Media AS Evaluation Roxanne Bright Hannah George Matthew Tyler
In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? Before starting the production stages of our media product, as a group we had to look into existing media product which fit the horror genre. Whilst researching we came across artofthetitle.com which presented us with nine key frames of well known films broken down, this allowed clear viewing. We have also taken nine key frames from our horror opening which we think represent the conventions produced within real media products. The first frame we took is the establishing shot of the house. We decided to use this as it is very important in the mise en scene in setting the scene and location. Whilst filming the establishing shot, we wanted to create a dark tense atmosphere. We carefully selected the time of day so that there would not be too much background noise as well as not too much light. Although we wanted this composition to look dark and eerie, as a group we came to the decision of having the front room light switched on so that there was a bright focal point within the composition of the frame. This almost demands the audience to look at this section, and brings them into the story. The horror genre is usually introduced with an establishing shot of the location, and this is where our inspiration came from. As a group we think that our establishing shot went very well and achieved what we wanted it to.
The next frame we decided to focus on is the over the shoulder shot of the two female characters using Facebook – a popular teen social networking website. We decided the camera angle should be over the shoulder. This allows the audience to see the two girls, and what they are doing from a different perspective. We think that this shot works really well as one of the first camera angles as it works after an establishing shot; showing the inside of the building after the audience has seen the outside which helps create the story. Also, being a slight high angle, it creates the feeling of isolation and being alone. The third frame which we have selected is the one in which the audience first see the figure as it approaches the window on the outside of the building. We have chosen this frame because we think that it is typical of teen movies to have an unknown figure ‘stalking’ the victims; similar to ‘when a stranger calls’. We chose the costume of the figure to be in all black, as it allows the figure to be a silhouette against the light coming from the window. This frame is only a small section of the shot of the figure as we used a zoom to focus on this character.
We chose to introduce our horror opening with the Inbox (1) title closer to the beginning of our footage. We chose to do this because it introduces the film earlier on and creates the idea of what the opening is about, allowing the audience to relate to the usage of Facebook; (this appeals to our target audience of teenagers). We chose a font which looked most like it had been typed by a typewriter and we also added in the sound effects of a typewriter as each letter appears, this creates a tense feeling. We chose the lettering to be white on a contrasting black background because it makes it stand out, and using the dark background looks quite sinister. Our next title which we inserted is an indicator to time; ‘3 hours earlier’. This takes the audience back in time with the footage and allows them to see the past events clearly as they know the time has gone backwards. Like the film title, we chose to do this in white font with a black background to keep the theme the same which, as a group, we feel looks more professional. As a group we think that the title transitions work well with each other and the footage involved.
One of the first frames after our titles consists of a blood covered hand grabbing a knife. As a group, we think that using this knife covered in blood links to the concept in the teen horror ‘Scream’. The idea of already having blood on the knife makes the audience wonder how it got there and what could have happened. This intrigues the audience and makes them want to watch on. This is a selected frame from footage which lasts a few seconds. We think this is quite a long section of the footage, which slowly adds tension to the opening because of the slow speed in which the hand is grabbing the knife - this makes the audience anxious to what is going to happen involving the knife. For our next chosen frame, we used a high angle shot looking down on the teenage victim in our opening. In this shot, the bright lighting on the face, and the angle in which it is shot, is typical of a teen horror because it shows the emotion of the character clearly. Most of the already established teen horror films have a close up of the victim looking very vulnerable somewhere in their footage, and we have tried to represent this in ours. For example in the film ‘Wrong Turn’, there is a high angle shot in the opening, looking down on a female victim as she is isolated and vulnerable. After watching the opening of that film, we think that the shot is particularly effective and worked well. After trying to recreate it ourselves, we think that it went well and that it is one of the best shots in our opening.
The extreme close up shown in the screenshot is another one of our nine selected frames. As shown in the image, the shot is starting to blur as we were trying to create the sense of going into the characters mind to show the audience what the character is thinking of. This helps the audience understand and relate to the situation. We also wanted to create the illusion of going back in time as the film is based upon a flashback. This is the similar to the likes of the ‘Saw’ films, in which a flashback is shown to help the audience’s understanding of the situation. The last frame that we chose is the last shot in our opening. It shows a close up of a teenage girl who appears to be dead in a bathroom. This shot is the outcome of the blurred zoom mentioned in our previous frame. This frame challenges conventions of other typical teen horror films, as the audience knew of two female characters being alone in their house, and now that one of them is dead; the other should now be feeling isolated and by themselves. We feel that including death in our opening, and increasing the vulnerability of the other victim, gets the audience more excited as to what will happen. Overall, as a group, we feel that these nine frames develop and challenge already existing media products within the same genre and conventions. Within the horror opening, already in nine frames we have been able to identify key conventions and show the similarities between our opening and existing horror films. This helps our footage to be successfully classified as a teen horror genre.
How does your media product represent particular social groups? All media products represent a particular group of some sort. Our horror opening represents teenagers. As our horror film had to appeal to a teen audience and is the certificate of 15, we did some background research looking into different horror openings. We found an obvious trend throughout these with the victim often being a teenage girl. One film in particular that stood out to us is ‘Scream’. This film represents the typical ideas of the genre; with a teenage girl as the victim. We chose to take a character from our own horror opening to compare with the victim from ‘Scream’. There are a variety of similarities between the two characters; however we have made our film unique as there are also differences.
Between these two characters there are many similarities, however there is also one significant difference which differentiates the two characters. Firstly, both victims are teenage girls of roughly the same age, and both being vulnerable characters within the horror. Within the film ‘Scream’; the girl’s parents are away on a business trip. As a group, we have replicated the idea of the teenage girl being isolated and alone which emphasises the scare of the opening. As well as this, both of these female characters are dressed similarly in typical clothing for their age – for example a hoody with leggings. Also, both characters are conscious of their appearance with their hair and make-up neatly done and have similar styles. In ‘Scream’, the weapon of choice is a knife. This is an aspect shown in many teenage horrors, including our own. We felt as though it was a more manageable prop to use, which built a lot of tension during the piece. The final similarity we noticed is that the predator in both films is an unknown figure that would seem to be a male. This is prominent in most horrors nowadays, although some decide to use the twist of having a female stalker. However as this is unusual we have chosen to keep to the more usual convention of an unknown male stalker. The only difference in which we identified between the characters is the use of different technologies – in ‘Scream’, the girl is using a house phone, however in ‘Inbox(1)’, the technology used is a laptop. As our media product was created to represent teenagers, we feel as though the laptop was a good prop as it allowed the use of a popular teenage social networking site, Facebook.
What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why? As a group we have discussed what kind of media institution might wish to distribute our media product. We feel as though we should aim more towards the lower budget British film institutions rather than a higher budget film distribution company such as The Warner Brothers. We think this because if we were to distribute with a higher end company then our media product would not work out as well because those type of films would use infinite levels of CGI and very expensive and upgraded technologies. We think that our film should be produced with a film company such as Warp films. Warp film has produced many lower budget, yet successful, British films such as ‘Four Lions’, ‘This is England’ and ‘Submarine’. Whilst researching we found that Warp films do not produce films within the horror genre. Therefore we feel as though our teen horror would stand out amongst the rest of their films, therefore leading it to be successful within the film industry. However this could also be a drawback as they may not wish to take on a media product of the horror genre as they do not specialise in this area of the industry. As well as Warp films – our film could be distributed by ‘Twisted Pictures’ – a company famous for distributing genres such as horrors and thrillers and the likes of ‘The Saw’ sequel. As this company is already recognisable, it could lead people to want to watch our film as it has positive reviews. Also, it has financial backing that Warp films may struggle to offer without the assistance of other institutions such as ‘Film Four’.
Who might be the audience for your media product? As a group, we have decided that our target audience for our media product are teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19. Although it is viewable for the older age groups. Our set film certification was 15. After looking at the BBFC website, we researched the guidelines which we were to keep to during the production process. As a group we feel as though we did this well and have stayed well within the restrictions. As teenagers, there are certain typical stores in which teenagers generally buy their clothing from. As a group, we felt that it was important that what we wore what would be stereotypical and recognisable clothing for teenagers. The costume of the character, ‘Claire’, was purchased from a well known teenage store ‘Newlook’. It consisted of a hoody and leggings. As well as this, the character was wearing a ring and necklace with simple studs – many teenagers can relate to this. On the whole we feel as though our media product has the ability to target a very diverse teenage audience for all different backgrounds; it is not specifically filmed for a niche audience. We believe that our horror film would appeal to a broader, mass audience of 15 to 19 year olds. Although this is our target audience, we feel as though it will appeal more to the 16/17 year olds. We think this because we are at that age ourselves, and may have subconsciously produced a piece of footage which is going to appeal to our own age group.
How did you attract/address your audience? Whilst researching, we found that many of the openings to horror films attract the audience very early on such as ‘Scream’, ‘When a Stranger Calls’, ‘The Unborn’ and ‘Solstice’. This became noticeable in many of the 15 certification films. During our research, we found that the film ‘When a Stranger Calls’ appeals to our target audience and therefore we were inspired to take aspects of this film to address and attract our audience. Before even watching our horror opening footage, we decided to attract our audience with the title – ‘Inbox(1)’. Before even watching a horror film, the title is an important way to primarily attract an audience as it allows them to wonder what the film could be about, causing them to either want or not want to watch it. This title appeals to the teenage audience because it is an aspect of the famous social networking website; Facebook. This is very popular with the teenage audience and could slightly hint at themes shown in our horror. This then attracts and addresses our audience as early as possible which we feel works well within our horror opening. Another way in which we chose to attract our audience was a transition reading ‘3 hours later’. This causes the audience to imagine what could have happened to the girls sitting on the sofa. As well as this, having a 3 second long transition allows time for the audience to imagine and wonder these things.
What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this project? Before we were actually introduced to any filming equipment, our first task was to create our own ‘blogger’ account; this is where all of our work would be stored so that we could look back upon it. Nobody in our group had used this website before however it was quite simple to use as it had a clear straightforward layout. One problem we did come across was uploading our storyboard pictures using the school computers. The school was restricting us to what we could do on this website; therefore we had to do most of this at home. This was not a major problem as it was easy to overcome by using the website at home. As we had to upload PowerPoint presentations to our blogs, we created accounts on the website ‘Slideshare’ which enabled us to do this task. It was quite simple to upload the PowerPoint onto our Slideshare accounts however; it did consume quite a lot of time. Doing this, allows people to view a full PowerPoint via a blog. Within the production of our media product, we have learnt how to use various filming technologies. Primarily, we were introduced to new equipment including cameras, tripods and a range of computer programmes. To begin with, we were shown the equipment we would be using, and taught how to use its various tools and features. As a whole we think that our group performed well with this equipment and we were able to learn how to use it quite quickly which enabled us to enjoy the process more. We found the tripod particularly important whilst filming our horror footage because without it we found that the compositions did not look professional and the shot was not held steady. However we had a few problems at first with using the tripods and attaching the camera to them. We overcame this with practise and then this enabled us to create more steady shots and different outcomes.
During the second stage of production – the editing process, we found that the most prominent mac software we used was a programme called ‘Final Cut Express’. Whilst using this programme, we all learnt and developed our skills and found that our knowledge of this software has expanded through practically use of it. As a group we found difficulties with the programme as it was not always recognising or opening the files in which we selected. We overcame this by renaming and organising our files into a folder. We have learnt how to use a range of tools on final cut such as the razor tool, adding and editing transitions, cropping, selection, and moving footage around. However sometimes when using these tools we were told to render our footage Whichbecame an issue as it became tedious and time consuming in certain cases, especially in our longer editing periods. Another technology which we learnt to use during our film production was exporting to QuickTime. We found this a very simple process as it only took a few clicks and didn’t take very long to export. We used this in both our preliminary task and final task to make viewing easier. As well as this, all of our group members are confident in doing this.
Another programme which we used quite a lot of during the editing process of both our main task and preliminary task is Garageband. We found this a really good software for creating musical loops and it allowed us not to use any pieces which could have been copyrighted. However we are pleased that we created our own track as it allowed us to be more creative and allowed us to fit the music in with the footage. We did however come across a problem in creating the sound for our horror opening. The first piece of music we developed did not work with the footage and there was no continuity or sound bridges between shots. However we did not mind as we created our sound quite early on in the editing process and we had enough time to make changes and improvements. Our final sound loop was made in Garageband for the second half of the opening, and the first part were sounds which we obtained from the website; www.freesound.org. we found this website to be very useful as we could search specific things to easily find a sound we wanted. It was easy to save to the desktop and simply drag into final cut.
Looking back at your preliminary task (the continuity editing task), what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to full product? As a group we feel as though creating the preliminary task before our final horror opening helped us to expand our knowledge with the production equipment. Within the preliminary task we aimed to use and develop many angles and camera movements. We feel as though we did this well, however some could be improved upon in our final piece. We found that the preliminary task was mainly leading up to the moment of the conversation which used the shot reverse shot, we focused on this a lot. Although this shot was prominent in our preliminary task it was not used at all in our horror opening as we did not contain the use of dialogue. As well as this we used a very recognisable 180 degree shot. Within our horror opening, there is a two shot of the two teenage characters sitting on a sofa, this is similar to the 180 degree rule although it is not exact. Completing the preliminary task allowed us as a group to think more about the composition of our framing, and this was developed further in our horror opening. For example, during our preliminary task we were introduced to the rule of thirds, which became prominent during our horror final piece and improved our compositions. At the beginning of the preliminary task, we were issued cameras and tripods. None of our group members were familiar with this equipment or their functions, however we felt as though we learnt quite quickly and improved throughout the task. We found the most difficult part of the equipment to be in the editing stages or our task – using the mac facilities. Our group members had rarely used the mac computer systems before this point and at first found it quite hard to learn how to use all of the software, especially final cut – the main editing programme. Continuity editing during the preliminary task became easier as it was developed which gave us a good base to work with in our teen horror opening – ‘Inbox(1)’.