Saturday, 22 November 2008

An interview by FILMdetail's Ambrose Heron with John Carney, director of "ONCE"

Film students studying "ONCE" as an independent film for FS6 would do well to well to listen to this audio interview of Ambrose Heron with ONCE director John Carney.
Interesting topics are:
  • Carney's ideas on how music can be used in films
  • acting and naturalism
  • the story on how the film found its main distributor, FOX Searchlight.

Bear with the brief advert halfway through this interview. Scroll down on the web page for the audio link.

Early UK Box Office Statistics for "The Lives of Others"

For students researching "The Lives of Other" as an "indie" these are helpful stats for studying the theatrical release of the film in the UK. Notice how many cinema (sites) it opened in and how this changed in subsequent weeks. Of course, these "sites" would have an art-house following. There is a running figure for the rise and fall of "the weekly gross" on the left with a running total for "the box offfice to date" on the right of the chart.

Track the film into the following month(s) to see its fortunes and where the box office trail peters out.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Why and how the line between Hollywood and Independent films is becoming blurred

Here's another link to a really useful Wikipedia article on this issue. Scroll down for the relevant parts, particularly the discussion on Dennis Hopper's "Easy Rider", the first film recognised as and "independent" film.

Scroll down to read the second article by John Lewis on Independent Films and how major Hollywood studios muscled in on "Indies" by trying to "corner the market in "independent films. It's well worth reading to get an overview of how Hollywood has tried to blur the differences in audiences' minds between themselves and real indepent films.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

How much do YOU KNOW about typefaces in film posters?

This series of film posters on the BBC website with comments by Sebastian Lester is well worth trawling through for understanding the messages behind their typefaces and the distributors' reasons for selecting them.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

What is indie cinema?

This is an important article to read for understanding the current meaning of what is meant by the term "independent films", or "indie films". After reading it scroll down and read some of the messages as some of those are very informative, tool

Film Director, Robert Davi's definition of Independent Films

indieWIRE INTERVIEW "The Dukes" Director Robert Davi
"What is your definition of "independent film," and has that changed at all since you first started working?
For me, an independent film is under five million dollars. It is independently funded from outside sources. There are no "wink-wink" side deals made with an existing studio. There is no negative pick up deal made with a producer who comes on board and has an output deal with the studio. The idea of independent film is absolutely no ties to agencies, studios - a film made truly outside the system. I have seen what is considered an independent film change over the years, from films that were made outside the studio system that were considered independent to what we have today - which to a large degree are films being called independent, but are really in fact not. This is not to say there are not those young Cassavetes out there who are still maintaining the purity and spirit of maverick filmmakers."

For the rest of the interview see:

The Credit Crunch Has Made Life Tough For Independent Film-makers

Independent Filmmakers Hock Houses, Face Longer Odds Amid Cuts

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Why FOX Searchlight acquired the rights to "ONCE"

This is an important article for anyone doing a case study on ONCE for FS6: Independent Films and their Audience. This link refers to a press release by FOX Searchlight. It is worth noting that major distributors like FOX have specialised subsidiary arms, in this instance FOX Searchlight, that acquire the rights to independent (specialist films) and then distribute them in that manner, obviously in art house cinemas or in limited regional or selected cinemas releases. This brief post in Cinematical also has useful info. on the deal with FOX Searchlight.

A film review on "ONCE"
Amazon would be another good site for critical reception. Of course, read Roger Ebert, too, along with other reviewers. Their links are on the right hand side of this blog.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Film terms explained by a movie critic

Kevin Maynard, a US movie critic explains in a number of short videos useful terms for various aspects of films.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

A discussion on distribution - "the holy grail" of independent film making

Another good article for understanding the importance of distribution for independent film makers. The example used is The Sundance Film Festival. Note the three main criteria that distributors are looking for before they will attempt to distribute a film:

"STAR POWER … participation by recognized industry creatives
FESTIVAL FEVER … selection in a key festival
GREAT REVIEWS … recognition by film critics"

The increasingly heated row between cinemas and distributors/studios

This fascinating debate hinges on what distributors and studios regard as "as changing marketplace". For exhibitors (cinema chains) who are independent from major film distributors and studios the argument is to retain a six month release pattern for films in their cinemas. The distributors and studios are agitating for quicker release dates for DVDs. (shorter windows). Of course, there's money at stake and the publicity that sold the films could be used to help sell the DVDs. What's interesting is that distributors and studios are citing video piracy as the cause for wanting to shorten the theatrical release "window". While film piracy is an issue for each institution the cinema chains increasingly think that distributors and studios are using this issue to bounce them into shorter release patterns.

German exhibitors won out over the release date issue with FOX. The writer suggests that US theaters could learn a lesson from German defiance; however the writer also argues that US exhibitors are more at the mercy of giant Hollywood distributors and studios because of the importance of home produced content.

An example of a cinema release pattern for Cormac McCarthy's "The Road"

The site has an up-coming release pattern for "The Road", based on Cormac McCarthy's novel of the same title. It is a good example of how distributors release current films. The author's novel, "No Country For Old Men" won the Oscar for best film for 2008.

Here's some information on release patterns for other new films

Several types of film release patterns

Again, this article is old and it does not take account of new release patterns such as the one devised by Warner Bros for "Jesse James". Yet it is helpful for definitions, etc.

Types of Release Patterns
Industry Analysis by Anthony Leong, Lara Kalins, Oren Levy, Marion De Marcillac, and Annekatrin Scholze
© Copyright 1996

Wide Release
The most common release pattern, in which the film is released nationally in all markets. This is the pattern used by the majors, since this type of release pattern requires a heavy investment in prints and national advertising, which while having reach into all markets, is expensive. With a wide release, the producers and distributors can realize revenues to recoup their investment in a shorter time period (provided that the film is successful). Finally, revenues from videocassette sales can also be realized faster from a quickly-executed theatrical release (the shorter the time period between the theatrical release and the videocassette release, the greater the potential for videocassette income).

The Modified Wide Release
The film will open in a few major markets and expand week by week to build awareness and allow positive word-of-mouth reputation to develop. This type of release would initially be supported spot advertising (advertising in a specific geographical area, such as a city) and may move to national advertising once it expands to other markets.

Exclusive and Limited Runs
Exclusive and limited runs begin with engagements at a limited number of screens, traditionally in large urban areas, such as Toronto. Based on favourable reviews and positive word-of-mouth, the film may move slowly to additional theatres. This release pattern is almost always used for upscale 'arthouse' or foreign films and may be part of a platforming strategy, where critical acclaim in an important market will assist in providing momentum for a wide release.

Territorial Saturation
Territorial saturation involves saturating a territory with bookings, heavy advertising and promotion, before moving on to another territory. This method would be used for films tailored to specific markets. In Canada, this would be seen with French-language films, which primarily would be well-received only in Quebec. It is also used by independent distributors for exploitation or family movies.

Film release patterns from theatrical release to free to air TV

This report is quite old but much of its information still holds. Its useful for understanding the release patterns for films and how they work their way towards free to air tv.

Movie release patterns and the "select" release of "Jesse James"

This is an interesting article which examines "the select" movie release of "Jesse James". The distributors wanted a rolling release to build "the accolades" and the film's audience for a "wider release". In the event this led to frustation among prospective audiences.

The Distribution and Marketing of Films

This article and the related articles on the right of this link's page are crucial for understanding how distribution and marketing is carried out in UK cinema. For those of you studying independent films this and the related articles offer valuable insight into how independent films are released and marketed as opposed to Hollywood films that have the advantage of film companies that are 'vertically integrated' as they have control over every aspect of a film's production, distribution, marketing and exhibition. Read the related articles in order as the case study article on "Bullet Boy" refers back to points made in the previous articles.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Hollywood Stars Payback (the returns for every $ they earn)

This is a useful link for fairly recent figures on Hollywood stars and how much their films earn for every dollar spent on them. This could be helpful for star case studies, etc.

Hollywood's most expensive stars- they returned poor box office per dollar earned by them.

In pictures, with relevant information