I wasn’t excessively excited when this module got announced, as I’ve learnt from a multitude of past experiences that I’m not entirely comfortable with team or practical work. Drawing on the ‘learning modalities’ model, I identified some reasons why I struggle with these specific work forms. I’m an auditory learner, as apposed to a kinesthetic or visual one. Auditory learners are a minority; many writers, such as Walker Tileston (2004), suggest that this minimalism is due to digitalisation and multimedia. Regardless of why there are so few people who predominantly learn by listening, Shelton in his work on the motion-media industry, constantly reiterates that motion-media is “kinetic-visual media” and that to create it “kinetic-visual planning” is essential (2004:269). Being an auditory learner also incapacitates some of the key interpersonal skills that an individual needs in a group situation. For example, I’m “easily distracted by sounds” and need silence when I’m working (Walker Tileston, 2004:17). This means that when in a group, I simply end up listening to everybody else’s thoughts, and while doing this, I can’t formulate any creative ideas of my own.
From 17th April – 31st May, when the group was in the process of forming, I was relatively comfortable with the assignment, although the storming and norming stages were more difficult. There are often overlaps between these stages, e.g. when a problem appears, or a new task is given, groups often exhibit storming behaviour (MindTools.com, n.d.). On 1st May we were asked to develop a theme that could be looked at in connection to the London Riots. I put forward the idea of looking at social media, because I’d just written an essay about it and was fairly comfortable with ideas concerning Autonomist Marxism and the ‘social factory’ (Tronti,1966), and thought that it would be interesting to develop this in relation to the riots. However, Paola suggested assessing whether the education system had an impact on the lawlessness that was exhibited.
After many ‘creative debates’ and processes that focused on identifying and establishing an understanding of the target demographics, for each of the films concepts, we identified problems with both topics. For example, community audits and empathy mapping indicated that getting work to a standard that the target audiences would be willing to view and share would be difficult in the given time limit. Our fear was that our audiences (ironically), as free-labourers in the ‘social factory’, would not be motivated enough by our video to justify labouring. Whether this labour involved commenting on our work, or simply promoting it, we were concerned that it, as a media product, would not act as a means of production, e.g. posting a link to the social media video, by way of comment, on a ‘Wired’ blog, would have been like giving the Pope a book entitled ‘A Beginners Guide to Catholicism’. Yet, we wanted to meet our previously outlined ‘cognitive, affective and conative’ objectives, to trigger desired psychological processes in our audience, e.g. to raise awareness and get people to feel, think and act as a result of viewing the film (Snow and Farr, 1987). We consequentially decided that it would be better to brainstorm new concepts individually and then discuss our ideas in the next timetabled workshop.
By the workshop on 15th May we had fully entered into the norming process and were able to focus on ideas that would be effective and feasible in the given timeframe. Thereby we considered access issues in relation to cast, props, setting, etc, and looked at possible extraneous variables, e.g. weather conditions and bystander behaviour. Finally, working from Emmy’s visualisation, we decided to make a rap video that documented the feelings of a rioter. The video would rely on London’s urban landscape, with Indra as the main cast member and, apart from a ninja mask, we would not need any props. In terms of our audience, the concept would appeal to a broad demographic. This would not only include people that were still interested in the riots for personal reasons, e.g. shopkeepers (who also formed part of our cast), but students studying creative subjects and other young individuals who would be drawn to the film because of its inclusion of a ‘ninja’.
On the same day, the performing process commenced as we started to write the rap lyrics. By the end of the meeting we had decided on a monorhyme scheme for each stanza (e.g. stanza one had an A, A, A, A rhyme structure and the following one had a B, B, B, B). I then went away and wrote another 12 stanzas, including a few lines that Emmy had also suggested. As the ‘rap’ ended up reading a bit like a poem, Emmy contacted a professional rapper who was able to change elements and write in a chorus.
When it came to shooting the feature, Emmy’s enthusiasm, Cindy’s filming, Indra’s acting, and Paola’s ability to communicate direction and persuade people to get involved, really helped create amazing footage. Although, I soon realised that standing there, looking awkward and occasionally making sarcastic comments, wasn’t really contributing anything. I knew that this would be the hardest bit of the task for me and I honestly felt embarrassed that my lack of practical creativity was making me seem like a poor team player. After an evening of feeling miserable, I decided to go ahead and play to my strengths. I thus started developing the blog, its images and copy. I also agreed to sub-edit my groups’ work and to suggest changes. Subbing was perhaps the most challenging task, as I found it hard to keep sentence meanings the same when correcting grammatical errors.
To conclude, even though I wasn’t totally comfortable with this project, it has been a good experience for my own maturation, as Cindy said it would be. I need to continuously build my confidence and the only way I am going to do so is by placing myself into uncomfortable situations. I’ve also learnt that I don’t need to beat myself up about not having specific abilities. No one is good at everything and, at certain times, it’s more productive to stick to what one is good at. So what if I wasn’t the strongest individual when it came down to practical creativity? I have, like every other member, used my own skills to contribute to this project and we’ve, most certainly, successfully produced a piece of work that we’re all proud of!
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