Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Analyse how the producers construct representations of working class in the first 5/6 minutes including the opening credits.

Shameless Season 1, Episode 1
By analysing how producers construct representations of the working class in the first five-six minutes, including the opening credits of the Shameless episode, the opening begins with an ‘establishing shot’ showing high rise flats, signifying that the characters might be residents in the building. It is noticeable that the flats are simply a part of a housing estate, which provides the audience with evidence referring to the ‘social classes’ of citizens that the programme will be depicting. Due to the way that we have been raised and brought up in society, we have been made to believe that housing estates are rough, damaged areas which consist of either working or lower class residents, which this programme certainly illustrates. The camera shots leading on from the opening scene, includes ‘close ups’ of each building on the estate before focusing on one in particular where only the windows are seen. The next shot is an ‘extreme high angle shot’ or an ‘extreme aerial shot’ of what seems to resemble a child’s playground with children playing inside, as well as a grass area with terraced houses surrounding it. In the subsequent shot, one of the main characters, Frank begins to narrate and discuss his children; one is seen being held by the corner of his jacket, before Frank is hit over the head with a loaf of bread by one of his children. We are then provided with a ‘point of view shot’ that illustrates Frank being stood over by his children as he lies on the floor unconscious. As soon as Frank makes a grunting noise, his children are depicted running away immediately.

Subsequently, Frank begins to mention his six children, starting with the eldest in the family, Fiona. Frank explains how he views Fiona as a mother figure to the remainder of his children as she is a “big help,” where she is seen looking after the youngest children in the family. One of the children are seen learning how to put on a condom which suggests that he has hit his pubescent period and is becoming sexually active, whilst Franks other child is shown running around as he is compared to his absence mother. His child Karl is seen riding on his bike acting violently as he is shown barking and crawling around as if he were a dog. Debbie however is originally portrayed as being an “angel,” but in the next shot she is depicted holding a rolling pin and a knife, allowing the audience to assume that she can be both good and bad at times. The following shot highlights Debbie’s good behaviour as she carries out the folded laundry in her hands. The last child mentioned is Liam who is the youngest in the family, the toddler, and is described as being a mini “Rock and Roller.”

The next shot exemplifies the flats in the evening, as the camera slowly begins to pan downwards as we see people surrounding a car which has been set alight, assuming that these are the residents who live in the housing estate. Frank refers to them as a “half descent community” which illustrates to the audience that the community are exceedingly close to one another and that each individual living on the estate is important to them. While the community surround the burning car, Frank is shown smoking and drinking beer. Clearly, the director has incorporated characters that resemble ‘stereotypes’ of people who currently live in housing estates, as well as their lifestyle and appearance. However, this may be an unreasonable representation of either working or lower class families who live in housing estates. In the subsequent shot, a numerous amount of residents are illustrated throwing their beer cans into the fire which slowly begins to intensify the flames, before laughing and enjoying one another’s company ahead of the police arriving. It is this behaviour which allows the audience to question whether these actions support the ‘stereotypical’ view.

Overall, the opening scene focuses on both the working and lower class residents who currently live on the housing estate. Shameless, represents a working class family which could be aimed at a target audience of the working class as they would be able to relate to the situations that appear throughout the series. However, not all working class families may feel that they can relate to the programme, but some may watch it due to its high level of realism. Some audiences may empathise and sympathise with the characters, as they think about how these people are happy with their lives and who they are as an individual and as a community. This show seems to be aimed at an audience who is either male or female and with any ethnicity.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Ashes to Ashes Re-Creative Task

Our Re-Creation of Ashes to Ashes

The real life scene from Ashes to Ashes

a) In the popular TV drama, Ashes to Ashes, main character 'Gene Hunt' is portrayed as the head of the force and the protagonist throughout this entire scene. In this sense, it is noticeable that when Hunt is showcased using a 'low angle' shot, this illustrates to the audience that he is of a high authority and has characteristics of significance and importance which are key features of his personality. The camera shot creates an immediate idea that Hunt is being represented as a 'God' like figure, someone who is above everyone else in his force. It questions the audience about whether he acts as the 'Judge, Jury and Executioner.'

When watching this scene, our perception of Gene Hunt changes all the time. At one moment, we observe his tone and manner towards the same gender as debatable, appalled and impolite when he has a discussion with the man who’s holding the woman. To allow the audience to change their perception of Gene Hunt, we must think about the camera shots and humour which surround the character.

In the original scene of the Ashes to Ashes extract, we see Hunt’s vivacious red car speeding past bushes and barrels. Perhaps the car reflects the personality of the character seated behind the wheel. As the car draws to a stop, Hunt steps out the driver seat where the camera immediately changes to a close up and draws attention to Hunts shoes. Clearly, Hunt is wearing cowboy boots rather than the usual police uniform. Possibly, this questions the audience about the occupation of the character. By grouping the cowboy boots and vivacious red car together, it enables the audience to query the character and who he is as a person. From his materialistic items, we gather that he is headstrong, macho and butch man, an image which clearly reflects his personality.

b) A way in which we could modify our first impressions of Gene Hunt in the Ashes to Ashes extract through slight changes in the filming and editing process, is that if we were to remove the fast paced, cross cutting shots of Hunts car speeding down the different swerved roads and the shots where both the female and male character are seen gazing in the direction of where the car is located, this would avoid the audience from questioning and attaining information regarding Hunts personality from the features of his car.

Perhaps, a nicer more suspenseful way of introducing the characters would be to film from inside the car. Rather than filming the car speeding along the roads from the outside, the camera could be situated in the back seat or on the passenger headrest so that the camera could overlook the driver and focus on the driver’s hands as he turns the wheel of the car, without revealing too much of Gene Hunts and his body language.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011


The series is about a young group of siblings who have been abandoned by their parents and now have to survive by themselves using their wits and humour on a rough council Manchester estate. The genre of the film was both a ‘comedy’ and ‘drama.’

The production company for Shameless was ‘Company Pictures’ which is a British independent television production company. The series was written and created by Paul Abbott who also played the role as executive producer. Company Pictures has also produced a variety of programming for a large amount of broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV and Channel 4.

For series one – four the exterior shots were filmed on location in Greater Manchester. Since series five the exteriors and interiors have been filmed on a purpose built set located in an industrial estate in Wythenshawe, Manchester.

The distributors of the show were ‘Channel 4 Television Corporation.’ The first seven series of the programme was aired on Tuesdays 10:00pm from January 13th 2004 on Channel 4. The channel E4 was the sister channel and allowed repeats of the programme to be aired in the same week if you missed the episode on Channel 4.

In April 2005, the programmes first series won Best Drama Series category at the British Academy Television Awards. It was also nominated for the ‘Best British Drama’ at the National Television Awards 2007 but sadly lost out to Doctor Who. However, Shameless did win an award at the Royal Television Awards Society North West Awards 2007 where it beat
Coronation Street
to the ‘Best Continuing Drama Award.’

The programme has been sold overseas, where it airs on channels in Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Canada, France, Netherlands, Finland, Portugal, Ireland, BBC America (only aired the first series), Israel, Latin America and Italy.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Analyse the representations of the ‘law’ in the two extracts from ‘The Wire’ and ‘A Touch of Frost.’

Analyse the representations of the ‘law’ in the two extracts from ‘The Wire’ and ‘A Touch of Frost.’

By analysing the representations of the law in the two extracts from ‘The Wire’ and ‘A Touch of Frost,’ it is noticeable that the media industry tries to re-present individuals, groups, events and issues in a realistic light so that we assume that they are normal or true. Media industries use stereotypes because the audience will instantly understand them. They expect the audience to think of stereotypes as a ‘visual shortcut.’ Producers and directors create stereotypes for a number of reasons; these might be as a quick reference, shortcut to information about a character, audience familiarity and comic effect. However, these representations can change over time.

In TV drama’s cops and detectives are represented as being intuitive, they think logically and the majority of them are honest people. They are intelligent people as they attempt to solve crime puzzles and hunt down the criminals in an effort to send them to prison. When it comes to crimes being committed in shows, due to the accuracy of many shows they often try to mirror the real police force or detectives. The police are seen as authority figures that have a high status over other people. Citizens associate the police with protection and safety, but if they are represented in a negative light, it might impact reality as viewers may make judgements and start to doubt how efficient the police force is.

There are two types of TV crime drama’s these are ‘one-off’ crime dramas which focuses on the kinds of crimes which create anxiety and trepidation among the viewing public. What is more is that they are distinguished by aspects of law enforcements that they focus on, for instance a police inspector, a lawyer and a team of detectives. On the other hand, long running TV crime drama’s will include a variety of sub plots throughout each episode which over time help to build up and increase their audience interest in the relationships between characters and the narrative of the episode. An example of this may be the detective in ‘The Wire.’ The character sets up representations of gender and the experience he has of being a successful, logical detective in a male dominated work force. Additionally, what most scriptwriters tend to include is a range of personal narratives to go alongside his detective work so that the character is represented as being ambitious and high achieving in the work force but is unfortunate in his personal life. On the other hand, ‘A Touch of Frost’ is another popular TV crime drama, which portrays the detective as someone who often fails to ‘close the deal’ on potential relationships he could have. These examples help the viewing audience to understand the debate regarding the quality of British TV crime drama in relation to the success of American shows which are now being imported onto our screens. Both ‘The Wire’ and ‘A Touch of Frost,’ are all attempts to rebrand previous successful crime dramas rather than investing and creating a brand new drama production which could become unsuccessful or in some cases axed.

Some media critiques put forward the idea that some media representations of crime and law usually create five key points, these being: Crime/The Police, Criminals/The Criminal Justice System, Lawyers Versus Courts, Social Workers versus the police and Victims versus the public. Each TV crime drama can be analysed using this system so that the audience are given the opportunity to understand how each programme represents law and crime differently and how it can portray a copy of reality.

In ‘The Wire’ and ‘A Touch of Frost,’ the scriptwriters tend to have a different sub plot running in a different episode every week. This allows the audience to get to know the characters well and to let them sympathise and empathise with the characters. Additionally, both dramas create an ‘archetype’ this is where the ultimate stereotype is created. For instance, we are often shown the police force breaking the laws/rules in order to capture the criminals and escort them to prison. What is more, is that the police are continually being portrayed as being the good guys with the exception of having a ‘bent cop’ involved amongst the team.

However, in the two extracts of ‘The Wire’ and ‘A Touch of Frost,’ the law is clearly represented in the opening scenes. In ‘A Touch of Frost,’ the episode establishes the characters so we receive a better understanding of who they are and what they are about. It also establishes the setting, mood, sub-genres, themes and ideologies. What is more, is that it introduces and gives the audience clues as to what the narrative might consist of and what scenarios could occur throughout the series. Additionally, it becomes clear to the audience that whilst Frost works as part of a team, he is the leader. Whilst he is older, he is still active and experienced. He is very much respected by his colleagues. The final scene in the title sequence illustrates Frost gazing into the camera and smiling at the audience, this allows us to feel connected to the character. He knows and accepts that we are on his side and we understand that he is on our side also. In ‘The Wire,’ the detective is portrayed as acting sympathetic with the witness, this suggests to the audience that the detective wants the witness to understand that he can trust him and open up to him. Again, the scene establishes the characters so we receive a better understanding of who they are and what they are about. It introduces and gives clues of the narrative, including the law so that the audience are aware of their role and what they may end up investigating throughout the remainder of the series. In addition, the police are presented in the background of the scene to illustrate that they are investigating the death of a male adult. The use of an ‘over the shoulder’ shot behind the detective and witness displays this. In the opening scene a variety of camera shots have been used, for instance a ‘close up’ and a ‘medium shot’ in order to focus the audiences’ attention on the drugs, the death of a person and their blood. By incorporating these shots it begins to introduce crime and the danger which occurs on the streets in America. Moreover, the main detective in the scene begins to talk in the same lingo as the witness so that they can communicate better with one another. He begins to mirror the witness’s body language so that the witness believes that the detective understands his lingo. This a different ideology compared to ‘A Touch of Frost.’ As soon as the opening scene begins the detective immediately begins to question the witness on what events lead up to the death of the male adult. He always refers back to what the witness said when answering the detective’s question. An example being, “Let me understand you, every Friday night you and your boys would go and shoot crap, right? And every Friday night your pal snot bogey would wait until there was cash on the ground and grab the money and run away. You let him do that?” Furthermore, it is noticeable that the editors used ‘cross-cutting’ in the episode as the scene skips between the conversation between the detective and the witness and then the camera shot changes so that it focuses on the dead body of the victim whom they have been discussing.

As a final point to my essay, it became evident that in ‘A Touch of Frost’ the title sequence illustrates murder and crime scenes. Whereas in ‘The Wire,’ it depicts drugs and crimes as well as highlighting the use of wires which is used as a device to listen in on other peoples conversations. Besides, the audience is invited to see the world from a police perspective – due to the use of point of view shots. However, as police dramas are becoming more successful and popular it is becoming clear that there is a growing realisation that sometimes the police can in fact and often do get things wrong.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011