FM3 – FILM RESEARCH AND CREATIVE PROJECT SKILLS REQUIRED FOR THE UNITThe two tasks which you are required to complete are a small scale research project and a piece of practical work– either a film sequence or a screenplay.Small scale research project – you will be required to carry out a small-scale research project. The project isdesigned to develop your research skills. You project must be based on one focus film and make appropriatereference to at least two other related films.You are required to establish an area of investigation that relates your chosen film to one of the followingframeworks: Star / Performer Genre Auteur (in its broadest sense) Social, political and cultural studies Gender Issues Ethnicity Institution TechnologyThe research project is completed in two parts: An annotated catalogue (approx. 10 – 15 items) (15 marks) A presentation script (approx. 1,500 words) (25 Marks) Small-scale research projectAnnotated catalogue of key items of the candidates research – approximately 1000 words in total (15 marks)The catalogue will contain approximately 10 to 15 items selected from the candidate’s primary and secondaryresearch. Each catalogue item should be appropriately referenced and be accompanied by a brief note (approx. 70words), which explains how the particular item is relevant to the area of investigation and what it contributes to theoverall research.The catalogue must conclude with a short paragraph which lists significant items (e.g. between 3 and 5) notselected for inclusion in the catalogue offering brief reasons why (up to 200 words). Presentation Script – approx. 1,500 words (25 marks)The presentation script must take the form of notes for a presentation and could combine (for example)subheadings, bullet points, short pieces of connected prose and reference to visual extracts to illustrate thepresentation. Candidates are encouraged to devise a presentation format appropriate to their needs and may, forexample, employ digital forms such as PowerPoint.Reference to key items of research from the catalogue must be made explicitly in the presentation. Short creditedquotations may be used but care must be taken that the words of the presentation are the candidate’s own.Credited quotations are excluded from the word count.Before you begin your small-scale research project you must decide on a Critical Framework, or an area ofinvestigation that you wish to research.Remember, pick an area of investigation that plays to your strengths!
CRITICAL FRAMEWORK OPTIONS Focusing on an individual or group of individuals. It is envisaged that this will allow ‘star study’Star / Performer but will also engage with historical developments, cultural features, fandom, issues of performance and so on. This may focus on a single genre or a range of genres and is designed to develop investigations that consider film as a structured product that is designed to relate to other, similar films. Genre Approaches here may include genre-study (codes, conventions, star etc), genre as a tool of the industry, evolution of genres, genre as national cinema and genre as a cultural product. Focusing on the impact or development of a particular technology. This will include direct approaches such as the development of CGI, the coming of ‘talkies’, or the attempts at realising Technology the world through colour as well as indirect approaches such as tracing Early cinema’s use of the Close up, following the impact of bullet time editing or the adoption by Hollywood of wire-flying techniques. Focuses either on the social and political contexts of production (such as McCarthy era films) orSocial, Historical on the commentary offered by films on particular social and political contexts (such as the Iraq and Political war). Topics dealing with representation issues most obviously suggest a social, historical Contexts and/or political context. Encourages an approach that allows the study of gendered film or gendered filmmaking, but also one that allows the study of gendered spectatorship. Issues of sexuality, of gender, of Gender Issues representation, and of other related contexts can be explored either singly or through a comparative approach (such as comparing male and female directorial approaches to the crime movie genre). Focusing on the auteur (in the broadest sense) either individual, collaborative, or any less conventional approaches. It is important to realise that ‘auteur’ is the context for an area of investigation and not an area of investigation in itself. Thus, being an auteur affects the way Auteur ‘auteurs’ perform their creative role and it is an aspect of this creative role that may become the area for investigation (such as Hitchcock’s continual use of the blonde). Themes and representations are easily addressed by the context. this may focus on a national cinema context (particularly one that is directly Institutional controlled or sponsored), a Studio context or a body of work produced ‘institutionally’ such as the films of the Empire Marketing Board. May be explored through diverse approaches including analysing the representations within a film, and issues around those making a film. It should be viewed as a broad church approach Ethnicity that can include more traditional topics (such as Blaxploitation movies, or the representation of American Indian in the Western genre).
The Area of InvestigationThe range of areas of investigation is deliberately as wide as possible to encourage ownership of the project andenables you to feel your interest and passions can lead to a project that will be lively, engaging, manageable andsuccessful.Whatever the chosen area of investigation, the starting point of the research should be to identify what is specificand distinctive about the focus film and about any other supporting film text as a group of films. (It is perfectlyacceptable to include films that offer an alternative to the chosen focus film in order to highlight the difference).When placed against the contextualising issue, it should be clear how the distinctiveness of the focus film makesmeaning, and how it foregrounds the area of investigation. In doing this, you will ensure you are working from a filmtext to broaden out the context, thereby giving your research a solid foundation. Focus Film A film that forms the central focus of research or investigationSuch films should offer significant qualities in relation to an area of investigation, and it should be relativelyeasy to select key scenes from them to illustrate points relating to a particular context. It is worth not onlyconsidering the film as a text (the film itself) but also the film’s context (the specific production context as wellas the broader social/historical/political context). A focus film may be considered as a catalyst for an event ormovement, and may be considered as a symptom of an industrial/social or political condition. Such filmsshould form the basis of consideration of other related films – either ones that share common elements, orthose which offer clear contrast. Working From a Film TextIt is essential that the research project is firmly centred on a single filmic text in order to ensure it remains ‘smallscale’ ( as benefits the percentage of the overall A Level marks allocated to it), and to ensure that it is focused andhas depth, rather than the superficiality that can come with a more generalist study. With this in mind it is thereforeof the upmost importance that the focus film is carefully chosen in order to guarantee that if affords theopportunity to refer not only to the area of investigation, but also to one of the eight project frameworks.Initially the film text can address the area of investigation and the project frame-work through looking at the microand macro issues that present themselves from it. Close examination will reveal sequences, characters, dialogue,images and even cinematic technique which may be used to illustrate an argument, or embed the area ofinvestigation within the project context. Closely referencing the text offers the best support there is in aninvestigation, since there is nothing as strong, as primary, as a source focus film.In order to make a focus film work for the project you could approach it by: Identifying key scenes within it – ones that are powerful, provoke emotion or are essential in moving the plot forward Identifying the narrative structure of the film, and any significant narrative devices used to tell the story Listing the key characters and their relationship to the area of investigation Listing an important scene against each of the characters in which the area of investigation is prominent Identifying the significant micro elements (cinematography, editing, mise-en-scene, sound & performance) that have some bearing on the area of investigation
Listing any messages and values that are expressed in or by the film (you may want to identify where they appear)In this way you build up useful in depth knowledge of the film with which to compare other related films, andwith which to illustrate any significant points arising from your research. The CatalogueThe catalogue is simply a list of research material, which ideally contains a mix of both primary and secondaryresearch, and offers evidence of diversity in sourcing the material. It is important that each item is referencedappropriately and that each is accompanied by a short commentary on why it was selected, what use is has andwhat its relative value is.Example of annotated catalogue entry:Item 1: Persepolis (2007, Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Parranaud, Kennedy/Marshall Company)I used this as my primary film, as it not only inspired me to research the topic of animation in politics, but also wasone of the more recent and obvious political animations. The imagery used throughout the animated feature wasinspiring, understandable and visually stunning for audiences of all ethnicities and walks of life. As a result, I chosethis as my main film for research within the catalogueItem 6 – IMDB.com/title/tt808417/board/thread/141468734This was taken from an internet forum which discussed various aspects from the film. One user created this thread,which questioned whether Persepolis would have been better as a live-action film, rather than animated. I alsoincluded a response from another user, who believes that the animation was a better choice rather than live action,as it emphasised with certain areas of the film. The user also states ‘It’s a bit like a political drawing in a newspaper,but with a narrative’ which I thought was an interesting and useful way of describing the film to another.In compiling the Catalogue you should not simply be placing in it every piece of research that you uncovered, butrather judging each piece on its merits, and making a selection of the best items for inclusion. Ideally you shouldbe looking at between ten and fifteen items for a relatively mainstream topic, and as few as seven or eight for amore challenging or unusual topic (these numbers include the focus film and the minimum of two related films).Selecting Catalogue ItemsSelecting items for inclusion in the catalogue is sometimes more difficult that it would at first seem, but somesimple logic and the weighing of items against each other tends to simplify the process.Internet Movie Database reference are sometimes merely listings, offering little more insight than that offered insomething like Halliwell’s Film Guide, and as such do not weigh as heavily as websites that offer in-depth analysis.Similarly, magazine reviews have a level of currency determined by the publication, with a review from Sight &Sound most likely weighing more heavily that a review from a local newspaper.
Equally, with books, titles that relate specifically to the area of investigation should make it into the Cataloguebefore more generalist texts (unless there is a specific chapter that is more relevant – in this case the chapter shouldbe identified in the Catalogue referencing).Primary Research – interviews, phone conversations, e-mail responses, questionnaires – should almost alwaysappear in the Catalogue, though, where there is a significant amount of primary research material, some shouldmake way for secondary research to ensure you display a balanced representation of your research.When commenting on each item you should try (in five lines or fewer) to identify the following: How the item relates to the area of investigation What values the item has offered the project The nature and reliability of its source How it compares to other items The basis for its inclusionAt the end of the catalogueyou should offer a briefparagraph identifying someitems that were notselected for inclusion, and arationale as to why this de-selection occurred.A Catalogue for a projectthat addresses genrethrough an area ofinvestigation that considersthe ‘emergence of a“Gothic” genre inAmerican film’ may welllook something like this:
Take your research and colour code it (a mark on top, or in the margin, or a coloured stickers) with four coloursrepresenting: Focused on an area of investigation Focused on project context Useful Background Interesting but not well relatedTake the research and compile it in colour groupings. For each group, number the research with 1 representingthe most useful in that group.Finally, go through the material by number and colour to select or deselect for their catalogue.CONSTRUCTING THE PRESENTATION SCRIPTThe Presentation Script is where you present the findings from your research, and it is important to note that thisdoes not necessarily mean presenting an ‘answer’. Research does not always lead to an answer – rather it offers arange of information (the findings) from a number of sources that may provide ‘answers’ but equally may remainsimply material gathered around the area of investigation. The key to a successful presentation script is beingable to clearly think through what it is you have found out in relation to the area of investigation and theproject framework.All presentations have defined audiences, and it is useful for you if you can clearly define who it is you will bepresenting to (even if you have no intention of actually presenting your findings).Be defining the audience you can tailor the presentation to them, making you think about potential responses, andabout what you can do to make them presentation more inviting and interesting for them.It is worth considering what kinds of stimulus material you can use in the presentation to keep the interest levels upin the audience, and at what points they should be inserted for maximum effect.The Presentation Script should be in a format suited to a presentation, and may: be in note form be bulleted or numbered Be short pieces of prose with reference to presentation material connecting them Use headings and subheadingsIt will clearly indicate where a piece of material will be inserted and will make attempts to ensure that the materialused in the presentation is referenced and addressed by the script. Catalogue items referenced or used in thepresentation should be indicated by Catalogue Item Numbers. AN ESSAY FORMAT IS NOT PERMITTED AND WORK SUBMITTED IN THIS STYLE WILL NOT BE ASSESSED!
This extract is approximately 250 words long, and covers approximately 2 minutes and 45 seconds of time. Ifyou use all of the allotted 1,500 words, you can expect your presentation to last somewhere in the region of 12-18 minutes (assuming you show 5 or 6 clips of between 60 – 90 seconds’ duration).
FM3 – Research Project – Check List1. Clearly define the area of investigation from the start2. Carefully choose your project framework3. Choose an appropriate focus film4. Don’t select more than three or four related films5. Start working on the project sooner rather than later6. Seek advice from Tutors7. Prepare a project timetable and stick to it8. Plan where you are going to research and how long for9. Ensure you get a mix of sources and a variety of kinds of material10. Know when to stop researching11. Collate and order the material before Cataloguing12. Only put your best material in the Catalogue13. Have a good reason for each selection and write it in the commentary14. Carefully choose which de-selected material to identify15. Have a good reason for each de-selection – write it down16. Make use the Presentation Script is lively and bust: not an essay17. Choose audio-visual material carefully to illustrate your points18. Allow space for an audience to ask questions19. Reflect on process and product before evaluating20. Identify what you have learned