Friday, 15 November 2013

Inside: Hollywood blurring audience/producer; are YOU?

'Social film': blurring audience/ad/producer divide
In time, we'll consider various web 2.0 theories that typically argue that the contemporary, highly interactive (as opposed to top-down, one way) web is seeing the traditional dividing line between audience/consumer and producer wither away. Concepts such as UGC (user-generated content) and fan-made videos (a key revenue source for YouTube and record labels, through the advertising attached to these) have become very mainstream. Viral campaigns also present ads as fictional or reality texts (including music videos, not just film/'reality' clips).

The fiasco of Snakes on a Plane showed that democratising and outsourcing creative work to an audience (in that case in an effort to create money-spinning buzz and awareness) can be a disaster, but we will most certainly see more and more of this. I've blogged elsewhere about examples of film production company Working Title's slick marketing campaign for films such as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which used online (spy-style) puzzles as part of multimedia campaign spanning supermarkets, posters and other such traditional fare with social media elements.

If you watch the short video below (3mins), ask yourself where the line is drawn here between audience and producer, and film and advertising (the title meshes with Intel's slogan, Intel inside), with the audience given chances to appear in the film and shape the script, whilst the blogs and other online videos and guides that sprang became part of the meta-text (a postmodern theory term).

Then ask yourself what use YOU are making of social media for producing your work. Have YOU used social media for...
  • casting?
  • initial genre/audience research through fan forums?
  • generating pre-release buzz through a company blog/FB/Twitter/Instagram (etc!)?
  • gaining audience feedback through any of the above (and YouTube/Vimeo of course)?
  • used tagging/labels in Blogger/YouTube etc to attract more hits to help with the above?
  • tried YouTube video responses/messages/comments to link to other film/video-makers?
  • designed a viral-style campaign element which helps to involve an audience and increase publicity/awareness?
  • generated and used a QR code as part of this?
  • generally considered options for direct audience involvement in/influence on your production?

This is the film Inside, which is itself a good example of the viral methods used by conglomerates these days to get through to ad-weary and wary consumers (Toshiba and Intel were behind this movie): IMDB, Wiki, links to their FB/website etc are in this article. They coined the term 'social film' for this approach.

Prominence of student work on YouTube

I've blogged previously on the growing number of made-for-fun short horror films on YouTube (especially zombie flicks), reflecting the ongoing impact of digitisation and the accessibility of digital film-making today, but its worth noting too how the battalions of Media Studies students across the land are leaving their own legacy. As students conduct research into their chosen genre before setting out to create their own genre piece, increasingly they could be accessing other students' distilled research to do so!

When doing some tagging on archive posts I came across a mention of how prominent my students' work was on YouTube search results - so, a year or so on, I had another look, and sure enough, a 'slasher openings' on YouTube (Nov 15th 2013) produced the following top results:
IGS student work came top of the pile in this search
You can help make your work more widely seen by using YouTube categories and tagging.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Test screening - Alex Cox's Sid and Nancy

The UK poster
Think carefully and reflect on the role of audience feedback in your work...

I've blogged previously on how BJD initially looked doomed at its key stateside preview, with Miramax's head honcho Harvey Weinstein sat in with a US audience utterly baffled by the film's opening, with its very UK-centric turkey curry references (only for Colin Firth's oh-so-hilarious reindeer jumper to set the place roaring and BJD on to franchise fortunes).

Here's an example of a test audience utterly loathing the Alex Cox (Indie auteur) movie they'd just seen - usually a kiss of death, killing off any hopes of a distribution deal, but not in this case...
[Sid and Nancy] had a preview in LA - one of those events where the invited audience fills out forms and answers a studio's questions. these were some of the responses from the preview audience:
I feel this film was totally evil.

CREATIVITY: Alex Cox on Groupwork dynamics

The following is extracted from the brilliant Indie auteur Alex Cox's X Films: True Confessions of a Radical Filmmaker (Soft Skull Press: Brooklyn, 2008). Writing about production of his debut feature, Repo Man (an archetypal cult movie - not to be confused with the Jude Law vehicle Repo Men), he recalls being challenged over portraying a key female character as a serial adultress. He thought his script was spot on, but then again ...
...I am a white male leftist, already guiltyu of the sins of sexism, racism, and generally wishy-washy-ism. As the days went by, I reflected regretfully on the adolescent sexism of my script. ... I [removed a] sex scene. Still I felt guilty: Debbie was still a poor excuse for a character ... I rewrote the liquor-store scene [giving her a heroic send-off].
This was a good idea. ... By alerting the director, the TV coordinator and casting director improved the picture. Could a film made by a group - where all take the role of a director, say - reach a decision like this? Presumably it could. Who knows? Maybe this interaction points to a more collaborative system, in which a group might make decisions more quickly.
(emphasis added; p. 59)
Have you reflected on the role collaboration played in your creativity? Remember, seeking out (at minimum) audience feedback implies that the audience/producer divide is questionable too! (cf. Gillmor's "the former audience" concept (2004))

If you're willing to try out something a little different, you might just enjoy Repo Man...

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Opening EGs: Pretty in Pink (Deutch, 1986)

Image from clothing shop promo, 2013
(this is an example of how you might blog on an example of a film opening; scroll right to the bottom for a key tip. You're not trying to cover every possible theme or point for each opening you analyse, just make sure you end up with 3+ clear examples on all key themes from your range of film opening posts for your summary post) 

Paramount Pictures (prod. AND distrib.)

Budget: $9m; US box office: $40.5m

Opening duration: 2:30/4:41* 81%; IMDB 6.6 ; Roger Ebert 4*.

LINKS: Wiki; YT trailer; IMDB; boxofficemojo.

*Scene in house up to 2:57; title theme comes in and out 'til 4:41

[the info above puts the film in context]

[its useful to pick out ideas/elements you might use] An opening of contrasts: grim mise-en-scene, but straight into the rom-com love triangle narrative. Surprisingly plain sans-serif titles and downbeat title theme song. Front-loaded with titles. Interesting gender representation: is Ringwald stereotype, countertype or a complex mix of both?

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


When blogging on this remember to:
  • state what the task is, using the exam board's explanation
  • highlight + explain each of the 3 editing techniques required
  • highlight + explain what continuity editing is
  • note anything you've learned from using hardware or software (cameras, uploading footage, editing software + tools used, exporting an edited file), including screenshots where appropriate
  • for any practical task reflect too on anything learned about planning, working with others/in a group etc
  • upload to your own YT channel
  • embed your prelim
  • start all blog posts with PRELIM: (eg, PRELIM: The Task + the Techniques Included)
Details on the prelim task can be found on the course summary handout or here. You can also access past student posts on this.

You will eventually have to answer an Evaluation Question (1 of 7) on this; you can find details on this here.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Blogging on sound in film openings


Before planning and producing your own film opening, you should seek to research - and evidence this investigation - every aspect of film openings: narrative structure, idents, titles (credits and exposition), representations, audience targeting, genre signifying, mise-en-scene and verisimilitude, cinematography, editing, influence of budget, sound etc
Many of these elements could be investigated/discussed at the same time
The key to this is viewing a range of examples, taking notes and screenshots, and then presenting your findings in the form of well-illustrated blog posts and/or brief vodcasts. Screenshots (and occasionally short video sequences recorded using tools such as VLC - too long and it'll get banned from YT) are absolutely key, and should be saved too in named folders for re-use with your Evaluation and later posts explaining where your ideas come from.

This video assembles the titles of the Scream movies, which show that music isn't always the best means of signifying genre or setting a mood; a montage of sounds can work at least as well if mixed skilfully.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Titles + Idents in Films vodcast task

This 2012 production took inspiration from Scream for its titles...
For this task each of you will examine two films. You then need to compare your findings with at least 1 other classmate, tho you can do so with as many as you like so long as all your examples end up in the vodcast. I want each of you to look at different examples: 1st come 1st served - I'll list the films selected at the bottom of this post.

I'd like each of you to create a simple vodcast on Titles + Idents in Film Openings.

Very simply, detail the idents that appear in each of the films (when listing the films, provide director, year, budget + box office summary) and then the titles that appear at the start of film as part of the film opening (which may mean at the conclusion of the opening - titles often appear once the sequence is concluded and, common with slashers, we start to pick up a second character travelling to the scene of the killing we've just seen).

IDENTS Creating yours!


Following these 2 vodcasts you will find a further breakdown of what an ident is, its appearance (or media language) and examples from the industry and past students. You should also look at the post for the titles/idents vodcast task.


One of the features the exam board (and general viewers via YT + events such as the Creative Arts Evening) most highly praise about AS work is the company idents featured at the start of them.
One of last year's wackier idents!
Each of you will be creating a company ident, so you'll need to blog (evidence Research + Planning) on the following (the individual post titles are in red):


Log in to blogger
Go to LAYOUT and click ADD A GADGET on the right side; find + select LINKS LIST
Give it the title ‘Useful Slasher Genre Resources’
Separately open
Using my links lists/posts, add at least 5 links to your list, making sure you don’t use the link for the link description
Save, then reposition so that your blog archive remains the top gadget
If there’s time left, add another gadget, an RSS feed: for Horror articles on The Guardian (+ again reposition)
If you hadn’t already, email me the updated progress doc if you’ve made changes

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Standalone Company blogs

You should set up a company blog to represent your group production company; a fresh ident + logo for this would obviously be a useful addition (and can help with audience feedback).
In the listing of past blogs at I've included spearate links to company blogs (not all of which have that impressive!). Jonny/Joel's Vertigo Cinema, producer of A Bat in the Belfry (as featured in the 2011 Co-Op Film Festival), is a good example.



Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Divshare + embedding podcasts/MP3s

Don't use YouTube for podcasts.
For the last several years we've used divshare without problems for uploading and then accessing embed codes for MP3 files. I tried it again today (5th Feb) just to check its still working - and, for my account at least (such sites sometimes take away free options for newer members), it is, as these screenshots demonstrate.
Sign up is simple, ditto uploading - remember, its for audio files NOT movie files.

Logged in to my divshare account, I upload, find the file, and (as with YouTube) simply click the SHARE button
This generates the embed code
You can also click on ADDITIONAL SETTINGS below the code. If the player is too wide, reduce the width="335"
And here it is...

There are other options if you don't see the SHARE button on divshare. Soundcloud works along similar principles, though it also has a handy record button so you can record podcasts directly to the site. For this example, I played a YouTube clip then hit the record button...

Here I tweaked the code I pasted in, changing the frame width to 70% and the height to 83. As you can see, it still works, you just don't see part of the soundwave graphic, and the icons are changed. You can play around with the size settings to make it fit according to your needs.

I haven't tried it, but is another that came up from a simple free upload embed mp3 google.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Blogging class notes on film openings

The final girl/scream queen binary: Laurie has the school books, the scream queen has makeup!
You can find a detailed guide on what/how to blog here.
We're going to look today at the final girl archetype, Laurie Strode: read more about the theory behind this idea here.

Again, the scream queen smokes signifying her 'deviancy'
Screenshots are always key to back up points made; I've provided a couple for you in this post you can save and upload into your own posts.

Here's how I'd set out a post looking at a film opening.

POST TITLE: Needs to be kept brief, and a numbering system helps, either OpeningEG1: This is England or SlasherEG1: Halloween (orig).

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Screenshots and screen recording

We can't quite afford the most popular choice for this - Camtasia - but there is software built into the Macs to capture screenshots (there are also keyboard shortcuts for this, blogged on earlier) and record the screen: "Grab"
You need to go into FINDER; APPLICATIONS; UTLILITIES; GRAB   (or, in Finder just type Grab into the search box!)
This is the most effective means of showing how you've utilised software

You can also try QuickTime has has recording tools most people are unaware of (it also enables you to do basic edits).

Friday, 11 January 2013

FEmale gaze? Adapting Laura Mulvey

UPDATE, 2015: Rather than add another post, I'll add to this one which looked at the example of Magic Mike as an exemplar of an emerging female gaze. That was rather limited to the notion of objectifying; I've added more below on an article for Media Magazine by Sean Richardson in which he challenges us to think more carefully about how a female viewer (de)constructs and receives media images. Yes, media and not least cinema remains somewhat patriarchal overall, but it is just too simplistic to view media entirely through the prism of sexist objectification.

The Female Gaze: Rethinking Representation
Following quotes are from an article in the always excellent Media Magazine (subscription needed - ask the Librarian or me for login details). Sean Richardson wrote in April 2015 on this topic, starting with a simple statement on the impact of male gaze:
Research suggests that advertising campaigns for a female audience are dominated by heterosexual Caucasian size 0 to 2 models. This is a fact, despite what we might think or want, in a multicultural, complex world. Increasingly, accusations have been made by the likes of Naomi Campbell and Dame Vivienne Westwood that representations of women in advertising are too white and nearly exclusively under size 6.