Hello again! This week, we’ll be capping off our revision of the Media course content by looking at your School Assessed Taskwork (SAT), or your media productions. If you were lucky enough to complete these productions, you will have done this around the middle of the year - unfortunately, not everyone was able to complete those productions this year. I’m very much aware of the restrictions that have made these productions especially difficult this year, but I’m confident that there are still lots of ways for all of us to prepare for this section of the exam!
In saying this, I am 99.9% that the SAT section of the exam is going to look a lot different compared to previous years. Because of the difficulties faced by so many students in their productions, I’m confident that these questions will be (but don't take this as a guarantee!):
Very general in nature, so that they are accessible to all students
Focused on the planning phase of your productions
However, there are still a number of areas we should be looking at for revision just in case - the exam can technically ask you about any stage in your media production process. Luckily, I have some tips to guide your thinking, and help you to reflect on what kinds of knowledge the exam might ask you to provide. Let’s firstly look at some of the initial steps in your production:
No matter whether you chose to make a film, an audio piece, a print or any other medium of production, your plans would have begun with research. Once we form an initial idea for our project, our research phase guides us into looking at similar examples that exist in the real world. One of the biggest components of this is to look at how codes and conventions are used in your researched examples. For example - let’s say we want to make a film like Get Out (2017). The first thing we’d need to do is watch Get Out and some similar films such as Split, Midsommar and Us. We would need to look at specific examples from these examples, and the easiest way to do this is to use the language of codes and conventions. Maybe lighting or sound or point of view were used in a really interesting way across these films - if you tried to copy or emulate these codes and conventions, that’s really good information to provide in your exam!
I should also note that we can funnel down our research ideas into ‘Genre and Style’ as well - identifying what genre our production falls into, and also its unique style.
Once we formed an idea of what genre, style, codes and conventions we wanted to try in our productions, the next step would have been to experiment! If an exam question asks you about experimentation, all you need to do is to provide examples of some relevant codes/conventions/skills, and write about how you tried them. You could write about how you tried one of the camera angles from the film Get Out, because you liked the way it created tension for the audience.
Once we’ve done our experiments, we may have met with mixed results. If that camera angle you tried worked really well, then that’s awesome! You’ll be able to reflect on that success, and tell the exam assessor how you ended up using that camera angle in the final version of your production. However, if the camera angle didn’t work so well, don’t panic because you’ll still have plenty to talk about! Reflection gives us the opportunity to look back on what went well, or what went wrong, and then consider how this helped us moving forward. Maybe, in finding out the camera angle didn’t work so well, you instead discovered a way to use lighting and your camera in a way that worked much better. These are the kind of anecdotes assessors are looking for; examples of how you looked back on your research and experimentation, and tried different options before settling on a production of some kind.
It should also be noted that your final production might not match up with your original plan at all, especially given the restrictions placed on us all this year. All this means is that you have a much bigger opportunity to describe how you adapted your plans. This is all achievable through reflection. One quote which I think is particularly useful here comes from a tutor in my teaching degree at uni, who shared this with me:
“We do not learn from experience...we learn from reflecting on experience” - John Dewey
If you’re still unsure about answering questions on your production, or looking for what else you might revise to include in your answers, there are some other places to look:
Any documentation you made during your production. Things like scripts, equipment lists and shot lists would have helped you to organise your production and synthesise your ideas. You can include the fact that you made these documents in your answers.
Opportunities and Constraints. Many of you may have found opportunities in finding a certain location to film, or enlisting the help of friends and family in your production. These are some helpful anecdotes that you can include in your responses. In terms of constraints, I am almost certain that everyone can think of a few examples of how their production was constrained this year.
As I said earlier, hopefully this section of the exam reflects how tricky this year was for students trying to complete their productions. I can’t imagine this section will give you too much trouble compared to previous years, but hopefully I’ve helped to guide your reflection on things you can mention in the exam. For the next few weeks with this blog, I’ll be running through some practice questions and other exam skills in the lead-up to your exam!
Have a question?
In the final weeks before exams Stefan will be hosting 2 Live Q&A sessions to help everyone get fully prepared for exams. If you have a question on how to best get prepared, have been stuck on an exam question or want to clarify an area of content send it through here, and Stefan might answer it live!