Behind the Screens: Hollywood Goes Hypercommercial
"Behind the Screens: Hollywood Goes Hypercommercial" is an outstanding documentary, made in 2000, about the hyper-commercialization of Hollywood movies since about 1980. It focuses on product placement and other ways in which commercial factors influence both the content of movies and, more invisibly, the decisions as to which movies actually get made.
The film is crisply edited and packed with lively clips from popular films which your students will know well. Students always enjoy watching it and are keen to share their own memories of movie-themed merchandise. (“I remember my Lion King lunch box…my Little Mermaid pajamas…my Space Jam back-pack…my Buzz Light-year action figure.”)
The documentary is 37 minutes long (ISBN 1-893521-40-0). It is available through the Media Education Foundation ($75 to schools) at this website:
This package of materials contains about 2-3 hours’ worth of classroom materials to use with the 37-minute documentary. These materials are suitable for use not only in media and film studies, but also as a short media unit in an English course.
The students watch the documentary (with pauses for discussion and for completing the viewing notes). The viewing notes cover 4 pages, with plenty of white space for the students to write in.
In a later lesson, students use their viewing notes (and their own experience of Hollywood movies) to help them complete the test.
All this should help them become more familiar with some of the ways commercial considerations affect both the content of Hollywood movies and, more invisibly, the decisions as to which movies actually get funded and made.
1) Overview and suggestions for using these materials
2) Viewing notes: Questions for students to answer as they watch the documentary.
3) Answer key the viewing notes
4) A test based on the content and key ideas of the documentary.
5) Answer key for the test
The preview gives the opening sections of items 2-5.