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AS Exam (Section B): Documentary

Challenge:
Tell me the
convention or
the
documentary

AS Media Exam Assessment Objectives Section B


Cross Media Study (Documentary)
To get an A-B grade
AO1
Your knowledge is relevant and detailed about the documentary and its platform. A thorough understanding of your
three documentaries and their platforms
AO2
You analyse microscopically the documentary itself e.g. How does your specific detailed evidence (codes - verbal,
non-verbal, technical) connote meaning and link to the exam question?, and, how does the audience respond, appeal,
positioned, question, or participate?
AO3
You create a sustained debate e.g. Using connectives (however, similarly) to explain the similarities or differences in
your chosen documentaries and their platforms.
(E.g. what are your exam question asking about - similar or different conventions, representations, institutions, synergy, or
technology?)
AO4
You analyse microscopically th e online platforms e.g. How does your specific detailed evidence from your platform
(codes - verbal, non-verbal, technical) connote meaning and link to the exam question?, and, how does the audience
respond, appeal, positioned, question, or participate?

AO5
You write in expressive and accurate ways that clearly and coherently

communicate using media language.

Essay Rules
1. Typed and double line spaced
2. Name and the exam question
3. Self and peer assessed against the
AOs before you hand it in to me it
will not be marked if this isn't done.
4. Check against the banned list
5. Highlight in colour the key
media language terms (AO5)

AS Media: Section B - Grade


Boundaries
A = 27-32
B = 21-26
C = 16-20
D = 10-15

AS Media Exam: Section B: Documentary


EXAM QUESTION (CODES AND CONVENTIONS)

Documentary Narrative
Conventions

Goal orientation/Overcoming a hurdle


Re-enactments
Three part-narrative (Todorov)
Binary opposites = conflict (Strauss)
Character function (Propp)
An introduction to the issues or narrative
A summary by the presenter
Talking heads
Success of initiatives and stories
Micro-features e.g. editing, non-diegetic sound,

ss Criteria A/B grade Make sure you use as many of these key words as po
Generic Conventions of Documentary
Character

Narrative

Theme

Symbolic Visuals

-Real people
(ordinary people)
- Experts
- Unique people
- Interviewer
- Interviewee
- Witnesses
- Authority
Figures
-Important
historical figures
- The individual
(rites of passage)
- Storytellers

- Conventions
- Resolutions
- A summary by
presenter
- Introduction to
issues/narrative
- Talking
- Unity
- Success of
initiatives/stories
- Goal orientation
- Moral messages
- Overcoming a
hurdle

- Opposites
- Tension/
conflict
- The truth/
facts
- Journeys
- Discovery
- The unusual
- Insight into
subject matter
- Education
- Life/death
- Love/hate
- Before and
after (changes)
- Culture/politics

- Real settings
(urban/sheet)
- Aerial shots of
the world
- Black + white
- Reconstructions
- Inter-titles
- A presenter
- Diagrams
- High end CGI
diagrams
- Newspapers
- Close ups of
talking head
- 2 shots of
discussions
- Archival
footage/shooting
on location

(things that happen)

(Iconography)

AO2 To analyse
microscopically

POINT (your point should try answer the question).


In Inside Death Row (ITV) real settings (convention) are established for audiences.
EVIDENCE (back up your POINT with a code) YOU WILL GET NO AO2 WITHOUT IT
The mid shot (technical code) of the prison cell and its LED televisions and PlayStations
connotes
ANALYSIS - how does your code connote your chosen convention?
connotes/signifies modern luxuries that aren't deemed suitable for real-life
murderers. The tight interiors also connote the isolation of real prison life.
How does your audience respond?
Audiences will be shocked to see some luxuries behind bars with men awaiting
execution. They are encouraged to question/debate the issue of modern imprisonment.
Developing the Analysis:
The signs are anchored by Trevor McDonald's questioning about the cell and its contents
as he asks the prisoners inside the cell to "explain what we have in here"(verbal
code). The symbolism of Trevor McDonald being allowed inside the cells positions the
audiences rare opportunity to see inside such a dangerous and secure place. This
dystopian reality attracts audiences that like to divert their own day-to-day reality
(Katz).

A grade Model
now adapt/re-write
1 paragraph of your

A-B grade
Paragrap
h
AS LEVEL

Model
answer
ConventionsThe documentary Amy (Asif Kapadia, 2014) utilises the generic
convention of archive footage to construct a representation of the artist Amy
Winehouse's tragic life story. From the outset of the narrative, Kapadia
cleverly edits together found footage of her journey into stardom. He selects
handheld/home footage of Amy as a child as she confidently and
ostentatiously sings a classic jazz song - this connotes the raw talent this
character has and instantly positions the audience to consider the tragic loss
of a flawed British pop star. Seeing her as a child in a real setting (a her
home) gives a sense of importance to the narrative outcome that the
audience is already aware of - her inevitable death.Other platformsThe
institution, The Guardian, extends the narrative in a way that gives a voice to
the father of Amy Winehouse. In an article by Paul MacInnes (27th June 2015),
the father claims that 'interviews he gave for the film were edited' and
therefore indicates the level at which the director chose to be selective about
the construction of Amy's narrative. His argument certainly extends the
audience's engagement beyond the documentary itself as they may question
(activeaudience)why the director focuses the archive footage to make him
look opportunistic, selfish and manipulative

O3 To create a sustained debat


POINT (your point should try answer the question).
In Inside Death Row (ITV) real settings (convention) are established for audiences.
EVIDENCE (back up your POINT with a code) YOU WILL GET NO AO2 WITHOUT IT
The mid-shot (technical code) of the prison cell and its LED televisions and PlayStations
connotes

Compare
using
connectiv
es:
Differences
use:
However,
Whereas,
Similarities
use
Similarly,
In the same
way..

A-B grade
PEALCEA
L
AS LEVEL

ANALYSIS - how does your code connote your chosen convention?


connotes/signifies modern luxuries that aren't deemed suitable for real-life murderers. The
tight interiors also connote the isolation of real prison life.
How does your audience respond?
Audiences will be shocked to see some luxuries behind bars with men awaiting execution. They
are encouraged to question/debate the issue of ?

POINT Now compare the convention to your next documentary What are the
similarities or differences? You need to use a connective:
Similarly, real settings (convention) are established in Channel 4s One Born
Every Minute.
EVIDENCE (back up your POINT with a code) YOU WILL GET NO AO2
WITHOUT IT
The mid shots (technical codes) of Alice Joness hospital room as the nurse
struggles to find space for the patient bed and Entonox gas unit (episode 2)
connote
ANALYSIS - how does your code connote your chosen convention?
connote the reality of how patients and nurses have to cope with delivering
babies in small and confined spaces.

advantages and
disadvantages of various
platforms
Platforms and Synergy
Being a commercial channel ITV allows mass opportunity for
Synergy - this is between the institution and advertisers.
ITV gives the audiences the advantage of engaging with the
documentary during the ad break. Synergy is utilised during
three 2 minute advert breaks so companies can promote their
products.
Whereas, the BBC (a public service channel) has no
opportunity for commercial adverts, only those that promote
BBC programmes.
The use of synergy allows the documentary to be successful
as it engages the audiences and provides similar products
they may be interested in.

AS Media Exam: Section B: Documentary


EXAM QUESTION (INSTITUTION)

Starter
Why do institutions make
documentaries?
What are their intentions?
How do institutions maintain
documentary audiences?

Take the question


apart
Institutional - Narrative Conventions

EXAM Q: How are the entertainment


values of your chosen documentaries
shaped by the institutions that
produce them?
Construction
Manipulation

of the paragraph: The institution that produced the text = narrative conv
ond half of the paragraph: Other institutions that make the text
ertaining even after it has been watched = platforms e.g. print articles from
wspapers, Twitter etc.

Documentary Narrative
Conventions

Goal orientation/Overcoming a hurdle


Re-enactments
Three part-narrative (Todorov)
Binary opposites = conflict (Strauss)
Character function (Propp)
An introduction to the issues or narrative
A summary by the presenter
Talking heads
Success of initiatives and stories
Micro-features e.g. editing, non-diegetic sound,

Model Paragraph
Channel 4 is a highly respected institution in terms of its
documentary output, they aim to to include programmes of an
educational nature (The Channel 4 Remit). A link to the Benefits
Street programme page reveals that: This documentary series
reveals the reality of life on benefits. However, the institution
utilises narrative conventions to entertain audiences. For example,
Series 1, Episode 5 (A Good Neighbour) uses character function
(The hero - Propp) to engage audiences in a Kitchs narrative for
that particular episode. He is constructed as do-gooder as Fungi
states Kitch, hes a F****** diamond (verbal code) . This is
followed by non-verbal codes of him handing out homemade food to
other residents. It is interesting how the institution are shaping the
characteristics of Kitch what about all the other dull events of his
day that represented the real struggle of life on benefits?
Similarly, the right-wing institution The Sun newspaper (widely
known for its coverage of celebrity lifestyles and its star appeal)
provided a much more humorous and light-hearted representation
of the characters from the show as they described it. White Dee
was described as larger than life and a hilarious down-and-out
who deserved her own show. This is a prime example of how an
institution is taking the media text beyond the programme itself to
shape further entertainment (comedy) for audiences.

AO2 To analyse
microscopically

POINT (include part of the remit or their aims of the institution).


Channel 4 is a highly respected institution in terms of its documentary output, they aim
to to include programmes of an educational nature (The Channel 4 Remit). A
link to the Benefits Street programme page reveals that: This documentary series
reveals the reality of life on benefits. However, the institution utilises narrative
conventions to entertain audiences.
EVIDENCE (back up your POINT with a code) YOU WILL GET NO AO2 WITHOUT IT
For example, Series 1, Episode 5 (A Good Neighbour) uses the narrative convention of
character function. Kitch is represented as the hero (Propp) to engage audiences in a
Kitchs narrative for that particular episode. The institution construct him as do-gooder
as Fungi states Kitch, hes a F****** diamond (verbal code) . This is followed by nonverbal codes of him handing out homemade food to other residents.
ANALYSIS - how does your code construct entertainment by the institution?
Theses codes construct an entertaining narrative for pleasure seeking audiences. It is
interesting how the institution are shaping the characteristics of Kitch what about all
the other dull events of his day that represent the real struggle of life on benefits? Is
this of an educational nature?

A grade Model
now adapt/re-write
1 paragraph of your
essay

A-B grade
Paragrap
h
AS LEVEL

O3 To create a sustained debat


POINT (include part of the remit or the aims of the institution).
Channel 4 is a highly respected institution in terms of its documentary output, they aim to to include
programmes of an educational nature (The Channel 4 Remit). A link to the Benefits Street
programme page reveals that: This documentary series reveals the reality of life on benefits.
However, the institution utilises narrative conventions to entertain audiences.

Compare
using
connectiv
es:
Differences
use:
However,
Whereas,
Similarities
use
Similarly,
In the same
way..

A-B grade
PEALCEA
L
AS LEVEL

EVIDENCE (back up your POINT with a code) YOU WILL GET NO AO2 WITHOUT IT
For example, Series 1, Episode 5 (A Good Neighbour) uses the narrative convention of character
function. Kitch is represented as the hero (Propp) to engage audiences in a Kitchs narrative for that
particular episode. The institution construct him as do-gooder as Fungi states Kitch, hes a F******
diamond (verbal code) . This is followed by non-verbal codes of him handing out homemade food to
other residents.
ANALYSIS - how does your code construct entertainment - by the institution?
Theses codes construct an entertaining narrative for pleasure seeking audiences. It is interesting how
the institution are shaping the characteristics of Kitch what about all the other dull events of his day
that represent the real struggle of life on benefits? Is this of an educational nature?

POINT Now compare the main institution to another institution that was
involved? What are the similarities or differences? You need to use a
connective:
Similarly, the right-wing institution The Sun newspaper (widely known for its coverage of celebrity
lifestyles and its star appeal) provided a much more humorous and light-hearted representation of the
characters from the show as they described it.

EVIDENCE (back up your POINT with a code) YOU WILL GET NO AO2
WITHOUT IT
White Dee was described as larger than life and a hilarious down-and-out who
deserved her own show (verbal code).

ANALYSIS - how does your code construct entertainment - by the


institution?
This is a prime example of how an institution is taking the media text beyond the
programme itself to shape further cheap and throw away entertainment for

AS Media Exam: Section B: Documentary


EXAM QUESTION (AUDIENCE PLEASURE)

Documentary Narrative
Conventions

Goal orientation/Overcoming a hurdle


Re-enactments
Three part-narrative (Todorov)
Binary opposites = conflict (Strauss)
Character function (Propp)
An introduction to the issues or narrative
A summary by the presenter
Talking heads
Success of initiatives and stories
Micro-features e.g. editing, non-diegetic sound

O3 To create a sustained debat


POINT (your point should answer the question).
In Inside Death Row (ITV) audiences are positioned to engage in the non-diegetic soundtrack
(narrative convention).
EVIDENCE (back up your POINT with a code) YOU WILL GET NO AO2 WITHOUT IT
In episode 1 as Trevor explains that every man on death row will be told the date and time of their
execution (verbal code) the deeply profound non-diegetic (technical code) is edited over his voice
of God narration to secure the interest of the audience.

Compare
using
connectiv
es:
Differences
use:
However,
Whereas,
Similarities
use
Similarly,
In the same
way..

A-B grade
PEALCEA
L
AS LEVEL

ANALYSIS (AO2) - What does your code connote? How does your code create pleasure and
interest for the audience?
The dark and foreboding tone of the Southern Blues music connotes the seriousness of the situation as
the inmates are facing their impending death. Audiences may identify (Katz) with this on a human
level, and may encourage audiences to develop relationships by debating this contentious issue of with
friends and family.

POINT Now compare the main institution to another institution/platform that


was involved? What are the similarities or differences? (AO3)
However, The Radio Times Website comment box (online) opens up the debate to a world wide
audience.
This platform is readily available which demands discussion (Katz) about the themes of life and death
and elicits opinions on the dominant/preferred readings (Hall) of the documentary.

EVIDENCE (back up your POINT with a code) YOU WILL GET NO AO2
WITHOUT IT
One comment states that people should be put the death the same way they killed the
victim. An extreme opinion that was received with some agreement, I agree with you 100%. I bet
there wouldn't be nearly as much killing in the world as there is now. People just aren't
afraid of prison anymore it seems (verbal codes)

ANALYSIS - What does your code connote? How does your code create
pleasure and interest for the audience?
These codes connote a growing interest from audiences. The audience will be pleasured beyond the
documentary itself and are given the opportunity to debate in interesting ways using opinions. The

Model: Audience Responses


(Hall)
Stacey Dooley in the USA (BBC Three) is a documentary exploring the

disparity in culture and the class division in America. The preferred


reading (Hall) of the insight to the severe difference between classes in
America is encoded through the binary opposition (Strauss, narrative
convention) in the verbal code of they cant play on their local
basketball court, because there are too many shootings. The
contrast between playing basketball and violent shootings establishes a
preferred reading; audience feelings of sympathy for the teenagers
affected by this consistent crime are expected and they may be
saddened by the extremity of the events that occur so often in this
section of America. In addition, the visual code of Stacey Dooley
becoming emotional when discussing the shooting that had just
occurred, positions the audience to have the preferred reading and feel
empathy for the teenagers. In addition, the BBC iPlayer website does not
allow audiences to leave a comment and give an opposed view. This
forces them to accept the preferred reading for the documentary and
not express their views on the documentary on the institutions website.
Interestingly, audiences did have an oppositional reading (Hall) to the
documentary because of the presenter, Stacey Dooley. Stacey does not
have a voice that is stereotypically authoritative, with a strong South
London accent (verbal code) and audiences may interpret this as the
BBC attempting to attract a younger audience, a difficult audience for
the BBC, by casting a young presenter. Audiences may also have the
oppositional response because the BBC is a respected company, but
have chosen a presenter who is not recognised for serious journalism.C grade why

New Technology
1. How important are new technologies within your
Cross Media area?
For this essay there should be a really heavy focus on the
E Media section. You should be developing more examples
from the list the exam board have provided e.g
E-media suggested texts: websites; blogs/wikis;
podcasts; advertising and promotional materials; radio;
television; music or film downloads; games and emerging
forms. It is advised that at least one from each type of
text should be studied.
2. How effectively and extensively are audiences
able to respond and interact with the cross media
area you have studied?

Explore and share Ideas on


Technology

blogs/wikis/podcasts
What do you know already? How
are they important?

Exam Question: What are the advantages and disadvantages of


using new technology to create synergy for both audience and
institution?
(32 marks)
Use your own case study. Can you use all the key terms?
Actively forging connections
hype
viral talk-ability
audiences

viral talk-ability

the hashtag

convergent links
Narrowcasting

focussing

sharing culture

maximum exposure

Intense competition

important

loyalty institution

profit

A wide-ranging service
strong web presence
catch-up culture
gratification

symbiosis

convenient

consuming
instant

Exam Question: How does the institution construct an engaging


experience for a target audience? (32 marks)

Use all the key words to write paragraphs that include evidence
(AO2), a debate (AO3), your own case study (AO1), and the
linked online platform (AO4)
Goal orientation
Twitter
Binary opposites = conflict (Strauss)
character function (Propp)
audience
remit
Signifies
appeal
institution
characters

Overcoming a hurdles

codes

narrative conventions

positions
generic

participate

non-verbal code
experts

verbal code

a summary by the presenter


journeys
insight into a subject
real settings
entertainment
YouTube
representation
relate to
initiatives

Facebook
identify with
pleasures

re-enactments

online platforms

construction
Katz

the Daily Mail

technical code

goal orientation

archival footage
manipulation

escape from
editing

respond

unique

overcoming a hurdle

talking heads

facts

shaping

The Guardian
Talking heads

success of

AS EXAM QUESTIONS
How do your chosen documentaries use well established conventions
to appeal to audiences? And what are the advantages and
disadvantages to their use of various online platforms?
How are the entertainment values of your chosen documentaries
shaped by the institutions that produce them?
To what extent does your cross media area offer audiences a wide
range of pleasures and interests? (Katz)
Audiences often respond in diverse and unexpected ways. To what
extent is this true of your cross media area? (Hall)
How are the entertainment values of your chosen documentaries
shaped by the institutions that produce them?

Synergy is the process by which media institutions use a range of


platforms to promote, sell and distribute their products. Assess the
impact of synergy in your cross-media study. Support your answer
with reference to a range of examples from three media platforms.

What role does synergy play in ensuring your cross media area is
successful?
How important are new technologies within your Cross Media area?
How effectively and extensively are audiences able to respond and
interact (new technologies) with the cross media area you have
studied?

AS Media Exam Section B: Documentary


Examiners Report Feedback
Part A
The most successful responses were able to isolate the
imaginative techniques/conventions used in their cross
media study and clearly link these to audience. New
technologies were often used as effective examples.
Broad cross media studies worked well here, enabling
candidates to compare and contrast the use of
techniques/conventions by different institutions for different
audiences.
Less successful responses tended just to list techniques,
which could really only loosely be defined as imaginative.
Such responses were in turn very descriptive and lacked a
developed understanding of why the institutions concerned
had used specific techniques for their particular audiences.

Exam - PART B
Success (A-B grade)
Successful responses challenged the orthodoxy of
the question and queried whether the use of
synergy had actually had much impact at all on
audience reception and response. Many though
found the notion of synergy challenging (despite the
definition offered in the question.) In this case the
sense of synergy working across platforms was
missed, instead a series of isolated (yet related)
products being analysed from different platforms
with no real sense of links between them. Some
responses often became descriptive with no real
sense of why synergy was used by the institutions
concerned.
Better exam responses took an institutional point

Exam - PART B
Less Success (C-D)
Weaker responses instead often used examples which
were more audience than institutions led (e.g. online
forums) and thus failed to fully consider why. The same
was also true of print examples such as film reviews, which
again are out of control of the main situation and not an
example of synergy.
Note what the examiner is saying. Weaker candidates
tend to list ideas and describe. To improve your work
you must focus on analysis. Explore how issues are
tackled but also explore the why.