PR, Films and Fantasies

Posts Tagged ‘books

Summer holidays are usually the time I manage to catch up with my huge fantasy reading list, one that I permanently, passionately though quite hopelessly update during the year on Goodreads. Due to my addiction to stories and storytelling, I spend every available minute in books while travelling or before bed, but nothing compares to the long hours away from reality on a hot (or not) summer day. So… after finishing my degree this year and locking away all media related readings, I went to the closest Waterstones and spent a fortune on pretty volumes (no, I don’t do Kindle!). Obviously things didn’t go as planned and I ended up having a very, very busy summer, but still, here are two titles which I simply couldn’t put down until I reached their very last word.

First of all, if you didn’t hear about The Hunger Games then it’s high time you did as people say they’re the new Harry Potter/Twilight out there. I was first introduced to the title by a fellow actress while playing the role of the sacrificed Athenians in We Are the Minotaur. She’s American, in her 30s and they way she described it was: “it’s the most intense, sick story of kill or be killed in a post-apocalyptic society,  just that with teenagers… and it’s better than JK Rowling”. As an ex-reality media student and since we were playing a role similar to the one of the main character of The Hunger Games, this obviously got my attention:

Suzanne Collins, the author, says that the idea for The Hunger Games came to her one day when she was channel-surfing, and the lines between a reality show competition and war coverage “began to blur in this very unsettling way.” She also cites the Greek myth of Theseus, in which the city of Athens was forced to send young men and women to Crete to be devoured by the Minotaur, as inspiration for the nation of Panem; she explains, “Crete was sending a very clear message: ‘Mess with us and we’ll do something worse than kill you. We’ll kill your children.”

Bought it and couldn’t put it down… I’m not saying this is some sort of exquisite novel with complicated language and billions of hidden symbols and metaphors, but it’s definitely a unique story. Very easy to read, fast paced and also emotional overall, once read and digested it can lead to different discussions on today’s society and where we’re heading. If you’re not a keen reader, then maybe you’ll be tempted by the film due to be release in April 2012 and staring A-listers such as Jennifer Lawrence (aka nominated for an Oscar last year – Winter’s Bone) or Woody Harrelson (which I will see in person next Sunday at the London Film Festival!!!!).

Another absolutely brilliant title is The Night Circus:

A strange beast, creakily plotted but boasting a fabulously intricate mise en scène. At its centre is the appropriately named Le Cirque de Rêves, a dreamlike travelling circus in the latter part of a baggily imagined 19th century. It arrives without warning in fields around the world, opening its gates between the hours of dusk and dawn. Once inside this monochromatic world, audiences might watch a tattooed contortionist fold herself into a tiny glass box, feast on chocolate mice and caramel popcorn, or wander through a sequence of tents that includes an ice garden, a desert and a maze constructed from towering clouds. (more in the Guardian)

I picked it from a pile in the bookshop because it had the word “circus” in the title. Personally I am beyond fascinated with anything that goes deep inside this misterious world and The Night Circus surely does not disappoint! The best thing about this story is the amazing images it creates in one’s imagination. If you’re a visualizer, like myself, then you will simply be blown away by this fantastic scenery created by Erin Morgenstern (a name to watch out for as this is just the debut novel!!!). Also, I must admit that the book cover is probably one of the most beautiful I’ve seen in a few years and I simply couldn’t resist the temptation to know more of what’s inside it.

What I don’t get is why people keep comparing it (as well) with Harry Potter… nowadays any book mentioning magic is automatically inspired by Hogwarts? No! It has nothing to do with it. In my opinion JK’s books were focus so much more on the plot and characters and through them was the fantasy world created, while in The Night Circus it is the senses that are inundated with details, allowing the reader to sink deeper and deeper into the imagination.


For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been working on my dissertation for a few months now (going slowly but surely). Overall, it covers film promotion within today’s promotional culture when we get stuck in a vortex of publicity and at a point, loose track of what is marketing pushed material and true media content.

My case study will be Sex and the City 2 and no, I did not chose it because I’m a fan of the franchise (although I don’t hate it with a passion either) but because despite the fact that the film was a review disaster, it did make the over 100mil BO and billions still went to watch it. I am really curios how bad press mingled with articles on the S&C lifestyle and the “Carrie On” pages as on the one hand the media destroyed it, but on the other it promoted every single usp the marketeers emphasised.

Anyway, for now, I just wanted to present a few really good books on Film Marketing and Promotion that I found in my research. I think they are quite helpful for anyone in the industry or aspiring to be part of it. Let’s start with the classics:

Justin Wyatt – High Concept: Movies and Marketing in Hollywood – 1994 It covers promotional techniques for movies in the “high concept” category which are the crowd pleasers. They go beyond blockbusters in following rules of BO and Wyatt covers many case studies of such productions where marketing starts from the first page of the script (Top Gun, Baby Boom, Basic Instinct and so on…)

Tiiu Lukk – Movie Marketing: Opening the Picture and Giving it Wings – 1997 – One of my favorites as it really helped me in my own research. It follows the promotional campaigns of different genres and styles from the romantic comedies (4 weddings and a funeral) to the independent films (Pulp Fiction), action, documentaries and so on. I really wish I could find something similar from our decade. (this website tries to present case studies, but it doesn’t analyse them so in depth: check it out!)

Thomas Austin – Hollywood, hype and audiences: Selling and watching popular film in the 1990s – 2002 – again this is key for my own research as it combines the sold image of the films (which appeared in the media reviews and through advertising) with the audience response and reactions. Basically it analyses how the promotion influences the viewer’s expectations and to what extent this changes the messages he/she receives from the production. Again Basic Instinct is among the case studies, as well as Dracula and Natural Born Killers.

Janet Wasko – Hollywood in the Information Age – 1994 – even if this doesn’t cover film marketing to the point, it helps the reader understand the background of the big studios and how the function in order to relate that to the way the movie are being produced and sold. This goes hand in hand with:

Janet Wasko – How Hollywood Works – 2003

And now, for the pure film marketing ones:

Robert Marich – Markting to moviegoers: A handbook of strategies and tactics – 2009 – up to date marketing toolkit for the film industry.

Finola Kerrigan – Film Marketing – 2010 – great read which combines the business approach with the cultural theory. I think it’s quite a bible for the field

Angus Finney – The International Film Business: A Market Guide Beyond Hollywood – 2010 – Goes away from Hollywood recipes and looks at how the industry works in other countries and within the independent sector.

Hope this list will help others so please feel free to ask me any questions about the titles or maybe others. Also, I would be really grateful if  you could suggest more that I could use in my research and add to this list!

Film marketers and scholars out there, I salute you!

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