Tag Archives: BAFTA

For Your iConsideration (UPDATE): the Nominees

 

For Your iConsideration

 

With the nominations announced for the BAFTA awards, it is worth re-visiting the issue of DVD and on-line screeners to analyse what if any impact they had on the films that made the shortlist. The usual caveat applies that BAFTA members watch and vote on films, documentaries, foreign language films and shorts based on their artistic merit. However, in the deluge of worthy end-of-year releases it is difficult to catch them all in the cinema, let alone cram in home viewing over the Christmas holiday. So access and convenience of screeners can play a part.

This year was notable in terms of the number of screeners being made available on-line to download or stream came close to matching the number of screeners sent out on DVD, with both just over 50 each – but with DVDs taking a late narrow lead. On-line distribution was the preferred option mainly for Documentaries and Films not in the English Language (and Shorts, though we won’t cover those here), with iTunes and Vimeo battling out for platform preference, but other candidates being distributors’ own websites, DMS, YouTube and DropBox. Several films were made available on both DVD and on-line, though with the exception of one studio (Universal) and another studio’s specialty division title, Hollywood largely shied away from the on-line option for screeners.

Not surprisingly all the films that have received nominations in the heavyweight categories (Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, as well as Outstanding British Film) were sent out on DVD screeners to BAFTA members. Gravity was the earliest one sent (9 December) while 12 Years A Slave was sent latest (20 December). The only three Hollywood titles nominated that were not sent out on screeners were Iron Man 3, Pacific Rim and Star Trek Into Darkness, though all of these received, perhaps not surprisingly, their only nomination was in the VFX category. It should also be noted that nominations for technical categories are voted for only by a smaller sub-set of BAFTA members from a particular chapter.

Interestingly, two of the big Hollywood releases that missed out on any nominations were 20th Century Fox’s The Counsellor and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, whose screeners were not sent out until December 30th. While the former had not gotten much critical acclaim or strong reviews (with the exception of Steven Gaydos), the latter had been considered a potential candidate, even with the mixed reviews it got, but walked away with no nominations. The late sending out of screeners could potentially have hurt its prospects. There was also no nomination for Fox Searchlight’s Enough Said, which was only made available via Fox’s website. Again, this may have ended up hurting a film that was otherwise well reviewed and for which a nomination was expected for the late James Gandolfini. This was also the case for TWC’s Fruitvale Station.

Turning thus to the two categories in which on-line distribution was the preferred mode, ie Best Documentary and Best Film not in the English Language, there are several interesting things to note.

Film not in the English Language (FNIEL)

Of the five films nominated three were sent out on DVD and on-line, two were only sent on DVD and no film that was only made available on-line made the shortlist. Of the three that were made available on-line, all three were distributed via iTunes and in some cases also on the distributor’s own website. No film distributed on Vimeo, DMS, YouTube or Dropbox made the cut. Again, quality more than technology is likely to have been prevailed, with Blue Is The Warmest Colour having won the Palm d’Or, The Act of Killing having been named Film of The Year (any category) by The Guardian, The Great Beauty having won the European Film Awards, Metro Manila having won the British Independent Awards and Wadjda having been widely acclaimed on its release. However, it would be reasonable to suppose that the suspenders-and-belt approach of DVD + iTunes download could have helped giving these films a slight edge.

Documentary

Here the picture becomes much more mixed and interesting. One of the films nominated was neither sent out as a DVD screener, nor made available on-line and has not been released in cinemas yet. So voting members can only have seen it at one of the festivals where it screened or a preview screening. One of the documentaries was only sent out as a DVD screener. One was only made available via iTunes. One was made available on iTunes and the distributor’s own website. The fifth and final was sent out as a DVD, made available on iTunes and also on the distributor’s own website. Again, no film on Vimeo or any other platform made the shortlist. Sending out a documentary on DVD alone is no guarantee, with several others that opted for this category alone did not make the shortlist. Documentaries are even more difficult to catch in the cinema than FNIEL, so voting members have had to make an extra effort. While The Act of Killing has been universally acclaimed and was expected to be on the short list it is worth noting that that two of the other documentaries were backed by major Hollywood studios (Universal and Sony), which gave them a slight marketing edge. But apart from that the picture is mixed.

In conclusion it is safe to observe that DVD screeners continue to dominate, even as on-line platforms make inroads, especially for FNIEL. For documentaries it seems that there are many roads to a nomination, including just screening in cinemas. The on-line platform that had most nominees was iTunes, sometimes in combination with the distributor’s own website, but going only on your own website or Vimeo et al does not appear to have improved the chances of any of the films.

It only remains for us to express a sincere wish that may the best films win purely on artistic merit, wherever and however they were seen. Our own preference here at Celluloid Junkie will always be the cinema.

 

 

Hollywood Trade Publications Aren’t Just For Christmas – Are They?

For Your Consideration Ads

Q: What do ski resorts, turkey farms, Christmas tree markets and Hollywood trade publications have in common?

A: They are all largely seasonal industries.

Ski resorts don’t have much business in the snow-free summer months, just as there only seems to be demand for turkeys and Christmas trees between Thanksgiving and New Years.  Similarly, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety  find their fortunes disproportionately tied to the awards season currently underway. Although it is true that the likes of retailers and book publishers also depend on the end-of-year season to pull them from red to black, it is worth asking whether the ground under the Hollywood trades has shifted so much that they can now be considered a truly seasonal industry and what implications this has for the publishers, journalists and the film industry at large.

With the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) recently asking studios and distributors not to call award nominees ‘winners’, it is an open secret that the true ‘winners’ in the run-up to the Academy, Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG, etc. awards are the trade publications carrying the ‘For Your Consideration’ (FYC) adverts along with the public congratulations for nominees and winners.  The main beneficiaries of the distributors’ largess are Variety, Hollywood Reporter and Screen International, with on-line publications like The Wrap and Deadline Hollywood capturing a small percentage.  Let’s also not forget all those billboards that spring up across Los Angeles at the end of the year.  Awards season advertising has proven so lucrative that mainstream media such as the Los Angeles Times and even the New York Times have gotten into the game with special sections focused on awards contenders.  It is difficult to estimate the ‘bump’ that the awards season brings in the advertising revenue, but puzzling together different sources indicates that it lies north of $100m for the past year. It’s enough to make Vogue’s fabled September issue seem like a small fashion supplement.

The trades don’t simply sit back and order more paper for thicker issues, they have to provide the seasonal content tree that the glittering FYC baubles will be hung from in the form of round-tables, profiles and in-depth pieces on the people behind and in front of the camera that make the award contending films. There are also elaborate special web sections devoted to the many awards (leading up to the One Award That Truly Matters, i.e. the Oscar) for both Hollywood Reporter, Variety and Screen - as well as the LA Times and NY Times. A visit to these sub-sections will reveal a treasure trove of articles, opinion pieces, newsletters, special sections, video interviews, predictions and punditry. The one thing they lack is the raison d’etre for why they were written in the first place. Not the Oscars, but the adverts.

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For Your iConsideration: Internet Streaming Overtakes DVD Distribution For Awards Screeners

For Your iConsideration

For the first time ever, Internet platforms have overtaken DVDs for distributing the largest number of “awards screeners” to industry professionals voting for year-end accolades. This post gives a breakdown analysis of the various streaming and download formats, with iTunes and Vimeo battling for the top position while fending off smaller rivals.

With the movie awards season upon us, Hollywood studios and independent distributors are fighting to get their films seen by the voting members of AMPAS (the Oscars), BAFTA, HFPA (Golden Globes) and the various film professional guilds (DGA, WGA, SAG, et al). Though studios prefer voting members to see their films in cinemas, the reality is that many will have to watch them at home on so-called “screeners”, particularly given the glut of prestigious films released towards the end of the year. Traditionally this has meant sending out VHS tapes (in the 90s) and ultimately DVDs, which tend to have embedded watermarks that are either visible (‘This DVD screener is the property of Studio X and not to be re-distributed’) or invisible (identifying the voting member it was sent to via a unique code).

The cost of sending out thousands of DVDs to the various voting members can be enormous, even for big distributors, particularly if they are individually watermarked. For films released earlier in the year commercial DVDs are often used, but recent releases like “The Wolf of Wall Street” or “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” need to be individually watermarked so they can be traced back to whom it was sent, in case this version is ripped and uploaded to the Internet, as has occurred in the past. Various attempts at new technology has been tried, such as Dolby’s encrypted DVD Cinea format, which involved sending a modified DVD player to each voting member of BAFTA and AMPAS. While working technically, it proved too cumbersome for voters who were often away from home over the holiday and couldn’t watch the encrypted DVDs on regular DVD players while traveling. Some studios have also begun sending Blu-Ray discs, with Warner Bros. first and Universal Pictures following last year.

This year Internet distribution has emerged as the cost-effective method preferred by smaller distributors, with many turning to streaming or downloading as the best way to catch the eye of voting members, at least in this case those of BAFTA, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

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AMPAS and BAFTA Get On The Tribute Poster Bandwagon

Lincoln Tribute Poster

Ever since they first started appearing back in the mid-2000′s, I’ve been a big fan of what has come to be known as “tribute posters”. The trend seems to have been started by the Mondo Gallery in Austin Texas, a subsidiary of Alamo Drafthouse, the independent spirited cinema chain based in the same city.

Mondo commissions graphic artists and illustrators to create posters for movies both old and new film releases. Artists such as Martin Ansin, Shepard Fairy, Tyler Stout and my favorite Olly Moss create highly stylized one sheets for classics such as “Repo Man“, “Back to the Future” and “Psycho”, as well as new releases such as “The Cabin in the Woods” (done in an Escher style), “Looper” and “The Dark Knight Rises“.

Mondo came up with the idea of re-crafting movie posters back in 2005 when Alamo Drafthouse needed artwork to promote its “Rolling Roadshow“, one-off screenings of movies in the locations where they are actually set. For instance, “Escape From Alcatraz” was shown on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco.

From those beginnings the business has grown to such an extent that Mondo now has the rights from LucasFilm to re-imagine all the “Star Wars” posters. When their limited edition posters go on sale they usually sell out within minutes. (It’s easier to score tickets to a Justin Bieber concert via Ticketmaster). Then in 2011 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences partnered with Mondo to archive the company’s artwork in the Margaret Herrick Library.

Now the Academy is taking a page out of Mondo’s book and producing their own batch of tribute posters for this year’s Best Picture Oscar nominees. They’ve hired a bunch of up-and-coming artists from around the world to create each poster; Matt Owen (“Amour”), Anthony Petrie (“Argo”), Rich Kelly (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”), Mark Englert (“Django Unchained”), Phantom City Creative (“Les Misérables”), Tom Whalen (“Life of Pi”), Jeff Boyes (“Lincoln”), Joshua Budich (“Silver Linings Playbook”) and Godmachine (“Zero Dark Thirty”).

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