Visual Archive: Precarity of Life

Precarity is now a shared social feeling. In the UK, the adoption of zero hour contracts have added more uncertainty and anxiety towards the job market. I used to be on a zero hour contract. Being on a zero hour contract means that if you’re ill, there is no sick pay. If you need time for the family, there is no holiday pay. If there is no work for you, there is no pay. The British government boasted about the adoption of zero hour contracts, claiming that they benefit flexible people like students as they can work around their hours of study. The problem with zero hour contracts is in the name, you’re contracted zero hours a week. This means that if the institution or company you work for has no work for you at that time, then you don’t work. You live under the control of the company to work when is best for them, if you don’t work, you don’t get paid, if you don’t get paid, you can’t pay bills, if you cannot pay bills that increases stress and anxiety.

Jeremy Corbyn(2016) highlighted the precarity of zero hour contracts in 2016, ‘Zero hours contracts are not allowed in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland and Spain. It seems we’re the odd one out.” Although this highlights the social problems that go along with zero hour contracts, the UK is not completely alone. Countries like Norway and Sweden also have introduced zero hour contracts. Despite this the list of counties in the European Union that have banned or disregard zero hour contracts is much longer than the countries that do. With Britain’s exit from the European Union and the loss of European laws and legislation, it’s worrying to think that concepts like zero hour contracts could become more frequently used.

My experience working on a zero hours contract was relatively positive until illness struck. In 2016 on returning from a work experience placement in Costa Rica, I became ill with a stomach parasite, which required me to take an extensive period off work. During this time I had little to no contact with my employer and of course no income to pay my bills or buy medication. This was extremely problematic and damaging as the pressure and guilt of being off from work made my recovery longer than expected. After returning to work and picking up someone else’s job role on top of my own, I though I’d gained loyalty from my employer and proved my worth and value to the institution. On the 10th of April 2017, I received a call, not from my employer, but from a colleague. With no warning, no notice, I was told that I was no longer needed for the institution and they had no work for me for the foreseeable future. My world in that instant crashed before me, how was I going to pay for me masters degree now? I needed that job to see my way through university, I needed that job to pay for my tuition fees and for money to live on. In this moment I am living in a constant state of precarity, I have four months to find a job and gather together the money I need to pay off my tuition. Loosing my main source of income has not come without it’s difficulties, the increase of uncertainty has led to my anxiety attacks to increase more than they ever have done before. After talking with my psychotherapist, the increase in my anxiety has become so much that medication like my only option to regain control over my mind and my situation. The most precarious thing of all is that the institution that honoured me such a opportunity and retracted it, is the same institution in which I study, promotes wellness and such critical thinking. C’est la vie.

McKinney, C. (2016). Zero hours contracts: is the UK “the odd one out”?. [online] Full Fact. Available at: https://fullfact.org/law/zero-hours-contracts-uk-europe/ [Accessed 9 May 2017].

 

East Winds Film Festival – Week Six

This week we’re in Paris! As a cohort we travelled to Paris to conduct a research trip, I was caught up in other commitments for another module so didn’t have much involvement in the film festival this week. I know the other production team are working on videography in Paris this week with our presenters so I am really excited to see what they have been working on!

East Winds Film Festival – Week Five

This week the East Winds Film Festival went on the road on a trip to The Mocking Bird Cinema. It was great to hear that the film festival had gained an external partner with one of the independent cinemas in Birmingham. As a cohort we went over to the cinema to watch Japanese sci-fi anime, Akira.

Production wise, my team was in charge of the sound and video production of the interview with the owner of The Mocking Bird. Along with the interview itself it was my job to capture ‘filler footage’ to be used in the final edit of the film festival magazine show. As I have previously shot promotional videos I really enjoyed capturing people’s enjoyment at The Mocking Bird and I pretty much had a camera on my shoulder for most of the day. My team proved to be a little less confident than myself in giving direction to the interviewee, so that is something that will need working on. Despite this, my team are learning how to set up and capture the sound very well. During the showing I was made aware that the initial ident and trailer were going to be played before the screening of Akira so I stood at the back of the cinema ready to capture the reactions of the cohort as we made our debut. I think this week is the first week we’re beginning to realise the opportunity that we have here. Working alongside The Mocking Bird cinema will really broaden our audience to the city of Birmingham and hopefully gather a wider audience to receive the films we will be screening. I think gathering filler footage is really one of my strong points because there isn’t many limitations and I can be creative with the focus and exposure on the camera. Also it allows me to work on my own for a while which I’m incredibly comfortable with, I think that I will make it my responsibility to do this consistently throughout the festival week along side working with the team.

Once we got back from The Mocking Bird it was time to reshoot the opening of our magazine show with out three presenters. It was apparent before that what the other production team had filmed the sound wasn’t a high enough quality so to tackle that problem I took out three tie microphones for each presenter along with a boom microphone so we had plenty of sound files to work with to make sure it was as professional as possible. It was a long day of filming but overall I’m so happy with how well and professional everybody worked, we did a few takes to make sure we had ample footage to work with and the presenters were great!

East Winds Film Festival – Week Four

This week the teams had to work on the production for the magazine show, after a managers meeting we had formulated the structure of the magazine show and my task was to film and head the production of a ‘Cold open’. The idea came from the communications team to plan and film the spoof of a famous scene from an East Asian film. I mostly worked along side the communications team for this task which took me out of my production role and had me cutting out famous film characters to imply a class of students. Despite my enjoyment of filming and live editing this task, it was decided that the outcome looked too rushed (We had to film and edit it in one morning) and it was axed from the final edit of the initial magazine show.

Along with this I had to plan and conduct an interview with one of the members of a team to find out what was going on behind the scenes. I thought it would be best to interview someone from the communications team because at this stage of event planning they seemed to have had more of a substantial work load with press releases and such. I set up the camera in the MA Communications, Culture and Media office to showcase the work of the cohort in the background of the subject I would be interviewing. I had also been approached by a member of the cohort, Jemila Haruna who wanted to gain some production experience in the set up of equipment and the capturing of visual and sound material. I took Jamila on as I thought the experience would be valuable for both of us, I could work on my leadership and teaching skills along with Jamila gaining some production experience. Maria Mantaluta from communications was our interviewee and she did very well in the delivery of what is going on behind the scenes.

I was very happy with the framing of the interview and thought the shots looked very aesthetically pleasing, I thought it was best to film the interview in a talking head style to keep it looking professional and because that is the interview style I’m used to. In retrospect after hearing feedback from the interview I was told that it was too ‘BBC-ish’, (which isn’t the worst criticism in the world), but I agree that the interview was too ridged and I had played it safe to the style in which I was comfortable. I think that perhaps to keep the film festival media young and fresh it would be better to take more risks and think outside the box a little bit more.

East Winds Film Festival – Week Three

This week we we’re given the task to come up with a concept for a magazine show for the film festival along with ideas for a PR stunt to spark attention and gather momentum for East Winds. Throughout my experience in working at the DMLL I was lucky enough to learn a few marketing techniques within event planning and I knew that if we are going to create a PR stunt it needs to be coherent with the way in which we sell the festival. My first initial idea for the PR stunt was taken from the Sony bouncy balls advert. I was thinking about it from a production stance as if we had many cameras from many angles we could make it seem as if the volume of bouncy balls is more than in reality…

I thought it would be great to have some purple bouncy balls from Coventry Cathedral down to Square One, where the film festival would be taking place. I knew the branding is very important and if we used the same purple for the bouncy balls as we did for the purple font on the logo our audience is more likely to associate the two colours together. The second idea I came up with Rose Gorgieva, we were carefully thinking about the branding of the festival and the concept of ink, if we were going to continue using the ink splatter throughout the festival branding then perhaps it would be a good idea to mimic the ink aesthetic with some purple powder paint. We took our inspiration from festivals of colours or cultural celebrations like Diwali.

The magazine show I had little to do with the planning as I wanted to give others a chance to take the lead with planning. I agreed to take part in the production of the magazine show once the concept had been planned and thought out.

East Winds Film Festival – Week Two

The first brief our production group was given was to create an ident for the film festival and a trailer for the film festival. As the ident is the initial logo that the audience will see we knew it had to be bold, have a theme that can run throughout the festival and be memorable. As a group we decided to think of discourses surrounding East Asia that we could adopt to use for the marketing of the ident. We knew the colour for the East Winds was going to be this rich purple so we played around with different ideas. Initially we thought about Thai tattoo styles, Chinese calligraphy and the final idea we took from Chinese ink paintings. We liked the simplicity of droplets of ink that could perhaps swirl across the screen and leave behind the East Winds logo which would then have a moving wing. Although as a team it was very easy to come up with the ideas, executing them would prove to be more difficult. Although I have had lots of previous experience in post production I lacked the skills to create the ident. Luckily two members of our team were able to create the ident on time for the deadline and as a group we were so happy with the result. Because I was more skilled in using Premier Pro, I worked on the film festival trailer. I had also been requested by the Communications manager to edit together the first draft of a video version of the press release. Although the video press release was never actually released I was happy with how my team was working together, full of encouragement for one another and offering skills exchange so we could all learn a bit more of what we needed. This weeks brief made me aware of how little I knew about Adobe After effects and it’s requirement in the production industry. I now know this is a skill I will really need to work on if I’m going to be flexible and efficient in a production role.

Some of the Idents that were made…

East Winds Film Festival – Week One

As I have been part of the media department at Coventry University for a substantial amount of time now, I was already aware of the East Winds Film Festival and it’s origins from the East Asian Film Society. Over past years, I had attended the film festival twice and even written some reviews of films of the festival. When it was announced that the East Winds Film Festival was going to be embedded into our module, Transcultural Distribution, I was excited that as a course we have been given the opportunity to gain some experience in event planning and production which is the field I have worked in previously. As a cohort we are very lucky to partake in an outward facing event that promotes engagement from the local community but also transcends internationally with involvement and engagement from film companies and members of industry from East Asia.

Throughout my work on my undergraduate degree I managed to gain skills and experience in Videography and these skills took me to Costa Rica to work alongside one of the leading news outlets of San Jose. I also had been working for the Disruptive Media Learning Lab for over a year specialising in sound and video production of events and promotional material. Having learnt how to navigate a camera and work the set up of all technical and sound equipment it seemed natural for me to go for the role of production manager as I believed my previous experience would be very beneficial to the production team as a whole. I’m experienced with working under pressure, working to deadlines and all pre and post production techniques. As there was an overwhelming amount of people applying to work within production we were split into two teams and to my delight I was appointed production manager of team one.

Colonialism and Subjectivity

Colonialism and subjectivity Coming from a white working class background I feel far removed from ideas of colonialism and find it impossible to comprehend how anyone could possibly think that forcing ideas, beliefs onto others is acceptable. Despite me being so far removed I can’t help but feel so uncomfortable when colonialism is mentioned because although it wasn’t directly me, I’m lucky enough to call ‘GREAT Britain’ my home, and what is so great about colonising the world.

Writing Desire

The techniques used in Ursula Biemann’s Writing Desire may look a little busy and out of place yet they are all chosen for a specific reason. The way Biemann shows the selection of race, age and physical appearance on screen really shows the way in which people can be selected as commodities. Although Biemann is discussing a challenging topic she does it such a way of keeping the ‘mail order brides’ identity save by instead showing the typical western male more likely to purchase the mail order bride. The way music is used in the film is really provoking and enhances the way in which we feel. The fast pace of the music identifies the fast paced world we live in. The dark undertones of the techno beat really enhances the subject matter of using humanity as a commodity.

Film Essay Proposal

Our film essay is about youth’s anxieties towards the changing world in which we live. With different factors such as, technology, war, politics, pollution, identity it’s very easy to feel anxious and lost. Our initial idea was to take the concept of mail order brides from the lecture but after a lot of thought we knew that we wanted to make a essay film that was a bit more personal to our subjectivities and more relevant to the changing world in which we live. With group members from all over the world there are so many subjectivities to play with and we thought it would be a good idea to have these subjectivities placed in a narrative that was natural to the individual so to do that we would have group members speaking in their own language. We really want to outline that despite these anxieties youth can unite and overcome these anxieties and change the globalized world in which we live. Footage that we’re going to use will be predominantly found from vimeo and youtube, we will use an arrangement of shocking footage and news reports to form our argument and combining them with imagery that enhances our argument and leaving the audience with profound thoughts.