A Level Media: Preparing for the year ahead                     Understanding GenreKey quotes:“Genre conventions can be gr...
Understanding Genre: Introductory Activity.Genre is often seen by students as the most accessible or most straightforward ...
Which were the most appropriate proposals? Why?Name of proposed     Content                      Would they succeed? Why?p...
Understanding Genre: Text, industry and audienceWhen producing your proposals for a new series you had to think from an in...
Understanding Genre: Text This is the most straightforward aspect of genre study because it involves looking at the conven...
Understanding Genre: Text and changes in audience expectationScream and afterScream was made in 1996. It was in part a par...
Understanding Genre: expectations and conventions of documentary    1. (Documentary is) the creative treatment of actualit...
Ideological elementsCharacters                                                                               Iconography  ...
Watch the following two TV documentaries which are about very different subjects. Do they use the sameconventions? Why wer...
Understanding Genre: sub-genresBoth Panorama and Planet earth are examples traditional or conventional documentary and Bil...
Modes of Documentary – Bill Nichols1.     THE EXPOSITORY MODE (voice of god)This mode is what we most identify with the do...
4.     THE PARTICIPATORY MODEUnlike the observational mode, the participatory mode welcomes direct engagement betweenfilmm...
Ross Kemp on Gangs: South Africa   Super Size MeDocumentary modeConventionaldocumentary featuresSpecific modal/subgeneric ...
Understanding Genre: sub-genres – music video, a reminderMusic videos are characterized by three broad types: performance,...
Understanding Genre: hybrid genres mixing modes.Watch the opening 15 minutes of Are Your Kids On Drugs?This went out mid e...
Understanding Genre: 800 word analysisUsing the ideas covered in this booklet, write an 800 word analysis of one of thefol...
Use the following as a guide to help you:  1. Overall genre: what genre/ subgenre is being used?  2. Consider the text - D...
Understanding documentary genre: a miscellaneous collection of termsthat you might find helpful:   presenter or voice-over...
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Genre booklet 1

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Genre booklet 1

  1. 1. A Level Media: Preparing for the year ahead Understanding GenreKey quotes:“Genre conventions can be grouped under the following headings: Characters Narrative events Iconography Setting Technical and audio codes.” Exploring the Media, Connell (ed)"A genre is a particular type of media commodity. It has characteristic featuresthat are known to and recognised by audiences because the same formula isreproduced again and again. .....Unfortunately, genres cannot be clearlyidentified as they are not static: they are subject to constant renegotiationbetween the industry and the audience....The audience know what to expect from a genre but at the same time theywant to find something they don’t expect as it otherwise would be boring. " Advanced Level Media - Bell et al“Imagine though, a news bulletin presented by a 16 year old ‘new agetraveller’ whispering in a thick West Country accent in extreme close up......The example shows the ideological significance of genres. The codes andconventions of genre tell us a great deal about the beliefs and values at aparticular time of the society that produces them. From the example of thenews broadcast we could suggest that our society tends to put more faith inthe word of a smartly dressed, ‘well educated’, middle aged man or womanstanding four or five feet away, looking us in the eye, than an unconventionalteenager with a strong regional accent....Genres reflect the dominant values of a society.” Television: A Media Student’s Guide, McQueen 1
  2. 2. Understanding Genre: Introductory Activity.Genre is often seen by students as the most accessible or most straightforward of all the mediaconcepts they are required to study. For many, genre study is simply seen as identifying genre codesand conventions but the study of genre is rather more complex. The exercise below is intended to helpyou understand the different elements involved in genre study. ITV has been losing viewers over the past few years and is on looking for new ideas to build audience. The 8-9pm slot is seen as the crucial period for expanding the audience: currently Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? all act as ITV signature shows which return sound viewing figures but audiences must increase if the channel is to continue to attract advertising revenue. A new series is needed that will keep current audiences and attract new viewers. You have been commissioned to produce a pilot for a new series that will help ITV to re- establish its identity as a mass market television service. The series must be scheduled within the 8-9pm slot but the brief is wide: you can suggest a series that is broadcast once or several times a week; programmes in the series can be 30 minutes or an hour in length; you can choose any theme, style or content. However, it is crucial that the series keeps the current audience and attracts a newer wider audience. Prepare a presentation to introduce your ideas for the new series.You should describe: content style length and frequency outline of the pilot programmeAnd give a detailed explanation of why the series will appeal to a wider ITV audience. (Keep your notes and make brief notes on the appropriateness of other proposals) 2
  3. 3. Which were the most appropriate proposals? Why?Name of proposed Content Would they succeed? Why?programmes 3
  4. 4. Understanding Genre: Text, industry and audienceWhen producing your proposals for a new series you had to think from an industry point of viewabout a text and its impact upon an audience.In a discussion of film genres, Stephen Neale has described genre as part of a process of “mentalmachinery” between “industry, text and subject.” (Genre, 1980, p19)In other words, for a piece of media to be successful the industry needs to produce a text that meetsthe subject/audience’s expectations. To do this it will need to produce a piece that is: conventional enough for an audience to recognise the genre as something they enjoy and challenging,and unconventional enough for them to feel that they are watching something new, individual and interesting.Consider the proposals you have heard for a new series. To what extent were they conventional enough for an audience to recognise the genre as something they enjoy and challenging? How? unconventional enough for them to feel that they are watching something new, individual and interesting? How?No genre is fixed and genres are always changing. By making your programmes unconventional, youare, of course, changing the genre to suit current tastes. As Neale puts it, genres are “systems oforientations, expectations and conventions that circulate between, industry, text and subject.” (p19)Write a definition of genre in your own words: 4
  5. 5. Understanding Genre: Text This is the most straightforward aspect of genre study because it involves looking at the conventions of specific genre. In Exploring the Media, Connell suggests grouping conventions under the following headings: Characters – representations, stereotypes, behaviour, body language, specific actors/stars Narrative events Iconography – props, symbolic codes Setting- mise en scene Technical and audio codes – camera use, editing, lighting, diegetic/non diegetic sound, sfxUse these headings, identify the main conventions of the horror film genre as they are presented inthe opening to Scream (Craven, 1991) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSjFOitjRCI :Genre elements Conventions presented in the opening to ScreamCharacters –representations,stereotypes, behaviour,body language, specificactors/starsNarrative events –howis the narrative orderedand structured?Iconography – props,symbolic codesSetting- mise en sceneTechnical and audiocodes – camera use,editing, lighting,diegetic/non diegeticsound, sfxWhat ideologies are encoded in the horror genre? What does the genre seem to say about what itis like to live in the world? 5
  6. 6. Understanding Genre: Text and changes in audience expectationScream and afterScream was made in 1996. It was in part a parody of earlier fashions in horror but in many ways it can be seenas quite old fashioned now.From your knowledge of contemporary horror films, what are the conventions audience now expect? Thinkabout: Characters, Narrative events, Iconography, Setting, Technical and audio codes...Has the ideology of horror changed since 1996? How? As the case of Scream shows and as Bell et al have argued, “genres cannot be clearly identified as they are not static: they are subject to constant renegotiation between the industry and the audience." (Advanced Level Media, 1999)This can be seen also in the case of documentary as a genre.On the next page there are a number of definitions of documentary. Read the comments and award each a mark out of 5 (5: I strongly agree; 1: I strongly disagree), then Agree your own definition of documentary, and Identify what you would see as the key conventions of the documentary genre. 6
  7. 7. Understanding Genre: expectations and conventions of documentary 1. (Documentary is) the creative treatment of actuality. Mark: 5 4 3 2 1 John Grierson, an early documentary film-maker and the man who coined the word documentary. 2. (A documentary is) a factual film which is dramatic. Mark: 5 4 3 2 1 Pare Lorentz (documentary maker) 3. Above all, documentary must reflect the problems and realities of the present. Mark: 5 4 3 2 1 Paul Rotha (documentary maker) 4. When you see somebody on the screen in a documentary, youre really engaged with a person going through real life experiences. So for that period of time, as you watch the film, you are, in effect, in the shoes of another individual. What a privilege to have that experience. Mark: 5 4 3 2 1 Albert Maysles (documentary maker). 5. You even have to edit your film as the event is actually happening. Have to decide it is this and this and this I want to look at; and not this, this and this.. .... You dont show the whole of the subject; you select; and your selection matters. Mark: 5 4 3 2 1 Richard Leacock (documentary maker) 6. Documentary must abandon its limited and always serious tone.......Audiences know full well that Grierson’s public education purpose ... is a virtual guarantee for boredom. Mark: 5 4 3 2 1 Brian Winston, media academicWrite your own definition:A documentary is ...And the main conventions and expectations of documentary are ........ (fill in the gaps on the next page) 7
  8. 8. Ideological elementsCharacters Iconography Setting Narrative elements DOCUMENTARY Industry: why make doc’s? Audience expectations and positioning Technical and audio codes 8
  9. 9. Watch the following two TV documentaries which are about very different subjects. Do they use the sameconventions? Why were the programmes made? Will they have met audience expectations of documentary? BBC Panorama Bursting the House Price Bubble PT1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PL97yAE7PQw Planet Earth 2006 - FROM POLE TO POLE 5of 6 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QiOKMYcRM4 BBC Panorama: Bursting the BBC Planet Earth - From Pole House Price Bubble to PoleCharacters –representations,stereotypes, behaviour,body language, specificactors/starsNarrative events –how isthe narrative ordered andstructured?Iconography – props,symbolic codesSetting- mise en sceneTechnical and audio codes– camera use, editing,lighting, diegetic/nondiegetic sound, sfxAudience expectationsand pleasures – areaudience expectationsmet? What are the usesand gratifications?Industry – why was thedecision made to makethese programmesMental machinery – “Theaudience know what toexpect ..but.. they (also)want to find somethingthey don’t expect” True?Ideology – what messagesand values are encodedhere? 9
  10. 10. Understanding Genre: sub-genresBoth Panorama and Planet earth are examples traditional or conventional documentary and BillNichols in Introduction to Documentary has described this form expository or “voice of god”documentary. In total Nichols notes six types of modes of documentary and his guide is a very useful tool whenassessing, analysing or considering documentaries and their different sub-genres. Nichols list includedthe following “modes” or sub-genres: 1. Exposition 2. Poetic 3. Observational 4. Participatory 5. Performative 6. ReflexiveHowever, It is important to note that many documentaries use more than one mode of address, sowhen you are analysing a piece of documentary or planning your own work remember that it ispossible to mix modes.Read through Nichols’ list and watch the following two documentaryextracts. Which mode is being used in each? Ross Kemp on Gangs: South Africa - Cape Town http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZiq95dDju4 Super Size Me http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfBc-Rla0uI 10
  11. 11. Modes of Documentary – Bill Nichols1. THE EXPOSITORY MODE (voice of god)This mode is what we most identify with the documentary. It tends to speak with authority and aimsto teach the audience. It "emphasizes verbal commentary and argumentative logic" often using anarrator.Assumes a logical argument and a "right" and "proper" answer using direct address and offers apreferred meaning. Most associated with Television News programming.Key Examples of Expository tradition in documentary include: Work of John Grierson Many nature,science and history documentaries2. THE POETIC MODE – subjective, artistic expressionThe poetic mode of documentary moves away from the "objective" reality of a given situation orpeople to grasp at an inner "truth" that can only be grasped by presenting the film as a poem, usingpoetic images, atmospheric music and often a poetic voice over.Codes emphasizes visual associations, tonal or rhythmic qualities, descriptive passages, andformal organization favours mood, tone and texture.Key Examples of Poetic tradition in documentary include: Godfrey Reggios Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi3. THE OBSERVATIONAL MODE – window on the worldObservational (objective) mode is best exemplified by the Cinema Verite or Direct Cinemamovement which emerged in the late 1950s/early 1960s - it attempted to capture (as accurately aspossibly) objective reality with filmmaker as neutral observer. This developed into what we nowoften call Fly on the Wall documentary.Codes/conventions: The filmmaker remains hidden behind the camera, ignored by the surroundingenvironment he/she neither changes nor influences the actions/events being captured. Since nothingis staged for the camera, the camera rushes about to keep up with the action resulting in rough,shaky, often amateur-looking footage.Key Examples of the Cinema Verite/Direct cinema Movement: Frederick Wiseman, Hospital (1970) – fly on the wall, American hospital D A Pennebaker’s Dont Look Back (1967) - records Bob Dylans 1965 tour of Britain 11
  12. 12. 4. THE PARTICIPATORY MODEUnlike the observational mode, the participatory mode welcomes direct engagement betweenfilmmaker and subject(s) - the filmmaker becomes part of the events being recordedThe filmmaker’s impact on the events being recorded is acknowledged, indeed, it is oftencelebrated.Key Examples of the Participatory Mode include: The films of Michael Moore - here the filmmaker directly engages with the material beingaddressed, he becomes a character in the documentary - an essential part of the subject.5. THE REFLEXIVE MODE – awareness of the processThe Reflexive Mode acknowledges the constructed nature of documentary and flaunts it -conveying to people that this is not necessarily "truth" but a reconstruction of it - "a" truth, not "the"truth.Codes/conventions: The artifice of the documentary is exposed - the audience are made aware of theediting, sound, recording, etc.Key Examples of the Reflexive Mode include: Dziga Vertovs Man with a Movie Camera (1929) - documents the mechanization of Soviet lifein late twenties - the mechanical camera and cameraman become part of the subject Marc Isaacs’ Lift – he is present in a lift and we see him filming its occupants.6. THE PERFORMATIVE MODE – filmmaker as participantThis mode of documentary emphasizes the subjective nature of the documentarian as well asacknowledging the subjective reading of the audience - notions of objectivity are replaced by"evocation and affect".Codes /conventions: This mode emphasizes the emotional and social impact on the audienceKey Examples of the Performative Mode include: films by Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock(Source. Based on www.godnose.co.uk ) 12
  13. 13. Ross Kemp on Gangs: South Africa Super Size MeDocumentary modeConventionaldocumentary featuresSpecific modal/subgeneric featuresAudience expectationsand pleasures – areaudience expectationsmet? What are the usesand gratifications?Industry – why was thedecision made to makethese programmes intheir respective modes?Mental machinery –“The audience knowwhat to expect .. but..they (also) want to findsomething they don’texpect” True?Ideology – whatmessages and valuesare encoded? 13
  14. 14. Understanding Genre: sub-genres – music video, a reminderMusic videos are characterized by three broad types: performance, narrative,and conceptual (Firth,1988). These types describe the form and content selected bythe director or artist to attract viewers and to convey a direct or indirect message.Performance videos  the most common type (Firth 1988) feature the star or group singingin concert to wildly enthusiastic fans. The goal is to convey a sense of the in-concertexperience. Gow (1992) suggests "the predominance of performance as a formal system inthe popular clips indicates that music video defines itself chiefly by communicating images ofartists singing and playing songs" (pp. 48-49). Performance videos, especially those thatdisplay the star or group in the studio, remind the viewer that the soundtrack is still important."Performance oriented visuals cue viewers that, indeed, the recording of the music is themost significant element" (Gow, 1992, p. 45).Narrative videos  present a sequence of events. A video may tell any kind of story inlinear, cause-effect sequencing. Love stories, however, are the most common narrative modein music video. The narrative pattern is one of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girlback. Action in the story is dominated by males who do things and females who passivelyreact or wait for something to happen (Schwichtenberg, 1992).Conceptual videos  rely on poetic form, primarily metaphor (Firth, 1988). The conceptualvideo can be metaphysical poetry articulated through visual and verbal elements. "Thesevideos make significant use of the visual element, presenting to the eye as well as the ear,and in doing so, conveying truths inexpressible discursively" (Lorch, 1988, p. 143).Conceptual videos do not tell a story in linear fashion, but rather create a mood, afeeling to be evoked in the experience of viewing (Firth, 1988). Conceptual videos containthe possibility for multiple meanings as the metaphor or metaphoric sequence isinterpreted by the viewer. "Thus the metaphorical relations between images structuredaccording to musical and visual rhymes and rhythms play a suggestive role in solicitingmultiple meanings from us, the viewers/listeners, that resonate with our experience--something we can feel and describe" (Schwichtenberg, 1992 p. 124). A given music video may actually have elements of more than one category. AndrewGoodwin (1992), in describing Madonnas videos, suggests that the essential narrativecomponent of a music video is found in its ability to frame the star, "star-in-text," as allMadonnas videos seem to do. A story exists solely for its ability to create, or in Madonnascase recreate, the stars persona. This blending of elements can also enable a type ofmusic such as rap to have cross-over appeal to a wider audience.NB All quotations from a long and sometimes difficult article which is well worth reading: “Cultural approaches to therhetorical analysis of selected music videos.” Karyn Charles Rybacki and Donald Jay Rybackihttp://www.sibetrans.com/trans/trans4/rybacki.htm 14
  15. 15. Understanding Genre: hybrid genres mixing modes.Watch the opening 15 minutes of Are Your Kids On Drugs?This went out mid evening on Channel 5 How many different modes are used? What are they? How is it structured? Go into detail here: include timings, overall structure, links between sections, mode of address and anything else you think is relevant. What ideologies are encoded? Who is the audience? Do you think the programme was successful in capturing the attention of its audience? Why? 15
  16. 16. Understanding Genre: 800 word analysisUsing the ideas covered in this booklet, write an 800 word analysis of one of thefollowing texts which explains the extent to which it conforms to or deviates from itsgenre.In your writing you should use detailed analysis and examples from the text toexplain why it uses and/or deviates from convention. Girls Aloud - Call The Shots - Official Music Video available on YouTube strangers (2004)- short film by: Erez Tadmor & Guy Nattiv http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpjHSiQLPmA&feature Dispatches – Britain’s Secret Slaves (Channel 4 documentary) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vWazRB5uHM 16
  17. 17. Use the following as a guide to help you: 1. Overall genre: what genre/ subgenre is being used? 2. Consider the text - Describe the ways in which the piece conforms to and deviates from convention? Look at the following textual conventions: Characters – representations, stereotypes, behaviour, body language, specific actors/stars Narrative events –how is the narrative ordered and structured? Iconography – props, symbolic codes Setting- mise en scene Technical and audio codes – camera use, editing, lighting, diegetic/non diegetic sound, sfx 3. Consider how producer intentions and audience expectations have impacted upon the conventionality of the text. producer/industry: What do you think is the aim or purpose of the piece? Why was the decision made to make these programmes audience: Who are the intended audience? How does the text position them? What are audience expectations of this genre? Are they met? What are the uses and gratifications? “The audience know what to expect but they (also) want to find something they don’t expect” Does this happen? 4. Consider the Ideology – what messages and values are encoded? Are they likely to have changed over time? Has this impacted upon the textual conventions? 5. Sum up. is the text a successful example of the genre? 17
  18. 18. Understanding documentary genre: a miscellaneous collection of termsthat you might find helpful: presenter or voice-over narration mode of address interviews experts comment vox pops drama documentary archive footage “fly on the wall” filming animation graphics reconstructions non diegeticmusic video effects: black and white/slow-motion/fast-motion etc 18

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