Course SOC309H5F BLACKFISH-whale doc Lecture
Topic: Film – production, content and reception
Key educational goals/outcomes for today:
Understand the interplay of economic and aesthetic / fashion considerations in film (as in other
entertainment industries). Understand that many aesthetic changes in film history have been
products of economic consideration.
Understand that wider social changes, as well as the changes in entertainment technology and
production, influence development of film.
Consider influence of television on reception of film, and the film industry’s efforts to counteract
Baumann, Shyon. 2001. “Intellectualization andArt World Development: Film in the United
States”, American Sociological Review, vol. 66, no. 3. 404-426.
Hirsch, Paul M. 1972. “Processing Fads and Fashions:An Organization-SetAnalysis of Cultural
Industry Systems”, American Journal of Sociology, vol. 77. 639-659.
Questions to guide the reading/to think about ahead of time for students
Hirsch views the mass media as an “institutional regulator of innovation”. What does this mean?
What consequences does this have for the media content transmitted to audiences? What kinds of
innovation are likely to get lost on their way from creators to audiences?
What were the external and internal factors influencing establishment ofAmerican film as art?
Why was film industry favouring this change?
How did appearance of television open an “opportunity space” for establishment of film as art?
Compare this process to that of establishment of theatre as art in the late 19 c. A GENDA FOR CLASS
We continue our discussion of entertainment by looking at the history and economics of North
American film. We shall consider how the conditions of production influenced film content, and
how the industry fought to establish formal or informal control over distribution channels. The
film industry’s competition, first against television and then against other home media carriers,
which ended in their successful co-optation, will also be discussed, because of its importance for
profitability of film.
The main concepts for today
Procedure Development (1y) production (3y), sale and distribution (1y)
Film production by media conglomerate-branches out such as Disney into several
Eg walt Disney company
Disney media networks—ABC,ESPN,Disney Channel, walt Disney parks&Recs, Walt
Disney Studios-Disney Studios motion pic-distributor, pictures-pixar ect, Disney
Consumer, Disney Interactive
Film industry as a field
Bourdieus concept of field
Afield film comes into being whenfilm production begins to enjoy autonomy from other
existing fields in the type of capital particulary
Film industry as a system
Hirschs concept of system
Input and output boundaries
Managerial and technical subsyetm (close supervision of production, decrease risk for
production and managerial subsystem (bureaucratic of distribution
Institutional subsystem –mass media eing the gatekeeper of the diffusion of fadds and
Film industry as a network of organization
Overproduction differential promotion MANAGERIAL SYSTEM>>>CONTACT MEN
SUBSYSTEN>>>CONTACT MEN>>>MANAGERIAL SYSTEM
Studio system to indid films
Application of mass production principles to film. The studio system
By the ‘20’s film technology has advanced to enable production of feature length films
This si only possible with a large # of workers and high investment in production This leads to oligopolisation
1920s-1930s central producer system-1 producer oversees all important dec including
creative and supervises the entire production of a studio
40’s unit producer system each producer specializes in a genre and supervises fewer films
at a time. Aproducer is more knowledgeable and more interest in creative success
Studio system and the star system are ways to min uncertainty
Addresses both output and input. Big 5 paramount, loews MGM FOX or 20 cent fox and
Warner and RKO
Vertical integration: eac owned a large studio worldwide nework of distribution offices
and cinema chains
Other large studio Universal, Columbia united artists
8 studios produced 75% ofAmerican films collected 90% rev
Block booking is a system of selling multiple films to a theater as a unit. Block booking was the
prevailing practice among Hollywood's major studiosfrom the turn of the 1930s until it was outlawed by
the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. (1948). Un