MEDIA EVALUATION By Samantha Recknell, Jordan Bagwell and Jessica Sutherland
In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
In our project we used a lot of the generic conventions of real media products, however, we also added a flair of originality in our final piece – for example the tension-building walking sequence we came up with ourselves as a team in our storyboarding session.
On the other hand, we agreed that it would be to our advantage to also base a lot of our work on original horror/thriller genre films that follow the stereotypical plots/character roles - particularly our focus in product research: Alfred Hitchcock and his famous thriller ‘Psycho’.
We used the conventions of Hitchcock’s films a lot, the use of black and white, extreme close ups, and also attempted to bring in some influence from Saul Bass (a close associate to Hitchcock, often working with him in filming and editing) in our titles and editing techniques.
Our group also agreed to follow the conventional plot itself when designing our storyboard: for example having titles in between shots for a short duration of time.
Overall we tried to keep a good balance between using conventions of real thriller/horror films in the market today – particularly generic Hollywood blockbusters and our research on 50s/60s Hitchcock thrillers – and also developing our own ideas from these influences.
How does your media product represent particular social groups?
For example, in our main product research of Hitchcock's Psycho Marion Crane is the basis of our major character ‘Lucy.’ She is represented as quite a vulnerable character as well as very naïve. For example in the film sequence she decides to travel home late at night be herself walking through the woods when she could have changed routes to keep her safe, however, as a teenager she feels she knows best and then she is abducted and attacked. We also feel that in this era, most teenagers are seen as very naïve and this is presented in our horror film sequence.
Contrasting with males, they are stereotypically represented as very powerful and in control putting females down to second class citizens. In our horror film sequence, this is also shown through his use of power and authority over her as well as our choice of camera angles as he steps in to the frame quite frequently insinuating that he is superior to her and quite intimidating.
We have used stereotypical features of how social groups are represented as felt more influenced from the films that we studied and therefore we wanted to imitate it rather than challenge their ideas as thought they were very successful and therefore if we started to challenge their success, ours may not be as effective. Therefore throughout of film sequence we used the generic conventions of horror films.
Overall from al of our product and audience research, we have found that teenagers are predominately presented as very reckless and a lack of maturity.
What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?
We believe that our media product would most likely be distributed by Warp Films, a respected British company, known for its success in the media industry. We feel our product would be distributed successfully by Warp Films as they are an institution well known for producing highly successful films such as Dead Man’s Shoes and This is England.
An independent company such as Warp Films would be better at distributing our film because our film would have been made on a low budget and the content and style in which we filmed our media product is artistically different to other films produced in major film studios.
We did conduct product research into several Hitchcock films and we found that several of his earlier films were distributed by the British production company British International Pictures and later on they were distributed by some of the major media institutions in Hollywood. As our media product is more independent and on a lower budget it is unlikely that a major media institution such as Warner Bros or Twentieth Century Fox would want to distribute an independent film like ours because they usually distribute Hollywood films. However, we believe if our film was distributed by one of these major institutions our film would be more successful due to the popularity all of the films distributed by those companies receive.
Who would be the audience for your media product?
Initially, our media product was aimed at males and females in the 15-25 age range. After completing our opening film sequence, we feel satisfied that we have met the requirements to ensure that we have successfully met our target audience’s needs. However, whilst we recognise that males and females aged between 15-25 will be interested in our film, we also believe that people above the age of 25 will also be intrigued, which means that are audience is much wider then it was to start with.
Using Burton’s theory we have identified our audience to be young adult, film-goers. We have particularly chosen to focus on young adults in the making of our thriller because we feel this is suited to the genre. Based on our own experiences and research we feel that the social grouping of young adults prefer thriller and horror themes. Younger people today have a stronger relationship with media than older generations because of digitalisation; the youth of today want a more diverse variety and involvement in cinema. Thrill seekers may find this genre appealing according to Hartley's theory on 'the self' and how each member of the audience themselves play a part in box office popularity. Nation is also important to our finalised opening because we are a western society and thriller/horrors from our culture often have stereotyped features. E.g. women are usually shown as the victim in this genre. When producing our own ideas for our project, we will consider whether to have the conventional features of a typical horror/thriller film opening.
We addressed the issue of attracting our audience through a lot of research into our target audience itself (seeing as we aim for it to be a certificate of 12-15 our target audience was teenagers and above). We commenced an interview of 16-17 year olds about genres, the subject of black and white – along with preferences on shots and camera techniques.
Along with this our group carried out character and genre research – trying to involve teenagers as much as possible to create more appeal and empathy in our audience.
From all our target audience research: looking at favoured genres (our chosen one – horror/thriller), preferred shots and previewing an actual thriller trailer etc. We feel we have found the most effective way of appealing to our target audience, by questioning them ourselves and recording they’re opinions and what their general view were, through questionnaires and also the more personal and revealing method of interviews. By completing these recorded interview, we were able to ask questions that weren’t included in the questionnaire (involving the preview of the trailer and their immediate reactions to it).
What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?
After looking back from when we started our project, we have learnt a significant amount. For example, for all of us in the group, the film sequence was new to all of us as we hadn't done filming before so it has been a learning curve for us.
This was the first time we had used a camera for a film sequence. We now have a knowledge of handy cams and how to use them productively as well as efficiently. With the camera, came the tripod as this helped our work to look more professional as the camera was able to stay steady.
After we had completed most of our filming, we had to use connectors for the MAC laptops to sync our work on to their so we were able to use the editing software of imovie. This was where we learnt most of our techniques as all of our group were inexperienced of using the imovie software; this is where we experimenting with the applications and we leant a number of things such as:
Importing our footage
Cutting some of our unwanted footage
Converting to black and white
Adjusting brightness and contrast settings.
Overall, we feel with have learnt a great deal about new technologies that were available to us and hopefully these skills will help in the future.
Looking back at your preliminary, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?
It is clear that we have improved our skills greatly since we filmed our preliminary, which we hope is evident in our final product.
We have learnt how to use a digital camcorder, using different shots, angles and techniques and feel more comfortable when shooting scenes. In terms of editing, we are able to use iMovie more resourcefully then we were when editing our preliminary.
We have also learnt how to work through the many technical difficulties we encountered during the filming of our main product such as trouble connecting the camera to the laptop, difficulty with filming etc.
Looking back at the preliminary, we feel we have developed our media skills greatly, learnt the importance of product and audience research and overall feel we have gained insight into the media industry.