Walt Disney Pictures (includes Walt Disney Feature Animation and DisneyToon Studios), Touchstone Pictures, Miramax Films, Pixar Animation Studios, Hollywood Pictures, Buena Vista International, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Buena Vista Home Entertainment International, Disney Theatrical Group, A&E IndieFilms (37.5% equity)… This makes the media institution very powerful.

Key Points


Smaller companies have to be creative in order to secure the best deals. For example, Bedlam secured one of the film's stars, Geoffrey Rush, after taking the unorthodox step of posting the movie script through his home letterbox in Melbourne, Australia. Rush's management wrote the filmmakers a furious email for their impertinence. Despite this, Rush accepted the role of Lionel Logue, the King's speech therapist.


Bedlam Productions formed an alliance with See Saw Films, who had a first-look deal* with Momentum Pictures (also known as Alliance Films UK), an Alliance Films company, one of the leading independent motion picture distributors in the UKand Ireland which releases approximately 20 theatrical films a year. International Sales were handled by The Weinstein Company and Film Nation.
· First-look deal: an agreement between a production company and a film studio for the right to see a new film before others in the industry, and to buy or distribute that film.


UK exhibitors (Vue, Cineworld and Odeon cinemas) threatened to boycott Time Burton’s ‘Alice In Wonderland’s’ release because of Disney's proposal to release the DVD within 90 days of its cinema release. Usually, there is at least a four-month window between a film's arrival in cinemas and its debut on home video. UK release was particularly vital for Disney because the movie has such strong British roots. Burton, who lives in London, shot Alice In Wonderland largely in Devon and Cornwall. Apart from Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter and Australian newcomer Mia Wasikowska as Alice, the film features a largely British supporting cast, including Helena Bonham Carter, Matt Lucas, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Alan Rickman, Christopher Lee and Barbara Windsor.

Disney felt that narrowing the release window was vital in the battle against home video piracy. It argued that most people see movies within two months of their theatrical release, but there is then another two-month gap before they can buy the film on DVD, which is exploited by pirates. However, distributors were concerned that they would lose business if the release window was allowed to narrow further, and were also angry because they had recently spent millions of pounds upgrading thousands of screens to show 3D movies.

Bob Chapek, president of distribution for Walt Disney Studios, said, "We feel that it's important for us to maintain a healthy business on the exhibition side and a healthy business on the home video side," he added. "We think this is in the best interest of theatre owners, because a healthy movie business is good for them and allows us to invest in high quality, innovative content."

They eventually came to a compromise: Disney reportedly agreed to break the four-month theatrical window for only three films (including ‘Alice’) over the next two years. The film took £10.56m in the UK the first three days; overall£42million).


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