Wednesday, 21 May 2014

A2 The Selfish Giant (2013)


LITTLE BIG MAN

May 20, 2014
Noel Vera

Set in a relatively benign junkland, Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant is about two kids who salvage parts for a living, probably at this point, who have nothing better to do with their lives. 

You might say Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant (2013) is one-third Of Mice and Men (two friends, one of them not ostensibly smart), one-third Oliver Twist (boys seduced into stealing for a modern-day Fagin) and maybe less than a third Oscar Wilde’s fairy tale.

Fact is, the eponymous giant’s status in this picture is rather ambiguous: the title might refer to unscrupulous junkyard dealer Kitten (Sean Gilder - terrific actor, if not exactly of impressive stature); to the tall steel-and-concrete structures looming in the film’s background; to any adult seeing these kids and failing to act decisively (pretty much all of them, when you think about it).

Barnard borrows from the films of Ken Loach and Mike Leigh (Loach’s Kes being an especially vivid precursor), borrows from the kind of kitchen-sink realism Great Britain specialized in back to the ’60s; one also suspects the presence of the Dardenne brothers in the gene pool - the focus on the poor and marginalized, the mostly handheld camera, the total lack of music (other than what you hear from a passing radio, or what onscreen characters sing or whistle aloud), the naturalistic acting, the often bleak urban landscape, the even bleaker weather.

Barnard does make the style her own, however: once in a while she inserts what one might call “pillow shots,” images that bridge the transition from scene to scene - ong shots of transmission pylons, transformer stations, nuclear reactor cooling towers, all often shrouded in haze like immense figures striding straight out of myth and legend. In Barnard’s case her repeated use of these larger-than-life constructs (the majority of which for some reason - they’re the biggest and easiest to find? - involve the power-generating industry) suggests that the story takes place in some fabled fallen kingdom, the ruins a reminder of the glory that was postwar industrial England.

Enter Arbor (Connor Chapman) and his best friend Swifty (Shaun Thomas); the two had just been kicked out of school for fighting. Good for them; they’d much rather work for Kitten, salvaging junk metal and cable copper from wherever and whenever.

Barnard again makes a point, following these children as they drive a horsecart through the streets of Bradford, West Yorkshire: in this depressed economy the enterprise of choice isn’t innovation or manufacture, but salvage - clambering in and out of junk piles, ripping motors out of fridges and washing machines for the coils of precious copper, on occasion stealing the wire out from under an unwary neighbour’s nose.

A police officer spells it out for Arbor’s mother: stealing cable (and not in the digital download sense) is a criminal offense that could land them in jail. But Arbor doesn’t care; school’s a waste of time, bills need to be paid, and he has nothing better to do with his life.

What follows has the quiet desperation of ants crawling over a dead horse’s near-clean carcass, of little creatures competing fiercely over increasingly slim pickings. The boys have to contend with police, with social workers, with their own occasionally worried parents, with property owners who care about their pilfered property, with other adults on a similar mission who wouldn’t mind shoving aside a smaller competitor if it meant snatching a hunk of metal worth ten quid at Kitten’s.

Kitten is equally unscrupulous; when Arbor had been paid a particularly generous bounty, Kitten pulls out a few bills from Arbor’s hand and calls it “tax, collected direct.” Arbor still doesn’t care; he has a little pocket money now, and Swifty can help pay for his family’s overdue electric bill.

Along the way Arbor talks yearningly of boosting power cables from the transmission pylons standing like sentinels over the Yorkshire countryside; like Wilde’s titan they also hold up treasure of a value beyond dreaming, plainly visible but just that far out of the boys’ reach.

That said, the town of Bradford is not exactly Hell on earth. Barnard’s film isn’t as harrowing as Luis Bunuel’s Los Olvidados, where the Mexican slums teem with murderous adults, uncaring-to-the-point-of-perverse parents, and out-and-out child sociopaths; nor are the working conditions as bad as in Ralston Jover’s Bakal Boys where kids use cheap plastic snorkels to dive for scrap metal in the sea, of all places (Jover notes that a child goes missing every other week, thanks to underwater currents, or sharks, or who knows what else).

Interestingly, Bunuel and Jover opt for a chillier, more distant emotional tone, knowing that with material as harrowing as what they have you don’t need to pump up the drama for a strong film, that in fact you need to tone it down considerably or else it all becomes too much - the audience is in more danger of breaking out in laughter than breaking down in tears.

Barnard gives us a bleak but relatively benign milieu where the children are taken care of (albeit indifferently) and the adults do stop short of seeing their offspring as literal prey. In this not-quite-best-of-worlds, a purgatory if you like caught between extremes (with perhaps a bias towards the lower), she’s free to do the vulgar thing, reach out for the melodramatic, explicitly touch our hearts.

http://bigozine2.com/feature/?p=104

A2 Representation of the Working Class and Collective Identity - past questions...

 You get a choice from two questions; one and two were from the same year - and so on.

1.   Analyse the impact of media representation on the collective identity of one or more groups of people.
2.   Compare the different ways in which one or more groups of people are represented in the media.
3.   Analyse the ways in which at least one group of people is mediated.
4.   Discuss the social implications of media in relation to collective identity.
5.   How do media representations influence collective identity?
6.   Discuss the different ways in which groups of people are represented by media.
7.   Discuss how one o more groups of people are represented through the media?
8.   Explain the role played by the media in the construction of collective identity.
9.   Analyse the ways in which the media represent groups of people.
10. What is collective identity and how is it mediated?
11. With reference to one group of people you have studied, discuss how their identity has been mediated.
12. ‘Media representations are complex, not simple and straightforward.’ How far do you agree with this statement in relation to the collective group you have studied?
13. Analyse the ways in which the media represent one group of people that you have studied.
14. ‘The media do not construct collective identity; they merely reflect it.” Discuss.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

AS The Lego Movie - questions...

lego-movie-poster-bike
1.   How was it distributed?

2.   How was it released?

3.   How was it designed to appeal to a large audience?         http://www.simplyzesty.com/Blog/Article/February-2014/Five-Reasons-Why-The-Lego-Movie-Is-Content-Marketing-At-Its-Very-Best

4.   Worldwide appeal of storyline?

5.  Synergy – Lego makes Marvel and DC superheroes – WHY were only DC heroes featured in the movie?

6.  How did it use social networking sites and viral marketing?http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/sectors/travel-and-leisure/news/lego-to-co-create-marketing-campaign-with-uk-fans/4009997.article
https://www.facebook.com/TheLegoMovieUK?brand_redir=1
https://twitter.com/TheLEGO MovieUK - note the use of various local Twitter pages to target a local audiences around the world

7.  How did its website appeal? Look at the features available and the various links...

8. How did synergy help promote it?

9. How did it target a local (i.e. UK) audience?
 http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/the-lego-movie-thinking-outside-the-box-9120175.html
https://econsultancy.com/blog/64309-the-lego-movie-content-marketing-triumph-or-100-minute-advert#i.qcuqc9txzdf1x3 
http://www.thedrum.com/news/2014/02/15/lego-movie-marketing-assault-continues-blooper-reel-appears-online

10. Viral marketing and more… http://evansonmarketing.com/2014/03/06/lego-mania-goes-viral/ - note the way fan-made videos extend brand recognition and, therefore, act as a promotional tool for the film…

11. Combating piracy, despite there being a while between movie release and DVD/BluRay release – by offering extras - http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Here-Why-LEGO-Movie-Blu-ray-Release-Awesome-42635.html

12. It’s worth looking at this – though some of it is incomplete and some of it you already have - http://www.slideshare.net/jackrenshawasmedia/the-lego-movie-31576930

13. This is really technical, but if you can come away with a couple of pints about digital technology was used in the making of the movie, it would be beneficial.
http://www.fxguide.com/featured/brick-by-brick-how-animal-logic-crafted-the-lego-movie/

14. And how about this? Dannon Yoghurt and Warner Brothers in a promotional partnership deal using text messaging, Why were Dannon interested in the first place and why use that particular media form? http://www.textmessagingresource.com/articles/371393-dannon-turns-sms-marketing-lego-movie-campaign.htm

15.   Note the variety of posters used – and the cheeky allusion to a successful superhero movie by another company… http://nukethefridge.com/2013/11/12/new-character-posters-batman-lord-business-lego-movie/  You might find more about this if you dig around.

AS The Lego Movie


The Lego Movie (stylized as The LEGO Movie) is a 2014 American-Australian computer animated adventure comedy film directed and co-written by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, and starring the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks,Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, and Morgan Freeman. Based mainly on the Lego line of construction toys, the film tells the story of an ordinary Lego minifigure named Emmet prophesied to save the Lego universe from the tyrannical Lord Business.

It was released theatrically on February 7, 2014. The movie was a critical and commercial success, with many critics highlighting its visual style and humour. It earned more than $253 million in North America and $206 million internationally for a worldwide total of over $460 million.

A sequel is scheduled to be released on May 26, 2017.

Production

"We wanted to make the film feel like the way you play, the way I remember playing. We wanted to make it feel as epic and ambitious and self-serious as a kid feels when they play with LEGO. We took something you could claim is the most cynical cash grab in cinematic history, basically a 90 minute LEGO commercial, and turned it into a celebration of creativity, fun and invention, in the spirit of just having a good time and how ridiculous it can look when you make things up. And we had fun doing it.'" — Animation supervisor Chris McKay

The film had been in development at Warner Bros. since 2008. By August 2009, Dan and Kevin Hageman were writing the script described as "action adventure set in a Lego world."Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were in talks in June 2010 to write and direct the film.Warner Bros. green-lit the film by November 2011, with a planned 2014 release date. The Australian studio Animal Logic was contracted to provide the animation, which was expected to comprise 80% of the film. By this time Chris McKay, the director of Robot Chicken, had also joined Lord and Miller to co-direct.McKay explained that his role was to supervise the production in Australia. In March 2012, Lord and Miller revealed the film's working title, Lego: The Piece of Resistance, and a storyline.

By June 2012, a number of high profile actors had been cast, such as Chris Pratt as the voice of Emmet, the lead Lego character, and Will Arnett voicing Lego Batman. Others, like Morgan Freeman as the voice of Vitruvius, an old mystic, were added later.

In July 2012, a Lego-user contest announced on the film's Facebook page would choose a winning Lego vehicle to appear in the film. Miller's childhood Space Village playset is utilised in the film.

Use of digital technology during production – widespread e.g. Animal Logic tried to make the film's animation replicate a stop motion film even if everything was done through computer graphics, with the animation rigs following the same articulation limits actual Lego figures have. The camera systems also tried to replicate live action cinematography, including different lenses and a Steadicam simulator. The scenery was projected through The Lego Group's own Lego Digital Designer, which as CG supervisor Aidan Sarsfield detailed, "uses the official LEGO Brick Library and effectively simulates the connectivity of each of the bricks.” At times the minifigures were even placed under microscopes to capture the seam lines, dirt and grime into the digital textures.


Marketing

The Lego Movie received many forms of marketing from both Warner Bros. and The Lego Group. Seventeen building play sets inspired by scenes from the film were released, including a set of Collectible Minifigures.

A website was opened up so fans could make minifigure versions of themselves, and later, put that in the film's official trailer. The company has recruited a roster of global partners to a broad, multi-category licensing program to support the film.

Official Lego Brand Stores also scheduled events. Each week of January 2014, a new character poster (Wyldstyle, Batman, Emmet, Lord Business) came with every purchase. By building a creative model in-store, people received a free accessory pack.

Promotional partners - Barnes & Noble will host a themed event in January, February, and March. On February 7, 2014, McDonald's released eight collectible holographic/3D cups in Happy Meals to promote the film.

A video game based on the film, The Lego Movie Videogame, by TT Games for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, and Windows, was released on February 4, 2014. An exclusive "Wild West Emmet" minifigure was released with preorders of the game at GameStop.

Trailer - The first theatrical trailer was released on June 18, 2013 featuring the song, Feel This Moment by Pitbull featuring Christina Aguilera.



The second was released on October 31, 2013, preceded by a series of teasers featuring main characters featuring the song, Wake Me Up (Avicii song) by Avicii with the song, "Feel This Moment".







The Lego Movie premiered at the Regency Village Theatre in Los Angeles, California on February 1, 2014, and was released in theatres on February 7, 2014.

Home media - The Lego Movie will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 17, 2014. A special "Everything is Awesome Edition" will also include a Vitruvius minifigure and a collectible 3D Emmet photo.

Box office - As of May 11, 2014, The Lego Movie has grossed $253,666,490 in North America, and $206,400,000 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $460,066,490. In North America, the film opened at number one in its first weekend, with $69,050,279, which is the second highest weekend debut in February behind The Passion of the Christ ($83.8 million). It remained the highest-grossing film of 2014 until it was surpassed by Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Soundtrack -The film's original score was composed by Mark Mothersbaugh, who had previously worked with Lord and Miller on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street. The Lego Movie soundtrack contains the score as the majority of its tracks. Also included is the song "Everything Is Awesome!!!" written by Shawn Patterson, Joshua Bartholomew and Lisa Harriton and performed by Tegan and Sara featuring The Lonely Island, which has also been used in the film's marketing campaign. The soundtrack was released on February 4, 2014 by WaterTower Music, which is owned by Warner Brothers, the company behind the film.

Largely swiped from Wikipedia...

AS Marketing the Lego Movie

AS The Lego Movie

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

AS How does the film industry use new technologies?

Referring to examples from British independent cinema and from Hollywood industrial cinema, how does the film industry use new technologies?

1. At the production stage – digital cameras increasingly used as opposed to film but note that not everyone thinks is a good thing. Potentially lightweight cameras/editing on a computer – or a laptop/CGI and other effects? Look at the way Gareth Edwards was able to compete with big budget special effects. It’s easier to balance/alter the colour using digital technology than analogue. Google this – have any released films been shot with a flip camera or phone…?

2. Distribution and marketing – Advantages of? Websites, social networking, viral marketing. How do YOU see examples of this? On what kind of platform? Give specific examples from both types of film. WHY are these methods commonly used as opposed to only the older methods of posters/print ads/trailers/TV, radio and print interviews/features?

3. Exhibition – http://heworthmediastudies.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=digital+film Why have cinemas been forced into switching to digital exhibition?

4. IMAX and 3D – expensive and limited, no matter how good it seems – Google it…

5. Look at the cinemas near us. The exam board like to think you can use examples from your own experience, so here you go: http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/end-era-tyneside-cinema-projectionists-7015364 but look at this too – think about the effect on arthouse cinemas whose remit is not just to rely on modern Hollywood film. http://heworthmediastudies.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/celluloid-versus-digital.html Although we have tried this – unsuccessfully so far – you could email the Tyneside Cinema (the board likes to see local examples) and ask them how it has been affected by digital technology.

6. Beyond that, remember that exhibition does not just include the cinema – so legal downloads/DVD/BluRay – how can film be watched and how does digital technology threaten the modern cinema - and how is the industry responding? http://heworthmediastudies.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/trying-to-beat-pirates.html

7. Finally, how does a local, filmmaking collective use digital technology - http://heworthmediastudies.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/british-cinema-case-study-amber-films.html

Remind yourself of the stages of production:

http://heworthmediastudies.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/the-film-industry-audiences-and.html

Use these links – as well as your own research and your notes on Monsters - to help you, as well

http://heworthmediastudies.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/celluloid-versus-digital.html

http://heworthmediastudies.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/another-exam-style-question-and-plan.html This is a similar question, but has a lot of good information in the plan…

AS The effect of the Hollywood Industrial Model on the UK Film Industry

In the practice of Hollywood and other forms of industrial cinema, the phases of production, distribution and exhibition operate most effectively when 'vertically integrated', where the three stages are seen as part of the same larger process, under the control of one company. In the UK, distribution is very much focused on marketing and sustaining a global product in local markets. 

British cinema had a considerable advantage over European cinema in that the American market is huge and English is the national language. Many people across the world speak English, so the potential audience for British film is huge.

However, there is a downside: American cinema has the same advantage and on top of this, American studios have enormous capital at their disposal. They produce more films, both of the expensive, mass-appeal kind, as well as the more risky films with an independent feel. One success will pay for approximately nine failures at the box office. While British cinema does experience boom years when our films and film-makers ate feted throughout the world, we are generally consuming an increasingly large diet of American films, from the excellent to the awful and everything in between. On top of this, because of the popularity of American films in the UK, the distribution of British films into our cinemas and of British DVDs into shops is dominated by US companies, who are obviously going to put their resources into pushing their own products.

Distribution 50% of money spent on a film often goes on promotion. Film is a business like any other; it doesn’t rely on waiting and listening to audience response before delivering the product; it relies on knowing which part of the world and the media need its products and will pay for them. Does market forces competition give the consumer more power and choice and, therefore, influence, what’s made OR does it convince us that what we want is being made for us? Do millions go to see The Dark Knight when it opens because it’s a great film or because it’s been well-marketed? Or both?

The film industry in the UK – dominated by six multi-media conglomerates: Universal, Columbia, Paramount, Warners, Universal, Fox and Disney

They work for themselves and collectively under the umbrella of the Motion Picture Association of America they are an institutional force.



The set the technical standards for film production, distribution, marketing and exhibition. For example, they want their films shown via digital projection so cinemas have to have the facility to do this. Although there are directors, like Christopher Nolan, who still prefer 35mm film, they are running against the tide in the move towards digital film-making. The studios' bottom line — they no longer want to pay to physically print and ship movies. It costs about $1,500 to print one copy of a movie on 35 mm film and ship it to theaters in its heavy metal canister. Multiply that by 4,000 copies — one for each movie on each screen in each multiplex around the country — and the numbers start to get ugly. By comparison, putting out a digital copy costs a mere $150.

Of course, Nolan is tolerated because his work is immensely successful and brings a lot of money into the studio, either through profits from the film or promotional partner deals. Digital cinema is becoming standard all over the world.

Art-house and repertory theatres, however, which play classic and older movies, are largely dependent on print loans from studios. Increasingly, the prints are remaining locked in studio vaults. Last November, 20th Century Fox sent its exhibitors a letter to that effect: "The date is fast approaching when 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight will adopt the digital format as the only format in which it will theatrically distribute its films. ... We strongly advise those exhibitors that have not yet done so to take immediate steps to convert their theatres to digital projection systems."

They establish budgets for films. The average budget of a standard Hollywood mainstream film is about $50 million and on average, 50% of that budget is spent on promotion and marketing. What chance does independent cinema have?

Their releases dominate UK cinema over the summer - and these summer blockbusters are now released as early as May.

Large multi-media conglomerates can take a loss - Disney's The Lone Ranger for example, performed poorly at the box office, but the company is diverse and has many ways of making money from its many strands of business. A similar failure - a comparative/proportional one - for an independent film could wipe out the company.

They have created an oligopoly situation and the question is – how can other film-makers compete?

They control distribution in most territories; in fact, they often distribute films by independent film-makers – for a cost. To get the backing of a major studio is often essential if you want your film distributed.

They have set the standards for DVDs and digital downloads.

In essence, they have created the business model for the industry which their product dominates.

Three mini-majors: EOne (Canadian/British), Lionsgate (Canadian/American) and Studiocanal (owned by the Canal+ Group (which is owned for the most part by Vivendi, and Universal Studios (part of NBC Universal)). They have distribution outlets in several territories.

Big Hollywood films get saturation release and are heavily promoted that first weekend. They dominate holiday programming – starting in mid-May through to September. They can be shown in more than one screen in the same cinema and in several screens in the same city/town. 14 weeks later they are typically relaeased on DVD orBluRay, then they’re released to PayTV then to free TV.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

AS Questions on Monsters (Gareth Edwards, 2010)


Monsters (2010)

1. Why did Vertigo produce Monsters?

2. http://www.screenyorkshire.co.uk/showcase/items/writer-director-gareth-edwards-monsters-talks-to-v

3. How was it funded?

4. Why was it cheap to make?

5. How was digital technology used throughout the stages of production?

6. http://www.dvdtalk.com/interviews/dvdtalk_intervi.html

7. How was it distributed? Note the use of film festivals to build its reputation?

8. How was it released in the UK?

9. How was it promoted in the UK?

10. How was viral marketing used?

11. How was the website used to promote the film and – later – the DVD/BluRay? Look at the features available.

12. What were the negative points about the film’s exhibition, distribution and critical reception?

13. Look at the booklets AND the links given below. You can find ‘making of’ features on YouTube.

http://thesearethosethings.hopeforfilm.com/2010/11/gareth-edwards-monsters-is-a-microbudget-how-to-model.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsters_(2010_film)

http://www.denofgeek.com/movies/16705/gareth-edwards-interview-on-making-monsters-meeting-quentin-tarantino-and-more

http://www.slideshare.net/mickgoogan/g322-case-study-monsters-19881580#

http://www.slideshare.net/hurtwoodhousemedia5/film-industry-research-task

http://moviedex.com/interviews/interview-monsters-director-gareth-edwards-audio/

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

A2 Evaluation - what you need to do by April 24

A2 Planning
 
 
Planning needs to be thorough and show clear and excellent evidence of research into existing media products. Where possible, link relevant material on the Internet to your work.
 
Your blog needs to be a media production in itself, so you need to include the trailer or music videos you’ve analysed via YouTube or some other moving image file-sharing site. I know we can’t see that at school, but you can do it at home. You should also upload your music track – and others you have considered.  
 
You should each have analysed at least two of the media products you’re creating, including those for your ancillary task. If you’re in a group, don’t analyse the same products.
 
 
Storyboards and flat plans must be scanned and included on the blog with relevant comments about layout and revisions etc. Because you’re filming, EVERYONE needs storyboards. You could actually film or photograph the storyboards rather than just scan and post.
 
There’s no rule about what kind of digipack you use (reference sites like http://www.duplication.ca/printspecs/digipack.htm), but be consistent within your group – unless one of you wants to produce a limited edition – and produce variants of the cover in that particular style. Song titles can exist ones. 
 
Compose a synopsis of the film you’ve made the trailer for; BRIEFLY outline the story behind your video; transcribe the lyrics of the song explaining how they inspired you.
 
You should show that you’ve attempted to contact the record label that owns the music track (for trailer of music DVD) to ask their permission. You may not get a reply, but you can post the email that you sent on the blog. Explain that it’s for a school project and that you’ll send them a copy of the finished article as a matter of courtesy.
 
You must be able to show that you have edited your work – moving images and still – so reflect this (with images) in your planning and EXPLAIN why. The examiners will want to see the thought process behind such decisions. Try to be sophisticated about this – don’t just say you thought it looked better, even if you did. Use the correct terminology.
 
Produce a profile of your ideal target audience member. Of course, you can make this up (name included), but you’ll need to suggest interests etc that fit in with what you’re doing and suggest they have enough disposable income to buy CDs, DVDs, downloads, go to gigs, wear the right clothes etc. Those of you who’ve done mood boards in art could do one for a target audience profile e.g. http://mediafoundationportfolio.blogspot.com/2009/12/crank-music-magazine-audience-profile.html
 
To break up the blog, you should include some direct to camera pieces, preferably featuring you, but at the very least, you could film interviews members of your intended audience giving feedback on the finished product. This will get better marks.
 
You should link to any useful examples of work or theory you come across and anything worthwhile in the sidebar of http://heworthmediastudies.blogspot.com/. You can change the layout of your blog and create a poll (in gadgets) that you ask (i.e. force) people to fill in as part of the feedback; you should enable comments – you can, after all, delete anything you don’t like; you should create a profile for yourself with a picture and enable followers, encouraging other people in the class to follow your blog – it’s no worse than Facebook and it’ll look as if you’re taking the blog seriously and it may get you higher marks.
 
Outtakes, even (especially?) embarrassing ones, should be uploaded as an extra track on the DVD and onto the blog
  
A2 Evaluation
 
They can be bullet-pointed in places and you MUST address the following questions, so put the questions at the head of the posts. Don’t write the whole thing in one lump and expect the examiners (or us) to sift through it and work out what’s what. Make it as easy as possible for the examiner!our method

Vary your method of presentation - you can have a post that contains several presentational methods - prezi, slideshare, kizoa, podcast, soundcloud, video. You MUST have at least a couple of pieces to camera, though they can include interviews with your target audience.
 
Make sure you answer the following questions and put the question at the top of your post.
  • In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? Your product may well have done a little of each. Clearly, you need to refer here to the existing products that you researched and analysed, referencing them against what you have done, explaining why you have followed (or otherwise) the conventions). You must refer to your ancillary product as well as the main one.

  •  How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts? You need to consider what you’ve learned about the way the media produce, distribute and share material. You need to consider the synergy between the products and remember, your work will constitute only part of a promotional campaign for the product/artist and you will need to stress how this works – i.e. the need to buy advertising on television or radio; the need to have a PR department that can push your artist to radio and TV stations so they can get airtime and their work played; the use of the kind of posters and print advertising you see in magazines and billboards. Your artist or movie will have a website created by the production which will feature song samples, trailers, video extracts, photographs, interviews, features, competitions, opportunities for fans to air their views so they feel they are being given some kind of ownership of the product so they’ll be more likely to buy it. You will absolutely definitely need to say in the age of Web 2.0 that you world will be promoted virally on the Internet and on mobile phones, particularly as your target audience is of an age range that favours this kind of technology. You might release your work in advance to specific outlets – e.g. exclusive music video on…? Or how about a teaser trailer campaign leading up to a special screening of the movie (or even just the trailer) to a popular horror site like http://www.bloody-disgusting.com/ so they can post reviews that you can feature on the trailer? Or arrange for the trailer to be shown with popular movies in the same genre. Your movie may be low budget, but so was Paranormal Activity and this is what the filmmakers did there. Google Paranormal Activity and see the way it was promoted and became the success it is. See http://movie-critics.ew.com/2009/10/07/paranormal-activity-marketing-campaign/. http://www.chud.com/articles/articles/21095/1/PARANORMAL-ACTIVITY039S-MARKETING-HAUNTED-BY-THE-GHOST-OF-WILLIAM-CASTLE/Page1.html. You would hope this kind of publicity and releasing the trailer on YouTube would lead to the word being spread on the internet, especially amongst horror fan sites and blogs and influential message board sites like http://www.aintitcool.com/. However effective the combination is, you need to point out that what you’re doing would only constitute part of a larger campaign. Even if most people download music, people who do this still make use of cover art (which comes with the download anyhow, so the cover art is still relevant in the age of downloading. You are providing cultural meaning for the music/film trailer through commercial images and aesthetics. Think - How did you attract/address your audience? You need references to theory here – Naomi Wolf, Marjorie Ferguson, Uses and Gratifications - you are exploiting the theory of Uses and Gratifications because your target audience will identify (though it may only be wishful thinking) with the lifestyle it promotes. Some of you have used people of a similar age to your audience to add to this appeal. Your audience will look to your product for a sense of personal identity and possibly aspire to be like some of the people featured or their lives and problems may reflect the lives and problems of people you know. Your theories need dates. You’ve been given theory to look at and there’s more at the bottom of this post. There's plenty of theory on this blog, so use the search tool.

  •  What have you learned from your audience feedback? You need to devise another questionnaire to help you with this - one that you could post on your blog. Is your audience one stable and easily identifiable group? Has the audience reacted in the way you expected? What has it found particularly effective about the product (include both tasks)? Why is feedback important in the media industry; how has it helped you construct your productions and how could you learn from feedback after the production is finished?
 
  • How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages? It’s important you consider the blog itself as a media production. Unlike previous years, you are not just creating a production that will only bee seen by colleagues, teachers and examiners – you have actually published your work on the web where an audience of millions can see it. Using your blog, you have self-published and some, perhaps even many, of your audience is capable of doing the same, thus breaking down the idea of what constitutes an audience. New digital media “have fundamentally changed the ways in which we engage with all the media” (David Gauntlett, 2007). You also need to talk about your use of cameras and still and moving image editing software to  create your media production, giving some specific examples of how and why you constructed particular images or scenes, texts, edits and so on, to reach your target audience.
Finally, some key points:
 From past experience, I suggest that you don’t be too critical of yourself. If you say, “I could’ve cut out a particular photograph better,” my reaction would be: “Do it now and don’t be so complacent.” If you say, “I didn’t have enough time to do such and such,” then it’s clear evidence you’ve wasted time and you’ll be docked marks. In other words, if there’s anything you haven’t done, get it done now – and quickly. 
 
This response MUST be illustrated all the way through with examples from your work or existing product when you make reference to it. If you don’t illustrate it, you won’t get a mark of C or above and we will be reluctant to enter it in case it results in the marks of the other students being pulled down.
If you’ve worked as a group, your contribution and that of your partners must be made clear.
You MUST use subject specific terminology – i.e. using the correct terms when writing about the processes you went through on iMovie or Photoshop; talking about the camera angles/distances correctly/ discussing conventions and what colours etc have connotations of, especially in terms of your target audience.
Ensure that you haven’t used ANY images that you’ve downloaded from the internet; this includes backgrounds or background patterns – with the honourable exception of barcodes.
www.emusu.com - a promotion and digital distribution resource. It will help you consider your music promotion work in the digital age.
 
Genre quotes:
(Tom Ryall, 1998) “patterns/styles/structures which transcend individual films, and which supervise both their construction by the film-maker and their reading by an audience.”
Steve Neale (1990) argues that Hollywood’s generic regime guarantees meanings and pleasures for audiences.
Neale (1980)- much of the pleasure of popular cinema lies in the process of “difference in repetition” – i.e. recognition of familiar elements and in the way those elements might be orchestrated in an unfamiliar fashion or in the way that unfamiliar elements might be introduced e.g. Scream and its sequels: certain elements are similar in all three films, yet new ideas and material are incorporated into each sequel.
 
Neale (1990) – Genre is constituted by “specific systems of expectations and hypothesis which spectators bring with them to the cinema and which interact with the films themselves during the course of the viewing process.”
Jonathan Culler (1978) – generic conventions exist to establish a contract between and deviation from the accepted modes of intelligibility. Acts of communication are rendered intelligible only within the context of a shared conventional framework of expression.
Ryall (1998) sees this framework provided by the generic system; therefore, genre becomes a cognitive repository of images, sounds, stories, characters, and expectations.
Genre has come to represent, as John Fiske (1988) has said, “attempts to structure some order into the wide range of texts and meanings that circulate in our culture for the convenience of both producers and audiences.”
 
Music video quotes:
“They now provide pictures for the songs in our heads. Goodbye, imagination… No need to think, to embellish, to create, to imagine.” (Joe Salzman, 2000)
“Often, music videos will cut between a narrative and a performance of the song by the band… Sometimes, the artist… will be a part of the story, acting as narrator and participant at the same time. But it is the lip-synch close-up and the miming of playing instruments that remains at the heart of music videos, as if to assure us that the band really can kick it.” (Steve Archer, 2004)
 
The presence of women is often solely for the purposes of display and the purpose of this display is to facilitate a voyeuristic response in the spectators, which presumes a male gaze, regardless of the actual gender of the spectator i.e. a powerful and controlling gaze at the female, who is on display and is, therefore, objectified and passive - paraphrasing Laura Mulvey (1975).
“Is the female flesh on display simply a cynical; exploitation of the female body to increase (predominantly) male profit margins, or a life-enhancing assertion of female self-confidence and sexual independence?” (Pete Fraser, 2005)
           Andrew Goodwin, (1992):
  • There is a relationship between the lyrics and the visuals (with visuals either illustrating, amplifying or contradicting the lyrics).

  • There is a relationship between the music and the visuals (again with visuals either illustrating, amplifying or contradicting the music).

  • Particular music genres may have their own music style and iconography (such as live stage performance in heavy rock).

  • There is a demand on the part of the record company for lots of close-ups of the main artist/vocalist.

  • The artist may develop their own star iconography, in and out of their videos, which, over time, becomes part of their star image.

  • There is likely to be reference to voyeurism, particularly in the treatment of women, but also in terms of looking (screens within screens, binoculars, cameras etc).

  • There are likely to be intertextual references, either to other music videos or to films and TV texts. 
Documentary Quotes

 ‘It’s not so much what you get in the shooting but what you do with it afterwards’ Paul Watson documentary maker.  
Possible models or narrative strategies:   
  • Expository: lecturing, overtly didactic, e.g. with a personal presenter or an explanatory voice-over.
  •  Observational: like a "fly on the wall," the camera, microphone and film crew seem not to be disturbing the scene or even to be noticed by the participants.  
  • Participatory or interactive: the film crew takes part in the action or chain of events.
  • Reflexive: the film exposes and discusses its own role as a film (e.g. the ethics or conditions of filmmaking) alongside the treatment of the case or subject.
  • Performative: the film crew creates many of the events and situations to be filmed by their own intervention or through events carried out for the sake of the film.
  • Poetic: the aesthetic aspects, the qualities of the form and the sensual appeals are predominant.
 From Bill Nichols' work, e.g. Introduction to Documentary (Indiana University Press, 2001). 

Monday, 31 March 2014

AS Evaluation - What you've got to do by Thursday 24 April

AS Evaluation

Planning needs to be thorough and show clear and excellent evidence of research into existing media products. Where possible, link relevant material on the internet to your work.

Your work MUST NOT be long blocks of text. It should be bullet-pointed and you must vary your methods of presentation, including slideshare, prezi, kizoa, slideboom, podcasts and speaking to the camera by both you and your target audience. The exam board is keen to see that you’ve shown your product to members of the target audience and what their response is (and how you use that response). Your responses MUST be illustrated! It is possible – advisable, in fact, to break up some of the following points in terms of methods of presentation; it’s also worth noting that your response to each bullet point does not have to be the same length as the others – some require a longer response; some don’t.

You MUST address the following questions

  • In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? 
  • How does your media product represent social groups? Youth sub-cultures? Class? Gender? Is your magazine or the article aspirational/inspirational? Does it represent them as rebels? In a positive light? Would the readers be encouraged to think: we could do that too? Why? Think about gender here too. Anything showing women in a positive light, especially if they have to struggle with the sexism of the music industry is worth commenting on; same with anyone who’s struggled with a disadvantaged background or with drugs, abusive boyfriend, parents etc. 
  • What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why? You've done a lot of work on this already so talk about your research. Will you be increasing their profit by broadening their audience or by reinforcing existing product or would you appeal to a smaller, niche audience that there’s no or little existing product aimed at? What would it compete with? 
  • What would be the audience for your media product? I would suggest you not only look at age, class and gender but cheat and create an audience profile (age, gender, interests, disposable income (and what they spend it on – and you need to think here to make it relevant to your product) for your product – i.e. my ideal audience is… Remember, you should have a PRIMARY target audience and refer to a secondary audience.
  • How did you attract/address your audience? You need references to theory here – Naomi Wolf, Marjorie Ferguson, Uses and Gratifications - you are exploiting the theory of Uses and Gratifications because your target audience will identify (though it may only be wishful thinking) with the lifestyle it promotes. Some of you have used people of a similar age to your audience to add to this appeal. Your audience will look to your product for a sense of personal identity and possibly aspire to be like some of the people featured or their lives and problems may reflect the lives and problems of people you know. Your theories need dates. e.g According to Marjorie Ferguson (1980) etc etc... Google them! You could start by using the search tool on this blog or the GCSE one. Think about the mode of address - the language you use, your choice of features etc.
  • What have you learnt about new technologies from the process of creating this product? You need to talk about the blog and the various methods of presentation here, not just your actual product. Bear in mind that in the age of Web2.0 you are now a prosumer - a producer and a consumer of a digiral media product. Where, once upon a time, the only people to see your product might be your teachers, the examiners and your friends, it's now on the net for millions to see... Prosumer. Use that word!
  • Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product? If you did Media at GCSE, I would forget it and pretend you’ve learnt throughout this year and show obvious progress, but don't just stick to technological aspects. Think of the difference between the niche audience for your school magazine and how you've targeted a much bigger one for your production. Think about the importance of research and audience response and identifying audience needs.

You MUST include audience feedback on your finished product and show understanding of why this sort of thing is important in the real publishing world.

You ought to reflect on how you might have done things differently; however, from past experience, don’t be too critical of yourself. If you say, “I could’ve cut out a particular photograph better,” my reaction would be: “Do it now and don’t be so complacent.” If you say, “I didn’t have enough time to do such and such,” then it’s clear evidence you’ve wasted time and you’ll be docked marks. In other words, if there’s anything you haven’t done, get it done now – and quickly. In the past, we've had too many people settling for poor photos that aren’t well cut out. IF you have a decent set of photos and you’re prepared to work solidly, you could, in all honesty, probably get all your Photoshop work done in three or four double sessions.

Those of you whose choice of photographs let down your project… there is STILL time to do something about it.

You MUST use subject specific terminology – i.e. using the correct terms when writing about the processes you went through on Photoshop; talking about the camera angles/distances correctly/ discussing conventions and what colours etc have connotations of, especially in terms of your target audience.

Ensure that you haven’t used ANY images that you’ve downloaded from the internet; this includes backgrounds or background patterns. Barcodes are fine (but don't make them too big!).

If ANY of your photos resemble those used by someone else – i.e. if the model is wearing the same clothes – go and take some more photos because you’ll lose marks. This is one of the first things we highlighted when we profiled last year’s work and you’ve been reminded constantly since then – even if you’ve used a small photo of that person wearing the same gear on your contents page or as a hook on your cover. We have lost marks for this in the past because we've been too generous and this resulted in people who had done the work correctly being docked marks too. We are NOT going to jeopardize someone's marks because someone else can't be bothered to approach the task correctly. Unfortunately, this point does apply to a couple of people this year. You have been told.

Finally, your last post - i.e. the first one the examiner will see when he clicks on your blog - MUST be your production work, though you should have posted it during your evaluation, especially where you're talking about using/challenging forms and conventions, perhaps next to images of pages from genuine magazines for comparison.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Don McCullin


McCullin

Imagine... presents McCullin, a powerful documentary portrait of legendary British war photographer and photojournalist Don McCullin. Told through a series of searingly honest and often graphic interviews, McCullin recounts a life lived in the theatre of war - from his first assignment with the violent teenage gangs on his home turf of Finsbury Park, to capturing international conflicts of the past 50 years. The film lays bare McCullin's disgust for the destruction of human life, juxtaposed with the adrenaline rush of a life spent under enemy fire.

Available on BBC iPLayer until Tuesday 6 August 2013:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/b036j3fp/
 
 

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Collective Identity and Representation...

  • I know I should've illustrated the post below for the benefit of those who don't read books without pictures, but it's been a long day. You need to have a go at this question: it's not going away. 
  • Although it's your choice, the generic question will be the easiest to tackle, but unless you show rather more commitment than many of you have done, you'll mess it up. You've watched the texts and you're all capable of talking about the way the working class is represented but you need to string your ideas together in a decent essay and you MUST include some theory. 
  • No theory = no chance of getting a C or above. Simple as that.
  • You MUST refer to texts from film AND television and you MUST show some knowledge of how representation has changed - and while this does reflect changes in society (more dysfunctional family life - though it's there in the first Coronation Street with the Tanners), it's also reflecting commercial/institutional considerations. You also need to get across the idea that what you are watching is often a series of RE-PRESENTATION of other representations of working class and that this has a far longer history than the 1959/1960 Angry Young Man films...
  • In the hour you'll have for this question, you should be able to knock off close to four sides of well-structured work where your thoughts are supported by reference to the texts and some theoretical ideas. If you're sitting around counting the ceiling tiles (if there are any) for 30 minutes, then you've done yourself a disservice.
  • So... revise it and make sure you know your stuff. Don't make it up.
  • The first time you mention a film, refer to its director and put the date of its release in brackets. Reference to theory ought to have the date in brackets too - where possible.
  • There's loads of info on the blog to help you with your revision. 
  • We have had As in this question before and not only from natural grade A students, but also from those prepared to work to achieve something.
  • The post below is thorough and probably could've been trimmed, but, like I've often said, time to take some responsibility for your own work...
  • Good luck!

Representation of the Working Class in Popluar British Film and Soaps

A. State you’re discussing the representation of the wc in popular film and in soap operas on TV.
B. We tend to think of the rep od wc on the screen in the angry young man films (circa 1960) as a radical shift from views of the past – but heavily influenced by representations from but they were heavily influenced by previous images of wc culture from literature, journalism, art and photography dating between the 1880s and 1940s (see Eley and Rob Shields in http://heworthmediastudies.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/roots-of-working-class-representation.html - such as?
C. What we’re dealing with is re-presentation as much as representation – and this is something that continues to this day – writers and directors don’t just base their representation on reality but on versions of reality.
D. Key area of change with the AYM movies is that the working class was no longer marginalised as in the past when it could be said that representation seems to reinforce Gramsci’s theory of hegemony – explain it… look at the slideshare at the address above…
E. What was the representation of wc life like in those AYM films – a little bit of detail about Sat Night Sun Morning would go down well here – talk about Arthur rebelling against the constrictions of the class system in an era where the wc had jobs and money and the country was coming out of post-war austerity, but their ambitions were thwarted by the class system… Note also that a recent relaxation in the censorship laws allowed more explicit language and scenes – such as the discussion of abortion
F. Why was rep in Coronation Street different? Talk about Ken and his relationship with his family; talk about the representation of women – both were affected by institutional concerns – ITV was considered a lowbrow channel with a working class audience and the traditional audience of soaps was female (you could stick some theory in here about soaps and female audiences e.g Hobson (1982) claimed soaps gave female viewers a ‘cultural space’ in the dominant patriarchal society that they could call their own) – need to build an audience to ensure advertising revenue.
G.Two strands of wc representation, one, an often visceral depiction of wc life where the effects of the class system can be seen in the brutalisation of family life, growing up and relationships – as in Ken Loach’s Kes and Sweet Sixteen, Shane Meadows’ This Is England and Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur (2011). These films were made with little compromise – Loach, for example, refused to tone down the language in Sweet Sixteen (2002) (in which a young Glaswegian teenager gets sucked deeper into the drug trade which has already seen his mother jailed, until he stabs his step-father), which meant the audience it was intended for wasn’t allowed to see it.
H. In later British films, representation of working class retains many of the tropes now seemingly ingrained into national consciousness - Billy Elliott’s terraced housing, northern accents, macho males and (the remains of) grim industrial factories, but it’s hard to determine how much is this is based on real life and how much is based on a collective identity of working class created over the years by a variety of sources that includes earlier representation on the television and in the cinema. However, there are some notable differences, reflecting genuine concern about working class life. The more popular strand of modern wc film includes Brassed Off, Billy Elliott, The Full Monty and Made in Dagenham – the first three depict Britain in a post-industrial landscape - the pits or factories are closing or closed and all depict the effects of unemployment on family and community – give some examples. All, however, are sort of feel bad/feel good movies and have rousing finales that seem depict the victory of the underdog.
I. There are institutional reasons behind this because of the film companies’ need to appeal to an audience beyond a local one. Film distribution and exhibition in the UK is dominated by Hollywood and many British films don’t get beyond the ‘art house circuit’ – if that. To give an example of the pressure the UK film industry is up against, Warner Brothers’ the Dark Knight opened in 4366 screens across the UK; the independent, working class-set film, This Is England, opened in only 62.
J. The US, of course, is the biggest marker for English speaking movies and in most cases, it provided at least partial financial backing for the films in question (Brassed Off was backed by Miramax, a branch of Disney, for example) – hence the representation of wc has been governed by concerns of audience and institution. 
K. Despite Brassed Off’s overtly political stance and the the speech at the Royal Albert Hall, the band’s victory reunites the community and the families – all the wives are present, including the one who left her husband; all the men are on the same side, including the one who took the government’s offer of redundancy money; the company spy is reintegrated with her community on a personal, professional and social level; despite refusing to accept the trophy, they take it anyhow and the film ends with a rousing, if ironic, Land of Hope and Glory as the victory bus passes under the Houses of Parliament.
L. Representation of gender - All four films depict a crisis of masculinity – the men can no longer fulfil their traditional roles as wage earners – even in Made in Dagenham where it’s the women who take industrial action to seek equal pay, the men cannot work when the women strike – and families break down.
M. Made in Dagenham - about the 1968 strike at a Ford factory by women in pursuit of equal pay - depicts the effects on the working class family of the capitalist system and we see the men emasculated, because Ford can no longer employ the men as a result of the strike. There is a favorable portrayal of organized labor and Marxist ideas, which is unusual in a climate where unions are demonized, but the film claims gender as the primary form of oppression. Lisa relinquishes her poise, momentarily, and seeks affinity with Rita O'Grady, the strike leader. "Do you know who I am?" she asks. Her husband treats her like a fool, but she has a first-class Cambridge degree and adores reading about people making history. "That's what you are doing," she tells O'Grady. "Tell me what it feels like when you've done it." This is an elegant and clever moment where gender transcends class.
N. To seek some sort of status, male characters in Full Monty and BE take up occupations/pastimes traditionally associated with women to forge a new identity in the post-industrial world. BE overcomes the stereotypical macho reactions of the working class northern male and his father eventually supports him. The film was criticised for the portrayal of women – didn’t show their staunch support for the miners’ strike; unlike BO which pictured their protest amps outside the mines, depicted the tensions within the families of the miners and the support they gave each other when money was short. Gauntlett (2002): in contrast with the past - or the modern popular view of the past - we no longer get singular, straightforward messages about ideal types of male and female identities. Today, nothing about identity is clear-cut, and the contradictory messages of popular culture make the 'ideal' model for the self even more indistinct. 
O. In FM, homosexual and black characters are seen as parts of the community and are integral to the success of the venture and the formation of a new wc identity in the post-industrial landscape – compare this with the ONE black character depicted at the start of Sat Night Sun Morning, who Arthur tells us is all right, but who never appears again.
P. Ken Loach’s The Angels’ Share (2012), portrays many of the visual and narrative working class tropes from this genre (deprived Glasgow, unemployment, crime and the brutality suffered by the lead character), but it has more in common with the popular strand of wc films as it is often comic and ends on an uplifting note as the protagonists pull off "a heist worthy of Danny Ocean"; indeed the film has been marketed as “This year’s Full Monty.” Is this representation to be seen as a result of a commercial compromise? Or has Loach's representation been further mediated through media critics using lazy shorthand to describe a film in terms their readers will understand? Or is it a bit of both...?
Q. The representation of class in modern soaps has changed over the years. Though wc accent is still a signifier of class, storylines have become more issued-based and hard-hitting, building on the success of Brookside (starting in 1982 on Channel 4) which depicted the strains on the life of a wc family struggling in their attempt to live in a middle class housing estate against a background of industrial unrest and unemployment in Thatcher’s Britain.
R. The BBC’s Eastenders followed suit in 1985 and runs heavily trailed storylines about spousal abuse, drug use, drug selling, AIDS, racism etc. Unfortunately, Brookside’s attempts to pursue viewing figures led to sensationalistic stories far removed from its origins and it lost viewers and was cancelled and with Eastenders, it could be argued that any ‘good’ done by raising the issues is negated by the frequency by which they occur and the manner in which they are promoted.
S. Eastenders – introduced a greater ethnic mix of characters, but also more stories about young people and more stories about crime in an effort to maintain viewing figures in a much changed media landscape where the basic terrestrial channels are no longer the only source of entertainment. Although the show continues to feature strong female characters, the view of working class life as one rife with serious social issues and violent crime is not one that soap audiences in 1961 would recognise. 
T. In 1967, critics claimed Coronation Street didn’t reflect life in 1960s Britain. Granada tried to update the programme, with the hope of introducing more issue-driven stories, including Emily Nugent having an out of wedlock child, but they were dropped for fear of upsetting viewers. CS still lags behind Eastenders in its use of ethnic minorities and while both have introduced gay characters, Eastenders preferred issue-based storylines around this whereas Coronation Street has used this to reflect the tolerance of the community by NOT making an issue of it. The camp representation of the gay character in CS perhaps reflects the fact its audience as a whole is older than that of Eastenders and it’s one they’re more familiar with, and the need for the institutions to respond to this is one of the reasons why the representation of working class life is different between the shows. Note there's greater representation of dysfunctional family life in modern soaps and films (where the representation is often in response to outside pressures like unemployment) - although this is there in the very first CS - see the Tanners.
U. Both shows now have more middle class characters (or those aspiring to that level), as reflected by the mise-en-scene of some of the houses, the dress (Rosie is clearly depicted as a snob) and the jobs they undertake. Coronation Street’s opening credits used to show new flats as well as the traditional rooftops of the terraces, but the sequence has changed; the flats have gone and there is a rosy sunny glow over the rooftops, as if reflecting nostalgia for the show’s heyday – and, of course, the fact that the mean age of its audience is older than that of its BBC rival.
V. The question is, of course, just how do viewers consume soaps. Gerbner (1986) felt viewers can’t escape the encroachment of television into their lives, that it ‘cultivates the minds of viewers over a long period of time.’ However, Hawkins and Pingree (1983) could not find conclusive proof of the direction of the relationship between television viewing and viewers' ideas about social reality.
W. The Broadcasting Standards Commission researched audience attitude to the British Soap Opera in 2002 and found viewers enjoyed soaps on different levels and for different reasons, with escapism the main one. Some viewers did see them as featuring ‘somewhere realistic with recognisable characters,’ others thought they were too entertainment-driven to be realistic – ‘sanitised reality,’ as one viewer put it. It was found that Coronation Street has an older audience than Eastenders, perhaps reflecting its long history, but also as a result of the nature of the storylines, which tend to revolve less around crime and gangsters and contain more warmth and humour. 
X. Identity theory and the influence of the media have moved on from basic Marxist concerns that the media can control us, even though you might see some truth in Gramsci’s idea of hegemony - much of the media is controlled by the dominant group in society and the viewpoints associated with this group become embedded in the products themselves - hence the marginalisation in the representation of the working class in British cinema until the late 1950s. Audiences are increasingly recognised as active in their relationship with the media. Gammon and Marshment (1998) stress the role of the audience in the construction of meaning from texts and suggest there is a range of interpretations offered by any text and Henry Jenkins (1992): ‘Fans actively assert their mastery over the mass-produced texts which provide the raw material for their own cultural productions and the basis for their social interactions.’
Y. I think the way forward is to acknowledge Collective Identity exists but that it seems to difficult measure or ascertain HOW FAR British soap operas and film have helped to create a sense of collective identity. Thomas De Zengotita (2005) – Almost everything we know about the world comes to us through some sort of media and this influences our view of the world and even our self-definition but Gauntlett (2002): The media disseminates a huge number of messages about identity and acceptable forms of self-expression, gender, sexuality, and lifestyle. At the same time, the public have their own robust set of diverse feelings on these issues. The media's suggestions may be seductive, but can never simply overpower contrary feelings in the audience. It seems appropriate to speak of a slow but engaged dialogue between media and media consumers. Neither the media nor the audience are powerful in themselves, but both have powerful arguments – and the media, of course,is but one source. Note the way, in the age of web 2.0, that collective identity is also reflected in the use of websites, blogs, Facebook and Twitter, official sites and unofficial fan sites, including fan fiction sites. Note also the use of the tabloid press, who will feature stories about Soap stars and refer to them by their characters’ names and who use television and film fiction as lazy shorthand to paint a picture for their readers with headlines like, "Shameless Britain," to refer to rundown wc estates in the north of England – but then haven’t films and TV been doing this themselves when representing aspects of wc life? 
Z. Despite this, Greg Philo of the Glasgow Media Group notes that the audience does not exist as a silent mass with a collective identity, but as active, thinking, reflective, creative audiences who share cultural experiences in common – and this is surely all the more so when viewers can re-evaluate their relationship to the text by interacting with each other through conversation or through fan sites.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

How is identity formed?


  • Jacques Lacan – psychoanalyst. Identified the Mirror Stage, where a child begins to develop their identity from what it sees (1936).  The mirror stage describes the formation of the Ego via the process of identification, the Ego being the result of identifying with one's own specular image.  Cinema and television act as a distorting mirror for spectators who then (mis) recognise themselves.
  • Foucault: An 'identity' is communicated to others in your interactions with them, but this is not a fixed thing within a person. It is a shifting, temporary construction.
  • Gary Giddens (1991) claims that mediated experiences make us reflect upon and rethink our own self-narrative in relation to others: the self is not something we are born with, and it is not fixed.  Instead, the self is reflexively made- thoughtfully constructed by the individual. We all choose a lifestyle.
  • Henry Jenkins (1992): We need to interact in order to form our identity - with other people – or with the media; this can involve partaking in an event (in reality, or virtually) with people with whom we feel affinity helps us to form collective identity.
  •  David Gauntlett (2002) Media products provide numerous kinds of 'guidance' - in the myriad suggestions of ways of living which they imply. We lap up this material because the social construction of identity today is the knowing social construction of identity. Your life is your project. The media provides some of the tools which can be used in this work. Like many toolkits, it contains some good utensils and some useless ones; some that might give beauty to the project, and some that might spoil it. (People find different uses for different materials, too, so one person's 'bad' tool might be a gift to another.) Note how Gauntlett credits people with ability to choose or reject or reshape… 

Monday, 13 May 2013

Collective Identity Questions...

A selection...

  • How do media representations influence Collective Identity?
  • Discuss the ways in which different groups are represented by the media.
  • Explain the role of the media in the construction of collective identity
  • What is Collective Identity and how is it mediated?
  • Discuss the social implications of media in relation to collective identity.
  • Media representations are complex, not simple and straight forward. How far do you agree with this statement in relation to the group you have studied?
  • With reference to one group of people you have studied, discuss how their identity been mediated?

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Bauer Media

The Heat is on as Bauer looks to change its tune
Publisher of Closer and Grazia and owner of Kiss and Magic radio needs to close its deal

John Plunkett
guardian.co.uk
Sunday 20 January 2013

This week MediaGuardian 25, our survey of Britain's most important media companies, covering TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, music and digital, looks at Bauer Media.

It might seem strange to suggest the biggest publisher of consumer magazines in the UK, including Grazia, Heat and FHM, is playing catch-up. But that is where Bauer Media finds itself in the other UK sector in which it operates.

Home to a stable of radio stations led by Kiss and Magic, the privately-owned German company lags behind the number one commercial player, Global Radio, which last year saw off a last-minute bid by Bauer to buy Smooth Radio owner GMG Radio.

No surprise, then, that Bauer has been closely linked with bids for two national music stations which are for sale, Absolute Radio, owned by the Times of India's parent company, and Malcolm Bluemel's Planet Rock.

Both are loss-making – Absolute to the tune of £4m a year – but Bauer, with rock stations Kerrang! and Q already in its portfolio, is well-equipped to make savings by co-locating or rebranding (probably both).

The business, which spans 42 radio stations and 56 consumer magazines, reaching around 19 million people in the UK every week, is part of the Hamburg-based Bauer Media Group.

The family-run company, led by 73-year-old chairman Heinz Bauer, paid £1.14bn for Emap's consumer magazine and radio divisions in 2007. Bauer's UK interests were previously limited to H Bauer, publisher of Take A Break. Enders Analysis described the purchase price at the time as "nothing short of miraculous" given the prevailing economic winds; it would fetch a fraction of that money today. In a tough magazine sector, Bauer's once market leading men's title FHM has run out of steam, eclipsed by Hearst's Men's Health, while the publishing sensation of the last decade, Heat, has been in steep decline in recent years, with celebrity gossip available on Mail Online and elsewhere.

Bauer's best print performer is said to be its celebrity weekly Closer. Launched in 2002, it is estimated to make a profit of around £9m a year, roughly double that of its other star performer, glossy weekly Grazia. Bauer, fiercely protective of such figures, does not comment.

The award-winning Grazia, edited by Jane Bruton, launched in 2005 and remains Bauer's most recent high profile launch (later titles have included the nerdy Wonderpedia and bi-monthly Landscape, aimed at nature-lovers). Bauer's attempt to create a "male Grazia" with Gaz7etta, an aspirational men's weekly (and the antithesis of another fading Bauer title, Zoo) failed to get past the pilot stage in 2010.

"The quality of what they do is very good, they are excellent magazine publishers," says one senior industry observer. "But they could be a little bit bolder when it comes to creating new concepts. When you are the market leader then you need to lead the market."

Paul Keenan, chief executive of Bauer Media in the UK, says a priority for the company is digital offshoots of existing big brands, whether that's a Grazia app or launching its film magazine Empire on the iPad in the US. "We want to launch a multimedia brand with a very strong print offering within it," he says.

"Print will continue to be an engaging platform for people who are passionate about something. We intend to continue to develop print products but will now surround those with digital extensions and additions which make the brand more useful and engaging and accessible."

One launch Bauer is said to have investigated is an upmarket magazine for older women – either a trendier version of Yours (which it also publishes) or a more mature Grazia, depending on your point of view. Keenan prefers not to comment, as he does on speculation regarding Absolute and Planet Rock.

Douglas McCabe, a media analyst at Enders Analysis, says: "The biggest challenge for Bauer is how do they cope in a mobile world when penetration of mobile devices – smartphones, tablets, even e-readers – grows into heartland Bauer territory, in other words the mass market."

Bauer is seen as a smart day-to-day business which keep costs under control, with Keenan regarded as a good operator who knows his market well.

The UK chief executive talks to Heinz Bauer at least once a week, and works closely with Saskia Bauer, one of the chairman's four daughters, all of whom have senior positions within the company.
More enthusiastic about digital radio than Global, Bauer has a number of digital-only radio stations, including The Hits and Smash Hits, as well as a radio spin-off of Heat which has also transferred to TV, one of seven stations on Box TV, Bauer's joint venture with Channel 4. Q also has its own radio station but its TV version was closed to make way for Heat.

If there is a criticism of Bauer it is a perceived inability to close a deal. Along with the GMG Radio stations that went to Global, Bauer was also interested – but ultimately missed out – in buying BBC Magazines two years ago and a batch of Global stations in the west Midlands in 2009.

Keenan responds: "We've said at the right price and at the right time in the right place, we will act."

It remains to be seen whether the song will remain the same at Planet Rock and Absolute, or if Bauer will find itself singing a different tune in coming weeks. Given the stations' respective playlists, expect it to be something by Guns 'N' Roses.

The numbers
Pre-tax profits: £57.3m* (£63.3m, 2010)
Revenues: £228m* (£246m, 2010)
Employees: 2,000
Radio: weekly reach 13.4m, 10.8% share
Magazines: total reach 8.6m readers
* excludes radio stations, full year 2011

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2013/jan/20/bauer-media-closer-grazia-kiss?INTCMP=SRCH