Sunday, June 16, 2013

Women in Film- a Focus on its Mentorship Program

Originally founded in 1973, the non-profit organization Women in Film is a leading professional organization in the entertainment industry that encourages and promotes the success of women in the film, media and communications industries. Headed by Academy Award Winning producer, Cathy Shulman , the organization provides numerous resources to its members that include mentorship programs, grants and scholarships for film, network opportunities and many other programs geared towards help with women in the industry achieve their goals.

With 40 chapters across the country, the organization’s reach represents over 10,000 members.  Featuring a speaker series and monthly independent film series, the program offers endless resources to help women progress in their careers in the film industry. One of the very valuable programs the organization offers to its members is its mentor program.  In the New York chapter, members are able to apply for an internship allowing them to explore their area of interest in the field and gain hands on experience.  Upon successful completion of the internship program, the candidate is then assigned a mentor in their desired career path to help guide and provide inside insight to what it take to be successful in their field.  Based on the intern’s interests, the organization matches them with a mentor who is specialized in their area.  The mentor and intern are then to meet once a month during the internship and advises him/ her on their professional and personal growth.

The advantages of Women in Film providing programs, such as the mentorship program, prepares women today for successful careers in entertainment tomorrow. Encouraging enthusiastic women of all ages to make their mark only helps create a more experienced/ talented pool of potential job candidates for productions. Women in film today are hugely underrepresented and do not hold nearly as many positions in the industry that men do. Resources such as a mentorship program help promote the integration of women in the industry and serves as a support system that few other programs are able to achieve. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gatsby a Hit, the Hangover III a Miss

Making this summer's long list of much anticipated movies include the much talked about Baz Luhrmann film adaptation of The Great Gatsby and the 3rd installment of the comedy the Hangover. Both films were expected to bring in big numbers for this summer and were on my list of must sees for this season.

One of the the few books I actually enjoyed reading in my high school English class was F. Scott's Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, so when I saw last year it was going to be made into a Hollywood film...and starring some of my favorite actors, I couldn't wait for its release! Surprisingly, director Baz Luhrman's over the top style and amazing use of color only enhanced Fitzgerald's classic story, not once taking away from the original book's story line. Luhrmann's approach to the story was very refreshing in that he never veered too far off from Fitzgerald's words (something few film adaptations have done in the past.) The book held its own on the big screen aside from the lavish, jaw-dropping visuals. The film also had solid performances by Leonardo DiCaprio who played the main character, Jay Gatsby. However, with any movie that DiCaprio's character speaks with an accent, I always find myself cringing because each line sounds like a different dialect. In Gatsby, his accent's origins are just as questionable, a far cry from the foreign actresses who did have accents (Carey Mulligan and Isla Fisher) were able to carry out their lines in a very believable American accent.

Where Gatsby surprised, the Hangover part III disappointed. I'm ashamed to say I never got around to watching the sequel, Hangover II, but was told from many who did that if you had watched the first Hangover it wasn't necessary to see the second. Now that the third one was released I was curious to see if the film that had me laughing for days after I left the theater would have the same effect on its 3rd installment. With the start of the opening scene of Ken Jung's character, Chao, escaping a prison (which I safely assumed he ended up there from the 2nd Hangover) I was almost sure this movie was going to be non stop laughs. But only about 20 minutes in and only a few laughs brought from the overweight man-child Alan (played by the hilarious Zach Galifianakis) the story took a predictable turn when they began a road trip and the laughs quickly subsided. If they said the Hangover 2 was basically the Hangover in a different location, then the Hangover 3 was the Hangover and Hangover 2 in some of the same locations. The shock value that the original movie had is something that could never be matched in its sequels and the box office sales will surely reflect that. Hopefully this will be the last of the Hangover movies... (even though the ending was perfectly set up for a 4th).

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Does our Nation's Conscious Directly Affect TV Programming?

NBCUniversal Executive Vice President, Lauren Zalaznick is responsible for changing the landscape of an entire network because of her innate ability to recognize audience trends. The Bravo Executive changed the networks programming towards the reality television we all love to hate including the Real Housewives franchise and shows like Top Chef.

In a TED speech held by Zalaznick, she explores the relationship between human consciousness and television programming.  The findings in her research showed a common association between the two in that society ultimately determines what shows are put on TV. Depending on the political, economic and social climate, audiences seek TV programming that reflects their moral state. In a time where political and economic morale is low, Zalaznick shows trends that the two are dependent on one another.

In the last 20 years, popular television made a drastic change in the programming that was put out with comedy sitcoms like FRIENDS and Seinfeld ending and more “judgement” reality TV shows becoming popular such as Survivor and American Idol where people’s fates where decided by audience viewers. This shift in programming reflected the country’s state in the early 2000’s when morale was low due to major events such as September 11th. Zalyznyck argues this correlation to be the fact that audiences were able to redeem a sense of control in a time where most Americans, in particular, felt they did not have much control over anything.

No matter how we feel about the TV programming that is out there today, the research Zalaznick provides directly reflects “the moral, political, social and emotional need states of our nation”. The fact that Lauren points out we watch an average of 5 hours of TV a day, also shows that television takes up a major part of our lives.

This speech is particularly interesting to me because I have always felt that audiences want to see new creative shows, but what her studies find, is that those shows do not necessarily make popular TV, but our nation’s subconscious is what fuels what we collectively consider popular and entertaining. By understanding this point of view, it can be very beneficial to the writers out there pitching their ideas to networks in the future, if they take into account the political and social climate into their storylines.