Our first assignment was to create and present agroup presentation, the purpose of which was to offer a close reading of a filmof our own choosing. This was unfortunately the first obstacle our group faced,choosing a film to present. It was this important task in fact that took thelongest to agree upon, it wasn’t that we were argumentative about which film tochoose, merely that we were indecisive. Eventually it was decided that we wouldbe presenting our views on the aspects of AmericanBeauty (1999, Sam Mendes), we then split the elements of film form we’d bepresenting with amongst ourselves in a ‘first come, first served’ basis.
Ichose to study the mise-en-scèneof the movie. The indecisiveness Ibelieve is a key example of one our main problems as a group, timing. This wasa definite problem that appeared many times during this task. The slides I created on the mise-en-scène of American Beauty (found in appendices) were my contribution to thistask, I was also supposed to join another member of the group to piece our worktogether but found myself incapable of doing so on the arranged day. I tried tocover the main aspects of mise-en-scènein the brief amount of time we had to do so, due to events of the day our grouphad ended up presenting last and this meant (especially as we were a largergroup) a tighter restriction of time for each of us. Placement of characters,props and scenery being used to evoke an almost unconcious response from theaudience has always been something I have appreciated as an element of greatfilm making. So, to hear in the feedback that I had identified and understoodthe rule of thirds correctly was very encouraging.
Other aspects of themise-en-scène I touchedupon were things such as the lighting, costume and make-up, acting andperformance. Communication amongst our groupwas not strong, and I believe that this is something easily observed in ourpresentation. Not only were the slides clearly of different styles, layouts andmaterials, but they also differed greatly in the ways in which they werepresented. I believe this issue could have been solved quite easily if we hadcommunicated. Some members of the group chose to have paragraphs of textholding all the information which they then read out word for word, where asothers had gone for what I believe to be the preferred method of bullet pointswith key parts of information which you go on to explain whilst presenting. Upon observing other student’spresentations as we awaited our turn, we noticed one recurring item each groupseemed to have that we did not; a script. In hindsight this is something thatcould’ve helped our group greatly, a script would’ve meant that we were allaware of what each member would be presenting as I for one had not seen anybodyelse’s work until the time of the presentation.
During the slides that werediscussing narrative there were one or two comments that I recall disagreeing with,if it had been known this was going to be said I believe as a group we couldhave discussed it and offered different view points to put forward to ouraudience. An example of this was the idea that Lester’s murder was in no way a mystery as we are aware he will diefrom the opening scene, it is my opinion that it very much remains a mystery. Iagree that being aware of the impending death from the first slide could takeaway a small part of the impact however I believe they mystery then lies in howthe death will occur and who will be responsible, not to mention that as themovie continues the audience tends to forget they were given this information(as also suggested in our feedback). The presentation itself was notwithout its own hiccups, however that being said I do not believe it wasentirely a disaster, there were some very stimulating comments that were beingexplored upon in each category at times.
I for one wanted it to go well, Ibelieve that the was mainly due to it being a group task, I felt as though Iwould let the team down if I did not put in the effort. Unfortunately, thereseemed did seem to be an element of minimal effort when it came to the presentationof our work, which was disappointing because as I have previously mentioned Ido believe everyone had some insightful and interesting opinions that fell flatwhen it came to the day of presenting. Again, if there had been morecommunication amongst the group I believe this issue could’ve been spotted andresolved beforehand.
A simple discussion could’vehelped members of the team from steering into somewhat simple mistakes, oneexample of this being something also picked up in the feedback, using correctnames for the characters. Although another explanation to this mistake couldjust come down to nerves, if we had met as a group before the presentation Ibelieve we could’ve discussed who felt as though they did not want to presenttheir slides, they could’ve informed us what the wanted to be said during theirsection and asked another member to speak on their behalf. It was interestingto me that it as the same members who sat with their backs to the audiencewhilst merely reading of the slides were the ones who had done a lot ofresearch and work for the topic they had chosen and had in fact been eager tohelp other members if requested. It is something we would change given theopportunity again, to make sure that we are not only helping others with thecontents of their work but also with the presentation of it.
Given the time again I would ensure it wasused suitably and to its full extent, to ensure improvement, I would openfurther channels of communication amongst the group. As I have recalled theevents of this task I think it has become clear to me that our knowledge of thesubject and movie was not at fault (although not always in agreement), the mainhurdles we faced were that of communication and anxiety of presenting which inturn looked to be a lack of enthusiasm.