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  • 1. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? For my A-Level Media Studies, I decided to produce a documentary style media product for my final piece. The choice to produce a documentary has had a massive impact on various stages of production, particularly decision making. Making a documentary is very different from any other media product which I have previously produced. For example, in my AS year, our task was to create the beginning clip of a thriller film. Making a five minute clip of part of a documentary very much alternates from the task which was set at AS-Level. Within the pre-production, the most important and hard decision I had to make was the topic of my documentary. To help me with this, I decided to watch various types of documentaries which helped me to familiarise myself with particular features and I was then able to decide what topic would be most appropriate to focus my documentary on. To make this decision, I had to consider the contacts and equipment which I had access to as well as the time period which I had to build my documentary within. Throughout the preproduction for my documentary, it was very important to research the key conventions of a documentary and decide which conventions I wanted to follow and which ones I didn’t. This decision depended on the mode of documentary which I wanted to follow. After much research in to the different modes: expository, observational and interactive, I decided to develop a hybrid style of documentary. This consists of features from various modes. For example, within my documentary, I decided to use the ‘voice of god’ style narration which is commonly seen within expository style documentaries. However, I also used a presentation which I, myself was involved within which would be a common convention of interactive documentaries. Research and Planning As well as researching the modes of documentary, I also had to research the brand ‘Channel 4’ to find their conventional style and use of theme throughout their documentaries. I then had to decide what features were most important to include within my own documentary to ensure that I followed the brand and so that it seemed as realistic as possible. Following all of this decision making, I had to make a plan in which allowed for me to be organised in ensuring that my filming and editing would be complete in the time which I had. Simple decisions including who was going to be in my documentary and when I was going to film parts of my documentary was extremely important in ensuring that it was going to turn out how I had planned.
  • 2. Production Throughout the production itself, decisions included the locations I wanted to film as well as the variety of shots which I wanted to take. Although I had planned ahead of the shots which I wanted to use, problems aroused at the time of filming which meant that all of my initial plans could not go ahead. This meant that I had use the skills which I have acquired in the last year of media studies to be able to make quick decisions in order for my filming to be able to go ahead adequately. At the beginning of my filming, I also approached problems which meant that I had to invent new ideas to ensure that my documentary would still be successful. For example, as part of my documentary, I wanted to carry out a lesson style clip with a group of year nines as I thought this would be suitable due to their age. However, due to permission reasons this was not able to go ahead and therefore, I had to change my plans. Throughout the editing process of my footage, I had to be concise in what footage I wanted to feature within my documentary and the order in which I wanted the process to be in. For this I made a story board which allowed me to experiment with different ideas. Editing I also had to decide on a script for my documentary which needed a lot of decision making from as little things such as what phrase to use. The music which I used was also a hard decision. To begin with, I decided to use a piece of music which I had heard on another Channel 4 show as it seemed to fit in well. However, I then realised that the music was copyrighted and therefore I had to find a piece of ‘unsigned’ music which is allowed to be used. After a lot of hard searching, I finally found a few pieces which would fit in well with my documentary. It seemed to fit in well just as a real media product. Assessment Following the production of my documentary, it has been a big stage to assess our own work as well as our peer’s. This has been very useful in gaining some feedback which allows us to get information from another perspective. The majority of the time, this allows us to make some simple changes in order for us to be able to make a more realistic media product. Through the assessing and evaluation of the documentary, I have found that it is not as easy to assess as the films which we created in the AS year. The thriller film category was very wide and had a massive range of conventions which could easily fit in to make the film realistic. However, conventions which come with a documentary either need to be followed exactly to work or not followed for good reasons and in result, work well. I find that it is very hard to assess and judge your own work, particularly when we are being very specific to a particular brand of documentary ‘Channel 4’.
  • 3. Similar to my work My documentary mainly is representative of an expository form of documentary. This is due to its typical features including the ‘voice of god’ style narrator and many set up situations throughout such as interviews. However, I did also use a small amount of typical features from an interactive documentary. For example, within my documentary, I chose to teach a sexual health lesson to a sixth form group which allowed me to be involved with the group. Throughout my documentary, I have rarely challenged conventions of modes as I wanted the purpose and message of my documentary to be clear and informative. Within the narrative of my documentary, I attempted to create an objective point of view. I felt that through doing this, the film is more interesting and easier to follow. When researching documentaries, particularly Channel 4’s, I found a documentary series named ‘The Sex Education Show’ which was broadcasted on the television a few years ago. From watching this, I wanted to create a similar media production, although from analysing the show and deciding the theme of my own production, I decided what features to change and keep from this style of documentary. I was able to take away many useful ideas from carrying out research in to similar shows of what I would like to produce. ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ was another documentary show on Channel 4 which I would like my own production to be similar to. Although this show is very much a similar format throughout, I thought that it was quite interesting how they had interviews with the professional after the initial appointment with the primary doctor. From Channel 4’s Embarrassing bodies From my own documentary I thought that this added a very professional and serious touch and made the documentary more able to take seriously. Looking at the two documentaries which I decided to carry out a lot of research on, I decided to take aspects from both shows. The Sex Education Show is very factual although it does have a very jokey sense of humour to it. On the other hand, Embarrassing Bodies is very informative with a professional feel. I made the decision to take more of the Embarrassing Bodies approach. I made this decision because the information which I am going to be presenting is very serious and therefore should be taken seriously by
  • 4. my audience. I feel that this may contrast from many shows on television currently which create humour about sexual health and therefore may shock viewers. I feel this is positive because the audience will be interested. A similarity which I have taken from The Sex Education Show is the ideal of the programme targeting a school. As you will be able to see below, there are images of classes both within my documentary as well as on Channel 4’s documentary show. I feel that this reflects the issue of topic well considering that a lot of the information within my documentary considers a young age group. From Channel 4’s Sex Education Show From my own documentary Similarly, as the narrator of the show, I also decided to star within my documentary. I did this just like Anna Robinson did within The Sex Education Show. I felt that as both the narrator and one of the characters within my show, it may allow the audience to relate more as I believe that this would be the same idea as the director of the Sex Education Show. Anna Robinson narrates and appears in the Sex Education Show I narrate and appear in my own documentary
  • 5. A main difference between my documentary and Channel 4’s ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ is the way in which I have not been able to interview patients who can talk from first-hand experience. I feel that this is good for a documentary because it provides evidence to the message which you are trying to get across. Due to not having somebody who felt comfortable talking about their sexual health, I made the decision to have a one-on-one interview with a sixth form student instead. This was also my reason to flash statistics up on the screen similarly in a way to The Sex Education Show as you can see below. Facts appear on the Sex Education Show Facts appear on my own documentary Documentaries The key conventions of an expository documentary include a voice of god style narration as well as more set-up situations. I decided used both of these features within my final product. The voice of god style narration is myself speaking in order to match the images presented on the screen. As I am talking over the top, I am explaining what is happening on the screen. Throughout my documentary, I also used set-up situations such as within the interviews, I wanted the teacher to be within the classroom in order to create a sense of the environment and a professional situation. The key conventions of an interactive documentary is mainly where the narrator involves themselves within the documentary as the events occur in contrast to them being a voice over. This presents the idea to the audience that they can relate to the narrator as they are seeing it through their eyes. I have used this type of idea within my own documentary where I talk to the class and give them a mini-lesson. I have also used sound in parts of my film in order to represent the location. For example, as the images present the school classroom, I used the sound effect of a school bell over the top in order to create an atmosphere. I have done this in order to guide the audience’s response in to being shocked at the statistics as they link the information with young people like the girls which are in the school classroom.
  • 6. I feel that within my documentary, I have used the codes and conventions of my chosen modes of documentary effectively to ensure that my format of documentary is clear and therefore is interesting and easily viewable to the audience. I have tried to use the most common conventions of documentary including: interviews, interactive presentations and the voice-of-god style narration. I feel that through slightly mixing the two modes of documentary up, I have created a clear and informative piece which I set out to do. Now I have finished my film, there are some aspects which I find disappointing. This is things such as the footage which I got. I would like to have got more interviews with people who could talk from first-hand experience. I would also have liked the presentation within my documentary to have a variety of shots so that there was a more sense of movement. However, at the time of filming, I was unable to do this due to the access and time which I had. Watching back, these are the main aspects within my documentary which disappoint me the most.