Category Archives: Media Futures

Media Futures documentary analysis

Today we presented our finished media futures documentary in front of our class peers. We each spoke about our roles, what we wanted to achieve and what we thought we could have done better. I spoke about how we wanted to create a ‘show don’t tell approach’ by not using a voiceover and the types of equipment I used to film the interview and cutaways.

I realized while watching our own work and the other group’s work that our documentary lacked substance due to the fact that on watching it, it seemed like a stylised interview with intermittent cutaways, rather than a documentary, or maybe a snippet from a longer documentary. Next time, I am aware that we need to put together a comprehensive, detailed shot list as one of the first tasks so we are all aware of what we need to shoot and how much we need to shoot.

I am, however, mostly with how it turned out. The interview went really well and, visually, I think it’s really interesting. The fact we filmed our interview on two cameras (both DSLRs) gives it a dynamic feel, with one static camera and the other one capturing different angles of James Dalby speaking, annotating with his hands and different shots of the library where we hosted our interview. I noticed that this was a technique that no one else had used, which made me feel proud of us as a group.

We weren’t too keen on the idea of a formulaic, chronological documentary with a perfunctory narration over shots of the Clifton suspension bridge, so we instead went for a different style, which was fun to work with but possibly slightly ambitious at this point as our first production. Still, I would rather try something new and a little different and learn some valuable lessons than sticking with what we know. I like to be ambitious in my work, and if it doesn’t come out prefect first time then at least I can identify what can be done better next time.

The things I didn’t like about how the final edit turned out was the fact that the music that decided on during the editing process was too upbeat and loud to go along with the interview. In some parts it looked as though our interviewee, James Dalby, was almost rapping along with the music, giving the overall interview a strange, slightly humorous feel. I also felt as though the footage of the interview could have been edited together better because in some parts we had the audio from one clip being played over another shot of Dalby speaking – the class and panel mentioned this in their feedback to us after watching our documentary.

Next time, I also think we need to have better communication with our interviewee. I think that the reason he struggled with answering our questions directly was because he had hardly been briefed beforehand. It will remain a priority next time, to give our interviewee a full detailed description of what our documentary is about and what we are trying to find out from him.

Overall, though, I do really like the look of our documentary and for a first production, in such a big group (nine of us), I think we pulled it off well.


Research database

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The Arts House is a bohemian cafe in the heart of Stokes Croft that serves food made with locally sourced ingredients which is open between 10am and 11pm. The lower floor, however, is a space used for all sorts of arts activities including gallery space, poetry and cinema events and live music. We were interested in The Arts House because it is a creative hub brimming with lots of interesting arts and media. We originally wanted to interview the manager or owner but unfortunately we ran out of time and couldn’t fit a second interview into our documentary.

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Icon films are a robust, independent production company based in Bristol. They are The One Show’s preferred suppliers but also produce documentaries and supply footage for a variety of international companies. The reason I started researching Icon films is because when James Dalby gave a talk in the first week, he spoke about how he had been trying to get a job with them for a long time which sparked my interest and made me wonder why he wanted to work for them.

“We work with wild animals, household names, acknowledged experts in a diverse range of fields and bring accessibility, revelation and storytelling to the screen.” – Chris Farrell

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Idle hands is an independent record shop located in Stokes Croft which specialises in house, reggae, techno and bass music. Chris Farrell, owner, was enthusiastic about the idea of an interview. We were initially interested in the shop because we wanted to explore the flourishing independent side of Bristol’s media, however, after our first meeting with Tim, we decided to drop the idea as we decided as a group that it wouldn’t fit well enough with the rest of our documentary.

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Films at 59 are a pre and post production house which started up in 1990 and has grown substantially since then, branching out into equipment hire with its own database of people (including freelancers). They welcome filmmakers and crew of all ages and experiences to send in their cv for upcoming opportunities to shadow or be involved in a wide variety of production roles.

On finding this website, it inspired me to think about the dynamics of the film and media industry in Bristol and I wanted to incorporate this into our interview, debating the amount of creative freedom you may lose out on in a permanent role in comparison to freelance work.

This is where I first watched James’ showreel and browsed his website, researching the vast variety of work he has already undertaken. I found his inventions as inspiring as the array of footage shown on his showreel, from graphic work to a time lapse of a leaf decaying, building demolitions e.t.c.

He goes into detail about what his roles were on The One Show with Icon films and I will be interested in discovering how this differs to his new job as edit assistant at the BBC natural history unit.

Progress update – editing

Today I watched the (almost finalised cut) and it has posed a few concerns. I feel that we may have undershot cutaways and unfortunately, a few of my shots hadn’t been included in the edit. We have loads of great shots of our interview and a few of Bower Ashton but I feel that we should have gone out around Bristol more together, collecting a variety of intriguing cutaways to intertwine with the interview. I feel that next time, we will now to create a detailed shot list that we decide upon and create together as soon as we give out production roles. I am, however, really impressed with the documentary visually. The setup in the library works really well and I’m glad we used the sofas and lights to our advantage.

Research report

Research – We had some past students in to do a presentation about what they have been doing since they graduated from UWE and I picked up on the fact that the majority do their own freelance work, but also work for larger, conglomerate media companies. Possibly to maintain their creative needs as a filmmaker while also paying the bills and climbing the career ladder.

Independently and with my group, I began to start researching into the presence of independent media companies in Bristol and got interested in the way they run alongside the dominant, corporate companies more smoothly than where we come from (it seems). I looked a lot through lists of directories listing pages of production companies in Bristol and I also spent some time searching directories of freelances on sites like ‘films at 59’.

I was excited when our group was given James Dalby as an interviewee because I had really enjoyed listening to what he had to contribute when he came in to talk at UWE. I began my personal research by visiting his website and watching his show reel, revealing the broad variety of work he has done while working on The One Show as production, camera and edit assistant.

We wanted to gain an understanding from James of how his degree and the skills he has learnt from his degree have got him where he is today. We already knew that he is currently working for the BBC as an editor’s assistant and we wanted to discover what got him the job, was it due to his degree in filmmaking and creative media, his independent work or a combination of both? Hopefully this is answered in our documentary.

Sweding – The sweding workshops acted well as an icebreaker for our group of nine. We had fun with the time we had, picking out the most iconic quotes and scenes and exaggerating them. Unfortunately, looking back, this is what held our production back.

The sweding exercise made us realise the importance of developing a clear script and structure which forms the backbone of production, with the other elements coming later. Having so little time to create a 4 minute production, it became apparent how we work differently, what our technical abilities are like and how we gel together as a team.

TV studio – I really enjoyed working in the TV studio as it was nothing like I’d ever done before. The group had to work like clockwork to pull the exercise off in such a small time frame which I think gave an accurate simulation of what a real live newsreel would feel like.

I tried something new and decided to be the lighting operator which was a challenge but it was fun and made a change from being behind the camera. My work all had to be done before the cameras started rolling, rather the other way around. Lighting the main talk-show area was relatively easy but it was harder to light the green screened area because a black background had been chosen.


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Today was our first proper day of editing. At first we tried to use Avid in the editing suites on campus but we had a lot of issues importing our files and it was going to take a very long time to get anything done, so instead we used Adobe Premier pro at Aaron’s place. It was a shame that we couldn’t use the specified and preferred software but at least we were confident we could get it done this way.

We used the sound commentary that Pete created to sync the audio with the video. This was useful because it meant we didn’t have to spend as long as we might have on finding the useable diaScreen Shot 2014-11-29 at 21.05.37logue because Pete had already put it all together in one file with captions. Now that we have the audio and visuals of the interview synced up, next time we meet we will be able to add the rest of the cutaways and music.

Time lapse of the bear pit

This is an unedited, rough copy of a time lapse I did yesterday in the centre of Bristol. In our documentary, we wanted to highlight how large and small companies work alongside each other in Bristol. I think this bit of footage represents this well because it shows a small green grocers in front of Debenhams. Unfortunately, I had to cut the filming short so I wasn’t able to get the complete transition between day and night but I am happy with the moody, rolling clouds.