So the only reason this blog exists is for college. I made it to post production diaries and essays for my projects so my tutors could access them easily. But now I’m in the University of Lincoln studying media, and I think this blog could be very useful to me!
So from now on I’ll be posting here every now and again for various reasons. Either a film review (slightly inspired by my friend Daniel Brown when he started a film review blog) or maybe just an update on my progress in uni (mainly to help with my own production diaries) or even an update on whats happening in AWKOR.
All this will be dotted with the occasional post I like that I’ve reposted.
If anyone reading this wants to find out a bit more about me head over to my Bio on Rodeo’s website here:
Hope you enjoy the blog :)
Me and Alistair went to town with the camera and mic to interview some random passers by about their opinion of cosplay. As it turns out, a total of ONE person knew what we were on about. ONE. A bit of a disapointment, however it succeeded in another way. Most of the people we talked to didn’t see the problem in cosplay. When first shown the idea people accepted it reasonably. We drew the conclusion that in fact the bad light it is shown in the media turns people against cosplayers. Damn the media!……can’t help feeling I’m shooting myself in the foot saying that….
Expo was really fun! I want to go next year. But on to documentary related stuff. We got what we wanted, mostly. It was more packed than I thought so we couldn’t set up the tripod in the main bit of the expo, but a handheld look could fit for that reason. It shows the truth of the situation. We got a lot of interviews with cosplayers playing a variety of characters, some of which were just OK, but from a few we got great answers that work perfectly. I would like to be able to go again without being loaded down with equipment to get the feel of the place but for the documentary that isn’t possible before the deadline.
And yes, I got shot at by a Stormtrooper…and a guy from Final Fantasy 7…yeah it was good.
I found a comic convention on the 18th of February in Telford run by MCMEXPO group. It’ll be £6 each to get in and at the moment a train would be £40 each! As that’s a little out of our price range we have asked Ben to give us a lift so at the moment thats all ok.
Also we decided we should do some interviews in town for opinions on cosplay.
In our group of three (Me (Dan), Alistair and James) we decided to use Alistair’s idea and make a documentary on ‘cosplay’. Cosplay is the act of dressing up as a fictional character (sometimes argued to be dressing up in general, though commonly held to be specifically as a character). Looking up cosplay online will show people dressed up as Pokemon characters, various Anime characters, a green army man (Toy Story style), Samus Aran (from the game Metroid), the Soldier (from the game Team Fortress 2), and many many more. We want to show cosplay as it is, going against the negative stereotype it has (attention seekers, weird, Japanese obsessed) and showing it in a positive light.
Personally I like the idea of cosplaying, and Alistair seems to like it. James didn’t really know about it before now so it’ll be new to him as well as some viewers.
There are four main sections to an interview (broken down into more specific sections). The introduction, the confidence building, the main section of the interview and the conclusion.
The introduction is simple enough, its mainly telling the interviewee what the interview’s purpose is and introducing them to yourself and how the interview will work. Confidence building is key to a successful interview. If you ask someone a personal question when you just met them, they will not answer. So first you need to ask some general questions to get to know them, and for them to get to know you so that they feel comfortable talking to you. When interviews are televised this confidence building is usually off screen, these include film promotion interviews mentioned in my previous blog (Styles). The main section of the interview is where all the key questions are asked, usually this is where the viewer comes in. The main part will include developmental questions (if these weren’t included in the confidence building questions depending on the interview) which builds up a framework for the rest of the interview. These questions reveal what you already know on the subject (from the research you did before the interview, very important!) to set a starting point for the rest of the questions.
The rest of the main sections compromises of key questions. Key questions are the main point of the interview, these are the parts that will be televised/shown on the final edit with most emphasis. The key questions can be direct (did you have an affair?) or indirect (I heard that you and your wife/husband have been having disagreements, can you elaborate?).
To end there is a conclusion compromising of a summary and a wind-up. The summary does what it says, it summerises the interview and what has been found out, often for the viewer. The wind up ends the interview and takes the program to the next topic/scene.
Throughout these there can be soundbites. These are when sound from the interview is played over clips of other things.
There are various different forms of interview, often easily identified by where they are featured, but each can be seen anywhere.
Currently, the most common is ‘entertainment’. Its an interview that’s made to entertain the audience. For example: ‘Alan Carr: Chatty Man’ (and other is a hugely entertainment based interview show. It hosts big celebrity names from TV or music (usually) and has bands/groups playing and games. Its almost entirely entertainment based. There is some ‘investigative’ style to the interviews, Alan Carr asks them about parts of their lives and what they are doing, but this style is mainly in shows like ‘Piers Morgan: Life stories’, where the interviewer goes in detail into the interviewee’s life. Investigative is also seen in ‘Newsnight’ e.g: ‘Jeremy Paxman Vs. Michael Howard’ In this interview Paxman tries to get a strait answer to a possible condemning question and investigates it with facts from other sources. Another sort of interview (also seen in Alan Carr) ‘Promotional’ interviews are made to promote something. The most obvious examples of this are movie stars interviews when a new film comes out. The usual setting is the actor/director/editor/etc sat in a black room with big posters of the film behind them, talking about the film. It’s light-hearted (the opposite style to Combative) and hugely promotional interview.
'Combative' is an interview where the interviewer and the interviewee may not have the same opinion, causing disagreements and/or tension in the interview. This is often seen in political shows, where politicians try to dodge questions or twist their opponents answers. Opposite to this, a 'light-hearted' style (mentioned before) is a friendly atmosphere of interview like on chat shows.
An obvious but sometimes unnoticed interview style is ‘hard news’. These are the interviews that are exactly what the title suggests: news. It’s an interview made to get facts.
Interviews are the method of collecting information that involves talking directly to the subject, or “interviewee”, and can be used to get lots of different types of information. It is more personal and can get more information than a questionnaire, which makes it a very useful technique for research. As well as research, interviews can be found in many places in our daily lives. In documentaries, political question shows, chat shows, “behind the scenes” movie shows, promotional videos and in the news, interviews are everywhere. There are different types and styles of interview, this can often come down to the questions asked. There are 6 types of questions: Open, Closed, Single, Multiple, Direct, Suggestive.
Open and closed questions relate to the types of answer they allow. A closed question only allows a selection of set answers, for example: Do you like cake? The answer has to be either “yes”, “no” or “depends on the cake”. An open question leaves room for the interviewee to make up their own answer, for example: What sort of cake would you make up? This could be answered with “Lemon” or “A pizza shaped cake with chocolate stuffed sponge ‘crust’” or anything in their imagination.
Single and multiple questions are exactly what they say, one or more questions. A single question would be: Do you like cake? Multiple questions would build on this knowledge by adding: What topping? and Do you like sprinkles?
A direct question is a question that gets directly to the heart of an issue. For example: Is it true that you have a problem with eating too much cake? This question is strait to the point and isn’t dancing around it using questions like “You really like cake, right?”.
A suggestive question is one in which the question suggests the answer. These sort of questions often end in phrases like “is this true?” and often start with phrases like “I have heard…” or “People are saying…” An example of a suggestive question would be: I heard you are cheating on you’re wife with a woman with cake, is this true? It’s a question that suggests something about the interviewee. It can also be seen as a question that the interviewer suggests the answer, which can be an innocent question simply trying to get the interview onto a certain topic.
Fandom & Frameworks of Interpretation
Aswell as preffered, negotiated and oppositional responses, there is a fourth response: Participatory. This is where the film goes further than just the screen, and people love the film so much that they buy film merchandice, or write fan-fics (fan made fiction in the storyline or universe of the movie). Fan culture (or ‘Fandom’) is part of this. Fandom is mainly seen in fantacy and Sci-fi movies, like Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, etc. Fandom is less commonly displayed in genres such as animation (like The Lion King) but is still there. There are often times of people collecting merchandise like Lion King teddies and lunch boxes etc. Fandom infiltrates peoples lives so much that fans of Star Trek have gone to university and learned klingon. These sorts of fandom (from klingon to Mufasa teddies) are an extention of the uses and gratification theory in one way, as the viewer has gone to the film for pleasure and loved it so much that they don’t want to leave that fantacy world, so they bring the world to life in their own lives. Living it as much as they can.
Throughout these blogs, I have talked about how your knowlege and understanding improve or destroy your relationship to a film, but another reason you may like/dislike a film is more basic. The Conditions of Reception. This covers everything while you are watching a film, from comfort and lighting, to picture quality and friends revealing spoilers. If at the start of The Lion King your friend told you exactly how Scar kills Mufasa, you wouldn’t be surprised and the film would lack a lot of its emotion, especially at that point. In more broad terms, watching any film in a badly lit room, sat uncomfortably on the edge of a desk watching a horribly grainy bleached out dowloaded vertion would give a terrible memory and experience of the film which would rub off on how much you enjoyed it. However watching it in an IMAX with comfy chairs, specialised lighting and sound and in perfect 3D, it would look amazing! And once again, that feel would rub off on the film.
Pleasure, Media Literacy & Pre/Post-viewing experiences
One theory of film reception is the “Uses and Gratification Theory”. This states that you go to a film (or any art form) for a use or to gratify. E.g: You watch an action film like Die Hard to be exited and amazed by explosions and fights, you watch a documentary for information, you watch a Sci-Fi like Avatar to escape normality or your watch The Lion King to go “awww" at the romance, laugh at the jokes and be uplifted by Simba’s journey. The main reason to watch a film is to get pleasure from it. This pleasure is determined by several factors, mainly your basic understanding of the film and its context. This understanding comes from your cultural competence, media literacy, your own experiences (or your pre and post-viewing experiences) and your demographics.
Cultural competency is your understanding of your own and different cultures. Its basically your awareness and understanding of your own and different cultures.
This drastically effects your response to a film. For example a joke in one culture may be taken as an offence in another, so depending on your cultural competence, you may laugh, turn the film off in disgust, or dislike the joke yet recognize the joke in another culture and continue watching. In The Lion King the way succession to the throne is passed from father to son may cause confusion if the only government/ruler succession you know is based on voting of the people. Also if you are from a black American culture with the right upbringing you may see the opposing view mentioned in the first blog. Opposing this, if you are British brought up knowing nothing of racism in the past then that opposing view would never occur to you.
Media literacy is your knowledge of how media works. This includes knowledge of the creation of a film and knowledge of what a film is. For example, in The Lion King, someone with no media literacy may not understand that it is fiction, and start researching to find this amazing group of talking lions. Also, increased media literacy may add extra amazement into the film to recognize how it was made. to see in the film the skill of the artists and editors involved in creating the animation.
Someones media literacy can be increased my studying media (e.g: as an academic course, like a GCSE) or just by watching films and so recognising the techniques used. Other than the basic media literacy needed to recognise it as a work of fiction, a lack of media literacy could make a film even better, as there would be the pure magic of cinema, withouth the knowlege telling you how it was done.
Pre/Post-viewing experiences are what you experience after and before the film.
This can be anything including (but not limited to) talking to friends, reading a review or a trailer of the film. For example, if you haven’t seen The Lion King, but one of your friends love is, you’re more likely to love it. Although if that friend hates a movie you love you might not like Lion King because you think you and that friend have different tastes. Also if you watch the film and love it then hear an opposing view off a friend you could take on that opinion and end up hating it. Pre/post-viewing experiences cover everything that happens before or after the film. It includes all the other factors (demographics, cultural competence, media literacy) and covers every other aspect of life.
For my series of blogs I will be using The Lion King as my main example. From the list of theories mentioned on the brief, I will mainly be exploring:
Preferred, Negotiated and Oppositional responces
Active and passive spectatorship
Frameworks of Interpretation
These are the topics I will focus on though I may mention the others more briefly.
Preferred, Negotiated and Oppositional responses & Active and Passive
In the post-modernist era, film audience theories developed into the idea that the spectator, not the author, is the creator of meaning. This is known as reception study and is often described as “the death of the author”. This then evolved to the idea of preferred, negotiated and oppositional responses to any film. This allows the author to tell their story (this is the preferred reading) and allows the audience to ignore that and create their own (the oppositional reading). The negotiated reading is when the authors story is recognised but interpreted differently. In my chosen film, The Lion King, the preferred reading is simple, its good over evil. The evil hyenas and their corrupt lion leader are beaten by the true king and general nice guy.
An oppositional reading could be that the hyenas and the elephant graveyard are racist representations of black, suburban America, who have been kept down and beaten into submission by the white ruling class and a visionary from the lions begins a rebellion which eventually fails because the black sympathiser betrays them when the ruling lions son comes back and fights to rule again.
A negotiated view, however, could recognise both points, yet also recognise that naturally, hyenas are rivals of other creatures, and the reason Scar is dislikes is because he is weak, which would mean a weakness to the pack in a natural lion pack. This view sees The Lion King as a fantasy view on a realistic animal scenario.
The response you have to a film comes from how much you read into it, in what way. How much you read into it comes down to being a passive or active viewer. Doing something passively means not thinking or not doing something. For example, breathing is trully passive. Without thought or consious action it happens. Watching a film, however, always requires at least a small ammout of thought to watch so passive in film is when you take the basic information from it. In The Lion King, a passive viewer would see the story wholy from Simba’s point of view, agreeing with everything he says, getting tricked by Scar. Its a very basic was to watch a film but still has enjoyment.
Active spectatorship is the opposite, it means you would read further into the story. The general viewer is at least partially active for The Lion King, as they understand how Scar manipulated Simba and how Simbas view of the world is slightly odd because of that. More active viewers would be able to see negotiated and oppositional responses, although an oppositional response may be the result of being too active and taking nothing at all on face value.
In other more complex films, thiese reading can become more separated. A passive viewer watching the Terminator films would see a futuristic vision of a sudden uprising of machines, exactly as depicted in the film. An active viewer however, could connect these themes with current technologies, seeing how things like Iphones and facebook have taken off, possibly growing so much to become a huge factor in our daily lives. The passive viewer will see a machine uprising. An active viewer may see a more realistic representation in modern tech. This particular example would also be effected by the viewers media literacy. This will be explored in the next blog.
The other main reason for different readings of a film are demographics and cultural competence. Cultural competence will be explored in the next blog, demographics are facts about a person. Where you live, what sort of area you live in and your race could change your opinion of a film. This can be seen as an aspect of your culture however, so works with similar points.