Thursday, 25 February 2010


This is our first podcast, just to basically explain where we are at right now.

Hopefully next time I won't have a sore throat!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Initial Pitch

My original idea for the opening two minutes of the film, which I presented to the class in hope that someone would like my idea and we work together and create a project.

My idea was to do the ending of the film, at the begining. I like films that opening with the ending, as it can allow the director to be more creative in the opening, as they don't have to explain the story as that is done later, and it can contain a dis-equilibrium which is a more exciting part to the film.

The genre in which this is typically used is psychological thrillers, or occasionally horrors. I have found other examples which are crime/drama. Films in which fit this non-linear structure are often created to  make the audience think about the story line and the characters, rather than it being an easy watching movie.
Here are some films where the opening is the ending:

So for my pitch, I described my main idea for the opening two minutes, of a non linear film. The opening scene would be of someone banging on a door, and then the camera pans down to the letter box. The person opens it, and looks through. - The audience never sees the person who is looking through the door, which creates narrative enigma, encouraging them to carry on watching the film to find out who that person is.
As the camera looks through the letter box, there are a pair of feet hanging. A zoom through the letter box, to symbolise the camera going into the house and leaving the person behind the door. A quick cut to a rope tied to a pipe on the ceiling, which signifies a person being hung. A quick flash effect and change scene to something that has happened in the past. A series of flashbacks then take place, which are all short, and leave somethings to the audiences imagination, which then makes them want to keep watching to find out. The final scene of the opening would be back to the persons body who is hanging, and a close up on his eyes, which then open, and it cuts to him suddenly awakening in bed.

The main audience for this would be 15-25 as my central protagonist would be male, around the age of 18, and it will deal with issues commonly associated with teenagers, such as school, relationships, drugs and alcohol. With issues such as these, he BBFC could be an 18, depending on how detailed I go into it, otherwise if there was only brief mentioning of drugs and alcohol it could be rated as a 15, providing there is no glamourisation of drug use.

My Initial Ideas for Film Openings

Here is a brief synopsis of my
three initial ideas:

  1. A non linear film, with the ending at the beginning, where a character has committed suicide and the sequence includes flashbacks to the events leading up to the suicide. 
  2. A horror movie in which the opening is before the actual film starts, which shows a girl being chased and murdered in the woods, which is then seen on the news at the beginning of the actual film story line. This kind of opening sets the mood for the rest of the film, and also gives exposition into what the murderer is like. 
  3. The plot of the film is about a character suffering from schizophrenia, who thinks their dead husband is still alive, and carries on as though they're still there, imagining their day to day life, such as conversations, and then leading to them falling out, and her attempting to kill him. This is then when she discovers he is already dead when she admits to the police what she's done.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

7 Areas of Representation

Whilst we were denotating media texts, we would break it down into five categories, Camera shots and angles, Editing, Sound, Mise-en-Scene and Representation.
Representation would include aspects of the other 4 categories, which would represent one of the following areas:
  1. Gender
  2. Age
  3. Ethnicity
  4. Sexuality
  5. Class and Status
  6. Physical ability/disabilitiy
  7. Regional identity
It is important whilst creating my own media production to notice the choice in which these areas are being represented. Whether I create binary oppositions between areas, choose stereotypes or decided to go with a countertype.

Aspects of Narrative

Vladimir Propp
In Propps study of fairytales (which continues to influence literary and media studies today) argued that there are essentially just seven basic character types, or archetypes.

  1. The Villan - Struggles against the hero.
  2. The Donor - Prepares the hero or gives the hero some magical object.
  3. The (magical) Helper - Helps the hero in the quest.
  4. The Princess and her Father - gives the task to the hero, identifies the false hero, marries the hero, often sought for during the narrative. Propp noted that functionally, the princess and her father cannot be clearly distinguished.
  5. The Dispatcher - character who makes the lack known and sends the hero off.
  6. The Hero or Victim - reacts to the donor, weds the princess.
  7. The False Hero - takes credit for the hero's actions or tries to marry the princess.

These roles could sometimes be distributed among characters, as the hero kills the villain dragon, and the dragons sister take on the villainous role of chasing him. Conversely, one character could engage in acts as more than one role, as a father could send his son on the quest and give him a sword, acting as both dispatcher and donor.
Disney stories can often relate to Propps theory.

Tzvetan Todorov
Tordorov is associated with the theory that every narrative can be broken down into three basic stages: situation, conflict, resolution. (or equilibrium, dis-equilibrium, new equilibrium).
Crucially, your protagonist is not the same as at the outset, but has changed insome way from events. However, Todorov actually posited five stages:

  1. a state of equilibrium at the outset.
  2. a disruption of the equilibrium by some action.
  3. a recognition that there has been a disruption.
  4. an attempt to repair the disruption.
  5. a reinstatement of the equilibrium.
Roland Barthes
Barthes concept of the narrative enigma: a puzzle created within a narrative. Trying to work out these puzzles is part of the pleasure of watching fictional texts.


Since September, our main focus in Media Studies has been deconstructing a media text, as it is the main part of our Media exam. But all we have learnt is also helpful in creating our own media production, reminding us of what we need to include and how our work will be assessed.

Here is a basic overview of the key terms I have learnt:

  • Signifier and Signified - A signifier is a detail we see, which we interpret into a symbolic meaning, which is the signified. Such as bad weather can signify something bad is about to happen.
  • Binary Opposition - The juxtaposition, contrast, between something we see on screen. This is a key device for generating conflict and drama. (male/female) (poor/rich) (rural/urban)
  • Polysemy/Anchorage - With every media text being polysemic (it has many possible meanings) Anchorage is needed to pin down the key interpretation intended for the media text, which is done by use of signifiers.
  • Commutation Test - Always consider what we don't see the choices the producers have rejected.
  • Preferred/Contested/Oppositional reading - Preferred reading is mainly considered, by following what the producers wish us to follow, but as texts are polysemic, they are open to contested or oppositional readings. In our own media productions we will have to include signifiers to allow the audience to follow the preferred reading.
  • Narrative Enigma - Mysterious elements within a text form a narrative enigma.
  • Audio Bridge - Having music playing over the top of two (or more) scenes, which links them together

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Marking Criteria

The assessment criteria for my AS media is as follows, with being marked in the sections either Minimal, Basic, Proficient or Excellent.

Research and Planning
  • Research into similar products and a potential target audience
  • Organisation of actors, locations, costumes or props
  • Work on shotlists, layouts, drafting, scripting, storyboarding.
  • Care in presentation of research and planning
  • Time management
  • Contribution (where relevant)

  • Understanding of issues around audience, institution, technology, representation, forms and conventions in relation to production
  • Ability to refer to choices made and outcomes
  • Understanding of development from preliminary to full task
  • Ability to communicate
  • Skill in use of digital technology/ICT in evaluation
  • Contribution (where relevant)
Construction - (Creative use of technical skills)

  • Holding shot steady
  • Framing shot appropriately
  • Variety of shot distances
  • Appropriate material for task
  • Selecting mise-en-scene
  • Editing for meaning to viewer
  • Varied shot transitions, captions and other effects
  • Use of sound with images/editing
  • Using title appropriately
  • Contribution (where relevant)

Evaluation: the 7 questions

The evaluation makes up 20% of the overall mark, so it is important to add notes to each question as I go along, to avoid losing easy marks.
  1. In what way does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
  2. How does your media product represent particular social groups?
  3. What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?
  4. Who would be the audience for your media product?
  5. How did you attract/address your audience?
  6. What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?
  7. Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel your have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?

The Coursework Task

Preliminary Exercise:
Continuity task involving filming and editing a character opening a door, crossing a room and sitting down in a chair opposite another character, with whom she/he then exchanges a couple of lines of dialogue. This task should demonstrate match on action, shot/reverse shot and the 180-degree rule.
  • Harry Potter Swede was my preliminary exercise, with the main continuity task at 06:53 - 7:10, there is also other examples of the task throughout the whole production, such as match on action of the characters going through to platform 9 and 3/4s. We used this opportunity to try out camera techniques and to get used to filming. With a short amount of time to film and edit, there is a lot of improvements that could be made, but it gave us a realistic idea into how much time we need to spend planning, and filming, to create a good quality production.
Key Terms:
Match on Action - match on action is a sequence of shots which follow a certain action thats taking place. The example for the preliminary exercise was to have someone open a door-cut-walk through the door-cut-cross a room and sit down. By cutting and changing angle, match on action can make a sequence more interesting than having just one long take.
Shot/Reverse Shot - The main use of shot/reverse shot is when two characters are having a conversation, and instead of a two shot, one person will be in the frame, and it will then cut to the other person. 180-degree rule is important for verisimilitude of the characters having a conversation, because if the cameras were not along the same line it would look strange. Another camera angle rule is the 30-degree rule - Is when the sequence is cut, and the angle of the camera changes slightly to give a varied shot type, rather than having one long take. 30-degrees is meant to make the shot change substantial enough for a change in shot. Jump cut is quite the opposite, in which the change in shot is meant to  break against continuity.

Main Task:
The titles and opening of a new fiction film. to last a maximum of two minutes. All video and audio material must be original, produced by the candidate(s), with the exception of music or audio effects from a copyright-free source.

The coursework is worth 50% of the AS and the marking is divided into 3 sections

  1. Research and Planning - 20%
  2. Production - 60%
  3. Evaluation - 20%
The work is marked partially on observations of approach and level of organisation, but fundamentally its a DVD and blog that are marked.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Preliminary Task - Sweded Film

Preliminary Exercise:
Continuity task involving filming and editing a character opening a door, crossing a room and sittinig down in a chair opposite another character and a shot reverse shot sequence, using 180 degree rule and match on action. The main continuity task is at 06:53 - 07:10, but there are other examples of shot reverse shot and match on action throughout the short film.

I learnt from this task that it is important to have good organisational skills to create a good production. It would of been a lot easier if we had time to storyboard each scene and written a script, therefore knowing in advance what we wanted, instead of going along with it, which was fun, but means the quality of production is reduced. 
In my main production I would make sure I knew what was needed before the filming, with props, scripts, and a detailed storyboard with camera shots and angles. I will also do a lot more research into the genre and audience, as for the swede we skipped all of this research and went straight into the filming.