In this essay I will be reflecting on the 3 things that inspired me the most and how they effected my approach to my discipline.
Both my dad and my granddad have been involved in engineering designs of somesort throughout their careers, I was interested in continuing that tradition along with the sheer creativity involved when I chose Engineering as one of my two extra choices in GCSEs at high school.
What I love about designing mechanical products is the way that every piece has a specific function which helps create the overall product, how the slightest difference can decide the machine’s success for failure. And in the words of Antoine de Saint-Exuper; “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
I find that this can be applied to creating a media product, especially in the field of editing. No matter whether it’s image, video or audio editing, I take pleasure in getting the placement and effects just right for the desired result.
GCSE Action Film
My second choise for an extra GCSE course at high school was Media Studies, where the major project of this course was to create a short film of any type. Being a teenage boy, the only natural choice was an action movie with plenty of guns.
The creation of a gun-toting action movie was much easier than if I were to try it today. This is because of a few things; it was just a GCSE level course which didn’t have such a large focus on professional paperwork, it was the year 2003 and despite being post-9/11 there wasn’t any nanny-state style anti-BB gun laws or practices, and the school staff were just that ‘easy going’. Though we at least had the common sense to film during after-school hours and inform the staff before filming.
This left me and the actors free to film throughout the high school with a semi-professional camera, an Airsoft M16 assault rifle and a replica musket converted to look like a sniper rifle. I even spent extra time after my engineering classes to create fake bullet casings to use as props, manually dropping them to the floor as the actors pretended to fire (with the gunshots being edited in post-production). I used the CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacture) equipment in my engineering classroom to create the empty assault rifle casings out of pine wood (shaping steel would have been a bit too realistic) coating them with a wood varnish and metallic gold paint to make them appear more realistic to the camera. And after all that work, the close-up camera shots were worth it. My Engineering teacher not only gave me permission to do this, he was actually very supportive throughout the process.
During the post-production phase I was fortunate enough to gain a head-start over my classmates when learning the basics of Adobe Premiere, as the multi-talented Dr. Ken Farquhar (my brother’s science teacher at the time) was kind enough to give me a casual tutorial.
My film went on to be shown at the school assemblies for all year groups, and was looped for a solid week at the school reception; though I don’t blame the receptionists for eventually muting the sound, as it involved a lot of gunshots.
While my action film was bodged and unprofessional due to its severe lack of organisation, it did teach me that anything can be done with the right amount of intuition and improvisation. Now 7 years later, I find inspiration in the ability to produce media when faced with deadlines and practical issues, but this time with more knowledge and maturity.
The Media- Being the ‘Middle Man’ of society.
With the media’s name derived from ‘medium’ or ‘medius’, meaning the in-between stage of a source and the public, being the ‘middle man’ is quite a good thing to be in society. For example, when doing voluntary work at the Norwich Theatre Royal I found that being a theatre technician is the best way to get to know celebrities, as there are no cameras or magazine interviewers; allowing the celebrities to be more natural without their ‘stage face’ on.
Being the public’s source of information also puts you in a very responsible position as your bias has, given certain circumstances, the potential to be imprinted on the audience. Television stations such as Fox News have been criticised for having such a right-wing bias that it’s an affront to ‘honest journalism’.
The thing which inspires me about the media its power to shape society, for better or for worse. And as I said in the theatre example, it’s also the closest you can get to the limelight without being dazzled by it.