Sunday, 5 December 2010

Preliminary Task


The examboard (WJEC) specifications state:
Preliminary exercise: Continuity task involving filming and editing a character opening a door, crossing a room and sitting down in a chair opposite another character, with whom she/he then exchanges a couple of lines of dialogue.


For this task, I will start by choosing a genre. This is because by choosing a genre, I will have a clear idea on what location of filming will be best, so that the mise en scene does really contain all the generic conventions of that genre.

Genre I’m interested in
Generic conventions
An either very charismatic or very shy character, often male.
Typical mise en scene: nothing unusual or sci fi.
Lots of funny punchlines or self mockery.
I can film a comedy genre text, seeing as it’s not very demanding as to where it can be filmed.
Writing a script for it will be challenging.
Tons and tons of fast sequences.
Bullets flying.
Free-running and parkour.
A very masculine character saving a damsel or retrieving an item of interest.
Filming an action genre text might be challenging considering the budget and the turn around time.
Writing a script will be easy, but applying it won’t be! It’s too cold at the moment to film outdoors as well!
A very emotionally turbulent character.
Typical mise en scene: nothing unusual.
Often, the main character has an acquaintance partner (Often a relationship, a crush or a shaky marriage)
I see drama to be very applicable. I can easily write a half decent script for the genre, as well as the fact that it’s not demanding as to where and when it can be filmed.

For my prelim, I have chosen to go towards a drama/action narrative, in order to create a simple parody-like media text. I have also chosen this genre because it’s not demanding in terms of location, considering that this is the wrong time of the year to go and film outdoors, and I can pull off an action effect using computer software fairly easily.


I decided that my prelim should probably be aimed at an audience of young adults/teenagers, this is because this is the demographic that is going to be represented in the text, considering the available cast (Sixth form students). Having identified my audience, I will try to interpret the generic conventions of the drama genre in order to better-suit them. I might choose to integrate the character accordingly to Rubikam and Young's concept (Explorer, Mainstream... et cetera) to keep the appeal of each character in co-ordination, a bit like the job done in the production of the UK Channel 4 TV show, 'Skins', where each character represented a certain lifestyle.

In a more serious task, I'll probably do some research i.e. questionnaires, aimed at my target audience to find out more about the trends and generic conventions they'd be interested in, but this will be unnecessary during this small prelim task.

Initial idea for a storyline:

Person 1 walks into room, person 2 is fiddling with some wires or something of the sort.
Person 2 tells person 1 that they need to get out of the room ASAP
Person 1 is not very understanding of the situation.
Person 2 runs out. Person 1 walks gently.
Building explodes.
Person 1 has a shock reaction on their face
Person 2 “Told you”
Person 2 pimp their jacket off and turn their swag on.

More detailed script:

Black screen is on but there is diegetic sound playing.
Screen fades in. The diegetic sound turns out to be a person’s iPod playing really loudly. Call this person Steve for now.
Steve is walking down a corridor of some sort. The corridor looks a bit “sketchy” and industrial or at least secluded.
Camera cuts out onto person 2, call this person Jesus. Camera is trying to look over Jesus’s shoulder, but it’s not visible what he is doing. Sound here should be a lot more intense than the one Steve is listening to.
Camera cuts back to the back of Steve, walking down the same corridor. Still listening to his bangin’ tunes.
Camera cuts back once again to Jesus, this time the camera is right over his shoulder, and he can be seen fiddling with a device that seems to be explosive – Perhaps fit a timer watch on it or something of the sort. Jesus is very intense with what he’s doing, he’s tracing some wires coming out of the device.
Camera cuts back onto Steve. Steve is opening the door: Jesus is now in-sight. Steve takes his ipod out.
Camera is now in the room, it pans away from focus on Steve at the door, onto Jesus on the other side of the room. It then cuts out to a close up on what Jesus is fiddling with: A wire cutter and some wires. Jesus cuts a wire. Nothing happens.
Jesus: We gotta get out of here.
Steve: Wha~?
Jesus exclaims: Me, you, out of here. Now! The whole place’s gonna explode
Steve: Dude, I don’t know what drugs you’re on or what drugs you need to be on.
Jesus runs out of the room.
Steve is walking out with a “What the~” Look on his face.
Camera cuts out to the outside of the building. Jesus has a sigh of relief, and supports himself on his knees. Steve slowly walks out of the building.
The building explodes. Steve has a massive shock horror look on his face. Jesus looks at him like a ninja-type person (Close up on eyes) and then pimps his jacket, and turns his swag on, and walks away in comfort. 

The painful process when I have to do all the things I promised I would do.

Plan of action

1-      Make a bomb prop
Made this out of 2 pringles tubes, some card, old cables and lots and lots of electric tape. I then stuck my phone on it to make it look like some form of countdown timer.
2-      Paint Gun.
I had a toy gun with a red snub nose. I spray painted that black to make it look more realistic.
3-      Find room that has fire exit open.
This wasn’t very successful, as all fire exists were tied up to the alarm system so Toby had to run out the same door Charlie came from.
4-      Film dude walking outside.
Charlie, the ignorant teenager walking into the sixth form.
5-      Film dude walking in the GNVQ corridor
Charlie again, walking down the dodgy corridor.
6-      Film close ups of bomb defusal
I film the bomb counting down from 1 minute to 1 second from various angles for the production phase.
7-      Film bomb mixing
Initially, I was going to make a bomb prop out of 2 bottles, one had water and the other had food colouring but then I gathered that getting them to mix at a certain interval will be challenging, so I went for the dynamite look.
8-      Film encounter indoors.
That’s Sam trying to assassinate Toby.
9-      Film guy walking out and guy running out.
That’s Toby and Charlie leaving the GNVQ.
10-   Film explosion
Took a few stills of the GNVQ from outside. The wonders of Green Screen.
11-   Film guy walking out shocked
Charlie, showing his shock face. This acts as my “Shock shot” which is just a close up really.

Tools needed.

·         Pliers
Got this from my old DIY toolkit.
·         Microphone or recorder or both
I used an Olympus audio recorder, and then sync’d the audio with the video using After Effects.
·         Tripod
Used my D-SLR one.
·         Camcorder
Bought one from China for £130 and then when it got here I discovered that I had to pay import tax on it. FML.
·         Memory card
I got myself 2x2GB SD cards.

This prelim was reviewed and found to contain insufficient technical content in it such as the 180 rule, et cetera. Therefore there will be no evaluation of it.

Below is the development and production of a second prelim.

For this task, I will start by choosing a genre. This is because by choosing a genre, I will have a clear idea on what location of filming will be best, so that the mise en scene does really contain all the generic conventions of that genre.

This time, I've chosen to go towards a plain drama genre text (possibly humour), because I believe it'll be easier to achieve all of the goals set by the exam board than any other genre, because things like the 180 degree rule, shot reverse shot et cetera are most commonly seen in conversation scenes, which in turn are very common in drama films.

My inspiration for the choice of this genre is the BBC's 'House of Saddam'. This is because 'House of Saddam' as a film contains a lot of those elements that the board is asking for, since it highlights all the conversations Saddam Hussain has had throughout the era in which he falls.

Screenshots above show some of the heavy use of the technical shots and rules i.e. the 180 degree rule and shot reverse shot.
Since I'm only concerned with the types of shots and technical rules in the media text, I feel that doing a textual analysis on the narrative of 'House of Saddam' will be highly unnecessary. 

Instead, I decided to do a textual analysis on 'Snatch' because I believe it's more fulfilling towards the criteria I'm looking for on the narrative side.

‘Snatch’ is the story of ‘Turkish’ and ‘Tommy’, two boxing promoters who get entangled in the midst of a gang war over a stolen 84 carat diamond. The film is based in 1970s-1980s London, which can be easily seen and interpreted by the audience via the mise en scene in the film: The vehicles and the outfits suggest that era. Also that the story revolves around the concept of heists and illegal sports, both which really did thrive in industrial places like London around that era.

The film, as a production is very simple in the way that it doesn’t contain any fancy FX, only a very decent narrative. The only notable editing feature in the film is a scene where a gypsy park is on fire. The audience can observe a slow-mo action as well as non-diegetic music that corresponds to the mode in which the scene is set.

Picking out on the narrative: We can see a lot of semiotics being used here which signify something that the audience can relate to. For example, the diamond stands for wealth, explaining why all the parties in the film are going after it, suggesting that everyone wants wealth.
The film in itself does not objectify females in any way, however, it does clarify that the theme of gang wars is quite male centric, in the way that all the females in the plot do not take part in it. In fact, the only partaking a female does in the war is via being victimised (Mickey’s mother’s caravan being set on fire as a warning to Mickey). This suggests a lot of male-gaze. Laura Mulvey would’ve loved this.

The film contains a whole bunch of two-shots and 180 degree rules et cetera. This is generally because throughout the film, there’s a lot of establishment between duets of characters, such as Tommy and Turkish or Sol and Vinny. The film has the occasional long shot that shows the audience the mise en scene to help integrate them into the ‘mood’ of the narrative.  


In my first prelim, which was not completed, I decided that my target audience should be in relativity to the cast I have available, seeing as a lot of people (According to the questionnaire I did for my coursework task) found themselves represented in the actors in the media texts they're watching/reading, which all meant that my target audience was the very narrow demographic of 16-18 year old students, who are 'D' NRS grades considering their low income... et cetera.

This time, I've decided that although it is true that people may find themselves represented in the text, it's utter crap to say that those would be the only people interested in the text. For example, just because I've never died sinking on a cruiseship in 1912, doesn't mean I wouldn't watch the film RMS Titanic.

Initial ideas for a storyline

At the time when I was told that I will need to re-do my preliminary task, I was faced with the gruelling challenge of finding a way of filming a sequence with my team who live about 3 miles away, each in different directions with 5 inches of snow outside, and for this reason, I've had the idea that we could film a sequence that revolves around cyber chatting, in a narrative that for example centres around a topic such as cyber bullying or long distance relationships. This way we wouldn't have to put anyone at the risk of travelling in the severe weather conditions. The challenge with this was making it obvious to the audience that we're actually applying the 180 degree rule, in a way that they might find it difficult to interpret magnitudes of direction due to the characters being remote from each another. Yet again, even if we did manage finding a style of shooting that successfully interprets the criteria to the audience, this would still be a big navigation away from the genre I've decided earlier, inspired by 'Snatch' and 'House of Saddam'. None the less, I didn't have much option, at my low budget, I had to work with what was available.

The inspiration for all this malarkey was based on the film, You've Got M@il, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (I think).

The storyline explores the topic of the possibility of spurring an actual relationship via the internet, which at the time of production (199-something) was quite a fresh and controversial topic, considering that nowadays, eHarmony adverts are all-over the television. So perhaps the audience-impact of the topic will not be as major as it was at the time that You've Got M@il was released, but hey.

On the same basis of cyber based narratives, a more "fresh and controversial" topic may be cyber security: I could explore a brief storyline of a young hacker. This however, will not harvest a wide target audience, But, it will be sufficient for this preliminary task. I think I will be paying a lot more attention to the target audience and how broad it is, if this task had any impact on my final grade. But since it's only to explore technical capabilities and camera-work... Ya'know. :)

The problem with this narrative idea was difficulty we might face with the camerawork, trying to get in all the technical shots without seeming hideous. As well as the lack of verbal dialogue in such setting. For this reason, we decided to move on to a different idea.

My second idea is "Chronicles of Stoned Conversations" in which I present a person, walking in on two others under the influence of cannabis, or similar.

For this prelim, I'll be looking at similarities with the film "SHANK" which is a crime drama based in 2015 London. Although this is not as humourous as my text should be, the reason I chose to compare with it was because it's based in British culture, as opposed to American culture, which would be useful if I was aiming at a British target audience. Especially that in "Weed" cults, there are major differences between American and British consumers; even the name given is different (Cannabis vs. Marijuana) et cetera.

Sketch script

Stoner1 Walks in and sits down.

Stoner 1 lights one up.
On action shot here.
Stoner 1 picks up his phone and dials a number
Stoner 2 phone rings.
On action shot
Stoner 2 picks up.
Stoner1: Hey dude.
Stoner2: Hey man.
<long Silence whilst shifting between the two characters>
Stoner2: Duuuude. Have you been smoking that Pot.
Stoner1: The puff.
Stoner2: Hash
Stoner1: Grass
Stoner2: Skuuunk
Stoner1: Maryyyyy Jaaneee!
Both stoners laugh hysterically.
Light goes out
Stoner1: Oh
Stoner 2: I lost my lighter.
Stoner 1: There, use this
Stoner2: Cheers man.
Stoner 2 uses the lighter given by stoner 1 to light up to attempt find his lighter.
KRSHT sound
Stoner 1: Found it?
Stoner 2: No... Just a rice krispy.
Stoner 1 takes the lighter back.
Long silence.
Stoner 1: Hey <name>
Stoner2: Yeah?
Stoner1: Sorry about your lighter man.
Stoner2: That's okay.
Stoner1: Talk to you later man.
Stoner 2: Yeah, I'm tired.
Both stoners hang up. Massive zoom out.
Voice over of Stoner 1: Dude, they should totally marilise legauana.
Voice over of Stoner 2: I know dude.

The painful process when I have to do all the things I promised I would do.

Plan of action

1- Prepare cigarettes to be used as props representing cannabis "Spliffs" as they're referred to.
2- Shoot an on-action shot of Stoner 1 opening the door.
3- Shoot all of the lines for Stoner 1
4- Shoot all of the lines for Stoner 2
5- Shoot a reaction shot of Stoner 2 when his phone rings.
6- Shoot a zoom-out pan kinda shot for the outro.


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