Evaluation Lauren Anthony Candidate Number: 4003
In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
Our media final project incorporates many conventions of real media
products. The in which we have designed our work to be relative to the
thriller genre is of great importance as we had to ensure that we fitted the
conventions of the stereotypes that come within real media products.
We have ensured that the following aspects of our final project were
fitting with the stereotypical conventions of a thriller through many
The title of the film - We chose the name ‘ Hysteria’ for our short film, as we have, after a lot of research, realised that films under the thriller genre are usually titled with one or two words, mainly to create a mysterious perspective. The name was very important to myself and my group; it took a lot of deliberation as it was very important for us to find a name that fitted the thriller genre, but at the same time was appropriate for our film. We came up with multiple ideas, but decided that ‘Hysteria’ was our best option as it worked perfectly with our film.
Setting/location – It was important for us to ensure that the settings and locations of our film fitted in with the stereotypical representations and conventions of thriller. In our case, we decided to use the woods, as many other thriller films use them, and we wanted to attempt to interpret the use of the woods in another way. We wanted to use graffiti to show that Amy was seeing things during her psychopathic episode. Matt and I took our ideas from the thriller films ‘The Village ’ and ‘The Blair Witch Project’ ’, as it was important to find other films that used the woods as the predominant setting, and build on the idea and develop it.
Costumes and props – We didn’t use many props in our performance, as the natural setting of the wood was enough for us. However, we did need our protagonist to have a handbag and a coat to add to the plausibility of her character, and make it more realistic to the audience and evident that she was on her way home from somewhere. We made sure that these fitted in with the conventions of products that currently feature in the media. For example, it was important that we portrayed Amy as a stereotypical teenager, with a vulnerable demeanour, which could be seen in her lack of makeup and plain clothing.
Camerawork and editing – It was important for Matt and I to use a varied number of camera angles and shots that were appropriate to the thriller genre. It was vital for us to use as many angles as possible to enhance the quality of our film, and it we were aiming to incorporate as many angles that were representative of the thriller genre as possible as our film is a stereotypical psychological thriller opening. We used camera angles such as high angles and extreme close ups to build up the tension and the excitement. The editing of our shots was a massive part of our attempt to fit the conventions of a thriller in that we had to ensure that the shots were so smooth that the plot moved smoothly and was unnoticed until the action set in, and then the shots happened rapidly to increase the pace of the film.
Title, font and style The title is of great importance as it was the way we decided to finish our film. We used a transition to phase out the titles, and I downloaded a font from www.dafont.com which I thought was appropriate as it was a little distorted, and was therefore obviously representative of Amy’s disturbed character.
Story and how the opening sets it up The story line is first properly established where we see Amy’s character beginning to struggle with headaches and her schizophrenic turn begins. I think that the point at which the story has built up to was very appropriate to the conventions of the thriller genre in that tension is built up using music and editing techniques to develop suspense, which is typical of the thriller genre in general.
Genre and how the opening suggests it The opening of our thriller immediately sets up the genre, as we see Amy instantly entering an isolated area, creating an instant sense of tension and meaning that the audience are already considering the issues that Amy’s character could experience. Our aim was to veer into the realms of the psychological thriller, and add a twist to the plot, allowing us to fit the conventions of the sub genre as well.
We used transitions between shots to give an edge to our film, as I felt that it was important to give the audience the ability to identify familiarities with our thriller and real media projects. For example, the majority of real media products contain the use of CGI and special effects, but as Matt and I had no access or funding for expensive materials, we used iMovie shot transitions to help our film look more sophisticated.
Matt and I agreed that we conform to the majority of the conventions of the thriller genre, as we focused on the stereotypical views presented in the genre, and the costume, setting and editing techniques. We have used the psychological aspect to put a twist on the film, adding to the challenging of the genre itself.
How characters are introduced
We introduced our protagonist by having her innocently walking home from school. I wanted to play on the fact that thriller victims are stereotypically vulnerable, and this worked perfectly as Amy’s character is a female teenager, walking through the woods in the late afternoon entirely alone. Having Amy portraying this character meant that it had a brilliant effect when she had her schizophrenic turn as it proved that she was not under a threat from anyone but herself.
How does your media product represent particular social groups? Alex Forrest – Fatal Attraction Amy Williams – Our protagonist Teddy Daniels – Shutter Island Our protagonist, played by Amy Williams, is shown to have psychotic episode in the woods on her way home from school. The aim was to ensure that we incorporated as many aspects of psychological thrillers as we c ould. I started watching some other examples of psychological thrillers to enable me to have an idea of how to portray Amy’s character, so I therefore watched one modern example of a psychological thriller, and another more dated but equally effective one – the modern example being Shutter Island , starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and the timeless thriller being Fatal Attraction , starring Glenn Close.
Shutter Island – I noted many similarities between our thriller and the new release, Shutter Island as the protagonist has a similar demeanor to Amy’s character. We see Teddy Daniels’ lack of knowledge of his condition until the end of the film, in the same way that Amy did not expect to experience her schizophrenic episode and did not acknowledge that she had a mental health issue. Another relationship between Shutter Island and our film, is that both are set in very isolated areas – Shutter Island being on a secluded island, and Amy’s being an isolated wood. Also, the plot in both films revolves around Teddy and Amy as they are the main characters. The characters have similar mental problems, and despite their gender and therefore costume differences, there are many similarities between the two of them. The predominant difference is that in Shutter Island , it is evident that other people know of Teddy’s condition, whereas Amy is the only character in our short film, and therefore no-one knows of her illness.
Fatal Attraction – In Fatal Attraction, we saw a relationship between the character of Alex Forrest and Amy in that there is an evident progression from Alex’s sanity to her mental condition and in the same way, we don’t see Amy’s mental issue until the last few scenes. However, there are more differences in Fatal Attraction to our thriller than in Shutter Island as Alex’s character has the intention of doing specific harm to others, whereas the only pain Amy is inflicting is on herself in her own mind. Also, we see Amy’s view as we flick to and from her perspective, whereas with Alex we see it entirely from the protagonist, Dan Gallagher’s perspective as it were. They have the similarity in that they are both female and wear fairly plain clothes, but there is an obvious age gap between Amy and Alex. Also, both Amy and Alex seem unaware of their conditions, as does Teddy in Shutter Island and their threat to others, making them all the more alike.
What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?
Matt and I decided to name our production company ‘Imperial’, as we thought it gave a professional impression, and suited the credits of our film better than the other ideas we fell upon.
We would want our thriller idea to attract production companies such as Universal Pictures and DreamWorks, as they produce other thrillers such as A Beautiful Mind , and many more. It is very important for the right production companies to be advertising your film if you are trying to break into the film industry, as it represents the difference between success and lack thereof.
The aim would be to have institutions such as Channel 4 interested in our product, as they air multiple films as they are available on DVD and we could increase the viewers as if the film was aired at an appropriate time, the target audience ages could be increased. Channel 4 are highly respected, and are therefore very good at advertising a product. Also, they are in association with Film4, and if our film was to get progressively more well known, this would be the perfect step up.
Who would be the audience for your media product?
We were aiming for a target audience of those over the age of 15, as we had an age rating to stick to. We chose to make our film at an age 15 rating as we thought children younger than this would misunderstand the concept of a psychological thriller, and the idea of schizophrenia could potentially scare children under the ages of 15, and if this were not the case, they may not understand anyway.
Our specific target audience would be between the ages of 18-25, as we feel that teenagers and young adults would find the idea of mental health issues interesting as the protagonist is of a similar age. There is a strong possibility that a middle aged audience would enjoy a film such as ours, as the idea of a psychological aspect would mean it was more attractive than the average thriller as it requires more mind stimulation, which would be very attractive to an older age group.
Our idea of the 18-25 target audience would ideally be interested in stereotypical television programs, such as Desperate Housewives and Heroes etc. Their taste would vary due to their gender, and similarly their music taste may be affected. However, it would be important for our target audience to have a distinct interest in television shows which happen to have a psychological aspect to the episodes, so episodes of CSI for example, would portray criminals with varied mental health issues, for example, the portrayal of Shane Casey is that of a psychologically disturbed criminal.
I made a chart to show how we discovered our target audience as I did some research. These were the results of the audiences I gathered information from, and it is evident that the 18-25 bar is highest:
Our thriller contains many similarities to others on the market. For example, the film A Beautiful Mind , bears a great resemblance to our film of Hysteria in that they feature in the same genre, and we see the gradual way he realises that he is mentally unstable, and he also experiences hallucinations, where Amy experiences seeing herself having a psychotic episode inside her mind.
We felt that this technique would be effective in attracting our audience in that the audience would be able to relate it to other films on the market, without expressing dissatisfaction and thinking it was too similar to films that we were inspired by.
It was important for us to consider the conventions of a thriller, we had to analyse the music, editing and the way that the film compared with similar films in the genre.
It was important for us to look into the use of music as we wanted to create an eerie effect on the film, causing the audience to experience an obvious feeling of suspense. We created a sequence in GarageBand that we believed to be appropriate, as it had a very high pitched tone throughout, that I wanted to use to reflect Amy’s regular thought pattern, and then have the tone disappear when she begins to struggle with her headache.
These were the types of loops in GarageBand that we investigated into to find the perfect sound for our film, and one that would appeal to our target audiences.
Unique Selling Point:
It was very important for us to focus on one aspect that would appeal to the audience, and Matt and I agreed that the best thing to focus on would be the acting and choice of actors/actresses, We believed Amy to be the perfect choice as it was necessary for her to be of a similar age to the target audience, allowing them to relate to her in some way. It was essential that we focused on this as much as possible, without detracting from the other aspects of the film, such as the music and the location etc.
What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?
In the process of creating our film, Matt and I have used a number of programs and pieces of equipment to aid the filming and editing process for us. We obviously required a camera, tripod and a Macbook, but it was important to use as advanced software as possible. For this reason, we added GarageBand, iMovie, YouTube and various other programs to our list of important pieces of software.
Here is a photograph of me using GarageBand to create suitable music for our final project. It was important for me to learn how to be able to have use of GarageBand as a skill. I initially struggled with the software in that we couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t save in a particular format, but once we had overcome this program, it was an easy piece of software to learn. I already had prior experience with using Macbook software, as I have used them before. I have particular experience with iMovie as I have used it in the past. However, in regards to the Macbook itself, I have learnt of the more advanced aspects of it; the way to take screen grabs and the easiest format for any form of film when importing a film onto blogger.
Matt and I learnt very quickly that it was important to have the equipment ready to use before considering going out to film, as if the camera is not charged properly for example, or the right tripod isn’t used, there would be issues with the length of filming time we would have. We learnt so much from the framing of the shots, and how to use the tripod effectively, as without it we would have been experiencing unsteady and unfocused shots. It is important to ensure that the tripod is loose enough to allow the camera to move easily, and allow panning and tracking shots to be filmed with ease. Here is a photograph that I took of Matt using the camera and the tripod. The cameras were very easy to use and the tripods were easy to set up, as they screwed on easily and without hassle, meaning it took under five minutes to prepare for filming tasks. Sound was another very important aspect that I had to get used to. We realised that it was important to be able to sync the music with the footage otherwise the film makes no sense,
I discovered a website where you could download apple loops and sound effects for free called http://mysoundfx.com/ . This was perfect when it came to our final film, as we could use various different sounds and had a fairly large number of options when it came to deciding on the perfect piece of music.
All it took to put the loops into GarageBand was to import them, and the same applied with the sound effects.
Editing was a very large part of our learning process within the technology we used. We adapted to learning how to use the software, how to incorporate shot transitions in the right way, and how to edit the shots so that the film flowed, as without the editing, the story would make no sense and would simply be a reel of film.
Looking back at your preliminary task (the continuity editing task), what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to full product?
Our preliminary task set us up well for the final task, as we learnt a lot through the filming and editing process. Matt and I have progressed in knowledge as a pair, allowing our experience to influence our final piece positively.
With our preliminary task, we had to aim to include the 180-degree-rule and a shot/reverse shot techniques. It was important to fit as many media conventions as we could to evidently show that we understood the briefing and that we could incorporate aspects of continuity throughout both the final piece and the preliminary.
It was imperative with both the final task and the preliminary to incorporate multiple shots, so for the preliminary task, we ensured that we got an aerial shot, a point of view shot, included the shot/reverse shot and the 180-degree-rule.
Matt and I aspired to learn more about the editing and filming aspects of the course, including how to use both editing and filming to create a suspenseful atmosphere and engage the audience and capture their imagination .
Sound: Matt and I really struggled to find suitable music for both our preliminary and our final, and as our preliminary also contained dialogue we had to really concentrate on syncing the music and the edited film appropriately. We didn’t want our music to be overbearing and loud, so getting the frequency and the tone right was down to a lot of trial and error. We didn’t want sound to give the plot away, so to come to too much of a climax before the action, as we wanted to create tension right until the very last moment. Titles and credits: We saw no need for a title or credits for our preliminary, and it took time for us to find the right fonts and decide whether a white out or a black out fade at the end would be more effective. We had to ensure that the credits weren’t too cliché and over stereotypical, as we didn’t want to risk our film looking unprofessional. Costume and Make-up: In our preliminary task, the use of makeup was more obvious as we had used white face powder, eye makeup and fake blood, but for our final piece there was no need except every day facial makeup, as we wanted Amy’s character as believable as possible otherwise we would end up with our result being unrealistic looking.