Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Film Piracy - USA

Hypothetically, two movies come out on the same day: The Wolf of Wall Street and the new Transformers. You are allowed to see one in an IMAX theater and you will illegally download the other one online. Most people would choose Transformers over The Wolf of Wall Street due to the fact that there are robot dinosaurs and everyone else is going to see it in theaters. Those robot dinosaurs will look a lot cooler in a theater rather than on a laptop. Many people then realized how lacking the movie really was after walking out of their local theater’s showing of Transformers: Age of Extinction. Meanwhile, many of the same people went on to watch The Wolf of Wall Street online to realize that it was actually a really good movie. Most people don’t realize that this is at all a problem, and at first glance it’s not. However, after more in-depth research, the problem soon becomes apparent. Transformers: Age of Extinction only gained an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (Transformers, Rotten Tomatoes), one of the most critical and most trusted film-review sites online. The Wolf of Wall Street, however, gained a 77% rating on the same site (Wolf of Wall Street, Rotten Tomatoes). It was also nominated for five different Academy Awards. The Wolf of Wall Street is clearly the better film. Yet, besides the fact that Transformers was clearly not a great film, it somehow managed to be named the highest grossing film worldwide of 2014 and earned over one billion dollars in the Box Office (2014 Worldwide Grosses). The Wolf of Wall Street went on to be the most pirated film of 2014 with over 30 million illegal downloads (Spangler, 1) and didn’t even gross $117 million, giving the producers and the studio under $17 million after the production cost, which is not a much of a profit at all for such a high-budget film.
Piracy has become more of a problem in the past decade than it ever has before, specifically movie piracy. In fact, a study from Columbia University came out recently that said at least 45% of US citizens pirate movies actively, but that number bumps up to 70% if you include the younger demographics as well (Mick, 2). This act of pirating is growing more and more common every year and most people do it mindlessly, not realizing what it costs. Everyone has seen the text at the beginning of movies saying “Piracy is not a victimless crime,” and this is completely true. Piracy is extremely harmful to the movie industry and its effects are larger than anyone could imagine.

But Where Do These Pirated Movies Come From?
There are many different ways that people pirate movies. One of the most classic ways people pirate is by “leaking” them. This involves a person going into a movie theater with a camera or a phone and recording the movie as it plays. It is usually a poor quality, but many people still download these recordings anyways instead of going to see it in a theater. This usually occurs when it is only in theater since that is the only version most people are able to see. Sometimes these leaks occur before the movie is even premiered, often because it is filmed during a special premier before the opening night. This is referred to as a pre-release, and they tend to result in a 19% decrease in how much the movie makes at the Box Office (Hart, 2). Many people defend pre-releases because it gives a movie more publicity so more people would want to see it, but the facts state otherwise. Leaking a movie that’s in the theaters always tends to decrease how much the movie makes regardless of when it is released and sometimes even leads to the movie not even making as much as there was put into it.

One of the other common ways for a movie to be pirated is for it to be digitally hacked. This one has become more common lately as technology improves. One of the most extreme and recent examples was the Sony hacking. Though some people will claim that Sony faked the hacking, evidence shows that they were legitimately hacked. During this hacking, many of Sony’s movies were released illegally online, such as Annie and Fury (Note: Annie had not even been released yet). A hacking involves someone digitally cracking into the studio or company’s computer system and taking the movie from their files. This logically would actually decrease a movie’s Box Office revenue by even more than someone’s recording of the movie would because it’s a better quality.

There are more ways to watch a pirated movie other than just downloading it online. In fact, some people tend to start their own pirating businesses. It’s very inexpensive and easy for a person to start one of these businesses. More recently, people only need to buy a bunch of blank DVD’s, the same amount of DVD cases and a computer that can burn a DVD. From there, they must find a source to get the pirated movies from. Sometimes they will personally film them in a theater, or find a hacked or leaked version online and download it. After that, all they need to do is download the stolen films onto their blank DVD’s and sell them to anyone who is willing to purchase it. Within a short amount of time, this person has made a great deal of money that should have gone to the movie studios.

What Kind of Effect Does it Have?
Most people would just say that pirating has a small effect on the industry and that the studios already have enough money. They believe watching a movie online isn’t going to hurt anyone. The Motion Picture Association of America looked into this belief and discovered that piracy costs around $20.5 billion annually in the United States alone (Plumer, 2). In fact, a study back in 2005 estimated that a 10% decrease in worldwide piracy, including both film and music, over the course of four years would add 1.5 million jobs, $64 billion in taxes and $400 billion in economic growth (Kai-Lung). That, however, was ten years ago and is outdated. Those numbers are likely to be much higher today due to inflation and an increase in popularity of the film industry. This means that the studios are making much smaller amounts of money than they should be making from their films due to piracy.

Quit Talking Numbers. How Does it Effect My Movie Experience?
The decrease in money from studios will often decrease the quality of other movies and even sequels, but more often it will decrease the quantity. A studio is much more likely to throw all of their money into the next big franchise sequel than give half of it to the franchise and the other half to a movie like Twelve Years a Slave simply because Twelve Years a Slave won’t sell as well in theaters as the franchise movie will. Movie studios and production companies don’t look at reviews and DVD sales nearly as much as they look at the Box Office Revenue, or how much it makes in the theater.
In many cases, piracy of a film will even damage the likeliness of a franchise sequel. For example, the Kick-Ass movies came to an end due to lack of funding from piracy. According to ChloĆ« Grace Moretz who stars as “Hit-Girl” in the series, Kick-Ass 2 was one of the most pirated films of 2013 despite having an extremely low Box Office Revenue (Highfill). Because of this, the plans for the third movie in the series have been cancelled. Whether or not you like the Kick-Ass series, it is clear that piracy has become a serious problem and will only continue to damage the film industry.

What About New Movies That Aren't Franchises Yet?
It is not franchise movies that need to be worried about, though; it is the movies by the independent filmmakers. Due to the increase in film piracy, production companies and movie studios are now much less likely to loan money out to an independent filmmaker with an idea than they are to a team of writers and producers working on a Harry Potter spin-off. When people think of the term ‘independent filmmaker’, they think of a man in his 20’s with an Associates Degree in Theatre that wrote a screenplay in two weeks. Though these people are independent filmmakers, I refer to the higher kind of independent filmmakers that actually make Oscar nominated films, but take out enormous loans to do so. Now, due to piracy, no matter how many Oscars their movie is nominated for, many filmmakers are having to foreclose their houses or take out further loans from a bank to make up for the losses in the Box Office for their film due to piracy. It also means that the studios do not get their money back that they invested with and therefore stop funding films without promises of success like Birdman or The Theory of Everything, both of whom won Oscars this year.
Now Let's Think More Economically...
The loss of money affects more than just the filmmakers and studios, however. It helps the entire economy grow due to tax and job increase. Pirating less films will mean that the studios will get more money, which leads to more movies, which employs people like hairdressers, electricians, actors, costume designers and countless other occupations. This will add more jobs to the United States and will also add more tax money to help the country.

But Is It Really Stealing?
Many people argue that piracy is not illegal because they are not technically stealing anything. Though they are not physically taking away anything from anyone, they are stealing intellectual property. Just because you can’t hold a movie file in your hands does not mean that it is not someone’s property. Downloading a film online is the equivalent of stealing a movie from a movie store. It may not come in the same fancy case as a movie at the store, but it still carries the same contents. By pirating a film, you are stealing the money that should have been paid had you watched the movie legally. You do not have a right to watch whatever movies you want to watch without having to pay for them just as I do not have a right to walk into the local Dollar General and eat their candy bars without paying first. As much as people may argue it, film piracy is stealing. It is not your property, so it is not yours to take without paying for it first.

Going Back to my Original Example at the Beginning of All of This...
The Wolf of Wall Street was 2014’s most pirated movie with over 30 million piracies worldwide. Let’s do the math to see how much money piracy actually robbed this movie of had these people gone to see it in a theater instead. In 2014, the average price of a movie ticket in the United States was $8.17 (Linshi, 1). When a person goes to see a movie in the theater, the money spent on the ticket goes to two different places. It is split between the movie studio and the movie theater, with more going to the theater the longer the movie has been out (Campea). For the purposes of now, let’s average that overall the theater and the studio would each get 50% of the ticket price. Now for the part with the actual math. If each illegal download of The Wolf of Wall Street, which more specifically evens out to around 30,035,000 downloads (Spangler, 1) equals one movie ticket that costs $8.17, and the movie studio only gets half of the amount from each movie ticket, that results in about $122,692,975 that was robbed from Paramount Pictures for just that one movie. That amount stolen was more than the movie actually made in the Box Office, and that is assuming that only one person watched each illegal download. Several of those downloads were most likely copied onto multiple different blank DVD’s and given out to others to watch illegally. That is even more money that was robbed from The Wolf of Wall Street. In the Box Office, the movie barely broke even out of how much they spent making the film. These numbers would have helped the studio, the filmmakers and the crew a lot more in order to make even more Oscar nominated movies. Unfortunately, these thirty million people seemed to overlook that.

Now the Real Question: How Do We Stop Piracy?
It all starts at home, just like it takes a spark to start a fire. Many people argue that “everyone is watching movies illegally online, so why is it different if I do it?” Well the same argument could again go for people that steal candy bars from a store. It may cost more than you like and others may do it, but it is not your property to steal. Like voting, if just one person takes a stand against piracy it will make a difference. Simply quit pirating movies or watching them online. There are many different excuses people use about watching movies online illegally, but it does not override the fact that it is illegal. Even streaming movies online is illegal if it is not authorized by the studio that made the film. If you aren’t willing to pay to watch the film, you aren’t allowed to watch it. This is the way the industry works.

What Can The Theaters Do?
A way for movie theaters to prevent piracy is to change their types of projectors. In the past, the government came up with a way to prevent the filming of a movie in the theaters. They did this by projecting an infrared spectrum over the projected film. This infrared image was not visible to the audience, but it would make the video on the camera someone brought into film the movie into a very low quality that would make the video almost unbearable to watch. Since then technology has improved to attempt to improve the quality of the filmed video regardless of the infrared. Though this has worked to an extent, film pirates have not yet fully recovered from the addition of the infrared. Only more research will be able to help improve the projectors so that this does not happen anymore.

What Happens if Someone gets Caught?!
When it all comes down to it, one of the major reasons you should avoid pirating movies is that its an enormous risk. Since it is illegal, there are certainly punishments for those that choose to break this law. These punishments are severe. For example, if a person is convicted of a misdemeanor in piracy, as in they only downloaded or uploaded a small amount of movies without the owner’s consent, the person would be punished with up to a year of prison time and would have a fine of up to $100,000, depending on the extent of the piracy. That, however, is just for a small offense. For someone that downloads or uploads movies illegally without the owner’s consent in large amounts will be charged with a felony. The punishment of this crime is up to 5 years of imprisonment and up to $250,000 in fines. The fine, though, can be more. In some cases, the fine is set as double what the person gained for pirating the films if they made money off of it, or it set as double the amount of money the person cost the studios he or she stole from (AlanS). In any of these cases, it is clear that movie piracy is not worth the risk.

Piracy is Clearly an Enormous Threat
Filmmakers are in danger of losing their jobs and the movie theaters are in danger of only showing films like Transformers sequels and Terminator reboots. Helping the film industry does not just entail not illegally watching a movie, it also entails going to see those movies in a theater to reverse the mistakes made by those who don’t realize the consequences. Some of the greatest films do not get the proper credibility in the theaters because people are too distracted by other films or because people would think it’s smarter to illegally watch it on their computer than paying to see it in a theater. As stated earlier, this has many more consequences than these people would think, such as taking away jobs, taking over $20.5 billion from the US film industry and decreasing both the quantity and quality of the very movies they are downloading. In addition, is it really worth spending five years of your life in prison just because you didn’t want to pay to watch a movie? It’s time to stop pirating and to stop making excuses for watching a movie illegally online. Film is a form of art. People use it to tell their stories.

Film Piracy - UK

The movie industry excels in selling dreams. But since the dawn of the digital revolution, there is one narrative they've consistently and conspicuously failed to sell: that piracy is theft and consumers who indulge ought to feel guilty about it. Recent research by Ipsos suggests that almost 30% of the UK population is active in some form of piracy, either through streaming content online or buying counterfeit DVDs. Such theft costs the UK audiovisual industries about £500m a year.

Link to rest of article.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Ex_Machina Review

Gripping, intense and elegant. Ex_Machina is one of those films where it's better going in knowing nothing at all, as even just the tiniest hint or detail could spoil the entire film. Despite a slow start, something common among thrillers, the pace picks up without you even realising and suddenly an overwhelming number of twists and turns are thrown at you with an ending that completely throws you off guard, even when it's being played out clearly in front of you you still won't believe it. I guarantee you will spend the rest of your day questioning the entire thing and to be honest, just life itself, it really does mess with your head. Director and screenwriter Alex Garland somehow managed to successfully execute a simple storyline that deals with such complex issues, something he managed to balance effectively. The concept for the film revolves around the Turing experiment, an experiment named after Alan Turing following his suggestion that one day machines could display signs of artificial intelligence similar to actions displayed by humans. It's an idea that many different people have explored or considered. A part of us thinks it could be amazing but at the same a part of us can't ignore the darker aspect to it. If you've ever seen the Channel 4 sci-fi drama series Humans, you'll definitely know what i mean by this. This film expertly deals with the scientific nature of the experiment, without boring those of us who think of science as a whole different language, and playing it out for us on screen. For many of us this will be the closest insight into this experiment we'll ever get, even if it just through fiction that's still pretty damn exciting.  

The film follows through the eyes of Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a computer programmer, on his trip to a secluded estate, home to Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) the billionaire owner of the company Caleb works for. Caleb has been picked after winning a competition within the company that picked somebody out randomly. But was it actually randomly generated at all? That's something you can decide for yourself. Caleb is under the impression that he will be spending the week with Nathan, a man who he has great respect for, but little does he know that he has been brought there to take part in the Turing experiment. Nathan has created an AI called Ava (Alicia Vikander), giving the machine a gender, a pretty face and a flirty nature. All of these characteristics combined make it almost impossible for Caleb not to fall for her to some extent. Ava has already passed a simple Turing test that explores whether she can think for herself. Over a series of sessions, Caleb is tested on whether he believes Ava is capable of having a conscious mind that has the ability to develop feelings towards others and if he is able to relate to her as though she was a human not a machine.

The cast features three well-known stars who have played parts in other successful films with both Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac starring in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Alicia Vikander starring in the Academy Award winning film The Danish Girl. In my opinion the cast was picked perfectly, featuring stars with relative fame who haven't been pigeonholed by previous roles. Vikander definitely deserves a lot of praise for her role after her exquisite representation of a robot. Without a doubt, her role was definitely one that was hard to perfect, having to display both robotic and human characteristics and mannerisms to the extent where even the audience are left questioning whether she is more human or robot along with Caleb. Gleeson fits the nerdy, almost loner yet happy type of character that Caleb is that you can't help but feel bad for, especially after he confides in Ava telling her about the death of his parents when he was a teenager. However, as good as the characters are it would be hard to say that as an audience member you personally like any of them. Nathan gives off the impression that he is very manipulative and maybe isn't being completely truthful about the nature of the experiment, Ava is an AI who makes us feel uncomfortable to some extent as we are never sure what she is actually thinking, and to be honest if she is even thinking anything at all. It's not that you dislike her, but you can't help but feel confused about her. Then Caleb, arguably the main character as we see everything through his eyes, seems stable at the beginning but as the film moves on you can see him slowly losing his mind.

The production for the film was amazing, especially when their low budget is taken into consideration. All of the production effects were added in post-production including the making of Ava's AI suit, which made her half human half robot. When you see how detailed her suit is and how lifelike it is it's hard to believe that the film had the budget that it did. The film even won the Academy award for Best Visual Effects, so if you don't believe me i think the award speaks for itself. The sound used in the film was very different to most films. The majority of the film is in complete silence other than dialogue, I'm not going to lie it feels pretty uncomfortable but I guess that's the whole point of the film really. When they do use music you can tell it has been carefully picked out. The song that stuck out most to me featured in probably the weirdest scene in the whole film, where Nathan and his housekeeper start dancing to Get Down Saturday Night by Oliver Cheatham. Despite it's weirdness it definitely has a complete contrast to the tone of the rest of the film.

There are definitely a lot of moral and ethical issues and questions surrounding the nature of the film. I mean first of all it's dealing with the concept of a robot with the ability to think and feel like a human, something which so far has only been in question but no evidence has ever truly supported it. The idea that robots could have artificial intelligence introduces the suggestion that it's possible that machines could take over if they have higher intelligence than us. If the experiment were to be proven true, that machines could develop true thoughts and feelings then it seems unfair to use them as a way of testing our theories and experimenting on them. Also, if it was proven true would this mean that we would turn to using robots for further experiments with the knowledge that they would react the same as a human would? The other ethical and moral issues that I noticed don't necessarily correlate with the idea of robots but it is about the sexual, and quite sexist, nature of the film. I mean I'm no feminist by any means but I bet that if a group of feminists did see the film they would have a field trip picking out all of the aspects that are 'wrong' within the film. The director/screenwriter for the film was male and so were the producers, and I hate to say it but you can kind of tell. There is a lot of nudity in the film, which does mean it's definitely not for those who are easily offended, and the only people ever to be shown nude are female characters. This goes for women who don't even have a character name, speaking role or even a part in the film really. There is also a conversation that happens between Caleb and Nathan where Nathan addresses the issue that he think Caleb wants to know about and clarifies that Caleb can in fact 'screw' Ava and that he has created her so that she will 'enjoy it'. There are a lot of issues surrounding this, more than just the fact that if Caleb did in fact do this then he would have had sex with a robot - which let's be honest is wrong on so many different levels. Nathan's housekeeper, Kyoko, is used as his sex slave and she isn't able to communicate with him. So technically, he is raping her - not the nicest thing to do but pretty quickly you learn that Nathan isn't one of the nicest guys going.

However, despite all of this I really enjoyed the film. It isn't for those easily offended or any of you true feminists out there but it really is a good watch. I think it tackles a really interesting idea in more detail than we have really heard before and like I said before it gives us a close look into the experiment that most of will probably never get to see.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Ex_Machina Research


Andrew McDonald and Allon Reich


Alex Garland


Universal Pictures


Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac and Sonoya Mizuno


$15 million


Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire and Valldalen, Norway


Filmed in digital at 4K resolution. There were no green screens, special effects or tracking markers used in filming - all of the effects were added post-production. In order to create the background behind Alicia Vikander's character they filmed the scenes both with and without her there. After doing this they then rotoscoped her face and her hands, had the rest of her body was digitally painted and they restored the background behind her. They used the camera and body tracking systems to transfer to the CGI robot's movements. Some visual effects were used including the transparent areas of her body, Nathan's blood when he was stabbed and the interior of the artificial brains.

Number of screens - opening weekend


Number of screens - peak number


Box Office Figures

$36.9 million

Issues raised by media ownership in contemporary media practice

Film4 and DNA Films were responsible for the making of the film. Both of them are small companies especially when compared to other film companies e.g. 20th Century Fox. This can impact on the quality and number of resources and technology the companies have access to. Film4 is a British company owned by Channel 4 Television Corporation . DNA Films is also a British company and one of the most successful production companies located in the UK. Both of the companies are successful in their own way and have been behind some big and successful films e.g. DNA Films was involved with the production of the 2003 film Love Actually. Neither of them are global companies or successful worldwide which makes them a smaller company but they are good at what they do. The film only had a small budget as well, it makes more sense to have smaller production companies who are more used to working with a lower budget as it's more likely they would be able to manage it effectively and cover what they need. Sometimes people prefer working with smaller production companies if they have a certain vision for the film, as sometimes the work of bigger companies can affect the overall look of the film.

The importance of cross media convergence for institutions and audiences

The film was distributed by Universal Pictures, they are able to use their name and power to get the word out there about the film and get it on as many screens as possible. They were behind the advertising for the film and released the trailers for the film in order to spread the word and get their audience interested. Both Film4 and DNA Films are small production companies, if they worked with a small distributor then the film wouldn't get anywhere and it wouldn't be as successful as it was. By working with a big distributor like Universal Pictures it is more likely that the film will be more widespread and generate a bigger audience than it would with a small distributor. Universal Pictures have an advanced understanding about the film industry and what audiences like and don't like. In order to minimise the risk of a loss, they will be careful with how many screens they choose to show the film on. Universal helped finance the film in exchange for worldwide sale rights. However, after the film was finished, Universal decided that the film was too quirky for a big studio release. They knew that it wouldn't work in the way they thought it would so tried to sell the rights to somebody else. Eventually the distributor A24, known for working with indie films, picked it up and put it in cinemas in the US. Initially the film was only shown on 4 screens but just a week later that number had raised to 2,050. This is a clear example of how successful the film was in the US box office as it made such a significant jump.

The technologies that have been introduced in recent years at the levels of production, distribution, marketing and exchange

Ex-Machina only had a small budget so they couldn't spend a lot of money on special effects and green screens during production. Also, they were working with small production companies who just didn't have the access to high quality technology like some other bigger production companies would. All of the special effects were added in post-production. This meant that they had to prepare for this during production knowing that they would have to edit it later to create the effect they wanted. An example of this is the appearance of Alicia Vikander's character who is a robot with a transparent middle section. In order to add in this transparent effect later on the production team filmed the scenes both with and without her to capture the background behind her. When it got to the stage of post-production they rotoscoped her hands and face, the main features they wanted to keep, then digitally painted the rest of her body and restored the background. This then completed the final look of her with features of both the scenes with her, without her and the post-production effects that digitally painted the rest of her body on. They didn't use any tracking markers during filming, they just relied on camera and body tracking systems to transfer to the robot's CGI movements. The entire film was filmed in digital, which is a cheaper way to film especially for distribution of the film because most cinemas have the technology for digital films instead as that is the format most companies film on. 

The significance of proliferation in hardware and content for institutions and audiences

To make the film available further after the film has been released in the cinema the distributors have to work to find ways for the film to be released that fit in with what modern audiences want. Modern audiences are more likely to stream a film online or through an app with an online subscription than actually going out and buying the film. Films are still released on DVD as there are still audiences that buy them in this format and there are some people who won't use streaming services. If they don't use services and formats that fit nearly everyone then they are at risk of losing a chunk of their market. The film is available on Blu-Ray, DVD, Amazon Video, iTunes, Google Play, Playstation Video and Youtube. They have ensured that the film is available on a number of different services so that nearly anyone could go access to the film if they wanted to. 

The importance of technological convergence for institutions and audiences 

The main marketing campaign that the promotional team ran was on Tinder. They created a profile for Ava, the robot in the film, using pictures of Alicia Vikander. The campaign was launched at the South by Southwest Festival where the film was screened. Ava was matched with other Tinder users who could get to the festival. In the conversation she would send them to the Instagram handle that they thought was hers but was actually promoting the film. The idea behind this was to engage with a younger audience by using an app they may have and interacting with them directly. It was important for the team to reach out to their audience with a medium that suited their target audience.

The issues raised in the targeting of national and local audiences (specifically, British) by international or global institutions

The promotion team had an issue with the big marketing campaign they launched on Tinder. The campaign was met with mixed responses, it did well and proved to be effective but most people had more negative views of it. Many people described it as being 'counter-productive', 'an invasion of privacy', 'trolling' and 'trickery'. Even though it was effective it didn't get the best response from the audience they were targeting which doesn't make it a very successful campaign on the whole. Another issue with this is that it only targets audience members who were in that area, which is only a small area, so even though the campaign may have been successful in general it wouldn't have targeted a large audience on a national basis.

The ways in which the candidates' own experiences of media consumption illustrate wider patterns and trends of audience behaviour 

I think it's a definite fact that audiences, specifically younger audiences, are more likely to watch a film streamed online than they are to go and see it at the cinema. Often there are a lot of films that we may be interested in but not enough to pay to go and see it at the cinema or maybe it isn't on at a cinema near us and we don't want to travel. The thing that audiences like most about streaming services is having the ability to watch on the go or from the comfort of their own home, they are able to watch it on their phone/laptop without having to use their TV. I think it's important to ensure films are readily available online, as this is where modern audiences are more likely to watch it especially if the film is shown on a limited number of screens.


Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Who owns Lucasfilm?

The Walt Disney Company and Walt Disney Studios

Who formed Lucasfilm?

George Lucas

What year was Lucasfilm formed?


Who is the president of Lucasfilm?

Kathleen Kennedy

What other major films have they worked on?

Indiana Jones and all of the other Star Wars films

How much was Lucasfilm sold for?

$4.05 billion

Who wrote Star Wars: The Force Awakens?

Lawrence Kasdan, J.J Abrams and Michael Arndt

Who directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens?

J.J. Abrams

What other major films is the director responsible for?

Star Trek

How many Star Wars films have there been so far (list them)?

There have been seven Star Wars films so far.
Original Trilogy
  • IV - A New Hope
  • V - The Empire Strikes Back
  • VI - Return of the Jedi
Prequel Trilogy
  • I - The Phantom Menace
  • II - Attack of the Clones
  • III - Revenge of the Sith
Sequel Trilogy
  • VII - The Force Awakens

How much money have they all made at the global box office?


When was the first Star Wars film released?


What does ILM stand for?

Industrial Light and Magic

What do ILM do?

Create computer graphics for film. They are sent scenes from studios for CG.

Who created ILM?

George Lucas

Why did they create ILM?

Lucas created it when production began on the first Star Wars film. He wanted the film to have visual effects that had never been seen before so he created a company that could do that for him.

What do casting directors do?

Casting Directors organise and select the cast for a film. They will host interviews and auditions with actors narrowing down the numbers as they go along and issuing call-backs to people that stand out until they find the people perfect for the roles. After this they will negotiate money and contracts with the actors they have chosen.

Where were the first scenes for Star Wars: The Force Awakens filmed?

Abu Dhabi

What format was Star Wars: The Force Awakens shot on?


What types of camera were used to film Star Wars: The Force Awakens?

35mm standard stock and 65mm IMAX cameras

What studio was used to film a large portion of the film?

Pinewood Studios

Where is the studio?

Buckinghamshire, England

What major franchise is famously filmed at this studio?

James Bond

How does said franchise link to Star Wars: The Force Awakens?

Both of them are a series of films that have been around for years and years developing a huge fan base. As a result of this they both have certain qualities that they have to live up to in order to keep fans interested. Both films also switch out characters and actors however unlike James Bond, the Star Wars franchise always keep the original actors in the in their previous roles only adding new actors to new roles. In the same way that boys wanted to be Luke Skywalker or Han Solo and now they possibly want to be Finn or girls that wanted to be Princess Leia now want to be Rey, boys want to be like James Bond. Both franchises have managed to create characters that the audience look up to and want to be like, they continue watching the films because they have grown up with the characters and the storyline and want to see what will happen next. They are both the same in the fact that even if you have never seen a James Bond film or a Star Wars film you have heard of it, just proving how successful both of the franchises are. Daniel Craig also had a cameo in The Force Awakens as one of the storm troopers.

Who was the inspiration for the character Maz Kanata?

J.J. Abrams High School English teacher Rose Gilbert.

What technology was used to create Maz Kanata?

They decided to go for a CG (Computer Graphics) approach for the character as a way of allowing Lupita Nyong'o's performance and small facial expressions and gestures to come through in her character. For her character they used the Medusa facial capture rig capturing facial details and movements in really intricate detail. This allowed them to also capture the facial movement she made when moving into a certain expression, tracking movement of individual pores and wrinkles in the skin. Nyong'o had to have tracking dots all over her face and had a lightweight four-camera head rig as a way of fully capturing her performance on set.

Who played Maz Kanata & what other roles is she famous for?

Lupita Nyong'o. Possibly her most famous role was in '12 Years a Slave' as Patsey winning an Academy Award for her acting. She has also been in 'The Jungle Book' as Raksha and in the action film 'Non-Stop' alongside Liam Neeson playing the character Gwen.

Who played General Snoke?

Andy Serkis

What is he renowned for in the movie business?

He has acted in 'The Lord of the Rings', 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey', 'The Jungle Book', 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes'.

Where was the final scene filmed?

Filmed at Skellig Michel, an island located off the coast of Ireland.

Who composed the film score?

John Williams

How many Star wars films has he composed the music for?

All of the seven films and is set to do the same for the next two films in the sequel trilogy.

What other famous films has he created the music for?

Spiderman, Harry Potter, ET, Indiana Jones, Jaws

How many times did John Boyega audition for the film (according to JJ Abrams)?


Over what period of time did these auditions occur?

7 months

How many people operated B-B8?

One person operated him when using the puppetry technique but two people when controlling him with a remote.

What type of technology was the main version of B-B8?

The body of BB-8 is a sphere with a wheeled mechanism inside it . The floating head is achieved using magnets, some of them repel and some of them attract. The magnetic attraction keeps the head and the body close together while the repulsion prevents the head from being in direct contact with the body.In the terms of controlling him they used puppetry for some of the scenes and remote controls for others. 

What colour suit did the B-B8 operator wear?


What did he have to wear such a suit?

To create the same effect that a green screen would have, it would be easier to edit him out and to project the background image on to where he was to make it appear as though the droid was operating by itself.

What type of special effects (SFX) were employed on Star Wars: The Force Awakens?

Abrams wanted to stay authentic to the original Star Wars trilogy as he thought the prequels were flawed as a result of their over-usage of CG. He shot as much of the film as possible in camera, building extensive set and large models to minimise the use of CG. They used matte paintings instead of green screen technology and created flat force perspective paintings to make corridors and hallways appear longer. They were practical and physical whenever possible meaning that not an extensive amount of special effects were used in the film, especially compared to the prequels. There is still a lot of CGI used as it is impossible to avoid because of the setting and genre of the film, with the visual effects supervisor confirming that about 2,100 f the 2,500 shots contained some form of CGI. These were either used for explosions, droids, space battles, characters or the galaxy itself. 

How many people were behind the monitor watching the scene when Han and Chewie returned to the Millennium Falcon?

About 200

Why was Simon Pegg thanked in the credits for Star Wars: The Force Awakens?

He played the part of Unkar Plutt, the junk dealer in Jakku. However, he was in costume so his face is never seen in the film. 

J.J. Abrams shot part of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in IMAX. What is IMAX?

A technique of cinematography which produces an image that is about ten
times bigger than standard 35mm film.

How many IMAX screens was the film available on?


What was the age rating of the film in the UK?


How much money did the UK government contribute to the production of Star Wars: The Force Awakens?

They covered 15% of all production costs, contributing about £31.6 million. 

How much was Harrison Ford paid to reprise his role of Han Solo?

$20 million 

How much were Daisy Ridley and John Boyega paid?

Between $100,000 -$300,000