•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.
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.
•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.