Question One: In what ways does your
media product use, develop or
challenge forms and conventions of
real media products?
By Mohamed Ahmed
The media products we created was a short mockumentary film, a
poster and a radio trailer.
The media platforms that have been used to present the film and
We experimented many different types of media platforms that we would be able to present our
film, poster and radio trailer with. All of the work was placed on Blogger as its very easy to post
stuff on to the blogs as you can do it though copying and pasting embedding codes, as well as just
adding the presentations from the computer and straight on to the blog.
First of all, we put the film we created onto to YouTube after a numerous amount of days of filming
and editing. We used Final Cut Pro to edit our film, the group and I found the software very easy to
use to edit the film. It was easy to then transfer the video from Final Cut Pro onto YouTube, which
then can be easily put onto the blog by copying and pasting the embedding code.
We created the poster on Photoshop, we researched a lot of different film posters, as
well as mockumentary posters in order to get an idea on how to create it, such as Borat
and Four Lions. We took pictures of our main actor who was the head geek and only
put him on the front cover as it shows his high authority by having his arms crossed,
one eye brow up and a smirk on his face. We put a note pad background behind him
in order to show that the characters in the film are still in school. By doing all of this
we were able to create a successful mockumentary film poster.
For the radio trailer, we used garage band. We added music as well as voiceovers to
the radio trailer, the actors voices in the film were on the radio trailer as well, which
the funny scenes in the film were only used in order to attract the audience into
watching the actual film through laughter. It was then easy to transfer all of the sounds
onto Garage Band, which essentially allowed us to create a successful radio trailer.
The genre we chose to make our film was a mockumentary. The aim of the film was to make people
laugh which was the hard part, however, from the audience feedback it’s evident that the audience
did find the film funny. There has been a lot of research of short mockumentary films on the
internet such as ‘The Majestic Plastic Bag’, ‘Adopt a Helmet’ and ‘Sink or Swim’. We didn’t think
that we had to add music to the film due to the fact that we thought it would make the film look
There were a variety of different camera shots used in the short mockumentary films as well, such
as zooms and a lot of pans. For example, in the short mockumentary ‘Adopt a Helmet’, there was a
lot of zooms on essential scenes, which helps to make that part from the scene stand out. For
example, when someone is talking about something important in the film, the camera would zoom
into the persons face, which would exaggerate the importance of what they are saying, furthermore
make it clearer about how they feel due to the audience being able to see their facial expressions.
We also have realised that there are not a lot of editing used in short films other than cuts. For
example, in ‘Sink or Swim’, there was hardly any editing used other than cuts from scene to scene.
Also, another convention of the mockumentary genre is that characters hardly look at the camera
when speaking, and mostly look at the director. Therefore we have taken all of these conventions
into consideration for our short mockumentary film.
Furthermore I will be showing a screen shot of the mockumentary films that I am talking about
later and showing how we used them in our film as well, likewise we screen shots too.
The poster does give away the genre of the film. For example its obvious it’s a mockumentary from
the poster not looking that professional in comparison to films with a higher budget.
Mockumentaries are supposed to look like they were made on a cheap budget even though some
are not, for example ‘Borat’, this means that as our genre is a mockumentary and the poster looks
cheaply made likewise with ‘Borat’, its obvious that it does meet the genre conventions. Also, the
poster has a geek saying in a speech bubble ‘I like big books and I can not lie’ which is a funny
slogan which many mockumentary posters have. The radio trailer does give away that the film is a
mockumentary genre as well due to the similar conventions. In the radio trailer you can clearly
hear the wind in the background which shows it’s a low budget film as high budget films do not
have this. Also you can hear the directors voice from the film in the trailer which would suggest it’s
a mockumentary, likewise with the humour used from the film in the trailer.
How we have conformed to the forms and conventions
We have conformed to most of the forms and conventions of the mockumentary genre. Such as in
our film we used the convention of when the person is being interviewed, they look at the
interviewer rather than the camera. Also, the mockumentary genre films are supposed to be
funny, therefore we had to make the script funny, or the audience for the mockumentary genre
films wouldn't enjoy it, as they would expect to laugh. We also used mise-en-scene, to symbolise
and represent the type of characters in our film. For example, for the gang we had them wearing
hoodies and baggy clothes, whereas for the geeks, we had them wearing suits. Therefore, from
this, the audience were instantly able to differentiate who the gangsters are and who the geeks
are. Another convention in mockumentary films was to have a small paragraph between cuts to
show what’s going on in the film, as it would be hard for someone to understand in a
mockumentary format film. Therefore, it is evident from all these points and the film that we
have conformed to the forms and conventions to the mockumentary genre, and short
mockumentary films. On the next three pages, you will be able to see a screen shot of our film,
and how it has conformed to the forms and conventions of other mockumentary style films.
10 stills from our short film and annotations of what conventions are similar to real
Similarly to ‘Sink or Swim’ our films
mise-en-scene shows the type of person
the actor is. For example in ‘Sink or Swim’
one of them is dressed in a swimming
costume and the other is dressed with a
jumper, which shows that one is a coach
and the other is the swimmer. Similarly as
you can see in this picture that as the geek
is wearing a suit, its easy to see that he is
a geek because he’s wearing a suit.
In mockumentary films there is a
description of what the person does
and their name. Similarly to ‘Sink or
Swim’ we done this as well.
In ‘Summer Heights High’ which is a
mockumentary, there is a description of
what is happening in each scene,
therefore instead of having a narrator,
we chose to copy this style.
The camera usually zooms a lot in
mockumentaries in order to show the
characters facial expressions,
therefore, similarly to ‘The Office’ ,
we chose to do this as well, also
whilst still on the zoom the camera
pans to the other actors if they talk so
their face is shown with a zoom as
well. We also done this in our film.
There were not really a lot of camera
shots used in mockumentaries,
however there are a lot of over the
shoulder shots used in order to show
the persons view. Therefore likewise
with ‘Borat’ we chose to do this as well.
Regarding mise-en-scene, likewise with
‘Summer Heights High’, we chose to
make in our film the teenagers who
misbehave dressed in baggy clothes
and hoodies, which allows the audience
to identify the type of people they are.
There are a lot of close ups used in
mockumentaries in order to show the
actors or objects significance in the film.
Likewise with ‘Adopt a Helmet’, we chose
to use this convention in our film as well.
In order to make mockumentaries more
realistic, the camera hardly cuts away
and usually follows the actors in the
film with a tracking shot. Therefore
similarly to ‘Sink or Swim’ we chose to
use tracking shots as well.
The titles for mockumentaries are very
simple, as you can see with our title and
the title of ‘Sink or Swim’. This is
because mockumentaries are made to
look like they are made on a low
budget in order to make the film more
realistic to the audience, as big budget
films do not really have simple titles
Another convention that we used is that
when an actor is being interviewed,
they hardly even look at the camera.
Therefore likewise with ‘The Office’, we
chose to do this as well.
Also the poster helped to conform to the forms and conventions of a mockumentary genre.
We had the geek leader only present on the poster without any members of the ‘geeks’ or
‘gangsters’. The geek leader was wearing the same clothing as he did in the film, which is
similar to the mockumentary film poster ‘Borat’. By only having one person in the poster, it
shows the importance of that person in the film. Which is a common convention on not just
mockumentary posters but all other genre types as well. The suit is symbolic of the type of
character the person is, for example it shows that he’s the geek as he is wearing a suit,
furthermore it shows that he’s the head geek as his face is the cover of the poster. The radio
trailer has many common forms and conventions to the mockumentary genre. For example,
as in many documentary style movies the directors voice is in the film asking questions, we
not only used this convention in our film but also the radio trailer as well. Also, the jokes
that are used in the film are in the radio trailer which shows that it is a mockumentary and
not just a documentary. Even though there are not many ways in which the radio trailer
conforms to the forms and conventions of a mockumentary genre, the ones that were
mentioned are evidentially the most common.
Challenging forms and conventions
There were a few forms and conventions we thought we would challenge when creating our film.
We researched a lot of the forms and conventions and took them into consideration when planning,
however we didn’t try to challenge a lot of them, in order to make sure that our film stays under the
mockumentary genre. One thing we thought about challenging was the non-diegetic music during
the film, such as in ‘The Majestic Plastic Bag’. When the bag was flying around there was music
playing in the background in order to exaggerate the importance of the carrier bag, which we
thought was funny. Making a mockumentary funny is the most important convention, however we
thought that if we added music in our film then it would take the seriousness out of it, which we
wanted to have to make the audience believe the film is not a mockumentary, however surprise
them with laughter with the dialogue. We didn’t want to use voiceovers in the film either which is
another convention, we thought it would distract the audience from the film and was unnecessary
for our film, for example we were a bit distracted by the voice over in ‘Adopt a Helmet’. Therefore
we thought we would just add text during scenes in order to say what was happening.
Also, regarding posters of mockumentary films, there was not a lot of information given
away about the film which we thought may not interest the audience. Therefore, we
tried to give away as much of the film away in the poster, however not too much in
order to attract the audience to watch the film. There are not a lot of different radio
trailers for mockumentaries, however there were a few we have heard, but they didn’t
have a lot of music, which made it a bit boring. Instead of music there would have been
reviews of the film from the audience or reviews from film organisations and
businesses. We thought that instead of getting people to say how good the film is, we
would just attract the audience with humour, and according to our research it was
evident that we were successful in challenging this convention as the audience enjoyed
it. Overall the group and I didn’t challenge a lot of forms and conventions of
mockumentary films, especially with the radio trailer and poster, in order to not stray
away from the genre in the film.
If they have proven successful and if there has been any
development in our productions
From our first draft you can see that we didn’t meet a lot of conventions of the mockumentary
genre in our film, the audience feedback said that the film wasn’t even funny enough to be a
mockumentary. Therefore, we had changed the script of the film and improved it in order to make
it funnier, from our final film it was evident it was successful as the audience said that the film was
very funny. Also, by challenging the convention of not having music during the film, it has proven
successful. This is because it makes the film look really serious like a documentary, however there
would be sudden funny scenes which allows it to be a mockumentary film. We also used the
paragraphs between the cuts instead of having a narrator narrating what was happening, this was
another successful development as it made the audience think that the next scene was going to be
more serious, and wouldn’t expect to be funny. However, if we let a narrator say this, then the
narrators voice may give it away.
Our poster challenges against the normal conventions of mockumentary posters which was also
successful, as mockumentary posters usually give away the narrative of the film from the images
in the poster, we chose to do the opposite. The audience said that the poster attracted them to
watch it more, as they wanted to know what it was about and didn’t really understand why the
geek was standing in that manner, furthermore with him saying ‘I like big books and I can not
lie’. Therefore by giving away a glimpse of what the film is about, the audience would want to
find out about everything as they would be questioning the geeks role in the film from the poster.
The radio trailer was another successful change we made from the normal conventions, for
example in mockumentary radio trailers, you would usually only hear the main actor in the film,
and that actor usually has the biggest role in the film. However, in this trailer everyone from the
film has got an input in the trailer as there’s not just one main actor, there are many, therefore by
having all of them in the trailer would make it more entertaining than just having one person.
Furthermore, radio trailers do not usually make people laugh, they usually make people think
about the trailer by adding a sort of cliff hanger, however even though by adding a cliff hanger
would attract the audience, we thought we would just add jokes so the audience laugh, which
will lead them to watching the film as they would want to visualise what’s happening, and enjoy
the comedy side of the film.
How I demonstrated this, what my contribution was,
what I was inspired by and why
There were many ways in which I helped demonstrate the development and challenged forms and
conventions of real media products, which was by giving my own view on each part of the
production. Most of my input was inspired by my research and planning as I made sure I gained
in-depth information from it in order to make all the productions a success. First of all, I not only
watched mockumentary films such as ‘Borat’ and short mockumentary films on YouTube such as
‘The Majestic Plastic Bag’, I also watched TV shows such as ‘The Office’. I analysed all of these
videos and made sure that the conventions that were used in them were put into our film as well.
For example, I realised that there are not a variety of camera shots used in mockumentaries,
however there are a lot of mid shots and zooming. Therefore I made sure that there are a lot of
these shots used in the film, such as when someone is saying something funny or serious, I made
sure the camera zooms into them from a mid shot in order to show their facial expressions. Also,
after watching a lot of mockumentaries I realised that there is usually a serious situation which is
turned upside down and becomes funny. Our audience thought after watching the first draft of our
film that the film wasn’t funny enough, and therefore didn’t really show that its under a
mockumentary genre, but more towards a documentary style film. Therefore I completely changed
the script for some of the film, for example the start where the teacher is talking about the
confrontation and the last scene with the ‘gangsters’. This proved to be critical in the success of the
film as after the audience watched the final film they thought that the film was very funny.
Therefore, my inspiration from watching the real media texts was crucial for our film, this is
because if I didn’t make sure the points I made were put into the film, then our film wouldn't have
been as good as it is now.
I contributed a lot towards the ancillary texts as well which is the poster and radio trailer. For the
poster I organised the photo shoot for our main actor who is the head geek in the film. I made sure
that the poster made him look powerful, such as by making him fold his arms and having one of
his eye brows higher than the other. At first the group was going to take a picture of the head geek
without him wearing a suit, however I made sure that he was wearing a suit as he was in the film,
furthermore this is a common convention of the main characters in the film wearing the same
clothes as they did in the film as well as in the poster. In many mockumentary films there is
always something on the poster that attracts the audience through laughter, therefore I added a
slogan on the poster which was, ‘I like big books and I can not lie’. This was very popular with the
audience. In the poster I made sure that it was funny as our audience expect to laugh from
watching our mockumentary film, therefore I added the jokes used in the film in the trailer as the
audience would expect to laugh from listening to the trailer. The research and planning was
essential as if I didn’t do it properly then my input wouldn’t have been that significant in the film,
poster and radio trailer, which would’ve of made the quality of the products poor.