Practical Evaluation of Sitcom Intro Sequence
Joshua Zaré 10Sf Mr. Goddard
Planning our sitcom title sequence, initially, was a daunting task with regards to the limits of creativity between a small group of male teenagers! An idea had to be constructed though, and this was when a unanimous idea was agreed on to go with a school band theme. This idea had significant influence and inspiration from the film School of Rock. The second step in pre production was to decide on our target audience, which was clear due to a school band being the main feature. This immediately made us picture male/female teenagers of the same age, or lower, than those present within the sitcom being our predominant viewers. With this being a fairly remote target audience, and not family-orientated, the sitcom would be best suited to Channel 4 or BBC 3. The next task was agreeing on a structure for our piece. We were informed of two main structures to choose from, and had witnessed both types in the form of The Simpsons (narrative based structure) and Friends (montage based structure). Eventually, we all had mutual feelings that a narrative based sequence would be the most appropriate, and strongest, structure to employ. This would end up being a rolling journey to a final meeting point of all the central characters, as we meet each one individually along the way.
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Following this came the assignment of casting actors, and deciding the number of actors necessary for our piece. Extras were kept minimal due to the limited time we had in filming. We then saw it fit to keep things simple by using four members of our group to solely star in the piece, as members of the band. These were Robert Watson (drummer), Oliver Turner (guitarist), Charlie Dyer (bassist), and myself (singer). Although in the final scene, an odd decision was composed to have the final member of our group appear in the background of the final shot, which I wasn’t fully aware of, until reaching that stage of filming. Also, another aspect of our casting plan was to have a teacher in our piece, to play themselves (Mr. Goddard). This was for the sole reason that no matter how much effort that is made in costume, make-up, etc, a student can never convincingly, and more importantly, professionally, take an adult’s role. Another concoction was to include the appearance of a girl in the piece looking flustered after rendezvousing with the drummer of the band.
Our piece seemed to have an extremely strong foundation at this point, making our jobs far easier when going into production, although slightly lacking in comedy, which is important.
Production + Post-Production
The actual filming of the piece went extremely well, however there were problems encountered, some more noteworthy than others. The first was that it had become apparent that no female colleagues of ours could make the date of filming, therefore we made an alternate arrangement to have the drummer exit the toilets with lipstick on his face, giving the same desired effect, although lowering the element of comedy to our piece. The second of two considerable inconveniences was that the corridor which we originally planned to film in was in use; therefore we were forced to move to the corridor above this. This eventually proved to be quite a non-inhibiting problem, as the same resources necessary, were available.
At the end of filming, it seemed to be undisputed amongst the group that we had achieved a great amount of development.
The soundtrack chosen for the piece was “Formed a Band” by Art Brut. Personally, I believe that this was the most appropriate song that we could have chosen for our piece. Upon inspection of the lyrics and soundtrack, this became apparent instantaneously.
It then came to editing, and after a simple tutorial of Adobe Premier, no major issues arose when constructing our final footage. Assistance from a technician was required when minor problems came up, like installing outside fonts, etc, but again, nothing major. One particularly aspect of the editing, which we felt went thoroughly well, was the uploading and cutting of our soundtrack using Audacity. We were all pleased with this, due to the cut down version of our soundtrack being almost unnoticeable. Overall, editing went exceedingly efficiently.
Following our periods in the editing suites, all members of the group seemed to be extremely comfortable in using the software, and again, we all felt that great development had been made by everyone.
I was very pleased with, and proud of, our finished product, being the first time I had used an editing suite, etc. Obviously certain aspects of the product appealed to me, and the viewing audience more than others, for example, I like the use of greyscale/slow motion as the actors names appeared on screen.
The group effort seemed well balanced, being very comfortable with each others views, not being afraid of declining certain ideas, etc. This made things far easier in the long run, as the group atmosphere kept aspects of production, in particular filming and editing, well on track. Surprisingly, we did predominantly manage to keep to our original storyboards, which showed a degree of persistence/commitment in my eyes.
During editing, problems were encountered with our footage, such as the shot of Ollie being too far out, disallowing the audience to observe the defining hair-flick of his character. Another error in our filming footage was the length of shots of the band members walking down corridors. It became apparent that this was an inappropriate length for a title sequence. One aspect which we all picked up on towards completion of our product was the lack of expression of our characters during their journey. This contradicts the feel of a school band; they should all be chatty and enthusiastic with each other.
When our piece was finally screened before an audience, we found several pros and many cons to our product. Things which worked were, the appropriate soundtrack, the static effect of our text when the sitcom title appears, the ‘jump-cuts’ down the corridors, and also the popping up of the band members in the final shot. All of these apparently contributed heavily towards the professionalism of our product.
Of course, several downsides to our piece were identified, primarily, the lack of comedy within the sequence, which considering the nature of a sitcom, was definitely a place for improvement. We also later learnt that the title of our sequence heavily affected the boundaries of our target audience, with nobody outside of Maidstone Grammar School being able to relate to such a specific location. A final point noticed, was the almost random appearance of the director of the piece (Rob Ashton) at the end, being a previously non-introduced character to the sitcom. This could easily confuse certain viewers and have diverse effects.
Finally, I feel that my personal contribution to the group, although not particularly noteworthy, was satisfactory. However much we could give most of the credit to one group member, however, it must be said that one person would not have been adequate in completing such a daunting task. I also feel that we can take away the appreciation of the length of time such a short amount of footage can take to assemble in a presentable format.