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Running out of time

One in the morning, I can’t sleep. After several weeks of violently irregular sleep patterns, eating patterns and mood swings (I wouldn’t hesitate to attribute them to my final coursework submission of the year) I am yet to feel any relief. As a matter of fact, I’m more pensive than ever: Now that I have officially finished my second year’s studies, I have a limited window in which I must fulfill a number of personal objectives, crucial ‘to-dos’ that cannot be left before I finally close the book on Coventry for a year.

Cyclone, obviously, will be taking the bulk of my attention now. I need to make sure it continues to operate in my absence, when I move to Sweden I’ll be leaving it in the hands of my friends and colleagues, should they choose to accept. And of course, I have to book my flights, make sure I have everything I need, etc. When I think about it, I really don’t have a lot of time left: I just hope I can get the closure I need before moving on, I’m going to miss people.

Melodrama aside, it’s going to be a bloody exciting couple of weeks.

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The ups and downs of being a professional

I really don’t see myself a student any more. The big media moguls (in all of their infinite wisdom) have destroyed the reputation of the student with countless smear campaigns and false representations. Granted, some of it is true, but the fact remains that the surprisingly large portion of us who are left wearing a stigma can’t help but feel a little at odds with the world. 201MC was this year’s unofficial work experience period, a time when we are left to our own devices for, well a very long time. It’s over now, we’re finishing the year with a wonderfully vague group assignment, whilst I continue to push with my ‘self guided placement’, Cyclone. I don’t see the point in waiting until I graduate to start looking for work in the media, as a matter of fact that would be idiotic. I hope to have a substantial portfolio of connections and work history compiled before I throw the silly square hat in the air (do they even do that or is it urban myth?), so it’s nothing more than a continuation of what I’m already doing, bar the lectures.

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It makes sense in my mind to treat everything I do outside of studies as my career now. Whether I’m producing video content for a record label’s promotion or writing an article for a friend’s project, if I call myself a student, I’m dooming myself to the realm of public ignorance. I’ve found that the people I’ve been producing for turn people down on the basis that they are a student, without so much as a second thought. I’ve been lucky so far, swiping work and connections, and proving my worth in the process, but it’s an uphill battle, one which I have to live as both a student and a self-employed producer.

God forbid the two ever meet.

You could say this makes life a little bit more complicated, but I guess it’s character building, I’m learning the tricks of the trade whilst I embark on my career a little earlier than expected. I’m doing things whilst I still don’t have to worry so much about money, and things of that nature. Of course I still worry about nature, I don’t have a lot of it, but at least as a student I get support. This isn’t a sympathy post, I’m just trying to highlight the difficulties of media work from my recent experiences: Not only do you have to ‘be in the know’ to be in the know, you can’t be a student, but if you aren’t a student you have to charge for what you do to support yourself, and no-one wants to know about you either way, unless of course you’ve got a portfolio the size of Jamaica and the funds to back it. It always comes down to money. I think 201MC has taught me that fate smiles upon the rich, not the talented, and without trying to sound like a pessimist, I see why people are so eager to jump onto the corporate band wagon, it’s so safe and comfortable.

Except it isn’t.

Cyclone is showing me what can be done when like-minded individuals put their heads together and decide to stand by fair trade ethics and community spirit. I’m amazed at the response I’ve been getting since it all kicked off a couple of months ago, I know there’s still a long way to go, but I like to think this is a career in the making. I still haven’t learned from all of my mistakes, I’m still my own worse enemy. Having sacrificed the entire of my Easter break to keep working on my project, and not remembering the last time I took a break, my body is at its absolute limit. The stress has made me weak at times, with the emotional continuity of a flickering light-bulb, I think people around me have noticed the cracks a little, I’m definitely not as healthy as I was before this period of ‘professional experience’. I was talking to one of my newly gained contacts, and after a very helpful feedback session about the work we’d done together I explained that I had been doing it (recently anyway) independently, running the business side as well as the production, and I’ve had to learn both trades in a couple of months. She sympathised, having embarked upon a similar path. She advised me to be careful about who I trust, but more importantly to listen to myself. When you need to take a break, you have to take a break, if the people you work with don’t understand that then you shouldn’t be working with them in the first place.

I guess I’ll take a break soon, I’ll ‘reward myself’ with more hours in the morning and a little more social time. I’ll be worse off without it. That being said, I’ve got a lot to sort out before the  semester is out. With my exchange coming around pretty quickly I need to think about planning some contingencies for those who will be working on Cyclone whilst I’m in Sweden. I’m telling myself I’ll take a break, but I know I’ll be bringing my work with me.

Thinking About Cyclone.

Well, I wanted to keep this video a secret until it was unveiled to the rest of the class, but I recently found out that this won’t actually be used at all for the presentations. After all that editing! Oh well, I’ll share it on here instead. I had to put together a reflective video, during which I discuss my experience on my self guided placement, what I learned and what I struggled with. Standard procedure, but it delves into Cyclone quite a bit. If you’d like to learn a little bit about the ‘behind the scenes’ progression, and Cyclone’s relationship with my course studies, then watch the video below!

Partaaay!

Okay, I admit I wasn’t partying personally. But I (with a coursemate of mine) did film and edit the footage for the One World Society and the Promotion of the Club. Want to know a little secret? There really wasn’t a lot of people in this club. The power of camera angles and jump-cut trickery would suggest other wise, however.

Props to Josh Price, I couldn’t have made this alone.

A little bit of Business.

Well I admit, this is a little different to the regular posts, but what the heck, it’s time I talked a little about my add-vantage course. To be more precise, I thought I’d reflect on a task I was set, and apply it to a business idea of my own. But if any of you out there consider yourselves to be budding entrepreneurs and future tycoons, maybe this could come in handy for you too.

Firstly, I think a lot of people are put off by the whole ‘business’ thing because of the numbers. All those statistics, the ‘data’, the stereotypical coffee-stained spread-sheet salads that the corporate zombies are depicted to munch on for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Make no mistake, number crunching is a staple part of the bigger picture, but there is so much more than that. If you have an idea that you are passionate about then the ‘numbers’ are a necessary evil, besides, once you’ve got that out of the way there is everything else to enjoy. The creative freedom, the ability to see your dream become a reality, that’s worth any fair share of grey-scale chores. My idea is…

…actually I don’t feel comfortable going into the details. Tell you what, you think about YOUR idea and I’ll think about mine, deal?

Right, now we’re in agreement let’s move on to look at one particular part of business, an essential part of business. Market Research. It’s cut-throat out there, so it is essential that your business stays one step ahead of your would-be competitors. Yes there is a tonne of other stuff to think about, the branding, the consumer interaction, the planning, etc. But if someone else out there that is doing what you’re doing (more or less) or offering alternatives or have any chance of taking your customer base they are a THREAT. What do you do to combat this? Market Research. You really get to know your market, you learn how to make your customers happier, you find out what they want. Find out how to make them come back to you no matter what. It’s business 101, survival. This all links in with a little thing called ‘Porter’s Five Forces’, well it’s not a little thing, it’s huge. No doubt some of you will be familiar with it, the illustrated representation below clearly indicates to us the importance of market research.

It’s pretty simple, you want as many aces up your sleeve as possible. Getting cosy with the customers ensures you hold one of the forces in your favour, which has a knock on effect on the rest.

Convinced? You should be. Now, let’s look at market research even more. With a little bit of a case study to make things easier. ‘Portakabin’, a UK based leader in provisional modular buildings. Not the most interesting thing in the world, but it’s an example.

Portakabin’s ‘market’ consist of organisations that need temporary additional work/teaching spaces for their employees/students whilst they upgrade or modify existing architecture. It’s pretty simple, everyone needs to upgrade now and again, but they don’t want to risk shooting themselves in the foot when they do it. Portakabin’s research allows them to understand what employees and students need in a building to keep them happy and productive, by offering modular spaces that keep the output high they have a market of willing customers. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. The organisation can re-vamp whatever they need ‘re-vamping’ whilst their people remain happy and busy. Portakabin makes money ensuring this operation is smooth, simple and cost-effective. Good idea = profit.

 

So with that taken into consideration, the rest should be pretty easy to understand. Portakabin need to understand WHAT makes employees happy in the workplace, because a happy worker is more productive (apparently). If they can implement whatever that secret ingredient is into their research and development, they have the next big thing… in portaloos or whatever. Think about what YOUR customer wants, what they look for, implement it into your product or service. That’s what I’m trying to do. It’s well worth the effort if you ask me or anyone else with common sense, not to imply that you don’t have any! I’m rambling  again, so on to the next big point.

When it comes down to the nitty-gritty of Market research you’ve got two kinds, ‘quantitative’ and ‘qualitative‘. You can conduct ‘Primary’ or ‘Secondary’ research. Primary involves getting out there and gathering the data yourself, whereas secondary, you guessed it, involves going through existing documentation, reports and information that can help provide a little bit of clarity to your research.

Qualitative is all about the facts, feelings and emotions of the market. If you can extract and analyse this then you can develop ideas that will make money. The customer is always right (even if they are an ass). Talking to the customer and listening to their opinions gives you a more human touch, this should never be ignored. The only downside is it’s a long and tedious process, things like focus groups are quite handy for that. Portakabin for example find out how satisfied their customers are, and what they would like to see change to suit them.

Quantitative is more scientific, it’s down to the number figures, the statistics. Things you obtain from being black and white about everything. Surveys, questionnaires and things of that nature are a perfect way to get your fix of quantitative data. I don’t need to go any further into this, it speaks for itself, Portakabin’s Quantitative research consists of finding out about the statistics of productivity and happiness in the workplace or classroom.

The most important thing is getting a good balance of those four things in good combinations. Do this, and stay on top. How can YOU do that with your business? Statistics can make sense of opinions, opinions get meaning out of statistics. Put one and one together to make it all a little clearer, to get you closer to a eureka moment you can cash in on.

Okay, enough with the Portakabin case study. It wasn’t really a case study anyway, more of an example. But do you see how important research is? There is a hell of a lot to the game of the intrepid entrepreneur, making sense of each little piece of the puzzle should be your first concern before jumping into the belly of the beast head on.

I hope sharing my learnings helped, it sure did for me.

NoobyTendencies x

 

The Sound of Horror.

Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. Are you familiar with the sound of Horror? I mean, the quintessential aural experience that makes one tremble in fear and recognition, yelping “Yup, this is some creepy shiz” with a squeaky voice? Probably not, because to be honest, who actually does that? I sooo don’t do that. No really, I don’t.

Okay, I digress somewhat. Back on track.

As an exercise of both theoretical and practical competence we were asked to produce a piece of audio that told the story of the ‘Monkey’s Paw’. However, it had to be convincing. That really is the hard part. Do you know how difficult it is to produce something that is actually convincing? Professionals devote their careers, their lives, trying to perfect the art of believability, or at least the ability to affect the audience with anything beyond unimpressed speculation. As consumers we know what we want, we spend our lives consuming the products that catch our fancy, so we become masters of knowing what we like, what we want. Replicating that from another position is bloody hard, often impossible. Make no mistake, there is a fine line between descent and corny.

We had to take that precarious notion head on, and it remains to be seen whether we succeeded or not. I suppose it is always a matter of subjectivity, to an extent.

So, the ‘Monkey’s Paw’, for those of you who don’t know it’s an old horror story about a (you guessed it) Monkey’s Paw. The paw grants people wishes, but at a terrible cost. So when an old couple start wishing with it things go from bad to worse for them. (Read the full story here) They loose their son to a terrible factory incident after wishing for money, and they get their money in compensation for their loss. So what’s the logical next step in a horror? Wish the son alive again, despite him being all mangled up and slightly decomposed, gotta love black magic. That’s the part of the story we had to create with sound, the resurrection and the struggle with ol’ Zombie Herbert. Seriously, this might not make any sense to you, if that’s the case then read the story, or at least look up a more elaborate synopsis than mine.

Anyway, that’s what we had to do. A few of us researched it, some of us did the production, some did the voice acting, and others (moi!) did the post production. I think when you have seen as many horror films as I have you kinda assume the formula of a good horror soundscape. I could be wrong though, why don’t you listen for yourselves.

So tell me dear readers. How was it for you?

Thanks for listening, thanks for reading.

NoobyTendencies, away!

Oh yeah, I know I don’t blog an awful lot these days. I’m pretty busy, no?

A day to be reckoned with.

“Ladies and gentlemen, students. Proud people of the CCM faculty, of the clandestine Ellen Terry. Today is our day of reckoning, our re-immersion, another baptism of fire.

Make no mistake, from this point onwards we are playing for keeps, everything we do counts and every mistake will be fiercely rooted out. There is no room for error any more. 

A myriad of obstacles and challenges will be thrown at us from every corner, with every possible scenario considered and at every inconvenient time imaginable, so it shall be up to us to rise above it and ultimately be greeted with success!”

Okay, in all seriousness a Monday morning  is never this epic, even if it is the first day back for the ‘returners’.

Nonetheless this is nerve-racking day for me and quite likely many others on the course, despite having a calm exterior that suggests ‘nothing has changed’, we are entering a much more intense course, a whole new creature – so to speak.

Already we’ve been hit  with the perils of choice; the second year has an emphasis on professional development, and so we delve deeper into the precarious world of action and consequence, where everything we do could be the difference between employable victory, or humiliating failure.

Or perhaps I am worrying too much, time will tell. In the meantime I am off to my second lecture of the day. Good luck to anyone else who has started their course today!!!

Anticlimatic Re-entry

‘Returners’, what a bloody let down that has been. Okay perhaps that is a tad rash, but coming back for the second year has been controversial; expectation versus reality has… Well let’s just say it’s been interesting.

I knew it would be nothing like the first year, it’s just I really cannot put my finger on what I’m feeling. Other than illness, and the cold. There’s always that pre-term hype (or anxiety) surging around on the social networks or between friends and it generally contributes to some sort of unexpected realisation. But mine has been awfully distant, apathetic, so-so. It’s nothing amazing but at the same time it’s nothing to cry about. You see I am not a fan of the ‘wishy-washy’, but so far living by myself again has surmised nothing but the latter.

When it comes to the new house itself I am content, but nothing more. It’s location is ideal, but I am typing this post from the comfort of an open access centre. That’s all I’ll say on that. It’s getting very cold here, very cold and very rainy. Now usually that wouldn’t be a problem with me, after all it’s what I call ‘writing weather’. But I am still so distracted, I still feel unable to adjust within this familiarly dreary environment. Also, the nights are drawing in, it is safe to say that Autumn is upon us.

Read More…

A hasty return to Coventry…

Well it’s not exactly how I would like to spend my free time, but necessity calls for it. My future house-mates and I have assembled ourselves to face an uncertainty that lies ahead of us, regarding second year accommodation.

Now don’t get me wrong, we have a house for next year, but we are suffering from a major blow to our confidence after our landlord breached his own contract. We have been forced to reassess the situation before it exacerbates itself, and above all we need to make sure that we are not being swindled, or are trusting a shyster. So far things have run smoothly; we are being compensated accordingly, but we are still wary of the whole thing. You never can be too sure when it comes to money, especially when you have the label ‘student’ slapped on your person.

This morning we continue to resolve this conundrum, by visiting the student centre for legal advice and contacts that can stand in our corner if push comes to shove. We have even agreed to look for possible housing elsewhere (provided by a group specialised to accommodate students), but these are mainly contingencies. It is better to invest in them and all runs smoothly as opposed to the worst case scenario with nowhere to go. Read More…

Awake

It’s finally over. The first year of my degree is done and I can’t believe how fast it went.  I was too busy working with a brilliant bunch of people to notice the clock spinning away on the wall. The final essay assignment was submitted successfully, and although some of us may not have slept very much, we were pretty confident with what we handed in.

Then came the ‘Oscars’, the long process of watching every single group’s work (sadly some of the group’s were unable to get there work shown, in particular CCM’s own ‘Jamie-Jay’ group). It was an interesting process, but it had the propensity to grow tiresome at times (especially when many groups opted for the ‘generic’ approach). We finally got the chance to unveil our silent films that we had all been tinkering away on, I was amazed how different they all were (well at least our class’s ones anyway). It was very hard telling a story in such small time, especially without sound. But we all tried our best; looking back our idea may have been rather ambitious, but you may be able to figure out the story all the same (the trick is to pause over the letters! read what you can and use your head!)

Without further ado, I give you ‘The Sarin Conspiracy’.

I have to admit the CMM class (without any bias whatsoever!) were the best by far. So many fantastic ideas that, by the end of it all I was thoroughly impressed. In my eyes everyone in our class was winner – the competition was so entertainingly fierce! Much to my surprise our group’s poem video took one of the three Oscars, which I honestly did not expect to happen. Many of the other videos were similar to the one I produced – making use of emotive stock footage (which I had spent a long time picking out and matching to the words)  and  trying to read the poem out in an eerie way. Clearly our video did it the best, which felt great.

After that, the majority of our class celebrated at Nando’s: Some joked and laughed over particular memories from the year, a few engaged in conversation over the true meaning behind one another’s productions (including heated debates over euthanasia, abortion and choice) whilst others simply tucked in. One by one we parted ways,  by this point I was absolutely exhausted. I got back sometime in the late afternoon, and didn’t wake up until the next day.

When you sleep through a day and a night you wake up somewhat disoriented. I, for example had no idea what the date was.

I sit here now, still trying to grasp the 5 months that lie ahead of me. Such an abundance of time, it’s like a blank canvas. Now I have to figure out how I’m going to use it.

Whatever it is, I’m going to spend the time well.

NoobyTendencies, signing off.

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