I apologise that my evaluation is not a piece of art, but I felt that this was more about the content rather than the aesthetics. I have displayed my filming skills and abilities in my main media product. This was filmed on a HP Pavilion G Series Cyber-cam, hence the quality. I do hope, however, that the content gives a clear insight into the construction of my coursework and answers as many questions as possible.
My short film is targeted a younger audience of fifteen to twenty-five because this appears to be the age bracket with the greatest interest in adolescent, bildungsroman story lines, perhaps because they can relate. Also, upon research into the differences between the BBFC certificates, I discovered that my film must be rated a ‘15’ due to the nature of substance abuse. The storyline sees the average day of a seventeen year old female. There is no direct dialogue, only diagetic noise, and the protagonist constantly appears to be in emotional turmoil. We see her taking a pregnancy test which will appear as positive, and then the final shot is of f her, dead on the floor, connoting suicide. I chose this storyline because I felt that the most shocking plots are generally the most interesting and thought provoking and are generally memorable. For example, ‘About a Girl, ’is a nine-minute short film, directed by Brian Percival. In 2001 it won the BAFTA Award for Best Short Film. The storyline follows the protagonist, a thirteen-year old girl, along Manchesters’ industrial skyline as she talks directly to the camera. The twist occurs at the end of the short film, where the girl states that she has ‘got good at hiding things’ and throws the plastic carrier bag she has been carrying throughout the film into a nearby river. The final shot is an upward shot from below the rivers surface, as we see a dead baby float out of the carrier bag, covered in blood with its umbillical cord still in tact. This shot, and the twist as a whole, is what I feel makes the film powerful and very memorable; once I had watched this short film, I told at least three people about it who then proceeded to watch it themselves. Hence, why I have used the idea of a twist in the plot (suicide) to give my film the same effect.
I filmed my final media product over a time period of two weekdays in order to shoot at my desired locations. It was shot straight onto an SD card on a Nikon D3100 SLR and shooting was aided by a tripod in order to achieve steady establishing shots and a small track or ‘slider’ in order to move the camera forward and backward. On Thursday 7th February 2013 I shot in section seven of the SE6 Centre at college once the A2 law session taking place within it finished at 14:15. My fellow law students kindly agreed to stay behind and act as extras since I wanted to portray a busy classroom environment with chatty teenage pupils. On Friday 8th February 2013 I shot in Rayleigh, Essex at my house, the local bus stop and out the bus window. I began with the establishing shots outside the house, then worked within the house, before travelling by foot to the nearest local bus stop on Eastwood Road, Rayleigh. In total, my final product took approximately 105minutes to shoot and approximately two and a half hours to edit.
I mainly stuck to my initial storyboard when it came to shooting, although, naturally, strayed a little once the camera was in my hand and the ideas were flowing. I used establishing shots of the house in order to further portray the protagonists journey in a seemingly chronological way which would appear visually pleasing to the audience for continuity purposes as discussed in my blog. I used a medium shot from across the road to show her getting on the bus and used close-ups in the bathroom to show the worried expression on her face which I believe creates a good effect as the audience can sympathise.
In preparation for the construction of my short film for my A2 coursework, I watched many short films in order to recognise codes and conventions of short films so I could apply them to my media product. I noticed whilst watching short films that there are normally less than a few characters within the film and the storyline is normally focused solely on the protagonist, as in ‘About a Girl.’ Hence, I used one character. Secondly, it is worth noting that the majority of short films have some form of twist in the storyline, probably because they are so short that without, they would be uninteresting and said to be ‘pointless.’ Hence, I used the twist of suicide: the audience are lured into a false sense of security when they note that the cast is made up of teenagers, perhaps perceiving it as a happy-go-lucky young themed film. This relationship is destroyed in the bathroom. Voice overs are popular in short films; often, the protagonist narrates the storyline in first person to emphasise the personal aspects of this. Also, this could be because voice overs are cheaper than a high tech boom. I chose not to use a voice over because I did not feel it was relevant to my storyline and felt that the lack of dialogue would actually add more of an effect to my film. Lastly, most short films tend to feature actors between sixteen and twenty-five years in age. This may be because adolescent story lines are considered interesting and relatable (the younger viewers can sympathise and the older viewers are given a sense of nostalgia) or maybe because younger people are willing to work for free for interest or experience, or for little money (as most short films are low budget). I used a seventeen year old actress and stuck to the idea of a young, controversial story as this fits to the codes and conventions of short film and gave my film the desired shock factor. Overall, I believe my film incorporates many conventions of short film, but challenged some conventions such as the need for dialogue/voice overs/captions, opening credits or a production logo.
My film, in reality, did not cost a lot to produce. A-List Hollywood actors can earn between fifteen and twenty five million dollars per film, though this is only a handful of people. Other actors, who are still well-known earn less, but earn approximately one to ten million dollars per role. Extras can make whatever the standard pay for the time is; from as little as fifty dollars for a few hours up to a couple of hundred dollars a day. Short films such as mine often feature young adolescents who work for free in order to gain experience or for very little money. Since I filmed for the purposes of advanced level coursework, I did not pay my actor, Sam, who participated as a favour to me. Things I did have to pay for were: if I were to film this in industry, I would have to pay for the equipment. I filmed on a Nikon D3100 camera. The recommended retail price for this camera is £379.99 which includes lens.. I would then have to buy a tripod (£29.99 online) and a small track (£40approx online). However, things I did have to pay for were a pregnancy test- £0.99 from Discount UK, and a large box of tic tacs- £1.
At Advanced Subsidiary level last year, I learnt the basics of film making through making a two minute introduction to a film. I filmed on Canon XHA1 camera and learnt how to navigate my way around the camera and set up equipment such as tripods and sliders. At AS I learnt how to cut up and organise our footage, use transitions and apply text and credits. I have used all these skills this year, also, but did explore further effects by colourising scenes where necessary (as I believed the original footage was too ‘bright’ to fit the storyline since it was shot against a bright blue wall and was very sunny), and using text layovers. As discussed in my skills audit below, there are things that I feel could have been improved at AS. I felt that the lighting was inconsistent; in some shots, the light was fairly bright and had orange tones to it, although in some, filmed in the same location, they were dark and blueish. This was due to the natural daylight outside changing and was therefore beyond my control. However, if I had allowed myself more time to shoot, I could have filmed at the same time on two consecutive days, therefore achieving a more consistent light. This year, I shot over two days, as discussed above, and shot quite early on in the day, allowing for any errors so as to achieve this natural daylight and this year it does look consistent. Last year, I also encountered a continuity error. In one shot in the kitchen, there was a mug on the counter which had a picture printed on it. In the next shot, there was a white porcelain mug in its place, as discussed in the continuity post below. This year, I took care to avoid any continuity errors, even making sure my washing on the radiator in one shot was not moved once I began filming. Since I have taken more care and consideration into aspects of filming and incorporating codes and conventions to build viewer relationships, I do feel that my skills have developed since AS. As you can clearly see from my blog, I have been working on my skills in many areas.
I collected audience feedback from several viewers on the first draft of my short film in order to gain constructive criticisms. The viewers all commented positively on choice of actress, costume and the linear storyline, however they also suggested I should make the following changes from the first draft: the shot where she is sitting on the toilet staring at the pregnancy test was too long - you could already see the result was positive, therefore there was no need for such length; there should be more cuts where she is pacing back and forth in her bedroom in order to represent disorientation and make it more visually pleasing to watch, also, some shots here should be sped up and slowed down to make it more interesting to watch and demonstrate the protagonist’s state of mind; the last two shots should be in the same blueish tint as the previous classroom scenes since they are of a depressing nature and this would make direct references to other parts of the film (back/foreshadowing); there should be music where she is pacing her bedroom as the rest of the film is quiet so this would make it more interesting and a correct choice of music could add to the effect; there should be a final cut to a black screen to show the permanent nature of the character’s decision and show the finality to the viewers; there should be music and text effects on the credits as they aren’t interesting and don’t complement the film style well; should remove the first shot of her feet as she goes to sit on the toilet as it doesn’t add anything to the film; should remove the first shot of her staring at the pills at her bedroom desk as the cut is too rough and not visually pleasing and it doesn’t add anything to the film.
As you can see from my final media product (above), I have taken all these criticisms on board and changed and edited my product to improve it.
This week, Three Shields Production company are due to release their debut short motion picture Another Way Out which has had everyone talking. The four and a half minute sensation (approximately) is produced and directed by upcoming film legends Sam Clark and Aimee Davis. The film focuses on some rather hard hitting subjects, but has it caused offence by discussing such taboo issues? Here at Movie Mania Magazine, we have been busy working hard in order to bring you the best insights into this new release! Words by Laura Gale.
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The extras were asked to be involved five minutes before
Another Way Out took just 255 minutes to make!
“It wasnt always easy when we had such different ideas”
“it was hard role to play since I could so easily relate!”
Samantha Clark: “every woman has the right
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Another Way Out is a dark, teenage drama which sees the protagonist, an adolescent female, going through emotional turmoil. So just what is it that has made this film the talking point of the nation?
We asked Aimee Davis, the director of the film, what she felt had given this picture its instaneous fame.: “I think with any film featuring young persons can be quite hard hitting when it comes to taboo issues such as teenage pregnancy or indictable crime.” She seems unsurprised that the film has been such a hot topic for conversation, ‘I was involved in the inital storyboarding and planning stages and we decided a shocking twist would engage the audience for longer.’
In today’s society, underage sex has almost become the norm and with that comes a rise in the number of teenage pregnancies, something that the star of this short film knows all too well. Samatha Clark spoke out on the matterr, saying ‘having witnessed a close friend battle with the decision of whether to abort as a young teenager, I found it was a hard role to play since I could so easily relate!’ She also speaks of how she wanted to put her own stamp on the film as her first on-screen appearance: ‘it wasnt always easy when me and the rest of the crew had such different ideas. I had my own interpretation of how the character would look and act and I just hope that came across in the finished product.’
Though the film is only four minutes and thirty four seconds long, there was quite an elaborate set of extras, yet, all seven of them were unpaid. The film was shot in a house, a semi detached three bedroom house. The protagonist is seen boarding the bus rather than taking the car. All three of these aspects lead us to ask why the protagonist’s life was portrayed in this way, and why the film was so low budget.We asked Aimee Davis: ‘we wanted to create a character who fit the profile of an average teen. We did not want to give her a luxurious lifestyle because we wanted to demonstrate that this can happen to anyone and not speak to a limited, middle class audience.’ Samantha Clark agreed, stating that ‘the way the character is dressed, the way she carries herself, we wanted everything to relate to an ordinary teenager who is struggling with daily life.’
Three Shield’s debut short motion picture will be released on 4th April 2013. To reveal any more about the plot would spoilt the experience, but one thing is for sure… this short film is a must see. even if its the only short youll eveer watch!
Star of Another Way Out spoke out on her own feelings about abortion this week.
She said on the matter: ‘I believe every woman has the right to abort. It’s her own body, therefore she has the right to choose what she puts it through,’ she added ‘people forget that pregnancy is not easy. You are carrying a life inside you and you are soley responsible for its well being. In some cases, you have to give up aspects of your life, you have to be more carefully and are ultimately subjected to pain. It is not for everybody, the same as everything else in life!’
‘I also believe you should do things at your pace and in your own time. How is legally aborting better than raising a child in an unhappy environment where it would feel unloved, unwanted and deprived of necessities? I believe it is crucial to have a good support network around you whilst raising a child. Having a baby can be stressful and nobody wants to feel alone!’
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More upcoming teenage dramas:
Behind those eyes (12): release date: 17th July 2013
The final Journey (15): release date: 26th May 2013
A slice of life (12A): release date: 8th August 2013.
I have created this double page magazine spread based on my short film for my A2 coursework. As can be seen below on my blog, I have been considerably analysing other double page magazine spreads, also based on film, which I have found online, in order to discover conventions of double page film reviews to apply to my own work.
The top image is in a jpeg file format and due to the resolution, the translucent title appears to be slightly grainy, however, as can be seen in the psd file below it (above) this is not the case in the original file. Also, please note that the above images are screen shots and that once the image is viewed at one hundred percent, as it would be if it were to be printed and put to use, the credits towards the bottom of the poster would be extremely easy to read, yet because the images above are viewed as smaller images and the font is narrow, it gives the impression it is harder to read.
As can be seen below on my blog, I spent a considerable amount of time researching the conventions of film posters of a relevant genre, drama. Since my short film falls into this genre, I aimed to incorporate as many of the codes and conventions into my own work in order to enable my target audience to instantaneously ascertain the genre of the film. I created my background layer using an image of some clouds and then edited it on PhotoShop using a tutorial called ‘film effects’ which I found on http://google.co.uk. The edit was not as successful as I thought it would be, however, once I changed the saturation, I liked the effect it had created. I believe the dark blue tones work well as they connote extreme sadness which foreshadows the events of my film. I pasted in a photo of my actor which I took on a Nikon D3100 SLR camera at an earlier date and used the polygonal lasso tool to cut around her image, hence removing her from the original background in the photo which was a cream wall with a shadow on it. I then pasted this against my dark clouds background and adjusted the hue and saturation to give her a more ‘movie poster’ look rather than a normal photo. I duplicated this layer and put a slight gaussian blur on the duplicated layer and then changed the opacity to a very low number so that it almost appeared transparent. I then moved this layer below and at a diagonal to the original layer and used the eraser on a lower hardness level to remove any harsh edges so it appeared that the transparent layer blended into the cloud background. The most striking thing about this layer is that you can see her eye standing out. The reason behind me created this layer is because I found in my research that there are often faded images in the background etc on drama movie posters because this gives a quite haunting look and intrigues the audience. I then used the lasso tool to select the area on the original layer of the actors image (the area of her lower half) and modified it by using the feathering tool. I feathered it at ‘50’ and then deleted the selection on purpose so that it looked like this layer was fading into the poster rather than having the harsh edge against the background which looked unprofessional and was not aesthetically pleasing. I made my title the largest text on the page, as I found this common in my research, and made it white to stand out against the background and contrast it, but also bevel and embossed it slightly to make it stand out and look more professional and industry produced. On the word ‘Out,’ I reduced the opacity and added a very subtle drop shadow. I did this for two reasons, for aesthetics, but also because it would make the audience look twice, and perhaps harder, at my poster because the word is, in a way, camouflage but is still easy to read. I found a ‘15 TBC’ image on http://google.co.uk/images and removed it from its white background using the magic wand tool and then changed its colour to black. I also used the same method on my film production company logo and located them either side of my films website at the bottom of the page, as all three appear to be conventions of any film poster. I used the font ‘steel tongs’ to create credits on my poster as this is used on virtually every film poster out there. I formatted it in a way that most film posters use: I put the information in a smaller font and then put the relevant names in a larger font and I put all the text in black so as to contrast the background so it would be easy to read if necessary. Lastly, I typed a tagline ‘we all have a choice’ which is relevant to the storyline, and selected a colour from the background using the dropper tool and typed it in this font and make it slightly transparent so the clouds show through the writing, which would be very easy to read when in its original, intended size, but perhaps not so much in the above images. The second largest text on the page is the release date, which I added last as an improvement since the first draft, since my research data told me that people thought this was very important on posters. Though I typed it in white font, I gave it a dark dropshadow to make it easier to read.
I believe my film poster is very effective in ascertaining genre and storyline and is fit for purpose. Having asked three random people around college what they thought the film was about just by looking at the poster, all three said ‘some kind of drama’ and ‘death’ and one said ‘escaping’ which is true. I have worked in all the codes and conventions of drama posters I found throughout my research: a duplicated image which a transparent layer for dramatic effect, a faded image for aesthetics, a sad/worried/looking into the distance expression on the photograph image which sets the tone of the film, a large title and release date, a tagline, credits, a movie website, film production logo, a BBFC classification/rating, dark colours and the colour blue and clouds to connote death. I used the font ‘lucida calligraphy’ for the title, release date and tagline and this is the font I used for the title and credits in my film and as the title on my magazine double page spread because this adds a level of continuity and branding which is important in the marketing of any film.
I have been carefully analysing film posters of a similar genre to my film in preparation for the construction of my own film poster. Above, I have posted six examples of posters which I believed to portray films of the genre of ‘drama’ however, each film also has its own sub-genre, whether it be romance, as in David Cameron’s ‘Titanic’ or something more sinister such as crime in ‘The Lovely Bones.’ My film is a teenage drama but, alike to the previous examples, also focuses on another genre/topic: suicide. Upon studying the above posters, I have noticed similarities between them, hence, things I should incorporate into my own poster in order to illustrate the fact that my film is also a drama. These include: every image above appears to have a background layer which is suitably colourised for the genre. Mostly, these are ‘gritty’ textured backgrounds, images of landscapes/clouds or out of focus lights to highlight the importance of the main, foreground image. This also adds effect and meaning; the semiotic view of this would show how this enables the audience to make mental links and ascertain the genre; an out of focus background/background of clouds for example, shows how the background is, to some extent, unimportant; that it is the protagonist who is the sole interest in the film. This also demonstrates how the protagonist may be deep in thought, therefore, may me struggling with some sort of issue, which is intriguing to those who see it and draws in an audience. For similar reasons, it is worth noting that half the posters above, and many out there, feature images which have been faded or feathered. As well as the previous reasons stated, this can often be for aesthetic reasons; feathering allows images to fade into text/other images/a background and looks more professional than having harsh edges floating in the middle of the poster. Next, it is worth noticing that the title is always the largest text on the page. This is simply because the whole purpose for the film poster’s existence is to advertise the film and people need to know the name of the film in order to view it/search it on the internet/book tickets/buy it in the future. The second largest text on the page tends to vary between posters. Some of the time, it is a tag line to allure the audience, however, it is often the star(s) of the film’s names. If the film’s protagonist is played by a well known, big, Hollywood actor, it is likely to attract a wider audience. Drama posters conventionally appear to feature darker colours and contrasting text. Blues, greys and blacks connote sadness, misery and hurt which tend to be main themes in dramas.
I have carried out a survey in order to discover what other people, who do not and have never studied media or film studies or the study of semiotics, to tell me what they feel are the most important aspects of film posters. I surveyed twenty willing participants overtly, and have posted the results in bar chart form below.
All twenty participants responded that the most important things that they would always expect to see on a film poster were that it is relevant to the genre, is eye-catching, shows the title and that the place it is displayed is important. When I questioned them on why they thought this, they all replied in a similar manner. The title and genre and the fact that it must be eye-catching are important to draw in the viewing and they also felt this to be important to build their own understanding of the film’s contents and whether they want to see it. All the aspects in the bar chart appear to be important as all but one were voted for by more than half of the participants. Therefore, I will incorporate all of these into my poster.
Below is the first draft of my film poster. Things I would like to change before presenting the final product: I would like to add a release date and gather some opinions on it.
The above image demonstrates the different types of camera shots, angles and movements and was taken from http://google.co.uk/images. I will be incorporating many of these shot types into my own A2 media coursework with the help of my group members. For our first shot, the camera will be set on a tripod in order to get a still and steady one, which is imperative due to its nature. Our first shot will be a close-up of the protagonist’s facial expression; this will instantaneously ascertain the negative tone of the film and set the atmosphere. There will then be a cut before the camera will begin to track the protagonist from behind as she walks around her bedroom getting ready for college- for this, the camera will be handheld in order to add a sense of realism to the scene. There will then be another cut and the next shot will be an establishing one, set on a tripod, shot from across the road outside the protagonist’s house in order to show her leaving her house and walking up the road- she will literally walk off camera. The next shot will be shot off a tripod as well and will also be an establishing long shot, showing the character sat at a bus stop, next to a group of noisy teenagers of the same age. This will allow the audience to compare and contrast the character with similar characters of her age and further recognise her solemn state. Another cut will then occur. The next shot will be handheld, again to add realism to our film, and will purposefully be shaky, seeing as it will be shot on the bus, and will show the character gazing out of the window, contemplating. Here, there will be a cut. There will then be an establishing shot from the front of a classroom which will show other members of the class conversing, whilst the protagonist looks pained. The shot will cut, and the next will be identical to a previous shot, shot from across the road, but will show the girl walking in the opposite direction down the road and into her house. It will then cut and go to a low shot of the protagonist’s feet and lower legs, with her trousers round her ankles and the sound of running water in the background; this will, to the majority, convey the image that she is on the toilet. Here, it will cut. The next shot will be a handheld close-up of a positive pregnancy test, and will be slightly prolonged in order to mirror the protagonist’s thought process in the audience; she will be staring at it in disbelief, as will the audience as they process the information. The film will cut here and we will edit in a five second black screen before it cuts back to a downward shot of the protagonist lying on her bedroom floor, surrounded by white pills (we shall be using tic tacs as prescription pills). This shot will also be slightly prolonged before we cut to credits in order for the audience to realise that the protagonist appears to have committed suicide.
Last year, at Advanced Subsidiary level, our media coursework required us to construct a two minute (approximately) introduction to a film. My partner and I decided to create the opening to a horror film. Below, I have posted the final media product which I submitted for AS coursework. For this coursework, I received a grade B.
I believe the production of my film opening went quite well and I was pleased with the final outcome. I carefully considered the conventions of the genre of horror and tried to incorporate them into my media product. Hence, I used low lighting because darkness is seen as threatening, frightening and creates vulnerability. I used a single character, which is often the case in the introduction to horror films. This is usually because the character dies under suspicious circumstances, and it is up to the characters who appear later in the films to discover how and why they died. The inclusion of a phone call further demonstrated how alone the character is, and feels, alone and the dialogue shows how the character already has her suspicions that something is not right and how scared she is. I used a downward shot in the kitchen to portray the vulnerability of the protagonist and, later on, a close up of her face to show her terrified expression and her screaming. Overall, I feel the shots we used conformed to the conventions of horror and were varied.
However, there are things that I feel could have been improved if I were to film again. I felt that the lighting was inconsistent; in some shots, the light was fairly bright and had orange tones to it, although in some, filmed in the same location, they were dark and blueish. This was due to the natural daylight outside changing and was therefore beyond my control. However, if I had allowed myself more time to shoot, I could have filmed at the same time on two consecutive days, therefore achieving a more consistent light. I also encountered a continuity error. In one shot in the kitchen, there was a mug on the counter which had a picture printed on it. In the next shot, there was a white porcelain mug in its place, as discussed in the continuity post below. Lastly, if I were to complete this project again, I would add noise to the protagonists scream, prolonging it and giving it a sharp noise effect.
This year, I will be instead shooting a five minute (approximately) short film for my A2 coursework. I do feel that my skills have developed since AS enough so that I can improve the areas mentioned above that I was not happy with. As you can clearly see from my blog, I have been working on my skills in many areas. As well as learning how to use Photoshop and InDesign, I have further developed my abilities in using Final Cut Pro, the software I used to edit my footage last year. Last year, I was barely able to import, cut and add text effects. Since then, I, along with a group of people on my course, have filmed a one minute film as practice in using equipment and editing software. This taught me how to do various things such as add slow motion, colourise and add effects. I will attempt to use some of these in post production this year. This year, I will put careful consideration into continuity and lighting also.
The ‘one minute film’ challenge.
In preparation for the construction of our short films, we were challenged to make a one minute movie. This idea was based on that of the ‘48 hour film project’ which takes place on a global scale and has led to many successful film makers being thrust into the spotlight and leading successful careers. The founders of 48HFP described the project as so: ‘the 48 Hour Film Project is a wild and sleepless weekend in which you and a team make a movie—write, shoot, edit and score it—in just 48 hours. On Friday night, you get a character, a prop, a line of dialogue and a genre, all to include in your movie. 48 hours later, the movie must be complete. Then it will show at a local theater, usually in the next week. In 2012, over 50,000 filmmakers will make almost 4,000 films in 120 cities on 6 continents around the world. Over the 11 years of 48 Hour Film Project over 19,000 films have been made by 278,000 people.’ Information on the 48 hour film project can be found at http://48hourfilm.com.
We each chose team members and separated into groups of about three or four people. Each member of each team then had to select a piece of paper from a different cup each. In the end, each team ended up with a character, a prop and a line of dialogue which had to be shown in the film. Our film had to include: a doctor, a ball and the line ‘do you like films about gladiators joey?’ At first, we found this idea incredibly difficult to deal with and were generating some basic ideas. In the end, we chose to use one character; the protagonist was to be a doctor (we dressed the actor, Ross, in scrubs and a mouth cover to convey this) who appeared, to the audience, to be performing an operation. The person on the operating table dies, and the doctor sits down, clearly being driven to insanity by his career, he asks the deceased patient ‘so, joey, do you like films, films about gladiators?’ and then plays with his stress ball before throwing it to the ground (which we edited in slow motion) and walks out. The final shot pans down to see that all that is on the operating table is the family household game, Operation. We thought this idea was humorous as well as quite clever.
To conclude, my experiences drawn from the construction of my AS coursework (the introduction to a film) and the creation of my one minute movie have helped me further develop my skills which I can now apply to my A2 media coursework (a short film).