Wednesday, 23 January 2008

FS2 - Film Production, Distribution and Exhibition Case Study Prompts

Film Production, Distribution and Exhibition

Take any two films of your choice and try to trace their development through from their initial inception as embryonic ideas to their box-office success (or failure). Use the internet to help you with your research. But be pragmatic about your choice of films; look to see how much information seems to be available before you make your final choice. The one limitation on your choice is that one film must be from Hollywood and the other must be British. For each film you might try to answer the following questions but do not treat these as anything more than guidelines. You will not be able to find the answer to each of these questions and you might have ideas of your own for additional relevant information to include under each phase of the industrial/commercial process.

1. What happened during pre-production?

  • Whose idea was the film? Did the idea start with the writer, or were writers brought in to develop a preconceived idea?

  • Where did the idea come from? Was it an original idea, or perhaps a book first, or TV series, or comic strip, or from some other source?

  • Who wrote the original script? Did other people become involved in the writing as the project progressed?

  • How easy was it to arrange the financial backing to make the film? Who were the financial backers?

  • How well known was the production company? What was its track record?

  • Who was the producer? How did he or she become involved?

  • Who was the director? How did he or she become involved

2. What happened during the production phase?

  • Was it an easy ‘shoot’? If there were difficulties what were they? Were there tensions between any of the creative personnel, often known as ‘the talent?
  • Was any part of the film shot on location? If so, where?
  • Where there any difficulties with casting, or with acquiring the stars/actors the producer wanted?
  • Was the film shot within budget? Was it ever in any danger of going over budget? What was the budget? Can you find a breakdown for the budget?
  • Were there any changes to the script during production? How many changes or re-writes? Did the same scriptwriter(s) stay ‘on board’ all the time, or were some replaced?
  • List as many people as possible making contributions to the production
    If possible highlight some of their individual contributions?

3. What happened during the distribution phase?

  • Who were the distributors? How well known was the company? What is their track record as distributors?

  • How did the film-makers decide where to release the film and when? What was the eventual release pattern?

  • What deals were made for distribution abroad? How easily were these deals secured?

  • Why did they at any stage change their plans for the release pattern, and if so, why?

  • What was the marketing and advertising strategy for the film? Was there a premiere, and if so, where?

  • What outlets were used for advertising? Was TV used, for example?

  • Were there any merchandising tie-ins?

  • Was any additional publicity gained, and if so, how?

4. What happened during the exhibition phase?

  • When was the film released; also where and on how many screens?
    Was there a particular strategy attached to increasing the number of prints available?

  • Were there any difficulties with the censors? How did the censors classify the film?

  • Were there any other special restrictions placed on the exhibition of the film?

  • What were the reactions of the critics to the film? Was it considered a critical success? Has it been re-assessed since then?

  • Did the film create a particular media debate, or create news headlines?

  • How much money did the film take in its first year? Was it considered a commercial/financial success?

  • Did it have ‘legs’, that is did it continue to run in the cinema for some time?

Remember there are questions here that you will not be able to answer; however there may be topics that you would like to include that are not covered in the questions set out. All the questions are only offered as guidelines; it is for you to work on the development of your own chosen product from concept to screen.

Adapted from "AS Film Studies: The Essential Introduction", pages 137-139, by Sarah Casey, Benyahia, Freddie Gaffeny and John White, Routledge, 2006.

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