I highly commend the web page 'Nine top tips for Media students'. From the people behind theory.org.uk, its worth a read!

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Summer tasks

To commence the A2 we resume lessons to explore the conventions of the music video format, and plan your initial idea.

If you wish to engage in some independent reading over the holidays, then see this post for suggestions - but of course my 3 main blogs for the A2 would be useful! The book Money For Nothing is especially recommended as light reading that links into industry, audience and audience, and should help you with some ideas too (especially if you look up some of the videos or directors discussed in it).

ALL my blogs are listed here, with links for YouTube coursework playlists by year in this post. Student blogs here.

For 2017 the focus is on advancing your main proposal. To this end you should return with:

  1. Your blog set up and formatted as instructed.
  2. Initial Posts completed (see below for details)
  3. Posts on a minimum 5 videos you've analysed. See 'Conventions Research' below for details, and go through this guide before completing these posts. OPTIONAL: work on the initial general video conventions vodcast. You could also begin OPTIONAL posting on the industry or any other aspect.
  4. Posts on your idea/pre-production planning - see the list below. You should return with some sample footage and a highly detailed revised pitch, backed up by the specific posts listed below.
  5. If for any reason you cannot finalise a clear idea at this stage, you must then complete the general conventions posts + vodcast AND the industry research posts and vodcast.

Follow instructions here. Note one change: use the 'simple' template. NOT picture window. There are lots of minor changes to follow through, so read the post carefully.

1: Welcome to my blog! OR And so it begins again!
[whatever you want to call it] Introduce yourself. Address the following:
  • say a little about yourself and your media profile: experience, skillsets, strengths, interests, ambitions.
  • your hopes for the A2
  • 5 key lessons/things you'll approach differently from the AS
  • embed your AS opening + link your blog

2: The Brief 
music promotion package  A promotion package for the release of an album, to include a music video (major task), together with a website for the band and a digipak for the album’s release (minor tasks).
3: Thoughts on some past A2 Media Coursework
View and reflect on at least 1 past (IGS or StG) final video - as we will view chapters from my 2014 documentary on the 2014 work, they (Storm Queen, Faithless, Atomic Kitten) might be a good choice (blogs; YouTube). The 2016 StG A2 videos are here (blogs here). 
  • embed each video being discussed, and provide student blog links
  • did they make any mistakes you can learn from?
  • are there any clear differences from AS film brief to A2 music promo package brief?
  • were you impressed/inspired by any feature of each vid?
  • does your developing editor's eye see anything you could improve?
  • any other thoughts/points?
  • sum up: what do you think you'll need to work on to create a successful music promo?

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Press links

Current ABCs (March 2017): Press Gazette.

ROUGHLY what % of NATIONAL DAILY circulation is accounted for by the Murdoch press?

Does ownership (ignored by GCP, PC, PCC and now IPSO) matter? Would it bother you if, say, Donald Trump or Marie Le Pen owned the biggest selling papers in your country, with no laws to prevent them from ensuring they represented their political views? Does it matter that Silvio Berlusconi attained a position of media dominance in Italy then political and legal dominance? Does it matter that Murdoch has successfully backed every election winning party for 40 years, and seems to get privileged access to the PM and government ministers in the UK? Maybe he should be allowed to make SkyNews into a political mouthpiece for right-wing ideology like Fox News in the US (not allowed under much stricter impartiality laws for TV enforced by OfCom - there is no equivalent for the press)? This opinion piece certainly thinks it does.

Do the web readership figures match the narrative of falling circulation? Does this suggest any more or less urgent need for regulation of OWNERSHIP, and/or to ensure PLURALISM?

What is the Editors' Code? Save a full copy for yourself. What does it have to say about children? What does it have to say about ownership? Advertising?
Do you think this is a sufficient basis for press regulation?

Have a look at rulings - any useful cases on children?

Now have a look for Guardian reports on IPSO and children - anything to add?


Monday, 15 May 2017

CIE Past exam papers

Your exam is similar to but not identical with the OCR (UK) syllabus it is based on, so there is value in also looking at those for further practice questions. You've only got 2015, 2016 and sample past papers so far from CIE as it is a new syllabus (the OCR started in 2008).

Below you can access these in two formats: first, the full past paper (sample, June 15, Nov 15, June 16) THEN screenshots of the questions only for Q1a+Q1b THEN for the Media regulation topic.

2015 JUNE: 1A Use of conventions       1B Representation
         NOV:  1A Research + Planning     1B Genre
2016 JUNE: 1A R+P/Creativity             1B Narrative
         NOV:  1A Digital tech/creativity   1B Audience
2017 JUNE: Use of conventions + Media Lang the most likely?

This is used to help teachers plan and prepare.

Monday, 1 May 2017

BBFC background and cases

Main blogging is on the MediaReg blog (BBFC tag), eg this overview post.
A new overview will be added.


Question: why is there is a separate 12A for cinema only (12 for DVD/Blu-Ray)? [BBFC guide]

Very student-friendly, and also intended to be highly parent friendly, this has details on every new rating, detailed explanations of the current ratings, and case studies on controversial rulings.
For now, visit the site and note:
  1. the names of each BBFC age rating
  2. the key differences between the 12/12A, 15 and 18 rating: focus on the issues of SEX, VIOLENCE, SWEARING

Friday, 10 February 2017

Crossword Challenge 1

The 1st of a series of crossword challenges - also a way, with a bit of thought, of adding some creativity to your evaluations ...

This combines some easy and some not so easy questions, and will increasingly require hunting through your exam pack for answers ...

See https://crosswordlabs.com/view/some-major-media-terms

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Eval Q1a prep

Have a look at Joe (2016 StG) + Amber's (IGS 2015) answers for this. 'Creative' is not part of the UK requirement.

For Qia you need to clearly evidence (summarise) your research into conventions: general, then genre specific.

We'll start with the general, using Goodwin.

Can you find examples to reflect Goodwin's arguments in Joe's NIN video?
Do you think you list 5 or more genre signifiers? (use your best judgement as to what might apply within industrial/gothic metal)
Note each specific term you use on the terminology log sheet.

Next: identify at least 5 (but try for 10) format conventions from your latest draft, and be prepared to talk us through the precise media language.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Genre task

2 lessons today to complete this
Including specific illustrations/relevant links

POST: Reflections on genre theory
[you may follow this up with more later - use a numbering system if so; feel free to include theorist surnames in title]

Outline a minimum of 5 theories linked to the concept of genre, and discuss in the context of your A2 production and existing texts you've researched.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

DEC 2016 mock exam

This will combine coursework and exam elements, and is important Evaluation preparation, but takes the form of a practice Section A (Q1a, Q1b). Q1a requires comparison of your AS and A2 productions, and drawing out specific examples of how these developed from AS to A2 work. Q1b requires exploring how a range of theories you've selected can be applied to your work, AS or A2 (it makes sense to use A2, so thats what I require). That could/should include some critique - not every media theory fits neatly with every media format - many narrative theories do not fit so well with music video for example. You are using your own work as EXamples (including PLANNED work at this stage: what you intend to do), but also (especially in Q1b) contextualising with EXamples from existing videos.


Assessment will apply the exam markscheme: EAA 30/50, EX 20/50 (unlike the AS exam, T is effectively within EAA).

In the exam you will have 30mins for Q1a and 30mins for Q1b. You will have the full 2 periods for this mock; those of you with extra time can have an additional supervised 25 mins. Your response will be as a blog post (including links, relevant illustrations etc), not handwritten.

If you wish to improve this afterwards, copy the post into a new post with a different title to save as draft; do not make changes to the mock exam post until you have received marks and feedback.

You can have 1 side of typed and printed A4 notes, or 2 sides of handwritten A4 notes, but these must be in bullet point form only, no long quotes or continuous paragraph-style prose.

You have two A2 exam Section A questions to answer: Q1a (CRUD) and Q1b (MANGeR) are 30mins each (but you have 50mins each today). In this mock you will answer one Q1a of your choice, plus one Q1b. The group of 3 must pick a different CRUD/MANGeR topic each, though you can of course work together on the preparation (this applies to non-groups: feel free to share examples, and discuss theories, and discuss Q1a with Yr12 partners).

At this stage you are answering on incomplete productions, but can use as EXamples points that you PLAN to include.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

2016-17 Half-term1 deadlines and to blog

I'll add to this.
Each half-term I'll post, and update, details of work.

Week 1 + 2 lesson time is for planning, filming (possibly editing) a practice video:

Friday 16th
The main summer work, including the conventions vodcast, needs to be on blogs 

Friday 30th 
industry vodcast and completed practice video

Tuesday 4th [UPDATE: pushed back to Weds]
Pitches for main coursework production. Film these and the Q+A, and blog your response, revised ideas, plans.

Friday 7th
You'll have lesson time to work through an initial production schedule - remember, the aim is to complete principal shooting (and website/digipak photography) during half-term.
You should record the 1st of a weekly series of podcasts (upload as audio or video if you want to add visuals). PODCAST1: The Group, The Idea. In this you introduce yourselves, outline what you're working on (brief detail on the idea), and your individual strengths, ending with 'and in the upcoming week we will...'. Each week hereafter record a new episode on Friday: 'in the past week we have...; in the coming week we will...'.

Weds 12th [in lesson]
REPRESENTATION: Miley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball
REPRESENTATION: Lady Gaga's Bad Romance
Reflect the Tuesday lesson work, especially theories, with a detailed blog post clearly including and APPLYING the theories covered, with appropriate multimedia/illustrations (image, gif; links for articles, screenshotted headlines from those etc).
On Weds, you have 1st period to analyse the Gaga video, applying the same theories (AND any additional theories you choose from your MANGeR pack or existing wider knowledge) and approach (ie, looking at the wider context [eg see post], not just the video text itself). You could do this as a PowerPoint/KeyNote [save as PowerPoint if using KeyNote on Mac], upload and embed (or just email for now), ready to present findings in 2nd period. Focus on the potential conflicting feminist v post-feminist positions.
Relevant theories/terms include:
male gaze (Mulvey),
feminist, post-feminist (binary opposition?)
normative; hetero-normative
hegemonic, counter-hegemonic (Gramsci)
postmodern(ism): simulacrum/simulacra (Baudrillard)
Richard Dyer's star system/theory; Chomsky's propaganda model: flak (1 of 5 filters)
Freudian psychoanalytic approach: phallic imagery
Stuart Hall's reception theory (preferred OR contested/negotiated OR oppositional reading)

Weds 5th  [UPDATE: email blog link/attachment BEFORE Friday 14th]
Treatment (see guide) + production schedule (post title: PRODUCTION SCHEDULE1: Pre-production tasks). You'll need to add multiple posts as you go: PRODUCTION SCHEDULE UPDATE1: Shoot 1 [ie, description of focus of changes/additions]. Keep updating and embedding a full schedule. Don't delete changed dates, just denote they changed with strikethrough.
strikethrough blogger tool
A great google calendar is a great way to organise this, and it can even be embedded on your blogs.
Each of you also need to email me a link (with typed artist name/track title) to a music video you will be called to present your analysis of at any point starting Tuesday 18th. Your analysis should include at least 3 applied theories from 1 or more MANGeR topics. I will go through some examples next week. My guide to blogging on examples, and this huge resource on examples I've blogged on, should be used to help with your own preparation.

Fri 21st
Present a sample scene (or more) for discussion. If you've not cast or got access to cast/costume etc, don't panic - but do film in the planned location with a stand-in. This is a crucial testing out of ideas.

The audience vodcast should bring together all research and analysis so far of who your target audiences are (primary, secondary), with clear evidence to justify the age range, gender (etc) you indicate: why are they appropriate? what evidence is there for this?* how does your propsoal reflect/target this? have you considered any audience theories? (there is considerable overlap with some genre and representation theory here).
*try to get some feedback from any social media, fan forums etc, but looking for media appearances is also smart: magazines, radio, TV stations will all generally publish an audience profile for advertisers. Keep looking out for media appearances until the coursework is finished
Have you undertaken any primary research (posting question/s on forums, but also surveys, short multimedia questionnaire, possibly with a group rather than individuals?). This 2015 (UK) A2 Evaluation answer on audience contains lots of great examples, such as this tool for gaining initial evidence to back their audience outline (which changed somewhat after this process):

Fri 28th
ARTIST RESEARCH (various - see this post)  
You will have the lessons this work to research and blog on these topics. Look ahead to the Evaluation questions when doing so, and you should see how you'll benefit both from marks on research + planning and again later...
If you have any further sample scenes ready during this week, request a screening and feedback.

You should aim for some or all shooting in half-term.
Coursework to be completed by Xmas, though more time to complete Evals.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Useful reading, viewing and links

DVD sets of autuer's work are useful
Using Amazon.co.uk links, here are some suggestions for books, DVDs, sites/blogs and playlists that will help with your A2 Media work.


  • MusiVidz is the main one, linking coursework and exam
  • MediaReg for the regulation exam topic we start after Xmas
  • ProdEval for tie-in material with the 1st half of the exam (though more is linked into MusiVidz posts)
  • Past student blogs - as the OCR (UK) is what CIE based their syllabus on, the Ilkley examples remain useful
  • Playlists - I've directly linked these in this post, or you can just browse the YouTube channel (and you can search for others beyond IGS/StG yourself).

Producer PalmPictures.com's website. A google.
Just 4 of the many video directors who have developed a distinctive individual style, leading some to label them as auteurs. The latter 3 have all directed successful feature films too - its a common route into the film business (remember that both Warp and WT emerged from music video producers deciding to take it a step on). You can find DVD sets with great extras compiling some of their work.

You will find I namecheck Corbijn especially often - there are also collections of U2 and particularly Depeche Mode music videos that he has (mostly!) directed. Depeche Mode and the Pixies' work is especially recommended if you're after inspiration to try something a little strange or different.

Recording an hour or so of music videos on any channel and making brief notes as you then watch multiple videos is another great way to quickly build up a wider range of specific examples - you may have nothing to note on some, and only 1 or 2 points on some, but the wider your range of references the better your own work will be - and the easier you will find both the Evaluation and first half of the exam.


Keith Negus' Popular Music in Theory: incredibly useful for both coursework and exam, this gives you a summary of media theories applied to music. Great for the Evaluation, but also blogging about audience; brilliant for both Q1 and Q1b of the exam. It is quite old, but still useful.

Not particularly academic but very useful for the history of music vids, + refs/analysis to/of many vids and directors you won't have heard of (but which could give you ideas), is Austerlitz' Money For Nothing: A History of the Music Video From The Beatles to The White Stripes. You can of course try a general music video (book) search, and you'll come up the likes of this. Austerlitz provides a history of the music video and how it developed over time, and mentions (details) lots of examples you won't have come across - but which might help for ideas. Such examples may also end up being used in your exam too.

Monday, 2 May 2016


I will be analyzing my A2 music promotion package, focusing on the music video for Atomic Kitten's "It's OK". A 3-piece UK girlband big around 2000, the track has a failed romance as the lyrical theme and this is reflected in a video combining two of Firth's three types of music video content: narrative (black and white footage of a young couple who are seen to fall out) and performance (using studio and forest locations and multiple costume changes). My aim was to reposition or re-brand the band for a youth audience, their original tween and teen core audience now being 20/30-somethings, so, following the basic premise of the uses and gratifications theory, I cast late-teens as my cast and performers, enabling teens to identify with and tweens to aspire to be like the cast. As Simon Reynolds argues in 'Retromania', nostalgia plays a large part in music appeal, so by keping the Atomic Kittens as youthful I hoped to appeal through nostalgia to the original fanbase too.

To paraphrase Richard Dyer, well known for his theory on star appeal, stereotypes are a way of reinforcing differences and representing these differences as natural. They can be difficult to avoid - as Lippmann argued, they are useful shorthand. For a mainstream text like mine this is useful, and clear gender stereotypes are present. Both the girlband and girlfriend character have long hair, a stereotypical signifier of femininity, with the boyfriend forming a standard binary opposition (Levi-Strauss) with his short hair. All four females are quite heavily made up with thick glossy lipstick, eyeliner and more. All five, girlband and couple, wear skin-tight jeans at some point, one of several aspects of mise-en-scene through their costume that would identify them as part of Maffessoli described as the 'urban tribe', an international youth that share common characteristics and reflect the increasingly globalised culture we live in. Specific British signifiers were avoided to help enhance international appeal.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Representation task

Using the top PowerPoint in this post, write up at least 5 detailed paragraphs discussing how some of the theories outlined (or any others from your exam pack) can be applied to your work.
To do so successfully you need to use precise media language to denote both your own and existing videos for context.

Start with notes/lists before trying to write paragraphs:

  • you need to start by stating which course/brief you will be commenting on (A2 music video) and BRIEFLY BUT CLEARLY describing this for the examiner
  • define the concept in a way that you can remember and understand (ask for help where needed)
  • list any details from your text that might help discuss this 
  • list any details from existing texts that might help discuss 
  • decide which to focus on and denote these in sufficient detail to 'paint a picture' for an examiner who has not seen the texts
  • keep doing this before writing up paragraphs
  • review your notes: can you see ways to link possible paragraphs? if so, this will suggest a structure for your essay
  • as you continue to prep the exam, it will help you if you look for links between the 5 'MANGeR' topics: you can revise fewer theories/examples if you look for links between these 5 areas and theories that are useful for 2 or more
  • NOW start writing it up

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

UK national press: initial research

You will be researching 4 factors:

  • what is the difference between tabloid, mid-market & broadsheet formats?
  • who owns the papers?
  • what is their ideological bias?
  • what is the market share of the owners and right-/left-wing views?

what is the difference between tabloid, mid-market & broadsheet formats?You can use an online search, but compare the types of stories, size of pictures, length and complexity of writing to provide evidence (Use of Examples)
who owns the papers?Name the companies (and individuals where relevant) who own them; if you can add brief detail of anything else they own Link1, Link2.
what is their ideological bias?You can use an online search/source, but use the headlines from at least 2 stories in each paper to provide evidence (Use of Examples)
what is the market share of the owners and right-/left-wing views?Use the Wiki on circulation for up-to-date figures, but use this for a quick overview.