Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Film piracy

The movie industry excels in selling dreams. But since the dawn of the digital revolution, there is one narrative they've consistently and conspicuously failed to sell: that piracy is theft and consumers who indulge ought to feel guilty about it. Recent research by Ipsos suggests that almost 30% of the UK population is active in some form of piracy, either through streaming content online or buying counterfeit DVDs. 

Such theft costs the UK audiovisual industries about £500m a year.
The movie industry excels in selling dreams. But since the dawn of the digital revolution, there is one narrative they've consistently and conspicuously failed to sell: that piracy is theft and consumers who indulge ought to feel guilty about it. Recent research by Ipsos suggests that almost 30% of the UK population is active in some form of piracy, either through streaming content online or buying counterfeit DVDs. Such theft costs the UK audiovisual industries about £500m a year.

Hypothetically, two movies come out on the same day: The Wolf of Wall Street and the new Transformers. You are allowed to see one in an IMAX theater and you will illegally download the other one online. Most people would choose Transformers over The Wolf of Wall Street due to the fact that there are robot dinosaurs and everyone else is going to see it in theaters. Those robot dinosaurs will look a lot cooler in a theater rather than on a laptop. Many people then realized how lacking the movie really was after walking out of their local theater’s showing of Transformers: Age of Extinction. Meanwhile, many of the same people went on to watch The Wolf of Wall Street online to realize that it was actually a really good movie. Most people don’t realize that this is at all a problem, and at first glance it’s not. However, after more in-depth research, the problem soon becomes apparent. Transformers: Age of Extinction only gained an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (Transformers, Rotten Tomatoes), one of the most critical and most trusted film-review sites online. The Wolf of Wall Street, however, gained a 77% rating on the same site (Wolf of Wall Street, Rotten Tomatoes). It was also nominated for five different Academy Awards. The Wolf of Wall Street is clearly the better film. Yet, besides the fact that Transformers was clearly not a great film, it somehow managed to be named the highest grossing film worldwide of 2014 and earned over one billion dollars in the Box Office (2014 Worldwide Grosses). The Wolf of Wall Street went on to be the most pirated film of 2014 with over 30 million illegal downloads (Spangler, 1) and didn’t even gross $117 million, giving the producers and the studio under $17 million after the production cost, which is not a much of a profit at all for such a high-budget film.

Piracy has become more of a problem in the past decade than it ever has before, specifically movie piracy. In fact, a study from Columbia University came out recently that said at least 45% of US citizens pirate movies actively, but that number bumps up to 70% if you include the younger demographics as well (Mick, 2). This act of pirating is growing more and more common every year and most people do it mindlessly, not realizing what it costs. Everyone has seen the text at the beginning of movies saying “Piracy is not a victimless crime,” and this is completely true. Piracy is extremely harmful to the movie industry and its effects are larger than anyone could imagine.

But Where Do These Pirated Movies Come From?
There are many different ways that people pirate movies. One of the most classic ways people pirate is by “leaking” them. This involves a person going into a movie theater with a camera or a phone and recording the movie as it plays. It is usually a poor quality, but many people still download these recordings anyways instead of going to see it in a theater. This usually occurs when it is only in theater since that is the only version most people are able to see. Sometimes these leaks occur before the movie is even premiered, often because it is filmed during a special premier before the opening night. This is referred to as a pre-release, and they tend to result in a 19% decrease in how much the movie makes at the Box Office (Hart, 2). Many people defend pre-releases because it gives a movie more publicity so more people would want to see it, but the facts state otherwise. Leaking a movie that’s in the theaters always tends to decrease how much the movie makes regardless of when it is released and sometimes even leads to the movie not even making as much as there was put into it.

One of the other common ways for a movie to be pirated is for it to be digitally hacked. This one has become more common lately as technology improves. One of the most extreme and recent examples was the Sony hacking. Though some people will claim that Sony faked the hacking, evidence shows that they were legitimately hacked. During this hacking, many of Sony’s movies were released illegally online, such as Annie and Fury (Note: Annie had not even been released yet). A hacking involves someone digitally cracking into the studio or company’s computer system and taking the movie from their files. This logically would actually decrease a movie’s Box Office revenue by even more than someone’s recording of the movie would because it’s a better quality.

There are more ways to watch a pirated movie other than just downloading it online. In fact, some people tend to start their own pirating businesses. It’s very inexpensive and easy for a person to start one of these businesses. More recently, people only need to buy a bunch of blank DVD’s, the same amount of DVD cases and a computer that can burn a DVD. From there, they must find a source to get the pirated movies from. Sometimes they will personally film them in a theater, or find a hacked or leaked version online and download it. After that, all they need to do is download the stolen films onto their blank DVD’s and sell them to anyone who is willing to purchase it. Within a short amount of time, this person has made a great deal of money that should have gone to the movie studios.

What Kind of Effect Does it Have?
Most people would just say that pirating has a small effect on the industry and that the studios already have enough money. They believe watching a movie online isn’t going to hurt anyone. The Motion Picture Association of America looked into this belief and discovered that piracy costs around $20.5 billion annually in the United States alone (Plumer, 2). In fact, a study back in 2005 estimated that a 10% decrease in worldwide piracy, including both film and music, over the course of four years would add 1.5 million jobs, $64 billion in taxes and $400 billion in economic growth (Kai-Lung). That, however, was ten years ago and is outdated. Those numbers are likely to be much higher today due to inflation and an increase in popularity of the film industry. This means that the studios are making much smaller amounts of money than they should be making from their films due to piracy.

Quit Talking Numbers. How Does it Effect My Movie Experience?
The decrease in money from studios will often decrease the quality of other movies and even sequels, but more often it will decrease the quantity. A studio is much more likely to throw all of their money into the next big franchise sequel than give half of it to the franchise and the other half to a movie like Twelve Years a Slave simply because Twelve Years a Slave won’t sell as well in theaters as the franchise movie will. Movie studios and production companies don’t look at reviews and DVD sales nearly as much as they look at the Box Office Revenue, or how much it makes in the theater.
In many cases, piracy of a film will even damage the likeliness of a franchise sequel. For example, the Kick-Ass movies came to an end due to lack of funding from piracy. According to ChloĆ« Grace Moretz who stars as “Hit-Girl” in the series, Kick-Ass 2 was one of the most pirated films of 2013 despite having an extremely low Box Office Revenue (Highfill). Because of this, the plans for the third movie in the series have been cancelled. Whether or not you like the Kick-Ass series, it is clear that piracy has become a serious problem and will only continue to damage the film industry.

What About New Movies That Aren't Franchises Yet?
It is not franchise movies that need to be worried about, though; it is the movies by the independent filmmakers. Due to the increase in film piracy, production companies and movie studios are now much less likely to loan money out to an independent filmmaker with an idea than they are to a team of writers and producers working on a Harry Potter spin-off. When people think of the term ‘independent filmmaker’, they think of a man in his 20’s with an Associates Degree in Theatre that wrote a screenplay in two weeks. Though these people are independent filmmakers, I refer to the higher kind of independent filmmakers that actually make Oscar nominated films, but take out enormous loans to do so. Now, due to piracy, no matter how many Oscars their movie is nominated for, many filmmakers are having to foreclose their houses or take out further loans from a bank to make up for the losses in the Box Office for their film due to piracy. It also means that the studios do not get their money back that they invested with and therefore stop funding films without promises of success like Birdman or The Theory of Everything, both of whom won Oscars this year.
Now Let's Think More Economically...
The loss of money affects more than just the filmmakers and studios, however. It helps the entire economy grow due to tax and job increase. Pirating less films will mean that the studios will get more money, which leads to more movies, which employs people like hairdressers, electricians, actors, costume designers and countless other occupations. This will add more jobs to the United States and will also add more tax money to help the country.

But Is It Really Stealing?
Many people argue that piracy is not illegal because they are not technically stealing anything. Though they are not physically taking away anything from anyone, they are stealing intellectual property. Just because you can’t hold a movie file in your hands does not mean that it is not someone’s property. Downloading a film online is the equivalent of stealing a movie from a movie store. It may not come in the same fancy case as a movie at the store, but it still carries the same contents. By pirating a film, you are stealing the money that should have been paid had you watched the movie legally. You do not have a right to watch whatever movies you want to watch without having to pay for them just as I do not have a right to walk into the local Dollar General and eat their candy bars without paying first. As much as people may argue it, film piracy is stealing. It is not your property, so it is not yours to take without paying for it first.

Going Back to my Original Example at the Beginning of All of This...
The Wolf of Wall Street was 2014’s most pirated movie with over 30 million piracies worldwide. Let’s do the math to see how much money piracy actually robbed this movie of had these people gone to see it in a theater instead. In 2014, the average price of a movie ticket in the United States was $8.17 (Linshi, 1). When a person goes to see a movie in the theater, the money spent on the ticket goes to two different places. It is split between the movie studio and the movie theater, with more going to the theater the longer the movie has been out (Campea). For the purposes of now, let’s average that overall the theater and the studio would each get 50% of the ticket price. Now for the part with the actual math. If each illegal download of The Wolf of Wall Street, which more specifically evens out to around 30,035,000 downloads (Spangler, 1) equals one movie ticket that costs $8.17, and the movie studio only gets half of the amount from each movie ticket, that results in about $122,692,975 that was robbed from Paramount Pictures for just that one movie. That amount stolen was more than the movie actually made in the Box Office, and that is assuming that only one person watched each illegal download. Several of those downloads were most likely copied onto multiple different blank DVD’s and given out to others to watch illegally. That is even more money that was robbed from The Wolf of Wall Street. In the Box Office, the movie barely broke even out of how much they spent making the film. These numbers would have helped the studio, the filmmakers and the crew a lot more in order to make even more Oscar nominated movies. Unfortunately, these thirty million people seemed to overlook that.

Now the Real Question: How Do We Stop Piracy?
It all starts at home, just like it takes a spark to start a fire. Many people argue that “everyone is watching movies illegally online, so why is it different if I do it?” Well the same argument could again go for people that steal candy bars from a store. It may cost more than you like and others may do it, but it is not your property to steal. Like voting, if just one person takes a stand against piracy it will make a difference. Simply quit pirating movies or watching them online. There are many different excuses people use about watching movies online illegally, but it does not override the fact that it is illegal. Even streaming movies online is illegal if it is not authorized by the studio that made the film. If you aren’t willing to pay to watch the film, you aren’t allowed to watch it. This is the way the industry works.

What Can The Theaters Do?
A way for movie theaters to prevent piracy is to change their types of projectors. In the past, the government came up with a way to prevent the filming of a movie in the theaters. They did this by projecting an infrared spectrum over the projected film. This infrared image was not visible to the audience, but it would make the video on the camera someone brought into film the movie into a very low quality that would make the video almost unbearable to watch. Since then technology has improved to attempt to improve the quality of the filmed video regardless of the infrared. Though this has worked to an extent, film pirates have not yet fully recovered from the addition of the infrared. Only more research will be able to help improve the projectors so that this does not happen anymore.

What Happens if Someone gets Caught?!
When it all comes down to it, one of the major reasons you should avoid pirating movies is that its an enormous risk. Since it is illegal, there are certainly punishments for those that choose to break this law. These punishments are severe. For example, if a person is convicted of a misdemeanor in piracy, as in they only downloaded or uploaded a small amount of movies without the owner’s consent, the person would be punished with up to a year of prison time and would have a fine of up to $100,000, depending on the extent of the piracy. That, however, is just for a small offense. For someone that downloads or uploads movies illegally without the owner’s consent in large amounts will be charged with a felony. The punishment of this crime is up to 5 years of imprisonment and up to $250,000 in fines. The fine, though, can be more. In some cases, the fine is set as double what the person gained for pirating the films if they made money off of it, or it set as double the amount of money the person cost the studios he or she stole from (AlanS). In any of these cases, it is clear that movie piracy is not worth the risk.

Piracy is Clearly an Enormous Threat
Filmmakers are in danger of losing their jobs and the movie theaters are in danger of only showing films like Transformers sequels and Terminator reboots. Helping the film industry does not just entail not illegally watching a movie, it also entails going to see those movies in a theater to reverse the mistakes made by those who don’t realize the consequences. Some of the greatest films do not get the proper credibility in the theaters because people are too distracted by other films or because people would think it’s smarter to illegally watch it on their computer than paying to see it in a theater. As stated earlier, this has many more consequences than these people would think, such as taking away jobs, taking over $20.5 billion from the US film industry and decreasing both the quantity and quality of the very movies they are downloading. In addition, is it really worth spending five years of your life in prison just because you didn’t want to pay to watch a movie? It’s time to stop pirating and to stop making excuses for watching a movie illegally online. Film is a form of art. People use it to tell their stories.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens posters and magazines

 Star Wars: The Force Awakens was advertised in almost all of the major magazines relating to film as well as other magazines that don't usually cover films. These magazines include Vanity Fair,  Entertainment Weekly, Empire, Time,  Wired, and Rolling Stone, to name a few. The film was later advertised in other countries such as Japan's Screen magazine. Several posters were also made to advertise the film in China, a market Disney wished to crack in order to maximise profit made from the film.

Star wars essay

“Successful media products depend as much upon marketing and distribution to a specific audience as they do upon good production practices”. To what extent would you agree with this statement, within the media area you have studied?

I strongly agree with the statement. This is because, despite the quality of a film and its reception from critics, a film can be successful if it is well marketed and hype is built up in the general public. An example of this would be the first Transformers film which critics disliked but through extensive hype and marketing they were able to make $709.7 million from a $150 million budget.

The whole marketing process is used to create hype and build up an awareness of the film. Through this they can help increase the size of the audience seeing the film, maybe even causing people would might not have an interest in the film to go out and see it and thus generate larger profit to be made off the film. This means that the distribution and Marketing of a film are major factors the films overall success. The way you market the film helps to direct the film towards an audience you feel would enjoy it the most as well as determine what your audience thinks the film will be like. The mis-marketing of films can often lead to their failure upon release of the film.

This is why it is extremely important to market the film towards not only the right target audience but also to make sure any marketing you do such as posters or trailers actually represent the finished film. An example of a mis-marketed film would be Jarhead, a film made in 2005 about the experience of a man named Anthony Swofford during his service in the United States Marine Corps. Despite the film being a biographical war drama, it was marketed as an action film and this lead to audiences believing it to be the next black hawk down. This lead to massive disappointment in audiences despite being well received by critics and the film made way below the profits it was expected to. This shows that films that are well produced won’t always be successful and that accurate and large marketing are just as important.

 Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star wars: the force awakens was produced by Bad robot productions and Lucasfilm Ltd.  Films these production companies produce will generate hype and media coverage on websites such as YouTube on their own once the public learns a new movie is in production. The Film franchises owned by Disney and this also means the film will have a platform which will allow them to create a massive marketing campaign. The film was also released on Blu-ray as well as streaming sites such as iTunes and amazon prime with a proportion of the money made by these sites sent to Bad Robot and Lucasfilm. The film was shown in more than 5000 screens globally while in North America it was shown in 4,134 theatres. This shows massive coverage of countries and a massive distribution campaign. This helped greatly in its success, insuring audiences across the world would be able to watch the film somehow. The film was filmed on 70mm Imax film to give it an authentic and nostalgic feel as the original films were shot on 70mm film.  However this was converted to digital when the film was released, which enabled the film to be distributed on a larger scale and with greater ease.  The film was also heavily marketed in counties that hadn't previously show an interest in Star wars such as China and Russia. These countries, china especially, received a focus by the marketing team as the audiences there could provide a huge boost to the films profits. The Chinese market could also provide a new Audience which could become more profitable than the American audience.

Disney, being a massive and extremely well know company globally, lended greatly to the films marketing by helping to fascinate deals and distribute the film globally. This meant the films audience grew and as the audience and potential audience grew, so too did the success and profit of the film. The use of digital distribution allowed the film to be viewed by even more people. This is because people that might not be able to see the film at the cinema because of issues getting tickets or issues with the price of those tickets would be able to download it for a cheaper cost. The film was given a 12a rating which allowed young audiences to view it, which meant not only a larger audience but also lead to an increase in profits from merchandise which was heavily promoted alongside the film. Disney is a highly regarded company and because of this great trust was placed in them. This led to fans fearing what Disney would do to Star wars and if the global film giant would change Star wars and 'destroy' it.

The already established fan base from the previous films in the Star wars franchise already give the film a secure audience. This is because it doesn't matter how large the marketing campaign is because the fans will still go out and see the film. The marketing campaign will draw the interest of people who wouldn't necessarily be interest  

A mixture of above the line and bellow the line marketing contributed to the film’s success, with theatrical posters displaced in public while a large social media presence allowed pictures of the set to be posted, creating even more hype and anticipation. The first trailer for the film was released 28th November 2014.The release of trailers on websites such as YouTube built up more anticipation for the film while slowly uploading more trailers built the public’s interest and intrigue. Trailers were shared across social media and excitement and anticipation for the film built up, with fan theory’s appearing across social media, the public’s interest and intrigue grew.  

However it is worth mentioning the film itself was produced to a very high standard. $306 million budget and backing from Disney gave the film prestige, while Director J.J Abrams and writers Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt gave the film itself high quality directing and story. The use of impressive CGI as well as practical effects helped immerse the audience in the film as well as improve the overall quality of the film, and this would help the film win over critics.  A mix of both returning A list stars from the original Start wars films such as Harrison Ford and Marc Hamill and newer, lesser known actors such as John Boyega and Daisy Ridley gave the film a nostalgic feel without it feeling stale and making sure the film felt like a continuation and not a reboot. The film would already have a large audience, as fans of the franchise would be keen to see the next iteration of the star wars story despite the poor prequel films. This already established fan base would benefit the film greatly as they already have a secure audience that will defiantly go out and see the film regardless of the marketing they do. Interviews with cast members on chat shows and other TV shows helped to promote the film and build even more anticipation around the film’s release.

In conclusion I believe that Successful media products do depend as much upon marketing and distribution to a specific audience as they do upon good production practices. This is because a strong marketing campaign aimed at the right demographic with an accurate representation of the film can make or break a films success. The larger the campaign, the larger the audience as long as the campaign is targeting the films target audience. In terms of Star Wars: the force awakens, the film’s target demographic is anyone that enjoys Science fiction action/drama films and includes both light hearted and darker elements, allowing it to be enjoyed by both a younger audience and an older one. The film also has plenty of references and nods to the original films longtime fans of the franchise will appreciate and this means the overall audience of the film would be massive. Distribution of the film was done of a very large scale and across the globe because of backing and help from Disney, who are determined to make their new Star Wars films successful in order to make a return on their purchase and investment. This means that they will be able to maximize profit from the film while also making sure other countries don’t miss out on the film. Their carefully executed and well-crafted marketing campaign made sure everyone was talking about the film, even if they weren’t fans or had even seen any of the previous Star wars films and this helped massively, and contributed greatly to the films success. 


Doc Martin analysis

Doc Martin analysis 

The establishing shot is of an outdated doctor's surgery, lacking many modern items one would expect to see, this cultural code immediately positions the audience to regard the countryside as 'behind' in terms of technology and other advancements-this is a common stereotype of the countryside. The use of wide angle allows the audience to see the contrast between the suit wearing Doc Martin (who represents the city) and the two boiler suit wearing tradesmen (who represents the countryside) Doc Martin is positioned higher in the frame, which could connote power and authority, whilst one of the two workers appears lazy, he is stated, over weight and eating.  The room appears uncared for,   it is lit by natural soft key lighting and through the use of mise en scene we can see boxes piled up.

The wide angle shot is held for a prolonged period of time, this limited use of editing connotes the stereotype of slow and dull life in the countryside. It then cuts to a close up of the fat plumber who is looking up to Doc Martin which positions the audience to believe Doc Martin is more intelligent and powerful compared to the fat plumber. The scene then cuts back to Doc Martin and then to the youngest Plummer who is looking up towards both Doc Martin and the fat Plummer and this connotes to the audience the youngest Plummer has the least power and authority out of the group. The water pipe bursts open as the plumbers work on it and this suggests to the audience the plumber are not as skilled as they should be, reenforcing the stereotype that people from the countryside are unskilled. The camera slowly pans to the left while Doc Martin is forced to intervene, this connotes to audience that the audience should be focused on Doc Martin and not the burst pipe. The fat plumber does nothing to help Doc Martin which positions the audience to dislike the plumber and reenforces the slow and lazy representation of people of the countryside.  The old phone used in the scene suggested to the audience the country side is outdated and obsolete.

Development - This is simply the process of 'finding' a story. Ideas for films come from a variety of sources, they can range from novels, real life events to computer game adaptations. Once you've got an idea you'll need someone to write a pitch for you which you take to a film producer in an attempt to get some funding to make your film. Even at this very early stage you need a very clear idea of who you're aiming you film at so you can include elements that will appeal to them.
Pre-production - Once you've got funding you establish your budget and can begin to get a film crew together, you can storyboard the script. You also need break the script down into individual scenes and identify all the locations, props, cast members, costumes, special effects and visual effects needed.
Production - This is simply the process of 'making' the film. Provided you've done your job properly in the pre-production stage making the film should be straight forward. 'Film' is very expensive and difficult to store so an increasing number of film makers are using digital cameras to save money.
Post-production - During this stage you take all the 'film' you've shot and give it to a film editor. They will then begin putting it together. Special effects will be added, a soundtrack will be added, any missing dialogue will be re-recorded and added resulting in a 'rough cut'. This will be shown to the director and a test audience who will offer feedback. Often this causes scenes to be filmed and added or removed.


The role of the writer is to write the screenplay and scripts for films and or video games.


Producers over see the creation and completion of a production. They may also be involved with the marketing and distribution of the film.

Casting director

The casting director is in charge of casting the right actors for roles in the production.



Bands i've been listening to lately

In no particular order...


Amazing lyrics, general sadness. Frontman James Clayton uses his music to say things most people would prefer to leave unsaid. He uses his music as a way to let out his saddest feeling despite him saying it wont make him any better. James and his mate Dan, who plays the box and trolley!, have been growing more and popular. Despite James's distaste for his own music they continue to make music.

Teen suicide

Sad but calming lyrics with a low fi theme. not really much else to say.


Lyrics with deep meaning accompanied by memorable chords. Pretty much everyone knows who they are or have heard of them at some point in their lives.

Modern Baseball.

Long hooks accompanied by strong vocals and lyrics make this band very appealing to me.

American Football.

Old school emo inspired by redhousepainters. After breaking up that band's music became very popular. They recently got back together to create a new self titled album, though its not as good as the original.


TV Shows i've watched recently


A dramatization of the rise and fall of drug lord Pablo Escobar. I find watching the show very interesting to watch not only because the story is compelling but also because its based off real events.

Star trek: The next generation

I enjoy this show because it is set in an interesting universe. There's lots of detail put into the backstory of both the characters and the various races as well as the situations the crew of the enterprise get into. The characters grow over the course of the show and by the end of the show they have changed a lot and really evolved as characters.

Stranger things.

Uses elements from 80's movies to create an intresting and engaging drama with a cool, synth soundtrack.


An interesting drama about a night club owner trying to escape a life of crime. Gets better as it goes on, the dynamic between the main characters evolves as the show goes on.


A show about a psychopath who controls his urges to kill by killing other killers. Dexter evolves as the show goes on and by the end of the show he has become more like a normal person. His relationships with people also evolve and they become more than they were originally, as he begins to understand normal human behaviour.


movies i've watched recently.

Star Trek beyond.

The third film in the re-booted Star Trek film series. Heavy with action and CGI, plenty of action throughout the film however it has an anticlimatic ending which may disapoint some fans.

The dark knight rises

The final film in the dark knight trilogy. Plenty of action accompanied by great acting and a gripping story.

Captain Phillips

A biopic about the kidnaping and rescue of Captain Phillips. It features a brilliant performance from Tom Hanks as Captain Phillips and a gripping and tense story that will keep you on the edge of your seat right up till the end of the film.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The newest film in the beloved Star Wars franchise. Enjoyable story and great CGI, however it has been criticised for being too similar to the first Star Wars film.

Olympus has fallen
Great action movie based around an attack on the white house. Can be compared to films such as Die Hard for its close quarter action and its ' one man vs. the world' style.

Syfi thriller with a gripping story with philosophical elements. Features brilliant special effects for its time.