My articles are titled Test Screenings: Exhibition, Participation and Intervention and Life in a Day: Creation through Participation. The theme of the issue was participation and the media, hence the titles!
The issue also contains an article from the always interesting James Rose on feature films made about participatory TV.
This follows my articles in previous issues on:
- Participating in a reality TV show (December 2009)
- Sacha Baron Cohen's mock-docs (April 2010)
- Stop-motion animation (September 2010)
- Michael Moore's Documentaries (December 2010)
- Ghetto Culture in City of God and La Haine (February 2011)
- The collaborations of Fincher and Pitt (April 2011)
- The cinema of 9/11 (September 2011)
- Documentaries that attack America (December 2011)
Here is a brief sample of the new articles:
Test Screenings are the most common form of audience research used by Hollywood and the film industry as a whole. Long in advance of the release of a film, a small audience will be invited to a secret preview. Effects may not be completed, the soundtrack may be temporary and the film will sometimes have barely left the edit suite before it is screened to a few film fans to gain feedback from the audience. A questionnaire is generally handed out after the film and the audience asked to complete it. Questions could be on anything from the opening of the film, to individual characters, to the soundtrack, or even to the ending of the film. The audience will be responsible for giving the filmmakers feedback on what does and doesn’t work and the responses could lead to drastic changes in the film or the marketing strategy before it is finally released. Attendees are asked to sign a non-disclosure form so they cannot leak details of the film on their blogs or to the press. With test screenings becoming increasingly common, the question is; should the artist or the audience get the final cut?
With participants that range from a little boy that shines shoes for a living in Peru to a smug American Lamborghini owner, Life in a Day crosses the globe and brings viewers a taste of a huge range of cultures, from the super rich to those that have nothing. As a social experiment, not just a feature documentary film, the filmmakers wanted to make this a global project. No doubt to avoid accusations of ethnocentrism and an attempt to eliminate too great a focus on ‘narcissistic, bedroom-bound western teenagers’ (Macdonald, 2011), the filmmakers wanted to include people from the developing world that don’t traditionally have access to cameras, computers or any means to upload their footage to Youtube. So Macdonald and his team spent £40,000 on 400 HD cameras and had ‘various aid organisations distribute them among people in remote towns and villages’ (Macdonald, 2011) in around forty different developing countries. The images and sounds of Angolan women that sing as they work, the men who herd goats and the people who dwell in the rainforests are testament to the films attempt to bring representation of all corners of the globe to the big screen.
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