Film/Movie Chapter Analysis

Film was first created in 1877 using 12 cameras, but it wasn’t until much later that movies included both sound and color. In the beginning, movies were just one scene, or perhaps 60 seconds of film. Eventually, though, the movie industry became “an industry based on dreams.” This is because movies began to have a little imagination and creativity thrown in, instead of essentially showing a moving picture of a horse.

The film industry, as many people know, has been facing tough issues for many years. The invention of the television caused people to abandon movie theaters for the comfort of their own home. In 1966 movie ratings were introduced, which was a good thing for movie theater attenders, but not a great thing for the film industry. Because films were rated, many people stopped going to see certain movies because they were “too bad.” Although DVD sales and rentals have helped the film industry income rise a little bit, the industry is still struggling each year to stay afloat.

Technology is now driving the business by changing the way production and distribution are done. Computers are now being used to create movies inexpensively, which can cost a lot less than hiring real-life people. When it comes to technology changing distribution, Apple is making movie downloads available online, Netflix is streaming movies to customers TVs, and distribution companies are planning to send moves by satellite to dishes on top of theaters.

Although technology appears to be beginning to drastically change (and help) the film/movie industry, as a job market the industry is not very secure. Although some movies make billions of dollars, only 2 out of 10 theatrical movies make any money at all. Just to make a movie costs an average of $107 million! Ticket sales have dropped substantially for movie theaters, but if the price is raised to bring in more money, customers will simply rent a movie from RedBox or stream a movie to their house using Netflix. Creating movies sounds like an extremely fun job, but the industry just seems way too risky to me, even with ancillary rights being used to bring in more cash.

My favorite part of the chapter was reading how much money it took to make the 10 most expensive movies. It blew me away that anyone could have so much money to be spent on a film, but when I read the list of movies it was obvious that they’re all well-known and have probably more than doubled the amount that was invested in them. For example, the most expensive movie ever made was Avatar, which cost $500 million. As you could probably guess, Titanic, King Kong, and a few of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies made it onto the list. I can’t fathom having that much money to spend on making a movie, but I imagine much of it was for production costs and computer graphics. As shocking as these numbers were, they make it painfully obvious that to survive in the movie/film industry, you must have not only good connections and creativity, but a lot of money as well.

Book/Chapter:

Media/Impact: An Introduction to Mass Media by Shirley Biagi – Chapter 7

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Media Critique Blog #6

“Alabama has a proliferation of pregnant porkers.” With a title like that, John Archibald, of The Birmingham News, was sure to get a reaction out of his readers. Add in the fact that the story is more about politics than it is about pigs, and an idea was likely to be quickly formed by many – politicians are pigs.

Archibald begins by discussing the problems we face with pigs: greed and corruption, boorish behavior, and an insatiable appetite. He says if you “give an Alabama pig an inch…it will take a pile.” For a little while the story seems boring, a simple description of pigs. But then Archibald throws the reader a curveball by comparing these pigs to senators and representatives. Out of no where, politics has been thrown into the story. If the reader is anything like myself, her or she likely went back through the description of pigs to read what Archibald was actually saying about politicians. It is at this point that Archibald either gains or loses support from readers.

For those that read on, he then writes, “It is mere chance that a wild pig’s gestation period is roughly the same length of time as a regular session of the Alabama Legislature. It is just coincidence that a wild pig can spit out eight to 10 piglets in the time it takes lawmakers to pass one decent law. This pig dilemma is about real pigs.” It’s easy to read right between the lines of his sarcasm and see that he’s actually bashing the government, but instead of coming right out and saying how he feels, he has chosen to voice his thoughts behind a story on pigs.

Archibald then shifts towards a different topic – wild pig birth control. It seems like a bit of a strange topic, but of course he relates it back to politics. He describes a little bit of what the birth control would look like for pigs, but then he slips right back into his “sarcastic voice.” He says, “I mean, here we have the government — not piggish insurance companies, of course — paying for pig contraception. And there’s not even a snort of debate about it.” Obviously, he is hinting at the fact that the government is perfectly fine with birth control for pigs – there’s barely a whisper of any argument against it! However, there have been and may always be debates on birth control for women. Archibald does a great job of pointing out a flaw in the government without ever specifically saying it himself – he simply leads the reader to the thought he wants him/her to have.

The one downfall of this story is the use of quotes. Archibald quotes Steve Ditchkoff, a professor at Auburn University, a few times, but the quotes are all related to pigs. The quotes don’t serve a purpose in bringing the government into the story, but perhaps that was Archibald’s idea – if he mainly talks about pigs, then who can be upset with him for mentioning politics? The only other quote is actually a reference to George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Although this could be a good reference to tie in, it was a poor way to end the story.

John Archibald did a fantastic job of getting his thoughts across without having to bluntly state them. He used humor and sarcasm to lead the reader to his idea. The quotes weren’t great and didn’t add very much, but the story was thought-provoking and silently threw darts, if you will, at the government.

The news story can be found here.

Media Critique Blog #5

Money is always a hot topic in the news. As humans, we often compare our lives with the lives of others. Comparing how much money we make is one way we can either feel better about ourselves, or a way to feel sorry for ourselves. The Birmingham News wrote a story titled “Alabama legislators will get $1,608 raises if they don’t decline them in writing.” The title is catchy and draws readers in very quickly. After all, we’re immediately curious to hear if any legislators are declining a pay raise.

David White, the writer of this news story, begins with a short indirect quote and then goes straight into the facts. When will the pay raise happen? Who has declined it? And probably most important to the reader – how much will legislators make now?

White states that, “The automatic cost-of-living increase that would be implemented in April would push the annual pay . . . to $55,046, a raise of 3 percent.” He then says that two Birmingham legislators, Dem. Rodger Smitherman and Rep. John Rogers, said “they intend to accept the raise because of the rising costs of gasoline, lodging in Montgomery and other work-related expenses.” Rogers is quoted saying he’s simply taking the pay raise because the cost-of-living is going up, and Smitherman agrees. Smitherman mentions that he recently stopped to fill up his car and premium gasoline was $4.00.

The problem with this quote has nothing to do with White, but all to do with Smitherman. It’s likely that the general public will read that line and think, “Hey! I have to pay for gas, too, and I’m not receiving a pay raise!” Once again, White has to subtly bring the reader back into the story before they turn the page or close the browser out of annoyance.

Smith does this by continuing the story with facts about legislators who have recently declined a pay raise. He even mentions that there are many legislators in Alabama that have chosen to only be paid $30,710 a year instead of the $52,646 many other are being paid. Senator Brewbaker, a legislator being paid only $30,710 says ”It just doesn’t seem right for legislators to take COLAs, or certainly take a big pay increase, when state employees certainly aren’t getting them.” This, as Smith knows, is a great quote to include because it will be greatly supported by the general public.

There were many direct and indirect quotes from legislators in this story. Smith quotes people on both sides of the ‘fence’ and did a great job remaining unbiased in his writing. He wisely spends much of the last section of the news story throwing around the acronym COLA – bringing the reader back to the idea of the pay raise being for a cost-of-living adjustment. If the cost of living is increasing, then perhaps a 3% pay raise is not a big deal. At the end of the day, Smith grabbed the reader with a great title, provided many important facts and great quotes, and kept the audience reading a story that would often be easy to become annoyed and even angry with. This is a great piece of writing!

The news story can be found here.

Television Reflection

The television group (Kevin, Kelsey, and Elizabeth) covered many topics during the presentation. They began with the history of television, discussed different television programming and Nielson ratings, and ended with how to get involved with the television industry.

Television has evolved in many ways, and the group did a good job showing what television is today and how it has recently changed. I don’t think they spend enough time on how television began, though. They briefly mentioned that it started a black and white, perhaps because that’s common knowledge, but I would love to know why and how it switched to color.

At one point, Elizabeth asked what television programming we believe is the most popular (drama, quiz shows, detective stories, etc.). I had been expecting her to say reality shows and sitcoms are the most popular, but in fact sports and sitcoms are the most popular. I hadn’t factored in sports as a genre, but it makes perfect sense. I completely agree with what she said because both men and women will watch sports and sitcoms, while reality shows or talk shows are more likely to draw a smaller, more niched group of viewers.

The most interesting part of the presentation was the information about different networks: O&O’s, affiliates, and syndicated shows. I had heard these terms but didn’t understand very much about their differences. I wish they had spent a little more time discussing the different networks, but the brief information was interesting.

The television presentation group ended by talking about different ways to get involved with tv, from internships and temporary entertainment positions to volunteering. They said internships often include writing, directing and programming. Temp agencies give opportunities to meet influential people and make connections, but often require many not-so-glamerous jobs. Finally, volunteering is an easy way to get experience and it a great way to put yourself out there, but it is essentially an unpaid job.

Overall the group gave a lot of information about television, but 90% of it was straight from the television chapter in the book. They did a good job presenting, but I wanted to learn more from their own research. I will say that they tried to make it fun with candy and a quiz on 90’s television show characters, but at the end of the day I left a little bummed that I hadn’t learned anything new.