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AS Media StudiesHow to write a good essay for Section A: Textual Analysis
The exam• You will have 2 hrs to answers questions on Section A (Textual analysis - what we have been studying so far), and Section B (The Film Industry - will study this after half term)• You will also have 30 mins to watch the unseen extract 4 times, 3 of those times where you can write notes.• You will get equal marks for Section A and B so its advisable to spend 45 mins on each answer.
Sample questions• Discuss the representation of class in this extract from Shameless, in terms of:• camera• sound• editing• mise en scene
Note taking• Work out how every character in every scene is being represented and write down as many descriptive words as you can.• Make good notes on camera, sound, editing mise en scene that show how the character is being represented. (divide page into 4)• Make a note of the person / action that relates to these 4 technical codes (or micro areas) notes. So as you write the note, you don’t write ‘two shot’ without saying who is in it and what they are doing.• On second and third viewing, make notes on what meaning you get from the technical codes that relates to the representation you are focussing on. eg the high angle shot shows the man to be inferior.• Make sure you have notes for all 4 areas.
Essay writing• Start with a strong opening paragraph that summarises what overall representation you have found - eg. the women are mainly portrayed counter- typically and the men and are portrayed mostly stereotypically in terms of their bravery but sometimes also counter-typically in terms of their costume.• Finish with a strong conclusion that summarises your essay and is different to the opening paragraph.
Essay writing• The strongest essays go through each extract scene by scene. In this way you can go through your notes in the same order as the extract, and use the representation as your focus, sometimes commenting on two technical codes at the same time, eg camera and editing.• You can choose to structure it by going through camera / sound / editing / mise en scene one by one, but you must be conﬁdent you have enough to say about all 4 areas, and that you are not going to repeat what you say about the way the clip represents characters by saying “the up close camera shot shows her to be stern and aggressive”, then make the same comment about her dialogue.• In my opinion, the best essays use the ﬁrst structure, and the vast majority of students write their essays in this fashion.
The key• The key is to work out how each character, group, event or place is being represented. How are they portrayed?• Key questions to ask yourself are:• Is the representation positive, negative or balanced?• Is the representation stereotypical / non-stereotypical / counter-typical? Is the representation realistic?• What descriptive words can you use to describe the way the characters look, sound, their emotions, body language, facial expressions?
The most important thing....• is to link what you notice about camera, sound, editing and mise en scene with the area of representation you are examining eg, gender, age, class.• Always tie in the shot or the sound with HOW this represents a person or a place.
Writing skills• Good grammar - spelling, leaving out conversational terms such as ‘lots of’.• Don’t write bullet points, write in a ﬂuid essay style• Keep in the same tense• Think of as many adjectives as you can (describing words), to discuss your characters. eg brave, but sometimes cowardly, naive, blunt, happy, bullying.• Look at notes for how to put media terminology in the right context, eg the continuity editing masks the change of hard cuts from close ups to wide shot. Or the man is carrying a prop of a briefcase, and the low key lighting creates a shadowy silhouette.
Remember:• Remember the T-E-A principle. Terminology / example / analysis.• Be speciﬁc, and don’t generalise eg. try not to write: “there are lots of close ups” or “there are lots of high angle shots” or “there are many diegetic sounds such as the creaking of doors and footsteps”• Use examples AND also discuss meaning for every point you make.
Marking scheme• out of 20 for - Examples used• out of 20 for analysis offered• out of 10 for use of terminology.
• Camera Shots, Angle, Movement and Composition!! hots: establishing shot, master shot, close-up, mid- Sshot, long shot, wide shot, two-shot, aerial shot, pointof view shot, over the shoulder shot, and variations ofthese.!! ngle: high angle, low angle, canted angle. A!! ovement: pan, tilt, track, dolly, crane, steadicam, Mhand-held, zoom, reverse zoom. !! Composition:framing, rule of thirds, depth of field – deep andshallow focus, focus pulls.
Editing and SoundEditing: Includes transition of image and sound – continuity and non-continuity systems.!! Cutting: shot/reverse shot, eyeline match, graphic match, actionmatch, jump cut, crosscutting, parallel editing, cutaway; insert.!! Other transitions, dissolve, fade-in, fade-out, wipe, superimposition,long take, short take, slow motion, ellipsis and expansion of time, post-production, visual effects.Sound: Diegetic and non-diegetic sound; synchronous/asynchronoussound; sound effects; sound motif, sound bridge, dialogue, voiceover,mode of address/direct address, sound mixing, sound perspective.!! Soundtrack: score, incidental music, themes and stings, ambientsound.
Mise-en-Scène!!Production design: location, studio, set design, costumeand make-up, properties. !! Lighting; colour design. Facialexpression and body language. Props.
The textual analysis• Not every one of the above technical areas will feature in equal measure in any given extract.• Examiners will bear this in mind - there is no need for you to comment on this.• You have to analyse representations of individuals, groups, events or places.• You should also discuss the messages and values that have social signiﬁcance.