In what way does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? The forms and conventions of films (short or long) are subjective to each individual genre, sub-genre and hybrid-genre (e.g. rom-coms). For example, psychological thrillers are known for their twisted plotlines and, sometimes, chilling characters. To challenge and develop the ‘spoken’ parts of the forms and conventions, my film has very little dialogue compared to the conventional psychological thriller/drama, which has mostly continuous dialogue with very little in terms of voice-overs. An innovative decision that I made during post-production editing was to include voice-overs, which could signify the plot twist that I scripted.
This mid shot uses the mirror as a periscope-type device. Having Mona in the far left hand side of the screen, leaves room for a potentially unexpected character to come into the screen as either someone who is part of the plot or someone who ‘appears’ for tension; this is a standard device in thrillers. Using the effects that were available for me on iMovie, I altered the exposure levels of each of the dream sequence clips and had the first shot as a wide shot to capture the whole of Mona’s body and to make the quick-cuts effective. The quick cuts portray the sense of Mona falling in and out of consciousness; this challenges the conventions and forms as it is not the norm for films in this genre.
This part of the dream sequence is where the pace quickens, to create a feeling of unease within the audience – as they’re not expecting the change from the present sequence, to the ‘flashbacks’ and then back to the original sequence. This ’flashback/forward’ sub-sequence is for the latter part of the dream sequence; this uses the forms and conventions that are relevant to the genre of my film.
Close Ups and Extreme Close Ups are film conventions used to highlight something significant to the audience. In this short sequence I used both CU and ECU shots of the scarab necklace which focus on Mona’s indecision of what to do with the necklace – her psychological need and her pure hatred of it. This scene with the first bit of dialogue really is the moment when Elisa recognises the erratic behaviour of her best friend. I used the tripod and a remote control here to make the scene easier to operate from where I was(acting as Elisa).The two shot I used was continuous throughout this scene. I developed the convention of size of actor, in relation to others, signifying importance: both actors are relatively the same height therefore giving characters equal impact.
This sequence shows the audience exactly how quickly the spirit can ‘engulf’ Mona. As soon as she stops moving and drops the necklace, she turns. The focus, in keeping with film conventions, is on the main character; she is in the centre of the shot, face on to the camera, which is looking down on her, hinting that she is a victim. The start of this sequence, is the start of the introduction of the ‘others’(demons). I used a handheld camera and slow motion for this as well as dubbing the audio. This challenges the forms and conventions because there is no sound here at all, thereby creating a mysterious atmosphere and suspense.
How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts? I felt that the combination of my short film and the ancillary texts (poster for the film and a magazine review of the film) was effective and a good amalgamation of promotional materials. The poster went through stages of different designs, as I felt that the drafts weren’t relevant enough to the genre that I had chosen my film to be. A promotional poster for any film is one of the key marketing and advertising materials and methods (as well as trailers, TV spots, teaser trailers, ‘leaked scenes’ etc.).
The angle that Mona's face is at shows the audience that she doesn’t want to face up to the fact that she is being controlled by this ominous being, that will never leave her. I decided to change the music here, from Paramore to Muse then to Radiohead – whose music has a mysterious and eerie feeling. The font I used was taken, amongst others, from a website (1001fonts.ccom) who ‘specialised’ in the type of fonts that I wanted. It looks ancient and decomposing, with a hint of hieroglyphics, in keeping with the Ancient Egyptian background of the scarab. The ghostly image of the screaming girl suggests that the scarab hasn’t only taken Mona’s soul, it’s taken others too. This portrays fear. This background suggests to the audience that being ‘part’ of the scarab is lonely because no one else understands what you’re going through. It automatically creates a spooky atmosphere through its use of cold, dark monochromatic colours and a single, distant figure. The semiotics of the scarab introduces the idea of a hidden secret and history that stretches a long way back. The fact that the scarab beetle is the Ancient Egyptian symbol of rebirth ties in with the plot twist: Elisa has been reborn for thousands of years and she goes where the Scarab goes as she is its creator.The central positioning of the scarab draws the eye to its warm, rich gold and ruby colours in contrast to the cold, dark background; this enhances the idea of its beautiful but sinister, deceiving nature.
Here, I used the same picture of Mona as I did for the poster because when the audience see the poster then see the magazine review, they will recognise it and read it. The layout of the review was researched using the internet and other film reviews in magazines. I combined my two ancillary texts together to get this review. The poster featured here is the same as the one that I used for my ancillary text. I created the title ‘Reel Time’ as a play on words to be memorable; I believe this was effective. Thecombination of the movie reel and the title of the magazine, really work well together as it’s a film magazine. To create more reader interest, I used recent films which have a worldwide fan-base to help market the magazine. I used The Twilight Saga.
The poster ancillary task, was a better option than the other available ancillary tasks because with the magazine review text, I could feature the poster in the actual review. The intertextuality would benefit the advertising campaign which would make readers more aware of the film.
What have you learned from your audience feedback? Audience demographic really decides on how much profit a film makes. However, even before one gets to that point, you must be able to define the target audience. The audience must be able to relate to the characters or to empathise with the characters, to be able to enjoy and buy the DVD after the cinema time is ‘up’. Youritv.com states that Audience research is a major element for any media producer. Companies are set up to carry out audience research for media producers, broadcasters and advertisers. These research companies use questionnaires, focus groups, one to one interviewing, and electronic devices to find out about people’s life styles, and television viewing habits as well as the type of products they want to buy. Short extracts or trailers for up and coming programmes are often shown to focus groups to see how they react. If they don’t like something then the producers may make some changes. Hollywood films are regularly ‘trialled’ in front of cinema audiences in America. In some cases the ending of the film is changed because the trial audience do not like it. Sometimes several endings are filmed and the trial audience asked to choose the one they like best. Media producers spend a lot of time and money finding out who the audience for a programme or media product might be. It's a serious business; media producers want to know how the audience is made up. A mass audience is very large, so ways of breaking it down into categories have been devised.
Audience research: Demographics A common and traditional method of audience research is known as demographics. This defines the adult population largely by the work that they do. It breaks the population down into 6 groups, and labels them by using a letter code to describe the income and status of the members of each group. The demographics for my audience are 17-18 year old students, with a ratio of around 2 females:1 male, from a mainly middle class background. I have had lots of valuable feedback from my audience with regards to the audio and how to make the film have more substance; I amended these by integrating the voiceover to create the plot twist. Another observation was that the music featured in the film was too prominent and made it look more like a music video than a short film. Consequently I changed the music and turned down the volume where needed, so that that audience could hear the voiceovers clearly enough. I then asked them what they liked about the film and there were quite a few positives. For example, they liked the way in which I had filmed and edited the dream sequence; the effects, the pace of the film etc. The choice of music and where to put the voiceovers was another good point that I received from the audience.
How did you use media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages? The planning and research stages were done using the internet, previous research that I had done on the genre and using magazine articles as inspiration and for examples of reviews (Empire Magazine etc). To expand, the planning was all done in a blog format which, in turn, helped me to expand my abilities further.
As I have freeze frames taken from clips in my film, I used the “Ken Burns effect” to create some or no movement in the frame. As it is, I changed the ‘start’ position to match the ‘end’ position, therefore eliminating any movement that I didn’t want. This is what I clicked on when I wanted to add still images – from the original film footage, or a existing clip that I’d used – to the actual film.
To be able to create the ‘summary-reverse’ sequence, I set the footage to reverse and stabilized the clip to help it stay smooth when I slowed the speed down. I also stabilized the clips which were set to a slower speed too. For the dream sequence I slowed down the vast majority of it to make the quick cuts seem more sudden and jumpy. I used the dream video effect (circled in red) to make it obvious to the audience that Mona was in a state of subconscious ‘limbo’. The very soft lighting effects used to create this really do create that ‘ethereal’ feeling and look.
Exposure levels, contrast levels, colour gain and brightness levels played a crucial part in my film. Especially in the dream sequence, where having the dream video effect just wasn’t enough. So that the audience could hear what Mona’s and Elise’s voiceovers were saying, I changed the volume levels of any tracks that were playing at the same time. I also used the fade in and out options to make the transitions much more clear, controlled and subtle.
The website I used to upload my film on is called ‘The Smalls’. This website is like a lot of other short film ‘distribution’ websites where you can upload and share your short film. The thing that I like most about this website is, is that you can choose whether you want to distribute only or to distribute and put up for sale. From here I used the ‘share’ button and the ‘tweet’ button, to share with everyone who is on my friends on Facebook and who is following me on Twitter, that my film has been uploaded here. Anyone who watches my film is able to leave comments by using this box. I – as the owner of the film and profile – have the options of opting out of email notifications and profile notifications when somebody posts a comment and/or posts a reply to an existing comment.
On the website that I uploaded my film to enables me and the viewers of my film see how many views I’ve had, how many comments, how many times my films been ‘favourited’ and what the rating of my film is. Another feature of TheSmalls.com, is the ability to bookmark a film that you particularly like watching, so that you can go back to watch it again later.
For the evaluation stage of my project, I have used a range of programmes and websites available to me. To create my evaluation, I used Microsoft PowerPoint 2007(also used the 2010 beta version of PowerPoint) and to post it up onto the web I used slideshare and myPlick to enable me to be able to upload the link to my blog.