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A2 media Studies

Critical perspectives Exam Section A: Theoretical Evaluation of Production


The exam in a nutshell: The A2 Media Studies exam is called G325 Critical Perspectives in Media. It is two hours long. There are two sections. Section A is called Theoretical Evaluation of Production and contains two questions about your practical work. You have only half an hour to answer each question, in essay form. You must answer both questions and there is no choice of questions. Section B is about more purely theoretical issues, and we will be preparing you for the Media and Collective Identity questions. (This is one topic out of six set by the board so make sure you find the right section in the exam paper!) You will have to answer one question on collective identity from a choice of two. You will have one hour to answer this question.

This booklet contains all you need to prepare for the two half hour essay questions in Section A questions 1a and 1b.

How to do Question 1a
For 1a you have to write for half an hour about examples of your coursework from AS and A2. Since you have made three magazine covers, in many cases these are the texts that you will focus on, but where appropriate you can also discuss other products, such as your trailer. The question will ask you to focus on one or two of the following areas: Digital technology Creativity Research and planning Post production Using conventions from real media texts

So a sample question is: In your experience, how has your creativity developed through using digital technology to complete your productions? Use the SEVEN PARAGRAPH STRUCTURE for any possible essay this is all you can do in half and hour. PARA 1 intro: address key terms and state which /processes/technologies/products you will focus on PARA 2 6 five good points expressed clearly, with examples, and using media terminology PARA 7 conclusion: sum up what your overall response is to the question.

Past Exam Questions for 1a Jan 2010 Describe how you developed research and planning skills for media production and evaluate how these skills contributed to your creative decision making. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how these skills developed over time. June 2010 Describe the ways in which your production work was informed by research into real media texts and how your ability to use such research for production developed over time. Jan 2011 Describe how you developed your skills in the use of digital technology for media production and evaluate how these skills contributed to your creative decision making. Refer to a range of example in your answer to show how these skills developed over time. June 2011 Explain how far your understanding of the conventions of existing media influenced the way you created your own media products. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how this understanding developed over time. Jan 2012 Describe how your analysis of the conventions of real media texts informed your own creative media practice. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how these skills developed over time.

How to answer any 1a question


Question on digital technology and creativity. Example question: In your own experience, how has your creativity developed through your use of digital technology?
PARA 1 Digital tech has transformed the media landscape and my production work over two years shows this. I will show this by focusing on three products, all magazine covers - from my AS Prelim Task (college magazine cover) and Main Task (music magazine cover), and one of my A2 Ancillary Tasks (film magazine cover). The digital technology vital to this work was Adobe Photoshop. AS Prelim Task a way of exploring the possibilities of the digital tech initially leads to an uncontrolled product - fonts mix serif/sans serif and too many styles; blending options over used drop shadows, strokes, bevel and emboss, outer glow; colours too varied; photographs dont control mise-en-scene in backgrounds and are often medium long shots without impact; conventions like masthead and cover lines present but underdeveloped and uncontrolled. [Write specific stuff about your Prelim cover.] AS Main Task more control leads to emergence of house style (font and colour control), better use of conventions, better cropping of backgrounds and more consideration of shot distance and camera angle; masthead gets more of a design rather than simply being bigger text at the top!, cover-lines on the right get right justified etc; more subtle conventions get deployed splashes, straps etc. Over use of blending options is reduced. A2 Ancillary task similar control but QUICKER. Took weeks in AS now takes hours. Photoshop is now a means to achieve creativity rather than a hurdle you have to jump to get your ideas on paper. In A2 Photoshop even becomes a tool of choice to help formulate creative ideas in planning moodboards for trailers. Other digital technologies are also worth discussing briefly. Blogs in AS if you did a PowerPoint to show your research - this was just used as a retrospective way of presenting it for examination. In A2 your blogs actually helped in the research and planning process collections of Youtube teaser trailers to analyse, looking at each others ideas online; presenting visual analyses in Flickr etc. However it is fair to say that in some ways digital technology has not necessarily encouraged creativity . In the past, film stock was expensive and so you couldnt just snap hundreds of photos and hope one would be all right for your cover. You had to PLAN much more carefully. In the film industry footage was extraordinarily expensive and without proper storyboards and really carefully rehearsed shoots you would never be allowed to shoot. If I am honest in our group we did sometimes go out with a camera, without planning, and just see what we could get. So I think that although digital technology has been a democratising process, it has not ALWAYS led to enhanced creativity more is perhaps left to chance when filmstock is unlimited and free. Looking back through my products for this exam was a pleasurable experience as I could really see my progress. Digital technology has enabled me to create products which improved each time to the point where I think my A2 work is really professional. I have learnt that creativity is best realised when you can control the medium and the technology fully, and when, in fact, it is channelled through a set of conventions. Using generic conventions does not strangle creativity, it channels it to a better, more coherent outcome.

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Question on Research and Planning (will probably go with digital tech or creativity).
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Creativity cannot be uncontrolled or it produces chaos. Research and planning are vital if you are to use your creativity effectively, and this is particularly so in media production work. My work from AS to A2 shows my development of these skills. In my AS Prelim Task college magazine I did a bare minimum of research and planning. We looked at a few college magazines in class, and we thought about how we could find out what college students would want from a magazine, and produced a questionnaire which we gave out to about ten students each. So for our research I investigated existing media products and my target audience, but in a very superficial way. In planning I decided on roughly what central cover image I wanted then asked a friend to pose for it. That was the extent of my control of mise-en-scene! This was OK as the prelim task was really about learning how to use Adobe Photoshop , but the approach led to what I would call a creatively uncontrolled product [see textual points in previous table]. AS Main Task more considered research and planning. Creativity is a glamorous idea but true creativity is a product of the nuts and bolts activities of effective research and planning, and I went some way towards this in my main task. My TA research was also more focused as I was learning that commercial magazines have two revenue streams and you have to know the psychographic and consumer habits of your TA, as well as demographics, in order for a magazine to be a good business proposition. But I also realised that planning is more than just deciding on a target audience and looking at some similar texts. It is about organisation and foresight, and about the ability to overcome problems. For instance, in developing the mise-en-scene of several of my cover images I needed to organise props and actors, recce locations, and plan my shoots around the availability of all three. I learnt quickly that although there is an idea that arty creative people are disorganised, when you are working on a technologically and organisationally complicated product this disorganisation leads to failure! I also put time in on the AS main task to improve my Photoshop skills, which was an essential part of planning for the production, and this also channelled my creativity to produce a more coherent product [see textual points in previous table]. A2 Advanced Portfolio the move from individual print work to group based video production work was a big change from AS, and meant that I was now working in a way which is more similar to the way the majority of media products are actually produced in teams, within commercial organisations. A media text is an industrial, rather than an artistic product. This meant the need for research and planning was increased even more. Communication. Expression of ideas to create common purpose. Difficulties of this. Use of blogs/moodboards/youtube to share ideas at research and planning stage. Understanding mechanics of film distribution and how a campaign is created (institutional awareness in research). Logistics of organising shoots travel, unreliable team members, creating horror trailer during coldest winter for many years! Also depth of understanding of genre, narrative and representation issues which arose in detailed study of the horror genre enabled more sophisticated thinking about these elements of our trailer. Make some sort of general reflection on creativity and planning. For example: One area that I think I have found difficult is drafting. The specification asks for evidence of drafting but I found that my earliest ideas were often very poor and unformulated, and it was only really as the project continued that they developed. So in my print product designs my paper drafts were hopeless, and it was when I was experimenting in Photoshop that my creativity emerged. Similarly in our trailer although we planned our shoots well it was only as we began to cut the footage together on Premiere Pro that I began to see the potential of the footage. For me I think it was an issue of VISUALISATION I could never really see my products in advance. So to some extent I think that there has to be flexibility for media production to move away from what is planned. Looking back through my products for this exam was a pleasurable experience as I could really see my progress, and the development of my research and planning skills has been vital for me to achieve this progress. I have learnt that creativity is best realised when it is channelled in a clear direction, and you can only achieve that clarity through good research. Nevertheless, it is also important to be alert to the possibility that, at each stage of production, new creative directions can arise.

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Question on Post-Production techniques (will probably go with digital tech or creativity). Example question How much of a media text is created in post-production? Show how you developed your post production techniques through your course.
PARA 1 Digital tech has transformed the media landscape and this is especially true in post-production work, because of the immense range and power of the software that has developed to handle the post production of media products. I have been lucky enough o gain extensive experience of two major industry standard packages in my post production work Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Pro. Because I only used Premiere Pro in my second year, I am going to begin by looking at my print based work. In AS I did the college magazine/music magazine option. Postproduction as a term is generally used for moving-image products, but for this question I have considered my research ad planning for my magazines to be pre-production, my photoshoots to be production, and my actual creation of the products on Photoshop to be my post-production. The post production technology vital to this work was Adobe Photoshop. AS Prelim Task a way of exploring the possibilities of the software initially leads to an uncontrolled product in post production- fonts mix serif/sans serif and too many styles; blending options over used drop shadows, strokes, bevel and emboss, outer glow; colours too varied; conventions like masthead and cover lines present but underdeveloped and uncontrolled. With photographs very little post production so no control of mise-en-scene, backgrounds etc, no control of colour balance/brightness and contrast/levels etc so photos remain washed out and lacking in punch, no appropriate cropping to anchor image and remove unwanted signifiers and photos often remain medium long shots without impact [Write specific stuff about your Prelim cover.] AS Main Task more control with post production technology leads to more accurate implementation of planning and clearer emergence of house style (font and colour control), better use of conventions, better cropping of backgrounds and more consideration of shot distance and camera angle; masthead gets more of a design rather than simply being bigger text at the top!, cover-lines on the right get right justified etc; more subtle conventions get deployed splashes, straps etc. Over use of blending options is reduced. Post production of photos more developed brightness/contrast; levels; colour balance; red-eye fixes; cropping to remove unwanted signifiers; selection of heads to put on different layers so they go in front of mastheads etc etc [Write specific stuff about your main task cover.] A2 Ancillary task similar control but QUICKER. Took weeks in AS now takes hours. Photoshop is now a means to achieve creativity rather than a hurdle you have to jump to get your ideas on paper. In A2 Photoshop even becomes a tool of choice to help formulate creative ideas in planning moodboards for trailers. For A2 main product use of Premiere Pro really illustrates power of post production to transform raw material. Discuss how your text only really began to come together during the edit as your footage was transformed. Consider juxtaposition of shots, editing pace, use of other transitions |(white flashes etc), use of sound (and sources for sound), use of intertitles/credits, adjusting brightness/contrast of footage, control of opacity, use of effects etc. Be specific and detailed. If you really liked doing the editing then convey your enthusiasm for it. The section above on Prem Pro is important and you should spend two paragraphs on it. Looking back through my products for this exam was a pleasurable experience as I could really see my progress, and thinking about post-production I can now see that it was my developing skill in post-production software that has enabled my texts to be a success. Nowhere is this more true than with my horror trailer for A2, where the transformation of our somewhat mundane footage into a text which I think rivals some professional trailers is nothing less than remarkable!

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Question on using conventions from real media texts (will probably go with digital tech or creativity)
PARA 1 The tasks set for coursework in Media Studies over the last two years have always focused on particular genres and forms. Therefore we have always had to develop a keen understanding of the languages of the medium we were working in, and of the conventions of the specific genres we were working in. I have worked in both print media and moving image media and so have wrestled with a wide range of these conventions. It has been important, even if I decided to undermine or challenge conventions, that I had a clear understanding of the conventions in the first place. In this essay I will look at the ways in which I deployed conventions from print media by exploring the three magazine covers I have made, the college mag cover in the AS Prelim Task, the music mag cover from the main task, and more recently the film mag cover, one of my A2 Ancillary tasks. Then I will look at my horror teaser trailer, as it is an interesting case study in having to think about Three sets of conventions those of film as a medium generally, such as continuity system; those of HORROR as a film genre specifically; and those of the TEASER TRAILER as a specific form of advertising. AS Prelim Task a way of exploring the possibilities of the digital tech initially leads to an uncontrolled product in terms of conventions - fonts mix serif/sans serif and too many styles; blending options over used drop shadows, strokes, bevel and emboss, outer glow; colours too varied; photographs dont control mise-en-scene in backgrounds and are often medium long shots without impact; conventions like masthead and cover lines present but underdeveloped and uncontrolled. [Write specific stuff about your Prelim cover.] AS Main Task more control leads to emergence of house style (font and colour control), better use of conventions, better cropping of backgrounds and more consideration of shot distance and camera angle; masthead gets more of a design rather than simply being bigger text at the top!, cover-lines on the right get right justified etc; more subtle conventions get deployed splashes, straps etc. Over use of blending options is reduced. More audience research into very particular niche audience leads to high degree of creativity within the constraints. A2 Ancillary task similar control but QUICKER. Took weeks in AS now takes hours. Very careful use of real magazine conventions as a template for my own. In the end a less unique product because made more quickly to demonstrate my awareness of the generic conventions, rather than to actively seek a particular niche audience. In this exercise creativity was more constrained than in the AS main task. A2 main task explore general conventions of film continuity (180 degree rule, eyeline match, matches on action etc did you need to worry about them in a trailer at all?) Then explore conventions of horror (settings, technical code (camera angles, shot distances, lighting), iconography, characters and representations (final girl etc). The A2 main task as a trailer - look at deployment of teaser trailer conventions (elements of the narrative you chose to foreground, use of dialogue or intertitles, editing techniques; use of nondiegetic music; how you teased the audience into wanting to see the movie). Looking back through my products for this exam was a pleasurable experience as I could really see my progress. Working within the conventions of particular meida and particular genres . I have learnt that creativity is best realised when, in fact, it is channelled through a set of conventions. Using generic conventions does not strangle creativity, it channels it to a better, more coherent outcome.

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Now lets move on to Question 1b!


How to do Question 1b the close analysis of one of your products using a key media concept
In this question you have half an hour to look at ONE concept in relation to ONE of your production texts. You should look at your horror teaser trailer. The concept will be ONE of the following: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Genre Narrative Representation Audience Media language

Past Exam Questions Jan 2010 Analyse media representation in one of your coursework productions. June 2010 Analyse one of your coursework productions in relation to genre. Jan 2011 Apply theories of narrative to one of your coursework productions. June 2011 Analyse one of your coursework productions in relation to the concept of audience. Jan 2012 Analyse media representation in one of your coursework productions.

How to answer any 1b question


1. Answering a 1b question on Genre
Your product is, in a sense, a product of TWO genres the horror genre and the teaser trailer advertising genre, and so your exploration of how you have deployed generic conventions should explore both of these. You are also expected to understand some theoretical issues around genre. Theoretical issues of genre. No single text can contain all the elements of a genre, without tipping into parody, so a sensible definition of genre cannot be an exclusively textual one. Genre is often seen as a shared set of expectations about texts which circulate between industry and audience. Industry uses genre to target pre-existing audiences, thus minimising the risk to their capital investment, and consumers use genre as a way of filtering the sheer amount of media available to them. The teaser trailer is a particularly good text to allow us to consider this contract between audience and industry, as its explicit function is precisely to target an audience and to encourage that audience to pay to consume the text which is being advertised. Thus how a trailer deploys generic conventions is worth studying. Although there is this problem with defining genre simply through its textual components, nevertheless a lot of work has gone in to understanding genre texts AS texts and into exploring the repertoire of elements they contain. Steve Neale, an important genre theorist (name drop him), has argued that a genre is a system of differences within an underlying pattern of repetition . In this sense there is a tension between originality and similarity. The conventions can be categorised into those of setting, technical code, iconography, narrative structure, character types and representations, and themes. You will need to show how you used particular genre conventions in these categories but how your combination of them gave your film a unique selling point. To do this you must use the A3 Horror genre chart and the handout about the conventions of trailers, and go through your trailer finding examples of each. In case you cant find it, on the next page is the A3 chart reproduced in little tiny format!

HORROR GENRE CONVENTIONS CHART


Settings
Small communities or isolated places - more rural/suburban than inner city. This offers more opportunities for a sense of isolation, or for a whole community to harbour a secret. Often places with a past which will return. Abandoned house, old lunatic asylum etc. Homes, usually with different levels and cellars and attics places for secrets and the past to inhabit. Basements connote our primitive instincts and attics our repressed terrors? Night-time/out of hour often places of innocent daytime fun, but out of hours! Religions/medical institutions possession, demons, psychosis. Dreams and the unconscious mind The East strange, other cultures with weird traditions

Technical Code
Camerawork is EXPRESSIVE rather than naturalistic. Weird high and low angles. Canted camerawork common disorientating. ECUs on victim to enable audience identification with terror and to exclude threat from frame (more scary as you dont know where it is). Sudden ECUs on monster to connote invasion of our personal space. POV shooting very important subjective, hand-held or steadicam camerawork often places audience in monsters eyes raises issues about audience identification. Clover (Men, Women and Chainsaws) argues this usually switches to the victim/protagonist/final girl as the film progresses. Again raises issues about audience identification. Camerawork often makes use of depth of frame protagonist in foreground, unaware of monster emerging in background. Editing may create unsettling jumps from LS to CU, rather than smooth use of MS. Editing pace may be used to create suspense. Sudden increases in editing pace when there is no apparent threat creates feeling of jumpiness something must be about to happen Sound may be very important. Ambient sound for atmosphere, footsteps, heartbeats high in the sound mix.

Iconography
Visual signifiers of genre are readily apparent. The colours black and red (obvious connotations of darkness, evil, blood and danger etc). Lighting expressive and non-naturalistic. Motivated, low-key, high contrast, chiaroscuro, to emphasise shadows. Lighting direction often from unexpected angles eg below, to create unfamiliar shadows (and connote hell, bonfires, primitive instincts etc, as natural light - sunlight, moonlight, room lights - is always from above us). A selection of the commoner objects in the mise-en-scene would include weapons, (particularly bladed), blood, masks, icons of the supernatural (ghosts, moving objects) and religion (crucifixes, pagan symbols). Iconography of childhood/innocence dolls, playgrounds, clowns childrens songs (see Barthes structuralist narrative theory of binary oppositions).

Narrative Structure
Classic realist/classic Hollywood narrative structure (normalityenigma-path to resolutionclosure, or hero-agent of change-quest- resolutionclosure) largely applicable to genre, although there may be false closures and the real closure often left ambiguous for two reasons 1 to suggest mythic quality of the monster and 2 to enable a sequel. This conception of narrative structure is based on Todorovs theories. The clear, unambiguous hero of the classic Hollywood narrative is somewhat problematic in many horrors as a main protagonist, the final girlof the slasher and many other horror films is a victim/hero rather than a simple hero, and thus provides a point of masochistic identification for the spectator which is more complicated than in many other genres. The narratives of some subgenres, such as the slasher, are very formulaic. Childhood psychotic event creates killer who return to a past location on an anniversary to kill again usually a group of stupid, immoral teenagers etc, with one (virginal, slightly masculine) female character who survives the final girl. Propps theories of narrative? We will try to apply them to our next film Barthes and Levi Strauss, structuralist narrative analysis not so concerned with linear development but more with underlying mythic structures works particularly well with horror. Binary oppositions abound, for example innocence/evil. Horror often plays on this by developing very sinister atmospheres through a reliance on our awareness of the existence of the opposite term to innocence. Hence the use of dolls, fairgrounds, nursery rhymes, children etc.

Character Types
Main protagonist often victim/hero see points on narrative structure. The Final Girl, androgynous, virginal... Monsters with a hidden secret or made psychotic by an earlier event. Stupid/immoral teens to get killed... Children. Ineffectual police and normal law enforcers (horror is not containable through normal channels). The have a go hero who will get killed Scientists who do stupid things or over-reach their powers People who refuse to believe

Themes
Binary oppositions natural VS unnatural; good Vs evil; known Vs unknown. Return of the repressed Freudian theory horror is often close to sex in some way The hidden evil inside. Science out of control. What lies on the other side of death? Does horror reinforce or subvert dominant ideology???

And on the next page is the conventions of trailers sheet!


TRAILER KEY CONVENTIONS
Trailers are advertisements for a film, usually constructed using actual footage from the film, aimed very carefully at the films target audience and designed to leave the viewer with a feeling that they want to know more No matter what genre or target audience a trailer is for, they all share some central conventions. o Trailers MUST indicate: The GENRE of the movie The NAME of the movie! The PRODUCTION VALUES of the movie (stars, budget, special effects, name director etc) Trailers must also pick out aspects of the movie that the TARGET AUDIENCE will be interested in. introduce central characters and their relationships indicate the central narrative enigma of the film, but not how it is resolved show a selection of moments from the quest section of the film which are attractive to its target audience (eg action, romance, comedy sequences or whatever) indicate the mood of the film utilise techniques to entice and tease the audience into wanting to see the film they must leave the audience feeling excited but unsatisfied. There are many techniques to do this, involving the soundtrack, the use of language etc MUSIC will be emotive and in keeping with the genre. It will emphasise build-up/crescendo rather than release (thus leaving us with a sense of wanting more). A mixture of DIALOGUE and, very often, VOICE OVER (V/O) or INTER-TITLES will introduce the central characters of the story and explain the premise, and complication, but will not give the resolution. In narrative terms, the enigma is presented, and moment from the quest or pathway to resolution, but the resolution itself must be withheld The V/O or inter-titles may well tease us into wanting to see the film by asking, but not answering, questions. It may well be an authoritative male voice, and it may use repetition of grammatical structures, alliteration and other language devices for emphasis, memory and emotion. It may speak a single sentence, breaking it up into clauses, with dialogue in between each clause. The dialogue and visuals will back up what the V/O is saying. The V/O will repeat the name of the movie for emphasis and memory.

Teaser trailers may leave more narrative enigmas and may be shorter (average of around 60-90 seconds). There are some exceptions to these general conventions, but in the main commercial trailers for mainstream movies follow them.

2. Answering a 1b Question on Narrative


Theoretical issues of narrative. Narrative structures have been explored by many theorists, such as Propp, or Todorov. It is of limited use trying to see how a text fits into the structures suggested by these theorists, as ultimately it does not tell you much about the specific nature of the text you are studying. A more practical approach to narrative was taken by the film theorists Bordwell and Thompson. They looked at how the text creates a coherent narrative world of time and space, and cause and effect, and how the story becomes a plot (ie how chronological events are reordered to generate narrative tension and progression). Another worthwhile approach to narrative is to look for the underlying deep structures of meaning in narratives, which can tell us something about the cultures and societies that produce them. This was the approach taken by structuralist analysis of binary oppositions in texts, adopted by Claude Levi-Strauss and Roland Barthes. For an essay on narrative you have to use the ideas of Bordwell and Thompson and Levi-Strauss and Barthes. You will explore the spaces and times connoted in your trailer, tackle the story/plot distinction and explain which elements of the story are indicated in the trailer and why. You will also explore the extent to which your trailer is a restricted narration or an unrestricted narration. Then you can look at binary oppositions working in your text. You will need the handout on narrative to help you with this question, and must go through your trailer working out points to say in relation to Bordwell/Thompson and Levi-Strauss/Barthes. A shortened version follows now!

A2 MEDIA STUDIES

NARRATIVE THEORY

This is a cut down version of a handout you were given at the start of year two. For a fuller discussion of narrative theories, see the original handout.

Narrative theory studies the devices and conventions governing the organisation of a story (fictional or factual) into a text. Why is narrative important to us? Stories are very important in helping us to make sense of our lives and the world around us.

We are surrounded by story form: As children we listen to fairy tales and myths. Reading material as we progress becomes short stories, novels, history and biographies. Religion is often presented through collection of stories/moral tales e.g. the Bible/ the Koran. Scientific breakthrough is often presented as stories of an experimenter's trial. Cultural phenomena such as plays, films, TV, dance, paintings tell stories. Newspapers tell stories Dreams are little narratives in themselves

Narrative in media texts Most of the media we consume is in the form of narratives, texts that tell a story. Even texts which are factual often employ story methods, for instance a documentary may follow the 'story' of a group of environmental warriors over a period of six months in their fight to prevent a road being built. We talk of news stories. The media, even when dealing with the real, always recreate it as a narrative.

We are so steeped in the narrative tradition that we approach most media texts with certain expectations even more fundamental than our genre expectations, whether we know anything about the story or not. For example, we expect the opening to give us information about who, what and where. there to be characters who interact with each other. to see a series of incidents, which are connected with each other. problems and/or conflicts. the ending to resolve the action or cast new light on what has happened

BORDWELL AND THOMPSON Bordwell and Thompson, in their very important book Film Art: An Introduction (in the library) defined narrative as "a chain of events in a cause-effect relationship, occurring in time and space". Whilst not creating a full theory of narrative, they put together some very interesting ideas. For them, a narrative typically begins with one situation, a series of changes occur according to a pattern of cause and effect; finally a new situation arises that brings the end of the narrative. Narrative shapes material in terms of space and time - it defines where things take place, when they take place, how quickly they take place. Narrative, thus uses technical techniques to manipulate our awareness of time and place; e.g. flashbacks, replays of action, slow motion, speeding up, jumping between places and times. What editing methods can achieve this? When we are watching a film we try to connect the events to make sense of what is happening, to see a line of cause and effect. This is by far the most important factor in narrative because even if there is no obvious connection, we still try to make one. This is a natural reaction because making connections is how we make sense of the world around us, for example looking for a reason for feeling sick and concluding that we ate an undercooked sausage. What we are actually doing in film terms is connecting the images that we see in both time and space and creating a causal effect between them. How does the director manipulate cause and effect? The director can create a mood or atmosphere by choosing certain shots in a certain order, to build a picture in our minds. We automatically link what is happening in one shot with what happens in those either side of it, as this is what happens in real life. Thus, by showing us a house and then an interior room, we presume the room is inside the house. In this way we are interacting with the film.

TIME Cause and effect take place in time. As we watch a film, we try to put events in chronological order and allow them duration and frequency. There are 3 distinctions of time within a film: Screen duration: the time the film takes to show Plot duration: the length of time the plot covers Story duration: the length of time the story covers (including all the inferred events we bring to it) The plot does not always show us events in strict chronological order i.e. the story order in which they would have happened in real life. For instance, sometimes a flashback technique is used to show us what happened in the past, or less frequently, a flash forward to events which have not yet occurred. The narrative can also be presented in parallel terms, for instance we watch a scene where a character is getting ready for a party, then we see another scene where a friend is doing the same. The time when this is happening is parallel to each other - it is happening at the same time in real terms. As with all narrative choices the filmmaker has made, we must look at why s/he has chosen to present events in this fashion and the effect it has upon us as an audience. Time is also cut out of all texts. This is called ellipsis and is vital since a film only lasts for an hour and a half and yet may tell a story which takes place over several years. We infer events in between. In a trailer this ellipsis is even more vital.

SPACE Editing also guides us through space, as in the house/interior room example above. The plot sometimes leads us to infer other story space, which we may never see e.g. we know a character has gone off on holiday but we do not see this 'space'. Screen space selects portions of plot space to show us, just as it selects certain time events and leaves others out. Plot frequently implies space which is not shown.

STORY and PLOT When we are linking images together in terms of cause and effect, one of the ways in which we do this is to look at what is happening on screen and assume that other events have taken place that we haven't actually seen. For instance, if we watch the opening to a film like Gladiator, where a huge battle is about to take place we will assume that preparation for this battle has taken place, that the hero has proved himself to be a worthy leader in battle, that he has had a successful home life before this point. Ellipsis has occurred. These events will have taken place in a different time and space to what we see on screen at present. When discussing film narrative, we can make a distinction between the story and the plot. Story is all the events that must have taken place in a narrative, whether explicitly presented or not, and plot is the events explicitly presented. The plot may reorder the story. For example, here is a story: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. Criminal thinks up a crime. Criminal plans crime. Criminal commits crime. Another character discovers the crime Police are called Detective investigates Detective discovers who committed crime Detective chases criminal Detective catches criminal Criminal take to court Criminal convicted Criminal imprisoned

Now reorder this story as a whodunit plot. What is your sequence of numbers?

USING NARRATIVE TO BUILD SUSPENSE Restricted narrative can be used to surprise an audience, e.g. when a character does not know what is waiting around the corner and neither does the audience. Unrestricted narrative, giving the audience more information than the character, can be used to effectively build suspense, as the audience are anticipating the events to come, of which the character has no knowledge. Here is how a famous director, Francois Truffaut, explained it. Two characters are having a very innocent little chat. There is a bomb underneath the table between them. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, "Boom!" There is an explosion. The audience is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the audience knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there, and the editing of the scene occasionally cuts to a close-up of it ticking as the characters talk. The audience is aware that the bomb is going to explode at one o'clock and there is a clock in the decor. The audience can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions this innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the audience is participating in the scene, longing to warn the characters on the screen: "You shouldn't be talking about such trivial matters. There's a bomb beneath you and it's about to explode" In this first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of explosion. In the second case we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed.

A COUPLE OF OTHER IDEAS WHICH MIGHT HELP YOU Lev Kuleshov, a Russian filmmaker in the 1920's experimented by showing people shots of an actor in between shots of different objects - food, a dead woman and a child. The audience interpreted the actor's expressions (although it never changed!) as being hungry, sad and. affectionate. This is because our brains try to make continuitive sense of what we see. This placing together of images is called montage. Sergei Eisenstein, another Russian filmmaker of the same era, believed that it was more effective if consecutive shots were not obviously linked as the audience were forced to think and interact more to make the mental jump from shot to shot. In a more lighthearted way montage is used today in pop videos and advertising, to encourage us to make associations and link ideas.

CLAUDE LEVI-STRAUSS/ROLAND BARTHES Levi-Strauss and Barthes looked at narrative structure in terms of binary oppositions. Binary oppositions are sets of opposite values which reveal the structure of media texts. An example would be GOOD and EVIL - we understand the concept of GOOD as being the opposite of EVIL. They were not so interested in looking at the order in which events were arranged in the plot. They looked instead for deeper arrangements of themes. For example, if we look at Science Fiction films we can identify a series of binary oppositions which are created by the narrative: Earth/Space Good/Evil Humans/Aliens Past/Present Normal/Strange Known/Unknown What horror binary oppositions are there in your trailer?

Here is an exemplar essay for 1b on narrative: Explore narrative in one of your products.
Many media theorists have investigated narrative structures and related issues. Much of this has been interesting but some of it ultimately has little to say about how specific texts work. For example, Vladimir Propp investigated the character and narrative functions of Russian folk tales, and his work has been applied to many media texts, but ultimately trying to see if a text fits in with Propps functions such as the princess, the donor, the false hero and so on, do not really tell us much about the text itself and its underlying organisation. In this essay I will look at my horror teaser trailer, which was my A2 main task. I will investigate its use of narrative from several perspectives. Firstly I will look at Bordwell and Thompsons useful definition that narrative is a series of events, in a cause -effect relationship, occurring in time and space. Secondly I will look at some of the attempts to uncover the deep structures of narratives that structuralist theorists like Levi-Strauss and Barthes have used. Bordwell and Thompsons definition is useful because it allows us to focu s on how a text organises itself. In my teaser trailer one of the things I was doing was playing about with the idea of causeeffect relationships. In my trailer the main protagonist has had a heart transplant but died briefly in the operation. The transplant was otherwise successful but she starts to see terrible events around her, which seem to involve a little boy covered in blood. We give a central cause-effect relationship the heart transplant has caused her to start seeing horrific things. But we leave out crucial details or other elements of the cause-effect relationship. For example, WHO is the horrific child? WHY has this happened to her? In the film we find out that she has been given the heart of a murderer, but this is not stated in the teaser, so we have played around with the cause-effect relationships to generate the tease of our teaser! Bordwell and Thompson also point out that a narrative has to delineate time and space. A film only lasts about an hour and a half (and the teaser trailer for it only about a minute and a half!) but the story events of the film may cover a period of months or years. So time is routinely cut out of the story when creating the plot, leaving the audience to infer the missed events. In constructing our teaser trailer we had the luxury of being able to ignore the delineation of time because we were able to show moments from the story in an unconnected way, allowing our audience to undertake this process of inferring some relationship between these events, a relationship which would be confirmed or changed when they actually watch the film itself, rather than the trailer. Space also needs to be constructed in a narrative. When we see a house and the next shot is a kitchen, we infer that the kitchen is in the house. We used this process to construct the spaces of our narrative and their relationship to each other. We begin with a series of close-ups in a hospital room. We next see a woman being wheeled down a corridor. The relationship of this shot to the previous ones enables the audience to understand the space of a hospital corridor, even without signposts or more detailed mise-en-scene. Narratives may be restricted or omnipotent. That is the audience may know as little as the main protagonist (restricted) or may know a lot more. We chose to make our narrative restricted. When the main protagonist shouts whats happening to me? and we half dissolve to a montage of horrific images across her face, we are in the same position, trying to make sense out of a number of limited clues. Who is the boy child? Why is she seeing these visions? What will happen?

Levis Strauss and Barthes investigated narrative in another way. They looked for the underlying deep structures in narrative the elements which tell us about the fundamental assumptions that the narrative is built up from. They did this through an exploration of binary oppositions. They argued that terms in culture can only be understood by reference to what they are NOT. That is, a concept like, say, good only makes sense if on some level we are aware of its opposite, evil. Horror as a genre has been seen as one which really relies on this idea hence evil clowns etc. When we are conscious of innocence, the concept of corruption or whatever is bubbling just below. We used a series of binary oppositions in our trailer. The mise-en-scene of the church implicitly hits at the existence of satanic even. The blind woman implicitly suggests extreme sight (visions of the future). The child is a signifier of innocence yet he is covered in blood. The trailer begins in the day but this soon tips into night. We can see that these oppositions, day/night; god/satan; innocence/evil etc create a really strong sense of the invasion of the normal world by these abnormal forces a return of the repressed which can be further explored to understand the deeper cultural assumptions of our horror film. Overall narrative tools are useful as a method of analysing a text, but they must be more than just an attempt to fit the text into someone elses set of categories. Narrative analysis needs to explore how a text organises its self-created world and what the underlying assumptions of that world are.

3. Answering a 1b question on Representation


Theoretical Issues. The big theoretical issue here is with the ideas of Carol Clover and her concept of the final girl. If you have not used a final girl you will need to explore your representation of the monster, and/or the hero.

Heres how to answer a representation question: In this essay I will discuss the representation of gender in my horror teaser trailer, focussing mainly on women. Traditionally, the representation of women in the media has confined them to four main roles: The domestic woman as housewife The familial woman as wife or mother (defined through her relationship to MEN) The sex object The consumer Although there is more variation in current media output we can still see these roles dominating how women are represented. Furthermore, the way that many mainstream media texts positions the audience places women into an objectified position. The camera itself looks at women as objects, through the perspective of the male protagonist. Laura Mulvey has termed this the male gaze and we can see it at work in many genres such as the action movie, where men are protagonists and women are looked at as objects. The horror genre is often more interesting than this. In my trailer I used a FEMALE main protagonist, despite the fact that my core target audience is young males, 15-24. [NOW EXPLAIN YOUR TRAILER AND WHAT HAPPENS TO THE FEMALE MAIN PROTAGONIS. IF YOU USED A MALE MAIN PROTAGONIST YOU CAN EXPLAIN THAT HE IS FEMINISED BY HIS TERROR, SO SIMILAR ISSUES ARE BEING EXPLORED]. Instead of offering an identification point for the audience with a male protagonist who objectifies women, the identification is, in many horrors, WITH a woman the victim/hero female protagonist who is terrorised by the monster and finally overcomes it. This idea, of the male audience identifying with the female final girl was first explored by Carol Clover in her important book Men Women and Chainsaws. She argues that instead of the sadistic objectification of women which occurs in most mainstream genres, horror films often provide a masochistic identification with the woman. [NOW DISCUSS THIS AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR MALE AUDIENCES SEE THE HANDOUT ON ANSWERING THE AUDIENCE QUESTION FOR THE DETAIL. MAKE SURE YOU MAKE FREQUENT REFERENCES TO YOUR OWN TRAILER].

4. Answering a 1b question on Audience


Theoretical issues. Audience is a double edged concept in media studies. Firstly there are issues about how a text targets and speaks to an audience. This is about mode of address and mechanisms of identification, which tell us about how a text interacts with its audience. The second area of media studies relating to audience exploreS issues to do with media effects. It is only the first area that you need to write about here. Of course, in horror films, we have an interesting point about identification if you have used a final girl in your product since this will take you into the Carol Clover issues to do with young males identifying with female victim/protagonists in a way quite unlike the controlling/objectifying male gaze identification with a masculine hero. If you get a question on audience here are the areas to cover: A. Targeting the audience Discuss your audience research process. How did you decide on a target audience? Core horror audience males age 15-24 but significant secondary audiences too. What audience research did you do? Did you consider demographics and psychographics? You can do this part fairly quickly. You could say that issues to do with how the audience is targeted are less interesting than looking at how a text interacts with the audience, and so you want to move on to discuss this area. B. How the text engages the audience The way a mainstream film text encourages audience involvement is principally through the mechanisms of identification with the protagonist. The three most essential conventions for encouraging that involvement are: The close-up taking us into the personal space of the protagonist (a space we only go into in real life with those we are very close to) and thus encouraging a clear empathy with the emotions of that character. The POV shot here we see through they eyes of the protagonist hence we are encouraged to experience what their responses will feel like. The reaction shot when the protagonist finds out something important, or is, say, given bad news, the film cuts to a close-up of the protagonist we are interested in his/her narrative journey and therefore his/her feelings are tracked through reaction shots. If we are watching, say, a gunfight between an action hero and his evil opponent, it would be ridiculous to cut to the reactions of the villain after a just missed bullet flies past. We are not interested in his emotions only those of the hero.

Explain how your trailer uses these shots. C. More complex audience issues with horror texts But horror is interesting for two reasons in relation to these mechanisms for audience identification with the text. 1. The extended POV shooting from the monster, often called subjective camerawork in horror theory. This creates an unsettling situation for the audience as it subverts moral categories and safe assumptions. We are killers for a moment. Why? If you have used this explain how and why.

2. If you had a FEMALE protagonist you must explore this section in your essay. In most mainstream genres the heroes have traditionally been male, and this process of IDENTIFICATION with the male hero leads to a process of OBJECTIFICATION of the female body. Women are accessories to the masculinity of the hero, connoting only his power and strength rather than having an independent role in the narrative. They are presented in terms of their status as objects of attraction which the hero can use. This process of objectification was originally identified by Laura Mulvey, who termed it the MALE GAZE. But many horror movies do not create this audience identification with a strong hero and related sadistic, controlling objectification of the female body. Instead, through the figure which Carol Clover identified as the final girl, the audience is asked to identify with a female victim/hero who is repeatedly terrorised through the narrative but who finally overcomes the monster. This is really interesting because the core target audience for horror is teenage to early 20s boys. So we have a genre targeting males which offers them an audience identification positions with a female, who is also not an all-powerful hero! Instead of sadistic objectification of the female, we have masochistic identification with her!! It has been argued by Clover and others that horrors relationship with its core audience is often one which allows that audience to play out fears of the status and power held over them by dominant males ie which essentially allows them to explore their position as males lower down in the brutal hierarchy of masculinity. If you didnt use a female protagonist you can still explore some of this by explaining the argument and then explain that you place males into victim roles, so the idea of horror exploring male insecurity is still present in your text. If time you could conclude with some discussion about what has been said about the popularity of horror in relationship to audience. For example some have argued that horror offers a way of exploring deep seated anxieties about sexuality and power but in a safe context. Therefore it is cathartic for its audience and ultimately conservative because it allows us to come to terms with our own repression and to maintain it horror is like letting of steam to stop the pan boiling over! Others have argued that horror is a radical genre because it exposes our deepest anti-social fears and fantasies which society tries to bury. Robin Woods is a crucial theorist here, who argued from a Freudian psychoanalytical perspective that horror is the return of the repressed.

Answering a 1b question on Media Language


Media language is an overarching term which relates to the conventions of the medium, as well as the genre. Your medium was film, so if you get a question about media language, you would be expected to explore the general conventions of film language, such as: Continuity System (180 degree rule, match-on-action cuts, eyeline match-cuts, shot-reverse shot, establishing shots), mechanisms of identification such as use of close-ups, reaction shots, POV shots, constructions of time and space (see section on narrative). techniques of suspense use of sound

Ideas on hoiw to explore each of these are given below: To answer a question on media language you therefore discuss the general conventions of film, rather than the genre specific ones. You could, for example explore, in detail, how you used the continuity system (although it is worth pointing out that a trailer does not have to use continuity in the way the film itself does, because it jumps about in the narrative to create a desire to see the film). If discussing continuity explain what each of these elements of the continuity system ARE and how they work, and give a clear example of HOW you have used them describe the shots/sequences where you have done so. Here are the elements to use. Write a clear example to finish off each part. CONTINUITY CONVENTIONS
The continuity system evolved in the early years of Hollywood as a system of editing which minimised the potential disruptive force of the edit. Every time there is a cut in a film, there is the potential for the audience to get confused and thus to lose their involvement in the narrative world of the film. The continuity system consists of a number of techniques, several of which I used in my trailer

The establishing shot


Establishing shots are a vital part of the continuity system. They are long shots, used early in a scene, to establish where characters and objects are in relation to each other. A typical cycle of shots in a scene will be an establishing shot, followed by a series of closer shots, then a re-establishing shot as a reminder of the spatial arrangement. Some genres or sequences, such as the opening of a whodunit, may choose not to use establishing shots so that narrative information, for example the identity of the murderer, is withheld to generate mystery. In our trailer we used

The eyeline-match cut


The eyeline match cut occurs when a character looks out of frame. This motivates a cut to a shot of what they are looking at (which may be a POV shot). The eyeline match helps the audience to be clear about the spatial arrangement of a scene by reinforcing where objects and people are in relation to each other. In our trailer we use this technique in the scene with.

The match-cut on action


The match on action is another editing technique used to help overcome the potential disruption to audience engagement which editing creates. An action begins in one shot and ends in the following, thus clearly indicating that the shots are linked and show a continuous sequence. If you had a long shot, say, of a man leaning against a wall, followed by a close up of a hand going into a pocket and pulling out a knife, then it is not necessarily clear whose hand it is. It could be the man in the long shot or it could be another character. So

to make it clear that it is the man in the long shot the action of putting the hand in the pocket needs to BEGIN in the long shot and conclude in the close up. In our trailer we used several matches on action, for example

The 180 degree rule


In order for characters to move, or look in the same direction from one shot to ano ther an imaginary line is placed in a scene, down the main axis of action, and as long as shots stay on the same side of the line, then screen direction and screen position is reinforced. In our trailer we utilised this technique in the scene where

Another really good area to explore is your use of CONVENTIONS TO ENCOURAGE AUDIENCE IDENTIFICATION WITH THE PROTAGONIST
To work, a film has to create identification between the audience and the main protagonist. If this does not happen then the audience is likely to be unengaged in the film and have no interested in the narrative. There are three central techniques to encourage identification. These are the close-up, the POV shot and the reaction shot.

The close up
The power of the close up is the key to the power of film. In the real world we all have a private space around us into which we only allow those we are close to or those we love (the space might also be invaded by someone being aggressive to us). Thus when we get a close up of the main protagonist it creates an immediate sense of intimacy between us and him/her. Even without any narrative understanding it is easy to work out who the main protagonist in a commercial film is the character with the most close-ups! In our trailer we

The POV shot


The point of view shot is a really powerful identification mechanism because it places the audience into the view of the main protagonist, allowing us to experience events in their shoes. This creates a really intimate connection between the view and the main protagonist. We used POVs in this way in. In horror, the POV is often used for another purpose, by placing the audience into the eyes of the monster/killer. This is deeply unsettling for the viewer as it undermines our morality. Such a disturbing effect is of course part of the horror genre. We used this in...

The reaction shot Reaction shots are a particular form of close up which is crucial to enable the audience to share in the
emotional journey of the main protagonist. When the protagonist receives some bad news, or a bullet narrowly misses them, we expect to see their reaction, in a close up. This techniques was used by is in our trailer when

CONVENTIONS TO ENHANCE SUSPENSE


Even if a film is made comprehensible through th e use of the continuity system, and we are encouraged to identify with the main protagonist through the techniques discussed above, the film still has to generate excitement and tension for it to be a success. Thus suspense techniques are common to almost all movies. Here are some of the most important:

Cross cutting
Cross cutting is a series of cuts between two scenes or parts of a scene which usually implies they are happening at the same time and will converge. We are a ware of the impending convergence but do not know what will happen. James Bond trying to untie a woman in a room where a ticking bomb is counting down would be a typical example. The pace of editing increases as we cut back and forth between Bond trying to untie the woman and close ups of the timer device counting down to zero. In our trailer we used cross cuts when

Increasing pace of editing


We read editing pace as indicating levels of excitement. The faster the pace the more the excitement. Control of editing pace is therefore vital to a successful product. In our trailer

OTHER STUFF YOU COULD WRITE ABOUT Use of sound: non-diegetic - incidental music diegetic - sounds from the world of the character synchronous (onscreen source), asynchronous (offscreen sources) ambient sounds to enhance realism of a scene sound bridges Camera angles to connote power Control of lighting to express mood (low key)

This should give you plenty of general film language conventions to explore in half an hour! Make sure you decide on you examples from your trailer and can write fluently about the conventions and your examples.

REVISION WORK 1b essay plans


FIRST ESSAY PLAN FOR 1b. MY HORROR TEASER TRAILER AND GENRE
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CONCLUSION

SECOND ESSAY PLAN FOR 1b. MY HORROR TEASER TRAILER AND NARRATIVE
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CONCLUSION

THIRD ESSAY PLAN FOR 1b. MY HORROR TEASER TRAILER AND REPRESENTATION
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FOURTH ESSAY PLAN FOR 1b. MY HORROR TEASER TRAILER AND AUDIENCE
INTRO

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FIFTH ESSAY PLAN FOR 1b. MY HORROR TEASER TRAILER AND MEDIA LANGUAGE
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CONCLUSION