Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Researching Sing Street

Sing Street is a low budget British indie film directed by John Carne. It was released on the 20th May 2016 but was first premiered at Sundance Film Festival on the 24th January 2016. It was distributed in the UK by Lionsgate and was produced by a number of companies; FilmNation Entertainment own the rights to the film - they have worked on larger films like The Intimation Game (2014), The King's Speech (2010) and Arrival, as well as smaller films like Under The Skin (2013). It features music from Duran Duran, The Clash and The Jam - as well as music by the in-film band Sing Street.


Sing Street is an indie film and therefore applies towards a niche market/audience. The fact that it is rated a 12A means that a younger audience can also engage with the film - perhaps allowing for the younger demographic to become part of its market. Despite this, the film certainy isn't a 4 quadrant film. 


John Carne decided to cast fairly "unknown" actors for the film:

Lucy Boynton

Ferdia Walsh-Peelo

Maria Doyle Kennedy

Jack Reynor

Box Office and Budget

In the UK, the film earned a total of $1,649,512. It's worldwide Box Office gross was $10,029,082. It was difficult to find the official budget for the film, however I assume it was fairly small (between $2 million and $4 million). 


Since Sing Street had a small budget, the use of technology was fairly limited. However, green screen/CGI technology is used towards the end of the film - but not in large amounts. The film was shot on a 35mm film format, on an Arricam LT camera.  


One factor that may have allowed the film to save money is the fact that it was filmed entirely in Ireland - specifically in the city of Dublin.

One particular filming location was Dalkey Island - in which Conor and Raphina have a romantic picnic:


The marketing for Sing Street wasn't as extensive as Star Wars: The Force Awakens due to its much smaller budget. However, the film still had posters and trailers to market it - as well as some interviews! I was somewhat surprised at the amount of marketing, because of the size of the film.


There are a variety of different posters for the film that all have a particular style - the bottom one is a Korean poster!



Lucy even appeared on Jimmy Kimmel which is fairly impressive - considering the size of the film.

As well as this, the film was premiered at Sundance Film Festival - actors Ferdia-Walsh Peelo and Mark McKenna performed live!


There was a small variety of products available - including the film itself, available on both DVD and Blu Ray:

However, audiences could also access the film's soundtrack via iTunes. The in-film band Sing Street has its own VEVO channel on YouTube - featuring music videos from the film:

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Marketing Ex_Machina

Marketing for Ex_Machina contrasts dramatically to Star Wars: The Force Awakens as there was far less of it. Methods of marketing still involved posters, social media, and trailers - but it wasn't as extensive and "big".

Social Media/Website

Ex_Machina took a different approach to social media marketing by having an innovative publicity stunt: it was decided to give Ava a tinder account, which links nicely with the Turing test element of the film. 

This publicity was started in SXSW and quickly gained media attention: essentially publicising the film for free!

As well as this, a website was created called Ava Sessions -
This website allows the consumer to "interact" with Ava and draws an image of what the user desires:

The marketing of Ex_MAchina is certainly impressive and innovative, especially when compared to Star Wars, and is certainly BTL marketing.

Yet another impressive marketing feature is the Bluebook Website:

Bluebook was Nathan's company from the film and so it's super cool to see it's own website (featuring ambient music)!


These are two official Ex_Machina film posters. However, there were also a number of fan made posters - as shown below:


Unlike Star Wars: The Force Awakens,  Ex_Machina only had a single trailer for its release:

Questions on: DNA Films

When was DNA Films founded and who were the co-founders of it?
DNA Fims was founded by both Duncan Kenworthy and Andrew Macdonal, two of Britain's most successful producers, in 1983.

Where is DNA based?
DNA is a British company that is based in London, England.

How many films has DNA produced?
DNA films has produced a total of 26 films including:

  • Trainspotting (1996)
  • 28 Days Later (2002)
  • Sunshine (2007)
  • Dredd (2012)
  • Sunshine on Leith (2013)
  • Ex_Machina (2015)
  • T2 Trainspotting (2017)
What awards have DNA Films won?
DNA have received a number of awards for several films:

  • Academy Award for Ex_Machina (Best Visual Effects)
  • BAFTA Awards for The Last King of Scotland (Best British Film, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor)
  • Empire Award for Love Actually (Best British Film)
DNA Films box-office hits:

  1. Trainspotting (1996)
  2. Ex_Machina (2015)
  3. 28 Days Later (2002)
  4. Love Actually (2003)
  5. The Last King of Scotland 
DNA Films flops:

  1. Sunshine (2007)
  2. Dredd (2012)
  3. Never Let Me Go (2010)
  4. Amelia (2009)
  5. Strictly Sinatra (2001)
What is Danny Boyle's relationship with DNA Films?
Danny Boyle directed 28 Days Later and Trainspotting - both being largely successful films for the company. It was rumoured that he owned the company, however this was later discovered to be false.

List 3 famous directors who have worked for DNA Films:

  • Danny Boyle
  • Richard Curtis
  • Mark Romanek

Famous actors who have starred in films made by DNA Films:

  1. Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting)
  2. Domhnall Gleeson (Ex_Machina)
  3. Christopher Eccleston (28 Days Later)
  4. Hugh Grant (Love Actually)
  5. Liam Neeson (Love Actually)
What has been DNA Films' highest grossing film?
DNA Film's highest grossing film was Love Actually (starring Liam Neeson) as it grossed a total of $46.9 million.

What Hollywood studios have DNA Films worked with?

List 2 of DNA Films' big blockbuster films and find out their budgets:

  • Sunshine ($45 million)
  • Dredd ($40 million)

What film is DNA Films most famous for?
This question seems to be open to opinion, and so it is arguable that DNA Films are most famous for Trainspotting.

What other genres do DNA Films like to make?
DNA Films are known for making smaller, indie films with genres including: sic-fi, thriller, romance and drama.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Marketing Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The marketing campaign for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was extensive and used a large proportion of the film's budget.

Marketing areas included:

  • Tie-in products
  • Social media
  • Magazines
  • Posters
  • Trailers
  • Television - e.g. chat shows
  • Toys

Tie-in products 

Star Wars has an influence in both Western and Eastern cultures - in terms of products - as exhibited with these food items. As with the cereal, many tie-in products are branded as being "limited edition" which entices consumers to buy them.

Social Media

The film was prominent on many different social media sites and had its own social media pages on Twitter, Facebook etc. 

As a marketing ploy, a 360 degree video, that placed the audience into Rey's POV, was posted on Facebook:

The diagram below highlights the areas in which Star Wars: The Force Awakens was most active:


A large variety of popular magazines had Star Wars: The Force Awakens features, including:

  • Time Magazine
  • Empire 
  • Rolling Stone
  • Vanity Fair


It is common for film posters to vary in different countries and cultures.

In China for example, storm troopers are featured far more in the poster:

However, the German poster has a significant lack of storm troopers (possibly dude to their connotations with Hitler and the Nazi Party).


The first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released a year before the final film was released:

Since then, a number of different trailers were released throughout social media and cinemas, up until the film's release date on the 17th December 2015 - including this really cool unofficial trailer made by fans in the style of Wes Anderson!


Disney is a conglomerate that owns a number of companies, including ABC Entertainment Group. Therefore, it was natural that ABC would market the film and the cast appeared on live TV:


Disney partnered with the toy company Sphero to produce a smartphone operated BB8.

Star Wars Lego was massively popular - there were a number of different sets for The Force Awakens. 

Thursday, 10 November 2016

The Big Six

A major film studio is a film producer, and production company, that releases a substantial number of films annually.

The Big Six film studios are as follows:

Warner Bros. Pictures:

Comprising a whopping 19.7 percent of the US/Canadian market share (2007 figures), Warner Bros. Pictures is the biggest player in the film industry. Securing the rights to major films like Harry Potter, Superman, Batman, The Matrix and Star Wars have made Warner Bros. the No. 1 name in the business.

Paramount Pictures:

With 15.5 percent of the US/Canadian market share (2007 figures), Paramount Pictures continues to be one of the most successful film production companies in the world. Star Trek, War of the Worlds, the Mission Impossible series, Transformers and Tropic Thunder are just a few of the popular films produced by Paramount Pictures.

Walt Disney:

One of the most renowned film production companies in the history of the business, Walt Disney now holds 15.3 percent of the US/Canadian market share (2007 figures). With highly successful movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, National Treasure, Meet the Robinsons and Enchanted, there's no doubt that Disney will continue to play a key role in the industry for years to come.

Columbia Pictures:

Comprising 12.9 percent of the US/Canadian market share (2007 figures), Columbia Pictures remains a big player in the business. Some of this company's recent successes include Casino Royale, The Da Vinci Code, the Spider-Man series and Step Brothers.

Universal Studios:

12.2 percent of the US/Canadian market share (2007 figures) belongs to Universal Studios, which continues to make millions for the film industry. With major hits like the Bourne series (Bourne Identity, Bourne Supremacy and Bourne Ultimatum), The American Pie series, Knocked Up, American Gangster and The Incredible Hulk, it's very clear that Universal Studios knows what it takes to make money in this industry.

20th Century Fox:

Also known as "Twentieth Century Fox," this highly successful movie production company makes up 11.9 percent of the US/Canadian market share (2007 figures). Some of the biggest and most successful movies from this empire include the X-Men series, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Star Wars Episodes II and III, and the Fantastic Four.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Ex_Machina Review

Released on the 21st January 2015, Ex_Machina is a British psychological sic-fi film by debut director Alex Garland. Caleb Smith (Domnhall Gleeson), a programmer at the large technological company BlueBook, has won a prize to meet the company's CEO Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) at his house in  Norway. Caleb seemingly suspects that this week-long visit will consist of bonding, and could result in a promotion. This takes a dramatic turn when Nathan reveals to Caleb that he is involved in testing a new AI called Ava (Alicia Vikander); built by Nathan himself. As an audience we are plunged into a dramatic story of ethics, deception and questioning: we find ourselves confused with who to trust, just as Caleb is himself. For a smaller budget film ($15million) the visual effects are incredibly impressive and, as the film progresses, they become unobservable to the audience.

I would consider Ava to be my favourite character and this is partly due to Vikander's acting talent: she succeeded in giving life to a synthetic character, whilst retaining a feeling that Ava is not quite perfect. Vikander is trained in ballet, and it is the control she has over her body that aids her in performing her role so well; the slightest of movements created a sense of innocence and intrigue - even in the way Alicia made Ava walk or tilt her head.

There is certainly a question of morals and ethics concerning the film; full frontal nudity is present throughout and it is argued that this is merely for the audience's pleasure. However, I think Garland has used this to express two things: it highlights Nathan's bullish and dominant character and, most importantly, it suggests how human these non-human robots are. Perhaps the inclusion of full nude shots is to express the moral conscience of the film; these creations shouldn't be used as effective "slaves" for simple pleasure. I found the decision to place Caleb in a viewing "box" interesting because it's reminiscent of a zoo - Ava is the tiger prowling in her enclosure and Caleb is the visitor.

Overall, I found Ex_Machina truly awesome: after finishing it, I was immediately left with questions regarding the plot and the meanings of the film. The superb twist made the film even better than it previously was and, for such a small budget film, the sound design and visual effects were mesmerising and crafted into the film effortlessly - not to mention the incredible cast.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Researching Ex_Machina

Ex_Machina is a British psychological sci-fi film, directed by first-time director Alex Garland and produced by Andrew Macdonald and Allen Reich. The film was produced by smaller production companies Film4 and DNA Films, but was distributed by the renowned Universal Pictures. 


Domnhall Gleeson - Caleb

Oscar Isaac - Nathan

Alicia Vikander - Ava

Budget and Box Office figures

Since this film isn't a Hollywood Blockbuster, its budget was a modestly small $15 million. However, the film was a big success and totalled a figure of $36.9 million worldwide. 

Screening numbers

Ex_Machina was shown on a total of 1,255 screens on its opening weekend, which is a fairly large amount. In total, the peak number amount of screens in the USA was 2,004.


A number of different cameras were used in the film, including a GoPro. The film was shot digitally at a 4K resolution on Sony CineAlta F65 and Sony CineAlta PMW-F55 cameras (£22,000 each). Surprisingly, no motion capture was used during filming and effects were added in post production by Double Negative:


The film was located in the UK (Pinewood Studios) and in various places in Norway. For example, Nathan's house is actually the Juvet Landscape Hotel (pictured below).

Critical reaction

The film received good reviews and was widely accepted by the public, despite its slower pace and smaller scale: it was rated 7.7 on IMDB, 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and 78% on Metacritic. These scores are all fairly high and certainly suggest that the film has left a lasting impact.