A FIELD IN ENGLAND directed by Ben Wheatley.
Background of production and distribution:
- A Field In England was released on 5 July 2013 on cinema screens, DVD, VOD and free terrestrial broadcast on Film4.
- The BFI Distribution Fund supported the release of the project with £56,701, which contributed to a P&A spend of £112,000. The total production budget was £316,87
- Shot in black and white, small cast, shot in 12 days.
1. What were your expectations before watching the film? And what could be regarded as the source of your expectations?
Amid the Civil War in 17th-century England, a group of deserters flee from battle through an overgrown field. Captured by an alchemist, the men are forced to help him search to find a hidden treasure that he believes is buried in the field.
- Focus on war.
- Low budget and art house feel to the film, source from the film poster and trailer.
- Small cast may restrict story but support character development.
- Certificate of 15 – (BBFCINSIGHT) Contains strong language, once very strong, strong violence and gory images.
- Running Time: 88 minutes, would this give time for plot development and characterisation?
2. What was your overall feeling or impression when you finished watching?
My Overall Rating: 3 / 5
- I found the dialogue difficult to follow, at first, with it being a mixture of Blackadder and Shakespeare with a strong feeling of amateur theatre.
- Interesting that the focus was not on war, but instead focused on the deserters
- There were some beautiful and well performed shots but some, for me, were a little too trippy. At one point I even thought I was watching a 1990’s music video!
- I thought the story could be understood best as the notion of power between Whitehead and O’Neil. It was interesting to see that there were just a small cast ensemble with no woman cast within the movie. This could be compared with Society today, a divided society, currently understanding the impact of Brexit, recession and division. This resonates within this story, whereby 5 men are scrambling around looking for treasure that may not even be there.
- ‘That’ tent scene left a lasting impression, with the 5 minute + screaming, followed by slow-motion frames as O’Neil exits the tent bound in rope with a grin that is between ecstasy and terror, together with euphoric melodies.
- Mushrooms sequences serve as a tool to transform Whitehead from a servant to a civil war yielding hero. This is about rising beyond the shadows of others. “Open up and let the devil in”? Maybe, but be careful.
3. What captured your interest and drew you in? and/or What barriers prevented you fully engaging in the film?
- Funny moments, although these were mainly at the start.
- I found that the story was highly original
- The score and themes using, especially at the end, was equally as beautiful.
- I really enjoyed the toilet humour!
- As mentioned previously, I found the dialogue difficult to follow.
- The film was confusing at times and a little too trippy.
4. What is the demographic / target market for this film? How do you know?
BFI, Insight Report: A Field In England – Primary Audience was ABC1 18-25 year olds and frequent cinemagoers in the 25-35+ bracket, who may already be aware of the Directors’ work (Wheatley).
This would also be aimed at:
- those who like originality,
- Audiences who like Kill List (Wheatley) / Space Odyssey 2001 (Kubrick) ,
- Male (primarily),
- 18-35 year olds,
- those that enjoy black and white films,
- War film lovers.
5. What was the impact of the film on local, national and global audiences? How do you know?
Screen averages within data supplied by BFI is, as stated within the report, is mispleading due to the innovative release schedule.
Overall, well received by critics and those who are aware and enjoy the Directors’ work (Wheatley).
Audience reviews do not totally match those of the critics (do they ever?) , with some (IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes) describing the film as “too niche”, “too trippy” and “confusing”.
- (BoxOfficeMojo) $32, 846 lifetime gross. Which was inline and beyond expectations.
- Opened in 13 theatres and was in release for 42 days / 6 weeks.
- BFI, Insight Report: A Field In England – 29% of the theatrical audiences, in the exit poll, rated it as ‘excellent’ and 41% ‘very good’ giving ‘high favourable’ score of 70%.
- This was enjoyed and celebrated by critics: Rotten Tomatoes: 88% (58% Audience, IMDB : 6.3 / 10.
6. What have you learned from reviewing this film and related case study materials? (was there anything particularly notable about the film itself, or the approach to distribution and marketing that has implications for the wider sector?)
The efficiency of one push at the same time plus the large reach that Channel 4 can deliver was key. (BFI Insight Report, A Field in England)
- Picturehouse believed the film more or less reached the numbers that they were expecting. 4DVD said that DVD sales would have ‘sunk without trace’ if conventional windows would have been maintained.
- Large commercial value on multiplatform release and masterclass. The masterclass allowed users to be part of the development, including call sheets, commentary and evolution of posters etc.
- With the film being disconnected to a conventional genre, this could be seen as a good things where, according to the BFI report: “The biggest ‘key impression’ cited in the cinema exit polls was that the film was (71%) ‘different’ and ‘original’”
- This is an example where day-and-date releases can work for the independent sector.
- There’s an increased in the number of digital tools that are available to film makers, to enable them to reach their audiences and also those who like to watch films (Eg: vHX, Gumroad, distrify, Artful.ly)
- Distribution through these digital tools allows closer control of relationship between customer and film maker.
- http://www.afieldinengland.com/masterclass/ , Summary of compressed windows
- https://vimeo.com/79292331 , A Field in England – Digital Approach Explained (Maverick TV)
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This post was written by noxford