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Money talks

THE DIET COKE MOVIE MOGUL FILM INDUSTRY PACK. Video and teachers' notes. Free from Film Education, 41-42, Berners Street, London W1P 3AA

Films have always been more about money than anything else. "The language of cinema? Yeah, that's what you get when you can't afford Kevin Costner," as Hollywood screenwriter Lorenzo Semple once put it. Few educational materials, at least at the secondary level, stress this fact; and those that do seldom, if ever, come free. Teachers therefore have a double reason for welcoming The Diet Coke Movie Mogul Film Industry Pack.

The third and best reason is the overall quality of the pack. Filled with useful information and often stimulating activities, this pack will get students thinking seriously about aspects of the industry that they are unlikely ever to have considered at all.

Each of the pack's three major sections illustrates a particular part of the industry. While "Production" focuses on such matters as planning, budgeting, scheduling and the roles of assorted production staff, "Distribution" looks at promotion, previewing and film classification. Finally, "Exhibition" concentrates on the growth of multiplex cinemas, the nature of audiences and how best to mount local publicity campaigns.

A number of important points emerge from the interviews. It soon becomes clear that the film business is no place for softies. With a high attrition rate at both ends of the corporate ladder, employees need to be nimble as well as thick-skinned. Equally, the need to ensure that films are "bankable" means that lofty principles crumble into low compromises.

Though there's nothing very new about the storyboarding and script-writing exercises, the presentation of a film package to potential investors looks good, while another on planning a publicity campaign for a new cinema is excellent. There are many more, on genre, audience, images and scheduling, that do credit to this immensely helpful enterprise.

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