Friday, 23 April 2010

I Had Alot Of Trouble Remembering.

It seemed like the holidays were never going to end. My promise of all the shifts I could physically work fell a bit flat, and given that most of my friends have 'real' jobs I really didn't have that much to do during the day. Lying in til midday before making a trip to check my bank balance (which I'd stretch out to last about 3 hours) left me craving structure and bored out of my tiny mind... too much to even blog! By the time Sunday night rolled around, I was itching to get back into the swing of things, but all those late nights and late rises had gotten me into a pattern of bad sleep and an inability to, y'know, shake myself alive, so I was pretty chuffed that Monday was a nice, easy 2pm start.

We had a few classes with Barbara in the last weeks of term 2, talking about drama at the BBC. Drama series, I mean, not handbags at dawn drama. We kicked off the new term by looking at kids' shows, something I'd never taken into consideration before, let alone thought of it as a career. I'm pretty much hampered by my dislike of children and the fact that I find it difficult to censor myself. (I imagine if I ever ended up working with kids I'd try too hard to be 'cool', and open with a joke..."what's the number one cause of paedophilia?"* or something equally inappropriate).

Anyway, poor taste aside, it was an interesting wee class and we were sent off with the assignment of coming up with a kids' TV show of our own. Oddly, I didn't actually find it as hard as I did coming up with film premises for Richard... All I did was think of something I'd liked to have seen when I was a young 'un. The idea we came up with was all about teaching kids about art, film, history,etc by having them actually go 'inside it', one example episode was about Vincent Van Gogh and the idea of a pupil going into the painting and meeting the artist. Nothing dazzlingly original in terms of format, but it seemed to go down OK considering!

The next day saw the return of Techie Tuesdays...kind of. With Ray off on paternity leave, we were led by ex-graduate Dave, which left me feeling a lil bit behind... It's always the same withe me and anything practical when the teacher really knows what they're talking about. I hear words, I understand their individual meanings, but collectively it makes zero sense to me. I spent a full term in college doing the same with Photography, I think I know what I'm doing and plunder on ahead, but it's usually....not entirely right. There's usually one vital step missing. In this instance, I forgot to lock off the focus barrel on the lens. So if anyone was going to zoom or indeed move the camera, the focus would go all askew. Braw! Still, it felt good to be getting to grips with the cameras again- it's been so long since we had a tech class I was starting to worry that my sieve-like brain would have forgotten all but how to 'click' a camera into place on the tripod.

The afternoon saw us pitch our kiddy TV ideas to Barbara and delve a bit deeper into the frightening (for me) world of children's TV. Although considering the huge potential audience for children's television, it's definitely worth thinking about. It was strange having to plan the show exactly as you would an adult TV show, in terms of channel and time of day it'd be broadcast. In some ways, I found coming up with the idea easier because it's easier to understand what kids want... or what their parents want them to watch. There was also the challenge of trying to think up spin-offs, e.g online content, merchandising, etc... basically anything which would hold the attention of the fickle young audience and encourage them to spend their parents' hard-earned cash. What was difficult though, was trying to make them seem 'educational' enough that parents would actually want their children to go online and buy tie-in merchandise... such is the challenge of trying to appeal to an audience which is arguably the most easily influenced, but also reliant on someone else's disposable income. Damn!

Wednesday saw us once more pitch our idea for our TPA/DFTV collaboration, our own take on the 'University Lip-Dub'. We (Murray and myself, along Iain and Rosie from TPA) had already made our pitch before, to Adam and Ros Maddison, but this time it was higher still....the DEAN OF DRAMA. Eeekkk! A hasty morning meeting was arranged between me and Murray, since we had to re-write the whole ruddy thing (we weren't including the music school in the project anymore, and since the whole first pitch was about "One Academy" it needed a bit of...err..updating). Also, Iain was off so it was up to the two of us to try and win over Mr Hodgart with our flashy Powerpoint presentation, into giving us loads of money and permission to shut down the Academy for the day. And we did it all without once getting overly pally and referring to him as 'Shug'.

After that, it was nice to have a wee wind-down as we trooped back to AGOS 9 for Television & Society with Andy. Only this week, we had a visit from the equality and diversity officer, who told us there were no 'wrong' answers in a political correctness survey, but that some of our answers were wrong. Huh.....? We watched clips from old, old (1970s) British sitcoms It Ain't Half Hot, Mum and Love Thy Neighbour. The way in which jolly old British family racism is shamelessly played for laughs was quite nauseating- mostly because it wasn't very funny, rather than it being offensive. I couldn't believe one of the 'Indian' characters in Ain't Half Hot was actually a white actor 'blacked up'...presumably there aren't enough real Indian actors out there in Bollywood, eh? Or was it all part of the joke...? Either way, it was truly terrible.

We had a cancellation on Thursday afternoon, meaning our one and only class was in the morning- not too shabby, eh? We continued our History of Cinema with Andy, looking at ways in which film makers tried to keep audiences in the cinemas following the birth of the suburbs. With people moving out of the cities, and into the comfort of their own homes, they could easily watch their newly-available, mass-produced televisions, rather than drag their entire family back into the city. So, what to do??? Well, the only answer, it seemed, was to create eye-catching posters which people would remember.

One film maker, William Castle, went one step further, and became his own publicist. His (apparently dreadful) self-financed feature, Macabre, offered a life insurance payout of $1000 to anyone who 'died of fright' while watching- which had the audiences intrigued. (although not those with pre-existing heart conditions, shockingly they weren't covered). With each new film, Castle introduced bigger better the word here? OK, for alliteration's sake, better gimmicks to entice the masses back into their theatres. Tricks such as 'smell-o-vision', in which certain scents were pumped into the theatre when on screen, and 'illusion-o' (a kind of predecessor of 3D cinema... basically the glasses with one red lens and one green)were shamelessly employed to trick the audiences into believing they were part of an experience they couldn't get at home. Ultimately, the shclocky tactics couldn't last, although they did seem pretty successful in arousing intrigue in the trickery, rather than the movies themselves.

Considering the current decline in cinema audiences, and the rise in more and more pictures being released in 3D, it makes Castle's ambitious gimmicks seem far less outlandish...and scarily relevant to the state of cinema today.

Friday morning arrived and we had an extra-early screening- something which the more 'fragile' among us weren't entirely grateful for, but as it turned out I was pleasantly surprised by our morning film. The Best Years of Our Lives (1947) is just 10 minutes shy of being 3 hours long, but my attention was held for every minute. I actually started writing about it here, but I couldn't find any way of summarising this film into a paragraph or it's been given its own blog, where I can really do it justice!

After lunch, we had a huuuuge shock to the system- A FRIDAY AFTERNOON CLASS. We had screenings in the afternoon for part of the first term, but since then it's been a cheeky wee 12 o'clock finish, regular as clockwork. Luckily, we had more from Adam on Mobile&Web Content, a subject which I've found really interesting. It's not like conventional film-making, and the whole concept seems a bit huge to get my head around at the moment, especially since everything's so new- so new, in fact, that maybe new technologies are merely being 'talked about' and 'trialled'. To be at the forefront of something so innovative sounds really exciting.... whether or not I'll be saying that when I come up short with project ideas, I dunno, but for now I'm most intrigued....!

Sooooo, yeah, that was pretty much your by-the-numbers reflective week blog. Nothing terribly new, nothing too taxing, just a nice, easy week of getting back into the groove. Apparently this is the 'calm before the storm', and the workload this term is about to snowball, so I'm not complaining too much... Like Andy said, next term is a whole new year, it'll all be about 'real work' and we won't be the fresh-faced newbies anymore...sob!

*"sexy weans"

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