Case studies
•
Warp-an independent production company, but you could also mention Warp
X which is a separate company but based in the same offices, and they
make really smaller budget films between £400,000 and £800,000
•
Working Title-which is owned by parent company Universal, this means they
have a conglomerate backing.
•
20th Century Fox-Avatar owned by a conglomerate massive budgets bigger
than anything made by Working Title aims at a mainstream blockbuster
audience
1
Warp
•
Since its birth as a shop and record label in Sheffield in 1989, Warp has become one of the World’s
most respected creative organisations. Originally just a record label/shop, Warp Records, Warp
have since launched two film production companies – Warp Films and Warp X (for low-budget,
digital productions only)
•
Warp Films was set up with funding from NESTA, the National Endowment for Science Technology
and the Arts. It is based in Sheffield with a further office in London and has 14 full-time staff. Warp,
which owns Warp Records Warp Films and Warp Music Videos & Commercials. Also shares the
same office with Warp X which is a separate company.
•
Releases
My Wrongs #8245–8249 & 117 (Dir: Chris Morris - 2003)
Dead Man's Shoes (Dir: Shane Meadows - 2004)
Rubber Johnny (Dir: Chris Cunningham - 2005)
Scummy Man (Arctic Monkeys short film/music video)
This Is England (Dir: Shane Meadows - 2006)
Grow Your Own (Dir: Richard Laxton - 2007)
Dog Altogether (Dir: Paddy Considine - 2007)
At the Apollo (Arctic Monkeys Dir: Richard Ayoade - 2008)
Le Donk and Scorzayzee (Dir: Shane Meadows- 2009)
Four Lions (Dir: Chris Morris- 2009)
2
Case study-A small scale story:
• Warp Films-Is a truly independent film company-because of this it will
focus on low budget films and also co-funding. It often works with
other studios to produce films because it has limited money, unlike
Working Title which has Vivendi backing and 20th Century Fox. It
produced the film this is England with Film 4, and this film focuses on
genre based films i.e. social realism, which is a key genre associated
with British film because it is cheaper to make that Hollywood films,
which focus on special effects, CGI, HD,3D, because they have the
financial clout to finance, and market and distribute. Warp Films does
cannot rely on a big studio to finance their films and it cannot act as a
distributor. Warp Films also own a record label, and Warp X. I
• This is England was distributed in the UK by optimum releasing,
whose parent company is Vivendi which also owns Universal
Studios, which owns Working Title.
3
Read this about Warp films
• http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainmentarts-15196509
4
Synergy and Distribution
•
One of their key financial backers is Optimum Releasing,, who are
closely involved in the development process and distribute the films
theatrically and on DVD in the UK. In April 2008, Australian film
distributor Madman Entertainment announced "a collaboration" with
Warp Films. Warp and Madman plan to make "at least 2 films
together over the next 3 years." Optimum is a small, British-owned
distributor operating in an industry dominated by major Hollywood
distributors, and this relationship therefore benefits both themselves
and Warp Films.
5
This is England
• This is England is directed by the midlands director Shane
Meadows. The plot couldn’t be more indigenous, but this is
not the England of films like The Queen, Notting Hill or Pride
and Prejudice. Instead the 1970’s skin head movement, its
uneasy relationship with West Indian culture and its
distortion by the racist national front forms the backdrop for
a story about the adolescent life of a bereaved boy.
Meadows previously had box office and critical success with
a range of other films all based on domestic life and
relationships in the Midlands, including Twenty Four Seven,
Once Upon a Time in the Midlands and Dead Mans Shoes.
In his films the presence or absence of fathers and older
male authority figures and the effects of such on young
working class men are depicted with a mixture of comedy
6
and sometimes disturbing drama.
Another major difference between the Meadows’
output and the more commercially ‘instant’
British films from Working Title and similar
companies, is the importance of cultural
reference points – clothes, music, dialect – that
only a viewer with a cultural familiarity with
provincial urban life in the times depicted would
recognise.
‘This is England’ was produced as a result of
collaboration between no less than 7
companies – Big Arty Productions, EM Media,
Film Four, Optimum releasing, Screen
Yorkshire, The UK Film Council and Warp
Films. It was distributed by 6 organisations –
IFC Films, Netflix. Red Envelope Entertainment
and IFC First Take in the USA, Madman
Entertainment in Australia and Optimum
Releasing in the UK.
7
This is England
•
The critical response to This Is England has largely been to celebrate a
perceived ‘return’ to a kind of cultural reflective film making that was
threatened by extinction in the context of Hollywood’s dominance and the
Governments preference for funding films with an eye on the US market,
as this comment from Nick James, editor of the BFI’s Sight and Sound
magazine shows:
“I forgot when watching Shane Meadows’ moving evocation of
skinhead youth This is England at the London Film Festival, how
culturally specific its opening montage might seem: it goes from
Roland Rat to Margaret Thatcher to the Falklands War to Knight
Rider on television. What will people outside of Northern Europe
make of the regalia of 1980’s skinheads from the midlands?
Hopefully they will be intrigued. This Is England made me realise,
too, that some British films are at last doing exactly what Sight and
Sound has campaigned for; reflecting aspects of British life gain
and maybe suffering the consequences of being harder to sell
abroad.”
8
Warp films Case Study Four
Lions
•
Four Lions (2010, Warp Films)
•
Directed by Chris Morris
Produced by Mark Herbert and Derrin Schlesinger
Written by: Chris Morris, Jesse Armstrong and Sam
Bain
Studio: Warp Films and Film 4 (Wild Bunch for
international sales; a division of StudioCanal and
therefore a French sales company, who are owned
by Vivendi!)
Distributed by: Optimum Releasing (UK)
Release date(s): 23 January 2010 (Sundance Film
Festival); 7 May 2010 (UK)
Budget: £2.5 million
Profit: £608,608 from just 115 screens (box office
opening weekend figures – this is very high!)
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Warp Films Four lions
•
Pre-Production and Funding
The project was originally rejected by both the BBC and Channel 4 as being too controversial.
Morris suggested in a mass email, titled "Funding Mentalism", that fans could contribute between
£25 and £100 each to the production costs of the film and would appear as extras in return.
Funding was secured in October 2008 from Film 4 Productions and Warp Films, with Mark Herbert
producing. Filming began in Sheffield in May 2009.
Release
The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2010 and was short-listed for the
festival's World Cinema Narrative prize. Introducing the film's premiere Chris Morris said: “I feel in a
weird way that this is a good-hearted film. It's not a hate film, so I would hope that that aspect would
come through."
The UK premiere took place at the Bradford International Film Festival on 25th March 2010 and
nationwide release is scheduled for 7 May.
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Web 2.0
•
Four Lions’ website contains aspects of sharing links for you to link trailers
and the website to social networking sites. It has a live twitter feed streamed
across the webpage to encourage interaction and buzz about the site/film.
You can download jpgs and pdfs of the posters too, to continue to support a
grassroots media support, in local areas. It has interactive software that
responds to your ‘click’ – click the four men and they either fire or run for you!
(see pic right.)
On the links page, it contains hyperlinks to online multimedia interviews, web
content and to the production company websites. On the ‘Where to Watch’
page, if you click a cinema venue, it takes you directly to the booking page of
that cinema.
11
How Warp films target their
audience
• Smaller niche audiences as they don't
have the budget for special effects or big
budgets starts to attract mainstream
audiences. As they are independent they
usually attract smaller niche audiences
based on age or a certain gender.
12
Warp X
• Warp X, is a separate company from Warp Films, and
was set up to exclusively manage and co-produce films
for the Low Budget Feature Scheme tendered by UK Film
Council and Film4 in 2005. Both companies share the
same office space and some support staff to make them
as resource efficient as possible.
• What is different about Warp X is they also make digital
films with budgets between £400,000 and 800,000 for
theatrical distribution in the UK and internationally. Our
films are genre based but with acutely original
interpretations that will ensure they stand out in the
market place. We do not make character based drama or
ultra-cheap versions of mainstream Hollywood studio
13
films.
Warp X
• Technology
Warp X only make digital films. They say “we make digital films with
budgets between £400,000 and 800,000 for theatrical distribution in
the UK and internationally. Our films are genre based but with acutely
original interpretations that will ensure they stand out in the market
place. We do not make character based drama or ultra-cheap
versions of mainstream Hollywood studio films.” Digital film-making is
a lot cheaper than 35mm.
14
Targeting British Audiences
•
Warp X say that they only produce films which qualify as British. Even more
specific than that, they would strongly prefer producers to shoot in Yorkshire
or some other northern region of England, but "if there is a compelling
creative need to shoot elsewhere, then we will put the needs of the film first."
Warp X's joint objectives as outlined by the UK Film Council and Film4
include:
to provide new opportunities to increase participation of groups currently
under-represented in the UK film industry such as writers, directors,
producers and actors who are disabled, women and/or from black and
minority ethnic groups.
•
to encourage filmmakers to explore social issues of disability, cultural/ethnic
diversity and social exclusion through the content and range of individual film
projects.
•
to create much-needed progression routes into the UK film industry for
identified filmmaking talent, who may have experienced some success
through their first feature film or through short filmmaking, but who need
further infrastructural and other support to make their next film(s) a success.15
Case Study
Case Study Working Title
•
Working Title Films is a Britsh film production company, based in England. The company was
founded by Tim Bevan and Sarah Radcyliff in 1983. It produces feature films and several television
productions. Bevan are now the co-owners of the company along with the conglomorate of
Universal.
•
Working Title Films, the UK film production company behind box office hits including Four
Weddings and a Funeral and Shaun of the Dead,Working Title Television is a joint venture with the
NBC Universal and will be based in London and Los Angeles. NBC Universal is Working Title's
parent company.
•
Some Films they have made
•
The Boat that Rocked, Love Actually, Nottinghill.
•
Ali G Indahouse
Atonement (film)
Bean (film)
The Big Lebowski
Billy Elliot
Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy
The Boat That Rocked
Bob Roberts
The Borrowers (1997 film)
Bridget Jones's Diary (film)
17
12
Continued
•
Working title film has the appearance of being an independent production
company, but it is owned by universal pictures, who distribute its films. The
most notable successes from Working Title are Four Weddings and A funeral,
Bridget Jones’s Diary and High Fidelity, as well as the Cohen brothers films
Fargo and O Brother, Where Art Thou? Working Title has a smaller subsidiary
company, WT2, which makes small budget films.
An example of a recent major title from Working Title is Atonement. Unlike many
films produced by British companies, Atonement’s sole production credits are
held by Working Title. However, as a subsidiary of Universal, whether the film
counts as a British film is a matter of debate. The film was distributed by 8
companies: Finnkino Oy Finland, Focus Feature in the USA, Hoyts Distribution
in Australia, Studio Canal in France, TOOHO-Towa in Japan, United
International Pictures in Argentina and Singapore, Universal pictures
International in Holland and Universal Pictures in the UK.
The film was shot entirely in England and was adapted from a novel by British
writer, Ian McEwan . The screenplay was by Christopher Hampton, also British,
and the film featured a mainly British CAST. However, because Working Title is
owned by a major US company, it is not entirely clear whether we can treat this
18
film as ‘British’, using BFI categories.
"Brit flick's twin towers of power"
 Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan have achieved
the near impossible
 They’ve created a wildly successful production
company in a country where the film business
is subject to repeated predictions of imminent
doom.
Eric Fellner
Tim Bevan
 Working Title Films began life co-producing the short film
The Man Who Shot Christmas (1984).
 This led to their first film for Channel Four and the first of
many landmark Working Title Films - My Beautiful
Laundrette (1985) Directed by Stephen Frears.
 In 2009 still the most successful British film production
company ever.
“Their films have grossed more than £1.2 billion
Since 1984, and that is a conservative estimate.”
My Beautiful Laundrette (1984)
A groundbreaking script by Hanif Kureishi co-produced with Channel 4,
fitting their remit of offering challenging work that would not find a home
elsewhere on television or in UK cinema.
The story revolves around the relationship between a right-wing
extremist, Johnny (Daniel Day Lewis) and Omar (Gordon Wemecke),
the Pakistani nephew of an archetypal Pakistani entrepreneur Nasser
(Saeed Jaffrey), who are brought together in revamping a run-down
laundrette.
Frears offers a critique of the Thatcherite work ethic and the entrepreneur
society, showing a white underclass declining under the determination of
new immigrant businesses.
With interracial homosexuality to
the fore it is not surprising that
this film caused a considerable
stir in a society that was suffering
the consequences of political and
economic revolution that had as
its creed "there is no such thing
as society”.
Made for $400,000 it took
over $2.5 in the US alone.
The success of their first three films, which all dealt with British subjects, alerted the wider film industry to this
independent production company, leading first to a international co-productions in 1988 including their first
Anglo-American production For Queen and Country (starring a youthful Denzel Washington!).
The success of this film on both sides of the Atlantic gave Working Title a template for co-production that
they immediately began to exploit, and one that has been the aspiration for most other British independent
production companies since.
The Working Title Movie Template
 British Film + American star = $$$$$
 Appeal to international market (& success for
the British Film Industry)
 This approach has provoked much criticism about
the ‘mid-Atlantic’ nature of the films.
Why UK/US Co-productions?
According to Bevan: "Before co-productions we had been
independent producers, but it was very hand to mouth. We
would develop a script, that would take about 5% of our
time; we'd find a director, that'd take about 5% of the time
and then we'd spend 90% of the time trying to juggle
together deals from different sources to finance those
films. The films were suffering because there was no real
structure and the company was always virtually bankrupt."
The British film
industry dilemma:
Do you:
A)
Make culturally specific films which appeal to a national audience?
OR
B) Make broader, generic films with an international appeal?
?
?
The British film
industry dilemma:
 Working Title want to make European films for
a worldwide audience.
 They want to imbue them with European ideas
and influences and they can’t do these things
without the backing of a major Hollywood
studio.
"I think anyone in Hollywood would want
to do business with these guys,"
Former boss of Universal Studios Edgar Bronfman Jr.
A HISTORY:
1984 - Working Title founded
1985 - My Beautiful Laundrette is the first of a series of
collaborations with Channel 4 Films
Working Title produce a further
10 films in the 1980s
1988 - Production deal with PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
1992 - PolyGram (a European music and media company) buys
Working Title.
1994 - Four Weddings and a Funeral
A huge box office success due to the access to the US market
provided by Polygram’s financial muscle
Made for $6 million it took
over $244 million worldwide.
Working Title produces
41 films in the 1990s
1998 - Polygram bought by Universal a Hollywood Studio itself
owned by Seagram
The financial stability offered by the support from a major studio allowed
Working Title to move rapidly on to the international stage, and PolyGram
being taken over by Seagram and subsumed into its film arm, Universal
Pictures, in 1999, further strengthened this.
A marked change of direction took place at this point, with the traditionally
provincial independent territory being scorned in favour of international
prospects.
2000 - Seagram is bought by Vivendi, the French multimedia
conglomerate
Working Title
is now owned by
Universal,
which is in turn owned by Vivendi
The international activity did not prevent Working Title from continuing to support British filmmakers and from engaging in
what would have been considered traditional 'independent' Anglo-European co-productions such as Ken Loach’s Land and
Freedom (1995) and 'offbeat' Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007).
So what is a
Working Title film?
This was once relatively easy to answer, as the films they first made all seemed to address issues of what it is to be
British (or, more specifically, English), and particularly what it meant to be an outsider – like the immigrants in My
Beautiful Laundrette.
Of course, the general public know them as the re-inventors of a British
romantic comedy genre through Four Weddings and a Funeral,
Notting Hill (1999) and Love Actually (2003)
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
This was the first Working Title collaborations with Richard Curtis
(who’d achieved fame with the Blackadder TV series) and Hugh Grant
and it set the bar for British film production, particularly in its use of
soundtrack that spawned a record-breaking number one single.
A rom-com that explores the relationships between a group of upperclass friends as they meet to celebrate and mourn. Curtis was able to
bring established contacts to an ensemble cast (such as Rowan
Atkinson), enhancing the potential connection with the home
audience
a massive hit in the USA
The film was
, in part because of the view 'heritage Britain' - a land of churches,
old pubs and stately homes populated by 'classy' English people with obligatory bumbling fools sprinkled across the social
landscape. It also helped that one of the stars American (Andie MacDowell).
Such an unexpected success gave Working Title international clout and reach, and placed it at the centre of the Hollywood.
It also placed considerable pressure on the company to become the romantic-comedy-heritage-film company, a pressure it
resisted, but did not reject, realizing that a popular film could help support a number of productions with less potential for such
success yet still deserving of being made.
100
A quick glance at the list of films in its catalogue reveals a list of over
films produced since 1984 - probably the only
common thread among them is the desire to do something different to what is being produced at the time, and to do it well. It is
the ability to make films for specific audience groups, and to not be pigeon-holed that has enabled the company to ensure
that its work remains fresh and successful.
So what is a
Working Title film?
It is easy to categorize them (dismissively) until you look through the catalogue and realize that this is a company
categorized only by diversity and the ability to detect changes in the market that enable a reorientation of direction
There is no other British Film Company like Working Title - it is
allowed freedom to make creative decisions but it is owned by a
US based conglomerate.
How do Working Title choose which films to make? Fellner says “projects get championed by individuals in the
development department and these 'percolate' their way up to the top. Tim Bevan and I then both take the
decision on what to greenlight.”
Working Title and
Co-production
Co-production has long been a method of sharing risk within the film industry, and when Working Title began its life,
co-production was merely another revenue stream that often involved pre-sale or pre-distribution deals on world or
national rights. Since one of Working Title’s principal partners was Channel Four, and Channel Four pioneered
international co-production in the UK, it is no surprise that Working Title adopted and extended the model.
Initially, Working Title explored these deals domestically, but as its success grew it
found that the international market opened up to it.
Working Title took co-production further when formalizing their relationship with PolyGram (later Universal) where US
investment of 30% did not prevent them from obtaining EU/UK tax advantages. A 30% stake in the budget + Hollywood
support clearly stimulates other investors willingness to get involved in a film. It is this advance in the model that radically
enhanced the production processes and values in Working Title films.
How does it work?
“The Working Title philosophy has always been to make films for an audience
- by that I mean play in a multiplex. We totally believe in this because we know
it is the only hope we have of sustaining the UK film industry.”
Despite its famous name, the structure at Working Title is small. It employs just 42 full time staff, split between the main
Working Title production arm and its recently closed low-budget offshoot WT2 under Natasha Wharton.
“When I was at Working Title we set up a New Writers Scheme to develop
new talent. The problem was that at Working Title, smaller films would
inevitably get less attention than the bigger budget projects so we decided
to set up WT2 to give proper attention to those smaller films.”
2007 - Why did WT2 close down?
Does it always
work?
Film
Year
Budget (est)
Worldwide Gross (est)
Billy Eliot
2000
$5 million
$109.3 million
Long Time Dead
2002
$2 million
$2 million
Ali G Indahouse
2002
$5 million
$12 million
My Little Eye
2002
$2-3 million
$3 million
Shaun of the Dead
2004
$4 million
$30 million
The Calcium Kid
2004
$5 million
£61,415
MickyBo and Me
2004
$3 million
£172,336
Inside I’m Dancing
2004
$5 million
$500,000
Sixty Six
2006
$3 million
$1.9 million
How does it work?
The most important part of the business is developing scripts. Working Title has a strong development team and invests
heavily in making sure that they get it right. They usually have around 40 - 50 projects in development at any time and their
average spend on development is around $250,000 to $500,000 per script.
They aim to make around 5 to 10 films a year, spread across different budget sizes (with an
average of $30 to $40 million) and genres.
Released in 2009/10 are 10 films including the Richard Curtis comedy The Boat That Rocked, political thriller State
of Play based on the successful BBC television drama but re-imagined in Washington and Green Zone, an Iraq war
thriller that reunites the Bourne series star Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass.
Trouble ahead?
Film
Year
Budget (est)
Worldwide Gross (est)
The Boat That Rocked
2009
$50 million
$36.3 million
State of Play
2009
$60 million
$87.8 million
The Soloist
2009
$60 million
$37.6 million
A Serious Man
2009
$7 million
$26.2 million
Green Zone
2010
$100 million
$86.4 million
As you can see, not all of their films have been unqualified successes - as one would expect in the movie industry. Earlier
flops include Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001). It was their most expensive film to date, with a budget of $57 million and,
ironically, the one that seemed most likely to succeed. Adapted from the popular book of the same name, with an all-star
cast, it still managed to disappoint with the critics and at the box office making only $62 million worldwide.
Does it always
work?
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Released in the UK on April 1st 2009
Budget of $50 million
Richard Curtis romantic comedies have traditionally done very well at the box
office
Typical Working Title co-production with Universal and Canal+
Familiar Working Title faces and some up-and-coming talent
Famous US star
Traditional marketing campaign with synergistic merchandising and tie-ins –
soundtrack released on Mercury Records owned by Universal…
Increasingly traditional digital marketing strategies…
Large scale release - 400+ screens in UK
Medium scale release in US – 800+ screens
It died in the UK yet it still did quite well in the US
We’ll look at why?
Teaser Poster & trailer…
Main Poster & trailer…
Character posters…
Here’s our Working Title famous US
star…
Soundtrack synergy…
Digital marketing – the film used Spotify to create playlists for each of the 9 DJs featured in the film. For example Dave, played
by Nick Frost...
iPhone app…
Something viral…
Why did it ‘sink’ at
the box office?
The reviews weren’t great…
Richard Curtis‘s The Boat That Rocked sloshes about
merrily and has some magical moments…overlong,
muddled and only fitfully brilliant. Daily Telegraph ***
Richard Curtis takes the complex, fascinating subject of
60s pirate radio and turns it into infantalised farce. The
Guardian
Curtis’s new film is a love letter to the music and
rebellious spirit of the 1960s. He has given us
what he imagines to be the era’s cocktail of sex,
drugs and rock’n’roll — but he’s turned it into
something as cosy and comforting as a sweet
cup of tea. The Times **
‘The Ship That Sank’ would be a more appropriate title for
Richard Curtis’s latest and most disappointing entertainment.
Time Out **
Terrible reviews tend to turn into terrible word of mouth…
Why did it ‘sink’ at
the box office?
Social recommendation is key - a
personal recommendation from a friend,
colleague or relative can be the most
powerful trigger for a cinema visit. Prerequisite for favourable 'word of mouth'
are high levels of awareness and strong
interest. Negative word of mouth is
extremely difficult to overcome. Postrelease, hopefully, a combination of good
word of mouth and further advertising will
combine to give the film 'legs'.
Why did it ‘sink’ at
the box office?
It got a different name in the
US…?
Last Friday saw the U.S. release of the film Pirate Radio. During the 7
month delay in its arrival on these shores both DVD and Blu-Ray
versions of the film came out in non-American markets, ensuring that
U.S. viewers would have access via the Internet to copies. In fact, a
cam version debuted on Piratebay soon after theatrical release, with
DVD and Blu-Ray rips appearing in mid-August, eminently available to
anybody around the world with an Internet connection.
Remember - the percentage of box office that
comes from the opening weekend has increased
from 15.7% in the 80s to 33.1% today…
How did this affect it’s opening weekend in America?
Why didn’t it ‘sink’
at the US box
office?
While its gross intake was relatively modest, at just under $3 million (over 800+ cinemas) Pirate Radio actually did very well
on a per-cinema average which put it in third place among films in wide-release for the weekend.
While it is impossible to know with any real certainty what impact downloads of the DVD or Blu-Ray rips may have had on
Pirate Radio’s box office, the film appears to have done pretty well, especially considering its foreign origin, subject matter
and rather middling reviews (54% on the Rotten Tomato scale).
Somehow the forces behind the movie found a way to ‘compete with free’ and position it to be profitable in the US, even
before its inevitable DVD and Blu-Ray releases there.
Maybe the existence of free versions on the Internet did less to drive down demand for the film, but instead fostered
awareness and interest in the movie above and beyond what the producers were able to do via PR and advertising?
Despite being a very successful business model over the past 25 years Working Title have had a series of flops that
would have ‘sunk’ a UK film company that lacked the backing of a Hollywood studio.
Despite making films with tried and trusted talent in recent years (Richard Curtis, Matt Damon) box office has not been
great.
How do you think Working Title can be successful again?
http://www.launchingfilms.tv/index.php
http://filminfocus.com/focusfeatures/film/pirate_radio/
http://www.workingtitlefilms.com/
http://www.workingtitlefilms.com/film.php?filmID=120
http://www.filmeducation.org/theboatthatrocked/activity3.html
http://benjaminwigmore.blogspot.com/2009/04/boat-that-rocked.html
How Working Title Target their Audience
• The Working Title philosophy has
always been to make films for an
audience - by that I mean play in a
multiplex. We totally believe in this
because we know it is the only hope we
have of sustaining the UK film industry.
(Lucy Guard & Natasha Wharton)
53
Targeting audiences
• This means they make films for both a British and
American audience. They are called tent pole films as
they are a medium budget company and produce films for
people of all generations across the world. They choose
genres and film types they know will be successful think
about Four Weddings and a Funeral, Atonement
represents this sort of upper class representation of
British people which Americans like
54
Warp Films and Working Title
Warp films and working title are two institutions. Warp is an independent
company and working title is part of a conglomerate company. Conglomerate are
a high budget film, they usually produce Hollywood blockbusters and include a
higher standard quality i.e. special effects; more famous actors/actresses Etc.
However, Independent films usually base their budget from low to medium as
they are not as popular as a conglomerate film, and don’t have such a big
amount of money to work with. Working films produce medium budget films upto
35 million dollars and they have produced many films Love Actually and Four
Weddings. Warp films, have produced a range of films as well, these include; My
Wrongs; Dead Man Shoes and This is England.
Working Title, get their funding from Universal Studios, which is the parent
company of Working Title. They also get a big sum of money from previous films
that they have produced.
Warp films get their funding from NESTA a big company is the filming business.
In the case of Warp films, the budget is low-mid, this affects the genre that they
could work on as an action packed thriller and films that focus on social realism.
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Film 4 Productions case study
Film4 Productions is a British film production company owned by channel 4. The company
has been responsible for backing a large number of films made in the UK. Film 4 does
not have the money that a bigger conglomarate does so most of their films are either
co-funded and made with other studios and not distributed by them. However, Film 4
Productions also owns Film 4 so their films can be shown on this channel. A British
production company – finances British films
•
1982 – 1998 known as Channel 4 film
•
Part of channel 4s remit was to experiment and innovate and cater for audiences not
addressed by other channels
•
Nowadays they fund around 20 films per year
•
A number of films are by first time feature screenwriters or directors
•
They look for distinctive films which will make their mark in a competitive cinema
market
•
Television premieres on FilmFour Channel and Channel 4 2 years after theatrical
release
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• Film 4 Films
•
David Rose, commissioning editor, “a preference
for contemporary and social political topics”
•
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) portrayed the
homosexual relationship between a white fascist
and a Omar, born in Britain to Pakistani parents.
•
Main audiences were contemporary critical
audiences in the 20 – 30 age ranges
•
Before Laundrette, a large percentage of the
British population went largely unrepresented.
•
Look at how Channel 4’s remit has influenced the
films they make, which are different to the
mainstream and have something to say.
FilmFour made its reputation with films such as Trainspotting in 1996, which made £23m at the box office
but cost only £2.4m to make and launched the career of Ewan McGregor. It was also involved in The Full
Monty, which had a similar budget and made nearly £16m. However, since East is East, with FilmFour
focusing on fewer, more expensive films, it has seen a series of flops with Lucky Break and Charlotte Gray,
starring Cate Blanchett, failing to make a big impact last year.
FilmFour Ltd, the film making division, is distinct from the FilmFour subscription movie channel, for which
executives have high hopes.
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•
FILM 4 PRODUCTION
•
1996
•
Starring Ewan McGregor in his 2nd film
•
Directed by Danny Boyle a British director
•
A co-production with Figment Films, Polygram and The
Noel Gay Motion Picture co.
•
Budget $3,500,000
1996
•
Marketing:
•
Trainspotting was more an object of youth
culture or popular culture than it was
cinematic
•
Britpop was Trainspotting's main vehicle
to integrate youth subculture into
popular culture.
•
Polygram put large sums of money into a
sophisticated marketing and branding
strategy including posters and a soundtrack
•
Knew film would appeal to clubbers and
ravers so targeted these – Underworld’s
Born Slippy became a massive hit from the
soundtrack
•
Film gained distribution in the US although it
•
David Aukin, Head of Drama at Four Films “it
isn’t really about drugs…it’s a buddy movie”
•
US critics compared the movie to Kubricks ‘A
Clockwork Orange’
•
Both are anti-social-realist films dealing with
subjects – gangs, violence, drugs – which are
stylised and fast-paced.
•
Both are independent films which shocked the
critics and audience
did need subtitles!
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SYNERGY film 4.
•
s
•
The ‘brand’ Trainspotting
•
Soundtrack
•
Posters
•
DVDs
•
Copied of the screenplay
•
Reprinting of Welsh’s novel featuring the
poster on the cover
•
Music cross-promotion
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Four weddings
•
1994
•
Starring Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell
•
Co-production with Polygram and Working Title
•
Budget $6,000,000
•
Marketing: Played upon aspects of national identity
•
Played upon the more ‘naïve’ elements of Britishness
•
Hugh Grants quintessential fumbling middle class
gentleman
•
Appealing to an American audience
•
A universal storyline of romance and a feel good
happy ending
•
SYNERGY: Soundtrack
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19
Last King of Scotland
• The last king of Scotland is described by Film Four’s
Tessa Ross as the film the company should be most
proud of, because it was directed and written by
home grown talent(Kevin Macdonald and Peter
Morgan), has subject matter that is challenging
political and Hard-hitting and was the result of
partnership with an American Major (Fox Searchlight)
So for Ross this film seems to represent the current
success story of British film and the newly found
ability of producers to attract the current success
story of British film and the newly found ability of
producers to attract American investment for less
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commercially obvious projects.
The film was produced by 8 companies in collaboration (dna films, Fox
searchlight, film Four, Cowboy films, Scottish Screen, Slate films,
Tatfilm and the UK Film council) and distributed by 3 (Fox searchlight
in the USA, Japan, Holland, Singapore, Argentina and Germany,
Channel 4 films in the UK AND Fox-Warner in Switzerland) The writers
cast and crew were British and American. As these details and the
views of the Head of Film at one of the production companies
demonstrates, this is a good example of a co-funded British film with
British cultural content. Despite the Ugandan setting and political
context, the film portrays the fictional story of a Scottish visitor to
Uganda who is taken in by the dictator running the country, but is
based on real events, hence the title. Despite the claims made for the
film as a British success story, however, this extract from a review in
the San Francisco Chronicle sees things rather differently:
“Now that Hollywood belatedly has gotten around to Amin, he
shares screen time with a fictional character, something the self
aggrandizing general surely would have found galling. But the
brilliance of ‘The Last King of Scotland’ – an immediate
contender for Oscar consideration and a spot on critics’ top 10
lists – is the way it shows his dangerous allure through the eyes
of an innocent.”
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This is England
• This is England is directed by the midlands director Shane
Meadows. The plot couldn’t be more indigenous, but this is
not the England of films like The Queen, Notting Hill or Pride
and Prejudice. Instead the 1970’s skin head movement, its
uneasy relationship with West Indian culture and its
distortion by the racist national front forms the backdrop for
a story about the adolescent life of a bereaved boy.
Meadows previously had box office and critical success with
a range of other films all based on domestic life and
relationships in the Midlands, including Twenty Four Seven,
Once Upon a Time in the Midlands and Dead Mans Shoes.
In his films the presence or absence of fathers and older
male authority figures and the effects of such on young
working class men are depicted with a mixture of comedy
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and sometimes disturbing drama.
Another major difference between the Meadows’
output and the more commercially ‘instant’
British films from Working Title and similar
companies, is the importance of cultural
reference points – clothes, music, dialect – that
only a viewer with a cultural familiarity with
provincial urban life in the times depicted would
recognise.
‘This is England’ was produced as a result of
collaboration between no less than 7
companies – Big Arty Productions, EM Media,
Film Four, Optimum releasing, Screen
Yorkshire, The UK Film Council and Warp
Films. It was distributed by 6 organisations –
IFC Films, Netflix. Red Envelope Entertainment
and IFC First Take in the USA, Madman
Entertainment in Australia and Optimum
Releasing in the UK.
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This is England
•
The critical response to This Is England has largely been to celebrate a
perceived ‘return’ to a kind of cultural reflective film making that was
threatened by extinction in the context of Hollywood’s dominance and the
Governments preference for funding films with an eye on the US market,
as this comment from Nick James, editor of the BFI’s Sight and Sound
magazine shows:
“I forgot when watching Shane Meadows’ moving evocation of
skinhead youth This is England at the London Film Festival, how
culturally specific its opening montage might seem: it goes from
Roland Rat to Margaret Thatcher to the Falklands War to Knight
Rider on television. What will people outside of Northern Europe
make of the regalia of 1980’s skinheads from the midlands?
Hopefully they will be intrigued. This Is England made me realise,
too, that some British films are at last doing exactly what Sight and
Sound has campaigned for; reflecting aspects of British life gain
and maybe suffering the consequences of being harder to sell
abroad.”
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• Be able to compare your British Case Study with an
American One. 20th Century Fox's Avatar would be a
good choice.
•
20th Century Fox's "Avatar" (2009)
By comparing the film and media
practices of the much larger US
film industry with your own wholly
British Case study you will be able
to appreciate differences in
institutional ownership and media
convergence. You will also be able
to understand conceptually how
the massive budgets of US film
can offer choices of genre not
available to primarily UK
production companies. The types
of films and the scale of their
releases, together with target
audiences can also be examined
and compared. Even the
application of technology and the
growth of 3D films and the
opportunities to produce such
films can be compared.
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• What you should do
Now you have looked at different film companies both independant and co
owned consider the differences particularly between Film 4 production
company and a big conglomerate like 20th Century Fox. Use Avatar as
an example and look the differences in institutional ownership,
production, scale, budgets, genres, distribution, exhibition, use of
technological convergence, synergies. This comparison will give your
British case study a wider context and you will be better placed to argue how
film practices in the British Film Industry are directly affected by the giant US
conglomerates based in Hollywood.
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Production: Avatar
• Initial budget 287 million began filming
2005
• Principle Production 2007 utilising 3D
fusion camera system.
• University California developed Navi
language (Dr Paul Frommer)
• Production studio: Lightstorm (owned by
James Cameron) Dune. 20th Century).
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Distribution Exhibition
• Released 16th December 2009
• 3,457 US theaters, 2032 3D
• 90% tickets were 3D
• Film Value =Cinema-DVD-Blue Ray, Download,
Subscription, Terrestrial TV
• Every film has a tailor-made distribution plan, which the
distributor develops with the producer and or the studio.
The most important strategic decision a distributor makes
are when and how to release the film to optimize its
chances.
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Marketing
•
•
•
•
•
R-Marketing:
Avatarmovie.com
trailer released 21 august 2009
Action figures for sale
Tie in Merchandising deals with
Mcdonands
• Avatar book deals and Art work
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case studies question 2