Thursday, 5 May 2011

Message to the examiner

Before Studying AS media I would have had no idea on how to start a blog, use one or even think of making one. Now I feel that I have the expertise and knowledge of the blogging system and have thoroughly enjoyed the process of creating my blog and posting information on there. Being able to publish work and information on the internet is a positive change, and more interesting than typing up a word document and merely handing it into a teacher. Using the blog has improved my IT skills as well as using the different programmes such Scribd, Vimeo and Youtube.
I hope the examiner looking at my Blog enjoys reading my posts and information, and also my film opening project. I have worked hard on my media project and at times have found it stressful and hard work meeting deadlines etc. Despite this I have enjoyed the process of completing my media AS, and hope to continue it onto A2.
I hope you enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoyed making it. J
Hattie Harding

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Evaluation. Question 1.

1. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

Title of the film
I produced the title of our film Classmates on a word document. The title includes two different fonts and colours for the two different words. The word ‘Class’ is in a bright pink colour, in the font Edwardian Script It. This font is an elegant and formal design, and reflects our female character that is very classy and proper.
In contrast to this the word ‘mates’ is in a plain blue colour in font Berlin Sans Fb. This is a reasonably scruffy and unremarkable font, the blue in a similar colour to a pair on jeans. This font reflects are male character that like the font is reasonably unkept and common.
The fonts contrast so differently that my audience are sure to notice the distinction between the two. After watching the opening to my project they will link the binary oppositions to the different fonts and to the two main characters in my film.
The title to my film is in a similar style to that of which a typical romcom would be. My title includes bold colours and fonts which reflect the aspects of the film which are romance and comedy. Other examples of romantic comedies with bold and extravagant titles include Love Actually, with a red and white colour scheme, and Mean Girls, with bold lettering in pink and purple. The colours pink and blue of my film title signify the contrast of male and female, boyish and girly.  
The titles for a romantic comedy usually fade in and out with a background of soft music. My film has been more creative with the title being placed on a fridge, with magnets and other relevant pictures surrounding the title.

Setting and Location
The locations of my film include was two houses situated on the same street in Ilkley. The female characters house is an old, detached Victorian house. The house has four large floors with four bedrooms, three bathrooms and a grand kitchen and living room. The male characters bedroom was a spare bedroom I transformed into a messy teenage boys bedroom. We did this by removing all objects such as pink lamps and pink furniture and drawers to create a boyish atmosphere. We added posters on the walls, threw clothes and underwear on the floor, as they would be in an ordinary teenage boys room. We placed empty spirit bottles on side cabinet to the boy’s bed to signify that he is a heavy drinker.
These bedrooms are designed to signify the contrasting characters social class, wealth and personality. Other romcom’s that portray particular stereotypes on their wealth do so with their houses. E.g. in Mean Girls the stereotypical ‘popular’ girl has a large house and an enormous pink bedroom.
I used a science lab in my grammar school Ilkley Grammar, for the registration scene towards the end of the opening clip. I included an amount of extras to be in my registration scene, as there would be in a normal day at registration. This adds to the verisimilitude to my featured film and makes it appear more realistic. All teen romantic comedies are featured in a middle school. Although usually American, my film is similar to the conventional teenage high school as possible.

We chose for our female character to wear a knee length floaty, colourful dress, with black tights and a thin cardigan. The outfit as a whole represents her class and grand lifestyle. Her outfit shows that she fits into a certain stereotypical group. This is that the richer people in society will wear the most expensive and exclusive branded clothing, so the rest of society knows that they are in the higher end of the money spectrum. Having designer labels for this certain stereotype is a must, as being able to afford the pricy designer items excludes others who cannot afford such luxuries. My main female character carries a Louis Vuitton bag, which is one of the most well known designer handbags. For its celebrity endorsement and its price tag.

The main male character wears clothes that are simple and plain. He has reasonably long, spiky hair which gives him the ‘cool’ look that he wants to portray. He has stubble on his face which signifies he is quite rough looking and lazy. When the main character finally gets out of bed, he rushes around his room and grabs random pieces of clothing of the floor and quickly pulls them on. This is contrasting with the female character who has carefully prepared the night before what she was going to wear for the following day. My female character wear very formal clothes, such as designer labels etc, compared with the main male character in plain, blue jeans.
Jeans are an item of clothing that the majority of males have in their wardrobes. Dressing casually is something that all male’s can relate to, as they may relate to my stereotypical male character. Seeing as he is late for school and is in love with the ‘popular’ girl at school, which is something many teenage males can understand.

Camerawork and Editing
I have included a variety of shots in my film opening these include….

Close up

 Meduim shot

  Long shot

High Angle

Low angle

Similarly to other romcom’s I have included sharp jump cuts from the girl’s bedroom to the male’s bedroom, each lasting for no longer than five seconds in the contrast to the male and female scenes. I have used this sharp editing so the beginning of the film is paced and can contain a lot of different scenes and ideas. Everything the two main characters do is in contrast with each other, the shots are in constant back and fourth, paralleling with each other. Soft panning has been used to get a larger view of some of the sets, such as the female characters bedroom and the registration scene. The music to my film is a soft and simple piano for the girl’s scene, which turns into more of an upbeat pop piano as the story unfolds. The male characters scenes have more of a beat to them with drums and an up-tempo piano. The male characters music is more rock whilst the female character has more of a pop genre. Most romantic comedies have soft simple music to start their films. My film is conventional in the sense of a romcom and implies a similar aspect. I composed the soundtrack for my film in the Garage band application, and included a range of different tracks which blend well together to creating the perfect soundtrack, which synchronises well with my film opening.  

Title font and style
The opening titles to my film are done very creatively. I was inspired by the titles in the romantic comedy Napoleon Dynamite. In this film the opening titles are presented to the audience on a number of different plates. I used different creative titles in my project. These include titles incorporated into different objects in my film such as on a vodka bottle, Listerine bottle, on a window and written on a pillow case. The interesting and inventive titles flow well into the creativeness and quirky senses of the film. They give the opening a dynamic and comedic aspect to the film as the two main characters signify a possible romance.

Other titles include distribution companies and actors names in a thick, bold font appearing in the bottom left of the screen. The different colours of purple, blue and pink add to the playfulness and fun on the opening scene. These are the sorts of colours that are included in romantic comedies. This is because these are the colours that appeal to the target audience who are mostly females that are looking to watch a film about comedy and romance. 

The story and how it is set up
Conventionally romcom’s have voice over’s to explain the characters situation and emotions they feel at the time the film is set. This helps explain to the audience what is happening in the film. My film opens similarly to the film ‘Wild Child’. My opening scene begins with my main female character awakens in a very pink and girly room. Her pink, bear alarm clock starts to ring at 7am. The alarm clock is surrounded by jewellery, perfume bottles and other pink things.  This connotes to the audience that this is the bedroom of female teenager who seems to be very wealthy and feminine. My audience will already have a certain stereotype of what they expect the main female character to be like. This will probably be the rich, spoilt child that appears in many romcom’s such as Mean Girls and Wild Child.
In contrast the blue, digital alarm clock sitting on a wooden bedside cabinet belongs to my main male character. The clock is plain and simple compared with the small, pink alarm clock of the female character. This signifies the main male characters persona. The alarm clock is surrounded by vodka bottles. This gives the impression of a male who drinks a lot of alcohol. All of which are spirits which signifies he is clearly just drinking to get drunk and not for the taste. This gives the impression the male character is young and rebellious.
After watching the first minute of the film the audience could already have a good idea of what typical stereotypes the two main characters portray. Their characters are shown through different aspects such as their bedrooms which connotes their class, and their actions such as the male character sleeping in, and drinking vodka at seven o’clock in the morning.

 Female’s alarm clock

I have kept the traditional romcom idea, by having soft, light music for my opening. Straight away my audience would be able to narrow down a certain genre by the type of music that plays. For example you would not expect a slasher horror to open with a light hearted piano piece that transitioned into an upbeat drum beat.
By using short and sharp jump cuts the audience can predict the scenario of the two opposing characters. The soft and classy music for the female character creates an atmosphere of innocence and distinction. Whilst the male characters soundtrack is more rock and has more of a beat than the females piano piece.
The boy, girl scenario makes the audience believe that something might happen with the two characters in the future. It is a very conventional idea that a poor boy would fall in love with the rich girl, with a Romeo and Juliette style idea. If my audience were to be familiar to any romantic comedies they would have picked up on the aspect of the possible romance of the two characters, as they have a number of diversifications.  
The comedy aspect of my romcom comes is shown through the male character drinking vodka at early hours in the morning. This is certainly a very harsh stereotype of young, underage drinkers, which is very much verging on alcoholism. This is not portraying a specific group of teenagers but some could be seen in this sense. When my male character drinks from the vodka bottle in his bed, this adds the humour aspect to the romcom and always for the target audience which is mainly female teenagers, to mock that particular stereotype.
As my film opening runs into the separate characters getting ready for school (or not in the male characters case).  The soundtrack changes as the tempo becomes a lot faster as the female character gets dressed, brushes her teeth, does her make-up etc. The music only speeds up slightly when the male character lies in bed. Before the male character realises he is very late the music stops completely as he cries ‘oh no!....’ this adds emphasise to him speaking, this draws the audience in at that point to pay close attention to what he is about to say. After the male character realises he is late, he hastily runs about his room putting on clothes, grabs a vodka bottle and runs to get to school. The tempo changes here to a very hasty beat which signifies that he is in a rush. This tempo is constant until he reaches registration. The fast beat really helps the audience to understand that my main male character is late for school, as he runs franticly around his house.
The main unconventional theme in my project that differentiates from the normal romantic comedy is that the main female character in my film is actually a lesbian. Generally in a romantic comedy the girl who is stereotyped as being rich, attractive and posh is usually heterosexual. This stereotype is usually the popular girl, who other girls crave to be like for their looks and popularity. With this complete change in character to what the audience expects, leads the audience into thinking more about the storyline, and how it will pan out. Different questions may be raised such as will the male character still want to be with her even is she is a lesbian? Or will the main female character come around and have mutual feeling towards the male character? 

How the characters are introduced
Both main characters are contrasted with each other in the morning scene with both their alarm clocks ringing etc. My female character wakes up with a black eye-mask in matching pink and black pyjamas. She sleeps in a large double bed with fairy light wrapped around it. The pink wallpaper adds to the Mise-en-scene that she is very girly and wealthy. She wakes up straight away, draws her blinds and gets dressed and puts her make-up on for school. This character is very similar to the main character of the film Wild Child. My main character differentiates from the female in Wild Child as she is homosexual and not heterosexual, which deviates from this particular stereotype.
My main male character wakes up in a small, compact room. He sleeps in a single bed next to a window, which signifies how squished he is in the bedroom and how small the room actually is. He knocks the alarm clock of the side cabinet to switch it off this connotes he doesn’t care about time and would prefer to go back to bed. He pulls the pillow over his head and tries to get to sleep again. This is a stereotype of the typical rebellious or ‘rude boy’. My main male character is similar to the character Charles from the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. This is because he similarly runs frantically around his bedroom, trying to get ready to an event he is late for. The two characters are also quite similar is appearance and personality.  

Special effects
I included certain special effects to make my film flow easier, as if time had passed. I did this by using transitions of scenes fading in and out of each other. This is a typical thing to do for a romantic comedy and is soft and not too unrealistic and sharp. I used a fade in transition for the start of the film of the alarm clock to give the film that natural and soft flow.
When the female character flicks her hair I made this appear more dreamlike by slowing down her actions and lightening the brightness of the clip. This makes the audience see the point of view of the male character and how he sees her. This is a typical thing to do in a romantic comedy which shows how the male character finds the female character attractive and almost dreamlike. The romcom New York Minute uses this editing effectively. By adding dreamlike or soft music also creates the atmosphere about how the character feels towards the other character.

Male’s alarm clock

My female character is generalised as being girly, rich, posh, attractive and popular. This creates a certain stereotype of a ‘popular’ teen that appears in all main teen romcom’s. My male character is portrayed as being rebellious, unorganised and rude. These are other stereotypes portrayed in teen romcom’s. My film is conventional in the sense that it contains certain stereotypes that are usually found in teen romantic comedies, usually in a school environment.

Evaluation. Question 2.

2. How does your media product represent particular social groups?

My main female character is stereotyped as being the ‘popular’ girl at school. She is portrayed as being classy, indulged, rich, materialistic, spoilt, attractive, vein, and superficial. She wakes up in her large bedroom filled with mirrors, make-up, shoes and clothes. This signifies her wealth and social class. She wears designer clothing and accessories which also connote her wealth and her status within society. My female characters stereotype is similar to that of Poppy from Wild Child. Poppy wakes up from her large posh and pink bedroom. She wears a fluffy pink nightdress and has long, styled hair. She is indulged in designer brands and labels at no expense, similarly to my female character. This girl is another stereotypical ‘popular’ girl who is wealthy, snobby and spoilt.

Stereotypical ‘popular’ girl.

My stereotypical ‘popular’ girl flicking her hair

My main male character is very laid back and mainly cares about what his friends think about him, and not his genuine personality. In our original idea we were planning for the male character to run around his room swearing badly as he rushed to get dressed. We decided that this could be too inappropriate for a 12 rating and so did not include the cursing. Similarly the character Charles from Four Weddings and a Funeral is parallel to my main character. In the first scene from Four Weddings and a Funeral Charles wakes up realising he is late for the first funeral. He frantically runs around the room shouting “Fuck” as he does. This is where I originally though of the idea to use my male character swearing after realising he is late. Charles is similar to my main character as he is seen as being very cool and outgoing to his friends. He is quite rebellious and flirtatious, which reflects my main male character.

Charles from four weddings and a funeral.

Stereotypical layed back male character

Towards the end of my two minute opening my female character is revealed to having a girlfriend therefore signifying to the audience that she is a lesbian. This completely differentiates from the normal stereotypical ‘popular’ character, and throws the audience into believing the romantic comedy would be about the two main male and female characters falling in love with each other, even though from different social backgrounds. This point in the storyline however completely throws the audience into thinking about the difference in the story and how it will unfold. The comedic aspect of the film involves a heterosexual man trying to win over a lesbian, who is in a relationship with her girlfriend. The conventional aspect of the lesbian couple is that they are both quite feminine and similar looking, both having long dark hair and are wearing make-up and heels. If lesbians do have a role in romcom’s conventionally they are both very attractive and girly, and both take on a feminine role in the relationship. Realistically lesbian couples are different in concepts that there is usually the feminine female, with long hair, make-up etc, and the other female who is quite masculine with short hair and male clothing. I have not adopted this stereotype of a typical lesbian couple as I wanted to keep my film opening conventional to other romcom’s.

Trailer for the romcom Wild Child

Evaluation. Question 3.

3. What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?

After researching a number of romantic comedies I have found that certain distribution companies commonly occur for distributing romantic comedies. These include studio canal, paramount, universal pictures and working title.
My romcom Classmates has a target audience of around 12-25. This is classified as a teenage romcom and so the main actors involved in the film are of a similar age to the audience. This allows for the audience to be able to relate to the characters involved. Distribution companies that have famously featured well known teen romcom’s are; Paramount, with Mean girls, Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging. Columbia, with the teen romcom 13 going on 30. Warner brothers Pictures with A Cinderella story, and also Universal distributing the romcom Wild Child. 
Anyone of these institutions would be perfect for my teen romcom as most follow a certain storyline. All teen romcom’s include stereotypes which are extremes of certain people in a school environment. These include groups of people which collectively come together to form a certain stereotype, e.g. nerds, jocks, preppy’s. I have kept to the conventional theme of stereotypes and reasonably extreme versions of a certain type of person for my two main characters.
Universal pictures are well known to distribute a wide range of film genres. The institution has distributed a number of romantic comedies that have become very popular. These include the films It’s Complicated, Wild Child and more recently the romcom The Dilemma.
My distribution company’s are Richter scale ltd, and Madhatter productions.  I made these institutions to be my romcom’s distributers. I used Live Type to create the company indents and then used iMovie to add sound and special effects.

Evaluation. Question 6.

6. What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?

I have used and learnt a great deal through making my film this year. I have created my own blog, which I never would have thought about using unless I did this project. With learning how to use the blog I have managed to upload different blog posts on to my blog site where my work is easily looked at and read. I have learnt how to post a video from YouTube onto my blog by uploading the URL from the video and then being able to watch it on my blog as you would on YouTube. I have also learned how to upload a Scribd document onto my blog. This involves creating a scribd account, scanning in work onto my Scribd account and then embedding the document onto a blog post.
I have been able to upload small videos that I have edited together on iMovie then creating a vimeo account and posting the video onto the site, then uploading it to my blog. The video can they watched in same way as a YouTube video can. 
I have made my very first podcasts, by recording myself on a microphone talking about my project. Then uploading the file onto the computer and then uploading the file onto my blog via DivShare. DivShare is a document sharing programme which allows you to upload a document and then by copying the URL can upload the information to my blog.
By using the programme GarageBand I have managed to create my own new and unique soundtrack. I have composed small pieces of music that were already samples on GarageBand and have composed all of the beats together to create the final soundtrack for my featured film.
I have created my own YouTube channel entitled Hattie’s media channel. By using this I have been able to upload some of my projects onto YouTube, so the general public can watch my videos and give me feedback on them.
I have used the editing system iMovie to edit my film and other projects on, such as my microdrama.
By using a Mac computer I have been able to create a vlogcast by using the quality webcam built into the computer. I have done this so the examiner can see me talking and expressing my own opinions about my project and how I have been inspired by directors from films, and other factors that have impacted on the ideas of my film. 
I have created my own company idents by using the programme LiveType at the opening of my film opening. The idents make my film appear more professional and realistic, and really improve the quality of my overall project.
I first used iMovie when editing my Microdrama ‘The Chase’ together for the very first time. I found that editing the short film together quite challenging as first, as it was quite difficult to edit certain shots together, and edit in certain aspects such as the black and white effect. It also took time to create the subtitles and extract the audio of the film in the short amount of time we had to complete the project in.
Looking back and comparing my first microdrama project with my finished project I can see how much that I have improved. The quality of my editing has progressed very well and has become more impressive the more I have used iMovie. The microdrama project was a good way of allowing us as first time film makers to get used to the equipment for filming and using the editing software’s etc. So that when we came to filming for our final projects, we were reasonably comfortable with all the processes.
When first using the camera equipment I had a few shaky scenes where the quality could be improved on. This was probably due to the fact that I felt short for time and felt rushed and not being able to re-shoot certain scenes. Whereas for my final media product I was able to re-shoot scenes that I was not happy with. 
Comparing my final product with my microdrama it is clear that my film opening looks a lot more professional and polished, with better quality editing, and camera shots. For my final project I was also able to think more about the Mise-en-scene, props, locations, and sound a lot more. As for my microdrama I had to do everything in a short space of 45 minuites.

This is a clip from my opening film which shows a shot before and after editing

Untitled from HarrietHarding on Vimeo.