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THE 72 PROJECT: ALTERNATIVE MODELS OF FILM PRODUCTION TO EMPOWER NETWORKS AND FOSTER CREATIVE COLLABORATION. MECCSA CONFERENCE – UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER (1211.13)

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Presentation on theme: "THE 72 PROJECT: ALTERNATIVE MODELS OF FILM PRODUCTION TO EMPOWER NETWORKS AND FOSTER CREATIVE COLLABORATION. MECCSA CONFERENCE – UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER (1211.13)"— Presentation transcript:

1 THE 72 PROJECT: ALTERNATIVE MODELS OF FILM PRODUCTION TO EMPOWER NETWORKS AND FOSTER CREATIVE COLLABORATION. MECCSA CONFERENCE – UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER ( ) JAMES FAIR SENIOR LECTURER IN FILM TECHNOLOGY STAFFORDSHIRE UNIVERSITY

2 THIS PAPER CONSISTS OF THREE PARTS Part One outlines the aims, objectives, rationale and methodology for the 72 project. Part Two examines the case studies from Galway and Melbourne using a SWOT analysis to examine if these projects met the objectives. Part Three projects forward to Derry/Londonderry in 2013.

3 PART ONE: AIM - To explore alternative modes of film production in light of new technologies to empower networks and foster creative collaboration.

4 PART ONE: OBJECTIVES -To explore the existing traditional film production model and the implications of new technologies. -To develop potential new models in light of new technologies. -To test the model for applicability and develop case studies.

5 PART ONE: RATIONALE Film production in an industrial context developed along similar lines to any other industrial production; including individuals having specialist skills in a certain field (e.g: director, producer, cinematographer etc.) and unionization of workers.

6 PART ONE: RATIONALE Film production has arguably gone through many paradigm shifts already: the introductions of sound, colour and different aspect ratios for example. However, the difference with the digital paradigm shift is that the technologies for production have become democratised by cost and availability. This has greatly increased the number of films made and competing for audiences’ attention, whereas the means of production were previously too expensive and distribution channels limited.

7 PART ONE: RATIONALE Film production has arguably gone through many paradigm shifts already: the introductions of sound, colour and different aspect ratios for example. However, the difference with the digital paradigm shift is that the technologies for production have become democratised by cost and availability. This has greatly increased the number of films made and competing for audiences’ attention, whereas the means of production were previously too expensive and distribution channels limited. Whilst Hollywood is responding by creating new roles like the Producer of Marketing and Distribution (PMD) (Reiss, 2010), these roles are all new additions expanding upon the existing structure instead of redesigning of existing roles.

8 PART ONE: RATIONALE Smaller national cinemas are mimicking the Hollywood model but much of it requires subsidy or Hollywood intervention to exist.

9 PART ONE: RATIONALE How has this traditional model developed? It is an assumption that efficiency was the only motivator for the original model development, or that efficiency has been the only motivator for organisational change subsequently. For example, Murch (1995, 244) believed that production roles dramatically changed as technology developed, with new creative roles emerging as a by-product of the miniaturisation, especially within his field of film sound. He argued that the creative implications for individuals were responsible for much of the adoption of new technologies and that economic advantage was a by-product. In some cases, films were costing more as a result of the artistic freedom.

10 PART ONE: RATIONALE Figgis (2007, 112) argued that the roles within film production have not been challenged in fifty years, and that new technologies can liberate filmmakers from organisational and financial restrictions. Gaspard (2006, 12) argued that organisational and technical innovation has been going on for years with low-budget filmmakers motivated by low costs, but believed big budget filmmakers had never had to develop such innovations as they worked on bigger budgets. However, Ouyang et al (2008) believed that there are many barriers to innovation in the film industry, from an unusual organisational structure through to the risk and expenditure being tightly controlled.

11 PART ONE: RATIONALE There are evidently contradictions in these examples, which establish various motivators behind the current organisational structure and specific job roles within the traditional filmmaking production model. Is it efficiency? Art? Employment? Profit? It is a complex system with multiple variables which are difficult to isolate. Whilst the traditional film production model may have been the neatest compromise in the past, it is currently reaching its full potential in light of new technologies?

12 PART ONE: METHODOLOGY Swot Analysis of existing model Development of a new model Case Study 1: ‘Watching & Waiting’ (2008) SWOT analysis of Case Study 1. Refinement of the model Case Study 2: ‘The Ballad of Des & Mo’ (2010) SWOT analysis of Case Study 2. Documentary follows process Semi Structured Interviews with Crew ?

13 PART ONE: METHODOLOGY The case studies were to be shot, edited and screened in 72 hours within the framework of an established film festival. This was for the following reasons: Forces collaboration ‘Disruptive’ environment challenges thinking Dissemination of ideas Cost

14 PART ONE: METHODOLOGY The case studies were to be shot, edited and screened in 72 hours within the framework of an established film festival. This was for the following reasons: Forces collaboration ‘Disruptive’ environment challenges thinking Dissemination of ideas Cost THIS PROJECT WAS NOT TO DEMONSTRATE THAT ALL FILMS SHOULD BE MADE IN 72 HOURS! IT WAS A TIMEFRAME THAT COULD BE USED TO DEMONSTRATE THE PRINCIPLE.

15 PART ONE: METHODOLOGY The SWOT analysis was to be used after the case studies to examine the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats within the model. A new model would then be developed in light of the analysis.

16 PART TWO: SWOT ANALYSIS StrengthsWeaknessesOpportunitiesThreats

17 PART TWO: SWOT OF EXISTING MODEL STRENGTHS -Repeatable -Scalable production -Potentially profit making -Established WEAKNESSES -Insecure employment for most -Low paid for majority of staff with no scalable exposure to movie success -High financial risk requires dependency on repeatability and leads to lack of innovation in storytelling -Few roles have creative involvement -Production is often linear and time consuming (roll on/roll off staff) OPPORTUNITIES -Huge profit for staff with scalable exposure to movie success -It’s easy to network upon productions -Technical skills no longer exclusive THREATS -Insecure revenue streams -selecting employees with good soft skills is difficult in competitive field.

18 PART TWO: CASE STUDY 1 - GALWAY -Keeping the strengths – Repeatable, scalable. -Addressing the weaknesses – Secure employment, scalable exposure to movie success, lower financial risk, creative involvement across the production, reduce time consumption. -Retaining the opportunities – scalable exposure to movie success, easy to network upon productions, technical skills no longer exclusive. -Eliminating the threats – Insecure revenue streams, selecting employees with good soft skills is difficult in competitive field.

19 PART TWO: CASE STUDY 1 - GALWAY -Keeping the strengths – Repeatable, scalable. -To achieve repeatability the roles would require codification that identified responsibilities. The process of filmmaking would be broken down into different tasks that required doing, and then assigned to different people. In Galway the traditional model would be kept largely intact, but with a group of generalists (instead of specialists) making up a larger proportion of the crew, with only a few key heads.

20 PART TWO: CASE STUDY 1 - GALWAY Responsibility goes up Flow of information comes down Hierarchical Model Producers and Director Heads of Departments Specific Assistants General Assistants Assistant Producers and Assistant Director General Assistants

21 PART TWO: CASE STUDY 1 - GALWAY -Addressing the weaknesses – Secure employment, scalable exposure to movie success, lower financial risk, creative involvement across the production, reduce time consumption. -It is difficult to achieve secure employment within the one case study. Scalable exposure to movie success is a co-operative principle* and was factored into contracts. -The creative involvement across the production came through the flexibility and freedom to move across horizontally across the production. -The flexibility meant that fewer people were needed. However, it improved time consumption instead of worsening it! (fewer people employed, but busier in their employment) * What effect would this have on piracy?

22 PART TWO: CASE STUDY 1 - GALWAY -Retaining the opportunities – scalable exposure to movie success, easy to network upon productions, technical skills no longer exclusive. -The flexibility of generalists meant it would be easier to move across the production without territorial infringement. E.g.; sound person can help camera person without fear of union rebuttal.

23 PART TWO: CASE STUDY 1 - GALWAY -Eliminating the threats – Insecure revenue streams, selecting employees with good soft skills is difficult in competitive field. -Can’t solve insecure revenue streams with one project. Finding good soft skills is always difficult within any industry, but reducing the competitiveness is one possibility. Does fear of failure affects soft skills?

24 PART TWO: CASE STUDY 1 - GALWAY Watching & Waiting (2008) Final run time: 70 mins P2 workflow with FCP6. Filmed on HPX500 and HVX scenes. 77 page script. 10+ locations. 8 cast. Screened at 20 th Galway Film Fleadh, Ireland

25 PART TWO: CASE STUDY 1 - GALWAY STRENGTHS -Empowering process -Transparent and shared experience -Audience connection -Formed a network that continues to collaborate, not compete -Workflow was successful WEAKNESSES -Accountability for responsibilities and confusion over roles -Pareto effect (power law of activity) -Equity is difficult (smoothies) -Some skills take time (wardrobe/make-up) -Film lacked cohesion and too short OPPORTUNITIES -Inspirational empowering tool -Creative involvement can be spread throughout crew and across the process -Use to create networks? -Social engagement/ demystification of film production THREATS -Professionalism versus amateurism. -Social skills don’t equate to filmmaking talent -Repeatability? -Film loses individuality (designed by committee)

26 PART TWO: CASE STUDY 2 - MELBOURNE -Keeping the strengths – Empowering process, transparent and shared experience, audience connection, formed a network that continues to collaborate (not compete), workflow was successful -Addressing the weaknesses – Accountability for responsibilities and confusion over roles, Pareto effect (power law of activity), equity is difficult (smoothies), some skills take time (wardrobe/make-up), film lacked cohesion and too short. -Retaining the opportunities – Inspirational empowering tool, creative involvement can be spread throughout crew and across the process, create networks, social engagement/ demystification of film production -Eliminating the threats – Professionalism versus amateurism, social skills don’t equate to filmmaking talent, repeatability, film loses individuality (designed by committee)

27 PART TWO: CASE STUDY 2 - MELBOURNE -Keeping the strengths – Empowering process, transparent and shared experience, audience connection, formed a network that continues to collaborate (not compete), workflow was successful. -Developed a mission statement to identify the empowerment process. -Made transparency the key and shared the production development upon social media. -Factored in events to foster collaboration. -The workflow was to be revisited to build upon the success.

28 PART TWO: CASE STUDY 2 - MELBOURNE -Addressing the weaknesses – Accountability for responsibilities and confusion over roles, Pareto effect (power law of activity), equity is difficult (smoothies), some skills take time (wardrobe/make-up), film lacked cohesion and too short. -Job titles would change entirely from the traditional taxonomy, responsibilities would be identified. -The crew size became smaller to address the Pareto effect. - Crew would be treated equally where ever possible. -A script would be prepared that reduced wardrobe and make up. Two protagonists that could split units if necessary. -Clearer identification of film style would be established and higher script count.

29 PART TWO: CASE STUDY 2 - MELBOURNE -Retaining the opportunities – Inspirational empowering tool, creative involvement can be spread throughout crew and across the process, create networks, social engagement/ demystification of film production. -The mission statement was to be articulated throughout all of the promotion and production. -Creative involvement was to be identified as part of everyone’s role. -The social media platform created a network and engaged an audience whilst sharing the production process (transparency as a value).

30 PART TWO: CASE STUDY 2 - MELBOURNE -Eliminating the threats – Professionalism versus amateurism, social skills don’t equate to filmmaking talent, repeatability, film loses individuality (designed by committee) -Repeatability was being tested by repeating the test! -Redefining the roles to address professionalism versus amateurism. -Conduct interviews with each member of crew to articulate project, but also to assess their skills. -The film would have a clearer visual style (driven mostly by camera leader) and script was rehearsed more thoroughly.

31 PART TWO: CASE STUDY 2 - MELBOURNE

32

33 Camera Leader FocusShadows Project Leader Camera Assistant

34 PART TWO: CASE STUDY 2 - MELBOURNE Camera Leader FocusShadows Project Leader Camera Assistant Project Leader & Manager Workflow Manager Performers Sound Leader

35 PART TWO: CASE STUDY 2 - MELBOURNE Shadows in wardrobe Shadows in transit Shadow on set Shadow In edit Shadow In office

36 PART TWO: CASE STUDY 2 - MELBOURNE Shadows on set

37 PART TWO: CASE STUDY 2 - MELBOURNE The Ballad of Des & Mo (2010) Final run time: 75 mins RED workflow with FCP6. Filmed on RED One MX. 44 scenes. 82 page script. 10+ locations. 15 cast. Screened at 59 th Melbourne International Film Festival, Australia

38 PART TWO: CASE STUDY 2 - MELBOURNE STRENGTHS -Empowering process -Transparent and shared experience -Audience connection (Top 10) -Formed a network that continues to collaborate. -Workflow was successful. WEAKNESSES -Accountability for responsibilities and confusion over roles -Not everyone felt appreciated -Not equitable (double rooms) -Film too short. OPPORTUNITIES -Scope for experimentation (stories, freedom to fail) -Potential for network building activity -Potential for localisation. -Social engagement/ demystification of film production THREATS -Threat to established roles and pay hierarchy. -Progression routes undermined.

39 FACEBOOK USERS

40 THE 72 WEEKEND

41 FACEBOOK USERS THE 72 WEEKEND BERLINALE

42 FACEBOOK USERS THE 72 WEEKEND BERLINALE STOKE YOUR FIRES/ BIRMINGHAM

43 INTERACTION

44 PART THREE: REVISITING THE OBJECTIVES -To explore the existing traditional film production model and the implications of new technologies. -To develop potential new models in light of new technologies. -To test the model for applicability and develop case studies.

45 PART THREE: REVISITING THE OBJECTIVES -To explore the existing traditional film production model and the implications of new technologies. -As new technologies are ubiquitous it means that basic competencies are democratized and specialism (i.e. professionalism) is threatened. -Cheaper cost of production raises the potential for localisation in filmmaking. -Social media provides productions with a potential to connect with audiences and share the production experience. However, there is little to suggest that this translates to actual paid consumption. Piracy remains a threat.

46 PART THREE: REVISITING THE OBJECTIVES -To develop potential new models in light of new technologies. -Filmmaking is a flexible process anyway, but it is important to educate filmmakers that the filmmaking production process is a pragmatic occupation. Barriers to innovation include the fixed idea of production, the inconsistent revenue streams and the fear of failure. -A new model can exist whereby creative input is shared across productions and exposure to profits shared. This is essentially a co-operative model, albeit based on creative involvement as well as financial remuneration.

47 PART THREE: REVISITING THE OBJECTIVES -To test the model for applicability and develop case studies. -The two films have demonstrated that alternative models are possible, but haven’t tested the final and perhaps most crucial element of the original model – the profit potential.

48 PART THREE: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DERRY -Ensemble narrative -Multiple crews -Wider audience for screening

49 REFERENCES Figgis, Mike (2007) Digital Filmmaking London: Faber & Faber. Gaspard, John (2006) Fast, Cheap & Under Control California: Michael Weise Productions. Murch, Walter (1995) ‘The Dancing Shadow’ in Boorman, John. Luddy, Tom. Thomson, David. Donahue, Walter (ed.) Projections 4, London: Faber & Faber. Ouyang, Chun et al (2008) Camera, Set, Action: Process Innovation for Film and TV Production. Cultural Science Journal (Vol. 1 No. 2) science.org/journal/index.php/culturalscience/article/viewArticle /17/59 Reiss, Jon (2010) Think Outside the Box Office: The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution in the Digital Era, Los Angeles: Hybrid Cinema Publishing

50 CONTACT Developed at part of a PhD on Alternative Models of Film Production Supervised by Prof. Stella Mills, Staffordshire University


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