Tuesday, 7 November 2017

CSP FILM I Daniel Blake

I'll add resources here (and format text etc) on this over time.
For more than 50 years, Ken Loach has been making social-realist dramas tied together by a prevailing thread — the compassionate observation of the struggles of the working class to hold onto such fundamental dignities as a home, a job and food on the table within a hostile system that often views them unfairly as the cause of their own misfortunes. His latest feature, I, Daniel Blake, is quintessential Loach, which means you have a good idea of what you're getting as soon as the core elements are established. And yet while the framework and perspective are familiar, the veteran Brit director's films can still have the power to grip us in an emotional chokehold. (Hollywood Reporter)

This is the type of thing you need to research and analyse: the movie was partly funded by government grants (National Lottery payments through the BFI) - not loans, grants - and is available to stream through platforms such as BFI Player (which is highly selective).

This is the guidance the exam board have given to you on this CSP, which is focused on Key Concept INDUSTRY only.


In common with many Indie productions, there is no quoted budget to be found online. However, the cinematographer notes they saved £150k by filming digitally for the 1st time; there was a £300k FilmFund (BFI, funded by the UK government/National Lottery) grant and another €100k grant from Creative Europe, as well as tax breaks for filming in Britain and Belgium (as a UK, France, Belgium co-production!). Shane Meadows' 2006 social realist This is England cost Warp Films £1.5m, while Ken Loach's 2009 Looking for Eric was £4m and the 1920s war drama The Wind That Shakes the Barley a similar €6.5m.

Lets estimate IDB at a £2m budget, lacking the expense of Cantona or 1920s period costume, props and action. The important point, and I'm quoting the chief examiner in an email to me, is:

The production budget is unknown but certainly only a tiny fraction of the $165 million it cost to make Dr Strange. ...

Students need to know that in terms of actual production budget IDB costs were low, particularly in relation to Dr Strange.


Director Ken Loach has a long, distinguished career, as reflected in the recent documentary about him and his films:

Here's a BFI 4min overview;
NB: it contains swearing, reflecting the frank, realistic style of his movies:

Loach is known for his social realist movies:
  • low budget
  • often reflected in handheld cinematography (quicker and cheaper to film)
  • no stars (he often even uses non-actors)
  • non-franchise (Warp's This is England is a rare exception)
  • no CGI/SFX
  • minority/underprivileged central protagonist (eg working class/poor, sexual or ethnic minority)
  • as such people are under-represented in mainstream, commercial cinema, there is government funding to support such films
  • but as Loach usually refuses to write a script, he typically finds the production budget by pre-selling rights to France, Germany and other European markets where his films have a following
  • he also usually picks up funding from the BBC or Film4 (part of the Channel 4 group)
  • he can struggle to get his films into UK cinemas (theatrical release); they are usually stuck in the arthouse circuit, meaning low box office prospects - but IDB was an exception...
  • social realist movies explore serious social issues
  • this lack of light relief is another reason these movies rarely make much money, but...
  • Billy Elliot, The Full Monty, Secrets and Lies and Slumdog Millionaire are all exceptions to this general rule
Loach is seen as an auteur:
  1. a filmmaker with a recognisable style who...
  2. tackles serious social and cultural issues in their work 

Monday, 6 November 2017

Monday, 23 October 2017

TV INDUSTRY how much do ads cost to place?

Have you ever wondered how much it costs companies to get their ads on TV?

Here's a great article which provides a range of examples, from the big terrestrial channels (thats BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, C4, C5 - though the BBC doesn't carry any ads as its funded by a compulsory license fee of around £150 a year per household) to smaller, niche digital channels...

TheDrum on TV ad costs.

Examples: a 3-second ad on primetime ITV1 can cost £30,000, but on digital channels such as the Horror Channel and Animal Planet daytime ads can cost less than £50 - you can even get an ad on some of BT Sports' less popular strands for ... £5!!! The article gives the rate for Hollyoaks on C4, a show with a similar audience to BBC3's Class.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Comparing 2 music videos Smiths v Sheeran


Its tempting to suggest viewing the EdS example with the audio off, but sadly you couldn't analyse the editing properly then...

There are many ways to approach analysing one, or comparing two, music videos. The key for you is to ensure that you give SOME consideration to ALL 4 Key Concepts: Media language, Audience, Representations, Industry ['Institutions'] - MARI Christmas!

Lets start with the one that may seem least obvious, INDUSTRY.

THE SMITHS: "This Charming Man"

ED SHEERAN: "Bibia B Ye Ye"

Your 1st question is: major label or Indie?
However, you can also look at the distribution of the video itself; its number of views; and the same for the track on the likes of Spotify.

To develop these raw stats, you can research the debate over how much/little the new media giants like Spotify and YouTube pay the record labels (who then give some share to the artist): you should be astonished once you find precise figures just how little they pay per stream! The other side of the argument is the big money that the online giants pay out OVERALL to the music industry: billions each year.

You can find lots of links (and even try specific tags such as monetizing - how artists seek to make money now that physical recorded music revenue has fallen so much) on my musividz blog. I blog a lot on the music industry, have a browse! You'll find themes such as the return of vinyl, the use of special/collectors editions, touring, merchandise (etc) are all vital - and a YouTube video can bring in good money if it reaches 8 figures (10m+) in streams.

CONGLOMERATE:  large company that owns other companies (subsidiaries)
SUBSIDIARY: a company owned by a conlomerate
INDIE: an 'independent' company not owned by a larger company. Some Indies do have subsidiaries, but because they are still smaller companies they aren't really thought of as conglomerates. Beggars Group is an interesting example of an Indie conglomerate!
MAJORS: the really big record labels, the ones that can afford to bid for the biggest music stars, are known as major record labels
THE BIG THREE: just 3 conglomerates dominate the music industry worldwide: Warners, Universal, Sony

The answer isn't always simple: the record label that produces the song/album/video might be Indie but sometimes they make a deal for DISTRIBUTION through a major record label.
Without looking any further into it, a simple Google tells me that The Smiths were on an Indie label, Rough Trade:
I'd need to investigate further to see if they were LATER (after they split up) DISTRIBUTED by Warner, one of the music industry's BIG THREE. Read more on who this is using this tag, or this post. Big 3 WUSup is maybe a way to remember them!

So what? Well, that almost always means much lower budgets for videos - although the impact of digitisation, specifically convergence, means that even low budget videos can look very high quality these days. You are shooting full HD, for example, and have access to 120fps video (great for slo-mo FX).

Here's where the Industry KC meets Media language:
Wow - what a *gorgeous* setting!
We can instantly see this is a cheap video - though the sheer amount of flowers might have added a lot to the budget!

Lets leave The Smiths for a moment and consider EdS. Another simple Google reveals he appears to have a more direct major record label link: Atlantic are his main label (he also has own label, GingerMan, through Warners), and it takes one simple right-click/open in new tab, to confirm they are a Warners subsidiary


1.      Music videos demonstrate genre characteristics.
(e.g. stage performance in metal videos, dance routine for boy/girl band, aspiration in Hip Hop).
2.      There is a relationship between lyrics and visuals. The lyrics are represented with images.
(either illustrative, amplifying, contradicting).
3.      There is a relationship between music and visuals. The tone and atmosphere of the visual reflects that of the music. [This is essentially Vernallis’ point. Anton Corbijn’s Joy Division videos are a good example; moody black and white to reflect the gothic music; so too the 2011 student Joy Division video [blogs]]
(either illustrative, amplifying, contradicting).
4.      The demands of the record label will include the need for lots of close ups of the artist and the artist may develop motifs which recur across their work (a visual style). [Richard Dyer again!]
5.      There is frequently reference to notion of looking (screens within screens, mirrors, stages, etc) and particularly voyeuristic treatment of the female body. [Can link to male gaze etc]
6.      There are often intertextual reference (to films, tv programmes, other music videos etc). [Kristeva, other postmodern theory]


Monday, 25 September 2017

KC REPRESENTATION Golden Girls and countertype v stereotype

You have 4 Key Concepts to carefully consider throughout the course: MARI...

The clip below contains a mix of stereotype and countertype for you to consider. This show was broadcast in the pre-digital era on a mainstream channel, therefore it couldn't simply target 'older' people as its primary target audience. How does the use of countertypes and stereotypes widen the potential target audience for this show?


Tuesday, 12 September 2017

TV DRAMA MEDIA LANGUAGE Class and Downton clips

Two short clips to look at, one 30-second trailer for Class (Season 4, BBC3) and ITV's Downton Abbey season 1 trailer (60 seconds).


  • a BBC3 (online via iPlayer youth [15-34] channel) sci-fi spin-off from Dr Who, but for YA audience (slightly older than Dr Who)
  • here's a BBC summary
  • there is lots of content, including fan art and other UGC, on this BBC page
  • ...and the Wiki.
  • Skip to the bottom for more videos which help put Class in context
HOMEWORK FOR MONDAY 18TH: Storyboard this trailer. Drawings don't need to be complex - stick men/shapes are fine. Denote (write) the basic framing (ELS-ECU range; 2-shot, OTS etc) and angle (LA/HA/MA/DA; worm's eye; helicopter shot). Comment on the media language used.

NEW DRAMA STORYBOARDING TASK: BBC3 is a youth (15-34) channel. BBC4 goes for an older, upmarket audience, and is launching a new drama series called Home, about the goings on in a retirement ('old folks') home. Your job is to come up with a storyboard of at least 12 shots for a trailer that (1) sets the scene (2) introduces 3 key characters (3) one of which is a terrifying bully. EXTENSION: If you have time, you can also add notes on the non-diegetic music you would use; how costume or props would signify or connote [symbolize] character; and any transitions or SFX you might use.
(A) TWIST Like Class, is there a twist or 'hybrid' element? It adds Dr Who sci-fi to the school drama, yours can be outrageous too. 
(B) CHARACTERS - decide on the age, gender and position (resident or worker, manager or owner) HERO - a resident or a worker/boss? VILLAIN/BULLY - a resident or a worker/boss? Male or female? Age? 3RD KEY CHARACTER -  a sidekick, love interest, perhaps the boss/owner? Male or female?
(C) SCENES TO INCLUDE IN TRAILER You might have one longer scene, but include some shots from multiple scenes just as you'd expect a trailer to. Think about shots that help establish the setting; the nature of characters (eg angles, two shot); create some mystery.



Shoes like Class arguably exist because of the high school/horror hybrid Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which also blended comedy and romance into its hybrid genre approach. We call an early influential example, almost a template for further efforts, an archetype.

Here's a longer Class trailer (the 19 seconds trailer is a teaser trailer) which should give you a better idea of how the show works.