Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Questions on Monsters (Gareth Edwards, 2010)

Monsters (2010)

1. Why did Vertigo produce Monsters?


3. How was it funded?

4. Why was it cheap to make?

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


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.

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, 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.
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 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 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 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 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. - 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


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:

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 - 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
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

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Trying to beat the pirates...

January 13, 2013 – 4:57 am

Even before the 2013 Oscar nominees were announced on January 10, 2013, there were already many movies in the running. One of them, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, is currently getting a huge thumbs up from the Internet. Last weekend a perfect review copy leaked online and in just 24 hours racked up 500,000 downloads. The Hobbit, currently the most popular Oscars leak, has more than two million downloads to date with a week’s head start over Tarantino’s western. By Enigmax of TorrentFreak.
With the Academy Awards just weeks away, January is an exciting time for movie lovers around the world. In the run up to “Oscar Sunday” on February 24, the nominees were announced on January 10 following the deliberations of 5,700 Academy members.
Some of those voters will have made their assessments from a trip to the theater but some highly privileged individuals will have received a piece of cinematic gold from the studios – access to pre-release copies of all the top movies “for their consideration.”
The industry has worked very hard indeed to keep movies from leaking onto the Internet so these early copies are handed out amid tight security. The availability of a dreadful ‘camcordered’ copy online is annoying enough but a perfect digital copy is a nightmare for the studios. To this end, while physical DVD copies still appear to be issued, these days so-called “screeners” are also distributed to Academy members digitally.
However, it appears to make very little difference what kind of security measures are put in place, movies still leak online. As 2012 entered its final months the tell-tale signs that screeners were being sent out became obvious online after they became available on BitTorrent tagged “DVDSCR”.
Billy Bob Thornton’s Jayne Mansfield’s Car appeared online in October 2012 followed by thrillers Citadel and The Sweeney in November.
With Christmas round the corner, December certainly delivered the treats. The Perks of Being a Wallflower starring Emma Watson, Denzel Washington’s Flight, Lincoln from veteran Steven Spielberg, and James Bond’s latest outing Skyfall all found their way onto the web from screener copies.
And in January the bonanza continued. The first new leak of the year, Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, has proven a massive hit with file-sharers. According to statistics gathered by TorrentFreak the fantasy movie has been downloaded at least two million times since it appeared on the first of the month.
Just three days later and the Osama Bin Laden hunt movie Zero Dark Thirty was debuting online, joined on the same day by a copy of Anthony Hopkins’ Hitchcock.
Last weekend was particularly busy as The Sessions made its appearance along with West of Memphis, Celeste & Jesse Forever, Anna Karenina and Hyde Park on Hudson.
But there was also a very big leak, one that millions of people have been waiting for and could turn out to be the biggest so far this Oscar season. Django Unchained, the latest movie from much-loved writer/director Quentin Tarantino, appeared online January 5 (Saturday) and quickly caught fire.
The western, which stars Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio, became an immediate smash-hit on BitTorrent. Statistics gathered Sunday by TorrentFreak show that the movie was downloaded at least 500,000 times in its first 24 hours online.
And, as an interesting footnote, people wanting to blame these stats on The Pirate Bay will be disappointed. Although it is back online now, the world’s most famous torrent site was offline all day on January 6 and played no part in proceedings.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Another exam-style question and plan for the AS January exam...

What significance does the continuing development of digital media technology have for media institutions and audiences?

1. New developments all the time
2. Recent developments can be illustrated in the use of technological convergence to promote films – look at official film websites e.g. Slumdog a) streaming of video material b) flash technology c) links to games etc to increase interactivity, which in turn creates the illusion of giving the audience a sense of ownership so they will be more likely to see the film/DVD d) links to social networking (sites such as…), which again creates a sense of interactivity e) links to reviews, interviews etc. f) the Long Tail effect – the film website will act as a promotional tool for the DVD/BluRay long after the film has finished being exhibited in cinemas. On some websites, such as those for Sony films, there are links to other upcoming Sony films. Note the advantages of being a vertically integrated company like Sony.
3.  IMAX and 3D - Blockbuster films developed for IMAX as well as regular screening; some in 3D – increasingly popular over last few years – now not just action movies (the Life Of Pi, for example) but these are the type of big budget event movies that show off  this kind of technology. Note that not all cinemas are geared up for this level of development. The Hobbit - shot at 48 frames per second, as opposed to the industry standard of 24 - director Peter Jackson thought it offers a sgarper image and reflects the real way of seeing - but only cinemas can show it this way and critics have complained the visuals resemble those of a video game and were too 'shiny'.
4. Viral marketing – look at Slumdog, again…
5. Use of phones to watch trailers, films, to browse the net for information about films
6. Use of digital movie cameras and editing – refer to Slumdog and Amber… But note that while many film directors are going difital, some, like Christopher Nolan, want to stick to traditional 35 mm - see - but also notice a few of the potential pitfalls - cinemas will have to undergo an expensive conversion for digital exhbition, but arthouse/second run cinemas will not be able to show older movies; some people think the digital image deteriorates over time, as was the case with Toy Story.
7. Owners of social network sites target adverts, including those for films, to individuals based on their profiles
8. Use of CGI – can create more realistic effects; can create the illusion of crowds, landscapes and cityscapes that could save money – although over reliance on effects can lead to movies where the effects are the main reason to see the movie! However, these kind of films are popular with the main cinema-going audience, the 16-25 year-olds
9. Digital distribution and exhibition – what state is it currently in the UK? What are the hopes for future development? How does a small, independent company like Amber use new technology to promote and distribute their works?
10. Legal downloads – has the music industry shown the way? Will the trend be for people to download from sites such as netflix?
11. Illegal downloads – how have companies tried to combat this i.e. early DVD/BluRay releases…
12. The audience as prosumers… audiences use social networking sites –post their own reviews, post trailers from YouTube, post their own mash-ups, post songs from the soundtracks. These sites have a potential audience of millions. Some ‘audience’ sites, like have been quoted in press reviews. Negative reviews/comments on widely read sites like this can have an effect on other users and make up their minds about whether or not they see the film.

Exam style question and plan for AS January exam

Successful media products depend as much on marketing and distribution to a specific audience as they do upon good production practices. To what extent do you agree with this statement?

1. Film distribution = everything that happens between the film being made and it being exhibited, whether in a cinema, on DVD, TV, the internet or anywhere else. Distribution is the most important part of the film industry, where completed films are brought to life and connected with an audience
2. Distribution is about releasing and sustaining films in the market place. 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.
3. In the independent film sector, vertical integration does not operate so commonly. Producers tend not to have long-term economic links with distributors, who likewise have no formal connections with exhibitors. Here, as the pig-in-the-middle, distribution is necessarily a collaborative process, requiring the materials and rights of the producer and the cooperation of the exhibitor to promote and show the film in the best way possible.
4. 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?
5. Promotion involves above the line advertising, such as posters, trailers, billboards and spin-offs and promotional partners. It also involves related merchandising and below the line publicity which is not paid for but generates mutual interest. For example, an interview with a star in a newspaper or reviews in a magazine. Not all films are treated equally.
6. Bigger companies (i.e. those Hollywood majors like Sony-Columbia) have more financial muscle to promote their product and the big companies who control much of the industry, control not only the distribution of their own products, but that of others (Fox, for example, distributed Slumdog Millionaire in the USA and Canada).
7. However, the product itself can be ‘shaped’ or ‘tailored’ to certain audiences. Slumdog was devised in a way that it would appeal to a global audience – explain how – talk about the significance of the deal with Celador, of hiring the particular writer and director; the significance of the Indian nationality of most of the crew; the language; the cast; the storyline and the way it was changed from the already successful source material; the style of filming.
8. Beyond that, though, the film had to carefully marketed and distributed – look at the deals made to ensure distribution around the world, because Celador/Film 4 isn’t a vertically integrated company with its own distribution companies in other countries.
9. Look at the way it shown in film festivals – especially in Toronto, a city with a large Asian population.
10. Look at the effect of its platform release
11. What about the marketing/promotional tactics – backed by Fox, the director amd stars had access to Fox TV shows and Fox websites to promote Slumdog; the film had its own website – what was on it? How was the film promoted using the website? Use of social networking and below the line adbertising by fans of the film on their social networking sites? Viral marketing?
12. Note the long tail effect of the way the film’s release and its website serve to promote the DVD and BluRay releases long after the film has been shown in cinemas

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Year 12 - Amber Films - Homework for next week...

Bullet point your response - or use powerpoint - it's up to you.

All answers need to be brief.

1/  What's the rationale behind Amber Films, a small, independent film company based in Dean Street in Newcastle?
2/  How is the company funded?
3/  How was a film like Shootong Mapgies made?
4/  What's the impact of digital technology on the production, marketing, distribution and exhibition?
5/  How is the comopany trying to raise money for their new film?

Look at the websites for Amber Films and the Side Gallery and search this blog for various posts to help you.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Textual Analysis tips

Textual Analysis – The Next Steps

It is very important for everyone to review their progress in textual analysis. You are about to embark on an Assessment for Learning unit where you will:
a)      Find out more about how your work will be assessed

b)      Identify both good practice and become more critical in identifying how work can be improved

c)       Critically reflect upon your own work and make changes in your approach to boost your attainment.
You need to:
1)      Watch the exam text again

2)      Read through the assessment criteria (blue sheets) and identify what skills  / standards are required (you should all be aiming for Levels 3 and 4)

3)      Make sure you understand the three different assessment objects and understand what they actually mean by these terms a) Explanation, analysis and argument b)Use of example c) Use of terminology

4)      Using the stimulus material provided by SO analyse the strengths and areas for improvement in both essays

5)      Award marks and be prepared to justify your judgements making specific references to the mark scheme
Following this discussion, and following further analysis of good practice you will:
a)      Be expected to redraft your orginal attempt in order to put into practice “good practice”

b)      Sit another mock exam on textual analysis AND film institution the week before the Christmas hols.
Please note – you will be receiving your marked scripts early next week as we are currently identifying anyone who needs to attend booster classes in advance of the exam.
VERY IMPORTANT – our departmental blog – is packed with very useful revision materials and this is regularly updated so make sure you use it!!!!!!
Please remember – this is a very large class but teaching staff in Media Studies are very keen to support you in the run up to the exam and with your coursework. Always ask questions and seek out feedback if you are unsure how to make progress. 
Many thanks