Charlotte's Blog

7 – Evaluation

Posted in Uncategorized by salesianas2010 on April 19, 2010

1)      In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

Our media production uses the forms and conventions of our chosen genre (Teen Movie) and we did not choose to challenge them. Our narrative is conventional as are our stock characters. They consist of two idyllic characters, one female and the other male (despite the male turning out to be a ‘loser’ in social hierarchy). We used many low angles in our scene to heighten the audiences’ sense of mystery particularly with the female character. Our aim was to try and avoid her face being in the shot directly until the slow motion shot reveals her full identity. Our stock settings are also conventional of our genre as they are domestic which is the case in many teen films. We also shot our scenes next to a park which later in the film could be a social meeting point for the characters. Many members of the audience can relate to this. In terms of sound in our opening scene, we avoided dialogue as we were not attempting to portray either of the characters as being stereotypical to begin with. ‘10 Things I Hate About You’ has no dialogue in the opening scene and neither does the opening of our media product. Whereas in the ‘Mean Girls’ opening scene, a voice over of character Cady Heron explains her life so far. Having no dialogue in our opening scene allows the audience to see the individual characters as average teenagers with a similar morning routine and yet when the female character walks past the male character in slow motion, social status is clearly the deciding factor and stands above all else for superficial teenagers as she flirtatiously mocks the male ‘loser’ character when she turns around and smiles after falling into the arms of another man.

 2)      How does your media product represent particular social groups?

We aimed to avoid representing any recognisable groups in our opening scene. This allows the audience to just acknowledge the two separate characters and understand that they are both teenagers and social status does not divide them when they are in their own domestic environment. We used no dialogue either to help convey this message to the audience. The characters wake up and a series of jump cuts show them getting ready in the morning. For the girl we decided to use many low angle shots to reveal more of her body to start to represent her as an idyllic character.

                                                                               

For the male character we decided to get a shot of his back in the bathroom after getting out from a hot shower as the steam on the glass shower doors portrays. We filmed him doing his hair in the mirror and the lighting on his back outlines his muscles presenting him as an idyllic character to both the male and female audience.

We only decided to trigger the ‘bad girl’ side of the female character when both character were outside and no longer in their home environments. This is when social status is highlighted as the female character struts down her lane. The audience think that the male with his jaw dropped expression is going to win the girl but she, however, simply walks past him laughing and falls into the arms of her smooth looking male partner at the end of the lane with his black jacket over one of his shoulders.

The male character is represented a ‘geeky’ when he smiles and waves in an over the top fashion.

3)      What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?

I think that a major Distributor and Production Company would conventionally be more likely to make our narrative come to the big screen. The type of story we have gone for is a very clichéd representation of teenagers and their different personalities. However, I feel that using an independent producer and director (eg Sixteen Films) as well as using unknown actors would offer a new experience for the audience. The Teen Movie Genre often produces, in most cases, large budget films with star casts in comparison to independent producers and directors with a far smaller budget (films like Kidulthood and Adulthood). Making our film independent with an unknown cast presents a more realistic image in terms of the audience being able to relate to the characters and their situations and the audience can feel a better connection with the characters. This is why we have chosen our producers and directors to be independent and why we have also chosen to use an unknown cast.

 4)      Who would be the audience for your media product?

Since we took on the Genre of Teen Movie, we have always been very aware of our audience and target market. Teenagers will of course be interested in a film about other teenagers. We researched who we would consider as our target audiences and BBFC cinema ratings and what their boundaries are. So far our opening scene could be a PG as there is no alcohol/drug abuse, now swearing, no scenes of a sexual nature and so on. We were initially hoping for a 12 or 12A and this would clearly still be very relevant. We do however have to consider whether us ourselves as 17 year olds would want to watch a teen movie with a rating of a twelve and therefore would other teenagers want to.  If the film is a twelve though then our audience is widened and more money could potentially be taken in from the box office. It depends on the rest of the film also but I think that if we make our production a 15 then we would have a lot more audience appeal. 

Our original narrative and plans are appealing to teenagers, male and female, as they can relate to feeling in love and being ignored. They can relate to unrequited love and competitive love and this is why are narrative is so appealing to out target audience. So we have therefore made no changes to our narrative.

5)      How did you attract/ address your audience?

Our production’s Genre automatically attracts and then interests our target audience, teenagers, as it is a Genre specifically for them. Teenagers like to see Idyllic characters who are highly attractive and are therefore likely to appeal to members of the audience, rather than average teenagers which is what our product provides.

The way in which the opening is set up is also attractive as it portrays the two characters getting ready in the morning and the build up is to see who they actually are and at what point they are going to meet – if they are ever going to meet. We have presented them as idyllic teens with average lives however the twist is when the female character walks in slow motion and then the dynamics are changed. The diegetic music changes from an upbeat tune to a deep bass track that is synchronous to her slow motion movement (strut).

Generally we have had very positive feedback. People appear to find the slow motion strut amusing which is definitely a positive thing for Siobhan and I. In our first cut there did seem to be confusion with the jump cuts as the audience didn’t follow that there are two separate characters until they see the male in the mirror doing his hair. Re-shooting was going to take a lot of time and the lighting and mise-en-scene all had to match so we decided one way of dealing with this was to make two separate tracks to act as a sound motif for each character. This sounded far too jumpy though as there are so many jump cuts so inevitably we decided to re-capture some shots. This made the narrative so much easier to follow according to other people.

 6)      What have you learnt about technologies from constructing this product?

Our school is limited to Macs and so that meant that no editing could really be left until the last week as all of the few Macs would be taken. Siobhan and I due to part fault of our own ended up filming quite late. As there were only two of us, planning and general pre-production took a lot longer than it would for others and our workload trebled in size. So being a bit behind was always what we anticipated would happen to us. Siobhan and I used an old Mac to edit as the three new ones were all occupied by other groups. Therefore the editing software itself was quite old and didn’t offer some of the latest features that Siobhan and I could have possibly used. However other groups found that the newer versions were more complicated to use. So in some ways using an older Mac for editing benefitted us as we had the Mac all to ourselves and the software was straightforward to use. However, using an old Mac, in some ways was detrimental to us as we couldn’t take full advantage of all of the latest technology.

Garageband was quite fun to use admittedly however, after many, many attempts at creating the right music track we just had to scrap the majority. Garageband offers so much choice and luckily for us Siobhan has a friend with a Mac so we were able to use Garageband out of school to create our music tracks. The problem is though that all teen movies and movies for teenagers of a slightly different genre all have a music track that is appealing to their audience. For example, ‘10 Things I Hate about You’ has a record that was recent at the time and the lyrics told us a lot about the character. Similarly, ‘Mean Girls’ had a number of records with lyrics that were all recent and would therefore hook the audience. A really good example is ‘Step Up’ which was aimed at teenagers and the soundtracks were all very recent songs that teenagers would automatically relate to and possibly feel a sense of belonging with the narrative. Teen movies therefore work best with a song and we tried to get copyright allowances for some tracks that we thought were relevant however this proved quite a challenge and in the end we just had to make something on Garageband. Garageband took up so much of our time though so I feel Garageband completely hindered us in our production.

7)      Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?

My preliminary exercise had an un-interesting narrative. Little preparation was done on my own, Siobhan and William’s behalf. Our storyboard was not detailed; we had no script and a lack of motivation to do any work. Our group found it hard to keep the ball rolling in terms of ideas. Our shots we generally tidy and our editing was incredibly basic. However as soon as the camera was in use we were all very enthusiastic to get involved.  

When it came round to our final William chose to do his own production so Siobhan and I worked together. Our pre production work was very well planned. I know I did a very large amount of research and wrote an essay which formed part of my research whereas very little/almost no research was done for our preliminary. The storyboard had some very accurate shots and Siobhan and I seemed to bounce of each others ideas nicely. Editing took the shortest amount of time. I don’t think we spent much longer than just over 3 hours editing as our shots were well planned. My preliminary showed me that the filming side of the production is only enjoyable when the shots are planned.

Getting actors was a slight challenge and this delayed the filming process that Siobhan and I were both eager to commence.

Our preliminary also allowed room for trial and error. The one thing that stands out in my mind from our preliminary and has done ever since I heard it was crossing the 180 degree line. This shows our shots were not planned as we were improvising on the day and trying to get a variety of angles but being thoughtless in the process.

I feel very pleased with the outcome of our final product and we have received some very satisfying feedback. Time management could have been much better and next time I will definitely take much more control over it so our time is spent wisely.

Charlotte Magnani

6 – My Feedback To Others

Posted in Uncategorized by salesianas2010 on April 12, 2010

5 – First Cut Review

Posted in Uncategorized by salesianas2010 on April 8, 2010

I would say that Siobhan and I equally contributed to the editing. The way in which we filmed and all of our shots meant that our editing was really quite straightforward. Siobhan and I used one of the older Macs as the school only has a few Macs in total. Using one of the older Macs did in some ways benefit us as the software was straightforward we thought however the computer did crash at points which was irritating at times. Key choices in editing for us included jump-cuts and shot-reverse-shots. We had to make sure that some of the transitions in our opening were smooth when we were jumping between the two separate characters and other transitions had to be alarming and sudden to make the distinction between the characters clear.

We shot all of the scenes in our storyboard but we also shot a few more from slightly different angles and positions such as canted, low angle, long shots and so on. Some of the most effective shots I think are the ones where the female character starts in close up from behind (for example when she is in the bathroom) and she then walks out of shot and the audience follows her into another room without the need to even move the camera.

Shot/Scene selection was a bit challenging for us thought as we had lots of the same shots. An example was when the female character wakes up in the morning and reaches for her alarm clock. We did a few takes of these due to errors with mise-en-scene and so on but we eventually got a perfect shot. This shot however had my hand moving across it as I didn’t realise the camera was filming or that my hand would be in shot. So when we went to edit we saw the perfect shot with the right alarm sound but my hand was moving across the shot by accident. We simply just kept the scene though, selected and highlighted what we needed to cut and then split the clip at playhead and deleted the unwanted parts. We did this for audio as well at parts. We kept some on the scenes ambience for example running water in the shower, walking on gravel, general footsteps but along with this we also have non-diegetic music that the characters cannot hear. When some of the clips we wanted to keep had noise like someone talking accidently then we just split the audio clip at playhead and deleted the unwanted ambience in the clip.

4 – Production Diary

Posted in Uncategorized by salesianas2010 on March 26, 2010

My contributions to this production project include:

  • Put the pitch together
  • Did general admin, links set up and I wrote all posts and made uploads on the group blog.
  • Contributed to the storyboard. Siobhan did the drawing though and we both decided the shot ideas.
  • I made the animatic of the storyboard.
  • I wrote the script but we both decided what went into it.
  • I did all of the filming but the shots were a joint decision.
  • We both did the editing together.
  • We scrapped several soundtracks. Eventually we made a final one together.
  • I went into school over the holidays and made the final touches to our production.

3 – Mean Girls Analysis

Posted in Uncategorized by salesianas2010 on January 21, 2010

For my textual analysis i decided to look at the opening of Mean Girls. Mean girls is from the Teen Movie genre. Siobhan and I thought that this particular genre would be creative and interesting to construct our production to. Mean Girls is based on the book written by Rosalind Wiseman  Queen-Bees and Wannabees.  

   

Mean Girls Trailer

 Mean Girls Textual Analysis  

 

Mean Girls begins with dialogue. We see a medium close up of two parents talking to who the audience would assume was a small child on their first day of school. We then see the reverse shot and teenage character Cady (Lindsay Lohan) aged 16 is sitting with a beaming smile on her face. Humour has entered the scene immediately as she is being spoken to like a very small child leaving the audience shocked. The father takes a photo of Cady and her Mum saying “Cady’s big day!” A camera snap sound effect is used and a freeze frame to show that it is a photograph. While photos are being captured there is a small establishing shot of where they are. All the while there is a non-diegetic voiceover of Cady explaining her life story and that this is her first day of school. In one of the freeze frames, character Cady’s mother is crying and Cady appears un-touched and rolling her eyes. The freeze frames are shown in a flash-through-white effect to allow smooth transition from each frame and also so the audience feels it is a photo being taken with a flash. The way Cady talks during the voiceover is directed primarily at teenagers using words such as “totally”, “I know what your thinking”, “Freaks” and “Random” which are all examples of conventional teen comments especially West-Coast USA.  

More humour is shown in the next two shots. Cady says “you think home-schooled kids are freaks” and we see a small, conventionally nerdy looking girl with frizzy hair in pig tails, glasses and braces is spelling “Xylocarp” in a spelling contest. Cady’s voiceover then says “weirdly religious or something…” and we see five young boys dressed smartly in shirts sitting in front of sandbags for practise shooting. They have strong Texas accents saying “and on the third day God created the Remington Bolt-Action Rifle, so that man could fight the dinosaurs…and the homosexuals. Amen” The entire thing is ludicrous and therefore hilarious as they are quite clearly uneducated and inbred!  

Texas Children From Mean Girls

After this we see a series of freeze frames with the camera snap sound effect of Cady with her parents in the African jungle while her Voiceover explains her parents were research zoologists for 12 years when her mother was offered a new job so it was “goodbye Africa…” Freeze frame of Cady walking off waving goodbye to the jungle, “and hello high-school” where there is an over the shoulder shot of Cady – now standing in front of a busy school entrance and is about to cross the road nearly getting hit by a big yellow school bus. The humorous part is that as this happens she says “I’ll be careful” and also the fact that later on Regina George a.k.a. Queen Bee is hit by the same bus.   As Cady’s parents disappear out of shot and Cady approaches the school grounds the song “rip her to shreds” originally by Blondie but covered by Boomkat kicks in. This song has a beat and the singer is a female who sounds as though she has a definite attitude. This music is non-diegetic so could be described as what all other girls are thinking when looking at Cady as she is ‘new meat’ and they are sizing her up.  “…Oh, you know her, would you look at that hair
Yeah, you know her, check out those shoes…”  

The song is all about girls being rude and superficial to one another which sums up conventional high-school girls. It is played as Cady is entering this ‘new world’ that is high-school. As she is walking across the school grounds towards the entrance a girl barges into her with furrowed eye-brows looking her up and down scowling. Cady looks away and narrowly misses being hit in the face by a soccer ball. There is then an eye-line match of Cady looking off somewhere and the next thing we see are jocks wearing sports jackets setting fire to something. All of the above shows the audience how busy school is and how you must ‘watch you back’ in more than one way.  

  A school bell sounds and Cady is walking into a class room, scanning it to see if she can talk to someone and find a seat. Cady approaches a very tall girl and introduces herself. The girl looks at Cady with furrowed eyebrows in disgust and simply responds “Talk to me again and I’ll kick your ass!” Cady looks shocked while the next two characters we see are laughing. Subtitles with the actors’ names come into shot so the audience knows that they are obviously going to be important characters. Janis and Damien (Lizzy Caplan and Daniel Franzese) guide Cady where ‘to’ and ‘not to’ sit. “You don’t wanna sit there, Kristen Hathan’s boyfriend is gonna sit there” “Hey baby” as the boyfriend sits down only to get his face practically eaten by Kristen Hathan. Cady looks revolted and moves on. “Uh uh…he farts a lot.” This is funny as a chubby boy with innocent big brown eyes turns around clearly embarrassed. Cady attempts to locate a new seat while the class glares at her critically. On her way, Cady bumps into her teacher Ms. Norbury, knocking donuts, paperwork and coffee everywhere. The audience gasps as it is such a funny situation and the class sniggers and giggles. Ms. Norbury goes to take her jumper off and accidently lifts all of them to reveal her bra to Principal Duvall.  “My t-shirts stuck to my sweater isn’t it?”                 “Yeah”            “Fantastic.”  This is very funny as it is obviously totally inappropriate.  Principal Duvall introduces Cady to the class saying how she has come “all the way from Africa” and so Ms. Norbury turns to one of the only black girls in the class and says “Welcome” only to see and very confused facial expression and hear “I’m from Michigan” Again this is funny because it is verging on racism but is not necessarily directly offensive to anyone.  After this small yet amusing incident, Mr Duvall attempts to make smooth conversation with Ms. Norbury and she says “Maybe some other time when my shirt isn’t see-through.” Principal Duvall glances (not so subtly) at her chest for longer than he realises and leaves. This, again, makes the audience laugh.  The first 4:04 minutes of the movie has introduced Cady (main character) and tells us where she is from, why she is in this situation and how old she is. We meet her parents and find out what they do for a living and what kinds of things they like/enjoy. We also meet her two – soon to be – friends Janis and Damien. We meet her teacher Ms. Norbury who Cady has a lot of interaction with as the film progresses and similarly Principal Duvall. And not only all of this but the audience knows where Cady lives, her background history and her school environment which is about to take over her life.

2 – Preliminary Evaluation

Posted in Uncategorized by salesianas2010 on January 4, 2010

Preliminary Task Evaluation

Our preliminary exercise begins with a close up shot of a door being opened which was shot by Siobhan. Zoom was used to slowly reveal the door being opened full but my face is not seen only my legs and my feet which are then followed across the room. This has a good effect on the audience as it heightens the sense of mystery and curiosity as the audience is unaware who this is walking into the room. As the figure steps closer to the camera we edited two separate shots together to then see the feet walking away from the camera into the distance. We like this use of the camera and editing as it truly does create a sense of curiosity.

The mise en scene portrays a small office as we can see a table with a computer, bookshelves and William sitting down in a chair at his desk. The position he is in suggests that he has been waiting for a visitor as his chair is not tucked under the desk properly it is facing the camera. The scene opens with a pan from the ground tilting upwards to face William who then says “Hello, can I help you?” At this point the camera position changes completely to the other side of the room to see me in a medium close up saying “Hi, wondering if I could get a student loan?” Following the rule of thirds when the camera goes back to William works very well as a shot reverse shot which is a conventional representation of a conversation in media footage.

Another example of panning and tilting in coordination is in the shot where William is typing on the keyboard. This use of camera is straightforward and as long as the transition is smooth, it looks particularly effective. We felt no need to shoot the keyboard as William was typing as we can hear it.

We broke the 180 degree rule unfortunately during one of the shot reverse shots. I feel glad we made the mistake though in our preliminary to show to us and our peers how easily it can happen so we remember and don’t make the mistake again regardless of how noticeable it is.

As far a pre-production planning goes… well we hadn’t planned enough in depth I feel. When we went to edit on the Mac we uploaded our footage and noticed that we had somehow managed to shoot me saying the same thing a few times in separate shots. In order for smooth cuts and transitions to work we had to keep the shots otherwise it just wouldn’t make sense what was happening in the scene. For example I say “Thank you very much” twice which is pointless however it could just look as though I was just being very polite so again it is not a huge problem.

I then took the camera to film Siobhan entering the room for her appointment. A long shot is used to that we can see the two characters walking past each other to make the scenes structure clear.

I feel working in a group was good for some aspects such as ideas, filming and sharing out the work load however for my final production I think I would rather work with just one other person as joint decisions will be made faster and you can bounce of each others ideas to get a good final result. I am also aware of some groups that were quite large and they had many problems with some members not turning up and so decisions in shots, planning and editing were down to a few people. Larger groups seem to confuse things so I would like to stick to a small group like I did for the preliminary task.

1 – Welcome

Posted in Uncategorized by salesianas2010 on January 2, 2010

I’m Charlotte Magnani and this will be my individual blog for my AS work.