Before you begin revising for the Narrative section on the VCE Media exam, you need to familiarise yourself with the VCE Media Study Design. Print out the statement on this learning area, the key knowledge and key skills to ensure that your revision covers everything. The VCE Media Study Design says the following about Narrative:
In this area of study students analyse the narrative organisation of fictional film, television or radio drama texts. They undertake the study of at least two texts in the same media form.
Students learn that narrative is a fundamental element in the construction of meaning in media products. Audiences actively construct meaning and are engaged by texts through the manner in which narratives are organised, and respond to the narratives in different ways. Production and story elements structure an audience’s experience of narrative and contribute to the ideas communicated by the text. The nature of the viewing experience also contributes to audience reading and appreciation of narrative texts.
• the relationships between a text, its audience, its consumption and reception, including how audiences read and are engaged by fictional narratives
• the nature and function of and relationship between production elements in fictional media narrative, including:
– camera techniques, technologies and qualities for film and television or technologies and qualities for radio
– editing of vision and sound for film and television or editing of sound for radio
• the nature and function of and relationship between story elements in fictional media narrative, including:
– the opening, development and resolution of the narrative
– cause and effect
– establishment and development of and relationships between characters
– point/s of view from which the narrative is presented
– the function of setting in the narrative
– the relationship between multiple storylines
– the structuring of time and its impact on narrative progression
• the relationship between texts and the genre/s, styles and techniques they may reference
• the interrelationship between production and story elements in the narrative organisation of fictional narratives to structure and communicate ideas
• appropriate media language and terminology
• identify and discuss the nature and function of production and story elements
• compare and contrast the function of and interrelationships between production and story elements across different fictional media texts
• analyse how production and story elements are read by audiences and contribute to narrative organisation and meaning
• use appropriate media language and terminology
PREPARING FOR NARRATIVE
Define important terminology. In previous exams, students have been asked to define key terminology from this area of study. It’s important that you understand what each of the production elements, story elements and other terms used in this area of study mean and can express this understanding succinctly and accurately. Before you start your revision, use your textbook or online resources to develop definitions of this important terminology. A good way to remember production elements is using the acronym CAMELS (camera techniques, acting, mise-en-scene and visual composition, editing, lighting and sound). It’s important that you can recall production and story elements quickly during the exam.
Revise both texts. The VCE Media exam will ask you to discuss both of the texts that you studied for narrative. Make sure you revise adequately on both texts.
Know your texts. Revising for the Narrative section on the exam involves knowing your texts. Make sure you’ve watched them multiple times. Identify and view key scenes including the opening and resolution of the narrative. Knowing your text well means you’ll be able to confidently deal with possibly thorny questions in the exam.
Prepare revision notes. Your Narrative revision notes should include at least two examples of every production element from both texts. Don’t forget to prepare revision notes on genre, audience engagement and how reception context can influence the experience of watching a film. Remember you need to be able to describe how audiences understand and are engaged by media texts.
Answer questions. Scour past media exams for practice questions. You have a little less than two minutes per mark. If you have a four mark question, for example, you need to spend a little less than eight minutes answering it. Re-read your revision notes and practice answering questions in exam conditions. When you’re done, think about what you’ve written. How could you make it better? Are there areas you need to revise more thoroughly. Speak to your teacher about how you can improve your written responses.
RESPONDING TO NARRATIVE QUESTIONS
Here’s some advice for answering narrative questions in the exam.
• Highlight key terms in a question to ensure you know what it is asking, “Explain how camera techniques contributed to character development in one of the narratives you studied. 3 marks.”
• Answer the question in your opening sentence, for example, “In the opening scene of Rear Window (dir. Alfred Hitchcock) camera movement is used to establish the character of LB Jefferies.”
• After answering the question in a succinct sentence, go on to provide further detail. For example, “During the opening sequence, the camera pulls back into LB Jefferies’ apartment. It moves across LB Jefferies’ body and towards the cast on his leg which reads, ‘Here lie the broken bones of LB Jefferies.’ The camera continues to move around the apartment, revealing a smashed camera, a spectacular photograph of a racing car accident and various other prints, including pictures from a warzone. This camera movement contributes significantly to character development by implying that LB Jefferies is a daring photojournalist.” The best narrative responses are those that articulately describe how production and story elements have been used, making specific reference to the film.
• In the closing sentence of your response provide a brief summary of what you have written, reiterating your response to the question. For example, “This is a clear example of how camera movement can contribute to character development in a narrative.”
• Use clear language when answering questions.
• The study of narrative involves a great deal of terminology. Ensure you understand this terminology and use it appropriately when responding to questions.