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ESSAY #2: FILM PRODUCTION AND MASS COMMUNICATION Copyright Frank Scheide, 2003 I. Film Production and Mass Communication Film is considered one of the “mass media” associated with “mass communication”. The goal of “mass communication” is to use one or more of the mass media to communicate with a “mass audience”. When dealing with any aspect of the communication process one must consider the role of the transmitter , the receiver , and medium of communication that are employed. In this particular instance the medium of communication is film, the transmitter is a filmmaker, and the motion picture viewers comprise the category of “receiver”. If the filmmaker is to communicate with this mass audience she or he must know how to transmit messages using the medium of film. The motion picture viewer, in turn, should have some understanding of the motion picture medium and the language it uses to communicate if the information in these messages is to be properly interpreted. The better the transmitter and receiver understand how the medium they are using affects the content and “ fidelity ” of the message, the better the quality of the communication. “Fidelity” refers to how accurately the original message of the transmitter is presented or reproduced at the time it is perceived by the receiver. The film critic is particularly interested in how the motion picture functions as a medium of communication, and with assessing the content, quality, and fidelity of the messages conveyed. Before we examine how the critic addresses this process, we should consider the way the filmmaker uses this medium to communicate. Every medium of communication has certain properties that can be used by the communicator to convey messages. The communicator's choice of medium will partially determine the form that communication will take. For example, the overall type of expression that can be communicated through sculpture is substantially different from that found in music, theater, dance, writing, radio, or film. Though sculpture is a medium unique on to itself, it still may share some of the formal properties of alternative media. Theater, dance, and film, like sculpture, can convey information based on posed figures. The use of posed figures is something that non-visual media like music, writing, and radio can not employ in their communication. While sculpture, film, theater, and dance can incorporate posed figures in their individual types of expression, there are differences in the way these media are able to utilize the human body. One variation is that sculpture is a three-dimensional art form while a film image is two-dimensional. The posed figures in theater and dance are breathing three-dimensional performers of flesh and blood while sculpture is involved with representational figures composed of some inert material such as wood, stone, or plaster. Anyone wishing to work with a particular medium, or interpret what it communicates, needs to have some understanding of the formal properties peculiar to it. A filmmaker chooses to use the motion picture as her or his medium of communication.
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course FILM LECTU 1103 taught by Professor Student during the Spring '08 term at Arkansas.

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