In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
Generic conventions of horror employed within our piece We used the representational colours within our piece to convey personalities and attitudes. Here the protagonist is dressed in white connoting innocence/ naivety, a technique often used in horror to present the victim. Her blonde hair also furthers this technique.
Links to existing Films We used costumes within our piece in a similar way to Scream (1996). Within the film, the victim wears white and has blonde hair, conveying her innocence and naivety to the audience. We attempted to re-create this within our piece by using a similar costume and an actor with blonde hair. In this instance we kept to a traditional convention of horror films- victim is innocent and unsuspecting.
Antagonist remains anonymous throughout, coupled with black attire hinting at her victim’s fate and presenting the character as ominous Generic conventions of horror employed within our piece
Generic conventions of horror employed within our piece We developed the convention of the victim being innocent and unsuspecting- the audience can see what is about to happen but she can’t, building tension. The victim is also wearing a black coat when she leaves the house-again hints at her fate as black connotes death.
Links to existing Films As in Psycho (1960), the audience of our film is aware of the antagonist and can see what is ultimately going to happen, but the victim can not. We used this convention to build dramatic tension.
Generic conventions of horror employed within our piece Death of protagonist not shown- a convention of many psychological horrors to scare the audience mentally rather than graphically
Before producing our product, we researched the sub-genre of psychological horror. We found that typical conventions of the genre included:
Deaths not seen by the audience
Antagonist not revealed until near the end of the film
Audience is scared mentally rather than graphically
We employed these conventions within our piece by keeping the antagonist’s identity hidden by dressing her in dark clothing with a hood and by covering her name on the patient record.
We did not show the death of the victim, instead replacing the moment where she was killed with a montage of previous scenes shown in quick succession.
This convention leads to the audience being scared mentally rather than graphically, as they are led to question how the murder took place.
Conventions of title sequences within our piece Names of actors/ producers presented throughout opening sequence- a technique used in many existing films.
Conventions of title sequences within our piece Media institution logo and title of film
Conventions of horror we challenged within our piece Within our piece we challenged the traditional horror convention of a male antagonist. Although this was originally unintentional, I feel it provides and interesting twist on typical character stereotypes within the genre.
Antagonists within existing films Norman Bates (Psycho,1960) Jack Torrance (The Shining, 1980) Sweeny Todd (Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 2007) Most antagonists within horror films are typically male (see left) but there are some exceptions to this convention where, like our film a female antagonist has been used (see below). Peyton Flanders (The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, 1992) Baby Jane Hudson (Whatever happened to Baby Jane?, 1962)
Influence from existing horror films One specific horror that particularly influenced our work was Psycho (1960) directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The famous ‘shower scene’ has a similar format to that of the murder scene within our piece. In both cases, the victim is unaware of the danger they are in. Soon the audience becomes aware of the antagonist although the victim remains oblivious, building tension. Then the inevitable murder takes place. Within our piece we made the decision not to show the death of the victim, whereas within Psycho the murder is more graphic. Clip of Psycho shower scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VP5jEAP3K4
How does your media product represent particular social groups?
Representation of gender Within our piece, both the victim and antagonist are female. Through this depiction we are developing the convention of a female victim, presenting her as innocent and defenceless but challenging the stereotype of a male antagonist. This represents the fact that it is not only men that commit murder (although media portrayal seems to focus on men as being more malicious) and not only men that suffer from mental disorders. It makes the situation seem more realistic.
Representations of age All the actors used within our piece were 16 or 17. In some respects I feel this benefits the film as we were aiming the film at the 15-25 age group and the audience should hopefully be able to relate to the characters and their situations, but I think the plot would have been more believable had the psychiatric nurses been adults.
Representations of Race We used different races within our piece to show that the murder could have happened to anybody- emphasising the fact that Mark and Jane were just an ordinary couple and that the murder could’ve happened to anybody, regardless of race, gender, age etc.
Representations of Class From the decor and size of the couples’ house, the audience can see that Mark and Jane are fairly well off- particularly for their age. From their argument however, the audience realises that the earning of money and who contributes to bill paying is an issue between the couple, and something they have argued about in the past. It also shows that although the couple are seemingly wealthy, they seem unable to trust each other, perhaps hinting that money doesn’t bring happiness.
Within our piece, we deal with the theme of an individual who has severe mental issues escaping from the psychiatric institution from which he has been confined.
This theme presents the institution, and therefore the service they provide as inadequate, and the professionals involved not competent at their jobs.
This theme could lead the audience to consider the role of health care providers in Britain and whether they provide a high standard of service.
This again will create unease amongst the audience, as the confinement of individuals such as the antagonist within our piece is not something they have control over, and therefore cannot stop events such as those that unfold within our opening sequence occurring.
Protagonist and links to audience The story is told from the character Jane’s point of view. By doing this hopefully the audience will relate to her character and the situations she encounters and will empathise with her. The decision to use an ‘ordinary’ teenager also reflects the fact that the murder was random and could happen to anybody, a thought that will remain with the audience after they have witnessed the film. During the couple’s argument, Jane is portrayed as a strong, almost aggressive character- deviating away from the traditional quiet, subservient fashion in which females (and indeed victims) are presented within horror films. This further reiterates the feeling that it does not matter how strong/ forceful you are as a person, nobody is safe from the antagonist.
What kind of institution might distribute your media product and why?
I feel that our film would be most effective and reach our target audience best if produced mainstream. Through our film we aimed to convey the feeling that the victim could have been anybody, and the murder completely random. If our film was produced commercially under mainstream release we would be able to reach a wider audience more easily and therefore convey our message successfully to a large number of people.
Obviously the quality of our film would need to be improved to create a professional film that would be shown widely in many cinemas, which would mean using a higher standard of equipment, editing software etc.
An example of an existing horror film that was on mainstream relase (in a similar fashion to how I would envisage our film being released if we were producing it commercially) is 28 Days Later (2002) directed by Danny Boyle.
This trailer for 28 Days later reflects the type of advertising used for mainstream films:
If our film was being produced commercially as a mainstream film (as stated previously) it would be distributed by a large scale production company. As our film is British it would probably be distributed by a British production company such as Film4.
Examples of existing films that Film4 have developed include:
Film4 would be a good production company to use to produce and distribute our film as they aim to promote ‘innovative talent within the UK, whether new or established’ meaning the company would be ideal to distribute a film début. The success of their previous films such as Slumdog Millionaire (2008) means that the company have established a good reputation for producing high-quality work, which therefore could encourage more cinema-goers to watch our film if produced by this company.
Film4 are not known for producing a vast number of horror films so if our film was produced and distributed by them, their films may gain a greater and more varied audience, and ultimately bring money to the company.
If our film was produced commercially on mainstream release, it would be released in the majority of main cinemas throughout the UK and possibly overseas. This would help us reach as many people as possible and ultimately aid large box office takings.
Examples of main UK cinema chains in which we would hope to release our film include:
If being produced commercially, our film would be on general release meaning that it would be widely available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Copies of the released film would be available in all major stores and websites that sell DVDs and Blu-ray releases, for example:
If the film was to be distributed overseas, consideration would have to be taken in making sure both the content and other factors relating to the film such as the DVD cover etc. are suitable for use in other cultures i.e. don’t cause offence and include subtitles for other languages etc.
Who would be the audience for your media product?
Our film is aimed at both males and females between the ages of 15 and 30. I feel it will appeal to this age group as the age of the audience will reflect that of characters within the film, therefore they will be able to relate to them. The horror genre is typically viewed as being more popular with male audiences, however I feel that due to our use of a female protagonist, our film would appeal to both genders perhaps even more so to women as they could relate to the situation Jane finds herself in. I feel that our film also highlights the fact that violent behaviour is not solely confined to males and presents an interesting twist on this convention within films. Our film also highlights mental health issues and may be of interest to people who work in the field or those studying psychology or nursing.
As we stated when planning our target audience for our piece, if producing this project commercially we feel it should have a 15 age rating. This decision was made as we feel that some scenes may be unsuitable for a younger audience. I also feel that this is a reasonable age rating as very young audiences probably wouldn’t enjoy or relate to the film as it has not been aimed at their age group.
It is also preferable to give our film a 15 age rating as increasing the rating to 18 risks excluding a large section of our target audience (15-18 year olds) who may watch the film. Thus, if the age rating remains at 15 more tickets for the film may be sold.
If the film was being produced commercially we would have to bare in mind that after the film is released on DVD, individuals under the age rating may be exposed to the film. To attempt to avoid this, the film should, where possible, only be promoted and advertised in suitable places i.e. After 9 o'clock on television and at other films of the same age rating.
When promoting our film we would have to take our target audience into account. As we are aiming the film at 25-30 year olds, we would look at advertising methods that they are aware of in order to promote the film.
From our target audience research during the planning stages of the project, we found that both TV and the internet were places where participants regularly looked for information, meaning these could be effective methods places in which to advertise our film.
I feel that using the internet to promote our film would be particularly relevant to our target audience of young people, of whom the internet is a large part of the majority of their lives.
A film within the same genre as ours that made effective use of internet promotion was The Blair Witch Project (1999), which was one of the first films to be largely promoted through the internet. http://www.filmreference.com/encyclopedia/Independent-Film-Road-Movies/Internet-THE-BLAIR-WITCH-PROJECT-PARADIGM-AND-ONLINE-FAN-DISCOURSE.html
We attracted female viewers who may not necessarily watch horror films to our film by using a female protagonist that they could relate to. By featuring the couple’s relationship difficulties, we combined the genre of horror with that of love/relationships, therefore attracting an audience that may typically watch these types of films.
The use of younger actors within our piece will help us reach our target audience of 15-30 year olds. By using actors of a similar age to our target audience, young people will be able to relate to the characters and their situation, thus helping them feel engaged in the plot.
After watching our film we want the audience to be left considering their own personal safety. After witnessing the events within the film that led up to the victim’s murder and by considering the fact that there was no connection between the antagonist and the victim, we hope to convey the fact that the murder was completely random and that the victim could have been anybody.
As with most psychological horror films, we hope to effect the audience mentally, leaving them considering the events of the film even after they have finished watching it.
We also raise issues concerning mental health within our film, which may in turn lead audience members researching this topic if they are interested in this field and want to find out more about how it can effect behaviour.
After the completion of our film, I conducted a survey to gain audience’s views and opinions on our product.
The results showed that:
The majority of audience members would be likely to watch the rest of the film from what they saw during the opening
They felt the plot was believable and understandable
They could relate to the characters
The average rating of our opening was 4 out of 5 stars
The survey also included open questions where participants were able to give their views on which parts worked well within the piece and where improvements could be made. By analysing these types of questions, we can build on our work from this project to improve future projects. Conducting a survey such as this also makes us more aware of what our audience views as an effective media product.
Participants of the audience research questionnaire felt that they could relate to the characters and felt that the plot was believable used within our opening. This highlights that using actors of a similar age to the target audience helps engage the audience in the action.
The average rating was 4 out of 5 stars. Although this is good we could improve this rating by making the nurses’ scene more relevant and understandable to the rest of the opening, as participants felt this was the weakest part of the piece.
Many participants felt that the montage was the most successful part of the opening and because of this, we would be inclined to use an effect such as this in future projects.
This feedback can help us gain an insight into the audience’s views of our work, including which parts they felt were successful and parts they thought were not so. This can help us build on our work from this project and aid us in improving and increasing our standard of work in future projects.
What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing the product?
Strengths and Weaknesses of the camera equipment
Easy to set up and operate, despite only using twice before the final project
Easy to create the shots we envisaged
Easy to keep shots steady using a tripod
Gridline setting helped us frame shot effectively
Video quality was quite poor under low lighting
External, unwanted sounds (cars, birds etc.) were picked up when filming outside
Through using technology in this project I have learnt a great deal about the operation of camera equipment and the effects that can be achieved with of without a tripod.
I know also have a greater knowledge of editing techniques such as dubbing and have improved my editing skills (something I struggled with before the project.) Within the editing process I have also learnt about the importance of continuity and how to make the piece ‘flow’ more effectively using transitions.
Problems encountered during the filming process The first problem we encountered was during our first filming session. We were not able to film in the location we had intended to for the staffroom scene, meaning we had to recreate the look of the location we had envisaged in a different room. Although originally we felt this was going to be a big problem, by working together we managed to successfully set up in the new location fairly quickly and recreated a staffroom setting that we were happy with. The ‘staffroom’ during set up and within final film
The main problem we encountered during the filming process was that the actor we had proposed to play the antagonist would struggle to be available at the time we had decided to film due to conflicting filming schedules. This lead to us making the decision to use one of our own group members to play the antagonist. At the time we felt that this wouldn’t be a problem as the antagonist’s identity is not revealed so it would not be obvious that she was in fact female. However after the scene had been shot and the edited, we were told that it was noticeable that the antagonist was female leading to us having to dub over the doctor’s line ‘he’s gone’. Although this was quite a significant problem, I felt that we dealt with it successfully as a group and we have actually benefitted from this experience by learning new skills such as dubbing which could be used within future projects.
We used the software Adobe Premier Elements 7 to edit our film opening. Basic editing of the film clips was relatively easy as we had used the program before for our preliminary task and horror remake. More complex editing, such as sound and dubbing etc. proved more difficult but I feel that now we have acquired these new skills from this project we can apply them to other projects we edit.
Within the editing process we found that using the fade transition could effectively show the passing of time or the transfer from one location to another. It made the overall film flow better and helped the plot make more sense.
I felt that our group worked exceptionally well together, despite not having worked together for a project such as this before. We brought our own individual ideas to the final film and I feel that this collaboration benefitted the effectiveness of the opening sequence as a whole. Throughout the project we delegated work, constantly making sure that our contribution to the project was equally weighted and that no one person was taking over. The benefit of having four group members meant that we could all be working on different sections of planning individually, making the whole process more efficient.
When it came to editing our final project, we all had input in what we thought would work well. If a member of the group felt that something within the editing did not seem quite right, we would discuss it as a group and make changes where necessary.
In all, I felt we worked really well as a group and I would definitely consider working with the group again for future projects.
We used the website www.blogger.com to record our progress in both planning and filming our opening sequence. I found blogging an extremely helpful way to log our work as it was much easier and efficient way to record the various processes we went through during the planning and filming stages compared to handwriting everything we had done. Recording our progress on a blog also meant that all work relating to the project was in one place and eliminated having to trawl through documents to find relevant pieces of work. Blogging also eliminated the need to print out our work, meaning other people could access our work easily and paper was saved. Blogging our work also gave us a way to include different types of media such as photos and videos, which may not have necessarily have been possible had we have been recording our work by a different method.
I feel that my standard of work has improved significantly since the preliminary task, particularly with regards to editing. Looking back at our first project now, I can see many continuity errors that we very careful to avoid during the filming of our final project. Our final project also seems a lot smoother, with fewer jumps between shots than the preliminary task. Another major problem within our preliminary task was music preventing the audience from hearing what the characters were saying. Within our final piece this problem was eliminated by only using music at the very end of the piece.
Overall, the whole final project was improved significantly from the preliminary task as we spent a long time contentiously planning the piece before we went out to film it- something that did not happen before the preliminary task.
Continuity error within preliminary task Scene 1 Scene 2
The preliminary task made us realise as a group the importance of continuity within production and were therefore a lot more contentious when producing our final project, both with filming and editing.
We were also more careful when using music within our final project, as we found that using extra-diegetic sound over a conversation within our preliminary task make it difficult for the audience to hear what was being said. Because of this, we opted to use music only at the end of our opening sequence where there was no risk of the audience missing parts of the dialogue.
The planning process made the main difference in the quality of our preliminary task and out final project. 3 months was spent from conceiving the idea for film to filming the final product. During this time we completed various tasks in order to aid the filming of our final piece. These included:
Group discussion of initial ideas, then develop and combine these to form a narrative
Creation of various storyboards to fit the narrative (denoting shot types and shot durations etc.)
A similar media works profile displaying our research into the horror genre and similar existing products to the film we would be producing
A target audience profile- so we knew exactly the type of audience we were aiming our film at
Organisation of resources- so we were clear which props, costumes and equipment we required before filming
Shot list covering type of shot, duration, which actors were involved and which props were needed
I felt that the whole project benefitted significantly from the effort the whole group put into the planning process. By practicing good time management skills we managed to complete these tasks to a high quality before the deadline, thus preparing us from time constraints when filming.
I feel that since the preliminary task we have been able to improve all shots within our piece-particularly match on action shots which were used a number of times within our final piece.
Shots within our preliminary task seem ‘jumpy’, but we have improved this in our final piece through the use of transitions and greater care taken in continuity.
There are also many points within the preliminary task where framing is poor. We improved this within our final project by using the gridline setting on the camera.
Producing both the preliminary task and horror remake helped us learn and improve our skills and techniques for using the equipment and I feel this largely benefitted our final piece. Before the production of these two projects, the group had not had much experience within filming and editing and I feel that had we not have completed these tasks, the quality of our final project may have been significantly lower.
Overall, I feel that our product was very successful, with the feedback we have received being largely positive. I feel that the largest contributor to producing an opening sequence that the whole group was happy with was the amount of group effort exerted by all group members. Everybody pulled their weight as individual members of the group and all deadlines were met successfully.
I also feel that our product is effective because audiences (particularly our target audience of 15-30 years) can relate to the characters within the opening sequence and the situation they are in. This ultimately benefits the feeling we are intending to convey through this piece: that the murder was random and anyone could have been effected, thus scaring the audience into realising that the events within the film could just have easily happened to them.
I think that our final product was improved significantly by learning from the mistakes and problems encountered when filming our preliminary task and horror remake and that these projects were effective preparation for our final piece.