REFLECTION 4: Personal Critical Evaluation

March 18, 2010

This project to test our research skills has encountered many obstacles in its projection, but I think that in some ways this only helped to enrich our need for further research. An example of this was how I constantly made the effort to re-establish the narrative hook/perspective of the production when the primary research material conflicted with our original production plans.

At the start of our post-production stage, we were contemplating on filming most of our footage again due to my observations on the image quality and later advice from our lecturers. The footage from the ‘main’ camera appeared to be a long-shot. This shot was further spoilt by the flowers apparently sprouting from his head; and to make matters worse, my camera was very dark possibly due to us not sequenizing our exposure levels.

The main camera footage was spoilt beyond repair, but my camera footage only required its exposure to be corrected. I accomplished this in the editing process by using the ‘Brightness & Contrast’ tool, turning the brightness up to counter the low exposure, and then turning up the contrast to cancel-out the paling effect which the increased brightness had on the colours. Other tasks I done in the group were the editor’s log, the base template for the storyboard, the risk assessment and further camera and editing work.

I think that my footage worked because it conformed to the camera framing and angles of documentaries I have researched, as well as standard interview practice.

Ronny Dayag in the animated documentry 'Waltz with Bashir'

For example, in this interview from Waltz with Bashir, the camera is a medium close-up and is slightly to the side of the interviewee; not a side profile or looking straight into the camera. Despite the fixes to my camera footage, we decided that it was still necessary to conduct another filming session.

Directly after the production, I captured the rough footage onto my home computer as a ‘plan B’ in case of an emergency whether technological or organisational in nature. Due to delayed and insufficient time given to the Avid project with an increasingly close deadline, I found it necessary to start the editing process on Adobe Premiere, which the majority of the group supported. Jazbinder Sampla did not agree with it, somehow thinking that our group’s back-up version had used her work without permission, which was not the case. While it is regrettable that we had to resort to the ‘back-up’ in the first place, I am very pleased with the quality of the resulting documentary. I think this has further taught me that having a back-up plan greatly increases the reliability of media productions.

I think that the skills I have gained the most experience in during this project has been group organisation; working as a team to plan the logistics of assembling the group and equipment at the right time and place. I’ve also found that it is best to let every member of the group have a say in the final decisions, as important details of the working practice may be missed if the group blindly follows the wishes of a confident self-appointed leader.

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Workshop 7 Individual Assignment – Audience

March 11, 2010

For this research assignment I have researched a variety of methods for the distribution of our production, both local and national/international.

For internet distribution there is of course Youtube, but a more dedicated form of distribution may be necessary, one that can present our production with a more professional pedestal and offers more than just 10 minutes per video. For this I have researched Student Zone at freewiretv.com and littlehousetv.com, which both host programmes produced by students or recent post-graduates. However after further study I think that these may not be suitable as at freewiretv.com is primarily aimed at students, while littlehousetv.com focuses on music, “gossip” (chatshow) and comedy. While we may be interested in a young audience, our documentary is not primarily aimed at a student audience. I have also found that at freewiretv.com is not currently signed-up with Coventry University, despite other universities in the UK doing so.

For a wider, more traditional approach of the broadcast media, I have researched Channel 4 as a potential broadcaster. This is because the channel has always been marketed as the ‘alternative’ channel compared to the other UK networks. The main draw towards it in terms of our production is the fact that Channel 4 has held a ‘3 Minute Wonder’ competition for “Emerging British filmmakers”, which is uncannily suitable to our production.

For Cinima, I may approach Coventry’s College Theatre, the Warwick Arts Centre or

the Warwick Student Cinema. These would be suitable because they are local, independent and are recognised by ‘Screen West Midlands. However Coventry’s College Theatre appears to go by its time, being primarily a theatre rather than a cinema.

For a more local showing, I think that the Blink Film Festival will be very suitable. It’s local and it’s “about supporting the next generation of scriptwriters, film producers and directors”. Starting on the 29th of May It is clearly a very accessible category. However as with at freewiretv.com, too strong a hook on the student audience my stifle our wider target audience.

Screenings by their nature can be shown somewhat informally at Coventry university, with the relevant permissions needing to be established depending on the time and location.

List of Screenings

  1. ETG34: The established place for films to be presented, being useful to our production by possibly gaining the critic of students who are involved in

similar productions.

  1. Warwick Arts Centre: It has an independent streak and is involved in the local area, if being accepted it should give a perfect venue for our production.
  2. The Blink Film Festival: It is very open to students and is a step-up from a semi-informal screening, it will be usefull to see how well it does when compared to other student-made films.
  3. Channel 4: with its many online services as well as traditional broadcasting, it presents a significant and flexible medium from which to launch our production.
  4. Youtube: It’s a very well-known source and easy to embed into other areas of the internet. And fortunately its ’10 minute limit’ won’t pose a problem for us.

Review

This documentary is a bond between Coventry and the Puntland area of Somalia, describing a Coventry resident’s mission and experiences in spreading awareness within Coventry and Birmingham; describing the other side of the much publicised story of piracy on the Horn of Africa, trying to improve the social infrastructure behind the crime.

REFLECTION 3: Research Production

March 4, 2010

Once we were nearing the production phase of our documentary we found via Adbiaziz that our interviewee (Mohamed Hassan) would prefer the questions to be sent to him at least a day before the interview.

My role in the production was that of booking and carrying most of the shooting equipment to and from Birmingham, where Adbiaziz transported us from Birmingham New Street station to Hassan’s offices.

During the production I was responsible for operating the camera for the close-up and cut-away shots, as well as the sound. The group preparation for this shooting was important, as we had to make sure that all four of us and the equipment were at Hassan’s offices by 11:00am, as it had been established via Abdiaziz that Hassan may only be available in the morning as he may have to leave at midday. If we were to shoot the interview again under the same circumstances, I may attempt to organise an earlier time to create a more reliable ‘buffer’ zone so we can compensate for any logistical mistakes. We all recognised that meeting at an exact time and place was critical to our production; however there was a mix-up in communication which resulted in a half-hour delay. Our preparation also included a storyboard which we referred to during the production.

After the production, I produced digital back-ups of our footage in case any problems are encountered with our tapes or our efforts on Avid. It was upon studying the footage that I noted Hassan had some flowers directly behind his head, the black vase blending in seamlessly with his hair. Fortunately my camera was unaffected by this, but considering that our production ideally requires two camera angles, and that the effected camera is the main ‘anchor’ camera, this may seriously effect our production.

Hassan's offices, Fairgate House

Week 5 Blog Assignment – Reflection 2

February 24, 2010

The need for my research to develop has grown throughout my group’s Coventry People project. This is due to the differing perceptions which we had during the course of pre-production, which may have been negated by establishing better contact with our interviewee.

I have found it very important to continually re-establish the narrative ‘hook’ of our documentary, making sure that we did not over-emphasize the ‘pirate’ side of the story at the expense of the local Coventry story.

My original idea for the project was to create a documentary on the Coventry-born singer Mark Rattray. I believed that Rattray was still working at the Belgrade Theatre. However, after conducting further talks with my contact connected with Rattray (though I had also spoken to Rattray himself in the past), I discovered that his theatre appearances were only occasional. As a result, I chose to go along with the group decision to conduct our documentary on the Somali Pirate story.

However, while this story presented us with a lot of potential, it also produced a lot of complications for us to consider in terms of what to research, and where to find our primary and secondary sources. The questions we received from the class feedback session also mirrored this. The key factors we had to establish were: what connection did our interviewees have with Somali pirates, what connection did their anti-piracy group have with Coventry and what was the main audience appeal going to be for our documentary?

After conducting primary research in the form of meeting our contact in person, we were able to establish that the anti-piracy group supports Somalis who have moved to Europe, creates publicity for the main group in Somalia and recruits European-based Somalis to work in the schools which the group runs.

French Navy personnel seizing pirates off the coast of Somalia

The Tadamun Social Society improving water and sanitation in Puntland, Somalia

Mohamed Hassan, Coventry resident and Tadamun Social Society member

1 minute Moving Images ‘Visual Notebook’

February 11, 2010

Here is the link to our group’s ‘Visual Notebook’.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97xWa3OcARw

Our Group’s Storyboard

February 11, 2010

Here is the link to our group’s storyboard.

REFLECTION 1: Research Process

February 9, 2010

My original understanding was that our two interviewees were Somali ex-pirates who are running an anti-piracy campaign of sorts. However, after a group meeting it was clarified that they are infact Somali nationals who are setting up a UK wing of a Somali urban development charity, known as the Tadamun Social Society (TASS).

Having followed the issue of modern piracy since 2005, I think that I am well placed to give additional research material to the project. Abdiaziz is also a good addition to the background knowledge, as he is Somali himself with contacts in the local Somali community.

Instead of a story on personal reform, it can instead mirror the various anti-gang youth clubs in America and the UK. These clubs exist to bring urban youth away from the influence of gangs by giving them something else to do in their community. To further my research in this ‘combating gangs via social development’ angle, I have compared the Tadamun Social Society (http://www.tadamun.org/) with Barrios Unidos (http://www.barriosunidos.net/index.htm) and Homeboy Industries (http://www.homeboy-industries.org/overview-free-services.php), both of which try to combat violence via social development. I have yet to establish how much more focused our interviewee’s charity is on the anti-piracy issue compared with their parent charity (the TASS).

Our interviewees are from Puntland, the area of Somalia that is most effected by the issue of piracy. The BBC has said that the Puntland town of Eyl is “the tiny coastal town that has become notorious as the centre of Somalia’s lucrative pirate industry.”( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8103585.stm)

I think it would be interesting to ask questions about the related issues to piracy such as the pollution on its coastline (http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1644219/somalia_piracy_its_the_pollution_not.html?cat=9). To gain a more local touch to this documentary, it will also be important to ask why they are setting up a charity/group in Coventry.

Week 3 Task- Documentry Treatment

January 27, 2010

Treatment

I propose to base my documentary on the singer Mark Rattray. The format or ‘style’ of this documentary will be based on a ‘rags to riches’ story of a man who was born in Coventry, grew up in Coventry and still loves the place even after his successful career. The TV show which gave him his big break was the talent show ‘Bob Says Opportunity Knocks’, previously known as simply ‘Opportunity Knocks’ before Bob Monkhouse revived it in 1987. It was broadcasted for 34 years, with Mark Rattray being its final winner in 1990.

Being one of the pioneering TV talent shows which involved a phone-in vote, parallels can be drawn to the modern success of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ and ‘The X Factor’. These parallels can serve as a useful link to modern relevance, perhaps by asking what Mark thinks of the somewhat changed style of the shows and their effect and place in society.

The fact that he was born and raised in Coventry provides the critical base to the documentary, being strengthened by his love of the city even today. Another interesting point may be that he enjoyed his school life, but at least one of his schools no longer exists today, being bulldozed or converted. Depending on the condition of the current school site, this may prove to be a positive addition rather than a negative one; since it may have been improved and modernised, even if it’s not a school anymore. The school in question appears to be ‘Binley Park’. His work as a nurse at the Coventry and Warwick Hospital will also be in issue to spread light on.

With his work at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre as well as many other theatre’s across the UK, there is the opportunity to document on his involvement in the arts within Coventry, and how much it has improved.

Most ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ and ‘The X Factor’ contestants have a story behind them, and I think that this one is good for having a strong local connection. And the songs which he has been involved in should prove to be a useful soundtrack.

Week 1 task

January 21, 2010

Mark Rattray

The person who I propose to focus the documentary on is Mark Rattray. He grew up in Coventry at Binley Park Comprehensive School, where he was a Nurse at the Coventry and Warwick Hospital before was the winner of the very last series of ‘Opportunity Knocks’, the TV talent show that lasted from 1956 to 1990. After being the final winner of the show as a singer he has since performed in hundreds of musicals around the UK, including co-staring with Marti Webb in the musical ‘The Magic of the Musicals’ and being the lead singer in the tribute tour of Mario Lanza. Recently he has been taking part in further theatre productions, collecting for Children In Need and entertaining on luxury cruises.

I think that this will create an interesting documentary by telling the story of a local man who reached his goals on the stage, and possibly how it compares to the X Factor competitions of today. His involvement with Children In Need is another factor that could merit deeper research. A better degree of primary research can be conducted upon the first interview with him, which he has agreed to in principle though we have yet to negotiate any specific times.

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January 20, 2010

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