G321 Foundation Portfolio Thriller Opening Title Sequence
The Brief• Creation of the titles and opening of a new thriller.• Last a maximum of 2 minutes.• Should include original material.• Students should create all audio and visual material.
Project Process• Research and Planning – to learn and understand the conventions of the thriller genre and to plan how to engage with the genre.• Filming and Editing – to demonstrate your understanding and to create your own example of the genre.• Evaluation – to reflect on how successful you were at the above.
Research – starts now!• Vital to have a clear understanding of conventions.• Essential to demonstrate that understanding to examiners.• Achieved through analysis and creation of your opening sequence.• No limit as to how many you can analyse• Structure by micro-elements and refer to how those micro-elements are used to exemplify the conventions.
Thriller Conventions.• The following is a list of thriller conventions. Use it to both to create your own sequence and analyse existing ones, remembering that different films will use different conventions in different ways.• A crime at the core of the narrative (often murder, but not necessarily).• A complex narrative structure, with false paths, clues and resolutions.• A narrative pattern of establishing enigmas which the viewer expects to be resolved.• A protagonist who is systematically dis-empowered and drawn into a complex web of intrigue by the antagonist until the protagonist feels isolated and helpless. The title of the thriller may relate to this weakness eg Vertigo and Insomnia.• Themes of identity, mistaken identity, doubling and doppelgangers, amnesia.• Themes of mirroring, reflection and seeing.• Themes of voyeurism, with The audience of a thriller being placed in the ambiguous position of voyeur.• Manipulation of perspectives and optical illusions are common.• Titles often reflect an aspect of the pro/antagonist’s psychological state.• There are often frequent scenes in the film in which the protagonist is in peril.• Mise en scene which echoes/ mirrors the protagonist’s plight.• The narrative presents ordinary situations in which extraordinary things happen.• Micro elements combine in a build up of suspense, music and lighting are particularly important in the creation of suspense.
Alfred Hitchcock – Master of Suspense• A British producer and director who moved to Hollywood and made a number of very successful films from the mid 1920’s to the mid 1970’s. He is considered to be the creator of the thriller genre and the Master of Suspense.• He pioneered the use of a camera made to move in a way that mimics a persons gaze, forcing viewers to engage in a form of voyeurism.• He framed shots to maximise anxiety, fear, or empathy, and used innovative film editing. His stories frequently feature fugitives on the run from the law alongside "icy blonde" female characters.• Many of Hitchcocks films have twist endings and thrilling plots featuring depictions of violence, murder, and crime, although many of the mysteries function as decoys or "MacGuffins" meant only to serve thematic elements in the film and the extremely complex psychological examinations of the characters.
Analysis of Classic Thrillers• In your groups:• Watch the opening of a classic thriller• Make notes on the micro-elements and conventions• Do some research into the film, i.e. find the original film poster, can you find a trailer for it, can you find any reviews, how was the director, principal actors etc. Include images and any links.
Classic Thrillers• Read this article on how the thriller genre was established.• http://www.timeout.com/film/features/show-feat• Blog notes on the history of the genre – include images and youtube clips.
Rear Window (1954) The opening shots show the credits coming over a large three paned window as the blinds rise up one by one. The camera moves through the windows and outside, it follows a cat walking up some stairs and then pans around an inner courtyard and then back inside the window to show the main character asleep, sweating, then it focuses on the thermometer to illustrate the heat. Then the camera takes the viewer on a voyeuristic journey to all the neighbour’s houses. Then back to the main characters house to quickly introduce his flaw and set up some of the enigmas. Main themes: •Voyeurism •Mistaken identity •A protagonist with a flaw •A crime at the core of the narrative •Ordinary things in which something extraordinary happens.
Catch Me If You Can (2002) • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaLDyrun_Cc • An animated title sequence that gives an overview of the whole film but also establishes some key thriller conventions: • Identity – the creation of multiple false identities. • A series of crimes within the narrative. • The protagonist is frequently in peril.
Se7en (1995)A more abstract title sequence, this uses disturbing imagery as wellas images that can’t always be recognised to unsettle the viewer.The opening and the film as a whole covers some of the followingthemes:•A complex narrative•A series of crimes•Voyeurism•Identity•A flawed protagonist
Initial Analysis• Lesson 1:Analyse a classic thriller opening• Lesson 2:Analyse a contemporary thriller opening• Lesson 3:Analyse a student thriller openingHomework: Make a list of the thriller conventions you want to include in your opening sequence.