- [from julienorvaisas] Top 40 Hand Gestures Of Silvio Berlusconi [BuzzFeed] – [A thorough taxonomy; includes "The Mr. Burns" and "The Hey Gurrrrl." Yesterday Wyatt shared a great observation here at the office about how hand gestures, and the ways in which people handle objects can communicate so much about their emotional state and personality. It's something specific to notice in research as a "tell." This collection of Berlusconi's gestural expressions provides ample opportunity to practice your interpretation!] Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is a man of many gesticulations.
- [from steve_portigal] The Inflatable Crowd Company – [Wonderful niche service with a crystal-clear positioning statement. Another business out there doing something cool, crazy, and curious] We have 30,000 realistic, inflatable torsos that are used to economically expand the scope of any crowd scene at any venue worldwide. We create custom crowds that are dressed and accessorized to match the look of your real extras. It is this texture – real clothes, wigs, etc. – and attention to detail that can make the illusion seamless. We provide all materials from the stock at our warehouse. We are able to create crowds for any type of scene – from a formal theater crowd to fans at large sporting events.
- Segmenting the Hendrix fan [NYTimes.com] – “We believe that there is a Jimi Hendrix fan out there at 99 cents and at $9 and at $20 — all the way across the spectrum,” Mr. Block said. “We want to make each fan an appropriate offering. Is the complete Jimi Hendrix on vinyl something every music fan would want? Absolutely not. Would there be a market for it? Absolutely.”
- Jerry Seinfeld on ideas [NYTimes.com] – Whatever happens to “The Marriage Ref,” Mr. Seinfeld said that he was out of ideas now. “Ideas are a terrible obligation,” he said. “Who needs something else to take care of? I have kids. I’d rather nurture them than another idea.”
- The Disposable Film Festival – In recent years a new kind of film has emerged: The Disposable Film. It has been made possible by new media (webcams, point and shoot digital cameras, cell phones, screen capture software, and one time use digital video cameras) and the rise of online distribution (YouTube, Google, MySpace, etc.). These films are often made quickly, casually, and sometimes even unintentionally. Everyone has become a Disposable Filmmaker: directors of Saturday night cell phone videos, actors under the eyes of security cameras, and narrators before their webcams. Let's face it – we live in an age of disposable film. Now it's time to do something creative with it.
- How to Kill Innovation: Keep Asking Questions – Scott Anthony [Harvard Business Review] – Resource-rich companies have the "luxury" of researching and researching problems. That can be a huge benefit in known markets where precision matters. But it can be a huge deficit in unknown markets where precision is impossible and attempts to create it through analysis are quixotic. Entrepreneurs don't have the luxury of asking "What about…" questions, and in disruptive circumstances that works in their favor.
So what's the alternative? Substitute early action for never-ending analysis. Figure out the quickest, cheapest way to do something market-facing to start the iterative process that so frequently typifies innovation. Be prepared to make quick decisions, but have the driver of the decision be in-market data, not conceptual analysis. In other words, go small and learn. Pitch (or even sell) your idea to colleagues. Open up a kiosk in a shopping mall for a week. Create a quick-and-dirty website describing your idea. Be prepared to make quick decisions.
- The “Raiders” Story Conference – Sure, there's a 125 page document on the interwebs now that transcribes the meetings that Spielberg, Lucas, and Lawrence Kasdan had to plan out Raiders of the Lost Ark, but even better is this post chock-full of analysis (with examples) of that document, finding principles of storytelling, screenwriting, and collaboration.
"7) No idea is a bad idea when you’re brainstorming.
These guys were all over the place with ideas and there’s nothing wrong with that. As I mentioned earlier, many of the ideas discussed, like the plane crash sequence and mine cart chase, were used in the second film. So what helped determine which sequence should be kept and thrown away? Redundancies in concept. You already had a chase scene here, so why have another one here? Let’s come up with something different. You know? That kind of thing."
Tons of great stuff in this Tad Friend New Yorker article about the marketing of movies. The codification of the marketing process revealed in the article provides a bit of insight about how we discover and experience this particular class of product.
The business began to change in 1973, when “Billy Jack,” about a rebellious ex-Green Beret, was reissued by its writer and star, Tom Laughlin, after a Warner Bros. release fizzled. Laughlin’s company, Taylor-Laughlin Distribution, saturated the airwaves with television spots aimed at twelve different demographics—“carefully calculated overkill,” as one Taylor-Laughlin executive put it.
“Jaws” opened “wide” in 1975, on four hundred and nine screens, at the time a large number; big studio films now open everywhere on more than four thousand. And if you’re in that many theatres you need huge audiences as soon as a film opens—so you need a movie that sells itself.
Marketing considerations shape not only the kind of films studios make but who’s in them—gone are lavish adult dramas with no stars, like the 1982 “Gandhi.” Such considerations account for a big role being written for Shia LaBeouf in the most recent “Indiana Jones” (to attract youthful viewers as well as Harrison Ford’s aging fans). They also account for the virtual absence from the screen of children between the ages of newborn (when they appear briefly, to puke on the star for the trailer) and that of the Macauley Culkin character in “Home Alone.” Why have a four-year-old character, when one who is ten will prompt ten-year-olds to find him “relatable,” and four-to-nine-year-olds to look up to him?
An unexpected corollary of the modern marketing-and-distribution model is that films no longer have time to find their audience; that audience has to be identified and solicited well in advance. Marketers segment the audience in a variety of ways, but the most common form of partition is the four quadrants: men under twenty-five; older men; women under twenty-five; older women. A studio rarely makes a film that it doesn’t expect will succeed with at least two quadrants, and a film’s budget is usually directly related to the number of quadrants it is anticipated to reach. The most expensive tent-pole movies, such as the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, are aimed at all four quadrants.
The collective wisdom is that young males like explosions, blood, cars flying through the air, pratfalls, poop jokes, “you’re so gay” banter, and sex—but not romance. Young women like friendship, pop music, fashion, sarcasm, sensitive boys who think with their hearts, and romance—but not sex (though they like to hear the naughty girl telling her friends about it). They go to horror films as much as young men, but they hate gore; you lure them by having the ingénue take her time walking down the dark hall.
Older women like feel-good films and Nicholas Sparks-style weepies: they are the core audience for stories of doomed love and triumphs of the human spirit. They enjoy seeing an older woman having her pick of men; they hate seeing a child in danger. Particularly once they reach thirty, these women are the most “review-sensitive”: a chorus of critical praise for a movie aimed at older women can increase the opening weekend’s gross by five million dollars. In other words, older women are discriminating, which is why so few films are made for them.
Older men like darker films, classic genres such as Westerns and war movies, men protecting their homes, and men behaving like idiots. Older men are easy to please, particularly if a film stars Clint Eastwood and is about guys just like them, but they’re hard to motivate.
If the poster shows a poster child, the movie is for kids. Posters are intended to tell you the film’s genre at a glance, then make you look more closely. Horror posters, for instance, have dark backgrounds; comedies have white backgrounds with the title and copy line in red. Because stars are supposed to open the film, and because they have contractual approval of how they appear on the poster, the final image is often a so-called “big head” or “floating head” of the star.
- Scopophilia – Literally, the love of looking. The term refers to the predominantly male gaze of Hollywood cinema, which enjoys objectifying women into mere objects to be looked at (rather than subjects with their own voice and subjectivity).
- Fabula and Sjuzhet – Fabula refers to the chronological sequence of events in a narrative; sjuzhet is the re-presentation of those events (through narration, metaphor, camera angles, the re-ordering of the temporal sequence, and so on).