Evaluation Question 1

In what ways did your Media Products Use, Develop or Challenge
forms of conventions of real media products?
For our A2 advanced portfolio task this year our brief was to create a selection of
media texts.
These media texts were
An 5 minute opening to an informative TV Documentary based on a topic/issue of
our choosing, a Radio Trailer and Listing Magazine with the purpose to promote
the Documentary.
When choosing a topic for our documentary and subsequently our other two
products we decided to focus upon issues which effect the majority of the
population or a particular demographic such as issues in education or political
issues. We decided to focus the issue of brand overpricing in society and the
consequence brand control has on our documentary. To do this in the
documentary we somewhat challenged the major brand conglomerates and the
viewpoints that members of the general public have of them.

To produce a mini documentary which could compare to current professionally
produced documentaries and their promotional material to get insight into the
conventions that make a professional product. This was also done through
research into the theory of creating media products and by watching current
professional products it allowed us to see how this is applied and how we could
possibly emulate or challenge the way these codes and conventions are used.

Documentary
We decided when researching a documentaries codes and conventions we would
watch documentaries which shared the same themes and intentions as ours.
Examples of these include challenging highly influential companies/authorities,
questioning the audiences use or misuse of their money and a debate where we
put 2 subjects against each other to see which is best.
Because of this we watched documentaries “Supersize Me” and “Supershoppers”
to gain see how we can apply codes and conventions in the same way to, but also
to see how we can challenge themes used by the documentary in different ways
in the hope of differentiating away from current existing products and appealing
to new audiences.
Documentary Modes

In our preliminary research was on focused on documentary theorist Bill Nichols,
who theorized that there are 6 documentary modes, these are Poetic, Expository,
Participatory, Observational, Reflective and Performative. For every mode we
found the typical conventions of each and see which one fit best into our idea of a
slightly bias argument trying to question the audiences pre-conceived ideas
notions about brands.
After reviewing typical codes and conventions of these modes we decide to
produce a mostly “Expository” documentary.
This is meant creating a documentary, which would have a likely bias view
towards one idea or trail of thought. Codes and conventions of an expository
documentary include a constant voiceover with images a constant stream of
continuous footage/images, which support or either debunk the opinion given
through the voice over.
Within our documentary we presented many of the points supporting our
documentary in this way by having visual aids to help back up our presenters
(Dan ad Jakes) argument, that brands are over priced. An example of this is when
off screen Dan and Jake describe how Coca Cola has become a worldwide brand
and a controlling force, meanwhile onscreen the use of footage from the Coca
Cola factory where 1000s of Coca Cola units are being produced to help give
weight and also somewhat over ethicize to the audience the severity of the point.
This helps grab and engage the audience and question their prior convictions
about Branded products. This is the objective we wanted to reach when creating
the documentary as “Branded” aims to be informative and informing the young
target audience to consequences of buying branded products.
By conforming this convention, I feel our documentary had a greater imprint on
the viewer making it more likely they would read our media text in the way we’d
prefer them to. I believe that if we had emulated “Super Shoppers” which is
performative mode where the presenters are onscreen and very aware of the
documentary production I believe the audience’s attention may have strayed
away and subjects in the documentary would have little impact and the
information presented to the audience may not be absorbed.
The problem with creating an Expository documentary was the lack of human
touch from the on-screen hosts As we wanted our documentary to be
investigative and seen to delve further into the issue it seemed hard to do this
without having an onscreen presenter.
This meant we had to challenge the convention of a voiceover dominated
expository documentary and incorporate codes more suited to a Participatory
documentary which focuses more on the host investigating an issue with much of
the attention being on them as they play a “researcher”/investigator role. But
unlike a typical Participatory documentary we didn’t want the subject of the
documentary to the presenters, rather we wanted the focus to remain on the
Brand overpricing issue. This meant developing conventional Participatory
documentary features such as hand held camera footage and mode of address to
a more informative calculated approach. This was done by making the
information in the documentary seem as if it had already been found out, rather
than it seeming as if the host is finding out the information as the audience is
(demonstrated in the documentary “The Life Of Michael Jackson” by Bashir). By
challenging “Expository” convention and incorporating developed Participatory
conventions it made our documentary informative whilst giving the audience a
figure/host to appear as the messenger of this information. The inclusion of the
onscreen presenter convention in our documentary meant we had an individual
who could directly relate to the student demographic as by having a host who is
similar to the target demographic, it can help attract the target audience by
implying to them that this is an issue that could directly affect them. This can
make them more likely to watch the documentary to find out the issue and see if
they themselves are affected by it. This in turn could help boost the audience the
documentary is viewed by. By combining the convention of a Participatory

documentary on-screen presenter and the edited voice over style of an Expository
documentary it meant we could demonstrate the documentary feel investigative
gripping the audience with the potential findings of the hosts, but at the same
time being able to use images and background footage to ethicize the issues
raised in the documentary making the information more impactful.

Background Footage
When researching professional documentaries we found in every one was that
there use of background. In these professional documentaries we found that in
every one, they used the background footage in the same way in in order to
increase the likelihood of the documentary to gain the preferred reading by the
audience. This was especially apparent in one sided or bias
documentaries such as “Supersize”, where the aim of their creation
Voice over- “We spoke
to experienced floor
by the media artist is to either reinforce or change the views of the
manage at
audience to support the media artists views (eg- In in Supersize me
Selfridges…”
the documentary’s message was that fast food especially
Mcdonalds).
The conventional use of background footage is aimed to reinforce
the views/content that the voice over is saying to the audience, this
is done by having the voiceover in the background and dubbed over the
supported background footage used on screen. An
example of how this was used in the professional
documentary is in Supersize me where the issue of
obesity is brought up and what a big problem it is and
how many people are effected which was detailed in the
VO’s, but in order to give the voice extra impact
background footage of morbidly obese individuals was
displayed with the addition of fast cuts. By having this it
gave the information shock value and left a visual imprint to associated to the
fact so the audience would not forget it, and be more likely to take the preferred
reading because of it.
Like Supersize Me and Supershoppers, our aim was to not necessarily completely
change the audience’s views of Branded products as we tried to construct a more
balanced argument than these 2 documentaries, but we did want our audience to
question themselves and their spending habits. To do this we needed to make the
information memorable and stick out in the audiences mind. To do this we felt it
would be imperial to the documentary that we follow this convention to recreate
the same desired preferred reading from the audience, as professional
documentaries do.

An example of how we did this was the when we tried to
present of how dominating the Coca Cola brand is over
the world market. To do this we put in a fact which would
surprise and shock the audience. This fact was “1.9
billion servings of Coca Cola per day”. Keeping to
convention we then took footage related to this fact and
put it onscreen in conjunction with the voice over saying
the fact. This footage turned out being a scene from a
Coca Cola factory where 1000’s of Bottles of Coca Cola
were being produced. This gave the fact a memorable
and shocking image for the audience to remember.
This convention was also used for simple things such as introducing the expert
interview and her association to Selfridges Birmingham. We assumed that not
everyone in the audience would know what Selfridges Birmingham is. Because of
these we captured an establishing shot of the iconic Selfridges building and its
logo to reinforce the context of the interview by giving the audience a visual
image to associate with the store name “Selfridges”.
I believe by following this basic convention of putting background footage other
VO audio it benefited our documentary greater than defying this convention used
by so many documentary’s as it gave “Branded” a clean flowing feel and kept the
audience interested with the visual imagery of the content being said by the offscreen host.
Another convention which we followed/developed was the sound of the
background music. In conventional professional documentaries in most cases the
sound of background footage is muted in place of either Voiceover to support the
image or background music. This convention is only really challenged when the
noise from the background footage has underlying significance. For example for a
music documentary such as “Gimme Shelter” a documentary based around the
world tour of The Rolling Stones band. This documentary somewhat defied
convention by having the background footage audible meaning the audience
could hear the sound of the crowd and the music. This was done due to the music
and crowd having special significance in the documentary making it important the
sound was heard by the audience. We felt that when composing our documentary
that our background footage natural sound didn’t carry much significance to the
documentary and that the focus needed to be on the narration over the footage,
rather than it being distracted by the sound of the background footage, which in
our case was mostly city noise due to most of our background footage being from
Birmingham city center.
I believe by adhering to this convention it allowed the audience not to be
distracted by useless annoying sound and meant all of their focus was on the
content of the documentary, presented by the voiceover. This makes it more likely
that the audience would pay attention to the information from the VO.
Expert Interviews
Set up
The conventional set up of an expert interview differs from documentary to
documentary dependent on what sort of documentary is being presented as in
some documentary films a stood up interview would be more appropriate eg“Gareth Bale- Welsh Galactico”. But what we found is that in most documentary’s
the conventional set up was as follows-

-

Medium close-up/Close-up shot. (Head and shoulders in with most of the
shot)
Expert looking at the off camera interviewer to the left of the camera
Interviewer not in shot.
Expert is sat down

Firstly we decided to capture the expert interviews with a conventional medium
close-up shot. This is because by using this shot it means that the audience’s
attention is completely on the expert and the content they are saying. By having
the shot as a conventional medium close up it means that the shot isn’t as
intense as it would with an extreme CU/CU where the shot has very little
background and very little context. The use of an XCU/CU would be more
associated with a life story documentary eg- “AMY” , a documentary on Amy
Winehouse. This was unlike our documentary where it wasn’t that personal and
facial emotions doesn’t play that greater role, our documentary there was more
need for context in the background of the expert interview to give the expert
context and some legitimacy.
I believe the by following this convention it benefited our final product as the look
of the expert interviews sat well with our focus group as they felt it looked
“Professional” and “Like a real documentary”. By composition the shot in this way
I feel it gave the expert the right amount of attention for the audience to be
invested with what they are saying, but at the same time gave enough room in
the shot for context from the background eg- The bullring logo/building in the
background of Lucy Stocktons interview as she is a floor manager in the Bullring
Shopping Centre”.
Location
In every single professional documentary I watched every single expert interview
followed the same convention. This that the location of every expert interview
was directly associated with the expert itself and their position of knowledge or
knowhow. An example of this convention in a documentary is SuperSize Me where
every expert interview was set in a relevant location to the expert being
interviewed eg- General Practitioner interviewed in a Doctors surgery.
This convention is used to give the expert approval/legitimacy among the
audience. This is because with a Mise-en-sen which reflects the persons position,
it gives the audience extra clues as to who the expert is, what is there position
and how qualified they are to make the statements. This means the audience can
make a clear and calculated choice whether to take the preferred reading of the
documentary where they take the statements on board, or the oppositional
reading where they can reject the statements from the expert.
In our documentary we thought it empirical that this convention be stuck to by
putting the experts in an environment which there role is reflected. We
interviewed Lucy Stockton in the middle of Selfridges where she herself works.
We then interviewed Ruth Sharp in the classroom which she teaches business in.
I feel by following this convention we
gave the interviews more than
adequate context as to where the
interviews are taking place and who the
expert is beyond the label in the bottom
corner meaning that the audience could
gain greater insight into our product
and make the finished product make
sense and look professional, like a real
documentary.
Expert

I believe it really is obvious that it is conventional for the experts included in the
documentary people who have some knowhow and professional insight into a
subject being discussed. This is done because by having experts in the
documentaries subject the content of the documentary and the arguments/issues
discussed in the documentary are more legitimate and make sense to the reader.
By having real information In the documentary firstly it engages the reader as
arguments that the average person may not know can be discussed, giving the
audience more insight and therefore are more likely to watch.
This convention is displayed in Gareth Bale- Welsh Galactico by having interviews
with scouts for his previous clubs.
We adhered to this obvious convention by having Lucy Stockton (Manager at
Selfridges) and Ruth Sharp (Business teacher) give expert interviews. These 2
were relevant because our subject is brand over pricing we felt by gaining a floor
manager at one of the biggest brand distributers in the UK it could give insight
into to the day to day selling of brands and by getting a business teacher she
could give the audience theoretical insight into WHY certain brands are overpriced.
By following this convention it gave our documentary legitimacy and a USP over
other documentaries as it firstly gave the documentary clear discussion in order
to keep the audience interested, but also made them more likely to tune in to
gain this in depth expert knowledge.
Cutaways
In our documentary research we found that there was a mix of documentaries
which used cutaways on their expert interviews. Conventionally when conducting
expert interviews the attention does not leave the expert and they are the center
of attention to the audience. Because of the documentary rarely/if ever deviates
from the expert until the segment is done. This is displayed in “Panorama- The
Billion Pound Con Man” expert interviews where in every interview there was no
cut or deviation away from the expert for the entirety of the segment/clip.
When creating this documentary we decided to develop convention by inserting
clips and cutaways into the expert interviews.
We found that when piecing our clips together the interview could be considered
as long as we decided to put every clip back to back. To split this up we decided
to put in visual aids in the form of inserting clips and cutting away from the
interview. By cutting away visually from the interview with clips on top we are
able to give the audience a visual representation of what the expert is talking
about, rather than the audience having to imagine or visualize the point the
expert is making. An example of how we did this was by taking the dialog from
the expert interview which was “It worries me fresh food will be wasted” and
putting an example advertising campaign showing fresh food promotions. By
doing this it meant the audience is able to relate the facts which are said by the
expert in the form of a Voice over and apply them to their every day lives using
images they can associate with.
I believe by defying this convention we are able to better engage with the
audience and keep them interested and engaged in “Branded” as the constantly
changing images/clips on screen keep the product and the content fresh by
deviating slightly from the expert visually, but keeping their voice and dubbing
over the video with cut away. I believe by developing conventional expert
interview composition it made our product seem fresher and more unique to the
casual viewer with them able to link facts and images together, making the
overall product and information produced more memorable than it would be than
an interview which is ongoing without any cutaways.
Expert label

This is a small feature of the documentary, but when conducting an expert
interview near enough every single professional documentary used a small label
to tell the audience who the expert are and/or how they link to the documentary
for example on Supersize Me the label read-“Lisa Young-Professor of Nutrition”.
This simple convention enables the media artist
to give immediate context to the expert so that
the audience understands who they are so they
can take their opinions and ideas on board
without questioning them,
Because of these reasons we followed convention
in order to give Lucy and Ruth an introduction to
the viewer so they understand WHY they say
what they say. The labels we put in emulate that
of other documentaries. “Lucy Stockton- Floor
Manager at Selfridges” and “Ruth Sharp- A-Level
Teacher”
Vox Pops
Location
When conducting a series of vox-pops the location which they are held is an
important factor. When learning about documentaries and gathering research
from existing ones I found that conventionally the location in which Vox-pops are
held should be linked to the topic of the documentary or a place which links to the
sample. An example of this can be seen in “Supersize Me” where the samples in
the Vox-Pops are filmed outside of Mcdonalds giving their opinions. This is an
appropriate location due to the focus of the documentary being about Mcdonalds,
so by asking people going in and out it will be more likely they will give you a
desired response which could be used for the documentary.
We followed this convention, but instead of setting up in a location, not relevant
to the “Brand” centered theme, but to the audience we wanted to interview which
were college students. Because of this we set up the vox-pops in the sixth form
college Solihull. We felt that this fit perfectly with the intended sample and gave
us the maximum opportunity for us to interview our desired sample due to the
massive attendance of students at the sicth form.
This location also lended itself well to our intended target audience who are
students themselves. I feel by filming in this related location it allowed the target
audience to get more invested into the documentary due the locations on screen
being familiar to them.
I believe by making the location relevant to the topic, sample and target audience
and following basic documentary convention, it made the documentary make
sense through the continuity/links between the different groups. Because of this
the vox-pops set up made more sense and lead to “Branded” looking like a more
professional documentary
Sample
When creating the vox-pops we wanted them to reflect and appeal to the target
audience of the documentary. This is convention in most documentaries as the
general aim is to interview those effected by an issue which the documentary is
centered around, this also normally turns out as the target audience for the
documentary. This was the same for ours as we wanted a sample of young
students who were effected by brand overpricing, whilst we targeted the
documentary towards a target audience of the same description in order to get
the maximum effectiveness out of the documentary’s message.
We achieved this convention by interviewing students of our sixth form and
getting their reaction to an experiment. By having these as our sample I feel our
documentary will better appeal to our target audience as the people answering

the questions reflect the TA, this can lead to the potential viewers questioning
themselves and their spending habits like the sample on screen did, I feel this can
help carry a better message to the viewer and make the information they are
watching and hearing more memorable.
Shot
After watching several professional documentary’s, I found that the conventional
shot used for vox-pops was a md-shot/medium close up with the interviewee
stood up,
We felt that our documentary would benefit by following this conventional set up,
as like the expert interview we wanted the majority of the focus to be upon the
person answering the questions, but also for there to be some context as to
where the vox-pops were taking place in the background location. Due to the
location we filmed in (College canteen) I don’t believe it would’ve fit to have a
sitting down interview with the sample due to the type of vox-pop we are filming
with the incorporation of the experiment. By having the shot set up in this
conventional manor I feel the informal look was achieved, whilst directing the
attention of the viewer to where we wanted, which was the response from the
interviewee.
When producing our vox-pops rather than just asking questions like most
documentaries we decided add something much fresher. We decided to conduct
and experiment where we would pit a branded product against a non-branded
alternative. We took inspiration from the Documentary “Supershoppers” as they
conducted a similar expedient to this with Levis Jeans vs Primark Jean, but they
didn’t get the public reaction. We decided to test whether the samples could tell
the difference between Coca Cola and own brand Cola. After this we gained their
reaction through a series of question. From this we got a wide variety of reactions
in which we then mediated to construct a slightly bias argument that brands are
just brought because of repetition. By developing this convention it gave us a USP
over other products as by having a an experiment feature it helped add a level of
suspense and intrigue for the audience. I believe this suspense could help draw in
a greater audience and also act as greater legitimacy for the reactions captured
in the Voxs pops.
Other conventions we followed when creating the vox-pops include
-

The interviewee looking at the interviewer off camera
The Interviewer off camera
More of a casual look to the interview.
We followed these conventions for the simple reason that the Vox pops
may have looked unprofessional if these hadn’t been followed.
With an unprofessional look to the documentary the documentary and
content in the documentary may not have been taken seriously by the
audience and less people would potentially “Tune in” to the documentary”

On-screen Hosts
By having 2 hosts we developed convention from the standard 1 host.
The reason we developed this convention is that we wanted our product
to have a Unique Selling Point that few other documentaries have. By
having this UPS I feel that our target audience may find our product
fresher and more diverse
Voice Over