Group evaluation


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Group evaluation

  1. 1. Group Evaluation – Andrew, Cosmo, Jack and Ziya (Konvicted) Andrew came to the conclusion that all the way through time (1913-2013), the gangster genre had seen experimentation and applied the researched data to enhance the entertainment perceived by the audience. The original setting for gangster films was usually 1920s Chicago, but the variation of generic conventions has allowed the experimentation, which has allowed the films to be set anywhere in contemporary America (and even in the UK). He also found out that it wasn’t until the sound era and the 1930s that gangster films established themselves as an admired way to attract viewers to the theatre/films. Many of the astounding narratives of the earlier gangster films were taken from newspaper headlines, and this encouraged the audiences of the time to vicariously participate in the gangster’s rise to power and wealth on the big screen. Conventions are fundamental to a genre, and if maintained thoroughly enough, the genre can become a huge success, which the gangster genre is. Andrew discovered that many gangster films have memorable one-liners. For example, “Say hello to my little friend” from Scarface (1983). They become very iconic to the genre and films are extensively remembered by these quotes as a pleasurable way to summarise the plot. Andrew also thought that a memorable quote was essential for the group’s product, as this would respectively go hand-in-hand with every gangster movie ever made. The quote still requires consideration, although it will be allied with the theme of revenge as the main character is backstabbed by his ‘friends’. In addition to this, most of the time in a gangster-themed movie there is a ‘rise and fall’ structure to it. This is also referred to as the Todorovian theory, which helps to distribute suspense, tension and closure to the audience. Also, the main character is generally a person who dislikes his low status and desperately wants to obtain a higher one. Andrew found out that this could appeal to the audience by injecting a direct effect into their minds using the Hyperthermic Needle Theory. For example, an individual will only achieve if they try, and in this situation it will be the gangster. Stemming from this, Andrew also found out that the camera work is imperative to a gangster-themed work as some scenes may be shot with black and white visuals (similarly to our piece ‘Konvicted’) to embody a flashback as most films of the genre do, or even to refer back to the original 1920s Chicago feel from where the genus originated from. Considering this, the product would appeal to a wider range of audience. Andrew had also noted how the factors of low-key lighting, shadows, enclosed spaces and over-exposed blues and reds emphasise the violent, secretive and lawless lives that the characters lead. For example, the excessive use of black and reds are present in almost every gangster and crime film, whether it’s part of the marketing campaign, titles/opening sequence or in the film. For example, the colour black connotes the dimness and underworld of structured crime that the Mafia epitomise. The ‘underworld’ is where the
  2. 2. gangster has to make their living. It is a world that the audience is most often not familiar with; however, it is a world that exists all the same. Furthermore, he also found out that the over-use of the colour red connotes a blood-like colour which gives off an impression of peril and perhaps a notion of death.
These colours are used in costumes, sets, cars and even lighting, and the viewers subliminally acknowledge and understand this as being a vital aspect of gangster-orientated films. These include a variety of films which explains how there has been similarities as well as difference throughout time. Films which skilfully use the colours black and red include: Carlito’s Way (1993), Donnie Brasco (1997), Eastern Promises (2007), Little Caesar (1931) and many more. Moreover, as part of the questionnaire analysis, Andrew discovered that individuals of around the age of 15 find the gangster genre the most appealing because it shows a desperate way of earning what most of us want at that age: money and security. As a result, the piece we are constructing will have a 15-rated certificate attached to it. It’s intriguing to watch the gangster world and how they endure their dangerous lifestyles. Also, Andrew reckons younger peoples could relate to gangster movies much easier than older people as they are able to find a valuable moral to them. They could be perceived as an epitome of the ‘American Dream’ whereby the younger people study this material for entertainment (using the Uses and Gratification Theory) and this would be applied in our product by taking everything into consideration. Another key finding that Andrew obtained from this section of the research is how it’s mainly the male audience that has been mesmerised by its fictional peers in the gangster genre. As commented on, the early gangster movies from the 1930s and 1940s instigated the cycle with the following eras adapting the ‘stereotypical’ plots. It is films such as The Godfather Trilogy, Scarface and Goodfellas (the classics of our time) that the male obsession had fully fledged and urbanised from. Because of this, Andrew has reflected upon this for the piece, and he thinks the use of Propp – 8 Characters Theory would lead to a variety of dissimilar characters having a role in my film; which would be appreciated by both parties (males and females). Furthermore, Andrew had also discovered that the ‘establishing shot’ had received a lot of votes when asked which camera shot would be the most effective to use in any given genre. With the addition of profound research, he also discovered that this shot would have many benefits for a gangster- orientated piece. One of the biggest benefits being that these full shots would show the full body language and this says a lot about a character (especially a gangster). While emotion can be shown through facial expressions as well, occasionally body language helps enhance the interpretation of emotion to the audience and it can also provide a creative alternative to using close ups all the time. Because of this, the piece will provide many scenes where the mise-en-scene is explained through an establishing shot. Andrew found that it is vital that all aspects of a Gangster’s appearance is portrayed to the audience in order to grasp an understanding of his life/current situation. Stemming from this, Andrew found that the mise-en-scene in gangster movies is significant in order to control the portrayal to the audience, and realism is also tied into this concept
  3. 3. because it allows the viewer to establish whether the setting, characters and costumes are realistic or not. One of the directors he researched that is well known for his cinematography and use of mise-en-scene is Martin Scorsese, and he will apply a variety of techniques when it comes to assembling the group’s product. One main facet of Scorsese’s trademark is the use of a strong narrative form to tie in the significance of that scene in relation to what happens to the characters afterwards. This is significant to our work as the opening sequence will commence with a flashback of how went to prison in the first place, then the theme of revenge later elaborates as a series of enthralling events unfold in the narrative by cleverly using the theory of Todorov’s Equilibrium. Additonally, the man convention of our film will be the focus on drug-dealing and the use of drugs, and the consequences of the film stem from it. As part of Andrew’s research of the certification, he conducted that at the rating of a 15, the possession of drugs and misusing them are allowed to be shown, however the work must not promote or encourage drug mishandling (BBFC criteria), which the product doesn’t. Moreover, the misuses of easily accessible and highly dangerous substances (like solvents) are prohibited from being broadcasted in 15-rated movies and the piece compliments this by showing no foretaste of this. Conventions Cosmo found Drawing from the research on conventions that the use of angles to connote power is an essential part of any gangster film; and a convention that is probably the foundation of the genre when it is taken into account that all mob films have a power system ranging from dealers to ‘King Pin’. Furthermore Cosmo learned also found that the use of lighting will be essential to our film; an enigma code is at times an important device to use as you want to keep the audience on its toes and not create a predictable and boring piece of work; film needs to push boundaries and be fresh. Most gangster movies use smart suits as a convention of the genre with the exception of the prison sub-genre and contemporary gangster titles such as ‘Kidulthood’ and Channel 4 series ‘Top Boy’. As our film is based in London I feel it is important to incorporate both aspects of the genre; contributing to the convention of gangster hierarchy having the less important gangsters wearing casual wear such as full tracksuits and the ones in a more privileged and luxurious position to be wearing Smart wear. Early gangster films were about prohibition, with 80’s bringing a change and having the focus on cocaine; ours could definitely incorporate London’s recent ecstasy boom; albeit the ecstasy is not the product of a Ronald Reagan political tirade; it at least gives the title contemporary relevance. Success will be measured in material goods to tie in with the genre convention. Not only will the police be our protagonist’s antagonist; the ending of our movie will justify the means. Questionnaires My questionnaires made it clear that the gangster genre is a popular one; but only really with males. This may be down to the convention of gangster movies being a male dominated world. From the
  4. 4. research Cosmo found that our film can either exclusively targeted at young males or middle aged- men and in hindsight came to the conclusion that a mixture of the two would be the most logical solution in terms of revenue and the film’s gross. Certificate Cosmo found due to the limitations of props and time we found that using excessive violence and blood with guns would be an unrealistic proposition for us. This meant that the violence would have to be suggested or more mild than if blood was explicitly used. As the violence is suggested this makes our film qualify for a 15 certificate. Another reason why we chose to have a 15 certificate was to incorporate the teenage target market in to our films; meaning if the film was to ever be produced for real it could be seen by a wider audience and make more money. Our film will have suggested violence in a similar way to ‘Rififi’ giving the film a stylized film. Title Analysis Cosmo analysed two very different use of titles; in ‘The Godfather’ the titles connoted seriousness, danger and institution whereas the title for ‘Sexy Beast’ were a lot more light and fun and connoted free spiritedness. As our film is a very serious and gritty title; with no love theme Cosmo felt it is better that the group uses titles similar to ‘The Godfather’ in an attempt to make a serious and institutionalized film. Opening Scene Cosmo analysed that gangster genre’s opening sequences often start with calm and gradually working into the violence. In this case we have two approaches with one being like ‘City Of God’ where the violence is present from the outset or one similar to Goodfellas where the opening scene is first established with calm before breaking out into graphic violence. In both instances it is realised that an establishing shot is not always an essential but tends to provoke a better reaction from the audience; as it works against the hypodermic needle theory. Our establishing shot is more likely to be one similar to ‘Goodfellas’ with a tracking shot of a moving car rather that one seen in a film (not gangster) such as ‘Saturday Night Fever’ which introduces the city as a whole. In most opening scenes and ones such as ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘Sexy Beast’ a voiceover is commonly used and the sound is non-diegetic; I feel this is an important convention to follow for our film as it gives an initial insight into the main protagonist. Characters Cosmo later researched that characters in gangster movies tend to be immigrants with a rags to riches to story; this is perfectly summarised by the remade Scarface. Our film will take a new take on the rags to riches story with the character on a comeback rather than starting at the bottom; he’s a man that once had it all and can only see the effects of falling off. In many ways our film is similar to ‘Get Carter’ as Carter looks to avenge the death of his brother; in ‘Konvicted’ Hugo looks to avenge the mistreatment of his family. There is without doubt parallels between the duo of Carter and Hugo.
  5. 5. Genre Development Throughout the years it became a trend that gangster films became increasingly violent with the exception of The ‘Hayes Laws’; films also became more explicit in language and sex. Bonnie and Clyde represented the turning point from violence being suggested to being literally portrayed. Although violence has now gone as far as child on child murder in ‘City Of God’ our film will pay homage to the simpler times of noir and titles like ‘Rififi’ in which violence can have the same shocking effect just by seeing a phone cord dropping. Group Evaluation – Jack Thurlow Questionnaire – The questionnaire was very useful to our Gangster film because it helped our group find out what kind of genre conventions people wanted in our film, what people enjoy seeing in gangster films and what kind of soundtrack they want to hear. This gave us lots of ideas to use in our films to improve it and gain a mass audience. Usually gangster films appeal to males mainly; however we also asked females what they wanted to see in our film which helped us think of more conventions for our film. Another example of a question we used was what camera angles people prefer to see used in films; the outcome was an establishing shot, we now find it essential to use that sometimes in our film to show the background of the scene; Jack has noted that this would be effective because it would gain a mass audience because our questionnaire shows that this is what people would like to see. Genres over time – Jack realised that the gangster genres over time aids us in presenting the main themes and characters to the audience; the usefulness of this task is that we can take ideas from other films and apply them in our own. The study of all of the films over time gives our group more of an indication of what to use and what not to use in our film. For example Jack noticed that the film he did in the 1990’s; Pulp fiction applied different technical codes and narrative theories than films that had been made before it. Furthermore this task let us see the development of the gangster genre over a very long period of time. The connotations and representations changed as each century all the way through to the 2010’s; Jack now has a better understanding of the genre and what conventions it should have in it. Top 10 directors – From this task Jack noted that lots of directors had different styles and trademarks in their films that could be beneficial to our film; Martin Scorsese’s trademark of slow motion in his key scenes could also be applied to our scene too. Jack realised that slow motion would keep the audience focused and help them to realise that this is a major scene in the film. A scene in which this could be used in our film is when our main character Hugo is running from the police but is then caught. The inspiration from gangster directors is essential for our group because without it we couldn’t apply as many technical codes or narrative theories that would be right for our gangster film.
  6. 6. Title analysis – Jack noticed that the title analysis task would aid his group well in their film. Jack looked at the Pulp Fiction and The Godfather titles and saw that a good title will attract a target audience; if it is bold, bright or in capital letters the title will easily grab the attention of the audience and make them want to watch it. Also we can use our title sequence to apply binary oppositions and also create connotations for the audience. An example that I found of this is The Godfather; the ‘father’ part of the title is hanging from puppet strings and there is a hand above it; this connotes the power and control the Don has over people, much like a puppeteer has over his puppets. We can use something like this in our film to symbolise the dominance that our main character has over his friends and family. Soundtracks – The soundtrack that Jack looked at was The Godfather and Reservoir dogs. The Godfather soundtrack is definitely one that would work effectively in our film due to the fact that ours is a gangster genre. The instruments that we use in our soundtrack are useful in connoting the genre of the film and what time period it is set in. when Jack studied The Godfather he found that the music is very jazzy and classical; from this the audience immediately know what kind of time it is set and also the music can provide very obvious connotations. The type of music that is used in the Godfather connotes class and wealth which is in keeping with the genre, whereas the Reservoir dogs soundtrack that Jack looked at connotes action. For Jacks soundtrack he could use a hip-hop soundtrack because our film is more modern. Opening sequences – the opening sequences that Jack looked at was Reservoir Dogs, The Godfather and Public Enemies. These definitely helped Jack in realising what kind of elements his group could include in the opening sequence of his film. For example in the opening sequence of public enemy’s there is a lot of violence and blood included this could be effective for our audience appeal because these kinds of conventions would appeal to a male audience which is our target audience. Also the camera work that was used in the opening sequence of Public enemies was a lot of close ups; therefore the audience can realise the emotions that the characters are feeling and identify with them. Furthermore the camera work used in the opening sequence of Reservoir dogs was a lot of panning; this is good because it introduces all of the main characters. Our film is a non-linear narrative therefore this kind of camera work could be used effectively in helping the audience understand more about the characters. Overall these tasks were very useful for Jack because he realised that he can take all of them on board to improve the quality of his film. The title analysis will certainly help in his attempt to gain a mass audience and also the target audience because he now knows what kind of title gangster films have and he can adapt it to draw the attention of the audience and also make it more modern. Moreover the questionnaire that Jack set out was extremely beneficial because he now knows what kind of elements and conventions of gangster genres to include in the opening sequence of his film. This will also increase the audience appeal because Jack now knows what his target audience like and what they don’t like. All of the tasks were helpful and they will without a doubt aid Jack and his group in coming up with a brilliant opening sequence.
  7. 7. In the time Ziya has been researching, Ziya has found that in the gangster genre there are certain elements that create the violent atmosphere. Certain elements such as narrative theories as well as the audience theories create the whole gangster atmosphere within the films Ziya has researched. When Ziya researched about the top ten gangster director, he found out that all directors have different abilities and trademarks that make them so influential in the industry. Quentin Tarantino uses the God's Eye POV. This shot is filmed with the camera directly above the actors. It is used to convey something bigger than the characters is watching them and what they are doing. In other words, it’s a cinematic inner conscious. Using techniques such as The God’s Eye POV can convey that something superior is looking at the characters present in that camera shot. A high angle shot could connote that something superior is looking down on something that is inferior. Ziya also found out that Martin Scorsese makes use of the slow motion techniques to make sure that the audience understands what is going on during the film and also it places them in the film so they can feel the general consensus that is displayed. He also found that Martin Scorsese uses an in-camera effect called the dolly-zoom, which gives the impression that the background is somehow changing in size. Using techniques such as the dolly zoom techniques connotes to the audience that the background is changing in size and makes the audience asking questions. It could also heighten the level of paranoia of the character in the shot. Overall, different directors have their own techniques and trademarks but all of them can be used in our film to make sure that we nail the atmosphere of a gangster film. Ziya found out that when he researched the key changes of gangster genre over time he found that even though gangster movies have the theme of violent and death, they are expressed in different ways. The Pleasure Garden (1925) is in black and white and a silent film so technology is not as developed as it is in the present. To put in the context when this film came out, the technology must have been advanced for them to produce a black and white film. In comparison to Point Blank (1967) this film is filmed in colour which was one of the first gangster films that was filmed in colour. If you put this film in comparison with a film like American Gangster (2007), this film is produced in HD and the sound quality is clearer than the film stated previously. Ziya found that out by using his own research on the opening sequences that he observed that gangster films have different openings even though they have the same theme going throughout the film. In The Godfather, the opening sequence it represents the colour of the Corleone’s attire. The puppet strings can suggest that the people in this movie are in control of everything and it is placed on the black background, which can connote that they are control of evil doings. This represents the genre I the way that gangster films are known to consist elements on
  8. 8. control and “pulling strings” if you will. The typography of the title is bold and rigid, this could connote that the film is going to be gory and violent. The purpose of this is that the audience are aware that this film isn’t going to be light hearted; there will be certain aspect of the film, which are gory and violent. In Scarface the background colour is black; this can connote the mystery and darkness that will be introduced later on. To make the title stand out form the background, also it is in the middle of the screenshot so the audience focus is on the title. Furthermore it is in the colour red. This can connote that the blood and gore that is going to be introduced later on the film. It lets the audience know what is going to happen in the movie and what they can expect. The typography is thin and jagged, which can connote the type of violence in the film. Stereotypically fonts like these connote evil and death, which is why the producer chose these particular colours and fonts. Stereotypically the colour black is used in gangster movies and the purpose of this is to connote the darkness and evilness within the gangster movies. This fits in with Ziya’s research in the key changes over time because judging by the opening sequence, this has changed over time. This can be applied to the film that ziya is producing to make the film more conventional and more appealing to the audience so they could identify with the film The certification purposes gave Ziya a clear understanding on what is required. Ziya was allowed to uses swearing but it had to be I context and relevant to the dialogue. Ziya couldn’t include swearing for the hell of it. He also found out that the product as a whole must not sanction any discriminatory language or behaviour, and this goes hand in hand with the expectations of the content due to the specifications of BBFC. Drugs are not shown to the audience for two reasons. Firstly, because Ziya wants the audience to ponder what is being dealt between the characters (Bathes enigma code). Secondly, if the project were to show the drugs being taken, it would start to push boundaries having elements of being an 18 certification when the certification is a 15. In Ziya’s research, he found that the title analysis of different gangster movies have their similarities and differences. In Bad Boys it starts with the title but the typography is thick and almost looks like it is graffiti style, which can connote that it is a different generation that is causing violence. Whereas the Goodfellas starts off with audience the lettering Warner Bros, the colour of the font is white and is placed on a black background. This is an example of binary oppositions. The way it transitions into the next title is the words shift to left jaggedly which can connote that violence in the movie. This stays on the screen for 4 seconds. The similarities are that the title stays on the screen for 4 seconds to convey the consistency of the films theme such as violence; death etc. in order to make the film conventional, Ziya can use this element of the gangster genre. The soundtracks that Ziya analysed were Scarface and The Godfather. Scarface starts off with the soundtrack fading in with this anxious, fearful sound creating tension. We hear a sound that
  9. 9. sounds like a gunshot for about 30 seconds; this is non-diegetic sound. They can use this type of introduction to make the film conventional and stereotypical because it will connect with the audience more, a uses of the uses and gratification theory. However in The Godfather, the music slowly fades in with the traditional sound of the horns. The horns are played slowly and peacefully which is a binary opposition to the whole theme of the film (which is violence and chaos). Horns are known to be in a classical musical so this connotes the characters class and status in the film. The instruments used in the soundtrack were used in the time period when this film was set. It gives the film legitimacy and they could use a particular soundtrack that is relevant to time period the film is set in. Dyer Star Theory could be applied to the soundtrack because the audience can recognise the song and recognise is the artist and if Ziya were to use this in his film, it will connect the audience more with the film. Overall, the research that was gathered by Ziya shows what consists in a stereotypical gangster movie and how it had kept the relevancy of violence and death as theme over time. Using all the elements of a stereotypical gangster movie, it will make the film more appealing and relevant to the audience.