Media Studies: Students Reveal Stunning GCSE Projects
With the Bede's Oscars set to celebrate Fifth aqnd Sixth Form Media and Film Studies work on Friday, now seems like a perfect time to explore this year's crop of GCSE controlled assessment pieces.
To further elucidate the work that has gone into this year's projects, I sat down with two of the students to ask them why they made the choices they did across the year.
Alina Wiltshire and Hugh Churcher decided to promote Tom's Shoes for one of their controlled assessments, creating a number of pieces for a proposed advertising campaign.
Alina and Hugh, like the rest of their peers, had a large amount of creative license as to how they approached their subjects, as well as training in a wide range of software including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign and cameras and lighting equipment which they borrowed from the Film and Media Studio.
"We chose Tom's because really like the shoes themselves and we were both keen to do a campaign with more of an ethical, socially aware kind of feel to it," Alina explained.
"Neither of us wanted to do a big, well-established brand. We wanted a softer sort of feel for a less well-known brand that would give us more freedom."
For part of the campaign, the students had to create a TV advert - a process which saw them using sound and film editing software as well as a huge range of different film-making techniques.
Exciting and challenging as this process was, it was also very rewarding, as Hugh described.
"We were both really conscious of shooting an ad about water shortage in Africa because we are not African and you have to be really careful not to patronise either your subjects or your audience. But at the same time you are trying to be hard-hitting and emotive, so it's a balancing act to find the right tone."
By keeping their film quite simple, using several shots of feet and only a few shots of the protagonist's face, Alina and Hugh emphasised their primary subject as an individual but worked to ensure that they did not dwell too closely on her.
"We shot the whole ad in Sussex," said Alina, "so we needed to use lots of colour filters and sound-effects to create the right sort of dry African ambience. It was amazing to see how sound can change the atmosphere of the images."
The students also chose to add narration to their piece, using a voice that was "firm but also with a compassionate feel," eventually opting to use vocal talent from close to home.
"Our friend Phil sounds confident and mature, which was what we wanted, and thankfully he was really patient with us!" said Hugh.
As well as being assessed on many other elements of the adverts, choices about colours and graphics to brand the ad are a key component, with Hugh and Alina using blue with a sort of slightly distressed stamp effect.
"Tom's is not a flashy brand," said Alina, "and we wanted a sense of authenticity and honesty to it. That's one of the reasons why I used a canvas backdrop in my print ad. Plus, with our slogan at the end, we felt that 'One for One' works, as it links well to the idea of teamwork, mutual support and, again, not making Somali people seem desperate or dependent."
"Also," Hugh added, "We animated the text on screen during the moving image advert to add a little more visual interest to the ad, as we know that younger audiences prefer this. We tried to make it resemble a lyric video but without making it really obvious and crass."
With a huge amount of work going into this year's GCSE Media projects, Alina and Hugh represent only two of several dozen pupils who could speak at length about their projects, some of which is embedded in this article.
Furthermore, it has been extremely exciting to watch all the hard work and imagination the students have poured into these projects; as many of the GCSE students we are currently teaching will be joining Mr Hallford, Mr Hickman and I again in the Sixth Form, I can say with some confidence that I am very excited to see what these talented students might achieve in the future.