Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Eval Q1 Use of Conventions

Take a moment to consider carefully the question, and the very specific terms selected:
In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
  • you will need to make detailed comparisons between your production and existing films (and any TV shows etc you've also referenced)
  • BUT its not just how you've reflected these conventions; you may have chosen to change, undermine, flip round some of these (perhaps countertypes in place of stereotypes for example)
  • the word 'rules' is NOT used. 'Conventions' means commonly occurring; frequently seen - elements which when combined help an audience to identify the genre or type of media text. Many books + articles will discuss 'rules' of a genre; what they really mean is 'conventions' - if a genre stays completely rigid it will be doomed
So, this Q boils down to:
(i) demonstrating your knowledge of conventions;
(ii) providing denotation of your own text;
(iii) analysing how your choices reflected or challenged conventions
As is the case in the exam, it is crucial that you provide very precise, specific examples, using specific, precise terminology as you do so (you are marked on this in the exam, so practise using it now!).
As is the case for the Evaluation overall, you should aim to use some combination of hyperlinks, images, video and audio to ensure your post on this is multimedia and well illustrated.

As always there are plenty of additional blog posts (here + on Horror, BritCinema etc blogs) you could revisit; some egs: genre vodcast (+ instructions); good eg of post on sample film opening; exam board report on past IGS work; the brief, Eval + how its all marked; Polldaddy; openings post style eg1/eg2/eg3/eg4; slasher franchise task; film opening presentations; screenplays + narrative; soundtracks; casting + creativity; treatments; use of cut 2 black/fade-in + hybridity; Hurtwood House student egs; [ALL egs FROM THIS BLOG ONLY; MANY MORE ON DBHORROR + BRITCINEMA BLOGS]

MEGAN: Good detail: choices are well justified and frequent reference is made to existing texts, with images/video/hyperlinks backing this up. Whats missing though are more of the same from her own film!
CHRIS: Needs some text to give a clue as to the vid contents ... but the vid is generally spot on: Chris filming himself talking into the Mac and cutting in relevant footage from both his own and existing films. Its notable too that he uses specific media language throughout.
ROB: An interesting approach: largely text-based but uses a podcast for one particular part of his answer (much quicker to prepare than more text, and breaks up the post nicely, and more evidence of ICT). Sets out, with specific examples each time, what he considers to be the main conventions (podcast covers format conventions, main text covers genre conventions), then separately sets out how his film did/n't use these conventions, again providing clear, specific images & details from his own text (and an embedded MP3 too).
BECKY: Good detail ... but over half an hour of video of talking?!? You must not record an answer together like this, and do need to edit videos with imagery/sequences to break it up and illustrate/evidence the points you're making.
ROAM: Like Rob, Roam separates out general format conventions, tackling these in a 2min video. Fairly good detail, but it is a real issue when there's little or no imagery/clips to illustrate and evidence the points being made!

You may find it useful to use something like the 9-frame grid seen at Art of the (perhaps 1 with shots from yours and below 1 with shots from existing texts; use this as a framework for your answer - remember, any jpg can be cropped, and any jpg can be imported into iMovie/Final Cut!). Here's an eg:

Here's how I suggest you work on this Q:

The words format and genre aren't used in the question, but its useful to tackle both. by format I mean film openings: never mind specific genres, what do we expect to see from film openings generally? In any combination (work across groups!) or by yourself, list the relevant features of any 5-10 film openings from genres other than the one you're working in! Simply list the features, don't waste time analysing their meaning (connotations). From this, create a list (perhaps the top 10?) of the key conventions of film openings.
You should be noting aspects such as:
  • idents
  • titles (which, when, animation?, where on screen - leave consideration of fonts to later analysis of genre)
  • opening shot (ELS? fade in?)
  • final shot of opening sequence (do more titles/main title follow? fade out?)
  • shot types + variation
  • continuity editing (eg following 180degree rule?)?
  • focus on a main character ['mode of address']? (pro/antagonist?) PoVs?
  • mise-en-scene + verisimilitude
  • sound/music (non-/diegetic)
  • editing
  • narrative (which part/s of Todorov's structure: equilibrium, dis-equilibrium, new equilibrium?); use of binary opposition; exposition (dialogue, titles on screen, mise-en-scene etc); stereo/arche/counter-typical characters
Work through your examples and note the commonly recurring aspects (ie conventions) - these might be seen in some, but not all (again, not 'rules'). Its advisable to limit this to a top 10 (or other number).

You could do this in a table ... or podcast, video...
Stills/video/audio of existing text/your text will definitely help (you can easily import and work with stills in iMovie to create impressive vids; simply record a voiceover and edit in!).
Basically, work through the conventions you've noted, and discuss how and why your text does(n't) match up to these conventions. A brief summary would be useful.

This should be easy as it should already be covered within your R+P!!!!
A list of bullet points, with 1+ specific eg for each one, would be an idea.
You might want to get into the concept of genre; there is a links list on this, and plenty of useful material in various books (not least the official OCR AS Media Studies student book) in F6/Lib.
Again, you could do a simple table to compare yours to these, but perhaps better is to...

You could use each listed convention as a sub-heading (or section in a video).
Just discuss why you have opted against using some features (you might conclude that you should have; being honest will not lose you marks!).
Remember: specific, precise well-illustrated examples using specific, precise media language!

Again, do be honest! As there's a specific question on this later, be brief.
Did test audiences respond in the way you'd hoped? Did they follow your encoded meaning, what Stuart Hall describes as the preferred reading?

Summarise your findings, but also answer this:
what challenges or limitations did you face as a student filmmaker, and from working within a (small!) group? If you had greater time + resources, is there anything you'd change (explain why if so)?

Further notes follow from a previous handout on the Eval; its worth reading through these for additional pointers

In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
How does your media product represent particular social groups?

These two topics are closely linked – and also overlap with the questions on audience … plus the question on Institution… If you think you can best fully answer some of these questions in combination, set them out accordingly, but some repetition will be okay.

Firstly here you’d have to briefly set out the relevant ‘forms and conventions’ before you can look at how yours reflects, adds to or subverts these. You could this as an initial paragraph or take each point as a sub-heading and discuss your text alongside typical expectations. As you have throughout the blog, try to make specific links to specific films/texts rather than vaguely say, for example, ‘the opening scene needs to provide sufficient exposition to introduce the audience to the narrative, but won’t necessarily take us beyond the equilibrium stage (Todorov’s theory of narrative structure). Indeed, a narrative enigma may be introduced to try to hook the audience.’

Consider how some films use titles with character names (e.g. Trainspotting), dates, locations etc to accelerate the process of providing exposition. The Warriors used intercutting of scenes, moving back and forth in time (a non-linear narrative), to both get the action moving straight away and to introduce the main protagonists and antagonists. A voice-over is commonly used together with a range of scenes (Trainspotting again) to introduce characters, settings and narrative themes.

These points are mainly focussed on NARRATIVE.

You should also consider GENRE + MEDIA LANGUAGE. For example, are there typical character types (archetypes, stereotypes), e.g. the ‘jock’, cheerleader, nerd/geek/outsider, ‘final girl’, ‘scream queen’, male killer with ambiguous sexuality and issues with his dear old (possibly dead) ma?! Stock locations (forests, isolated detached houses surrounded by mature trees, school; in US productions, we expect small towns and at some point to see a sheriff’s office)? Conventions of narrative (disturbed male killer kills sexually active, drug/alcohol-consuming teens before being stopped by a virginal female, typically with false scares and false deaths along the way)? What about props, costume and mise-en-scene? The slasher genre takes its name from the weapon of choice, a knife (or machete in Jason Voorhees’ case) which symbolises the sexual slant to the genre, being seen as a ‘phallic object’, or symbolic stand-in for the penis (making the attacks a symbolic form of rape [according to psychoanalytic film theorists]). A narrative enigma (who’s the killer? why are they killing?)?

What about common editing techniques or shot types? Hand-held shots to signify social realism perhaps, or a stalker’s POV? Dutch angles to signify danger or something being wrong? Cutting shots to match with beats in any music used? Fast-paced editing with short takes? Continuity editing (sticking with 180 degree rule, match-on-action, shot-reverse shot etc?), perhaps with jump cuts to move the action on?

Your use of sound and; music is a key consideration, though obviously this will be a central point in addressing the question of AUDIENCE.

Don’t forget the basics – your inclusion of certain titles or credits (linked, as always, to examples of actual texts from your research).

Consider your REPRESENTATION of age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, (nationality and) regional identity, physical dis/ability, class and status. Again, re-read the notes from the Blog Checklist handout on Audience for help with this. On the question of age, have you maybe stretched the credibility (verisimilitude) of your text by casting teens in adult roles? Are your young people portrayed in the same way that, for example, they might be in tabloid newspaper stories (yobs, hoodies etc)? Are your Yorkshire cast tapping in to the well known stereotype of Yorkshire folk? If not, might this be advantageous for a local audience but actually harm your prospects with a wider national, or even international audience? Could you (briefly!) reflect on the stance taken by filmmakers such as Shane Meadows with This Is England?

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