Archive for protest

The Protest March Run-Up – Reflection On “What Matters To Me”

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , , , , on November 6, 2010 by Adam Broome

So, I was going to a do little video about the event of the protest march this wednesday. But then this guy called Johnny Rickard comes along, asking all us Media Production students to help him create a show reel. As part of Source TV, I’m one of the first there, and pounce on the opportunity with both hands. Johnny hears about my side project, and sees an opportunity himself. He says he wants to do the interviews in my little documentary piece and add it to his show reel that my fellow students are creating. In return, he’ll bag an interview with a politician. Again, I say ‘yes’. I grab the opportunity as it presents itself.

Then, 260MC starts asking me to make an artefact based on something I feel strongly about, entitled ‘What Matters To Me’. In an attempt to reduce my vast workload, I merge this project into that, despite the fact that the actual march is occurring two days after the deadline. But then, the politician is announced – Michael Heseltine. A rather famous politician from the ‘Thatcher’ years and beyond – well respected, well known. Even Coventry University’s own Ken Fero knows of this man, even when I can’t fully recall the name. It’s practically a coventry conversation in its own right. The interview is set – upon the Thames, with the Houses Of Parliament in the background.

Then, Source TV grab a bit of the action. Now they too are heading down with their cameras. Then almost all of the fellow students embarking on the journey decide to grab their cameras. And thus, what started out as a jolly has turned into a military operation that teeters startlingly close to professional experience.

However, all excitement about the march aside, this 260MC project had that problem of being about an event that hasn’t happened yet. So, I decided to film students, and interview them about their own thoughts on the tuition fee proposals. After the first two interviews, I realised that the Student Loans Company has a lot to answer for in these matters as well, along with the Liberal Democrats, who originally stated they were abolishing tuition fees altogether, and those who are in the academic years below us, who will be most affected.

These formed the main points of my questions during these interviews, of which there were four. I wanted to vary the footage, so I shot two at different points of the Avid room, one in a corridor, and one in the rather inspired spot of an elevator. This project has taught me more than any other project this year so far, for several reasons:

First of all, this entire project was edited using Final Cut Pro. Within 30 minutes, I could see the result was that of Avid, but quicker and easier to use. Because I had used Avid, I could effectively ‘pick up and play’ Final Cut Pro instantly. The final result is much better quality than that of iMovies.

Second, whilst using Final Cut Pro, I have stretched my editing skills in whole new directions. I have modified title sequences, and I have also changed the audio levels of two of the interviews. I used reporter microphones for these interviews, and the audio came out a lot quieter than the other two. I raised the gain in Final Cut and made those shots louder to better match the interviews in the Avid room. I also had to re-format the background music and sounds at the end, as well as crop them from their original cuts. The shot with the shirt has music over it, slowed down to 77% its usual running speed. To me, this project is a technical marvel!

Third, you may notice the varied use of interview shots and techniques. I didn’t want to utilise all our strange ideas about doing interviews differently from a few weeks ago. I did, however, want to use a tilted shot, which I used in both of the Avid interviews (one is more obvious than the other). To vary things, the shot in the corridor was filmed on the move, which helped to make us students look busy (the student was indeed en route to a lecture at that time). The shot in the elevator just seemed like a good idea at the time. The audio obviously got echoey in there, but the change in backdrop added a nice variation to proceeds. The elevator interview was also heavily over-exposed – turning up an ND filter in a closed elevator doesn’t seem logical, but I know for next time.

My use of titles seems to mimic that of our previous interviews with misrepresented media students. This was, actually, entirely coincidental. I have not used any form of colour correction in the editing phase, although I did set the white balance accordingly in the Avid room interviews (but forgot to change it in the other two!) What is more, the cut away shots of the banners being created were shot using a PDX10, whereas the interviews were shot using a Z1, and thus I have used mixed footage from multiple cameras and succeeded. I have also learned that my initial plan to convert all my ‘Sony’ footage using my ‘JVC’ palmcorder will never work. Luckily my flat-mate hired a Z5 out over the weekend, and I already have a firewire (yes… it is true that this artefact almost didn’t get made at all!)

My knowledge of cameras, interviews, editing and sound have all increased immensely via this project, which will no doubt benefit me on the actual day. For the first time, I feel I have created something with purpose, forward towards an even greater media artefact which I can place on a showreel and present to potential employers (which is what this year is all about). To say the whole thing has been orchestrated on my own (with respectful thank yous to those who allowed me to interview them, and the chaps who made it possible for me to access Final Cut Pro in the first place), this project is pretty darn good, and I’m pleased with the way it turned out. All ahead to the march!

–> Also, as an extra bit of reflection (as opposed to description), I think that what my fellow students say is very true (especially about the SLC). It took a few views on playback, but during editing I noticed that I appeared to have to struck a nerve with them individually. This is a subject they knew about, had experience of, and felt passionate about. They had something to say. Although I edited my own voice out, their words alone spoke volumes, and constructed an informative piece of footage. None of the students were in contact with each other on the day of filming, and none of them had prepared any form of answers – it was all authentic.

I also noticed that I’d accidentally done something quite clever after editing – you don’t know what the cut-aways mean until the final few seconds. Throughout the piece, you’re wondering what those shirts are for. It’s only when the word ‘protest’ is mentioned that the pieces fit. I think this is a good thing, as it possibly adds an enigma code to a series of interviews (which is unusual). This brings into question what this piece is actually about – students voicing their opinions, or advertising for the protest march? To be honest, it is really both of those things!

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The ‘Demo-Lition’ Protest March Documentary (+260MC Week 2 Questions)

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , , , on October 24, 2010 by Adam Broome

I have been planning over the last week to produce a media artefact around the student protest march up ahead, taking place on November 10th in London against proposals to lift the cap on tuition fees. The artefact would be a documentary, interviewing students at Coventry University, and possibly some of the lecturers as well, so each side can voice their thoughts.

For 260MC, this week we have also been set a task similar in vein. This week involved us producing a media artefact which involved doing an off-the-wall style interview, and then contemplate creating something that was more personal to us. Now, although politics have never truly been my forte, I do believe that raising tuition fees to £7.5k a year is a bad thing, and that’s why I am doing the documentary, to report, and also to further understand, the incident. I was doing it for portfolio, and also for me own private interest, but since this module seems to be asking for something of the like, I shall use this future project as a basis for this week’s work.

The interview produced earlier in the week was about the misrepresentation of media students. Coincidentally, this is actually a relevant artefact, as the protest march will be directly linked to how students represent themselves as a collective. It is all in future terms – on the day of the march, anything could really happen. Misrepresentation is clearly the word at the heart of the protest – perhaps students are seen as being alcoholics, and young people who use taxpayer’s money to stay out of work for as long as they can. Incidents such as this didn’t help:

Indeed, from my own experience, drinking seems synonymous with student culture nowadays. When at college, I had the naive notion that university could have been boring, surrounded by intelligent people that made me feel like an idiot, and unintentionally made me feel small. This was not the case, which is perhaps a good thing – I am not the brain of Britain, but I like to think that with 300 UCAS points, I earned my right to have a place at university.

This is where I shall insert a side-argument – are the exams getting easier? GCSE and A-Level results continuously get better with each passing year. I remember feeling quite happy when I heard that my year were the most academically successful thus far. But now, such results are almost expected. Was a B, a B and C at A-Level really a true test of my intelligence? Are people who should not be deemed ‘worthy’ of university being let in? Crucially – are these people the students who have the least amount of money?

I was born on what was effectively a council estate. Little by little, me and my mum eventually managed to migrate to a middle-class suburbia around the corner. Through personal reasons, I came to have a little money to my name. Had I not got that money, could I have come to university? The first thing every MP seems to jump to is the Student Loans Company. It is a business so inundated with applicants that it’s system crumbles almost every year under the strain. I am eligible for ‘maximum everything’ because my household income is so low. Yet, even this year, my halls of residence ask for the money up front, otherwise they deny you accommodation. Money to the tune of £1,500, before the loans have even gone through. Then there’s the trips, and social events. If you really want the best out of the university experience, you need to have some money stored somewhere to fall back on when you need it.

So, why raise tuition fees? To stop the poor students getting in – stereotypically the lesser intelligent of the social ladder? Is it to make the cutbacks, which our PM seems to be promoting – stop students using the SLC so the government doesn’t have the lend so much money to so many people. Is it a case of making the education system look more competent? Being able to say that not just anybody can go to university anymore. Restrict it to the privileged. It has taken many years for the education system to get to where it has, and these proposals will be a backward step – but for better, or for worse?

In relation to the questions, the media certainly represents students in a bad light. We are always in the spotlight for drinking, partying, and generally doing anything except studying. Of course, this is not wholly the case – yet I can testify that there are small truths to the stereotypes. Next week there’ll be a ‘Carnage’ night taking place, one such event which the above student was taking part in. It caused a media storm of outrage, and according to my mum, students were never seen in the same way again. In other words, all respect for us was lost from that point onwards.

Lest not we forget people were paid to go to university not so long ago, until we were accused of ‘dossing’ and abusing the system, at which point they implemented the tuition fees once more. Currently at approximately £3,500 a year on loan, the proposals will add another £4,000 to the sum, increasing debt by double, but reducing the number of students by half. On the surface it seems illogical – in terms of money, half the students paying double the money gives no financial gain to a government that claims the education cuts have been purely economical.

These matters are largely seen through the eyes of the government and the public, which appear to be the two main driving factions behind the media of today. I find that since neither are being directly affected, it seems to make much more sense to interview those who are – the students who may pay more, and the lecturers who may benefit.

I am choosing to do a documentary on this, although much as we have been exploring this week, there are a variety of ways I can conduct my report on the event. I will, as always, make it as interesting as possible. I plan to interview students before the events, and then take footage of the march from within the march itself. ‘Vox Pops’ style footage may be taken during the march with fellow campaigners. This documentary will also serve to tell my story of the event, and what the day actually entailed (including the journey there, and the return journey). Interviews with the public may be beneficial, as would footage of any political speeches. Generally, I’ll take footage of as many different things as I can, and mix them the way that looks right in the editing suite.