Monday, 3 May 2010

How and why do UK institutions produce films?

A lot of work goes into making the films that can be seen in the cinemas of bought on DVD. The production process of a film can be very complex, with so many elements to consider and organise. The distribution of a film can also cause many dilemmas and is a vital process, as proper distribution can make or break a film. The way films are exhibited is also changing, with the rise in downloading threatening to make cinemas obsolete as a medium.
The production of a film refers to all the process and decisions which are involved with the ‘making’ of the film. Obviously a producer of a film plays a major role in the production of a particular film. They are responsible for making the film a business. Often the first process they go through is looking over the script and making sure that it is creative, original and will make a ‘good film.’ The script is also useful for establishing what sort of budget a film will need, what locations and sets will be needed and work out the most efficient ways of filming. Once all this has been established production can go ahead. Every process has its own ‘manager.’ For example, the budget manager breaks down every aspect of the script such as costumes music, effects, make up, how many days the filming will take and travel costs. A location manager will be brought in to break down the script into scenes and consult the director about the ‘look’ of the film. They will then attempt to find real life locations which help to create a realistic verisimilitude. Costume designers are also very important for making the film realistic. The locations manager then needs to contact the owner of any land they want to use, negotiate fees, consult the local authorities and draw up contract. If they cannot find a location they are happy with, the production team needs to consider building a set instead. For this they need a production designer, a set designer, a props manager and a construction team. A production manager oversees this whole process and organises any budget issues, call sheets for all the actors. They also deal with any safety concerns. For example, whilst filming ‘The Boat That Rocked’ it took the production team six months to find a suitable boat, license it and get permission to use it. Eve after that there were safety rules which they had to comply with, such as limited capacity on the boat during bad weather, which sometimes disrupted filming. Whilst all this production work is going on, casting agents and the director will be auditioning actors for the various roles. Every part, no matter how small, is crucial; all the actors must play the part realistically. Whilst some actors may have the talent. They might be unsuitable for the film. Consequently, casting is a ruthless process. Once the production and casting issues have been sorted, filming can commence. All the managers are still needed to fulfill their roles during the filming process. Once a scene is finished, it will be sent to the editor to be cut down into a final version. Scenes can have three or four versions, with different lighting or music, which can greatly affect what cuts are used. The first edit of the film is called an assembly and is often very long. The first edit of ‘The Boat that Rocked’ was five hours long, but was cut down to two hours and six minutes. Once a film is edited to its final version, it is ready to be distributed and a marketing campaign can begin.
Once a film is ready for release (or sometimes a bit beforehand) a marketing campaign can begin. This aims to raise awareness about the film and encourage as many people as possible to go and see it. The most important thing for a studio to keep in mind when marketing a film is who is the target audience and how will they encourage them to go and see the film. Marketing campaigns use many different tools and forms of media to promote their film. Trailers are made to be shown in the cinema, on television and these days are often posted on the internet. The internet is playing an increasingly important role in film marketing, with most films having an official website, often with links to social networking sites. This is a great way to raise awareness and get people talking about a film as social networking sties have become such an important part of our society. However, these techniques are more useful for films targeting a younger demographic as they are more likely to use social networking. Films for children are often marketed now using interactive games on the internet, which is a great way of generating interest and getting people talking about the film. Posters also play a huge role in a marketing campaign and are often one of the first things to be released (teaser posters can be released months in advance, as they contain little information, but enough to generate excitement and interest.)
Once a marketing campaign is complete the film enters the exhibition stage, where it is released into cinemas. Despite the rise in illegal downloading of films, which is resulting in a massive loss of revenue for film companies, cinema going is on the up, due to more multiplexes and new technology such as 3D, which companies can get away with charging more for. However, illegal downloading is a serious issue for film companies, who are trying to stamp out piracy by shutting down known file sharing websites and creating more and more 3D films, which are not only encouraging people back into the cinema but cannot be filmed, therefore pirate copies cannot be made. Cinemas are trying to rebrand the cinema experience, making it more of a night out, by introducing more food and merchandise which also brings in extra revenue for the companies. This is important as the main reason film companies produce films is for money.
Films are originally thought up and produced as an outlet for the writers and directors creativity. However, the sad fact is that a film simply will not get made if it is not considered marketable (i.e. it won’t bring in any money.) Occasionally companies will take a gamble with films and they will sometimes pay off (e.g. Slumdog Millionaire) but generally the main reason production companies back films is if they think they will earn a lot of money.

How and why do UK audiences consume film?

The process of creating a film can be split into four main processes; pre-production, production, distribution and exhibition. In the past the audience of films were only involved in the exhibition stage, as they would watch films in the cinema and later were given the chance to purchase them on videos and even later, DVDs. However new technology has given audience the chance to be involved in the distribution and in some cases even the production of films.
An example of a film where the audience were involved in the production is Faintheart. Faintheart is a 2008 film produced by Vertigo Films. Vertigo Films worked in together with the social networking site MySpace, and offered every user the chance to upload a short film showing off their directing skills, in a competition called MyMovie Mash-Up. The prize was a £1 million budget and the chance to make their own feature film which would be produced and released by Vertigo Films. The winning director was Vito Rocco with his comedy, Faintheart. MySpace then held online casting sessions, giving any user of MySpace the chance to upload a video audition for any of the eight lead or supporting roles in the film. Each role had a MySpace profile where a scene from the script or instructions for an improvisation were available. The site also held a competition for any bands signed up with MySpace, where they could win the chance to have their song on the soundtrack of Faintheart. The film had its own MySpace profile where users could ‘demand’ that the film would be screened in their local area (the film was shown in the Palace Theatre in Westcliff, so obviously an adequate amount of people from the local area ‘demanded’ it.) This campaign gave the audience a chance that they had never been given before; a chance to play a vital role in the production and also the distribution of a film (with the ‘demand’ feature.) This type of project would have only been possible due to new technology and the popularity of social networking sites. This type of campaign for a film is very unique, but it worked successfully and was pitched at the just the right time when MySpace was the most popular social networking site. A similar campaign through MySpace may not work so well these days, as MySpace has fallen out of fashion with Facebook fast becoming the most popular social networking site.
The new ‘demand’ features which any film that has their own MySpace or Facebook profiles can set up is a way in which audiences can get involved with the distribution of films. New technology has allowed audiences to become more involved with this side of film making. The popularity of watching films on the internet has meant that audiences can now actively seek films and download them, both legally and illegally. This new way of watching films is easier and in some cases cheaper so is great for the audience. However, illegal downloading is causes huge problems for the UK film industry, as they are losing revenue. This fact does not bother most viewers, who find the thought of going to the cinema too expensive when they can easily watch a film for free in the comfort of their own home.
Although downloading is on the rise, cinema going is also on the up, thanks to every major town or city having at least one multiplex and also more recently, the arrival of 3D. 3D has been a fantastic investment for cinemas for many reasons; they can afford to charge more for it, it cannot be videoed therefore it cannot be made into a pirate copy and it is encouraging people back into the cinema. People who go to the cinema enjoy the ‘cinema experience’ which cannot be mimicked by home viewing of films. Cinemas represent films as events and going to the cinema as a night out. Some cinemas go the extra mile in terms of turning the experience into an event. The Showcase Cinema in Bluewater shopping centre offers it customers ‘gallery seats.’ These seats entitle costumers to sit in an exclusive area, elevated above the regular cinemagoers and gives them access to food not normally available at the concessions stand. No matter what changes cinemas undergo in the future this experience will always be different from that of home viewing and that alone will encourage some viewers to keep going back.