Plot Synopsis

February 10, 2010 at 3:01 pm (Uncategorized)

Education is a Social Realism film about the lives and experiences of 5 university students, Rick, Annie, Gaz, Steve and Declan. Annie and Gaz are in a destructive relationship, while  Rick watches from the sidelines as the girl he loves is torn apart by her abusive boyfriend. Steve and Declan spend their time doing what most first year uni students do: drinking, smoking and doing as little work as possible.

The opening sequence introduces us to the 5 main characters through a montage. As the film progresses, we gain a clearer insight into their lives and follow the experiences they go through over the course of the film.

Rick is a second year university student studying political economics at Coventry. He has been friends with Declan and Steve, two film studies students flunking their way through uni, since middle school, and shares a house with them. He met Annie during freshers week in his first year, she also studies political economics. He wants to be more than friends with Annie, but she has a long-term boyfriend, Gaz, who she’s been with for 4 years. Gaz is very violent and physically abuses Annie. Rick has his suspicions, but no proof. Over the course of the film, Declan and Steve start having troubles with their course and Steve starts to realize that his friendship with Declan is having a negative impact on his life when his girlfriends dumps him saying he loves Declan more than her. Annie and Gaz’s abusive relationship comes to a head after a night out, and Gaz ends up knocking out Annie. He is about to rape her when Rick bursts in and punches Gaz. Annie wakes up and they leave Gaz out cold on the floor. Declan ends up being kicked out of university, while Steve’s grades start to get better. Annie and Rick start dating and by the end of the film, all the problems from the beginning of the film are resolved.


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Finished Production

February 1, 2010 at 7:37 pm (Uncategorized)

I have now finished my Opening Sequence. The finished Product is below 🙂

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Audience Feedback

January 28, 2010 at 10:01 am (Uncategorized)

I have now nearly finished my editing. However, I wanted to get some Audience Feedback before totally completing my Opening Sequence. Audience Feedback is very important, as it gives you an idea of what the people who are actually going to watch the film think. Whole endings of films have been changed after being shown to an audience.

I asked several people from my Target Population to watch my Opening Sequence so far, and to feedback on what they thought was really good, and things that perhaps didn’t work so well. From the feedback I got, I decided to change a few things:-

I originally had freeze frames to end the individual sections of the characters. However, someone said that the final freeze frame, where the two male subjects high five each other, would look good if after the freeze frame the action carried on and they finished the high five. After thinking about this I looked at the other freeze frames to see if I could to the same. I decided that it would look better if I did carry on each of the freeze frames, but to make the abuse scenes freeze frame as effective as it could be I thought that the freeze frame should be in the middle instead of the end. This was partly to add tension in the scene, and also because I didn’t have any footage that would fit at the end of a freeze frame at the end of the section.

  • I myself was unhappy with the end title. I wanted it to do something, as with it just still on the screen I thought it looked boring. I tried it with a slow zoom in, but I thought something was still missing, and my Audience agreed. I therefore changed it to zoom in much faster so it has a bigger impact, and then zoom out again slowly.
  • The music at the end of my Opening Sequence also came under scrutiny. My audience liked it, but thought that it could be made more effective if the bass line at the end went over the 5 quick shots of the individual characters. I had thought about making the quick shots at the end a second long rather than half a second, but after experimenting with this, I decided it was more effective when it was half a second long, and have the bass fit over it. This meant some of the timings of previous shots would need to be lengthened, so I made the freeze frames last an extra 2 seconds each. I now think the end is much more effective.
  • After changing the end, the title now appeared as the music faded, and there were concerns from my audience that it looked too much like a trailer. Therefore, I recorded some ambience sound to fade in at the end as the music fades out. This created the expectation of another scene following the title, and made sure it was clear that it was not a trailer but an Opening Sequence.

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Extra Market Research

January 14, 2010 at 10:29 am (Uncategorized)

Once I had nearly finished editing, I realised that I still had to decide on a title for my film. I had had no ideas when whilst I was still planning my Opening Sequence, so thought I’d leave it until the end. However, I was approaching y last shot, which was the title shot. I spent some time thinking of possible titles for my Opening Sequence, and then asked people from my target audience what they thought would be the best title for a film about the lives of 5 university students. I wanted there to be a connection with the fact that the characters are at University, and therefore make a connection between education and the fact they earn life lessons over the course of the film. There was a choice of three titles

  • Student Life
  • Education
  • Learning Life

Education turned out to be the most popular choice, with 12 people choosing it as their favourite. Student Life was the next most popular with 5 votes, and Learning Life was the least popular with only 3 votes. My Social Realism film is therefore now called Education!

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January 10, 2010 at 10:28 am (Uncategorized)

Editing in Final Cut Express

Editing in Final Cut Express

After uploading my rushes onto iMovie and then importing it into Final Cut Express, I was ready to start editing. Once the rushes were uploaded, I created a folder to keep them all organised. I then had everything I had filmed in the same place. I systematically went through all the different shots, putting the unsuccessful shots into on one side and the successful ones that I would use in my finished production. By double clinking on the shot, it appears in a window where I can watch through it and use the arrows keys to select exactly where I want the shot to start and end. I can mark the beginning and end by pressing ‘i’ and ‘o’, and then drag it into ‘overwrite’. It is now on the timeline of what will be my finished Opening Sequence. Here, I can cut the shot down further if needed and add any effects wanted. 

I chose which shots to use by watching them all through, and picking the most successful. From previous exprerience I know it is important to film the same shot more than once. I therefore watched all the possible shots to judge which was the best in terms of Lighting, Camera Movement, Timing and Acting.


Some of the interior shots proved to be a challenge lighting adequately

There are a few shots that I am not completely happy about in relation to lighting, mainly the shots filmed within the house. We had some lighting issues on location, but we thought we’d managed to sort it all out using lights and opening curtains for natural lighting. However, there are still a couple of shots where the actor blocks out some of the lighting. This is only a problem on 1 or 2 shots though, and the lighting isn’t so bad you can’t see anything. Overall I am happy with lighting.

Camera Movement

Nearly all the shots were fine with camera movement, as the majority of the shots just use still camera. However, one shot involves the camera breaking the 180-degree rule by moving from one side of the couple, behind the male subject and to a close up on the other side. This is the shot where the abusive male subject pushes the female subject against the wall. I filmed this shot quite a few times, as I was aware that the camera movement had to be right or the shot would be unsuccessful. I watched through all the shots I filmed of it, and picked the most successful for smooth camera movement and also for the acting of the female subject and lighting. 


Because my music was already composed, I had to make sure that at least it section on my Opening Sequence took the same amount of time as on my animatic. Also, because the cuts are made on the beat, every shot except the last 6 and first 2 had to be and 2, 4 or occassionally 6 seconds long. This created some problems, mainly in the first section where the male subject is walking through the house. I was 2 seconds over the limit, but managed to cut down one shot from 4 seconds to 2 seconds. The timing of each individual shot does not always match the animatic, but I’ve kept each section correct to the timings on the animatic.


A shot where I had concerns about the quality of acting

The quality of the acting in my production is mostly really good, because the people I asked to act all go to or have gone to LMA Stage School with me, and act on a regular basis. I was familiar with their acting skills, and knew they would be professional. The only place where the acting is questionable is in the scene where the male subject is threatening the female subject. This was understandably a slightly awkward situation, as although the two people acting are fine with each other, they were recently in a relationship together. The subject matter is also very serious, so there were a few laughs during the first 2 or 3 takes. I think I managed to capture the best parts of their acting though, although there is the hint of a grin on the female subjects face, even though she is about to be hit by her boyfriend.

Live Type


My first 2 shots and several throughout the Opening Sequence include titles and names. For this I used the programme Live Type. Here I can create titles and change the font, colour, size, position and add effects. After saving the titles I then imported them into Final Cut and added them over my footage.


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December 18, 2009 at 2:49 pm (Uncategorized)

On Saturday I did my first part of filming. We started at 8am in Bury, and completed it at around 9.50am. The filming was mostly successful, but we came across a few problems. Because we were in town so early, we didn’t have a problem with too many people or anything like that. However, we did have a few problems in the arc, as we found out a few days before that we weren’t actually allowed to film there. I only needed two short shots though, so we chanced it and were luckily not told to stop filming. Most of the problems osccured whilst filming the shoplifting scene. The idea I had for this section did not work very successfully, as the Mobility Scooter I borrowed did not go fast enough to keep up with the actors running. I was also running out of time at this point, as all the actors and I had to be somewhere else as 9.45am. I think I can work around this and just change my opening sequence from my Animatic slightly. Either this or I will have to reshoot after working out another way to get the right shots I want.

I finished my filming on Monday 14th December. I travelled to Coventry so I could film on location at my brothers house. The filming went well and did not take too long. There were a few lighting issues, but we managed to sort them out. The main problem that occurred whilst filming was getting the camera in the right position, as the house is quite cramp without much room in the corridors. Because of this several shots were filmed without using the tripod, but because it is a Social Realism film, it doesn’t matter if some of the camera work is slightly shaky. Other than this, filming ran smoothly, and I am especially pleased with the acting, as during the first shoot I think there were a couple of issues with the acting during the abuse scene between the male and female subjects. However, my brother has had lots of acting expreience and was a real professional.

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Production Schedule

December 8, 2009 at 2:32 pm (Uncategorized)

Another vital part of pre-production is the Production Schedule. This tells the the director when, where, who and what is needed for each filming day, and which shots that will be filmed on that day. All this information is set out in a table like the one below, showing my Production Schedule.


My Production Schedule turned out to be really helpful, as it helped me organise times for picking people up and meeting people. It also showed me which locations I had to go to and any extra information or props I needed to know about it.

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Storyboarding & Animatics

December 1, 2009 at 9:39 am (Uncategorized)

Now I’ve finished all my Market Research and know what my audience want from a Social Realism Film, I can start Storyboarding and making the Animatic for my Opening Sequence on iMovie. An Animatic is vital for filming, as filming without an Animatic is far more time consuming and can become confusing and muddled. I am estimating that my Opening Sequence will be about 30 shots, all of which need to be drawn and labelled with the appropriate information and then photographed for my Animatic.

Important Information to be included in Storyboarding and Animatics

  • Shot Number
  • Shot Type
  • Camera Angle
  • Camera Movement
  • Editing – Transitions, Effects etc.
  • Duration of Shot
  • Sketch of the image that matches the Shot Type and Angle
  • Brief Description of the Action
  • Any Diegetic/Non-Diegetic Sound

I also need to compose the music for my Animatic and Opening Sequence. The score has to be fast tempo and with a distinct beat, as most of the cuts will be made on the beat. I will use GarageBand to compose my score, that must last the right amount of time to fit with my Animatic. 

Below is my finished Animatic!

I think my Animatic is really successful, as it follows the brief and depicts what will happen in my actual finished opening sequence. I chose to make the majority of the shots quite short so the sequence remains quick paced throughout to match the music and atmosphere of the film. I especially used teh quick cuts and close up shots in the part where the character Gaz abuses the character Annie, to add tension and drama. I decided the freeze frame shots with the characters names should last longer, as they are fully establishing the characters and their names. I also chose the two close up shots of the two charcters Declan and Steve for similair reasons, as establishing shots of the characters. The whole point of an Opening Sequence is to establish locations and characters, so I think establishing shots of the characters is neccessary.

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Market Research

November 24, 2009 at 1:00 pm (Uncategorized)

To help with my Opening Sequence to a Social Realism film, I carried out some Market Research on my Target Audience. To get a really good idea of what my Target Audience likes, I made a questionnaire asking questions about Social Realism films and what the audience enjoyed and got out of watching them. I got a range of results from my questionnaires, of which I handed out 20 to Social Realism fans of my age.

Question 1

Why do you enjoy Social Realism films?

I asked this question to get and idea of what the target audience enjoys and why they watch Social Realism films.

Most of the answers stated that is was the portrayal of real life issues and the ability to relate of characters and issues facing them. They liked how the stories are very realistic and how you can emphasis with the characters.

From these results, it tells me that my opening sequence must show characters facing real issues, such as drug taking, stealing, drinking etc.

Question 2

Out of the following films, which do you prefer?

This Is England



Why did you enjoy this film more than the others?

These films involve different issues and characters, so by asking it I could find out what kind of themes the majority of the target audience enjoy.

Results show that This Is England was the most popular because the characters were the same age as the target audience, and because of the issues of racism and violence it addresses. Kidulthood was also chosen because of the age of the characters, and Trainspotting because of the issue of drugs raised in the film.

These results show me that the characters in my opening sequence should be young adults around the age of 15-18.

Question 3

Do you think the majority of characters in a Social Realism film should be teenagers/young adults e.g. 14-22 year olds?

If no, what age should they be and why?

I asked this question so I could get an idea of the most popular age range for the characters in my opening sequence. However, this question has already been answered in a way in Question 2.

 14/20 people said Yes, but 6 people said No. The people who said no mainly said that they can be any age, and that it depends on the storyline.

I will probably still have most of the characters in my opening sequence around the age of 15-18 years old, as from the previous question you can see that the age of the characters is why most of the target audience liked the film anyway, and the majority said Yes to this answer aswell.

Question 4

In a Social Realism film, would you expect the cast to be mainly male or female?


Having ascertained the age of my characters, I now wanted to learn which sex was most commonly used and expected from Social Realism films.

Everyone I asked answered male except for one person, who didn’t answer either, but said that it depended on the storyline. Those who answered male said that male characters show more violence and a re more likely to get into trouble.

I will therefore make the main protagonist of my opening sequence male, and also several of the other characters. I will have at least one character female though.


Question 5

Out of the following, what do you think is the most effective in a Social Realism film? Please rate them from 1-5, 1 being most, 5 being least.




Drug Use


I asked this question to find out which issues my target audience enjoyed in Social Realism films most and what they thought was the most effective.

The issues that are apparently most effective and enjoyed are drugs and violence, and drinking also seems quite effective. Smoking and sex are shown to be not very effective.

Because of these results I will try to incorporate drug use, violence and drinking into my opening sequence.


Question 6

Out of these locations, where would you set the opening of a Social Realism film?




Urban Housing Estate


I asked this question so I could get help with where to set my opening sequence. I had a vague idea of where I wanted to set it – either an urban housing estate or city – but just wanted to ask the target audience what they thought.

You can see that Urban Housing Estate came out on top. People sais that an Urban Housing Estate is a traditional setting for a Social Realism film. All the other locations were not as popular.  The one person who ticked other commented that it totally depends on the films storyline.

Because of these results, I will set most of the opening sequence in an Urban Housing Estate.

Question 7

From your own experience of Social Realism films, what genres of music feature most in them?

I needed to get an idea of what kind of music Social Realism films conventionally used, and so asked the target audience what they thought from their previous experience.

I collected a range of results, including Rap, Hip Hop, Grime, R ‘n’ B, Punk and Rock. The most common answers were Hip Hop, Grime, Punk and Rock.

I am going to use Rock or Punk music, because I enjoy that more than Hip Hop and Grime, and I have actually seen several Social Realism films with Rock music in.              


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My Opening Sequence Genre

November 16, 2009 at 11:17 am (Uncategorized)



After completing 3 textual analysis’, producing a Pros and Cons List for several different genres and generally looking at different opening sequences, I have decided that the genre of my Opening Sequence shall be Social Realism. I have chosen this genre because I think it is a really interesting genre, and that considering the resources I have to produce my own Opening Sequence it will be achievable.THISISENGLAND_quad_new

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