‘This Is The End’: Digital Artefact Contextual Report

DA Access Links

Concept

My concept focused on the impact that social media is having on the film industry in terms of production and storytelling. I chose to present my DA as a blog series consisting of three posts, as this felt like the best medium to articulate my thoughts. My goal was to gather as much information as I could on social media’s recent past to gain some reasonable insight into possible futures. There isn’t a lot of published research surrounding the future of the film industry in terms of culture. I had to draw my own conclusions based on the knowledge I gained from popular media and my own understanding of the current culture on social media. 

Methodology & Background Research

As I was a young teen immersed in social media during the early 2010’s, I mostly pulled from my own memory and researched articles from popular media sites to back up my thoughts, while also gaining some new knowledge from these sites. I chose to focus my approach to the DA challenge on the short and medium term future from now until 2030, with a brief mentioning of the long term future in 2050. My projections were based on the current culture we experience today and my observations of the recent past. 

Some of my research:

Relive 2020 Through Jokes

  • Description: Provides a calendar of the most popular memes in 2020
  • How it was used: I used this to demonstrate the fast paced nature of social media. Jokes can become incredibly popular one month and be forgotten the next, we are constantly moving to the next thing.

Twitter Shows Influence of Buzz on Movies

  • Description: Data analysis on how word-of-mouth on social media impacts the box office revenue of films.
  • How it was used: The film industry has a monetary incentive to listen to the opinions of social media users, as they are the ones who have the most influence on the projected box office revenue.

Kelly Marie Tran Breaks Her Silence

  • Description: An article about the abuse that Kelly Marie Tran experienced on social media following the debut of her character in the Star Wars franchise.
  • How it was used: Social media has allowed fandoms to have a direct line of contact with the actors in their favourite films. I used this to give some context into the toxicity that social media sometimes produces.

Beyond Creepy Teeth

  • Description: Details the Sonic The Hedgehog (2019) controversy and the work to redesign the character.
  • How it was used: The most relevant and defining example of social media impacting film production.

James Dean, who died in 1955, just landed a new movie role

  • Description: Covers the rise of CGI actors, notably James Dean, being used in films to depict actors who have passed on.
  • How it was used: Helped me to consider the future of CGI in films and how it could be used more frequently and extensively.

Donald Glover: Fear of ‘getting cancelled’ makes entertainment ‘boring

  • Description: Reports on Donald Glover’s tweets about his opinions on the negative impact ‘’cancel culture’ is having on the quality of entertainment media
  • How it was used: To demonstrate that even those who are in the entertainment industry think that media is being negatively affected by our current culture, and if we continue in this manner then content will become more lackluster.

Lecture content

Cyberculture

Cyberculture of Social Media: Identity as Trash of Information

  • “Cyberculture on one hand provides emotional satisfaction to users of social media, on the other hand creates a new culture that is completely different from the reality of the formal environment.” (Hakim & Quroatun ‘Uyun 2020, pg. 136)
  • Helped me gain a deeper understanding of cyberculture and how it is impacting identity and communication.
  • Formed the basis of my thinking around how the ‘rules’ of social media and cyberculture have impacted the film industry over time and how they will do so in the future.

Multiple Futures

Making People Responsible – Wendell Bell

  • “Many social scientists do not respond to such a challenge because they remain in the grip of the widespread belief that making value judgements objectively is impossible” (Bell 1997, pg. 332)
    • I found it difficult to comment on the ‘preferred’ future of social media culture, as cultural values are subjective. While the patterns of societal values can be speculated upon, it’s difficult to make sound predictions based on scientific reasoning and methodology.
  • “Futurists also attempt to forecast the most probable futures given specific situations, sets of circumstances, and particular alternative courses of action.” (Bell 1997, pg. 328)
    • These were the main strategies that I used to give my thoughts on how the future of the film industry could evolve in various ways.

Feedback & Iterations

I received several peer comments on my Beta presentation that gave valuable feedback on the structure of my posts. I had already posted all three of my blog posts prior to receiving this feedback, so I chose to edit the blog posts to incorporate some of their suggestions. This comment by Kara suggested that I include sub-headings to break up some of the text. This also felt helpful for the parts of my blog posts that didn’t contain as many images, as it was difficult to find relatable images.

I also adjusted some of the points in my blog posts to include more notes about ‘toxic fandoms’, as the comments from Bronte and Kara had briefly mentioned the impact of social media fandoms on entertainment media. While their comments suggested discussing how fandoms impact the trajectory of television shows, my main focus was on the film industry. I adapted these suggestions to better fit my core focus and my prior research.

I didn’t receive any feedback from my audience. As a result, I looked to friends and family for their thoughts on topics I could discuss. Some of the ideas I incorporate into my blogs were:

  • CGI Actors – eg. James Dean
  • Reboots and remakes – eg. another Batman recast
  • Chris Rock comments on ‘cancel culture’

Audience & Utility

With each blog post, I posted an accompanying tweet to notify my audience. These tweets received a lot of views, yet didn’t receive much engagement. Most of the views on my blog posts came directly from WordPress. I also received several WordPress likes on these posts. I targeted my BCM325 audience on social media, but I received more of a film audience on my blog posts. In hindsight, I could have used additional hashtags and the polling option on twitter to increase engagement. I utilised several hashtags on WordPress to broaden my audience.

My goal with my Digital Artefact was to explore the power that social media users have in changing culture. I wanted to showcase that the film industry is aware of the demands of their audiences through online platforms. By recognising the potential power of social media, users have a chance to utilise social media to their advantage to create the future that they would like to experience. The social utility of my project can best be summarised by Bell’s quote, “Futurists aim to help people become more confident, effective, and responsible actors, both in their personal lives and in their organizational and societal roles.” (Bell 1997, pg. 328)

Conclusion 

The lack of research in this area limited my ability to present data that could accurately indicate the impact of social media on the film industry. However, I believe the connections I made between current cultural standards and films being released is a foundation for examining this notion. I think this digital artefact would benefit from the podcast platform, as there is a lot of discussion to be had about the nature of social media and the film industry. As we saw with the peer comments, there are a lot of topics that could be incorporated into this discussion, particularly in the realm of fandoms and the television industry.

References:

Alexander, J 2019 “James Dean, who died in 1955, just landed a new movie role, thanks to CGI” The Verge, weblog post, 6 November, viewed 16 May 2021 <https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/6/20951485/james-dean-new-movie-cgi-recreation-finding-jack 

Bell, W 1998 ‘Making People Responsible: The Possible, the Probable, and the Preferable’ American Behaviour Scientist, Vol 42(3), Nov-Dec 1998, Special Issue: Futures Studies in Higher Education, p. 323-339

Eagan, O 2017 “Twitter Shows Influence of Buzz on Movies” International Journal of Interdisciplinary Research <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330015918_Twitter_Shows_Influence_of_Buzz_on_Movies 

Hakim, L & Quroatun ‘Uyun, Z 2020 “CYBERCULTURE ON SOCIAL MEDIA: IDENTITY AS TRASH OF INFORMATION” Orasi: Jurnal Dakwah dan Komunikasi Vol. 11, No. 1, pg. 136-143 <https://www.academia.edu/44908201/CYBERCULTURE_ON_SOCIAL_MEDIA_IDENTITY_AS_TRASH_OF_INFORMATION 

Lee, C 2020 “Beyond the Creepy Teeth: How Sonic the Hedgehog Saved Itself” Vulture, weblog post, 14 February, viewed 16 May 2021 <https://www.vulture.com/2020/02/the-sonic-the-hedgehog-controversy-and-redesign-explained.html 

MacBeth, C 2020 ‘Relive 2020 through jokes: A meme calendar you need to see’ Film Daily, weblog post, 29 December, viewed 4 May 2021 <https://filmdaily.co/memes/2020-memes-recap/ 

Sparks, H 2021 “Donald Glover: Fear of ‘getting cancelled’ makes entertainment ‘boring’” New York Post, weblog post, 11 May, viewed 21 May 2021 <https://nypost.com/2021/05/11/donald-glover-cancel-culture-makes-boring-tv-and-movies/ 

“This is a story about the future”: Social Media vs. The Film Industry, Part 3.

Click here to read part one and part two of this blog series!

Image: Buffer

A Cultural Shift

The landscape of social media was very different in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s. Comic led films like Superbad (2007) and Step-brothers (2008) were at the height of their popularity. The cyberculture that formed as a result of this thrived off edgy humour, as this style of humour bled into the zeitgeist of youth culture. Social media was so new that the social rules in our real lives didn’t apply in the same way; you could be as mean and controversial as you wanted because it “wasn’t real”, it was cyberspace. This is a stark contrast to the social media culture that has manifested today, as we’ve seen many people in the entertainment industry, particularly comedians, come under fire for jokes they made in the past. 

New rules have formed in our cyberculture that have impacted the way we perceive the world. We, as a society, have slowly become more “tolerant” and “accepting”, which means being more aware of things that could be considered offensive. Even films like Pitch Perfect, which was released in 2012, featured some pretty tasteless humour that on rewatch made me think, “There is no way you could say that now.” With every new film or television release, people are able to immediately voice their opinions and concerns on social media.

Image: Into

Woke Culture’ – the Good and the Bad

As a result, some people have voiced their concerns about the rise of “cancel culture” on social media having repercussions on the film and TV industry. Comedian and actor, Chris Rock has stated in an interview that ‘cancel culture’ has created comedians that are “unfunny”. Actor and musician Donald Glover posted [now deleted tweets] on Twitter, “We’re getting boring stuff and not even experimental mistakes(?) because people are afraid of getting cancelled.” While many were quick to disagree with this take, it raises important questions about whether “cancel culture” will continue and what kind of impact it could have on the film industry.

The rise of “woke culture” has also produced many benefits for the film industry. There has been a steady increase in diversity on screen, we are seeing more stories with minorities and people of colour at the forefront. This has also manifested in old films being reimagined with more diverse characters, i.e. Ghostbusters (2016), Oceans 8 (2018), and the new Cheaper By The Dozen film currently in production. I see this only improving as time goes on, we will see more stories that are written from the perspectives of minorities, rather than just reimagined film remakes, diversifying the kinds of stories we see on screen, and bringing further representation to Hollywood. 

Image: Giphy

Reboots and Franchises Galore

The internet also gives us access to film, TV and music from any decade, allowing people to return to entertainment that they loved in their childhood, while introducing a whole new audience to content that would have just been lost. Film and TV studios have tapped into this nostalgia, giving us countless remakes of old beloved classics, as well as television spin offs that reunite audiences with the characters they grew to love.

Additionally, franchise films have dominated the film and TV industry for over a decade now. Batman is now being remade for a 6th time, we have seen 3 iterations of Spiderman films since the year 2000, and we have a film or tv show for almost every Marvel and DC character under the sun. The call for more diversity is Hollywood has also impacted these comic book films. Films like Black Panther (2017) and Wonder Woman (2017) are held in high regard. We are also finally receiving a solo Black Widow (2021) film after a decade of demand. Franchises like Marvel and Star Wars have strong fan bases that have been built over decades and are guaranteed to have an audience for new releases, ensuring their popularity for decades to come. Reboots, remakes, and large film franchises are the films that gain the most word-of-mouth on social media, which directly correlates with the financial success that a film receives (Eagan 2017), incentivising filmmakers to keep producing films of this nature.

The Future of Storytelling

There are several different ways that we could see the impact of social media on storytelling progressing in the future. In the short term future, we are guaranteed to get a few more remakes of beloved films with diverse casts, as well as reboots with casts that are still being requested. Marvel Studios move to a television medium, as well as the continuation of several film sequels, has produced a timeline for the next 3 years of Marvel releases.

However, while these are the films that gain the most revenue, there is a growing sense that audiences are growing tired of seeing the same characters and the same stories being retold in a hundred different ways. There will be an audience craving more originality in storytelling, but as we speculated earlier, it’s possible that film creators will be too cautious to experiment with new stories. As a result, the predicted state of the film industry in 2030 relies on several different determinants. If the support for film remakes and franchises are strong enough, they will continue to have a dominant hold on the film industry. If there is enough push back on social media, we will see a return to original storytelling becoming more prevalent and producing new films that have the potential to become beloved classics. 

The kinds of films we will see in 2030 specifically depend on the landscape of culture in that time. Will “cancel culture” continue to rise and limit our storytelling? Will we cycle back to a culture of rebellion and edgy humour? Will we see an entirely new form of culture that we haven’t experienced before? It’s hard to speculate where culture will be in 10 years and how it will manifest on social media. I think that no matter what, we will see more diverse casts and stories, as we continue to demand more equality on screen.

Image: Christina Animashaun/Vox

Additionally, it’s entirely possible that we will see change occur from the inside. Actors and producers who have grown tired of the current state of film and TV, such as Donald Glover, will take matters into their own hands by taking more risks and producing the content that they want to see.

The future of storytelling in the film industry rests on the reception that these films receive on social media. As we’ve seen with the shift in culture on social media and its impact on how we make and receive films today, social media users have the power to determine the kind of films they want to see being made. We can create the future we want to see, and now is the time to start building it.

References:

Hakim, L & Quroatun ‘Uyun, Z 2020 “CYBERCULTURE ON SOCIAL MEDIA: IDENTITY AS TRASH OF INFORMATION” Orasi: Jurnal Dakwah dan Komunikasi Vol. 11, No. 1, pg. 136-143 <https://www.academia.edu/44908201/CYBERCULTURE_ON_SOCIAL_MEDIA_IDENTITY_AS_TRASH_OF_INFORMATION

Sparks, H 2021 “Donald Glover: Fear of ‘getting cancelled’ makes entertainment ‘boring’” New York Post, weblog post, 11 May, viewed 21 May 2021 <https://nypost.com/2021/05/11/donald-glover-cancel-culture-makes-boring-tv-and-movies/

Eagan, O 2017 “Twitter Shows Influence of Buzz on Movies” International Journal of Interdisciplinary Research <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330015918_Twitter_Shows_Influence_of_Buzz_on_Movies

Animashaun, C 2021, Cancel Culture, image, Vox, viewed 23 May 2021 <https://www.vox.com/22384308/cancel-culture-free-speech-accountability-debate

Robinson, M 2018, Group of Marvel Cosplayers at Comic-Con, image, Business Insider, viewed 23 May 2021 <https://www.businessinsider.com/best-avengers-cosplay-at-sdcc-2016-7?r=AU&IR=T

‘We’ll Do It Live!’: Live Tweeting Critical Summary, Vol. 2

The first blog I posted on my live tweeting experience was detailing the screenings from weeks one to five. This time, I’m going to be reflecting on the screenings from weeks six to eleven, which will bring my live tweeting to a close. Based on the feedback from my last blog post, my aim was to integrate more lecture content in my tweets. The quality of my tweets has drastically improved and that has reflected well in the increase in engagement. I will show you a few examples in this blog.

Image: Imgur

Week Six: Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

The week six screening was Blade Runner 2049. The topic of this week’s lecture was futurists, which is what guided my research prior to the screening. I managed to draft several tweets that related to the lecture topics, including these tweets about the representation of robotics in the film. I also aimed to research the topic of transhumanism, which was a big portion of this week’s lecture. I found a few articles that discussed this topic in relation to the film, as well as one that focuses on biotechnology. This tweet links an article discussing how films like Blade Runner 2049 could demonstrate the ethical repercussions of biotechnology in our society.

My engagement this week was quite low. My original tweets that featured no links and were directly responding to moments in the film, such as this tweet on the left, received slightly more engagement than others.

Having drafted several tweets beforehand, and the film also being almost 3 hours long, I aimed to engage more with my peers through quote tweeting. I felt that through responding to my peers’ tweets, I was able to gain further insight into the film and think more critically about the themes that were presented.

Image: Cover Abyss

Week Seven: The Matrix (1999)

This week’s screening was The Matrix (again, another incredibly famous movie that I hadn’t seen). The lecture for this week was the first installment of a cyberculture series, focusing mainly on cybernetics. I employed a new tactic this week, which was to keep the lecture notes open as a frame of reference for both further research and connecting plot points to the lecture material. As a result, I had several successful tweets that received a fair amount of engagement. One of these tweets was a direct connection to the lecture content through a quote from the film. The other was an observation I made using my knowledge of the feedback loops in cybernetics.

The tweets I made in reference to the lecture content received the most engagement this week, none of which included links to further research. The highlight of this week is this tweet that directly referenced the cybernetic goal system, which was my attempt to understand the matrix through this perspective. This was the most likes I had received on a tweet so far.

The only downfall of this week? I didn’t interact with my peers through replies and quote tweeting, but I managed to retweet many insightful observations made by my peers.

Image: Wallpaper Pimper

Week Nine: Alita: Battle Angel (2019) (no screening in week eight)

This week was a strange one. The BCM325 cohort managed to grab the attention of Alita fans, which resulted in my tweets gaining a large amount of engagement from both classmates and the general public, and continuing to receive engagement for about a week after the screening. The tweets that received the most amount of engagement were observations about the film and discussions of the visual effects. While the tweets I posted in connection to the lecture content didn’t gain as much traction as the aforementioned tweets, they still received more engagement than my tweets from previous weeks.

However, the highlight of this week was this tweet I posted about the disruption of binary systems mentioned in the lecture. It was even retweeted in the weekly UOW Digital Media Society showcase. I believe this tweet is the most representative of my improvement in live tweeting, as it addresses both the lecture content and is a live reaction to a plot point in the film. I think including a still from the film also served its likeability well.

Image: Pinterest

Week Ten: Ready Player One (2018)

This week’s screening of Ready Player One was a bit more difficult than other weeks, even though I had made significant strides in the practise of live tweeting. Unfortunately, the lecture notes weren’t posted on moodle, so I couldn’t easily refer back to the lecture when crafting tweets during the screening. I had drafted a majority of the minimum 10 tweets prior to the screening, most of them containing links to further research about the exploration of cyberspace in the film, but I also included some tweets about the nature of nostalgia. These tweets received some engagement, but significantly less than the recent previous weeks.

However, this allowed me to spend more time interacting with my peers, and retweeting the insights that they were posting. I wish I had spent more time attempting to create conversations and reflect on the lecture content in these replies. My most prominent tweet for this week was a quote tweet that demonstrated a recurring thought I had throughout this film.

Image: That Shelf

Week Eleven: Robot & Frank (2012)

This brings us to the final week of live tweeting. This week, while I drafted several original tweets that related to the lecture topic of AI, my main focus was to improve in an area that had been lacking in previous weeks; interactions. I spent more time quote tweeting and replying to my peers’ tweets with meaningful insights. My personal favourites were the tweets that incorporated my knowledge of the lecture content and the knowledge I’ve gained through watching previous films, as we see with this tweet on the right.

I also tried to incorporate more pictures in an attempt to gain more engagement, which was an observation I made in the recent previous weeks. This worked to a certain extent, but I wish I had tested this theory sooner. The tweet below includes a still/quote from the film that directly correlated with the lecture content, making it my highlight for this week.

As the semester comes to a close, I felt that focusing on creating conversations and meaningful interactions was a great way to round out the improvements I’ve made in all areas of my live tweeting.

Reflection

While there are still areas that need more work (the frequency and quality of my replies), and things I discovered later in the semester that I wish I could have incorporated more (such as including pictures), I’m really proud of the improvements I’ve achieved over the course of live tweeting. My increased efforts to reflect on the lecture material, both through further background research and reacting to specific plot points in the films, paid off in increased engagement and acknowledgement from my peers. I feel satisfied with the overall quality of my tweets and I believe I achieved what I set out to in my previous live tweeting blog post.

Say ‘No to Peer Pressure, and ‘Yes’ to Peer Commentary, Vol. 2

Just as we did when we posted our DA pitches, we have been asked to comment on our peers’ beta presentations. I was really excited to see how my peers were coming along with their projects, and ready to pick up on some tips, both through their presentations and their comments on my presentation. I felt a bit more prepared to comment on their presentations this time around, given that this is our second round of peer commentary and I believe I have a better understanding of the lecture content.

Comment One

The first comment I posted was on Bronte’s beta. Her DA is a short film and script about her own mental health journey during the covid period, that also aims to discuss the future of mental health in cinema. Bronte wants to pursue a career in this field, so this project will be contributing to her overall portfolio and experience. This reminded me of a Wendell Bell quote from the week three lecture, “The past is not a guide to the future. The past can be transcended. Conscious decisions and efforts to achieve great purpose can shape the future.” (Wendell Bell, 2003 [1997] p.14) I was impressed with her integration of her own future in her project, as well as the future of cinema, which I had to mention in my comment. 

The articles I provided focused on the representation of mental health in storytelling. The first article takes a more critical approach, noting the myths and stereotypes and their negative impact on audiences. The second article contains facts and statistics about the discussion of mental health in entertainment media, and offers some solutions as to how the representation could be improved. I felt these articles were appropriate for looking at the future of mental health in cinema.

I loved the creativity of her project. I think it’s such an original idea that is clearly a result of her passion for art. I have no expertise in this area, I’m just a consumer, and so I found it difficult to provide feedback on the DA itself. The only feedback I had for her was the cohesion between her update posts. I had a little bit of trouble following her update posts between the amount she had on her instagram and blog. Having a bit more of a connection to her blog posts through her instagram would provide a bit more accessibility for her audience.

Comment Two

My second comment was on James’ DA, “The Factories of the Future”. His project is a series of video essays detailing the future of manufacturing. I admittedly don’t know anything about manufacturing or factories so this was a little bit of a struggle to give appropriate feedback. The topic he chose to focus on has a wealth of information about the future of the technology in manufacturing, even in regards to the specific year he mentioned in his beta video. The first article I chose to recommend was based on the year time period he aimed to discuss, which was what factories might look like in 2071.

James’ presentation had me thinking back to the lecture on think tanks. This was what guided my search for another resource that I could recommend. I came across the Brookings Institute, which has a website with a large amount of information on technology and manufacturing that could contribute to his research. Both resources that I recommended provided many links and pages. I thought that since I do not have a lot of knowledge in this area, that I could provide resources that have a lot of information for James to choose from.

I was slightly confused about his discussion of some of his background research. My critique was a minor clarification of his main topic, and I gave him my thoughts on whether or not he should lean into that aspect of manufacturing a bit more. James has far more expertise and interest in this area, so he would probably have a better understanding of what to include, but I felt it was appropriate to offer this suggestion.

Comment Three

My final comment was on Alex’s beta presentation. Alex’s DA is a TikTok account that focuses on the representation of AI in popular culture, by giving reviews on films that feature AI. She mentioned in her presentation that she struggled with connecting her TikTok’s to the lecture content. Giving her lists of film recommendations felt a bit too obvious, so I wanted to make sure that the resources I linked in my comment had some sort of connection to the lecture material. Both of my resources mentioned the research of futurists in the area of AI, the first article specifically connecting to AI in films. With the second article, I tried to lean more towards films we haven’t watched in class, as the content she showed in her presentation seemed to be branching out from our weekly screenings. I also didn’t know what films she’s already reviewed besides her mentioning iRobot in her presentation. In hindsight, I wished I had provided sources that would be more beneficial to her background research, and only focused one source on giving further film recommendations.

A large portion of my feedback consisted of giving her advice to increase her engagement, as she stated that this was an area she sought to improve. I recommended involving other platforms in the promotion of her TikToks. She had already mentioned the use of reddit in her presentation, so I suggested also posting her TikToks to Instagram Reel’s, as well as linking her TikTok account to Twitter and her blog. This is also because I found it quite difficult to access her TikTok in order to give her more beneficial resources. Other than that, I absolutely love this idea, as it feels very appropriate for the DA challenge and her beta presentation was very engaging.

Reflection

Overall, I believe I provided some helpful information for my peers as they reach the final stages of their projects. My comments had more of a link to the lecture content than the first round of peer commentary, as this was an area of commentary that I aspired to improve. I also felt that the resources I provided could add valuable insights to their research. Additionally, looking at other beta presentations also got me thinking about aspects of my own DA, and how I could be doing more to promote engagement with my blog posts. Thinking critically about how my peers could connect their DA’s to the lecture content also gave me some insights into the other ways I could incorporate the course material into my own project. 

References:

Moore, C 2019 “Futures Studies: Trajectories and Planning, Part 2” Lecture Video, BCM325, University of Wollongong, delivered 17 February, viewed 17 May 2021 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YD78w4I3jg&gt;

Bell, W 1997 (2003), The Foundations of Futures Studies: Volume 1, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, pg. 14

The Production Conundrum: Social Media vs. The Film Industry Part 2.

Click here to read part one of this blog series!

Social Media – An Abundant Toolbox for Simplicity and Toxicity

In my last blog post, I gave a brief overview of the fast paced nature of social media and how it’s shaped the way we consume and react to content. Continuing on from this conversation, I want to now take a look at how social media is directly impacting the film industry, specifically film production.

There are several ways that social media has become a tool for film studios and their respective actors. One way that social media has changed production is that actors can now be found online, rather that through the traditional audition channels. For example, Blake Cooper was cast as Chuck in The Maze Runner (2014) through twitter after fans campaigned to get him an audition by making fan art and contacting the director, Wes Ball. We have also seen the reverse of this, when the widespread backlash that actors have received due to their characters in films.

Franchise films with large fanbases have had a long history of toxic behaviour. Newer installments of beloved film series’ have introduced new characters to their world, and because hollywood is increasingly becoming more diverse, these characters are often people of colour. While it goes without saying that not all members of any given ‘fandom’ participate in these toxic behaviours, actors often fall victim to hateful, racist abuse from disappointed fans. Actresses Kelly Marie Tran and Leslie Jones have spoken out against the online abuse they received after portraying their respective characters in the Star Wars Franchise and Ghostbusters (2016).

The Benefits of Backlash

In my last post, I gave a shallow explanation of social media being a marketing tool for the film industry. But what happens when a film is promoted on social media, and audiences don’t like what they see? The biggest example of this is when Paramount Pictures released the first trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog in 2019. Understandably, there was widespread backlash following this release regarding the design of Sonic, which resulted in the studio pushing the release date of the film in order to redesign the character.

Image: Vulture

This redesign was undoubtedly a good thing. The Sonic in the latest film release looks far more akin to the video game design of the character (which raises questions as to why they couldn’t just design him like that in the first place but what’s done is done). On a smaller scale, there was a similar reaction to the initial character design of Alita in Alita: Battle Angel (2019). The character’s eyes were slightly adjusted and her skin was given a softer, more realistic texture.

Image: Insider

Both of these experiences provide film studios with valuable feedback on the nature of social media and the importance of gaining approval from audiences. As a result, I believe film studios will continue to lean into this consumer input to gain positive word-of-mouth and ensure the film’s success, rather than risk facing the consequences of consumer backlash. We will see more films that pertain to the consumers needs and wants. The steady evolution of CGI technology and it’s integration in films allows for film studios to completely restructure and redesign films based on consumer input. As a result, it is fair to say that films will integrate more CG technology to emulate realistic environments rather than just fantastical scenarios, as we saw with The Lion King (2019).

Image: Screen Rant

The Digital Revolution

We have already seen the use of CGI actors to fill the role of actors who have passed away. This technology has been used in several Star Wars films to recreate past characters and ensure that the chronology of the Star Wars universe remains intact, and it was also used to bring a close to Paul Walker’s character in The Fast and The Furious franchise after his untimely death. While those actors were computer generated to reprise roles they had previously played, this technology has evolved to a CG James Dean now being cast in a brand new role in Finding Jack which is currently in production.

Image: Slash Film

While there a will always be an audience that craves more practical and authentic experience (as theatre has never gone out of fashion), we have seen a steady integration of CGI technology in films over the past few decades. Whether consumers want it or not, they have inadvertently created a world where it seems easier and safer for film makers to lean on CGI technologies to allow for adjustments to be made, ensuring they keep audiences happy and their pockets full. These films take time, and we may not see the complete rise of these kinds of films in the short term future, perhaps we can envision a future where entire CGI films normalised by 2050. A world where actors will now be computer generated and historical figures can essentially play themselves in biopics; where actors will no longer have to face consumer backlash, and where franchises can keep being produced for as long as the story calls for, rather than halted due to an actor’s demise.

For my final thoughts on the future of social media’s impact on the film industry, click here to read the third installment of this blog series.

References:

Jacobs, J S 2014, “Born To Maze Run” Pop Entertainment Archives, weblog post, 4 October, updated 24 April 2020, viewed 13 May 2021 <https://www.popentertainmentarchives.com/post/blake-cooper-born-to-maze-run

Christie, V 2018 “Kelly Marie Tran Breaks Her Silence on the Online Harassment That Led Her to Quit Social Media” Flare, weblog post, 22 August, viewed 15 May 2021<https://www.flare.com/news/star-wars-kelly-marie-tran-social-media/

Lee, C 2020 “Beyond the Creepy Teeth: How Sonic the Hedgehog Saved Itself” Vulture, weblog post, 14 February, viewed 16 May 2021 <https://www.vulture.com/2020/02/the-sonic-the-hedgehog-controversy-and-redesign-explained.html

Fowler, J 2019, “Thank you for the support.” Twitter, viewed 15 May 2021 <https://twitter.com/fowltown/status/1124056098925944832

Acuna, K 2020 “How the first trailer for ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ caused the design of the main character’s eye to change after criticism” Insider, 13 January, viewed 13 May 2021 <https://www.insider.com/alita-battle-angel-how-eye-design-changed-after-first-trailer

Eagan, O 2017 “Twitter Shows Influence of Buzz on Movies” International Journal of Interdisciplinary Research <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330015918_Twitter_Shows_Influence_of_Buzz_on_Movies

Guerrasio, J 2017 “The actor behind the CGI Tarkin in ‘Rogue One’ tells us how he created the character” Business Insider, 10 January, viewed 16 May 2021 <https://www.businessinsider.com.au/cgi-moff-tarkin-rogue-one-guy-henry-2017-1?r=US&IR=T

Deruvo, J 2020 “Furious 7: Which Brian O’Conner Scenes Weren’t Paul Walker” Screen Rant, weblog post, 8 April, viewed 16 May 2021 <https://screenrant.com/furious-7-brian-scenes-not-paul-walker-brothers/

Alexander, J 2019 “James Dean, who died in 1955, just landed a new movie role, thanks to CGI” The Verge, weblog post, 6 November, viewed 16 May 2021 <https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/6/20951485/james-dean-new-movie-cgi-recreation-finding-jack

It Can Only Get ‘Beta’ From Here

Click here to read the first blog post of my DA!

There are several reasons why I decided to shift the core focus of my DA. First being my lack of marketing knowledge. I found myself liking the idea but gravitating towards other perspectives. Secondly, in the week 7 lecture, Chris gave a brief discussion on cybercultures. This inspired me to think about social media as its own culture, and how it’s culture that influences what kind of films that are made. The topic itself is broad and while I have chosen to focus on the culture of social media, I am aware that there are many different factors that contribute to the overall impact of social media on film production. As I continue my research, I am completely open to the idea that my focus may be altered or change entirely.

I have found a variety of research papers, articles and opinion pieces that discuss the role that social media is playing in the film industry. For example, this research article by Jodi Nelson-Tabor explores the various tools that social media has to offer in regards to film-making, promotion and storytelling. Additionally, this article by Joe Hollaran discusses the darker side of social media, and the toxic environments that harshly critique films and their casting choices. 

As we head towards the deadline for the project, my goal is to produce one blog post each week; my first blog post has just been published, and I intend to post the next two in weeks 10 and 11. This will give me the final two weeks before submission to collect my findings in a contextual report.

My hope is to bring awareness to the power that the general public has in shaping entertainment content. We have the ability to dictate what kind of content we would like to see from film creators, as millions of social media users are able to reach these creators through a direct line of communication. The future of the film, and ultimately our culture, is ours to create.

Additional resources that I will include in my research:

How Social Media Has Altered the Film Industry as We Know It

A Study on Role of Social Networks in Formation of Cyber Culture

References:

Moore, C 2020 ‘BCM325 Future Cultures: Cyberculture Series (1 of 4) – Cybernetics’, lecture, BCM325, University of Wollongong, delivered 26 February <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkvXSx6rTio&list=PLRc77RLclrdzrlXeLKLtsyJ-_1y5VSLpR&index=14&t=1s&gt;

Bell, W 1998 ‘Making People Responsible: The Possible, the Probable, and the Preferable’ American Behaviour Scientist, Vol 42(3), Nov-Dec 1998, Special Issue: Futures Studies in Higher Education, p. 323-339

Old Media Needs New Media: Social Media vs. The Film Industry Part 1.

(Isaacs 2018)

Social media has contributed massively to the film industry. Through marketing, production, and even storytelling. On the surface, any film about our culture today includes characters having some interaction with social media (if we’re talking about teenage characters in films then they’re always on the internet but that’s probably just teens being represented through an adult lense). In this three part blog series, I will attempt to examine how social media as a culture is changing the production and storytelling elements of film making. Firstly, I will give a brief overview of the culture of social media and how it has become so heavily integrated in the film industry.

(Photo by dole777 on Unsplash)

Most obviously because of its logistics, social media’s biggest advantage for the film industry is as a marketing tool. Film trailers can be uploaded to YouTube, and promoted on a wealth of platforms. We all know them; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Even though these platforms have dominated the market for the past 10 or so years, their ease of access makes it more likely that film marketing will gain a wide reach. Well known film studios and actors had the upper hand as they were able to gain more of an audience online faster than those who were just starting out, and they also have the funds to be able to widely promote their product. With that being said, social media has essentially leveled the playing field, allowing smaller film creators to compete with big blockbuster films by posting their content online. Actors and actresses are also no longer forced to go through the traditional channels to get recognition or land a part. They can simply post their own content on social media platforms. 

Not only is social media a prime marketing tool for the film industry, social media has also completely altered the entirety of our current culture, and because of this, I like to think of it as its own culture; or cyberculture if you will. Social media platforms have essentially placed millions of users into a vacuum. We get sucked into a world where we have access to large amounts of people and information at all times. The online world seems to move so fast, so it’s only fitting that culture has now done the same.

Ten years ago, memes, slang, and trends would have stuck around for a few years. Now, we can go through dozens of trends all in a 6 month period. We track our years based on the trend of the month, and a meme that was popular a few months ago almost feels like years in the past. For filmmakers, unless they are skilled at predicting future trends, it’s almost impossible to keep up. For example, a film that was in the pre-production and filming stage in 2017, would have humour and references that are outdated by the time of release in 2018. Not to name and shame, but The Kissing Booth (2018) featured pretty outdated and borderline offensive humour, which contributed to it becoming one of the most talked about films of that year.

Now we are heading into the next decade, and despite efforts to bring awareness to it’s detrimental effects, social media is still thriving. As it solidifies itself as a staple element of our culture, how will film production and storytelling change as a result? I will explore this in my next installments. Stay tuned!

References:

Tejada, K 2015 ‘Social Media Marketing in the Film Industry’, A Senior Project, California Polytechnic State University

Lentz, C 2019 ’10 celebrities who used social media to launch their careers’ Insider, 23 October, viewed 4 May 2021 <https://www.insider.com/celebrities-who-started-on-social-media-2019-2

Furedi, F 2014 ‘How The Internet and Social Media Are Changing Culture’ Aspen Review, Issue 04/2014, viewed 4 May 2021 <https://www.aspen.review/article/2017/internet-social-media-changing-culture/

MacBeth, C 2020 ‘Relive 2020 through jokes: A meme calendar you need to see’ Film Daily, weblog post, 29 December, viewed 4 May 2021 <https://filmdaily.co/memes/2020-memes-recap/

Barnet, B, Bossio D 2020 ‘Netflix’s The Social Dilemma highlight’s the problem with social media, but what’s the solution?’ The Conversation, 6 October, viewed 5 May 2021 <https://theconversation.com/netflixs-the-social-dilemma-highlights-the-problem-with-social-media-but-whats-the-solution-147351

@trigoMEMEtry (2019) 2018 Meme Calendar, image, Twitter, viewed 5 May 2021 <https://twitter.com/trigomemetry/status/1079850755459149825

Issacs G, 2018 [Film Production Materials], Image, Linkedin viewed 6 May 2021 <linkedin.com/pulse/how-effectively-use-social-media-promote-your-film-gbemisola-isaacs

‘We’ll Do It Live!’: Live Tweeting Critical Summary, Vol 1.

For the subject BCM325, we have been asked to participate in weekly screenings of films that pertain to the subject material. We engage with these films through live tweeting, posting both our own original tweets and interacting with other classmates tweets. In this blog post, I will be recounting and critically evaluating my experience with live tweeting thus far this semester.

Image: deSingel

Week One: Metropolis (1927)

The first week of live tweeting proved to be challenging. The tweets that I posted felt as though they were surface level observations; mostly pointing out aspects of the film and its context that I found interesting.

Given that Metropolis is a silent film, it was difficult to focus on the story while also engaging with the tweets posted by my classmates. I found that I would often miss key themes and story elements by reading the tweets on my timeline. Conversely, I would pick up on plot points that I missed through reading those tweets. These tweets provided more of an analysis of these plot points, which allowed me to further understand the themes of the film.

Additionally, I found it difficult to conduct research about the film during the screening, as I couldn’t simultaneously focus on reading articles and watching the film. As a result, I felt that my tweets this week weren’t as structured and insightful as they could have been.

Although my tweets didn’t feel as in-depth as the tweets of my peers, I received replies that further elaborated on my ideas. This allowed me to engage with the film and my peers in a more meaningful way.

Image: Tablet Magazine

Week Two: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

This week, I made sure to conduct research about the film prior to the screening. I drafted several tweets focusing on important elements of the film that I was able to gain further insight on through reading articles. For example, this tweet highlighting one of the defining features of the film; the score.

By doing this I was able to pay more attention to the film and interact more with my peers, as I wasn’t trying to look up articles during the screening. I was also able to spend more time researching and reading through articles that I thought were relevant to the live tweeting experience, which meant that I didn’t feel pressured to find content to tweet within the time frame of the film. Fortunately, I had already seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, so I had a general idea of themes I could research and plot points I could discuss; making draft tweeting far easier this week.

As a result, I was able to focus on the film itself and generate tweets that were directly responding to moments in the film. This tweet, for example, was in relation to the scene where Hal sings ‘Daisy Bell’.

Image: Fiction Machine

Week Three: Westworld (1973)

Unlike the past two screenings, I had not seen Westworld (1973), nor the television remake. Hence, drafting tweets prior to the screening was difficult as I had no knowledge of the film’s plot or themes. The background research I conducted mostly included interesting facts about the film so as to avoid any major spoilers. 

The knowledge that I gained through prior research allowed me to respond to others with facts that elaborate on their tweets.

As this was the third screening, I had begun to see similarities between not only key plot points, but perhaps the context in which the film was created. Although potentially incorrect, I attempted to examine how filmmakers at the time were projecting their view of the future. Seeing as this was the first screening that was not a film I had already watched, I felt more comfortable connecting to the subject material by relating it to a film I was familiar with; that being 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Image: Story Grid

Week Four: Blade Runner (1982)

Blade Runner was a similar live tweeting experience to Westworld, as I had also not seen this film. While I knew of it’s cultural significance, I had no idea what the film was actually about or how it related to the subject content. This resulted in a similar debacle where I didn’t want the film spoiled entirely, but still wanted to conduct background research.

While I had several drafted tweets and made some observations about the film, most of my engagement this week was through retweeting.

My tweets this week could have been stronger. Although I was able to extend my thoughts through my responses, I felt as though my peers gave far more in-depth insights into the film. 

This is definitely an aspect of live tweeting I hope to improve over the next few screening sessions as the connection between the films and the BCM325 subject material becomes clearer. 

Image: NewStatesman

Week Five: Ghost in the Shell (1995)

This week I aimed to improve my inclusion of the lecture content. As I had completed a majority of this blog post by the screening this week, I attempted to use my self-reflection towards improving my live tweeting. I conducted prior background research that focused on topics that were discussed in the week five lecture. 

While I achieved this to a certain extent, the inclusion of lecture content in my live tweeting continues to be my main area for improvement, as evident by the lack of lecture discussion in weeks 1-4. I also attempted to focus more of my tweets on analysing the themes of the film, which included deep insights about the philosophy of what it means to be human.

By steering my background research towards the topics discussed in the lectures, and how these topics relate to the film, I should improve my tweets immensely. I also aim to practice connecting key plot points and themes to the lecture content during the screening. As we progress through the semester, I will continue to focus my live-tweeting practices on improving in these areas, which will hopefully lead to higher quality tweets in my next self-reflection post.

Say ‘No’ to Peer Pressure, and ‘Yes’ to Peer Commentary, Vol. 1

A few weeks ago, my peers and I posted our digital artifact pitches for BCM325. Over this time, I personally have come to realise how my project could be improved. I came to this realisation through feedback from my tutor and our progression through the course material, as well as my own rumination. 

As a part of our assessment, we are required to comment and give advice on 3 of our peers pitches. By analysing their project pitches and having to come up with feedback, I have further realised aspects of my DA that I didn’t consider, as well as areas that need to be revised. I will go through these as I go over the pitches I commented on.

Comment One

My first comment was on Emma Jenkin’s pitch – Chae Media’s Future. Chae is Emma’s company that she created with two other partners, Chelsea and Hannah, as mentioned in her video. Chae is a company that aims to “help those who need a helping hand” in areas such as student lifestyle, wellness, food, art, etc. Emma and her co-founders intend to create a podcast about the future of Chae as pertaining to their 5 year business plan. Their podcast will cover topics related to the BCM325 subject, such as the screenings and lecture topics, as well as topics that discuss aspects of their company.

I struggled to come up with feedback for this pitch presentation, as it was clear that their business is already established and has a following on several social media platforms (i.e. Instagram and Tiktok). My comment could have included more feedback on how they can deliver their podcast effectively, so it can gain more of an audience. 

As I stated in my comment, I don’t know anything about running a small business, nor how to grow and establish one. The research that I included in my comment was an article that laid out several business goals that might be ideal in the first year of establishing a small business. My reasoning behind this was to provide guidance and possibly some inspiration for goals as they create their 5 year business plan. The second research link that I included was how to remain adaptive and the competitive benefits that this has for a business. This was my interpretation of the possible futures segment of the ‘multiple futures lecture’ that I believe would benefit their business, as it is important to consider many possible obstacles that they could face and account for these in the business plan.

Comment Two

My second peer comment was on Taylah Ide-Miller’s pitch – The Future of the Film Industry. Taylah intends to create a 15-20 minute video essay centred around how the film industry will evolve, specifically in regards to remakes. She also wanted to explore which major film company is predicted to produce a lot of these remakes.

As this DA concept is similar to mine, albeit different as we are focusing on other areas of the film industry, I applied a bit more personal interest in this comment. My comment included more questions that she could potentially pose in her video essay, allowing her to explore more aspects of how films will be remade in the future. This line of questioning was inspired by the 6th purpose of future studies, ‘Interpreting the past and orienting the present’, as discussed in the week 4 lecture. Remaking a film is a great way to examine how historical values have changed, as certain aspects of the past film will be re-evaluated in order to reflect the current societal values, ultimately projecting how we want the future to progress.

The first article that I included pertains to the questions that I asked in my comment. The article is about films that include discussions of gender identity, disability, race, etc. being remade and how these topics of discussion are transformed or even subverted. The article itself is behind a paywall, however the abstract contains a lot of information about the direction of the article. The references below the article also provide many more resources that support the research. The second article I included was more about the current state of film mediums and what this means for the future of the industry. I did this to provide a different perspective on why the film industry may change and how it might do so. 

I misspoke in my comment, she is only doing one video essay, but she is segmenting her video in order to make the content she’s covering easier to digest.

Comment Three

My final comment was on Alina Hager’s pitch – The Future of Marketing. Alina aims to produce a blog mini-series, consisting of 7 posts, that also include podcasts. These blog posts will be about the future of the marketing industry and will discuss specific topics, such as the use of AI in marketing and the potential of space ads. 

Alina’s concept was well researched and she included many references in her contextual post. With the research that I included in my comment, I aimed to find an article that she did not reference and that further explored one of the example topics she stated in her video. The first article I included was about the future of the marketing industry being shaped by the integration of AI. The second article I included was about where the marketing industry is predicted to be in 2030 as technology evolves and shapes how audiences are receiving these marketing strategies.

The feedback I gave Alina was regarding the promotion of her blog. I recommended using other social media platforms (such as Twitter and Instagram) to allow users, specifically her target audience, to discover her blog content and ultimately build a larger following.

My Reflection

There are several aspects of these pitches that made me evaluate how I’m going to execute my own DA. I gave more thought to how I will promote my blog series, as there were social media platforms that I had not considered, such as reddit. I also realised that I did not outline my target audience in my pitch. As my DA intends to touch on aspects of the marketing industry in regards to how films are marketed, Alina’s pitch concept has given me more ideas as to how I can further explore this topic.

In terms of my comments, I believe I provided good research that could help my peers develop their DA content. I posed several questions in each comment in hopes to encourage my peers to further develop their ideas and the overall execution of their DA’s. I struggled to provide a lot of feedback in terms of the assessment criteria, as I believe these pitches fulfilled the criteria well. However, this was an element of my comments that was lacking and has a lot of room for improvement. Additionally, I was able to refer to the lecture content to a certain extent, but I wasn’t able to connect my knowledge to all of the comments. I also believe I could have referred to the lecture content more effectively. I aim to improve these areas of my commentary as we move towards the Beta Assessment Task.

Social Media vs. The Film Industry

Hi, everyone! This is my DA pitch for BCM325.

My Digital Artifact will focus on how social media is used as a marketing tool for the film industry, and how this both aids and hinders how films are produced and promoted.

As pertaining to the week 3 lecture, I will use my research on past social media trends in relation to filmmaking and consumption to reasonably predict future consumer interests and trends in the next 1-5 (short term) and 5-10 (medium term) years.

Here is a rough production timeline I have planned for my DA:

There are also some articles that helped me formulate my idea, and that I could potentially use as research:

I look forward to hearing from you!