BSA306: British New Wave

British New Wave was a film movement in the 1950s and 1960s in Britain. The films that were produced as part of this movement were often considered “kitchen sink” films as they looked at the everyday life of the working class. Before  the British New Wave, British films were often focused on the middle-class and working-class characters would appear as little more than comic aid or “‘salt of the earth’ cannon fodder.” (Wickham, n.d.) Instead, British New wave put the working class in the center of the story, focusing on their lives seriously.

The only British New Wave films that focus directly on conflicts between the working-class and middle-class are Jack Clayton’s Room at the Top (1958) and Tony Richardson’s Look Back in Anger (1959), whereas many of the later films of this movement focus on the conflicts among those in the working-class (Wickham, n.d.).

I think one of the biggest attractions of British New Wave films is the sense of realism in the stories and characters as they are familiar settings, situations and people.

Some of the most notable modern films that were influenced by British New Wave films are Trainspotting (1996), The Full Monty (1997) and Billy Elliot (2000). Like the films from the 50s and 60s, these films follow working-class characters through their everyday lives. These films, instead of being considered British New Wave films, are instead considered “underclass films”. Similarly to British New Wave films, underclass films, especially of the 1990s, tend to focus on the gender anxiety of male characters and the New Labour politics of ‘rebranding’ UK (Seino, 2010, p. 16).

“The 1990s is the decade of the British social realist film which explores the concept of British identity. It also presents a new national identity of ‘Britishness’, which was represented as the UK‟s creative cultural industry.” (Seino, 2010, p. 21)

 


Fig. 1. Retrieved from: http://img.moviepostershop.com/saturday-night-and-sunday-morning-movie-poster-1961-1010272536.jpg

Fig.2. Retrieved from: https://alchetron.com/cdn/A-Taste-of-Honey-film-images-2ecb3ade-36d0-465a-9e48-d439038ce62.jpg

Fig. 3. Retrieved from: http://www.impawards.com/1959/posters/room_at_the_top_xlg.jpg

Fig. 4. Retrieved from: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/502784a984ae2d2eef45097c/t/50470dd8c4aa7e7d99020cb3/1346833881207/b70-7101.jpeg

Fig. 5. Retrieved from: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMDQwMmI3YzctNWI3Ny00YWI4LThiOTItNDJkOWRhOWE2MDlkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTAwMzUyOTc@._V1_UY1200_CR77,0,630,1200_AL_.jpg

Fig. 6. Retrieved from: http://rarefilm.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Billy-Liar-1963.jpg

Fig. 7. Retrieved from: https://cdn.bleedingcool.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/trainspotting-poster.jpg

Fig. 8. Retrieved from: http://www.impawards.com/2000/posters/billy_elliot_ver1.jpg

Fig. 9. Retrieved from: http://www.impawards.com/1997/posters/full_monty_ver2.jpg

Seino, T. (2010). The 1990s to present: New labour and the new millenium. Realism and Representation of the Working Class in Contemporary British Cinema. Pp. 16 – 21.

Wickham, P. (n.d.). British new wave. Retrieved from: http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/445176/

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BSA306: Dogme 95

Dogme 95 was a film movement that began in 1995 and ended in 2005. Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg created the movement, writing the “Dogme 95 Manifesto” and “The Vows of Chastity” which detailed the rules of this movement. The key idea behind this movement was to exclude the use of elaborate special effects or technology, which were taking over the film industry at the time, and focus on the traditional values of filmmaking through story, performance and theme. [1] Some of the key characteristics of Dogme 95 films were that they were shot on location, the camera must be handheld, the film must be in colour, and the director must not be credited. [2]

The Museum of Arts and Design celebrated Dogme 95 with their cinema series The Director Must Not Be Credited: 20 Years of Dogme 95. The series featured work from Lars von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg, Jean-Marc Barr, Daniel H. Byun, Harmony Korine, Kristian Levring, Annette K. Olesen, and Lone Scherfig. [3]

One of the things I look out for in a film is well written (and performed) characters who feel gritty and real, so the idea of the rules in the Dogme 95 movement really interested me. From the glimpses of the Dogme films that I saw in the documentary The Name of This Flim is Dogme 95, stripping back many of the artifices of modern film making seemed to allow, or perhaps force, the actors to give more of themselves to their performances, in turn creating more natural characters. As I am focusing on what can make a film, or story, feel more authentic in my research this year I will now be looking into Dogme 95 and possibly using this movement as an influence in my end of year project.

BSA306: Baraka

baraka-52e4566394fb2

Directed by Ron Fricke ❖ Released 1992 ❖ Non-narrative film

Admittedly I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this film as much as I did. I hoped I would like it, but I actually really, really liked it.

Baraka is Ron Fricke’s 1992 non-narrative documentary film, with no dialogue or voice-over. It was shot in 24 countries on six continents over a 14-month period. This film is a follow up to Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi (1982), on which Fricke was the cinematographer, which is a similar non-verbal documentary film. Fricke set out on his own with Baraka to further expand on the styles and techniques used to capture Koyaanisqatsi. 

Baraka, shot on 70mm, combines photographic styles such as slow-motion and time-lapse. In 2007 the film became the first ever to be restored at 8k resolution.

The film explores themes of religion, materialism and social change.

BSA306: Motion Capture

The Motion Capture Society details the history of motion capture and the various things that influenced it right back to 1774 when Johann Heinrich Lambert developed “spatial resection”.

Motion capture first began through rotoscoping where footage of a live actor or actress would traced over so the animated characters would have more fluidity. Rotoscoping was devised by Max Fleischer in 1915 and used in his series Out of the Inkwell. Walt Disney adopted this method using it in the 1937 classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Since the method was so successful in this film, Disney continued to use it in other features like Peter Pan (1953), Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Sleeping Beauty (1959).

 

Rotoscoping is still used in the industry today. One of the most famous examples in recent times comes from A Scanner Darkly (2006), Richard Linklater’s feature based on Philip K. Dick’s novel of the same name.

Motion capture for computer character animation began in the 1970s. It works by recording details of body movement, most commonly with humans, and then transferring those details onto a computer animated character. Gollum from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy was created this way, as was Davy Jones from the second and third instalments of Pirates of the Caribbean. 

 

 

BSA306: Breaking Conventions in Trailers

There are instances where breaking genre conventions in trailers have worked in favour of the trailer. This is because it is still clear what the genre of the film is. Example: Logan (2017). Read more as a drama as it was slower paced and had a paced soundtrack (Johnny Cash’s Hurt), but it was still clear that it would be an action film. This was made clear from the fact that it was part of the X-men franchise and the visuals shown in the trailer.

 

 

The non-dialogue trailer is also an example of breaking the conventions of trailers. Although this is not strictly considered breaking conventions, it is different take on the traditional trailer and can be incredibly effective as it is universally understandable and is memorable for being different. Example: The Handmaiden (2016). Powerful visuals and soundtrack left no need for dialogue.

 

Another example of a non-dialogue trailer is the teaser for La La Land. This trailer has no dialogue, but instead features one of the songs from the film, juxtaposed with the rich visuals of the film.

However, breaking conventions can backfire. August: Osage County’s trailer marketed the film as a comedy, misleading audiences as it was actually a serious drama with very few jokes (all of which appeared in the trailer). The editors of this trailer did comment that although the trailer was an inaccurate representation of the film, it ultimately drew in audiences and made a considerable profit.

 

Another example of a kind of trailer that breaks conventions is one that I have already discussed in a previous post; the sneak peek trailer. Again, a great example of a successful sneak peek is the opening scene from It (2017) which played in cinemas. This trailer really set the mood for the film and established the fear-inducing character of Pennywise, something that is key for this film. Another reason that this was successful is that a slightly shorter version of this scene was shared around social media alongside the same scene from the original book to film adaption. The side-by-side comparison allowed audiences to get a taste for what else was to come with the remake as the production values were considerably higher than the original, suggesting that the rest of the film might be bigger and better than it’s predecessor.

 

BSA306: Styles of Trailers

Once the idea of using the voice over in the trailer became outdated, trailer producers began looking for more interesting ways to promote films. No, this was not a new thing. Hitchcock put a lot of effort into marketing Psycho, creating a trailer that was six minutes long which took the audience on a journey through the Bate’s house and the plot of the film. He then ensured that cinemas enforced the rule of not letting audience members into the cinema late, demanding that they must see the film in it’s entirety. [1] In more recent times, it has become more popular to release unique and interesting trailers. This is to ensure that they stand out from other trailers and that the audience remember your trailer and want to watch the film, because what do studios want more than anything? To make money. And, in order to actually make any money, people need to see the film, but to see the film they need to be interested during the marketing campaign, hence the need for a “stand out” trailer.

I have realised that there are three distinct style of trailers out there; the traditional trailer, the teaser trailer and the sneak peek trailer.

The traditional trailer: This kind of trailer is basically what I mentioned in a previous post. It allows the characters to tell parts of their own story rather than the third party of the voice over. This is more or less what is known as the “theatrical trailer”. The theatrical trailer mimics the actual feature in the sense that it tells parts of the story in the way that the story is told within the film. For example, if the story is narrated by a character, seen or unseen, so will the trailer be. Likewise, if the audience is led on journey by the characters, as if we were flies on the wall witnessing everything take place, the trailer will play out in a similar fashion. This is how the majority of trailers are presented to us and this is what the audience is most familiar with. The challenge for the filmmaker or trailer producer with the style of trailer is to make it stand out from other trailers made in the same style. Often the tools used to make these trailers stand out from the crowd are visually stunning shots, amazing special effects and the funniest jokes.

(See below for examples)

 

The teaser trailer:  The teaser trailer is not dissimilar from the theatrical trailer. However, there seems to be more freedom in how these are presented. The major differences between a teaser trailer and a theatrical trailer is the length – the teaser is generally shorter – and the amount of dialogue used. Teaser trailers will often simply introduce the film, it’s plot, the mood and it’s characters. In other words, it teases the films I have mentioned the trailer for Broadchurch before, but I will mention it again as I feel it is a great example of how a teaser trailer can be incredibly effective in setting up for a story and being memorable for being a little different which, as previously discussed, is really what the studios are aiming for.

The sneak peek trailer: Another effective and unique approach to trailers is the sneak peek. This will often be a scene taken from somewhere near the beginning of the film that clearly sets up for the rest of the story. Most times, these kinds of trailers are marketed as teasers and will usually be made for a film with a preexisting following as the audience will be aware of the general plot.

BSA306: Genre Conventions in Trailers

Films themselves follow conventions in each genre so, as one might expect, so do trailers. This helps to set the tone for what the film will be like and for the audience to decide if they will watch it.

The action trailer: The most notable convention of the action trailer is that they are fast paced. It seems obvious to say that because who has ever heard of a slow paced action film? The word “action” insinuates movement and a fast pace so it would make sense that trailers in this genre would be cut to reflect that too. Other conventions include the chase sequence, which there are often at least two of in an action trailer, lens flares and explosions. The other thing that is key for an action trailer is a lot of dialogue. There’s generally at least five characters speaking throughout an action trailer and, most times, at least one of those characters will only have a small part in the film itself.  Please see below for the trailer for Transformers. In fact, just about any of Michael Bay’s films are a great example for this.

 

The drama and romance trailer:  I’ve used an example here which could be considered more of a romance, but the conventions of drama and romance films are actually very similar. To begin with, these trailers are focused on the characters and often in quite an intimate sense with lots of close up shots of the characters compared to the action trailer where the environment seems to matter just as much as the character within it. Drama and romance trailers will often use character voice over to tell the story. So, rather than a third person narrating the trailer, dialogue from within the film will guide the audience through the trailer. This will be matched with moments showing the characters speaking. Another big thing to note is the use of wide, establishing shots and the need to make every shot aesthetically pleasing. In the example below, The Light Between Oceans, every shot feels soft and romantic, it is pleasing to the eye and draws in the audience. The drama and romance trailer will often play heavily on the audience’s emotions, with an abundance of shots portraying heartfelt emotion, whether that be sadness, grief, or joy.

The comedy trailer: Even though this is not used all the time within comedy trailers, one of my favourite conventions is how the comedy trailer will begin by misguiding the audience to think it is a serious film. The Edge of Seventeen does this really well, playing on the joke long enough to make you question yourself a few times on whether or not you should laugh. Physical comedy is another big player in the conventions of the comedy trailer, but this isn’t just restricted to physical pain in a comedic sense, no, this can also be the way one is dressed or the way one looks. However one chooses to show physical comedy, you can almost guarantee it will be present to some extent in a comedy trailer. The other major conventions of the comedy trailer are witty dialogue and including the best jokes. Being a comedy you would expect those, because really what you want from a comedy is to laugh. All of these things will then be accompanied by an upbeat soundtrack to make you feel good about life.

 

BSA306: An Introduction to the Trailer

“In trailers, images are selected and combined in ways that privilege attracting the spectator’s attention over sustaining narrative coherence. ”

(Kernan, 2004, p. 7)

Trailers are first and foremost a marketing strategy. They are made to make the audience want to go to the cinema to see the movie so the studios can make money. Therefore, the trailer needs to be an effective marketing campaign. Here are some of the ways this is done:

Showing all the good bits: Takes the most interesting parts of the story, condenses them and adds drama, but make it appear as a promise for more good bits. The audience always falls for it.

A strong sound track: Music is a powerful tool in marketing. It draws the audience in and helps to tell the story. It sets the mood for the film and brings a sense of emotion – something that audiences always connect to whether it be sadness, excitement or tension.

Eye-catching visuals: Filmmakers always take the best, most impressive shots and put them in their trailers because they want to wow the audience. Film, being a visual medium, needs to impress visually. This is the most important aspect of promoting a film as no one is going to want to see a film that is unappealing to the eye.

The art of anticipation: this is a very important tool for the filmmaker. Building a sense of excitement is important for building an audience because without the audience, there is no profit and, at the end of the day, this is what the studios want. Anticipation is built not only through the theatrical trailer, but also through teasers. Teasers can be anything from a poster to a 10 second clip to a 1 minute trailer. Deadpool’s marketing campaign was hugely successful. This campaign needed to be unique and “as saucy and audacious as the movie itself.” [2] For example, the costume reveal was on a billboard and featured Deadpool next to a poop emoji. This unique approach to marketing established the mood for the film, exciting audiences for what else was to come.

It seems to me that when people think of trailers they think of the trailer with the voice over, the one that is very dramatic and spells out a lot of the information for you. For example, Jane Campion’s 2009 drama Bright Star.

Personally, I dislike this kind of trailer. I feel the voice over takes away from the beauty of the film and distracts from what the film really is. Thankfully, trailer producers have moved away from the “voice over trailer” to a more theatrical approach where the characters and their stories are able to draw in the audience, leaving no need for a third person telling. Testament of Youth (2015), directed by James Kent is an example of a trailer that follows this newer style of story telling.

 


 

Janet Staiger writes on an historical approach to trailers, examining film advertising as it was in the early day of film. She quotes Jesse L. Lasky saying,

“…the tempo of a trailer is vastly different from the tempo of a feature. We cannot establish moods. We must get to the climax of a dramatic situation, to the peak of a comedy situation, to the very essence of dialogue.”

(Staiger, Pp. 3-31)

Staiger talks about the trailer as an artistic expression and how it is really part of the spectacle of the film itself, rather than a separate advertising scheme entirely. (Hesford, 2013, pp. 4-5)

The quote Staiger has used here from Lasky I have found to be beneficial in deciding how to structure my own trailer. It has made me realise that the intense, dramatic scenes I have filmed are most certainly appropriate for the trailer as, while it does not fully establish the mood of the film, nor entirely match the tempo of the full feature, it tells the audience what to expect within the plot of the film, that there is a very serious tone to the story being told.

 

 


  1. Kernan, L. (2005). Coming attractions: Reading American movie trailers. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press
  2. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lists/10-best-marketing-campaigns-movies-939307/item/jungle-book-disney-best-marketing-939319
  3. Hesford, D. (2013). The art of anticipation: The artistic status of the film trailer and its place in the wider cinematic culture (Doctoral dissertation, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland). 

BSA306: What Makes a Trailer ‘Good’? The Beginnings of a Project

What does make a trailer ‘good’? And what exactly does that mean? Is there a formula to editing a trailer that makes it particularly engaging? Would one formula work for every genre of film? And how does dialogue fit in? These are the questions that plague me as I embark on creating my hypothetical trailer.

“In trailers, images are selected and combined in ways that privilege attracting the spectator’s attention over sustaining narrative coherence. ”

(Kernan, 2004, p. 7)

This is a practical and opinion based study, aiming to discover what conventions would make the trailer for Bent more engaging for audiences. It is my opinion that a trailer is more engaging when there is a strong soundtrack driving the trailer that evokes appropriate emotions. I also believe that disclosing only a little detail of the plot encourages the viewer to see the full feature far more than if the audience feels they already know the story after viewing the trailer.

This post will be the beginning of my research on how I can make my own trailer good. I will aim to discover how I can use the styles and conventions of existing, successful trailers to create my own unique, yet still successful, trailer that will fit in with current trailers.


 

Part 1: Is there too much information in trailers?

Audiences and critics are constantly arguing whether or not trailer give away too much of the story.  Dan Asma from Buddha Jones, a trailer production company, found during test screenings that audiences prefer to be shown more of the story. However, he prefers to be more mysterious with his trailers.

Mark Woollen, who cut trailers for The Social Network, Boyhood and The Revenant tested an unreleased trailer on audiences and found that the older audience preferred for more of the story to be revealed, whereas the younger audience preferred less.  Perhaps my own attraction to having less information given to me in a trailer is because I am part of the younger audience. It has been suggested that the younger audience don’t like much of the story to be given away in the trailer because they feel they have wasted their money at the cinema if they discover they’ve already been shown most of the story in the trailer. Since movies are more available to the audience nowadays and it’s easier and cheaper to access them online, when the younger audience pays to go to a film at the cinema they expect to get a good deal and see something new. [2]

Though there are many people, myself included, that prefer to see less of the story in a trailer and wait to see the actual movie to know what happens, one cannot deny that trailers that give away more information are the more successful, as Matt Brubaker suggests;

As much as people complain that trailers give away too much, nine times out of 10, the more plot you give away, the more interest you garner from the audiences. Audiences respond to trailers with more of the movies.”

(McGovern, 2015, para. 5)

This seems like a strange thing to say, but I actually have a favourite trailer. it is one that I have talked about a lot this year in my studies as it has been a huge influence on my major project. This trailer is for the first season of Broadchurch (2013-). There is very little dialogue in this trailer so very little information is given away. The trailer relies heavily on creating an emotional connection with the audience through the visuals and the strong soundtrack. I enjoy this trailer because it creates a strong interest in the story that unfolds in the series in a simple, but effective way.

 


 

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_viewed_online_trailers_in_the_first_24_hours
  2. McGovern, J. (2015, July 27). Why do trailers spoil their movies? Because you want them to [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://ew.com/article/2015/07/27/trailer-spoilers-southpaw/

Performance

Split (2016) – James McAvoy

James McAvoy plays about eight characters in the this film and delivers about seven of them beautifully, but the final character he plays is another story. This  last character is called “The Beast” and is everything you’d expect from a character with this name. he’s angry, full of himself, supernaturally strong, and, most of all, too dramatic. This isn’t all down to the performance, it’s also down to the writing. M. Night Shyamalan wrote and directed this film and actually did rather well (surprisingly) for most of it. Most of the characters (specifically those played by McAvoy) are well thought out and cleverly written, but “The Beast” feels like a stock character that Shyamalan resorted to when he realised the rest of the story was good. The poor writing of this character, and perhaps poor direction on how to portray him, resulted in what I consider to be a terrible performance that brought the whole film down.

 

Les Miserables (2012) – Anne Hathaway

When this film came out, there was a lot of talk about Anne Hathaway’s performance as Fantine, especially in regards to her performance of I Dreamed a Dream. Most of the comments were in mockery, laughing about her dirty, snotty face and shaky voice. When I finally got around to watching this last year, I was very interested to see her performance and make my own judgement. I really enjoyed it. I thought it was full of raw emotion, as it should have been, and was incredibly compelling. Tom Hooper’s decision to have live singing paid off, I feel, as it helped show the emotion more effectively.