Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Final Cut Pro X

You can find a vodcast for getting started, and multiple links for further exploration, in this post on the MediaTechTips blog, where I gather material on software and hardware, including guides on techs to consider for your Evaluation (part of the markscheme)

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Analysing film openings - a short guide

There is a much longer version - it was linked in the top links list which a google bug has wiped, along with all my other 100+ lists across multiple blogs.

When blogging on an opening, set out the key contextual, institutional info using appropriate size, colour, font variation for the most important details, and hyperlinking relevant links:
  • movie name
  • director
  • year of release (typically in 1 line: This is England (Meadows, 2006)
  • main (co-)production company/ies
  • UK, US distributor
  • budget
  • UK, US, world box office
  • ratings on IMDB, rottentomatoes or others
  • length of opening
Once you've completed your analysis, post a summary above your main blog text, but below the institutional info, with a CAPS sub-heading like POSSIBLE POINTS OF INFLUENCE (specific details or techniques that might influence YOUR production). This helps to show you're applying research (a key term in the markscheme).

You will be creating a vodcast on GENERAL CODES + CONVENTIONS OF FILM OPENINGS using 5 detailed examples, though you may want to refer to additional examples (eg look at more examples of opening shots).

Consider the following as key themes to address in a detailed analysis of a film opening. You should highlight specific media terminology in bold pink, helping it to stand out. Apply the exam markscheme to make sure you always clearly evidence a point, often with a screenshot (which you might use in vodcasts and your Evaluation):

One of the two most important shots (along with the final shot before you transition into the main movie) in your own production, so look closely at the choices made.


Discuss how the opening fits in with Todorov's 5-part narrative structure; if narrative enigma is employed (one of Barthes' concepts); if there are clear binary opposites (Levi-Strauss).

Are any characters signified as any of Propp's archetypes (sometimes combining 2 or more)? How? Be specific on the semiotics of the clothing, make-up etc - when producing YOUR film opening you need to evidence careful consideration of and control over this, not simply shooting your cast in the clothes/look they happen to be wearing.
You could fit this point into many of the headings below (editing, narrative etc), but think very carefully about how shot selection, framing, editing and sound all combine to signify any particular character as a probable (central) protagonist (or antagonist). There is often some narrative enigma, but typically we will follow one character through editing.

Costume and make-up is also m-e-s, I'm just separating these to help focus on how visual signifiers communicate more than the script (if done right). Denote (describe, detail) the choices made and discuss WHY these might have been chosen: what are the connotations; what reading might this suggest to the audience? Is verisimilitude achieved?

Its usually best to consider these two things together, though you don't need to try and link every point you want to make. These are 2 of the 4 technical areas you need to analyse in the exam essay on TV Drama (camera work and mise-en-scene are the others; you also have to discuss representations). Think not just about diegetic sound but specifically ambient sound, perhaps exaggerated diegetic sound. Music, non-diegetic or not, is always important to consider - and will be crucial for YOUR film to be convincing. Think about how the music is trying to manipulate the audience's mood, as well as their sympathy or empathy for any characters.

Look closely at how shot variety is achieved - this will be a crucial factor in marking yours. Think about framing and what has been selected and what rejected or not shown (back to mise-en-scene again!). You could use shorthand for shot types/angles to help denote the variety, eg:
ELS into OTS MLS; ECU; M2S; OTS MCU then 5 shot reverse shot sequence before a cutaway ECU of protagonist's hand...
TIP: You can combine screenshots using Photoshop (or simply Word, Publisher or other - and screenshot this in turn to quickly create an embeddable image).

Overlapping with many of the other categories above, so if you think this is clearly covered, then just focus on intertextuality (where meaning is linked to other existing texts). It is important to address genre - often genreS, with hybridity common.

Don't underestimate the detail needed on this!!!
Browse the titles tag on my AS Coursework blog, or just this single post on Pretty in Pink for example.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Preliminary task and practice exercises

ABOVE: An example of a prelim video from 2016

The UK syllabus specifies a particular mandatory exercise (the 'prelim' as I refer to it on this blog), the CIE does not ... but does insist on practice exercises prior to the main production.

Your reflection following each of these is just as important as the productions themselves. Note that several of the posts linked below will make reference to the UK markscheme.

You will work on some of the following:

PRELIM (purpose: initial camera, tripod practice + learning continuity shooting/editing techniques)
Preliminary exercise: Continuity task involving filming and editing a character opening a door, crossing a room and sitting down in a chair opposite another character, with whom she/he then exchanges a couple of lines of dialogue. This task should demonstrate match on action, shot/reverse shot and the 180-degree rule.
When blogging on PRELIM remember to:

Friday, 9 September 2016

BLOGGING DESIGN box office example

Through my British Cinema blog you can find a links list on box office, a key topic for coursework and exam research alike. There are many great resources on this, including American sources like Variety and the site boxofficemojo.

For this example I'll use Charles Gant's fantastic weekly UK box office analysis. If you routinely read this you'll build up a much wider knowledge than your teacher can hope to provide directly, and will over time take on industry terms and concepts.

Below is how I'd blog on this, then a breakdown of what design decisions/blogger tools I've applied.

Charles Gant's latest UK box office review.
Clarke's surprise 2008 hit
British producers struggle in the face of the 'big six' dominance, unable to approach the tentpole $100-300m budget level of the Hollywood conglomerates when only two films have ever made £100m+ at the UK box office. When you add the social realist genre to the mix, typically lacking any major stars and providing the opposite of the feelgood narrative that dominates US cinema (still the biggest cinema market, though China will soon top it, so vital for film producers to aim for), box office success is unlikely.

Even getting a limited theatrical release is beyond most UK social realist films. There are always exceptions, and Noel Clarke, like Shane Meadows, has become an auteur brand that will attract an audience:
Eight years ago, Noel Clarke’s Adulthood stunned the UK film industry when it debuted in the UK with £1.20m from 157 cinemas, on its way to a total of £3.35m. This represented a big jump up from the success of Kidulthood from 2006, and set a high commercial bar for the British urban drama. [Gant]

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Star Trek box office audience statistical analysis

This post focuses on the LA Times' box office coverage, which provides very specific audience breakdown and analysis.

The headline above is from
Gant's column on the UK box office, matching a more common downbeat view on the film's fortunes and prospects (its still on wide release), noting:
Star Trek Beyond may have suffered from director JJ Abrams’ exit into rival franchise Star Wars (he remains as producer). Or fans might have been more excited by Benedict Cumberbatch as the main villain last time around, with Beyond baddie Idris Elba less proven at the box office. And Paramount may have struggled to persuade broader audiences to see a third Star Trek film.
Critics and audiences have been highly positive, but the film has failed to crossover to a wide US or UK audience (RT)

BoxOfficeMojo provide a comparison of all 13 movies in the franchise; the current release needs a major boost from China and elsewhere to ensure the franchise will continue to ... live long and prosper

The various box office columns (global, US, UK) in the Guardian make for great reading and will teach you a lot about how the industry works, and provide very specific examples that might help you in exam and/or coursework efforts. Variety and many others also provide in-depth, highly informed analysis and commentary - you can keep an eye on these by adding RSS feeds to your own blogs.

This example is from the LA Times, which you'd expect to be highly versed in industry practice as Hollywood is in its turf. The fragment I picked out below comments on:

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Filmmaker talks STRESS and TEAMWORK

The question is not whether filmmaking is stressful. It’s how you’re going to deal with the stress when it inevitably comes your way. Stress is a physiological survival mechanism. It’s our body’s way of telling us to run away from dinosaurs and hide in a cave. But it’s also philosophical ⎯ it’s something we can overcome. Some of the most productive, well-respected filmmakers in the world deal with stress on a daily basis. And they’ve learned how to put it in its place.
“I feel stress a pretty good amount of the time,” Jonathan Bregel, director at Variable, told us. “It comes with the territory. Since filmmaking involves so many relationships and dynamics, it’s just inevitable. The trick is to be aware of it and know how to manage it.”
If I didn’t have this team, I’m certain I’d either be living in a cabin in the woods, or I’d be a completely jaded 27-year-old filmmaker.
See the musicbed blog post for more. They add in this:

Learning to manage stress is such an important skill in a creative life. It can make or break you. We love Jon’s solution: to surround himself with a diverse group of friends and collaborators, people who can share the creative weight, ground him in his life and purpose, and give him the confidence to not only overcome his stress but to push himself to new creative heights.
If you have tips on how to manage create stress, leave them in the comments section below. Hear more from Jonathan Bregel in our feature-length documentary MAKE. Watch it now on Vimeo On Demand.
Want more tips for a healthy creative life? Check out these articles, packed full of wisdom:

Saturday, 16 July 2016

SCREENPLAY 3 keys to engaging protagonist

See noFilmSchool.
Distinction, empathy and impetus are the 3 aspects picked out, with examples from commercial films, notably Drive, 40 Year-Old Virgin and Unforgiven; sample:
Let’s go back to our example characters, starting with Ryan Gosling in Drive. His desire to help his neighbor out of a violent situation, despite the fact that he’s falling in love with the man’s wife, is something we can empathize with. That sacrifice and emotional duality is what causes us to relate to him as a human being and creates a personal connection with us as an audience.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

CINEMATOGRAPHY 7 cinematic gimbal or handheld shots

Here are the seven camera movements mentioned in the video:
  • The push in/pull out
  • The boom shot
  • The truck/dolly shot
  • The follow/lead shot
  • The orbit
  • The rotate
  • The tilt

See NoFilmSchool for more.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Democratic digital opened up elite industry?

Tangerine dream? This iPhone-shot movie had critics raving, and is cited below as an example of why we should celebrate the passing of 35mm and its replacement with digital. (NB: the trailer features strong language) Read more at, BBC, Techradar, Guardian and nofilmschool.

Most articles about digitisation tend to bemoan the undermining of celluloid and the 35mm film, but this one celebrates the democratising improvements it has brought about, shaking up a conservative industry with high barriers to entry.
The problem with 35mm was always the price tag – just the film itself was gougingly expensive. Movie-making was a club with lunatic entry fees. Like all such clubs, some meritocracy was long overdue. Digital unlocked the gate financially and then, in turn, creatively. 
Take a movie like Tarnation, made in 2003 for the oddly precise sum of $218 (like most numbers in film, there was small print, but the gist remains intact). Its creator, Jonathan Caouette, wasn’t a director in any conventional sense. He was a smart kid from a baroquely troubled family, and rather than write a script to tell its story, he imported old snapshots and shards of home movies on to a brightly coloured desktop iMac, tweaked them, arranged them, and turned life into art in a way that would previously have been impossible.
In the world of big-league filmmaking, ones and zeros conjured all manner of spectacle: think of the computer soul of Gravity, returning the blockbuster to a state of childlike wonder. But in the wider world, the changes were even more profound. It hardly felt like a coincidence that last year’s Tangerine – the beautifully, casually radical story of a pair of trans women in wildside LA – was shot on three iPhones. It wasn’t just that they gave the film its non-stop momentum, or that this was the kind of movie that would have been murderously tough to get financed in the past. It was that it felt like a part of the wider explosion of culture, made with a device a billion people know the feel of, a contribution from an artform not yet ready for the museum, still rudely vital.
Celluloid is strictly for nostalgists. Digital technology saved a dying medium.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Colour semiotics - shading the psychology

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Call sheet NoFilmSchool templates

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Martin Scorsese: An auteur's advice

Inspiration of Shane Meadows' 5-day shoot £48k Le Donk and Scor-Zay-Zee (at least for half the title!), Marty has, to use William S Burroughs' phrase (also a song), words of advice for young people...

I’m often asked by younger filmmakers, why do I need to look at old movies -- And the response I find that I have to give them is that I still consider myself a student. The more pictures I’ve made in the past twenty years the more I realize I really don’t know. And I’m always looking for something to, something or someone that I could learn from. I tell them, I tell the younger filmmakers and the young students that I do it like painters used to do, or painters do: study the old masters, enrich your palette, expand your canvas. There’s always so much more to learn.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

AUDIO guides on multilayering audio for dynamic sound

Thursday, 14 April 2016

CIE blog improvements summary

Research + Planning improvement points
(1) review/proofread, especially for presentation: well illustrated? hyperlinks? embedded material [not links to this]? no small text? clear sub-headings? embedded material? any 'TBC'? logical post order/date? 
sans spacing!
This is obviously a HORRIBLY presented post!!! Text should never be allowed to dominate on a blog post, especially a long one. It was worse until I at least added some space between points! [see screenshot fragment] Oh ... and tags! No hyperlinks, almost no imagery, nothing embedded (though clear sub-headings, font + colour + size variation...)
(2) ****is your journey clear?**** have you reflected on shoots, edits, feedback? posted alternative versions you tried in editing? evidenced FCPX tools you used over time? is there detail on each shoot? DETAIL on each edit (what changes, why; evidence of experimenting: short scenes with different edits [eg FX]; any feedback on this cut; how this cut reflects previous feedback; tools used; planned further changes...); have you used podcasts to anchor the sense of journey? 
(3) are post titles clear and specific? have you used a numbering system? are links lists absolutely comprehensive? (examiners often skim, so links lists really help secure marks) 

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

AUDIENCE uses and gratifications

    One influential tradition in media research is referred to as 'uses and gratifications' (occasionally 'needs and gratifications'). This approach focuses on why people use particular media rather than on content. In contrast to the concern of the 'media effects' tradition with 'what media do to people' (which assumes a homogeneous mass audience and a 'hypodermic' view of media), U & G can be seen as part of a broader trend amongst media researchers which is more concerned with 'what people do with media', allowing for a variety of responses and interpretations. However, some commentators have argued that gratifications could also be seen as effects: e.g. thrillers are likely to generate very similar responses amongst most viewers. And who could say that they never watch more TV than they had intended to? Watching TV helps to shape audience needs and expectations.

CIE EVALUATION overview with UK comparison guide

NOTE: This is formally named the CREATIVE CRITICAL REFLECTIONYou are marked not just on answering the question, but also for:
  • creativity in how you do so
  • using critical theory and self-critiquing
  • use of technology to do so
This is a 'hub' post for BOTH the CIE version of the AS Media Evaluation AND the UK (OCR) spec on which its based.  Use the hyperlinks below to find specific posts/guides on the 4 CIE/7 OCR questions. See here for CIE blog guide.
  • The 4 CIE AS Evaluation ('creative critical reflection') questions
  • A suggestion to split both Q1 and Q2 into two (though presented in one post for each full question)
  • Comparing the UK OCR and CIE Evaluation questions so you can make use of past students' responses to get pointers and inspiration
  • The 3 'AOs' (assessment objectives): how its marked
  • The level descriptions (L5 = A, L4 = B/C, L3 = D/E)
  • A list of some terms/concepts you could try to include somewhere within your evaluation
  • Ideas for 'creative' presentation and for evidencing/using a range of technologies (linked to marks!)


In practice I will consider these as SIX questions, splitting Q1 + Q2 into two; in short (click hyperlinks for individual guides): 

Q1a: how you used or challenged CONVENTIONS
Q1b: REPRESENTATIONS of social groups/issues
Q2a: how you engaged with AUDIENCES
Q2b: how might it achieve DISTRIBUTION
Q3: DEVELOPMENT of production skills throughout the entire process
Q4: how you integrated TECHNOLOGIES (software, hardware, online) in the project

So you can grasp how these will link with your FOUR questions I've plotted below how these link. In time there will be more CIE blogs to compare with, but for now UK OCR blogs are a key resource for you

SUMMARY COMPARISON (= means very similar to!)

OCR Q1 CONVENTIONS: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

- CIE Q1a 'how does your product use or challenge conventions'

OCR Q2 REPRESENTATIONS: How does your media product represent particular social groups?

- CIE Q1b 'how does it represent social groups or issues'

OCR Q3 DISTRIBUTION: What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?

- CIE Q2b 'how would it be distributed as a real media text'

OCR Q4 AUDIENCE: Who would be the audience for your media product?
OCR Q5 ATTRACT AUDIENCE: How did you attract/address your audience?

- CIE Q2a 'how does your product engage with audiences'

OCR Q6 TECHNOLOGIES: What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?

- CIE Q4 'How did you integrate technologies - software, hardware and online - in this project?'

OCR Q7 DEVELOPMENT: Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?

- CIE Q3 'How did your production skills develop throughout this project?'

Thursday, 7 April 2016


you can find more on the Evaluation overall in this hub post.

***You MUST analyse your technology use in the Evaluation, including this question, in your answer!!!***
****You also MUST consider how you INTEGRATED technologies - combined and used these for multiple purposes (eg editing and YouTube for R+P and Evaluation, not just for the final film opening)**** 
Consider how YOUR COMPANY might benefit from or be penalised by digitisation - apply your exam-centred work, all that instiutional knowledge on how the highly converged, digitally disrupted film industry works...

scroll to the bottom for examples of UK-equivalent answers

creativity and technology TiP ... green screen yourself into the shots! As we did with my Media Technician John in this example:


you can find more on the Evaluation overall in this hub post.

See this post for a list of points you can consider, and also a suggested framework.
This is quite similar to the UK Q7 - have a look at Kate's answer  or Curtis' (both a plain blog post). Molly's was very thorough and more multimedia - here's her 3-part answer:

Tilly, who reflects here on having delivered an unsatisfactory AS production (she produced a new film and blog the following year), provided vodcast and well presented transcript; this may inspire you - its a simple but effective way to achieve most of the filming required, a fairly easy job to later edit in screenshots and clips etc

More guidance below the line...


you can find more on the Evaluation overall in this hub post
OCR Q3 DISTRIBUTION: What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?

- CIE Q2b 'how would it be distributed as a real media text'

**I've just added a lengthy post specifically using the horror distribution example...**

Tilly: blog post that needs more illustration but is fairly detailed.

Molly: blog post; good, detailed response.

Poppy: a Prezi that lacks detail, and doesn't use the tools available within Prezi (embedding, autoplaying etc) as well as she might, but gives a clear, succinct response:

Here's an example of a creative approach from the 2016-17 AS:

Use exam notes and blog posts linked to exam work, but also BritCinema blog

- from March 2016 alone here are SOME of the distribution linked posts:


you can find more on the Evaluation overall in this hub post

OCR Q4 AUDIENCE: Who would be the audience for your media product?
OCR Q5 ATTRACT AUDIENCE: How did you attract/address your audience?

- CIE Q2a 'how does your product engage with audiences'

Marketing is part of distribution, but you can also consider marketing here, explore how your film MIGHT be marketed. It is advantageous if you have set up any spin-off social media, but can also think about your blog and YouTube channel as 'real-world' means of engagement.
Consider the active steps that might have helped promote and gain publicity for, awareness of, your film.
Attracting an aud doesn't just mean using glamorous actors! How did you publicise, promote your film? Did you engage in viral marketing, releasing entertaining snippets during production? Teaser clips? Preview screenings with a sample target audience (perhaps hoping that they'd generate more publicity through word-of-mouth, as well as providing key feedback on what was/wasn't working for the target aud)? Behind-the-scenes featurettes? Interactive blog features? What social media did you use? Use screenshots from FB (just ensure you protect any personal info!!!), Twitter etc, + from YouTube showing comments/no. of views (you can include my channel too for this).

A good starting point, one you will have blogged on from existing films: how you framed (and communicated to the audience) who the central protagonist is - point-of-view shots, central framing, angles...
Have you used narrative enigma to draw in and 'hook' your audience?
Have you used humour (perhaps a false scare)?
What knowledge would a viewer need to follow your preferred reading?
Have you employed regional accents, dialect? Slang [aka 'teen skatz'; give specific egs!]?
Remember: representations are relevant here - briefly note how your choices here touch on your audience.
Presumably you've provided the audience with a 'priviliged pov' (they can see more than any single character can; s-rev-s is one common eg, but also opening est. shots), but perhaps you've included specific pov shots (or others, eg tracking) to signify the protagonist? Are we encouraged to identify and/or sympathise with one particular character (perhaps they're on screen first/more often; we get their povs?)
Is there any focus on the body? Laura Mulvey, a feminist critic, argued that audiences are typically positioned as male; the camera lingering on a female body positions us as a male, heterosexual viewer.
Have you used specific genres of music?
Have you used sound to lead the audience, but (espec for horror) also as an example of genre signifiers which much of your target audience might enjoy? Which other genre signifiers have you used?
Have you employed gore or (within the limitations of a school production) sexual content to attract an aud (refer back to the male gaze)?
Have you used intertextuality? (references to existing texts, eg posters within a room you've shot in; character names - if you want to explore some theory, this is an example of postmodernism)
You can AND SHOULD add some self-critique: 'here we tried to ... but this wasn't completely successful'

Poppy: vodcast which could be much better illustrated, but is a succinct breakdown of the target audience:

Here Poppy uses YouTube's annotation tool to good effect!

Molly: blog post that isn't so well presented but is thorough and clearly demonstrates a lot of exam-centred learning too.
Here Molly uses the YouTube annotation tool - and its a smart move to make this clear as she does!!!

Use p.12-15 of guide:


you can find more on the Evaluation overall in this hub post.

OCR Q2 REPRESENTATIONS: How does your media product represent particular social groups?

- CIE Q1b 'how does it represent social groups or issues'

This is essentially practice for the first half of your exam.
You need to apply both elements of semiotics:
  • specific and precise denotation
  • analysis of possible connotations 

Kate: a clear vodcast with a transcript provided:

Poppy: vodcast and transcript; the key strength is a tight focus on how the choices reflected genre knowledge and there intended to reflect the desires and expectations of the target audience

Molly: blog post - combines analysis of the common categories with a character by character breakdown

Work through the embedded PowerPoint below for a range of suggested theories and terms
How YOU planned to represent and have audiences respond to people and places in your film is not necessarily how they did - it would be useful to include some audience feedback and reflection on this. Where was there polysemy that enabled some audience members (perhaps of certain demographics: gender? age? nationality?) to give a negotiated or even oppositional reading?

You can approach this question in two fundamental ways: tackling one category of representation at a time OR separately analysing each character and place in turn.


you can find more on the Evaluation overall in this hub post.

CIE Q1a 'how does your product use or challenge conventions' 
OCR Q1 CONVENTIONS: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

Its a good idea to use screenshots of blog posts and links lists as well as from film openings - keep making it clear how much you've researched and how well you've applied this! SHORT clips from existing texts are legally fine under the fair usage copyright law, but longer clips just risk your video being blocked. Only use the sound from a clip if its absolutely necessary - and consider cutting in and out of the clip's sound, or editing the audio levels to make sure your voiceover is clear.
It is good practice to clearly identify films - but if you're covering too many it may be too time-consuming to keep adding titles. I discuss vodcast design in this post.
There are many excellent examples of UK OCR answers on the related Q1, e.g. Molly: plain post, but detailed. Poppy: vodcast + transcript. Kate: vodcast + transcript. Here's Kate's (2013):

Below: a playlist of some of my vodcasts on film openings; you can see how you can quickly go into considerable detail on seemingly small topics if you wish to.

Below: the opening shot of the trailer shows a 9-way splitscreen effect I used for my 2014 documentary film; you can use this technique for any number of screenshots/clips too (with or without a freezeframe behind)

NOTE: These aren't especially creative approaches, but both do require useful application of technology. You might want to think of more creative approaches, or simply include a segment which is creative (like an ad break during your vodcast, ads for movies from/a book on your genre etc - neatly gets across conventions?!).

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Researching your GENRE

If you are going to get marks for research and knowledge you need to clearly evidence your grasp of the genre(s if hybrid) you are working in. That would include:
  • useful genre resources: books + book chapters (or even samples through Amazon inside, googlebooks, kindle free sample etc); websites; newspaper sections; specific articles; fansites; YouTube videos, playlists, channels
  • films to analyse - and which you can actually access! Every group should look at least 10 from the genre - its a good idea to include Warp and Working Title in your search! - but the level of detail you blog on these can vary
  • history: key films, directors, stars, companies
  • conventions, including specific character types and narrative devices
  • distinct (from general examples) film opening conventions
  • typical age rating 
  • typical budgets and casting
  • box office record and critical standing
If you're working on rom-com or horror (especially slasher) then look for tags but also the blogs on these, eg BritCinema blog: rom-com, slasher.

Examine at least 10 within your group, and clearly summarise any distinctive elements or genre conventions you often see within openings for your specific genre. This often means particular narrative approaches and structures (perhaps a more detailed version of Todorov's concept - like Nowell's slasher structure) and character types (that may be also fit within Propp's model but have specific names for the genre: eg jock, cheerleader, scream queen, final girl).
You can again use a mix of detailed single film overviews and individual elements such as titles or sound.
This research really needs to be ongoing - it doesn't matter if it is simply ONE detail from a film, keep blogging on any findings that might influence your work. Editing is often improved by revisiting and reviewing openings you've looked at - if you pick up something new, add it into a fresh post, keep evidencing both your journey and how your research and knowledge is being applied.

Amazon is a good place to start a book search, so too Googlebooks ... but also your Library. Use chapter lists as well as book indexes to search for useful chapters or sections on particular films or directors. Books mostly won't use the word 'genre' in their title, so you'll need to experiment, and look at the categories your results appear in.

Its a good idea to identify Working Title and Warp movies from your genre!

Following initial research and feedback make sure you can access any films you've shortlisted to analyse. If ordering any DVDs or VoD, make this part of your film budgeting, and don't delay.
Many quality newspapers like the Guardian will have a section for articles on a particular film genre - look for links lists on my genre blogs, or search (eg guardian horror film helped me find this).

Reading box office columns (I also recommend The Guardian for this, as they cover UK, US and global) will help you find some very specific, recent analysis; is a good, reliable source; is helpful to deepen your understanding for the exam too. You can click through the column listings or try searches like guardian gant horror film.

Fansites (and social media pages) can be useful to help show how you've used and integrated a range of technology (evaluation question 4), including for audience feedback - but be aware that the level of language used on many online forums can be an issue. A sample search: facebook horror movie fans.

Be careful with the quality of sources. A search like slasher film conventions brings up lots of Prezis and PowerPoints on Slideshare - the quality is VERY variable! Make sure you ALL include some respected academic books as part of your research to ensure you don't rely on such material.

You can find the most recent, and upcoming listings by searches such as cinema release schedule 2016 and can try adding country or genre to this to narrow it down (eg slasher films release 2015). Sites you'll be familiar with like BoxOfficeMojo and The-Numbers will provide detail like this as well as all-time box office by genre. IMDB is another good source for lists. There are also many sites like FirstShowing dedicated to listing film releases. You can also look for a wider range with searches like horror films released since 2010.

You can gauge the critical standing of a genre by looking up the RottenTomatoes score of a sample, or doing a wider search.

You can dig deeper into distribution with searches like these:

Giving your film a WORKING title

From the earliest stage, any film production project needs to be given a name.
That name may very well change.
It may change more than once.
There may even be name changes for different markets (see Coz Greenop's story!) - US/UK distributors often use different titles.
But there is ALWAYS a working title by which to refer to the project.

There are many famous examples of movies that changed titles at any point in the pre-production, production, post-production or distribution phases (a distributor is staking money on successfully marketing a film, if they think the title is harming the branding they will change it):
  • Halloween was conceived of as The Babysitter Murders - the producer had the idea that everyone experiences babysitting, and managed to get John Carpenter to come up with an actual script for this very basic idea
  • Scream was initially Scary Movie - a name then used for the postmodern satire on Scream
  • Huge hit and franchise starter Alien may well have flopped if its working title had been retained: Star Beast!
You can find many more examples (including from your specific genre) through a simple search (which you can trying modifying for narrower results).

Thursday, 31 March 2016

CINEMATOGRAPHY Tips for low light shoots

Monday, 28 March 2016

CIE BLOG GUIDE Coursework journey in 10 steps

Below I break down the ten steps involved in your journey and copy in the assessment criteria. Scroll to the end for four Word guides; two more are here and here.

**More detailed breakdowns with suggested post titles etc are embedded at the end of this post**

Initial research into the conventions of the film opening format (general) and the film industry

Apply this and initial genre research to develop and pitch an idea; possibly form groups; revise the idea following feedback/collaboration

Genre specific research, and audience research/analysis. It is CRUCIAL that you keep making reference to research (format, genre, industry, audience) throughout the process right up to the point of final cuts.

Pre-production: casting, costume, props, make-up (clear evidenced reference to your research into existing examples is crucial); location scouting; sample/test shoots - audience feedback, reflection; updates on the idea as it evolves. Setting up social media profiles [for your company and/or film] is an option (helps to evidence appreciation of marketing and engaging with audience). Clarify the final idea, and storyboard this - its almost certain to change a lot, but its important to make the concept very clear. An animatic [animated storyboard] is a useful means of demonstrating your concept. Begin regular/frequent short podcasts (shows [often details!] organisation, engagement with audience, marketing + a grasp of how the industry works; also a use of tehnology).