Thursday, 16 December 2010

BLK feedback summary on production section

Plenty of good facts but limited analysis and virtually no use of the key concepts except for audience. Without this, you won't be able to use this material in your exam. Too much description and very little theory/conclusions drawn. Nothing on the actual production processes followed or the teechnology used in the making of either film.

You have attempted to answer the questions posed which were:

1. How has the film been produced to appeal to the UK market?
1. How has the film been produced to appeal to the UK market?

but you didn't follow this advice:
The key to success is to break down the question, work out the answers, use the key concepts in your response and compare/contrast with TBTR - this is what you should have included - this must be resolved immediately

Audiences and Institutions key concepts: which ones are relevant to production??
1. The film's target audience, both in the UK and globally (core and secondary markets, audience demographics, typical audience profile) yes, good

2. Patterns and trends of audience behaviour (audience tastes and habits in media consumption, pleasures, sharing, uses and gratifications) yes some

4. The issues raised in the targeting of UK national and local audiences by international or global institutions (specific needs of the UK market, cultural awareness, impact of global distribution) yes some

5. The issues raised by the institutional ownership of each film (production company, production and marketing budgets, UK distributor, licensing deals) not dealt with

6. The importance of cross media convergence and synergy (production technology, marketing campaign, the website, social networking, viral, cross platform distribution) not dealt with for TBTR and limited for Avatar 

7. The technologies that have been introduced in recent years at the levels of production, distribution, marketing and exhibition/exchange (3D, CGI/animation, blu-ray, home cinema, multi-channel TV, PVR, digital cinema projection, fast broadband) not dealt with

8. The significance of proliferation in hardware and content for institutions and audiences (competition, changing digital landscapes, technological obsolescence, investment costs, piracy) not dealt with

9. The importance of technological convergence for institutions and audiences (portability, convenience, levels of control and personalisation, non-linear experiences, interactivity/immersion, changing expectations, impact on traditional media insititutions, rise in short form content, piracy) not dealt with

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


The Boat That Rocked:-

The cast of The Boat That Rocked is mostly made up of big, well-known British Actors such as:-

Bill Nighy (HP 7:P1, Hot Fuzz, Love Actually)

Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead)

Gemma Arterton (Tamara Drewe, Quantum of Solace)

Chris O'Dowd and Katherine Parkinson


Richard Curtis (Love Actually)

It is definite that the idea of having big British names appear in this film was strong from the beginning. Saying this, there was a big American name that appeared in this film; Philip Seymour Hoffman.


Sam Worthington (Clash of the Titans, Terminator Salvation)

Zoe Saldana (Star Trek, Pirates of the Caribbean)

Signourney Weaver (Alien I, II and III)


James Cameron (Titanic, Alien)

All of the main characters in Avatar are American and have recently appeared in big films. The cast of this film is one of it's appeals.

(6:08 - End)


The Boat That Rocked:-

As the whole plot of The Boat That Rocked is radio and pop rock, music plays a big role in the film. All of the background music is rock and all the foreground music is rock meaning that when it comes to a soundtrack for the film, it is mostly The Who, The Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix and The Turtles.


(7:35 - 8:18)

In complete comparison to The Boat That Rocked, Avatar contains only music made for the film. They made 2 different soundtracks, one for the Navi, and one other for the Humans. These were played ontop of each other.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Location and Style

The Boat That Rocked

-> Portland

-> Brighton Beach

-> Trafalgar Square

-> Shepperton Studios

-> Pinewood Studios

Iconic british locations are used in TBTR so that british audiences can instantly recognise them and their significance within the film. The use of british studios is important, as it strengthens the british identity of the film; something that has helped promote many films from national production companies.                                                        


-> Digital Pandora

-> Los Angeles

-> Wellington

Avatar is set in a digital landscape that was mainly created in America, so british audiences have no connection to the location. James Cameron therefore found it very important that the use of CGI did not interfere with the audience's connection to the characters, as they were already having to adjust to an entirely new setting.

Overcoming Problems with Digital Setting

In the video Cameron discusses the issues with using CGI characters, as the audiences often don't respond or connect to them enough in order to believe in the reality of the film. The face-sensors were designed to make the characters have real human emotion so that designers didn't need to attempt to replicate human emotions themselves. Also, most of the actors appear in human form throughout the film, meaning that viewers can grasp their true appearance and make judgements according to them, for example, only the human Jake Sully uses a wheelchair, and this is an important aspect for the the audience to absorb at the beginning of the film, as this affects his personality.

In TBTR much of the footage was shot on a boat in Portland, giving the film a more authentic feel, in comparision to setting up the entire location in a studio. This helps build the 'real life event' theme that the film exhibits.



Comparison with The Boat That Rocked

1)Underdogs versus political/military force

2)One character submerged into another lifestyle

3)Unlikely romance eventually succeeds

British Audiences will always support the underdog, perhaps due to the culture have have here of distrusting establishment figures. Interestingly, the criticism of the American Military in Avatar is not very subtle, which would be approved by a British Audience especially after the controversy over the Iraq and Afghanistan War, but doesn't tie in with conventional American patriotism. Films with romantic plots or sub-plots have historically fared well in the UK. For both these films this is particularly useful, as the crude humour in TBTR and the action element in Avatar mean that the typical audience would be more masculine, so a romantic element encourages women to also see the film.   

1) Comedy / Sci-Fi-Fantasy-Adventure

2) Love of music lives on / Pandora lives on

However, a difference occurs when we compare the outcomes of the two films. Avatar has a happy feel-good ending, as the heroes manage to beat the antagonists, and all the dilemmas are solved. In TBTR, on the other hand, the DJs are ultimately forced to stop working, meaning that their futures are uncertain, but the dream of accessable rock music lives on. Whilst TBTR is engineered towards the British Audience who tend to like realism in their films, Avatar's conclusion is more appealing to a US market, but fortunatly American screenplays are still very well recieved in the UK.

James Cameron - Empire Interview
'There's a lot of very recognisable archetypes in the story: the stories of which Dances With Wolves is one, the story of the American frontier and the conflict between technical, Western civilisation and the very close to nature indigenous populations, the native Americans, and that didn't go too well for them, you know. And of course that story is replicated throughout history in South America, Africa, India.

It has all these various ways in which it plays out but it generally doesn’t bode too well for the indigenous population. I think it’s got its roots in good old-fashioned, adolescent adventure storytelling. The sort of, Rudyard Kipling Man Who Would Be King, Lawrence of Arabia, John Carter of Mars. Anytime that you have somebody who's a representative of another culture, especially a mechanised or military culture, dropped into a completely different culture in an exotic land, and they have to find their place and themselves in the process. It's all pretty familiar stuff. I think from a science fiction standpoint it's got its roots in really classic science fiction of the 40's and 50's, not the kind of necessarily dystopian science fiction of the 60's and 70's. But that's OK, that was by design. You can't have your characters running around through the rainforest with a machine gun these days, it's just not PC. But you can do it on another planet. You can get away with things on Pandora that we couldn’t get away with here'

Richard Curtis - Telegraph Interview
"The genesis of this film was odd," says Curtis, 52, sitting in his office, located in (where else?) Notting Hill. "For a long time I'd been saying to Emma [his partner, Emma Freud] that I wanted to write a film about eight megalomaniacs on one corridor. I kept thinking about this office. If Chris Evans was in here, Chris Moyles was next door and Jonathan Ross was next to him, and Russell Brand and Terry Wogan the ones after that, and we all lived here, that struck me as a very funny explosive situation.

The Boat That Rocked - Vision


Richard Curtis was inspired by the Pirate Radio ships that broadcast during the 1960s in the UK. This is a theme that would resonate with the older British generations who could remember the real life radio stations, but Richard Curtis's usual demographic is women, as he often writes rom-coms, such as Love Actually and Notting Hill.

Curtis has a reputation of making high quality films, and as he has nearly always working with Working Title Productions they were willing to invest in his proposal, especially as top British actors often work on his projects, creating more media interest in the film.

He wrote a fictional script set in that time period, but included some references to the culture of that time, for example the subsequent banning of pirate radio, and the 'Count' being based on a famous American DJ. The American character was especially used to attract the lucrative American audience.

Working Title procured a budget of over £30million from Universal. In turn, Universal, as a large conglomerate company,  owns many of the rights to the film, such as soundtracks, merchandise or any video-games or spin-offs. Due to their position as a top film studio, Universal was able to fund the vast majority of the film.

Conventions of Working Title that helped get the film greenlit:

American Star to draw in mass audience

Julia Roberts in Notting Hill, 1999

Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones's Diary.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman in The Boat That Rocked

Traditional British Locations

Piccadilly Circus, Bridget Jones's Diary

The London Ritz Hotel, Notting Hill

Trafalgar Square, The Boat that Rocked.

Popular British Music

As TBTR was a film about British Rock Music, a vast array of popular songs from the era were used on the soundtrack. This was intended to attract the British audience members who were nostalgic for the 1960's. Surprisingly, no songs by the Beatles were used, which was seen by many as an attempt not to make the music cliched, but this in the long run probably did not help attract foreign audiences who have a stereotypical, traditional view of the UK.

Rom-Com Genre


The Avatar Vision


James Cameron was interested in directing and producing a film involving computer generated actors. He wrote an 80 page script draft for Avatar in 1994. Given that he was already popular with film audiences after his films 'The Terminator' (1984),'Aliens', (1986)and Titanic(1997)earned $4,020,663, $10,052,042 and  $28,638,131 respectively in their Opening Weekends. In addition to his impressive box office resume, 'Titanic' had won 11 Oscars, meaning that he had a reputation with the public as being a talented and visionary film-maker.

He planned for the film to be released in 1999, but decided that
the technology was not advanced enough for his concept. Perhaps the most technologically advanced film released in 1999 was 'The Matrix', and although their innovative creation of bullet time was a hit with reviewers and audiences, the extensive use of CGI in Avatar would not have as advanced as Cameron wanted.

After seeing Andy Serkis play Gollum in Peter Jackson's 'The Lord of the Rings' series, he decided that he could find technology adequate for the film. Gollums first real appearance in 'The Two Towers' created a large amount of press interest which ultimately led to an Oscar Campaign for best supporting actor. Although Serkis was passed over as he didn't appear in human form during the film, this meant that the use of having a CGI character being played by an actor had a respected reputation.

Fox Studios granted Cameron $10million to film a proof-of-concept clip of Avatar to be screened in late 2005. After the viewing, Fox did not greenlight or reject the film, due to financial costs. 'Titanic' had an enormous budget and Fox were uncomfortable spending so much money on a film that could still flop at the box office. Cameron, however, was able to continue the project alone, as his fees and contacts from previous films gave him the ability to make progess on the pre-production.

From 2005-6, Cameron worked on the full script, and hired Dr Paul Frommer (USC Linguistics Professor) to create a Na'vi language.
Much like the 'Klingon' language from 'Star Trek', this would attract a core demographic of young, technology savvy men who had been previously shown to embrace film languages to the extent of creating press interest by becoming fluent in it. With the creation of Youtube in 2005, the opportunity to encourage public response by posting videos of themselves speaking Na'vi was newly available to the film marketers.

The set of Pandora was initially designed with a team of designers, often in Cameron's kitchen. This personal touch gave the film a sense of secrecy, and as it closer approached it's release date the press grew more driven to report on it, as from the start the film package had been kept mostly under wraps by officials, sparking audience curiosity.

Fox passed on Avatar in July 2006, so he proposed it to Disney, which Fox managed to block. After Ingenious Media agreed to invest in the film, meaning that Fox would pay less than half of the $237 million budget, Fox greenlit it.

Cameron announced he was creating a new Reality Camera System that could film in 3D by using two hi-def cameras in one body, creating depth perception The new technology increased audiences interest as it meant that the 'Avatar' film would be the first of its kind. 3D cinema had always been a novelty but the promoters used the cameras as evidence that 'Avatar' would revolutionise 3D films, making it appear to be a must-see film.