Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ms Hill cover work: Tuesday 25 April

Ms Hill will not be in Media today - she sends her apologies.

You need to continue the work you've been doing towards the Assignment 2 Analytical Task. Last week, you were introduced to media theories and representation.

Today, we're going to re-focus on the three narrative theories and develop extended paragraphs that we can use in our essay later this term. 

The narrative theory notes are here if you need to refer to them and the narrative theory blog task is here.

If you have any questions, let Mr Halsey, Ms Quinn or Ms Fowler know.

Good luck! 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Narrative theory: blog task

Your blog task is to apply our three narrative theories to the film trailer you are analysing for Assignment 2.

You need to analyse the trailer on your blog using the three theories we have learned in class:

Todorov: equilibrium
Propp: character types
Barthes: enigma and action codes

Embed the trailer in your blog and then write your analysis in full sentences and paragraphs making specific reference to moments in the trailer.

Word count: 250 words minimum.

Example: Silver Linings Playbook

The trailer for Silver Linings Playbook uses many narrative techniques typical of Hollywood romantic comedies. Applying Propp's character theory, we have a clear protagonist or hero in Bradley Cooper's character Patrick - although Jennifer Lawrence's character Tiffany is also a major character so doesn't quite fit the role of Propp's Heroine. In many ways, she is shown to be the stronger character and it is her quest (to compete in the dance competition) that drives the narrative. Robert De Niro offers the classic Father character (and is actually Pat's father) while Chris Tucker plays the Helper role as Pat's friend. These well known character types quickly help establish the romantic comedy genre and allow audiences to understand the main relationships within the two-minute running time of the trailer.

The film's narrative is clearly introduced in the trailer and follows Todorov's theory of equilibrium. The state of balance is the character of Pat trying to get his life back together following his spell in a psychiatric institution. The introduction of Tiffany creates the disequilibrium - along with the request to compete in the dance competition. The new equilibrium is not shown in the trailer - this is critical because even though a standard Hollywood romantic comedy narrative would suggest the couple get together in the end, the audience have to watch the whole film to enjoy this resolution.

The trailer is full of Barthes' enigma and action codes. These are designed to draw the audience in and encourage them to watch the whole film to resolve their questions. The major enigma codes the audience will consider revolve around whether the couple get together and whether they win the dance competition. However, there are other enigma codes such as what has happened in each character's past to cause psychiatric problems - particularly concerning Pat's stay in the psychiatric hospital. Although action codes are less important in the genre of romantic comedy, there are still plenty of dramatic scenes such as the book being thrown out of the window. This suggests there will be moments of drama and tension in the film and the only way to see these resolved and in full is to watch the whole movie.

Extension questions...

1) Why do film institutions use recognisable stock characters (as per Propp's theory) in most Hollywood films?

2) Why do audiences often prefer films that follow a standard narrative structure such as Todorov's equilibrium and disequilibrium?

3) How do action and enigma codes make audiences want to continue watching a film?

Narrative theory: key notes

Our work on narrative theory gives us an excellent opportunity to show understanding and application of media theorists in the Assignment 2 analytical task.

The key notes from today's lesson:

Narrative definition: (Noun) A spoken or written account of connected events; a story

Todorov: equilibrium
Tzvetan Todorov is a Franco-Bulgarian philosopher. He suggests that all narratives follow a three part structure.

They begin with equilibrium, where everything is balanced, progress as something comes along to disrupt that equilibrium, and finally reach a resolution, when a new equilibrium is restored.

Equilibrium > Disequilibrium > New equilibrium

This can be applied to almost all film narratives.

Propp: character types
Vladimir Propp was a Soviet scholar who analyzed the basic plot components of Russian folk tales to identify their narrative elements.

His theory states that there are only a certain number of characters, who crop up in most narratives.

Protagonist (or Hero) 
Leads the narrative, is usually looking for something (a quest) or trying to solve something (a mystery).

Antagonist (or Villain) 
Gets in the protagonist's way; rival or enemy.

Usually some sort of ‘prize’ or reward for the hero. (Note: if your hero is female, your heroine can be male)

An authority figure who offers a reward to the hero for completing their quest. That reward might be a prince or a princess or a new job or promotion.

Helps the hero - often acts as a sidekick

Gives the hero something - a clue, a talisman, a special power - which helps them complete their quest

Teaches and guides the hero

Barthes: enigma and action codes
Roland Barthes was a French literary theorist.

Barthes' Enigma Code is a theory that suggests a text (whether that be television, film, a poster etc) portrays a mystery to draw an audience in, pose questions and, as such, become intrigued in the piece. 

For instance, a murder mystery will often not reveal the identity of the murderer until the end of the story, which poses the question "Who is the murderer?"

Barthes' Action Code relates to tension: any action or event that suggests something else may happen – and therefore keep the audience engaged. A good example would be a gun being drawn - the audience know a dramatic scene will follow.

Action codes work alongside enigma codes to engage and maintain the interest of the audience.

In a film trailer, they are used to intrigue the audience and make them want to pay to see the whole film. This is a crucial aspect of film marketing.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Representation: help with case study films

Representation is probably the most challenging Media key concept to understand and apply to our own choice of text.

If you're struggling to write your paragraph analysing the representation of people or groups in your chosen trailer, use the questions below to help you:

  • How is the white middle-class male hero presented? Is this representation conforming to other representations of white men in action films? Why?
  • How are females represented? Are the women being rescued by men? Why?
  • How are eastern-Europeans represented? What might the fact the human-traffickers are Albanian suggest to the audience? 
  • How is Europe represented? Remember, the film involves an American girl visiting Europe for the first time - is Europe presented as safe? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.

  • How are women represented in the trailer? What specific examples can you provide from the trailer to support his? Are traditional female roles subverted?
  • How are working class people represented in the trailer? How are the middle or upper classes represented? Does this reinforce or challenge traditional stereotypes?
  • How are men represented in the trailer? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.

  • How are men represented in the trailer? Is this representation conforming to other representations of men in action films? Why?
  • How are females represented? What message might this send to the audience?
  • How is Britain or London represented? Is this a stereotypical representation of Great Britain?
  • How are European people represented? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.
  • How is social class represented in Spectre? Does it reinforce or challenge stereotypes about the British class system?

  • How are teenagers represented? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.
  • How are teenage girls represented? Does the film use stereotypes? Are stereotypes reinforced or challenged?
  • How is the issue of teenage pregnancy represented? Is this the representation you would expect in the media?
  • How are teenage relationships represented? Do these representations reinforce or challenge stereotypes?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • How are teenagers represented? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.
  • How are teenage boys represented? Are the boys traditional American teenage 'geeks' or does the film subvert this notion? Why?
  • How are females represented? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.
  • How are white people represented? Is this typical? Why?
  • How is the gay character represented? Is he an outsider? Why?

  • How are females represented? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.
  • Does the film subvert tradition gender roles? How is the Princess different to princesses in other Disney films? Why?
  • How are males represented? What examples can you provide to support his? 
  • How are fairy tales represented? Why?

Captain America: Civil War
  • How are men represented in the trailer? Is this representation reinforcing the representations of men in Hollywood action films? How? Why?
  • Is there any female representation in the trailer? What message might this send to the audience?
  • How is authority represented - police, government etc.? Does this fit the typical representation of authority in Hollywood action or comic book films?

Django Unchanined
  • How are black people represented? Is this a fair and honest portrayal of slavery? Why?
  • How are women represented? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.
  • How are white non-American represented? Why?
  • How are white men represented? Why?
  • Is it as simple as saying black people are represented as good and white people as bad? Why?

  • How is family represented? Is this a stereotypical dysfunctional American family? Why? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.
  • How are black people represented? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.
  • How are obese people represented? Why
  • How are women represented? Why?
  • How is disability represented? Why?
  • How is American life represented? Is this the picture of American life we normally see in Hollywood films?

  • How are women represented in the film trailer? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.
  • How are men represented in the trailer? Is this a typical representation for Disney films?
  • How are Pacific Islanders represented? Is the representation fair? Accurate? Does this reinforce or subvert stereotypical representations of race/ethnicity in Hollywood film?

The Hunger Games
  • How are women represented in the trailer? Are traditional female roles subverted? Use specific examples from the trailer to support your points.
  • How are men represented? Is this different to what we'd expect in a Hollywood action adventure film?
  • How is the political hierarchy and those in power represented (President Snow and his army)? Why?
  • How does the Hunger Games trailer suggest the film might be making wider points about real life and the media (reality TV, materialism etc)? What might these representations suggest to the audience?

Representation: notes and example

Representation is one of the crucial key concepts for Assignment 2.

The way people, places and events are represented in the media can have a huge influence on opinions, self-esteem and human behaviour. 

When it comes to analysing representation in the media, there are a few key aspects we need to consider:

What influences representation?
  1. The media text itself
  2. The opinions of the person making the representation (media producer)
  3. The reaction of the audience to the representation (media consumer)
  4. The society in which the representation is taking place

Analysing representation in film or TV

When we analyse representation in film or TV, we are usually interested in how certain people or groups are portrayed.

Key word: stereotypes

Stereotype: A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.

Representation blog task

1) Go back to the film you chose at the start of the unit for your essay. Here's a reminder of the original case study task.

2) Embed the trailer in a new blog post called 'Representation analysis'. 

3) Write a 250 word analysis of the representation of different people or groups in the trailer.

Example of representation analysis

Remember the short clip from Die Hard 3 we analysed in the lesson:

The representation of gender in Die Hard 3 reinforces traditional gender stereotypes. Bruce Willis plays the stereotypical male American action hero. He is aggressive, brave, intelligent and heroic in trying to find the “school bomb” that is discussed in the phone conversation. When the bomb is about to detonate, he refuses to run or throw it away and instead solves the riddle under extreme pressure. These are typical qualities associated with men in action films. Similarly, the lack of female representation in the clip also reinforces stereotypes. This creates the suggestion that dangerous situations such as a terrorist threat are no place for a woman. This is an old fashioned (and quite sexist) representation of women but is typical of Hollywood action cinema. 

If you want help on your particular film, check out our blog post of key questions for analysing representation in each of the case study films.

If you don't finish during the lesson, complete for homework - due next Thursday.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Miss Fowler cover work

Miss Fowler is really not feeling well and won’t be in today’s lesson. 

The next stage of Assignment 2 is to write an essay analysing the film poster and trailer of the Disney film Moana and our next few lessons will be about learning all the information and skills we need to write that essay.

Blog task: Moana institution research

Work through the following questions and tasks on your blog. Use Moana’s IMDB page, Moana’s Rotten Tomatoes page and the film’s Wikipedia entry to help you answer the questions.

Create a new blogpost called ‘Moana institution research’. 

1) Write the storyline of Moana in no more than three sentences.

2) What film genre is Moana?

3) When was the film released in the UK?

4) Who were the stars who provided the voices in the film?

5) Who were the directors for Moana?

6) What other films have they directed?

7) What was the production budget for Moana? 

8) How much money did the film make at the worldwide box office?

9) What is the Walt Disney company?

10) What other companies and brands are owned by Walt Disney?

11) What famous film franchises are owned by the Walt Disney company?

12) List three other Disney animated family films.

13) What are the three most successful Disney films ever?

14) What do audiences expect from a Disney film?

15) Why might a family be happy to watch a new Disney film? 

16) Read the IMDB user reviews for Moana. Copy and paste three user reviews for the film into your blogpost – one good, one bad, one in the middle.

17) Read this Guardian review of Moana. How many stars is the film given?

18) What does the Guardian reviewer think is the best thing about Moana?

19) Read this Empire review of Moana. Why does it say Moana is similar to Frozen?

20) What do you think Moana and Frozen have in common? Write down three things the two films have in common.

21) Having researched the film, why do you think Moana was so successful at the box office? 

22) Embed the trailer for Moana in this blogpost and write three things in the trailer that would make the audience want to go and see the whole film.

23) How many references to Disney can you find in the trailer?

24) Find a film poster for Moana using Google Images and paste it into the blogpost. Find three things on the poster that would make the audience want to go and see the movie.

25) Does the Moana film poster have the Disney logo on it? Where on the poster does it appear?

Next steps

For the Assignment 2 essay, you need to put the key information you have researched into paragraphs. Answer the following questions in extended paragraphs - you can then copy these over to Microsoft Word when it is time to start writing the essay.

1) How are the major star names used in the poster and trailer for Moana to promote the film? Why might those stars attract an audience?

2) How does the Moana film poster and trailer use the Disney brand to help promote the movie? Why might families be interested in watching the latest Disney movie?

3) How are other Disney films used in the Moana poster and trailer to promote the film?

4) How successful was Moana at the box office?

Make sure that all four paragraphs together total at least 300 words.

Complete anything you don't finish in class for homework - due Tuesday.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Year 10: Assignment 2 Production work evaluation

You have now created a new film idea, designed a film poster with original photography and drawn a storyboard for a trailer for the same film. 

After Easter, we need to write the 1,200 word essay analysing the poster and trailer for the film you researched earlier this term. Part of that essay involves evaluating our production work, specifically focusing on key conventions, institutional information and the representation of people, places or groups. 

Blogtask: evaluating your production work

In today's lesson, you need to create a new blog post entitled Evaluating my production work: Assignment 2.

Answer the questions below - this will give you the basis of your evaluating for the essay after Easter. Aim to write a detailed, developed paragraph for each question explaining how your film poster has matched the brief and how you researched and used conventions to make your finished product authentic and professional. 

1) What typical features (conventions) of a film poster have you used? How do they help to make the poster effective in attracting an audience? (Key conventions include title, release date, institutional information, reviews, a central image etc.) 

2) What is the genre of your film? How would your target audience know this from design of your poster? E.g. Colour scheme, font choice, mise-en-scene (props, costume, character, setting).

3) What institutional information have you used to try and sell the film and how does this appeal to the audience? E.g. 'From the Producers of...' / Star power / Directors / Reviews.

4) Where are there examples of synergy between your storyboard and trailer? (Synergy is the link or interaction between two different media texts).

5) What representations have you used in your film? E.g. gender / race / age / nationality / place)? Are these reinforcing or challenging stereotypes? This is a good BBC Bitesize page on the key concept of Representation that will help with this question.

Example: Angels of Justice

Miss Fowler kindly completed an example of what this evaluation might include using a poster and storyboard from her GCSE class last year:

1) When researching the conventions of a film poster, I noticed that most posters use a focal, central image to connect with the audience and interest them in the film. The central image dominates the poster and is usually related to the central characters or narrative plot. I have chosen to focus on my protagonist (the hero) and the antagonist (villain) as the characters on the poster. To show that they are opposing each other, I positioned them next to each other but back to back and I used fire and ice to demonstrate their powers. The plot of my film features two avenging angels so I used Photoshop to create wings behind my original photography to signify that they are angels - this also hints at the genre and narrative of the film. I used an indication of when the film would be released (‘Coming Soon’) to create anticipation and I name checked the stars of the film to interest people who might already be fans of their work. The title of the film is prominent and positioned directly underneath the image to link the two together. The tagline adds more information by summing up the film: You’ve Got Nothing to Fear…If You’ve Got Nothing to Hide. This helps to ground the film in the crime/action thriller genre and creates the sense of good and evil. Finally, I included an age rating – 15 because the BBFC would probably classify my film as suitable for audience members of 15 years and older because there is violence in my narrative.

2) The genre of my film is crime and action thriller but there is also an element of the superhero/ supernatural genre because I am including angels who are from a different world. I have signified my genre using dark colours and a smoke effect as this looks eerie and supernatural. The position of the characters makes them look confrontational which suggests the action element of the film. The fire and ice props connote the special powers which links to the superhero or comic book genre - they also suggest to the audience that there is going to be action and potentially violence in the film. For my costume, I put my characters in modern, casual street clothes to show the urban setting and to suggest that it is set in modern day.

3)  Regarding institutional information, I have used the logos of Warner Brothers and Lionsgate, the two production companies that I would want to make my film. I have also included positive reviews to give the film credibility and I have included institutional information in a blurb at the bottom of the poster, as is conventional. This will encourage an audience to go and see this film if they have enjoyed other films by the same director or made by the same institution. Lionsgate is a highly successful American film studio that has made films like The Hunger Games and the Divergent franchise; my film will target a similar audience so I wanted to suggest that my film might have similar appeal to these hugely successful franchises. Warner Brothers is one of the biggest production companies in the world so the audience can tell this is going to be a mainstream blockbuster. I have name checked the stars of the film to endorse them.

4)  There is synergy between my poster and storyboard because the main characters from the central image in my poster also feature in my storyboard for my trailer. The trailer opens with the institutional information for Warner Brothers but I have incorporated fire and ice around the logo to link with my poster. The tagline is also included along with the title of the film so that the audience can link the trailer and the poster. My storyboard features close up shots of the angel’s wings and the fire/horns of the villain both of which are shown in the central image of my poster. This highlights the importance of these characters.

5)  I have represented two ethnic minority figures as my hero and villain. My hero is an Arab teenager and my villain is of Asian descent. This somewhat subverts typical Hollywood stereotypes as most action films feature white characters as the protagonists and cast ethnic minorities as the villains. I wanted to give a positive representation of an Arab male teenager as a role model with angel wings signifying that he is a positive character. This is a refreshing change from most Arab representations in Hollywood films which are negative or dangerous. 

My trailer and poster reinforce gender stereotypes. My film features two male characters because most action adventure storylines feature male characters in the dominant roles. However, this may reinforce negative stereotypes that suggest women cannot be heroes in action or comic book movies. The age of the two characters is supposed to be young adults so that my film appeals to a teenage audience. I wanted them to look like typical teenagers but the red eyes and wings suggest that there is something unique about them that makes them subvert our expectations of normal teenage boys. This creates a unique selling point for the film and clearly targets the film at the teenage market - the most important audience group for cinemas and film studios.

If you don't finish the five questions on your blog you must complete this for homework - due Thursday 20 April.