Mackenzie Baxter Moss Media AS Thriller Evaluation
1. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? (Conventions of the thriller genre – compare with real films) Conventions of the thriller genre contains elements such as red herrings, where a diversion tries to carry the audiences attention away from the main issue. A MacGuffin is a plot devise that draws the audiences attention away from the main issue. And a cliff hanger holds the audience’s attention with a troubled character trying to overcome an obstacle. In our thriller we concentrated on a subgenre which was the crime thriller, where the main plot was based around drugs, deals, violence and legitimacy. We used this as crime can be easily related to by most people, if not, it is interesting to see how the baddies (or the antagonist) gets their comeuppance. We wanted to create a lot of tension and suspense in our thriller because we think that they are vital necessities of a thriller. This was done by using a huge forest as the location, although the film its self was filmed in a very small corner with very few trees. The scene is set with a panning shot of a huge forest, this shows the vast size of forest to indicate that there will be huge secluded parts within it, perfect for people not wanting to be seen!
Researching for locations we had a Blair Witch Project poster up in class which is also recorded in a
forest. Although this is a spiritual type thriller, it’s a world wide know thriller and one of the
scariest films around, this is party due to its location. It is filmed in a secluded forest where they are
the only people around, its dark with shadows which creates the effect of chiaroscuro.
To create suspicion among the two characters we used the techniques used in the Harry Potter
with the character Professor Snape. His character is questioned by the audience as to whether he is
good or evil, this is shown by his character wearing dark clothing, hiding/lurking around or behind
2. How does your media product represent particular social groups? (Gender, age, sexuality, ethnicity etc.)
Our thriller’s characters are predominately male with the exception of two bohemians. We are
portraying people of the same age at different extreme sides of the lower classes. As the thrillers
target group is directed towards mid to end teens, we thought it would be more relevant for our actors
to be of the same age, also it may be possible for the audience to relate to the actors mind frame.
Both parties are shown in a negative light, like I mentioned earlier, both parties are at the extreme
sides of the lower class. One party are homeless, heavy and frequent drug users, also known as
bohemians or “hippies”. The other party would be the “dealers”, although we do not know what the
criminals have been dealing (which is our MacGuffin) it may well be drugs. If the criminals are dealing
with drugs the two parties contribute each other as it shows what the effects of drug dealers do to
The thriller also uses the typical stereotype of a mysterious stranger with their hood up, this was intentional as it clearly indicates a shifty looking person not to be trusted. To show further that the hooded criminal is young and still in education (sixth form), he has a school bag, trousers and shoes on. This hopefully creates suspicion and an element of tension. In recent years, the news and media have shown the public violence associated with teenagers, this is also used in our thriller as another stereotype of young people, this again is so that the target audience can relate to our storyline and also to show that this kind of story can happen in extreme cases. We also keep the first killer’s face open to see by the audience to keep their suspicion of him further, with his face available to see and his shifty mannerisms such as walking slightly behind and controlling the walk. Like mentioned earlier he is loosely based on the Harry Potter character Professor Snape and the way the film portrays his shiftiness.
3. What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why? (Studio, TV, web, DVD etc)
Our thriller may be used by British small time distributors that focus on young and upcoming film
makers such as ourselves, especially as we used all props owned by us or friends which meant that
we had no budget. Industries such as Metrodome via the Microwave scheme or even film4 may be
more realistic to produce our product as they distribute for the growth of high quality film makers,
not purely to make a big gross revenue like the larger film production companies such as New Line
Cinema or Warner Brothers.
Our film is a crime thriller and to get ideas for or film we watched films produced by SKA Films,
films such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Both these films have an element of
tongue in cheek comedy, but we choose not to try and do that as it would be too difficult and too
hard to portray in under 2 minutes. As our film is a gritty, London, corrupt, crime, violence and drug
kind of thriller much like the two films mentioned, the production company SKA Films may also be
interested in investing our film.
How these film distributors may advertise our film would be viral, this would be due to our target audience. This audience are the majority of internet users so it would be more sense to use the internet. As our target audience is the late teens, we would benefit hugely if our film was advertised on social networking sites such as facebook or twitter, much like other film producers who target the same audience. Apart from social networking sites, websites such as YouTube are constantly be used to watch music videos and such, adverts along the perimeter of the website. As YouTube receives around 100 million hits a day and commands up to 64% of the UK online video market, gaining this much attention for our film for free makes absolute sense. As it would such a small time film, it would not reach the cinema, so to broadcast our film as wide as possible we think it would be beneficial for it to go straight to DVD and get on TV. The way or film would get on TV would be through Film4 Productions, here it is not just a film channel but they make their own productions too. Film4 have created and co- financed a number of big time films, films such as Slumdog Millionaire, Happy Go Lucky and This Is England.
4. Who would be the audience for your media product? (Use of surveymonkey.com) Like mentioned earlier, our film is similar to SKA Films such as Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, so our targeted audience will be the same as theirs. To make sure we knew our target audience for sure I created a survey using surveymonkey.com. This is a really useful website where you can create a quick and easy survey in seconds and post it onto your facebook for your friends to complete. It was just a general survey asking different types of questions on the thriller genre, one question of which is the age group. As thought, the age of the majority of people that would be interested in our thriller are 16 to 19 year olds. Also it is common knowledge that films that include, violence, guns and crime generally appeal more to the male gender. Although that is just a typical generalisation, females may also enjoy the film as two female characters end on a cliff-hangers, this being they don’t get caught and run away meaning that they could very well become the protagonists. We have not targeted any particular race or culture, simply because it is not relevant to our film, therefore our film is simply targeted at 16 to 19 year old males. Researching the BBFC (British Board if Film Classification) guidelines, our film qualifies to become a 15. Our film qualifies as to be a 15 as it shows drug but does not promote them, there is no language, discrimination of any sort or nudity and only shows brief violence. This is good because it allows our target audience to see the film without having an age barrier.
As soon as we finished editing our thriller we uploaded it onto YouTube. After that I posted the link onto my facebook so all of my friends could watch it. A few friends of mine also do media and so we were all interested in each others thrillers, other friends who don’t do media were still interested in seeing it too. So straight away we had a few people that wanted to see our produce. The first thing we think draws the audience’s attention would be the title “Decus et Tutamen” meaning An ornament and a safeguard . This is written on the side of the one pound coin, this links to the subject of money which is one of the film’s plots being a money deal. We think this draws the audience attention as the audience will want to know what the foreign language means. Our film title is not predictable like other films, films such as “Taken” when the audience can clearly guess that the film is about someone or something that has been taken. 5. How did you attract/address your audience?
While our film was being watched we incorporated techniques to interest the audience, such as red herrings, twists and common subjects for our target audience (mentioned earlier crime, drugs etc.). To ensure that this is what the audience wanted in a thriller, we created a wordle image from survey answers. We also used quick editing, also know as jump shots throughout the sequence, using this creates the atmosphere of nothing is stable and everything is uncertain. This creates tension as the audience then wants to know what becomes of story. The jump shots time between eachother are at random, there could be a few jittery on and off scenes or there could be a longer timed sequence of the film. Between the jump shots are black out shots, this again creates eeriness and randomness. We used cliff hangers too, this is vital in a films to keep the audience’s attention and to keep then guessing and anticipating the next scenes. We show this through the chase scene when two of the bohemians split and the criminals pursue one person. The audience are then asking where did they go and what becomes of them, keeping the audiences attention and interest levels high.
6. What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing the product?
I think I have learnt a huge amount about and from the different technologies we used while
making our film. Prior to any media lessons I know nothing about the film world and the amount of
effort and dedication that goes into products before we see and can begin to appreciate any of it. I
learnt this while making our film. I know notice a lot more on the screen then I did before, things
such as the care and reasons of different lighting, angles, sounds and mise en scene. I think that
knowing this film language has now helped me understand a lot more what the director of films are
trying to portray to their audience, thus making the film more or less enjoyable to me.
The different types of media technologies I have used have made me a lot more software
friendly and illiterate, as before I was a bit wary to use them. But know I can enjoy these soft
wares I should want to make a project like this one again. There were a few times that I got
frustrated as I could use some of the software effectively, but after a lot of trial and error I
overcome this and become successful and efficient in using them with ease.
Our preliminary task’s story line has nothing to do with our final project. I think that in some way
this has benefited us as we have had a few sittings where we thoroughly went over our story,
characters, location and mise en scene. This made us pay attention to detail our thriller and
hopefully making it successful.
From studying our errors in our preliminary task we made sure we didn’t repeat any. We did this
by concentrating individual aspects such as lighting, sound, editing and camera shots/angles and
Preliminary Lighting – In our preliminary our location was in a class room where the main ceiling
lights were on. Everything was heavily light which could show now effect whatsoever.
Preliminary Sound – Sound was not a problem in our preliminary as we only had dialog to record
and after experiencing sound recording when doing vox pop interviews we were successful in
recording our preliminary tasks dialog. Although you could here background noise being the
classroom next door.
Preliminary Editing camera shots/angles – The preliminary was the time to try out new things and
experiment. This worked to our advantage as we used an extreme close up shot to show the effect
of the action.
Preliminary Story – We had a bit of trouble with our tape so we had to create our preliminary in
under an hour and a half so things were pretty rushed. We don’t really have a story as such, we
were more interested in how to film in ways we like, using different types of shots and at a range
of distances and editing in a way which would appeal to a thriller type audience.
7. Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt the in the progression from it to the product?
Final Lighting – Our location was in a forest so our lighting was all natural light. We had no effect on this what so ever, although we did have to wait to film in similar lighting to previous recordings or it would look odd and unnatural. Final Sound – We planned for our music to be played throughout the film with only dialog and heavy breathing to be heard over the music this was because it was quite windy and was taking over the sound. Film Editing camera shots/angles – After research into fast paced thrillers we decided to do quick jump shots throughout the film to create an uncertain effect. We also opted to use extreme close ups for further effect. Film Story – We wanted to include typical thriller conventions so we used a red herring. We had a lot more time to thoroughly think through a good stable thriller typical storyline. In conclusion I think we have learnt a huge amount, this being due to a lot of trial and error and some element of Experimentation with all of the software. Not only has our quality of film making improved but also our ability to use the software effectively. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIw3gVROvcA (Preliminary Task) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33izkV-BTnU (Final Product)