Theory Analysis

This essay was completed for TV and Film (Extended Diploma)
Part One – Narrative Analysis – Psycho
Alfred Hitchcock’s world renowned Oscar award winning horror and thriller Psycho is set in a small motel called the Bates Motel. The entire film is black and white (film noir). Hitchcock decided to do this because the film would look and feel a lot more disturbing and unnerving compared to a brightly saturated film, this idea was inspired by French Diabolique (1955), a film of the same genre. The colour scheme today remains iconic and brings authenticity to the film. You can tell just by the colouring and setting of the film that it is in fact, Hitchcock’s Psycho. Despite the hidden technical genius of the film, in this article I will be analysing the narrative of the film and why it is still one of the most recognised movies in history.

The film features protagonist Marion Crane, a woman who has had an affair with another man. From the beginning of the film the audience already know that Marion is considering leaving home, but not by herself. Marion decides to steal 40,000 dollars as being trusted by her boss to take to the bank. The setting and opening narrative to the film tells the audience a lot about the mischievous Marion. She is complicated in both life and character, and indecisive on most things. The audience perceive her as a trouble maker, and rightly so. However all the other characters in the film see her as normal and trustworthy, hence her boss trusting her with 40,000 dollars.

Marion eventually ends up at the Bates Motel due to wether conditions that match the mood of the film, where she meets Norman Bates, an average and troubled looking young man later revealed to be the villain. Norman appears to be living with his mother, when questioned by Marion about his mother, Norman seems distraught and very anxious to reveal any information about her, as he tends to slow down whenever she is mentioned and performs unusual body actions such as scratching his head and shoulders, this is a great method of foreshadowing for the audience. The weather and setting is perfect of the genre, a horror film would not have the same effect as if set in a busy hotel at 12pm on a sunny day. Marion stays in Cabin 1, a reminder of how discreet and unpopular the motel appears to be despite the horrific weather.

As clever as this shot is, Hitchcock doesn’t just pay attention to positioning and angle but also the lighting. The whole film is lit entirely using white light (as well as the lights in shot) to match the colour scheme and aura however the use and positioning of light used in Psycho always leaves many shadows. In this shot you can see the darkness outside the window, shady lighting in the centre creating an unnerving shadow in the corner of the room. The use of lighting truly links with the character’s emotions, especially the film’s score.

After Norman’s character is introduced and a few conversations are held, the shower scene takes place. Taking seven days to shoot, possibly the most famous scene in film history centres around the murder of Marion. The suspense leading up to the shower stabbing is intense, the lighting of the bathroom is bright white, much like a surgeons room and the shots are held for a long period of time, a little too long to make the audience feel uncomfortable. The shower scene itself is fast, using a large amount of shots (over 70) during the stabbing. Despite the large variety of shots, the knife is never seen on Marion’s skin, yet the audience are aware that the knife has struck due to the intense music and the shots of the shower water, now stained red.

By this time in the film, the audience have almost forgotten the setting behind the film, being so immersed in Marion’s adventure. The original character’s including the two lovers are informed that Marion has been reported missing for over a week, and sister Lila and private investigator Milton decide to search for her, both finding the Bates Motel.

Masterpieces such as this come with good twists, and twists enable the viewer to then spark a conversation about the film but not spoil it, hence why the receiving end of the conversation will want to know the twist. Although this isn’t the sole purpose of one, it is a fantastic promotional factor. Phsyco did receive a sequel in 1999, but alike most sequels to masterpieces, did not receive anywhere near the box office income or seats at the Oscars as the original.

Part 2 – Genre Analysis – Shaun of the Dead
A spoof film intends to inflict a humorous alternative vibe to a genre. They can be done to the extreme, the Scary Movie franchise have released six films following the success of the others. Spoof and parody films are often tossed aside by award ceremonies and critics, however Edgar Wright’s zombie comedy film Shaun of the Dead received nominations for best screenplay the British Independent Film Awards in 2004 and the NME awards for best film in 2005. Shaun of the Dead is not only a zombie comedy and fantasy (cleverly classed as a zomcom in the tagline, a a play on mixture between a romantic comedy and a zombie comedy) but also a social satire. Most parody/spoof films such as Blazing Saddles or Scream play with the primary genre and mock it’s connotations however Shaun of the Dead mocks its audience and also British society in many ways, one example being the fact that zombies have taken over the London yet protagonist Shaun’s plan is to go to the pub.

Shaun is a simple man with complicated issues, stuck in what the film establishes is a part time job for most teenagers and has troubles with his relationship with girlfriend Liz after Shaun unwarily puts his friend Ed’s needs first. This alone is a typical plot connotation of romance films (a good example is Tom Shadyac’s Bruce Almighty, except with the protagonists job) the fact that the protagonist has a distraction or attachment to something, putting it before his relationship or another character.

Spoof films need to have an obvious representation of the genre they are portraying, and in Shaun of the Dead’s case, zombie films. This can be done by using typical connotations of the genre and adding a comedic spin on them. For example, in zombie films, survivors usually have to find a weapon, whereas in Shaun of the Dead, they spend a few minutes throwing records at the zombies, and picking and choosing which records are valuable and shouldn’t be thrown.

Another way Shaun of the dead subverts the structuralism of a horror film is when the zombie attack is taking place, both Shaun and Ed fight against a woman, this is humorous as they are scared of her, this goes against Propp’s character theory as the male lead is recognised as strong both mentally and physically however this is not the case with Shaun and Ed. In addition the seriousness is taken away from the attack against the zombies as both characters start conversing with each other during the attack. This is amusing  as they are oblivious to their surroundings.  Furthermore, after killing the zombies they return inside the house and have tea and Cornetto (a running joke throughout the film series) this is another comedy aspect as it shows that the zombies have had no impact on them what so ever whereas if this was a conventional  horror film the victims would be more distraught of what has taken place.

Shaun of the dead uses many theories such as Todorov’s narrative theory; this was used to create equilibrium at the start and towards the end disequilibrium, this theory is common in most horror films in order to create a narrative concept. Propp’s character theory was also used, this helped to establish the postmodern ambiance in the film as it challenges the typical character types in horror films overall this added humour in the film as the characters were not adopting their traditional roles.

Even in the horror world, much of Shaun of the Dead’s action takes place in the bright morning in a London suburb. When they become aware of the zombie threat, the film’s characters react by calling for emergency services; and when that’s busy, Shaun and Ed plop onto the couch and watch the news for answers. Even after they dispose of two zombies in their backyard, Shaun and Ed return to the news to assess the situation, as we all might do. These characters are relatable and behave in ways that make sense emotionally, as opposed to the dramatic, survival-minded decision makers of most zombie movies. After arming himself with a cricket bat, Shaun’s first instinct is to rescue his now ex-girlfriend Liz and his mother Barbara (Penelope Wilton). In a hilarious sequence, he and Ed mull over the best attempt at rescue, and then set out to gather Shaun’s loved ones and hole up at the Winchester.

Shaun of the dead is incredibly clear in how it portrays horror and romance and combines them with comedy. It is why it is an award winning show, having an incredibly relatable British outlook on the apocalypse isn’t just amusing for us brits, but also to the world.

Producers and Audiences (Film Studies)

This essay was completed for TV and Film (Extended Diploma)
Part 1 Old Films for New

In this superhero themed video essay, I will be exploring into the making and promoting of a blockbuster, the connection a blockbuster has with an audience and firstly, comparing a popular remake.

Spiderman is one of the biggest movie franchises in the world, and has had many renditions in various formats. With the announcement of an even newer and complete remake of the franchise staring another new box office draw, one could say the superhero is being drained for as much money as it can, as not only do the films sell but in 2015 Marvel sold approximately 1.3 billion dollars worth of merchandise, and with a new star comes a new lunch box and a new t-shirt.

The two films I will be comparing in this video essay are the known original Spider-Man starring Tobey Maguire in 2002 and after two sequels, its remake The Amazing Spiderman starring Andrew Garfield a decade later in 2012.

Although Tobey Maguire is a box office draw, Andrew Garfield was a clever choice for Marvel  at the time as he is not only a massive box office draw but fits the part well and a draw for the female gaze, as a male dominated superhero fanbase can be swayed more evenly by subtly changing Peter Parker’s character from just a nerd to a nerd with sex appeal. Just like the original, the genre trends are almost identical, using the iconic logo as much as possible, showing the american flag and of course, Spiderman himself in his American coloured skin tight suit. One thing that the remake does apart from add sex appeal and of course better image quality and special effects is stay incredibly true to the comics, it has more of a real tone and feel to it but also the original, Peter had organic webbing while the remake is closer to the comics and has the web shooters. This pleased the original comic book lovers. The Amazing Spiderman was released in 3D as well as 2D, a cinematic experience that wasn’t common at the time of the originals make, they made sure to market this on many posters as another draw to watching the same story. The princess of the remake is renamed to Gwen Stacey and unlike the original Spiderman and Gwen fall in love very quickly and have numerous dates throughout the show, again appealing to the female audience more as the film can then add romance as a sub genre. This was also a great casting by Marvel as Emma Stone who plays Gwen was dating Andrew Garfield at the time, therefore anytime the couple end up in the news the film may be mentioned.

The remake looks visually stunning, and thanks to the fast evolution of technology, a subtle decade is easily told through the look of the film. The remake is set in the present day, not the date of the original. This is always a great selling point, as it is another difference to the original which makes it worth the watch, it’s not just the same film with better visual effects. The synergy between both films is strong, having exactly the same company produce the film and market the franchise. It is not a remake of a forgotten film, it is a remake of a demanded chain of movies and comics, sequels will be made and spiderman will never be forgotten or left alone by marvel, as with the release of the even newer sequel in 2017 the spiderman franchise can only go up in sales.

Part 2 Bums on Seats 
A movie that the character Spiderman is in is The Avengers, a huge blockbuster franchise combining all of Marvel’s most loved superheroes. The producers of the film considered their target audiences massively when creating the avengers, you can tell because the film catered to a variety of audience groups through different genres, the film has action … drama and adventure … comedy… sci fi escapism… and of course everyone’s favourite superheros. It doesn’t matter if you dislike the director, loath Captain America or dislike Scarlett Johannson, if you like Iron Man you will watch the movie. The same applies for any other superhero in the film, all having their own comic strips and dedicated fans and some having their own movies and billion dollar franchises.

Leading up to the films release their has been many marketing strategies put into place to attract as wide an audience as possible. These strategies include standard things such as posters, billboards and interviews with cast etc. but, as this is a combination of heroes from previous Marvel film releases little hints of the film have emerged since way back in 2008 when a post credit clip at the end of iron man had shown Nick Fury ask for Tony Starks assistance in an upcoming avengers initiative. This was huge as the films follow the marvel comics and the audience of these movies will have put two and two together and known that an avengers movie was possible. Marvel have often used their infamous post credit scenes and cameos to promote their own movies, and are always noticed and theories are created by super fans to keep the mystery and promotion alive.

Marvel are known for their merchandise, and with not just one superhero in the film, chances for expansion of merchandise was inevitable, especially after signing a contract with lego for the film, lego and a lot of the action toy companies appeal and provide to the same target audience of comic geeks to super hero movie fans.

The Avengers is Marvel’s highest grossing film of all time, and rightly so. It is every comic book fans super hero film, and every film goers necessity. The Avengers grossed over a billion dollars worldwide, 600 million of that in theatres alone, which is incredible.

Part 3 Me and My Movies
The Avengers is such a massive movie that they attract a massive variety of people all over the world. People watch films in different ways, different people interpret films in different ways. The two main groups of film viewers are passive and active spectators. Generally, the vast majority of audiences  are passive spectators, when watching a film, they would react in the same that a mass audience would, and they accept the director’s intended meaning. For example, when watching a film like X Men, a passive spectator would accept that the director has used a variety of techniques to ensure that the intending meaning of being an outcast, a mutant, is seen and related to.

An active spectator is basically the opposite. When an active spectator watches a film, they watch it as an individual, and can take their own meaning from it. Active spectators generally analyse film and their meaning and can react differently to a film due to their personal experiences. Sometimes filmmakers create movies with little closure to create ambiguity for the active spectator, opening up many theories and keeping the conversation and franchise going years after the release. Fans will always come up with theories, especially with superhero films, and will re watch the movies at home after seeing them at the cinema and try and capture every detail, die hard fans take advantage of media literacy and immerse themselves in their favourite film almost as much as the director. Huge events such as Comicon enable fans to connect with others and show their love for their favourite comic or superhero, and big companies such as Marvel and DC seize these opportunities to promote their film and sell more merchandise. Fans are made aware of events and competitions to get involved in the Marvel and DC film community through social media, now the worlds biggest platform for almost all forms of promotion. Trailers are now shared not just on dedicated video hosting sites such as YouTube but also on the most popular   all round networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Fans can comment and interact with friends and others that are excited by a film. If a fan shares a trailer of a film, all their friends can see the trailer, no money needed!

Intertextuality in film plays with a genres default storyline and theme. For example to 2008 spoof film ‘Superhero movie’ pays homage to other films which had been released before this film, which all belong to the same genre of superhero films(hence the film’s title). In particular, this film uses the superhero film ‘Spider-man(2002) as its main template , since Superhero movie contains as similar storyline with similar characters.

A director will always have a vision, and it is amazing if the viewer understands it completely, but it is also wonderful if they see it differently, it’s being immersed in the film that is the experience. An expanding franchise is not just a money making flow of content, it is an overflowing adrenaline rush for the viewers, and not just linking genres of films, but linking genres of people.

Developing as a Freelancer

This essay was completed for TV and Film (Extended Diploma)
The specialism that I would like to pursue in the Film and TV industry as a freelancer would be a director and editor, however I consider myself as an all round filmmaker. I have always loved film since a young age and have always made my own creations. My passion for directing doesn’t lie in the job but lies in the project, I love putting my own spin on things and creating things I am proud of. I also enjoy the job of editing as that is where the vision comes to life.

This report will contain an in depth analysis of developing skills as a professional freelancer in both the specific area and in freelancing general terms such as budgeting and social media status, and the importance of knowledge and information regarding the revolutionising speed of technology such as up-to-date equipment and the ever growing business networking sites and systems. It will also contain practises of self-assessments and client feedback based off of my own work ethics and experiences from a first-hand view.

Technology changes to meet new standards set by the viewer, to make it easier to use and to create a new medium for fellow users of said technology. An example of technology advancing in the industry would be the transition from using film and tape based cameras to digital. Keeping up to date is a financial problem on the technical side as especially with 4K emerging into demand, clients may require that quality of image that your camera may not have the functionality to do. New and updated versions of editing software with new features and upgraded tools will surface. This will affect me as I will need to keep up to date with the new updates and tools implemented therefore creating an extra positive for clients. It also increases of gaining work because of the amount of experience and skill obtained. Finding improvements is always a positive as that is the motive to achieve a better standard of professionalism working as a freelancer. Creating is the best way of learning to create. I believe that practical experience is the most important. When shooting my first webseries ‘Let’s Bring Back Sophie’ I came out of the process a much better filmmaker, after learning to manage a team of over 20 people at the same time and of course bringing a story to life. Although I really want to create more fictional content, I plan to enhance my skills further by trying new and different techniques through corporate freelance work as well as researching in my spare time for a better solution to problems that I usually face on set, making my work easier to do and faster and to gain a better reception and reputation for the high end medium expected in a professional film industry.

Networking is the main source for any freelancer to publicise themselves with the best results. Creating websites (I always use WordPress as I am a certified through working for Rushcliffe Borough Council, however other sites such as Webs and Wix are all fantastic free developers) show reels, portfolios and an expansion of accounts on different online media formats (Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube) are common for most freelancers to show what capabilities they can carry providing the viewer/producer to understand what they are hiring. Networking is important to keep the workflow moving swiftly and income steady to maintain living standards. I feel that YouTube and Vimeo are the two of the most important, as it fits my area of field more, especially as the majority of projects I create are my own. YouTube has it’s own feature where you can add projects uploaded by other creators onto your channel, so creating a professional playlist full of projects you have created and assisted in creation of will make you stand out from other freelancers. It’s great to have the professional requirements, that but extra attention to detail adds quality to your online profile.

Taking in feedback from others is often the best solution to find development and improvements to make. A client may find something that I may have done different or I haven’t done correctly, tell me either verbally or by social media with which I would take the feedback as something to look at and understand more in depth. Also, client feedback is great for freelancers to use on portfolios and other self-promoting material. Self-assessment is useful to any freelancer that would like to improve at certain points within an area. These areas could range from equipment, mental attitude and overall performance and skill. Keeping these checks in mind is necessary for the best outcome.

To obtain and maintain employment I will have to undertake as many projects as I can to get work under my belt, therefore not only getting better at what I do but networking around more with previous clients. I will know this has paid off once I receive a job thanks to a previous client recommending me. Recommendations are where a lot of work comes from, so having a lot of clients and impressing them can only open up opportunities but to get to that stage I need to work really hard as a freelance filmmaker and editor.

As well as networking, I need to be professional at all times. Online profiles should be largely professional, especially the dedicated freelance platforms such as Vimeo and LinkedIn. I will need to attend networking events and print off business cards to hand out whenever I get the opportunity or meet a potential client. For example, at a wedding video shoot a guest conversed with me about my equipment and I gave her my business card. One day she may need a video of some sort and she will know who to contact. I have attended a networking event in Nottingham called Tweet Up, run by Antenna and another freelancer who I have worked for but this time in the acting field, Tim Smith. I met a lot of fantastic creators at that event who I am sure I’ll work with.

Multi Camera Formats

This essay was completed for TV and Film (Extended Diploma)
A multi camera production consists of more than one camera focusing on a subject/subjects at once, most commonly formatted for television. Live multi camera productions are usually ‘edited’ live by a vision mixer, whose job is to cut between the cameras using a mixing desk. These productions are always planned and correctly prepared for whatever genre the programme is. Live concerts are always filmed using a multi camera set up, the positives of this are endless in that you can not only showcase the whole stage/band but you can also punch in on the signer and connect with the performance from a more personal perspective. No matter how bad or enjoyable the concert is, vision mixers can cut live to crowd members enjoying themselves, telling the audience that the people in the venue are having a great time. This is just one example of how a multi camera format benefits a show. In this report, I will critically evaluate the production process of different production formats and give elucidated examples.

Outside broadcasts commonly showcase events, sports matches and live concerts. A key example of a multi camera production and in this case broadcast is London’s annual New Year firework show on BBC1, usually titled a different name each year. This broadcast features large cranes scattered alongside the river bank facing the London Eye (where the fireworks take place), one or two cameras positioned on top and inside nearby buildings and even a camera operator inside the London Eye its self. The cranes move over the crowd and onto the fireworks, the most common moving shot begins with the crowd cheering and panning up to see the fireworks. A helicopter is also on patrol, constantly filming the crowds throughout the night, BBC Radio 1 DJ’s always encourage the crowd to cheer and wave as the helicopter flies past to show the audience how much fun the crowd are having. The show is presented in the BBC News studio (which will also contain a multi camera set up, possibly the same as used in the News. They will recap events that happened throughout the year using montages, using a VT Loader to play the footage and the vision mixer to cut on time. A live stable shot of Big Ben is also constantly recording and is keyed into the background of the studio whenever the presenter mentions the countdown or the time.

Outside broadcasts are fantastic for sports broadcasting as for example in football, goals can be replayed in slo motion.

Studio productions are usually indoor multi camera shows featuring a large lighting rig with different types of professional studio lights, rigged by the lighting technicians to match the mood/setting. For example, a news show would have realistic natural lighting whereas a game show would have many coloured gels to match the colour scheme and directors vision and spotlights would be used for dramatic effect. Genres of studio productions include news broadcasts, chat shows, game shows and sitcoms, most having a studio audience. A lot of reality studio productions are staged or embellished. Shows often tell their audience when to boo or laugh, a famous example is on the show Britain’s Got Talent. When singer Susan Boyle cracks a joke, a shot of an audience member rolling her eyes is shown. The girl received a lot of hate online and told the public that she rolled her eyes at her friend, and not even at the exact time the shot cut to.

The first studio show I will discussing the process of ITV’s Jeremy Kyle. This daytime TV show streams out to the whole world three minutes after the action, but is still counted as live. They do this to make sure the broadcast contains no swearwords that aren’t bleeped out. The camera set up for this show consists of jibs that move over the audience. This is so if a client gets angry the jibs can move quickly out of the way and if Jeremy for example interacts with an audience member the cameras will always capture the action. Jeremy has two bouncers with him that stand on stage to inform the audience that there may be action, this intrigues the viewer. Sound is recorded through lapel microphones which are attached to the client. Boom operators are also active so that they can switch between the booms and the lapels if the audience members were to speak and/or a lapel mic fails on set. Another camera is used backstage to record the clients when they storm off and when they enter the stage. This contrasts highly with relaxed celebrity chat shows such as The Graham Norton Show, which uses fixed relaxed tripod shots and comfortable sofas to match the mood. Sound is recorded through lapel microphones which are attached to the client. Boom operators are also active so that they can switch between the booms and the lapels if the audience members were to speak and/or a lapel mic fails on set.

British BBC made soap opera Eastenders is a semi studio based fictional drama that has been watched all over the UK since 1985. The show airs at least three times a week, therefore scenes need to be filmed quickly and set in recurring locations. The fact that the show is a multi cam production allows the cast and crew to film a great take in one go and for lighting situations to remain consistent. The 180 degree rule will need to be considered whilst filming, as well as making sure no cameras appear in shot and in the way of actors movements, as using more than one camera can clutter space on set. The directors for the show use long and mid shots for the majority of the show and cut at a slow pace, allowing the audience to take in information, as the drama is mostly conversation based. The cameras occasionally punch in when needed, usually when an important conversation is taking place or an action that the directors want the audience to take in. This show is an evening rewind for over 15 million British citizens, the show needs to appear as realistic as possible, therefore it is shot in 50 frames per second. Most live TV shows or dramas use this format, as this will appear less cinematic and more realistic, making the audience feel as if they are a part of the action.

The way a programme is shot needs to connote to its genre and target audience. Some are shot for practical reasons like Jeremy Kyle’s jibs to move quickly out the way of the action or unexpected violence and some shows are shot in a specific way to entertain and inform the audience. For example, football shows don’t only show the whole pitch and action using master wides but also film goals in slo motion and have cutaway cameras focusing on player reactions. Some single camera based TV dramas and films use more than one camera for specific scenes, for example filming an explosion or a naturalistic fight scene. Calling a show out by the amount of cameras it uses will not define its genre, as almost all live TV productions use more than one camera, just for very different purposes and effects.

Client Work Practice Review

This essay was completed for TV and Film (Extended Diploma)
I proposed to create a selection of promotion based art like website fashion photographs for upcoming Nottingham t-shirt screen printers Prisma Clothing, whilst experimenting with natural light from the unfurnished floors of Nottingham Lace Market’s store 51. I believe I fully achieved my goal, having planned out every photo I aspired to take and managed to take them all within my time limit.

Many photographers and cinematographers have inspired me in general. However for this particular album of photographs, I have taken inspiration from Phil Borges, a US born photographer and filmmaker who took many travel portraiture photographs, most commonly showcasing sadness and culture. Although the genre of what I have photographed may be in complete contrast, his use of lowing image saturation and colouring the photo to portray a mood inspired me to create the photograph of model Morris Findley wearing the blue Prisma t-shirt.

I am completely inspired by travel, wether that be in any form. So most of my photography related inspirations come from travel photographers (as proven above) another one of mine, which intact inspired the majority of the other photographs I took, including the portrait black and white photo of model Tai Greaves is renowned world famous photographer Steve McCurry. His National Geographic cover appearing award winning photograph ‘Afghan Girl’ taught me the importance of eyes in film and photography, connecting directly with the viewer/onlooker and immediately capturing their attention. I decided to use this as part of my collection.

After taking and editing the photographs, I asked peers and friends their opinions on the photographs. The first and most important critic I asked was the client of the photos himself, James Thomas (Prisma Clothing owner). He quoted “The photographs reflect the companies alternative vibe, I like how you have put a spin on the bog standard promo photograph.”

After asking the happy client, I asked close friend Kyle Smith how the black and white selection made him feel. He told me “It makes me feel a bit gloomy, but at the same time very serious, like the model and/or clothing wearer doesn’t mess around.” I adored the way Kyle felt about the photographs, I like the fact that people may want to buy the clothing because of the ‘awesomeness’ factor from the website photographs. The final person I asked was local neighbour and wildlife photographer Karen Seaton, who responded with “I love the photo of the girl (Tai) by the window, I like the way half of the image is dark yet the other side has a positive naturalistic feel.” That was the feel I was going for with that photograph.

For every photograph I took, I portrayed a mood or a feeling, and made sure the model understood the vision that I wanted to portray. I was fortunate enough in that James Thomas wanted his fashion promo photographs to be different and contain an indie/alternative vibe to match the companies aesthetic. In terms of framing, the decision of wether to shoot portrait or landscape depended on the light being covered in the image. For example. with the black and white rule of thirds shot of Tai, I decided to take this picture in portrait to make sure I covered all the windows to create a leading lines/symmetry/repetitive effect, and took the picture as a rule of thirds shot to obey the photographs conventions, keep the whole jumper in frame and at the same time showcase the natural light pouring from the windows.

On the topic of the windows, I feel that my choice of location helped massively when creating these photographs. Store 51’s empty unfinished floor helped me gain the simplistic look that I wanted, helping the onlooker/viewer focus on the t-shirt rather than the background but sticking with a rustic feel, as if the subject wearing the t-shirt was wearing the photos for daily use rather than in front of a white background. The fact that I had access to this fantastic vast space enabled me to experiment with space and how I could use different levels of depth of field on my camera to focus on the t-shirt and the windows/brick walls behind it, depending on the mood. For the landscape shots, I used a large amount of space behind the subject to create an isolated feel, in contrast to the portrait shots where I made sure the background wasn’t the key focus of the image.

Gaining correct exposure was not an issue, as I had access to many LED lights and fantastic natural lights from the large factory sized windows. My ISO was set to 400 most of the time, allowing me to take crisp photographs with hardly any noise. Although all my images were correctly exposed and I had the right lens on for every photograph, I wanted to change the saturation of some of my photograph’s backgrounds (as planned) to enhance the portrayal of the dark, urban tone of the Prisma t-shirts and jumpers. I love experimenting with colour, therefore on the more vibrant and positive shots I decided to enhance the green mid-tones on the outside of the windows, enabling a more naturalistic outcome (as proven through feedback).

If I were to have changed anything, I would have made even more use of the space, experimenting with different angles before the models arrived on the shoot. Time management is incredibly important in any industry, and I feel as though I spent the first 15 minutes of the shoot worrying about time rather than zoning out and letting creativity take control. Another aspect of my photography that I reckon I stumbled upon is getting correct exposure with minimal effort. Although I feel confident with gaining correct exposure and using manual mode and my photographs were exposed, I spent a lot of time fiddling with settings whereas if I was more confident with the DSLR camera the camera settings would have been the least of my worries and I would have been able to focus more on the model’s expression and focus on what is going on in front of the camera. After all, the camera is just the tool for the photograph, the real photograph is what is happening in front of the lens.

In conclusion, I am incredibly happy and intact overwhelmed with the photographs I took. They are a fantastic representation of my photographic style and cover many different moods and subjects whilst tackling what would seem like a simple subject, model t-shirt promo photos. these photographs are heading straight to the top of my photography portfolio.

Factual Programming

This essay was completed for Unit 27 (Factual Programming) for TV and Film.
A factual programme must document actual people and events to tell a true story. Factual programmes are amongst the most popular forms of television, certainly the most popular non-fiction form of visual entertainment. Television channels such as the Discovery Channel and National Geographic are known for airing documentaries, mostly environmental, cultural and wildlife related whilst Channel 4 are known for producing documentary films as well as content for their TV channel. Documentaries, like feature films, use certain conventions. A primary documentary convention is ‘cutaways’. Cutaways are shots relating to the narrative without showing the action or the speaker. An example of a cutaway is if an interviewee is talking about smoking, a shot of them smoking or lighting a cigarette may be shown over the subject’s voice.  These help the filmmaker to portray a subject in a positive or negative way.

Sub-Categories of Factual Programming
Factual programmes are split into sub-categories, the most popular being documentaries (programmes that provide a factual report on a subject). Docudrama is a sub-category that features historical events, usually re-enacted. However, these documentaries may use archive footage (footage found or recorded from an external source). Some docudrama productions re-enact historical events in their actual location of where the events originally happened and employ actors to voice over the film or TV programme as their character. An example of this is the TV programme ‘United 93’, a docudrama about the tragic 9/11 events in New York. This programme portrays exactly what happened using dramatised re-enactments. Quite a lot of the re-enactments in this TV show are filmed with  handheld equipment. By doing this, the documentary has an amateur and personal quality, making it more relatable to the viewer rather than having a cinematic quality.

Reality TV, also a sub-category of factual programming, is known for its unscripted, spontaneous and humorous situations. All documented events are situated in reality in that they are not acted. Reality TV over the years has begun to evolve around pop and youth culture. Two of the biggest reality TV shows include ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ and ‘Celebrity Big Brother’, their unique selling point is the fact that their subjects are always infamous celebrities. Having famous people such as these on screen also promotes the programme in some way  as the subjects can have large fan-bases or quite the opposite in that they cause media interest. Celebrities appear on these shows to promote themselves too.

A docu soap is a sub-category that follows a group, family or single person on their life’s journey whether it is day to day or otherwise. Although this may seem identical to reality TV, docu soaps can be based on the subject’s daily routine rather than placing them in certain awkward situations such as a bush tucker trial on ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’. Like reality TV, the subjects can be famous people and do not use scripts. In doing so, the audience is able to see the celebrity as a real person, with real emotions. This enables the viewer to connect and empathise with the celebrity. ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’ is a typical example of a docu soap. This programme focuses on the stereotypical wedding traditions of the traveler community. Although the TV show may seem a little controversial and biased in places, many viewers tune in as it is a different form of  British culture. This show particularly uses the factual programming convention vox pops (unorganised spontaneous interviews). These vox pops are habitually of the travellers themselves commenting on the everything that happens within the wedding process. This is all unscripted. Vox pops are a useful convention in that they provide a informal viewpoint often shared with the viewer themselves.

Infotainment factual programs are based around entertaining the viewers as well as educating them. These programmes usually contain a presenter who is knowledgeable about the subject covered. For example, ex football players present  ‘Soccer AM’. The Discovery Channel’s programmes focus on naturalistic and cultural happenings within the world itself. These programmes rely on fact and professional opinion, using certain procedures such as montages to engage the viewer’s interest. Montages are a key example of a factual programme technique involving clips of the subject alongside a musical interlude. These documentaries also rely on archive footage and graphics made in post production. For example, whilst talking about global warming, an animation could be seen of the world rather than footage of the narrator speaking to the camera.

 

Wildlife documentaries are another sub-category of factual programming. These natural history programmes are educational and contain narration throughout describing for example the animal’s habitat or antics. ‘Deadly 60’ is a TV show created by presenter Steve Backshall focusing on certain dangerous animals. Modern graphics are used throughout episodes to display facts. This makes it more modern and eye catching as the programme is aimed at children. These conventions enable the programme to display facts in an interesting manner, making the programme always have something interesting on screen, instead of just Steve Backshall talking.

Educational television programmes are designed solely to educate the viewer. Children’s educational television programmes are created so that children can acquire knowledge whilst being entertained by a story. The animated television show ‘Dora the Explorer’ often has a plot that the audience is able to participate in by asking rhetorical questions. Dora breaks the fourth wall throughout the show, asking the children watching what she should do next whilst teaching them a new language.

Documentary Sub-Genres
Along side music and fictional films, documentaries too have sub-genres. Poetic documentaries, a popular sub-genre, first appeared in the 1920s. The director of a poetic documentary would take the chosen subject and turn it into a story to create a full narrative. An example of this is David Attenborough’s work. In his documentaries, he gives animals human characteristics through narration to accentuate and embellish the story. Although poetic documentaries are factual and realistic, they use cinematic techniques such as colour correction to improve the film’s overall appearance. Cinematic music is often employed to make the action that is going on in a scene seem more exciting. For example, if two lions are fighting in a wildlife poetic documentary, intense music will play just like an action film to emphasise the seriousness of the happenings.

Expository documentaries speak to the audience often in the form of a commentary or narration to highlight an opinion. They usually propose a song point. In expository documentaries, the narrator and/or filmmaker is shown often in front of the camera and gives their point of view. A good example of this is found within Louis Theroux’s documentaries. A sub-genre in contrast is observational documentaries. These factual programmes always included spontaneous life with almost no filmmaker involvement or intervention altogether. The works of John Grierson are mainly expository.

Performative documentaries acknowledge the subjective and emotional aspects of documentaries and use hypothetical reenactments to emphasise and dramatise scenes. Dramatisation (a key factual programming convention) is used in performative documentaries in order to excite the subject. Some of these effects include dramatic music, cliff hangers and enhanced graphics. An example of a performative documentary is Marlon Riggs’s ‘Tongues United’. The 1991 film constantly switches between confessions, poems, archive footage and interviews to enhance the viewer’s experience and boost the emotionality of a scene. Another convention of performative documentaries are sound effects. If someone were to throw a punch, foley sound would most likely be used just like a feature fictional film to call attention to the seriousness of the action.

Reflexive documentaries are truthful but not a perfect representation of the subject. Commonly known as the most ‘self aware’ sub-genre, reflexive documentaries present the chosen subject as in their own way. Rather than being a window on the world, they can sometimes appear untruthful. Example here Special interest documentaries are a genre that differs from the rest and revolves solely around their target audience. Televisions such as Top Gear focus completely on motor vehicles, appealing strongly to lovers of cars, primarily men.

Research and Respect
As factual productions tend to be based upon accuracy and nonfictional in approach, extensive research needs to be performed in order for the production to be acceptably informative and precise. Before researching the topic and creating a pre-production folder, a producer/filmmaker would need to perform primary and secondary research. Primary research consists of previously uncollected newly discovered data. For example, filmmakers would need to create a public questionnaire and head out into busy locations to ask their target audience on their opinion of the subject. Online questionnaires held on internet platforms such as Survey Monkey are becoming increasingly popular. With just the click of a few buttons, potential viewers are able to fill in information and answer questions online. After this process, the filmmaker can select individual data and figure out which age groups answered what to select a primary target audience. Secondary research includes gathering data that has already been researched. For example, a filmmaker would need to search online for already made documentaries of the subject (if they do indeed  exist) and plan a shot list of cutaways that they would need to create.

Qualitative research is the art of understanding a phenomenon from a closer perspective. Interviews are a key documentary convention and a fantastic example of qualitative research as they include gathering information from an interviewee (usually someone that knows a lot about the subject and/or is involved with it) and asking them for more information on the subject. In contrast, quantitative research tends to be mainly exploring a subject from a distance using methods such as surveys and gathering large amounts of information. Although the information gathered would not be as detailed as within a personal interview, they allow generalisation and can be more relatable as most of the public answering the survey will not know much, if not nothing at all about the subject.

In documentaries, professionalism should be shown if the information given is meant to be taken seriously. During an interview with Jimmy Saville, documentary filmmaker and interviewer at the time Louis Theroux asked open questions and did not pressure Saville despite Saville’s attempts to undermine Theroux. This left the audience to form their own reaction about this infamous celebrity. Louis Theroux is a primary example of a filmmaker who respects the art of factual programming. He is professional, and reserved in uncomfortable interview situations. By constantly remaining relaxed, Theroux lures the interviewee into a relaxed and comfortable state enabling them to reveal their true personality often to the detriment of their career.

 

Stacy Dooley portrays a bad example of interviewer professionalism. During what was supposed to be an interview with Muslim extremists, she begins to argue with them as she disagrees with their opinion, damaging her reputation. Although her documentary would have meant to be controversial, the argument felt defensive, personal and portrayed little factual content. A muslim protester was interrupted by her whilst explaining why they’re protesting and then made this remark: “I think you look naked on the street.” Stacy immediately replies with an angry tone “Do I look naked, do I?” Throughout that interview, it was clear that she had not planned her questions correctly and figured out the best method of getting a good answer from someone without offending them. For example: Confirmatory questions, like suggestive questions, guide the interviewee into saying the preferred answer, leading on answers to support a point.

A good documentary filmmaker should always plan their questions before an interview and ask the subjects to sign a release form (a document giving the filmmaker the rights to use them in their film) to avoid copyright issues. Copyright issues occur when the filmmaker does not ask permission to use footage or takes archive footage without permission. For example, if one were to create a film about video games, they would need to make sure that the game’s developers allow their product to be displayed in the documentary, as although it could promote the game, the product could be controversially represented.

So what is the purpose of a factual programme? Filmmakers that have respect for their craft would plan out how they want the audience to react and what they want the audience to learn. A documentary would be made in a certain way and have a certain style/sub-genre depending on the way a filmmaker would like to represent the subject. For example, poetic documentaries turn a happening into a narrative and use conventions such as colour correction to make the scene look more appealing. No matter what or how a subject is portrayed in a documentary, the priority purpose of a factual programme will always be to inform the audience.