- Contribution and collaboration – My contribution to the Seminars took place in the context of the Steering Committee, of which I was a part of. This committee helped organise all of the events, and I believed I worked really well with the rest of my group for this. There were often differing opinions, but I was able to smooth over a lot of them and help us all come to a conclusion.
I also actively contributed to each of the weeks (except Radio, as I was shooting my short film that day) by being a 'social media resource', so to speak, and offering my service to each group. I was always able to be contacted during the week, and many did contact me. As a steering committee, we delegated ourselves between the groups, so we could be an 'official' point of call, but people would still speak to any of us when they saw us at uni, etc. I also helped people come up with and refine their ideas for how to approach seminars.
- In terms of social media, I really took the lead in setting up the different social media channels and using them constantly. This worked really well with Tom being an overall Project Manager and Dom having a heavy focus on graphics, design and the website. Sara also was there to contact the groups and keep in touch with them, especially with the content needed before the seminar.
- Proactive Learning - All of my learning for this was proactive. I keep myself updated on whatever was happening in social media, to be able to implement strategies and techniques into the marketing of it. Every week, I tried to update my technique to get more people engaged with the series. I also had to think 'outside the box' in how I would approach the promotion of the event, what was acceptable to say online and what wasn't. I also actively taught others these skills.
- Participation – I heavily participated in each seminar, as not only was I a point of contact for the planning of them but also made my self available to live tweet. I believe this was an invaluable resource that really 'gave' back to what we were doing and also became an important record. It also helped us to become trending in Australia with #dodigital at the Dawn of the Digital seminar, which was really positive. I also helped organise the website zombie promo video, making fake blood, buying makeup and ingredients, helping to make up the actors and acting in it myself.
- Connections & intersections – The seminars were incredibly valuable and allowed us to connect with media professionals, but for me the real value lay in being able to lay down a digital and social media strategy. It was a great opportunity for me to be able to work on such a large scale event and do relatively well, and I can use this experience as part of my portfolio for working with social media in the future, as a thing that will hopefully set me apart from other candidates.
Grade: I give myself a HD of 97. Although I wasn't perfect in other areas of media industries, I was quite invested in this project, and had to sustain this over all of the weeks where others (who were not in the steering committee) didn't have to.
It was clear that this was going to be an amazing seminar from the way it was packed, with people queuing out the door for it. I feel that the main pull for this was the inclusion of John Safran in the panel, and the way he shared the event on his Facebook page and Twitter, as I saw acquaintances there who didn't go to RMIT and found out about it through him. The organisers managed this very well and it ran efficiently, however I feel like it would have been a smart move to have the students come down earlier, as I saw some Media Industries students scrabbling in the back for a seat. (I'm pretty sure scrabbling is not a word but I feel like it sums up what I'm trying to say).
This group also decided not to use Twitter for Q&A, which was entirely up to them but I feel like they may have missed a great opportunity, especially in the way that they could have collected questions even before the event. However, at the same time I can see how this approach may have privileged Safran over the other guests, and so I think it was good that they didn't because the others had some very useful insights.
It would be interesting to see how many of the 'external' audience members actually came back for later seminars, because we may have missed an important marketing opportunity there by not having flyers for later weeks to give out.
All in all this group did a wonderful job of putting the event together, and it was amazing to be a part of it.
This was another occasion where I live tweeted the proceedings through @PYBRMIT, so I only have a few extra things to say.
It was extremely unfortunate that this had to take place the morning after CommBall2012, as I feel this greatly impacted the turnout. However, as the 'Events' seminar they were probably best suited to deal with this.
The poster design for this week was incredibly engaging (I heard quite a few people from outside MI talking about it) and I was really interested in what they would have to say, as I never really thought about events as an option. I found it rather an odd perspective at first, considering that it would traditionally be more suited to a PR or events management stream. However, through the course of the seminar I realised that many of the roles the guests were discussing were similar to the roles Producers take on when working on a film. When you're dealing with strategies, safety reports, preparation and Murphy's law, putting on an event really doesn't seem all that different to producing a film, as the core skills are essentially the same.
I feel that by third year, most people have more-or-less worked out what field they'd like to get into, so for most of us the seminars simply supplemented that. This was the only seminar that really opened my eyes to a whole new career path, and that's an exceptional feat.
Points also goes to them for offering a prize (a bottle of wine) to a random person sitting in the first two seats, as it was a great way to encourage people to sit in the front and not have the place look so empty. Kudos.
So building on from my livetweeting of the event (mostly from the @PYBRMIT twitter account, a lot of which is documented through our Storify) where I documented everything that happened, I thought I'd briefly build on this by discussing some of my personal impressions of the event.
I think this group did an excellent job of running a seminar first off the bat, and they have to be given credit for that. All other groups had an established format of what to do, how to do it, and what to submit at the end - not Filmenstein. They also came up with a collection of amazing guests for the seminar (although, to be fair, most people were more excited about Glendyn Ivin directing Puberty Blues, the television show).
The concept itself was a little tricky for me to get my head around. I could see what they were trying to do - have a script, and see it completed from beginning to end, but I think the guests struggled with this as the script was (deliberately) bad. It was an interesting attempt at engaging interest for the seminar, however in my point of view they would have been slightly better off skipping that and simply talking about the process, without this 'movie' to refer to. It did provide some context, but it was also confusing.
Other than that, this seminar ran phenomenally well. I was surprised at how many unfamiliar faces crept in to the audience. The success of this seminar also helped buoy the next few weeks, especially in peaking interest among the second years, so this was a very positive thing.
(Since I feel that the approaches we had to take in regards to producing and then distributing our audio files online were quite different processes, I have split them and will discuss each separately.)
Having the use of online collaboration was pretty much essential in all of the group work completed last semester (and over the break), both in our documentary groups and in Room With A View. For starters, most of our discussion and planning took place online in Facebook groups, where we could easily and frequently contact each other and share information - links, articles, ideas.
As I had never met anyone in both my Room With A View group or my tutorial group, as I was yet to share classes with any of them, having electronic communication as a tool was invaluable as we could easily discuss not only our ideas, but also meeting times and locations to further our discussion. Although this information could have been communicated through group emails, or text messages, there is arguably nothing these days that is as ‘instant’ and powerful in small group communication as the creation of a Facebook group and messaging therein, providing each member actually has a Facebook account. Facebook’s usefulness also came into play when one of the other RWAV groups was left with only two group members, everyone else being overseas. Through Facebook (and one of the member’s cry for help on the RMIT Media page) I was able to ‘raise my hand’ and volunteer to help them out, and was also ‘introduced’ to everyone else without having to meet them. I also had easy access to all their preproduction and was also able to cover a pre-recorded interview when one of the group members met with an accident. It is safe to say that without this kind of instantaneous electronic connection, the show would never have run as smoothly as it did.
Another great arena used for communication in these projects was that of Google Docs. For the uninitiated, Google Docs are simply variations of documents that can be created using Microsoft Office or Open Office – the word document, the spreadsheet, the slideshow, etc – that is stored online and can be edited by multiple users simultaneously. As a producer in my Room With A View group, I decided to create runsheets using Google Docs for these reasons:
- Everyone in the group had access to the most current edition (so there was no confusion between files sent out);
- People in my group were easily able to update any information that was either incorrect or not yet provided;
- We had a link that we could easily share with Elizabeth for her approval; and
- The information still stayed relatively private as only group members had access.
In the formation of the documentary, Google Docs played a much less important role, but still enabled us to share information about the type of ‘structure’ we were looking for and also possible questions to ask.
In terms of the actual sharing of draft work/pre-recorded segments, there were two websites (or programs) that we used to accomplish this. The first was RMIT’s ROAR - an excellent place for us to be able to share any work that we’d done in the lead up to the final project. For example, in the Documentary group, having each person post their individual interview on ROAR was fantastic as the permission settings allowed us all to stream and even download the work of our group members, giving us all time to think about how we wanted to put things together in the final piece, as well as any criticisms we had or things that we wanted to fix. The links and information posted by each individual on ROAR were also invaluable when it came to the collation of sources needed for the final documentary, as they were all therefore easy to access and we could make sure not to leave anything out.
In terms of Room With A View, ROAR also allowed us to listen to sections of group members’ documentaries that we could use on the show, but it served a much higher purpose than just that. The Media Annotation Tool (MAT) allowed us to not only listen back to our ‘demo’ versions of RWAV (recorded in the 3RRR studio) but also to critically analyse them, pinpointing things we did well and also sections where we went wrong. This was a crucial practice for us because our first demo was quite horrendous, and we received a fail for it. However, through this (through listening back, working out where we went wrong, communicating together and putting all our effort into it) we ended up with quite a strong show that we all could be proud of.
The other website/application that was used was Dropbox, which was great for sending music files (so that everyone could hear what was going to be played on the show beforehand, and form their commentary accordingly) and also pre-records without compressing them. One of the downfalls of ROAR was that the recordings needed to be an MP3, and therefore could not have the highest possible bit rate. Passing files through Dropbox was an easy way to ensure the content we played would be of the highest quality we could manage, while still giving everyone access to it.
At first, being a third-year Media student in a course that is comprised predominately of second-year Media and third-year Professional Communication students felt a little bit strange. However, as time progressed in the course I realised that some of the other subjects I had studied gave me a different perspective on some of the assignments of our course. Some of these things were minor (such as the fact that my Broadcast Media documentary was now two years old and no longer suitable for airing on RWAV). The area where I felt the most different in perspective was that of multi-platform production and distribution, and I will now reflect on some of the reasons why.
Having already completed Integrated Media 1&2, I had learnt lots about the importance of social media integration and connecting with fans and the community online. My interest in radio led me to working on a research project last semester, entitled Radio In The Digital Age, where we looked at the importance of digital technology (and online content in particular) in establishing a connection with current and future listeners of radio shows or stations. By talking to many different people, as well as being part of the SYN Online Team, I learnt that there were certain integral elements to a radio show's online presence. Although different people will probably have different ideas about these, I feel that the main elements are:
- Offical website page (as an offshoot of the Station's website)
- Social media presence through different channels
- Accessible podcasts that are correctly tagged.
- Easy-to-find playlists
Room With A View, as a 3RRR show, already had a wonderful website on the RRR page in which playlists could be easily updated (and videos/band bios automatically added). In addition to this, Radio On Demand (which allows website visitors to listen to past shows in their entirety) is completely wonderful – not many radio stations (if any) are lucky enough to have this facility. However, something Room With A View didn’t have were easily downloadable bite-sized podcasts or a strong social media presence. The first problem could easily be fixed by uploading individual parts of the show onto ROAR, and making them accessible to the public. When it came to social media, however, I felt that someone had to be the one to begin something, and so I made an official Twitter account for Room With A View, taking my cue from the Breakfasters account, whom I follow. So far, I feel that Twitter has been a phenomenal success. People are able to live-tweet their shows and even directly mention the bands whom they are playing. They can do the same with interviews and even (theoretically) source questions from the public, as 3RRR does not have a text or message line in the same way that SYN (for example) does. This not only makes our content more accessible to our listeners but also allows them to participate in our show in new and exciting ways, giving them an extra level of engagement. It also means that 3RRR’s official twitter can retweet any of our relevant tweets to their much larger follower base, meaning that more people could possibly tune in if they are enticed by our content.
It also means that people we interviewed can link to us, as Clare Bowditch did, sharing the Radio On Demand link for a RWAV show that played a documentary she was involved in. This kind of exposure only means good things for the show, and should be used not as a distraction, but as an extra incentive to create incredible content.
All in all, I have discovered that the time we live in is an incredible one, as we can easily share ideas, content and information from our own computers, and collaborate easily without physically being in the same space. Although live meet-ups are still incredibly important to radio (with presenters not being able to build up a pleasant conversational groove without it!) I feel that multi-platform production and distribution really increases accessibility, both for content producers and for listeners, and therefore opens up the potential for new and wonderful things to occur.
“Assumption is the mother of all f--k ups. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong”.
Franziska Wagenfeld, Independent Producer
The advanced skills workshop we had with Franziska was one of the most informative sessions I have attended to date. She was informative, frank, and knowledgable. What she also was, however, was inspirational. The way she moved, the way she spoke, the way she addressed us – every inch of her being indicated that she was a woman in control of her destiny. I liked the way she addressed us, I liked what she had to say, and I even liked that she scolded me for showing up quite late (I had a Room With A View RRR radio show clash). She was authoritative, yet gentle, and an inspiration for any of us wanting to be producers. It was refreshing, and nice, and made me take even more note of the things she had to say.
One of the biggest lessons that was drilled into us in this session was to never assume anything. By making a film, one has to be prepared for all sorts of things to go wrong. Unfortunately, with filmmaking the ‘buck’ has to stop somewhere, and everything that goes wrong is ultimately the producer’s responsibility. This taught me a lot about accountability and the role I will need to take in the creation of our short film. I always felt that the reason that my Film-TV 1 film was not successful was that I wasn’t as assertive as I should have been in the very beginning – I was just learning, after all. Franziska’s comments brought to light the cold hard fact that I think we all already knew, but sometimes refuse to acknowledge: when things go well, it’s to the credit of the director, cast and crew, but when things go wrong, it all comes down to the producer. This knowledge is vital in the creation of any small production, and it’s important that everyone knows it. There will be times in the production of this film where I will be forced to ‘put my foot down’, to follow my own gut feelings and descisions, and to disappoint other people by turning down their ideas or making certain executive decisions. However, this is something necessary that needs to happen for the growth of the project. As Franziska said, every element of filmmaking is creative, and producing is about more than just balancing books. The decisions I make about the viability of the production (or specific idea) will definitely creatively impact the film, artistic decision or not. Hopefully we will have such a smooth working dynamic that not too many problems will arise. However, I have to be willing to sometimes say ‘no’ for the sake of the film, and hope that the rest of the crew will eventually respect that.
I also took a lot of note about the organizational methods she employed in order to keep everything running smoothly. After the writer has written the script, it needs to be broken up into one scene per page (even if the scene is only a sentence long). This is so it is easy to add amendments by simply adding or swapping a page. She also said to print any new ‘edition’ of changes on a differently coloured paper, so it’s easy to see if everyone is on the ‘same page’ or not when going through the script together, as having an old version of the script could lead to someone making a huge mistake. Another colour-coded idea was to go through the script and mark different elements with different colours – one for location, one for art department, and one for wardrobe. In this way, you can easily distribute information to the relevant people, and also make sure that nothing crucial is forgotten. Everything that is in the script HAS to be put down onto the call sheet, under the responsibility of each separate department. Even though we may not have that many ‘separate’ departments in our small production, I think it would still be useful to employ this method as a good practice and a great way to keep track.
Finally, one of the most important things she shared with us was to physically express gratitude and send thank-you cards, with everyone’s signatures, to anyone who gave you anything for free or assisted you in any way. Franziska said gratitude was essential as it built positive relationships, and also meant that the people who helped you were more likely to help other filmmakers, creating a community that continued to share and help each other rather than cutting people off due to bad experiences. This message was important for me because I realised that my actions could not only affect my future networking but also impact everyone else in my field, so it was important to be respectful and careful in asking favours and how we behaved.
All in all it was a fantastic session, and I will be definitely taking more advice from professionals in the future as I have so much to learn!
Another short film I viewed as part of the Vimeo Staff Picks was "Waiting For The End Of The World" - a film that serves as a sharp contrast to The Duel At Blood Creek due to its emphasis on beautiful, compelling shots around an otherwise dry storyline. Normally, I am not that much of a fan of DSLR shots in films as I think it often makes things appear too much larger than life, which sometimes can serve as a distraction. However, here it is exactly what the film needs, and works absolutely beautifully.
The storyline simply follows Petr, a supermarket employee who spends every night doing the monotonous night shift. He seems to be absolutely alone in his life - people don't notice when if he's late, or speak to him at all, and he seems to do nothing except sleep during the day and work alone in the store at night, with an hours break spent staring at a television that doesn't work.
What really struck me about this film is that it is a film where nothing actually really happens, yet it is so completely riveting. After watching it a few times, I started thinking about the way in which we were presented scripts in class - the way the writers pitched their ideas to us, the way we pondered which would make the 'best' film. Would any of them be so audacious as to pitch a script that could be construed as being about nothing? Would any of us have picked them if they did? This film provides no resolution, no happy ending, no horrible event that provides some sort of impact, and yet it still works. It thrives on making something quite ordinary (or even less than ordinary, depressingly mundane) into something compelling, moving and beautiful. On analysis, perhaps it is this key fact that draws the viewer in so deeply: the fact that the subject matter is LESS than ordinary. It's not everyday life - it's dark, depressing, hopeless, and these feelings are communicated to the viewer from the title itself, and beyond.
Something that is does incorporate (which is very traditional) is the use of repetition - the scenes where he is counting down to the end of his shift are some of the most suspenseful. There's something about the countdown to zero that communicates the feeling of waiting for a bomb to go off, and this is heightened by the way the viewer never gets to really relate to Petr. We are always held away from him at arms length, unable to understand why he lives a life so bleak and alone, and wondering what is wrong with him - wondering if he will snap. The beauty of this film lies in the way it builds up suspense but leaves us hanging. There are so many questions left unanswered and uncommunicated, and that is okay. As filmmakers I think we spend so much time trying to make sure that everything is clarified, that everything is established and 'makes sense', and we forget that sometimes the biggest allure lies in mystery.
Regardless of what 'type' of film we make, I will definitely get the rest of my group to watch this film before heading into preproduction because the cinematography and direction are absolutely superb. The film is shot with a Canon 5D Mark II, which I think is the type of camera we were considering using. I've mentioned previously that I am sometimes apprehensive about using DSLRs for films, but this is done in such a spectacular way. The timing of each shot is so precise - not too short or too long, but the exactly right amount of time. I also love the lighting, especially the use of alternative light sources such as the flickering from the broken television. On top of all this though, what really makes this film stand out is the collation of extremely interesting shots. The filmmakers here have been experimental in their camera placements - from on the floor to behind bottles, but each shot works and serves to alienate the viewer even more while keeping them enthralled.
In short, this film was nothing like I was expecting, but I am so glad to have seen it. It changed my views on so many different elements, and I am excited to try and incorporate some of these in my own work.
As we are currently in the process of starting pre-production for our short film next semester, our tutors thought it would be a good idea for us to look at some other short films out there. This process has been fantastic - not only have I started to think about the different elements needed to make a successful film, but also have started (once again) looking outside my direct circle of influences and searching for new and inspiring work. I think one of the dangers in being in a media course is that you get into it because you're so influenced by work that is being produced by people you don't know, but then sometimes can get trapped with just working off each other, in a way. I decided to explore Vimeo - an arena that I hadn't really searched before - and was pleasantly rewarded by coming across this video in the Staff Pick's section: The Duel at Blood Creek.
One of the most important characteristics of this film was its ability to directly transport the viewer to a different time and place (and then back again, with a twist at the end). The opening shots are of vital importance as they really help establish the scene: with two men dressed in such a way walking across the countryside, with one admonishing the other, we see so much even before the characters start talking. We assume this film is set sometime long ago, perhaps in the 19th Century, and probably in England due to the landscape. From this, we can also see that one of the characters is somewhat important, probably with a far bit of money due to his outfit, and the other is his servant. The music also adds to the positioning of the viewer in terms of context - one is able to establish 'time and place' with a certain amount of accuracy (or so one is led to believe) by the soaring sort of instrumental composition also used in other productions that are based around that time: reminiscent of any Austen novel adaptation, for example.
Besides this opening section, the rest of the film is so heavily carried by the script - something I found very important, as a lover of dialogue. Emotions are conveyed through expression and tone, but always clearly in the words themselves. In fact, without such dialogue, and such continued and varied 'plot twists', this particular film would not be as half as entertaining. The exasperation felt by Lord Orsbury (spelling may be incorrect) and the rest of the characters, as well of the trappings of proprietary relevant to the time, with the expression of honour and pride, would not have been communicated as effectively if the film was silent. In fact, it is the shouted phrase "HE F--KED MY WIFE", breaking out over all the petty squabbling, that shakes both the audience and the rest of the characters. I personally don't think I have heard a curse word used as effectively in a film for a long time - it momentarily shattered some of the societal expectations of the time and place, but conveyed such a depth of emotion and drew everyone in, in stunned silence.
Although the dialogue of this film is one of its greatest strengths, it is also completely essential in terms of the suspension of disbelief. This may simply be my opinion as a prospective filmmaker, but although I appreciate the beauty displayed in many of the DSLR shots many edits don't seem to 'gel' well with me. Also, in some of the dialogue scenes, the line of sight is not correctly positioned so it doesn't really look like the men are looking at each other or in the same direction. I'm not sure if it was in the timing, or perhaps just the angle of shots that were being cut between, but I wasn't a big fan of the editing in this film at all. However, this is still an outstanding film, winning various awards (Audience Choice Award DC Shorts Film Festival 2011, Audience Award Vancouver DSLR Film Festival 2010, Best Film Judges Choice Iron Mule Film Festival 2011) showing that audiences are willing to forgive slightly jarring edits if there is a compelling storyline to carry them through. This is a positive when it comes to making a short film as a student, because it is easy to feel like the work you have produced isn't good enough to enter into festivals or to show because it's not 'perfect'. The Duel at Blood Creek isn't perfect, but it is a spectacular film (with a twist that surprised me so much that I even watched it again with my grandmother on one of my repeated viewings of it). It goes to show that script selection can be vital, as it can really improve the quality of the film (and may be the reason why your little flaws are forgiven!)
Before I start this, I'd like to share the two most important things this course has taught me this semester: honesty, and the value of personality.
I've done a lot in terms of proactive research for this course, and this is because I picked a topic that was directly in line with what I personally wanted to work on for the future. Youth Radio in the Digital Age was a topic that I was extremely interested in because I wish to work in the online (convergence media) components of Radio in the future - a path I have been experimenting with this year as I joined SYN's brand new Online Team as an Online Editor. I’ve actually been using this research to inform the directions taken by the Online Team as much as I have used ideas put forward in SYN’s Vision Meetings as a springboard for new research directions.
So, although I’ve arguably been doing quite a lot of practical, hands-on stuff, what I haven’t done is a lot of blogging about it.
This is clearly my own fault, and I really should have done it (considering it was mentioned that this would happen, and that we would be marked on it!) however at this point in time there’s not much that I can do to rectify this fact. I could create posts about things that I DID do at the time and then backdate them, but I won’t be able to do that kind of thing in the ‘real world’, so what kind of practice is that?
I can see what blogging can achieve, especially for individual projects: it is a record that you’ve actually done what you’ve said you’ve done, and it also lets you ‘publish’ your ideas so that others can reference them and (hopefully) not create exactly the same thing at the same time. However, all my work hasn’t been done alone – it’s often been in group contexts (either with Jae and Verity) or with the SYN Online Team, where individual roles I undertook were reported back to the rest of the team on a regular basis. (Unfortunately, to link to this information would be a breach of privacy in my opinion, but if you need back up for the marks I am giving myself I can do this in person.
Now, moving on to an evaluation of each of the criteria:
Initially, I think I came up with a lot of great ideas and also was very enthusiastic about approaches we could take and directions in which we could go. I think I played quite a distinct role in the initial distribution of tasks, allocating them between different people. However, as Verity began to take charge of this I let go, as I was comfortable with her leading us.
I felt confident in doing this project as I had external ties to information, and by engaging with those SYN projects (as well as exposure to different radio issues) I got to constantly test and reformulate my ideas. However, my team members had quite a different approach than I did when it came to producing content and just because ideas were ‘bubbling away’ in my head and not on the site, it appeared as if I was actually not doing any work.
In the end I feel like I contributed quite an even share of the workload, writing about a third of the words online. I’ve actually never worked in a project before where someone else has ‘lead’ so working with someone else’s style was quite unusual for me. In the end I accepted that because of our different approaches, Verity doing more work did not necessarily mean that I wasn’t doing my fair share. For once I was a ‘follower’ group member rather than a ‘leader’, which was an important experience to have. However, I also was constantly experimenting with new ways to be creative and make our presentation more innovative, which I think was essential given our subject matter - learning to adapt, evolve, change and keep up!
I did learn quire a lot about research through this project and also the way that I undertook concepts and built on ideas. I actually learnt a lot about different approaches to radio by stumbling upon and then engaging with the work of Mark Ramsey and becoming quite a fan of his methodology and research approach. I realised through doing this that I much preferred reading information that was written in the first person, in a way in which you could see the writer’s personality coming through, rather than formal academic writing that we had chosen to do our report in. This was a big problem for me as although I could talk freely about ideas I wanted to present in a ‘casual’ way, actually finding the formal words and tone for my argument was much more difficult. The process was interesting – there was a lot of blank staring at computer screens until I took a pencil and dashed down dot points of everything I wanted to say, and then ‘formalised’ it while typing it up.
I also progressed a lot in my knowledge about the topic and the way that I began to apply my research to real-life situations. For example, when it was brought to my attention that the Naughty Rude show on SYN had stopped podcasting, I got in contact with the Executive Producer and passed on my knowledge of how important online components were, teaching her how to upload podcasts and video to the site. In a similar way, I also got the opportunity to work with a local musician throughout the semester, and taught her some of the social media skills we listed as ‘essential’. By seeing how she was able to grow and interact with this knowledge, I could be more certain that the claims I was making in our report were actually substantiated.
There were many different strategies that we implemented during this project. The collaborative strategies were probably the hardest to maintain, as although we all divided up the workload I believe that Verity didn’t have much faith in the fact that I was going to commit myself to the project or finish my section, as I did break my word quite a few times (being caught up with different projects). Our communication was fantastic other than that, as we talked through our Facebook group, through text and also through shared Google Docs (as well as the website itself).
A personal research strategy I undertook was to look up the names of people who had written articles and see if I could find them on social media (as you would assume people who worked with digital content for a living would be online-savvy). I found that through doing this, I could personally analyse the difference between the public and the professional on Twitter while also using each individual as a gateway to further links and greater pools of information, from things they had shared or responded to.
In terms of writing the report itself, I felt intimidated by the word count and actually found it easier to write smaller paragraphs in a different document and then paste it in to the website. The site writtenkitten.net was particularly inspiring as it gives you a new picture of a kitten as a reward after you’ve written a certain amount of words. Although this might seem quite basic, it means that you can keep writing and not worry too much about looking at the word count (in fact, I’m using it right now).
One of the problems we had was being unable to get the exclusive interviews we wanted. This was because commercial station managers were often either too busy, had inaccessible contact details or didn’t reply. I did get a late response from Triple J Unearthed saying they were flattered but too busy, and that I would find everything I needed to know online.
After thinking for a while about this, I decided to take this advice but use it to my advantage. There are so many broadcasters that have already been interviewed through many reputable publications, so it made sense to reference these interviews rather than trying desperately to record my own. I decided to look on the bright side – at least these transcripts were already written for me! (It took me ages to write up the Andy Lynch interview.)
Another problem I faced was the stresses in my own life and my tendency to leave things to the last minute. Unfortunately I get quite panicked and stressed when this happens, which tends to make things worse for everyone. By doing this, I was also creating unnecessary stress for my group members as they then also had to worry about my own shortcomings. This wasn’t really fair, and after communication with Verity I think I was able to convince her that I wasn’t going to let the project down and I was actually going to come through in the end. Through this I learnt an important lesson about doing work earlier, as leaving things to the last minute is way more stressful for group projects than it is for individual ones.
Connections and intersections:
I think this course has been invaluable in terms of what is has taught me about the industry but also about teamwork. It seems a little odd to think that I have not really been in the ‘backseat’ when it came to group work for most of my life – but that’s just the way it is. I think now I’m a lot more comfortable with being a contributor and I actually like handing over control to other people: the danger is, however, that I can then be a little bit tardy with the work that is required of me (I’d been so used to OTHER people doing that).
I’ve also learnt so much about online personas (as well as the important of creating personalized content) and now have more confidence in telling my own story, as I realize my ‘uniqueness’ allows for interesting potential as it is something not found everywhere. However, one of the most important real life applications of Media Industries was our experimentation with social networking, with the #mediaindustries hashtag that I started on presentation day becoming the second more popular trend in Australia for a little while, just by having a few different students interacting with and live tweeting the course. I know we all got a lot out of that experience (it made waiting the whole day worth a lot more than the 2 points and the biscuits!) and it also taught me that you don’t necessarily need heaps of manpower to make a splash – just certain passionate individuals who are passionate about what they are doing.
Overall grade: D
I'm clearly not that great at blogging anymore, unless it's about things I'm passionate about. That's one of the tricky things about a media degree - in my perspective, anyway. I spend so much time being able to talk and create and do that words don't have the same hold over me that audio and images (especially those movin' images!) do. I need to get back into the game though, because sometimes writing is exactly what's required. To crudely paraphrase the great Godard, it's important to have the ability to express your ideas no matter what the medium, moving fluently from film, to television, to pen and paper - probably even to yelling on street corners if all matters of inscription were to disappear completely.
Anyway, on to what this post is really meant to be about: a reflection (and an assessed reflection, at that!) which I am going to conduct as if I was having an interview with myself, in order for all of us to get through this. (In case you're reading this and horribly worried, Rachel, don't be - I promise I will write very formally and professionally when it comes to our actual project.)
Q: So, Cassie - what's this all about?
For this Media Industries Research Project I have been working in a group with Jae and Verity. Our project is focused on the idea of "Youth Oriented Radio in the Digital Age", and how youth-oriented radio stations are adapting in order to deal with these technological changes.
Q: Wow. That sounds interesting. What role are you taking in all of this? What's your particular research job?
One of the best things about this project is that we picked it because of our interests, and also our strengths. I'm one of three brand-spanking-new Online Editors at SYN Media, as part of the new Online Team put together for 2012 in order to improve SYN's online services, resources, material and culture. (In case you were wondering, SYN stands for Student Youth Network, which is an Victorian organisation run by 12-25 year olds creating radio, television and online media, broadcasting 24/7 on 90.7 FM, digitally and streaming online at http://syn.org.au.) I'm also currently preparing for the show Room With A View on Triple R as another uni subject, so I've been immersing myself a fair bit in the world of Community Radio.
This is all backstory for the role I've taken in the group - looking at issues and transitions from a broadcaster's perspective. Although I do have experience only in the community sector (I also volunteered for Vision Australia Radio for a while) the experience I have had has been extraordinarily youth focused, and I also have been privy to internal discussions and meetings that an 'ordinary' listener may not have had the chance to experience. At the same time, when it comes to other stations such as Triple J I am purely a consumer (well, a listener of the radio station, download-ee of the iPhone app, subscriber of the email newsletter and podcast, liker of the Facebook page, follower of the Twitter and occasional purchaser of the magazine. Phew! - Oh, and entrant of the competitions!) My job, therefore, is to look at the measures these stations are taking with their online and mobile content and assess what is working well and what could be improved.
Q: What have you done so far? What strategies have you used?
Well, so far I've been primarily engaging in primary research (see what I did there?) by immersing myself all the goodies these stations have to offer - in terms of Nova, Triple J & RRR, my engagement has been as mentioned above (such as getting my grubby little paws on anything I can get my hands on, as well as making analysis of their sites, apps, competitions and following some of their well known personalities on Twitter such as @DHughesy, @MacleanBrendan & @triplejmornings, to name a few.
When it comes to SYN, my involvement has been in quite a different manner, as I am drawing on my past and current experiences in different ways. In the past, as a presenter, I have been acutely aware of the 'basic minimum' expected of me in terms of online content, having sometimes ignored this without retribution (although it pains me to admit it!). Nowadays, as part of the Online Team and also as an involved SYN member, I have stayed ever vigilant in the closed SYN facebook group (only current mediamakers can join) to gauge concerns of those broadcasting at SYN, as well as attended meetings such as the 'Online Futures' vision meeting, held in March, where members discussed their discontent with the current online process and talked about their aspirations and hopes for the future online direction of SYN. Something that came up a lot was a wish to 'revamp' the 'outdated' website, have better Twitter integration and to make uploading files easier and more reliable, while on the management's side there was a desire to streamline the process and have more shows upload podcasts and online content to the SYN website itself, rather than to other channels such as Facebook and Tumblr, or external private websites. From this meeting there came a set of Social Media Guidelines which is currently being implemented across the various shows, with a little push and pull!
As an individual, I have also met up with one of the Executive Producers of the Naughty Rude Show on SYN to discuss why they were not podcasting this year, or uploading any online content at all. Due to my interference, I learnt that they actually were really interested in branching out online, but just didn't have the know-how to do so (or the proper login details!). Learning that this was just a communication breakdown was a good start for all of us, as they are not only excitedly posting up new content (such as this video on the correct way to put on a condom ) but I was able to speak to the rest of the Online Team about this communication breakdown, notifying them of the way the show had managed to 'slip through the cracks' so such an event would not be repeated.
Q: What problems have you encountered? How have you solved them?
To be honest, one of the problems I have encountered has been my cavalier attitude. I felt perhaps that because I had been so involved in these sort of interest areas that I perhaps I wasn't taking this research seriously enough - until I realised that primary research was in fact a big component of our project, and all I needed to do was channel these experiences into written words.
Another problem I had was an ethical one, involving the protection of people's privacy and thoughts. Is it ethical for me to report back on SYN meetings, or private Online Team meetings, and then use this for research? To be honest, this report would have been a lot more interesting had I been able to upload pictures of actual Facebook conversations that had occurred - but I realised that groups on Facebook are private for a reason, and reposting such information here would be a betrayal of that privacy, without consent. I am resolving this issue by informing anyone whose opinions and experiences may assist me on this journey that I am also doing this project, to check whether or not they would mind being featured as a part of it.
Q: Finally - is this any use? Does it fit in with anyone else's work?
I think by the Naughty Rude show example I mentioned earlier, we can see that knowledge is power - especially when it comes to online know-how. If there were people our age (who had done Communication degrees at RMIT, may I add...) who managed to 'slip through the cracks', then information we produce will definitely be useful and in demand. The SYN Vision Meeting shows that these issues are important to broadcasters in the here and now, and that many people are still looking for information. At this point in time, there is no clear 'right' way to do things, but people are certainly developing their own styles, such as with the Social Media Guidelines. Furthermore, I do think this project ties in with other groups in our class, such as Branded Entertainment and Online Journalism, because we're talking about a 'brand' that each station wants to promote and maintain, and also trying to upload content that distinguishes itself from anonymous 'amateur' unregulated media.
So, leaving you with that thought, I am signing off. To be honest, blogging hasn't been all that bad. I should do it more often, no?