Evaluation of Specialist News Story

My specialist news story is written for those who have an interest in both winter sports and music festivals. The title refers to ‘rock’ music and ‘ride’ which is the terminology for snowboarding  These winter festivals have become big business in most of the major European ski resorts, some aiming at bringing Ibiza to the mountains with big name groups and DJs.

Chamonix has tended to steer clear of this sort of event but realising what this can mean for tourism, have chosen an event more suited to their resort. The festivals attract a different clientele and often help to boost the economy in quieter weeks of the ski season, usually towards the end when snow conditions are poor.

I heard about the festival, in December when I visited Chamonix. The event was already widely publicised and attracting a lot of interest. I got most of the information and quotations from the Chamonix Tourist Office whilst there.

The article could be published in the English section of  ‘Le Dauphiné Libéré’, which is an equivalent to ‘The Yorshire Post’. It would appeal to readers of many of the snowboard/ski magazines such as Snowboarder’, ‘Whitelines’ and ‘The Telegraph Ski and Snowboard’ magazine. It could also be featured in ‘Mountain Festivals: A Complete Guide’ webpage or in the travel supplement of any UK newspaper.

 

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Evaluation of Proper Feature

For my proper feature I chose to focus on the current bank closures in the UK. It is a subject that has frequently been in the news headlines and something that affects many small communities.

I was invited to attend a coffee morning for pensioners which is held on Monday mornings in Hornsea. The guest speaker was Amanda Smith, the newly appointed NatWest Community Banker. She talked about the closure of the Hornsea branch and her role in giving support and guidance to its customers.

I had intended to do my short documentary film on the subject. Unfortunately it was extremely noisy and the footage that I took was not suitable. I therefore decided that this would be a good topic for  a feature story.

I took some of the quotations from the people I interviewed and put a question to the ‘Hornsea Rant and Info’ group on Facebook about people’s’ thoughts on the imminent bank closures in Hornsea. As you can imagine, I got a lot of response, some not printable, as the group has over 9,000 members which constitutes more than the Hornsea population.

I did further research into the bank closures to get statistical information to validate the story.

Although the story focuses on just one town, it is something that is happening in many other small towns across the UK so has a wider appeal. It could be published in he business section of a local newspaper such as The Yorkshire Post or in a weekend supplement of one of the larger papers such as The Guardian or The Observer.

Specialist News Story

Rock and Ride-Snow Problem at Chamonix Mont Blanc

Festival

A new pop-rock festival will take place at the foot of Mont Blanc this spring.

Scottish pop-rock band Texas are set to kick off the event along with UK new wave band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

Chamonix, the French alpine capital, will host the event which will be staged in the ‘Bois du Bouchet’ paragliding landing station at an altitude of 1040 metres.

The festival takes place over three days from 19-21 April 2018. Seven bands will feature each day, from mid-afternoon until midnight, covering a wide spectrum of musical genres and nationalities. From the blues of Ben Harper to Swiss rocker, Stephan Eicher, French electro group, Synapson and  neo-blues and soul from Rag ‘n’ one Man.

Musilac Mont-Blanc is co-produced by the Chamonix Valley Tourist Office, Rémi Perrier Organization (Musilac Aix-les-Bains) and Mont-Blanc Media. For the past 16 summers Musilac has been rocking the shores of the Bourget Lake in Aix-les-Bains. Building on its success the organisers of this major French festival wanted to launch a winter version of the event.

Rémi Perrier, the co-founder of Musilac said: “We were approached by the Chamonix Tourist board who put forward the idea of taking the festival to the mountains. We have been contacted by several ski resorts over the years, with similar proposals, but the opportunity for a festival to take place in the majestic surroundings of the Mont Blanc entranced us.

This year will be our 17th summer in Aix-les-Bains and we wanted to create a festival with the same ethos: musical moments in magical places. The shores of the Bourget lake are magical as is, of course, Chamonix Mont Blanc.”

Music festivals have become very popular in ski resorts, attracting a clientele who want to combine their passion for both music and ski-ing/snowboarding.

Nicolas Durochat, tourist office manager, said: “Our goal is to build a festive and popular event by and for the inhabitants of the Chamonix Valley. The vocation of the event, built around the concept of rock & ride, is to highlight and enhance the appeal of spring skiing in an exceptional environment.”

With its impressive line-up, the festival has turned out to be one of the most eagerly awaited  for events for this small town of just under 9,000 residents. Over 40,000 festival-goers are expected to attend over the three days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proper Feature: Hornsea, yet another bank-free community

Hornsea, yet another bank-free community

In a weekly coffee morning, held in the Parish Hall, opposite Lloyds bank in Hornsea, pensioners are discussing the imminent closures of the town’s two remaining banks.

This small town on the East Yorkshire coast has been caught up in the accelerating pace of Britain’s bank closures. Hornsea residents have been left with a feeling of abandonment following the recent revelations that both NatWest and Lloyds will close their branches in June.

The decision is linked to a steep decline in usage of traditional branches in favour of online banking.. Banking giant RBS announced, earlier in the year, that it is to close 259 high street branches across the UK, including several in Yorkshire. A total of 197 RBS-managed NatWest outlets and 62 RBS branches will shut in 2018 due to changing customer habits.

Hornsea is on the front line, facing a double whammy. Both its NatWest and Lloyds branches will close within a week of each other this June. Alongside RBS’s planned 259 closures, Lloyds is axing 49 branches , which includes the Horsnea bank.

Many of the town’s 8,500 residents are both angry and dismayed. Pensioners at the coffee morning are furious about the closures.

Jean Robinson, a 75-year-old retired fruit wholesaler, has been running the weekly event for 10 years, including organising a minibus to pick up people who struggle to walk, or who live in the nearby villages. She is incensed at the branch closures.

“It’s disgusting, we could have done with one bank being left”. she says.

Don Paget, a 95-year-old Lloyds customer, also condemns the bank’s actions. He is semi-blind and says his condition means he can’t use the internet.

“It’s terrible,” he says. “ All the old people here use the banks a lot. It’s dreadful that they’re not caring about the older people, just money.!”

Ron Hughes, a fellow Lloyds customer in his seventies, is registered blind and would also find internet banking “just impossible”.

“What’s so dreadful is both banks are closing but they’re not taking into account the needs of people,” says Hughes. “You see the people in wheelchairs on the high street. The bank staff know the community – if someone doesn’t come in as normal they will share that information with the family.”

In this retirement town, where over a third of it’s residents are over the age of 60, many are concerned about how closing the last banks in town will impact the Hornsea community. Susan Stoddart, a 68-year-old Hornsea resident, understands banking is moving online but says:

“It is such a shame the banks are going. It will take so much away from Hornsea. We need people not computers. They don’t give you a smile and a good morning.”

Many young people in the town, whilst typical of their generation in that they rarely use bank branches themselves, are also opposed to the closures. Software developer Dave Yeomans, 31, has not set foot in a branch for over a year but he is still concerned about the older generation.

“Older people are not luddites,” he says. “Many simply don’t have the access or the inclination to take up these technologies.”

The banks may want people to believe that this is a story of enlightened pensioners managing their ISAs and direct debits on their smartphones. Yet five million British people don’t even use the internet. This is the major dilemma for Britain’s big banks. How do they adapt to the rapid take-up of digital banking without leaving vulnerable customers and small businesses that rely on branch services behind?

Stephen Jones, chief executive of UK Finance, said:

“Banking is in the midst of a customer-led revolution with more people than ever before making use of digital innovation and alternative ways to bank to help manage their money on a daily basis. However, banks are very aware of the role branches play in the community and conscious that customers and businesses should not be left behind. That is why decisions to close branches are never taken lightly and why it remains important that customers continue to be able to access banking services if a local bank branch closes.”

The problem for Hornsea residents is that the closures will make it difficult for customers to access bank branches. After June, the nearest Lloyds will be in the outskirts of Hull, 16 miles away, a two-hour round trip by bus. The nearest NatWest will be in Beverley, 13 miles away.

Patrick Finn, a Lloyds Bank customer, emphasises:

“To pay anything in involves a 35-mile drive to Hull. If you live in a reasonably sized town you shouldn’t have to travel for 40 or 50 minutes to get access to a bank.”

A number of residents contacted MP Stuart Graham who wrote to both banks to raise concerns. He said:

“It’s important that banking services are available to everyone, not just the tech savvy and people who are able to drive to alternative branches. I have also asked the banks to provide information on how alternative face-to face banking services can be accessed by my constituents.”

In response, Lloyds plans to introduce a mobile bank van service. NatWest says it will employ a community banker based in Hornsea to serve customers in the area and help them access alternatives, including basic banking services at a Post Office counter in the back of a local shop.

Nevertheless, the town’s politicians are not placated by the pared down services Lloyds and RBS are offering. Anne Padgett, the town’s Mayor, is drawing up plans to launch an independent bank to make up for the vital services being lost. Councillor Brian Morgan suggests an alternative currency as part of a possible solution. He says that this has already been used successfully in several other towns and cities and would help to boost the local economy, since money spent within the town remains there. Brian argues that local currencies are “good examples of how towns can be masters of their destinies.”

There is some scepticism as to how a local currency would be able to fill the void left by the loss of the banks. However, there is the possibility of bringing a Credit Union to the town which may be able to fulfil this need in the immediate future.

Despite opposition and protest, there is no doubt that the closures will go ahead as planned. Figures given by a spokesman for NatWest show that, since 2012, the way in which people use the NatWest Hornsea branch have changed dramatically. Transactions in the branch have reduced by 23 per cent since 2012 with only 70 customers visiting  on a weekly basis. 58 per cent of customers are now choosing to bank digitally. Whilst figures, published online by Lloyds’ own review of the Hornsea branch, show that 814 customers use the branch, they say that the number of customers who visit on a regular basis continues to decline.

David Dunning, a former employee of NatWest, and author of ‘Hornsea, A Reluctant Resort’ says:

“There is still a lot of debate going on about how we can replace the disappearing banks. The reality is that they will not change their minds, the small local branch is no longer a viable option. We must embrace the 21st century. Everybody – individuals and businesses alike – must stop worrying about how to do their conventional banking and focus on doing things differently. I haven’t written or received a cheque in 10 years and I rarely carry cash. There are better ways of handling your finances.”

RBS and Lloyds argue closures are a necessary response to customers’ shift online. The big five lenders, which includes HSBC, Barclays and Santander, also argue their profits are under more pressure than many Britons realise, with competition from a growing band of challengers and low Bank of England interest rates. These pressures have led to several rounds of aggressive branch closures already.

Record bank closures are part of a wider story of building pressure on Britain’s high streets, with retailers also pulling out in the face of intense competition from online rivals.

This does little to appease the fears of pensioners at the Hornsea coffee morning. Hilary Brant, a 68-year-old resident, concludes:

“I dread the day we have no banks, I recently had to sort out a very complicated and unusual procedure that would have been impossible to do online, I fear for the future.”

Critical Evaluation of Documentary

The film documented the creation of a new skate park in Hornsea. Looking at how the project developed over a three-year period and showing a positive end result.

I chose to use a storytelling approach, structuring the documentary with a clear introduction, middle and ending. The story begins with background information on Hornsea and how this project came about. Hornsea is presented in a short film with a descriptive narrative. The tone is formal as the information is factual. As the documentary develops the narrative becomes more chatty and upbeat to illustrate the positivity of the project.

I included the interview with Councillor Robinson to give some background information on the project and to introduce the people involved. It was also a link to the original skate park user group in 2003. I think that it was important to show the connection between the two projects. My idea was also to show that, whilst the growth of the internet is effecting local businesses, social media was an important means of communication and  instrumental to the success of the new skate park.

The filming of the interview was arranged in an informal setting. The original video footage was extremely lengthy and required a lot of editing. I also realised that it was slightly out of focus. However, I decided to include it in the final film because it is informative and gives credibility to the documentary.

As the background information finishes the documentary is brought into the present with a clip of Russ Heideman, who worked on the design of the skate park. I should have shown him introducing his name but unfortunately I forgot this important point. The video becomes more upbeat at this point and the interview helps to show how this project has involved the participation of young people.

The video of the Mayor on the skate board brings in humour and shows the atmosphere at the opening event. The quality of the recording is not very good. I was not able to get close enough to film it and used my phone for this footage. Nevertheless, it linked to the events of the day and was important in the sequence.

It would have been easier to work with others on the filming of the opening jam as I found it impossible to film from the many different angles. The majority of the action was filmed on a Canon 750D  camera, positioned in a tree from where I was able to see all of the skate park.

The actual event lasted the whole afternoon. I went down before it started, during the set up, to try to get an interview from Paul Regan, the organiser. Unfortunately, he was very busy but I was able to obtain permission to film the event. The parents of the youngsters involved had signed consent forms at registration. I stayed for most of the activity in order to get footage of each of the separate 30 minute jam competitions. These involved different specialities;  scooters, BMX, skateboard and inline skating. I also took several photographs throughout the day.

Editing the film was a long process, I had several hours of footage as well as photos that needed to be cropped, re-sized and compiled. I tried to include the most entertaining parts of the opening jam and to be able to do this I joined several clips and then accelerated the speed. I think that by adding the background music played at the event this shows a true depiction and captures the atmosphere.

The interview with Dave Yeomans, albeit rather badly editied, provides an overall summation of the work involved in the project and a conclusion to the event. I then added the information on Full Cycle, the new shop in Hornsea, to give some contrast and to add another perspective. I varied the material I included to make the documentary more interesting. I thing this works well, as does the continuation of the music towards the end and a positive conclusive narrative to end the film.

At times the sound track to the video interviews is slightly out of synch. This was due to over-editing some of the footage. I should have prepared the interviews more carefully beforehand and aimed them at capturing specific information relevant to the documentary. I found working with Adobe Premier Pro to be extremely laborious and time-consuming.

Overall, I am pleased with the final film. It was filmed from my perspective but I tried to be objective whilst highlighting the positive sides of the skate park project. When I look back, I can see many areas that need improvement. Given more time I would change several aspects. I now realise how much work is involved in creating just a short documentary film. In the future I will look towards a more collaborative approach and share the work with a crew.

 

Documentary Script and Treatment

Opening Scene

Focus on the town of Hornsea.

Establishing shots.

The film commences with photos of the Hornsea Town council sign and Hornsea sea front followed by footage of Newbegin, the main shopping street, showing various shops and commerce in the town and focusing on Natwest bank.

The script is narrated by myself:

Hornsea is a small seaside town on the East Yorkshire Coast.

Newbegin, the main high street consists mainly of charity shops, hairdressers and cafes.

The impending  closure of the two existing banks this June highlight the effects of the internet and change in consumer trends.

With nearly a third of the population over the age of sixty-five many young people complain of the lack of facilities for them.

Zoom in to a photo of the sign from the former Hornsea skate park.

Photo of the ramps showing their worn condition.

However, a focal point for youngsters is the skate park

The original park, set up in 2003, was becoming extremely run down and dangerous.

Photo of Hornsea Skate Park User Group on Facebook.

Artist’s impression of the new skate park.

In 2015 discussions began about how to create a new skate park. A skate park user group was set up and meetings organised to discuss their proposals with the Town Council.

After much negotiation and successful fundraising the plans for the new skate park were finalised.

Image sequence of former skate park and work in progress on the new one.

In 2017 the tired ramps and rails were dismantled.

New ground was laid and work began in earnest on the construction of a new, modern skate park for Hornsea.

Photo of the original Hornsea Skate Park User Group in 2002

I spoke to Councillor Angus Robinson who spearheaded the original skate park set up in 2003. He has also been instrumental in setting up the new park.

Clip taken from my interview with Hornsea Town Councillor Angus Robinson to provide

background information on the organisation behind the creation of the new skate park.

Giving an explanation of how this project linked to the first skate park built 15 years previously.

Fades into photos of the completed skate park.

Work on the new skate park was completed in 2018. The surrounding paths and benches were added just in time for the opening jam on Saturday the 26th.

Photo of the poster for the opening jam followed by an interview with Russ Heideman who designed the new skate park. Tone becomes more upbeat.

Video clip of Hornsea Mayor, Keith Himslett, on a skateboard  at the opening ceremony.

Adds humour and the clapping and cheering highlights the atmosphere at the opening jam.

The newly appointed Mayor of Hornsea, Keith Himslett was true to his word. He opened the skate park by sliding down a ramp on a skate board, albeit not in the conventional way.

Footage of the events at the opening jam on Saturday 26th may.

The skate park was officially open. The mayor remained seated as the youngsters streamed passed on their scooters.

Background music starts. Sound track being played at the skate jam. Dr. Dre, Still D.R.E (featuring Snoop Dogg).

Volume increases as footage taken from the event is played at accelerated speed.

Photo of the new rules and regulations sign mounted on entrance to the skate park.

The skate park project has been a huge success thanks to the determination of the user group and collaboration of local businesses, Councillors and various sponsors.

Interview with Dave Yeomans explaining his involvement in the project and how social media has played a vital role.

Photograph of Full Cycle shop which is situated directly opposite the skate park on Cliff Road, Hornsea.

Whilst benefiting the young people of Hornsea the skate park is also attracting new businesses.

Interview with Richie Baxter, owner of Full Cycle.

Background music recommences at low volume.

Image sequence of photos taken during the event.

In a world where young people tend to communicate via social media the Hornsea skate park provides an outdoor space for people of all ages to connect. Coming together through sport to form friendships, share skills and ideas and enjoy the freedom of outdoor skating.

Credit roll.