AS Media StudiesEvaluationMirror Mirror Charlotte Snowden(Worked with Laura Winnery, Rachael Dew and Sarah Prior)
In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? Horror films often start with a light hearted atmosphere, this creates the impression that events within the film may take a turn for the worst. Our product, ‘Mirror Mirror’ starts with a relaxed and happy tone, this was created by the high key lighting, and soft tone of voice used by the actors. In other products we looked at within the horror genre we noticed that the atmosphere can suddenly change, and that it is indicated by the actors and the sound we hear in the background. In our product we see the sudden panic in the actors voice, and music starts to create tension in the atmosphere. Unsettling films like this and many others we looked at aim to create panic and fear within the audience, through us seeing in in the actors expressions and body language. Sighs of relief and panicked expressions in the actors faces created this, like many other openings in horror films.
In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? A sense of alarm is seen when ‘Sarah’ realises there is still someone in the house, we were lead to believe that ‘Steve’ had left, this now leaves us in suspense of the unknown. Many horror films aim to leave the audience in fear of the unknown, and for example in ‘The hills have eyes’ the characters are unaware of what it is causing the fright. Vulnerability is also a fear seen in horror films. We see this when a character is often left to fend for themselves whilst fighting for their life, or in panic and scare. In ‘Mirror Mirror’ we know that something is in the house but we are not aware of what it is, hence we notice the vulnerability of ‘Sarah’. Her the fear will increase as we know she is alone.
In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? In the horror films we looked at we noticed that tension is predominantly created by the music. ‘the hills have eyes’, ‘the shining’ and ‘the exorcism of Emily Rose’ are all examples of films that create suspense with music, building up to an event that will shock the audience. Our product however, challenges this convention as the music builds up as ‘Sarah’ makes her way upstairs, here we may get the impression that something is about to happen as the music reaches its peak. In a conventional film it would, however in our product we built the tnsion up only for the character to find nothing. This however leaves the audience wondering what is coming next.
In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? Horror films play on our fear of the unknown, sometimes a horror film can go the whole way through without us knowing exactly what this something is. Some may go a while and we find out what it is when the characters in the film do. However we challenged this convention in ours as very soon into the film we are made aware of ‘the unknown’. For example in ‘the exorcist’ we are made aware, but the films still plays on our fear and emotions as the ‘thing’ is something no humans can relate to, for example a supernatural being. In our product just before it cuts to the credits we see the ‘unknown’ in a threatening position to the character ‘Sarah’. This does follow the convention of innocent characters falling prey to the evil being in the film. This again links back to the vulnerability of the character as she is alone.
In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? Another convention is the innocent couple who are moving into a new house, this is where the idea of a ‘haunted house’ falls into play. For example in ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ innocent people are haunted by something that has no link to them, in our product however we hear the door go twice, thus giving the impression that the unknown being has come into the house and has no connection to it, this challenges the convention but develops it as we are yet to find out why the character of ‘Sarah’ will fall prey to it. Conventionally the evil being wants to take control of the innocent, we see this in our product as the evil stands over ‘Sarah’ creating the impression she cannot escape.
How does your media product represent particular social groups? Conventionally horror films focus on a vulnerable character which gets manipulated by a certain being, this vulnerability is often portrayed through young adults often showing females and the support of males. These characters are young to emphasise their vulnerability, they are often away from home or moving into a new home which suggests they are away from what they know and away from home comfort, making them feel more susceptible to danger and pain. Hence in the opening sequence of our product we see the male and female in what is their new home, (this becomes more apparent as the film continues). We see Sarah calling out to Steve, showing she needs him for safety and protection. The characters are not stereotypical strong people, it is crucial that the characters are seen as ‘average citizens’, this also to the audience, emphasises the danger as it could happen to anyone.
What kind of media institution might distribute your product and why? We looked at a variety of channels on the television to decide which is most likely to distribute our product. The BBC very rarely show films, the BBC much like ITV has a family friendly based audience, and a product like ours may be seen as inappropriate. We decided that Channel 4 and Five are most likely to distribute our film, Five does a lot of films for adult audiences, and also less well known films and Channel four shows films but also their programmes are often real life and drama, aimed at a much older audience than children and all round family like the BBC. Also companies like Sky and Virgin offer specialist channels purely for horror and thriller films, this would be suitable to distribute our product as well.
What would be the audience for your media product? Depending on the level of horror featured the audience can vary slightly. For example horror films such as the, ‘The hills have eyes’ and ‘Silence of the lambs’ are seen to have a predominantly young male audience, they have more horror build up and more graphic detail than others. However films such as ‘The ring’ and ‘Saw’ open up to young females as well as males, as they are focussed much more on a horror story, and following this story, rather than just pure horror. The average audience however for our own product would be both males and females aged 16-26. this is around the usual age for horror films, however ours is dropped to 16 as this is its rating (based on what we thought from the bbfc website).
What would be the audience for your media product? We chose to give our product this audience and rating based on the content. The film throughout is about following the story of what happens to the two people we see in the opening. It focuses more on a horror-haunting rather than just ‘blood and guts’. This also meant we could drop the age down to 16, opening it up to a wider audience. Also the main character is a woman, this should appeal more to woman as it is easier for them to relate to that, rather than s stereotypical strong male character.
How did you attract/address your audience? From the opening sequence it was crucial to make viewers aware this was a horror film. Lighting - Low key lighting was used to create a dark and tense atmosphere, also the darkness creates the impression of not being able to see very well, suggesting there is something there hiding. Low key lighting is commonly used in other horror films throughout, it makes us feel vulnerable as well, as we cannot see clearly due to areas being thrown into shade because of the low key lighting. Mise en scene – The characters were dressed no different to average people, emphasising that they are innocent everyday people. The house however was an old house fully furnished to look how it did in the 50’s and 60’s. This creates the impression to the audience that this house has a past and a story to it, that many things have been left behind – it would be very hard to create a chilling atmosphere in a brand new clean house.
How did you attract/ address your audience? Camera work – the film opens with a long shot of the house, this enables the audience to see the setting, which is an old abandoned house newly moved into. The long shot enables us to see the ghost like girl stood in the window. Throughout the opening sequence long and medium shots are used. This allows us to focus on what the character is doing and how the fear is portrayed through their facial features for example, but also allows us to look at what else is going on around her. For example when she walks out of the kitchen, the kitchen door closes after her, this was done to create a sense of fear for the paranormal, we can only get the feel for this as the long shot lets us see her, the door, and also the fact that there was ‘’nothing’’ there shutting the door. The camera work in horror films is not naturalistic, hence there are no high or low shots. Apart from one when Sarah is walking u the stairs. This shot was aimed to be from the perspective of the someone/thing watching her. This builds up the tension, and our fear of the unknown.
How did you attract/address your audience? Sarah was always placed centre in the shots used, this was done to make us focus on her, and that when something happened it would be to her, as centre of the screen makes her the most important thing in that shot. Background music – the sounds we used were used only to build up the tension. The dark out of tune sounds create an eerie atmosphere. The way the music gets louder and more tense as it progresses gives the impression that something is about to happen. Installing a sense of fear in the audience. Music was in a minor key, this key created a morbid atmospheric tone rather than minor key, which is lively and happy. At the end when the credits are running sound there is used to signify that something has happened to the characters we saw in the beginning of the film. The loud scream is also used emphasis the horror, and shock the audience as they do not expect this.
What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product? Throughout making this product I have successfully learnt how to understand and use a variety of different camera shots and angles, for example the 180 degree rule. As well as being able use the camera to film these, I have learnt how to edit the final footage, cropping clips and re ordering them to make sense. I have learnt how to upload and manage our work onto a blog, as well as evaluate the work we did as a group. I have learnt how to use a variety of Adobe programmes to create a company logo, as well as using iMovie to add sound and lighting effects to our product. On top of this there was adding a credit sequence and an opening title sequence. This was all done using iMovie movie editor on apple mac.
What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product? However I have also learnt about the difficulties involved. Whilst shooting the film we encountered problems with shadows in the shot, and continuity flaws as well unwanted background noise. This meant we had to do a lot more filming than we hoped and a lot more editing to get rid of lots of mistakes. Because we had a lot of different shots that made out final product it was difficult to sort through them all on the macs to find which ones we needed, as well as finding sound effects and the appropriate title sequences. Looking back at the preliminary task we did as a group from that we have learnt how to do the skills needed properly, for example get rid of unwanted shadows and sounds.