The purpose of this blog is to outline, and provide resources for, the work we'll do in May, June, July. I've changed this from last year, as we'll be working on Music Video in June/July, but the archive posts are still useful!

Sunday, 28 June 2009


Lest anyone find themselves as finished as Aki Kaurismaki and awaiting all and sundry to emulate your blissful state of pre-exhibition completion, you could start thinking about ideas for the following filmic concepts (or be considering means of bringing video-recorded-but-health-and-safety-minded harm to fruit/veg for the planned music vid):

  • OI! DENSE OR WHAT?! - take any example/aspect of audience theory (you watched the ad with the gorilla drumming; according to the hypodermic syringe model you rushed straight out and bought a gorilla suit/Phil Collins' Greatest Hits CD, right?) and illustrate it in any way you see fit. Fortunately, as an active audience member, I was completely unaffected by the potent ideological messages encoded in the cult classic Leningrad Cowboys Go America, viewing it simply for my own uses and gratifications. You can try this exercise, or look at some overviews (mediaknowall, mediaed, northallertoncoll), or download this fairly comprehensive overview.
  • THIS IS YORKSHIRE - ee by gum...could be a short documentary, a series of vox pops (asking for views/definitions of Yorkshire or some aspect of it), a tribute to Last of the Summer Wine (about to be resurrected once again, yay!), a quest for Amos Brailey's whiskers, a drama centred on aspects of the stereotype (a parsimonious superhero with magical flatcap?), a recorded walk and talk along any of the many picturesque routes hereabouts, an historical re-enactment, Richard Curtisland re-imagined as Yorkshire...

  • MEDI(AN)ATION - the world has rarely seen a happier, smilier bunch than the Media Studies cohort, and I just know some of you would like to reflect on what the subject is all about, what you've learned, what weird and wonderful things have been produced by yourselves and others (and what's about to be produced; like the AC/DC album, you could do the proverbial Fly on the Wall doc), what's surprised you, where it's going to take you, how it's changed the way you look at things, what you'd like to learn more about, and/or riff on some aspect of Media that you're particularly influenced by/a fan of
You will have under 3 weeks to ponder, plan, produce and exhibit this latest masterpiece; guerrilla film-making at its finest...

Tuesday, 23 June 2009


Interesting article here by famed screenwriter Paul Schrader, reflecting on the idea that all ideas have been seen and done by now - and that we're even getting bored as an audience with narrative itself, thus turning to supposedly narrative-free 'real-life', naturalistic formats like reality TV and documentary.


You'll be wanting screen grabs from your film production for your poster/s and (especially) DVD sleeve (which will generally feature a range of stills from the film - some of which you may want to create as new...).
This web-page (here as a Word doc) shows you how.

Friday, 19 June 2009


Having honed your Photoshop skills with practice on the RDogs posters, and any other additional doctored posters you may have tweaked to star in, its time now to give your own film the poster treatment, perhaps taking inspiration from the legendary poster pictured above. Ahem.
You can tackle this two ways: a set of 'teaser' posters or a main promotional poster. Teaser posters are centred on the concept of narrative enigma: they aim to arouse interest in a film in the weeks or months before release without giving too much away. Often this might mean a single image - featuring one of the stars - plus one or more of: a tagline/quote from the movie/release date/website URL.

A main poster will typically feature some combination of: image/s from the film; a 'billing block' (the very small-print details of cast/crew you always see on a DVD cover); star/director/producer (according to who has highest profile, eg producer Michael Bay often takes billing above stars in his action movies) names; title; tagline (a clever, short phrase/sentence); reviews; company and technical logos...
I've compiled two guides to this - a simple visual guide to measurements and a more detailed breakdown of what to include in posters, sleeves etc. There's also an article on the art of posters (and you'll have seen many books of film poster art for about a fiver in bookshops I'm sure) - click here to see all 3 docs.

Thursday, 18 June 2009


It seems most of you are familiar with Photoshop, so this should be a very brief exercise...
For those of you who are less familiar with this, just shout out anytime this is going too fast.

Look for the lovely yellow flower:

If you don't see the icon on the toolbar along the bottom of the screen, go through Finder/Applications and look for Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0.

Congrats for getting this far! Click on 'new file' (and hit cancel if asked to register the programme; OK for any other error message). From the options you can see below you'll typically want to select A4 from Preset Sizes; 300 dpi for Resolution (if for printing off; 72 dpi if for web only); transparent from Contents, and RGB from Mode. DON'T CLICK OK AT THIS STAGE!!!!
Try changing the Resolution to 72 dpi - what difference does this make?
Now, switch the settings for Height & Width (to make this a landscape doc instead of portrait): so make Width 297.01mm and Height 209.97mm.
Wunderbahr. Now, give the new doc a name: RDogsYourName.
NOW click OK...

Before we go any further - save it. Image editing programmes can eb quite processor-intensive and so sometimes crash... Be in the habit of regularly saving your work, just in case. Save this into your folder on the Lacie drive.

Save the image at
Click FILE - OPEN to open this image file.
You'll now see a small version of this on top of your A4 document. We need to first of all bring this into our A4 document then enlarge it:
Check that the move tool is highlighted on the toolbar (top left of the screen - see pic below). Click within the RDogs image, hold the mouse button, drag into the empty part of the A4 document ... and let go.
The image now appears much smaller - Photoshop shows it how it is: a low-resolu
tion image can be expanded and still look good for web viewing, but if you came to print it this wouldn't be the case. We need to Free Transform the image: stretch it out without losing image quality.
Click in the small RDogs pic within your A4 doc. Drag it up to the top-left corner of the frame, as below.
Now click IMAGE - TRANSFORM - FREE TRANSFORM ... or just the apple key and T. Drag the image from the bottom right until it fills almost all of your A4 doc, let go and hit return.

For anyone not too familiar with the software, its highly likely you ended up with some grotesquely stretched/squeezed RDogs... Hold in the apple key and press Z. This undoes anything you've just done (apple+Y re-does your last step/s).
Now repeat the process but this time hold in the shift key until AFTER you let go of the mouse, then hit return. Everything should now be in proportion.
Holding in Shift ensures that the original proportions are maintained no matter how wobbly you are with the mouse!

You're going to transpose pics of yourself and other willing volunteers onto this classic image (and can then go on to do the same for any film poster of your choice), so will need to take a few snaps to use, and then upload these to your folder on the Lacie. Just before you do, I'll show you
how you can cut your visage out from the background of the photo to move into your RDogs doc.
Save the image at and open it up through Photoshop. I'll quickly run you through the main options - The Magic Wand, Lasso and Rubber tools - for removing Christopher Lee's head from the backdrop, then you can have a go with this, and then your pics of yourself and each other.
You can always use this guide (with accompanying images) if you want to go back over this later. There is a nice guide here, which you can download as a single pdf file. (You can find plenty more by googling 'photoshop elements 2.0 tutorials')

Thats been a swift run-through (if my psychic ability has worked), but lets see if you can now produce something as all round wonderful and glamorous as the example you're about to see (and which I'm definitely not uploading!)...

I'd like y
ou to apply your Photoshop skills to a series of productions:
  1. a personalized RDogs poster
  2. personalize any other poster of your choice - you can use the same cropped head-shots you used for 1
  3. poster/s for your coursework film (as with Lucy/Lauren/Kristie's effort which I'll now hold up...)
  4. a sleeve for your new Collector's Edition DVD, listing all the splendid extras it features
  5. a jewel box sleeve/cover for the OST CD of your coursework film, where you've thjought out which additional tracks would have featured in the remaining 88+ mins of your film (don't everybody use Napalm Death* though!)
I'll blog further details on the CD/DVD later.
* I see N.Death remain a by-word for weirdness: check out the name-check in the 2nd + 3rd last paragraphs of this June 2009 review!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009


Given the high level of work you've produced through the year, we aim to see quite a variety of work completed before breaking up for the summer in July. The work is roughly split into two stages:
  1. the Collector's Edition DVD (sleeves, posters, reviews etc) to be burned onto DVD and screened/displayed at the end of next week (Fri 26th periods 1+2 for 12A; Weds 24th period 1 + Fri 26th P3 for 12C)
  2. aim to explore the 3 short film options at the start of the week beginning Mon 29th - and screen the completed films on the last 2 days of lessons (Thurs 16th + Fri 17th)
If you want to get ahead of the game you could start now on the magazine feature, and begin jotting down ideas for the CD/DVD sleeve (artists/tracks; reviews; stills from your film; billing block; BBFC cert + explanatory block; title font; production co logo; narrative blurb; tagline etc), and looking for a film poster to Photoshop your head onto (the Reservoir Dogs pic will be available to use if you haven't any preference) - this, this and this give you the general idea.
I'll post soon on the 3 film options, but we'll discuss these in more detail in 2 weeks time before signing each of you up to one of these 3 film projects - for now focus on the Collector's Edition DVD, featuring some or all of:
  • DVD sleeve
  • CD OST sleeve
  • teaser trailer
  • teaser/main poster/s
  • radio/TV review
  • magazine interview with yourselves as 'emerging young filmmakers'
  • audio commentary
  • [+ Photoshopped version of an existing film poster, where you might be replacing the head of Quentin Tarantino, Hugh Grant or Rene Zellwegger, for example]


For this task you can shake off the annoyance at having to slag off your wonderful production for the TV/radio show and, to some extent, glory in the ingeniousness of it all. The idea behind this, as with most of these tasks, is partially to begin preparing you for the A2 - with some vague hope of a smidgeon of fun being found somewhere along the way too.
THE CONCEPT: You're being interviewed for a feature on emerging new filmmakers - the handy part being its you doing the interviewing... There are 15 questions (which you can rephrase) to choose from - if working in a group, between all 3 of you all 15 should be answered, but it would be fine to tackle 5 Qs each to do this. The questions are:

§ Is it still possible to be creative in this post-modern world? [try this article...]

§ What tips would you give a young, aspiring film-maker?

§ How do you intend to ensure your film gets seen? [ie marketing, secure distribution]

§ Who was your film aimed at?

§ What can you tell us about the production process, including your planning?

§ What are the major influences on this work? Is it a genre film?

§ What was your budget?

§ What equipment/hardware did you use, how was this; anything you’d have liked to use?!

§ Is there any truth in the rumours of a big-budget re-make? Who’s involved, and how did this happen? [linked to poster featuring stars - obviously you're using your imagination here!]

§ Any plans for a sequel?

§ Were you satisfied with the screenplay? Was the narrative successful?

§ Talk to us about your editing choices/style, and the soundtrack.

§ Do you think your film deserved the praise/criticism it got for its representations of…?

§ Looking at this film, what are your feelings on the BBFC rating system? Did you suffer any cuts at the hands of the BBFC? [again, use your imagination...]

§ Any views on the widely-held belief that films and other media are responsible for many of our social problems? How do you think your film will have affected the audience? [cite some audience theory/ies here: hypodermic syringe theory]

This needs to be presented as a magazine feature, including images of the filmmaker/s and screenshots of the film itself.

Monday, 15 June 2009


The hope is that you can have a bit of fun with this, whilst also re-familiarising yourself with your (actually rather good!) productions ... and the language we use as Media students to discuss this.
As you'll see when 20-odd folk start to play film clips, anyone not using headphones will be, quite literally, a bit of a headache - please remember to bring headphones with you to class
The concept for this is simple enough: each pair will in effect produce 4 reviews; each negatively reviews their own work and also praises to the skies the genius that is their partner's work (this must be somebody from another group/production!!!)
For today you will begin looking at the respective film openings, jotting down some impressions/points you can later turn into a review thats both insightful and entertaining...
You can do this either as part of a radio show or of a TV show, perhaps using Film 2009 and Mark Kermode's efforts on the Simon May Show as points of reference - look up if you're unfamiliar with the bequiffed one's award-winning style (of reviewing). You can have a crack at a jingle or two/title sequence if you wish...

If you're doing the radio option you'll need to come up with a loose script and record your voices; if TV, set up your living room to look vaguely like a chat-show set - putting a couple of tables out with the chairs, with a nice glass of water for guest/presenter to sip.
It will work best if you do this as 2 reviewers each presenting your opposing views on the two texts.
The recorded and cut piece will form 1 of the extras on your upcoming Collector's Edition DVD...


You should have a copy of this doc, which summarizes what's to come; in essence, by the time we finish in July you will have (in some cases individually, in others as part of a group) produced a Collector's Edition DVD of your coursework, including:
- new teaser poster/s
- an individual audio commentary
- a DVD and CD OST cover
- teaser trailer/s
- a glowing review of someone else's production and a scathing review of your own, as a feature within a radio or TV show
- a magazine interview with ... yourself, as part of a special of emerging new filmmakers
- and finally, as they say on News at Ten, been part of a new group producing at least 1 short film from a choice of 3... (more on this later)

You should also have put any files you wish to keep into a folder as instructed in the handout