Monday, 17 December 2012

Slasher Genre Overview Vodcast

The idea behind this is simple: you individually summarise the knowledge you've gained from research into the slasher (aka slice'n'dice, aka stalk'n'slash etc) sub-genre of horror, then get together as a production group and compare notes, expressing your shared learning as an in-depth vodcast. It can be both useful and convenient to use one specific film to focus your analysis on (so long as you make a variety of links/examples to other films as you go). Strive to draw links between what you've found out and your current idea. Ideas will change, but as you continue with research take every opportunity to apply it: don't just dump down observations or quotes but clearly show you've reflected on how you might use (or even refuse!) such conventions as you discover. Endeavour to use semiotic terminology and precise media language generally (when discussing a sample scene/shot/edit or sound, provide clear denotation), and reflect on what you've learnt about film budgets and production contexts (Indie v studio) - basically, try to show off what you've learned to date! TRY HARD TO CITE/APPLY SPECIFIC THEORIES/THEORISTS AND BOOKS/ARTICLES - (BRIEF) DIRECT QUOTES WOULD BE GOOD!
Research needs to be ongoing: keep watching + making/posting notes on film openings (or specific aspects of slashers, such as stalking scenes, that you plan to use) and any reading you're doing. You should already have undertaken a wide range of research, as reflected in your...
  • Blogging on sample openings (everyone should have at least 10 slasher examples blogged on before we get to the 1st rough cut on 5th Feb)


More detail is provided at the original, main pitching post.
You will, as a group, re-pitch twice: Weds Jan 9th WkB P5 + Tues Feb 12th WkA P1. Note, however, that I will frequently ask random group members to go through similar points without notes during lessons in Jan/Feb: every group member needs to be in clear ownership of the idea and production.

Re-pitches must be accompanied by suitable, relevant (audio-)visual material to illustrate your concept, in the form of a video clip that will not be paused (as before: one click to play only so nobody is hunched over a computer).
Also as before: any group that fails to deliver a convincing, very thorough re-pitch and/or fails to satisfactorily answer reasonable questions put to them by classmates or myself will have to re-pitch each lesson until this is achieved.

Use my detailed post and the notes sheet for guidance: you each need to be absolutely clear on evry aspect of your production. The re-pitches provide an opportunity to get feedback from your peers as well as me, including suggestions on improvements, changes or simply useful texts to view.

Every time you get feedback, whether from me, a classmate or other source, always reflect and blog - what change/s (if any) will you make as a result? That may include scheduling some reading or viewing, or additional shoots/location scouting etc. We will again film these re-pitches to give you the chance to fully reflect on everything that is said.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Jan-Feb deadlines + details

The AS Media has 2 equally-weighted units: coursework and exam. Instead of separately working on each, we endeavour to fuse theory and practice throughout the year, using filming/editing exercises to enhance learning of theory, and using theory to enhance learning of filmmaking. Many of the case studies we explore can be used in exam essays.
Students need to build up notes and resources for the 7 Evaluation Qs as we go, otherwise they are likely to struggle. Unpublished draft posts are a useful means of doing this. When pod/vodcasting, don't forget this post which has examples (including chatshow style vodcasts)and further links.

In this half-term we:

  1. Examine one area of representation each week (exam section 1 + coursework Evaluation Q2): gender, age, sexuality, regional identity, dis/ability, class & status (ethnicity next half-term)
  2. Progress to step 9 of 10 on coursework, having already gone through steps 1-4. This means researching + defining target audience; investigating + evidencing mise-en-scene considerations (costume, locations, props etc) + casting (including addressing representations); teaser trailer and treatment; storyboards, animatic, production schedule, screenplay; sample scenes + rough cuts.
  3. Take substantive notes on all 7 Evaluation Qs throughout the half-term; you will complete Q3 (distributor) and draft Q2 (representations).
  4. In the final week you re-pitch your production idea and revise the production schedule with principle shooting to be completed for returning on 25th March.

Blogging on learning from the previous week’s lessons should be complete (multimedia and well presented) and updated for the following Monday, though students have the option of blogging instead of writing notes in lessons.
As most students work in groups for coursework, there are opportunities to divide up many of these tasks within the group.

WEEK-B 16 (7-11 Jan): 9th: Re-pitch. 11th: ‘Slasher Genre: An Overview’ vodcast (1 per production group, as is the case for all vodcasts unless stated). (Re-pitch; Genre Overview group vodcast)

WEEK-A 17 (14-18 Jan): 17th: Evaluation Q3 (distributor) completed. Also blog posts ‘Budget’, ‘Target Audience’ and ‘Distribution for our film’ which all overlap with Q3. (Q3; Posts on budget, tgt aud, distribution)

WEEK-B 18 (21-25 Jan): 22nd: ‘Casting, characters, & mise-en-scene’ vodcast. 25th: ‘Are we creating ‘British’ Cinema?’ (group) podcast or vodcast (your choice) for class discussion.

WEEK-A 19 (28-1 Feb): 31st: Teaser trailer + treatment.

WEEK-B 20 (4-8 Feb): 5th: Rough Cut1. 8th: Pre-production complete, including storyboards, schedule, call sheets, animatic + screenplay.

WEEK-A 21 (11-15 Feb): 12th: Rough Cut2 + re-pitch2 + final draft schedule, including blogging tasks. 14th: Final, revised schedule + essay ‘Representations within our production’.

I will explore the possibility of opening up K5 for one day during the break to enable uploading/editing footage if there is sufficient demand (requests via comments or email). Any outstanding filming should be completed before we return. Blog, final cut and all Evaluation Qs are to be completed for March 14th.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Pitches + genre: some pointers on slasher movies

Creature feature or unkillable killer: John Carpenter’s slasher 1978 archetype Halloween (the ending of the original where Myers has been shot but still disappears creates the template for the unkillable killer), and Sean S. Cunningham’s 1980 gorefest Friday the 13th (Jason Voorhees swiftly becomes an inhuman creature) are the foremost examples. A Nightmare on Elm Street (Wes Craven, 1984) adds a neat twist of a creature killing through teens’ dreams, the late paedophile Freddy Krueger having been burned to death by vengeful townsfolk wreaking his bloody revenge. There are many others, often rather daft, such as the Child’s Play and Leprechaun franchises. Like Jason Isaac’s 2001 Friday the 13th X (better known as Jason X – great tagline: “Evil gets an upgrade”), some slasher sequels have been set in space, such as Leprechaun 4: In Space (Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1997 – not sure how it even managed to get a 3.1 rating on IMDB!). The fifth and sixth Leprechaun movies are set in ‘the hood’ (sorry, tha hood).
Right there we have one of the keys to the slasher’s enduring success: its capacity for hybridity,

Copyright and YouTube

Your final AS coursework production must not feature any copyrighted material, but some of your vodcasts might. Below I consider some of the issues and considerations involved.

Since YouTube introduced an automatic detection system (see the Wiki) and signed deals with most of the major TV, film and music companies (as you'll have seen from your Media work, these tend to be subsidiaries of massive horizontally and vertically integrated conglomerates such as News Corp and NBC-Universal), the issue of 'fair usage' of copyrighted materials has evolved a little.
Link at the end of the post: a very useful site for exploring the issue further
If any of your work contains any copyrighted material you might find its deleted by YouTube, or blocked in certain nations but not others (dependent on which countries its deals have been signed in). This will particularly the case where you've used lengthy clips from films. Where you've used a short clip, or any copyrighted music, you're more likely to find a notice on your channel uploads page telling you there is 'matched copyright material'.
My vodcasts used clips short enough to be considered 'fair usage'
Rather than delete or block the upload, the more common response is simply to assert that other copyright holders' material has been used, and force ads onto your upload, the revenues from which will be split between YouTube and the copyright holder.
I've tried to find a definitive acceptable length of film clips which won't generate a YouTube blocked upload, without success so far (if you find anything on this please pass it on). I'd suggest aiming for 30secs or less, using freeze frames with original audio removed for anything over this, but that's a guess. Check your uploads for anything being blocked. So far, we've not problems with any A2 music videos, just AS film vodcasts (and a compilation of scenes which used a Depeche Mode a couple of years ago), including one of mine (vodcast on scream queens + final girls, available to view on request) in which I simply used too much of Bride of Chucky. provide a very considered analysis of the issues involved, YouTube's policies and also highlight some of the common abuses - where fraudulent companies simply claim you've used their copyright material when that's not the case. I think I may have found one such dubious claim on my channel, for past AS coursework where the soundtrack was composed in school using GarageBand! In such cases, the fraudulent company pockets the money from ads which YouTube force on to the upload.
See;; and other such links on the site.

YouTube itself offers a guide, including lengthy videos, though they shy away from being specific over such matters as how much of a single TV show, film or other text goes beyond the fair usage doctrine - see also the Wiki on Fair Usage.

The Uni of Houston's DigitalStoryTelling site also features a considered discussion of the issues and legal policies.