TOTAL SECTION A (Q1A + Q1B) MARKS: 50 (ie double mark /25; for rough grade x4)

OVERALL A2 GRADE BOUNDARIES: A = 80%+, B = 70-79, C = 60-69, D = 50-59, E = 40-49, U = 0-39

LEVEL 1 = U LEVEL 2 = E/D LEVEL 3 = C/B LEVEL 4 = A/A*

0-19 20-29 30-39 40-50

DCRUP: Digital technology; Creativity; R+P; Use of conventions from existing media texts; Post-Production

Use these examples to gain a better understanding of what type of points you should be using, how to structure your response, the range of points to raise, etc.

NB: the question wording often doesn’t use the specific DCRUP terms; you need to think through which areas you are being asked to comment on. I’ve highlighted for each Q which these are.


Past Q1a exam essays + examiner marks/feedback

Jan 2010 (DCRUP) U/D/E examples
Examples of grade U-D essays follow below An answer to this should focus on the mechanics/the process behind creation – ie, the pre-production and production phases – not just blogging. Note that these answers were from a January exam paper, when some candidates clearly hadn’t finished their coursework Exam board commentary: Stronger answers to 1a managed to select a range of relevant examples of creative decision making informed by research and planning. Weaker answers offered a basic narrative of the process. It is best practice to prepare examples that demonstrate more or less successful decisions as this gives scope for higher levels of critical reflection. Centres are advised to prepare candidates to reflect on processes, logistics and the mechanics of production – research and planning cannot be reduced entirely to looking at real media texts or discussing audience needs. Better answers offered a broader range of pre-production activities and decisions arising with a clear sense of how the more ‘glamorous’ idea of creativity is often a product of serious ‘nuts and bolts’ operational care in the process.

Describe how you developed research and planning skills for media production and evaluate how these skills contributed to creative decision making. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how these skills developed over time.

Jan 2010 (DCRUP): L1 (U) 8/25 (AS mag, A2 teaser)
Whilst creating a music magazine I used research and planning to finalise my ideas. I looked into my genre which was alternative rock. I researched what was typical from stereotypes and what was associated with their image. I researched by browsing the internet and looking at forums. Here I saw images of the group associated with this genre and applied it to my music magazine. I used images similar in style to those that I have seen. I also created questionnaires for people regarding my music magazine so they could express their thoughts on what they would like in the magazine. By doing all of this I went straight to my target audience and found exactly what they wanted so I knew the magazine would be accurate and successful. I also researched into similar magazines on the same market as my own. I analysed front covers and looked for typical conventions I found the conventions and then put this into my magazine. Finally for this project I researched other artists and bands from my chosen genre. This meant I could see first hand how to market my magazine sucessfully and appropriately with other magazines. Another project, created was a film poster. For this I researched other posters typical of the type of poster which was a teaser poster. I then applied the conventions I had seen from that. many different designs which I eliminated self selectedly until I got my final font text. These skills developed overtime as before in my previous project I chose one font and used this on the magazine but with this it meant I had more than draft so could see different copies and styles. This meant by choosing the one I wanted I had to achieve thoroughly a skill I didn‟t not do before.

EAA 3, EG 4, TERM 1 = 12/25 = L1 (U grade) “only talks about outcomes of one project, some narrow discussion, basic use of terminology.”


Past Q1a exam essays + examiner marks/feedback

Jan 2010 (DCRUP): L1 (U) 8/25 (AS mag, A2 teaser)
I developed my research and planning for media production by looking at and researching into music magazines e.g. kerrang, NME and Q magazine; I looked at the different genres and styles which magazines have to make their magazine unique to others that may be of the same genre, as my genre was rock/metal it was appropriate that I looked into magazines such as kerrang, big cheese and metal hammer but I also looked at NME and Q magazine because they cover rock and indie style music which I first considered as an option but in the end choosing the genre of rock & metal because I knew more about that genre and I subscribe to kerrang so it made sense also it would be easier for me to produce. I used the program „microsoft word‟ to produce my music magazine which isn‟t the best program to choose but it was simple, easy and did everything I wanted it to e.g. add a colour scheme, insert text and images and add borders; I learnt how to give images and more eye catching look by adding crazy borders and colours that stood out on a black background however if I could go back and re-produce my music magazine I would use the program „publisher‟ because you do alot more on it than you can on „microsoft word‟. While looking at different magazines I picked up many skills such as spotting frequently used pictures and text font and styles also how different genre music magazines have different colour schemes e.g. a rock magazine will use colours like black, blood red, navy blue where as a pop music magazine would use colours like baby blue, lime green and orange; when looking at a range of music magazines I found that naming your magazine is very important based on the genre and style as if I called a metal music magazine „pop the magic dragon‟ the target audience I was trying to reach wouldn‟t take a second glance at it or it sounds like a pop or kids magazine therefore I called my magazine „CORRUPTION‟ which sounds like a rock/metal music magazine so now my audience would give it a second glance and hopefully buy it. The typical conventions you find on any magazine are things like the barcode, date of issue, issue number, the price of the magazine, familiar fonts and colour schemes and all of these are on my magazine, I picked up on this pattern after looking at and researching magazines also the internet helped show me conventions on different genres of magazines e.g. kerrang magazine used the same big, bold title so it was familiar to their audience also the barcode, date of issue, price and issue number where always in the same place and finally the colour was generally always the same as it worked well with what they where trying to sell. If I want to make another music magazine or any type of magazine I am confident that I know enough about the typical conventions to produce a magazine that would fit nicely into the market in which I am trying to sell it.

EAA 2, EG 2, TERM 2 = 6/25 = L1 (U grade)

Jan 2010 (DCRUP): L2 (E) 12/25 (AS mag, A2?)
For my Foundation Portfolio coursework, I originally found research and planning skills difficult as I unaware as to how much I required these skills. Intially, I felt for my coursework in Foundation Portfolio which was producing a Music Magazine that I would be better off producing the product straight away. However, after setting about planning to do this, I realised that I struggled meeting the specifications of the coursework and that my initial product was not of the quality that I and my Media Studies tutor hoped it would be. Which is why, he told me to redo my product but now paying more attention to the planing and research stage of the production. Doing this enabled me to, too see a number of factors in regards to my production that I had not seen before. For instance, I was enlightened to find my production would be more effective with the use of new media technology such as the internet, and a website called which enables users to set up a blog online. I used this, to set up my own blog regarding my production. This would be helpful, in outlining my plans and progress with my production and the fact that I‟m sharing this with the rest of the


Past Q1a exam essays + examiner marks/feedback

world enables me to receive feedback from other users which can be implemented on to improve the quality of my product as well as building my creativity. This can be attributed to David Gauntlett‟s theory that the introduction of new interactive media (such as online blogs) in the form of web 2.0 can help media users and consumers become more creative. This in turn, helped my creative decision making as I was able to make more informed creative decisions based on the feedback I received from other users such as mu Media Studies who felt that my front cover lacked enough of the conventional features which you might see on a music magazine such as the straplines and a barcode. Moreover both my productions gave me the understanding that overall that as a publication software, Adobe Photoshop was much better than Microsoft Publisher. This was a creative decision. I had made after using both pieces of software for both my productions. Prior to my productions, I had only previously used Microsoft Published, but after using Adobe Photoshop and learning about the features and about how to use the product effectively, I was able to add functions such as extensive image manipulation and the use of the transform tools and implement these skills to take and more creative decisions which I otherwise would not have been able to had I not used this program instead of Publisher, or had not developed the skills or understanding of Photoshop to the extent where I could implement when making creative decisions about my product. For instance, my original image on my front cover for my Foundation Portfolio, had a window frame to the side of the model‟s head but I was able to through Photoshop remove this through the use of the colouring tools.

EAA 5, EG 5, TERM 2 = 12/25 = L2 (E grade) “a narrow range of examples are described and digital technology is privileged over creative outcomes. Research and planning is the broader sense is discussed in a limited manner.”

Jan 2010 (DCRUP): L2 (E) 12/25 (AS mag, A2 teaser)
Throughout my foundation and advanced portfolio I have developed my skills of research and planning. Before starting AS Media Studies I had only done Basic research. For my foundation portfolio I chose to do DTP. This was to create a music magazine. I did textual analysis of similar music magazines and music magazines with different genres to compare typical conventions. These included magazines such as: Empire (Film), Kerrang (Rock), GQ (Mens) etc. I then evaluated my work to conclude the typical conventions used to attract the reader. These included themes and conventions such as: Main Photograph, Headline, pull Quotes, pugs etc. I used these to apply in my own production for my music magazine. I also carried out Qualitative and quantitative research. This helped me find my Genre to fit my aimed target audience of teenagers. I carried out Questionnaires with open, specific questions to my aimed audience. These included Questions such as favourite hobby, What you get up to at weekend‟s etc. I created pie charts for the results of some of my questions of multiple choice. I could not carry this out for my open questions as there may be lots of answers. I carried out 20 questionnaires to a number of different people. The answers made me choose my Genre (RnB) because of the popularity and gave me a wider understanding of the interests to include in my double page spread. I then carried out some research & consumed Media texts around the Genre of RnB & their artists. I took Chris Brown and watched an Interview with him for a music channel. I picked out some of the language and slang they used to fit into my text for my double page spread and Quotes for my Chosen Artist. In my foundation practical, all of these techniques and skills of Research and planning effected my creative decision making. I needed to create a professional magazine that would be able to fit into the market. This is why I chose RnB because I discovered there aren‟t hardly any RnB magazines, and the ones that are mostly sold in the US! There was definitely a niche in the market for my magazine.


Past Q1a exam essays + examiner marks/feedback

In my advanced portfolio I am In the middle of carrying out my research and planning. This is for creating a neo-noir film teaser trailer. I have carried out textual analysis of different film Websites as I am going to create my own. I have textually analiyesed different noir and neo-noir films to compare their conventions. However, I am going to go deeper into analysing nero-noir films & trailers aimed at my target audience. This Is because I found myself in my foundation portfolio being to general around genres and types of magazine. This made me carry over conventions and styles different to my genre. I am also carrying out 50 questionairres rather than 20 because it is simply not enough and some of the results could be biased. I am also going to give each questionnaire to my specific target audience. My evaluated are: Brick, Double indemnity and Blade runner to compare contemporary neo noir and classic. These will help and create my typical conventions and themes to my trailer.

EAA 5, EG 5, TERM 2 = 12/25 = L2 (E grade) “only talks about outcomes of one project, some narrow discussion, basic use of terminology.”

Jan 2010 (DCRUP): L2 (D) 13/25 (AS ?, A2 ?)
When I first started my AS project I had little to no skills when it came to research and planning skills, so these for me were built up over time. In my AS we were set an activity ancillary tasks, these were to create a school magazine and record a short scene of a film, my group decided to undertake both these tasks, the reason being we believed that one would have a better outcome that the other would highlight our skills. This was the first stage in our planning. Compared to our A2 this is a very different approach, in A2 we sat down and discussed our strong points and came to a decision based on our skills, this is a much better way to do things as it saved us time so would allow us to focus more on the task at hand, In out AS we used powerpoint in order to write ideas and keep track of different parts of our project it was like a portfolio that we used for research and we could go back to it when we wanted to use information or add to it. Powerpoint is a much better method than trying to keep track of everything on paper as it keeps it much neater and is more easily acceptable. In our A2 we moved away from powerpoint and started putting all of our research in a blog instead. The blog was a major benefit. The reason the blog was so useful was because it was interactive and we could also access it from home. Being able to access it from home was very useful, it meat we could add to our project whenever we wanted and wherever we wanted, not having to use a specific computer etc. It made working on the project a lot easier. The interactivity side was also very good, it meant people could leave comments and/or feedback on our blogs and we could use this constructively. So using the blog for research and planning was definitely the better thing to do. The main resource we used for researching was the internet. Initially in our AS we used the internet for browsing purposes only, collecting images and information that we could use constructively for research. Once we got to A2 we were more aware of other values of the internet, again the interactivity side of things. We began using sites like youtube because they would let us view videos, leave content and get feedback. This was a much more focused response rather that just looking for information. So this helped this helped with research a lot more. In terms of creative decision making sitting and discussing what our plans were was defiantly a better idea than just trial and error like we tried the first time. It gave us more time to work on what we knew was best. Using the blog instead of Powerpoint was a good decision as It allowed freedom of work and the interactivity was much better. Also deciding to use interactive sites such as youtube was a good idea as it allowed us more focused feedback which is better than just browsing for things.

EAA 6, EG 5, TERM 2 = 13/25 = L2 (D grade) “convincing but restricted to discussion around using a blog and little else – narrow range.”


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June 2010 (DCRUP): B-A* examples
Note how the June 2010 Q doesn’t use the precise terms ‘use of conventions’ or ‘research & planning’

1a) Describe how you used your research into real media texts for your production work, and describe how you developed your ability to use this research over time.
Q1a MARKSCHEME (x/25): Level 3 (= C/B) Explanation/analysis/argument (6-7 marks) There is some sense of analysis and progress is described with clarity. Use of examples (6-7 marks) Candidates offer a reasonable range of examples from research into real media texts in relation to the process and outcomes of production. Use of terminology (3 marks) The answer makes proficient use of media terminology throughout, with conceptual language and production terms handled very well. Relatively straightforward ideas have been expressed with some clarity and fluency. Arguments are generally relevant, though may stray from the point of the question. There will be some errors of spelling, punctuation and grammar but these are unlikely to be intrusive or obscure meaning. Level 4 (= A/A*) Explanation/analysis/argument (8-10 marks) There is a clear range of articulate reflections on the relationship between research into real media texts and the candidate’s own productions. There is a fluent account of progress. Use of examples (8-10 marks) Candidates offer a broad range of specific, relevant and clear examples for research into real media texts in relation to the process and production outcomes. Use of terminology (4-5 marks) The use of media terminology and conceptual language is excellent. Complex issues have been expressed clearly and fluently using a style of writing appropriate to the complex subject matter. Sentences and paragraphs, consistently relevant, have been well structured, using appropriate technical terminology. There may be few, if any, errors of spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Exam board comments: Whilst Candidates were typically able to discuss research in general terms, there was a distinction between those that could focus in on the precise ways in which their work was influenced by or responded to specific media texts/products and those that dealt with research and planning in a less applied and relevant manner (to the question set). Candidates in the latter category were restricted to levels 1 or 2 for use of examples. Terminology was utilised with variable conviction also – the stronger answers used appropriate theoretical or technical language to explain how creative decisions were informed by research into real media at the micro level. Candidates are advised against the „scattergun‟ approach – merely listing every instance of research and planning. They are also urged to be clear about the outcomes of research – reporting that they used YouTube to watch trailers, for example, is not sufficient for credit at A2. The words „informed by‟ in the question were important. Evaluation/critical reflection is required here and the question demands explanation. Many Candidates provided description only – Centres should share the wording of the mark scheme as well as this report with Candidates ahead of the next series.


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Equally, progression is an important part of this section and this was another neglected element. The higher level answers were able to synthesise all of these aspects – specific examples with emphasis on the outcome of the research in relation to creative decisions; critical reflection on the process of the research; and an awareness of progress made from AS to A2 and with reference to other media production work where relevant – the distance travelled. There was a little overlap with 1(b) due to genre conventions being a feature of research but the stronger Candidates were able to provide a broader answer here. They dealt with genre conventions along with a number of other aspects of real media texts, including narrative, media language and more technical and institutional/professional areas of media production related to several of their own productions and then go on to „zoom in‟ on theories of genre for the next question with a more sustained discussion relating to just one production. Finally, it is important that Candidates can be specific and informed about real media conventions but there are a range of ways of relating their own work to real media – these might be more institutional. For example the institutional information in magazine contents pages or the title sequence of a film – these are equally conventional to the more genre ingredients examples that proliferated in answers. Or they might be more technical – observing industry practice in a particular medium.

JUNE 2010 high L3 (DCRUP): AS mag A2 teaser
At AS (Foundation Portfolio) I created the opening two minutes of a new feature film. I chose the genre of Social Realism and the narrative of the film was about a teenage girl (roughly 15) who ended up pregnant but who then after having her baby got in with the wrong crowd of people who then lead her astray, causing all sorts of problems for the young girl, her family and her baby. The main issue we wanted to raise and explore through the world of media was teen pregnancy and the problems/issues that come with it. The main character in this film was a young girl (15 years of age) and her name was Linda, there was also another main character who was Linda‟s best friend, another female character called Courtney; These characters were the binary opposition of each other. At the A2 (Advanced Portfolio) I created a teaser trailer for a new feature film, soon to be released. I changed the genre of this production from AS work to the sub genre of slasher from the genre of Horror. I did this because I wanted and was capable of a whole different challenge. The Teaser Trailer was about a young couple (aged between 17 and 18) who started off their relationship well and full of love, until the arguments began they end up splitting up while the young female is moving on with her life, tutoring a guy from her class, her best friends start to disappear (and are murdered). The young girl thinks its her ex-boyfriend, killing her friends out of spite but the twist actually is that it‟s the guy who she it tutoring who has a huge obsession with the girl. However the trailer doesn‟t show this and it portrays her ex-boyfriend as the killer. There are a few main protagonists/antangonists throughout this production. To start with there is „Carie‟ the main protagonist (young girl) and „Ben‟ the main protagonist but the audience think he is the antagonist when really „Paul‟ is the main antagonist (the killer). Lastly there is „Carie‟s‟ best friend „Hannah‟ who ends up getting killed but she is a binary opposite to „Carie‟. I carried out a lot of research into real media texts, using digital technology such as websites (eg.; this website was very useful when carrying out research into real media texts as I was able to research texts that would help me to develop my creativity from my own productions: I used this website for research for both my AS and A2 productions and it was very helpful. This researched had a big impact into my own production work because I was able to find out what the key codes and conventions were from real media texts and artificially inject them into my own productions.
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A real media text I researched a lot in my AS production was „wish you were here‟ starring Emily Lloyd and set in the seaside town of Brighton. This film had the same genre as my AS piece (social realism) and it was tackling the same issues (teen pregnancy). From this research we decided to give our main protagonist the same name as the main protagonist in „Wish You Were Here‟ which was „Linda‟ so the name our main protagonist was informed by research into real media texts as we wanted to intertextually link our production in with „Wish You Were Here‟ which inspired me greatly. I used research methods such as the internet for „Wish You Were Here‟ ( At A2 we worked on the genre of Horror (the sub genre of slasher) as this genre was completely different to our AS genre we had to do all our research from scratch. One way in which my production has been informed by research into real media texts is taken from the film „Psycho‟, we were really inspired by „Psycho‟s‟ famous shower seen, which we researched through „YouTube‟ and watched many different clips of. We wanted to intertexually link this in with our production so we challenged this convention and added a bath killing scene into our montage of killings. This basically was a close-up-shot of a girl in a bath with a high angle a medium shot of the mirror showing a dark figure which could trigger a narrative enigma next to another shot of a shadow of a knife coming down. This is how proved that a killing was taking place without showing any nudity or blood. Research into real media texts was a lot easier as we had more resources and our knowledge of where to find different resources was greater we were able to have acess to a wide range of dvds in the library that were linked into our genre that were not there when we were completing our AS productions. At A2 we were also able to acess a wide range of books in the library which weer linked in with our genre which we didn‟t have at AS. So at AS we were very limited with what resources we could actuall y use and I do feel that if I had had the books, dvds etc that I had at A2, that my production at AS would have benefited. It was harder to research for my AS task because we were looking at the openings of films which were a lot harder to find on the internet but for A2 we were looking at teaser trailers anf the web (including and „youTube‟) are absolutely full of trailers. EAA 8, EG 7, T 3 (Total: 18/25) High L3 = B

JUNE 2010 L4 (DCRUP): AS film A2 MVid (Vixens)
I feel that my production skills from foundation to Advanced have greatly improved. My thriller opening sequence was about two men who prey on suicidal teenage girls on the internet, titled “Caught in the Web.” The men rape and murder their victims but frame it as a suicide, using the suicide support website (where they preyed on them) as evidence of this suicide. It is a dark enigmatic and gripping film which captivates the audience (according to my feedback). My music video (Advanced Portfolio) is to the song “Voodoo Child” originally by Rogue Traders, but our girlband uses the name The Vixens. We used 4 girls and our video transports the audience to the mind of the main girl, where her alter-egos (dressed as the deadly sins) corrupt her. It is a racy funky video that creates a strong band image. My research for both projects included researching genre conventions (horror/thriller opening sequences such as “Se7ev”, and electropop-rock/dance/glam music videos such as Lady Gaga and Katy Perry) and was expanded to include components that didn‟t specifically relate to genre. For my thriller I researched films where they have internet conversations (as in our opening sequence, the girl is talking to who she thinks is an agony aunt over an internet forum) which led me to films including “The Holiday” and “Something‟s Gotta Give”, showing me how to successfully change from filming the person typing the words on the screen and then reading their message aloud. I developed this skill in my music video research by looking at other media texts, not just other music videos. I started with trying to be inspired by original music video concepts such as Radiohead‟s video for “Just” in which a man lies down in the street
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and the audience can‟t hear what he‟s saying to explain himself to passers by. This inspired me to create ambiguity in my video which differs from standard pop videos where a lot of the visuals illustrate the lyrics. I expanded my research to fashion magazines and photographs of different eras, since a major concept in this video was the power of women as confident, independent, sexual beings. Our costume was very important in constructing meaning and without in-depth research into the 7 deadly sins the audience would not have grasped why we had girls dressed in bold outfits to symbolise the sins; red, velvet leotard and back combed hair for “wrath”, a Marie Antoiinette inspred look of a pale blue and pink corset, white face make-up, an [cannot read text] with one long curled piece of hair, and a chunk of chocolate cake that signified “Greed”, a black corset with leather leggings to signify “Lust”, and a green dress, heavy green eye make up and glittery diamond jewellery connoting “Envy”. I think that without doing research into character types, character costume, and genre conventions for my thriller I wouldn‟t have known what to look for when researching for my music video because they can be so abstract and there aren‟t many constraints. I also learned to be open minded. Since I was one of the performers in our music video, it pushed me to think more practically – our ideas had to be creative yet do-able on our small budget and time constraints. After watching several videos on YouTube of thriller opening sequences and music videos I realised that it is good to have layered meaning a production because it makes it more interesting for the audience as it challenges them to come up with their own interpretations and gives the production playability. In the Thriller project, after researching storylines and narrative themes, my group and I had a strong idea of what our film was about. Despite the fact we created enigma, we still wanted the audience to understand our dominant reading, however in my music video, I realised that it is better to- people to have different interpretations as I found that the most popular current music videos are those that are quirky, different and weird, like Lady GaGa. In conclusion my foundation portfolio greatly aided my advanced portfolio because my skills were refined and I have produced an ever better end product. EAA 8, EG 8, T 4 TOTAL: 20/25, L4

JUNE 2010 L4 (DCRUP): AS mag A2 teaser trailer
1a) Describe how you used your research into real media texts for your production work, and describe how you developed your ability to use this research over time.
Over the two year media course we had to produce both a foundation portfolio of a school magazine and music magazine as well as an advance portfolio of a horror teaser trailer, film magazine – developing foundation skills further and a poster to advertise our trailer. In the first year we researched existing music magazines and analysed each one so that we could gain knowledge of particular layouts, fonts and key elements that need to be contained in our production to make it successful. Research and planning allowed us to recognise „mastheads‟ on magazines as being the most important and therefore the need to focus on a font more detailed to keep continuity with the contents page and double page spread which we also had to create. Personally I researched „Rock‟ magazines such as Kerrang, NME and others because I had chosen after carrying out a questionnaire to use Rock music as my theme. The real life media texts allowed me to visualise my favourite parts from each magazine – wripped sticker graphics and broken font on my own work which I then attempted to recreate within Photoshop CS4. In year one we were limited to what we could research because magazines were the only theme however, in the second year I was able to develop my ability to research real life media texts much further because we had a range of products we needed to create all under the „horror‟ genre this time. I was able to research teaser trailers analysing my favourite and least favourite parts allowing me to plan with a mood board which I produced from a range of stills from previous horror films my ideas for my own trailer which helped me to develop my production of my products in relation to real life media texts and
9 Past Q1a exam essays + examiner marks/feedback

techniques such as restricted narration and handheld camera found in the „Blair Witch Project‟ trailer which inspired my trailer „Laquem‟ which is also set in the woods. Research into film documentaries like the „American Nightmare‟ inspired me to create a product which reinforced fear and went against usual horror conventions to make it more interesting. Over the second year research became so important to achieving a product which was realistic and is now like my own distributed on on youtube as a real life media text of its own. Real life media texts like advertising film posters were able to help me develop my Photoshop skills further because I was able to push myself with the „colour burn‟ filters and want to create the scary atmosphere of my trailer from just an image and text which I found really fun. Research into film magazines allowed me to develop my work from AS level so much further because I was able to produce a high standard piece of work in two weeks this year when the magazines took over 3 months last year which shows how much my skills have improves just by being able to constantly refer back to real life media texts for inspiration and even colour schemes that work well together such as black and red which in the first year I just found experimenting with. Research into horror trailers allowed me to recognise different styles of film and how we like Alfred Hitchcock could be an auteur creating new angles and ideas using generic conventions as well as unconventional representations that I have picked upon when watching films and analysing certain techniques which I have then attempted to do in Final Cut Pro when editing certain shots together to create collision cutting and changes in pace which my trailer does extremely well. I was inspired initially by the hand held camera in the trailer REC and the fact I want as an auteur to change the stereotyped representations to be able use a female psycho killer. Research also allowed me to produce text and intertitles that shook in order to capture my audience but narrating the story slightly so the shots when together made sense. Research into types of camera movements needed were really helpful and allowed me to completely change the pace with tracking shots and handheld camera which I noticed was used in Silent Hill and American Werewolf in London which I analysed and placed on my blog for reference as some pieces of footage I wanted to recreate including the final girl representations. EAA 8, EG 8, T 4 (20/25 = L4, low A)

June 2011 (DCRUP): B-A* examples
Note how the June 2011 Q doesn’t use the precise terms ‘research & planning’ or ‘creativity’

1a) Explain how far your understanding of the conventions of existing media influenced the way you created your own media products. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how this understanding developed over time.
Exam board comments: Responses to this question tended to be grouped into three categories. Level 4 answers evaluated the relationship between symbolic conventions and candidates‟ own outcomes across the whole of their course, and commented explicitly on progress over time. Mid-range answers generally failed to describe progress or focussed mainly on one production or confused media conventions with production techniques (these can be the same but higher-scoring answers analysed conventional symbolic meaningmaking) and weaker answers merely provided a narrative of the production process or (in a significant number of cases) attempted to provide a prepared answer to another one of the questions that the specification covers, failing to adapt to the question set for this session.
10 Past Q1a exam essays + examiner marks/feedback

JUNE 2011 high L3 Q1A (DCRUP): AS mag, A2 teaser
Identifying codes and conventions of media texts is essential when creating a successful text of the same genre. In my AS coursework I created a school magazine cover and contents page and a music magazine cover, contents and double page. I then used these developed skills in identifying conventions of texts and creating my own work in my Advanced Portfolio to create a horror film poster, magazine cover and horror film trailer. Textual analysis was essential for identifying convention for my foundation portfolio. I found a range of examples of existing school magazines cover and contents and compared and contrasted them. Conventions that I identified were a school environment in front cover photographs, many bright colours but a consistent house style, the use of a school logo and happy facial expressions on the student model. The contents pages were very simplistically formatted with basic text and contents lists and perhaps one or two smaller images. I used these conventions when creating my school magazine; I took a mid shot photograph which was required of a happy student in school uniform (typical and identifiable iconography). I then used Photoshop computer editing software to create the other parts of the contents and cover. I used a bold font in bright colour (red) for my masthead. I used my logo from Southfields which is blue, red and black as the main colours for my housestyle and I think this made it look more effective and professional rather than using many colours. I incorporated my school logo on the cover as it makes the „school‟ genre recognisable and this was a generic convention that I identified. I also used small, basic font to create text of a „date of issue‟, which I think was effective as it wouldn‟t draw attention from more important aspects of the cover. I also used this simple font to create simple text on top of my image which I used as cover lines and plugs, such as „summer prom photos inside‟ which I believe would make a student reader want to read the magazine. The contents was created using simple headlines, black colour boxes containing page numbers and article information and three smaller, framed images of a library, school food, and girls at a prom. All of these aspects were conventional. Although I stuck to the conventions in this piece I created did not look as professional and realistic as I had hoped. For example, I used a digital camera with 8 mega pixels which did not produce a good quality image compared to real life media products. I also think that the fonts were very simplistic and the layout was not creative. I still created a genuine conventional school magazine but perhaps my skills were limited at the start of my course. Progressing into my Advanced Portfolio there was more work to be completed to a high degree of professionalism. One if my preliminary tasks was to create a magazine cover for a film magazine which was very similar to my AS coursework. I noticed that was able to more thoroughly identify conventions and also apply them to my own text much quicker. I created a print cover in one hour whereas my AS coursework took much longer. This is because my skills with technology and my knowledge of the media has greatly improved. I found examples of many film posters to complete textual analysis on and created a moodboard of conventions. I also asked a target audience for their preferences in this area which I think is essential in order to successfully attract your consumers. Conventions that I identified were bold, graphic fonts for both mastheads and straplines (such as a glowing effect) very glamorous photography with fashionable costume, hair, make up and body attitude, good quality photography, many smaller framed photographs and barcode and edition information. The language created focus on the on the film industry. Using these conventions I created my front cover. My photography was taken on SLR camera in order to make it look better quality, which was successful. I used a long shot of my main character looking glamorous and beautiful but scared. This fits the convention of the front cover using the theme of the main featured film. To follow this I created the masthead with a glowing font and superimposed it onto the character so that her head appeared to be placed on top of the text using cutting, cropping, copying tools and different layers. This made my cover seem professional I think. The glowing font was a deep shade of red to connote blood and danger and fit in with my horror genre. I used more impressive graphic fonts, such as „cracked‟ fonts to stick to my horror genre theme. My barcode and date of edition were essential touches
11 Past Q1a exam essays + examiner marks/feedback

which I created through scanning in an existing magazine and copying it into my text. This is extremely conventional as all real media magazines include a barcode for the sales side of the industry. Overall, over my 2 year coursework I became more confident in identifying generic conventions of a product. My technology skills and knowledge of the media both developed and allowed me to create a more realistic and professional piece in my Advanced Portfolio. This is a high level 3 response. There is a real sense of progression and a chosen theme – genre conventions is sustained in detail, along with a wide range of examples of creative techniques that led to conventional outcomes. The answer doesn’t quite meet the criteria for level 4 because conventions are sometimes dealt with in a reductive way – eg a barcode, as opposed to being opened up to an analysis of their more symbolic qualities.

JUNE 2011 L4 Q1A (DCRUP): AS film, A2 M.Vid
By researching the conventions of existing media I was able to understand how real media texts target specific audiences and stick to genre, narrative and other conventions. For the Foundation Portfolio I created a thriller opening sequence titled „Dark Summer‟ which was aimed at a young audience and followed the plot of a babysitter who discovers that the child she is looking after has disappeared. At the Advanced Portfolio stage I created a music video for debit artist „Lexi Grace‟ to her new song „Meddle‟. The first project required me to focus on specific conventions which I did through research and development and the use of digital technology. Together with my group we watched films like Scream (1996, Craven) which follows a similar storyline. I noticed that thrillers tend to use dark lighting to connote secrecy or colours such as red to represent danger and blood. We used these conventions to keep to the thriller genre. Todorov noticed a narrative convention of starting with equilibrium, then disruption and finally a new equilibrium. This is clear in films like Prom Night (2008) and again Scream. However, the music video was less about conforming to rigid conventions and more focussed on less serious ones like Mulvey‟s theory of „locking‟ and the „male gaze‟. By having Lexi look at the camera and close-ups of her lips and legs, for example, it conformed to the notion of looking as she was treated voyeuristically. The advanced portfolio had less rigid conventions, as the music video was to establish an image and I used conventions subtly, to construct a brand rather than a genre. In creating the music video, my group had access to a HD digital camera, so we were able to shoot higher quality footage. Since the video is non-linear, the focus was less on continuity (as opposed to the thriller) and we were able to use much more footage as less was wasted. Furthermore, I created an album cover and website so I used iWix to create Lexi‟s homepage. Inspired by sites like Pixie Lott‟s, I used pages that audiences could recognise such as „live dates‟ and „merchandise‟. Looking at other existing media I was able to create a professional looking site that audiences could use. Also, by researching artists in general such as Eliza Doolittle, I could see how she sold her image to a similar target audience. The thriller, however, was focussed more on conventions of the thriller genre and continuity so I didn‟t research other areas as much. By looking online at other artists, CD covers, websites and videos, I was able to get a more in-depth look at this aspect of media. The main theme of „Meddle‟ was the reverse technique. Lyrics allow for different interpretations, such as Goodwin‟s theory of amplification and illustration, so my group decide to interpret the son g as meddling with the audience and Lexi‟s past experiences. Therefore, by having reverse footage, she was meddling literally. By using Adobe Premier Pro, I was able to reverse footage, change speeds, edit contrasts and split screens. I didn‟t do most of this in the foundation portfolio since the aim was to adhere continuity but I did have knowledge of the software. I learnt new techniques at the advanced stage and they added to the quirky image of Lexi. I watched videos like The Pharcyde‟s „Drop‟ and Coldplay‟s „The Scientist‟ which were great inspirations as they used the reverse editing so differently.
12 Past Q1a exam essays + examiner marks/feedback

Furthermore, Lexi wore a Rolling Stones vest which integrated intertextuality which is a common convention in a lot of music. I also shot test footage and created mood boards of London as this was key in Lexi‟s British image. Overall, both projects were influenced by conventions of existing media but to different extents. While the foundation portfolio focussed on rigid conventions, the advanced one was more towards using subtle ones to construct an image and brand. Technically, my knowledge has improved as I researched music more thoroughly and learnt a lot in doing so. This is a level 4 response. The answer clearly describes, and evaluates progression over the course (from following rigid conventions to using more subtle techniques) and combines a theoretical language (intertextuality, connotation) with specific details of creative choices made and how these were informed by conventions. A range of examples of both decisions made and existing media texts provide conviction and substance and the question is answered throughout the response.

JUNE 2011 L4 Q1A (DCRUP): AS film, A2 Teaser
Plan -> Also meant to say music was much improved in A2 as I looked at music specifically in Teen Comedies and replicated the music myself in Garage Band. Creating a much more accurate and specific, original sound than if I‟d looked through the web. In AS media I made a preliminary task and an opening sequence of a fictional film entitled „Hunting Innocence‟. Whilst in A2 media I created a Teaser Trailer for my fictional film „Spinning Time‟ and an accompanying poster and magazine cover to promote the same film. Entering onto the course I wasn‟t used to the idea of using conventions from media texts. As such getting to grips with this in my AS year was definitely a challenge. As a regular consumer of media texts including television, radio and magazine I knew what I expected from the mediums so that did help when putting myself in the position of producer. Towards the creation of my opening sequence I worked with a partner to create a thriller film. Together we knew the conventions of a thriller in terms of „mise en scene, soundtrack and camerawork so we didn‟t look that extensively into already existing media texts, which is probably why there is a vast improvement in the quality of my A2 production. We did however site the thriller „Brick‟ as an influence as we wanted to try and recreate the dull muted colour scheme of that in our own film. We achieved this by filming in dystopic urban landscapes of South East London. We also knew the convention of thrillers was to follow Sergeis theory of using silence. As such we did use it towards the end of the opening sequence to create a tense atmosphere when Abby finally reaches home, before the non-diegetic sound of Abby‟s heartbeat begins to build representing her anticipation and fear. Aside from that we used the thriller convention of having quiet acoustic music which we downloaded from a copyright free music website. The rest of the sequence consisted of ambient and diegetic sounds captured when filming. However, in my A2 project as I was working on my own I was able to consider everything in my own time to different levels of depth. Pauling and Czimentiniyli‟s theory is that the best ideas spring from the group work as you need to have loads of ideas before you can have one really good idea. However, I found this not to be the case. In AS my partner and I had to compromise on a lot of decision to please us both, whereas working alone in the second year I only had to please myself. Subsequently I was able to produce something I was more interested in, in terms of genre, which ultimately, I think, led to a more successful outcome.


Past Q1a exam essays + examiner marks/feedback

Towards the creation process of „Spinning Time‟ I did extensive research into already existing trailers. I browsed teaser trailers on YouTube and IMDB from a variety of different genres before analysing exactly what I wanted in my trailer in terms of genre, structure and mise en scene. This was far more developed than my research in AS which consisted of watching the opening sequences of just „Office Space‟ and „Brick.‟ I decided I wanted to create a voice over for my teaser trailer, complying with conventions of Teen Comedy and specifically „Chick Flick‟ trailers like „Picture This‟, „Mean Girls‟ and „Not Another Teen Movie‟. I wanted the voice over to have the same happy tone but take on the structure of the „Buried‟ Teaser trailer voice over, in which the setting, situation and dilemma of the film are presented to the audience, leaving them in anticipation of what happens. I followed through with this convention, filming the voice over on a video camera and extracting the sound in iMovie, before inserting it into the trailer. With my experience of digital technology increased I was able to do this, but I never would‟ve had the confidence to do this in AS Media. In A2 media the mise en scene of my trailer was considered in more detail than in the AS. In „Hunting Innocence‟ we dressed Abby using only Barthes‟ theory of connotations and denotations as a guide. Her red coat was to suggest danger, whilst the rucksack and art portfolios were to suggest her academia. Whereas in „Spinning Time‟ I focussed much more on dressing protagonist Myles in accordance to preestablished conventions. I drew influence from „Mean Girls‟ in which the girls dressed fashionably and predominantly in pink. I used this convention by dressing Myles fashionably, but also challenged the stereotype by not having her in pink and revealing attire as this would present her to be like the „plastics‟ of „Mean Girls‟ which her character is not intended to be. My set design was another heavily considered aspect. It was based on „Freaky Friday‟ and the design of protagonist Anna‟s room. In her room there are pictures on the wall, and CD‟s and books on display. As such I made these props visible to suggest aspects of Myle‟s character and personality. Comedy „Ramona and Beezus‟ also influenced set design and lighting as I wanted to replicate the happy atmosphere presented in its cinematic trailer. I did so by filling the room with bright props, dressing myles in bright clothes and scheduling filming for sunny days to achieve high lighting – as I didn‟t have the means to create it artificially. In AS media we filmed predominantly outside and so could not change the appearance of our locations, as such not using any real media conventions. In conclusion in AS media my partner did not use many specific conventions of media products. Rather we worked with the general vague things we knew about the thriller genre from being audiences. Whereas in A2 media I immersed myself in the idea of producing. Extensively researching and analyzing the form of a teaser trailer and drawing influences from a wide range of existing media texts. This is a clear level 4, excellent response which meets all of the level 4 criteria. Progression over time is described and evaluated with specific and well-used examples – of real media conventions and creative decisions made that were informed by understanding of those. Two kinds of theory are deployed – institutional techniques which have become conventional over time, and media theory which accounts for the conventional nature of meaning and its reception.


Past Q1a exam essays + examiner marks/feedback