Friday, 16 November 2012

Microdrama blogging

The microdrama is a significant task which merits thorough planning and subsequent reflection; it acts as an extended preliminary production, taking you well beyond the simple continuity prelim task the exam board set. Its vital therefore that your blogging on this is thorough. You had the list of required post titles from the point the task was introduced; these are further broken down below. First, here's the list - the non-microdrama posts are linked to this work, through which it is intended you reflect your learning to date, including grasp of semiotics and narrative theory.

[blog on these 4 for the start of next half-term]

Thorough detail of your proposal, what it involved, what it required, why it would make an attractive proposition, how it reflected narrative theory, with use throughout of relevant media language (semiotic, industry, narrative, shot type, editing etc terms). Brief reflection on how your pitch was received - feedback from me as well as your classmates.
As this is your 1st major production you need to grasp that from now on planning must go beyond verbal discussion and making it up as you go along! Look at the assessment criteria for the R+P and you'll see that things such as storyboards, organisation of actors and time management are all cited, while for the product itself aspects such as mise-en-scene are also marked - meaning you've got to give careful consideration to costume, location, props etc as well.
So, I expect to see:
  • storyboards
  • narrative synopsis [a brief summary of the narrative, which should employ relevant terms from Propp, Todorov, Barthes, Levi-Strauss: use the handout on narrative theory to help]. For the coursework proper a screenplay will be required.
  • production schedule (with any updates on additional (re)shoots)
  • there should be a call sheet (provided to both groups in Oct)
  • mise-en-scene: details of any location scouting or other aspects researched + choices/decisions made. Detail location/s, costume, props, make-up etc and explain your choices. Useful to refer to verisimilitude here.

For the main production you need to thoroughly document every shoot, and you should do so here too:
  • what difficulties did you face in organising the shoot?
  • what problems arose during the shoot?
  • were there any instances of having to think creatively to get around such problems?
  • did the group assign roles? was there a specific cinematographer, producer, director (even asst. director or asst. producer)?
  • what documents did you use to structure the shoot? did you keep a note of shots taken if you didn't have a call sheet can you see why its considered fundamental to filming at all levels?
  • what lessons have you learned from this experience?
After we've looked at your final films and feedback you may want to return to this post and reflect on the concept of coverage, and also the usefulness of taking cutaway shots.

Its vital you track your own learning progress with Final Cut - and the only practical way you're going to be able to evidence that is through appropriate screenshots. So, reflect on the range of tools you employed during the edit of your microdrama. In some cases, especially as you edited in groups, its worth including notes on how you achieved certain effects - as you may well forget before you next use the software.
Either in this post or the next highlight the successes of your editing work through screenshots from the film.
Reflect on your application of continuity editing techniques; how you varied the shot on screen and avoided excessive long takes through crosscutting/intercutting.
Also reflect on the pros + cons of editing in a group (as you will be for your main coursework production) - what have you learned which will help you to make this more productive next time?

I always aim to give detailed feedback on major pieces of work, and your work will be screened with comments from myself, your classmates and within your group too; note these and reflect on the points made, building on the insights you had already gained yourselves prior to class feedback.
Without a fulsome process of reflection you will largely squander the opportunity to learn from this time-consuming exercise.
Pepper your analysis with relevant terms - applying the terms is how we learn them. That includes semiotic, industry, editing, shot type and especially narrative terms. 20% of your exam mark comes from Use of Terminology, while your coursework is also part-marked on Communication Skills which includes such terminology.
There should also be plentiful screenshots, suitably captioned. The Word doc below will help identify the sort of aspects you should consider. Reconstructing Your Creative Decisions- Deconstruction of Your Debut Film                                                             See this post for a range of points/screenshots from the 2012 microdramas.

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