Theoretical Evaluation of Production 1B (Media Language)

Plan:

Introduction:

  • Media language= The way in which filming skills and techniques such as camera work, sound design, editing and mise-en-scene have been used to portray a certain image or message across to the audience
  • our film: about two sisters who have neglectful parents; it is the eldest’s birthday and to celebrate the occasion her little sister writes her a card. In the card, she expresses her gratitude for all of the things that the eldest sister does, in replacement of their parents. The film is a sequence of some of the things they have had to do for each other, and it ends showing the two hugging, embracing their unfortunate situation.
    • Drama, inspired by Asian TV commercials

Para 1: Camera Work:

  • 2 shot of the girls, younger sister goes down to sit on the stairs, eldest sister giving her more food for lunch
    • She is sitting in the background, whilst the eldest is in the foreground, showing that the sister is watching from afar
    • meaning: the eldest sister is unaware of the youngest, and her love and appreciation for her.
      • The eldest sister is doing it completely selflessly, rather than gaining self gratification from the praise etc.
  • Close up of Becky’s (eldest sister) face when she sighs
    • Shows her disappointment and also sadness that the parents missed her birthday
    • Showing slight expectation, as if it has happened before, due to the sigh, rather than crying or looking sad
      • Representing that the parents do it on a regular basis, rather than it being a one-off, showing just how neglectful they are.

Para 2: Editing:

  • Slow fade from the pancake scene to the scene where they are doing the homework, because it shows they’re at different times, but slow fade suggests a correlation between the two scenes
    • Reading the card, and fading to a ‘flashback’ style scene
  • Using slow pace cuts, rather than fast pace editing to set a more melancholic rather than an action packed atmosphere

Para 3: Sound Design:

  • Using the youngest girl narrating over the top, to allow the reader to her what was written in the card, rather than seeing it, so that they could understand the emotion behind it – when she says “thank you for looking after me when mummy and daddy didn’t want to”, can hear she is sad rather than reading it and perceiving it wrongly
  • Using the narration to sound bridge some of the scenes – links together the different scenarios, even though they may be at different periods in time – from dropping her off at school, to going to work to earn money for her

Para 4: mise-en-scene:

  • Dressing the little sister in love heart pyjamas at the very beginning when you see her drawing on the card – show her innocence and purity, whilst already giving off the idea that the film might be about love
  • The actual card itself – having it red, and then seeing her trying to draw a picture of them two holding each other’s hands – the red to the audience suggests love, and the drawing shows her passion and excitement when trying to portray her appreciation for her sister on her birthday

Para 5: Semiotics:

Essay Draft 1:

The term media language is used to describe the way in which filming techniques and skills are used to portray a certain message to its target audience. These techniques can be subdivided into four categories: camera work, sound design, editing and mise-en-scene. The film that we are going to be applying these techniques to, is our drama called “Thank You”. It is based around the story of two girls, whose parents are very neglectful, and due to this the eldest sister Becky has to do everything she can to help her little sister Ana to get by. The five minute short film is set on the day of Becky’s birthday, and Ana writes her a card expressing her realisation and gratitude for all of the things that her older sister has done for her. The film is set out as a sequence of events that show just how much they do for each other.

Near the very beginning of the film, the eldest sister goes downstairs to find a note, where her parents inform her that they are too busy to be spending time with her in her birthday. At this point media language is used to show Becky’s feelings towards this. Camera work was used in this aspect, by moving in to a close up of her face, to show her disappointment. However, we had hoped that because the shot was so focused on her facial expression, that the audience would also be able to see that it was slightly expected, due to the tone of the sigh. This showed the audience that it could be a regular occurrence for the parents to be so rude and neglectful. The next way in which camera work is seen to be used to convey a message through media language was by having a two shot of the girls, whilst Becky is giving Ana more food for her lunch. The two shot is used to show the audience that the younger sister is watching Becky giving her more lunch, and yet Becky is still unaware that her sister is watching her. This media language shows the audience that everything Becky is doing for Ana, is a completely selfless act, purely out of her love for her.

Another technique that was used during post production of the film, is editing. Transitions have clearly been used within the editing process to send across multiple different messages to the audience. One of these being the slow fade transition that had been inserted when it changes from the eldest sister opening the card to start reading it, to the series of events that the girl is writing about. This was a slow fade to black, then fade to colour, and it showed a passing of time (to the event taking place in the flash back), whilst also indicating that there is some relation between the two. This hopefully told the audience that the card she was reading in her head, was then being shown on screen.

Editing was also used to slow down the pace of the cuts between shots, because we knew that the faster the shots were, the less calm the situation would seem. Due to this, it has been made so that the majority of the filmed footage clips were at least 2 seconds long, to keep the atmosphere very relaxed, to get the desired message across. The film has also managed to create images and messages through media language within sound design. This is seen through not only carefully selecting the two pieces of melancholic music, but also by directing the narrative over the top. The creators have utilised this narration by enabling the audience to understand that the dialogue was what was actually written in the card by the younger sister, rather than having to get them to read what the card said. Because of this, the audience was able to understand the emotions behind the wording, as the intensity of sadness did change towards the end. Using this area of sound design to do this is very helpful, as the audience could have perceived the message wrongly if they were required to read the words themselves. Sound bridges have also been used within the narration to, once again, link together multiple of the scenes and bridge the time gaps. An example of this would be when the eldest is seen dropping Becky off at school, and then starting to run off. As the scene changes from her running, to her entering her work place to earn herself and her sister a bit of money, the narration sound bridges the two and close that gap in time.

The final way in which media language can be seen is through mise-en-scene. Mise-en-scene is everything else that is on the screen when watching the film. At the very start of the film, the youngest sister is shown to be wearing white, love heart pyjamas. This has been deliberately selected as the costume for the young child as it resembles her innocence, and purity during the entirety of the film. Because of this costume, the audience immediately understand the tone of the film, as well as some of the character’s personality. Props have also been used to create messages through media language. This includes the card that has been created itself, as it has been made out of red paper, resembling love and admiration. As well as this, the drawing on the front Of the two sisters holding hands with is clearly representational of the two being so close. It also foreshadows a scene later on in the film.

Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation, that was developed in the late 1960s, by Christian Metz and Peter Wollen. It’s used to analyse the media language of texts, and is the theoretical framework for the study of meaning in films. All texts in the media industry are constructed using a variety of signs, which are a discrete unit of meaning. To do this, words, images, gestures and sounds can be used, to portray subtle messages across to the viewers. According to a theorist called Ronald Barthes, there are two different levels of signs; denotation and connotation. Denotation is the literal meaning of an object, or its description. On the other hand, connotation is the term used to describe the associations made when interpreting a sign. The context of a sign is also very important within a film, because the meaning of a sign is relative dependent on how it is being used. To illustrate, the colour red is often used in films, but it can be used to have multiple different meanings, such as, sexuality, anger and danger. this approach recognises the active nature of the audience in using their cultural knowledge and understanding to construct their own meaning.  As well as an active role within the audience, it also indicates that the producing institutions play a very active role too, by encoding meaning within basic objects and messages.

All of the techniques that have been used in the short film “Thank You”, such as, where the camera has been positioned, and where the characters are placed in the shot, is all to send a specific message across to the audience. It is a simple and efficient way of subliminally making the viewers aware of things that can’t necessarily be spelled our to them.

Theoretical Evaluation of Production 1B (Representation)

Introduction

  • Representation= the constructed and mediated presentation of people, things, places, ideas etc.
  • Mediated= everything seen in media texts has gone through a process to get to us (making decisions about how to represent)
  • Everything in the film industry is “represented”
    • Individuals
    • Groups
    • Places
    • Nations
    • Ideas
    • Regions/Locations
  • The representation of something is the final product after all decisions have been made

Para 1: The selection process:

  • Deciding what is going to be represented, and what is going to be rejected
  • The choices made when organising the representation
  • Deciding on what techniques to be used to make representations:
    1. Lighting
    2. Music: atmospheric
    3. Editing
    4. Camera Work
    5. Mise-en-scene: setting, location, props

Para 2: Stereotyping (Walter Lippmann)

  • Used as a term of abuse
  • “justified objections of various groups” e.g. blacks, women and gays
  • Walter Lippmann:
    • Absolute necessity for and usefulness of stereotypes
    • Limitations and ideological implications
    • Stresses stereotypes are:
      1. An ordering process
      2. A “short cut”
      3. Referring to the world
      4. Expressing ‘our’ values and beliefs
  1. The use of stereotypes has to be acknowledged as part of the way society makes sense of themselves and hence, make and reproduce themselves
    • Historical aspect- power relations in that society
    • An ordered hierarchical system as demonstrated by past societies as demonstrated in victorian or tudor
  2. Stereotypes are a very simple, striking, easily grasped form of representation.
    • Capable of condensing a great deal of complex information and a whole host of connotations.
  3. A projection of the world
    • Stereotypes are essentially defined by their social function, at this level of generality, they are primarily defined by their aesthetic function, namely, as a mode of characterisation in fiction
    • Majority of fictions that address themselves to general social issues tend to end up telling the story of a particular individual, hence, returning social issues to purely personal and psychological ones.
  4. The effectiveness of stereotypes resides in the way  that they evoke a consensus
    • what everyone thinks members of such and such social group are like
    • express a general agreement about a particular social group, as if that agreement arose before, independently of the stereotype
    • Those who don’t belong to a given society as a whole is then mocked for being so, or used as a function to create a new stereotype.

Essay draft One:

Apply the concept of representation to one of your media production.

The term representation refers to the constructed and mediated presentation of people, things, places, ideas and many other things. ‘Mediating’ presentation is the process that an image, product or feature goes through to be successfully portrayed to the audience. Everything in the film industry has been mediated, as the majority of aspects aims to be presented in a certain way: individuals, places, groups, locations. Once the mediation process has finished, and all decisions have been made, the final product is then known as the ‘representation’.

In order to construct a representation, one has to undergo the ‘selection process’. This routine is one that has the creator ask, and answer, certain question when putting the representation together. The first question is  the most obvious, which is what is going to be presented, and what is going to be rejected. Whilst planning our film, this was the first thing that we considered when piecing together the story and main characters. An example of this would be choosing to blatantly represent the youngest child as innocent, pure and naive to a certain extend. Something that we looked upon, but then rejected during the representation process was the specificity of the location; the colours, the decoration and the size. This was due to the fact that the places that we could use to film in was limited, as the production wasn’t on a large enough production scale to have sets, or rent out areas. We did, however, find a very suitable holiday home to film in, that we managed to book free of charge, that had a similar homely, but spacious look that we desired. The next stage of the selection process is to investigate the choice that are going to be made when organising the representation. This part of the process all took place within the planning phase, and consisted of us making decisions as to of, which order to put certain things in, and who was going to be performing them etc. The final process is probably one of the most significant, which is deciding on what techniques are going to be used to be represent the aspect in the correct way. Most of these techniques are ones that are used during filming the product, such as, the lighting, the camera work and mise-en-scene. However, this category does also include decisions made in post production, for example, editing and music. To illustrate, we watched some inspirational videos, and realised that instruments such as an acoustic guitar, violins and a piano, were used to represent a melancholic atmosphere, which is what we had hoped for. We also noticed that these same instruments can be used to create much more upbeat music, by playing them faster. Due to these representations, we were able to chose two pieces of music consisting of the same instruments, but with different ethos. For a representation to successfully work to its fullest potential, the conclusions to all of the tasks must have been made fairly early on in the production process, as representations require intricate detailing, to have the desired effect.

The next area of representations that can be investigated and applied to our film is representational stereotyping. The term stereotype is often used as a term of abuse and has derogatory connotations. Stereotyping is often defined as “justified objectification of various groups”, which in modern times could be considered as females, different races and homosexuals. Whilst investigating this subcategory, is was clear to see that the most reliable scholar was Walter Lippmann, who was an early 20th century American writer, looking the existence and meaning of stereotypes. He assesses the necessity for, and usefulness of stereotyping, as well as discussing the limitations and ideological implications. Lippmann stresses that stereotypes are used in four ways: as an ordering process, a ‘short cut’, to refer to the world and to express ‘our’ values and beliefs. The use of stereotypes is acknowledged as part of the way society makes sense of themselves, and hence, continue the species on. This ways of thinking is particularly evident in history, as seen by the hierarchical systems used in times such as the Tudors, or the Victorian era. There is still a prominent hierarchy within the modern day society, with an existent government etc. Stereotypes are known as a ‘short cut’ as they are a simple, striking, easily grasped form of representation. They are considered capable of condensing a great deal of complex information and a host of connotations into a singular category, because of this, Lippmann claims they have the valuable characteristic of efficiency. Stereotyping can be classed as a projection of the world, as they are essentially defined by their social function by primarily demonstrating their aesthetic function, namely, a mode of characterisation in fiction. In application to our film, this can be seen through the way that our representation of the little sister, is done by using what young generations are like today, and manipulating it to fit the character we had, using visuals and dialogue. The effectiveness of stereotypes resides in the way that they evoke a consensus for example, what people think members of a particular social group are like. The stereotype is taken to express a general agreement about a particular social group, as if that agreement arose independently of the generalisation. Stereotypes were vividly seen throughout our film, being used in the majority of the ways above. They were used as a ‘short cut’ to categorise features of the fictional character, and have props such as clothing, or dialogue, be representative of an entire generalisation.

Theoretical Evaluation of Production 1B (Audience)

Plan:

Introduction:

  • Audience in the film industry = the people a film is directed towards
  • Genre is directed at a certain audience e.g. horror films to an older generation
  • Every film has an intended audience because no one film is accepted and liked within every community
  • The ways to understand the relationships between the texts and their audiences:
    • The hypodermic model
    • Uses and gratifications model
    • Reception theory

Para 1: Hypodermic model

  • Also known as effects model or hypodermic needle
  • The consumption of media texts has an effect on the audience
    • PASSIVE/weak audience
  • More often negative
  • Audience can’t prevent the influence as don’t know it’s happening
  • Messages of the film are “injected” into the audience by the media
  • Bobo Doll Experiment:
    • Children copy violent behaviour
    • Children were shown adults punching and shouting at the Bobo Doll
    • Children were then exposed to the same doll in a separate room, and their behaviour was observed
      • More of the children that were exposed to the aggressive behaviour on the television screen acted aggressively towards the doll and ignored the more attractive toys.
    • “Copycat” effect on the children
  • Said to be used by the media and politicians
  • Used in advertising: Levi jeans:
    • Man getting undressed in a launderette to wash his Levi jeans
    • Sales of jeans went up by 800%
    • People were asking for signed posters of the man
    • Boxer shorts sales rocketed also
      • People thought that if they bought the jeans, they would effectively end up being like that man, with women being drawn to them

Two step flow theory:

  • Lazarsfeld and Katz
  • Two generations of meaning translation:
    • Mass media
    • Opinion leaders
    • Mass audience
  • SEMI PASSIVE
    • The audience still has to take in what the leaders say, but can still make some of their own inferences
  • American media was so bias it was comical at one point
    • Comedians started taking the news and making a mockery out of it

Para 2: Reception theory:

  • Opposite of hypodermic model
  • The power of the text lies within the audience, and audience uses the text
  • ACTIVE audience
  • Stuart Hall: three potential reading of a text:
    1. Dominant
    2. Oppositional
    3. Negotiated
  • No text has one singular meaning – the audience creates the meaning for themselves

Para 3: Uses and Gratifications model:

  • People watch media productions for 5 main reasons:
    1. Information and education- but television is apparently starting to dumb down
    2. Entertainment
    3. Personal identity- role models, people identify to certain characters (can relate)
      • Can be negative: violence in films or video games (as seen in Bob doll experiment
      • the representation of body image in fashion (anorexia is common)
    4. Integration and social interaction- talking about the production afterwards
    5. Escapism- video games and action films

Essay Draft One:

Apply the concept of audience to one of your media production.

In the film industry, the audience are the people that the film is directed towards. The audience of a film has a major influence on how it is produced, or where it is available. For example, every film genre is directed at a particular audience, such as, a horror film is generally directed at an older generation as they are deemed unsuitable for younger members of society. It is very rare that a film that conforms to a specific genre, is accepted and popular within every community. It has been established by many scholars over time, that there are 3 ways to understand the relationship between a media text and its audience: the hypodermic theory, the uses and gratifications model and the reception theory. A similar theory, the two step model theory, argues the same idea that the audience is manipulated to believe in a certain way, however,this one day that there is a second layer of control. These people perceive a message from a text, and then pass on their inferences to the next generation of viewers. These people could be television presenters, journalists or even someone within the immediate social circle, such as a friend or a family member.

The first theory that is going to be addressed is the hypodermic needle model. This model is first to be introduced as it was one of the primary theories that was devised to explain the correlation between the media and the audiences. It is also known as the effects model, and proposes that the consumption of media texts has a consequential effect on the audience. The audience are referred to as being passive, this is because they have no control over the influence, and can’t prevent it from happening. The hypodermic model has many negative connotations, because it suggests that people such as politicians, or media presenters have the power to manipulate the audience, to their own benefit. In relation to filming, it can be applied by saying that the creator of the film or production, “injects” messages into the audience, subliminally. In 1961, Stanford University came up with the Bobo Doll Experiment, where the tested the effect of violent videos on supposedly innocent children. The study generally showed that children do copy violent behaviour if they see it. Half of a group of children were shown videos of adults performing violent acts on a clown toy that was called the Bobo Doll. The other half were not exposed to the violent videos, that contained punching, using a hammer, and shouting. The children that were exposed to the videos, were generally more aggressive towards the Bobo dolls, when they were alone in the room with one. This study into mimicked violence showed that the media can have a very negative effect on its audience, if it aims to do so. This audience theory, however, bares no relation to our media product, as we had no intentions to manipulate the audience into believing a certain thing. Our film was based on the love between two sisters, and therefore, without any violence shown, or negative messages trying to be sent, this theory is simply not applicable. A very similar theory to this one is the two step flow theory, originally created by Lazarsfeld and Katz. This theory states that there are two generations of media translation: there is the mass media, presented to the “opinion leaders” which is then fed into the mass audience. This theory is similar to the hypodermic needle in the way that the audience is still semi-passive, as they are fed their supposed “opinions” and made to believe they came up with them on their own. The opinion leaders can be people such as, presenters, reviewers, politicians, or even someone within one’s immediate social circle or family. This theory is also not applicable to our film, because our audience was intended to be small, so there wouldn’t have been potential for opinions to be developed and fed to other people, therefore, everyone was entitled to have individual readings of the text.

The second theory that is going to be explored and compared to our film is the Reception theory, first established by Stuart Hall. Reception theory is a middle ground between the hypodermic model and the uses and gratifications model, and suggests that the audience is more active, rather than passive. Hall devised a list of three ways in which a media text can be read: dominant, negotiated and oppositional. The first (dominant) is when the audience perceives the texts the same way that the producers would like them to. In other words, the message that has been “encoded” into the media text by the creators, has been correctly “decoded” by its audience. The term negotiated refers to the idea that the audience can agree with the message, but can also have arguments against it; they can see both sides of the story. The final reading, is the oppositional kind, where the audience completely disagrees with the message trying to be sent. Unlike the previous one, this theory can be applied to our film, as there is so much room for subjection. The message that we had ‘encoded’ into our film was that the bond between two sisters is so strong that no matter how stable the family is, they will remain best friends. Inevitably, the intended reading of this was simply that one’s siblings will always remain reliable regardless of the situation. On the other hand, an oppositional reading of this style of text could be that the neglectful parents have cause both the eldest and the youngest sister to be a lot more damaged than they should be at their age. A negotiated reading could be that the absence of the parents made the children closer, but that it had a negative effect on the child’s mental health, social life and well being. To illustrate, the eldest sister reads a message on her phone from a friend asking her to meet up, but the sibling declines the offer because her younger sister is ill. This could be seen in a negative light rather than the intended positive one, by arguing the idea that she is reducing her social life to take care of her sister.

The final theory, is the uses and gratifications model. This is the polar opposite to the effects model, as it implies that the audience uses the text, and plays a very active role in making inferences and opinion building. It was stated within this theory that there are five main reasons people watch media productions, the first of these being for information and educational benefits. However, it has been also said that television has started to dumb itself down, by focusing more on the entertainment side. Whilst there are still existing documentaries, and a lot being produced, less are being watched with an increased rate of productions such as soap operas and television dramas. The next reason is for entertainment as mentioned previously. It could be said that this is the most common reason why people indulge in watching television, or YouTube videos.  The last three reason are for personal identification, integration and escapism. The idea of personal identification has been recently associated with negative incidents, such as the replication of violence from films or video games, or the body image in modern fashion, as it appears to endorse anorexia. These last three don’t necessarily apply to our product, as we didn’t intend for people to relate to the main characters, we wanted them to feel empathy towards them. As well as this we did not intend for the product to act as an action film, or a video game, as in touched on sensitive topics, that do occur within some families. Because of this, we hadn’t made the film to supply people with a release from real world problems, we wanted to draw attention to them. Although, we did intend the film to be used in an educational way, for people to learn and understand the feelings that the girls went through.

Theoretical Evaluation of Production 1B (Narrative)

Introduction:

  • Narrative and story telling often seen as similar
  • BUT… narrative focuses not on the events themselves but the way in which they’re revealed to the audience

Para 1 Propp:

  • Discovered that there were 7 character types
  • He mainly looked into fairy tales so it may not apply to other genres
  • not necessarily in every story but most commonly
  • One character can play more than one of the roles:
    1. Hero
    2. Villain
    3. Donor/enabler (enables the hero to be able to save the princess)
    4. Helper (sidekick)
    5. Princess ( the victim that needs to be saved by the hero)
    6. False hero (a villain that claims the hero’s fame)
    7. Dispatcher (the person who sets the hero off on their way)
  • How it relates to our film:
    • Because it was a short film the narrative didn’t feature as many people as a full length film could
    • It is dependent on genre; films like star wars have these characters, but a drama (our genre) would not have characters such as the dispatcher.
    • Our character types:
      • Hero (older sister)
      • Villain (the parents were the disliked ones of the film)
      • Princess/victim (the younger sister who needs looking after)
    • Whilst planning the film we were aware that we didn’t have the possibility of including that many characters so we had to select the main few, to make the narrative still fit:
      • Not just have a helper, a false hero and a princess – wouldn’t make any sense because the characters don’t complement each other, and there would be gaps
      • In ours we essentially had the hero, protecting the princess, from the neglecting villains.

Para 2 Todorov:

  • Wrote about the 5 stages of traditional films:
    1. Equilibrium (setting the scene at the beginning, everything is okay)
    2. Disruption of the equilibrium (the problem arises)
    3. Recognition of the disruption (climax)
    4. Repairing the climax
    5. Reinstatement (the satisfactory end)
  • How it relates to my film:
    • Equilibrium: at the beginning of our film, the sister’s are happy and just discussing the eldest’s birthday plans. Everything seems normal
    • Disruption: It is established that the parents aren’t looking after them properly
    • Recognition: the sister starts to realise the the eldest has been looking after her when the parents have neglected to
    • Repair: The youngest sister thanks the eldest for being so supportive
    • Reinstatement: the pair hug and everything is restored back to normal by the sister’s having the great relationship again

Para 3 Barthes:

  • Used narratives codes to establish events and their meanings:
    • Enigma Code (hermeneutic)
      • Subtle actions done throughout the film with hidden meanings to keep the audience having to infer the deeper thoughts
      • In relation to our film: When the eldest sister picks up a not from their parents that notifies them they have gone out, she sighs: the audience is unaware if it because she is annoyed, or if it is her being sad and disappointed.
    • Action Code (proairetic)
      • Obvious actions that state what the characters are thinking or what events are about to take place
      • In relation to our film: When the older sister starts to shiver after having given her little sister her jacket that was keeping her warm

Conclusion:

  • Despite the length of the film it still conforms to the stereotypes and conventions of what a traditional narrative follows.
  • It maintains a chronological, linear format, following the events as they happens, whilst skipping frames of time.
  • Used a series of events to show a long period of time in a short time frame so we could fit a full narrative into a short film.

Essay Draft One:

Apply the concept of narrative to one of your media production.

The narrative of a film is very similar to the story being told. However, the term ‘narrative’ usually refers to the way in which the events are revealed to the audience, rather than the events themselves.

Vladimir Propp, was a scholar who mainly studied folk stales, to break narratives down into their simplest form. He devised a list of seven character types, that appeared in most, but not necessarily every film. This list included: a hero, a villain, an enabler, a helper, a princess, a false villain and a dispatcher. These stock characters can be shown through films such as one from the Star Wars saga, or any superhero film. When considering these features for our film, we had to take in consideration that our film was only a short film, and therefore, it would have been more difficult to fit in all of these character types. Full length film have the opportunity to include all of the character types, and successfully link them into the story. In the other hand, we had to ensure that we chose specific roles that would complement each other. We concluded that this would be the three main character archetypes: the hero, the victim and the villain. Our film was about an older sister, who looked after her younger sister, as their parents were not as attentive as parents should be. In this version, the hero was played by the eldest sister, the victim was played by the younger sisters who was subject to neglect by her parents and the villains were of course the parents who were not favoured by the audience. This selection of character types enabled us to tell the story successfully, and for the narrative to make sense. An example of character types that would not be complementary, a helper, a false hero and a princess. In our film, we essentially had a hero, protecting a princess, from the neglecting villains.

The next scholar to consider when looking at narrative is Tzvetan Todorov. He wrote about the five stages of traditional films: the equilibrium, the disruption of the equilibrium, the recognition, the reparation and the reinstatement. Todorov established that these common structures are found in most films, as it is rare to see a film that is focused around anything other than a dilemma. As we planned out the structure of our narrative, we realised that our idea also conformed to this list of stages. At the beginning of our film, the two sisters are pictured together to be very happy, and the audience remains unaware of the fact that the eldest sister isn’t as happy as she should be; this is the equilibrium. Following on from this, it is shown through a note and the eldest sister’s reaction that the parents do not look after the children as well as they should be doing, this was the disruption. The recognition of the disruption, is when the youngest sister, starts to realise all of the things that her sister Becky does for her. This recognition showed the audience that Ana (the youngest sister) had become aware of her parents disassociation with herself, essentially leaving innocence.  The next step in order to follow this format, is repairing the situation. It is at this point that our film starts to show more independence from the standard film structure. It could be said that the reparation of our situation was the youngest sister saying thank you to the eldest, and then everything returns back to normal; the reinstatement. The pair hug and then the film ends, when they return to having the perfect sisterly relationship.

A final scholar that was investigated was Roland Barthes, who researched into and came up with some narrative codes to decipher actions and their meanings. He categorised the codes into the two following names: hermeneutic and proairetic. The hermeneutic code is also known as the enigma code, as it is the one that has subtle meanings, so that the audience has to infer for themselves the meaning. The meaning often becomes obvious to the audience, as reading a character’s expression becomes less difficult after getting to know the character. The proairetic code is alternatively called the action code, which is the obvious actions a character carries out that states what they are thinking or what events are about to take place. We are able to make connections between Barthes’ studies, and our own production. To illustrate, the hermeneutic codes within our film consisted of actions such as a scene where Becky walks down stairs to find that her parents have left her and her sibling on her birthday. After she finds a note saying so, she sighs and puts the note back down. It is uncertain from the sigh only, which emotion she is feeling. The audience has to infer whether she is feeling disappointed or sad, or whether she is angry towards her parents. An example of a proairetic code in our film, is when Becky takes her jumper off to give it to Ana, and Becky is pictured shivering. This makes it blatantly obvious amongst the audience that she is in a state of discomfort, in order for her sister to be warm.

Despite the short length of the film that we produced, it still conforms to the conventions and stereotypes of how a full length film should play out. The narrative of the film maintains a chronological, linear form, however, we cut out periods of time between the series of events that were shown. The application of narrative when producing the film, meant that we constantly had to consider the order of events, and the tone of the dialogue that we used.

Theoretical Evaluation of Production 1B (Genre)

Plan:

Introduction:

  • Genre was brought about so that studios could standardise products and see what was successful
  • 1970s was when it was developed into actual genres with specific names etc.
  • Categorised based on common and recurring features
    • Stock characters
    • Themes (messages that the film gives off about the world)
    • Iconography (repeated images)
    • Mood (emotional setting)
    • Cinematic style (how films within that genre are commonly shot)
    • Plots, situations, issues
    • Music
    • Locations
  • In modern-day: films tend to not fit into one certain genre anymore, and differentiating them becomes difficult.

Para 2: Rick Altman:

  • Altman: critic who discussed the issues with modern-day genres, book Film/Genre
    • Addresses the issue proposing a “dual approach” called the ‘semantic and syntactic’ approach. Aimed to improve the “weaknesses of current notions of genre”
      • Semantic: Conventions of the genre that communicate to the audience (examples listed above)
      • Syntactic: Deals with the relations between these elements and the structure of narratives in genre
    • Outlined three main issues with today’s genre:
      • no single agreed upon way of determining which genre it belongs to
      • genres are no longer considered able to change over time, and therefore, their historical value is diminished (no historical development)
      • Two approaches to genre:
        • Ritual: ultimate agency to audiences, choices films audience wants to see, makes more of them.
        • Ideological: genre is a vehicle for rhetoric Hollywood, luring in audience and manipulating them.
    • The genre for our film followed the ritual approach

Para 3: Daniel Chandler:

  • Conventional definitions of genres tend to be based on the notion that they constitute particular conventions of content and or form which are shared by the texts which are regarded as belonging to them
  • Every genre positions those who participate in a text of that kind… (storyteller and listener)… each implies different responsibility for response and for action.
  • Other pleasures derived from sharing our experience of a genre within an ‘interpretive community’ which can be characterised by its familiarity with certain genres.

Essay Draft One:

Apply the concept of genre to one of your media productions.

Genre and its definition came about in the early 1900s, after studios decided that they wanted to standardise products, and categorise the films that were most successful with audiences. Studios differentiated the film genres by ordering them according to common and recurring features. These features included the stock characters, plots, locations, situations, mood and themes (how the world is portrayed to the audience). However, as time has passed, the definition of genre has become increasingly less defined, leaving room for debate regarding which films classify as which genre. This gradual change has not been popular amongst film critics and the general audience, as there is a lack of pattern.

One of the main critics of the modernised change, is Rick Altman. Altman discussed this issue in his book ‘Film/Genre’, where he proposed a ‘dual approach’ theory, claiming that it could solve the “weaknesses of current notions of genre”. The dual approach solution consisted of categorising films in the following two ways; semantic and syntactic. The semantic approach involves the conventions of the genre that communicate with the audience, whilst the syntactic approach is concerned with the relationship between these characteristics and the structure the narrative is expected to take. In relation to our film, this can be applied by declaring the semantic and syntactic values of the genre we chose. We gained inspiration from multiple Asian (Japanese and Chinese) advertisements, that we found all shared common traits. These are the semantic values, so for example, we found that the stock characters of the genre were a young child, and a guardian of some kind. The recurring theme of the ‘genre’ is that there are still good, generous people in the world, contrary to the popular belief that the world is decreasing in innocence and purity. The mood of all of the clips that we watched of this particular style, was that it was emotional and thought-provoking, in an uplifting tone rather than a melancholic one. Despite this genre having been subject to the gradual change within the genre field, each of them have these similarities, that enable the features to be identified as a particular style. The commercials that we watched, definitely exhibited characteristics from multiple genres, perfectly demonstrating the lack of order. Altman also identified that there were three main issues within this dilemma, which he stated were the following: that there is no single agreed-upon way of determining which genre a film belongs to, that genre is no longer able to change over time and it is cemented within the age it was created, restricting its historical development. The final problem that Altman addressed was that in Hollywood, genre is approached with one of two attitudes whilst producing films: ritual and ideological. In other words, the creators either attributes ultimate agency to the audiences, and choices the most popular films as rated by the audiences, and recreates more of them, or the genre is a vehicle for the rhetoric of Hollywood, luring in and audience to keep them there and subsequently manipulating their opinions. It is clear to see that our genre took the ritual approach, as one of the first short films of that type were created, and evidently evoked a large reaction from the audiences, that lead to further production of clips of that style. To illustrate, one video that we watched was based on a little girl whose father devoted his life to keeping her happy despite being unhappy himself, then shortly afterwards another production of the same style was released concerning a young boy who received the generosity of a stranger, and then went on to repay the favour by saving his life as a doctor. Daniel Chandler was also another critic of the problem of genre features, who says that the concept of genre is an important thing, and as well as pleasures received from watching the film, other pleasures are derived from sharing the experience of a genre within an ‘interpretive community’, which can be characterised by its familiarity with certain genres.

Whilst planning our film, we utilised our understanding of genre, to create a production that took a similar form to that of the Asian advertisements that we had watched. Carolyn Miller was a scholar who said that “the number of genres in any society depends on the complexity and the diversity of the society”. We saw this reflect from the commercials that we watched, as they conformed very little to a singular, broad genre. During research and planning, we concluded that the most relevant, well-known genre that we could display elements of was drama. However, following the structure of the inspirational videos we used, we were able to find some very specific elements to include, therefore, defining its genre. Others of these included, the cinematography, which was using hand-held techniques to create a gentle shake. Or, using slow, melancholic music that becomes more upbeat towards the end, composed with violins or piano. From our film, we hoped that the audience would see such features, and recognise that it was similar to other videos of that style. However, I believe that we may have struggled with this because the genre or style we chose is so refined. It would have been difficult for the audience to identify such qualities as they wouldn’t have been aware that they were commonly found within these videos. This is because we chose a foreign style, and as the entirety of the audience were from the UK, they would not associate that style with advertisements only shown in Japan. This is a perfect example that reflects upon Carolyn Miller’s quotation, as it shows that with a different culture, there can be different boundaries for genre.

Creativity and Creative Skills

Pre production:

  • Working with fewer people as time went on: developed creativity skills as it showed that I can work more independently, and rely on less people. It eventually lead to a better product, as more of my input was fed in, and there was less disagreements within a  smaller group
    • Two minute opening: 4
    • Summer project:3
    • Five minute short film:2
  • Gaining inspiration for ideas, and generating ideas from other members of the group (the collaboration process)
    • e.g. finding synonyms for the word bath as Lisha suggested during the summer project
    • I then learned from that, discovering that it was much easier to plan and generate ideas by using methods such as mind maps etc. to help us elaborate on what we had already developed.

Production 

  • Improvising when something unexpected goes wrong
    • Actors cancelling
      • Use example of Harriet cancelling when making the two minute opening, then having to change filming dates to suit the schedule of Debbie and Chris.
      • This year, had Paige for the older sister because had already checked with her schedule to see if she could film, also lives with me so we can contact her any time. Had both Macey and Ava for the youngest sister. Planned to use Ava, but asked for Macey as well as she was older and we knew that if Ava were to prove unreliable, we could use Macey as she was older and was also suitable for the role, despite being above the age we had wished for
    • Weather issues:
      • During the two minut opening, we had to set a fire, but it looked as though it was going to rain so we thought we wouldn’t be able to film that scene
      • Led to massive panic surrounding the idea that we wouldn’t be able to get a whole section of footage. Until we cam up with the solution of doing it within a wood, but we still had to find a sparce area, so w didn’t cause any damage to trees.

Post production

  • Editing: being unfamiliar with how final cut works, as we barely needed it for the preliminary task with how little shots there were, and then diving into the two-minute opening without much practice.
    • With increased amount of practice, meant that we were able to do better edits, at a more efficient pace as well
    • Figuring out which transitions were appropriate in certain places. The more we used final cut the more we warmed up to deciding where to use fade to colour and fade to black transitions, to show a time gap. Improved creativity we gained knowledge, and ended up not having to think about where to put transitions.
    • Knowing how long to make shots
    • Knowing how to jump cut between conversations, using over the shoulder shots and additional diegetic sound from the recorder.

Essay Draft One:

Explain how your creativity/creativity skills have developed over time. Refer to a range of examples in your answer.

Our skills have developed significantly within the creativity aspect of our filming since the first preliminary task that we performed in the beginning of our AS levels. This creativity has been improved within all categories of production, meaning that from pre production of each task, through until post production, there have been areas within which practice has enabled us to develop.

Pre production has majorly influenced the development within our creativity skills, due to the fact that it is the first stage of the process, allowing for preparation of the project. Before starting to do any further planning for a future project, we first assign ourselves to groups. Whilst making our AS two-minute opening to a genre of our choice, I worked in a group of 4 people, shortly afterwards, we entered a National Student Film Festival, whereby we had to make a film based on the word “bath, in which I worked in a group of 3. The most recent project that I have done is a five-minute short film as the final A Level product, which I worked in a pair for. My creativity skills have developed from the start of last year in the sense of the collaboration process, as I have been able to work with fewer people as time went on. With less people in the group, it means that we have to be more creative as there are inevitably going to be fewer ideas put forward in the pre production planning process. Collaborating with other people dramatically improved my creativity during the research and planning process, as I am now able to generate ideas much more efficiently. Whilst trying to generate ideas for the summer project based around the word bath, one of the other group members suggested that we were to explore all of the synonyms and association words with bath, by mapping out a spider diagram. Consequently, my creative skills improved after this time, as learning techniques from other people, such as the example provided, aided in my own improvement for future productions. The second process of pre production, within which my creative skills have improved significantly, is planning for elements such as scripting and storyboards. Whilst making the two minute opening to a film within our chose alternate history genre, storyboards were important to map out how the shots were going to be positioned. Although, during this process, we became aware that storyboards are also incredibly useful when it came to previewing the timings of the production, and how the shots were going to be sequenced. To illustrate, in the preliminary task we used storyboards to demonstrate to us, where to position the camera, as the timings of the task was nearly irrelevant. We had to film someone walking into a room, and sitting down, and having a conversation with someone else. During this time, our main focusses were organising the match on actions shots, such as some shots we did, seeing the door open from both sides fluently. On a contrary, this year, we focussed making our storyboards in such a way that it allowed us to visualise how long the piece was going to be. The timings on the five minute film were strict, and therefore, we had to make sure that we went on to animate the storyboards as well, to cut down the shots lengths, or in fact make them longer.

Our creative did improve during the production of the films, however, the production window is very limited, and therefore anything that falls within it is usually filming on the day. It has to be said that our creativity has developed since the beginning of last year, as it became increasingly easier to sort out any last-minute issues we had on the scheduled filming days. To demonstrate this, we asked a teenage girl and her boyfriend to act as the protagonists in our alternate history two-minute opening. They were only scheduled to film within one day, as the rest of the footage could be acquired without having them in it. Unfortunately, the pair had to cancel due to an unexpected occurrence within their immediate family. We then struggled to find another pair to act, as we hadn’t yet thought that far ahead as we believed we could rely on the actors we had already recruited. It took us a little while to find ourselves more actors to play the part, and subsequently pushed back our filming schedule. However, this year, we wanted two young girls to play the main characters of our five-minute film, and as preparation, we asked two children we had hoped to play the part, and another to fill in, in case there were any difficulties. This shows how our creative skills have changed over time, as we have gradually become more organised, having seen what problems we should be anticipating, like unreliable actors, rather than having to deal with the unexpected at last minute.

The final area that our creative skills have improved in is the process after having filmed everything; post production. We found that whilst creating our two-minute film opening, that using one piece of royalty free non diegetic composed score, became repetitive towards the end, but simultaneously, was acceptable as usually a piece of music is more than two minutes long. On the other hand, when deciding which score to overlay our film with this year, we had to think differently. We were aware that we were going to have to loop the same piece of music to ensure that it was consistent throughout the five minutes. Although, we had found last year that the composed score that we had used, became increasingly boring and repetitive towards the end, which led to there never being a change of atmosphere. As further development from this feedback, we decided this year that it would be an improvement to merge two pieces of music, as there is a definite change in atmosphere, as well as it being five minutes long. This was a definite development within our creative skills, as we made the production more complex and professional by transitioning from one score to another.

Real Media Texts

Explain the most significant ways in which your media products were informed by your understanding of real media texts. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to demonstrate how this understanding developed over time.


Essay Plan:

Real products:

  • We watched three Korean and Japanese commercials and short films. Each featured a heart warming story that was filmed with either a narration or some melancholic music. We found that the majority had a narration.
  • This was an improvement from last year because we didn’t have many films to go by when using real media products to inspire our own.
  • Used films at AS such as Children of Men and Never Let Me Go to look at the beginning two minutes of a film that suited our genre.

Form:

For the AS final product we researched into the first two minutes of films of a specific genre, and saw what they contained:

  • Idents
  • Credits (actor names)
  • Company logos

At A2 researched into short films and their form, to see how they were different to the opening 2 minutes of a full length film:

  • Layout; need a start, the dilemma and the end
  • The timings of certain aspects
  • Different music styles
  • The most common genres
  • More experience in how to find specific genres and timings

Genre:

  • During the national film festival (a film based off a Korean myth called sesame cosmetics), we didn’t do too much research into genre because we had to base it off a word instead. This lead to no genre expectations or features, leaving it failing to meet any audience expectations.

Technical conventions:

  • Camera work- lots of over the shoulder shots to show the situation from their point of view and make the situation seem more relatable. As well as this, we saw in the Asian productions that they used lots of hand held shots. We replicated these shots, by using hand held shots in our own production- it makes the viewer feel like they’re in the situation. At AS we found that when researching into our genre, not many camera techniques were frequently present. This lead to further improvement at A2 because we found lots of videos that were similar. In each they often had handheld shot.
    • Therefore, we decided to use lots of handheld shots to replicate the inspirational videos, rather than using shots to suit us.
  • Editing- slow pace editing, holding shots for a long amount of time to create emotional atmosphere: in the commercial, showing the father crying, in ours, showing the eldest sister crying for a long amount of time.
  • Sound design- the music styles. At AS when looking at 2 minute film opening we did little research into the music used because most of the time their music does not start playing until after two minutes into the film.

Representations:

  • Presenting the little girl as innocent and helpless, but aware of the fact that her older sister does everything for her.
  • Like with the daughter in the ‘Daddy lies’ video, the girl who gets money to go to school in the Japanese TV commercial, and the boy who tries to steal medicine for his mother in the third video. Each of the girls and the boy are portrayed as innocent, but are still one of the main focuses of the film because they eventually wise up to what is going on.
    • ‘Daddy lies’: she realises that her dad has been working a lot to help her when he isn’t happy
    • TV commercial: The little girl eventually goes to school after receiving money from the man everyday and she shows him her in the uniform because she knows what he has done

Symbolism:

  • AS: during the 2 minute opening, we used real media products to find the stereotype for women. We watched clips from films such as James Bond to see how women are commonly objectified in modern day media.
  • At A2 we used this to further develop our skills into how to find these expectations.
  • We used costumes to portray the girls.

 

Essay Draft One:

Explain the most significant ways in which your media products were informed by your understanding of real media texts. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to demonstrate how this understanding developed over time.

Real media texts have informed my media products through inspirations, symbolism, representations and other factors such as form. The main way in which they have aided my development process over time, is that they allowed me to see what is expected of small scale media productions.

In the more broad sense, real media products acted as inspiration for what we were going to make. This applies to both AS and A2 media. For example, at AS, we watched films such as Children of Men and Never Let Me Go, which inspired us to chose the genre and general plot of our film, which we then went on to produce a two minute opening of. This understanding then informed my media products, as it showed me that films have common features depending in the genre or their audience. This enabled me to see at A2, that these are the things that I should have been looking for, rather than having the production suit my own standards. For our A2 project of making a five minute short film, we looked at some Korean and Japanese television commercials, and short films. Our ability to do this had improved over time, due to the fact that we had last years practice.

In deeper terms, real media products inspired several areas of the film, not just singularly. As further illustration from the last point, it has to be said that large scale, professional productions acted as a template for the basic format of the film. There is a significant difference between the first two minutes of film, and the entirety of a five minute short film. During our AS production, we had very little choice and variety when it came down to the form of the film, as all films typically start similarly if it is only the first two minutes. However, at A2 we were able to utilise the idea of having a different form, and manipulated the many options, thus creating a more advanced piece. Because little research was required at AS level, into real media products, the final product was a film based around a vague template that the majority of the class had to follow. We then made improvements on this it A2 level, because of our ability to vary from the norm. We performed extensive research into a vast amount of short films, before shortening our range to the drama genre that we had chosen. Using real media products to inspire the form really informed our knowledge because when it came down to filming, we were aware of all the form expectations. Similarly to form, we also used real media products to inspire our genre, as mentioned previously. During last year’s National Student Film Festival, we made the mistake of choosing a genre that was far too specific, leaving us with little material to go by, even though the material that we did obtain was good for looking into plot lines. We based the film off of a Korean myth, called Sesame Cosmetics, rather than using existing media products to guide our decision making. Using real media products became more useful in our second year, as we allowed ourselves more leeway to discover which genre would be most suited to a five minute short film. We chose the genre drama based on the fact that whilst surfing through short films, we came to the conclusion that drama carries plenty of genre expectations, as well as being well suited for a five minute short film. All of the knowledge and understanding came from our access to real media products, and larger scale projects.

Our understaing from real media products informed our knowledge of representations and symbolism within our genre. For our AS media examination, we did a substancial amount of research into representations and symbolism within modern media. This usage of real media products embellished our understanding of how techniques are used to subconsciously portray the stereotypes of certain objects or people. For example, at As we used films such as the James Bond series to look at the representation of women, as we needed to blatantly objectify them the most that we could. We wanted to show women as they were portrayed in the 1920s etc, and thereofre, went for a real media product that often carries a discriminations against women. We used this information from the real media products to design costumes and do makeup on our actress, do subliminally show the audience that she was the inferior gender. This use of real media products aided in improving our final A2 production as it showed us what we need to be looking for.

Finally, another large part of the development process was looking into the technical conventions of our chosen genre. Our skills in this department have improved since our preliminary task at the beginning of AS, by tracing real media productions. Whilst making the two minute opening to our AS film, we hadn’t really established a standard to go by when considering the technical conventions. We had done research into what usually happens in the story line, but there was little substance in the filming industry that showed common expectations of the ‘alternate history’ genre that we had chosen. On the other hand, our most recent project was an improvement, because we saw common camera work, editing and sound design traits that reoccured through the genre we used. We had three heart warming Asian television commercials; one in which a father lies to his daughter about being happy to ensure her happiness, another in which a man goes about everyday doing little things to help others and they all end up repaying him, and the final in which a boy tries to steal medicine for his mother but is caught, until a man pays for it. Later on this man is then dying in hospital and his daughter cannot afford to pay for the operations. Upon this, the viewer is shown that the little boy was inspired to become a doctor, and did so, in reutrn paying for the mans charges and saving his life. In all of these videos, we saw that the most common charactersitic within camera work, was the the majority of the shots were hand held. This informed our knowledge, and lead to us filming our five minute film with a multitude of hand held shots, replicating those of the real media products. In each of the clips, we also saw that the shots were held for long durations of time, with slow pace editing. Amd therefore, when editing our adaptation, we ensured that we had film long sections, and kept the jump cuts to a very minimal. Finally, as an improvement in technical conventions, we used the real media product to look into music styles and charaectiristics. We found that the most common instruments were the piani and violins. Furthermore, for our final production, we used royalty free music that contained a mellow sounding piano and soft violins. 

Essay Draft Two: