Monday, 3 May 2010

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.

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