A University Blog by Georgina Wills
A University Blog by Georgina Wills
Our consultation last week with Rachel revolved around directing the focus of the relationship between the cinematic space and new distribution models. Ultimately we’d like to come to the conclusion as to whether digital models of distribution have been successful for independent filmmakers and more arthouse exhibitors. In doing this it will be necessary to outline traditional distribution models and their success in Australia throughout the period of the 1990s. Outlining the traditional methods is relevant as a comparative point to the new innovative methods being used today that we are researching. It will be necessary to establish more thorough connections between the cinematic space and new distribution models. We intend to do this by looking into the digital distribution of film festivals in cinemas and reflecting on the success of independent surfing films in the 90s. Our focus will be solely surrounding independent Australian films and their success in the current cinema landscape.
Already I can see a potential problem within our project that eliminates our focus on either new distribution models or cinematic spaces. Our group will need to think further about the connections between the two and how they can exist harmoniously in the new digital environment.
Overall we intend to research innovative methods of bringing more viewers to independent films in cinemas and the new distribution models used to expose these films and get them to cinemas.
Our progress to date could perhaps be a bit sharper in terms of having more consistent group meetings and assigning specific roles for each other. Now that we have established an argument and more specific structure I hope to write my specific role in my next blog post. Also by next week it would be good to have created a website for our assignment as well as topic headings that our research will be categorized under.
Aveyard, K 2011, ‘Australian Films at the Cinema: Rethinking the Role of Distribution and Exhibition’, Media International Australia, vol. 138, pp. 36-44.
Aveyard’s article examines how the commercial and cultural situation of Australian films is fundamentally shaped by the manner in which they are circulated and screened. This article presents a number of arguments that indicate the low box office success of Australian films is not solely because of low finance and production funding. It is rather the lack of funding given to market and advertise films effectively.
The article aims to solve the three related claims of concern towards Australian film. These include that Australian filmmakers do not make productions audiences are interested in watching; that distributors do not market Australian films effectively and therefore fail to maximise their commercial potential; and that Australian exhibitors particularly the major chains are reluctant to screen local films, limiting their accessibility and earnings. It highlights the productive possibilities emerging from new trends in distribution and addresses the pressing need for the prioritisation of exhibition within the national film policy agenda.
Aveyard suggests more involvement from Screen Australia should be present and this could include creating funding programs to encourage innovative distribution methods, for example the Innovative Distribution Fund which supports creative distributors with alternative release strategies. It outlines a shift in favouring smaller budget productions as well as attaining cheaper print and advertising of local film. This encourage the creative use of digital media platforms and other less conventional advertising platforms to improve a film’s situation, particularly for specialised or niche audiences. The Australian Film Syndicate and Titan View distributors who used non-traditional strategies to promote films by targeting specific organisations/interest groups related to the film exemplified this.
Another question that the article raises surrounds the need to reduce the divide between art-house/independent cinemas and multiplexes. The division in audiences is too strong and significantly reduces the amount of ‘general public’ seeing art-house and independent film content. These films become spatially and culturally out of reach for a majority of Australian cinemagoers.
This article is applicable to my research as it answers my foundational questions surrounding how independent film emerging in the Australian film industry can be distributed and marketed innovatively. Additionally, it poses a question for Benji, indicating how we can soften the cultural divide between independent and multiplex cinemagoers to attain more ‘bums on seats’.
Hearn, G & Ryan, D, M 2010, ‘Next Generation ‘Filmmaking’: New Markets, New Methods and New Business Models’, Media International Australia, vol. 136, pp. 133-145.
This article is applicable to my research on the new online models of distribution being used by emerging Australian filmmakers. Hearn and Ryan focus on how digital distribution and production technologies are creating new opportunities for filmmaking in Australia. It looks specifically at ‘next generation filmmakers’ who are creating content produced for, distributed and consumed via the internet and virtual worlds, on mobile phones and other hand held devices on multi platforms.
The aim of the article is to discuss the three key aspects of next generation filmmaking: digital trends in film distribution and marketing; processes and strategies of next generation filmmakers; and case studies of viable next generation business models and filmmaking practices. Ryan and Hearn outline digital distribution possibilities such as video streaming, pay per download, video mail order websites and advertising based revenue models.
The article observes a shift from traditional forms of distribution to how filmmakers are now employing entrepreneurial skills to distribute their own content rather than employing large businesses for exposure. Audiences are now being engaged through production of fan videos, blog commentaries, social media and networking viral marketing campaigns, transmedia. Moreover, the article provides a number of marketing and distribution models that can be backed up with case studies; specifically studies surrounding pay per download platforms and YouTube. This article is especially relevant to our research that looks at the future trends of film distribution for our local industry.
Cunningham, S, Silver, J & McDonnell, J 2010, ‘Rates of Change: Online Distribution as Disruptive Technology in the Film Industry’, Media International Australia, vol. 136, pp. 119-132.
This article will be relevant to Sam and Ian’s research regarding the methods in which we can counter downloading culture. In particular, it acknowledges the success and weaknesses of major VOD websites as well as smaller independent websites that have tried to establish themselves.
Cunningham and Silver outline the impact of online distribution in the film industry, addressing the rates of change in which OLD is developing. A number of examples are provided with particular attention paid to Apple iTunes and how it has positioned itself as the dominant player in distributing films online whilst attaining profits. The article offers a history of online distribution and acknowledges the current state of the online distribution landscape, outlining the major distributors and analysing their models and methods (Hulu, iTunes, Netflix). Furthermore, it takes into account that the lack of successful Australian online distributors is generally because of the poor quality of high speed broadband.
Harris, R 2007, ‘Film in the Age of Digital Distribution: The Challenge for Australian Content’, Platform Papers, vol. 12, pp. 1-67.
This article seeks to provide a number of resolutions and outcomes to the problems being faced by film distribution in the multi-platform media landscape. It demonstrates how digital distribution is now being undertaken by filmmakers rather than traditional distribution companies. In particular, addressing how creators intend to earn revenue through the challenges and developments of user generated content and only piracy.
Harris raises questions regarding what incentives can be built to assist distributors of Australian film? And does specific funding need to be directed to marketing as opposed to production? How can we begin interrupting the business models of the current media sector? It particularly focuses on Australian audiences and how we can continue to access adequate levels of Australian content within the new media terrain. The shift to digital opens up the market and creates opportunities for more channels and new generation filmmakers.
Harris provides well thought out business models and government intervention and initiatives that Screen Australia can implement to enhance distribution. Another initiative Harris presents concerns having two separate distribution paradigms, one based on a more conventional approach and another that is more flexible and innovative. Filmmakers would be able to move between the two depending on the style of their content. Furthermore, this article will assist in our research as to how traditional distribution companies and filmmakers can exist and work cooperatively as the media landscape changes online.
Iordanova, D 2012, ‘Digital Disruption: Technological Innovation and Global Film Circulation’, in D Iordanova & S Cunningham (eds), Digital Disruption: Cinema Moves On-Line, St Andrews Film Studies, Scotland, pp. 1-23.
This chapter looks at how digital film distribution is eroding traditional channels of commercial, theatrical cinematic content. It acknowledges the democratising process of film as it moves online, liberating it from geography and making it unrestrained in its availability. Overall the article is concerned with the novel ways in which people can experience cinema conditioned by digital innovation and the wider possibilities for the global circulation of film. It explores the process of moving cinema online and the manifestations and aspects of this process that may accelerate and overrun previously known patterns of film circulation. Moreover, it explores the gradual changes affecting dissemination intermediaries and the arrival of new business and circulation models that lead to rethinking issues of intellectual property.
Iordanova analyses the democratisation of film online and provides counter arguments that can be applied to our research on future distribution trends. This will be beneficial in our predictions as to whether these trends will be successful in a market that is still saturated by blockbuster films.
Cunningham, S & Silver, J 2012, ‘Online Film Distribution: Its History and Global Complexion’, in D Iordanova & S Cunningham (eds), Digital Disruption: Cinema Moves On-Line, St Andrews Film Studies, Scotland, pp. 33-66.
Cunningham and Silver’s chapter outlines how screen content is being delivered and consumed over the Internet through major websites and platforms providing video on demand. It concentrates on how film is being distributed in the context of the broader culture of the internet, touching on the new world of online enabled production, disintermediated marketing and crowd scoured financing as they intersect with emergent strategies for the on line distribution of film. It acknowledges both formal and informal film distribution models, innovative distribution-exhibition initiatives and how the informal models arising drive the need for continuing innovation in the formal models. This article is especially important as it provides a number of impressive case studies surrounding Quick Flix in Australia and more broadly, Amazon as an emerging distributor that we could use to exemplify or reinforce our own research.
Eltham, S 2012, ‘Australia doesn’t need better films, just better distribution’, Crikey, 27 Jan, viewed 10 April 2013, Crikey website, < http://www.crikey.com.au/2012/01/27/australia-doesnt-need-better-films-just-better-distribution/>.
Eltham examines new methods of distributing Australian films in an effort to compete with the American blockbuster market. More specifically the article looks at the current trend for Australian feature films with more small art house features being made for niche audiences. To encourage this trend Australian film festivals will collaborate to market local features seeking to find niche releases.
Active participants in these festivals are committed people to film culture so each festival’s plan is to leverage the cultural subsidy to get audiences mobilised into cinemas and engaging with Australian film culture all year round. The new initiative will begin by supporting two films: Jim Sharman’s Warhol biopic Andy-X and Closer Production’s acclaimed documentary about choreographer Tanja Liedtke, Life in Movement.
The article indicates that filmmakers should be working with distributors personally to market their films, bringing communication to cinema audiences at no cost. Madman and the South Australian release of Exit Through the Gift Shop successfully demonstrate this and it can be used as a marketing research method to attain more viewing numbers for Australian film content.
Eltham also unveils how the business model for cinema is undergoing radical transition, driven by video-on-demand. One way to counter illegal downloading is through day and date release that has been successful in the US; it involves releasing a film both theatrically and via video on demand on the same day. This initiative could be researched further within our project as one solution to countering illegal downloading. It also provides as a resolution to one of our research questions that surrounds how filmmakers and traditional distributors can work harmoniously in the online media landscape.
ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation 2012, Digital Disruption Hits the Flicks, Beverly Head, viewed 24 April 2012, <http://www.cci.edu.au/node/1343>.
Beverly Head’s article examines how Australian filmmakers can benefit from digital film disruption. Incorporating an interview with Professor Stuart Cunningham, the director of ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries, Head outlines how the film industry courtesy of fast broadband is enduring a shift impacting content creation, distribution and the ability to protect intellectual property. New models are emerging where movie content producers are sharing in revenues streams through advertising on online sites such as YouTube. Additionally, in return are allowed copyright material to remain on sites. This allows for wider distribution of content, revenues to be shared between right holders and distribution companies and assists in avoiding costly litigation. The new models arising from digital dislocation are likely to favour smaller content creators who will be able to use cheaper digital production technologies and online distribution channels to reach broader audiences than before. The Internet provides as a home for small budget films using digital technology to produce new content; social networks market the productions and online distribution platforms reach the viewers.
The article provides reinforcing information surrounding our research into new distribution trends that can be used by emerging filmmakers to have their work exposed.
Having been allocated specific areas to research within our project, I have decided to look into new distribution models, particularly online models. My role will therefore be to research this area and in addition to this I created the group’s group contract and the research questions within our brief.
The research I completed today was quite successful and I have attained around five academic articles to contribute to my annotated bibliography. Reading these articles has already narrowed my focus as to what I should be researching. Articles relating to ‘next generation filmmaking’ have been especially relevant as they examine new online models of distribution not only for filmmakers but traditional distribution institutions too. Below are some points I have jotted down in relation to this…
In addition to this I found an interesting article that outlines how we should be breaking down the cultural divide between independent cinemas and multiplexes to get audiences engaging with all types of film. I thought this article would be applicable to Benji’s research as he attempts to find new ways in getting ‘bums on seats’ in cinemas.
The articles I read today related specifically to the Australian film industry, as a result this spurred my desire to promote Australian content. I also wondered if it would be worth researching international co-productions of Australian films to assist in giving us greater box office share. This week I also intend to look into how international co-productions could enhance the marketing and distribution of Australian films.
Overall I would like my research to look into low budget, innovative ways of distributing content in cinemas as opposed to looking at OVD’s that counter illicit downloading. In particular I’d like to look at how traditional distributors can begin to engage more with new generation filmmakers to promote their content rather than having the parties involved cross each other out.
Throughout the week I intend to find more industry reports as a majority of my research today was purely academic.
Speaking of international co-productions, I found an interesting article (http://www.deadline.com/2013/04/oz-government-gives-disney-22-5m-to-lure-20000-leagues-shoot-to-australia/) that outlined Australia’s $22.5 million contribution to Disney’s 20,000 Leagues shoot. This is the largest amount of money Australia has given to Hollywood and it’s for the new David Fincher film. The film could create up to 2,000 jobs in the country and would significantly enhance other country’s desire to shoot in the country. It also demonstrates growing alliances between Australia and Hollywood.
After receiving a lecture from Screen Australia’s Dr. Georgie McClean I not only wished that she was my Mum, but also that our group project should centre around film, with a focus on the Australian film industry. With a large group wanting to focus on ‘Not Quite TV’, a topic that would centre around consumer and creator relationships to changing trends in television viewing, we decided to split the group into film and TV. I chose film and am now in a group along side Sam, Ian and Benji. Whilst it’s difficult to begin analysing my self assessment criteria because we have only really just started, I wanted to relay some points of focus for our group, ‘Not Quite Cinema’.
I can adhere to my criteria regarding staying up to date with current trends. This week I read an article on The Drum titled, ‘Brutishness no barrier to a media career – if you’re male’ written by Clementine Ford. Looking at how gender equality can be developed in Australia this article argues that the dismissal of Catherine Deveny from The Age for inappropriate tweets wasn’t justified compared to certain men in the media who are ‘rewarded for their brutishness’ aka, Kyle Sandilands, Sam Newman. I don’t think that Deveny’s dismissal was unjustified, her actions damaged the reputation of The Age and she did not adhere to their codes of propriety. I think as a TV or radio personal these tweets could bolstered her image similarly to her male counterparts (Newman, Sandilands). The actions of these media personal are answerable to the institutions that hire them and it is deeply frustrating to hear the sexist comments of Newman and Sandilands being consistently engrained into society making them seem more legitimate because there isn’t any up cry about it, but it’s an image and these personal in all their controversy and bring audiences.
The first media industries lecture reminded me just how detached and unaware I was of contemporary media issues occurring in society. Naturally, that’s going to change as I become more involved in consuming online news resources more regularly. Fortunately I was able to submit one issue to the class surrounding the ridiculousness of Australian censorship laws when it comes to screening sexuality in narratives. This gave way to a point made by Rachel that I had never really comprehended doing myself before, ‘How does the media involve itself in larger development goals?’ For example, how can the media influence gender equality. In this class we should be researching ideas that reflect on the future of media and how we can best ensure it’s importance in resolving broader development goals. I found the documentary Page One: Inside the New York Times (2011) to be an interesting example given in class that reflected on the changing role of journalism. This snippet successfully highlighted the dissolution of ethics within digital media and a shift in how audiences now receive news from alternative voices of authority through digital platforms. It demonstrated how traditional platforms such as print journalism are now relying on new media to find stories through organisations such as Wikileaks.
“Sharehouse” was the radio play written, produced and voiced by myself, Emily and Cinzia. It revolved around three characters and grappled with the complexities of living with others as a student. The play was well written, comical and entertaining, providing a number of stereotypes for people to laugh at. The humour was quite self reflexive and delivered mostly by the play’s narrator. Additionally, we tried to make the play self-deprecating and purely entertaining.
The radio play was a wonderful experience to practice our creative writing skills. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing processes our group went through collaboratively using Google Docs and Facebook to maintain contact. The issues surrounding share houses intended to appeal to a universal amount of students who could relate to the characters as well as the popular culture references we used for comedic purposes.
When constructing our play we took into account Tim Crook’s article, “Principles of Writing a Radio Drama”, and more specifically, his paragraph on tension and humour. Our narrator was incorporated to relieve any tension occurring between the main characters. He was omnipresent and his British accent was incorporated to enhance the piece’s comedic elements. We wanted our characters to be honest, believable and recognisable to our peers.
Our group encountered no real conflicting ideas. The project was undertaken together. We recorded together, wrote the script together, found sound effects and edited the piece together. This made the process incredibly fun. Ideally, we could have taken the time to record our own sound effects to make the piece more realistic and intimate but we found we ran out of time.
I contributed predominantly to the My Morning Story participatory project as the ABC Pool platform manager. In addition to this I made Tweets, created user profiles and content for the project. Moreover, I contributed heavily in group meetings and in creating written summaries for the final project plan and presentation.
As the organizer of ABC Pool it was my responsibility to encourage audio and video content produced for My Morning Story. This meant generating Tweets to call out for audio and video work. We were fortunate enough to receive an audio piece via email from Tess Lawley. When we positioned this piece on ABC Pool and promoted it on Twitter and Facebook it received comments from the Pool coordinator and was featured on the main web page. Subsequently, our project My Morning Story was featured on the main webpage. This generated further exposure for our project and from this we attained more followers.
In order to generate the project’s exposure it is necessary to follow similar projects that already exist on ABC Pool. I promoted the platform through linking call outs to platforms such as Tumblr and Twitter. Additionally, I interacted with other projects by liking, following and contributing content to further generate exposure and give people an incentive to follow our own project.
In addition to ABC Pool, I kept notes on Google docs at group meetings and contributed written work to the project plan. It was my responsibility to create slides for the presentation and paragraphs for the project plan outlining our marketing strategy, the submissions we received as well as show casing and analyzing our top three submissions. I created a platform analysis of ABC Pool and also the user profile, Kitty Foreman, for ABC Pool to position in the project plan.
The theory we have covered this semester is applicable to this project, particularly readings by Guosong, Jenkins and Song. Throughout this participatory project I have been made aware as to how contemporary media practice can exist and flourish outside of commercial, multinational media conglomerates at much smaller scales. Furthermore, through this project I have learnt to acknowledge online consumers as active users and participants in online communities, and not as passive consumers.
My Morning Story acknowledges consumers as active users and participants in online communities. Our project draws strongly on Shao’s reading surrounding user-generated media. The project encourages users to engage with our community not by consuming, but by participating and producing content online. As conventional media and social media begin to merge, our project successfully combines both forms of media and connects them via multiple platforms for users to engage with. Our community is a space where people can engage in self-expression and creativity amongst other like-minded individuals. By interacting with our community contributors individually, we seek to ensure that their time and work is worth their while by promoting their work to others. Although small, we have formed a close and supportive community that extends beyond the University sphere.
Song’s reading evaluates the expansion of the market in online communities. Whilst “current trends in online communities illustrate the commodification of community and epitomise the fate of public life in a consumer culture” (Song, pg. 79) the participatory project refutes this notion. Social media platforms are becoming increasingly more commercialised through advertising, particularly Facebook and Youtube. However, the platforms used to share the content surrounding My Morning Story illustrate how online communities can flourish amongst active users driven not by monetary benefits, but by the emotionally rewarding benefits of being apart of a community on platforms such as ABC Pool, Instagram and Tumblr.
Jenkins also outlines how old and new media collide. This project exemplifies how we have drawn on different modes of conventional media such as audio and photography to tell stories. I can draw distinctions between subjects such as Film and TV and Radio, recognising how their significance can be applied to online environments too. The content we produce in these traditional media subjects can be acknowledge online on account of participatory culture that has given rise to multi-platform production and distribution that is user generated. Essentially, we have merged our submissions with new media platforms to generate and promote an online community via Twitter, ABC Pool, Tumblr, Instagram that all interweave with one another.
Overall this was an incredibly fun group assignment and like our platforms, we all interacted incredibly well. My Morning Story is a quirky, story telling prompt and project that I can see existing and developing outside of a University environment. In particular it was the experience of working in a group ‘community’ to generate an online community that enabled broader thinking. Together we constructed an effective story telling prompt that required consistent effort to be maintained. Each group member had particular platforms they were interested in so it worked well drawing on all of our strengths and insights into linking and deciding on what made specific platforms desirable to create content for different users.
Frequent blog posts –
This semester I began writing frequent blog posts that adhered to my standard of two to three a week. As the semester progressed I found myself by week five writing only one to two blog posts. My blog posts frequently revolved around lecture and reading content as well as the participatory project and professional online identity project. I adhered to engaging with the ideas covered in the set readings and also the lectures from each week and applied these concepts to blog posts on our participatory project, My Morning Story and my online identity. Overall I am satisfied with the quality of my blog posts but not so much the quantity. I felt I neglected seeking content that went beyond the course as I became too focused on blogging on the subject’s major assessments.
Exploring and engaging with different social media –
Overall I have been impressed with my engagement with different forms of social media, particularly ABC Pool, this semester. The two different assessments this semester has given me the opportunity to experiment with a number of platforms and fluctuate between them successfully. Whilst the first half of the semester I primarily used WordPress and Twitter to create an online identity, the second half exposed me to ABC Pool, Tumblr and Instagram. Whilst I still Tweet daily I neglected to Tweet content relating to #IM212 for this half of the semester. The participatory project enhanced my engagement with the platform ABC Pool that was completely foreign to me prior to this experience. I now feel incredibly comfortable with using this platform and have had a number of rewarding experiences using it within our project. Tumblr is another platform that I had had little exposure to. It became the main platform in our participatory project so it was beneficial to become more familiar with it and value it’s important role in our project. My engagement with my personal WordPress blog has also been satisfactory over the semester. The blog posts I have written I feel can be positioned in a folio for freelance writing work. Without this subject to prompt my blog writing, I feel I would have constantly neglected my personal blog.
Developing my online presence and establishing my online voice –
Having frequently used WordPress and Twitter over the past six weeks I have developed the persona I wish to present. To attain the style of writing I feel most comfortable with I experimented with writing in first person in my blog entries however found this quite contrived. As a result I now present an academic, formal writing tone in my blog entries and will attempt to give my blog an element of my personal nature. My frequent Twitter updates have enhanced my ability to consistently present my tone of voice in the same manner. This has also been made easier by often basing tweets on film related content. Additionally, I have been able to apply my tone to the participatory project using Twitter and creating content for our project, My Morning Story.
Reflection and research –
This semester I read the required readings and blogged about their content. I constantly sought external material to relate back to our two major assessments but not the course in general. I felt I began doing this at the beginning of the semester however it ceased by week five. I have been constantly researching different social media platforms and analyzing their functions whilst seeking other online identities who I can draw inspiration from for my own. This is exemplified in a number of my blog entries.
Overall mark DISTINCTION.
Below is the script for my review of Heroic Faun No. One. It was aired on 3RRR this week!
Written and performed by Gregory Cooper, Heroic Faun no. 1 recounts Cooper’s story as an extra in the film, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
With an army of self-deprecating gags Cooper’s performance is as honest and open as Tilda Swinton’s marriage.
Possessing similarities to Mr Tumnus himself, Cooper’s narrative is as dark as it is endearing, going beyond insights into the glamorous world of Hollywood movie making. He unveils the tedious task of being an extra, where intense preparation goes unacknowledged on screen. Alleviating moments of moral confliction with frequent hilarity, Cooper constantly reminds you that his story is true through the repeated moments where he pin points his presence in the film.
Cooper’s use of lighting and minimal props are effective in transporting audiences from his audition, to the set of Narnia and to Auckland for the film’s opening night. He also contributes wonderful impersonations from the likes of James McAvoy.
Heroic Faun no. 1 is a hilariously charming and genuine anecdote surrounding Cooper’s experiences as an aspiring artist. It’s directed by Cal Wilson and is being performed at The North Melbourne Town Hall this week, running for just under an hour.
I’ve been Georgina for Buzz Cuts.