Friday, June 1, 2012


Documentary filmed and edited by Aimee Pickering and Charlotte Clarke.



Our initial brief was to produce a five to ten minute documentary under the heading "Land". As a group, Charlotte Clarke and I were assigned 'livestock farming' as our focus.


Our documentary, entitled 'Farm', had a very clear concept from the very beginning. We wanted to explore the difference between life and death and demonstrate how important this factors in the farming industry. We were concerned with achieving a clear difference between the light and the dark - the life and the death. As we discussed the concept more, the idea of showing produce from field to plate - that is from life in the field or the barn, to death in the abattoir and finally to plate in the kitchen. We quickly decided to film at two farms - one that was predominately chicken based, and one that had a diverse range of poultry and other animals - and an industrial kitchen. Initially we wanted to film in an abattoir but were refused access on several occasions due to health and safety risk and the sheer distrust of journalists in such a restricted environment. In light of this we attempted to source footage elsewhere and gained permission for a video (which I shall detail later in 'Permission').


When given our brief we researched farming through online forums and directories, and also through specialist farming magazines such as 'Smallholder' and 'Farmers Weekly'. Coming from a background that is miles away from farming, getting a good basis in the kind of things that were happening in farming was greatly beneficial. From the magazines we took images, especially those of chickens, and incorporated them into our filming. The websites were also extremely useful in sourcing possible film locations, as we researched Hampshire Farmer's Market and their members. As we learnt more about the brief, and the 'Art House' aspirations of 'Land' we began researching into darker texts and films. Our title sequence was directly influenced by the opening credits of the cult film 'American Pyscho' and the overall feel of the film, particularly the sharp cutting, was influenced by Christopher Nolan's style of editing and choice of music in films such as 'Inception' and 'Momento'. Our sharp cuts are taken from the editing style of Guy Ritchie - harsh cuts without fading to black. We actively used this concept in our documentary, for example our cut to black that is achieved by lying the camera on the floor and covering the lens with straw. Finally, the way in which we have edited in the advertisement we received copyright for is very much reminiscent of George Orwell's 1984 and the voice of 'Big Brother'. We took further influence from George Orwell's work throughout the production and included the quote "Four legs good, two legs bad" as a homage to this.

Our music was inspired by emotion and the feelings surrounding life and death. We wanted to achieve a reaction from our audience and felt that music was the ideal way to lead them from one section to another i.e from the light to the dark. Therefore we found a variety of music with jolly tunes, slower more instrument based songs, instrumentals and more folky songs. Our music was sourced on copyright free websites and was found by narrowing the search down to key words that fitted our chosen emotions.

Planning/ story boarding

Before filming it is crucial to plan and story board. Our initial story board was based on our research outlined above. As part of the planning process we contacted local farms to ask permission to film. Of the farms that agreed we visited the farms to get a feel for what shots would be good, what access we could get and we took photographs so that we could plan more thoroughly.

We chose the two farm locations - Fairacres farm and Smilers Farm - because they had a diverse range of animals. Fairacres specialises in chickens and cattle, and it was here that the interview with Ian Constable-Dakeyne was filmed. Smilers Farm had a much larger range of animals including pigs, goats and geese which we wanted to show a real spectrum of live stock farming.

Our third location was the industrial kitchen at Winchester Rugby Club. I have had contact with the rugby club for some time and was given permission to film their chef preparing and cooking chicken - very apt for our film as our focus is on chicken and poultry. We chose to cut out the chef's head, making him a faceless, nameless man, thus adding to the atmosphere of our piece. The kitchen met our needs perfectly, as it has stainless steel work surfaces, the correct butcher's knives and an industrial size oven (of which we filmed the gas hob).


Gaining permission to locations and footage and avoiding copyright infrictions were a constant thought on the production. The farms were incredibly willing to allow us access to film. We have verbal consent to film at both farms and arranged our dealings over the telephone.

We obtained the music from the following copyright free website:

The website was ideal for our production as it has a wide variety of sound tracks and has no legal restrictions.

In 'Farm' we use an advertisement for the charity 'Compassion in World Farming'; an organisation that is concerned with animal welfare in the farming industry. We came across the film whilst researching for our own production and Charlotte contacted the charity and the writer directly, who both gave us written permission. Of course, to avoid any complications with copyright, we have credited the charity and writer with a caption whenever their footage is used. Although we have used footage from a charity, our intention is not to advertise their cause or portray any bias.


When filming for the documentary we had our story board clear in our minds. We wanted footage that could be cut together in short, sharp moments to contrast the light and the dark. Our overall idea was to shock the audience - cut from a close shot on a piglet's face to a loud chop of a knife. We also wanted to give the documentary a sense of realism and avoided pans and zooms, opting instead for still shots of the animals and the setting. However, the nature of filming is such that our hand held shots are too shaky to use.

As much as possible we left the camera still and moved away, to encourage the animals to behave naturally. Using this tactic we achieved the close up shots of the geese and ducks - we positioned the camera safely and threw seed to attract the geese to the lens.


During the editing process we experimented with speeding shots up, slowing shots down and colour correcting. For example, our closing credits are a reversed shot sped up to four hundred percent, which achieves the frantic motion that we desired. In order to create a more professional overall feel we also downloaded several fonts, the best of which was 'Haymaker' which can be seen in our titles.

During the editing of our opening title sequence in particular, we wanted to emulate an Art House style.  We used a slow, folky song as the soundtrack and filmed on a white screen, so the audience's entire focus would be on the meat. In the edit we added lines on either side of the screen to frame the meat, further emphasising it's importance within our documentary.


Overall 'Farm' was executed and delivered well. Our film has a journey; a story, and is edited to maintain interest and intrigue. We see the animals go from life to death in five minutes, which is exactly what we set out to achieve.



Please click to enlarge


When approaching the magazine module I decided that assigning myself a clear target audience was paramount. With this in mind I have decided to write for a classic C2, D, E female market, as it is a market I have read before and one which I could successfully capture the style of. I took inspiration from publications such as 'Bella' magazine and 'Closer' and focussed on fashion and lifestyle and confessional articles, as they feature heavily in such publications.

An example of an article that I took inspiration from is below:

Closer magazine, Issue 470, 26th November - 2nd December


My first article is a fashion and lifestyle piece based on the well-known idea that a woman is a different clothes size in every shop. The idea arose in one of our magazine lectures, in which we were tasked with pitching five varied ideas to Jacqui Thornton. Along with an idea for 'A Day in the Life of... a beekeeper' story and a 'How are they doing now?' style article about the furniture store Reeve's Corner in Croydon (that became a victim of the London Riots in the summer of 2011) I developed the idea for a fashion piece that was not a simple look at the recent trends. I started thinking about the everyday shopping experience, and wanted to further explore this.

I chose my model, Katie, for two reasons. Firstly, as a friend of mine she was extremely co-operative and allowed me to photograph her with complete consent. When embarking upon an article such as this, having a relaxed and willing model is important and I knew I would achieve this with Katie. Secondly, Katie has a plus size figure - perfect for my article as I am trying to attract the average woman who is a size 16. My original concept was to explore the 'perfect size 10' and whether it exists on the British high street, but I felt that the results would be too narrow and too exclusive: I wanted the image of a girl struggling to fit into a dress because the average woman has experienced it.

Before the photo-shoot I researched the top British high street stores and contacted their head offices to obtain permission to not only photograph their products, in their changing rooms but also to critique them in my spread. This proved difficult with Next and Marks and Spencer's, both of whom refused permission. For the stores I have featured permission was easier to gain; most were happy to accept on the telephone but several, like River Island, required a follow-up email to explain my intention in writing.

On the day of the photo-shoot I used a still digital camera and the voice recorder function on my mobile phone, so that I could record Katie's instant reaction to each dress. The text you see is verbatim, with mild adjustments to correct grammar and the overall syntax. I used my own photographs to avoid any copyright issues.

Before producing my spread, I roughly planned the layout and headline. The simple layout of the article above was a real inspiration for me - the article looks clean and crisp, the dresses are outlined so they stand out perfectly and the white background allows the colours to pop. To achieve this affect in Fireworks I used the magic wand tool to delete the background, the eraser tool to sharpen the edges around the dress, and the blur tool to soften my model's outline. When erasing the background it is incredibly important to be thorough; deleting the space between a model's arm and body, for example, sharpens the whole image. It is the details such as this that make a magazine look professional.

Finishing touches are also crucial and I was concerned with making the article look professional, as though it could easily be published in any C2, D, E woman's weekly. I used a side headline "Style" in a   different font, to suggest that the article would be published in the lifestyle section. Choosing eighty and eighty-one as my page numbers was a deliberate decision - in a classic weekly woman's magazine the style pages are around page sixty to ninety. I also gave myself accreditation in small print along the bottom of the page, which is typical of that particular style of magazine.

I decided upon my headline "The myth: are you a different size in every shop?" because it is succinct, essentially 'it does what it says on the tin' and I chose to use a question that is easily relatable for my intended audience. I have used the sub-heading "we find out"to draw the reader in on a very basic level - 'we', writer and audience, are going to decide upon the answer together. I downloaded a font for the headline because I felt the range in Fireworks was far too basic and I used the 'kern' option to manually reduce the space between the letters, making the headline look punchier.

The idea of having a tick or a cross in the bottom corner of each photograph  came from this article, that featured in the same edition of 'Closer' as the above article. In this case, the publication has given each outfit a rating - an idea which I adapted into a simple design; easy for my audience to assess whether the dress fitted my model or not.

In my article i used a similar bar at the bottom to display my verdict, however I chose not to use a screamer in my headline as I felt the bold text spoke for itself.

In addition to my spread, where it in a published magazine, I would incorporate social media such as 'Facebook' and use it as a tool to engage my audience's interest. However, for the purpose of this module (where a publication is not definite) I omitted any such device.

For my final spread I created several drafts, one of which is below:

In terms of layout I was dissatisfied with the standard of this draft. The images were rather chaotic and needed far much structure. 


My second article is targeted at a similar magazine to my first, but is in the style of a confessional interview.The interviewee is a friend of mine and, on realising how unusual her story is, informed me about it. I realised that her decision would make a fantastic article - many people joke about it, but to actually research and apply for a job is highly unusual. I asked her to chose a photograph of herself and interviewed her in a relaxed environment. However, perhaps being my friend and having knowledge of my blog she wished to remain unnamed. In accordance with this I censored her eyes (as in the mind of a right thinking person, she becomes unidentifiable) because it would be very easy to openly defame her. Being involved in the sex industry is a taboo and I needed to avoid identification, be it jigsaw or otherwise, so I omitted the details of her university, home town and age.

Similarly to my previous article, I used the magic wand, erase and blur tool to cut out the images of the telephone and lipstick mark. I sourced these images on the website 'Flickr' and gave full accreditation to them in small print at the bottom of the article. I chose red as my colour scheme because it is typical of a confessional interview in magazines such as 'Bella' and 'Real People', and sourced pictures accordingly.

I have written the text in a style that is relevant to my target market. In my previous article I used the word "boobs" instead of 'breasts' or 'chest' for example, as it is illustrative of this market. In this article I used simple, plain English and used first person tense, engaging the reader in this personal account.

The sex phone agency refused to be mentioned when I telephoned them to ask permission. Despite explaining that the article was neutral - I have 'Kali's' fairly positive outlook and Jenny Abel's negative view - the agency declined. As this was the case, I have used the phrase "The agency wishes to remain unnamed". However, I had the leaflet that 'Kali' was sent, and had the information they gave. I want this article to be informative as well as entertaining, and so re-wrote the information for my sub-section "The Job". In this way, the agency is not identifiable.

Whilst researching the topic I came across Jenny Abel's blog "" and her article on joining the sex phone industry. I wanted to create a second point of view, and as my research into any official guild lines or experts turned up no comments, I felt that Jenny's blog would fit my article. I have gained written permission from Jenny to use anything from her blog and have credited her underneath the sub-section entitled "The Risks".

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Media Law - Defamation and Libel

Defamation and Libel are arguably the biggest stumbling blocks for a journalist. In order to understand the risks it is important to understand what defamation is and how it can lead to libel.

Defamation is defined as a statement which:
- exposes a person to hatred, ridicule or contempt
- causes them to be shunned and avoided
- lowers their standing in the minds of right thinking people
- or discredits them in their occupation or work place

A person is libelled if they are defamed, if they are clearly identified and the statement is published to a third party.

As a journalist it is incredibly important to avoid 'accidentally' defaming a person, by juxtaposition libel, or jigsaw identification. Juxtaposition libel refers mainly to newspapers and the layout of a page. For example, printing the headline "Murderer" next to a picture of an unrelated person would imply that the person pictured was a murderer. This is a libellous offence. Jigsaw identification occurs across the media and refers to when more than one media organisation reports on a case using different information, meaning the audience can piece together who the person is even if they have anonymity.

There are three defences for libel:

- Justification: it is provably true
- Fair comment: it is your honestly held opinion, said without malice, and is in the public interest
- Qualified Privilege: something that is said in court and has been reported contemporaneously, accurately and fairly

Media Law - Confidentiality and Privacy

The following are my notes from the Confidentiality and Privacy lecture.

- Must be wary of breaching the Official Secrets Act of 1989
- There is much disputed territory between Article 8 and Article 10 - the right to a private life and the right to freedom of speech
- PCC definition of public interest:
Exposing crime that the police have failed to
Exposing harm to the community
Exposing corruption

- You must think in the public interest NOT just of interest to the public

- no defence against official secrets act - military/ state secrets
- all editors are given advisory notices eg don't publish military secrets
- Met police trying to use Official Secrets Act to force a guardian journalist to reveal his source

common law secrets
- have a right to keep secrets
- third party breach of confidence - THIS IS A CRIME

- "we have seen a document.." don't say you have possession - must find out the other side of the story

- something is confidential if:
1. quality of confidence
2. circumstance imposing an obligation
3. no permission
4. detrimental to the person

common law - judges making the law as they go along
statutory law - parliament legislation

- explicit - signed contract
- implicit - aware of camera eg waving

A key case in Privacy Law is Princess Caroline of Monaco in 2004

- injunction gets you anonymity
- super injunction means you can't even mention the injunction
- an injunction against one is an injunction against all media