A comparison between 20th century ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ poster and 21st century ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ poster.
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Directors have always been hailed for their originality and it is those original ideas that carry through to an audience and make them say, “wow, I would not of thought of that”. An original idea whether it be the story, the cinematography or a twist in a plot can be the difference between a good film and a great film. However there is a dark cloud looming over the film industry as of recent years sequels and adaptations are taking control of the box office. Hollywood is at the brunt of the problem with 7 of the top 10 films (US) in 1981 being original and in 2011, 0 out of 10 of the top films were original. But it isn’t the director’s faults; many contracts come with the promise of money but with little self invention. Large industries such as Disney who have already established so many original films are pushing for sequels and remakes.
Technology is advancing at such a rapid pace that it has become more and more accessible and affordable for filmmakers to come forward and present their ideas. We are at a period of recycling and are feeding off by-gone tails like Alice in Wonderland and Hansel and Gretel to scrape at the ideas of originality. But why the problem? Why should we be worried that there are less and less original ideas? As an audience we flock into cinemas, pouncing on the newest creations in film but with all these sequels does it become predictable. In comedy if someone already knows the punch line to a joke, the joke is no longer funny and this is true for films. Technically it can be brilliant, but at the end of the day the audience is left thinking “Saw that coming” rather than “wow”. So what is the solution? Personally even though this is a modern topic around magazines, journalists and newspapers I don’t think we have to worry world wide events inspire film makers alike for example 9/11, 2012 are two significant recent events that effect everyone in some way, with everything that is going on in the world it leaves film makers the opportunities to find them and bring back the originality to cinema. Another question that needs to be asked is predictability something that would draw an audience in or push them away. On one hand if something is predictable as mentioned it could become boring and stale depending on how it’s delivered. For example nightmare on elm street (1984) was fantastic and ahead of the game for the horror genre at that time, as a slasher it frightened the audience not only on screen but off screen as it played on peoples real life fears of someone coming into a house and killing them (burglary). As an original film this also plays on the over exaggerated audience fear of violence in our social economic world. As an American film it reflected an era when the crime rate in America was at an all time high, burglaries were on the increase and this film plays on public fears, the fear that something could actually happen. It also has interesting connotations of this in the story plot where the characters real life fears are being brought out in their dreams and the audiences real life fears are being brought out by watching these dreams. However, as the sequels flooded in the simplicity of the first film was lost and it turned into a comedy / horror with the main character performing a rap at the beginning. Sequels are fine as long as they don’t lose sight of where they came from. Some Directors play on exaggerated violence / racial stereotypes and explicit language to evoke emotions in an audience for, example Django Unchained directed by Quentin Tarantino was helped in terms of popularity because of the negativity towards the film which helped fuel its success. This links to the effects debate and oppositional audience responses when looking at the uses and gratifications theory. Quentin Tarantino directs Django in a way that goes against the mediated and non – provocative needs of the audience evoking an oppositional audience response. This audience represents a focus group for the effects of violence and how it ties into our own ideologies of social protocols.
Originality can also be mistaken for something that we haven’t seen for a long time and maybe forgotten about. For example Paranormal Activity was one of the first mainstream handheld camera horrors but in fact it was derived from the blare witch project. And the reason the Blair Witch Project came about in the first place was because of the rise in accessibility for hand held cameras. Originality can also be linked to the directors themselves. When you go to see a film you can tell which film has had an influence from a specific director. For example Christopher Nolan adds a sense of drama and seriousness to his films, the “Christopher Nolan Treatment” is a phrase now reflected in his adaptations of comic book classics with Superman to take the next leap forward.
In conclusion we have nothing to worry about. New directors will come along with a fresh take on things and old directors will explore new areas. Socially we will change and film will adapt to that change. In terms of audience the quality of the films are still there it is just the critical opinion of them that has changed, the fact that adaptations and sequels should be slated because they come from existing works is wrong, they should hold merit in their own right and will not lose the interest of the audience ads long as they don’t deviate from their roots too much. There are more ideas out there than their are people or even films most haven’t been realised yet.
- Sequels / remakes popular
- Money – directors / producers making films just for the cash.
- At a period of recycling, re-imagined fairy tales (Hansel / Gretel)
- Technology and social websites growing, filmmakers can put forward their ideas easily. (YouTube)
- Safe investments, putting money into ideas that are proven to work (Marvel).
- Basing films on recent events
- The fact that as we develop and things change movies will move forward as well
- Paranormal activity – safe investment, makes money, has room for sequels
- Safety of current economy. Audience sees something they like, they spend money on it, they will want to see something similar, which is where sequels and their demand come into play.
- Directors looking beyond the standard model (Quentin Tarantino)
- Who’s to blame, Hollywood or us?
- Answer in marketing for riskier original ideas, audiences will want to watch them, for example the artist.
The questionnaire I used had some very specific questions, which were designed to get a certain type of answer. The questionnaire itself is based on answers we already know but the point of it is to see the public opinion. This means when comparing I will be checking the public answers against the preferred answers.
Q1. Is this statement true in your eyes? “There are no original film ideas anymore”
Yes – 3
No – 6
Evaluation Q1 – This is completely as expected, more people vote for ‘no’ , this could be down to fanboyism where people don’t like the fact that someone is accusing their industry or a part of their industry of going downhill.
Q2. Out of the films below which do you think is the most original? (Circle two)
Harry Potter – 2
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the ring – 6
Shrek – 1
Monsters Inc. – 3
Rush Hour 2 – 1
The Mummy Returns – 0
Pearl Harbour – 3
Ocean’s Eleven – 0
Planet of the Apes – 1
Evaluation Q2 – Most people chose Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring which is interesting as it isn’t an original, just an adaptation of the JR Tolkien books. I can see why people chose it, it was the first of its kind in terms of scale. The fellowship was also the first of the three part sequel. The films in this which are actually originals and not adaptation are Pearl Harbour and Monsters Inc. These two came joint second highest. Then evidence tells me that the original films do stand out however sometimes people are mislead because they don’t know the roots of where the story has actually come from.
Q3. Do you tend to watch the sequels of good films you have seen before?
Yes – 9
No – 0
- If I liked the first film, I would watch the second film
- Awesome to see what happens next i.e. cliff hanger
- Safety, you know you will like it
- Because the first one had good story, plots etc.
- Expect the good quality to continue
- Because its normal to
- Because I want to see the continued story
Evaluation Q3 – Everyone voted yes which is as predicted. The reasons why listed below generally centre on the fact that story in the first one was good then they put trust in the sequel.
Q4. Why do you think there are more original films in 1981 as apposed to 2011?
- A lot of ideas hadn’t been explored
- They didn’t have much to be inspired from in 1981
- New remakes with new effects in 2011
- 2011 just recycles old films
- They cared about the films in 1981, where as they care about the money now
- Film Genres hadn’t been overdone
Evaluation Q4 – All results tend to fix on how in 1981 things were simpler, and how if the ideas were simple the idea was usually a true original idea. It also seems that in contrast producers in 2011 worry less about the story and more about the budget for special effects and how much money it would make.
Q5. Have you seen the film UP? If yes what element attracted you to the film. (Select two). If no see Q6.
Ground breaking animation – 2
The fact that it was from Pixar – 3
That it was about resolution of dreams that hadn’t happened – 2
The combination of unique characters – 5
How colourful it was – 0
Q5.2.Have you seen the film Monsters Inc. If yes what element attracted you to the film? (Select two). If no see Q6
Ground breaking animation – 2
The fact that it was from Pixar – 1
That is was about friendship, parental responsibilities and a flipside of the monster under the bed tale – 3
The combination of unique characters – 4
How colourful it was – 2
Evaluation Q5 – The questions were worded in a way which played around the story without mentioning it. The point of question 5 was to examine the deeper reasons why the story is so important in an original story. 3 people selected “That is was about friendship, parental responsibilities and a flipside of the monster under the bed tale” and 2 people for “That it was about resolution of dreams that hadn’t happened”. This was the trick question in a way. The option people were looking for was ‘the story’. Instead I gave a statement, which describes the meaning behind the story. Some people selected this because they were looking for ‘Story’ and this was the closest one to it, however interestingly the most voted for “the combination of unique characters totalling 9 votes from both questions. This suggests that the audience when looking for an original film directs their attention to the characters and how the are integral to the film and other characters around them. It is about connection between these characters and how they translate the meaning of the film.
Q6. What do you think the success of an original film depends on? (select one)
The idea and nothing else
The use of special effects
The production company that made it all happen
Evaluation Q6 What do you think the success of an original film depends on? (Select one) is in a way, a trick question. An original film is not just one element; it is a combination of things. I treated this as an observational experiment as well so that while they were filling out the questionnaires I stood nearby and waited for questions to be directed at me because some of the questions were only allowing one choice. The audience response especially for Q6 is that the majority didn’t want to pick just one. In fact a few people even pointed out that they believed it was a collaboration of all the elements that made an original film. From this I have gained more in-depth qualitative data and it is also a more true representation of public thinking. However that being said the one option they still had to choose gave a god insight into how the public perceives films. 8/9 people chose ‘The Idea and nothing else’ for Q6 the one that didn’t chose ‘The director’. This is interesting because most of the creative ideas come from the director, so this links into the other answers. From this I can see that although original films are a collaboration of elements, they’re epicentre is a good original idea.
Collectively I can evaluate that the audience, when looking for an original film directs there attention to the story and how the characters work within that story. The characters have to have strong connections between each other. Looking for widely, the story is the root of the original idea but is, and needs to be supported by other factors, like who directs it, what direction they take it in etc.
Males = 16
Females = 16
Age 16 = 4
Age 17 = 13
Age 18 = 6
Age = 5
Other = 4
Ethnicity – White/British = 27 Asian = 1 Did not take seriously = 4
Transport – Walk = 8 Car = 7 Bus = 7 Mixture = 10
Q1 – A = 20 B = 0 C = 11 D = 1
Q2 – A = 27 B = 2 C = 0 D = 3
Q3 – A = 1 B = 25 C = 5 D = 1
Q4 – A = 2 B = 10 C = 17 D = 3
Q5 – A = 2 B = 7 C = 20 D = 3
Q6 – A =14 B = 5 C = 3 D = 10
Q7 – A = 0 B = 14 C = 8 D = 10
Q8 – A = 1 B = 24 C = 6 D = 1
Q9 – A = 26 B = 7 C = 2 D = 1
Q10 – A =2 B = 21 C = 6 D = 2
Q11 – A = 0 B = 8 C = 4 D = 19
Q12 – A = 1 B = 7 C = 22 D = 1
Q13 – A = 11 B = 9 C = 3 D = 8
Q14 – A = 20 B = 2 C = 0 D = 9
QR Codes Scanned – Yes = 4 No = 19 N/A = 9
Questionnaire Sent Out
Gender – Male/Female Age . . . Ethnic Origin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Transport . . . . . . . . . . . .
Q1. Do you have any body modifications?
Q2. How low do you wear your jeans?
1.Normal around the waist
4.Don’t wear any
Q3. Do you own a tumblr account?
1.Don’t know what this is
4.I’m too cool for tumblr
Q4. How often do you use Social Networking sites?
2.Just to check status’s
3.Quite a lot, I like to know what’s going on
4.Facebook is my life
Q5. How long do you scroll through your news feed?
3.Until I get bored
4.I’m sorry what? I was too busy looking at prank videos on news feed
Q6. What film/T.V genres is your favourite?
4.Other . . . . . . . . . . .
Q7. How many hours do you spend watching T.V/films during one week?
1.I don’t watch T.V
Q8. How often do you change your profile picture?
1.I don’t have a profile picture
4.Everyday of course!
Q9. If you see a person drop their wallet do you . . .
1.Pick up wallet and give it back to them
2.Leave it where you found it
3.Throw away the wallet and keep the cash
4.Steal the money and use the ID to go clubbing
Q10. How often do you drink?
2.Once in a while
3.Once a week
4.I’m drunk right now
Q11. What do you use YouTube for?
4.If none above please state . . . . . . . . . . . .
Q12. How much of your parent’s electricity do you drain with all your devices being used at once?
1.None I hate technology
2.Only my phone when it’s charging
3.When I’m not on my computer I’m charging all my gadgets, lights on, T.V on, technology heaven
4.I pay for my own electricity
Q13. You’re at home the Internet goes off for the next day, what do you do?
1.No problem go outside and live
2.Go round to a friends house
3.Go round friends house and use their Internet
4.Lie on the floor, tries not to cry, cries a lot
Q14. What two items would you take on a desert island?
1.Matches and food
2.The entire series of lost
3.Hair gel and more hair gel
Mostly A. If your answers are mostly A.
You are Barack Obama. Smartly dressed interactive person who goes out and enjoys the real world and not a 2D/3D screen.
Mostly B. If your answers are mostly B.
You are Gwyneth Paltrow. You know your way round technology and not afraid to go outside. You must being doing something right because you’re dating Iron Man.
Mostly C. If your answers are mostly C. You are Batman. Retirement has hit you fast as you’ve changed your ways from being the almighty superhero to a down right sloth!
Mostly D. If your answers are mostly D. You are Sheldon Cooper. You are an emotional busy body, who distance themselves from friends, relationships and any other social activities.
Twilight is a result of romance vs. horror, you get this weird cross over that depicts vampires and werewolves as actually being sex symbols. Lets make no joke this films demographic is purely aimed at women this shows through the IMDB demographics graph.
You can see clearly that the women vote is carrying this films vote median by giving it a 6.1 where as men are voting it low at 4.9. What is even more interesting is that the amount of votes from males totals more than that of women. Meaning that men are logging in and voting just to show their dislike for this film. It is this hatred that’s giving twilight is popularity and even abuse towards the film is free marketing for the producers. Just selecting the male votes to see how they voted, the graph below shows that almost 20% of men rated the film as a 1 showing strong opposition for it.
Why do males not like this film? Like with most romance films guys just aren’t interested. Looking into a study covering primal reverting feelings as a man it is their job not to look soppy or vulnerable and romantic films tend to touch on this. Its also based on how men want others to see themselves and how self conscious they get if the world sees them as anything other than a manly man.
Twilight hooks its audience by placing in the three-way relationship struggle. Bella loves Edward, Edward loves Bella and then you have Jacob who comes in to create a tension that will last 5 movies. This very much appealed to the audience as they separated themselves into ‘teams’, team Jacob and team Edward.
The film also rides on the success of the book which already hooking the desired audience.
Paranormal activity is an ‘Observational’ horror that uses shock tactics to scare its audience.
I use the term observational loosely, what I mean by this is, we have a horror movie where the audience definitely does not feel immersed in the feel because the way it is filmed, using CCTV cameras. However the audience feeds off of this in a different way, because there is less emersion the situation that is occurring feels more hopeless, that the audience cannot do anything to help. It’s the same feeling as watching a CCTV recording of a murder happening, your scared because of the situation, and horrified you can’t do anything. Paranormal activity plays well with the atmosphere of the Cinema as well. To be scared the situation needs to be controlled, and in pitch black, as black as the setting for the scene, which is why a film might feel scarier on the big screen as apposed to watching it at home. The audience for this anyone who likes a scare, specifically males.
At first glance this isn’t apparent on this demographic graph from IMDB because it shows that on average males vote it as highly as women, or around about at 6.4 for males and 6.2 for women. However if you look at the pure numbers of voters, there are 84,476 males who voted and only 17,355 females. This links in with the results researchers have come up with. The research mentions that males of 15-45 tend to be the prime group for these horror films and also tend to see the film in groups rather than individuals. This fulfils the human desire to protect or be protected, and with a scary film going as a group dampens the feeling of shock when a scary ghost pops up. These males are “sensation – seeking” and go to prove that they are men, they aren’t scared. Interestingly when watching the horror film, to avoid being seen as scared they resort to; Looking away from the screen to detach themselves from what’s going on. Treating the situation as a critic would, hiding behind something to give a sense of protection or just thinking about something else.
Paranormal activity uses a queue which signals when the audience is going to be scared and where the ghost is present by using a deep bassy noise.
Content – Information about a program the audience is going to watch. An example of this is TV guides which display the up and coming TV shows and movies to come to the viewer’s screens.
Viability – is the information given to you true to what they say it is.
Finance – the set amount of money/ income to fund a project.
Costs – money taken away because of purchases, costs have been pre planned into the budget.
Technical resources – also known as intellectual property are owned like physical property under the Intellectual property laws and include things like websites etc.
Locations – areas to be used in a production. These are mentioned in and are relative to the risk assessments and location rec.
Audience data – quantitative data such as age, gender, height etc.
Audience profiling – understanding an audience before hand so that, for example a product is aimed at the right type of people this can be done via questionnaires.
Demographics – is the most recent Statistical compilation of a populations attributes including gender, race, age.
Geo-demographics – is a combination of demography and geography for the application of business.
Consumer behavior and attitudes – are what sorts of things do people by and why do they buy them, is there a reason? This can be researched through these of questionnaires to gain qualitative data.
Audience awareness – is recognising before you create a product, what sort of audience are you aiming for, you would then, after selecting your audience go into doing background information on them.