101MC 72 Hour Project

While fast-approaching deadlines have always been a part of media work, this was my first assignment which involved an official number of hours given. My group had a group meeting in the library to decide on the product of choice. The first problem which was apparent and that would show its face many a time thought this assignment was that this is a ‘thing we have always wanted to make! The problem being that we’re in different courses and like different things.

Being a Media student who’s always gone for the electronics/film side to Media (though everything is electronic nowadays), and thus doing the Media Production course, the only question at least for me was what kind of film we should make. However since a lot of people in my group are doing Media-Journalism, there seemed to be a group consensus that a magazine would be easy and that a film would be hard.

We continued the meeting by deciding on what we would put into this magazine. As we had our differences we all decided to produce the magazine as a ‘student paper’, students writing for students. I do enjoy creative writing, but I was anxious about how we could create a magazine in 3 days and without using any copyrighted material.

After a tutorial session it was decided that we either had to change our Magazine theme or chose to make a film. I wanted to do a comedy spoof of something, as it gives me more freedom to satirise media conventions. I suggested that we could create a charity parody, based on the teaching profession because I’ve spent so much time in college and I do love friendly satire. Debt advise and charity adverts have very structured cinematography which I find very temping to remake as a spoof. Indeed other comedy shows such as ‘The Now Show’ with their Mad Bear Adoptions and Dead Ringer’s Cricket Players Appeal have touched on it, so I still had to give mine some originality.

While trying to be original, there were also the media conventions of charity appeals which needed to be kept to. Charity appeals used by the NSPCC often use highly contrasted lighting, created to appear dark, intimidating and lonely to the audience, making the wide-eyed looks of the children more striking. While dept advice adverts are created to appear more sad and ill. The colour situation is lowered and is given a slight blue hue, with the colour palette suddenly growing much more vivid and brighter when the debt advice comes to the rescue.

My original plan was to base it on lecturers, but I chose to change them to high school and 6th form college teachers due to their heightened dependence on OFSTED and league tables.

During the production phase, we all met up and I had the script ready. As it was a 72 hour project with just two days to go including post-production time, the pressure was on to finish the footage within the day. But I was confident that we could get this done as long as we kept level-headed and used our initiative. We had an immediate recourses hunt, trying to find all the props which we needed and someone to act as our lecturer/teacher. Our group split up into two teams to search for separate things, with mobile phone contact to signal our progress. Fortunately just a couple of minutes into our search we found Tom the Ellen Terry receptionist who was willing to act as our teacher. The props were things such as the doctor’s torch and clinical gloves, the teacher’s apple and coffee, the books on various courses (which were not included in the final edit of the production). The Doctor’s First Aid kit was in the reception office, and the torch was generously burrowed from the Priory Hall’s technician/care taker. We had also gained the cameras and other equipment which we had booked at the Media loan shop.

With all of our actors and props secured, we started the filming, with some of our team members checking the script and storyboard so that we kept on track, which we fortunately did. Gaining an suitably sized class for our classroom scene was fortunately not a problem, as there happened to be a couple of media groups along with our own group already in the room and willing to act. We would give ‘stage’ directions on when and where to react. We chose to give the teacher an apple because it’s the stereotypical symbol/food of the teacher, and the coffee was there conveying the stress of staying energetic throughout the day.

Creating our piano music was a stroke of luck when the room which we tried to record our narrator speech in happened to have someone practicing his guitar in (though he didn’t book the room). He was generous enough to play our piano score and also be the voice of the narrator.

During the post-production phase, I was very glad to be editing again. However the few people in my group who had edited before didn’t know how to use the Avid software. We assigned jobs to each other for the post-production, such as designing the logo. Overall this project was interesting with its deadline, the lack of copyrighted material. The creativity was the best thing about it. However in hindsight do have doubts if the banjo music was royalty-free, but I gone along with my group member’s judgement. The deadline was very useful as an exercise in organisation, ingenuity and working in a group, which I feel will greatly benefit my professional skills.

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