Monday, June 18, 2018

Magazines: Oh Comely - Close-textual analysis

We need to analyse selected pages from Oh Comely to explore how it is constructed and what it communicates to its audience.

Oh Comely deliberately offers an alternative version of the women's lifestyle magazine genre and we need to explore how design, content and conventions are used or subverted to create this effect. We also need to consider the different representations that can be found in these features.

We recommend you buy your own copy of Issue 35 of Oh Comely - the selected CSP issue. You can order this from the Oh Comely website here. Alternatively, selected pages of the magazine are currently available to view online through the website Issuu here

Oh Comely close-textual analysis: blog tasks

Work through the following tasks to complete your close-textual analysis of the Oh Comely CSP pages:

Front cover

1) What do the typefaces used on the front cover suggest to an audience?

2) The words under the title introduce the content and topics addressed. What do these suggest about the potential audience of Oh Comely?

3) How do the cover lines use narrative to create enigma? What do the cover lines suggest about the magazine's content and audience?

4) Write an analysis of the central image.

5) What representation of gender can be found on this front cover?

Feature: Speaking Out

1) What does the headline and standfirst suggest about Oh Comely's feminist perspective?

2) What do the interviewees in this feature suggest about the values and ideologies that underpin this magazine?

3) How conventional is the page design in this feature? Why?

4) Pick out specific aspects of this feature that subvert the stereotypical representation of women in the media. Are they different to what we may find in conventional women's lifestyle magazines such as Glamour or Cosmopolitan? Why is the absence of men a key feature of Oh Comely?

5) How does the photography offer a fresh or unusual perspective on women?

Feature: More than gender

1) How does this feature offer a fresh perspective on gender and identity?

2) What is the significance of the writer and photographer? How does this fit with the Oh Comely brand?

3) What style of photography is used in this feature?

4) What representations of the trans lifestyle can be found in this feature?

5) Why is the biographical information at the end of the article significant? (Clue: the writer is also an editor of a niche, creative magazine called Entitle).

You will have lesson time to complete this but will need to finish for homework - due next week.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Preliminary exercise: research suggestions

In order to make an effective genre scene, you need to familiarise yourself with the genre.

Deciding whether to work with the horror or coming of age drama genres will be one of the most crucial decisions you make in your entire coursework production. Consider your options carefully!

The film trailers below will help you decide which genre to go with - and also give you ideas for potential scenes you could write and film next week.

Coming of age drama genre

Y Tu Mama Tambien


Bend It Like Beckham


Lady Bird

Horror genre

It Follows


Get Out

28 Days Later

Blair Witch (2016 version - original also worth watching)

Example of horror scene: 28 Weeks Later opening sequence

Monday, June 11, 2018

Magazines: Oh Comely - Audience

Our second Magazine Close-Study Product is the niche women's lifestyle publication Oh Comely.

We need to study both the target audience for Oh Comely and the audience pleasures that readers get from the magazine.

Notes from the lesson

Oh Comely magazine is a niche women’s lifestyle publication with a strong feminist perspective. It launched in 2010 and publishes six issues a year. It describes itself:

Oh Comely is a curious, honest and playful independent magazine. It’s a place to meet strangers, hear their stories and look at life a little differently – where our readers are our writers and our models, too.

“Each issue we pick a theme and see where it takes us. We try something old, something new and something that scares us a bit. Then we present our findings in a beautiful, artbook style, putting new writing, photography and illustration talent at the heart of it.”

Oh Comely audience

Social Media Reach: 100,000 
Readers Per Issue: 25,000 
Average Age of reader: 27 
Sold through independents, WHSmith and international outlets

Oh Comely offers: “Access to a difficult to reach and highly-targeted niche demographic of creative women who spend money on the things they love.”

Oh Comely is a powerful mix of words and pictures, stylishly presented and much loved by its readers. It provides an alternative to the ‘pile-it-high-sell-it-cheap’ aesthetic of mainstream magazines for young women, and this is why it has carved a loyal niche of fans. It is a breath of fresh air for a creative audience desperate to find something that speaks to them directly in an accessible, intelligent and interesting voice.”



Oh Comely magazine's description of itself would suggest targeting the Reformer and Explorer psychographic groups with an emphasis on creativity, self-discovery and a rejection of consumerism and commercialisation.

Audience pleasures

There are many potential audience pleasures for Oh Comely readers. Applying Blumler & Katz’s Uses & Gratifications theory, three in particular would be:

Personal identity: Readers enjoy having their quirky, creative lifestyle and feminist viewpoint endorsed and reflected by the magazine.

Personal relationships: Oh Comely is presented in a particularly personal way. It is the creation of three university friends, the magazine offers background on the contributors and readers are encouraged to ‘get to know’ the editorial team.

Surveillance: Oh Comely deliberately looks to inform its readers about niche stories, events and people.

Oh Comely - Audience blog tasks

Read the Oh Comely website page on advertising and audience to get a good idea of the demographics and psychographics for the Oh Comely target audience then answer the following questions:

1) How does Oh Comely introduce itself?

2) How do the print circulation/readership statistics for Oh Comely compare to Men's Health?

3) How is Oh Comely distributed to the audience?
4) What do you think the target audience demographics for Oh Comely might be? Some details are provided by the magazine (e.g. average age 27) but make an educated guess on further demographic details.

5) What psychographic groups might be attracted to Oh Comely?

6) What social class classification would you expect most Oh Comely readers to be? Why?

7) What level of education would you expect for most Oh Comely readers? Why?

8) What audience pleasures are offered by Oh Comely?

9) It has been suggested Oh Comely is a “magazine about people, their quirks and creativity rather than money and what it can buy”. How does the design and advertising content of Oh Comely support this view?

10) Why do you think Oh Comely has been able to build a loyal audience of subscribers in the eight years since it launched? Think about audience demand, rival magazines and the overall media landscape in the digital age.

Complete for homework - due next week Friday. 

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Coursework: Preliminary exercise

We are starting our coursework unit with a preliminary exercise: a chance for you to refresh your technical production skills prior to creating your actual production.

This is a vital element of the overall coursework as it gives you the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them without it impacting on your grade. There's also another crucial factor here too: this is your opportunity to enter work for the 2018 Media Awards in October! Your actual coursework productions won't be complete in time for the 2018 Media Awards so this gives you a chance to see your work up on the big screen.

Preliminary exercise: film scene

Task: Create a scene from either a horror or coming of age drama genre film.

Length: 1-2 minutes

Equipment: Your own camera, smart phone or sign out a school Canon SLR.

Groups: None. You MUST work individually. However, other people can act in the film or operate equipment (e.g. camera, sound) as long as they are directed by the candidate submitting the work.

What your film needs to include

Content: Your scene must include at least two characters that either reinforce or subvert stereotypes.

Camerawork: You must include an establishing shot, long shot, medium shot, close-up, extreme close-up, over-the-shoulder shot and either a high or low angle shot. You also must include both fixed camera (tripod) shots and camera movement (e.g. handheld, tracking, pan etc.)

Editing: You must include match-on-action, shot-reverse-shot and adhere to the 180 degree rule.

Sound: You must include dialogue and/or voiceover, non-diegetic sound (e.g. music), diegetic sound (e.g. dialogue, ambient sound, foley sound/SFX).

Mise-en-scene: iconography to establish genre - actor placement/movement, costume and make-up, props, setting etc.

Deadlines *STOP PRESS* deadlines extended due to PPEs

Planning deadline: Wednesday 20 June

Filming deadline: Wednesday 27 June

Final deadline: Wednesday 4 July

Important note: you will submit this film for the 2018 Media Awards.

Research and planning tasks

Create a blogpost called 'Research and planning' and complete the tasks below. First, watch this clip on the mistakes beginner filmmakers make - it will help you identify the errors to avoid when planning and shooting your film.

There are loads more tips and tutorials from Darius Britt (D4Darius on YouTube) that we would recommend watching as part of your research and planning. These include:

Now complete the following tasks:

1) State the genre you have chosen - horror or coming of age drama.

2) Choose at least five films in your selected genre and watch the trailer and one scene from each film. Make bullet-point notes on everything you watch, commenting on camerawork, editing, sound and mise-en-scene.

3) Write a 250 word statement of intent for your film scene. This should follow AQA's guidance (look in your coursework booklet) and clearly lay out how you will use media language to meet your brief. You should also discuss what representations you plan to create (either reinforcing or challenging stereotypes) and how your scene would appeal to an audience. 

4) Write a script for your film scene. You'll find guidance for writing a script in the BBC Writers' Room (click on the Script Library to read real examples of professional scripts).

5) Storyboard at least five key shots from your scene, take a photo of the storyboard and upload it to your blogpost. What visual style are you trying to create? Storyboard sheets are available in DF07.

6) Write a shot list containing EVERY shot you plan to film AND additional shots to create flexibility when editing. These additional shots are often close-ups, cutaways, alternative angles or similar. I advise using a simple table on Microsoft Word to set out your shot list - you can find an example here

7) Plan your mise-en-scene: what iconography are you including to ensure your audience understands the genre? Plan your cast, costume, make-up, props, lighting and setting.

8) Plan a shooting schedule that will ensure everything is filmed by Wednesday 27 June. Include when, where, who is required and what shots you will complete at each time/location.

Research and planning deadline: Wednesday 20 June

Music video: end of unit index

We have now completed our work on Music Video and need to complete a short index to ensure we haven't missed any vital notes or research.  

As we've established now, keeping an index of all your work is extremely good practice from a revision perspective. This keeps the vital CSP information fresh in your mind and also highlights if you've missed anything through absence or trips. This is particularly important with your end-of-year exam approaching. 

Music Video: index

Your final Music Video index should include the following:

1) Music Video - introduction and factsheet questions
2) Music Video theory and This Is America analysis
3) Common - Letter to the Free context and analysis
4) Michael Jackson - Billie Jean context, analysis and MM article

For your index, it needs to link to YOUR corresponding blogpost so you can access your work and revision notes quickly and easily. This also means you if you have missed anything you can now catch up with the work/notes and won't underperform in the Year 12 exam due to gaps in your knowledge.

Important: your index needs to be completed by Wednesday. Any missing work MUST be caught up by that deadline too.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Year 12 Media exam - revision and preparation

Your Year 12 A Level Media exam is on Friday 15 June in the afternoon.

This is a crucial exam as it will form the basis of your predicted grade for university applications next year.

To answer one question that has come up a couple of times: you will only have ONE Media exam at the end Year 12. This is because we haven't covered all the content in the specification yet. For the Year 13 PPEs next year you will have two Media exams that will replicate the real exams you will take in the summer of 2019.

Year 12 A Level Media exam: revision and preparation

You need to revise all of the following to make sure you're fully prepared for the end of Year 12 exam. Remember, a good starting point is the index we completed at the end of each unit.


MIGRAIN Introduction to Media
Here you need to look over all the concepts, theories and media terminology we learned from September to February. The MIGRAIN final index is here - look over this and your own index to make sure you know it.

Film & TV Language
For Film & TV Language, you need to pay particular attention to the technical film terminology used to analyse images and video. This will be useful both for your extended essay on TV drama and any unseen material in the exam. The Film & TV final index is here.

Assessment: learner responses and mark schemes
This will be arguably the most useful revision you will do. Look over your Media assessments this year - ideally your original exam paper but certainly your LR blogposts. What do you need to do to improve in future? This is the exam to put all of that into practice.

In addition, every assessment LR task had the mark scheme attached. These are based on real AQA mark schemes and all have extensive indicative content which suggests the answers the exam board are interested in. Read through the following carefully:

Section A
Section A will cover the targeted CSPs:

Section B
Section B will cover the in-depth CSPs and require an extended essay-based response:

Monday 4 June: Revision lessons

Due to a combination of Year 13 and GCSE final exams plus pre-exam revision sessions, we are unable to teach our normal Year 12 lessons on Monday 4 June (we don't have the staff or rooms). Instead, we are giving you that double lesson to make sure EVERYTHING on your blog is up-to-date so you can really kick-start your revision for the exam on Friday 15 June. 

Revision: top tips

The most important advice is simple: don't leave it to the last minute! There is too much information here to cram it in the night before so work an hour or two a day over the next three weeks to prepare for the exam. A couple of other words of advice:

  • The new exams specify certain theories - so you need to make sure you know, understand and can apply the key theories we've learned this year.
  • Textual analysis will definitely be part of the exam - so you need to make sure you can confidently apply media concepts and terminology (e.g. narrative, mise-en-scene etc.) to a variety of media texts.
  • For longer answers and the Section B essay questions, you need to demonstrate you have opinions on the big media debates (representation, media effects, the impact of new technology etc.)

There is plenty to take in here - you need to make sure you look over this regularly in the next few weeks. Good luck - and don't leave it all to the last minute!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Magazines: index so far

We have reached the halfway point in our Magazines unit with Men's Health completed.

Over half-term, you need to make sure all Men's Health tasks are completed as this will definitely come up in the end of Year 12 exam. As we've discussed before, keeping an up-to-date index of all your work is extremely good practice from a revision perspective. It keeps the vital CSP information fresh in your mind and also highlights if you've missed anything through absence or trips. 

Magazines index: Men's Health

Your Magazines index should include the following so far:

1) Men's Health - Audience
2) Men's Health - booklet blog summary
3) Men's Health - Representation journal article and questions
4) Magazine production task - learner response
5) Men's Health - Industries and the impact of digital media

If you are missing any of this work, make sure you catch up over half-term and post it alongside a completed index. Remember, for your index it needs to link to YOUR corresponding blogpost so you can access your work and revision notes quickly and easily.