This Goes Up To 11…

Been meaning to post this for a while, and a discussion in class reminded me to do so…


It’s really important that you collect and view a number of sources as reference for your own product. It’s not a case of encouraging you to mindlessly ape what others have done, it’s about giving your research enough depth and breadth so you have options as you consider your scripts. It will also give you ideas for shots and editing when you start filming and then panicking as you get nearer your deadline. (Never underestimate the power of a good panic!)

To that end, here are a few documentaries and ‘mockumentaries’ that may prove useful/entertaining/thought-provoking. Some are available on Netflix or Amazon, others I have and will let you borrow if you think they’ll be useful. Happy researching!

First up is one of the most horrific films/documentaries I’ve ever seen: The Cove (2009). It’s an Oscar™ winning film about the annual killing of dolphins in Japan. It is not for the squeamish. It is also not immune from criticism for its portrayal of the Japanese whaling industry and the methods used to make the film. Here’s the trailer:

Another serious documentary worth watching is Michael Moore‘s Bowling for Columbine (2002). It addresses America’s infatuation with guns, and is notable for many things, not the least of which is that the oft reviled Marilyn Manson comes across as an articulate and intelligent commentator on the horrific shootings that he was partially accused of causing. Here’s the trailer:

The next one is short, and jaw-droppingly beautiful, but switch off the ‘awe factor’ section of your brain and switch on the ‘how and why did they film that’ bit (Hint: There’s a ‘making of’ video). Welcome to Danny MacAskill: The Ridge

And finally (for now… as it’s late… and I’ve got school tomorrow…)

The ultimate Rock music (spoof) documentary… it’s far too close to the truth, and it goes up to 11: This Is Spinal Tap!

Watch lots, and think “How did they do that?”, “Why did they do that?”, “Do I want to do that?”, and “How can I do that?”


Ho Ho Ho…

Time for another viewing list, methinks… and the theme this time is Christmas! (I know… how do I manage to be so original all the time?)

As before, 5 films in the list, and a bonus stocking filler in the shape of a film that I’ve still to see. So, with that, let’s open Santa’s Sack™ and spread some Christmas joy…

First up is Gremlins.

Joe Dante’s film is 30 years old now… which is quite a scary thought in itself. If you haven’t yet seen it, it’s the tale of a loveable little pet (called a “mogwai”) that has a darker side when wet and fed after midnight. It’s delightfully bonkers and cute, and the stand out scene involves a gremlin and a food processor. ’Nuff said!

1988-acc-d-webNext is the first of two films based on Dickens. It is, of course, Scrooged. I could go on at length about how good it is, about how cleverly it adapts the original, or how it is a witty critique of the media, but instead, I’m going to use just two words to explain why you should watch it: Bill. Murray.


Die-Hard-Alan-Rickman_lFrom the sublime to the ridiculous… Die Hard (the first one!)
It took me years to realise DH is actually a Christmas film with all the necessary Christmas movie ingredients in the shape of a Todorovian plot, and the mandatory happy ending with the estranged husband and his wife getting back together. Plenty of room for media analysis, but my wife tells me the real reason it is so good is simple. Alan Rickman delivers a delightfully over-the-top performance as Hans Gruber and in a breathtakingly wonderful way steals every scene he is in. “Yippee ki yay!”

Christmas demands animation… and not Wallace and Gromit. The best animated Christmas film of recent years is the one you’ve all seen, The Nightmare Before Christmas. You’ve all seen it, and you all know why it’s on this list. Tim Burton is a genius and , even though he just makes the same film every time, at least it’s a good one. 🙂


And to (almost) finish off, the most traditional Christmas film on my list, A Muppet Christmas Carol. There is something wonderfully anarchic about the Muppets, and this film is about as good as they ever were. Special hat tip to Michael Caine who turns in a solid performance as Ebenezer Scrooge. He doesn’t try to compete with the Muppets when on screen and the film is all the better because of that.


And finally, a film I only heard about a wee while ago, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. I’ve yet to see it, but it sounds right up my street given it promises fields of slaughtered reindeer, nothing for the ‘good kids’ but the naughty children are punished. The respected American film critic, Roger Ebert, called it “…an R-rated Santa Claus origin story crossed with The Thing.” All going well, Santa will bring it to me… I’ll keep you posted! 😉


As ever, feel free to give your suggestions and recommendations in the comments. 🙂

Assessment Arrangements

Hi class…

Based on some feedback, I thought it wise to remind you of the assessment arrangements, a.k.a. What You Have To Do™ 😉

SQA Higher Media

SQA_Full_colour_cmykThere are two specific units of study that will generate the evidence for your final grade. These are:

  • Analysing Media Content – Assessed in the external examination
  • Creating Media Content – Assessed by submitted assignment

Both contribute 50 marks (or 50%) towards your final grade.

The Assignment (50%)

This is the report you write up about creating and making your product. It has two parts, each worth 25 marks.

  • Part 1: Planning (25 Marks)
  • Part 2: Development (25 Marks)

Your LogBook is your essential record of the work and planning that you put into your finished product. The Planning stage is what we are working on at the moment (pre-production phase).

The Examination

You will sit a final examination in 2015 which will contribute 50% of your final grade. This will consist of a two hour exam with 2 questions as follows:

  • Question 1: Media Content in Context (30 Marks)
  • Question 2: The Role of Media (20 Marks)

Question 1 will be your response to, and analysis of, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert (for example). Question 2 will discuss the importance of the media (For example, by looking at issues surrounding The Sun and The News of the World).

This is why you hear me talking about Question 1 or Question 2 in class!

Hopefully this will clear up any confusion you may have, and I’ll go over this with you in class before the Christmas break. As ever, ask any questions in the comments, or in class! 😉

The Engines Cannae Take It…

Hi class,

Thanks for trying to make sense of what I was doing…  think we’ve all realised I was being far too ambitious. That said, it’ll allow me to hone the idea.

Here are the initial ‘rules’ with slight revisions.

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And here is the sheet with all the cards on it. I’ve already realised I have too many ‘People Cards’, and I think they are too specific, so they will be changed very quickly.Click this link to download => Read All About It

As you know, this is a work in progress, and I already have several ideas for making it work better, but I’d really appreciate any thoughts you have. Once I can get this working, I’m intending having it printed onto playing cards so it is much easier to use. We’ll look at actual Press judgements tomorrow. You can have a look for yourself by visiting the old Press Complaints Commission adjudication page here: PCC Adjudication Page.


Ironic or Hypocritical?

I’m working on the files for tomorrow’s class and keeping an eye on Twitter as I go when this retweet caught my eye. So, what do you think? Ironic or hypocritical?

sun page 3 whit

PS: I’m quite excited about what I’m trying to do for class… but I’ll need your help to make it work and improve it. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, but if you have time, read through the IPSO Code of Practice for Editors and the NUJ Code of Conduct (below).


Some Goodies For You

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Just a couple of ‘treats’ for you… many more to come in class tomorrow.

First up is the Production Calendar. All the relevant dates for completing the three phases plus the write up for submitting to the SQA. You will get time in class for your making your product, but you will need to be prepared to use some of your own time as well.

PHS Media – Roles and Schedule 14-15

The other file just now is a Pre-Production Checklist. You must complete all of the tasks on it before you get to start the production itself.

PHS Pre Production Checklist

And finally, I’d just like to offer my thanks to Mr Pickavance who teaches Media at Dunblane High School. He has allowed me to adapt his Higher Media documents for you to use… much easier and quicker than me having to reinvent the wheel… again!