The content of a text does not always distinguish its suitable age certificate given by the BBFC. The content’s presentation, meaning and contextual relevance had to be considered. The Bunny Game (Adam Rehmeier, 2012) is a US film about a prostitute being kidnapped, raped and violently assaulted by a trucker. The BBFC rejected the film and it is yet to receive a certificate. The violence towards the female protagonist is relentless in the piece. The BBFC’s Guidelines clearly set out the BBFC’s serious concerns about the portrayal of violence, especially when the violence is sexual or sexualised, but also when depictions “portray or encourage callousness towards victims, aggressive attitudes, or taking pleasure in the pain or humiliation of others.” The Bunny Game was seen to eroticise or endorse sexual assult through the emphasis on the woman’s nudity. The “lack of explanation of the events depicted, and the stylistic treatment,” may encourage some viewers to enjoy and share the man’s callousness and the pleasure he takes in the woman’s pain. The content may be titillating. In these ways, the film would be inconsistent to the Guidelines and would also risk potential harm within the terms of the Video Recordings Act, and would accordingly be unacceptable to the public. Next up is Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist (2009) which received an 18 certificate despite its horrific content. So what’s the difference between the content in this piece and The Bunny Game? Well the BBFC saw the violence in Von Trier’s film as “turn off” material, unlike Rehmeier’s. The “adult theme” of the movie helped contextualise the violence and its tone proved the violence not to be simulative. On the other hand, Tom Six’s notorious sequel The Human Centipede 2 was rejected for the villain’s visual enjoyment of violence. Although audiences may be repulsed, the film focuses on his pleasure and shows how a horror film can inspire and encourage terrible and violent acts. Similarly, in The Killer Inside Me (Michael Winterbottom, 2010) viewers see sexual violence that becomes pleasurable to the characters involved. The “spanking” scene, for example, shows the characters’ enjoyment of the violent acts shown which the BBFC does not consider suitable. Despite this, it’s interesting to note that a film as horrific as Srdjan Spasojevic’s A Serbian Film is released. The child molestation involved in the piece and the sexual violence has lead to the film to be banned in large areas of the world. For example, it is banned in Norway on account of sexual representation of children and extreme violence in a fictional medium. One of the few modern-day movies to be banned in the country since Ichi The Killer (2001) and Grotesque (2009).The film was banned in Brazil but was supposed to be legally screened for the first time in the city of Maceió, Alagoas on a special Cine Sesi dawn screening in October 1, 2011; however, the company was forbidden to exhibit it by a legal action only a day before the screening. The film holds a record of 19 minutes of cuts in the United States in order to achieve an NC-17 rating. However, the film remains avaible on DVD as an 18 in the UK due to it being considered as “serious work” which is not intended to arouse. Behind the Candelabra (2013) starring Matt Damon and Michael Douglas was on the borderline of 15 and 18. The film’s focus on grooming gave the piece its edge, especially since it was based on historical record. The piece by Steven Soderberg, was given a 15 rating. Drug use in films is a big concern for the BBFC however, films such as Pulp Fiction, Trainspotting and Scarface have somewhat of a big focus on drugs but still remain available uncut. 2008 saw the release of David Gordon Green’s Pineapple Express and the representation of drugs meant the film’s theatrical edit had to be cut. The film showed young people enjoying smoking marijuana and this positive representation is highly frowned upon. We often see a negative portrayal of drugs and see their tragic effects however, here the BBFC criticised the piece. With the scene cut, the film appeared in cinemas as a 15 but the scene was restored in the DVD as an 18. 2009’s The Woman in Black by James Watkins starred Harry Potter star, Daniel Radcliffe. Due to this actor that heavily attracted young audience members, filmmakers were keen to get a 12A rating despite the frightening content. The film would appear as a 15 uncut however, 6 seconds being taken out as well as a remix of the soundtrack (quite rare) lead the BBFC to release the film at the age restriction which the filmmakers hoped for. The Women in Black and Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan sparked up a controversy of complaints due to their age rating. While the rating, the main female actresses (Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis) and the high-achieving ballet school appealed to teenage girls, the sexual content was arguably unsuitable for that particular audience. Nevertheless, the film was released in cinemas and on DVD as a 15.
Let’s talk about the work on media regulation which are class has been going through in the past few days. First of all, what is media regulation? The media, whose regulation is being discussed, is the public means of mass communication, especially in the press, radio, music, television and film. Regulation refers to the whole process of “control or guidance, by established rules and procedures,” applied by authorities. “Public interest”, the “common well-being” or “general welfare”, is the goal for the regulation but also serves the needs of the market or for reasons of technical efficiency (for instance, setting technical standards). Regulation can be internal as well as external. Media regulation begins with the application of the “printing press to book production from the mid-15th century onwards in Western Europe”. Content was regulated to combat heresy or dissent. This led very widely to licensing of all printers and/or the “requirement for advance approval by church authorities for texts to be published.” In Western Europe and North America, the history of media regulation concerned struggles against restrictions of publication between the 16th and 19th centuries which waged in the name of political freedom and human rights. For most of the world during the modern era, repressive and punitive media regulation in the interest of state power has been the norm. The invention of new media, electric telegraph, then the telephone and wireless and then public radio, lead to national laws being created concerning technical requirements (e.g. radio frequency requirements). During the 20th century, the cinema film was also established, typically regulated locally for reasons of safety (fire) and/or content (moral standards). “Regulation by its very nature sets limits to freedom, which is the most basic principle of modern society.” There is no single reason why we should regulate and often the surface reasons conceal other purposes (e.g. the interests of the state).
- The management of what is arguably the key economic resource in the emerging “information society”
- The protection of public order and support for instruments of government and justice
- The protection of individual and sectional rights and interests that might be harmed by unrestricted use of public means of communication.
- The promotion of the efficiency and development of the communication system, by way of technical standardization, innovation, connectivity and universal provision.
- The promotion of access, freedom to communicate, diversity and universal provision as well as securing communicative and cultural ends chosen by the people for themselves.
- Maintaining conditions for effective operation of free markets in media services, especially competition and access, protection of consumers, stimulating innovation and expansion.
Can everyone be treated the same?
Does the idea of “forbidden fruit” worsen this idea?
Does regulation infringe liberties?
Who decides what regulations are made?
What is one trying to achieve by regulating?
How do you regulate?
How do the “gate-keepers” make their decisions?
What is ‘A Field In England’?
‘A Field In England’ is a low budget, black and white, art-house film by director Ben Wheatley, also known for Kill List(2011), Sightseers (2012), which was released on Friday July 5th 2013. But what’s so special about this film that makes it worth talking about in regards to the Institutions and Audiences AS exam? Well, it tried to break the Hollywood model of distribution by becoming the first film in the UK to launch simultaneously across all platforms.
- VOD, meaning Video On Demand, (4OD and iTunes)
- free broadcast TV (Film4)
- cinema (17 Picturehouse venues)
How much did the film cost to make?
The film’s budget was £316, 879, with a £112,00 P&a spend supported by £56,701 from the BFI Distribution Fund. The film was fully financed by Film4.
The primary audience was ABC1 (anyone within the economic group) 18-25 years old and frequent cinema goers in the 25-35+ bracket who may have previously already been aware of Wheatley’s work and other films (Kill List, Sightseers).
How was the film advertised?
Wheatley and the whole cast supported the release plan and mobilised their active social media fan base including the likes of twitter. A number of interviews with executives suggested the film would not have bettered its performance through a conventional release. Along with the marketing innovations was an in-depth masterclass website featuring Wheatley, this attracted a large, engaged audience.Above is the video that’s placed on the film’s website (http://www.afieldinengland.com/) that successfully raised attention for the piece.
Was the film a success in terms of reaction and revenue?
- 29% of the theatrical audience, according to the cinema exit poll, rated it “excellent”, 41% – “very good” = giving a “highly favourable” score of 70%
- On TV is drew an audience of 288,000 viewers and when those who recorded the film on Saturday and Sunday were also added to the total, it was at 357,00 – up on Film4’s slot average of 346,000.
- AFiE was also the number one trending topic on Twitter in the UK on Friday evening, and sales of DVDs from Amazon and HMV across Friday and Saturday amounted to 1,462.
- On Film40D and iTunes platforms there were a total of more than 1,000 purchases.
In my A2 short film, Screen Three, the old man and the youths who appear in the piece could be argued to adhere to contrasting stereotypes. The old man in the film’s establishing shot appears low in the frame, out in the open and is positioned to look smaller and below the youths as they enter the scene. These things arguably appeal to the yulneralbe characteristic many elderly members of the society are stereotyped to posses. Similarly, his white hair and old-fashioned jacket likens him to the older community. Barthes’ action code theory involving the youths acting bashfully and abusively by throwing popcorn, kicking the old man’s chair and yelling contrast with the old man’s representation. These action codes and their dark hoodies suggest them to adhere to the stereotypical anti-social youths of today in Britain, which is where the film is set as suggested by their British accents. In this way, our film adheres to Strauss’ theory of binary opposition. The conflict between these opposites, he argues, form the base for narratives and this is presented through the conflict of young and old. Propp’s theory of characters is adhered in a high majority of films. He argues that all characters in any film fall into a certain category from a list he has created. The list involves the hero, villain, donor, princess, dispatcher, false hero and the helper. While our film subverts his theory by not including the majority of those characters listed, it could be argued the hero and villain is portrayed within the old man and the youths. The hero of a film is the character who the audience is most focused upon. The first shot of our film is a close up of our main character, Peter, the old man, and so having this close up straight away quickly helps the audience identify who the hero is in our film. A convention of drama films is having a character that audiences can empathise and sympathise with. Establishing this focus on a certain character, and showing his emotional troubles through close ups, direct viewers’ empathy and acts as audience gratification. While this focus suggests Peter as the hero, his actions, arguably, do not. I directed the actor who plays the old man to appear distressed and anxious and while he did this, he also remains still and inactive throughout the whole film until he finally gets up and leaves the cinema. His vulnerability and inaction conflicts with the conventional hero who is brave and fights back at those causing harm. In this way, he subverts with the stereotypical hero and assumes the stereotype of a helpless old man. On the other hand we have the youths. They are continually suggested as evil, a characteristic possessed by many villains, through there abusive nature. They confront the old man and act aggressively towards him by coming closer to him and kicking his chair violently. Also, darkness is also associated with evil characters and my youths adhere to this by being dressed in dark clothes and in an absence of strong light, unlike the old man. According to Todorov, every narrative begins an equilibrium which is distorted by an antagonist force that leads to the disequilibrium. By being with the old man comfortably watching his film and then being disrupted by the youths, Screen Three adheres to this theory. The introduction of the youths soon leads to the disequilibrium to occur and so in this way they are presented as villains who come in the way of our protagonist.
Franco-Bulgarian historian and essayist, Tzvetan Todorov, created a theory concerning the structure of narratives. According to his work, pieces begin with an equilibrium which is disrupted by an event leading into the disequilibrium and once good is restored, audiences are introduced to a new equilibrium. My A2 film, Screen Three, adheres somewhat to this theory. The close-up on the elderly protagonist showing his relaxed and comfortable state presents the equilibrium; a man quietly enjoying a film at the cinema. However, true to Todorov’s theory, our film soon comes to its disequilibrium when the three youths who enter the scene begin to abuse our protagonist. It could be argued our film subverts from Todorov’s ideas since my piece ends on a cliffhanger and audiences do not know of the protagonist’s fate. It remains a mystery and this means a new equilibrium is not featured in my film. The way this part of the story is left out may be an interesting subversion of this narrative theory since are left to imagine what happens next for themselves.
If one looks at the characters in Screen Three, an adherence may be seen to Propp’s theory of characters which is that all narratives contain certain characters. His list includes a hero, villain, help, donor, princess, dispatcher and the false hero and our character arguably features two from this list; the hero and the villain. Due to the focus given on the old man at the start of the film, created by close ups of him and the lighting emphasising his appearance in the frame, it’s easy for audience to recognise him as the hero of the story; the protagonist who the audience expects to follow as the film progresses. His elderly appearance and stillness makes him seem like a threat and vulnerable however, the youths are identifiable with the qualities of villains. They are dressed in dark clothing and act abusive towards the protagonist by yelling at him, throwing popcorn at him and kicking his seat which places them into Propp’s category as villains. While these adhere to Propp’s ideas. the other characters in his list are not featured within my film and so the film subverts with his ideas.
Theorist Levi Strauss identified that narratives work because they are often based around the conflict between binary opposition. The protagonist and antagonists of Screen Three arguably adhere to certain examples of binary opposition, such as good and evil. The abuse of the youths and their villainous characteristics suggested through their offensive and rude dialogue regarding sex and violence at the start of the scene portrays them as evil. This strongly contrasts with the old man, whose facial expressions shown in close ups and reluctance to act upon the youths suggests he is good. The way much of the narrative focuses on this battle between the evil youths and the good old man adheres to Strauss’ ideas. Similarly, the binary opposition regarding age is certainly within my film. The white haired old man who is reserved and quiet conflicts with the loud and energetic youths who throw popcorn and move amongst the cinema to annoy their target. Their movement and the way the old man stays still conforms to stereotypes the audience may have upon the fragile elderly and the bashful youth of today.
Barthes’ codes of action, symbols and enigma in conventional narratives offer gratification for audiences. Codes arousing fear are used in horrors, codes that thrill and excite are often used in action and thriller films. The narrative for Screen Three heavily focuses on this codes that help the audience identify what they’re watching. For example, the heavy focus on the old man and the negative portrayal of the youths let audiences sympathise and empathise with this protagonist. These feelings and effects are often exploited in drama films as a narrative element.
Films that fall into the drama genre exhibit real life situations with settings that are familiar to the viewer. Our coursework production, Screen Three, is mostly set within a cinema and this could be argued to adhere to this convention of drama pieces.Most people have been to the cinema to watch a film, or at least are familiar with the setting. In this way, Screen Three appeals to audiences’ expectations of the drama genre and this is established immediately once the films starts due to the film projector sound effect being played, the close-up of our protagonist being illuminated by the projector’s light and also the establishing shot that comes after this that reveals the theatre’s seats.
Along with setting, realistic characters are often featured within drama productions to convey the idea of realism in the piece. Through our script and my directing of the actors, I wanted the characters to follow the stereotypes of today’s youth and elderly community in order to familiarise audiences with realistic characters. By their abusive behaviour, dark clothing, and sexual and violent conversation, audiences can recognise their characters through replicating the anti-social youth of today. The character of Peter, the film’s protagonist, dramatically contrasts with the youths through also being applied to stereotypes. Rather than being abusive, Peter is like a stereotypical old man by appearing vulnerable and reserved which is highlighted through close-ups of his face which showing his character’s emotions. Adhering to these stereotypes arguably creates more realistic characters and so suggests that the film is a drama piece.
The abusive relationship and hateful conversation between the elderly man and the youths in our film echoes the “intense social interaction” that drama films often expose to their audience. Binary opposition, a theory created by Ferdinand de Saussure, could be applied to our film through these characters which arguably intensifies this “interaction”. In order to contrast the youths and the old man, we set up more lighting upon the old man and left the youths in less light while having them in dark clothing and the man in white and light greys. This, visually, sets them apart which is also done by their behaviour. While the youths are seen in a establishing shot yelling and throwing popcorn, the old man appears quiet and reserved. Having them in the same wide shot establishes their conflicting representations.
Also, drama also features the portrayal of a journey or some kind of character development which I think lies within the story of Screen Three. At the beginning of the film, our protagonist, Peter, is calm, collected and relaxed in his environment. However, once exposed to the horrors of the youths’ abuse, the dis-equilibrium, he dramatically changes and becomes a nervous, angry and reckless man who is a danger to those around him. The purpose of a dramatic story line is to “move an audience emotionally” and this character development, which is arguably the focus of our production, is what achieves this effect upon viewers. “At the heart of drama is conflict” and with the youths’ abuse in mind, this is certainly within our film.
However, within drama films “a form of realisation or happy ending” is often featured. Our film does not conform to this convention with its dramatic, shocking ending but this “happily ever after” idea is conflicted in many dramas. James Cameron’s’ Titanic breaks all the conventions as all does not end happily for the protagonists but has rather a tragic ending. Within our film, the ending is ambiguous but the close-up of the protagonist’s face appearing terrorised and horrified suggests things won’t end well for him.
Russian theorist, Tzvetan Todorov, suggests that all narratives follow a three part structure. They begin with equilibrium, where everything is balanced, progress as something comes along to disrupt that equilibrium, and finally reach a resolution, when equilibrium is restored. With Screen Three, it could be argued this new equilibrium is not restored due to the ambiguity and the suggested downfall of the protagonist.