Monthly Archives: February 2013

Research Task: How Teen Dramas Have Changed?

Teen Dramas Research: How Have Teen Dramas Changed?

skinslogo1

Teen drama is a genre of show that focuses on teenagers and their lives, often these shows address certain social issues that would be appropriate for the age group they have targeted, although many shows differ on how they handle these issues, Skins for example doesn’t wish to provide a deep underlying meaning beneath the show and its characters, the writers just aim to portray their and the public’s idea of a typical British college student, whereas a tamer show like Hollyoaks addresses social issues in a way where they can almost provide an answer, as they like to portray the predictable solution that solves the problem with a happy ending, rather than “Skins” where the character just copes with the problem which may not be the most politically correct solution.

The earliest example of a UK teen drama is Grange Hill. Phil Redmond (Writer) wanted to show a harsh depiction of high school life, rather than the tame, idealistic school life that had been shown in previous dramas. This caused controversy with the public which lead to the BBC having to force Redmond to tone things down in the show with the risk of the series being terminated. This was the start of the real representation of teen life in these dramas, as the idea of changing typical conventions in a drama had never been applied before, Redmond was very much “breaking new ground” by doing this. Although Redmond had been shunned by the BBC heads, he didn’t stop wanting to apply this new idea to the drama as this turned out to be the show’s most favourable characteristic, the public enjoyed watching the realistic portrayals of teenage life, this especially appealed to teenagers as they could relate to the problems raised by the show. In the Grange Hills later years, it carried on covering dis-regarded storylines like rape, drug addiction, mental health, knife crime and sexuality. The most controversial of the few was the storyline that tackled rape. This raised many complaints and ultimately stopped the dramas ability to tackle social issues through its storylines, even though Redmond has been quoted saying “the programme had been “robbed of its original purpose”. In the dramas ending years, Redmond had wanted to bring the show “back to its original roots”, Plans and scripts for the next series had a much larger emphasis on a younger age group, with much more innocent themes like theft and rules, rather than harsher themes like rape and addiction. Once Redmond had heard these changes were being brought to the show, he had called for Grange Hill to be axed. As he believed it wasn’t his show anymore. The drama came to an end in 2008 leaving behind a pathway, influencing many shows with Redmond’s idea of representing the teenage life in a semi-realistic way. Society in this age were rather more quiet about such “hush” issues such as sexuality and substance abuse, people could see such social issues as embarrassing and “not to be talked about”, looking at such a “shy” society I can see why such issues would raise complaints from the public and why Redmond was forced to tone things down in Grange Hill. This I think contrasts with the current mind-set as I think issues addressed in Grange Hill aren’t that shocking and embarrassing to talk about, personally I think the issues compared to the issues raised on modern teen dramas are actually quite tame in comparison. Although I was brought up in a society where issues like this weren’t that shocking, so when problems like this are shown on television, I can find it relatable and interesting to watch. This is probably a main reason current teen dramas have such popularity, because themes such as social issues aren’t seen as morbid, but interesting and as good “TV” material.

Hollyoaks was probably the next teen drama to use similar themes from Grange Hill; this is due to the show actually being created by Phil Redmond in 1995. Redmond’s aim for Hollyoaks was almost exactly the same as it was for Grange Hill; the only factor to differ was that the series wasn’t based -on a school but a whole town. Hollyoaks has been credited for tackling difficult issues that affect young people in sensitive and intelligent ways; this is the one of the main attributes of the show that attracts the teen audience as they can find ways of relating to the show, whether that relation is personal or conceptual. It isn’t a surprise on how successful Hollyoaks has been with engaging with the younger audience, which doesn’t come as surprise as Redmond’s initial ideas had set up the perfect “theme” for the drama, I personally think that Hollyoaks is what Redmond had planned Grange Hill to be, although the BBC had slowed his ideas to a halt. The current writers and producers still carry on with the theme of social issues, which over the years have addressed issues of teenage pregnancy to shop lifting, to more morbid issues like alcoholism, drug abuse, rape and cancer all of which would affect a certain minority of the target audience. Their aims and purpose are clear, past the aim of making a good show, they do like to provide “solutions” as such to the problems they address, at the end of a theme heavy episode where an issue is addressed, they will put contact details for a hotline at the end of that episode, whether this is to fulfil a contract made with their leading board or if the producers are actually socially aware of the impact their show can have is dependent of the aim of the producers and writers. Looking at the show in comparison to the earlier series of Grange Hill, you sense a social growth from the public as these issues are seen as more of a storyline rather than a harsh issue, this could be public obliviousness as they have seen worse things in worse shows, or whether shows like Grange Hill have broken a particular barrier where harsh social issues in television dramas aren’t a surprise isn’t for me to find out, however looking at the spectrum of modern media, it does seem like television dramas, especially teen dramas certainly have more violent and melancholic themes, which as I mentioned before could just be a normal thing now.

I think at the current contemporary state that teen dramas are in now, I don’t think that addressing social issues is a new thing, in fact I would argue that the social issue theme is almost a cliché with teen dramas, which could be a negative thing as from personal experience, younger people find the issues cheesy and almost patronising. This is why I think the newer dramas like Skins are more popular, as they break away from the innocent cliché of social issues, and address them in a totally different way, an example would be the Hollyoaks and skins addressing the issue of anorexia, the way Hollyoaks had presented the character suffering from anorexia to the way Skins would is completely different. In Hollyoaks the characters friends are very supportive and she basically solves the issue in less than two episodes, whereas the Skins anorexia episode had a rather more dark theme to it, the character suffering with anorexia  went through the whole day struggling to eat, and even had to lie to her friends and pretend she was eating and that everything in her life was fine, the episode ended with the issue being un-solved, and it was left as that, since the characters debut to the characters last appearance her problem was never solved, this is why I think teens in particular can associate themselves with dramas like Skins, because we live in a society where these problems aren’t things to be made a big deal out of, a lot of the younger generation like to keep such morbid issues quiet and don’t wish to share it with anyone. This specific example is a clear association on why younger people can relate with the later, more contemporary teen dramas, rather than the earlier dramas that can be seen as belittling to teenagers. Although these mind-sets aren’t the most “PC” in the traditional sense, it is a successful way of connecting with there target audience in a way that is almost ironic, as the dramas bring up the issue almost reminding the viewer that the problem is their whether you pay attention to it or not, although this could be a more conceptual view on the shows and their intent on addressing social issues.

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Disney and Pixar – Synergy Strategies

Synergy is an aspect that many conglomerates use to promote their products without the public knowing it. Synergy is when a conglomerates subsidiary’s promotes a product owned by the company themselves. Disney is a great example because they are one of the first ones to really incorporate synergy.  Disney’s major theme parks are all used as large-scale advertising tools. The park uses the characters from the movies to promote the parks and uses the parks to promote the movies. The multiple theme parks sell an absurd amount of merchandise. There is a diagram here created by Disney that explains all their synergy strategies.

disneygraph

As time went by Disney started to buy other companies. Particularly media company’s which opened the doors up to vast amounts of new ways to use synergy. Disney released a new take on The Princess and The Frog in 2009. Main actress Anika Noni Rose featured in an interview with on the View, a popular American chat show. The View airs on the American channel ABC, which was bought by Disney in 1996. This is an example of synergy people wouldn’t realise without looking at the media company’s history.

Another example of Disney’s clever synergy is that The Pirates of The Caribbean movies are actually based on a Disney ride. Disney makes a movie from a Disney ride, and then advertises it by using a Disney owned company. Johnny Depp is the main character of the film and ABC news did an interview with him talking about the release of the second movie.

For most people they would not know that Disney owns ABC. Americans watch ABC for news, they do not think about what media conglomerate owns the company. Many think they are a conglomerate themselves. That is just not the case for most companies though. Most conglomerates like Disney have many subsidiaries. It is easy for a company to promote a product through their subsidiary. They have a lot of leeway on how much a product is discussed; they can talk about the new Disney film as if it’s the best movie ever. ABC is a credible source; Disney itself can’t promote their movie as big as ABC can and get away with it.

With Disney owning so many media subsidiaries, it’s no wonder that Disney owns a company capable of dominating the box office. Pixar’s synergy with Disney is probably the most successful example anyone could find, with over 10 full feature animated films, and all of these films reaching over a worldwide gross of $360,000,000, reaching an average worldwide gross across all films released by the Pixar/Disney pairing to a sum of $557,250,519. The numbers speak for themselves, the union between Pixar and Disney have been an incredibly successful business strategy played out by Disney, and financially a hugely profitable move. If all the budgets of each Pixar/Disney film were added together it would reach a grand total of $1,441,000,000. This might seem like a lot over the course of 18 years, but the gross total of all these of these releases combined reaches a staggering total of $7,244,256,747, reaching a gross profit of $5,893,256,747. Just as a visual aid, here is a list of the top ten highest grossing Pixar films worldwide.

10. Cars (2006) $462 million

9. Toy Story 2 (1999) $485 million

8. WALL-E (2008) $521.3 million

7. Monsters, Inc. (2001) $525.4 million

6. Cars 2 (2011) $559.9 million

5. Ratatouille (2007) $623.7 million

4. The Incredibles (2004) $631.4 million

3. Up (2009) $731.3 million

2. Finding Nemo (2003) $867.9 million

1. Toy Story 3 (2010) $1,063.2 million

Cranford Mock

The extract starts with a shot long angle shot of the boy in the woods. This shows the viewer that he is on his own which could create sympathy for him. The camera pans to the child’s house in the woods to show where the boy lives, first impressions suggest the home is run down and poorly made. This coupled with the diegetic sound of birds gives the impression that the family is poor as they do not own the land their house is built on – As well as this boy having no shoes which again attributes to his lower class appearance, along with his scruffy clothes and his soot ridden face.

The scene then continues onto the boy walking into the house where he is greeted by his family with a cheer as it’s his birthday, the scene uses invisible editing to create a sense of time moving forward The scene is accompanied with more cheerful non-diegetic music which raises the mood and gives connotations of the family’s happiness and their celebratory feelings. Straight cuts are used to cut to the boy’s expressions as he is happy to see his family, although his attention could be pointed towards seeing his father as later on in the scene, the father’s speech suggests that he has been working away from home and hasn’t seen his children for a long period of time.

The mood of the hut scene changes as the father moves on to the father shouting at his son as he reads from the wrapping of his boots. This briefly shows the contrast/clash of classes as the father discourages anything to do with the “higher” class. Weaved in-between the intense close ups of the fathers face are close ups of the mother, her facial expressions show that she doesn’t like confrontation, and she is scared bring anything up or stand up for her son in the argument, this has connotations of a “weaker” gender stereotype which was quite common in the time this show was set. The father’s anger against his son reading shows the fathers grudge against the higher class, this matches the stereotypical “working” class mind set of that time, which is that the higher class are useless and they haven’t got anything in common with the working or lower class. Although this particular grudge wouldn’t match a contemporary working class mind set as simple things such as reading and writing aren’t seen as a higher class trait. After the father scolds his son, he sends him off to complete some chores.

The boy now walks off into the forest, coming across the large estate; the scene skips to the boy walking towards the botanical house of the estate as he leers over the fruit. His astonishment of the fruit shows the difference between the classes, something as simple as fruit is seen as a prized possession to the lower class child. As the scene cuts to a POV shot of the child looking around in the garden, eastern style music is played when the camera focuses on the fruit, this exaggerates the exoticness of the fruit and shows connotations of the previous point that was made.

History of The Walt Disney Company (1923-1965)

Walt-Disney-Logo

Key People/Production – Distribution:

Walt Disney

Roy Disney

RKO Radio Pictures

Buena Vista Distribution

Walt Disney Production/Films

Walt Disney Recording Company

1923–1928:

In early 1923 animator Walt Disney created a short film entitled Alice’s Wonderland, which featured child actress Virginia Davis interacting with animated characters. After the bankruptcy in 1923 of Walt’s previous firm, Laugh-O-Gram Films, Disney moved to Hollywood to join his brother Roy O. Disney. M.J. Winkler Productions contacted Disney with plans to distribute a whole series of Alice Comedies purchased for $1,500 per reel with Disney as a production partner. Walt and his brother Roy Disney formed Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio that same year.

In January 1926 with the completion of the Disney studio on Hyperion Street, the Disney Brothers Studio’s name is changed to the Walt Disney Studio.

After the end of the Alice comedies, Disney developed an all-cartoon series starring his first original character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, which was distributed by Winkler Pictures through Universal Pictures. Winkler had copyrighted Oswald, so Disney only made a few hundred dollars. Disney only completed 26 Oswald shorts before losing the contract in February 1928 when Winkler’s husband Charles Mintz took over their distribution company.

1928–1934:

In 1928, to recuperate from the loss of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Disney came up with idea of a mouse character named Mortimer while on a train headed to California drawing up a few simple drawings. The mouse was later renamed Mickey Mouse and starred in several Disney produced films. Disney’s first sound film Steamboat Willie, a cartoon starring Mickey, was released on November 18 1928 through Pat Powers’ distribution company.

Disney continued to produce cartoons using popular characters like Mickey Mouse, and began the Silly Symphonies series with Columbia Pictures signing on as Symphonies distributor in August 1929. In September 1929 theatre manager Harry Woodin requested permission to start a Mickey Mouse Club which Walt approved.

On December 16, the Walt Disney Studios partnership was reorganized as a corporation with the name of Walt Disney Productions, Limited with a merchandising division, Walt Disney Enterprises, and two subsidiaries, Disney Film Recording Company, Limited and Liled Realty and Investment Company for real estate holdings. Walt and his wife held 60% (6,000 shares) and Roy owned 40% of WD Productions.

In 1932, Disney signed an exclusive contract with Technicolor to produce cartoons in colour.

1934–1945:

Deciding to push the limits of animation even more, Disney began production of his first feature-length animated film in 1934. Taking three years to complete, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, premiered in December 1937 and became highest-grossing film of that time by 1939. Snow White was released through RKO Radio Pictures, which had assumed distribution of Disney’s product in July 1937, after United Artists attempted to obtain future television rights to the Disney shorts.

Using the profits from Snow White, Disney financed the construction of a new studio complex in Burbank, California. The new Walt Disney Studios, in which the company is headquartered today, was completed and open for business by the end of 1939. The following year on April 2, Walt Disney Productions had its initial public offering.

The studio continued releasing animated shorts and features, such as Pinocchio, Dumbo, and Bambi. When the United States entered the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor, many of Disney’s animators were drafted into the armed forces. The U.S. and Canadian governments commissioned the studio to produce training and propaganda films. By 1942 90% of its 550 employees were working on war-related films. Films such as the feature Victory Through Air Power and the short Education for Death were meant to increase public support for the war effort. Even the studio’s characters joined the effort, as Donald Duck appeared in a number of comical propaganda shorts.

1946–1954:

With limited staff during and after the war, Disney’s feature films during much of the 1940s were “package films,” or collections of shorts, such as The Three Caballeros and Melody Time, which performed quite poorly at the box-office. At the same time, the studio began producing live-action films and documentaries.

The release of Cinderella in 1950 proved that feature-length animation could still succeed in the marketplace. Other releases of the period included Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, both in production before the war began, and Disney’s first all-live action feature, Treasure Island. Other early all-live-action Disney films included The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men, The Sword and the Rose, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Disney ended its distribution contract with RKO Pictures in 1953, forming its own distribution firm, Buena Vista Distribution.

1955–1965:

In 1954, Walt Disney used his Disneyland series to unveil what would become Disneyland, an idea conceived out of a desire for a place where parents and children could both have fun at the same time. On July 18 1955, Walt Disney opened Disneyland to the general public. On July 17 1955, Disneyland was previewed with a live television broadcast. After a shaky start, Disneyland continued to grow and attract visitors from across the country and around the world.

Disney continued to focus its talents on television throughout the 1950s. Disney’s film studios stayed busy as well, averaging five or six releases per year during this period. While the production of shorts slowed significantly during the 1950s and 1960s, the studio released a number of popular animated features.

10/10/12 – Film Noir Analysis – Sin City

Sin City Opening Scene

The scene begins with a longshot towards the balcony, this establishes to the audience that there are two people in the scene, the female (victim) and the male (Assassin), As the man seduces the women, the audience is presented to a  non-diegetic monologue, this could either be the character speaking to himself, or explaining the scene to another person, the film does not end up explaining the monologue, so it leaves the audience to decide for themselves.

Before the first image in the opening scene, the audience is presented to the film by the sounds of stereotypical saxophone music(non-diegetic), police sirens, and car engines, (Diegetic) These are all classic aspects to the genre known as “film-noir”. This immediately sets the scene for the viewers, as the audience can piece these three sound aspects together. The saxophone tells us that the film must be set in a time period when this sort of music was popular. The car engines suggest that the setting must be a large, busy city, and the police sirens suggest a theme of crime and violence to the film. These diegetic and non-diegetic sounds are all featured before the fade from black to the first image.

From the opening image, it shows the lone woman staring out at the city view, this establishes the scene’s setting, and confirms the diegetic and non-diegetic sounds during the 5-10 seconds of black screen. The high angled long shot suggests that the female presented in this image is alone, and vulnerable, As she is looking down on the city, you could argue that this can empower the female, in contrast you can say that the vast city dwarfs the female, making her insignificant. Her clothing also has presents sterotypical aspects of film noir, the dress is open and revealing, this could present her as the femme fatale (A woman of great seductive charm who leads men into compromising or dangerous situations)