Monday, 16 May 2011
PS: some final thoughts on past exam texts from the OCR forums - some good points to pick up!
"One approach to both sound and editing is to look at the way in which technical elements are used to create perspective or viewpoint within a sequence - a key element of the process of representation that goes beyond the identification of 'character traits'.
By understanding how screen time, p.o.v. or reaction shots are distributed, even weaker students can see how hierarchies are established, leading to certain representations being privileged where others are marginalised.
Stronger students are able to develop this further by discussing how the audience is positioned in relation to the representations on offer .
The best answers in the June session of G322 offered some great discussion of the way in which editing frequently shifted the viewer's relationship to dominant views of gender in different scenes, for example. Another important factor is the way that the editing of the sequence grants or witholds narrative information from the audience in order to encourage identification or rejection of particular characters/representations.
As far as the Primeval sequence was concerned, I was thinking of those students who were able to build a discussion of the way in which the content/mise en scene suggest that Cutter's masculinity is undermined by being the victim of the sabre tooth attack in which he requires rescuing by Abby, while the editing of the sequence positions him squarely as the protagonist through the frequent reaction shots, the way in which he motivates the editing through his actions and the final slow-mo shot of his relieved expression, rather than cutting back to Abby who's just saved him! Not many male stars would be happy if they missed out on a triumphant close up at the end of an action sequence.
There are some obvious contrasts to be made to the final sequence of the extract, where Jenny is ostensibly the protagonist but the cutting makes it obvious that she controls situations through dialogue rather than action (arguably feminine vs masculine skills) - she motivates the shot/reverse shots, emphasising her manipulation of West. In addition, her lower status in relation to Cutter is emphasised by the fact that her last minute rescue is not signalled by a cutaway to the team arriving with guns and the fact the sequence cuts to their determined expressions rather than to her."
Sunday, 15 May 2011
Secret Diary of A Call Girl extract
Read it here:
UPDATE: In his advice on question B (Institutions and Audiences), the term "Exchange" is used. If you are unsure what it means, go check the Film industry blog now. I am posting a definition/clarification. I have read that some teachers and students are unsure about it...
TV Drama: Age (see exemplar below - ADDED: Embedded video at the bottom)
Industry: Discuss the ways in which media products are produced and distributed to audiences within a media area you have studied.
June 2009 paper
TV drama: Gender
Industry: How important is technological convergence for institutions and audiences within a media area which you have studied?
January 2010 paper
TV Drama: Ethnicity (exemplar answer here - 39/50)
Industry: "Media production is dominated by global institutions and services which sell their products and services to national audiences." To what extent do you agree with this statement?
June 2010 paper
TV Drama: Gender (see video at the bottom of this post - Primeval. I also gave you 2 exemplars on this one)
Industry: What significance does the continuing development of digital media technology have for media institutions and audiences?
January 2011: Gender again - paper not available but extract from Hustle.
Candidates' reponses - Age (Monarch of the Glen) January 2010 (Find examiner's comments right at the end of each document)
TV Drama: High Level 3
Script January 09 Age Level 3 4
TV Drama: low level 4
Film Industry: High level 3
Script Jan 09 4 and 3
Candidate C: That's what an E looks like (levels 1/2) Read carefully to avoid the vague comments made by this candidate. I read a lot of this in some of your practice tasks...
Examiner's Report on G322 TV Drama Unit (January 2010)
Primeval - exam text June 2010
More candidates' scripts including an A grade in this earlier post:
Sunday, 8 May 2011
How does the extract from Cutting It construct representations of gender?
Cutting It - series 4 episode 4 (from 46:52)
How does the extract from Skins construct representations of age?
You can watch it here again (though there are ads at the start):
Skins - series 2 episode 1
You could try this one ("borrowed" from Long Road Media) - Question:
How does the extract construct representations of social class and status? (you could also address 'age' in this extract)
Sunday, 1 May 2011
Anything handed in will be marked promptly. The trick now is to work on your timing as well as the quality! Also check out the 2 top level 4 answers from last June's exam (on Primeval)linked on the right + the glossaries.
First, you can look at this extract focusing on how the representations of ethnicity are constructed. This is a past OCR exam text, and an extract from Hotel Babylon. (Check out past the 2 videos in this post for the Examiner's Report on this past paper - January 2010)
Secondly, you can focus on characterisation in this extract; look particularly at how camerawork, editing and soundtrack position the audience in such a way that we sympathise with some characters and not others.
Examiner's Report on G322 TV Drama Unit (January 2010)
Below are some of the comments made by the examiner after the January 2009 TV Drama exam (find the comments for section B on the Film Industry blog)- Focus: Representation of AGE.
Question 1 – Television drama
Candidates structured their responses in a number of ways; some began by addressing the concept of representation in the extract and a discussion of the representational differences between Amy McDougall the stereotypical teenager and contrasted this with the Headteacher and the middle-aged character Paul Macdonald. Then the candidates would address the technical areas one by one. Stronger candidates could provide an integrated analysis of the extract through analysis of key examples identified. These candidates explored how the technical features could be applied using a combination of the technical features, for example, in discussion of the argument between Paul Macdonald and Amy. They could then place this sequence of conflict in its mise en scène (the stately home), through the use of shot reverse shot (editing), shot types used and through sound, both diegetic and non-diegetic in discussion of how Paul’s anger and authority, used as parental control, would order Amy (stereotyped as the teenage tear away) back to school.
Either of these approaches to the structure of question 1 is advisable and centres need to help structure the candidates’ responses in the classroom. Candidates are advised against lengthy introductions about what they are going to say and against theoretical introductions and/ or historical contexts to television drama. Candidates are advised to get straight on with their analysis.It is also important that candidates move from description of key technical areas to analysis of how representations are constructed. This will enable candidates to achieve higher marks for their responses. The mark scheme enables credit to be awarded to students at three different levels Explanation, Analysis and Argument (20 Marks), Use of Examples (20 Marks) and Use of Terminology (10 Marks).
Camera Shot, Angle and Composition
This technical feature was well addressed by the candidates.. Where candidates used the correct terminology and could describe shot composition, this on the whole was well done. Weaker candidates were able to describe key shots used in exemplification, but would often lack explicit links to how these shots assisted in the construction of the representation of age.
Mise en scène
There was plenty of evidence of candidates’ discussion of clothing and props, visual iconography and character. Setting, although a little more problematic for some, was used well in discussion of the range of representations of age used in the extract. More able candidates would move beyond description and use the technical features of mise en scène in order to discuss the signification of the representation of age.
Candidates often discussed this technical feature with some limitations, with some focusing solely on the use of dialogue or accent. Candidates did also relate the use of non-diegetic sound to the emotional state of Amy whilst she was in her room and the contrast of non-diegetic music showing the adults to be happy in the work they performed. The use of non-diegetic sound to emphasise Amy’s isolation was often commented on, as was the diction of the middle-aged characters that spoke "properly". Other weaker candidates showed confusion with technical terminology, getting diegetic and non-diegetic sound the wrong way round.
This proved to be the most problematic for candidates and the one technical area of analysis that was often omitted in candidate’s answers. Most candidates who addressed editing were able to address the type of transitions used and could comment on the pace of the editing. Weaker candidates often omitted any discussion of editing or offered quite simplistic accounts of how editing was used, for example in the use of quick succession cuts and short takes when the community takes apart the fishing hut at the end of the sequence. More able candidates could analyse technical issues of editing by way of analysis of the ellipsis, accounting for how the extract collapsed a series of events, for example, in explaining the narrative to represent Amy as a ‘troubled’ teenager who had no option left but to run away from school and then the home of Paul McDonald; then candidates were then able to comment on pacing, the use of continuity, most often through the shot reverse shot compositions in the extract and some through the use of sound as well. These candidates cleverly discussed how soundbridges were constructed through the use of non-diegetic music in the representation of age, for example, the stringed mood music representing the gloomy prospect that Amy faces, or the use of upbeat music to represent the happiness of the small rural community. The advice offered to centres is to encourage as much practice on the concept of editing as possible and how this assists in the construction of representation. Again begin with identifying the techniques and encourage students to apply these to a range of examples in class and importantly, test them on this
This key media concept was either addressed at the beginning of the candidates or at the end, but sometimes when at the end, the analysis was all too cursory. Candidates were able to relate the representation of a variety of age groups closely to the textual elements of the extract. There was some solid analysis of age and how it can be stereotyped in a variety of ways: teenage emotionality; adult authority; caring nature of the older female adult and other sensibly reasoned representations. Weaker candidates failed to focus on the representation of age, relating their analysis to the region or the gender of the characters.
Hope this is useful! HO
Saturday, 30 April 2011
Here is an article focusing on Sugar Rush (this is the copy but the whole article complete with pictures / relevant screengrabs is available to view online in the April 2009 issue. Log-in details emailed to you).
Part 3 of the episode - click here (will give you an idea of the show)
Sugar Rush – sexual freedom
Andrea Joyce celebrates the representation of teenage sexuality in Channel 4’s Sugar Rush, and explores its construction through close textual analysis.
Sexual desire on TV is represented as being predominantly heterosexual; that is presented as the norm. However, experience tells us that sexual desire is a lot more fluid than this. The depiction of sexual freedom on the small screen is often the source of controversy and concern as it can connote promiscuity. It is taking time to break down the representation of ‘alternative’ sexual identities as a series of tired stereotypes of highly effeminate men and butch women.
Queer As Folk was considered to be a ground-breaking TV drama based on the lives of three gay men in Manchester. It was a graphic portrayal of the everyday lives and loves of the characters, it screened late night on Channel 4, and was the beginning of a more balanced portrayal of other sexual identities.
More recently we’ve been offered an array of characters embracing sexual freedom. There is Kris Fisher, the cross-dressing bisexual student who is a part of the core cast of Hollyoaks, lovable Maxxie in Skins who is as promiscuous as the rest of the characters, and the periodic foray of an EastEnders character into homosexuality, Sonia Jackson being the most recent.
However, until 2005 what was still lacking was a TV drama aimed at a younger audience that positioned a more fluid sexual identity in the context of the everyday rather than one that made these ‘different’ identities a cause for concern or ridicule. Until recently, there was still a gap in the representation of teenage sexuality. Cue Sugar Rush.
Sugar Rush is a perfect example of teenage sexual freedom, the time when new and strange feelings emerge and experimentation is the ‘norm’ or can always be labelled as ‘just a phase’ if necessary. The programme is based on the novel by maverick journalist Julie Burchill.
The first series of the TV drama was screened on Channel 4 in 2005. Sugar Rush shows the life of 15-year-old Kim Daniels and is laden from the outset with slightly risqué content. The very first scene of Episode 1 sees Kim in her bedroom masturbating with an electric toothbrush under her duvet, before she is interrupted by her Dad bursting in on her. This classic scene of embarrassing parents and the awkwardness of teenage years are illustrative of the themes of Sugar Rush.
Using Sugar Rush to discuss representations of sexuality is a very fruitful exercise as much of Series 1 follows Kim through her obsession with her best friend Sugar.
A close analysis: Series 1 Episode 8
Episode 8 in Series 1 opens the morning after Kim’s dreams have come true and she has shared a long, lingering kiss with Sugar, only to be jilted minutes later, for a guy.
The setting is the interior of Kim’s bedroom with archetypal iconography: posters on the wall, trainers and clothes strewn across the floor, jewellery and makeup lying around on the top of drawers, and a framed photo of ‘best friends’ Sugar and Kim. The indication that Sugar is not just a friend but a lustful obsession is indicated through the diary-like notebook that Kim keeps hidden in her drawer, the pages of which hide a photo of Sugar and a hand-drawn heart containing her name in pink pen, the classic symbols of a teenage crush.
A clear sign that Kim’s heart has been broken is the frantic tearing up of Sugar’s photograph, the throwing away of the tickets for the gig they attended together and the highly symbolic crushing of the once treasured possession, a drinks can covered in her lipstick.
The use of the distant diegetic sound of seagulls reminds the viewer of the seaside location.
Brighton is as much of a character in this series as Sugar or Kim, with its bright lights, pier attractions and openly gay club scene. The fairground pier is the perfect visual representation of Kim’s life: her crush on Sugar takes her on a constant rollercoaster of emotions, this being the latest low.
The speed of the fairground and the ferocity of Kim’s emotions are also mirrored in the camerawork and editing of this scene.
The shot cuts quickly from a close-up to a mid-shot that follows Kim’s hand, pans down to the drawer and tracks up as the contents is pulled out and thrown to the floor. The hand-held camerawork disorientates the viewer and the increasing speed of the cuts, which are particularly fast as Kim tears Sugar’s photograph, is indicative of Kim’s anger.
The pace of the editing slows suddenly with the introduction of the non-diegetic soundtrack as Kim studies the drinks can with Sugar’s lipstick.
The shot cuts from the can to a mid-shot of Kim’s face, allowing the viewer to see her reaction as the highly sexual representation of Sugar’s lips remind Kim of the night before and the kiss they shared.
The shot cuts back to a close-up of the can and tracks it to Kim’s lips. The voiceover dips into Kim’s thoughts and acts as a sound bridge into the flashback of the kiss.
The next shot is a close-up of Sugar and Kim in a nightclub, which is long enough to identify Sugar, who is resplendent in the full glow of one of the nightclub’s spotlight, this emphasising the amount of flesh she is exposing.
The shot quickly cuts to an extreme close-up of Kim’s lips, slightly parted as Sugar comes into frame. As their lips meet the white flash signals the end of the flashback and the arrival back into real time; we see Kim coming out of her daydream as she pulls the drinks can away from her lips, leaving a tiny smudge of Sugar’s lipstick.
The voiceover again acts as a narrative aid to reveal Kim’s state of mind as the viewer is shown a mid-shot of Kim throwing the can across the room.
Cutting to a new setting, a long, slightly low-angle, establishing shot shows a figure standing in an almost Christ-like position at an altar, in front of a small group of seated people.
His orange jumper draws the viewer’s eye straight to him, indicating his significance and also in contrast to the sombre setting, hinting at the forthcoming humour of the scene.
The characters about to be introduced are an acknowledgement of the historical stereotypical representations not only of homosexuals but also of people who are prejudiced against homosexuality.
The quick transition from a fast zoom shot to a mid-shot of the open armed ‘preacher’ is accompanied by a non-diegetic swipe sound to make the quick zoom appear more of a transition, again the voiceover of Kim adds context to the scene and explains a little of what is to come.
The camera pans down the preacher’s arm and directs the eye to the introduction of Belinda. Her styling is stereotypical butch lesbian, from her ripped jeans to the masculine-looking grey tank top, which exposes her toned and muscular arms. Her jewellery is simple and quite chunky, her hairstyle is soft to an extent but doesn’t draw attention to her femininity and she isn’t wearing any elaborate make-up.
One mid-shot frames Belinda and Kim together, emphasising the visual differences between them, Kim is a much more femininely-styled woman, wearing colourful clothes, lots of jewellery and with a playful, soft hairstyle.
Cutting back to the preacher the camerawork is as awkward in its movement as in the previous scene. The shot pans from his face to his hands, suggesting the way he is conducting the session and seemingly controlling both Belinda and Gary, the next character to be introduced.
Gary’s voice, gestures, body language and well groomed appearance stereotype him as a gay, camp man. The long-shot, which frames Gary and the preacher together, represents the preacher’s patronising attempt to ‘cure’ Gary of the ‘disease’ of homosexuality. The repeated close-ups of the preacher’s hands make it seem as if he is trying to place a spell on his listeners; very fast zooms also emphasise the outrageousness of the statements being made by the preacher.
Again the non-diegetic music and Kim’s voiceover act as a sound bridge to move to the next scene.
A push-slide transition moves the viewer to a new setting, the interior of a typical school corridor lined with lockers and populated by students going to and from classes.
Fast zooms are used graphically to interpret the panic that Kim obviously feels, culminating in an excellent example of the sexual gaze. This gaze, historically in film and television, is heterosexual as the viewer is considered to be the same. One unique feature of Sugar Rush is that lesbianism is not labelled as a phase. It is positioned as similarly normal as heterosexual desire. The way it does this is through a gaze that can be interpreted as heterosexual, homosexual or just plain sexual, depending on your taste.
A typical over-the-shoulder shot follows and then cuts to point-of-view shots of Sugar. These include a panning shot from Sugar’s breast area down her body to her thighs, showing her exposed flesh and school uniform, a highly sexualised costume thanks to Britney Spears.
In this scene Sugar is the embodiment of something that Laura Mulvey called ‘to-be-looked-at-ness’. In her seminal paper on ‘Visual Pleasure’, Laura Mulvey stated that:
in their traditional exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness
The combination of a slow panning shot of Sugar’s body and the close-ups of her looking directly into the camera position the viewer into Kim’s point of view. We are asked to look at Sugar in the way that Kim looks at her, following Sugar to the stairs, cutting back briefly to capture Kim looking relieved that she has gone.
A final point of view shot of Sugar as she walks up the stairs cuts off the top part of her body and objectifies her, Sugar becomes a wiggling figure and a pair of exposed thighs to be gazed at.
The three scenes last only three minutes and are arguably evidence of a wider intention by broadcasters to represent sexuality in a broader, more responsible and informed way. You could, however, argue that it is using the controversy still caused in some quarters by the unapologetic representation of sexual freedom to gain viewers. I rate it as an excellent example of the fluidity of desire for women by women, for men by men and for men and women by both men and women.
Andrea Joyce teaches Media Studies at Long Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge.
This article first appeared in MediaMagazine 28, April 2009.
Wednesday, 6 April 2011
You can watch the episode here.
Make sure you address all 4 areas:
You should select 10 frames minimum to screengrab as examples for your analysis. I expect 700-1000 words.
Treat this as an exam practice with extra time. I'm sure the grades will be higher this time. BRING A HARD COPY TO THE LESSON.
You must also have completed the Ashes to Ashes re-creation follow-up task (2 questions) in detail by then. No-one has completed properly yet.
Ashes to Ashes0001
This would score highly on Argument / Analysis as he makes many pertinent points and demonstrates his understanding of the producers' intentions (and the macro-level).
However, it doesn't score much in terms of examples as there are too few specific examples of analysis of the 4 key areas (micro-elements): camerawork, mise-en-scene, editing and soundtrack.
tv drama Ashes to Ashes0001
The script below scored 36 marks out of 50. It also deals with the representation of gender. Examiner's comments at the top.
G322 June 2010 section A only
This second one scored 48 marks out of 50. ESSENTIAL READING!
G322 June 2010 98 marks
genre crime tv drama
2. I am still missing some work on the representation of gender in Ashes to Ashes which was due in last week. In some cases, action has been taken and I will have to deal with the rest when I get a minute this week. Still missing: Shreyaa, Devki, Keval, Nimesh, plus Yasmin and Josh though we agreed on a lighter version since you missed the lesson. And of course, David, if you're out there, give us a sign...
Remember that last lesson I handed out a model analysis based on Life on Mars (the series preceding Ashes to Ashes) to help you out. Use it.
COURSEWORK: Can I please remind you to URGENTLY improve some of your evaluations on the Thriller blog? Some specific guidance is available in the last few posts as well as the comprehensive list of questions at the back of your assessment booklet (use it to check what you have addressed well and identify which questions need to be addressed more fully).
So far, no one has asked to book some time with me to go through it so I assume that you know what to do...
- Edit the sequence you have re-created. You will need to embed the original as a small screen in one corner to get the timings right and to demonstrate how faithful you have been to the original sequence. You can use all of or bits of the original soundtrack (the extract can be imported into Final Cut).
- Now that you've re-created the sequence, complete the two following activities:
a. Think about our impressions of Gene Hunt (as he is introduced to the viewers) and how they are created. Having filmed and edited the sequence yourselves, you should have a good grasp of what the director did.
Use screengrabs to comment closely on camerawork, editing and mise-en-scene. Make sure you also come up with 4 points on soundtrack. (Detailed bullet point s are fine - also use your home-learning task on gender, completed last week)
b. Now suggest some ways (at least 4) in which we could modify our first impressions of Gene through slight changes in the filming and editing, for instance to make him look less sour, less macho, more serious or anything else...
Below is one slightly unfinished version of the re-creation done last year. Can you beat it?
Thursday, 31 March 2011
We are only a few weeks away from the exam. You cannot afford not to complete the set work.
2. For next lesson, you will be doing some research on Shameless.
Find out about:
- the production
- the distribution
- the representations the series deals with primarily
- the reception it got (public and critics - find quotes / viewing figures)
Present your work clearly - you will present next week.
We will look at series 1 episode 1 so why not watch it ahead of the lesson on 4oD - see link on the side.
Monday, 28 March 2011
2. Remember to prepare for the shoot on Thursday - re-creation of the sequence from Ashes to Ashes (approx. from 10:20 to 13:30). You should have storyboards, shot lists and schedule (order in which to film the sequences?) ready. There will be 2 mixed teams. Editing will follow.
The aim is to understand how the micro-elements (camerawork, editing, sound, mise-en-scene) each contributes to to macro picture = the end result with its set of gender representations.
Here's the trailer for series 1.
You can watch the episode here: http://www.megavideo.com/?v=LRAHYT05
Wednesday, 23 March 2011
Wednesday, 16 March 2011
TASK: Write a comparative essay analysing the representations of the ‘law’ in the 2 extracts from The Wire and A Touch of Frost.
Post on your blog with screengrabs preferably + bring a hard copy (minus pictures!) to hand in.
Intro and credits, The Wire, series 1, episode 1.
Frost, Series finale, "If dogs run free".
Wednesday, 2 March 2011
- What other shows? UK/US
- What’s successful? What is less so?
- What different angles/ideas have producers adopted to keep the genre fresh and interesting? Find specific examples.
- Prepare a slideshow about the genre and some general notes on how cops / detectives are represented in specific dramas.
- Have a selection of shots/images/clips or links to clips to illustrate.