Innovative ideas 260

TVPortal_540x312I have broken my innovative ideas down to a more concise focus now: As I want to go into the Television industry in the future I thought it would be best to build my ideas around the industry.

My idea (in it’s basic form) is a new TV format, which could take off with the upcoming Smart TV phenomenon. Smart TV’s are thought to become present in the majority of households within the next few years, and with Internet and interactive apps/Xbox’s etc becoming more prevalent and common, television is looking to take its first real steps into becoming its own ‘ultra-interactive’ platform, so as to keep up with its competition. With this in mind, my first, seemingly obvious thought was that quiz show contestants did not have to stop at the people inside the studio – with the familiar ‘call in’ question for viewers at home being the extent of real participation in quiz shows. I propose that a Quiz show format that allows viewers to play a long via a webcam or voice recognition device for real cash prizes is brought about.

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With the base of my idea set, I now have to look into the specifics, as there is a lot of different avenues to go down with this idea. My original idea consists of a regular game show format (e.g. catchphrase, pointless etc.) with an interactive option allowing viewers to ‘opt in’ and play a long through this voice recognition/webcam in a way that allows their answers to be logged in a national scoreboard system – and at the end of the week, the viewer with the most point wins a cash sum (could include an ‘extra’ option where people pay £1 for the chance to win 10 bonus points).

Alternatively, the shows contestants could be entirely based on the viewers at home, with webcam streams set up to communicate to particular households between rounds, similar to the ‘Embarrassing bodies: live from the clinic’ series. This would only require one host in the studio and rely fairly heavily on digital and interactive technology. Four households with the highest points could be selected at the end of the show (points may be very similar with this type of show so they may have to be randomly selected) and go into a final round to win the final cash prize.

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My final idea came from the Wall Four project in Birmingham. This project is an interactive, feature-length crowd game for cinema screens that allows the crowd to complete games and tasks together. This is an interesting idea as, to my knowledge it has never been done before in the form of a TV format. It would be possible to create a TV format that groups together random players from across the nation who then compete together against others to win a cash sum.

I do not think my idea would be possible or successful if it was thrown out to audiences right now, but within the next few years and upcoming advancements in this field, it could be the starting point of a new way of viewing television.

Feel free to comment with your opinions and give me some feedback!

Long Portrait

I was given the task of creating a one minute long portrait, with no use of sound or text. 

Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 20.29.33I’m not quite sure how my video will be perceived by my lecturers – I have set up my shot, it’s well lit, the camera is well set (considering I didn’t have a tripod) and I used depth of field, but it is very basic. It is a cinematography task, but I have layered and edited the shot, which becomes the main focal point of the portrait. My justification, is that this task asked us to represent ourselves, and that’s what I have done. I am the television personified, my eyes are the screen and when I tap my head, as you may tap a television set if it isn’t working properly, the screens fill up with moving image and photographs – which, I shot myself. So, I managed to incorporate a small showreel into the portrait and show off my skills in other locations. I smile when the footage is running because I enjoy making and watching films and TV shows. The signal cuts out at the end, which could be perceived as my uncertainty of being able to get a job in the industry in the future. I am consumed by television itself in this portrait – but, I am a media student and am taking the television studio module this year so it’s no surprise I worked it into my portrait, I suppose at the moment it is a very important part of my life, I am studying it after all. 

It could be argued that by hiding my eyes the, “windows to the soul”, I’m not allowing the viewer to see all of my true self, but – again, I am possibly conveying more by replacing them with screens and the footage that plays is allowing the viewer to see some of the things and places I have been to and seen. 

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“Don’t watch too much TV, it’ll give you square eyes!” – never has this saying been so apt. 

My long portrait video

British TV and me

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Despite my last blog post discussing whether social media and technology is deterring us from truly socialising, my main life goal is to be involved in the television industry. Hypocrisy, thy name is Fiona Lockwood!

But in all honesty Television is being over-indulged – it is also an amazing medium that can bring people together, make you laugh, make you cry, make you gasp, gulp and grind your teeth to the bone! It can be educational, informative and is one of the biggest talking points the next day at the office.

MV5BMTUwNTM4NzIzNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjQ5MTkzMQ@@._V1_I’m about to begin my second year of University. And I’ve decided to look further into TV formats for our non-compulsory module. I love British television, I think we have a very unique sense of humour that we filter perfectly through our much-loved programmes. To reel off a few, The Royle Family, Miranda, Two Pints of Lager and a packet of crisps, Ab Fab, Vicar of Dibley, A bit of Fry and Laurie, QI, My Family, Steptoe and Son, Peep Show, Blackadder…etc, etc. They’re classic, because they’re relatable. They depict certain aspects of life and classes of British citizens throughout the century (and more for Blackadder!). The general themes are usually very simplistic, but so brilliant.

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The only problem we tend to encounter is that these shows we adore, aren’t so popular elsewhere. Mainly because, as I said, they often rely on being relatable. But when a British show is recognised as being entertaining internationally. It always ends up getting re-made and comes out completely different to its original state. An example you say? The Inbetweeners. Perfect as it was, picked up by America, and just ruined it. I’m sorry, but it’s true. It lost what it was supposed to be and because it was torn apart so much it lost its comedic value. The characters did not work, just watch the British runs, and stop complaining about our accents! I actually remember looking at threads and reviews on the American version of the show and the people who had also seen the British version much preferred the original.

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Anyway, expect to see a lot of format TV show reviews coming up: This morning, Loose Women, Alan Carr’s chatty man, The Royle family, Miranda and reviews on many, many more! From chat shows to talent shows and so on.

Is social media making us unsociable?

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I was sat in the pub the other day, and looked over to the table next to me. There was a group of about 5 people (in there early 20’s I’d say) all sat down staring straight at their phones. Texting, Facebooking, Tweeting and all the other social media related things we do on our phones/IPads/laptops etc. Which begs the question, are we using it to be sociable? Or is it just making us more unsociable?

I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite here because I will hold my hands up and admit to you now that I too, get my phone out, lay it down on the table in front of me, write a status in public, or text a friend whilst I’m spending time with other people. And I think the occasional text, tweet, snapchat or status is fine when you’re with people, but not to the extent where you can no longer converse with the people you’re sat next to. I mean, if you are going for a catch up with a friend or group of friends, and sit down in silence talking to other people through the means of technology, why did you show up? Either you don’t like these people, so can’t carry out a conversation, or you have quite literally forgotten how to talk in real life without using your thumbs. Also, though this may sound slightly old fashioned but, I find it quite rude – you meet up with somebody and they spend more time looking at a screen than you, well thanks!

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Adversely, social media sites and the ability to text people is a much more convenient, cheap and easy way to communicate with people. The whole world has been put in a position where you can be sat in Australia, and talk to somebody in Britain pretty efficiently! There is no denying that these sites and apps are a great way to keep in touch with people and even meet old friends, or new friends. I know that before I started University I used sites like Facebook to start getting in touch with the people who I would be living or studying with, and found them pretty easily. Which, was helpful – allowed you to start to get to know the people and hopefully get rid of some of the initial awkwardness you might feel! Or it did for me, anyway.

273429920-28001121I think it’s so easy to lose contact with the physical world because you can have this cyber world right at your fingertips. And with everything becoming so accessible nowadays – you can watch catch-up and live TV on your mobile phones or IPad’s and android tablets from anywhere.  And they’re so easy to carry around with you. But hey, books are easy to carry around and keep you entertained! Do you really need to be Tweeting every minute? I saw an advert yesterday of children with a ‘Kindle’ sat in parks and playgrounds telling us what a great, easy way it was to read. Again, why stare at a screen?…just get the actual book! We’re actually getting children used to staring at screens for what? To pave the way for what they’ll be doing for the rest of their lives?

I can’t sit here and say these sites are totally making us unable to socialise in every day life, even now – I’m sat writing a blog for people all over the world to see. I’m not sat in my living room talking to family, or out with friends. Is it anti-social? Maybe a little bit, but not worryingly so! I do think however, that there are people becoming too dependant on social networking sites, people who lock themselves away talking to people they will never meet rather than talking to the people physically around them. And I still feel it’s rude to sit with a group of friends and do nothing but talk to people who aren’t there, defying your original purpose of going out to ‘socialise’. It’s all about getting a good balance, not shunning the people around you, and not losing touch with the people who aren’t. Though this concept goes for a lot of technologies, from phones, computers to TV’s. My TV broke last night, so we broke out the old boardgames! And you know what? It was probably better than watching a film. Not saying I’m chucking out the TV anytime soon but, maybe we could do with a little less of it.

This is just my opinion, so leave yours in the comment box below! Is social media making us unsociable?

The Fountain (2006) review

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I have literally just finished watching this film and all I can say is, wow.

The film encompasses historical mythology, religion and science in a dramatic tale of defeating death, for the one you love.

The film was written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. Putting it as simply as I can the storyline follows three men (all played by Jackman) in the past, present and the future who are trying to save their loves, the three stories span over a Millennium and are interspersed among each other. This includes a 15th Century conquistador searching for the tree of life to save the Queen, a medical researcher, working eccentrically to save his dying wife and a space traveler in the year 2500, flying through a dying star wrapped in a nebular, in a bubble (yes, a flying bubble) with the dying tree of life at centre.

images (2)This is the kind of film that you can watch with a group of friends, and none of you will have come to the same conclusion – it’ll be like you have all sat there watching totally different things. I looked at some other people’s take on the film and it is like marmite among film-fanatics. Though, the only real reason people do not like it is because they don’t understand it. But Aronofsky didn’t want to make a straight-forward, direct film. There’s enough of them already. Instead, he created a film that will make you think, talk, and question. And whether you love it or hate it, he succeeded there.

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There’s a few different possible explanations of the film. The three men throughout time could be the same spirit – the same man, re-living similar circumstances throughout time. I think that no matter what, the present day story is reality, that’s important to remember. In the present day Tommy (Jackman) is trying to save his dying wife Izzy (Weisz) who has a brain tumour. Izzy is captivated by the Mayan idea of death being used to create life – and this is a central theme in her book. Now, importantly, the sections of the film that show the 15th Century conquistador appear to be the extracts of Izzy’s book read by Tommy. So, is the historical story Izzy imagining her present day Tommy as her saviour, her conquistador; as he is shown with such bravery and integrity, putting everything he has into finding the tree of life to save his captured Queen in Spain. If he finds the tree – she will be free. If he finds a cure for her illness, she will too, be free.

downloadI believe, that the historical story is not real. It is fantasy. Simply Tommy reading the pages of the book, which we see come to life in his mind. Izzy, who is nearing the end of her life asks Tommy to complete the final chapter of her book, knowing and accepting that she wont be there to finish it. Tommy, like any loving husband would – is still in denial and doing all he can to keep her with him. As Izzy passes away Tommy learns that the work he has been doing with shrinking tumours by use of medicine extracted by trees has worked (he has essentially found the tree of life here), but of course, it is too late. At Izzy’s funeral Tommy angrily states that ‘death is a disease’ and ‘he will find a cure’. This is where I believe that the future and present men link. As present day  Tommy manages to keep himself alive for centuries (in the film he finds ways to reverse age using this tree extract), he finds the dying tree of life and travels with it to bring it back to life in the dying star because death can be used to create life – and this star is the underworld for the Mayans, it is a place where souls go to be reborn, which he learns from Izzy. And uses to try and bring Izzy back.

His future self sees both the Queen (Weisz) and Izzy when he is travelling in his bubble – are they really there? Probably images (3)not…more of a manifestation, but this furthers the idea that future Tommy and present are the same man, with the same drive and memories. Unfortunately, just as Izzy died right before the cure was discovered, the tree dies before they travel through the dying star. This is interesting because remember how Izzy asked Tommy to finish the book? Which is the 15th Century conquistador story, well he decides to finish it by making him fail. He finds the tree, drinks the sap and turns into a bush. Sounds odd I know, but it links in. He has found the tree (the cure) but cannot deliver it to the Queen (Izzy) and so, he no longer exists as Tommy, he is reborn as part of nature because you cannot cheat death, you can’t hide from it and you can’t defeat it. The key is acceptance.

In the end future Tommy decides to end his quest, and life in the future, “and together we will live forever” – Izzy.

He goes back to redo his final days with Izzy. And says goodbye at her grave properly once she has gone.

The credits then show the death, and rebirth of the Universe.

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I don’t think the film is too complicated – maybe my attempt at an explanation is! Aronofsky wanted it to be ambiguous, but through that he produced something unique, and I believe it was both Jackman and Weisz’ best performances! The film is so beautifully shot, and edited. Even if you feel totally lost by the narrative, the golden colours and the visual links between stories will pull you in. Brilliant film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAuxryJ6pv8 – here’s a link to the trailer. I definitely recommend you go watch the film, and see how you interpret it. You won’t regret it!

The Crazy Girl – scriptwriting

Nellie Bly (Elizabeth J Cochrane)

Nellie Bly (Elizabeth J Cochrane)

I’m not really a massive fan of discussing my own film ideas online for the world to see, especially when they’re only just beginning to form. But, I’ll make an exception because…in my head right now, it seems like maybe I could write a decent script from my premise.

If you’re a student or professional in Psychology or journalism, I expect you may have heard of Elizabeth Jane Cochrane – also known as Nellie Bly. Ring any bells?

Well if not, don’t fret. Elizabeth Cochrane was a very famous American journalist for the New York World in the late 1800’s. She was pretty adventurous and inspiring as far as women from the era go, she held the world record for fastest travel around the world for a time, the trip taking her 72 days, six hours, eleven minutes and fourteen seconds I believe. But let’s not get bogged down in the specifics.

Basically for a woman living in a very sexist world she did extraordinarily well for herself – but that’s not what really interests me. In the 1880’s Elizabeth went undercover, she convinced Doctors and healthcare professionals, police and courts that she was insane so that she could investigate reports of brutality and neglect at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island; then write about it for the world to see. The article she wrote was received so well that the people demanded she turn it into a book – which, she did. (http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/bly/madhouse/madhouse.html – link to the book there for you, welcome.)

“Positively demented,” he said. “I consider it a hopeless case. She needs to be put where some one will take care of her.”

And so I passed my second medical expert.’ (Bly, N (1887). Ten Days in a Mad-House. New York: Ian L. Munro. VI).

I don’t literally want to take what she wrote and put it on screen, that is way too easy. Where’s the fun? However, this Patient-Beds-in-Hallway-Due-to-Overcrowding-Colorado-Insane-Asylumpremise blew up in my mind with possible narratives jumping out at me everywhere. I have narrowed it down to four main ideas, so I’ll have to work on each of them intently and decide on the most effective. None of the ideas I have put down on paper are too similar with Nellie Bly’s experience – obviously historical accuracy is a must, but it’s important to remember that my character is not Bly. And her story is going to be totally different to mine. Nellie Bly is the basic premise, which I am tearing a part and re-writing in an even more shell-shocking tale.

images (1) Insane asylums have always really intrigued me, and creeped me out to be completely honest. Visually, I think that they have so much potential and the true-life stories are just as hard hitting as fictional compilations.

I didn’t want to delve into the four different ideas that I have until I have looked even deeper into them myself, but…watch out for more – The pitches will be up soon.