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FILM AND AUDIENCE 19TH NOVEMBER 2012


19TH NOVEMBER 2012 Lesson Objectives

Learning Outcomes

•  To understand how film audiences are changing. •  To know why the film indistry may need to change its distribution process in the future. •  To develop extended writing.

•  I can explain how film audiences are changing. •  I can suggest ways in which the film indistry may need to develop in the future. •  I can write an extended response to an essay question.


INTRODUCTION •  Film has gone digital. The digitization of film takes place at multiple levels, but most noticeably: production, distribution and consumption. •  - Production: What cameras you use, how you do lighting, special effects, storage of content, editing of content, etc. •  - Distribution: Advertising your film, DVD culture, download culture •  - Consumption: remix, sharing, clipping culture


STAGE 1 •  At each of these three levels, there are stages of how technology affects practice. •  The first stage is TRANSLATION. Old practices are kept intact and imported into the new medium. Many of you are familiar with this - your cameras went digital but they still looked and acted like cameras... for the most part. When advertisers began using the internet, they just translated the marketing content to the web, making the web look and feel exactly like an advertising bulletin board.


STAGE 2 •  The second stage is LOCALIZATION. Folks realize that there are much more effective and efficient ways of utilizing the technology to reach a desired end goal. Practices are modified to take advantage of the technology, usually to make things more efficient. At the same time, these practices feel quite similar to the translated ones. Tickets for films can be bought online and printed. People can sign up to be notified by email when a film is released. Interpolated rotoscoping (Waking Life) is an example of a visual effect style that existed prior to localization, but localization made it much more doable.


STAGE 3 •  The third stage is CO-OPTION. This is the stage when the pidgin of film becomes a creole and new practices emerge that are completely incomprehensible to those who were fluent in the previous culture of film. You can see this in visual effects where things like animated watercolor were impossible without digitization, but more radical practices have to do with how viewers consume, share, and mess with film. Think REMIX. It is easy to be terrified of co-option because much of what emerges seems to go against the grain of what was normative before.


AUDIENCES OF TOMORROW •  Most adults believe that the role of ‘teenagedom’ is to get an education; they emphasize school, homework, and learning. Yet, for most teenagers, school is the place where they hang out with friends, homework is a chore that they're required to do, and they are far more interested in learning about the social world around them then learning calculus. This is not new. •  Teens try to spend as much time with their friends as possible. In school, this means passing notes, finding friends between classes, gathering with friends for lunch, and hanging out after school for as long as possible. Even structured activities like sports are often more about friends than the activity itself. Media plays a heavy role in teens' lives. Their primary gathering space is friends' houses where movies and video games are popular things to do with friends.


TEEN CONSUMERS •  Teens are seeing fewer films in cinemas now than in the past. You may be interested to know that this has little to do with desire. Teens *want* to go to the cinema but there are structural limitations to their access. •  First, there's money. Seeing films is increasingly expensive and fewer teens have the money to afford a night out to the movies. In the UK, there are fewer opportunities for teens to work and middle/working class parents have less discretionary income now than they did 25 years ago, making pocket money harder to come by. Second, there's a lack of discretionary time. Middle and upper class teens spend a lot of their waking hours overscheduled, running from activity to activity with little downtime.


TEEN CONSUMERS •  Third, there's a mobility issue. huge ‘movieplexes’ tend to be on the outskirts of towns, rather than easily accessible by bike or walking. Fourth, there are structural limitations to teens ability to leave their homes as parents are afraid of all of the terrible things that might happen to teens if they are allowed out of the house. •  These forces affect many things, movie theater attendance being one of them. Going to the cinema for teens is primarily seen as a treat and something that they beg to do when a big movie is coming out; when i was growing up, going to the cinema was the default activity for the weekend. Again, this isn't about a lack of desire, but the lack of access will increasingly affect the film industry.


SOCIAL NETWORKS •  The primary reason that teens use social technologies is to socialise with their friends. •  When you first open your FaceBook account you are asked to note what music, books and films you like. You can also continue to add to this list and ‘like’ others comments which are connected to films each time you log on. •  Users are constantly bombarded with information and opinions on films.


YOUTUBE •  Teens have been watching video online for as long as it's been possible. I should emphasise here that they are primarily watching VIDEO not FILM. Most of what they watch would horrify any filmmaker. They love stupid videos of all sorts - dog tricks, car crashes, and anything featuring people who are destined to win the Darwin award for utter stupidity. Internet video has completely replaced the TV show ”you’ve been framed." The next most popular genre of video that they consume online is music videos.


YOUTUBE •  Teens are also creating their own video. It shouldn't come as a shock that the two most popular genres of video creation are stupid videos and faux music videos. By and large, these videos are created to be shared with friends. It is assumed that these videos will not be viewed by millions, not because they can't, but because they wouldn't find it interesting. Much of what is created contains injokes and is presumed to only be funny if you know the characters in the video. Of course, this logic is problematic given how often they watch videos of others doing stupid things and making mock music videos.


ON DEMAND •  On demand television is also capturing the attention of teenagers. •  If you miss your favorite TV show then you can catch up with it on the internet or virgin on demand or sky anytime. •  Sites like Netflix and Love Film also allow teens to access films and television at any time day or night.


PIRACY •  Piracy is the name given to the illegal copying and selling of DVDs and CDs. •  If you do buy an illegal copy, the quality of the recording is usually really bad. If it's a DVD, the picture will be grainy or change to black and white at some points, while the sound quality will often be muffled and very quiet. •  A good copy means you pay less to watch the film and therefore don’t need to go to the cinema in order to be up to date with the latest releases.


IN CONCLUSSION •  we treat the Internet as another broadcast medium where you push content at people. In other words, we're still aiming to localize rather than to co-opt. A better way of conceiving it is as a public space where people want to pull content in to personalise it, identify with it, and share it. It is no secret that we're not yet sure how to monitor this practice, but efforts to stop it are like trying to build gigantic walls after planes were invented. •  The audience of tomorrow is online. They're consuming video; they want to be consuming film. There's unbelievable room for innovation and creativity in this space. The technology is not stable and it never will be stable. Successful filmmakers will need to pay attention to the dynamics and optimise their strategies accordingly.


THE FUTURE •  So, in conclusion, here are four things to remember: •  1) Youth are online to hang out with friends... they use media to socialise with their peers. 2) Youth do not and will not consume media whole in a passive way. 3) Building walls to stop deep engagement scares off fans and never actually closes the loophole. 4) It is time for the film industry to innovate rather than trying to control. Many new opportunities lie ahead.


ESSAY •  What impact have new technologies had on the medium of film and its audiences?


Film Audiences