FILM PRODUCTION AND MASS COMMUNICATION
Copyright Frank Scheide, 2003
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
When dealing with any aspect of the communication process one must
consider the role of the
medium of communication
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 “
” 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
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.