News Reel & Blog

Written by Flora Kimberley on 26th September 2019

All the major players from the Broadcast and Media industries recently gathered to discuss the future at the annual RTS convention in Cambridge. Located in the prestigious King’s College, some of the most senior managers in the largest companies delivered speeches around current topics within the UK’s media market.

The subject of change and uncertainty became an undercurrent to many of the conversations. BBC’s Director-General Tony Hall opened his speech discussing JK Galbraith’s economic work The Age of Uncertainty, in which Galbraith argues that as the economic and political certainties from the past collapse, the result is uncertainty and unpredictability. Similarly, as the UK is at a pivotal moment in history, the media industry's conventions and traditions are now being broken citing the BBC's hit Fleabag as a show which audiences have embraced because it emulates the uncertain narrative that is currently in the public eye.

There was a lot of talk about the late entrants into the SVOD market - namely, Disney+, Hulu and Apple TV. This “second wave of disruption” will impact the Netflix and Amazon titans, as they struggle to offer the same range of shows as other players remove their content. It is thought that Britbox has a high chance of standing out within a diluted market due to the unique and high quality content which comes out of the UK with its distinctive “Brit” values, purpose and morals. However it still remains to be seen how successful it will be whilst the US majors continue to deliver huge-budget shows with high production values.

The Right Honourable Nicky Morgan, DCMS Secretary of State highlighted that government and regulators must support the broadcast market adapt to change in the global market. The previous regulations are not necessarily suitable or relevant for the new ways in which people create and consume content (it's all very analogue). This includes the Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code, as the audience protections suit linear TV more so then SVOD services. An additional area where regulation may need to be updated is the PSB multiplex licenses which underpin the Freeview platform. These expire in 2022 and Morgan cites this as a high priority for her to review.

What we took away from the RTS convention in Cambridge is that there is a lot of uncertainty in the media landscape currently, and only time will tell who the winners and losers will be. However, as consumers continue to move away from the constraints of linear TV, the opportunities for the UK production sector are huge despite social and political ambiguity.

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Written by Flora Kimberley on 19th September 2019

On Sunday, the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards will honor the best TV series for all genres aired over the last year. Last week however, the Creative Arts Emmys took to the stage to honour the people behind the scenes of the biggest shows on television. The Creative Arts Awards act as the first half of the Emmys and often indicate where the panel is leaning for the headline awards.

HBO have headed into the both ceremonies with a huge advantage with a record-breaking 137 nominations, and at last week’ awards, they proved to be the big winner of the night picking up seventeen awards from just Game of Thrones and Chernobyl and a colossal twenty five in total.

Game of Thrones alone picked up ten Creative Arts Emmys, five of those for the episode “The Long Night”. It does seem like a bizarre choice of episode to have won Outstanding Picture Editing as there was major complaints from fans that the episode was too dark to see. Despite the fan fallout out David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, David Nutter and Miguel Sapochnik are all nominated for the directing awards at the Emmys for three different episodes of the final season with it tipped that Sapochnik will win for “The Long Night". If the Creative Arts Emmys are anything to go by the drama category will be dominated by Game of Thrones with the expectation that they will break their record for most trophies won by a single season at the Primetime Emmys.

In the Limited Series category, both set of awards seem to be culminating into a two horse race between HBO’s Chernobyl (depicting the events surrounding the nuclear power plant explosion) and Netflix’s When They See Us (dramatic retelling of the story of the Central Park Five). Chernobyl conquered the Creative Arts Emmys beating its main competitor four times winning Outstanding Sound Mixing, Outstanding production design, Outstanding Musical Composition Outstanding Visual effects and Outstanding Cinematography, Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing. The juggernaut was only defeated in the Outstanding Casting category which went to the Netflix’s drama. Despite not making waves during the Creative Arts Awards, there is still a strong possibility that When They See Us could take a surprise win at the Primetime Emmys. When They See Us is predominately nominated for acting awards and with the academy’s acting bias there is a high chance that they it could still take the award for Best Limited series under HBO’s nose. Fosse/Verdon was the only other limited series to take home some awards. The elegant period drama secured wins for Outstanding Hairstyling and the other for Outstanding Makeup.

This year's most competitive category is the for the Comedy awards, which features an incredible range of shows mainly produced or written by women. HBO’s Veep vs Amazon’s The Marvellous Mrs Maisel will be the showdown of the night as they are both defending champions. The Marvellous Mrs Maisel won six Creative Arts Emmys on Sunday night, causing a couple of major upsets in the Guest Actress (Jane Lynch) and Guest Actor (Luke Kirby) beating all Saturday Night Live Guest hosts. The series even stole a cinematography award from Game of Thrones and Outstanding period costumes from Fosse/Verdon. Statistically, the Amazon comedy has won twice as many Creative Arts Emmys as it did last year which makes it a tough act to beat. Veep didn’t win any Creative Arts awards making it seem unlikely to win the main awards, but it is a legacy show with wide acclaim amongst fans and the voters. Plus it is the final season, so it could still make a run for best comedy, especially considering Maisel is always at an advantage for its technical prowess and production design which suits Emmy voters preference in a way Veep never can. If you want to consider an outsider, for the past four years the winner of the Creative Arts Outstanding Casting has gone on to win the best comedy which was won by Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag. The comedy snapped up another Creative Award for Outstanding Editing and with eleven nominations at the Primetime Emmys there is always a chance of a surprise. However, Natasha Lyonne’s Netflix comedy Russian Doll won three times out of nine chances at The Creative Arts Emmys for Outstanding Cinematography, Outstanding Production Design and Outstanding Contemporary Costumes. There is a real opportunity for an upset within this category.

It is clear that despite the glamour of the awards, the Emmys are coming down to the nitty-gritty after the Creative Arts awards.

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Written by Flora Kimberley on 6th September 2019

With the sun setting on the glamorous Venice film festival and rising on the prestigious Toronto film festival, it’s official - the Oscar race has started. With the Academy Awards telecasting in February this year, it means the countdown is on. The Venice film festival is normally a reliable predictive tool for what and who will be nominated or win an academy award. Last year Olivia Coleman was awarded the Volpi Actress at the festival for her role in The Favorite. She went on to win a surprise Oscar.

This year, Venice boasts some big-ticket premieres such as Todd Phillip’s Joker, which is positioning itself to be a festival highlight. Joker centres around the infamous villain in an original standalone fictional story which has never been featured on the silver screen. The film explores the life and mind of Arthur Fleck (the man behind the paint) who cannot seem to find his feet in the modern world. The film deviates from the stereotypical villain movie focusing in on the treatment of the mentally ill in contemporary society, and the ominous effect of widespread gun ownership. Already attracting Oscar whispers, Joaquin Phoenix’s performance is set to be astounding. Phoenix has the critics raving over his control in the performance, depicting an unhinged mind while not allowing himself to fall in the caricature net. From the reviews, it seems the Volpi Cup already has his name on.

After the controversy surrounding Roma last year, there has been a focus on the films which the SVOD services have created. Netflix has entered the long road to the Oscars with two heavy hitters: Marriage Story and The King. The writer and director of Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach, is no stranger to the awards having been nominated for Best Original Screenplay for his 2005 work The Squid and the Whale. However, Marriage Story is said to be his best work yet. It is more of an observation then a movie, making the audience become a voyeur to a splintering marriage with compassion and honesty. Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver are set to be a perfect duo; playing between tension and release to reflect the mixture of emotions surrounding such a large decision. The understated and simple film has already secured 100% on Rotten Tomatos from the festival. From the subtle to the sovereign, Netflix’s second runner is period drama The King starring Timothée Chalamet, Robert Patterson and Lily-Rose Depp. The grand and gloomy piece opens with Hal the drunk prince of Wales (Chalamet) and follows him as he ascends to the throne as Henry V. It depicts the deception and disparity that war causes within any civilization, using historic drama tropes of glorifying violence and triumph. The King is getting mixed reviews as an overall movie; however many critics seem to be giving Chalamet Oscar nods for his performance. One critic even went as far to say “it’s not just about how fascinating the role is — the film is capturing the elevation of his stardom.”

Finally, a mention has to go to The Painted Bird whose graphic and shocking nature caused half its audience to leave in repulsion. The film itself is directed by Václav Marhoul who creates a beautiful black and white visual feast depicting a ‘stray’ Jewish boy who has fled to Eastern Europe to avoid the German occupation. The main take away from the reviews is this could be a monumental piece of cinema but you have to sit through it first. In other words, it’s dark, it’s grisly and it’s gruesome. Marhoul shot the film over several years, so Petr Kotlar, who plays the boy, physically ages as the movie progresses. It hasn’t been tipped for award success, but it is certainly evoking strong reactions.

On a lighter note, I have a list of other films that showed at Venice to keep an eye out for Award season bets.

Ad Astra, James Gray

Brad Pitt stars as an astronaut who is searching the edges of the solar system to find his missing father and uncovers the secrets that threaten human life on earth.

Seberg, Benedict Andrews

Inspired by true events about activist and actress Jean Seberg, who in the late 1960s became the focus of the FBI due to her political and romantic involvement with the black panthers.

The Perfect Candidate, Haifaa Al-Mansour

Maryam is an ambitious young doctor working in a rural clinic in Saudi Arabia where she faces disrespect from both male colleagues and patients. Then, she stumbles across an application for her local city elections…..

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