4—Language and format in scripts; writing a narrative advertisement
Divide the class into groups of four or five students, and give each group a creative design task. Ask half of the groups to design an advertisement to promote reusable drinking bottles. They are representing an organisation that promotes sustainability, like those who together produced The Story of Bottled Water. They need to create a fictional name for their organisation and brand.
Ask the other groups to design an advertisement discouraging people from buying bottled water — to use water out of the tap.
They must aim to create the script for an ethical advertisement, so the third ingredient of manufactured demand, ‘misleading the audience’, is out. Encourage teams to use factual information and seek to engage the emotions of their target audience of young people their own age. Their advertisement might be aimed at being aired on World Water Day (22 March).
In class ‘market research’
To get to know why their target audience (their own demographic) like to buy and drink bottled water, creative teams should think of the reasons why they buy or have bought bottled water. Have a scribe in each team note reasons and teams share their findings with the class.
The script is to include facts about bottled water in developing countries and the lack of clean water in developing countries, in a text screen or a voice-over. For the target audience, students will mostly want to keep the information simple and understandable. However, students may find nominalisation will make their facts sound more authoritative and impersonal. For information about bottled water in an Australian context, the article ‘Water on the brain: How our use of bottled water defies logic’ can be a good starting point.
Writing a draft (or practice) script
Have students in creative teams revisit Can you live with dirty water? and add to work they have already done on a log sheet, to this time describe the changing camera techniques throughout.
Students are only focusing on cuts, zoom ins and outs and close ups; not medium or long shots which have not been discussed. You might provide each student with a printout of the glossary of film terms for reference (the extension activity/option below includes more on film techniques).
To practise, have them describe the action in Can you live with dirty water? Each paragraph of action is a new scene (such as the kitchen or garden). The phrasing ‘We see’ and ‘We hear’ should be used. Simple camera directions should be used — some of which have already been logged and can be worked into the script. Students should try to use action verbs that exactly describe the action. Students should describe the facial expressions but not try to express what the characters may be thinking; if necessary, use modality to describe their apparent emotions; for example, ‘The mother seems oblivious to the dirty water coming from the tap.’
Model option or extension
Students must model their advertisement script after the World Vision advertisement. If some groups would prefer a more humorous tone, they might be given the option of using — and being guided in analysis of — the Commonwealth Bank School Banking advertisement, which has a funny and appealing narrative. This option might also be used as an extension of this unit.
The creative brief
Before students (working in teams) can write their own script, they need to complete a creative brief — the usual practice in an advertising agency — and this will help them plan the script. Creative teams can work together to fill in this creative brief worksheet or individuals can create their own.
Sources for background research include The Story of Bottled Water transcript, the article ‘Water on the brain: How our use of bottled water defies logic’ and World Vision Australia’s ‘Water, Sanitation & Hygiene’ pages.
General directions, brainstorming and mind-mapping the narrative
If creative teams use the World Vision clip as their model, they will use shock value to get their message across. In their written persuasive text screens, they might state a fact about bottled water in the Australian context, and a fact about the lack of clean drinking water in less developed countries, perhaps using nominalisation to sound authoritative, and using examples the audience can relate to.
Have students in their creative teams brainstorm ideas for a narrative using mind maps. At the centre of the map is the phrase bottled water, the essential feature of the narrative — perhaps cut images from a magazine for students to place in the middle of butcher’s paper.
It’s a bit like writing a script for Tropfest — bottled water must appear at some point in the film. Radiating from this may be at least four different-coloured branches — main character, setting, everyday life and complications (events). Get students to try to work on character first, then setting, then everyday life, then complication (events — something out of the ordinary has to happen), using sub-branches to add levels of detail. Students may begin them in order but when ideas start to flow they may jump from branch to branch.
The final narrative scripts can be shared with the class. Students are then given copies of each team’s narrative script, choosing one to individually analyse its strengths and weaknesses as a persuasive text, synthesising all they have learnt in the unit.
Have students discuss their personal lessons from this unit. Do they now think twice before buying bottled water? Are they more aware of how they are being manipulated by advertising? Are they more conscious of and interested in issues of sustainability?
Global citizenship in action
Have students design an alternative digital story and script that seeks to raise awareness that one person in seven, or just over 14 per cent of the world’s population, lacks access to safe drinking water.