So this is my final first year project for the MDA 1400 module. Where has time gone?
But let me start from the beggining: when me and Agne sat down to think of an idea, after our original one didn’t get picked up, we were thinking of doing something that was both simple yet effective. Something that would make sense to be made into a campaign whilst still being easy to film and present.
So that’s where the director came in. She said “So why shouldn’t we make something that addresses the students here at Middlesex?” And then I just thought to myself, ‘Wow, should have thought about that before’. That made us excited to get the project going and so we sat down and started talking about our audience, the message we wanted to transmit and what would be the aim of our campaign and after we carefully decided on each one, it was time to send in our campaign proposal draft, as seen below:
The overview of our campaign film can be seen below:
- What are you presenting?
I am presenting a campaign film targeted specifically for current and future Middlesex students as to encourage them to put aside their differences and collaborate together in their projects.
- How did you approach the campaign?
After we decided on the theme for our film, I started researching and the topic that we based ourselves on when thinking of doing the “Collaborate” campaign short film was in following the concept of ‘collaborative learning’. This concept is not new in today’s world but it is something that has been disregarded as one of the best ways to encourage students to work as a group at the same time that it stimulates their interpersonal skills.
Through my research I have understood that students, when put into groups as a way to deal with an assignment given by a teacher, creates a higher quality piece of work than if they were doing it by themselves. Through a study done by Johnson and Johnson’s[i] in 1989 reveals that the benefits of collaborative learning consist of:
- Increased effort
- Positive relationships
- Improved psychological health.
It increases their effort because as soon as the team establishes what their common goal is then they will feel more open to collaborate with each other in order to achieve said goal. This will lead to a more comfortable and open relationship between the team members as they will feel more at ease to discuss new ideas and to say their opinion on another person’s insight, if it’s good or bad. And all of this will lead directly to their psychic health because if a person feels comfortable enough to express himself/herself fully then the fear of judgement will be left behind as they won’t be afraid to showcase their thoughts to the group.
When the group works together it is expected that the members will be honest about each others’ input on the project which contributes to the higher level of demand of the project since they want to accomplish their common goal, they “sink or swim together” (David and Roger Johnson).
Not only will completing this activity contribute to the members’ increased academic effort but it will also build on their self-esteem because they feel more confident in researching and presenting a project after having done so with fellow peers but it also helps in building friendships, when they least expect it, because they eventually find common interest with members from the group which they didn’t know prior to working together.
In conclusion, learning and working as a group demonstrates that “motivation and learning are usually strongly linked to social influences”, since the path the assignment takes is directly influenced by each of the team members’ personal insight and opinion on the matter.
- What were your aims for the film and did you achieve them?
The main aim was to encourage students to collaborate with each other and we achieved it through having picked different students from different nationalities, backgrounds and courses that show that even though they are so different from one and other, they still need each others’ help in order to succeed.
- What was the key message for the film and did you get it right?
The message was ‘together we can reach our goals’, and the way we chose to show it in our campaign was through the showing of the two hand holding each other with the phrase ‘Sharing Dreams’ on them and the voice over which clearly finalizes and gives a clear notion of the intention of the campaign with the explanation that even though, in the end, we can all be very different, we still need each others’ help in succeeding in university and ultimately in life.
- Who was your target audience? How do you intend to reach them? Why should they watch your video?
The target audience is, again, both current and future Middlesex students because we plan to post the film on both the main university page so anyone who is possibly looking into universities, happens to stumble upon the video, he or she might feel more inclined to be part of a university that encourages students to collaborate; and on the UniHub main page so that students that are specifically from this university can watch it as well, since on this part of the site it is focuses specifically on already existing students. Plus, we would like for it to be screened in the main screen at the Grove building as well. All of this was already talked through with a Students Communications Officer from the university and he revealed he is more than happy to help in the promotion of our campaign film not only on these venues but also on Facebook and Twitter.
The techniques we decided to approach this question with, was by having students from a variety of courses, nationalities and different genders showcase their eagerness to accomplish their personal goals as a joint unit. The powerfulness of their voice-overs in combination with smooth close-up shots of each of them individually, which then culminates in their joint long shot and unison voice-over, serves as a way to make the audience relate to them either on both a personal and professional level.
My personal contribution, as a Producer, to the project was more based on the research side of the campaign as well as on the search for the actors, locations and part of the script. As soon as we had an idea of where we wanted to film (specifically in the Grove and in the Quad buildings, respectively) I filled out a filming application so that if any member of staff or security came up to us, I had the necessary documents that gives us permission to shoot in those areas. I also filled out a risk assessment for both locations and created a (realistic) schedule for the whole production. As things moved along, I came in contact with Mantas to be our Director of Photography, which he kindly accepted. With the script underway, I started contacting people that I thought would fit as a part of the campaign and since we wanted to get people who would look and act natural in front of the camera, pretty much any one would do. We dabbled with the idea of just getting unknown students on the day of the shoot but I then decided it could turn out bad since they would be people we didn’t know and it could be hard to orientate them on the spot. We decided to go with friends either from our course or people we knew from the university. The diversity element was well into play with our choices and we were quite happy with the people we eventually got. And our film could not have been done without them, so a big thank you goes to them. The commitment that we need from the people we chose to be part of the film was that they needed to be available for two days, one for the shoot and another for the sound recording for the voice-overs. After they all confirmed they could, I came into contact with Peter Williams so that I could book the recording studio. He was a trooper and the sound recording went really well and even after the actors and Agne left, I still worked a bit more with Peter specifically on my voice-overs and we actually created my last recording on the film. Overall the shoot was easy and fun, because when working with friends you end up with a lot of blooper reel!
Now onto Agne’s, the Director, contribution to the assignment: she focused on the creative part of the campaign, specifically on the style and approach, the script and storyboard. She talked me through what she wanted to portray visually and after I gave her the thumbs up, Her vision was something I felt was achievable in the time, and budget, limit we had so I liked it. She also was the one who went into contact with music students from the university because she really wanted to use original music that would fit into what she had envisioned and also so that we wouldn’t suffer from copyright infringement. So the song we have in our film is totally thanks to Agne for getting an awesome singer/songwriter from the Popular Music course, to lend us her material for our campaign.
Me and Agne throughout this project, worked quite well together because we listened to each others’ points of view and opinions. There were a couple of instances, as it is normal, that we didn’t agree with each others’ ideas and got a bit stumped but we then took a step back and readjusted ourselves. What made for that readjustment was the need to look at ‘the bigger picture’, in the sense that it was very important to both of us to search for the best theme we wanted our campaign to focus on because that is the only way it would work. We discussed ideas after we decided on the theme we wanted to present and from that moment on, we discussed every idea all the way until post-production. From the choice of actors to the script to the choice in song to the pace of the slow motion of the clips. It was an enjoyable experience and I wouldn’t mind working with her again in the future.
Now the final questions that were proposed to us are:
- Did you achieve what you set out to do?
I believe we did, because our film shows the clear aim of intending to stimulate students to collaborate with each other. It is shown through each of the students’ words of encouragement and the sincere look in their eyes.
- What have you learned in the process of making this film?
One of the main things that I would say I have learned is from the time I spent in the recording studio both when Agne, Peter and all five of the actors were there. I felt comfortable being in there, giving directions, making sure everyone said their lines correctly and just being confident in what I say and do. And I learned that the best sets are those where, in between takes, you can just goof around and just make the best out of it because that sense of happiness and fun will show up on camera.
List of production documents:
A couple of photos I took during production:
And the list of resources I used for my research:
The Journey To Excellence: Research Summary – Collaborative Learning
Here’s to an awesome year and hopefully more to come!