Introduction I have made an opening sequence to a psychological thriller/horror film, I worked with my friend Fabio Fiocca. We both enjoy this genre of film so thought it would be best to do an opening sequence for this genre. Throughout the project I put together a storyboard, filmed and edited, I also made the final decisions for sound. Destitute Evaluation Helen Keegan
In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? As I said before we chose the psychological thriller/horror genre, so decided to use the typical elements of this genre. Firstly I set it at night in an isolated location, there are shots of victims in the opening sequence looking very scared and the blood and bruising on them is a typical convention of the horror genre, the opening sequence is what should hook the audience in. I was fairly conventional in my approach but feel I did try to develop the form somewhat by posing more questions than usual as there were no ‘big’ signals to suggest what might have happened to the victims or why they were chosen. I felt this was important as sometimes the element of surprise can be lost if too much is revealed in an opening sequence. I used the typical element of ‘scary’ music (non-diegetic) and selected a composition that not only sounded disturbing but actually disturbed the listener too. I chose, as I said before, an isolated location and the close up of the driver in the opening sequence showed him to be expressionless; intent upon driving. I chose to have no dialogue and hoped that the overall effect of this would be to challenge the audience to put their own interpretation upon what might have happened and I also felt this added to the tension.
We particularly liked the opening sequences to ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (2003) and ‘The silence of the lambs’ (1991). The opening sequence to ‘Texas chainsaw Massacre’ introduces the monster by showing information on what looks like records, photos and bits of his face we liked this as it set up enigmas so like this we did the same by showing shots of our monster’s (Nick) face and hands.
In silence of the lambs the pace is a bit quicker and at first you think she is being chased but in fact you discover she is doing what seems like a obstacle course. I liked the idea of using something simple and a nice pace, as people generally have a low patience span. The way it is a journey also makes the audience want to know where this car with this girl we think is in the back of it is going. The shots then of the three girls who look like they are being held hostage makes the audience guess that maybe he is driving there.
How does your media product represent particular social groups? My media project represents the social groups criminals and victims and monsters. The representation of the criminal was evident in my driver as he drove along expressionless whilst a young woman lay trussed up and afraid in the back of his car. He wore glasses and these normally represent intelligence but here almost act as a mask/disguise for him to hide behind. His glasses may aid his eyesight as a driver but he is blind to the suffering of the victim behind him…there is a contradiction going on here. The driver looks unremarkable and this is frightening. He is not a stereotypical criminal with thuggish looks and I feel my representation fits in better with a psychological thriller. The representation of the victims was more stereotypical. They were all young females and all wore dresses to heighten the sense of their femininity and vulnerability. They all look distressed and afraid and were passive. Their representation would engage the audience’s sympathy and concern.
In James Wan’s ‘Saw’ films the ‘Monster’ is watching his victims and hostages, this brings out the zeitgeist of fear of surveillance. It is also creepy how they are being filmed and unaware and that the monster is filming them whilst they are where he has locked them up. I also liked the idea of putting the audience in the ‘monster’s’ shoes, the cam-corder effect is like a point of view shot thus putting the audience in their mind. I put this cam-corder effect in when the name of our film comes up at the end of our opening sequence. We chose ‘Destitute’ as the films name as it means lonely/lacking means to live. I liked this as our ‘monster’ is a lonely farmer with nothing in his life, therefore does what he does.
What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?
I think a company such as Film 4 might distribute my film, or ITV( Drama). Recent productions such as ‘Red Riding’ and ‘Compulsion’ and ones in the past such as ‘Prime Suspect’ make me think along these lines.
Production costs would need to be low and home grown talent would be most appropriate for such a production. I do think it would work best, however, if at least one big name was to star in the film.
Who would be the audience for your media product?
The main audience for my film would be females 25-34 and 34-50 and males 25-34. The socio-economic group would be A-C1. The younger groups would be those who enjoy psychological thrillers; who would choose to watch such films at the cinema on a regular basis. The older age group would consist of mothers who like to watch a good drama/film on television which engages them and allows them to do some thinking as they puzzle out the ‘who’ and (more importantly for them) the ‘why’ of the plot.
What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?
When I started the project I couldn’t remember by memory opening sequences I had seen in psychological thrillers and horror films I liked, so went on to YouTube.com
YouTube has near enough every opening sequence to any film, I simply typed in the film I was thinking opening sequence and it came up.
Another website which helped me with the project was blogger.com it kept me organised and focused and it helped remind me where I was with the project.
When first using the video camera I was pretty useless and also nervous about it, I would now say I’m pretty confident with it and I have definitely picked up skills doing this project with the video camera.
The only real problems I had with the camera was how easy it lost battery and how the tripod was always relied upon, but I like the effect the shakiness of the camera gives off, I feel it creates a big sense of uncertainty and nervousness I want the audience to feel.
Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?
The preliminary task I did before my proper, full product was obviously my first time putting clips together to make a sequence. You can tell by the jumpiness that it wasn’t filmed as carefully and the editing wasn’t particularly hard as it was filmed in pretty much the order it was shown as.
It was a shock when it came to editing for the opening sequence of the ‘Destitute’ as I had to do a lot of cross cutting so had to get right amount of shots and filming done, I learnt to film as much as possible as it made it easier to cut down.
The first thing I filmed was the country roads, then the shots of car pulling up to the farm .After that I did filmed Sophie in the back of a different car (one with more room to film in). Fabio got a few shots of his uncle driving his car then I got the shots of Ksenia, Rachael and Lauren (hostages). We found it difficult trying to make it seem like the same car throughout the sequence and I think we did a good job of it. However the journey sometimes doesn’t seem like the same journey but that may just seem like that to me as I know it isn’t the same journey, no-one who has watched the clip has commented on this so I could just be being paranoid.
I like how the sequence is quite fast-paced as in moves smoothly through transitions but I wish I’d of kept the gory shots to hint across more about what is going on with our ‘monster’ but it works without all the blood and gore.
I chose to have it all in low key lighting and in the darkness to create bigger fear of the unknown, however would of liked a bit of lightness/colour in one of the clips as I feel too much darkness could bore the audience and not grab their attention as much.
I think my opening sequence would attract an audience as it creates a tense atmosphere and puts questions in their minds that would persuade them to watch the film to find the answers, from the opening sequences I watched they introduced the ‘monster’ which in these films is what the audience like, working out who the monster is and why they are a monster etc.
The way tension is created is something I have described previously and the binary opposition between the older male driver and the distressed young female victims is effective too.
If I had a bit more of a budget with a film I would of put money into a better soundtrack as well as I feel this was a bit of a let down.