Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Critical Research Study Re-sit - Sport and the Media stuff for Habib and Adam

BT, Setanta, Top Up TV and Virgin Media - Ofcom Pay-TV consultation response BT, Setanta, Top Up TV and Virgin Media - Ofcom Pay-TV consultation response Robert Andrews

Useful Secondary Wider Reading:

A bit Fight and Ricky Hatton focused but some good audience debate and feedback that adds to your debates

Media Debates Revision

Some Brilliant Resources for the study of GENDER should you be bored of Football and fancy something different!

50 key concepts in gender studies 50 key concepts in gender studies ilijapet

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Media A/S and Critical Research Study Re-sit Revision

With the re-sits fast approaching, here are some goodies for you to help you revise for the A/S Media papers on: 
1. Gendered Sitcoms
2. Action Movie Textual Analysis
3. NMT (Emma Gower ONLY)
and Critical Research Study paper. 

A'level Critical Research Study:
Longroad Media Centre has some excellent resources in the form of blogs that can be accessed via 

A/S New Media Technology: Digital TV 

Some notes towards the future of TV Some notes towards the future of TV BetaRish Some notes I prepared for an interview I had with Samsung about the future of TV

The End of Television As We Know It The End of Television As We Know It TecoSodre IBM Business Consulting ServicesMedia and EntertainmentA future industry perspective
A brilliant 6th form Media blog dedicated to devlopments in NMT and surrounding debates:

Action/Adventure Films
Another great blog from Longroad with some good links


Rough Trade Case Study Goodies

In this part of the exam you MUST show evidence of having researched a specific record label (Rough Trade) in the CONTEMPORARY MUSIC INDUSTRY that TARGETS A BRITISH AUDIENCE focusing on its PRODUCTION,DISTRIBUTION, EXHIBITION AND CONSUMPTION BY AUDIENCES. YOU NEED TO  BE ABLE TO EXPLORE THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ROUGH TRADE, THEIR FANBASE/AUDIENCE AND WIDER MUSIC INDUSTRY ISSUES/PRESSURES/TENSIONS (Majors V Indies; NMT; Piracy; commercial forces; changing hegemonic values; economy):

"While the division between the majors and the independents increasingly dissolves, particularly at the level of distribution, the independent label remains significant as innovator and instigator. It retains its status and pedagogic function in teaching an audience about new sounds and developing aural literacies."

"Rough Trade was instrumental in imbuing a spirit of cooperation and a benign mode of competition. A shift in the distribution of records and associated merchandizing to strengthen product association—such as magazines, fanzines and T-Shirts—enabled Rough Trade to deal directly with pivotal stores and outlets and then later establish cartels with stores to provide market security and a workable infrastructure. Links were built with ancillary agents such as concert promoters, press, booking agents, record producers and sleeve designers, to create a national, then European and international, network to produce an (under the counter) culture. Such methods can also be traced in the history of Postcard Records from Edinburgh, Zoo Records from Liverpool, Warp in Sheffield, Pork Recordings in Hull, Hospital Records in London, and both Grand Central and Factory in Manchester. From the ashes of the post-1976 punk blitzkrieg, independent labels bloomed with varying impact, effect and success, but they held an economic and political agenda. The desire was to create a strong brand identity by forming a tight collaboration between artists and distributors. Perceptions of a label’s size and significance was enhanced and enlarged through this collaborative relationship."

'It's about bringing music to people's attention which they've probably never heard shouldn't have's just language, that everyone can identify with. That's the most valuable thing in music today. We're living in that time when things have got to unite..Talvin Singh

Rough Trade Homepage

The Guardian 'Music Blog' : Rough Trade Article

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Half-Term 'Essay' titles for Nina's A' level Film Students

Thank you to all of you for your hard work this half-term. The end is near and I hope you will spend this half-term holiday dedicating time to meaningful revision and exam preparation. Writing essays under timed conditions is the key to success, so here are some essay questions for you to choose from past papers: 

City of God Essay Questions

How important is it to consider genre influences in reaching an understanding of City of God? Refer to specific sequences in your answer. 

World Cinema films are often described as ‘alternative’, using distinctive cinematic techniques. How far is your close study film ‘alternative’? 

How has wider research led you to a greater understanding of the time and place in which your Close Study film was set? 

What aspects of mise-en-scène do you feel most effectively create meaning in your Close Study film? Refer to specific sequences in your answer. 

How has research into the social and/or cultural context of your Close Study film influenced your understanding of it? 

How important is the narrative structure of City of God in developing characters in the film? 

To what extent do you think your chosen film challenges audiences’ preconceptions about particular social groups?

What do you consider to be the most distinctive visual features of your chosen film?

To what extent do you think an understanding of the director’s other work would allow the viewer a greater understanding of your chosen film?

Have the critical reviews you have read about your chosen film confirmed or challenged your own reading of the film?

Do you think it is necessary to locate your chosen film within its social and political context in order to appreciate it fully?

Gendered Film Studies Essays

How important is gender in the critical analysis of films? Refer in detail to your own studies. 

Is it too simple to say that some films target male audiences and others target female audiences? 

Explore the benefits of applying a gendered critical approach to studying film with reference to specific case studies. 

Friday, 15 May 2009

Understanding Record Labels - Majors and Indies

Team media are aware that there is an air of panic about the A/S Media Section B Case Study on Record Labels. I am spending much of this weekend sourcing goodies and planning resources to help you better understand the macro (Big Picture) of the music industry and how to link your micro (case study) to form a debate. I have found a gem of a site that has some great industry interviews that can be found by acccessing the following link. Once in, they are on the left hand side:

An excellent report/essay exploring the industry:

Read the following articles in Rolling Stone Magazine and The Times, and undertake a SWOT Analysis of the current music industry: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats:

Mac- Some thoughts on the music industry:

8 Key Trends for the next 5 Years:

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

City of God Goodies

Now that we have seen City of God, we must begin to explore the film as a commercial and artistic entity, exploring its representations and cultural significance within Brazil and the West. Here are some goodies to help you on your journey of discovery:

A Brilliant chapter on Brazillian Film post Cinema-Novo

BBC World Service Interview with 'Ricardo' talking about the REAL City of God:

The Real City of God: Photographs from children given disposable cameras to document their home:

Interview with Fernando Meirelles:

BFI Sight and Sound Review

The history of 'Favelas' in Brazil:

An amazing contextual article about the actors 2 years after the success of City of God:
The Horror Genre Surviving in Hollywood
The trend and abundance of horror movies and their sequels have caused the overall lack of recognition and quality of the horror genre.

Eli Roth, Genre Cycles and Shifts

Here are some goodies to support you with revising and enhancing your knowledge and understanding of horror developments:

Eli Roth talking about a new wave of Horror Movies:

Radio Interview with Eli Roth:

An Austrailian TV Review of Hostel 2 and interview with Roth:

Halloween Analysis in 3 parts:

Look at Genre cycles:
Halloween Sequence -

I Know What You Did Last Summer:

Funny Games Sequence

Interview with Michael Haneke on the original 'Funny Games' Part 1

Interview Continued Part 2

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Some resources to help you better understand and analyse EDITING

From marking your TV Drama mocks, it has become apparent that EDITING is the weakest link! Often considered invisible, editing can be tricky to write about, but you must explore how it aids the construction of meaning about representation. To help you, here are some goodies:

Editing is a way of compressing time and space or creating the effect of a dream sequence or flashback; it usually is ‘seamless’ and natural-seeming such that we tend not to even notice it.

  • Editing is the cutting and joining of lengths of film to place separate shots together yet still manage to suggest a sense of a continuing, connected and realistic flow of events and narrative 
  • A montage is an edited series of shots that works as an ‘individual unit’ of meaning greater than the individual mise-en-scenes from which it is created. 
  • Continuity editing refers to editing techniques that keep the sense of narrative flow such as matched or eye-line cuts. 
  • A jump-cut is a dramatic edit that breaks time / space continuity yet still appears 
  • continuous and ‘natural’; an MTV edit is a rapid sequence of fast jump cuts that creates a conscious effect such as in music videos; a cross-cut follows action in two separate scenes; a follow-cut follow action to its consequence, e.g. a character looking out cuts to what they look at. 
  • Fades (sometimes to black) and dissolves create the sense of scenes moving forward. A sound-bridge carries sound across shots. 
  • Parallel action allows two scenes to be viewed yet still retain the continuity and realism and uses cross cuts. 
  • A sequence is a series of shots (i.e. a montage) that leads up to a climax as in a story sequence.
Daniel Chandler's Grammar of TV site is great for supporting you in developing your vocabulary and extending/reinforcing your K and U of TV production technique:

Ohhhhh......I love Adrian Leicester! Check out Hustle in readiness for the TV Drama exam.

This drama is extremely slick even filmic in its construction with its exaggerated postproduction work and highly stylised cinematography and choreography. The editing is fantastic and helps to make the implausible - plausible! Look out for how the character 'Mickey' breaks the fourth wall and consider the impact this has on audience engagement with character and narrative? If you like this Drama....have a look at Hotel Babylon too.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Good Night and Good Luck

Leanne, Alan, Gerry and I would like to wish all our Year 12 Film students lots of luck with your Film exam this Wednesday. Obviously you will have spent this weekend re-watching your focus films; reading your notes and revising in readiness for the big day. To help you out a bit further, here is a treat of a report on the future of emerging NMT platforms within the film industry that explores in great detail the current and future relationship between film audiences and institutions. A great read in preparation for Tuesday's FM2 exam (Section A):

My Space, Arctic Monkeys and Contemporary Trends in Music Consumption

Patrick Goldstein, writing in Sunday’s LA Times suggests that our elite, top-down culture is now being supplanted by a “raucous, participatory bottom-up culture in which amateur entertainment has more appeal than critically
endorsed skill and expertise”
. “The era”, he says, “when studios, networks and record companies were tastemakers is long gone. Ask kids today where good music comes from and they’ll say iTunes or, not Warner Music. The best brands are being built from the bottom up”. Goldstein’s view is echoed by Rupert Murdoch, who last year paid $580 million for the site, saying “Young people don’t want to rely on a Godlike figure from above to tell them what’s
important…They want control over their media, instead of being controlled by it”.

Like it or not, MySpace is a promotional tool that musicians, especially unsigned bands cannot ignore. Today’s band must be web-savvy and must be on MySpace. As a multimedia-rich environment, bands have unparalleled access to their fans on both a social and musical level.

Prior to the Internet and MySpace music promotion was sketchy at best and was all about connections, fitting into an industry “mold”, luck, and more connections. It was often left up to the chance of being in the right place at the right time. It was an old boys’ network and the chances of an unsigned band breaking out and getting noticed were all up to politics, insider connections and chance. With the exploding popularity of MySpace music promotion, the power has shifted to the fans and the rewards are going to the bands who know the best way to reach their fans. Never before has there been a better chance for unsigned bands to get distribution for their music and to promote your unsigned band.

MySpace has given music fans the biggest coup, by literally giving them the power to choose and the voice to express that choice in a way that the music industry establishment and musicians cannot ignore. This gives indie bands and unsigned bands a tremendous advantage they have never had before.

Despite noise and griping about how crowded MySpace is with people trying to promote their unsigned bands, spamming other MySpacers with friend requests and using all kinds of software to make them appear more popular than they really are, at the end of the day, MySpace music promotion is the best thing to happen to independent artists since Napster. There is no question that MySpace and MySpace music promotion is the best unsigned band resource available today.

MySpace music promotion has changed the game and in doing do has put a damper on many of the traditional methods to promote your unsigned band. The old way to promote an unsigned band involved using posters, fliers, playing the local club scene and hoping to get discovered by an industry suit.

MySpace has completely revolutionized music promotion in these ways:



Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Year 13 Media and Film Cover Work for Thursday

Good evening everyone. I won't be able to teach your lessons tomorrow as I am busy all day interviewing the 'Head of Media and Film' candidates. Sorry! However, I have lots of work for you to do so please read on to discover what I have planned: 

Year 13 Media:

I want you to break into groups of no more than four people and work collaboratively on a 500 word essay response using the 'Horror' reader on my front desk + your knowledge and understanding of the four films studied to create a team essay. Here are 4 questions to choose from with basic structures: 

How important is Genre to film audiences and the film industry?

1. Define Genre- a blueprint of conventions, useful for Audiences and Institutions alike. 
Think about it logically, its useful in, pre-production, Production- directors working with the same actors and crew- they know they work well together. Post modernism, inter textuality, directors and producers influences, auteur theory, etc. Post - Production, Marketing and distribution- via genre- trailers, press, TV interviews etc- all aimed at the target audience. mass or niche. 
3. Audience:
Genre is a contract between I & A - marketed in a certain way to appeal to a particular audience who will have expectations of a film and be prepared to 'suspend their disbelief' to take part in this process of consumption. 
They bring their own cultural & post modern references and experience to the film and may consume it on different levels. 
Roland Barthes theory of 'plaiser' & 'Jouissance'- audiences feel gratified that they have been intelligent enough to recognise these references and they also enjoy the film both on a visual spectacle level and also on a more challenging intellectual level. 

“Generic conventions provide a basic structure, but that is all. Every film is unique” Discuss this view.
The following issues may be referred to by candidates:
•Generic conventions
•Case study analysis
•Audience pleasures
•Hybrid, cross genre films
• Sequels and prequels

Explain how and why certain films combine the conventions of more than one genre.The following issues may be referred to by candidates:
•Audience pleasures and expectations
•Success of certain formulae and paradigms
•Industry preferences
•Promotional issues and strategies
•Hybrids and sub genres
• References to and comparisons with literary genres

How do you account for the growing popularity of Horror?

Genre Theory
  • As audiences become acquainted with particular genres, they come to expect a specific type of viewing experience from films of that genre.

  • Genres typically have a life cycle, progressing from uncertain beginnings to stable maturity and parodic decline.

  • Though generic similarities between films have existed since the beginning of cinema, it was the advent of semiotics and structuralism that gave scholars a sophisticated methodology with which to analyze film genre (see Film Theory).

  • Jim Kitses defined genre in terms of structuring oppositions, such as the wilderness-civilization binary found in westerns.

  • Rick Altman divided genre into the semantic (iconographic elements such as the cowboy hat) and thesyntactic (structural and symbolic meanings).

    Uploaded on authorSTREAM by hurtwoodhousemedia


Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Film Distributors Association 2008 Report - A super resource for A/S Media and Film Students

The following resources are brilliant in enabling you to better understand the 'DISTRIBUTION' processes involved in Film Production in the UK in particular. We are going to be studying these resources as part of our exploration of Working Title Films in Media and for all you lovely A/S Film students busy preparing for the A/S Film exam next wednesday, these will really aid your learning too. Go on....dive in! This is the FDA Micro site with some excellent clips from industry professionals:
fda guide 2008 fda guide 2008 mediamonkey Everything you need to know about the current film industry. Available online form the FDA

Here is an example of the type of question you will be faced with in the Media Section B exam:

Section B: Institutions and Audiences 

Answer the question below, making detailed reference to examples from your case study 

material to support points made in your answer. 

2 Discuss the issues raised by an institution’s need to target specific audiences within a media 

industry which you have studied.  



Monday, 4 May 2009

Fight Club - American Disillusionment, subverting the 'Dream' and Masculinity in Crisis

A few goodies to support exploration of The American Dream and masculinity in fight club:

Brilliant thought provoking analysis of thematics:

A very interesting essay that explores both American Beauty and Fight club:

Another credible critique of both films:

Here is a nice extract exploring the subject matter entitled:

Purging the Male Soul: Why Fight Club is no Easy Rider 
Feel free to extract quotations to use in the exam: 

" In this film, the American Dream is corrupted by the addiction to mass-merchandised material goods, the craving to stuff our empty lives with products. And underneath this is a common theme in art - an attack on conformity, its present incarnation being stores like the Gap and Ikea. For Fincher, the American Dream has become not just about having kids, but being able to dress them in leather (this season).

It sounds good on paper. And while I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with asking an audience to question the values it promotes by shopping retail, there is a flawed philosophy behind this film. It's an arrogance that stems from a cynical view of human nature, and it robs the film of achieving real depth, a true portrait of America in the 1990s. The main characters are Tyler Durden, the anti-establishment sadist played by Brad Pitt, and Jack (Edward Norton) the prototypical corporate drone. Tyler believes that the only way to experience the vibrance of life is to break the shackles of your desk job and return to the roots of your nature - for men, that would be experiencing the primal instincts of survival and war.

Jack's life at the start of the film is the quintessential and oft-portrayed existence of urban drudgery. He lives in a cramped apartment ("a filing cabinet for widows and young professionals"), spends his time shopping in mail-order catalogs ("I'd flip through catalogues and wonder what kind of dining set defined me as a person") while his days are filled pushing papers in a menial and grotesque job (evaluating the cost of settling with victims of car malfunctions vs. the cost of ordering a recall). These actions are portrayed with a sense of despair, the type of mind-numbing, robotic behavior that we have seen in earlier films such as Terry Gilliam's Brazil. Jack, under Tyler's influence, abandons his jail-cell job and antiseptic apartment and helps him form an underground fighting society, a place where men can purge their souls. The central argument of the film stems from this juxtaposition: Ikea-Boy (as Tyler calls Jack) breaks his addiction to products and, in doing so, finds redemption. 

This, hypothetically, could be a scathing attack on middle-class values, a critique of our addiction to comfort, a rebuke of the contemporary incarnation of "keeping up with the Joneses." But, in reality, does it really serve any purpose to present day-jobs and shopping at Ikea as morally corrupt ? (As a side note, isn't there something incredibly offensive about a well-paid group of Hollywood hot-shots telling us that we should be buying more distinctive furniture instead of that plain - albeit affordable and dependable! - Ikea product? Hey, Brad, if I could afford an Eames chair, I would buy one.) And really, is there something inherently more noble in living in a dilapidated old house with crummy electricity and dripping water? I don't believe it. Living as a recluse and rejecting society in your ramshackle shack is just as much an affectation as living as a corporate hack in an apartment complex - they're both caricatures. I don't buy either as telling the whole story of how real people feel about their work and lives.

If the artists (and, granted, Fincher has a unique visual style; and Pitt and Norton share some of their best moments) behind Fight Club truly harbor such a disdain for the lifestyle of Americans, I think it behooves them to present a less juvenile alternative than freeing oneself by pummeling your fellow man into a bloody pulp as cathartic release. The fury of the first half of the film is, in an interesting reversal, not earned by the solution of the second. And it is this fury - this palpable sense that Fincher really feels that we are living miserable lives - that turned me off Fight Club. His vision lacks any basis in reality. It's a pretentious, wannabe-artist's view of the world.

Fight Club has conveniently glossed over the details of individuality in its attempt to make a statement. It sounds really good to make a movie saying we are all sucked in by corporate America's evil advertising schemes - but that's just not the way it is. If you walk into the apartments of the "common man,"yes, you may find an Ikea desk, and maybe a Pottery Barn lamp, and probably something from Hold Everything. But you will also see that person's photographs and that cool table he found at a garage sale and a hard to find one-sheet poster of his favorite movie. I don't think anyone in America defines himself by his Ikea barstool. Sure, I have some Gap T-shirts in my closet; but really, would that groovy Grateful Dead concert shirt with the holes and shredded collar really seem so special if it weren't for the dependable, reliable plain Gap T? Probably not. You need the plain to make the extraordinary, well, extraordinary. Like that wonderful scene in Harold and Maude - when Maude says to Harold, in a huge field of identical looking flowers, that all daises are not the same, that they may look to be but some have longer stems than others, some have more petals than others - people may share qualities, but to condemn society based on certain shared home products is both naive and immature."