In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? Q1.
I have taken many images from our opening sequence that I feel cover many elements and features that should be included in an opening sequence. These are the titles, locations, costumes and props, camerawork and editing, title and font style, story and how the opening sets it up, genre and how the opening suggests it, how characters are introduced and special effects. I am going to compare the images I have taken from our opening sequence with some images from a real opening sequence, from the film Saw. I have chosen this film because it is quite similar to the one we have produced, as it also follows the genre of thriller and it also tells the story of people waking up, not knowing where they are, and trying to find out how they got there. I am going to see how similar and different our opening sequence is to the real thing.
Titles These are the titles included in our opening sequence compared to the title in the opening of Saw. Much like in the Saw film, our first title appears before the film begins, on a black screen. However Saw’s first screen has the name of the film, and ours states the production company. We decided that a small section of the film needed to be shown first so the title is understandable, therefore our title appears at the end of the opening sequence. Unlike our opening sequence Saw’s only states the title of the film with no production company or actors names introduced, we felt this was important at the beginning of a film as some viewers may recognize the production company and actors/actresses, and this may entice them into watching the rest of the film.
Location Although our opening sequence and the opening sequence to Saw follow a similar storyline, they have completely different locations. In The Night Before the main location is isolated with no one or nothing to be seen for miles, however the location for Saw is small and claustrophobic. Although very different both of these locations are scary as a character can be lost or closed in a tight space. In our opening sequence we also have a second location, party scene, seen through flashbacks. We decided to include these in the opening sequence to tell the audience that to remember how she got there, her flashbacks need to continue throughout the film, and also to get the audience wondering what has happened. Saw also has flashbacks but later on in the film.
Costumes and Props Costumes and props play a large part in a film as they make the audience understand who the characters are and what they are doing, therefore all films need to have props and costumes. The costume used for our main character in our film, is completely different to that in Saw, our character was taken from a party and so is wearing appropriate clothes, as they look out of place in the location she is in. This is not so clear in Saw as both characters wear different types of clothing. In both of our sequences different props are used. In our opening sequence we have barely any props in the first location other than those in the heroine’s possession; a mobile phone and high heels. But in the flashbacks we have many drinks, bottles, glasses and food to create the right atmosphere; a contrast to where she has woken up.
Different props are used in the Saw film as a different atmosphere is being created; a dirty bath and foot chains create a mood which follows a thriller/horror genre. However our props help us create a psychological thriller.
Camerawork and Editing There are many different types of camera work which can be used when making a film from the angle of the shot to its movement. In our opening sequence we have used many different shots such as long shots, an establishing shot, a close up, POV shot, high angle shot and reverse zoom. In the example above I have shown two shots which are of the same character however from a different angle, which stops the sequence from becoming boring. An example of camerawork from Saw is a reverse zoom of one of the protagonist characters, we have also included this shot in our sequence to add interest.
We also included wash in and wash outs before and after our flashbacks. We put these in to show the protagonist character was drifting in and out of the flashbacks she was having of the night before, these also show how they fit into the story and avoid confusion. These were not used in the Saw film as the characters do not have flashbacks within the opening sequence.
Title font and Style In our opening sequence we have used two different types of font, one for the name of the production company and actors/actresses, and one for the title of the film. We wanted to choose a more simple font for the company and actors, and bolder one for the title so it would stick in the viewers mind. Saw have not included any actors or companies names, just the title in a simple font, this is also probably to make it memorable. They have used a spooky, ghostly font which moves and ripples as though it is underwater. Our title for our film is bold against the sky, yet matches in with the silhouette of the character and the spooky tree.
Story and how the opening sets it up The opening sequence in a film has to give the audience a clue about what the story of the film is going to be like. In our film it is clear that the protagonist character is lost as she is looking round confused, scared, trying to remember how she got there. Therefore the story is going to be about her trying to find clues about who took her there. The protagonist characters in Saw are also trying to remember how they got to where they are, however the characters here are also chained to pipes in a claustrophobic room. So the rest of the film will be about trying to remember the past few hours as well as escaping. Therefore like Saw we have given the consumer a clue to what may happen throughout the rest of the film.
However we set up an equilibrium and a disruption in our sequence, but Saw only gives us a disruption which makes it more confusing. Through our flashbacks we also pose many enigmas for the audience, which I feel saw does not do as well, as there is no clue given to how they might have got there.
Genre Much like Saw, it is easy to recognize which genre our opening sequence belongs to, due to the narrative which takes place in the first few minutes. It shows the protagonist character being attacked in a flashback, and waking up in the field frightened and confused. Therefore the film is a thriller, and due to the fact the audience and character have to work out who her attacker was and how she got there, it is a psychological thriller. Like our film it is instantly clear what the genre Saw is, this is because two people are trapped in a small room with already a dead body between them. Therefore the audience knows that Saw is going to follow the genres of horror and thriller. It is vital for a film to signal which genre it is, as this way the correct audience can be targeted.
How Characters are introduced The characters are introduced in a similar way in both ‘The Night Before’ and Saw, as all the characters wake up into a location which they are very unfamiliar with. However, with our main character, we learn about her and what she has done through the flashbacks of the party the previous night. But the audience learns about the two characters in Saw initially through their dialogue, as they both do not know each other they tell the other who they are and what they can last remember. With only one character in our scene this was not very practical.
Special Effects We have used different types of special effects in our opening sequence much like Saw. I feel that you need to use effects to create a stronger indication to the audience about what is happening or how the character is feeling and to add impact. Such as the effects we have used; which indicates that the main character is waking up as her vision is blurred and bright. Another effect we have used called ghost trail again makes the vision of the character appear fuzzy and as though the previous frame is being left behind, this happens when she has been attacked and thrown to the ground. Saw also uses special effects for the characters point of view when the bright lights are turned on, as his vision goes very blurred then gradually clears up as his eyes get used to the light.
Some of the techniques we have used are similar to those in Saw, as the genre is the same this is expected. Some similarity is useful, as this way we know that our film is much like the real narrative I am comparing it to. The Night Before has developed some aspects thriller conventions, such as those used in Saw. The ways we have used special effects, camera angles, costume and general plot all follow conventions of real media products.