In what ways does our media product use , develop or challenge the forms and conventions of real media products?
Our final production includes many generic conventions commonly used in successful Thriller films, but also we’ve challenged some conventions to create a unique production. For example, our production incorporates typical thriller conventions such as using dark or shadowy shots to create mystery – we did this in shots 1 and 2. Shot 2 is a clever shot because the foreground (the kitchen) is extremely dark and the background (the hallway) is lit up. This means you can only see his silhouette, but then he turns the light on and simultaneously the titles come up. This shot is great for creating tension and suspense, because of the pause before he turns the lights on as he walks in, in the dark. Light in the background Dark in the foreground The boy is not easy to see because the picture is dark – this creates tension and mystery Because the foreground is very dark, the audience don’t know where he is walking into, even if it is just a kitchen. This causes suspense for the audience.
Light in the foreground Very dark in the background – creates mystery and suspense because the whole picture isn’t clear Figure is very dark and looks mysterious because it is not clear who this person is – creates an enigma right from the start Artistic shot of the hallway creates perspective and gives the illusion that the corridor is very long, as well as creating a very interesting looking and intriguing shot The boy slowly walks towards the front of the shot, coming out of the darkness and therefore introducing him to the audience. Shot 1 was very shadowy and quite dark in the background as the boy walks up the hallway – this looks very mysterious and grabs the attention of the audience straight away. It wasn’t intentional, but the nude colours of the walls compliment the dark shadowy hallway, by illuminating the foreground even more, and giving an interesting shot.
<ul><li>Another generic convention we used very successfully was the creation of ENIGMAS . For example, right from the start the audience wonders; </li></ul><ul><li>Who is the boy? </li></ul><ul><li>Why does he look so sad as he’s walking up the hallway? (shot 1) </li></ul><ul><li>What was he writing about that he had witnessed? (shot 9) </li></ul><ul><li>What is the significance of the photo in the frame, that’s made noticeable because the camera zooms in on it? </li></ul>Camera zooms in to the brother’s face to signify this is important. This sparks enigmas because the audience want to know why. While the boy is getting his things out of this bag, the overlapping fading face of the brother looks as if the boy is thinking about him. Clever shot as it shows emotion and creates an enigma. The brother’s face stays and overlaps the action on screen, then fades out. This is a clue to the audience about what happened to him, it also signifies that the boy feels his brother disappeared out of his life too quickly. The hue of the colours in the shot of the photo, and the fact that it’s fading out, makes the brother look almost ghostly, which is another clue to the audience about what they will be told later on in the film. This shot was greatly inspired by the opening sequence of the thriller film Seven. The arty style of the opening sequence of Seven makes it interesting and intriguing for the audience to watch, and creates suspense and tension without there being any dialogue. The use of close ups of someone writing, and pages turning especially captured our attention because it is mysterious and creates enigmas right at the start.
Not only did we include conventions, but we also developed and challenged them. Usually thriller films have a lot of dark scenes and include silhouettes of people to create mystery and tension, for example in Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller films Vertigo and Psycho . But in our opening sequence, we adapted this idea by combining some dark scenes (shot 1 and 2) with lots of lights scenes, for example shots 3 and 5. We felt there was no need to make the scenes that dark, because it’s not a scary or eerie opening. The opening of the film is about a young boy writing, therefore we felt that natural indoor lighting would be much more suitable. The idea of the opening was not to be scary or eerie, it was to create enigmas right from the start, which we did successfully by choosing the correct balance of lighting. Also it creates more mystery, because at the start the shots are quite dark and shadowy, and then they get lighter as the character is introduced. Also, another convention of thriller films is to build up to the action , but because this was only the opening sequence – not the main plot of the film, we decided to make the enigmas more prominent, rather than any action. The enigmas we created at the start can build up to the action later on in the film’s plot, by creating tension and suspense for the audience. There’s hardly any action in our opening sequence, the enigma is the main focus to draw in the audience. Not only are suspense, tension, and mysteries examples of generic conventions of thrillers, but also emotions play a big part in thriller films, by making the audience feel a particular emotion because of what is being viewed on screen. Usually the emotion is exhilarating or exciting because of the dramatic action, but we challenged this in our film opening by making the audience feel a different emotion. In the surveys our target audience did, they said they felt sympathy for the boy and felt worried for him, because he looked so sad and vulnerable, and because he is so young and small. Also they said they wanted to know why he was upset, and who he was. We used this emotion to create an enigma for the audience, so they want to watch more and find answers to their questions. Young children are good at expressing their emotions, and because we are older, we have a natural instinct to be concerned or interested if they are upset. We challenged this convention of thriller films, because it is unusual to have a child creating the enigmas, and also it is strange that the main character of the opening scenes is a child when the target audience is a lot older, but as I’ve explained, this is so they sympathise with him.
How does our media product represent particular social groups ?
So how does this link to the target audience? As I’ve said earlier, the audience are older, so they can associate with the young boy’s feelings – everyone’s been a child once. They see him sad and vulnerable and they have a natural response to wonder what’s wrong with him because he’s so young and looks so alone in the house on his own. Even though he isn’t the same age as the target audience, they can understand how he is feeling more than if he were older, because he possibly wouldn’t show it as much as a child would. Therefore an enigma is created because the audience want to find out why he’s sad, so they want to watch more. I wouldn’t really say any particular social groups are represented in our film opening, because the opening of the film is when he was younger in the past, and the main plot of the film is when he is older and there late teenagers to people in their 20s are represented. But in the start of the film the boy is the only character, and because the target audience are a lot older than the young boy, I wouldn’t really say that the young boy represents any particular social group, (for example even though he’s Asian he isn’t representing the Asian community, and even though he’s a boy he isn’t representing males, he’s just a representing a child). Gender isn’t stereotypically represented, but the character of the child is quite stereotypical. The boy is portrayed as very vulnerable, innocent and cute, because he is so small and young. The close ups of his big sad eyes make the audience feel sorry for him and sympathise with him. At a young age, children are very good at expressing their feelings, and so the audience feel a certain sad, sympathetic emotion as they watch him. He’s represented as a typical young boy – wearing school uniform to show he’s young, doing homework when he gets in from school and he has childish handwriting – all of these things build up his character and make it more believable that he is young, so the audience feel emotions towards him.
We showed our film opening to an audience of 50 people that were within our target audience, and asked them to fill in surveys to get feedback on our production. Here is one of the questions about the main character in the film, and some of the feedback we received:
What kind of media institution might distribute our media product and why ?
This film should not be a TV movie or an internet release only, because of the loss in profit that this would cause. This film should be produced by a large well-known studio, because the plot involves a large budget and large sets/locations, and an internet or TV release would result in little or no revenue, because TV companies would not pay very much to buy the film, and also illegal online downloads may happen, resulting in a loss of profit. The film should be released at the cinema and then brought out on DVD, because then a massive revenue/profit will be achieved. Whereas if the film was released online or on TV this large-scale production would not even be able to refund the budget, let alone produce any profit. I think this film should be produced by a top studio such as Hollywood for many reasons. The Hollywood studios have extremely large sets and a very large budget for producing films – this would be required for shooting the car chase scenes and the gun fights later on in the film. Also studios like Hollywood have much better cameras and editing software, high tech equipment and props, and can use CGI technology, so our film would look much more professional and realistic. For example the gun fights in The Edge of Darkness look very realistic, and the dramatic car chases in The Italian Job are captured excellently and have great special effects which can only be achieved with a high budget and a large studio and team. <ul><li>This company have successfully produced and distributed 100s of films in the same or a similar genre/sub-genre to our thriller film. </li></ul><ul><li>Many of their previous films appeal to our target audience – mostly teenagers to late 20s, and adults. Examples of this include the Final Destination series of films, which were so successful with their target audience, that there was a high demand for sequels, and a grand total of 4 films were released. </li></ul><ul><li>Also this company take risks such as using 3D and lots of high tech special effects, such as those seen in Final Destination 4 . This could improve verisimilitude and viewing experience for our audience, therefore producing more sales. </li></ul>We researched many different institutions who have produced successful thriller films, and we have decided that New Line Cinema is the most suitable to produce and distribute our media product. There are many reasons for this: This film not only offers a massive revenue because of how appealing it is to the target audience, but also there could be franchising or merchandise available to buy online or in shops. For example, Kidulthood and Adulthood are aimed at roughly the same target audience as our film, and it was massively popular with teenagers, who were buying lots of merchandise, therefore boosting sales figures. Merchandise for the 2 films included albums of the soundtracks of the films, which were all songs from very popular grime and hip-hop artists, such as Bashy, Plan B and Chipmunk, that appeal to teenagers (the target audience). Because this album was so popular, it massively boosted advertisement for the films and therefore overall sales were dramatically increased. In conclusion, as I’ve said previously the mise-en-scene such as sets, props (e.g.: cars, guns, etc.) and the technology used to produce the film, would require a large budget. This is because the plot of the film includes a lot of action and dramatic scenes that need to be professionally captured with the very best technology. Therefore a top studio (e.g.: Hollywood) and a well-known film company such as New Line Cinema, should produce and distribute our media product. Also these large successful film companies would be able to expand the budget to focus on marketing strategies to boost sales and views of the film.
Who would be the target audience for our media product, and how did we attract and address our audience?
As I’ve said previously, the target audience for our film is teenagers to late 20s, and also adults, that are both male and female. Also the audience could be any class or race, and could especially capture the interest of the Asian community because the main character is an Asian boy. For example Slumdog Millionaire was hugely successful, and the film opening was about a young Asian boy, and then throughout the film you see him grow up – this is very similar to our film. In terms of relating to the character of the main plot, obviously the teenage audience can relate to him very well, because they know what he is going through, and many of their lives maybe quite similar, therefore they make a connection with the character. But also, the rest of the audience can relate to the main character, because they saw him when he was upset and vulnerable when he was young, and felt concerned for him. And in the main plot he’s grown up into a teenager and they learn why he was so upset, and understand his revengeful actions – many of the adults probably have teenagers who behave in similar ways, so they can relate to the character and the storyline. A film that is quite similar to the plot in our production is the drama/thriller Adulthood . The main character Sam has just come out of prison because he murdered a boy when he was a teenager, and now that he’s out, everyone wants revenge on him for his actions. This film is similar to ours for the fact that the plot revolves around vengeance and vendettas, and also that there is a lot of crime, drug abuse and the characters are teenagers. This film was hugely successful and popular for teenagers to people in their late 20s. Another film similar to our production is the thriller The Edge Of Darkness , which is about a man who’s daughter gets shot right in front of him, and he has a vendetta to get justice and revenge for his daughter, by finding the men who did it and killing them one by one. It is similar to the main plot of our thriller film, because of the gun fights and the car chases, and because it is about getting revenge. Within the plot there’s scenes of violence, gangsters, drug abuse and it has a very complex and intricate storyline, which would not be suitable for children to watch, so we have decided to rate our film at 15. The film will appeal to our target audience because there are so many exciting twists and enigmas that keep the audience watching intently. As I’ve said previously, the audience feel concerned for the young boy, because there is a close up of his sad looking eyes. This shot shows how the child is feeling, and they feel sorry for him because he is so young and vulnerable. Also the point of view shot of him writing his homework, puts the audience in his position, because they see how childish and cute his handwriting is, and that tells them that he is very young, and that creates an enigma and suspense, because they want to know what he is writing about that is making him so upset.
What have I learned about technologies from the process of constructing the product?
<ul><li>Strengths of the camera equipment: </li></ul><ul><li>Captured clear images in natural light (although dark images were pixelated) </li></ul><ul><li>Camera had long battery use – we could film lots of shots without worrying about charging it </li></ul><ul><li>Had rewind/fast forward buttons – could see what you’ve already filmed so we could make changes where needed, e.g. re-filming a shot or scene if it wasn’t quite right. </li></ul><ul><li>Weaknesses of the camera equipment: </li></ul><ul><li>Camera was not very expensive, therefore wasn’t very high quality or resolution – some shots were blurred, and we had to wait a while for the shot to come into focus. </li></ul><ul><li>The camera wasn’t very technologically advanced, so the outcome doesn’t look as professional as real media products. </li></ul><ul><li>The tripods we were provided with weren’t very stable and didn’t move up and down very smoothly. </li></ul>We didn’t have that many difficulties whilst filming the final production (except for those mentioned with the camera), because we had so much experience from filming the other previous projects. One problem we did have was with the tripod, because it was quite old and squeaky and this added unnecessary and unwanted sound effects that spoilt the mood of the shot. In that particular shot, we were panning down from the top of the mirror to the bottom where you would see the boys face, and then there would be a focus pull. But the tripod did not wind down smoothly, it was very jerky and spoilt the mood of the shot, so in the end we decided we couldn’t use that particular shot, but we still used the focus pull instead. The focus pull took a while and quite a few tries to get right, because the cameras aren’t that high tech, but after a lot of practise we managed to produce an effective focus pull from the Buddha figure in front of the mirror, to the boy’s reflection in the mirror. To resolve this issue we simply practised it over and over until we were happy with the look of the shot, and had created a successful focus pull. We didn’t get to use any new equipment or technological advancements to enhance our production, because we simply do not have the funding at our school. However, if this film was produced by a top successful film studio, we would have a large budget, and would be able to use special effects, 3D technology and CGI effects to add more interesting features and add to the verisimilitude of the film . Editing on the Apple MACs was very easy because we have had a lot of experience and practise from previous projects. The Movie Maker software is great for cutting and editing shots for lighting and sound, and also for arranging the shots in a clear and easy way. We took advantage of the software available and darkened the hue of some of the shots, for example the shots of him writing on the page, to add variety to the lighting to create more interesting and arty shots. Also we used sound effects from the software, such as the dramatic sound effects when the title SIBLING comes up, to create suspense and tension, so the audience want to watch more. We also used transitions between the shots to make them more interesting, for example in the shot where the close up of the boy’s eyes fade out onto the page, to show he is concentrating on his work. We also used the software to insert titles/credits to some of the shots. We did not use the Garage Band software available on the Apple MACs to create the music, we found some music on the internet that we felt was suitable because it reflected and enhanced the sad emotions of the boy, and the tense suspenseful atmosphere for the audience, by starting off quite quiet and slow, and then gradually getting louder. We downloaded the music from a website, because the music was free, wasn’t copyrighted, and the owner had stated on the website that people were welcome to use his music. Obviously if this film was a real media product and released, we would have to get permission from the composer of the music, and he would get royalties for using his music in the film.
Looking back to my preliminary task, what have I learnt during the progression from the preliminary to the final product ?
<ul><li>The preliminary task did not end up looking very professional because it was our first time using the cameras and experimenting with different camera techniques, but it did give us lots of experience which was beneficial when creating later projects. For example, we learned how to achieve particular shots, we experimented and practised how to do particular camera angles, and we also learned how to use the editing software. </li></ul><ul><li>We ended up doing 4 projects in total which gave us loads of much needed experience, which helped create the final production: </li></ul><ul><li>The preliminary task </li></ul><ul><li>The first filming of the old plot </li></ul><ul><li>The second re-filming of the old plot </li></ul><ul><li>The filming of the new plot – the final production </li></ul>My coursework on my blog ( http://charlyluckmedia.blogspot.com ) includes lots of research into thriller films and the thriller genre. I analysed real thriller films to understand the conventions of the thriller genre, and this helped me greatly in planning my own media product. I also did research into developments within the genre (such as CGI and special effects) and researched directors who have produced successful thriller films. This detailed and extensive research was so useful when planning our final production, because we had knowledge of the genre combined with experience with cameras and equipment. As you can see from my blog, the research and planning developed the way we thought about thriller films and their conventions, resulting in our decision to change the storyline of our film, and start a completely new project. Our storyboards made it easier for us when we were filming – we had planned each individual shot in detail, so we were prepared and knew how to film each shot precisely, so we knew where the character was, what the action was, and what props were needed in the shot. When it came to editing, we also knew what order to edit and arrange the shots into during the editing process. This made the whole filming and editing process much faster and easier to do – other previous projects took longer because we didn’t plan our storyboards properly and precisely enough. When filming the different shots and camera angles, there was a very noticeable improvement since the preliminary task, because we hadn’t ever used cameras to make films before, but by the time we were filming our final production, we had lots of experience. For example we found it quite difficult to do match on action in the preliminary task, but with practise we understood the concept of this technique more, and it was quite easy to do after that. Also as I’ve mentioned before, the focus pulls were hard to do, but we practised them over and over again until we got the right shot we wanted. Because of all the practice and experience we gained, we were definitely more confident with using the cameras and also with using the editing software effectively.
The main task was: “To create the titles and opening of a thriller which lasts a maximum of 2 minutes – we are assessed on our ability to plan, research and construct a media product.” I think our final production was very successful because it fulfilled all of the parts of the specification of the main task. Our production is approximately 2 minutes long, includes credits/titles, and is the opening of a thriller film. On my blog , it shows the vast amount of research and planning that went into creating and constructing our final media product. You can also see all the developments, changes and decisions that we made throughout the whole process from start to finish. We showed our film opening to an audience of 50 people that were within our target audience, and asked them to fill in surveys to get feedback on our production. Here is one of the questions, and some of the feedback we received: