Sunday, 13 September 2009

A2: Coursework Introduction

Me and my friend Toby will be making a short film for our A2 coursework project. The decision to make a short film over a newspaper, music video and a film trailer was because a short film is much more practical and a great way to develop our media skills and use an interesting and realistic story line.

It will be an english london-based short film with a cliche yet powerful story line - the dangers of the 'gang culture' in inner london. To summarize: a gang of teenagers decide to steal drugs from the local drug dealer - under the influence of the gang's leader Derek. The rest of the gang seem reluctant to do so, but follow his instructions. This is because they have no adult role models and want to feel a sense of belonging to the gang. After they steal the drugs from the drug dealer and bea him up, they find a remote location to smoke the drugs. Meanwhile, the drug dealer is looking for the gang to find revenge. As the gang are about to smoke the drugs, the drug dealer finds them and stabs Derek, killing him.

The moral of the story will be is that gangs are not the answer and despite any teenager's mind state and situation at home, there is always an alternative router rather than turning to drugs and violence.

Unlike Hollywood style films, we aim to capture what is actually happening in Inner City London - nothing will be glorified. Everything in the film will be realistic, from the language to the drugs and violence, nothing will be concealed as our aim is to show teenagers the 'dark side' of growing up in Inner City London. We will use little editing, shaky camera movements (to add a documentary type realism effect) and music that is associated with gangs in London.

Here are the Key Concepts that we will be using in our film:

Representation - we will represent the gang culture almost perfectly, from growing up in London we are surrounded with teenagers who are in gangs, so representing teenage criminals will be absolutely no problem. Inner City London will be the setting for our short film, primarily as this is where a lot of the gang culture is occurring. Also, the run down and poor estates and scenery will be perfect for the representation of gang culture in London - primarily because this is where a lot of teenagers who have grown up into gangs live! This is exactly the same with the music we are going to use that is associated with gangs - we are going to use audio of what the gangs listen to and follow.

As a whole we will be representing how joining a gang could ruin a teenager's life but also how staying on the right path could allow a teenager to lead a successful and crime-free life.

Institution - The promotion for our short film will be by designing a poster. This is a conventional way of advertising used by most film producers and companies and is very effective. The poster would follow the same themes and concept of the film which includes: A shot of the protagonist or setting and a deep dark background theme to connote the genre and theme of the short film itself. If a full film was made, we would hope it would be certified and funded by the British Film Council as it is a clear imitation of adolescent gang violence in modern London and therefore very British.

Values - Our film will have the similar values to the UK based and funded films Kidulthood and Adulthood - a real-life view of growing up in London as a teenager in the 21st century.

Audience - we will be aiming our short film primarily to teenagers growing up in London as they will be the most affected by the story line of our film. Especially those who are members of a gang. Although it could apply to any teenager growing up in England as gang culture is all over the country and not just in London.

Language - we will be using props, clothing and audio that is associated with the London gang culture. For example: how the gangs dress, the music genre they listen to (grime) and literally the use of the language and actions that a typical gang would use. All of these seem to have a negative vibe, especially the music - which is often about killing, drugs and violence. We will be able to represent all of these perfectly as we have grown up around the gang culture in London.

Ideology - The majority of the film will be set at night - as the darkness of the night will represent the violence and death in our film. Not much editing needs to be used, as we want our film to be as realistic as possible and represent gangs in London to a tee. Our aim is to avoid the flash and glamorous film making used in Hollywood.

Narrative - A beginning, middle, end, equilibrium and disequilibrium. The equilibrium will be a group of friends discussing what they are going to do at night - not knowing of Derek's plan to steal from the drug dealer. Then the disequilibrium will be the film's protagonist Derek, telling the gang to help him steal from the drug dealer then carrying out the task. The equilibrium will then be brought back when unfortunately, the protagonist is stabbed and dies whilst he and the gang are about to smoke the drugs. It is a sad and shocking story-line, but very realistic - our plan is to have no happy ending as nothing good can come out of joining a gang. This also helps our aim of our film not being like a typical hollywood film: the equilibrium is brought back and everything turns out perfectly - very unrealistic.

Genre - this will be made up of all the key concepts above. It will be a Crime-Drama as it is based around the crime and drama that is associated with gangs in London. The film will be a certificate 18 due to the violence, bad language and drug use. But the audience we aiming for are teenagers as young as 11 - as the narrative of the film also affects them. The age of young offenders are becoming younger and younger and although the Film Council would certificate our film 18, young offenders could relate to the film as they'd be able to see what the consequences of their actions when they grow older and may change their life-path from an earlier age.

Thursday, 9 July 2009


Newspaper Evaluation:

I created my newspaper front page on a program called 'Adobe InDesign', which as far as I'm aware is a popular program for the creation of such things. This was the first time that I had ever used the program but managed to pick up the basic features easily as it appeared to be very similar to another program under the Adobe brand - Photoshop. I had used photoshop previously in my GCSE and AS Level coursework.

The first idea in which I had for the paper is the name - The East End Times. There is no particular reason in why I chose this name, primarily because it is to be sold in the East End of London.

As you can see, the masthead is very conventional in terms of newspapers - large white text engraved into a red background. This is a very fitting look for the paper and I saw this idea from mainstream Newspaper, The Sun, but changed it slightly to fit the style of the newspaper I wanted to create. The font I used is Arial Black (another conventional feature) and included the date and price below, which again, is very conventional.

Below the masthead I included a few adverts which fit round the headline, destroying any 'blank white space' which is unpopular with newspapers. I also included a 20 pence coin to emphasize the cheapness of the paper, and as many newspapers do, overlapped it onto the masthead. I did this by locating the edge's of the image of the coin, and changing the threshold and tolerance until the white space around it had been totally destroyed, and closely overlapped it.

In my opinion, the headline of my newspaper is very effective. I used the font 'Impact' and used the 'stretching' feature to make the text very big and powerful - it will easily draw the attention of anyone who buys a newspaper. The content of the text is also very effective: 'THE END? NO.' What could this possibly be about? This will encourage people to buy the paper as it could be about ANYTHING.

The subheading explains this though: 'Gun crime being tackled? Lies cannot hide truth as another teenager's life becomes a statistic'. Notice how the text 'GUN CRIME' is slightly bigger than the rest of the text, again, to draw attention and to make the two words seem more powerful. I did this by using the 'stretching' feature and the font is also Impact.

Below the heading and subheading is the linking news story and picture. The picture is on the right side of the page to allow the story text to fit nicely around it and as you can see, the majority of the images have a boarder around them, just a nice little feature I added to make the page more aesthetically pleasing.

The aesthetics of the story text are very similar to that of The Sun. The introduction being the font 'Arial Black' and the rest of the story being 'Times New Roman'. Also, another nice feature I added is that occasionally some of the words and phrases in the story are highlighted bold - just to emphasize the important points of the story and to make the words seem much more powerful than they actually are - a basic yet effective feature used in newspapers. The story is also in columns and fits around the image perfectly.

Finally, at the bottom of the page is a statement stating that the paper is printed on 100% recycled paper - just a little something to finish off the page and again to destroy white space. It also makes the newspaper look like they care about the world and its environment - which is a very important issue for a lot of human beings.

To conclude, I am very happy with the final product of my newspaper, it actually looks like a real newspaper! Adobe InDesign is a very user-friendly program and I never felt 'stuck' during creation. I would recommend this program to anyone for making a newspaper/magazine and not Adobe Photoshop - which I used to create my magazine for my GCSE coursework.

The Package: Result

Comment on the best bits: This is light and funny. The old lady is a lucky chance. The casting is dead right (I don't know why, but they just look right).

Things you can improve: A lot of the shots are very jerky - when you use the tripod, you need to slack off the pan head only until you can pan and tilt smoothly.

Marks are out of 3 for this:

0 means you haven't done it.

1 is lowest - it means that there is a lot that needs to be done, but that you have the material to sort it out and make it work.

2 means that you've done the job competently and it is OK.

3 means that you've done some parts of it really very well, and should work to exploit this.


Medium Shot MS 2

Long Shot LS 3

Close Up CU 1

XLS - extreme long shot 1

XCU - extreme close up 0

Pan 3

Tilt 2

Zoom 2

Cross focus 2

Deep focus 3

Tracking shot (dolly, hand held, shoulder shot) 1

Point of View - POV 1

Use of tripod 1


Shot - reverse shot 3

Establishing shot 3

Cut 3


Total out of 54 = 34 = 63% = C

Evaluation is fair to good, and could have more about the technicalities of what you did. 6.5/10, C

The Package: Film

The Package: Evaluation

Overall, I am very happy with my completed product. Although it may be simple, it represents the idea of a package and the mystery surrounding it. Why is it there? What's inside of it? Why do people keep picking it up? And so on.

The original idea for this project was create a film called 'The Package' - we could do anything we want but it has to relate to the film title. Now instead of following cliche conventions such as a car chase or hostage situation involving a package, we decided to go with the more comedic route. Our film just involves a small cast doing nothing with a package, as I mentioned in my earlier posts, the narrative of the film is: Guy drops package and walks away, girl skips over to package, observes it and places it back neatly and then another guy picks up the package, attempts to conceal it under his blazer (its far too big) and walks off. That's it. Very simple, yet unconventional and it got a few laughs when we showed ti to people.

Whilst writing this, I feel that I have covered all the points that should be in an evaluation as in my previous post as I blogged in sections: Planning, Shooting, Editing and the film itself. Each of these posts contained an evaluation for it's respective topic and I need not repeat myself here. I could rattle on about some of the key concepts that the film involves but would it be worth it? I suppose it could represent natural human interest to observe something which has been left without an owner, but in the end, it's a package, it's rather unrealistic and ultimately it's just entertaining.

Would we have a target audience? I doubt it, anyone who wants to watch bizarre video's may enjoy this as there is no real story and the music and camera shots fit in well to make it strange and funny.

In the end, we created this video to practice for our real A2 coursework, I had my first experiences with a camera and script and an adobe video editing software and I learnt a lot on how to create a script for a very short film, frame a camera shot in the correct position and edit the video to make it run smoothly and allow audio to blend in with the visual occurrence.

Don't worry though, for when it's time to begin my A2 coursework, I will be explaining all the key concepts for it in detail, updating my blog more reguarly to show continuous update's and eventually producing an amazing piece of work. I had a lot of fun doing this and I learnt a lot.


Sunday, 5 July 2009

The Package: Editing

I edited my short film on a Mac based software program called Final Cut Express - a professional media product that has been used to edit major films such as King Kong. As it was my first time using and editing, I was a bit weary of the complex features that the program has to offer so stuck to the most basic tools to edit my film.

The first thing I decided to do is to alter the sound in my film. I lowered the recorded sound by highlighting all of the audio streams and setting all of their attributes to low: -2db. I did this because I needed to add an audio track to fit in with the comedic value of the film and the recorded audio would have been too loud and the sound would have become distorted. The song I chose was 'Running' by 'Chase & Status' as it connotes that people are 'running' to retrieve the package. The song also added extra humor value to the film as the story of my short film is very ridiculous.

Originally, the filming me and my group had done was around 2-3 minutes in length, whilst The Package had to be 1 minute long. This would have been seen as a major dilemma without an editing program but FCE allowed me to speed up certain scenes of the film and this is what I did. It was very easy to do so: I 'cut out' part of the clip I wanted to alter the speed and just used the 'Timing' tool to edit how fast I wanted it to be - I mainly used a percentage of 200-250% - double the speed of real time. There is also part of the clip in which I slow it down - where I drop the package - setting it at around 75% which is only a quarter slower than real time. These effects made my film 1 minute 8 seconds long, which was acceptable and didn't destroy any quality of the film and viewers can still clearly see what is occurring.

I used simple transitions between each scene to make my film run a lot smoother, rather than a quick change of scene it now dissolves into the next one. I also did this with the audio of my film - from scene to scene the recorded audio now faded in with each other, again to make my film smoother.

There's a part in the film where the music stops to allow the elderly lady to speak - I did this simply by 'cutting out' the audio in which the scene occurs and deleting it which was very simple and added a little extra humor to the film.

At the beginning of the film I added text entitling the name of my film in first few seconds. I did this by using the 'Text' effect and simply placing it over the part of the clip in which I wanted it to display. The text rolls out in a typewriter fashion, which was simply done by changing the effect to 'Typewriter'.

Finally, at the end of the film I added rolling credits and text stating 'The End' into the film. Like the text at the beginning, I added the effect by changing it to 'Rolling Credits'. This seemed most professional for a film and is conventional for most major box-office productions.

To conclude, Final Cut Express is a very user friendly piece of software, previously I had no film-editing knowledge and FCE has allowed me to learn the most basic skills. For my A2 coursework I am hoping to use the most complex skills of the program. Overall the software is a brilliant tool for film editing - user friendly and effective.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The Package: Shooting

We decided to shoot The Package directly outside of our school. This was mainly for two reasons: 

1) We did not have to go far with the School's cameras. This lessened the risk of dropping or breaking them and having to pay money for a new one.

2) The location of a long and empty path is actually right outside of our school, so this is very convenient and saves a lot of time as we didn't have to travel far.

The shooting was very simple - we used a tripod with a Sony Digital Camera and shot three scenes using very simple camera functions such as 'Record' and 'Zoom'. We did not need to use any Special FX as this was just a 'practice' video and just basic recording features were needed.

We used three people for shooting: Myself, Toby and our friend Emma. I played the part of the person dropping the package whilst Toby filmed, Emma played the part of the lady trying to eat the package and Toby played the part of the person taking the package whilst I filmed. 

We also managed to capture an elderly woman in the film, who asked us if the package was ours, it was very comedic and a good edition to our short movie!

Overall, the filming was very fun and the camera's with the tripod set-up were easy to use. This has made me more confident for when when I begin filming for my main coursework project.

The Package: Planning

Our idea for the package was a very original one. Instead of the conventional idea of a drug deal or bank robbery, we decided to keep our short film simple, so simple in fact, that it's almost laughable!

This isn't a bad thing though, because as far as the entertainment value goes, our short film will be very entertaining. The idea is as follows:

A man is walking along an empty pathway, when he drops a package. -> A young lady then appears, picks up the package, attempts to eat it, upon realizing she cannot do so, puts the package down neatly. -> Finally, another man walks along very calmly, picks up the package, attempts to conceal it under his blazer, then runs away.

Now you may be thinking that this is a stupidly horrendous idea... and it is! But the originality of it is so unique and is so simple and stupid, that it will be very funny and entertaining.

Finally, our version of 'The Package' will be like no other, will feature top-notch editing and ultimately, be a very good short film!