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Case studies. Warp-an independent production company, but you could also mention Warp X which is a separate company but based in the same offices, and they make really smaller budget films between £400,000 and £800,000

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case studies
Case studies
  • Warp-an independent production company, but you could also mention Warp X which is a separate company but based in the same offices, and they make really smaller budget films between £400,000 and £800,000
  • Working Title-which is owned by parent company Universal, this means they have a conglomerate backing.
  • 20th Century Fox-Avatar owned by a conglomerate massive budgets bigger than anything made by Working Title aims at a mainstream blockbuster audience
slide2
Warp
  • Since its birth as a shop and record label in Sheffield in 1989, Warp has become one of the World’s most respected creative organisations. Originally just a record label/shop, Warp Records, Warp have since launched two film production companies – Warp Films and Warp X (for low-budget, digital productions only)
  • Warp Films was set up with funding from NESTA, the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts. It is based in Sheffield with a further office in London and has 14 full-time staff. Warp, which owns Warp Records Warp Films and Warp Music Videos & Commercials. Also shares the same office with Warp X which is a separate company.
  • ReleasesMy Wrongs #8245–8249 & 117 (Dir: Chris Morris - 2003)Dead Man's Shoes (Dir: Shane Meadows - 2004)Rubber Johnny (Dir: Chris Cunningham - 2005)Scummy Man (Arctic Monkeys short film/music video)This Is England (Dir: Shane Meadows - 2006)Grow Your Own (Dir: Richard Laxton - 2007)Dog Altogether (Dir: Paddy Considine - 2007)At the Apollo (Arctic Monkeys Dir: Richard Ayoade - 2008)Le Donk and Scorzayzee (Dir: Shane Meadows- 2009)Four Lions (Dir: Chris Morris- 2009)
case study a small scale story
Case study-A small scale story:
  • Warp Films-Is a truly independent film company-because of this it will focus on low budget films and also co-funding. It often works with other studios to produce films because it has limited money, unlike Working Title which has Vivendi backing and 20th Century Fox. It produced the film this is England with Film 4, and this film focuses on genre based films i.e. social realism, which is a key genre associated with British film because it is cheaper to make that Hollywood films, which focus on special effects, CGI, HD,3D, because they have the financial clout to finance, and market and distribute. Warp Films does cannot rely on a big studio to finance their films and it cannot act as a distributor. Warp Films also own a record label, and Warp X. I
  • This is England was distributed in the UK by optimum releasing, whose parent company is Vivendi which also owns Universal Studios, which owns Working Title.
read this about warp films
Read this about Warp films
  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-15196509
synergy and distribution
Synergy and Distribution
  • One of their key financial backers is Optimum Releasing,, who are closely involved in the development process and distribute the films theatrically and on DVD in the UK. In April 2008, Australian film distributor Madman Entertainment announced "a collaboration" with Warp Films. Warp and Madman plan to make "at least 2 films together over the next 3 years." Optimum is a small, British-owned distributor operating in an industry dominated by major Hollywood distributors, and this relationship therefore benefits both themselves and Warp Films.
this is england
This is England
  • This is England is directed by the midlands director Shane Meadows. The plot couldn’t be more indigenous, but this is not the England of films like The Queen, Notting Hill or Pride and Prejudice. Instead the 1970’s skin head movement, its uneasy relationship with West Indian culture and its distortion by the racist national front forms the backdrop for a story about the adolescent life of a bereaved boy. Meadows previously had box office and critical success with a range of other films all based on domestic life and relationships in the Midlands, including Twenty Four Seven, Once Upon a Time in the Midlands and Dead Mans Shoes. In his films the presence or absence of fathers and older male authority figures and the effects of such on young working class men are depicted with a mixture of comedy and sometimes disturbing drama.
slide7

Another major difference between the Meadows’ output and the more commercially ‘instant’ British films from Working Title and similar companies, is the importance of cultural reference points – clothes, music, dialect – that only a viewer with a cultural familiarity with provincial urban life in the times depicted would recognise.

‘This is England’ was produced as a result of collaboration between no less than 7 companies – Big Arty Productions, EM Media, Film Four, Optimum releasing, Screen Yorkshire, The UK Film Council and Warp Films. It was distributed by 6 organisations –IFC Films, Netflix. Red Envelope Entertainment and IFC First Take in the USA, Madman Entertainment in Australia and Optimum Releasing in the UK.

this is england1
This is England
  • The critical response to This Is England has largely been to celebrate a perceived ‘return’ to a kind of cultural reflective film making that was threatened by extinction in the context of Hollywood’s dominance and the Governments preference for funding films with an eye on the US market, as this comment from Nick James, editor of the BFI’s Sight and Sound magazine shows:

“I forgot when watching Shane Meadows’ moving evocation of skinhead youth This is England at the London Film Festival, how culturally specific its opening montage might seem: it goes from Roland Rat to Margaret Thatcher to the Falklands War to Knight Rider on television. What will people outside of Northern Europe make of the regalia of 1980’s skinheads from the midlands? Hopefully they will be intrigued. This Is England made me realise, too, that some British films are at last doing exactly what Sight and Sound has campaigned for; reflecting aspects of British life gain and maybe suffering the consequences of being harder to sell abroad.”

warp films case study four lions
Warp films Case Study Four Lions
  • Four Lions (2010, Warp Films)
  • Directed by Chris Morris Produced by Mark Herbert and Derrin Schlesinger Written by: Chris Morris, Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain Studio: Warp Films and Film 4 (Wild Bunch for international sales; a division of StudioCanal and therefore a French sales company, who are owned by Vivendi!) Distributed by: Optimum Releasing (UK) Release date(s): 23 January 2010 (Sundance Film Festival); 7 May 2010 (UK) Budget: £2.5 million Profit: £608,608 from just 115 screens (box office opening weekend figures – this is very high!)
warp films four lions
Warp Films Four lions
  • Pre-Production and FundingThe project was originally rejected by both the BBC and Channel 4 as being too controversial. Morris suggested in a mass email, titled "Funding Mentalism", that fans could contribute between £25 and £100 each to the production costs of the film and would appear as extras in return. Funding was secured in October 2008 from Film 4 Productions and Warp Films, with Mark Herbert producing. Filming began in Sheffield in May 2009. ReleaseThe film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2010 and was short-listed for the festival's World Cinema Narrative prize. Introducing the film's premiere Chris Morris said: “I feel in a weird way that this is a good-hearted film. It's not a hate film, so I would hope that that aspect would come through."The UK premiere took place at the Bradford International Film Festival on 25th March 2010 and nationwide release is scheduled for 7 May.
web 2 0
Web 2.0
  • Four Lions’ website contains aspects of sharing links for you to link trailers and the website to social networking sites. It has a live twitter feed streamed across the webpage to encourage interaction and buzz about the site/film. You can download jpgs and pdfs of the posters too, to continue to support a grassroots media support, in local areas. It has interactive software that responds to your ‘click’ – click the four men and they either fire or run for you! (see pic right.) On the links page, it contains hyperlinks to online multimedia interviews, web content and to the production company websites. On the ‘Where to Watch’ page, if you click a cinema venue, it takes you directly to the booking page of that cinema.
how warp films target their audience
How Warp films target their audience
  • Smaller niche audiences as they don't have the budget for special effects or big budgets starts to attract mainstream audiences. As they are independent they usually attract smaller niche audiences based on age or a certain gender.
warp x
Warp X
  • Warp X, is a separate company from Warp Films, and was set up to exclusively manage and co-produce films for the Low Budget Feature Scheme tendered by UK Film Council and Film4 in 2005. Both companies share the same office space and some support staff to make them as resource efficient as possible.
  • What is different about Warp X is they also make digital films with budgets between £400,000 and 800,000 for theatrical distribution in the UK and internationally. Our films are genre based but with acutely original interpretations that will ensure they stand out in the market place. We do not make character based drama or ultra-cheap versions of mainstream Hollywood studio films.
warp x1
Warp X
  • TechnologyWarp X only make digital films. They say “we make digital films with budgets between £400,000 and 800,000 for theatrical distribution in the UK and internationally. Our films are genre based but with acutely original interpretations that will ensure they stand out in the market place. We do not make character based drama or ultra-cheap versions of mainstream Hollywood studio films.” Digital film-making is a lot cheaper than 35mm.
targeting british audiences
Targeting British Audiences
  • Warp X say that they only produce films which qualify as British. Even more specific than that, they would strongly prefer producers to shoot in Yorkshire or some other northern region of England, but "if there is a compelling creative need to shoot elsewhere, then we will put the needs of the film first."Warp X's joint objectives as outlined by the UK Film Council and Film4 include:to provide new opportunities to increase participation of groups currently under-represented in the UK film industry such as writers, directors, producers and actors who are disabled, women and/or from black and minority ethnic groups.
  • to encourage filmmakers to explore social issues of disability, cultural/ethnic diversity and social exclusion through the content and range of individual film projects.
  • to create much-needed progression routes into the UK film industry for identified filmmaking talent, who may have experienced some success through their first feature film or through short filmmaking, but who need further infrastructural and other support to make their next film(s) a success.
case study working title
Case Study Working Title
  • Working Title Films is a Britsh film production company, based in England. The company was founded by Tim Bevan and Sarah Radcyliff in 1983. It produces feature films and several television productions. Bevan are now the co-owners of the company along with the conglomorate of Universal.
  • Working Title Films, the UK film production company behind box office hits including Four Weddings and a Funeral and Shaun of the Dead,Working Title Television is a joint venture with the NBC Universal and will be based in London and Los Angeles. NBC Universal is Working Title's parent company.
  • Some Films they have made
  • The Boat that Rocked, Love Actually, Nottinghill.
  • Ali G Indahouse

Atonement (film)

Bean (film)

The Big Lebowski

Billy Elliot

Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy

The Boat That Rocked

Bob Roberts

The Borrowers (1997 film)

Bridget Jones's Diary (film)

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (film)

The Calcium Kid

Captain Corelli's Mandolin (film)

12

continued
Continued
  • Working title film has the appearance of being an independent production company, but it is owned by universal pictures, who distribute its films. The most notable successes from Working Title are Four Weddings and A funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary and High Fidelity, as well as the Cohen brothers films Fargo and O Brother, Where Art Thou? Working Title has a smaller subsidiary company, WT2, which makes small budget films.

An example of a recent major title from Working Title is Atonement. Unlike many films produced by British companies, Atonement’s sole production credits are held by Working Title. However, as a subsidiary of Universal, whether the film counts as a British film is a matter of debate. The film was distributed by 8 companies: Finnkino Oy Finland, Focus Feature in the USA, Hoyts Distribution in Australia, Studio Canal in France, TOOHO-Towa in Japan, United International Pictures in Argentina and Singapore, Universal pictures International in Holland and Universal Pictures in the UK.

The film was shot entirely in England and was adapted from a novel by British writer, Ian McEwan . The screenplay was by Christopher Hampton, also British, and the film featured a mainly British CAST. However, because Working Title is owned by a major US company, it is not entirely clear whether we can treat this film as ‘British’, using BFI categories.

slide19

"Brit flick's twin towers of power"

  • Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan have achieved the near impossible
  • They’ve created a wildly successful production company in a country where the film business is subject to repeated predictions of imminent doom.

Eric Fellner

Tim Bevan

slide20

Working Title Films began life co-producing the short film The Man Who Shot Christmas (1984).

  • This led to their first film for Channel Four and the first of many landmark Working Title Films - My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) Directed by Stephen Frears.
  • In 2009 still the most successful British film production company ever.

“Their films have grossed more than £1.2 billion

Since 1984, and that is a conservative estimate.”

slide21

My Beautiful Laundrette (1984)

A groundbreaking script by Hanif Kureishi co-produced with Channel 4, fitting their remit of offering challenging work that would not find a home elsewhere on television or in UK cinema.

The story revolves around the relationship between a right-wing extremist, Johnny (Daniel Day Lewis) and Omar (Gordon Wemecke), the Pakistani nephew of an archetypal Pakistani entrepreneur Nasser (Saeed Jaffrey), who are brought together in revamping a run-down laundrette.

Frears offers a critique of the Thatcherite work ethic and the entrepreneur society, showing a white underclass declining under the determination of new immigrant businesses.

With interracial homosexuality to the fore it is not surprising that this film caused a considerable stir in a society that was suffering the consequences of political and economic revolution that had as its creed "there is no such thing as society”.

Made for $400,000 it took

over $2.5 in the US alone.

slide22

The success of their first three films, which all dealt with British subjects, alerted the wider film industry to this independent production company, leading first to a international co-productions in 1988 including their first Anglo-American production For Queen and Country (starring a youthful Denzel Washington!).

The success of this film on both sides of the Atlantic gave Working Titlea template for co-production that they immediately began to exploit, and one that has been the aspiration for most other British independent production companies since.

slide23

The Working Title Movie Template

  • British Film + American star = $$$$$
  • Appeal to international market (& success for the British Film Industry)
  • This approach has provoked much criticism about

the ‘mid-Atlantic’nature of the films.

slide24

Why UK/US Co-productions?

According to Bevan: "Before co-productions we had been independent producers, but it was very hand to mouth. We would develop a script, that would take about 5% of our time; we'd find a director, that'd take about 5% of the time and then we'd spend 90% of the time trying to juggle together deals from different sources to finance those films. The films were suffering because there was no real structure and the company was always virtually bankrupt."

slide25

The British film industry dilemma:

  • Do you:
  • Make culturally specific films which appeal to a national audience?
  • OR
  • B) Make broader, generic films with an international appeal?

?

?

slide26

The British film industry dilemma:

  • Working Title want to make European films for a worldwide audience.
  • They want to imbue them with European ideas and influences and they can’t do these things without the backing of a major Hollywood studio.

"I think anyone in Hollywood would want to do business with these guys,"

Former boss of Universal Studios Edgar Bronfman Jr.

slide27

A HISTORY:

1984 - Working Title founded

1985 - My Beautiful Laundrette is the first of a series of collaborations with Channel 4 Films

Working Title produce a further 10 films in the 1980s

1988 - Production deal with PolyGram Filmed Entertainment

1992 - PolyGram (a European music and media company) buys Working Title.

1994 - Four Weddings and a Funeral

A huge box office success due to the access to the US market provided by Polygram’s financial muscle

Made for $6 million it took

over $244millionworldwide.

Working Title produces 41 films in the 1990s

slide28

1998 - Polygram bought by Universal a Hollywood Studio itself owned by Seagram

The financial stability offered by the support from a major studio allowed Working Title to move rapidly on to the international stage, and PolyGram being taken over by Seagram and subsumed into its film arm, Universal Pictures, in 1999, further strengthened this.

A marked change of direction took place at this point, with the traditionally provincial independent territory being scorned in favour of international prospects.

Working Title

is now owned by

Universal,

which is in turn owned by Vivendi

2000 - Seagram is bought by Vivendi, the French multimedia

conglomerate

slide29

The international activity did not prevent Working Title from continuing to support British filmmakers and from engaging in what would have been considered traditional 'independent' Anglo-European co-productions such as Ken Loach’s Land and Freedom (1995) and 'offbeat' Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007).

slide30

So what is a Working Title film?

This was once relatively easy to answer, as the films they first made all seemed to address issues of what it is to be British (or, more specifically, English), and particularly what it meant to be an outsider – like the immigrants in My Beautiful Laundrette.

Of course, the general public know them as the re-inventors of a British romantic comedy genre through Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill (1999) and Love Actually (2003)

slide31

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

This was the first Working Title collaborations with Richard Curtis (who’d achieved fame with the Blackadder TV series) and Hugh Grant and it set the bar for British film production, particularly in its use of soundtrack that spawned a record-breaking number one single.

A rom-com that explores the relationships between a group of upper-class friends as they meet to celebrate and mourn. Curtis was able to bring established contacts to an ensemble cast (such as Rowan Atkinson), enhancing the potential connection with the home audience

The film was a massive hit in the USA, in part because of the view 'heritage Britain' - a land of churches, old pubs and stately homes populated by 'classy' English people with obligatory bumbling fools sprinkled across the social landscape. It also helped that one of the stars American (Andie MacDowell).

slide32

Such an unexpected success gave Working Title international clout and reach, and placed it at the centre of the Hollywood. It also placed considerable pressure on the company to become the romantic-comedy-heritage-film company, a pressure it resisted, but did not reject, realizing that a popular film could help support a number of productions with less potential for such success yet still deserving of being made.

A quick glance at the list of films in its catalogue reveals a list of over 100 films produced since 1984 - probably the only common thread among them is the desire to do something different to what is being produced at the time, and to do it well. It is the ability to make films for specific audience groups, and to not be pigeon-holed that has enabled the company to ensure that its work remains fresh and successful.

slide33

So what is a Working Title film?

It is easy to categorize them (dismissively) until you look through the catalogue and realize that this is a company categorized only by diversity and the ability to detect changes in the market that enable a reorientation of direction

There is no other British Film Company like Working Title - it is allowed freedom to make creative decisions but it is owned by a US based conglomerate.

How do Working Title choose which films to make? Fellner says “projects get championed by individuals in the development department and these 'percolate' their way up to the top. Tim Bevan and I then both take the decision on what to greenlight.”

slide34

Working Title and Co-production

Co-production has long been a method of sharing risk within the film industry, and when Working Title began its life, co-production was merely another revenue stream that often involved pre-sale or pre-distribution deals on world or national rights. Since one of Working Title’s principal partners was Channel Four, and Channel Four pioneered international co-production in the UK, it is no surprise that Working Title adopted and extended the model.

Initially, Working Title explored these deals domestically, but as its success grew it found that the international market opened up to it.

Working Title took co-production further when formalizing their relationship with PolyGram (later Universal) where US investment of 30% did not prevent them from obtaining EU/UK tax advantages. A 30% stake in the budget + Hollywood support clearly stimulates other investors willingness to get involved in a film. It is this advance in the model that radically enhanced the production processes and values in Working Title films.

slide35

How does it work?

“The Working Title philosophy has always been to make films for an audience - by that I mean play in a multiplex. We totally believe in this because we know it is the only hope we have of sustaining the UK film industry.”

Despite its famous name, the structure at Working Title is small. It employs just 42 full time staff, split between the main Working Title production arm and its recently closed low-budget offshoot WT2 under Natasha Wharton.

“When I was at Working Title we set up a New Writers Scheme to develop new talent. The problem was that at Working Title, smaller films would inevitably get less attention than the bigger budget projects so we decided to set up WT2to give proper attention to those smaller films.”

2007 - Why did WT2 close down?

slide37

How does it work?

The most important part of the business is developing scripts. Working Title has a strong development team and invests heavily in making sure that they get it right. They usually have around 40 - 50 projects in development at any time and their average spend on development is around $250,000 to $500,000 per script.

They aim to make around 5 to 10 films a year, spread across different budget sizes (with an average of $30 to $40 million) and genres.

Released in 2009/10 are 10 films including the Richard Curtis comedy The Boat That Rocked, political thriller State of Play based on the successful BBC television drama but re-imagined in Washington and Green Zone, an Iraq war thriller that reunites the Bourne series star Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass.

slide38

Trouble ahead?

As you can see, not all of their films have been unqualified successes - as one would expect in the movie industry. Earlier flops include Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001). It was their most expensive film to date, with a budget of $57 million and, ironically, the one that seemed most likely to succeed. Adapted from the popular book of the same name, with an all-star cast, it still managed to disappoint with the critics and at the box office making only $62 million worldwide.

slide39

Does it always work?

  • Released in the UK on April 1st 2009
  • Budget of $50 million
  • Richard Curtis romantic comedies have traditionally done very well at the box office
  • Typical Working Title co-production with Universal and Canal+
  • Familiar Working Title faces and some up-and-coming talent
  • Famous US star
  • Traditional marketing campaign with synergistic merchandising and tie-ins – soundtrack released on Mercury Records owned by Universal…
  • Increasingly traditional digital marketing strategies…
  • Large scale release - 400+ screens in UK
  • Medium scale release in US – 800+ screens
  • It died in the UK yet it still did quite well in the US
  • We’ll look at why?
slide45

Digital marketing – the film used Spotify to create playlists for each of the 9 DJs featured in the film. For example Dave, played by Nick Frost...

slide48

Why did it ‘sink’ at the box office?

Richard Curtis takes the complex, fascinating subject of 60s pirate radio and turns it into infantalised farce. The Guardian

The reviews weren’t great…

Curtis’s new film is a love letter to the music and rebellious spirit of the 1960s. He has given us what he imagines to be the era’s cocktail of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll — but he’s turned it into something as cosy and comforting as a sweet cup of tea. The Times **

Richard Curtis‘s The Boat That Rocked sloshes about merrily and has some magical moments…overlong, muddled and only fitfully brilliant. Daily Telegraph ***

‘The Ship That Sank’ would be a more appropriate title for Richard Curtis’s latest and most disappointing entertainment. Time Out **

Terrible reviews tend to turn into terrible word of mouth…

slide49

Why did it ‘sink’ at the box office?

Social recommendation is key - a personal recommendation from a friend, colleague or relative can be the most powerful trigger for a cinema visit. Pre-requisite for favourable 'word of mouth' are high levels of awareness and strong interest. Negative word of mouth is extremely difficult to overcome. Post-release, hopefully, a combination of good word of mouth and further advertising will combine to give the film 'legs'.

slide50

Why did it ‘sink’ at the box office?

It got a different name in the US…?

Last Friday saw the U.S. release of the film Pirate Radio. During the 7 month delay in its arrival on these shores both DVD and Blu-Ray versions of the film came out in non-American markets, ensuring that U.S. viewers would have access via the Internet to copies. In fact, a cam version debuted on Piratebay soon after theatrical release, with DVD and Blu-Ray rips appearing in mid-August, eminently available to anybody around the world with an Internet connection.

Remember - the percentage of box office that comes from the opening weekend has increased from 15.7% in the 80s to 33.1% today…

How did this affect it’s opening weekend in America?

slide51

Why didn’t it ‘sink’ at the US box office?

While its gross intake was relatively modest, at just under $3 million (over 800+ cinemas) Pirate Radio actually did very well on a per-cinema average which put it in third place among films in wide-release for the weekend. 

While it is impossible to know with any real certainty what impact downloads of the DVD or Blu-Ray rips may have had on Pirate Radio’s box office, the film appears to have done pretty well, especially considering its foreign origin, subject matter and rather middling reviews (54% on the Rotten Tomato scale).

Somehow the forces behind the movie found a way to ‘compete with free’ and position it to be profitable in the US, even before its inevitable DVD and Blu-Ray releases there.

Maybe the existence of free versions on the Internet did less to drive down demand for the film, but instead fostered awareness and interest in the movie above and beyond what the producers were able to do via PR and advertising?

slide52

Despite being a very successful business model over the past 25 years Working Title have had a series of flops that would have ‘sunk’ a UK film company that lacked the backing of a Hollywood studio.

Despite making films with tried and trusted talent in recent years (Richard Curtis, Matt Damon) box office has not been great.

How do you think Working Title can be successful again?

http://www.launchingfilms.tv/index.php

http://filminfocus.com/focusfeatures/film/pirate_radio/

http://www.workingtitlefilms.com/

http://www.workingtitlefilms.com/film.php?filmID=120

http://www.filmeducation.org/theboatthatrocked/activity3.html

http://benjaminwigmore.blogspot.com/2009/04/boat-that-rocked.html

slide53

How Working Title Target their Audience

  • The Working Title philosophy has always been to make films for an audience - by that I mean play in a multiplex. We totally believe in this because we know it is the only hope we have of sustaining the UK film industry. (Lucy Guard & Natasha Wharton)
targeting audiences
Targeting audiences
  • This means they make films for both a British and American audience. They are called tent pole films as they are a medium budget company and produce films for people of all generations across the world. They choose genres and film types they know will be successful think about Four Weddings and a Funeral, Atonement represents this sort of upper class representation of British people which Americans like
warp films and working title
Warp Films and Working Title

Warp films and working title are two institutions. Warp is an independent company and working title is part of a conglomerate company. Conglomerate are a high budget film, they usually produce Hollywood blockbusters and include a higher standard quality i.e. special effects; more famous actors/actresses Etc. However, Independent films usually base their budget from low to medium as they are not as popular as a conglomerate film, and don’t have such a big amount of money to work with. Working films produce medium budget films upto 35 million dollars and they have produced many films Love Actually and Four Weddings. Warp films, have produced a range of films as well, these include; My Wrongs; Dead Man Shoes and This is England.

Working Title, get their funding from Universal Studios, which is the parent company of Working Title. They also get a big sum of money from previous films that they have produced.

Warp films get their funding from NESTA a big company is the filming business. In the case of Warp films, the budget is low-mid, this affects the genre that they could work on as an action packed thriller and films that focus on social realism.

film 4 productions case study
Film 4 Productions case study

Film4 Productions is a British film production company owned by channel 4. The company has been responsible for backing a large number of films made in the UK. Film 4 does not have the money that a bigger conglomarate does so most of their films are either co-funded and made with other studios and not distributed by them. However, Film 4 Productions also owns Film 4 so their films can be shown on this channel. A British production company – finances British films

  • 1982 – 1998 known as Channel 4 film
  • Part of channel 4s remit was to experiment and innovate and cater for audiences not addressed by other channels
  • Nowadays they fund around 20 films per year
  • A number of films are by first time feature screenwriters or directors
  • They look for distinctive films which will make their mark in a competitive cinema market
  • Television premieres on FilmFour Channel and Channel 4 2 years after theatrical release
slide57

Film 4 Films

  • David Rose, commissioning editor, “a preference for contemporary and social political topics”
  • My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) portrayed the homosexual relationship between a white fascist and a Omar, born in Britain to Pakistani parents.
  • Main audiences were contemporary critical audiences in the 20 – 30 age ranges
  • Before Laundrette, a large percentage of the British population went largely unrepresented.
  • Look at how Channel 4’s remit has influenced the films they make, which are different to the mainstream and have something to say.

FilmFour made its reputation with films such as Trainspotting in 1996, which made £23m at the box office but cost only £2.4m to make and launched the career of Ewan McGregor. It was also involved in The Full Monty, which had a similar budget and made nearly £16m. However, since East is East, with FilmFour focusing on fewer, more expensive films, it has seen a series of flops with Lucky Break and Charlotte Gray, starring Cate Blanchett, failing to make a big impact last year.

FilmFour Ltd, the film making division, is distinct from the FilmFour subscription movie channel, for which executives have high hopes.

slide58
FILM 4 PRODUCTION
  • 1996
  • Starring Ewan McGregor in his 2nd film
  • Directed by Danny Boyle a British director
  • A co-production with Figment Films, Polygram and The Noel Gay Motion Picture co.
  • Budget $3,500,000 1996
  • Marketing:
  • Trainspotting was more an object of youth culture or popular culture than it was cinematic
  • Britpop was Trainspotting's main vehicle to integrate youth subculture into popular culture.
  • Polygram put large sums of money into a sophisticated marketing and branding strategy including posters and a soundtrack
  • Knew film would appeal to clubbers and ravers so targeted these – Underworld’s Born Slippy became a massive hit from the soundtrack
  • Film gained distribution in the US although it did need subtitles!
  • David Aukin, Head of Drama at Four Films “it isn’t really about drugs…it’s a buddy movie”
  • US critics compared the movie to Kubricks ‘A Clockwork Orange’
  • Both are anti-social-realist films dealing with subjects – gangs, violence, drugs – which are stylised and fast-paced.
  • Both are independent films which shocked the critics and audience
synergy film 4
SYNERGY film 4.
  • s
  • The ‘brand’ Trainspotting
  • Soundtrack
  • Posters
  • DVDs
  • Copied of the screenplay
  • Reprinting of Welsh’s novel featuring the poster on the cover
  • Music cross-promotion
four weddings
Four weddings
  • 1994
  • Starring Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell
  • Co-production with Polygram and Working Title
  • Budget $6,000,000
  • Marketing: Played upon aspects of national identity
  • Played upon the more ‘naïve’ elements of Britishness
  • Hugh Grants quintessential fumbling middle class gentleman
  • Appealing to an American audience
  • A universal storyline of romance and a feel good happy ending
  • SYNERGY: Soundtrack

19

last king of scotland
Last King of Scotland
  • The last king of Scotland is described by Film Four’s Tessa Ross as the film the company should be most proud of, because it was directed and written by home grown talent(Kevin Macdonald and Peter Morgan), has subject matter that is challenging political and Hard-hitting and was the result of partnership with an American Major (Fox Searchlight) So for Ross this film seems to represent the current success story of British film and the newly found ability of producers to attract the current success story of British film and the newly found ability of producers to attract American investment for less commercially obvious projects.
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The film was produced by 8 companies in collaboration (dna films, Fox searchlight, film Four, Cowboy films, Scottish Screen, Slate films, Tatfilm and the UK Film council) and distributed by 3 (Fox searchlight in the USA, Japan, Holland, Singapore, Argentina and Germany, Channel 4 films in the UK AND Fox-Warner in Switzerland) The writers cast and crew were British and American. As these details and the views of the Head of Film at one of the production companies demonstrates, this is a good example of a co-funded British film with British cultural content. Despite the Ugandan setting and political context, the film portrays the fictional story of a Scottish visitor to Uganda who is taken in by the dictator running the country, but is based on real events, hence the title. Despite the claims made for the film as a British success story, however, this extract from a review in the San Francisco Chronicle sees things rather differently:

“Now that Hollywood belatedly has gotten around to Amin, he shares screen time with a fictional character, something the self aggrandizing general surely would have found galling. But the brilliance of ‘The Last King of Scotland’ – an immediate contender for Oscar consideration and a spot on critics’ top 10 lists – is the way it shows his dangerous allure through the eyes of an innocent.”

this is england2
This is England
  • This is England is directed by the midlands director Shane Meadows. The plot couldn’t be more indigenous, but this is not the England of films like The Queen, Notting Hill or Pride and Prejudice. Instead the 1970’s skin head movement, its uneasy relationship with West Indian culture and its distortion by the racist national front forms the backdrop for a story about the adolescent life of a bereaved boy. Meadows previously had box office and critical success with a range of other films all based on domestic life and relationships in the Midlands, including Twenty Four Seven, Once Upon a Time in the Midlands and Dead Mans Shoes. In his films the presence or absence of fathers and older male authority figures and the effects of such on young working class men are depicted with a mixture of comedy and sometimes disturbing drama.
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Another major difference between the Meadows’ output and the more commercially ‘instant’ British films from Working Title and similar companies, is the importance of cultural reference points – clothes, music, dialect – that only a viewer with a cultural familiarity with provincial urban life in the times depicted would recognise.

‘This is England’ was produced as a result of collaboration between no less than 7 companies – Big Arty Productions, EM Media, Film Four, Optimum releasing, Screen Yorkshire, The UK Film Council and Warp Films. It was distributed by 6 organisations –IFC Films, Netflix. Red Envelope Entertainment and IFC First Take in the USA, Madman Entertainment in Australia and Optimum Releasing in the UK.

this is england3
This is England
  • The critical response to This Is England has largely been to celebrate a perceived ‘return’ to a kind of cultural reflective film making that was threatened by extinction in the context of Hollywood’s dominance and the Governments preference for funding films with an eye on the US market, as this comment from Nick James, editor of the BFI’s Sight and Sound magazine shows:

“I forgot when watching Shane Meadows’ moving evocation of skinhead youth This is England at the London Film Festival, how culturally specific its opening montage might seem: it goes from Roland Rat to Margaret Thatcher to the Falklands War to Knight Rider on television. What will people outside of Northern Europe make of the regalia of 1980’s skinheads from the midlands? Hopefully they will be intrigued. This Is England made me realise, too, that some British films are at last doing exactly what Sight and Sound has campaigned for; reflecting aspects of British life gain and maybe suffering the consequences of being harder to sell abroad.”

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Be able to compare your British Case Study with an American One. 20th Century Fox's Avatar would be a good choice.
  • 20th Century Fox's "Avatar" (2009) By comparing the film  and media practices of the much larger US film industry with your own wholly British Case study you will be able to appreciate differences in institutional ownership and media convergence. You will also be able to understand conceptually how the massive budgets of US film can offer choices of genre not available to primarily UK production companies. The types of films and the scale of their releases, together with target audiences can also be examined and compared. Even the application of technology and the growth of 3D films and the opportunities to produce such films can be compared.
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What you should do

Now you have looked at different film companies both independant and co owned consider the differences particularly between Film 4 production company and a big conglomerate like 20th Century Fox. Use Avatar as an example and look the differences in institutional ownership, production, scale, budgets, genres, distribution, exhibition, use of technological convergence, synergies. This comparison will give your British case study a wider context and you will be better placed to argue how film practices in the British Film Industry are directly affected by the giant US conglomerates based in Hollywood. 

production avatar
Production: Avatar
  • Initial budget 287 million began filming 2005
  • Principle Production 2007 utilising 3D fusion camera system.
  • University California developed Navi language (Dr Paul Frommer)
  • Production studio: Lightstorm (owned by James Cameron) Dune. 20th Century).
distribution exhibition
Distribution Exhibition
  • Released 16th December 2009
  • 3,457 US theaters, 2032 3D
  • 90% tickets were 3D
  • Film Value =Cinema-DVD-Blue Ray, Download, Subscription, Terrestrial TV
  • Every film has a tailor-made distribution plan, which the distributor develops with the producer and or the studio. The most important strategic decision a distributor makes are when and how to release the film to optimize its chances.
marketing
Marketing
  • R-Marketing:
  • Avatarmovie.com
  • trailer released 21 august 2009
  • Action figures for sale
  • Tie in Merchandising deals with Mcdonands
  • Avatar book deals and Art work