Pre-production & research process

    This week, I have started to consider the option that I want to take for my Content Delivery assignment for university and to begin planning and studying the brief in more detail. One of the first steps in the stage of pre-production is to do research about my choice and to ring people that could potentially become contributors for my piece or that could help me with relevant information. Therefore, I chose to create a story and to shoot a music video for the meaningful song that the singer-songwriter Tom Walker has released in 2017, namely ”Leave a light on”.

    Considering that I was not familiar with his music or this song in particular before, the first step was to do my research regarding the inspiration and the real story behind this emotional song in order to get more sense of what it is all about and how I could visually portray it for my assignment. Produced by Steve Mac and written by both Tom and Steve, the single tells the story of a real friend of Tom that was struggling with addiction and it represents his own personal way of reaching out to him and helping him to recover. As Tom Walker stated in an interview with MTV, the inspiration of this song came from a couple of hard-hitting experiences that he encountered in the past. “One of my friends…was in a really bad place at the time and, I don’t want to say went missing, but he just dropped off the map and I had lost a family member also, so it was those two things coming together, on that day, in that session… I think it’s one of the realest things that I’ve written.” (MTV News,2018)

     Furthermore, I realized that although it is a gut-wrenching track about serious issues like struggling with addiction and being enveloped by darkness, the song still has a powerful message that urges to bring light and a ray of hope in what we may all see as being hopeless situations. My research then was redirected to the music video that accompanies the song and how the essence of it was beautifully transposed in the story of the music video. Produced by Charles Mehling, the music video reveals the singer that desperately tries to reconnect with his friend who is far away, alone in the middle of the ocean, isolated by the world and with no way of getting back to his old-self. ”The stunning visuals perfectly encapsulate the isolation and distance between Tom and the friend he’s reaching out to in an emotional plea.” (APB,2017)

    Taking all of these facts into account, I started looking up for charity workers or experts regarding addiction and mental health issues that could help me with my ongoing research. I came across the Change,Grow and Live charity based in England that ”supports people to change their lives for the better” (changegrowlive.org, n.d.) They offer a wide range of services for people of all ages that are struggling with drugs and alcohol addiction, abuse or mental health problems. The approach they use is to ” combine medical, psychological and social work interventions to support people to make lifestyle and behavioural changes that will improve their health and wellbeing”. (changegrowlive.org, n.d.) Unfortunately, there was no contact number so I could not call  but I have e-mailed them in hope of getting an answer back. If they will not get back to me, I will keep looking for relevant contacts or search for another charity that will be able to offer me some insight about the influence of addiction over young people.

REFERENCES:

  1. Mtv.co.uk. (2018). Tom Walker Talks The Emotional Inspiration Behind ‘Leave A Light On’ | MTV UK. [online] Available at: http://www.mtv.co.uk/brand-new-for-2018/news/tom-walker-talks-the-emotional-inspiration-behind-leave-a-light-on [Accessed 18 Feb. 2018].
  2. Apb-pr.co.uk. (2018). Incredible new single Leave A Light On out now, UK tour in November | APB PR. [online] Available at: http://www.apb-pr.co.uk/news/tom-walker/incredible-new-single-leave-light-out-now-uk-tour-november [Accessed 18 Feb 2018].
  3. Changegrowlive.org. (2018). CGL | change, grow, live – health and social care charity. [online] Available at: https://www.changegrowlive.org/ [Accessed 18 Feb. 2018].

”A Mix-Tape for Gus” on BBC Radio 4

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  ”A mix-tape for Gus” is a radio music documentary that was originally broadcast on Tuesday 30th of October 2014. According to Emily Levy, Gus’ sister, the documentary that she made in the loving memory of her brother came as a gesture of affection and as a strong desire to spread to the world his original taste in music. ” It’s about his eclectic music collection and how he and I exchanged musical loves from childhood onwards, as he did with all who knew him, and how much this legacy has influenced and inspired me  – and continues to do so…”  (Emily Levy,2014) The 30- minutes segment on BBC Radio 4 was presented by Emily herself and at its core, it seeks to show how music is an essential ”tool” that can transcend time, even death and to keep two souls deeply connected. In terms of the audience, BBC Radio 4 service aims ”to appeal to listeners seeking intelligent programmes in many genres.” (BBC, 2016) Therefore, this heart-breaking documentary holds precious life lessons about the healing power of music and the unbreakable bond between siblings.

  Five years after losing her sibling in an accident, the Oxford musician found the strength to cure her pain by listening to the music they sent each other during their teenage years and to create one last mix-tape that would incorporate his all-time favorite songs, while still being inspired to create her own meaningful pieces . ”Music can also help us through everyday tragedies such as loss. The death of a loved one is possibly the hardest emotional experience that most of us have or will have to go through. At times like these certain music can hold particular resonance by communicating to us when words and actions will not suffice.” (Get in to this,2016)

 

Imagini pentru emily and gus levy
Emily Levy / Photo taken from emilylevy.co.uk

  The story-telling approach of this radio programme was for Emily to record herself while expressing her own personal thoughts, feelings and memories that she has with Gus throughout the documentary in order to reveal how each piece has an important meaning for their relationship.  ”Her feelings are audible and the nostalgic experience of handling the cassettes add another layer of emotion to this heart breaking programme – proving the attachment we have not only to music but the means by which we play it: “Even this feeling of this fast forward play thing is making me feel like a teenager” Levy says, giggling.” (Get In To This,2016) His taste in music is diverse and the listeners can hear since the beginning of the programme snippets from artists like Peggy Lee, Tom Waits or Curtis Mayfield.

   Moreover, Emily interviews in her documentary three of Gus’ closest friends who had the same bond with him by creating music tapes. This enables the listeners to get intimate details about the life of Gus and how much he positively influenced other people’ lives and what kind of person he truly was. ”His friend Kirsty says he “had a rhythm and a movement and a reaction to music like nobody else I remember … The care that he had around discovering music, following music, cataloging it and sharing in it … was infectious“. Gus didn’t follow trends and they muse on him being “his own algorithm for music” and that although his taste was eclectic it was subjective. “He thought very deeply about a lot of things, especially music” Kirsty adds.” (Get In To This,2016)

    On the whole, the main point of the documentary and the mix-tape Emily created is to encapsulate the essence of the person that Gus was and through just a simple string of the guitar or bass sound, to engage with the listeners and to make them feel like they have actually known him or that a part of him will always live on.

REFERENCES:

1.Bbc.co.uk. (2018). BBC – BBC Radio 4 – BBC Trust. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/our_work/services/radio/service_licences/bbc_radio_4.html [Accessed 11 Feb. 2018].

2.Pickett, J. (2018). Soothing the Psyche – music as therapy for illness and loss – Getintothis. [online] Getintothis. Available at: http://www.getintothis.co.uk/2016/11/soothing-of-the-psyche-music-as-therapy-for-illness-and-loss/ [Accessed 11 Feb. 2018].

 

 

”The Man Who Squeezes Muscles: Searching for Purple Aki” on BBC Three

  The urban legend that has kept everybody talking over the past three decades is no stranger to the citizens across the UK, especially the area of Merseyside. Akinwale Arobieke, known as the ”Purple Aki”, is a 56 years old black male who became recognised by his strange obsession of stalking his victims and squeezing their muscles. ”He became something of a ‘modern day bogeyman’ known for approaching younger males and striking up conversations about weight training, before touching and measuring their muscles, and inviting them to squat his body weight.” (The Daily Mail,2016) 

   ” The Man Who Squeezes Muscles” aims to explore the real story and to understand the purposes beyond Purple Aki’ s acts of assault, harassment and manslaughter that have terrified people from all over the world.

Akinwale Arobieke, 54, vowed to make a fresh start
Akinwale Arobieke

  The approach that the programme takes is a simple, yet effective one because it proves clearly the impact and the consequences that Purple Aki had over his victims. The story-teller of the programme is Benjamin Zand, a local young man who was driven to find out who is the real Purple Aki by going to the main and primary source for it : the people who have been either his victims or have been personally affected by him. Therefore, by hearing the real and unbelievable experiences of the victims, such as Gary Kelly and the way he tragically passed away while running from Purple Aki made the viewing experience more personal and insightful.

   However, not everyone thought about Purple Aki as a threat and considered that the story actually had a funny twist within it. ”Of course, you can see why people find his story funny – the image, the name, the fact he seems to prey exclusively on big, preening gym-heads, the 10 year court order against touching biceps, getting banned from being anywhere near St. Helen’s Rugby Club. You couldn’t write it.” (The BBC,2017) “At the 2008 Glastonbury festival, someone brought a banner bearing the legend “arr mate!!! Purple Aki jus’ gripped us in a Portaloo”, below a photo of Arobieke’s baleful-looking mugshot.” (BBC News,2016) Moreover, the reason why his nickname became ”Purple Aki” was because of his dark-coloured skin. ”It seemed like a bizarre fairy tale, borne of 1980s neuroses about sexuality and race. The nickname itself was racially charged – the suggestion being he was “so black he’s purple”. (BBC News,2016)

   The programme includes some opinions of regular British people who were asked by the story-teller about the identity of Purple Aki and he is reffered as the ”big black” man who has been seen and feared by everybody. ” The BBC3 film, available online and first broadcast in September, starts: “Purple Aki, a name that’s whispered in the parks and playgrounds of Merseyside … a threat made to kids … watch out or Purple Aki will get you.” (The Guardian,2016) This approach surely is beneficial to the film because it portrays essential traits of the character that the story revolves around and overall, it gives the viewers a better understanding of who he is and what he looks like. ” One alleged victim says “He is just purple and huge.” (The Guardian,2016)

  The exchange between Benjamin and the Purple Aki’s victims brings a valuable insight into the story-telling because it reveals in detail the emotional weight that each individual story holds within and simultaneously, this add depth and context to the whole story of who is Purple Aki. By bringing in front of the cameras the people who truly experienced the terror and the assaults of Purple Aki, the viewers get to see him in an unfiltered and honest manner, namely as a troubled and mysterious man that is and will always remain an enigma to the world.

REFERENCES:

  1. Mail Online. (2018). Muslce pervert dubbed ‘Purple Aki’ has his ban lifted. [online] Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3576790/Muscle-obsessed-pervert-dubbed-Purple-Aki-barred-ten-years-grabbing-men-s-biceps-ban-LIFTED-vowing-reinvent-himself.html [Accessed 11 Feb. 2018].
  2. BBC News. (2018). Searching for Aki – BBC News. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-6d083913-0bfb-4988-8cd8-d126fa6dcff1 [Accessed 11 Feb. 2018].
  3. BBC Three. (2018). IMHO: Should we laugh at urban legend Purple Aki –the man who squeezes muscles? – BBC Three. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/9e756e96-30e8-4822-9e69-ff8271f689b6 [Accessed 11 Feb. 2018].
  4. Hattenstone, S. and Allison, E. (2018). Bodybuilder’s race hate claim against BBC investigated by police. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/oct/21/bodybuilder-purple-aki-race-hate-claim-bbc-investigated [Accessed 11 Feb. 2018].

“QUAKE” on BBC Radio 4 – Drama/VR Series

    “Quake” is a thrilling audio drama that acts like a puzzle that consists of 12 pieces and which unveils the tragic experience of searching the survivors after a fatal earthquake took place. The inspiration behind the subject matter that it approaches is ”the digital revolution in humanitarian response.” (BDH.net,n.d.) Each episode can be accessed on BBC iPlayer or on the Radio 4’s website and includes graphic visuals in oder to paint a clearer picture for the listeners and to put emphasis on the emotional weight that ”Quake” truly carries within.

    The innovation that this radio drama comes with stands in the methods of delivery of the message to the wide audience, namely ”QUAKE: TRAPPED MAN VR” is BBC Radio 4’s first virtual reality radio.” (BDH.net, n.d.) Additionally, for the first episode it was made an even greater version of a  360-degree film, where listeners are able to be more than witnesses of the tragic event and which allows them to feel as if they were actually there and experience that horrific event ”If you have a virtual reality headset you can watch the first episode in 3D, as if an earthquake is actually happening to you.”( The Daily Telegraph,2017) According to the BBC Radio 4 remit, which is to ”appeal to listeners seeking intelligent programmes in many genres which inform, educate and entertain.”(BBC Radio 4 Commissioning,2017), the programme fits well and has successfully achieved its aim, namely to attract the audience by creating a modern way of delivery and of experiencing a radio drama. As a result, ”Quake” won the prestigious “PRIX EUROPA” award for innovation.

The damages followed by an earthquake/ Photo taken from BBC

    The methods of distribution are diverse and the drama has been released for listening as a whole or as shuffling episodes in any other order. As Rhian Roberts, the Digital Editor at Radio 4 said “Quake is designed as something that can fit into whatever space you have available in the day, choosing episodes to suit, or listening to the whole thing as a podcast. It’s an exciting innovation in how we offer Radio 4 drama to both new and existing audiences.  The slow paced visuals offer an extra dimension to each episode, but it’s always the audio drama that leads the way.” (VR focus,2017)

     Although ”Quake” reveals an insight into an unfortunate event caused by a natural phenomen, the purpose of the show is to connect emotionally with the audience and to create a strong understanding towards the psychological effects that such a disaster has the power to trigger among people. In addition, as raw and as brutally honest as the whole experience is, the main fact that has managed to make ”Quake” stand out is the immersive effect that it has over the listeners, the suspense of whether or not survivors we’ll be found or how do these kind of damages occur and can be avoided. However, not everyone would enjoy or would believe this kind of intimate and close experience that this drama aims to offer. For instance, Gillian Reynolds wrote for The Daily Telegraph that ”All those inventive graphics and beautifully designed sounds don’t make you believe, even for a single minute, that you’re inside the action. The characters are too thin, the plot too linear. Everyone keeps explaining things.” ( The Daily Telegraph,2017)

 

REFERENCES:

  1. BDH. (2017). QUAKE: Trapped Man VR – Immersive – BDH. [online] Available at: https://www.bdh.net/immersive/quake-vr-trapped-man [Accessed 12 Nov. 2017].
  2. Pressreader.com. (2017). PressReader.com – Connecting People Through News. [online] Available at: https://www.pressreader.com/uk/the-daily-telegraph/20170518/282385514446109 [Accessed 12 Nov. 2017].
  3. BBC. (2017). Information for suppliers to Radio – BBC Radio 4 – BBC Radio. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2FC4S5Nr3dbMH6XJzyM8tHX/bbc-radio-4 [Accessed 12 Nov. 2017].
  4. Quake, B. (2017). BBC Radio 4 Ventures into VR for Online Audio Drama Quake. [online] VRFocus. Available at: https://www.vrfocus.com/2017/04/bbc-radio-4-ventures-into-vr-for-online-audio-drama-quake/ [Accessed 12 Nov. 2017].

“Taboo” on BBC 2 – Drama series

  “Taboo” is a British historical drama whose action is set in 1814 and which was originally broadcast on January 2017. Starring Tom Hardy and his real-life father, Chips Hardy, the drama series follows the challenging journey of a man named James Delaney whose sudden comeback to his natal roots in London,after being presumed dead in Africa for 12 years, implies trying to rebuild the empire that his father left when he died and protecting his legacy from the enemies that constantly lurk in the most unexpected places and who are ready to attack. Filled with mysteries, shocking twists, secrets, revenge and family’s betrayal, “Taboo” is suitable for the BBC 2 channel because it provides a unique insight into the life of a troubled man that enters a new world in a time where war was going on in full force and where the road to survival is highly unpredictable ”Drama on BBC Two has a clear tone. It’s the mainstream channel with an edgy, angled perspective on the world.” (BBC 2 Commissioning,2017) Moreover, the drama’s mysterious nature managed to engage with a wide and young audience from its first series due to its intriguing and captivating subject matter that keeps the suspense of the viewers. As a fact, “Taboo” is the sort of drama which you can either love for the thrill or hate for the twists – there is no in between. ”As a viewer you can either submit to the madness swirling all round or sigh and give up in disgust.” (The Guardian,2017) ”With delicious performances from Jonathan Pryce, Jessie Buckley, David Hayman, Tom Hollander, Mark Gatiss and more, Taboo was a gripping and timely assault on the precious myths of capitalism, colonialism and nationhood.” ( BFI.org,2017)

    In terms of the viewing figures, “Taboo” scored huge achievements from its early days, especially because it was released on more than just one platform, such as BBC iPlayer, where the audience is able to watch online the series. Charlotte Moore, BBC Director of Content, could not help but be proud that BBC iPlayer meant a risk that fortunately, turned into an asset for the audience growing figures ”the growing talkability of Taboo has engaged younger audiences, seeing record numbers coming to BBC iPlayer, with the availability of the box set maximising audiences even further.” (BBC Media Centre,2017) Furthermore, ”Across all platforms, Taboo has been one of our most successful dramas on iPlayer to date, with episode one achieving the third highest audience ever (after Sherlock and docudrama Murdered By My Boyfriend). Although not directly comparable to the BARB data, that episode has had 3.8 million requests so far.” (BBC Media Centre,2017)

       Another crucial part of the series’ unbreakable success is the collaboration between BBC and FX that stands for “For Extended”, an American satellite television channel which helped spread the British drama and to become a global phenomen. Ridley Scott, one of the executive producers, expressed his gratitude for the support their show had received  ”Along with our international distributors Sonar Entertainment, the BBC and FX have been great partners, supporting Taboo at every stage so it could be the dark, dirty brute of a drama that it is.” (BBC Media Centre,2017)

    However, there has been controversial reactions of viewers that were not always satisfied with how the story unfolded or what touching subject matters the show approached. For instance, throughout one episode, viewers accused the creators for their lack of quality content while using an attempted scene of rape and violence towards a female character of the show, Lorna Bow. Online comments surfaced on the internet from Twitter users that showed their disapproval towards this scene ”Someone else said: ”I get so tired of every single damn drama having a woman threatened with rape and sexual assault as a plot device. #taboo. While a fourth asked: “Why does he have to be aggressively undressing Jessie Buckley as he explains all this? #taboo.” (Sunday Express,2017)

 

Taboo Lorna Bow
Photo taken from BBC

 

  REFERENCES:

  1. Bbc.co.uk. (2017). BBC – Drama on BBC Two – Commissioning. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/commissioning/tv/articles/drama-bbc-two [Accessed 12 Nov. 2017].
  2. Hughes, S. (2017). Naysayers be damned! Tom Hardy’s Taboo is a work of Wicker Man genius. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/feb/23/naysayers-be-damned-tom-hardys-taboo-is-a-work-of-wicker-man-genius [Accessed 12 Nov. 2017].
  3. British Film Institute. (2017). The best British TV of 2017 so far. [online] Available at: http://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/news-bfi/lists/best-british-tv-2017-so-far?utm_content=buffer9fff3&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebookbfi&utm_campaign=buffer [Accessed 12 Nov. 2017].
  4. Bbc.co.uk. (2017). BBC – BBC One and FX announce second series of Taboo – Media Centre. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2017/bbc-fx-announce-second-series-of-taboo [Accessed 12 Nov. 2017].
  5. Corkery, C. (2017). Taboo: Viewers slam Tom Hardy drama over violent attempted-rape scene. [online] Express.co.uk. Available at: http://www.express.co.uk/showbiz/tv-radio/760182/Taboo-Tom-Hardy-Twitter-Lorna-Bow-rape-scene-Jessie-Buckley-BBC [Accessed 12 Nov. 2017].

”S-Town”-US NPR Podcast Series

 

S-Town-team-credit-Sandy-Honig.jpg
The S-Town Team from L-R: Serial co-creator and ”S-Town” executive producer Julie Snyder, ”This American Life” creator and host Ira Glass, ”S-Town” host Brian Reed, Serial host Sarah Koenig/ Photo by Sandy Honig

    “S-Town” is a seven-part podcast which is hosted by “This American Life” producer Brian Reed and produced by the team behind “Serial”, ”a weekly program on public radio in the US. Released in 2014, it investigated the 1999 murder of Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee.” (The Sydney Morning Herald,2017) The story behind the concept of the podcast is captivating and the first episode reveals how Brian received unexpectedly an e-mail from a man named John B McLemore who wanted help in order to investigate a murder that he believed it happened in Woodstock, Alabama. ”Reed, a producer on the show, scanned the email and decided to take it to the editorial team, even though he wasn’t exactly sure what the story was, other than a small-town resident with a large vocabulary complaining that the scion of a wealthy family was bragging that he got away with murder.” (The Guardian,2017)

   Although the mysterious nature of the murder and its circumstances revolves around the first episodes, ”it’s important to be clear that despite its Serial roots and an investigative premise that initially seems like a journalistic jaunt into an unresolved murder, S-Town is not a true crime podcast.” (Vox,2017) ”It turns out there was no murder, and S-Town morphs into a character study of the man behind the false lead, an eccentric horologist named John B. McLemore.” (The Sydney Morning Herald,2017)  The title of the podcast ”turns out to be a euphemism for “shit town”, which is what McLemore calls Woodstock, which he can neither stand nor leave.” (The Sydney Morning Herald,2017)

”S-Town” host Brian Reed/ Photo taken by Sandy Honig

   This podcast appeals to a wide audience because of the distinctive presentation style and controversial subject matter that involves the listeners in the story of a troubled man and allows them to dive right into the narrative twists about crimes, mental health, isolation or other issues that occur throughout the series. “When a novel starts talking about a character, you just trust that you’re reading a novel, and that’s what they do—we thought, maybe we can make a podcast that way.” (Wired,2017) As a result, the programme became quickly so popular that it ”has been downloaded more than 10 million in the first four days of its release — setting a new record in the podcasting world.” (Variety,2017) Moreover, ”all seven episodes of Serial Productions’ “S-Town” were released for binge-listening on March 28.” (Variety,2017) and they can be downloaded from iTunes.

REFERENCES: 

  1. The Sydney Morning Herald. (2017). Why true-crime podcasts make me uneasy. [online] Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/why-truecrime-podcasts-make-me-uneasy-20171027-gz9hrq.html [Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].
  2. Locker, M. (2017). Bittersweet home Alabama: S-Town, the next podcast from the makers of Serial. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/mar/28/s-town-podcast-makers-of-serial-brian-reed-julie-snyder [Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].
  3. Vox. (2017). S-Town is a stunning podcast. It probably shouldn’t have been made.. [online] Available at: https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/3/30/15084224/s-town-review-controversial-podcast-privacy [Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].
  4. Locke, C., Locke, C., McMillan, G., Galaxy, G., McMillan, G., Watercutter, A., Wood, J. and Watercutter, A. (2017). The Creators of ‘Serial’ Are Back With ‘S-Town,’ a Binge-Ready New Podcast. [online] WIRED. Available at: https://www.wired.com/2017/03/s-town-podcast/ [Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].
  5. Spangler, T. and Spangler, T. (2017). The ‘Serial’ Team’s New Podcast, ‘S-Town,’ Tops 10 Million Downloads in Four Days. [online] Variety. Available at: http://variety.com/2017/digital/news/s-town-podcast-10-million-downloads-serial-productions-1202020302/ [Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].

 

 

”My week as a Muslim” on Channel 4

  “My week as a Muslim” is an eye-opening documentary that reveals the challenging journey of the Muslim community after a sudden Manchester terrorist attack turned everybody against them and their culture. ”The Guardian reports a 500% increase in hate crimes against Muslims since the Manchester bombing.” (The Guardian,2017) The purpose of this factual programme is to educate, as well as to break all the misconceptions and racist views that people, including Katie Freeman, the main contributor, had, despite the fact that they didn’t know the truth beyond the countless TV and newspapers’ reports. ”According to Khan, it enabled Freeman “to experience what it is like to be part of the British Pakistani Muslim community rather than observe it as an outsider.” (BBC News,2017)

  According to the Channel 4 remit, which is to “be innovative and distinctive, stimulate public debate on contemporary issues, reflect cultural diversity of the UK, champion alternative points of view, inspire change in people’s lives and nurture new and existing talent” (“What is Channel 4”, 2017), the programme is suitable for this channel due to its controversial topic and further debate that it stirs among a wide range of viewers, as well as because it strives to provide a better understanding and tolerance and to remove ignorance towards cultural diversities across the world. It was originally broadcast on 23th October 2017 and the  intriguing concept behind the programme came from a similar experience that Fozia Khan, the TV producer worked for in the past ”The idea for making the documentary My Week As a Muslim came to me after I spent almost a year in Birmingham, filming a series for Channel 4 called Extremely British Muslims in and around Birmingham Central Mosque.” (The Guardian,2017)

  The approach of this documentary is different and it was a bold move that had been heavily criticized, but nonetheless, it managed to provide a valuable insight into how the lives of Muslims are perceived by having Katie, who willingly disguised as a Muslim woman and agreed to live with the family of Saima Alvi and her five children for a week in order to face her fears and challenge her prejudices. ”Katie was superficially transformed into a British-Pakistani woman, and went out undercover with Saima to experience what life was like in Manchester’s Muslim community.” (The Telegraph,2017)

Katie Freeman
Katie Freeman/ Photo taken from Channel 4

  However, considering the documentary was based on an experiment, it did create controversy among social media users, who had expressed their dissatisfaction regarding using the term of ”brownface” seen as offensive for the community of Muslims and why the disguise element was truly necessary in the show. Although this term has ”historically been used as a form of entertainment to mock non-white people”, the documentary-maker, Fozia Khan strengthens the idea that, in reality, ”its purpose is to inform and promote understanding between communities, not to caricature them.” (The Guardian,2017)

  Apart from the criticism,the documentary had a positive outcome and it especially became a life-changing experience for Katie Freeman, which made her realize that Muslims are no different than her. ”In the end, Katie’s discovery was what everyone in this country should know to be true anyway. But played out against the tragedy at the Manchester Arena it had added urgency and impact, and heavily underscored this film’s central point: that ignorance really is the breeding ground of prejudice and hate.” (The Guardian,2017) Moreover,The Muslim Council of Britain ”did appreciate the show’s broader aims “to better understand the reality of Islamophobia which has become socially accepted across broader society.” (BBC News,2017)

REFERENCES:

  1. Khan, F. (2017). I produced My Week As a Muslim. Its intention was to educate, not offend | Fozia Khan. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/23/producer-my-week-as-a-muslim-brownface-documentary [Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].
  2. BBC News. (2017). Channel 4 show accused of ‘brownface’. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-41692252 [Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].
  3. Channel4.com. (2017). What is Channel 4? | C4 Corporate. [online] Available at: https://www.channel4.com/corporate/about-4/who-we-are/what-is-channel-4 [Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].
  4. O’Donovan, G. (2017). My Week as a Muslim was a privileged insight into what it’s like being Muslim in Britain today, review. [online] The Telegraph. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/tv/0/week-muslim-privileged-insight-like-muslim-britain-today-review/ [Accessed 5 Nov. 2017].

 

Video Game High School-Kickstarter funded web series

Image result for video game high school
Photo taken from rocketjump.com

      ”Video Game High School” is an online webisode and crowd-funded video series launched on Yotube, which was created by Freddie Wong, along with Brandon Lactsch and Matt Arnold. According to the Oxford Dictionary, ”webisode” represents ”an original episode derived from a television series, made for online viewing.” (Oxford Dictionaries,2017) and it made perfect sense for the creators to display their content through a webseries format, because they ”strongly believe the foundations for the future of digitally distributed content will be laid by webseries.” (Kickstarter,2012) The programme provides an insight into the life of a young boy named Brian whose greatest passion of playing video games gave him a sense of belonging and attachment that he always craved, but never truly found before. His passion has even landed him a crucial victory that completely managed to turn his life upside down and to embark on the adventure of a lifetime ”Brian rockets into the national spotlight and lands an invite into the hallowed halls of VGHS. There his skills will be tested as he fights to fit in with the most talented gamers alive.” (Kickstarter,2012)

    The approach and content of this programme were designed to specifically introduce the viewers to a world where video games are respected at an art level and where gamers worldwide could integrate into a strong and united community. Due to its “jaw-dropping effects and Hollywood partners” (Think with Google,2015), the series gained popularity among teenagers and it managed to build an audience who “scored more than 110M views for its three-season run on Youtube.” (Think with Google,2015)

     The first two episodes of the first season reveal the everyday struggles of Brian to fit in his town, to find true friends and to please his mother. As a consequence, he found solace in playing video games whose action appears to be so real that Brian identifies himself as the actual player for multiple times.

   Regarding the initial Kickstarter campaign, the project had ”5,661” supporters for the project to go into the stages of production. They had a number of backers from the “United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Australia, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand, Norway and the Netherlands.”(Video Game High School Community,2017)  However, ”there are numerous costs involved with doing a project legit, including production insurance, location permits, actor and crew salaries, and legal paperwork”, expenses which they can manage to cover if they could collaborate with brands, gain their trust and create a supportive fan base. Fortunately,”VGHS was supported by crowd-funding campaigns, brands, and Collective Digital Studio (CDS), which produced and helped fund the series. The culmination of years of hard work and production practice, VGHS’s massive success is due to fan support and the creative team’s unique visual style.” (Kickstarter,2012)

        What made “Video Game High School” stand out among the other series was how it broke the rules, especially those regarding the distribution process ”Rocket Jump forged its own path and showed the world that web-series don’t have to succumb to the definition of being failed Hollywood style projects that lack any sense of originality. Much of VGHS’ strength comes from the fact that the “camp” of the show is thematically relevant, often playing into the fantastical world that’s been created.” (Forbes,2014) Furthermore, the use of multi-platform content strengthened the idea of a loyal community of fans that have engaged with the theme of the project across more than just one platform. For instance,”Plaid Hat Games has teamed up with Rocket Jump to design, develop and publish a board game based on their popular Video Game High School series” (Plaid Hat Games,2017)

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REFERENCES:

  1. Oxford Dictionaries | English. (2017). webisode | Definition of webisode in English by Oxford Dictionaries. [online] Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/webisode [Accessed 29 Oct. 2017].
  2. Kickstarter. (2017). Video Game High School. [online] Available at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/freddiew/video-game-high-school [Accessed 29 Oct. 2017].
  3. Think with Google. (2017). How RocketJump’s Video Game High School Scored Over 110M Views in 3 Seasons on YouTube. [online] Available at: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/how-rocket-jump-scored-110-m-views-on-youtube/ [Accessed 29 Oct. 2017].
  4. Kickstarter. (2017). Video Game High School. [online] Available at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/freddiew/video-game-high-school/community [Accessed 29 Oct. 2017].
  5. Forbes.com. (2017). Forbes Welcome. [online] Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/merrillbarr/2014/10/06/review-video-game-high-school-promises-a-great-final-year-for-the-vghs-gang/#5ba43bb77e83 [Accessed 29 Oct. 2017].
  6. Plaidhatgames.com. (2017). Video Game High School | Games | Plaid Hat Games. [online] Available at: https://www.plaidhatgames.com/games/video-game-high-school [Accessed 29 Oct. 2017].

 

 

99% Invisible-Kickstarter boosted series

    ”99% Invisible” is an independent radio show and podcast that includes captivating stories about the less known facts or activities related to design or architecture that most people have yet to discover or acknowledge. ”99% Invisible treats the design of everyday things like a forensic science. In each episode, creator and host Roman Mars highlights some nearly invisible design process that you had no idea was incredibly interesting and then tells you why it is.” (Wired,2012) The project was designed with the purpose ”to make radio that inspires mindfulness and wonder in all the things in the built world.” (Kickstarter project,2012)

     The subject matters are compelling and have managed to attract a wide audience that  engage with the tales of people who reveal ”the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world” (Kickstarter project,2012) However, the concept of the show implies a deeper meaning and it is actually ”about human experience, often based in untold or forgotten history.” (The Guardian,2013)

Roman Mars, presenter of 99% Invisible
Roman Mars,the presenter and producer of ”99% Invisible”/ Photo taken from theguardian.com

      Moreover, the radio show is particularly successful because of the suitability of the host that creates an inviting and familiar environment ”Roman Mars has a warm, inclusive tone with interviewees and listeners, and the sound effects are well chosen, dramatic and slightly funny. This gives the podcasts the feel of a beautifully told story, rather than a “check my research” documentary. ”(The Guardian,2013) The Kickstarter project was funded with ”5,661 backers who pledged $170,477 of $42,00 goal” (Kickstarter project,2012) The two new metrics that Mars added were ”First,he has a series of stretch goals, with commitments ranging from hiring a part-time collaborator to building a smartphone app. Second, Debbie Millman’s Design Matters Institute has agreed to put up $10,000 if Mars can achieve 5,000 backers.” (Wired,2012) As an outcome, Kickstarter became for Mars a platform where he could gain notoriety and attract sponsorships ”Using Kickstarter as his call to arms, Mars has created a flurry of PR, which has resulted in new listeners. It’s also creating a strong case for sponsors and granting agencies that the show has a large and slavish fan base.”(Wired,2012)

    ”99% Invisible” is a podcast, which has always worked as a leverage for ”their direct audience relationships by asking for listener support via donations or pledges.”(Towcenter,2015) Through the distribution of PRX, ”In August of 2012, Roman Mars hoped to earn 42,000 dollars for the third season of his popular show.’ He used both challenge grants and stretch goals to incentivize donors. In the end, he raised over 170,000 dollars.” (Towcenter,2015)

     Roman Mars scored another huge achievement in November of 2014, when ”PRX and Mars turned again to Kickstarter to fund their podcast collective/network Radiotopia,  hoping to raise 250,000 dollars. They raised 620,412 dollars and became the most-funded radio/podcast project in Kickstarter history.” (Towcenter,2015), facts which easily made him stand out from the crowd of radio presenters and content creators.

REFERENCES:

  1. Kickstarter. (2017). 99% Invisible: Season 3. [online] Available at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1748303376/99-invisible-season-3 [Accessed 29 Oct. 2017].
  2. Sawyer, M. (2017). Rewind Radio: 99% Invisible. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2013/may/26/99-per-cent-invisible-radio-review [Accessed 29 Oct. 2017].
  3. Maly, T., Maly, T., Pardes, A., Stinson, E., Pierce, D., Stinson, E., Gonzalez, R. and Stinson, E. (2017). How 99% Invisible Will Change Public Radio. [online] WIRED. Available at: https://www.wired.com/2012/07/99-invisible/ [Accessed 29 Oct. 2017].
  4. Journalism, T. (2017). Direct Support · Guide to Podcasting. [online] Towcenter.gitbooks.io. Available at: https://towcenter.gitbooks.io/guide-to-podcasting/content/revenue_streams/direct_support.html [Accessed 29 Oct. 2017].

“Heavy Toll” on BBC Radio 4 Extra

     “Heavy Toll” is an audio documentary which is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra, a radio station whose main aim ”is to provide speech-based entertainment.”(BBC Radio 4 Extra,2016) Overall,the station is designed ”to be a mixed speech service, offering in-depth news and current affairs and a wide range of other speech output including drama,readings,comedy, factual and magazine programmes.”(BBC Radio 4,2017) that mostly ”appeal to children.” (BBC Radio 4 Extra,2016)

     As the title subtly suggests, the short documentary unveils the dramatic story of Collette and George, both railway employees, whose regular day of work turned into an unexpected nightmare by becoming witnesses to a tragic suicide of a traveler ”Tabitha took as her subject a very grim narrative, that of deaths on the railway.” (The Charles Parker Archive Trust,2017) According to the Collins English Dictionary, ”If you say that something takes its toll or takes a heavy toll, you mean that it has a bad effect or causes a lot of suffering.”(Collins English Dictionary,2017) Thus the content of the documentary reflects an unfortunate situation,while it manages to raise awareness and controversial reactions towards the subject of suicide, which became more of an issue that people are willing to acknowledge. According to the Office for National Statistics,”Deaths from suicide in the UK rose slightly from 6,122 deaths in 2014 to 6,188 deaths in 2015 with a subsequent increase in the rate from 10.8 to 10.9 deaths per 100,000 population.”(ONS,2015) Moreover,considering that the victim was a male, ”Suicide remains the leading cause of death for men between 20 and 34 in England and Wales, representing 24% of all deaths in 2013, and for men aged 35-49, at 13% of deaths.” (The Guardian,2015)

     The documentary puts emphasis on the use of actuality, which represents the ”audio material recorded on location”(BBC News,2008) in order to amplify the severity of the situation, as well as to paint a clearer picture for listeners regarding the visual experience that the interviewees have faced ”It had excellent mixing and very revealing interviews which paint a horribly vivid, very human picture of train suicides and their effect on train staff.” (The Charles Parker Archive Trust,2017) Actuality within the documentary includes the sounds of the train coming to a halt or the travelers who bought tickets for the train ride.

    The thought-provoking piece produced by Tabitha Konstantine, an actual student at the University of Salford, brought her impressive achievements and recognition, more precisely Tabitha ”struck gold at the recent annual Charles Parker Radio Awards in Sheffield. Her radio piece – ‘Heavy Toll’ – beat numerous submissions from all over the UK to win Best Student Radio Feature. ”(Salford University News,2017) The judges of the radio competition were particularly impressed by Tabitha’s choice to spread this story through the eyes of two witnesses, both “well contrasted speakers ” that ”had a terrific articulacy in very different ways that were entirely complementary.” (The Charles Parker Archive Trust,2017), which made the whole piece more personal and intense for the listeners.

 

Image result for heavy toll radio 4 extra
Tabitha Konstantine,along with her Radio Production lecturers (and mine too) Jimmy Ewing-left and Garry Morrisroe-right /Photo taken from staff.salford.co.uk

 

REFERENCES:

  1. Bbc.co.uk. (2017). BBC – BBC Radio 4 Extra – BBC Trust. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/our_work/services/radio/service_licences/bbc_radio_4_extra.html [Accessed 22 Oct. 2017].
  2. BBC. (2017). Information for suppliers to Radio – BBC Radio 4 – BBC Radio. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2FC4S5Nr3dbMH6XJzyM8tHX/bbc-radio-4 [Accessed 22 Oct. 2017].
  3. Cpatrust.org.uk. (2017). Charles Parker Prize – Winners 2017 | The Charles Parker Archive Trust. [online] Available at: http://www.cpatrust.org.uk/prize/prizewinners-2017/ [Accessed 22 Oct. 2017].
  4. Collinsdictionary.com. (2017). Take its toll definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary. [online] Available at: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/take-its-toll [Accessed 22 Oct. 2017].
  5. Ons.gov.uk. (2017). Suicides in the UK – Office for National Statistics. [online] Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/suicidesintheunitedkingdom/2015registrations [Accessed 22 Oct. 2017].
  6. Davies, C. (2017). Number of suicides in UK increases, with male rate highest since 2001. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/feb/19/number-of-suicides-uk-increases-2013-male-rate-highest-2001 [Accessed 22 Oct. 2017].
  7. News.bbc.co.uk. (2017). BBC NEWS | School Report | Glossary of common media terms. [online] Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/school_report/4791411.stm [Accessed 22 Oct. 2017].
  8. Staff.salford.ac.uk. (2017). Salford Staff Channel-Home | University of Salford, Manchester. [online] Available at: http://staff.salford.ac.uk/newsitem/5684 [Accessed 22 Oct. 2017].