If you want to achieve a high score on the School-Assessed Task, it is important to understand the assessment criteria. You can find out more about the assessment criteria by visiting the VCE Media webpage.
Criterion 1: Use of media equipment, applications and/or processes to present ideas and/or achieve particular effects in a media form.
The first criterion focuses on the two production exercises you will complete in class. Why would we ask you to complete production exercises? This is your chance to put the equipment you’re using through it’s paces. It’s a chance to get out there and shoot something, edit and explore technical equipment, media processes and the aesthetic qualities of media texts.
In class, you’re going to complete two production exercises. These might include exercises in shooting, editing, recording sound, lighting or colour colour correction. For each exercise, you write an intention outlining what you hope to achieve by undertaking the task. When you’re done, you write an evaluation about what you have learned.
The most successful students use these exercises as an opportunity to learn more about their equipment and their chosen media form. It’s also an opportunity to make mistakes and discover limitations or difficulties you might face in the production of your film. It’s much better that you make these mistakes in your production exercises than when the final deadline for your product is looming.
Criterion 2: Development and preparation of a media production design plan in a selected media form for a specified audience.
This criterion looks at the production design plan. If you do the production design plan well, it’s probably going to be quite a hefty document. This is not something that you can leave until the last minute, it’s something you will have to develop throughout Unit 3. A good design plan is a coherent and well-developed plan for your media product. It will demonstrate an understanding of media practices and conventions. Screenplays, for example, are written in a particular format. Get those ideas out of your brain and onto the page in a detailed, coherent and well-organised way. The mark of a successful design plan is if someone else can pick it up and make the film exactly as you intended.
The design plan will include both written and visual planning documents. If you are making a narrative film, the written planning documents will include things like a treatment, screenplay, shotlist and call sheets. The visual planning document will probably include storyboards, lighting diagrams or other visual representations that help you make your film.
Storyboarding is something that many students find a little daunting. The best storyboards give a very clear sense of composition, camera movement, mise en scene and acting. I’m also a little surprised that there aren’t more students taking photographs for their storyboards. Nothing will give you a better sense of blocking and composition than heading out to the location with your actor, or even just a stand in, and visualising your film shot for shot with a camera. You don’t need to be a great artist to make effective storyboards.
Once you’ve settled on an idea, you need to think about your intention and audience. Why are you making this project? What impact do you want it to have? Are you making a nail-biting suspense film? Or an informative and topical documentary? Students who are able to clearly identify what they want to achieve with their film are always much more successful at doing so than those students who have a vague or ill-defined sense of what they want to achieve with their film. Likewise, you need to think carefully about who you’re making this film for. What do they like? What do they dislike? What do they know about your genre or subject matter? If you are able to clearly identify your audience, you’re much better positioned to create something that will interest and engage.
Criterion 3: Application and understanding of styles, codes and conventions appropriate to the selected media form.
This criterion examines how well you adhere to the conventions of your selected form and genre. Hopefully, this starts to happen when you complete your investigation. If you’re making a documentary, for example, you need to think about how documentaries frame up their subjects using rule of thirds, the way interview shots are lit, the way documentary filmmakers cut away to b-roll footage during an interview. These conventions aren’t something we think about when we’re watching a film but they are things that we need to carefully consider when we’re making one. Likewise, when you’re making a narrative film, you need to think about things like headroom, look room, cut ins, cutaways, shot size, camera angle, mise en scene, editing, key light, fill light, sound, music…because each of these things helps you to tell a story. Your understanding of style, codes and conventions will be reflected in both your production design plan and the film itself.
Criterion 4: Realisation of an individual or a distinctive media product appropriate to the intention for the selected audience(s) that demonstrates appropriate style.
This criterion is really all about how effectively you communicate ideas to achieve your intention. It’s about how your film distinguishes itself. Successful films will be well-developed or sophisticated products that are very competently executed.
Criterion 5: Skill in the operation of equipment and use of materials and processes appropriate to the selected media form.
Criterion 5 looks at your skill in the operation of equipment. The production exercises are your opportunity to develop an understanding of how to use the equipment required to make your film. The best media students don’t stop there. They will practice using the equipment and making films at every opportunity. The more time you spend using the equipment, the more mistakes you’re going to make, the more you’re going to learn about the process of media production. So get out there on the weekend and make films and documentaries in your spare time. Start developing the skills you’re going to need now.
Criterion 6: Management of the production of a media product.
Criterion 6 looks at how well you organise the production process. If your film isn’t organised and isn’t well-planned, things will fall in a heap. If they haven’t already, your teacher is going to set a due date for your production. Aim to have your film completely finished two weeks before the deadline. That way, you’ve got heaps of time to reshoot, re-edit, adjust and perfect the film. If you leave editing until the last minute, your film is going to lack polish and refinement. Computers will crash. Actors will flake out on you. But this is only going to a problem if you leave things until the last minute. Good organisation is something that’s reflected in the design plan. A meticulous and detailed design plan usually leads to a successful production.
Criterion 7: Realisation of the production design plan in the media product.
Finally, the last criterion is all about how well you realise the film that you planned. In high scoring films, there is always a strong relationship between what the student planned and what they made. Everything is planned out, nothing is left to chance. When I’m making a high-scoring piece of work, I can follow the film shot for shot in the storyboards because that student has meticulously planned every shot in their film.
Photo: Alejandro Escamilla