Thursday, November 29, 2012

Product Placement

Have you ever noticed how much product placement is in a film? While watching a good movie, it may not be as quite obvious; but if you take a second look, particular products will start to stand out at you. Product placement has been around ever since broadcasting has existed. Even through the advancements in technology, product placement has stuck around. In this blog post I will discuss a brief history product placement, disclose their business morals, and share many examples of extreme use in product placement in film.

                Product placement goes way back to the nineteenth century where novels and other books were our only source of media.  Jules Verne, known as a prophet of science today, was one of the first to introduce product placement after his release of his adventure novel Around the World in Eighty Days. Due his amazing success with his novel, major companies flocked to Jules Verne to request that he write in the name of their company in his next novel. Product placement is still used in some books today, particularly in major novels. Furthermore, this was one of the earliest recorded instance of product placement and has come a long way from then.
                Is it morally acceptable to influence consumers through product placement in films in order to sell products? Marketing has been around for years, so can we really say it is wrong? People have always strived to manipulate one another even for the smallest of things.  It’s the soul fact that most of us actually recognize product placements for what they are and in-turn we are not easily influenced. To an extent, product placement is part of our economy. For example people buy new cars and new Iphones more because of marketing.  One moral issue that has caused controversy amongst the industry is the marketing to children. Kids under 14 have not yet developed those filters to recognize when advertisements are targeting them. Advertisements manipulate kids to make them want toys they don't need and eat foods that aren't good for them. Ultimately parents are responsible for what their child does, however Ads are not always trying to sell food or toys. The big controversy in marketing to kids is when they try to make tobacco appeal to teenage kids. As a result, many commercials such as the Budweiser commercials featuring the frogs have been shut down due to it being to kid friendly.
  Through history we have seen many different attempts at product placement. Most films that we see try to keep product placement down to a lower key. However, in recent films product placement has been increasing to the point to be almost obvious in different shots. This occurs when products dominate the screen for a few seconds or have reoccurring appearances throughout the film. For example, the film I, Robot makes heavy use of product placements for Converse trainers, Ovaltine, Audi, FedEx, Dos Equis, and JVC among others, all of them introduced within the first ten minutes of the film. One particularly infamous scene borders into an actual advertisement in which a character compliments Will Smith's character's shoes to which he replies "Converse All-Stars, vintage 2004.”

In my conclusion, if you haven’t noticed the product placement before, you will notice it occur the second time you watch the film. Seeing where product placement started, there is no doubt that we will see more in the future. As a result, product placement has changed and will change as our form of media changes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Stories unite people; theories divide them.

The Movie Industry

Of all the things to hit in popular culture, none is more recognizable in or mind than the movies. Most Americans instantly recognize images produced by the movies: Charlie Chaplin, the starving prospector inThe Gold Rush, eating his shoe, treating the laces like spaghetti. Recently I watched the documentary “Theses Amazing Shadows,” I was inspired to blog about the film industry and how the industry has changed my life.

These Amazing Shadows is a documentary about the Library of Congress and the National Film Registry. It offered a look inside how films are restored and contains interviews with some of writers and editors of major film industries today. Regarding the importance of film’s societal role as viewed through a cultural and historical lens, I found the quote “Stories unite people; Theories divide them” to be most poignant. Hence, this became the title of my blog. In the documentary, I learned that this registry has copy of almost every film ever made. Needless to say, their collection is very large and the painstaking efforts that must go into restoring those films must be equally as large. It was also sad to hear that before the registry, films would be disposed like common trash because film was not regarded as it is today.

When I think of movie, I personally think how they are cultural artifacts that offer us a chance to see into American cultural and social history. Like a time machine, movies can show us insights into Americans' shifting ideals, fantasies, and preoccupations. The film industry’s history is separated into four main periods: the silent film era, classical Hollywood cinema, New Hollywood, and the contemporary period. While, according to my class book, the Lumiere Brothers are generally credited with the birth of modern cinema, but it has to be American cinema that became the most popluar throughout the idustry. Although, throughout those periods, the film industry would change with the American society. Films would be made to focus on a particular area depending on what was happening at the time in the USA. For example, WWII and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, films were made to be more patriotic to gain viewers to help America cope. But nothing could prepare America for the revolutionary space opera film of 70s, “Star Wars.”

Out of all the movies that I have come in contact with from the film industry, the amazing space opera known as Star Wars has truly changed my life. I grew up with Star Wars. I had older brothers that were already in love with the Star Wars universe that I easily followed suit. I remember when was a kid watching Star Wars that when I first heard the music I was taken up into a world of adventure, space travel and imagination. I remember watching Luke Skywalker fly down the Death Star, watching it explode and being so excited that I wanted to jump up and down in joy for the success of the Rebels. The music, the visuals and the action were marked into my soul.

Something about the amazing sets and visuals and imagination continued to interest me as I got older. I got books from the library on the artwork, behind-the-scenes, even novels set around the Star wars worlds. Unfortunately or fortunately for my coolness, I never outgrew it. It stirred in me a joy of creating. George Lucas took my places I wanted to go. I didn't just want to visit, though. I wanted to create those places. I wanted to create magical worlds myself. Places of adventure, imagination and creativity. So I decided to pursue a career in film and hope to one day add and be a part of that universe that George Lucas created.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Master Chief Chili

Master Chief knows how to cook! In a documentary with the famed voice actor and radio host, Steve Downes, the fans get the chance to imagine the Chief off duty. In the Master Chief documentary, we follow Downes on a regular day and experience what it’s like as a hero of the suburbs. Throughout this blog, I will elaborate on what aspects the director focused on capturing to make up this killtacular documentary.

            Last Thursday, my professor lectured on what aspects make up a documentary.   One of the elements she expressed was the fact that a documentary must never be staged or re-enacted thus destroying its credibility.  In the Master Chief documentary, the director took the approach on making the film as familiar and simple as possible. In fact, the documentary literaly starts off with static shots of inside Steve Downes’s own home. Continuing to familiarize the film, the director takes the approach on filming Downes simply doing everyday regular things around the house. This includes him cooking and blowing off a telemarketer. I believe this was done to simply tell the story about a regular person could still be regarded as a hero to millions by just being him.

The structure on the documentary takes a very mediocre style which I also believe adds to the simplicity. The documentary begins with a few inserts of family members and Downes himself; simply discussing about his life and the reactions they have had since the halo games. After the introduction we start with Downes heading off to his job at a local radio station where he hosts. While there, we are given short interviews of Steve Downes’s colleagues about their personal relationships with him. Later we are back at his house, where again, we experience Downes as a simple man making his famous Master Chief Chili. The documentary ends with a medium shot of Downes in chair, possibly in his house, giving his final thoughts on his experience with Master Chief Character and how honored he is to give the chief character.

The message in the documentary may not be as clear to those who have not necessarily played the game. For me, however, I have been the Halo games since their release and have clear understanding of the message. If you are fan, then you know how it important the Character Master Chief is to you. All your life you know Master Chief as this stone cold invincible hero and the director knows this fact. He wants to show the Halo fanbase the voice behind the mask. That Steve Downes is still just as human as the players. In Downes final message, he lets us know that he wants the player to be the Master Chief and he will provide the voice. To quote Steve Downes, “I’ll do the talking, you guys do the shooting.

In conclusion, there are many important aspects that make up a documentary. The way the director structured and styled this film allows for more credibility with its more humble simplistic approach. As for the message of the documentary, I believe it was to show the irony of seeing the voice behind the mask and who he really is in the world.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Amelie Cinematography

From a director who created the murky, visionary film "Alien Resurrection,” "Amelie" might appear a little out of place. But once you get chance to see the film; that idea disappears quickly. Although we may not see scary slimy monsters in this film, the director still shows his love with bodily functions, close ups, and frenetic camerawork. In this blog post, I will discuss some of the elements of cinematography that I found interesting throughout the film.

If you have read my other blog on the mise-en-scene of Amelie, you may already have an idea of type of cinematography seen in this film. To begin, one of the most orginal scenes in the film is, well, at the beginning. Amelie's introduction into the picture isn't the normal introduction that usually accompanies the lead's entrance. The director chose to shows a time lapse photography that literally shows a pregnant belly going through the nine months of change, then the actual birth of Amelie. Not only is it a striking visual, but probably the best entrance by a character in some time. It is this attention grabbing scene that gives a hint to the personality of the film to the audience.

Additionally, original cinematography might have ruined this film and would have made imbalance between the style of the film and how the audience perceived it. Through the use of special effects and various camera tricks, the audience can have a better understanding and experience the world of Amelie. I love how the director chose to enhance the scenes with intricate camera placement and visual artifice, almost like he is showing the audience how Amelie sees the world.

In conclusion, without seeing the film, it is not that hard to picture the kind of film you might get into. I for one was not sure what to expect when I saw this film. But with proper cinematography and the amount of humor clashing with reality and make believe, I quickly fell in love.

The mise-en-scene of Amelie

Amelie is a fun, quirky, and a original romantic comedy. Unlike most romantic comedies, this film takes on a whole new style. With bright vibrant colors and quirky situations throughout the film, gives a very unique twist on this story.Throughout this blog, I will discuss the mise-en-scene  elements that make up the bulk in the film.

Upon first encountering the film, I thought the projector might have been malfunctioning. I started messing with the color settings, thinking the film was being over saturated. After some time messing with the settings, I finally realized that the film was suppose to look as if the colors were overly vibrant. According to , another blogger on mise-en-scene of Amelie, he happened to notice that whether it was doors, like Amelie's own which is red on one side or green on the other, clothing, or lighting, red and green dominate the setting. In one particular scene, we see Amelie walking through a subway station and all the lights appear to have somewhat of a green tint. As a result, this causes her environment to appear green. this create almost a imaginary type look for the audience; to me, this resembles Alice in Wonderland, where things don't have to make sense. With this reference, it brings the idea that we are seeing the world in this film through Amelie's eyes ans mind.

To refer to back Kyle Sofianek’s blog on mise-en-scene of Amelie; Kyle states that throughout the movie, the feeling of stepping into Amelie's mind continues as news reports about Amelie herself are featured on the TV she was currently watching. At first, we believe they are just real news reports about Princess Di's death establishing the time period of the story. But, as we continue to watch the tv, it begins to refer to Amelie and Princess D.  We then see Amelie on the TV which is narrating for the audience what Amelie is envisioning. These images or visions depict Amelie idolized in a way for her selfless giving to others but unfortunately it appears that she dies at a young age from working so hard at helping others. As the film progresses, we see another vision on the TV that shows the death of Amelie’s father and how she would suffer knowing she did nothing to help him move on with his life. I believe this gives better evidence of the imaginary world in which we are watching Ameilie’s world through her mind and eyes. 

To quote Kyle Sofianek, he states that “The film as a whole relies on expressionistic elements of mise-en-scene to communicate Amelie's unique love experience.” What he is referring to are mainly the scenes in which we are given a x-ray vison on particular items emphasis on something important. Two such scenes are the moments when we see Amelie sliping a key in her pocket but we are able to see it. The other is when we see the love interest of Amelie and we can see her heart beating and glowing hot red. It is as if they did this to covey a particular plot point in the film or to over exaggerate the importance of the action or object.  Everything from x-ray vision, vibrant colors, and visions shown through a TV, we as the audience get the chance to follow Amelie down the Rabbit whole and experience her world.

In conclusion, never assume that the projector or the TV is messing up the color of the film. Additionally, Amelie is probably one of the most unique romantic comedy films I have ever seen. The film is truly a testament of all the different ways to tell a story through visuals.