Evaluation

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

My media text challenges conventions of existing media texts by using conventions of Romantic films in my Drama film. The very beginning of my film opening feels like a typical Romance film, the upbeat techno music I used, the types of shots I used of her walking, the use of the sunrise and even the bright golden tint I added to some of the frames all helped to build a tone that made the audience expect a Romantic plot line, as I had used typical conventions of a Romantic film. This means that when the audience noticed that my film was focusing on a couple who clearly had problems, and then later that one partner was being arrested, this all worked to subvert the audiences expectations and the conventions of my chosen genre. As well as this I feel that making a gay couple the main plot line of my film opening subverts most media pieces, as many films that include romantic story lines focus on a typical hetrosexual relationship. Some films do focus on gay relationships, however many Romance/Drama films are solely hetrosexual; Titanic, Pretty Woman, 500 Days of Summer are just three examples of films over the decades that solely focus on a male/female relationship.

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My film also uses typical conventions of the Drama genre of using a romantic plot line to further the interest in the plot and to make the characters more appealing and likeable to the audience. Drama films such as Titanic are an obvious example of this as the plot revolves around the relationship of the lovers, but even less obvious Drama’s such as Fight Club make use of a romantic story line. My film is no different in this sense, using the romantic relationship from the onset to further the plot and to make my characters more appealing and relatable to the audience.

I created a sense of insecurity in the audience within the romantic plot line of the piece, subverting the romance genre even more as most romance films want to make their audience feel comfortable with the film and even make them envy the perfect characters on screen. I didn’t want this. In my portrayal of my characters I wanted them to seem flawed, with Jess appearing very arrogant at times and Callie, even though she is who the audience is meant to sympathise with, seem very anti-social at times, for example when she picks up her phone in the television scene. I wanted my characters to be real and real people do have character flaws, I felt this was more important than conforming to the traditional Romance film, where one or both parties is considered completely innocent. This makes the audience uncomfortable as they want to side completely with Callie, however they can’t as she seems so obnoxious.

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•How does your media product represent people in terms of their demographics and stereotypes associated with social groups?

My media text portrays many different demographics and ‘types’ of people in what I hope is a positive light. I included many different demographics, married couples, the LGBT community, women, British people… Much of this is linked together in terms of the codes that I am encoding and what the audience is decoding throughout my film opening. I portray LGBT couples, especially lesbian couples in a way that is close to real life, as all couples will fight and have marital issues. However some may argue that I have represented LGBT couples negatively as they are shown to be unhappy in my film opening, as well as this, it is shown in my film trailer that homosexuality is forced onto people, carrying connotations that being gay is a choice if an entire country can ‘choose’ to be gay to obey the law. It is important to note that just because some aspects of the film do not portray characters of certain demographics in a positive light, does not mean that the film represents the corresponding social groups and demographics in the real world negatively. My film also represents married couples in a negative light as it shows that the married couple are having fights and arguments while the single male seems rather happy. The women in the piece are portrayed as being very different from one another, Jess is very emotional and capricious where as Callie is shown to be mainly unemotional and unaffected by her surroundings, only when she is being arrested does she respond emotionally, exclaiming “this is a mistake!”.

The representation of married couples shows them in a light that is real, focusing on the positives and negatives of married life. The couple do seem unhappy throughout, with the revelation that Callie is being adulterous completely surprising the audience, and her wife who although she is flawed, the audience sympathises with her in this moment in time. The relationship doesn’t seem to be a good fit as the audience watch them avoid one another thought the film opening, as they sit on opposite sides of the couch and move their hands as they touch all gives the impression that married life is not a great one. However their relationship is obviously a very caring one, as I depicted through the character of Jess, who fights to defend her wife, demanding that she be deemed innocent. After Callie is arrested Jess is clearly distraught at the thought of her wife going to jail, even though the couple aren’t happy they still show strong indicators of friendship through these small acts of love and care, portraying marriage as a positive relationship, even a very close friendship, even when the romantic aspect has broken down.

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

I believe that my media piece would be more appropriate for an independent film company, for example Film4, who mainly produce British low budget films making sure they have a “message”. My film is a low budget British film and has a message about the misuse and the following of the media. For this reason I think a company like Film4 would like to produce my film in full should I have asked them to. As well as this Film4 states that they produce media that is designed to represent many social groups and walks of life. I also believe a company like these would distribute my film due to the fact it is something different, new and truly unique. It is unique because of the romantic elements within it, this creates a bond between the audience and the characters within the text. This would mean that when watching the film my audience will want to watch it knowing from the start there are romantic and dramatic elements to it.

Film 4 says on its website “We look for range across our subject matter and budgets, though we prioritise stories with contemporary relevance, based around British-led talent or content.” This fits my film completely. Although my film is very obviously low budget, the story in my opinion hold strong contemporary relevance and is based upon British talent and content. I believe my film to to hold contemporary relevance as the subject matters at hand are ones we are facing today with attitudes toward LGBT individuals changing slowly and with the media being funded largely to fit certain ideals we are living in a society that has the same issues that I have focused on within my highly dramatised piece. Channel 4 also writes on their website that they are aiming to produce more diverse content that truly represents the British population and are looking to create all their scripted programmes with “at least one of the lead characters is either from an ethnic minority background or has a disability or is LGBT, or at least 50% of the lead characters are female.” The two most central characters in my piece are LGBT, my piece focusing upon a lesbian couple, as well as this the majority of the characters shown within my film, lead or supporting roles were women, suggesting that my film would fit Film4s diversity targets.

•Who would be the audience for your media product?

My media product was self rated a 15 due to mature elements of the film, for example the themes of government totalitarianism throughout which may be distressing to younger viewers, however there are many different audiences my film may be suitable for. For example LGBT groups may take interest in my film as a lesbian couple are represented in my movie, which is uncommon in films to be based upon a lesbian or gay couple in this way, furthermore my film will be of interest to people who are not LGBT themselves but are activists for the rights of LGBT people in places where these rights are not extended towards LBGT people, such as republic of Ireland where gay marriage is still being voted for today.In terms of age, I feel that my film would be suitable for those aged 15 due to the mature themes such as sexuality and dictatorship, younger people, especially children, may be frightened of suggestions that England may become a dictatorship and will be controlled by mass media. Linked to this is the idea of location, my film is a British film and will therefore attract a mainly British audience, with my audience being from the UK and Ireland mostly. In places such as England where gay rights are less controversial I’m hoping to gain a large audience but in more religious places such as Republic of Ireland where gay rights are more of a social issue I will likely attract less of an audience as some of the issues presented in my film are considered to be controversial. I may also attract a high need for cognition audience, due to the nature of my film discussing issues such as government control and media use, these are issues that will require my audience to use their central route of communication while watching my film, and therefore I may attract a more academic or more socially active audience, as people who have a high need for cognition are more likely to be these kinds of people.

•How did you attract/address your audience?

I pulled my audience straight into my piece by opening my film as if it were a romance movie, this was very important as it subverted my audiences expectations of the film, however it did not give to much away to the audience. The audience at this point in time will have questions they need to get answered, such as if the two women are a couple, or why Callie, my main character, seemed so distant and apathetic. By making my audience ponder so soon within the film, means the audience is more likely to watch the rest of the film in order for their questions to be answered. Due to the sudden change in mood and plot at the very beginning of the film I have built up within the opening an idea of character and plot, without giving too much away. The audience instantly begins to learn about the characters and there day to day lives through seeing Callie coming home from work and understanding that Jess was the stay at home wife, that they are a couple with marital issues ect. Because of this the audience is interested to find out what is happening with all the characters in the scene, Callie, Jess and Joe, they will obviously want to continue watching.

My film opening attracts an LGBT audience as LGBT individuals are looking for accurate and non stereotypical representation in film. I feel that this is how I attracted this kind of audience, as non LGBT people are represented often, and in a variety of different ways, gay people want the same recognition within media. The film opening is also a powerful address to female audiences, as at its heart the film is about women overcoming their break up. Many chick-flicks and Romantic movies geared toward women have this kind of set up, such as Bridget Jones’s Diary, which follows the struggle of newly single Bridget Jones in getting back onto her feet after she has broken up with her partner. To look at my film from a romantic standpoint ‘The Green Ribbon’ is very similar in context.

•What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?

I had never previously used the camera equipment (tripod and camera) before my AS media studies, and although I learnt some basics from my preliminary task, most of the process of editing and filming was foreign to me. Before this project I had never used a Mac before, so I had to learn about the icons and dashboard quickly before I could properly edit. This didn’t take long as I found out that there was a few things that were similar to the computer that I use at home. I got used to the software by doing things like blog work on the Mac’s this allowed me to learn computer shortcuts such as how to print screen and things like this. When it came to editing I read all of the how to guides on the internet, this then made me comfortable to begin to attempt using Final Cut Express. When on the programme I noticed how self explanatory most of it was, for instance the razor blade tool was used to cut the size of clips. I learnt how to import, export and log and transfer clips. This was in order to create the piece and later upload to YouTube. To cut I used the razor blade tool this helped me as in enabled me to cut and move any clip I wanted to. This was most helpful to me as I could take out some dialogue that I later found out was unnecessary. I also learnt how to crop the size of the image, to get rid of some head space that I could not get rid of when filming due to the shape and size of the room. I used wire frame to zoom in to the desired spot then cropped the image so it was the same as all of the other shots within the piece. The main challenge I faced was adding text into my piece, this was where I had to ask for help. This was my second attempt at my AS piece, which I have left on my blog to show the difference that I have made in terms of my camera and editing skills, as well as my use of things such as lighting that I never took into account before. I decided to try again with this project because I felt that I had learnt along the way with my initial AS piece and decided to try again.

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

From the preliminary task I learnt how to coordinate myself when using a camera and tripod, I learnt how to set up and the camera equipment first of all, learning how to get a steady shot with the tripod and how to set the camera and tripod up. As well as this I learnt how to take simple shots, close ups and tracking shots for example. During my first attempt at my AS I learnt more abstract things, for example how to make simple shots appear more interesting, for example filming a long shot from behind a door to make the shot appear more interesting. In my current AS piece I gained more skills in terms of camera use, for example learning how to use the rule of thirds and apply it to my shots in order to make them more aesthetically appealing. As well as this my skills with using technology improved greatly. During my preliminary the editing was as simple as piecing my shots together in chronological order, when editing my final piece I had to use final cut in a more complex way; using the razor tool to cut out clips at the exact second they needed to be cut, editing lighting in post production and adding my own text, all of these were things I had to learn and use for my AS piece.

audience feedback

During my audience feedback (that I described during a previous post) I had my target audience watch a ‘premier’ of my film opening. Next I had my audience write on a piece of paper 1) their initial thoughts after watching the opening, and 2) how they would constructively criticize it. This means that I had a better idea of what my audience likes and wants from my film and how I can better tailor it to them. Below are images taken of the audience feedback I collected. I collected the data by having my audience write it down and afterwards I took pictures to put onto my blog.

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This one says “audio dialogue needs to be lower, it is drowned out by the music”. This is an area I can improve in as the audience member found that the dialogue was not loud enough and the music too loud, making it difficult to listen. I can fix this by going back into post production and editing the sound.

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“Amusing” this was a first thought of one of my audience members. I didn’t expect the film to be considered to be ‘amusing’, however this suggests that this audience member enjoyed the film and was entertained by the film opening, so I believe this was a compliment.

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This says “fear for safety of children”. This is reference to something that is inferred to within my film opening, that a public safety announcement needed to stress the safety of children within it. This individual obviously remembered that particular part of the film opening, meaning that it was a very prominent and emotional part of the film for some individuals.

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This says “intense” suggesting that the film was emotionally intense to view. This is more the reaction I was hoping for from my audience as the film was intended to be ‘intense’ and emotional.

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“It was great” This individual clearly enjoyed the film, which I am glad to know as a media producer, as you want your audience to enjoy your projects.

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This is another statement on the sound quality stating that this is an area of improvement as 2 of my target audience mentioned it. an improvement would be resolving issues with sound as some actors were loud and some were fairly quiet” This can be resolved in post to an extent by editing the sound, however as a media producer I have no control over my actors and how they portray their role.

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I liked this feedback, it says “interesting topic it brings to light issues that are prominent in society” I like this comment, which was a ‘initial thoughts’ answer, as this is exactly what I wanted in producing this film and becoming a media student, to create content that matters and reflects real issues to my audience. This comment suggests to me that I have succeeded.

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This was written during the ‘discuss improvements’ section of the feedback. It lists a few things I could improve upon and what the audience member would like. “acting. Smoother scene changes. Camera angles.” This suggests to me that the audience member would like to see easier transitions between scenes, which could be fixed in post by editing transitions and using small sections of related footage to ‘bridge’ to two scenes together. They would also like to see more interesting camera angles. This is something I could have done during filming, however now that the filming has been completed I can’t change that element of my project, however I can keep this in mind for my next piece. Finally the question of the ‘acting’ being a little off. However as a director and media producer I can’t change what the actors do and how they perform their roles.

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“Different. Good concept” This tells me that this audience member found the piece unique, which is always good as a content creator as there is no point in creating something that has already been done.

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This one was also complimentary “I liked it. The opening shots set the scene well” This audience member stated that they enjoyed the film in general, but also that they enjoyed my use of camera angles in reference to “opening shots”.

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This is another comment on actors and scene changes “You could improve the actors and maybe have smoother scene changes” the scene changes is something I can go back and improve by editing scene transitions to make them appear smoother, something that a previous audience member suggested. With the number of people complaining about actors this makes me believe that in future I should hire more skilled actors should the budget allow.

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“Sad” This is a ‘first impressions’ response, suggesting that the film made this audience member feel sad. This is a good sign as it means that I portrayed emotion well within the film in order to move my audience to feeling sad.

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This one is a more constructive comment on actors performance “Add more acting, less interruptions, less music” This person suggests that I as a director focus on the role of my actors more and have more dialogue build up throughout. This is understandable as an audience wants the chance to bond with the characters on screen, and can’t do this if the director isn’t focused on the actors during production as this leads to there being less of them on screen. I’m not sure what ‘less interruptions’ means, perhaps this is suggesting that I have longer scenes that are more in depth rather than cutting between scenes once my point has been made. This could be fixed to an extent in post production, but in order to do this properly I would have to go back and re-film to have more depth in my scenes. “Less music” suggests that the music I used was too noticeable, suggesting to me that I need to reduce the non-diegetic music as more than one audience member has commented on the music now.

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“better camera quality” This suggests that the film was in low quality picture, however the footage was shot in HD, the reason why this audience member believed that the camera quality was low was due to it being shown on a big screen where the pixel number is reduced, making the film appear as if it has been shot in low quality. Perhaps in future tasks like this I should take things like this into consideration in order to make the footage as true to the original as possible.

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This is a comment on the structure of my piece “needs to be more structured, actors need to be familiar with their lines” This suggests to me that the structure of the piece was confusing, this means that in future my scenes should be a little longer, making the structure of the piece more clear to the audience as they have time to understand what is happening. As a director it is very frustrating when actors do no know their lines, and this is picked up by the audience. However, as a director and content creator, I can’t change how well my actors know their lines.

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“creative” This suggests that my film was unique and interesting to watch as this individual complimented my creativity on the project. This doesn’t tell me exactly where I was creative (within my choice of shots? Music? Concept? I wouldn’t know), however it does suggest that it was enjoyed by my audience as they found it creative, and therefore interesting.

To me I believe that the audience feedback session was a success as my audience was clear about how I could improve, meaning I can make the relevant changes now I know what my audience want. As well as this I now believe my film opening to be a success as many people within my sample audience complimented the film opening, suggesting that it was emotional and creative. If I were to do this again I would use a more structured format of collecting information to understand exactly what my audience wants, for example using a questionnaire format so I can ask more specific questions and collect more specific answers.

Audience feedback plan

Now that my first draft for my film opening is nearing being completed I would like to take some feedback from my audience so that I know what changes to make in my second draft. I would like to take a sample audience of 5-10 people of my chosen demographic (young British adults) to come to a viewing of my film. I want to make this as if it were a real cinema showing, with the film shown on a big screen while my audience watch, as I want my audience to really believe that this is like a real cinema viewing. I may even have a concessions stand to add to the realism of this being a cinema showing.

My demographic will be young British adults, as this is the demographic that I want the ‘real’ film to appeal to and this would mean that I get similar feedback to what my general audience would give. I will advertise through posters to get people to want to come to the showing. I will be showing the film inside the academy in a large classroom that has been designed to look like a theatre or cinema and the film will be shown on a large television to mimic the big screen at the cinema.

During the showing I will be taking footage of the audience watching and reacting to the film and after the showing I will be setting a small task to my audience where they tell me what their initial thoughts were when they watched the film opening and how they would like to see it improve so that I can make these changes for my second draft. This is something often done in the film industry as producers want to make sure they have gotten the film ‘right’ for their audience so will often invite a sample audience to view the film and give feedback. I used this flyer to promote the event using the website Canva that is designed to create greetings cards.

flyer ad 2016

Film opening draft and final

This was the first rough draft for my film. It was filmed and edited in two weeks and was edited using final cut express on Mac. I enjoyed the majority of the film but felt that it needed some editing in order to appear a little more professional. From there I made these small details a little more interesting and professional in appearance by making small changes. For example the production logo was initially a black screen with the company name typed onto it. From there I decided it needed to look a little more interesting and therefore edited this so that I had an interesting background with interesting text type. This goes to show how much a small change could effect the overall ‘feel’ of the film.

This was the second draft for my film where some of it has been changed and edited in order to fit well with what I think would work better. Only minor changes had been made to make the film work a little better, for example the final credit was edited in a way that the watermark could not be seen. As well as this the transitions on my credits were made much smoother so that they appeared more professional and were more interesting than being stationary text. Minor changes were made with the imagery so that the cuts in the second half of the trailer had a little more context and the final cut of the television rounded the film opening off in a way that made it feel that it was the right time to be ended. Minor adjustments had to be made with the music timing as this added to the emotional tone of the trailer, so that the second song (the piano solo) came in sooner after the initial electronica song so the shift in mood was more obvious.