Our opening scene for a psychological/horror thriller film follows most of the conventions of a thrillers narrative content, format and style of presentation. The conventions of our opening scene are recognisable as being a horror thriller. Mostly the beginning where there’s a woman running through a forest in distress is a clear indication of a fast paced scene typical of a horror thriller. Even the dramatic music playing over that scene is a convention of a horror thriller, it adds suspense to the scene which is what horror thrillers aim to do. Even though the film followed conventions, we tried to break typical conventions of characters by creating a female character who’s portrayed in the second half of the film as strong minded and independent which is sometimes rare in films as the main protagonist is conventionally a man or a weak female.
You can see in the conventions used in our thriller which films of the same sub genre have influenced us.
The Blair Witch Project influenced us as the whole thing is shot in point of view and we used this in our film when the character is hiding behind a bush and the killer is looking around behind the camera, then the camera see’s her and she runs away with the P.O.V shot running after her. There are many shots like this in Blair Witch Project. Halloween 5 influenced us as the opening scene had a clever technique of showing very quick shots of something unrecognisable between credits. It created enigma and makes the opening quite scary and compelling. We incorporated this into our work with the quick shots of the character running in the forest separated by credits. 1) In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge the forms and conventions of real media products?
Our use of camera shots etc in the film followed conventions of psychological/horror thrillers.
Camera- we used conventional point of view shots, in the beginning when someone is in the bushes and they are looking out and panning as the character runs past. It’s only about a second but it’s effective and stereo typical of thrillers that have kidnappings in them, suggesting there had been a kidnapping in our film.
2) How does your media product represent particular social groups?
Our character was represented as being a firmly middle class business woman. When she was on the phone outside the beautiful Grims Dyke hotel, we were able to dress her in clothes that would both represent her status and her gender. She wore a grey top with a blazer, black trousers and heels.
This represents her as being busy, though still concerned about her appearance but not for the reason to attract men, more for the reason to look good in front of someone perhaps more important than herself. Long shots allowed us to get audiences to focus on the wardrobe of the character. We didn’t want to make her too girly, as she’s womanly but independent and mentally strong, going against normal conventions of representations of women in other thrillers. They’re usually passive, weak and need protecting. The location that the character is in, is in front of a big, beautiful hotel that suggests wealth and instantly plants a perception of the character in the audiences mind. They then think of her as wealthy and prestigious. Planned outfit suggests formality, attractiveness, wealth, middle class status. Heels suggest business woman, she wears them all the time suggesting she has to keep us appearances.
3) What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?
Universal Studios would be an option for a media institution to distribute our product as they are such a wide company who have brought out films since the 1920s. They have an iconic introduction which is recognised widely. I think they’d be one that would distribute our film because I have searched lists of their films and they have produced films like ours, for instance ‘Jaws’ in 1975, ‘Psycho’ in 1960, ’40 days and 40 nights’ in 2002, etc.
http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v =I5NJcSu1CKc
Link to a YouTube video of Universal Studios introduction. The film is one of those that can be easily liked by a wide range of people, as it doesn’t just target a specific type of person so it would be ideal for a cinema release. It could even be brought out in 3D like ‘My Bloody Valentine’ was. This would increase interest in it as this film was the only other horror/thriller film to be released in 3D. Also 3D is becoming more and more popular so we’d want to ‘keep with the times’ so to speak.
4) Who would be the audience for your media product? I did a questionnaire which I gave out to 10 different people on their personal interests of thrillers. The general outline of the response I got is that people from ages 15-35 like intricate, in-depth plots and aren't dependant on violence and explosions in a thriller, mostly psychological, action and horror thrillers, and they count on the soundtrack in a thriller to make it worthwhile. This helped me pick the certificate for the film but also helped us come up with advertising ideas such as advertising our film on billboards near university’s and colleges and put adverts on the internet, like Facebook etc. The target audience for our film was previously decided to be both gender, any ethnicity/class and from ages of 15, as that’s the certificate we gave it, to 30/late 20s. We felt this would be the best target audience as (thinking practically) it’s easiest to advertise to this particular group and our films plot would be of most interest to this age range as there’s a plot to it but also the characters in it are aged around late 20s. In addition, the age of the target audience was decided after the results from the questionnaires were given back.
Professional thrillers that appeal to my target audience are ones like ‘My Bloody Valentine’, all of the ‘Halloween’ films, ‘The Blair Witch Project’, ‘Lady in the Water’, ‘The Prestige’, ‘Batman Begins’ etc. These films all appeal to my targeted age range because they have interesting plots, they all have a dramatic ending that gets built up throughout the whole film and apart from ‘My Bloody Valentine’ they all have characters with strongly distinguished personalities. This is maybe why this audience goes for these films as they can get into the story more when they know more and feel more attached to the characters. Maybe another reason why these films appeal to this audience is because they’re more susceptible to stories. The Blair Witch Project is a good example of this as it was brought out as if the whole thing was real, and that there was a real story behind it, and what you were seeing was real footage been taken by real people, not actors. It could have been so successful because this age group simply chose to believe it so it became very iconic.
5) How did you attract/ address your particular audience?
We were able to attract our audience by opening with a chase scene. When someone see’s an attractive woman running in somewhere completely obscure, obviously in distress, they’re going to sympathise with that character instantly. Though when it cuts to the scene outside the hotel when she’s angrily shouting at someone down the phone, your perception changes. Though I think it’s interesting and effective to suddenly change someone's perceptions on something. We also made sure that the character looked as though she was running with control and with dignity instead of waving her arms around screaming like a helpless woman. This helps the audience to build respect for her instead of just thinking she’s pathetic. Jackie Brown is a good example as it was such a successful film because of the strong ethnic female lead role it had, and I thought about this when planning my film.
Plot: The plot was considered in trying to carry on this representation of the main character to attract audiences, also to keep them interested. I thought that if there were levels to the severity of the situation, it would keep them interested. Essentially, the lover character who turns into a stalker in our plot, would gradually show signs of obsessive behaviour, and they audience would see it, but the main character wouldn’t. This would cause the plot to thicken and be very tense. Characterisation: The character had to appeal to the audience though we didn’t want to make it easy. This is because we didn’t want to make her too conventional. She is disliked at the beginning as she seems bitchy and unnecessarily mean. As we had very contrasting two scenes at the beginning of the film with her running through the forest and then her being dreadfully mean to another human being, it added an interesting effect on the audience as they are confused and don’t know what to think. Even if the plot is conventional, we didn’t want the character to be. Production Design: the production design is for the interest of a wide range of audiences. It doesn’t target a specific audience but more like both males and females aged between 15-30.
6) What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing the product? I learnt how to use a Canon GL-2 when filming. Using a real camera helped me to properly utilise my ideas and be creative. A tripod helped us to get steady shots that we needed to and because our character was running it made it easy to follow her without it shaking We didn’t use any other equipment apart from these two on set as we simply didn’t need them. I learnt to master the controls of the camera e.g. the amount of light that was let in (aperture). We explored the handheld technique and made it look very realistic. When editing we used the program ‘Final Cut Pro’. I learnt how to cut, arrange and use special effects on the titles in the film. I also learnt how to add soundtrack and other sounds which add to the effect of the mis-en-scene. Final cut pro enhanced my ideas as I was able to add things that I couldn’t film. Like off screen diegetic sounds such as screams and breathing which I got from a file on the computer. It took me some time to get the hang of the software but when I did, it was very useful to me and it almost felt natural. Some of my favourite effects were the earthquake on the text which made it shake and seem edgy and tense, just as the film is meant to be. Also the music was supposed to connote a particular tense and scary mood so we found a random piece of sound which fitted the film exactly. There was even a point in it where it got quieter and we used this part to create tension by making the breathing louder so that it was the more prominent sound.
7) Looking back to your preliminary task, what do you feel that you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product? The preliminary exercise helped a lot with the final coursework film in many ways. Organisation was one of them as after seeing how time consuming the preliminary task was we had to be more organised as a group, meeting up to talk about the film, spending extra time filming and editing etc. Camera and tripod skill was another. We were able to explore more different types of camera shots once we had practised with the camera in the preliminary. The one that was the most affected was our skill with continuity. Once we realised how hard it was to get continuity absolutely right, we were constantly aware of it when doing the real one, therefore learning from our mistakes. In the preliminary, we tried to hide the characters identity by using camera shots that were obscure to hide her face such as low angle shots stopping below her neck. Using these shots in the preliminary gave us ideas for better and more daring shots to do in the forest scene such as point of view shots for effect. We also found from the preliminary exercise that generally, low angle shots create more tension so we used these in the forest scene and the Grims Dyke scene. Though the low angle shot in the Grims dyke scene was more for the purpose of making the character seem more upper class. We didn’t use any sound in the preliminary exercise so we had to form ideas right from the real filming, though we already had ideas about soundtrack. We added sound effects into the forest scene to create tension as you can hear breathing supposedly coming from the female character which makes the audience feel uneasy as if something bad is about to happen. The main skill we got out of the preliminary exercise was learning how to edit on the program ‘Final Cut Pro’. We learnt the basics like cutting, using effects such as dissolve, fade in, fade out, ellipsis, slow and fast motion. Though we didn’t use all of these in our real film, the preliminary teachings of how to edit helped us to edit our film more efficiently and have a better idea of how to film it so it could easily be edited, such as using the technique of stopping the film after each take instead of pausing so that when we put the film on to final cut pro it would automatically cut itself and put itself in order. Our idea of the mis-en-scene wasn’t really helped that much by the preliminary exercise as we were told that we weren’t going to be assessed on acting quality, location, costume, makeup etc in the preliminary as it was only looking at our initial skills on camera shots and continuity. Though we knew that for the real thing, we would have to step up our skills on the mis-en-scene. The actress was me and I’m not actually a drama student, though because I knew what I wanted to see in the film I knew how to make my character act, which is something we couldn’t necessarily trust someone else to do. My preliminary task outlined the difficulties I would have when filming the real thing. We planned it with storyboards and rough plans of what we would do. We had problems with continuity and the 180’ rule as we’d never had to use them before through after watching our film back, we realised our faults and were able to learn from the, helping us with our final coursework film piece. The general film did go to plan though there were problems (previously mentioned, like continuity) which were an issue.
Some more thoughts on the overall outcome of our film: I now feel extremely more comfortable with my skills when using filming equipment, editing equipment and my general knowledge of the conventions of filming (e.g. the 180’ rule). One of the reasons this task sounded very daunting the first time we heard about it was because I instantly got feeling of our work never living up to anything that professional so the task did seem quite worrying. Though our tutor explained to us that as long as our original ideas are in it and we show good technique and understanding of how the professionals would do it but at an amateur level, I felt a lot more confident. Though obviously there were other problems as when you’re working at a professional level you have people set to specific jobs. You have a director, an editor, a producer, an actor etc, though with our film we all shared every job so sometimes it became difficult to agree on what we all wanted. Though our group had one very good quality, we all wanted the same thing to make our film seem as real and imaginative as possible, so at the end of the day we had our ideas put down into a film. Our work rate definitely wasn’t as efficient as a professional as they have people to carry their equipment around and put up gazebos if it’s raining to keep the equipment dry, but we didn’t have any of this so sometimes it was simply impossible to film. Our film I think is very successful in meeting the brief of our project as it includes the conventions and noticeable qualities that thrillers have. It is obviously a thriller as it introduces a conventional but original storyline of a stalker chasing a young woman. If we were to make this film professionally think it would be a hit.