Archive for the ‘FdA 12_14’ Category

FdA2: PO & WBL Presentations

Posted: March 17, 2014 by Alan Hardcastle in FdA 12_14
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OK – so someone mentions “Mission statements” and a quick search popped up a nice article on about how to write them. Not only do they serve a great purpose to focus you on what you actually want to achieve, the advice they give also serves as a great structure for the presentation!

So, a mission statement (in my opinion) is more useful as a personal tool than as an attempt to humanise a business. It is a statement of intent that influences your actions as a business (Freelancer, employee, film-maker etc.). As such, they need to be short and sweet – keep them punchy, positive and professional!

  • Why are you in the Media Industry? What do you want for yoursefl, your family and your clients?Think about the spark that ignited your decision to start in media. What will keep it burning?
  • Who are your customers? What can you do in your content for them that will enrich their lives and contribute to them–now and in the future?
  • :What image of yourself as a media practitioner do you want to convey? Clients, peers and the public will all have perceptions of your wotk. How will you create the desired picture?
  • What is the nature of your productions and products? What factors determine pricing and quality? Consider how these relate to the reasons for your working in the Media. How will all this change over time?
  • What level of service do you provide? Don’t be vague; define what makes you as a media practitioner so extraordinary.
  • What roles do you and your peers / contacts play? What are your strengths? How doe you bring other people into your productions? How do you communicate with them to encourage team work?
  • What kind of relationships will you maintain with clients? Do you stay in touch with clients, and do they come back to you again and again? How doe you achieve this?
  • How do you differ from your competitors? Many entrepreneurs forget they are pursuing the same dollars as their competitors. What do you do better, cheaper or faster than other content producers? How can you use competitors’ weaknesses to your advantage? How will you stand out form the crowd?
  • How will you use technology, money, processes, products and services to reach your goals? A description of your strategy will keep your energies focused on your goals – pretty much the PO & WBL unit. How do you promote yourself using a variety of technology and channels?
  • What underlying philosophies or values guided your responses to the previous questions? Some people choose to list these separately. Writing them down clarifies the “why” behind your mission. Are you out to change the world, or just entertain people?

So, with all this information you need to summarise what you are doing and focus on the positive actions within these. Imply certain things (live of films etc) and state doing – I cannot emphasise this enough – always emphasis what you actually do!


Planning you research project

Posted: October 8, 2013 by Alan Hardcastle in FdA 12_14
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Doing a Research Project

This is a presentation based on Martin Davies “Doing a Successful Research Project”. The book is also available in the Library – I find it a great approach to research projects, well written and easy to follow.


Posted: April 15, 2013 by Alan Hardcastle in FdA 12_14, Media Production

sto·ry 1  (stôr, str)

n. pl. sto·ries

1. An account or recital of an event or a series of events, either true or fictitious, as:

a. An account or report regarding the facts of an event or group of events: The witness changed her story under questioning.
b. An anecdote: came back from the trip with some good stories.
c. A lie: told us a story about the dog eating the cookies.

a. A usually fictional prose or verse narrative intended to interest or amuse the hearer or reader; a tale.
b. A short story.
3. The plot of a narrative or dramatic work.
4. A news article or broadcast.
5. Something viewed as or providing material for a literary or journalistic treatment: “He was colorful, he was charismatic, he was controversial, he was a good story” (Terry Ann Knopf).
6. The background information regarding something: What’s the story on these unpaid bills?
7. Romantic legend or tradition: a hero known to us in story.

Definition of narrative


  • a spoken or written account of connected events; a story:a gripping narrative
  • [mass noun] the narrated part of a literary work, as distinct from dialogue: the dialogue and the narrative suffer from awkward syntax
  • [mass noun] the practice or art of telling stories:traditions of oral narrative
  • a representation of a particular situation or process in such a way as to reflect or conform to an overarching set of aims or values:the coalition’s carefully constructed narrative about its sensitivity to recession victims

Definition of Narrative Structure

Narrative structure consists of the traditional parts of a story and the order in which the reader encounters them; these provide a framework for the unfolding of the story. Often represented visually as a triangle, these parts consist of exposition or beginning, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution or denouement. Narrative structure can take a variety of forms, often depending on the genre of the story. For example, a writer who wishes to build tension may begin with a dramatic flashback before visiting the initial events of a story. Further, with the development of digital narrative, a writer may provide links to other parts of a story so that the reader determines the order of events and the revelation of details.

Narrative, Plot and Story

Narrative is the structure of events — the architecture of the story, comparable to the design of a building. Story is the sequence of events, the order in which the narrative occurs — the tour through the building. Plot is the sum of the events, told not necessarily in sequential order, but generally consistent with the story and often considered synonymous with the narrative — the building itself.


You are creating a Documentary. You need to identify the story you are telling, the narrative you are using, summarise it as plot points about the theme you have chosen.

Then, just to make sure we know you can do it, you can turn this into a proposal by adding what access you have to the subject / interviewees, plus the style you are using. Simple.

So – Make me a proposal…!


Documentary starts here

Posted: March 11, 2013 by Alan Hardcastle in FdA 12_14, Media Production
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This is where the big units start. You are being asked to produce a factual piece with some social aspects to it. However, if you watch examples of films within the genre of “Documentary” you can see that this is actually a fairly open genre of film.

There are specific festivals that cater for documentary and factual, and these cover a wide range of themes and approaches. For now, your main approach should be to define this in your own mind – watch documentaries, read about them, how they are made and figure out how to talk about them.

We can look at Reality TV (Big Brother, I’m a celebrity etc) as a kind of documentary – this is a heavily mediated form where the producers are involved in shaping events and guiding “participants” towards particular behaviour. What makes is factual is that it is unscripted, and the subjects behaviour is their own decision. It can also be argued it is a game show, but that’s a different unit.

We can look at 6 sub divisions of documentary as Poetic, expository, Participatory, observational, reflexive and performative. This is only useful in analysing existing documentaries, and occasionally when developing approaches to it, rather than strict generic guidelines.

Performative Documentaries are ones where we see the presenter / documentary maker involved directly. Louis Theroux is a good example as he often seems to be part of the story he is telling. We as the audience are not just looking at the subject but at a known persons response to the subject. This can lead to very personal approaches, such as “Bowling for Columbine” where Michael Moore brings shooting victims to Wal-Mart to return the shrapnel – a very emotive approach to film making.

Observational would be the total opposite – fly on the wall or wildlife documentaries, for example, mean we are watching what goes on but with no interaction or judgement on the events. This is not to say the end result is truth; we are still watching a mediated product. The effect of cameras being on the subject is hard to ignore.

All documentaries are opinions, but all these sub genres do is classify by how involved the film-make is, and how clear they are about telling the audience what to think.

Class exercise: Define each of these categories. Expand it to include any not listed (or are they part of the sub categories?) arrange them in order of film maker intervention.

Representation Theory

Posted: March 4, 2013 by Alan Hardcastle in Critical Responses, FdA 12_14, Media Production
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Just a quick trawl through Google for you. This will be expanded in sessions, but I just want you to start thinking about what this means.

Thomas Grffiths – Media Representation Theory

Andy Wallis – Representation Theory… one step further

Stuart Hall is the godfather of audience research – he is the first academic to successfully develop ideas on looking at how the audience read these representations of reality.

And an application of this is Male Gaze. I dare you not to be more self conscious after watching this.

I want to take some time on Monday afternoon to confirm what you are submitting on Wednesday at 4.30pm. I want you to be completely sure about what I am expecting: mainly due to the “rabbit in the headlights” looks I normally get when I ask what you are going to submit…

So, I am expecting:-

The Blog
Well, I  don’t directly mark this to be honest. I expect to be able to read a record of what you did in this unit: kind of accounting for the 200 hrs you have spent on it! There should be references to theory (Books, journals, articles and websites) you have read and you reflecting on the meaning and how you can use it. So, while I don’t directly mark it (which means we don’t need to worry about the word count) it does have a huge influence on the rest of the grades. So, make sure I have that URL.

Blog Highlights
Only 10% of the grades, but it really demonstrates your understanding of the process. This should be 1000 words referencing your blog – so, you are pretty much pointing out the important stuff you learned. This should be a summary of your blog, with reflection of what this meant to you with citations back to your blog.

A Report
I think we have covered this – but just in case… Those journals, books, articles and Websites you mention on your blog? Well, the report is all about pulling those together. What happens in professional practice? How does it happen in the industry? Why Prove it! Cite it! List those books! 2000 words for 30% of the total grade.

2 products – edits, plus planning (depending on role). That’s it. For 60%. Remember, this is the time I look back over your blog, so no cheating. One of the artefacts should be your own inception, the other you can just be on the crew. You need to show how you have worked on them, and include a link to the product – don’t rely on anyone else to have submitted your work! And don’t forget the planning. If you were on the crew, you should still have been given a Call sheet and a shooting script (for example). If you were the main maker, well – you should have everything!

As a group, we will identify what you need to do, and negotiate what you are doing in this session. Consider the following questions:

  • What can you do on site?
  • What can you do in LRC?
  • What can you do at home?
  • What do you need guidance with?
  • What do you need me looking over your shoulder  with?

In other words, how can you best use you time? Some things can only be done on site  – I would assume everyone can write their reports at home, but I may be wrong. So, once we set out the tasks you need to do, we will identify what you are doing in the afternoon and set you off on an active session.

Once you are all on doing what you need to do to get your submissions in, I want to take 15 minutes with each of you to check over what you have and what you are doing ready for the Wednesday deadline. This includes viewing rough cuts and draft reports, as well as identifying the blog highlights. I have left time to go back and have a look at a few extra things if we need to.

I am expecting both Myself and you to stick to the times!

  • 1.50 – 2.05 – Sam
  • 2.05 – 2.20 – James
  • 2.20 – 2.35 – Kylie
  • 2.35 – 2.50 – Abi
  • 2.50 – 3.05 – Sian
  • 3.05 – 3.20 – Jake
  • 4.00 – back in the room

At 4, we will reconvene to check progress and set overnight targets.

Location Practice Report

Posted: February 19, 2013 by Alan Hardcastle in FdA 12_14
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So, now you are all on with productions – or have completed loads of location work, including paid work for the BBC, you will all have lots to reflect upon. You need to write up what you did for any shooting on your blog, and reflect upon it – what did you learn? What did you do? How did your react and why?

A further point to realise is you also need to be reading on professional practice (interviews, case studies, industry guidance etc) and reflecting on how you can incorporate this into your own practice.

Location Practice

In class we quickly mind mapped the issues to consider around location practice. Since most are the same as any other production, you want to focus on the issues specific to Location – theories about the weight of a location, the cost, the uncontrollability, Legal and ethical considerations… and how you need to consider all this in your planning and production.

You can literally find a theory and explain it for your report. You can then reflect on whether or not you already do it within your blog. But the most important thing? Be reading!

Application of Theory

Posted: January 29, 2013 by Alan Hardcastle in FdA 12_14
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Alexander Mackendrick‘s book, “On Film-making” (2004) is proving to be very insightful. It is pretty much exploring his approach to teaching as a director, and covers his film-making approach. One quote that really struck me was:-

“Creativity’ will always look after itself if you are prolific in production, which means starting off by turning out masses of work that is relatively unoriginal, derivative and imitative. When productivity has become second nature, you will find you have acquired a freedom in which your particular and personal individuality emerges of its own accord. One of the things I find frequently missing in students … is not imagination itself, rather the knack of making a disciplined effort in the development of a fertile imagination.

Intelligent and critical students are all too apt to use ‘thinking’ as a substitute for the much harder work of ‘imagining’ at the intuitive, emotional and sensory levels. People who talk about things instead of doing them tend to use analysis as a substitute for creativity. But a . statement about the kind of effect you want to achieve is never a substitute for the often exhausting labours that must go into actually creating that effect. Work is the only real training.

So, doing is learning. The ability to make films is more important than the ability to think of doing. So, any theory is only useful for how it can be used. So keep making films. And making films.

A film-maker makes films. It’s simple. It’s in the title.

The whole point of this course is to reflect on theory and apply it – so, not a million miles away from Mackendricks opinion. We need to constantly discover theories, and apply them to our practical work.

Or, to put this theory into practice,

  • Pick a location or a prop.
  • Make a film
  • That tells a story
  • with no Dialogue
  • Using any available technology
  • You have 3 hours to complete it and get it uploaded.

The more you do this, the better you will be at film-making!

Location Projects

Posted: January 7, 2013 by Alan Hardcastle in FdA 12_14
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We have now started Location Practice, and the first thing we are doing is identifying and presenting on one aspect of your research. This should include photocopies / printouts of the information, plus a short summary of what it means to you and how it can be used.

This will be presented in an informal seminar – so be prepared to talk about the subject, and be prepared to listen to other people and challenge their findings – this may well help your final report.

This leaves us with the practical aspect of the course. We need you to identify what you are planning to do. In the first instance, this is how you will meet the brief – so, what format are you working in? What skills are you using? How will you achieve this? This could be shooting a script, making a music video or location interview for the radio show. You will need what your role will be – are you doing it as a camera-person, and editor, a director, producer, sound designer / recordist…?

Then you can work on a proposal in the creative sense – this will focus on the overall final product, eg as a short film, scene, music video, radio package, etc.

Postmodernism defined

Posted: November 25, 2012 by Alan Hardcastle in FdA 12_14

Monday’s session will be an exploratoon of some of the theories you could include in your report.

Here’s one example – Postmodernism. A few exerpts for you to read here and here. Have a read through these, and be prepared to discuss this  in the last hour of Monday’s session.

Features of Postmodernism

Most conspicuously in the visual arts, but shown to varying degrees in novels and poetry, Postmodernism has these four features: 

1. iconoclasm:

decanonizes cultural standards, previous artworks and authorities denies authority to the author, discounting his intentions and his claim to act as spokesman for a period contradicts the expected, often deliberately alienating the reader subverts its sources by parody, irony and pastiche denounces ethnic, gender and cultural repression strips context, reducing content to an austere minimum broods on the human condition disclosed by radical literary theory

2. groundless:

employs flat, media-like images that have no reference beyond themselves champions the primary, unmediated but not sensuous regards both art and life as fictions, sometimes mixing the two in magic realism or multiple endings argues that meaning is indeterminate, denying a final or preferred interpretation

3. formlessness:

repudiates modernism’s preoccupation with harmony and organic form narrows the aesthetic distance, art being something to enter into or act out rather than simply admire fragments texts, turning them into collages or montages avoids the shaping power of metaphor and other literary tropes mixes genres with pastiche, travesty and cliché promotes the fluid and socially adaptable

4. populism:

employs material from a wide social spectrum eschews elitist, literary language avoids the serious and responsible, promoting the arbitrary and playful accepts media images as the most accessible contemporary reality, making these the building blocks of art

Take from Ihab Hassan’s The Postmodern Turn: Essays in Postmodern Theory and Culture (1987), Richard Harland’s Superstructuralism: The Philosophy of Structuralism and Post-Structuralism (1987), Alex Callinicos’s Against Postmodernism: A Marxist Critique (1989), and Chapters 14 and 15 in Alastair Fowler’s A History of English Literature (1987).