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.

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