Tuesday, November 28, 2017

PPE prep exam reminder

GCSE Media exam: know your enemy!
  • Pre-release briefing material issued 3-4 weeks before the exam.
  • Exam will involve responding to this brief on series of creative tasks.
  • Notes cannot be taken into exam.
  • Time: 90mins
  • Four Tasks: Equally weighted – 15 marks each (maximum mark /60)
  • Spend equal amount of time on each – 20 mins

Task 1: Case study task
This task will test your knowledge of TV Drama and involve writing in detail about at least TWO TV dramas that you have researched in class and at home.

Task 2: Pitch task
This will involve pitching your new idea for a TV drama in response to the preliminary brief.

Task 3: Creative task
This will involve designing some kind of media product for your new TV drama - for example a website homepage or the storyboard of the opening scene of your drama / trailer for your TV Drama.

Task 4: Audience or Marketing task
This could test any aspect of the brief but usually involves audience pleasures (why the target audience would enjoy your new TV drama) or how you would use new technology to promote your TV drama to the audience.

Please note that question 1 will always be about conventions of TV Drama and our case studies but Task 2-4 are all about your OWN TV Drama that you are pitching and these questions can be in any order on the exam paper. 
Important note: you CANNOT just turn up to the GCSE Media exam and hope to wing it on the day - the students you are up against will have done up to a MONTH of preparation in response to the preliminary brief. The positive side is that if you complete all the preparation tasks you already know you will have a brilliant exam!

Example C.E.E.A Paragraph on Stranger Things

Image result for stranger things

Re-watch the following clips before looking at the example question and answer:

People have been asking me for an example of how to use the C.E.E.A structure to answer Question 1 so here is an example of a question 1 and how you would use the structure to address EACH of the bullet points:

(Please note that this is AN EXAMPLE. You will not know the real three bullet points until you encounter the questions in the actual exam)
Please also note how I am writing IN ROLE which the exam requires you to do at all times, even for question 1. 

1) We believe that Serial Television Dramas are successful because they:

  • Offer a number of audience pleasures
  • Have interesting characters
  • Have either narrative arcs or episodic narratives to keep the audience interested in the whole series

Remember C.E.E.A as your structure:
C- Convention
E- Example
E- Explanation
A-Audience pleasure / effect on audience / how it targets them

Let's take bullet point 1 and answer in a paragraph about Stranger Things: (I have colour co-ordinated for you to see where the big marks are)

Dear AtoZ Productions,

In the hope of achieving a potential apprenticeship with your company to make my own serial television drama, I have been studying existing products in the genre. I completely agree that they offer a number of different audience pleasures to keep people watching. An example would be the Netflix Original series, Stranger Things, where the horror and science fiction sub-genre will appeal to an audience looking for ‘Diversion’ so they can find escapism in the fictional town of Hawkins and the world of scientific experiment and parallel universes offered by the show’s narrative. The show also focuses on the adventures of a group of teenagers who are friends and one of them goes missing. This disruption to the equilibrium means that a young audience may be able to relate to the idea of losing a friend or bonding together to try and sort out a problem. There are other narrative strands, such as a love triangle with Mike’s sister and two potential boyfriends – this might be appealing for young girls or boys in similar situations. Much of the drama is set in a small town, in domestic homes or in a high school which is familiar to audiences who have similar lives. Over the whole series, it is possible for the audience to form relationships with the characters by learning their back stories and we care about whether or not Will can be reunited with his mother after his kidnap by the monster in the first episode.

Let's take bullet point 2 and answer in a paragraph about Stranger Things: (I have colour co-ordinated for you to see where the big marks are)

I also agree that TV Dramas have to have interesting characters to attract and keep their audience. Normally, it is conventional for a TV Drama to have an ‘ensemble cast’ where there is not one main protagonist (hero) but instead many characters so that we can learn about their own narratives. In Stranger Things, the narrative focuses on a group of friends of ‘stock characters’ that fit stereotypes the audience can recognise: the funny one (Dustin), the cynical one (Lucas), the leader who makes the decisions (Mike) and the sensitive ‘innocent’ Will who is kidnapped. Audiences will also enjoy watching the anti-hero Hopper who is a town Sheriff with a sad past as his daughter has died and he is a subversive policeman as he drinks, swears, smokes and punches people rather than following the law and arresting them. Will’s mother Joyce and his brother Jonathan are also key characters in the ensemble cast because we see how their lives have been torn apart by the loss of Will and how they deal with getting him back by taking on the monsters and the evil villain scientist. Stock characters and more subversive characters mean the audience can relate to the characters and identify them as ‘types’. Eleven is an interesting character as she is subversive for a female hero – she is a young girl who wears a dress but has a shaved head because she was experimented on in a laboratory. She also has super powers and can manipulate things with her mind which is exciting for the viewers as they do not know if she will be captured or use her powers for good or evil.

Let's take bullet point 3 and answer in a paragraph about Stranger Things: (I have colour co-ordinated for you to see where the big marks are)

Most Serial TV Dramas have episodic narratives, where stories are resolved in one episode, so that the ‘casual viewer’ can be rewarded. They also feature ‘story arcs’ where a narrative is on-going throughout all the episodes so that loyal viewers who always tune in can be rewarded for their loyalty. In Stranger Things, the on-going narrative arc is the kidnap of Will and the enigma codes that are posed to the audience: Will he survive or die? Will he be rescued from the Upside Down? Will his mum or his friends be the ones to save him? This on-going tension causes viewers to want to watch the next episode after the opening where they are ‘hooked’ in by the disappearance of Will within the first 8 minutes. This dramatic disruption to the equilibrium is not resolved until the last episode so the tension builds and there are lots of cliff-hangers at the end of each episode so that audiences are encouraged to ‘binge watch’ the whole series, which was released all at once. There are also episodic storylines focusing on individual characters, such as flashbacks to Eleven’s sad childhood; the back story where Hopper’s daughter dies of cancer, and the ‘happier times’ memories that Will’s mother has of their time together. Also, Nancy and Steve’s relationship and the death of Barb (Nancy’s friend) are dramatic narratives that develop within an episode and keep the audience watching as they are given some resolution as the story progresses. 

Try answering some of your own C.E.E.A paragraphs using examples from our other case studies: Waterloo Road and Doctor Who. 

Last tip - remember that you MUST talk about at least 2  TV Dramas from our case studies so if you wrote the above answers JUST using Stranger Things, you would limit your marks. Make sure that you are able to say detailed examples from more than one television drama across the three bullet points. 

Good luck!

Miss Fowler

Example C.E.E.A paragraph

Example Answer - C.E.E.A Paragraph 

TIPs for structuring answer (colour 
C – Convention
E –Example from one or two of TV dramas studied
E – Explain how the example fits the convention or is subversive
A – How this targets the audience and what pleasures it offers them

A protagonist or ‘hero’ figure is one of the stock characters you would normally find in some Television dramas.An example would be the Doctor character from Dr Who who fits the conventions of a hero because the narrative usually sees him saving individuals or races such as humans, from potential threat and destruction. He is an unconventional hero because his power is his intelligence and scientific knowledge. He is an alien from another planet which offers the audience escapism through the science fiction sub-genre. He has also been regenerated through several series’ which rewards audience loyalty. 

As you can tell, the EXPLANATION and the AUDIENCE pleasures part is the bit that will get you the marks. 

Please note that question 1 has 3 bullet points and you must address all 3 bullet points and mention at least 2 TV Dramas with specific examples.

If you write the narrative of the Drama without linking your answer to the bullet points, you will receive no marks!!!!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Serial Television Drama - Revision Pack

Serial Television Drama Revision (cont)

You have started working your way through the revision blog task that will help you to make sure that you are in charge of your own preparation for the upcoming PPE exam. 

Please take this seriously - we can use your mark and grade from this exam with your coursework grade (marked by January) and give you a really clear picture of where you are likely to end up in terms of GCSE Media final grades. 

Storyboards are available to practise your TV Drama openings and trailers. Remember that the exam will use one of these and you will not know until the day. You must revise the conventions of storyboards (see Assignment 2 if you have forgotten) and conventions for both openings of TV Dramas and trailers. 

Finally, here is a really comprehensive revision guide for you to use:

Good luck! 

Miss Fowler

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Serial Television Drama PPE Planning Tasks

Your PPE Media Studies exam is on Tuesday 12th December at 1.20pm in the Hall.

You will have received a copy of the preliminary brief in class.

You MUST complete the following research and planning tasks before the exam on Tuesday 12th December.


Waterloo Road

1) Watch the whole of Waterloo Road - Season 1, Episode 1:


2) Re-read this Waterloo Road Wikipedia entry and write down the number of seasons and episodes broadcast and the channels they have appeared on. 

3) How does Waterloo Road meet the key conventions of TV Drama: ensemble cast? Stock characters? Story arcs? Episodic narratives? Enigma and tension? Realism?

4) Write down three storylines (or narratives) from Waterloo Road - note which season the storyline appeared in. They can be from the first episode above or from the clips below:

5) Why might audiences have enjoyed Waterloo Road?

Doctor Who

1) Re-watch these extracts from the classic Doctor Who episode 'Blink' when the Doctor was played by David Tennant during series' 2-4:



2) Read the opening of this Wikipedia entry for Doctor Who and make notes on why the show is so popular.

3) Now read this Wikipedia entry for the episode above - 'Blink'. Why is 'Blink' considered to be one of the best Doctor Who episodes ever?

3) List the key conventions of TV Drama that you can find in Doctor Who.

4) Write down three storylines (or narratives) that have moments of Enigma or tension - note which season the storyline appeared in. They can be from the earlier episodes (such as 'Blink' above) or from the Matt Smith series 6 that we have watched this week. 

The following clips are from Doctor Who - The Impossible Astronaut:

5) What audience pleasures are provided by Doctor Who?


    1) Brainstorm ideas for a new TV Drama for a 15-24 audience demographic using one of the three titles provided on the brief. Plan out the following:

    1. Title- which one of the three titles are you choosing?
    2. Tagline - how will you sell the drama to an audience?
    3. Setting(s)
    4. Main characters and why audiences will like/dislike them
    5. At least three of the narratives or storylines - at least one should cover the series arc (a narrative that continues across the whole series).
    6. Potential TV channels and timings to broadcast your new TV drama
    7. Your TV drama's USP - unique selling point
    8. Your show's detailed target audience (demographics and similar shows they might watch). Remember: the age group specified by the preliminary brief is 15-24.
    9. Three reasons your TV drama will appeal to that target audience 

    2) Storyboard the opening (length: 30 seconds) of your new TV Drama. Use this AQA storyboard sheet if you don't pick up a paper copy in class.

    3) Storyboard a 30 second advert or trailer for your chosen TV drama idea. Use the storyboard link above.

    4) Come up with a variety of ways to promote your new TV Drama to your target audience. Plan out the following:
    • Official website for the TV drama that allows audiences to meet the characters and find out more about the storylines.
    • Ideas to feature your drama on social media e.g. hashtag, video content, Instagram filters, Twitter feeds etc.
    • Any other creative or unusual ways to promote your new TV drama to the audience.
    5) Write a three-paragraph answer for why your new TV drama will be successful in the incredibly competitive marketplace of modern television.

    Revision pack

    Use this revision pack at home or in Study Club to help prepare for the upcoming PPE. It has brilliant tips on how to approach each question and what you need to create and revise before the exam. 

    All tasks MUST be completed before Tuesday 12th December. Complete them on your GCSE Media blog and publish them to be checked in your lessons next week. 

    Tuesday, October 17, 2017

    Assignment 3: Filming

    The next stage of our music video project is filming the video.

    This is where all of our planning has been leading and it is absolutely crucial that you film lots of high-quality shots that give you plenty of options when it comes to editing.

    Music video filming: top tips

    1) Listen: you need to know the song inside out so listen to it again and again while planning and shooting.

    2) Lighting: the right setting is important but lighting can make or break a music video. Plan it carefully.

    3) Performance: you don’t need brilliant actors but the performance style has to match the song.

    4) Shoot to edit: you need to shoot enough video so you have options when editing. Capture everything on your shot list and don’t delete anything.

    Raising the level of your camerawork and editing

    If you want to reach A* in your music video then you'll need to show creativity and flair in your camerawork and editing. Indeed, it's important that you're already thinking about the editing while you film your video. This video is a great introduction to different types of editing - and there are plenty of other tutorials available from the same YouTube channel - RocketJump Film School

    Use tutorials, examples and your very detailed shot list to make sure you film everything you need.


    If you have your own camera or a high-quality phone with plenty of storage, you should use your own equipment. This will give you maximum flexibility.

    We will only sign out a camera to students who have completed ALL research and planning tasks.

    Please note school cameras are signed out to be returned next working day:

    Tuesday > Wednesday
    Friday > Monday
    Friday end of half-term > first day back at school

    Filming deadline: week commencing Monday 6 November 

    Wednesday, October 4, 2017

    Research and planning: Pre-production

    The final aspect of your Assignment 3 Research and Planning is pre-production.

    This is the planning, sketching and drafting that you must complete before picking up a camera and filming your music video.

    In your group OR individually, you need to complete the following planning:

    1) Lyric annotations
    2) Storyboard
    3) Shotlist
    4) Mise-en-scene planning

    You need a minimum of 3 pages EACH. You CANNOT put any work in your folder that has been created by someone else in your group.

    1) Lyric annotation

    • This is brilliant way of developing the ideas from your treatment. You can pick out certain words or sections of the song and plan the shots and editing that would fit best. 
    • Make sure you use a clean or radio edit version of the lyrics - you won't be able to submit non-clean versions to the exam board AQA.
    • Simply find the clean version lyrics on Google, copy and paste them into Word and then plan the shots, action and locations line-by-line.

    2) Storyboard
    • Use the skills you have already developed in Assignment 2.
    • Create a visual ‘feel’ for what you want your music video to look like – you won’t be able to storyboard every shot.
    • Use a wide variety of creative shots and draw them accurately.
    • Aim for somewhere between 5-15 frames (depending on whether you are working individually or in a group).
    • Make sure you write text in the right-hand boxes explaining the type of shot (must be accurate), camera movement and sound (which line of the song the shot goes with).

    3) Shot list

    • The shot list is the single most important pre-production document – you will tick off each shot while shooting.
    • Remember, you will shoot far more than you actually use - which means a variety of shots for each event or location in the music video.
    • Due to this, there will be far more shots on the shot list than in the storyboard.
    • You will need at least one shot for every second of the track you have chosen - so the shot list will contain 180+ shots.
    • The most important shot type to plan is close-ups. Ideally, you should have one close up every three shots. That means 60+ close-ups planned in your shot list!

    4) Mise-en-scene planning

    • This document involves all the planning for anything appearing in front of the camera. Remember CLAMPS: Costume, Lighting, Actors (cast), Make-up, Props, Setting.
    • Use images to show you have planned each aspect of mise-en-scene (phone pictures/ Google images/ Google maps are all acceptable here).

    The deadline for all your research and planning will be set by your teacher - it depends on your year group and timetable. 

    IMPORTANT: you cannot sign out a camera for filming unless everyone in your group has completed ALL research and planning documents.