Monday, 19 May 2014

Narrative Theorists and their Theories, Revision -

Narrative -
the way in which a story is told in both fictional and non-fictional media texts.

Vladimir Propp -
-Propp was a Russian critic and literary theorist.
-Analysed over 100 Russian fairytales in the 1920s.
-He proposed that it was possible to classify the characters and their actions into clearly defined roles and functions.
-Films such as Star Wars fit Propp’s model precisely, but a a significant number of more recent films such as Pulp Fiction do not. The model is useful, however as it highlights the similarities between seemingly quite different stories.

Propp’s Character Roles -
-The hero (seeks something)
-The villain (opposes the hero)
-The donor (helps the hero by providing a magic object)
-The dispatcher (sends the hero on his way)
-The false hero (falsely assuming the role of hero)
-The helper (gives support to the hero)
-The princess (the reward for the hero, but also needs protection from the villain) Her father

Tzvetan Todorov
-Bulgarian literary theorist Suggests most narratives start with a state of equilibrium in which life is ‘normal’ and protagonists happy. This state of normality is disrupted by an outside force, which has to be fought against in order to return to a state of equilibrium. This model can easily be applied to a wide range of films.

Equilibrium --->Disequilibrium --->New Equilibrium

Roland Barthes
- Barthes was a French semiologist. He Suggested that narrative works with five different codes which activate the reader to make sense of it. (also used the terms denotation and connotation to analyse images)

Barthes’ Codes -
-Action – a narrative device by which a resolution is produced through action, e.g. a shoot-out.
-Enigma – a narrative device that teases the audience by presenting a puzzle or riddle to be solved. Works to delay the story’s ending pleasurably.
-Symbolic – (connotation)
-Semic – (denotation)
-Cultural – a narrative device which the audience can recognise as being part of a culture e.g. a “made man” in a gangster film is part of the mafia culture.

Claude Levi-Strauss 
-Levi-Strauss was a Social Anthropologist meaning he Studied myths of tribal cultures.
-Examined how stories unconsciously reflect the values, beliefs and myths of a culture. These are usually expressed in the form of binary oppositions . His research has been adapted by media theorists to reveal underlying themes and symbolic oppositions in media texts.

Binary Oppositions-
-A conflict between two qualities or terms. For example 1970’s Western films: Homesteaders Native Americans christian pagan domestic savage weak strong garden wilderness inside society outside society

Friday, 10 January 2014

"The Male Gaze"

Laura Mulvey and the Male Gaze -

Laura Mulvey is a British feminist film theorist who was educated at st Hilda's College in Oxford. At this moment in time she is currently a professor of film and media studies at Birkbeck University of London. Mulvey worked at the British Film Institute for many years before taking up her current position.

The concept of a gaze is were you address how an audience views people and the way that they are being presented. In 1975 Laura Mulvey created the term "Male Gaze" for feminists it represented..

-How men look at woman

-How women look at themselves

-How women look at other women

Laura Mulvey believed that film audiences always view characters from the general perspective of Heterosexual male.

Features of the Male Gaze

The main features of a male gaze are the way that the camera lingers on the curves of the female body, and the way in which events that occur to women are presented largely in the context of a man's reaction to the event that has occurred.

Laura Mulvey believed that this was degrading to women and it relegated women to the status of an object and made them seem like a they were not human beings and their role was to simply to be seen attractive in not only the male eye by the female eye too. It posed many confidence issues in the way in which women look at themselves and other women simply because of their appearance.

Below is a magazine cover of vogue which shows a women with a tiny figure that has a curvy waist line and her cleavage is on show this could be used as a perfect example of the male gaze because it shows how the magazine has used a attractive female to feature on their front cover

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Stereotypes -

What is a stereotype?
A stereotype is a simplified representation which focuses on certain characteristics of a group and assumes these to be shared across all group members. Inherent with a stereotype is a judgement  on the particular characteristic (usually negative, but not always) e.g. all women are bad drivers.

How does the media use stereotypes?
One way in which the media uses stereotypes is to communicate complex information about particular characters, time periods or location quickly as possible, this is often referred to as narrative shortcut.
However, they do not simply create stereotypes, they reflect the stereotypes that already exist within a culture, by using these stereotypes, the media can be said to be reinforcing the particular ideas.
The media is often criticised for creating stereotypes, but they are usually part of the audiences way of thinking about the world.

Stereotypes can be truthful -
Stereotypes are assumptions about all members of a particular group 'All women enjoy gossip' is a flawed statement. There will inevitably be some women that don't, or may be some men that do.
However, theorist Perkins noted that stereotypes usually have an element of truth in them. e.g. some women do like gossip.

Negative Stereotypes -
The judgement making the basis of the stereotypes is usually a negative one e.g. gossip is a bad thing and it is a waste of time. They do not allow individual traits to exist in members of the group e.g. some women may not be interested in other peoples domestic lives. Negative stereotypes are created by those outside the stereotyped group and are often seen to be an exertion of power, the stereotyped group often has no way to answer back. This stereotype gives a 'complete picture' about the group and implies a knowledge and understanding that can be applied to all members of the group.

Positive Stereotypes -
Positive representations are called corrective stereotypes or counter-types where the representations are trying to create new ideas about a previously stereotyped group.  Contemporary culture has become more aware of stereotypes and the effects they have, particularly negative ones. Many media texts have attempted to construct new approaches to old stereotypes e.g. Buffy thee vampire slayer. Despite being a young blonde woman, she is heroic etc.

What makes a stereotype?

Appearance -
This can include physical appearance and clothing as well as the sound of the voice. In this modern day society people are constantly judged on their appearance by piers, parents and especially the media. In recent times, the hoodie has been associated with thugs, criminals and violence. This obviously creates a negative connotation for the hoodie and brands anyone who is wearing this piece of clothing as a thug or criminal etc.

A persons behavior is also linked to their stereotype. For example, "men like football" is a common stereotype which states that all men enjoy football, however, some like different types of sports, others do not like sport at all.

A persons attitude is linked to both appearance and behavior. For example "all  teenagers are miserable" is a common stereotype given to teenagers, however, not all teenagers are miserable etc.

Friday, 20 December 2013

30 questions on the British Film Industry -

1. What % of global box office was the British film industry responsible for?

The UK's share of the global box office fell last year, despite the international success of James Bond film Skyfall - Britain's highest ever grossing film.The British Film Institute said UK film releases took $5.3bn (£3.45bn) in 2012 - a 15.3% share of the world market.

2.What was this % in 2009?


3.What might this change indicate about British film?

The change in the percentage over the years indicates that the British Film Industry is rising, and more of the films they are producing are becoming of a success.

4.What films have been responsible for this change?

The films responsible for this increase are - The King's Speech, Sky Fall, Slumdog Millionaire and The Woman in Black.

5.What % of the British film industry makes a profit?

Lower budget films such as those made for less than £2m were less likely to make a profit of 4%. The figure improves as budgets rise with 17% of films that cost more than £10m making their money back.

6.What % of Hollywood films make a profit?

The percentage of Hollywood films that make a profit is 17%.

7.How does that % differ between £2m and £10m budget British films?

Lower budget films such as those made for less than £2m were less likely to make a profit of 4%. The figure improves as budgets rise with 17% of films that cost more than £10m making their money back.

8.What might we infer from this difference?

By stretching a budget, and using extra special effects, or hiring better well known actors, the film is more likely to succeed in making a larger profit than films without.

9.Which age group makes up the largest % of UK cinema goers?

Ages range from 18-24years of age, both genders.

10.Why do you think this might be?

The quadrant system allows this age range to view all films, as well as genres, so they are targeted as the most popular and significant age range.

11.Which 'type' of film has seen an 18% drop in attendance?

The 18 per cent gross income generated by 3D in 2012 continues a slight decline, down from 20 per cent in 2011 and 24 per cent in 2010.

12.Within that 'type' which genre has seen the biggest fall?

Big family films such as Madagascar 3 and Brave were the genre in which have seen the biggest fall.

13.What did Charles Grant put this decline down to?

The price of 3D tickets deterred families from going to the cinema, as they tried to economise their pricings to ensure they were saving that little extra money.

14.Who is Paul Greengrass?

Paul Greengrass is an English film director, screenwriter and former journalist

15.How did he describe the British film industry?

He says that the British film industry has transformed from what it used to be

16.What did a BFI spokesperson say was the point of less profitable low budget British films?

"tiny budget films that, while commercial success is always hoped for, are successful and beneficial to the industry for other reasons like skills and training development and for artistic and cultural importance"

17.What was the budget for Filth and how much money did it take?

Its budget was just under £2 million, and it made £4million

18.What advantage did James McEvoy feel £100m films have over low budget films?

He says that films with larger budgets have chances to sell the films in all sorts of ways, where as smaller budget films aren't able to do this

19.What is VOD?

VOD is known as Video on Demand

20.What % increase did VOD see last year?

The VOD market has increased by 50% last year.

21.What impact might VOD have on distributers and Studios?

Video on demand is becoming more popular so it might outsell them

22.What impact has it had on Blockbuster rental stores?

It has a chance of outselling the stores, which will cause them profit and business issues

23.What was unique about Ben Wheatleys 'A Field In England'?

A Field in England was the first UK film to be released simultaneously in cinemas, on DVD, on TV and through video-on-demand.

24.What does director of The Machine Caradog James think is the toughest part of film making?

"The toughest thing is you make a good film but can you get it to reach an audience? It's events like this and individuals who champion independent cinema that give us a profile and any chance of a mass audience."

25.Why have rules been relaxed on what makes a film 'British'?

To encourage more people to make British films, so that there can be more successes.

26.How has the use of visual effects in films been encouraged?

Visual effects are used in films to make it more interesting for the audience, to aid boosting of ratings

27.Name five of these rules and link them to The Kings Speech, Kill List, The World's End

-British Themed drama, cultural e.g. The Kings Speech
-'Lad' themed actions - Worlds End
-British director - The King's Speech
-British Cast - Kill List, Worlds End
-Location set in Britain - Kill List, Worlds End, King's Speech

28.What rules has chancellor George Osbourne announced for tax on British films?

He announced that films only need to now spend 10% of their budget within the UK to qualify for tax relief, where previously they had to spend 25%. Tax relief would be applied to 25% of the first £20m of a production, and 20% on any remaining budget, regardless of the overall total; previously only films under £20m were eligible for the higher rate.

29.What is the highest grossing film in UK box office history?

Sky Fall

30.How much has it taken and how many screens was it available on?

Bond adventure has earned £94.3m in the UK, beating the previous record holder Avatar. Sky Fall opened in 587 cinemas across the UK and Ireland on 26 October, and is still on general release.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Kings Speech Film Posters, Marketing and Audience -

Poster 1 -
This is the original theatrical poster for The Kings Speech, it was widely criticised for its poor design and lack of appeal. The reasons for this are simple. Firstly, the poster has a worrying lack of information. Although the stars' names appear at the bottom of the poster it is unclear to the audience who the main character (the king) actually is. Also, the images which have been used look unrealistic and do not clearly suggest what genre the film is. Both Rush and Bonham-Carter have expressions on their faces which suggest humour. This may of given the audience a false impression of the film, as they may have been led to believe that the film was a comedy. The colour and font of the 'The Kings Speech' also does not fully suggest what the genre of the film is. The golden shimmer which covers the title suggests that the film is about the grand life or the riches which a king has, however it is quiet the opposite, and portrays the dark, hurtful truth about the life of a king. The sky in the background of the picture may also have given the audience the wrong impression of the films genre. The sky appears to be a vintage light blue accompanied by white 'fluffy' clouds, to the audience this may appear as if the film is very calming and joyful, however it is not. Another negative point of this poster is how the characters have been laid out across the page. Once again the audience is unclear as to who the main character is. To the audience either Rush or Firth could possibly be the king.

Poster 2 -
After receiving a huge amount of negative criticism, the designers decided that an improvement on the poster had to be made. This is the improved version, although this has many more positives than its predecessor it still holds a numerous amount of negatives to its name. Similarly to the first, this poster fails to state a vital piece of information, this piece of information is who the King is played by. Although the poster states the names of the three main characters it still does not state or show that Colin Firth is the King. Secondly, the poster is far too bleak. Although the simplicity of it can show the audience what era the film is set in (due to the old fashioned microphone) it still does not suggest what era or what genre the film is set in. The golden background is once again used to connote wealth or high status as well as to stand out and brighten the dull images in order to bring them back to life. Although this is the improved version, it may possibly be worse than the first, dismal attempt as this poster does not even show any of the characters involved in the film. The image used does suggest that a man is going to perform a speech, but does not state that the man is the king, this once again does not give the audience a clear image or idea of what the film is about. Similarly to the first, this poster contains a quote which is used to capture the audiences attention and persuade them to go and watch the film. However, the quote does not stand out and fits extremely well into the boring theme of the poster. As the poster is so bleak and lacks so much crucial information, it is extremely unclear as to what the target audience is, this once again links back to the lack of knowledge of the genre of the film.

Posters 3 and 4 -

Once again the designers were set with the task of creating a poster which would be popular and noticeable with the public, this time more improvements were made. The two posters which were released were very similar and both contained bold text with simple messages, this technique was used to draw the viewer in. One poster, which features Geoffrey Rush, uses certain words from what appear to be positive reviews. The specific words used give off many British connotations and constantly link back to the monarchy. Words such as "Majestic" and "Exquisite" suggest that the Kings speech is a royal or grand type of film. The poster directly addresses the audience when it states the phrase "fills you with joy" which encourages the viewer to watch the film. This poster also features information such as when the film would be in the cinema as well as other actors/actresses who stared in the film. Once again the title/font is coloured in gold to connote power, high status and wealth. The font and colour of the positive reviews may connote purity, suggesting that the words used are in fact true and that the film is truly 'Majestic' 'Marvelous' and 'Terrific.' The simplicity of the font may also connote the simplicity of the film, and the way the audiences eye moves down chronologically the page may also suggest the pattern of the film, how it is easy to watch and slowly moves along in order, with no twists, turns or fast paced action intertwined into it.

Another form of poster was released also, this time it finally featured the King himself, Colin Firth. This poster appears to be much simpler than the one previously mentioned. It uses 'God Save The King'. By using the word King with only Firth in the image, it allows the audience to discover that Firth is playing the roll of the King.  The font and style is similar to the famous "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster which was first used in the late 1930's, the era in which the film is set. The poster also features important information and portrays the film's cast, release date and the companies which were involved; all are placed at the bottom. The large image and text are used to once again draw in the viewer. The image used is of the King, a close up shot has been used which therefore automatically makes the audience feel a personal bond with that particular character, this suggests what the film will be like, a story which closely follows the actions of a King. Similarly to its brother poster, this particular one also contains vital information about release dates as well as other cast members.

Although this style of poster proved to be the most popular with British audiences, the designers of these posters did not invent the idea themselves. The idea originated from a film poster which was released earlier that year, this particular poster was advertising the biopic 'The Social Network' which tells the tale of how one of the worlds biggest social networking sights, Facebook, was created. The Kings Speech's marketing team most likely decided to use a similar style of poster to attract a similar style of audience, a youthful one. They may also have used this style of poster to suggest that similarly to the social network, the kings speech follows the lives of true characters in order to portray the story in a different, more personal way. Both posters show a close up shot of the main character so that the audience can connote their importance/role in the film. Both posters also contain words or phrases appropriate to both the film and the character, these phrases may give the audience an insight into what the films story-line is.

The US Poster -
The team in charge of advertising the Kings Speech went for a different approach when targeting the US audience. This poster was highly popular in America because of it's use of advertising techniques which appealed to the American audience, these aspects are noticeably different from the British versions. First of all, the image which is used shows the King and his family, within the image all three characters are smiling suggesting to the audience that the drama will include happiness and family life. Once again shades of gold have been used on the poster to suggest power, wealth and high status. The background of the poster is light and may connote heaven or purity, suggesting the characters' personalities. These aspects of the poster appealed to the American audience as stereotypically Americans enjoy films which suggest happiness, rather than the harsh/true reality. The images of a smiling family also portrays a more positive attitude than the British posters, as in all three of the British versions the King looks somewhat miserable, this also suggests the difference in film preferences, as stereotypically Brits prefer more 'gritty' films with suffering and unhappiness, where as Americans are completely the opposite.
The colour scheme may also connote the pattern of the story, as the bottom of the poster is dark, this may suggest the Kings attitude or personality at the beginning of the film, however the further up the poster the eye travels the lighter the colours become until eventually a light heavenly image appears. This may connote how the Kings attitude and personality changes throughout the film until eventually, at the end, the King is a happy man, the smile on Firths face also suggests this. Another aspect of the US poster is the fact that the three main actors are mentioned on the poster, showing the audience exactly who is playing the key roles.This poster has also included slogans which inform the audience about the films accolades e.g. 4 times winner of the academy best picture. By using information such as this the audience are able to see just how good the film is, therefore they are eager to watch it and see if they agree.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Representations -

Representations are constructed or mediated presentations of people, places and ideas which are used to represent the real world, this therefore creates verisimilitude which is commonly used in TV dramas such as Eastenders.

E4's hit comedy 'The Inbetweeners' is a prime example of a teenage representation. The story follows four teenage boys and their unfortunate mishaps. The four characters are represented as stereotypical teenage boys as they go to parties, bunk of school, drink too much and hopelessly chase girls. As both a teenage boy and an Inbetweeners fan i can honestly say that the representation is extremely accurate, although certain aspects are slightly exaggerated to make the show and the boys' misfortune more humorous and entertaining.
The men behind the representations are the creators of the show. Damon Beasley and Ian Morris created the series as a way of expressing their own misfortunes and experiences of teenage life, however, they decided to use characters which could make their misfortune even funnier as well as combine their memories into a modern day setting to suit a modern day audience. Therefore, although the creators are in some respects different to me, they are also very similar as both i and them have and are experiencing stereotypical teenage life.

Various aspects of mise en scene are used in the Inbetweeners to once again give the audience a sense of verisimilitude. The show is set in both the boys' school as well as the outside world, therefore different costumes and settings are used to create the effect that the action is taking place in a real life environment. The setting of the school is that of a stereotypical British college and allows the audience to feel involved with the story line as they may also attend a similar environment, the target audience of the Inbetweeners (teenagers) enjoy watching people of a similar age as they themselves are able to compare their own lives to the characters' which they are watching.

The language used in the Inbetweeners may also be classified as stereotypical to teenagers as swearing, slang and neologisms are all used to create a youthful atmosphere and once again make the drama suitable and relateable to a teenage audience.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Skyfall Narrative Conventions -

Action -
Action is a reoccurring theme which lasts throughout the entire clip. The main sources of action come when Bond and the French mercenary are fighting on top of the train, and when Moneypenny is driving alongside it as well as aiming at the 2 men through the sniper rifle. The theme of action is used at the beginning of the film to set a fast paced, action packed atmosphere in order to give the audience an insight into what the rest of the film will be like. 

Enigma -
There are 2 enigma's in this clip, both present the audience with a puzzle to solve. The first enigma enters the clip and the audiences minds when Moneypenny accidentally shoots Bond instead of the mercenary. The audience can clearly see that Bond has been hit and shortly after see his body fly off the train and down down deeper and down into the river below. This piece of action is used to shock the audience and make them wonder as to what is going to happen next, it may have even triggered questions such as 'is Bond dead?' 'He can't be, can he?' 'Whats going to happen now?' The second enigma enters the scene shortly after the first one. After Bond has left the roof the train enters another tunnel with the French mercenary still aboard, the mercenary stares back at Moneypenny before being indulged by the darkness of the tunnel. This enigma creates both anger and mystery as the audience are unaware of where the mercenary is going and what he is going to do with the computer hard drive. 

Culture -
Various aspects of mise en scene can connote the culture of the scene or even the entire film. By analysing the setting, character costume and props the audience can connote that this scene is part of the 'spy' culture, as gadgets, guns, suits and the setting suggest this. Stereo-typically spy's wear formal, 'suave' looking outfits  and carry weapons such as pistols or in this case a sniper rifle. They also either have or are after a form of gadget or device, in this case Bond is after a computer hard drive. The setting also screams out 'SPY' as it is high in the mountains, a secluded place where high intensity action such as this could take place secretly without anybody knowing.

Significance of the soundtrack -
The significance of the soundtrack used in this clip is to strike suspense into the audience and therefore create a tense atmosphere. The soundtrack which is used matches the action on screen and is therefore is classified as parallel sound. The music is also very loud and every so often jumps so there is a split second of silence, this highlights the seriousness of what is happening on screen and grasps the audiences attention. Towards the end of the scene, where the suspense is building the music quickens and the pace becomes faster, it also sounds more violent and sharper. As soon as Bond is hit the music stops immediately, this is to signify that the suspense and action is over. The silence also allows the audience to come to terms with what they have just witnessed. The silence may also connote the 'death' of bond, as silence is often held to remember or commemorate the brave or soldiers.