APPLY MEDIA REPRESENTATION IN ONE OF YOUR COURSEWORK PRODUCTIONS. (JAN 2012)

In my A2 short film, Screen Three, the old man and the youths who appear in the piece could be argued to adhere to contrasting stereotypes. The old man in the film’s establishing shot appears low in the frame, out in the open and is positioned to look smaller and below the youths as they enter the scene. These things arguably appeal to the yulneralbe characteristic many elderly members of the society are stereotyped to posses. Similarly, his white hair and old-fashioned jacket likens him to the older community. Barthes’ action code theory involving the youths acting bashfully and abusively by throwing popcorn, kicking the old man’s chair and yelling contrast with the old man’s representation. These action codes and their dark hoodies suggest them to adhere to the stereotypical anti-social youths of today in Britain, which is where the film is set as suggested by their British accents. In this way, our film adheres to Strauss’ theory of binary opposition. The conflict between these opposites, he argues, form the base for narratives and this is presented through the conflict of young and old. Propp’s theory of characters is adhered in a high majority of films. He argues that all characters in any film fall into a certain category from a list he has created. The list involves the hero, villain, donor, princess, dispatcher, false hero and the helper. While our film subverts his theory by not including the majority of those characters listed, it could be argued the hero and villain is portrayed within the old man and the youths. The hero of a film is the character who the audience is most focused upon. The first shot of our film is a close up of our main character, Peter, the old man, and so having this close up straight away quickly helps the audience identify who the hero is in our film. A convention of drama films is having a character that audiences can empathise and sympathise with. Establishing this focus on a certain character, and showing his emotional troubles through close ups, direct viewers’ empathy and acts as audience gratification. While this focus suggests Peter as the hero, his actions, arguably, do not. I directed the actor who plays the old man to appear distressed and anxious and while he did this, he also remains still and inactive throughout the whole film until he finally gets up and leaves the cinema. His vulnerability and inaction conflicts with the conventional hero who is brave and fights back at those causing harm. In this way, he subverts with the stereotypical hero and assumes the stereotype of a helpless old man. On the other hand we have the youths. They are continually suggested as evil, a characteristic possessed by many villains, through there abusive nature. They confront the old man and act aggressively towards him by coming closer to him and kicking his chair violently. Also, darkness is also associated with evil characters and my youths adhere to this by being dressed in dark clothes and in an absence of  strong light, unlike the old man. According to Todorov, every narrative begins an equilibrium which is distorted by an antagonist force that leads to the disequilibrium. By being with the old man comfortably watching his film and then being disrupted by the youths, Screen Three adheres to this theory. The introduction of the youths soon leads to the disequilibrium to occur and so in this way they are presented as villains who come in the way of our protagonist.

EXPLAIN ONE OF YOUR COURSEWORK PRODUCTIONS IN RELATION TO THE CONCEPT OF NARRATIVE. (JUNE 2013)

Franco-Bulgarian historian and essayist, Tzvetan Todorov, created a theory concerning the structure of narratives. According to his work, pieces begin with an equilibrium which is disrupted by an event leading into the disequilibrium and once good is restored, audiences are introduced to a new equilibrium. My A2 film, Screen Three, adheres somewhat to this theory. The close-up on the elderly protagonist showing his relaxed and comfortable state presents the equilibrium; a man quietly enjoying a film at the cinema. However, true to Todorov’s theory, our film soon comes to its disequilibrium when the three youths who enter the scene begin to abuse our protagonist. It could be argued our film subverts from Todorov’s ideas since my piece ends on a cliffhanger and audiences do not know of the protagonist’s fate. It remains a mystery and this means a new equilibrium is not featured in my film. The way this part of the story is left out may be an interesting subversion of this narrative theory since are left to imagine what happens next for themselves.

If one looks at the characters in Screen Three, an adherence may be seen to Propp’s theory of characters which is that all narratives contain certain characters. His list includes a hero, villain, help, donor, princess, dispatcher and the false hero and our character arguably features two from this list; the hero and the villain. Due to the focus given on the old man at the start of the film, created by close ups of him and the lighting emphasising his appearance in the frame, it’s easy for audience to recognise him as the hero of the story; the protagonist who the audience expects to follow as the film progresses. His elderly appearance and stillness makes him seem like a threat and vulnerable however, the youths are identifiable with the qualities of villains. They are dressed in dark clothing and act abusive towards the protagonist by yelling at him, throwing popcorn at him and kicking his seat which places them into Propp’s category as villains. While these adhere to Propp’s ideas. the other characters in his list are not featured within my film and so the film subverts with his ideas.

Theorist Levi Strauss identified that narratives work because they are often based around the conflict between binary opposition. The protagonist and antagonists of Screen Three arguably adhere to certain examples of binary opposition, such as good and evil. The abuse of the youths and their villainous characteristics suggested through their offensive and rude dialogue regarding sex and violence at the start of the scene portrays them as evil. This strongly contrasts with the old man, whose facial expressions shown in close ups and reluctance to act upon the youths suggests he is good. The way much of the narrative focuses on this battle between the evil youths and the good old man adheres to Strauss’ ideas. Similarly, the binary opposition regarding age is certainly within my film. The white haired old man who is reserved and quiet conflicts with the loud and energetic youths who throw popcorn and move amongst the cinema to annoy their target. Their movement and the way the old man stays still conforms to stereotypes the audience may have upon the fragile elderly and the bashful youth of today.

Barthes’ codes of action, symbols and enigma in conventional narratives offer gratification for audiences. Codes arousing fear are used in horrors, codes that thrill and excite are often used in action and thriller films. The narrative for Screen Three heavily focuses on this codes that help the audience identify what they’re watching. For example, the heavy focus on the old man and the negative portrayal of the youths let audiences sympathise and empathise with this protagonist. These feelings and effects are often exploited in drama films as a narrative element.

BINARY OPPOSITION

406px-Ferdinand_de_Saussure_by_Jullien

Ferdinand de Saussure himself.

Today in class we discussed BINARY OPPOSITION. Binary opposition originated in structuralist theory created by Ferdinand de Saussure and is a pair of related terms or concepts that are opposite in meaning, such as BLACK and WHITE, GOOD and EVIL, LIGHT and DARK, UP and DOWN. Binary opposition is an important concept of structuralism, which sees such distinctions as fundamental to all language and thought. In structuralism, a binary opposition is seen as a fundamental organiser of human philosophy, culture, and language.

This theory can be applied to film so lets apply it to my own work.

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With Screen Three, I think one of the most noticeably examples of binary oppositions is young and old however, our film subverts stereotypes in a way. Often in films, a young hero will rise against the forces of an old, evil villain but in this case it is the young who are antagonistic and the older character, Peter, who the audience supports and empathises with. Similarly there’s light and dark. Light is often associated with the protagonist and we adhered to this technique by lighting Peter brightly. His character contrasted with the youths who appear in more darkness and also wear darkly coloured clothes which we arranged prior to the shoot.

SECOND DRAFT – QUESTION A 1 (a) Explain how your skills in the creative use of digital technology developed over time. Refer to a range of examples from your media productions in your answer.

Digital technology has become such a significant part of film-making in recent years due to its advancements making the process, faster, easier and more accessible. Studying Media Studies at A-Level combined with my own productions within the art form have developed my skills concerning digital technology to give me a better understanding over my creative and practical decisions.

Developing my skills with the Canon 600D DSLR camera is something that had a huge creative impact upon my work over time. Equipped with the right SD card, my camera could hold hours of footage and in comparison to the Panasonic camcorder I previously had worked with, my Canon 600D was far better in the process of film-making. This digital technology gave me the opportunity to record so much more with a similarly sized device, which was extremely beneficial. This uncompromised size still allowed me move around with ease whilst shooting to get moving shots such as the exterior wide crab shot of the garage, whilst giving me the freedom to shoot a multitude of footage. This ability meant I could shoot without the worry of running out of digital space as well as being able to bring a lot of footage into the editing program to play with. In Apple’s Final Cut Pro, I could make a lot more creative and practical choices in regards to what I put together on screen since I had more to play with; video and audio wise.

As well as shooting at a higher quality, DSLR cameras offer a lot more control over what they record that other cameras. I had just got my Canon 600D as I began AS Media and so I had little knowledge of how to use it other than the basics. In order to familiarise myself with this new equipment our group organised to shoot a test film and, upon retrospect, this was a great idea and really worked to advance my skills. The short film allowed me to experiment with lenses and to test out different effects for our final AS film that was to come. The production helped me identify how particular lenses looked and when certain lenses should be used however, I wish I had done more research prior to the shoot so I had more ideas of what to play with when filming the test film. For example, using a wide lens, I learned, isn’t suited to shoot a close-up since it deforms the subject’s face in a way that may not be desirable. In a close up for The Promise, our actor’s face needed to appear naturally for the audience and so we used Canon’s 50mm lens. Having this knowledge has increased my creativity since while we’re shooting I know in my head what lens to go for rather than experimenting during the shoot. This saves a lot of time and gives us more time to shoot footage and at a higher quality.

Our group had planned a scene at night for our film opening and so I took the time out to research how to set up my camera for these lighting conditions. This had a huge impact on my work as a film-maker and also a photographer. I wanted to make sure my footage was easily to see and to a style that looked appealing, despite the low lighting conditions and I tackled this through my own experimentation and research through the internet and various books. I quickly learned elements such as ISO, aperture and shutter speed. During the night scene I discussed I set the camera’s aperture so it was as wide as it goes in order to get the most light into the camera as possible; creating brighter, better footage. Similarly I set the ISO to around 800-1600 in order to further add light to what the camera captures. Not only had I learned what works and what doesn’t, I had learned why I get certain effect if I set the camera a certain way. In this way, my developed skills helped me creatively and did this by allowing me to capture a scene’s light in the way I desired. I had much more control over the look of what I filmed. Although it took time to get to grips with camera manipulation it certainly aided me for my A2 project, Screen Three.

Editing is something I’ve enjoyed doing for years and is a skilled area which I feel I’ve developed in. I usually edited on the Sony Vegas editing program however, A-Level introduced me to Apple’s Final Cut Express. I was comfortable with cutting but sound design was often a poor area of my work. By taking my time to learn how to correctly and effectively work on the soundtrack on a film through my teachers, the internet and my own experimentation I feel as though I got a result that is remarkably better than a product I would have made without my studies into editing. For Screen Three I learned how to apply effects to sound and how to manipulate them to how I wanted. For example, in order to suggest the voices are going on in my protagonist’s head, I added a significant echo to their audio which I think really sold the effect. I also learned how to keyframe the audio’s volume which meant I had full control over how loud a certain sound was and when. For example, the film is set in a cinema where a movie is playing during the scene. In order to hear the dialogue of the characters on screen, I had to turn down the volume of the film so audiences can hear what they’re saying. I also increased the volume of the cinema’s movie when the climax unravels in order to increase the sense of chaos at hand. Reading “In The Blink of An Eye” by Walter Murch truly made me see editing in a different way. Murch’s explanation of the “Rule Of Six” and his ideas highlighted the various thought processes that need to occur into a single cut and so I feel as though this developed my skills. Upon reflection, I wished I had applied Murch’s advice during the planning and filming stages of Screen Three however, my editing improved vastly as a result of my research.

When critiquing my own work, I often pick up on sound being a downfall of my films. Thanks to the school arming me with the right equipment at A2 I was capable to improve this area and get good quality sound throughout a production. However, I haven’t said I was able to do so. The guidance of my teachers and tutorials online allowed me to use the Zoom H1 Portable Digital Recorder effectively and with the use of a boom pole and additional microphone. I had learned how to tackle sound perspective, noise, wind however, during filming on Screen Three we had forgotten about headphones which led to the audio being distorted in places. Despite this disaster, it worked to teach me how to prepare sound recording in the future. When I recorded the sound of a car engine roaring for the last scene of our film, I made sure to bring headphones that would tell me what I’m hearing and play back anything I had recorded so I could check it was clean and correct. Thanks to these experiences I feel fully prepared to get high quality sound for my films; something I didn’t feel when i began Media Studies.

QUESTION A 1 (a) Explain how your skills in the creative use of digital technology developed over time. Refer to a range of examples from your media productions in your answer.

Digital technology has become such a significant part of film-making in recent years due to its advancements making the process, faster, easier and more accessible. Studying Media Studies at A-Level combined with my own productions within the art form have developed my skills concerning digital technology to give me a better understanding over my creative and practical decisions.

My skills involving camera manipulation have developed significantly in recent years. I had just got my DSLR camera as I began AS Media and so I had little knowledge other than the basics. In order to familiarise myself with this new equipment our group organised to shoot a test film and, upon retrospect, this was a great idea and really worked to advance my skills. The short film allowed me to experiment with lenses and to test out different effects for our final AS film that was to come. The production helped me identify how particular lenses looked and when certain lenses should be used however, I wish I had done more research prior to the shoot so I had more ideas of what to play with when filming the test film. Our group had planned a scene at night for our film opening and so I took the time out to research how to set up my camera for these lighting conditions. This had a huge impact on my work as a film-maker and also a photographer. Through my own experimentation and research through the internet and various books, I quickly learned elements such as ISO, aperture and shutter speed. I use what I learned to this day in both practical ways such as setting the camera so everyone and everything you want visible on film is visible. Not only had I learned what works and what doesn’t, I had learned why I get certain effect if I set the camera a certain way. In this way, my developed skills helped me creatively and did this by allowing me to capture a scene’s light in the way I desired. I had much more control over the look of what I filmed. Although it took time to get to grips with camera manipulation it certainly aided me for my A2 project, Screen Three.

Editing is something I’ve enjoyed doing for years and is a skilled area which I feel I’ve developed in. I usually edited on the Sony Vegas editing program however, A-Level introduced me to Adobe’s Final Cut Express. Learning this program widened my experiences with editing and made me become a more flexible editor. We also made a switch from this program to Final Cut Pro at A2 which is where my skills really developed. I was comfortable with cutting but sound design was often a poor area of my work. By taking my time to learn how to correctly and effectively work on the soundtrack on a film through my teachers, the internet and my own experimentation I feel as though I got a result that is remarkably better than a product I would have made without my studies into editing. For Screen Three I learned how to apply effects to sound and how to manipulate them to how I wanted. For example, in order to suggest the voices are going on in my protagonist’s head, I added a significant echo to their audio which I think really sold the effect. Reading “In The Blink of An Eye” by Walter Murch truly made me see editing in a different way. Murch’s explanation of the “Rule Of Six” and his ideas highlighted the various thought processes that need to occur into a single cut and so I feel as though this developed my skills.Upon reflection, I wished I had applied Murch’s advice during the planning and filming stages of Screen Three however, my editing improved vastly as a result of my research.

When critiquing my own work, I often pick up on sound being a downfall of my films. Thanks to the school arming me with the right equipment at A2 I was capable to improve this area and get good quality sound throughout a production. However, I haven’t said I was able to do so. The guidance of my teachers and tutorials online allowed me to use the recorders effectively and with the use of a boom pole and additional microphone. I had learned how to tackle sound perspective, noise, wind however, during filming on Screen Three we had forgotten about headphones which led to the audio being distorted in places. Despite this disaster, it worked to teach me how to prepare sound recording in the future. When I recorded the sound of a car engine roaring for the last scene of our film, I made sure to bring headphones that would tell me what I’m hearing and play back anything I had recorded so I could check it was clean and correct. Thanks to these experiences I feel fully prepared to get high quality sound for my films; something I didn’t feel when i began Media Studies.

 

SECTION A QUESTION 1a

Below are a range of questions that have appeared in exams of the past for question 1a:

Jan ’13 – Explain how your research and planing skills developed over time and contributed to your media production outcomes. Refer to a range of examples in your answer.

June ’12 – Describe a range of decisions that you made in post production and how these made a difference to the final outcomes. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how these skills developed over time.

Jan ’12 – Describe how your analysis of real media texts informed your own creative media products. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how these skills developed over time.

June ’11 – Explain how far your understanding of the conventions of existing media influenced the way you created your own media products. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how these skills developed over time.

Jan ’11 – Describe how you developed your skills in the use of digital technology for media production and evaluate how these skills contributed to your creative decision making. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how these skills developed over time.

BRAINSTORMING QUESTION 1A

1 (a) Explain how your skills in the creative use of digital technology developed over time. Refer to a range of examples from your media productions in your answer.

COVER AS AND A2.

NOT JUST QUALITY BUT CREATIVITY.

FILM PLUS POSTERS AND MAGAZINE.

CAMERA MANIPULATION – ISO, APERTURE, SHUTTER SPEED, FOCUS,

ADVANCED EDITING – WALTER MURCH, FINAL CUT PRO, PITCH/GROOVE ECHO,

BFI FILM ACADEMY – MEETING PROFESSIONALS, DIRECTOR, EDITOR, SCREENWRITER,

YOUTUBE – FILM RIOT, ROBERT RODRIGUEZ

SOUND RECORDING

SOCIAL MEDIA