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Media making in context – A short film

Media making in context – A short film

I’m particularly enjoying the practical exercises on my MA course where I can situate creativity and media production within a theoretical framework whilst reflecting on the work I’ve done in schools. An area of developing interest involves contexts where learning through making lies between the structures of formal education and lived cultural contexts beyond school. This interstitial space or zone is described nicely by Burn in which objective procedures:

meet, merge, collide with subjective embodied experience, aspiration, desire… In Bourdieu’s scheme [habitus] is the systems of dispositions in which objective structures meet subjective thoughts, actions and perceptions. (Burn 2009 p.11)

In terms of media making, Habitus refers to the physical embodiment of cultural capital, to the deeply ingrained habits, skills, and dispositions that we possess due to our life experiences or more simply interplay of agency and structure.

The first term involved animation and an exercise in game design, the second term I looked into identity production through blogging and for the next few weeks during the moving image production module we turn our attention to film.  As students we’ve been encouraged to analyse our own processes and experiences and pick out ‘moments of wonder’.

It’s a been a while since I planned and shot a film so the first practical production exercise on my MA was a welcome challenge. It was also a nice opportunity to get out and make something with my family during the seventh week of lockdown. 

The brief

The story: Someone sees a small container (a box, a bag or a bottle). They don’t know if it contains treasure or poison. They approach it anxiously, and then start to open it. 

• Use a storyboard to plan your movie.

• Include at least eight shots.

• Film and edit your movie following the continuity system.

• Edit it so it lasts exactly 30 seconds.

The shots: Your movie must include at least one each of the following shots: • Closeup • Big or extreme closeup • Point of view shot • High angle or birds eye shot • Low angle shot • A shot with camera movement.

The storyboard

Creating storyboard for shoots is something I don’t usually tend to do when making films. I like to be planned and to sketch, but usually produce a shot list with written prompts emphasising action or directorial notes and then allow some freedom to improvise on the shoot. I worked with my daughter on the storyboard as a means of preparing her for the shoot itself. She got really involved, as she usually does with our collaborative projects, and enjoyed creating a persona and backstory for the character she would play. “Leah is a little girl who lives in the forest on her own undisturbed by adults.” Perhaps inspired by being cooped up with her Mum, Dad and Grandparents for seven weeks of lockdown!

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“Leah” applying some last minute touches to her hair and makeup.

I’m very lucky to have grown up and currently living in Somerset. The hills and countryside that surround Taunton are exceptionally beautiful especially during the spring. We found the location on a family walk a week or so ago so I was able to factor in features into my plan for the shoot.

The Shoot

Em was wonderful on the shoot. After walking through the simple story and deciding on where we would shoot what in the location, she quickly picked up an understanding of how we were constructing the scene and was very patient given the repetitive nature of shooting. She listened carefully and responded to directions admirably. The whole shoot took about an hour and half after which she was exhausted. After a strong start I tired quickly and never felt I reached the playful heights where instinct can drive your decisions. We also ended up picking up a couple of ticks which was rather disturbing.


For some reason I didn’t refer to my storyboard during the shoot and ultimately ended up missing a number of important shots. There is a fine balance between structure, discipline and the freedom to improvise. Achieving the desired state in which those magical instinctive moments occur requires complex internal negotiation. The lack of recent production practice meant I was nowhere near 


The edit


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