Media Production Skills 2017-2018
When producing my Sequence Task, we were asked to produce a short 1 minute sequence about someone relaxing, being late, runs to the thing they are late for and then when they get there. For mine I decided to go with an idea of someone being late to university but it turns out they just fell asleep in class.
I worked with James for this project and he definitely helped to influence some of my ideas, just by encouraging me to use different types of shots as well as through my very loose story idea. Although most of the sequence was made through my ideas, his ideas allowed me to meet the learning outcomes much easier. When coming up with the ideas through I wanted to try something different, when I spoke to my classmates most of them had very similar premises and I decided to try to be different by using the “it’s all a dream” idea. That way I could get all the points needed for the story, as well as get all the wanted shots, such as establishing shots, match shots, cutaways and CU’s as well as following the 180 degree rule.
When creating this artefact I mostly looked at the 180-degree rule as it was something I felt I needed to sometimes break. I wanted to show early on that something was not right by using angles on both sides of my body. I ended up finding an article by Matthew York (1), he explained the time when the 180-degree rule can be manipulated, saying sometimes “it’s OK to break the rules, so long as you know why you’re breaking them”, for the 180-degree rule, breaking it causes “a sense of disorientation in the viewer”. I tried to follow this advice, by having most of the shots being at an angle on my right side, but at the start of the video and towards the end of it I shot purposely on my left side as an attempt to show something not being right from the very start, with the final shot outside of the dream being forward facing, to reflect that were back to reality.
Not everything went as well as I would have hoped though, as after filming I realised I only had a couple of cutaways (such as the hat) as wanted to do more, but by the time I realised that, we had to go to hand the equipment back. So next time I would definitely try to get those extra cutaway shots in, as well as just trying to use my time management better since I got distracted easily, and lost focus something, something I did improve on a lot after this though, by focusing on the tasks clearer and waiting until I was happy with my product before losing focus.
Overall this was one of my favourite tasks as I got to work with someone who I could bounce ideas off easily, with me suggesting the scene ideas and James giving some good advice on the types of shots to use. And even though there were no real health and safety issues with this production I felt that it still helped me to fill out a risk assessment to make sure there were no issues that could occur.
For this Artefact, we were tasked with creating a short Christmas themed seasonal greetings card, with a one minute video and 4 stills to go along with it, showing the planning and production phases. The video was limited to one minute due to Instagram’s rules.
When working on the Artefact, I worked with Robbie and Ben, since we worked in a three instead of a two we had to manage time much better, eventually deciding on having one hour each in the three hour time window. Due to this we each lost 30 minutes of work time and helped each other out with ideas. I came up with the horror themed Christmas idea very early on, originally thinking of a Krampus style until our tutor Dan gave me the Freddy Kruger idea. Robbie and Ben gave me ideas for the types of shots to use, such as the closeups, but the overall structure oh the idea was mine. For the pictures that were needed, I took a couple of photos of the idea board I made when choosing what stuff to do, as well as some more pictures from when we were actually creating the artefact. When putting one in the video to continue the cheesy comedy horror theme.
When looking for clearer inspirations of a holiday themed horror concept I found a few interviews with film makers who had made Christmas themed horror movies, one which was with Bob Clark who created Black Christmas (2), where he spoke about the influences he had on movies such as A Nightmare On Elm Street and mentioning how he made it different, referencing the comedy with “Kidder’s character having a smart mouth”, and the more drama based stuff with “Hussey’s characterbeing pregnant”. I also read about film maker Craig Anderson (2.2), about his film Red Christmas, speaking about the best level’s of comedy and horror “I still made it very funny”.
The main issue we reached when creating the project was health and safety, since we had to make Ben look dead (whilst still keeping the theme comedic and seasonal) it was decided to make a fake noose out of some tinsel, it took some time and thought but we eventually decided to tie it loosely and hide that behind Ben’s head so it wouldn’t be obvious. Other smaller issues came from the Props we used, eventually using some stuff Robbie brought in, which I didn’t think worked as well as they could have done, Next time I would definitely have gone shopping for some more decorations to spread out easier and possibly have some that fit my more horror-seasonal theme.
Overall though I felt this project went very well, Robbie and Ben were very good to work with and definitely helped contribute to my ideas (as well as Dan), we sorted out a possible health and safety issue quite quickly with the overall product fitting what was needed from the brief, as well as being something I personally enjoyed creating.
When doing the studio task the duty of director very quickly fell on me when no one else wanted to try it, and I had done it previously during our practice runs. I did not mind being director as it gave me a good opportunity to lead a team. We were giving some ground rules when we started the task. The show must be 10 minutes in length, have 2 hosts as well as 1 correspondent , a live interview, 2 VT’s, an opening and closing sequence, be suitable for a pre-watershed audience, and must all be done in one go, with no additional editing.
As from the start we were a big team, ideas came from everyone very quickly, the New Years theme was decided by the tutors, with the New Years hangover idea originally being something we wanted to focus on by possibly having Nate and Connor act a bit hungover but that was dropped quite quickly in order for the two to be much more lively. Joe was soon chosen to be the producer and together me and him decided on who should be in what groups, with two VT teams, one led by James to do an interview with a local gym, and another one led by Ben Hollis to do a couple of top 5 lists. It eventually left me, Joe, Nate and Connor to plan out the sets, where the guest Abbie would sing. The way the desk was set out, and how to do the little yoga part in the middle. Everyone worked quite well together and even with a few disagreements all the VT’s went very well.
We also had some issues with Health and Safety we had to think about, most notably trip hazards which were sorted out by everyone just being careful where they stand and tidying up wires, as well as the general for James’ interviews. But neither ended up being a problem in the end.
I felt that even with all the planning we still had some issues, most noticeably with the camera work, we were unable to get Abbie in sooner so most of her camera moments at the end were unprepared and led to one of the camera moving a lot in the end, as well as another issue in the middle of the production. If I was to do this again I would definitely communicate clearer to the camera operators and try to get a possible guest in sooner.
Overall though I think the studio was the best experience as it gave us a lot of time to listen to each others ideas, with good team communication throughout, as well as covering a wider range of Health and safety issues, inside and out of the studio.
The photography task was the only task that I felt truly out of my comfort zone, photography was never something I overly enjoyed and with this artefact we needed to do six pictures which had to demonstrate at least one of six techniques. Including a long exposure, silhouette, reflection, frame within a frame, forced perspective, and a shallow depth of field.
Despite working with Ben and Robbie again, we did not help each other out as much as usual, instead we were mostly used for models or camera holding as this project was mostly to be done independently. But because of this, as well as my uncertainty in this field, it allowed me experiment more with the equipment. And focus more on the health and safety aspects over the teamwork. Whilst doing my risk assessment I decided to be as careful as possible and avoid risks with anything dangerous, only having to worry about weather issues and traffic. Due to some of my pictures being around cars. I had other ideas initially, when I decided on my theme of depression, such as using blunt razors but decided against it, as even though I felt it would be appropriate with the topic, it could have been dangerous to my model Ben, and it wasn’t something that was mandatory.
When doing this task I decided to look into photography and accidentally found an article on photography at protests which actually helped me out of lot for my theme. The author Anastasia Veneti (3), explains about the freedom of expression and that the “Images of protests” being very important to help show peoples “identity and their messages to wider audiences”. Which I felt was very relevant especially with a topic such as depression. It allowed me to keep the dark themes and explore different ideas. Such as one of the images being about the light at the end of the tunnel (Silhouette/Frame Within Frame), having time pass you by quickly (Long exposure), bullying (Forced perspective), feeling constantly surrounded and scared (Long exposure/Frame Within Frame), feeling like everything is wrong (Shallow Depth of field), and finally being completely alone (Silhouette/ reflection).
My only real issue was with time, if I had an extra hour I would have taken more shots and therefore had more to choose from, so if I was to do this again, time management would be very important, as some of my pictures ended up being a little blurry meaning that for the edits, I had to spend a lot of time trying to sharpen parts of the images and make the parts which weren’t the focus a bit blurrier.
Overall though I felt this task went very well, I met all the criteria very clearly for this project and I’m quite happy with the overall quality of my photographs.
For the final project of this course, I decided to do a Video Essay, speaking about the similarities between the films, Halloween, Friday the 13th and Black Christmas. I chose to do this because of how similar they are and how much they influenced each other, starting with Black Christmas’ sequel concept becoming Halloween, then the Friday the 13th film makers copying Halloween’s formula.
For this production I worked completely individually, doing my own research for the whole project, which included watching over the films multiple times and writing down moments which were similar or direct copies of the previous ones, as well as looking at some texts on the films. Most noticeably from an article titled “A Historical Approach to the Slasher Film”, written by Sotiris Petridis, (5) which mentions that according to some people “Halloween (1978) is the starting point of slasher films”, mentioning that before Halloween though “there were another two films which belong to the slasher subgenre. In 1974, Black Christmas and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” as well as mentioning films such as Psycho.
From these influences I built up the argument that the two most famous and influential slasher films are just made from unfinished sequels and copycat ideas. Referencing that Halloween is made form an idea Black Christmas director Bob Clark had for a Black Christmas 2, and Friday the 13th is copied from Halloween, which the writer for Friday the 13th confirmed in an interview.
When it came to writing my script and editing this project I decided to look at other Video Essay styled videos on YouTube, most notably the channel “That Film Theory” which discuss fan theories about films, then analyse the films closely in order to determin there authenticity, as well as look at other outside sources such as interviews. I did the same approach by looking up the interviews Bob Clark and Victor Miller, the writer of Friday the 13th, did in interviews. Which I could link back to on my video and source on here.
I also decided to look at over videos including the ones we saw in class, such as the more visual ones, aka the Wes Anderson one, and the more dialogue heavy ones such as the feminist one. I eventually decided to be more dialogue heavy with the videos helping to prove my point and serve as my evidence, as well as showing the comparisons between the films much clearly then my words ever could. I also brought in some other films for the video, such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho and Hatchet, showing the wide range of over 50 years of slasher styled movies, mentioning briefly how the formula has changed a little over time.
Overall for this project I definitely think that it was important for me to work on my own for once, that way I was able to focus clearly on my own vision for this project, and it allowed me to learn how to do my own research and editing, so I don’t end up just relying on other people all the time.
(1), York, M 2013, ‘Breaking the Rules’, Videomaker, 28, 2, p. 2
(2), Vlessing, E 2006, ‘Holiday spirit’, Hollywood Reporter — International Edition, 397, 14, p. 14
(2.2), HELLER-NICHOLAS, A 2016, ‘DREAMING OF A RED CHRISTMAS’, Metro, 190, pp. 26-29
(3), Veneti, A 2017, ‘Aesthetics of protest: an examination of the photojournalistic approach to protest imagery’, Visual Communication, 16, 3, pp. 279-298
(4), Petridis, S 2014, ‘A Historical Approach to the Slasher Film’, Film International (16516826), 12, 1, pp. 76-84, page 76-77.