G322/3 Key Media Concepts (TV/Radio Drama) January 2009
The entry for the January session was approximately 2,200 candidates for G322 and 9 candidates for G323. There were no reported problems with either of the extracts, (for TV drama: Monarch of the Glen, and Radio Drama: The Sensitive), nor with the question set. These extracts enabled differentiation through the examination of the key concept of the representation of age for question one, with the analysis of the extracts technical features. Given the tiny number of entries for Radio drama this report focuses on the unit G322 Television Drama, and reserves a paragraph for the exam paper G323 (headed below), which shares question 2.
As indicated by the mark scheme for this exam paper, the use of media vocabulary is a very important part of the exam at AS level. The mark scheme allocates a number of marks for the use of terminology. Good practice suggests that candidates should be keeping a vocabulary list of technical language for both questions. At times, in question one there was an absence of subject-specific vocabulary in some candidates’ responses and some common misconceptions like an ‘insert shot’. On page 18 of the specification there is a list of the key terminology used in relation to analysis of the technical features of television drama. It is advisable that centres ensure coverage of these in preparation of the candidates in the exam, likewise for students embarking on the analysis of radio drama this key vocabulary list can be found on page 24 of the specification.
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 it’s 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). Centres are advised to make the mark scheme available to candidates for the summer session so that they are aware of how the work is assessed. This could also be used for the marking of timed assignments in the classroom and for the marking of mock exam papers.
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. It is advised that centre’s do cover the technical features of sound thoroughly in order to give candidates an opportunity to fully engage with the analysis of the extract.
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.
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.