GCSE Film Examiners report Paper 1 Superheroes

Question 1

This remains an accessible and effective opening question, which enabled candidates to respond successfully.

Question 1(a): Although most candidates did identify an example of a camera shot, such as close up, low angle or tracking shot, centres are again reminded that the trigger word ‘identify’ should signpost the need for a specific example from the extract. A simple reference to ‘close up’ as an answer is not sufficient and candidates should be prepared to identify a specific example from the extract. A popular and appropriate answer was ‘low angle shot of Loki’.

Question 1(b): Candidates engaged well with the idea of ‘suggest’ to equate it with making meaning. Most were able to explain how a camera shot impacted on the audience. The guidance for this kind of question should always be to keep the effect on the audience uppermost in any answer, even if explained from the perspective of the director’s intention.

Question 1(c): The quality of response remains good for this question. The use of the descriptor ‘create meaning’ opened up a range of effective responses from the candidates. Most responded effectively in terms of the meaning of their chosen aspects – sound and mise-en-scène being popular choices. Centres are reminded that candidates should be advised to respond directly to the question as it is asked. Candidates should cover only two micro features if they are to access the full mark range. Most answers addressed the use of visual or special effects, sound and mise-en-scène very confidently but editing was less well handled. Centres should remind candidates that style of transition and the pace of cutting are the two central components to discuss here. Guidance on time management for (c) should still be stressed as answers on the second micro feature were often weaker (and were occasionally omitted entirely). Question 2 Question two did seem to be slightly more problematic than in previous years. Some candidates seemed ill prepared for the topic of themes and issues.

Question 2(a): Candidates who identified a clear theme or issue set themselves up well for parts (b) and (c). Some candidates were vague and could only be rewarded for a thematic treatment of what initially seemed very general. However, some candidates answered with unsuitable suggestions that related to costume or character (aspects tested in this question in previous years). Centres should remind candidates that, at least initially, question two is still linked to the question 1 extract.

A clear example in response to this year’s question could be ‘good versus evil’ in the form of The Avengers versus Loki and its parallels to ‘Allies’ versus Nazis referenced in the sequence. © WJEC CBAC Ltd. 2

Question 2(b): The best candidates discussed specific themes well in terms of their typicality. The more vague answers referred simply to ‘all Superhero Movies use…’ Most candidates were able successfully to interpret the term ‘typicality’ within the context of genre codes and conventions. The best answers were those that were able to give specific points of common usage that form the basis of the chosen theme/issue’s typicality. Question 2(c): Successful answers, in common with part (a), were those which nominated a clear theme or issue. Some answers veered into ‘typical narratives’. These answers were partly rewardable where they discussed typical narratives in a thematic way. The best candidates for this question were able to draw on analysis and knowledge of a broad range films they had studied. The minimum should be two films to compare and contrast. Answers ranged from the basic response of describing where the chosen theme or issue appears through similar usages whereas the better answers dealt with both different and similar usages of the chosen theme or issue. The very best answers looked at how the theme or issue reflected a wider context, such as the theme of the outsider, which would provide a clear point of identification with the teenage section of the audience. Again, answers that consisted of lists of descriptions could not access the higher marks.

Question 3 Responses to question three, which attempts to assess knowledge of aspects of the industry elements of Hollywood filmmaking, seem now to be handled more confidently by candidates. Most discuss how the examples concerned engage with the film and encourage people to go and see it. This year, the question emphasised more directly issues of marketing and promotion. The main theme of successful answers was how, even years in advance of release, studios and distributors sought to build up anticipation, ‘hype’ or ‘buzz’ through a range of increasingly internet-based activities. Responses fell into three broad categories: the lower mark responses typically described features from the items in the resource materials with non-existent or a very basic awareness of how they functioned to generate interest. Those in the middle ranges were able to take one or more examples from the resource material and discuss how this would engage or excite both fan and general audiences. The higher order responses demonstrated an understanding of how many of these could work together in a continual build-up of ‘pressure’ towards the release date. Indeed some more sophisticated responses discussed well how the interactive nature of social media methods instigated some sections of the audience to do a significant amount of promotion themselves through viral participation and so forth. It should be remembered that this question is the main focus of what the candidates have studied in regard to the mainstream film industry and its commercial nature. Their answers are expected to reflect this knowledge and understanding. Marketing (as a major and essential feature of distribution) should always be a central focus. Other supporting concepts are also important – such as the nature of modern communication techniques and commercial franchising which serves to support and expand the marketing function. Candidates should be clear on the requirements of this question. Whereas more media-style textual analysis of connotation and denotation (much less prevalent this year) may be useful, this is not the main aim of this question. Candidates need to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the commercial (marketing and promotion) role of the resource material and their own examples. They should aim to identify and discuss features which are designed to generate interest and engage audiences and be able to understand associated concepts such as how marketing creates ‘hype’ and/or ‘buzz’. © WJEC CBAC Ltd. 3

Question 4 Question four was answered reasonably well this year. There were few instances of candidates who did not complete it. Candidates should be reminded of two main issues in regard to question four. Firstly, they should leave sufficient time to complete the question and secondly, they need to recognise that a major part of the question is being creative – they are required to come up with their own ideas! Question 4(a) & (b): This was completed by virtually all candidates, although some seemed to lack a clear grasp of the concept of casting. (A common example of this was the naming of Superhero characters to play either heroes or villains.) The candidates who seemed to do best here were those who cast actors from outside the Superhero genre, which prompted candidates to give much clearer and detailed justification for their choices. Question 4(c): The quality of answers tended to reflect how much attention had been paid to the bullet point advice as to form and content. Some candidates failed to distinguish between a teaser and a non-teaser poster both in terms of format and Superhero conventions. Candidates need to recognise that a six mark question will require them to respond in reasonable depth and thus shape the style of their response appropriately. The best answers reflected Superhero codes and conventions within the format of a teaser poster that is more reliant on image over text than a normal poster. Candidates should be reminded that the resource material tends to contain an example of the required format if issues of form need clarification. Annotation again proved a limiting factor for some candidates. They should be reminded that it is their opportunity (particularly for the less artistic) to explain and clarify their design choices; without it, the higher marks cannot be accessed. Candidates should also be encouraged to use colour here as it can be a very useful reflection of Superhero movie codes and conventions. Question 4(d): Inevitably, time seemed to be a factor with this question. Although most candidates were able to come up with varied ideas for promoting the film, many lacked the detail necessary for the full four marks. The best answers demonstrated a clear knowledge of how their idea would engage with a potential audience and came up with good ideas for a previously unknown Superhero. Question 4(e): This year, only a few candidates seemed to miss out the final part of the last question. Most made good attempts to explain how one of their ideas would increase interest in the film and engage with specific audiences. Some did elect to explain both ideas and should be reminded that examiners can only award marks for one answer (the better of the two) where only one element has been requested. Summary Overall, the response to the paper and its questions was wide and well-informed. Both candidates and their teachers should be commended on the good work that the majority of centres have completed over their course of study. Thank you.