The Ways In Which My Media Product Uses, Develops Or Challenges Forms And Conventions Of Real Media Products During the pre-production of my thriller, I spent a lot of time working to ensure that my thriller, ‘Entity,’ meets the some of conventions of a thriller film. To do this I concentrated on both the conventions learnt during the lesson and also through studying a wider range of thriller films to collect ideas and for inspiration on suitable plot lines. The main films that I looked at were: Jumanji, Witchboard and Final Destination 3. I have incorporated the conventions in as many ways possible, here is a breakdown of the scenes and the conventions that it challenges: When you first see this extreme close up of the doctor at the beginning, you do not know who he is or how he will affect the protagonists. Creating enigmas is one of the conventions of a thriller and is seen especially in films such as Final Destination 3, as all the way through the film there is the enigma of who the antagonist is and whether the antagonist is human or ‘death’ itself, which also makes you think what death is. Whether it is a person or a force? There are themes of voyeurism as you as the viewer see the characters playing the Ouija board from above (high angle long shot) making you feel superior and making them look inferior. The use of high angle shots is especially seen in the film Final Destination 3 in order to portray to the audience that the protagonists are in a compromising position that they can not control. Another convention that my thriller challenges is the idea of the opening titles reflecting an aspect of the protagonists mental state. In order to do this I included pictures of a ‘Psychiatric Wing’ and also various closes up of a doctor and a sign on the doctors door. This was designed to portray to the audience that the character of Seb, who is revealed at the end of the title sequence, has, for lack of a better word ’gone mad.’ This was used through the use of sound in ‘Jumanji’ as in the opening titles we can hear the heart beat like sound that the game supposedly creates. This could be considered to mirror the fear of the protagonists when they play the game (increased heartbeat.)
There are also themes of voyeurism in the thriller, predominantly during this shot, in which we see the characters through a CCTV camera. This also creates the enigma, who is watching them? I was influenced a lot by the Saw films, and this scene is one that I think reflects this the most as a large part of the Saw films are filmed from a CCTV perspective, which obviously emphasizes the fact that someone is watching them, which also brings up the question, is the person who is watching them, also controlling the happenings in the warehouse? More enigmas are established in regards to the antagonist. The audience would be asking what made the slamming noise? What caused it to slam? Is there some one else there? Who is the antagonist? Is it a ghost/spirit? Is it related to the Ouija board? This mirrors the way in which in Jumanji, after each player has taken their turn, some thing happens, which is normally revealed first by the sound it makes, e.g. Before the lion is revealed in Jumanji, we hear the noise of the piano keys as the Lion walks over them. When Jack runs off it also highlights the various themes of identity, as Lauren immediately jumps into Seb’s arms, whereas Jack runs off immediately, not giving a second thought about the others. The distance between Jack and the other two protagonists in some ways mirrors the relationship between Ian Mckinley and the other protagonists in ‘Final Destination 3,’ as despite Wendy and Kevin trying to work together with the other victims in danger, Ian condemns them and never supports them, and it seemed as if he was only out for himself throughout the whole film. In the same way, in Saw, although the characters work together at the beginning, as soon as the situation puts them in danger, they all turned against each other. There are also themes of voyeurism in some of the Ouija Board shots, these, again, were based on the style of Saw. I chose to film from a high angle as it makes the characters seem inferior and make us as an audience seem superior. It also portrays how the characters are pulled into a web of intrigue via playing the Ouija board as once they start playing it, there is no way of getting out, as seen from the main part of the thriller in which after the slam the characters are all split up and obviously very scared.
From my use of conventions in ‘Entity’ it suggests that it is a psychological thriller as there are many enigmas created such as:
The use of enigmas in this piece mirrors the way in which enigmas are used in the Psychological thriller ‘Final Destination 3,’ as most of the enigmas are surrounding the antagonist and what or who exactly the antagonist is. The enigmas were created in ‘Final Destination 3’ by referring back to the previous two final destination films, in which Death was yet again the antagonist, but the way in which ‘Death’ operates was not revealed, leaving it down to the audience to decide how they think that Death will work. The use of enigmas is also used in the film ‘Witchboard.’ Like my thriller, Witchboard is based on the use of a Ouija Board, therefore the enigmas created are very similar, however as a full length film, most of them are resolved by the end, e.g. What is happening to the characters and why. ‘Entity’ also concentrates on the psychological aspects of the characters especially Seb who is first seen in a mental hospital, suggesting that either he has done something in the past that has meant that he has being deemed mentally unstable, or alternatively something has happened to him in the past that has caused it. This yet again links back to ‘Final Destination 3,’ as the first scenes in the film, centre on the main protagonist taking various photos of the rides in the theme park, and we are introduced to the fact that she is the only one aware of the dangers of the theme park, suggesting that she will have a major impact on the events in the film.
The way that my media product represents particular social groups The three main protagonists, Seb, Lauren and Jack are a group of youths around the ages of sixteen/seventeen. The age of the characters conform to typical view presented by the press of teenagers in the 21st century being alcoholic crime committing youths, which although not true, creates a more interesting plot as it gives a wider range of personality to work with it also helps to conform to the thriller conventionof extraordinary events happening in normal situations. Also, in my primary research it was shown that 57% of sixteen to twenty year olds prefer to watch a film in whichthe characters are of a similar age to them. In regards to race, Seb, played by Reece Maycock has darker toned skin compared to the rest of the characters however his character was not represented any differently. The reason for this was that I do not know a lot about different cultures and I didn’t want to risk causing offence. Also as England is very multicultural, I thought to make it more believable, I should include different races. When constructing the characters I linked back to the Witchboard, Final Destination 3 and Jumanji, everyone of the films has a mixed cast, and normally the cast are pretty equal in regards to gender, e.g. in Final Destination 3, there are two main protagonists, one boy and one girl, in Jumanji there are four main protagonists, two boys and two girls and in Witchboard, there are three boys and one girl (protagonists). Although two out of the three films are equal I decided on having a larger ratio of boys than girls. This was partially because it was difficult to find cast who were available and also because stereotypically girls are not as brave as boys and as, according to Zimmerman and West theory, boys are dominant, I think that it makes more sense that it would be two boys who have got a girl to play it, instead of two girls willing to play a Ouija board with two boys. This was also proven during filming and also through the reaction that I had in school, as many of the girls who saw the print out of the Ouija board retracted slightly and also refused to go near it or touch it.
The different kinds of media institutions that I might distribute my product to and why In regards to media institutions, as it is, at the moment, only a two and a half minute film, it would obviously need a lot more development before even debating sending it off to major Hollywood studios such as Universal or Warner Brothers, not just in the presentation (such as the editing and the picture quality) but in development of ideas and script. Hypothetically, if the idea was taken on, it would be down to the fact that the company believes that it would bring in a lot of revenue and would get high ratings and movie sales therefore boosting peoples opinions of the company bringing them both money and positive publicity. I think that it would be good for the company as unlike many other horror/thriller films such as ‘American Werewolf In London,’ Entity allows you to create your own antagonist, instead of having a clear antagonist presented to the audience. This film is quite similar to films that have being produced before in regards to the genre of the film, as many thriller films have being produced before, especially those investigating the happenings of the paranormal, one prime example being ‘Paranormal Activity’. Also one feature that seems to be becoming more and more popular is the use of younger actors, this in my opinion concentrates the film primarily on a teenage audience and I think it can be a big risk as the production companies need to be confident that they do not narrow down the viewing audience too much. One film that comes to mind is ‘Chatroom’ which is in post-production at the moment; this film is based on a group of teens being controlled by another teen over the Internet. Whether the thriller was taken into cinemas or not would depend on its popularity and whether the company considered the final product a success. If it was not good enough to make it into cinema it would most likely go straight onto DVD and it would maybe be advertised on television stations such as channel four or E4, who are almost specialized in directing there programmes at youths e.g ‘Skins’ and ‘The Inbetweeners’, and it also then maybe a few months later it would be televised on one of those channels. It would also be advertised using Guerilla marketing, using strategies such as advertising the sale of the Ouija Board on a website, then use the website to advertise the film, also putting up missing posters of the characters in order to make the film seem a lot more realistic as that was one of the key issues that people claimed makes a great thriller. I would also advertise on the radio, primarily between 3pm and 6pm, as that way it covers the time in which youths come home from school, and also when a lot of young adults come home from work.
However, as it is at the moment, only a two and a bit minute film. It could be entered into short film competitions such as those run by ‘BAFTA’ or smaller companies. It could also be showcased at festivals such as the ‘Cannes film festival’. As a short film it could be released on the Internet such as on the BBC’s short film website, which contains thousands of short films from successful short film directors such as VanessaCaswill. ‘Entity’ would not be an arthouse film as it is aimed at a mass audience instead of small niche markets, and also given the opportunity I would be more concentrated on getting a lot of financial backing and a lot of commercial attention in order to both bring in revenue and also to advertise the actors and crew involved. It would be released primarily to gain revenue from the film but also to advertise the cast and crew involved. Due to the nature of the film I can not envisage there being any merchandising opportunities, however I think due to the nature of the film it could, depending on the reception of the first film, lead to a sequel in which the Ouija board appears in a different situation with different people being affected by it.
The audience for your media product When creating my film I had to be very aware of my target audience. I decided that I would concentrate on an audience of youths from the age of fifteen to the around of the age of twenty-one. I chose this age span because due to the nature of the film, and what is involved in the film, I would imagine that it would be given an age restriction of fifteen and over. Also my primary research suggests that the younger generations prefer watching films in which the characters are at a similar age to them, as in their opinion; they find the characters easier to relate to. This corresponds to ‘Entity’ as the three main protagonists are around the age of 15-17, however they could be construed as slightly older. I tried to link in other aspects which are becoming a more prominent issue in the news- mainly youth crime and drinking, which although I did not highlight in a more obvious sense, the presence of the beer bottles still almost justifies why the characters are in this compromising situation in the first place. In regards to the narrative the films that I felt were similar to mine were ‘Jumanji’ which is more of a family friendly film with a comedy twist. The reason that I felt that this film was similar was because it involved a game, which although it was not a Ouija board, still caused a lot of trouble and Destruction, also the way in which the game was discovered was not a co-incidence, it was more like it was fate. Also the four main protagonists in Jumanji were the only ones who were directly in danger, not the general public. An example of this is the fact that at the start the danger was confined To the house, e.g. the lion in the attic.
The second film that I looked at was ‘Witchboard,’ a horror film, which I believe is the most similar to mine. There are many similarities, firstly, the story centers around a group of college youths whose experimenting with a Ouija board leads them into life threatening danger, as they are all killed off one by one. It was given a rating a fifteen in the UK which is the same as what I would imagine mine would be given. The cast in the film are also of a similar age to the cast in ‘Entity’, maybe slightly older. But the film is still aimed at the same target audience.
Thefinal film that I thought was similar was ‘Final Destination 3’. The main component of the film that I found to be similar was the idea of an unknown and unseen antagonist, and also the idea that ‘Death’ was personified andbecame the antagonist, instead of being the result of the antagonist. This film, like ‘Witchboard,’ contained characters of a similar age and also was aimed at a similar target audience with the same age restriction. As a film, it also creates many enigmas, mostly surrounding the deaths of the youths as although you know it is going to happen, you do not know how or when and in some cases who, for example in the building depot, there are numerous things that you see as a viewer that could cause the death of someone, but the film always succeeds in presenting us with the unexpected which is why I think the audience love the films so much.
The ways in which I have tried to attract/address my audience During my primary research I discovered that the majority my target audience (fifteen to twenty-one years olds) prefer watching a film in which the characters are of a similar age to them which is addressed in my thriller as apart from ‘Dr. Thead’s’ the characters are all of an age that is within the target audience. In regards to gender, horror/thriller films are stereotypically directed more at males. However, I did not want to narrow down my film completely to concentrate on a male audience, therefore I used the characters personality’s to try and relate to the gender of the audience. I carried out research in regards to the different genders via analyzing films aimed at a solely male audience, and films aimed at a solely female audience. From the research I then informed the actors about certain character traits that their characters would entail. Below is the link to the research on my blog. ‘Entity’ is not so much a thriller that is designed to ‘terrify’ the viewer. It is more a psychological thriller that sets an eerie atmosphere, I decided to make it like this as from my primary research, it seems as if the majority of favourite films named were not horror films designed to scare you. Although there are certain points such as when the characters hear the slam, which could cause the viewers to jump, but it could also be seen as quite predictable. I think that my thriller is designed more to make unbelievable believable, as in the idea that Ouijas boards do in fact work, and that there are ‘unexplained’ happenings, which links back to the unpredictability of Final Destination 3 and the ‘unexplained happenings’ of ‘Witchboard’. The camera work contains a lot of reaction shots and also long shots, I chose this mixture as the reaction shots allow you to connect with the characters and understand what they are going through, and the long shots show to the audience that no one else is there with them. I also used a lot of L-cuts to try and build suspense, and also to make the audience try and guess what is happening in the next scene. This technique was also used in Final Destination 3, however instead of using L-cuts, they just created very busy scenes in which you are trying to guess what is going to go wrong and what will ultimately kill the next character.
Like in Final Destination 3, I tried to make the mise-en-scene seem quite cluttered, for example picking an area in-between the machines, I did this as I was trying to give the viewer multiple things to concentrate on, and creating lots of options of what could happen next. In regards to the editing, I used a lot of quick cuts to increase the pace, keeping the audience intrigued in both the plot, and to also increase the tension. Along with the editing I used a fairly upbeat non-diegetic sound which was also designed to increase the pace so that the audience do not get bored with what is going on, on screen. I also used a lot of diegetic sound to try and keep the realism, as from the primary research, people expressed that one of the key things that makes a good thriller film is that it is believable. In this shot you can see a lot of different things that could cause danger, e.g. the machinery, however you can not see the one thing that causes the slam, and as you hear the slam it goes to a blank black screen, making the audience think what caused the slam and what is going to happen now. I used a lot of reaction shots in order to allow the audience to connect with the characters and so that they can try to understand what they are feeling. I used these shots mostly in-between the Ouija board movements in order to create variety, as the Ouija board on it’s own is too long and slow to show on it’s own.
What I have learnt about technologies from the process of constructing my finished product While constructing my final product I feel like I have become a lot more aware of the technologies surrounding both the editing and filming. The camera that I used was one of the school’s camera’s (Cannon DV camera) which I found very different to the video camera that I have at home (Sony HDD camera); This is mainly because I had to be aware of taping over previous footage on the Canon camera as it records onto a tape instead of onto a hard drive and also I had to be aware of the amount of film that I could fit on the tape, as because I had only one tape to use, once it was full I would have had to stop filming. In order to solve this issue, I always had my laptop on hand, so in the event of the tape being full, I could always upload the footage then run over the previous footage on the tape. The camera used did produce a good standard of footage, however it was difficult to keep it in focus at some points, especially when zooming in to various objects/people e.g. during the Ouija board scenes when the camera zoomed into the protagonists facial reactions. To deal with this problem I slowed down the speed of the zoom, doing this allowed the camera more time to adjust the focus, I then adjusted the speed of the shot during the editing process. I also, in some cases, stopped using the zoom while filming, for example at the beginning when we see the protagonists feet stepping out of the car, I then zoomed in during the editing to make up for it. Other than the camera I also used a tri-pod, which was very useful as it allowed me to keep the camera steady during shots this was extremely useful as I have an extremely unsteady hand! It was also extremely useful for the shot of the car as it was a lot easier to pan across as the tri-pod kept the camera at one level. However, one downside of the tripod that I found was that it was quite jumpy when using it for a slow pan, as this problem could not be corrected I had to cut a lot of the footage around the Ouija Board, however in the end I think that the footage would have probably being cut anyway as it would have slowed down the pace of the film. During the filming process I came across many problems. The first being the weather; due to the icy conditions at the time of filming I had to change the location from a warehouse to a factory, therefore having to re-think the logistics of how I was going to film it and how I could adapt the story to the location, and also how I could use the new equipment to benefit the film. Also the new location presented a lot more to think about in regards to both health and safety and aspects of continuity. The only way that I could solve these issues was through simply taking the time to analyze the surroundings and also to take numerous photos, consider the dangers and avoid them, and also I just had to concentrate to ensure that the continuity was kept at all times. Canon DV camera Sony HDD camera
CONT... Apart from a video camera and tri-pod, I did not have any advanced equipment such as dolly or a steady-cam. However I did tend to improvise a lot with what was in the factory. For example, as I didn’t have a crane to use, I sat on the top of the forklift with the tri-pod and camera in order to get the shots from above. I also used my laptop and a microphone to record a wild track of some of the dialogue which the camera did not pick up properly. To create the wild track I used the programme ‘Garageband,’ this allowed me to upload my thriller into it so I could adjust every aspect of the sound to make sure it matched perfectly. Personally, I found the most beneficial part of this experience was being able to develop and experiment more with ‘Final Cut Express’. Although I used other editing suites such as iMovie and Text edit. I relied mainly on Final cut express for a lot of the effects as one of the key factors that I had to deal with was adjusting the contrast to make some scenes look darker as due to the filming schedule, half of it was filmed during the day and half of it was filmed at night. I had to complete a lot of experimenting on Final Cut in order to understand fully how the programme worked and also I had to research on the internet how to create effects such as editing the contrast between black and white and the depth of the colour. I also learnt more about Garageband, and how to adjust sound levels and also how to add and adjust effects on the sound. I feel a lot more confident using this editing suite now and I feel that I have a better understanding of the various different effects that you can use and also the different transitions on offer, I also learnt more about the effect that the transitions had on the movie and the affect that they portray, for example, the lack of transitions, such as the use of a jump cut quicken the pace of the movie, allowing us to see a smaller amount of the action but still in a way that we understand what is going on.
What I feel I have learnt in the progression from the preliminary task to the full product Compared to the preliminary task that I completed with two of my classmates at the beginning of the year, I think that the change and improvement has being quite considerable not just in the final product but also in my work strategy. There are many reasons why I think this. Firstly, when creating the preliminary task, we were given minimal time in which to complete it, and it was all off of the top of our head, in comparison to being given the time to storyboard and consider various different ways to shoot it. Going through these processes taught me a lot about the production of films, and how much truly goes into to creating them. I especially felt that I learnt a lot through completing both the preliminary and secondary research as it allowed me to understand the though processes that people go through when rating a film, and also when deciding whether the film was a success or not. Also unlike the preliminary task we got to conduct some primary research to receive some feedback and advice on the ideas. I think that personally I have come quite a long way since the preliminary task, as at first, I was taking more of a backseat role and was going with the flow, but now I feel more assertive and I feel like now I have a much better knowledge of the process of creating a film especially working with the camera as before during the preliminary task I had little to no contact with working the video camera. I have also learnt a lot about adding certain effects during editing (e.g. adjusting contrast and colour levels) and also about creating the effects in the first place such as getting the Ouija board to move on its own via taking pictures of its movement step by step. Also through the planning at the beginning my knowledge of various different shot types, and the effect that each shot has, has also improved. I definitely feel a lot more confident with the equipment, as during the preliminary task I did not get the opportunity to use the camera properly as I was the one being filmed, but now, after having used it for both the sound project and my final opening to the thriller I feel confident using it and I understand the different setting and functions on it. I also learnt a lot from jumping from the first draft which was a total of 7 minutes long to my final draft which was just over two minutes long. I got a better understanding of building pace, and also the importance of building the pace in a thriller, in order to keep the audience captivated. In conclusion, I am fairly pleased with my final project in regards to fulfilling the conventions of a thriller, however I still feel like there is a lot that I could improve if for example, I knew more about Final Cut Express.
LINKS TO VIDEOS Final Cut First rough cut Second rough cut Long cut