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Q1a guide db2011 Q1a guide db2011 Document Transcript

  • Q1a Guide Q1a: some general guidelines Some general advice on how to approach the 1a topics: 1. DONT write out the question - good practice in a longer essay, but not when youve only got 30mins 2. Any plan should be very brief, simply the themes or topics (see point 5) you intend to explore (hopefully remembering the examples wont be a problem) 3. Clearly state the AS + A2 remits you followed [opening 2 mins of feature film; MVid] 4. Provide a BRIEF synopsis [narrative outline] of each, including title + genre - you MUST enable the marker to have a sense of what you produced 5. Pick out anywhere from 2-5 themes or topics [ANALYSIS, ARGUMENT] to use as frameworks for comparing and contrasting AS + A2 6. For each of these it is absolutely vital you provide specific, detailed denotation [USE OF EXAMPLES] from both texts 7. Use semiotic TERMINOLOGY as you do so, but also concepts such as convergence, web 2.0 etc, and look to draw upon specific theorists too 8. As you finish each topic/paragraph, double check: have you provided specific denotation/examples to illustrate your point? If you dont you could potentially lose all the marks for examples as the examiner will have nothing to go on - you have to make it easy for them to visualise what you mean 9. For many of the DCRUP topics its worth addressing some of the things you rejected; giving a sense of your decision-making process, or of quality control if you like 10. If you reference other films, in some cases (espec Indie, low-budget movies) it may be worth giving v brief description, eg: Donkey Punch is a low-budget (£1m) slasher-on-a-boat produced by the Indie Warp X, set up by the UK Film Council to encourage digital film- making in the UK. There is an additional factor to consider: the very nature of the topics chosen by the board should help make clear their vision of yourselves as actual media producers; try not to think of your Media productions as some artificial process, but rather engage with the reality that new media technology has enabled all of you to plan, create and publish a digital media text. The concept of web 2.0 is key; see various blog posts on this. If making a point about working in a group, remember: 1. From the Wachowskis to the Coens, there are several high-profile writer/producer/directorial teams! 2. It would be useful to consider your specific contribution, or what constitutes your voice, styleQ1a Guides Media Studies @ IGS 1
  • Overall, the key point is that you must back up your analysis with specific detail (examples/denotation) from a comparison of what YOU did for AS + A2 (and how your work developed), employing terminology to do so.It is important to note that you are not aiming to include all, or even most, of the pointsraised in any of these; you only have 30 mins – including any planning time – to answerthis question. Pick out points you know you can usefully apply to specific examples fromyour work and use these as the basis for your revision.It might be useful to begin to identify aspects of your work which you know you canusefully apply to several of the DCRUP topics to make your exam preparation easier!Also note that you should not write a long intro for any DCRUP topic. HOWEVER, aBRIEF summary of what you did at AS and A2 should be your starting point: At AS I created the opening two minutes of a new feature film (following on from a basic preliminary task), working within the slasher sub-genre of horror. I worked on a different format for A2, a music video for BAND’s “TRACK TITLE” – though both texts are linked through their primary or core target audience of 15-24.Spider diagrams are one useful way to approach your notes in preparation for this. It would make sense to workclosely with your group partner/s at AS/A2 to help each other work out which examples from your work bestillustrate the various points below.Depending on the nature of any statement provided alongside the question, you shouldalso address this – essentially indicate whether you agree/disagree/a bit of both(!) withit, and develop this through the essay.The first actual G325 exam didn’t include any such statements in the questions; an earlier sample, designed togive teachers a flavour of how the paper might be designed, did, so this is something to look out for. I’llreproduce the two sets of questions below:JANUARY 2010 [ACTUAL EXAM PAPER]Section A: Theoretical Evaluation of ProductionIn question 1(a) you need to write about your work for the Foundation Portfolio and Advanced Portfoliounits and you may refer to other media production work you have undertaken.1(a) Describe how you developed research and planning skills for media production and evaluate howthese skills contributed to creative decision making. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to showhow these skills developed over time.Here’s the Chief Examiner’s guide to answering Q1a, including a list of all past questions:Q1a Guides Media Studies @ IGS 2
  • CHIEF EXAMINER’S GUIDE TO Q1aAs you saw in yesterdays post, these are the previous questions which came up for this part of the exam:Describe how you developed research and planning skills for media production and evaluate how these skillscontributed to creative decision making. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how these skillsdeveloped over time.Describe the ways in which your production work was informed by research into real media texts and how yourability to use such research for production developed over time.Describe how you developed your skills in the use of digital technology for media production and evaluate howthese skills contributed to your creative decision making. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to showhow these skills developed over time.You will notice that each of these begins by asking you to describe and then goes on to ask you to reflect insome way: "evaluate", "how you used" "how your skills developed". herein lies the key to this part of the exam!You only have half an hour for the question and you really need to make the most of that time by quicklymoving from description (so the reader knows what you did) to analysis/evaluation/reflection, so he/she starts tounderstand what you learnt from it.there are five possible areas which can come upDigital technologyResearch and PlanningConventions of Real MediaPost-ProductionCreativity.If you look through those questions above, you will see that they all contain at least two of the five- creativity ismentioned (as creative decision making) in two of them alongside the main area (digital technology on one,research and planning skills in the other). In the third of those past questions , research is combined withconventions of real media. So as you can see, the question is likely to mix and match the five, so you HAVE tobe able to think on your feet and answer the question that is there.So, how do you get started preparing and revising this stuff? I would suggest that you begin by setting out, oncards or post-its, a list of answers to these questions:What production activities have you done?This should include both the main task and preliminary task from AS and the main and ancillaries at A2 plusany non-assessed activities you have done as practice, and additionally anything you have done outside thecourse which you might want to refer to, such as films made for other courses or skateboard videos made withyour mates if you think you can make them relevant to your answer.What digital technology have you used?This should not be too hard- include hardware (cameras, phones for pictures/audio, computers and anything elseyou used) software (on your computer) and online programs, such as blogger, youtube etcIn what ways can the work you have done be described as creative?Q1a Guides Media Studies @ IGS 3
  • This is a difficult question and one that does not have a correct answer as such, but ought to give you food forthought.What different forms of research did you do?Again you will need to include a variety of examples- institutional research (such as on how titles work in filmopenings), audience research (before you made your products and after you finished for feedback), research intoconventions of media texts (layout, fonts, camera shots, soundtracks, everything!) and finally logisticalresearch- recce shots of your locations, research into costume, actors, etcWhat conventions of real media did you need to know about?For this, it is worth making a list for each project you have worked on and categorising them by medium so thatyou don’t repeat yourselfWhat do you understand by ‘post-production’ in your work?This one, I’ll answer for you- for the purpose of this exam, it is defined as everything after planning andshooting or live recording. In other words, the stage of your work where you manipulated your raw material onthe computer, maybe using photoshop, a video editing program or desktop publishing.For each of these lists, your next stage is to produce a set of examples- so that when you make the point in theexam, you can then back it up with a concrete example. You need to be able to talk about specific things youdid in post-production and why they were significant, just as you need to do more than just say ‘I looked onyoutube’ for conventions of real media, but actually name specific videos you looked at, what you gained fromthem and how they influenced your work.This question will be very much about looking at your skills development over time, the process which broughtabout this progress, most if not all the projects you worked on from that list above, and about reflection on howhow you as a media student have developed. Unusually, this is an exam which rewards you for talking aboutyourself and the work you have done!Final tips: you need some practice- this is very hard to do without it! I’d have a crack at trying to write an essayon each of the areas, or at the very least doing a detailed plan with lots of examples. The fact that it is a 30minute essay makes it very unusual, so you need to be able to tailor your writing to that length- a tough task! [This is a shorter guide he wrote last year]paragraph 1 should be an introduction which explains which projects you did. It can be quite short.paragraph 2 should pick up the skill area and perhaps suggest something about your starting point with it- whatskills did you have already and how were these illustrated. use an example.paragraph 3 should talk through your use of that skill in early projects and what you learned and developedthrough these. Again there should be examples to support all that you say.paragraph 4 should go on to demonstrate how the skill developed in later projects, again backed by examples,and reflecting back on how this represents moves forward for you from your early position.paragraph 5 short conclusionRemember its only half an hour and you need to range across all your work!Q1a Guides Media Studies @ IGS 4
  • As you’re working through these, look to link points and specific examples in one DCRUPtopic to another. Not only is there a lot of overlap between them (and, actually, the MANGeRtopics too), it is fairly certain you will be asked to answer on TWO of the DCRUP topics.Its worth reiterating: approach both the Q1aand Q1b from the perspective of actualfilmmakers; you may have created thesetexts within the confines of academia, butultimately you have produced and exhibited(with YouTube, Blogger, Facebook etc acting as bothdistributor and exhibitor!) film work!!!I do urge you to have a quick browse throughthe britcinema blog, especially for basic infoon the examples on there of ultra-low-budget films (Colin, Le Donk & Scor-Say-Zee, Born of Hope,Birdemic etc, with budgets of £45, £48k, £25kand $10k respectively). Digital media, theprocesses of convergence, web 2.0; all ofthis is transforming the possibilities for lowbudget filmmaking so that even a 45 quidmovie has managed to get UK distribution(Colin), and subsequently sell well on DVD(despite being often inferior to much of thework produced by yourselves).The semidiotic blog might also be useful toremind yourself of aspects of medialanguage; there are a lot of films onvarious effects/transitions and aspects offilm grammar linked in there.Various other DB blogs contain pertinentmaterial too. http://prodeval.blogspot.com/ http://mediabritishcinema.blogspot.com/ http://semidiotic.blogspot.com/ http://britrep.blogspot.com/ http://asmediafilmopening.blogspot.com/Q1a Guides Media Studies @ IGS 5
  • http://repsexuality.blogspot.com/You could also look at:http://petesmediablog.blogspot.com/ (written by our exam board’s chief examiner)Digital technology Some prompt questions to get you started: • How has digital technology helped you to capture your ideas for media production? • What benefits do digital technologies offer over analogue? Are there any disadvantages? • How did digital technology influence your work in post-production – for example in the creation of video effects, or the manipulation of images. • How have your skills with digital technology developed, and how has this influenced your productions? • What role might digital technology play in the distribution of work such as yours?Some themes you could discuss:EQUIPMENT - boom mic, digital audio recorder, Macs, mini-DV camcordersAUDIO - overdubbing, sound FX, GarageBand. ‘On March 16, 2006, New Line Cinema announced a contest onTagWorld and a website promoting the film.[23][24] The contest allowed artists on TagWorld to have their music featured in thefilm.’ Which film did this? (See aud feedback, below)SOFTWARE - the obvious one, but dont focus solely on thisBLOGGING - did you get into the spirit of making the blog a showcase for your work as a young film-maker?Did you do anything to publicise your blog, attract followers? Did you add multimedia features at A2?YouTube etc? Audience feedback. Consider blogging as a potential marketing tool, as well as its advantages forgroup productions.PODCASTING/VIDEOS - Did you use RSS to enable subscription to your podcasts (so your fans couldautomatically be informed of updates, and listen to your podcasts on their iPods)? Again, think about marketingRESEARCH - get any books via Amazon/Play searches? Use Googlebooks to read some chapters? UseYouTube for egs of openings/MVids? Use YouTube for videos on using aspects of software? Perhaps you usedthe suggestions or user lists that most commercial sites (Play/Amazon) will generate and feature when yousearch for or click through to any text? Did any of your reading lead to new texts or video-/film-makers? Didany of your reading make you (re)consider any of your representations?DISTRIBUTION/EXHIBITION - how has web 2.0 made these open to you? Did you publicise your movie?Think about the A2 package - the ancillary texts push you to consider how film fits into the wider media,through advertising and magazine content for example. You did have posters outside F6 - did these generate anyinterest in viewings? Did you get any viewings on YouTube or from Facebook?ANALOGUE v DIGITAL - Its useful to step back and consider how digitization has transformed yourexperience. Commutation test: consider what would change if you had used analogue (eg VHS) media instead.How would editing alter? What about distribution, exhibition, audience feedback? This might surprise you, butdigital media is generally lower quality than the older, analogue media - 35mm film remains the norm for theQ1a Guides Media Studies @ IGS 6
  • film industry, though films such as Warp Xs Donkey Punch and Le Donk and Scor-Say-Zee show the future isbright for low-budget digital film-makers.AUDIENCE FEEDBACK & MARKETING – How did new media help you gain aud feedback? Discuss anyissues with this. Some of you got unhelpful, even personal, comments on YouTube (& probably some spam).What about Facebook? Your blog? Vimeo? Link to real world practices: the film Snakes on a Plane madeconsiderable use of online feedback: ‘Taking advantage of the Internet buzz for what had been a minor film in their 2006line-up, New Line Cinema ordered five days of additional shooting in early March 2006 (principal photography had wrappedin September 2005).[12] While re-shoots normally imply problems with a film, the producers opted to add new scenes to thefilm to change the PG-13 rating to R and bring it in line with growing fan expectations.’ [Source: wiki – contains moreuseful info] Drip-feeding rushes, pre-production news (casting etc), teaser trailers etc is all part of the film biz’sbuzz-creating technique (to what extent do music vids reflect such practices? The notion of ‘premieres’ at leastis prevalent: C4 often heavily trail premieres of music vids)WEB 2.0 – Something of a buzz-term for our exam board, this is simply used to denote the greater level ofinteractivity and (more terminology…) UGC [user-generated content] and fan-made material. Whilst web 2.0increasingly seems characterized by media giants providing platforms for such interactivity, the original conceptwas partially intended to denote a shift away from the dominance of mass media. Your work illustrates thetensions here: you’ve created new unique material, but used many mass media sites/resources to do so:Guardian for research, blogger + YouTube … both owned by Google, which you used; Amazon, now theworld’s largest book-seller, etc. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0CreativitySome prompt questions to consider:• What features of your work would you say are original to you?• Which media texts and producers have influenced your creative decisions?• How successfully does your work engage its audience and provoke its interest?• Consider some of the creative choices you had to make during the course of your production –how to use cameras, lighting, dialogue, colour etc. How did you make these decisions, and how didthese contribute to the final production? When considering this topic you should make particular linkage to any notes on Media Language. Also, don’t be afraid to take on examples of things you might/should have done with hindsight – ie (and this applies for all Q1a/1b) a bit of self-criticism is actually very healthy in the context of this exam.For this particular topic its important to give some sense of process - a sense that there was a decision-makingprocess. So, give some examples of possibilities you considered but rejected as well as addressing what endedup in your final cuts.Also, dont get hung up on trying to prove everything you did was original; factors which mitigated against yourcreative expression are probably worth addressing, and you could of course use the postmodern argument.Assuming much of your work was directly inspired by certain films/shows/directors/scenes, how did youmanage to (re-)create similar effects? It might be useful to really home in on one or more particular movies andexplore how that influenced aspects of your work. Perhaps at A2 you looked at a wider variety of work?Q1a Guides Media Studies @ IGS 7
  • You could combine aspects of the list below into possible themes or topics (Media Language stands out as thekey concern) such as: EDITING/SFX/USE OF ICT TITLES MISE-EN-SCENE (incl COSTUME, PROPS, SETS etc) CINEMATOGRAPHY SOUND/MUSIC R+P (links into) GENRE (in turn links into) NARRATIVESome broad concepts to consider for this topic:AUTEUR?LIMITATIONSTHE TASK/REMITGENERIC/FORMULAIC v ORIGINALITYPROGRESSIONAUDIENCE FEEDBACKPLANNING v SPONTANEITY?There is overlap between all 5 DCRUP topics, so detailed preparation for any one will help with preparation forany other. There is again clear overlap between all the 7 broad headings above, so use these simply assuggestions and organise your notes in whatever way you find most useful.It might be an idea to use the concept of auteur as a centrepoint to your response on Creativity, discussing andevaluating the other points with reference to this.It is worth making some links into industry practice; linking the way you worked or, perhaps, the way youdideally have worked, with the way a typical feature film crew would work. Look for my blog post on Monsters.As you work through this always remember to illustrate your points with specific examplesfrom your work.Remember, you should not write a long intro for any DCRUP topic. HOWEVER, a BRIEF summary of whatyou did at AS and A2 should be your starting point.AUTEUR? [some possible points to address]A term used by French theorists in the film journal Cahiers du Cinema from the 1950s to proclaim the directoras author of a film, partially in an attempt to put cinema on the same level as literature. Hitchcock, with filmssuch as Psycho, was the first Hollywood-based director to be proclaimed an auteur, breaking with the previoustradition of Europeans viewing Hollywood as trash cinema.Fundamentally, in what ways is your personality, perhaps even your own ideology [belief system, values,outlook on life], stamped on your AS, A2 work?Do you think you have developed a style that others could recognise between the 2 productions? (What wouldQ1a Guides Media Studies @ IGS 8
  • signify this/how would it be identified? Even if you worked on different genres, consider the cases of DannyBoyle and Quentin Tarantino, who both work in a variety of genres yet have quite distinctive styles. Then youhave the genre auteurs such as John Carpenter and Wes Craven - though its arguable that if there if isnt somesocial issue explored in their work they cant be termed auteur) What aspects of your style developed by A2?If working within a group did this submerge your voice? Or did your creative visions work seamlessly and inharmony, like the Coen brothers? Did your production benefit from having additional creative minds, or wouldyou have preferred to work alone (if you did work alone, consider the opposite)? Are there aspects whichclearly mark out the distinctive contributions/influence/style of each individual group member (or perhaps just 1of the other 2)?Did you/your group take every single shot, or was a camera operated at times by colleagues? [consider thecommon practice of having 2nd units, including 2nd unit director]Did you act in your own production (or make a cameo, as ol Hitch did in every one of his movies!)?If in a group, was there a particular area of focus for you? (scripting, storyboarding, sound, setdressing/costume/make-up/SFX [mise-en-scene], editing, cinematography, directing, producing [organisingresources and shoots] etc)What about actors/cast? Did they have any creative input?Consider the potential importance of actors IMPROV (improvisation); this excerpt from an article on RussellCrowe provides good egs: Some of the best lines in the movies have been delivered by actors straying from the script. Bogarts immortal, "Heres looking at you, kid," in Casablanca was something he used to say to Ingrid Bergman while they played poker between takes. Robert De Niro dreamed up Taxi Drivers "You talkin to me?". The script simply read: "Travis speaks to himself in the mirror." Jack Nicholsons "Heres Johnny!", Orson Welless "cuckoo clock" line, Brandos "I coulda been a contender!" from On The Waterfront – all improvised. It comes naturally to the greatest actors. And the wisest directors know when to let them roam free, as Ridley Scott clearly does. After all, he directed one of the most quotable monologues – not in Gladiator, but Blade Runner. Rutger Hauers dying lines – "All those moments will be lost, like tears in the rain" – were improvised. If you cant do it, Crowe, you belong in the B-pantheon. Closer to home, social realist directors such as Mike Leigh (eg Naked) and Ken Loach (eg Sweet Sixteen) typically get their actors to improvise the script over a period of time.Was the editing process actually the key strand of your creativity, rather than directing? Think about the different strands to your work: pre-production (R+P), production (the shoot), post-production and distribution/exhibition.All of the following can be linked into this question of auteurismLIMITATIONS [some possible points to address]EQUIPMENT - consider what more you might have achieved with: HD camera; steadicam; camera riser; crane (+ helicopter!); tracks and dolly; lighting rig; boom mic at AS;Cast/actors: presumably you worked with untrained, inexperienced actors? (If you did work with dramastudents, do you think this helped?) Are there specific shots (eg CUs) or scenes (violence perhaps) which youfelt suffered from unconvincing acting? Did you, as (co-)director do all you could to prepare and brief your castfor their roles/scenes? Could you have done more?Look at the quotes which end this post and consider, for example, the intensive way in which a director likeMike Leigh works with his cast to develop a script, fully immersing them in the creative process.Q1a Guides Media Studies @ IGS 9
  • Time: with more time (I think youve had more than enough!) would you have had scope to be more creative?Consider any planned, but abandoned, changes you might have made with more time.Were there sets/settings you had to give up on because of access/permission issues?There were limitations on use of strong language and nudity/sex; did this have any impact?What about make-up/SFX? What creative solutions did you have for shooting violent scenes for example? [orimplying nudity/sex][Look at points under AUTEUR?] Was working within a group a limiting factor?THE TASK/REMIT [some possible points to address]Make sure you state clearly which remits you followed at AS + A2 [opening 2 mins of a new feature film;music vid+ ancillary tasks]If youd simply been tasked with producing some film work would you have created better work? [unlikely, thepoint being that having some basic structure was surely helpful?]Were there any aspects of this you particularly struggled with?There was a clear steer, especially at AS (and for the teaser remit) to provide genre anchorage...GENERIC/FORMULAIC v ORIGINALITY [some possible points to address]What scope did you have for originality?In what scenes/shots/aspects was your work original? [this might include aspects of your representations]Considering the postmodernism argument, is it possible to be original? It might help to consider if Scream (WesCraven, 1996) was original or simply a genre remix.How did you reflect genre + general conventions? [shots, sound, editing, settings, mise-en-scene, characters,intertextuality etc] Was reflecting these restrictive?Did you attempt a hybrid genre? [reflect on industry practice]Have you seen any low budget films set locally (even in W.Yorks/Yorks) within your genre?Have you been particularly influenced by any directors/films?Consider the influence of Alfred Hitchcock as an example of how this can be reflected within real media texts:Brian de Palma directed Obsession (1976) as a tribute to Hitchcock, attempting to emulate his style (his laterfilm, Dressed to Kill [1980] also reflected this clear influence; Gus van Sant took this idolation a step furtherwith his bizarre - and abysmally miscast - shot-for-shot remake of Psycho [1998]). Having suggested a possiblenew direction for slashers with the fantasy element of 1984s A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven addedpostmodernism to the mix with 1996s Scream ... which, with Scary Movie, was swiftly remade as a spoof bythe Wayans brothers in 2000.PROGRESSION [some possible points to address]What did you use at A2 but not AS? - garageband, boom mic, Final Cut Express 4, YouTube, (?)Photoshop,LiveTypeBe specific on what sort of editing tools in particular you used at A2 but not AS: what advanced features ofFCE did you use, and how did this enable you to produce more sophisticated work?What lessons did you learn, especially from the flaws, from your AS work (or your approach - planning,scheduling etc - to this), that you applied to your A2 productions? What refinements did you make?What did you learn about genre and how this impacts on creativity in particular?Did you use YouTube, Facebook etc to get audience feedback at A2? Did this help to get feedback from a wider(global?!) audience than before?Did you use a blog any differently? Did you create different types of content for it? [v/podcasts, video featuresetc] Did you make any effort to promote it, and attract followers?AUDIENCE FEEDBACK [some possible points to address]What role did this play in your productions? Think about specific changes you made based on aud feedback; didQ1a Guides Media Studies @ IGS 10
  • this generally help you to create a better product?What difference would it have made if you hadnt sought any feedback?Was eliciting this [finding ways to get some] part of the creative process?PLANNING v SPONTANEITY? [some possible points to address]The ? is intentional: these 2 are not necessarily a binary opposition and can certainly be complementary; part ofa balanced Media students diet!Obviously the point on planning links to TASK/REMIT - you had to evidence planningWas this a brake on your creativity fundamentally, an aid, or both at various points? Did your appreciation ofthe role, usefulness/importance of R+P grow by A2 (or the end of A2)?Commutation test: if you had simply grabbed a camera and begun shooting, how different (better? worse?)would your production have been? Could you have planned better to produce more creative work (or theopposite)?Perhaps you used a lot of material shot as coverage? Think about any near-accidental footage you got/used.What role did research play - and did it enhance your creativity? [surely it would have helped provide ideas onhow to shoot + edit various scenes?]Consider the following quotes from prominent Brit directors + actors (and think about any DVD extras you mayhave watched, or articles you may have read, on similar themes - also useful on the point on ORIGINALITY]Ken Loach on creative freedomYou may remember from last year the point being made that certain key British film-makers, auteurs even,struggle to get financing for their productions in the UK as they work without scripts and improvise thenarrative with their cast. Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, old-school social realist directors both, routinely getlavished with critical praise by European critics for their films which typically explore under-representedsections of British society - yet have to cobble together budgets from multiple European sources. Officialfunding bodies like the UKFC often wont sign up to a project without a script in place.While there could be few greater opportunities for creative expression than your Media coursework, to someextent you share the constraints Loach outlines in the quote below. Unless you create a clear evidence trail ofyour planning, research, production and post-production process, aiming all the time to link your work to theactual practices and output of the film industry, you will not achieve one of the higher grades. Loach and Leighare, in essence, mavericks in their approach, but their free-wheeling approach is something to consider in thecontext of the issue of Creativity for Q1a. What constraints are there within the context of courseworkproduction on your creativity? (Do remember though that Leigh will often spend months working with his castevolving a narrative - his classic film Naked makes an interesting (if controversial) case study; neither are quiteas free-wheeling as you may think). You could also look into the notions around Dogme95, made (in)famous byLars von Trier.Loach noticed that his idea of film-making had a lot in common with Cantonasidea of football: "As a player Cantona judged himself on his risks, and I couldrelate to that. Football is very much like making films in that you have to livedangerously. Some directors do everything to storyboards; that is like amanager telling his players exactly what they have to do, preventing them fromimprovising or making their own decisions. There is something dead about that- it produces mechanical teams and mechanical films. We always want a senseof danger on the set." Tim Adams (31.5.09) “My sporting life”, Observer [online]. Accessed 31.5.09 athttp://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2009/may/31/ken-loachQ1a Guides Media Studies @ IGS 11
  • Paddy Considine on Creative FreedomSee the article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/sep/27/donk-shane-meadows-paddy-considine, eg this(censored by me) quote:"I cant deal with all the f--king waiting around," he says vehemently. "Imwriting a script at the minute, and the stipulations are mental. Six weeks towrite it, five weeks for them to look at it. Then another little bit of money to goforward. All this constant stalling. Its all geared towards how the industrypeople work. Well, you know what? Creativity doesnt work like that."He pauses for a moment as Meadows nods his approval, then he says: "I thinka lot of people in the industry, the business people, they take the energy thatwe possess for aggression, and theyre frightened of it. But its not, its f--kingpassion. When Im ready to go, I dont want to wait around for ever, I want toget on with it."There are further blog posts on creativity, eg http://prodeval.blogspot.com/2010/05/good-resource.html - ‘Somewriters on creativity, such as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, even suggest that creativity is a phenomenon which onlyoccurs in a social context and cannot be understood, or even recognised, in isolation (see for exampleCsikszentmihalyi, 1997).’Research & planningSome initial prompt questions to consider:• How did your research into genre contribute to your production work?• How did your research into audience contribute to your production work?• How did your research into institutions responsible for the production and regulation of themedia influence your production work?• What pre-production planning techniques did you employ (scripting, storyboarding, shot-listing, flat-planning etc.)? How effective was your planning – how did it help you in the productionphase?• What did you learn from planning your first production that helped you to improve yourplanning for the second?• How did you use audience feedback to influence your production work while it was in progress?This should be a fairly straightforward topic… In this, as in all Q1a, consider the role played by new media.Consider the two basic strands of your research: primary v secondaryPrimary research is material uniquely gathered/generated by you: your individual (or group) textual analysis,aud feedback, q’aires, vox pops, opinion polls.Secondary research is where you’ve read and used existing writing: books, web, newspapers, blogs etc (plusvideo: YouTube features, DVD extras etc).Take some time to break down what steps you took with each. How did you identify useful sources? Wasthis a collaborative effort within a group? Across the class? Using new media for further suggestionsoutside the classroom? Using tools such as Amazon’s recommendations? Did you evaluate sources (eg anover-reliance on wiki entries would be problematic)? Did you rely solely on web research? What did youQ1a Guides Media Studies @ IGS 12
  • gain from using books as well as web? Perhaps you read sections of books using the googlebooks tool, orAmazon’s ‘Read me now’ feature?You also have to retrace the more practical prepatory work: casting; rehearsal?; location scouting; work oncostume, props, make-up, mise-en-scene; storyboards, call sheets, script etcHow was your time management? What issues arose here? How did you manage/organise your cast? Whatinfluence did the new platform of a blog have on any of this?Using conventions fromreal media texts Some initial prompt questions to consider: • In what ways have your productions used or developed conventions adopted from real media products? • In what ways have your productions challenged or played with conventions adopted from real media products? • In other words, is your work generic, or postmodern – or both? • Some media producers adopt a style of working that is quite distinctive – explore how work you have produced may have been influenced by your own favourite producers/directors/designers/publishers.There are clear overlaps between this topic and Research + Planning, though it has also been used incombination with Creativity for a question. Given the nature of the blogs and the evaluations, this should be themost straightforward topic, and the one you can bring most detail to...This is also a topic where it might be worth discussing your print text, though I dont see any explicitinstructions that you HAVE to within the spec.The central issue here is GENERIC/FORMULAIC v ORIGINALITY, but there are various (overlapping) areaswhich can be discussed, such as (and this really isnt an exhaustive list by any means - this is a rich topic to tapinto: WHAT FORMAT WHICH (SUB-/HYBRID)GENRE + WHY WHY THIS GENRE CONTRAST IN FORMATS HOW YOU RESEARCHED KEY CONVENTIONS EMERGING STYLE? POMO?WHAT FORMATQ1a Guides Media Studies @ IGS 13
  • Consider the demands/limitations imposed by the format you worked within; as an opening/TT/SF were thereaspects of the genre you couldnt reflect within your work? Did you find there were conventions within thisformat specific to your genre, or was your work reflecting general, cross-genre conventions (both surely?)?Were there any common aspects between AS-A2 which you developed? (Perhaps production co/distributoridents? Sophistication of editing? Greater variety of shots + set-ups?)WHICH (SUB-/HYBRID)GENRE + WHYIdentify the genre. Is it a sub-genre of a larger genre? Or a hybrid genre? Why do film companies almost alwayswork within recognisable genres?Why did you pick this genre? Consider the following possibilities:- Im a fan of the genre so had a broad knowledge to work with- Im a fan of the director [NAME] who has worked mainly within this genre [incl MVid: eg Anton Corbijn]- Halloween [etc] is one of my favourite films so I wanted to try to create something inspired by it- I really like the genre, but am sick of seeing US versions/cliched middle class, Southern English characters- I wanted a change from AS (and to challenge myself)- I wanted to develop my genre work from AS- the genre has clear codes and conventions which we could work with- I knew Id be limited to a teen cast, so made sure it was a genre popular with teens- this also made (target) audience feedback more readily available- there have been several recent hit movies within this genre (eg) demonstrating its ongoing popularity- I knew of some local locations which would be ideal for a film within this genre- I really wanted to try working with make-up/SFX which this genre gives an opportunity to doThe issue of how problematic, and ambiguous, genre can be within music vid is also useful hereSAME/DIFFERENT AT A2?If you worked within the same genre at AS and A2, you could pick out aspects of the key conventions tocompare/contrast your two productions as a basic frameworkRegardless of this, was your A2 work shaped at all by any lessons you learnt from ASwork - by your mistakes or shortcomings at AS essentially?Consider Propp and Todororv (+ Levi-Strauss: binary opposition) and your narratives: do you consider thesetheories to be still accurate and relevant? Perhaps you attempted a non-linear narrative at A2?Genre is a much looser concept for MVid; discuss this BUT you must provide clear and specific examples ofwhere your material WAS inspired by generic conventions. On the whole, your blogs include some superb,highly detailed analysis of just this so this should be straightforwardHOW YOU RESEARCHEDA brief point to cover in a sentence or two. Did you:- view various texts from the genre - including historical as well as contemporary examples? - look for UK as well as US examples? - use YouTube to do this?- research using the web (amazon? wikipedia? google searches? specific genre sites?)- research using specific books (which you maybe identified using amazon/play?)KEY CONVENTIONSConsider the areas covered in the AS exam question on TV Drama:mise-en-scene [costume/clothing; setting; make-up; SFX]editing [pace; ellipsis; titles; transition; effects; cutting to music; jump cuts; intercutting or cross-cutting]cinematography [framing; shot/angle types; shot variety; 180 degree rule etc; movement]Q1a Guides Media Studies @ IGS 14
  • sound [music; diegetic v non-diegetic; cutting to fit music or creating music to fit footage; creating sound FXeg stabbing]Its also worth considering the group dynamic: did working in a group tend to favour generic aspects? Wouldyou have done anything differently if working individually (as always you need to tie such points into specificexamples)? If you did work alone, do you contrarily think your work suffered from not being sufficientlygeneric?You’ve only got 30mins, but its vital you’re clear on what the conventions are, citing examples from actualtexts.Historical context is a factor here: conventions change and evolve over time; you may have been going for aretro look or even trying to take some elements of a retro aesthetic (in music vid to appeal to a secondary, olderaud, the orig fans of an older act) but adding updated codes to help secure the appeal to a core younger aud?EMERGING STYLE?Focus on the common links between your 2 productions: do you think youve begun to establish an identifiablestyle? If someone watched both, what might signify your involvement in both?Dont be conceited on this point: if you do have a certain style then surely it will be based in large part on aparticular film/director/vid?! As much as every filmmaker will set out seeking to be original it is surelyinevitable that they will build a style, and their film language, from examples they have seen, consciously orotherwise - look back at the point I raise in other Q1a posts about the likes of Brian de Palma and his Hitchcockobsession. This whole area of style of course raises the issue of...POMO?You really must address this point: do you consider your text/s postmodern? Is this because of irony;intertextuality? Perhaps your narrative style is postmodern? Can you apply the thinking of Lyotard, BaudrillardSee http://prodeval.blogspot.com/2011/03/creativity-manger-everything-is-remix.htmlSee also http://prodeval.blogspot.com/2011/04/postmodernism.html from which some of the following isextracted:The following notes are based on the relevant chapter in Dan Laugheys Key Themes in Media Theory, a veryuseful book as regards the exam...The concept of postmodernism denies definition to some extent, but Dominic Strinati outlined 5 keycharacteristics in 1995 that are often cited: 1. Breakdown of the distinction between culture and society 2. An emphasis on style over substance 3. Breakdown of the distinction between high art and popular culture 4. Confusions over time and space 5. Decline of metanarratives [grand theories such as Marxism, Christianity and ... modernism have lost their currency for modern societies]**quoted from pp. 147-148From http://nmc.loyola.edu/intro/postmod/table.htm# comes this list of features of pomo: • after modernism (subsumes, assumes, extends the modern or tendencies already present in modernism, not necessarily in strict chronological succession) • contra modernism (subverting, resisting, opposing, or countering features of modernism) • equivalent to "late capitalism" (post-industrial, consumerist, and multi- and trans-national capitalism) • the historical era following the modern (an historical time-period marker)Q1a Guides Media Studies @ IGS 15
  • • artistic and stylistic ecclecticism (hybridization of forms and genres, mixing styles of different cultures or time periods, de- and re-contextualizing styles in architecture, visual arts, literature) • "global village" phenomena: globalization of cultures, races, images, capital, products ("information age" redefinition of nation-state identities, which were the foundation of the modern era; dissemination of images and information across national boundaries, a sense of erosion or breakdown of national, linguistic, ethnic, and cultural identities; a sense of a global mixing of cultures on a scale unknown to pre-information era societies)The blog post also contains a very detailed table breaking down the features of pomo [don’t use this abbrev. inyour exam].The following come from http://www.colorado.edu/English/ENGL2012Klages/pomo.html Jean-Francois Lyotard Lyotard attacks many of the modern age traditions, such as the "Grand" Narrative or what Lyotard termed the Meta(master) narrative (Lyotard 1984). In contrast to the ethnographies written by anthropologists in the first half of the 20th Century, Lyotard is stating that an all encompasing account of a culture cannot be done. Jean Baudrillard [famous for] statements like, “everything has already happened....nothing new can occur, “ or “there is no real world” (Rosenau 1992: 64, 110).I’ll try to put these in plain English… Lyotard argues that the meta-narratives [grand, organizing principles orstories through which we conceive the world and our existence/nature], such as religions, capitalism,democracy, which dominate how we perceive ourselves and the world around us, have lost their validity in thepostmodern age. We cannot talk about nations as having a culture when postmodern life has become sofragmented and individuated. Baudrillard pushes the idea that what used to be seen as the symbolic (filmimages, Disney rides etc) ARE reality; there is no deeper reality than the things we once took as ‘referents’ toreality or signifiers of this. Disneyland is not a symbol of America … it is America.For Lyotard, you could: discuss how your vid/film appears to represent a unified culture, but such a concept isquestioned by postmodern theorists such as Lyotard, who argues that the meta-narratives of the past have lostany meaning, and that we cannot talk of unified ‘cultures’ in the postmodern age.You could go on to bring in Judith Butler, a queer theorist who takes on such ideas as these and argues thatgender is actually a meta-narrative (or what Michel Foucault might refer to as a discourse) with no basis inreality. She argues that gender is ‘performed’ not based in nature or any deeper reality; when some aspects ofgay culture (the ‘butch’ lesbian, the camp gay man or transvestite) ‘perform’ against gender expectations this isseen as transgressive and challenging to the social order. Our cast could be seen as ‘performing’ their genderroles without requiring any direction from us to do so, although… [etc]Baudrillard is useful for the most fundamental point about pomo: the notion of intertextuality – meaning of onetext tied into previous texts, and even the argument that originality is impossible. Hopefully you can see thatsuch points are useful across the board of Q1a and Q1b.Here’s another means of breaking down the key features of pomo:Postmodern aesthetic: Irony, Parody, Pastiche, Bricolage, Intertextuality.Bricolage is the process of deliberately ‘borrowing’ or adapting signs or features from different styles or genresto create a new mixture of meanings (O’Sullivan et. al, 1998).Pastiche: Bog standard copying of conventions or can be done for bricolage effect. Whichever, this ultimatelyreinforces their importance in culture and society. Parody is a kind on pastiche which makes fun of the subject.Intertextuality is the way in which media texts gain their meanings by referring to other media texts that theproducers assume that the reader/decoder will be familiar with and recognise (O’Sullivan et. al 1998).Q1a Guides Media Studies @ IGS 16
  • Post-production Some prompt questions to consider:• How much of your text was ‘created’ only in post-production?• What technologies did you use to modify your raw material? How did this change the meaning of yourwork?• How much did you manipulate sync sound or create new sound for your text? What effect did that have onyour text?• How much of your footage ended up ‘on the cutting room floor’ (unused) and why?Consider the Digital technology topic in particular when youre working on this one.As you read the following points do remember that they assume you’ll be providing veryprecise examples of editing and soundtracking in particular. I highly recommend you spendsome time back in F6 physically looking at the FX/transitions etc in both iMovie and FCE,perhaps bringing footage to play around with, to refresh your memory!The key to all of this is how your original idea, and then your well crafted storyboards andscreenplays, even the footage you ultimately shot, were transformed or enhanced [evolved]through the further application of digital technology. Did re-sequencing some shots/scenescreate new meanings? Did audience testing lead you to experiment with more changes fromyour initial plan/concept? Did the soundtrack lead you to make radical changes, perhaps re-cutting some scenes to closely fit the music’s rhythm? Aside from visual impact, what impactdid FCE’s multi-layering capacity have?Some points Ill address below:iMOVIE 06 v FCE 4AUTEUR + COMBINING DIRECTING/EDITINGTHE DIRECTORS CUTIMPACT + SPREAD OF NEW MEDIAAUDIENCE FEEDBACKSALVAGING WEAK FOOTAGERE-SHOOTSDRAFTINGPACE/TIMING is frequently a key factor and influence on Mediacoursework post-productionTIME LIMITS: HELPFUL?EXPOSITIONEXHIBITIONQ1a Guides Media Studies @ IGS 17
  • iMOVIE 06 v FCE 4 What influence did the differing software have on your editing? Did FCEenable you to more adventurous or ambitious; excercise more finesse/finer control? [to answer such questionsyou need to think of specific scenes/shots/effects in BOTH your AS and A2 productions to do acompare/contrast, and cite some specific tools/features in the contrasting software] It might help to considerhow your AS would’ve altered if edited with FCE.AUTEUR + COMBINING DIRECTING/EDITING The auteur concept is alsouseful here, but the weaknesses of the concept need to be considered too: eg editing is a specialist role andmany directors will oversee but have limited hands-on involvement with editing. Your group may have dividedroles somewhat? Consider examples of directors who do their own editing. There are also many famousdirector/editor teams, who spark debates over who actually has most influence over the final shape of a film.There is a useful wiki on this, including a hyperlinked list of notable examples: Film critic Walter Kerr has argued that editing is comparable in its importance to directing itself, and should be credited as such.[1] Quentin Tarantino has been quoted as saying, "The best collaborations are the director- editor teams, where they can finish each others sentences," and that his own editor, Sally Menke, is his "only, truly genuine collaborator."[2] Crediting the editing of a film is made more difficult by the fact that the relative contributions of the director and the editor vary enormously. At one extreme lies the old Hollywood studio system; as described by Lizzie Francke, this was the "period when the editor was often left to his or her own devices in the cutting room. The pressures of production turn-over during the hey-day of the studio system often meant that the director could not be around to supervise since they were on to their next production."[3][4][5] At the other extreme lie "auteur" directors who personally edit their own films. The Coen Brothers are a contemporary example. Cecil B. DeMilles silent films (through 1918) provide an early one.[6]The history of Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppolas infamous war epic, makes for an interesting case study:years in the making, his editor unquestionably deserves much of the credit for this sprawling opus (the directorscut lasts a whopping 202mins!).The directors cut has become a standard method for squeezing further profit out of films (first thevanilla DVD release, then the special edition, then the directors cut, and maybe the ultimate edition), showingthat at a basic level the public recognises the importance of editing.The flipside to this is the lack of control many directors have over the edit, which the studios will often overseewith little or no involvement of the director, who may be working on a new project while post-production iscarried out. Orson Welles famously wrote an anguished 58 page to the head of Universal when he saw how thestudios edit had butchered his vision for Touch of Evil (1958) [wiki on this; in-depth article on how two famouseditors re-cut the film in 1998, after Welles death, using this memo as their guide - a fairly unique directorscut]It might help you to pin down the differences if you consider how your AS film opening would be advanced byexploiting the more powerful tools available within FCE.[Remember, there is also a useful Powerpoint on the blog]IMPACT + SPREAD OF NEW MEDIA Digital recording + editing kit has becomeaffordable and accessible, with Macs in particular introducing many to the art of film-making and editing withits iLife package (iMovie, IDVD, Garageband etc) bundled, while on PCs the basic Windows MovieMakersoftware also comes bundled. Never mind camcorders at under £100, most mobile phones now have the abilityQ1a Guides Media Studies @ IGS 18
  • to shoot video (see this post on the 1st iPhone movie). The bedroom editor is arguably poised to become asprominent as the bedroom music producers who have long been established as part of the music biz, especiallywithin the dance (and remix) genre.See Colin, the £45 UK horror feature that made it to Cannes! [wiki] Also consider the Coens’ latest work, andsee blog post on Monsters (BritCinema – also post on Avatar useful on this). See http://prodeval.blogspot.com/2010/06/born-of-hope.htmlAudience feedback is a factor in post-production; consider how youve sought out feedback (eg usingYouTube, Facebook at A2?) in ways that wouldnt have existed not so long ago! Did you find yourself speedingup the pace (or slowing down), for example, following audience feedback? How many unique cuts did youproduce in addition to the final cut? Useful also to consider the issues with this: conflicting feedback,differing audiences etc (plus flaming and spam comments on YouTube/Facebook?)SALVAGING WEAK FOOTAGE Has editing enabled you to rescue some quite poorfootage (or get round a fundamental lack of footage/coverage)? You might have shots of violence, for example,in which the victim grins or simply shots with poor acting; the longer such a shot is on screen, the more evidentits flaws become. By a process of intercutting with other footage you may have been able to largely disguise theflaws in these shots. Perhaps this led to some non-linear aspect (flashbacks?)?RE-SHOOTS Not a topic to get too caught up in, but even the studios will sometimes find it necessaryto order (invariably very costly) re-shoots once a rough cut is in; did you likewise have to arrange some? Didyou make alterations to your narrative during the editing process (depending on how you cut footage, it ispossible to radically change the intended meaning, or reading, often as a consequence of audience feedback).There have definitely been quite a few examples of major changes made to the official narrative followingsome of your feedback sessions, with audience reaction providing some oppositional readings which in somecases youve simply taken on board and worked with rather than trying to change the cut to better fit youroriginal meaning.DRAFTING How extensive was your drafting? Did you abandon any storyboarded scenes? [as alwaysbe specific, and give some denotative detail] Why?PACE/TIMING is frequently a key factor and influence on Mediacoursework post-productionTIME LIMITS: HELPFUL? Did you find that the effective time/length limitations (opening2mins) actually had a positive effect on your post-production work, by forcing you to be more selective, andmore ruthless in rejecting unnecessary material?EXPOSITION A useful term to consider: EXPOSITION. How did you enhance the exposition [detailon the plot, characters, backstory] provided through post-production? This includes music - you have probablysignified a hero/villain through appropriate music, and generally tried to manipulate an audiences emotionalresponse. Perhaps you recorded an unplanned voiceover? Or engaged in some overdubbing? Maybe you simplyre-ordered some footage, or used titles to add exposition; anchor your preferred reading? The different format ofMVid perhaps led to a more polysemic text?SOME INDUSTRY CONVENTIONS IN SUM:- the look, feel and even the narrative can be utterly transformed during the post-production process, recognisedthrough the marketing of directors cut releases- it is not uncommon for feature film directors to have little involvement with editing, however, with studiosQ1a Guides Media Studies @ IGS 19
  • seeking to control the shape of the final cut (few directors are able to insist on having the power of final cut)- the increasing affordability and accessibility of digital recording and editing kit has seen a boom in micro-budget film-making, with the director/editor roles often combined, including financially successful feature filmssuch as the £45 ColinSOME FINAL POINTERSThis could be added to ad nauseum but there should already be more than enough here to help guide yourpreparation on this. In both Q1a/1b, the 5 topics heavily overlap. Although I’ve developed some points underone particular section, in general I’m assuming you’ll be prepared to apply these to each topic – the points onpostmodernism under Using conventions… being a case in point.Make sure you consider the impact and role of new media for any topic, making some linkage to real worldindustry practice even if the Q is not Using conventions.You may need to sit down and work back through aspects of your post-production so that you can be precise innaming FX etc from FCE and the rest.Collaborate – you’re not competing for grades; if your answer is good enough it gets an A.Swap sample 30min essays with someone you haven’t worked with at AS or A2; foremost in your mutualfeedback: can you understand the nature of the text being discussed, are the examples clear and specificenough?Prepare at least 2 or 3 detailed and very precise examples for each 1a topic (for both AS and A2), andsomewhere between 5-10 for 1b. You might find it helpful to ensure these overlap.Apply your own reading: you need to include some ‘theory’ in any answer. This can be famous names andconcepts (Laura Mulvey: male gaze; Judith Butler: gender as performativity; Stuart Hall: levels of reading) ORless well known work that you have read. In this case, you’d want author name, book title (+ ideally publicationyear) + the gist if his/her theory/argument. If your R+P hasn’t done this, take the time now to flick through theF6/Lib books and do this. Eg: Brigid Cherry, writing in Horror Zone (2010), found that female horror fans havemuch greater visibility and presence in online communities than in the ‘offline’ world, citing the example of aYahoo! Group, “The Lost Boys Cave”, which has a 75% female membership.Q1a Guides Media Studies @ IGS 20