Chair: Dr Barry Monahan (University college Cork)

Room: G27, O’Rahilly Building (ORB), UCC

Aaron Hunter (Maynooth)

ABSTRACT: Coming Soon to a VOD Handheld Platform Near You!
Veronica Mars and Changing Patterns of Film Funding and Distribution

Veronica Mars was a semi-successful television series that ran for three seasons (2004-2007) on UPN/The CW and was a property of Warner Bros. After the series’ unexpected cancelation, talk of a possible film circulated amongst fans, cast, and series creator Rob Thomas for several years, to no avail. In 2013, Warner Bros. agreed to support the film if Thomas and his collaborators could raise at least $2.5 million in production costs on their own. Via Kickstarter, the production team raised over $5 million – shattering previous fundraising records. Veronica Mars the film went into production in the summer of ’13 and received a limited theatrical release in March 2014. However, most people who saw the film viewed it as a video-on-demand download, a reward for having backed the Kickstarter campaign.

Using Veronica Mars as a case study, this paper will explore how digital technology, the Internet, and alternative models of funding are redefining traditional conceptions of film and the cinema. Veronica Mars was the first film to be released simultaneously in theatres and for home viewing by a major Hollywood studio, which means it defies categorization as film, direct-to-DVD, or television movie. Its fan-backed funding complicates questions about budget and box office earnings: for example, the $5.5 million raised on Kickstarter could be considered both budget and box office. Finally, the filmmakers consciously decided to forgo most of the expositional narrative models that traditionally accompany television-to-film continuations. This represents a fan-service model of distribution that diverges significantly from TV adaptations’ standard attempts to appeal to a broader audience.

Combining elements of production, star, and fan studies, this paper argues that Veronica Mars exists simultaneously as a movie and not-a-movie. As such, it is an early example of one way that cinema might persist in a post-cinema world.

Ian O’Loughlin (Amazon.com)

ABSTRACT: Film Classification and The Semantic Web

Film Classification has always had an evaluative dimension.  Even apart from explicitly evaluative classification sets, such as canons and “best of” lists, other apparently neutral methods of classification, such as genre, can play a role in determining a film’s value or prestige.  Furthermore, how we view an actor or director may be determined by how their work is classified.  Peter Wollen has made the case that Michael Curtiz lacks the status of an auteur largely because of his association with the low-prestige genre of the swashbuckler. However, in the current Digital Age, are the same fixed classification models, such as genre, still as relevant?  Films are now often associated with one another via automated algorithmically generated recommendations. What effect does this have on traditional theories of value and authorship?

There exists several strands of study regarding how film classification serves an evaluative purpose.  As well as the theoretical genre/auteur studies such as Wollen’s others, like Schrader, have explicitly analysed film canons as significant, evaluative cultural objects.  Furthermore, there existst some analysis of how those responsible for channels of film distribution classify films with the obvious purpose of determining how audiences will receive them (Crisp, Rosenbaum).

What has yet to be explored is how information retrival and information management technologies, from simple hyperlinks to algorithmically generated recommendation lists, can play a role in driving evaluative classification.

This paper will make a broad analysis of streaming services and film information sites and outline how the information schemes used by these sites and services prompt evaluation of the films, actors, directors, writers etc.  It is my contention that the (often automated) information architecture and technologies that are used to classify films continue to play a role in driving evaluation.

Crisp, V. Film Distribution in the Age of Internet: East Asian Cinema in the UK. Goldsmiths: University of London, 2012.

Rosenbaum, J. (2000) Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Conspire to Limit what Films We Can See. Chicago: A Cappella Books.

Schrader, P. (2006) ‘Canon fodder’. Film comment September-October, pp.33-49.

Wollen, P. (2003) ‘The auteur theory: Michael Curtiz and Casablanca’. Authorship and film. Eds. D.A. Gerstner and J. Staiger. London: Routledge, pp.61-77.