Chapter eleven
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CHAPTER ELEVEN. Filmmaking Technologies and Production Systems. The Whole Equation. Moviemaking is, above all, a moneymaking enterprise. Moviemaking is a collaborative enterprise. Film Technology: An Overview. Analog medium Three stages – shooting, processing, projecting

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Chapter eleven


Filmmaking Technologies and Production Systems

The whole equation

The Whole Equation

  • Moviemaking is, above all, a moneymaking enterprise.

  • Moviemaking is a collaborative enterprise.

Film technology an overview

Film Technology: An Overview

  • Analog medium

  • Three stages – shooting, processing, projecting

  • Format – gauge, or width, of the film stock; its perforations; and the shape and size of the image we see on the screen

Film stock an overview

Film Stock: An Overview

  • Format – measured in millimeters

  • Film stock length – the number of feet (or meters) or reels for a particular film

  • Film stock speed – the degree of light-sensitivity

  • Exposure – the length of time the film is exposed to light

  • Resolution – the capacity to provide fine detail in an image

Video technology

Video Technology

  • Video image consists of pixels (picture elements)

  • Low picture quality compared to film

  • Video’s strengths – cheap stock and no processing

  • Used in amateur filmmaking and low-budget documentary productions

Digital technology

Digital Technology

  • An electronic process that creates images though a numbered system of pixels stored on a flash card or computer hard drive

  • More versatile, easier, and cheaper to use than film

  • Uses less light than film, requires no processing, easily duplicated

  • Involves an electronic process that creates its images through a numbered system of pixels

Film vs digital

Film vs. Digital

  • Film stock is a physical thing; digital is virtual representation

  • Computer-manipulated digital requires no lab processing

  • Film has a particular aesthetic – film grain, depth of color and shadow

  • The key factor for a digital conversion is economic

Film vs digital economics

Film vs. Digital: Economics

  • Digital distribution is cost-effective compared with film distribution

  • The threat of pirating digital formats remains the same as film

  • Hollywood has used digital systems to produce less than 1 percent of movies released

  • Virtually 100 percent of all feature films are digitally edited

How a movie is made preproduction

How a Movie Is Made: Preproduction

  • Filmmakers develop an idea or obtain a script

  • Arrange the financing

  • Begin discussions with key people responsible for design, photography, music, and sound

  • Rewriting, scheduling, rehearsals with cast and crew

  • Overall, can take one to two years

How a movie is made production

How a Movie Is Made: Production

  • Shooting can last six weeks to several months, or more

  • Director designs the shooting script, sets schedule

  • Director does rehearsals and blocking, filming and watching dailies

  • Number and type of shots dictates number of crew

How a movie is made postproduction

How a Movie Is Made: Postproduction

  • Editing – visual images and sound

  • Preparing the final print

  • Marketing and distribution

The history of hollywood in three periods

The History of Hollywood in Three Periods

  • The Studio System

  • The Independent System

  • Combined System – today’s current model

The studio system before 1931

The Studio System before 1931

  • Motion Picture Patents Company (MPPC) (1908–1915)

  • Hollywood, California, attracted filmmakers

  • Studios dominated by central producers (moguls)

  • Central-producer system valued quantity over quality

The studio system after 1931

The Studio System after 1931

  • Producer-unit system

  • Each studio had its own organizational system

  • Created an industry that favored standardization and created a “look”

  • Established a collaborative, industrial mode of production

The golden age 1940s

The Golden Age (1940s)

  • Majors / Minors / “B” studios / Independent producers

  • Majors: Paramount, MGM, Warner Bros., 20th Century-Fox, RKO

  • Minors: Universal, Columbia, United Artists

  • B Studios: Republic Pictures, Monogram Productions, Grand National Films, Producers Releasing Corporation, and Eagle-Lion Films

  • Studios were vertically integrated companies

  • Producers dominated the studio system

The actual physical studios dream factories

The Actual, Physical Studios:“Dream Factories”

  • Studios were high-walled industrial complexes with guarded gates

  • MGM covered more than 117 acres, had 10 miles of paved streets, and 137 totally self-contained buildings

  • 29 air-conditioned, soundproofed sound stages, some having almost an acre of floor space

  • MGM produced an average of 50 full-length features and 100 shorts a year, employing nearly 5,000 people

Decline of the studio system 1950s

Decline of the Studio System (1950s)

  • Federal government actions signaled a change in studio business

  • Studios reorganized producer-unit systems

  • Shift in the relations between top management and creative personnel

  • World War II

  • The rise of television

The independent system

The Independent System

  • 1930s–1940s: The package-unit system

  • Role of the independent producer

  • Producer’s team – may include an executive producer, line producer, and associate and assistant producers.

  • Allows for more creative innovation

  • Total cost / Creative financing of salaries

Labor and unions

Labor and Unions

  • Studio Basic Agreement (1926)

  • Screen Actors Guild (1933)

  • Management and labor carry out the three phases of moviemaking

Professional organizations and standardization

Professional Organizations and Standardization

  • Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (1916)

  • American Society of Cinematographers (1918)

  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (1927)

  • American Cinema Editors (1950)

Financing in the industry

Financing in the Industry

  • Vertically integrated studio system – direct or indirect costs

  • No rule governs the arranging of financing

  • Independent system – above-the-line (30%) or below-the-line (70%) costs

  • Accounting practices for films can be highly creative

Marketing and distribution

Marketing and Distribution

  • Answer prints are screened for test audiences and focus groups

  • Independent producers have various distribution options

  • Professionals are in charge of advertising, distribution, exhibition

  • Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) – ratings system

Mpaa movie rating system

MPAA Movie-Rating System

  • G – General Audience

  • PG – Parental Guidance Suggested

  • PG-13 – Parents Strongly Cautioned

  • R – Restricted

  • NC-17 – No One 17 and Under Admitted

Production in hollywood today

Production in Hollywood Today

  • Mixture of studio system (radically different than in “golden age”) and independent production companies

  • No studio “system”; few truly independent producers

  • Major studios define the nature of U.S. movie production

  • Independent producers distribute through the “big six”

Major studios and owners

Major Studios and Owners

  • 20th Century Fox (News Corporation)

  • Warner Bros. Pictures (Time Warner Inc.)

  • Sony Pictures (Sony Corporation of America)

  • Universal Studios (NBC Universal)

  • Walt Disney Pictures (Walt Disney Pictures)

  • Paramount (Viacom Inc.)

3 d movies gimmick or trend of the future

3-D Movies: Gimmick or Trend of the Future?

  • Not a new process; experimented with since 1900s

  • 38 3-D features in 2011, including films by Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, and Francis Ford Coppola

  • Converting nondigital screens costs about $70,000 each

  • Even with recent successes, it’s still an open question whether 3-D movies are here to stay

Foreign influences on hollywood films

Foreign Influences on Hollywood Films

  • In 2011, foreign ticket sales accounted for 68% of the global film market, up 10% in 10 years

  • To enhance appeal to global market:

    • Collaboration with local (foreign) producers

    • Hire more foreign actors in blockbusters

    • Rewrite scripts to enhance global appeal

    • Focus on action films that are by far the most successful

Maverick producers and directors

Maverick Producers and Directors

  • Mavericks refuse to conform to the accepted way of making movies

  • Producers: Scott Rudin, Jerry Bruckheimer, Brian Grazer

  • Directors: John Sayles, Robert Rodriguez, Mel Gibson

  • Other Notable Mavericks: George Lucas, Spike Lee, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese



1. Today, what is the average cost to produce and market a Hollywood film?

a. $25 million

b. $50 million

c. $100 million

d. $150 million



2. Which is NOT a filmmaking technology?

a. film

b. video

c. analog

d. digital



3. In the old studio system, the film budget consisted of which two categories?

a. Above-the-line costs, below-the-line costs

b. Production costs, postproduction costs

c. Direct costs, indirect costs

d. Overhead costs, underhead costs



4. Which of the following organizations is in charge of the Oscars?

a. Motion Picture Association of America

b. Motion Picture Patents Company

c. Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers

d. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences



5. In filmmaking today, major studios account for what percentage of gross income?

a. 15%

b. 50%

c. 80%

d. 95%

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