In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? Our thriller’s opening sequence incorporates generic conventions through using the quick cuts between the phone vibrating and the intruder hiding from the girl in the bed, paired with the fast soundtrack which has a beat to the rhythm of a heartbeat, keeping the audience in suspense. We also used close ups of photos, the girl’s face and the phone which gives detail to the film and makes the audience inquisitive as to why they are seeing these photos and their relevance. Another generic convention in thriller films is darkness, we incorporated this in the bedroom scene where you can see shadows making it more mysterious. Shadowing from having the light source behind. Shadowing on the face so that we can her expressions, a reaction shot almost.
However we also developed these conventions with the flashes of photos of the protagonist seen in the credits which look like they have been taken for evidence records, therefore the audience will be waiting to see what happened when the credits have finished. We also aimed to confuse the audience by showing these photos and then showing the intruder who never actually does anything to harm the girl who walks out of the door in the morning with no bruises or cuts. Bruises, created using make-up, hair is off her face, bright lighting and grey tint. Here, in the morning she has not been harmed which creates confusion.
How does your media product represent particular social groups? Also by not filming his face as the shots are always from behind his identity is not revealed making it more mysterious and confusing to the audience. We used normal looking average people, so that the audience will be able to relate to them, thinking that it is possible for them to be in the same situation as the woman making it more realistic and therefore a more frightening experience. Medium shot, shows the back at a slightly high angle. Over the shoulder, we still do not see his face, high angle over the girl in the bed makes him seem more dominant again The social group which is represented in our opening sequence is gender. This is represented with the protagonist being the woman in bed and the suspected antagonist being the male character. The audience would perceive the woman as being vulnerable as she is wearing quite a young, girly style pair of pyjamas while the man is towering over her and wearing all black. We created this sense of dominance of the man by using high angle shots and zooming in on the woman to make it look as if he is looking down on her and she has no where to escape, where as with the man we have used a lot of medium, close up and over the shoulder shots which make him appear more dominant as he looks powerful.
What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why? On the other hand, it could also be produced by a major Hollywood studio as it is quite a mainstream film due to the target age range and the type of people it would appeal to being quite large. I think this is mainly because of the mise en scene used, it is all quite average for example the phone is not extremely high-tec or expensive, room in which the scene in the bedroom is filmed is not really big, it is quite small and the decoration is plain. In the morning scene the flat in which the woman walks is not very extravagant and her clothes are simple, high street brands which would be the case for most of the audience. Our opening sequence as it is could be produced or shown as an amateur arthouse or internet film however a few tweaks would need to be made, such as it would need to be better quality which could be sorted by using a HD camera but I think the conventions, mise en scene, location and characters we have used would still work well, I also think that our credits look quite professional as they are simple yet effective.
Who would be the audience for your media product? Our target audience for the opening sequence we produced was an equal split of men and women, and a wide age range of 15-30 years which was decided according to the results we collected from our questionnaire. We achieved this as the audience can associate to the characters, people of 20+ years can relate themselves to the protagonist as her clothes are smart as though she is going to work coming from her average looking flat which a majority of our audience are likely to own. When the woman is in the bed she is wearing young looking pyjamas and her room is also average therefore all of our target audience can connect with this however it is more likely to be the women that do. On the other hand, the men can relate to the antagonist is some way as they may feel protective over the vulnerable woman, or depending on their situation they may see the reasoning to the man being in the woman’s room. A film which has similar attributes to ours is ‘Se7en’ (below) as we see flashes of images, items, writing at the start, in the credits but their relevance is not known by this stage. Then, when the film starts everything seems normal, for example the flashes of photos in our credit sequence and the antagonist in the room, then the woman walks out her flat in the morning unharmed.
These are the guidelines decided by the BBFC for a film of 15+ years which our film would need to follow for it to be suitable for our target audience.
How did you attract/address your audience? The audience was addressed by having average looking people, room, props and places. The characters in the film are also around the same age as our average target audience being in their 20’s and living on their own. These women, and maybe men, would be scared by the fact that it is quite possible for them to be in the same situation. The use of the point of view shot where it zooms in on the woman’s face would keep the audience on the edge of their seat as she could wake up and scream at any moment. The second point of view shot we used when it shows the photo by the bed creates confusion within the audience as they do not know the relevance of the photo or who the other man is, keeping them guessing. The over the shoulder shot allows the audience to get closer to the antagonist but restricts them from seeing who he really is, keeping them guessing as to who he is until the end of the film. This shot makes the man’s shoulders look very broad in the black jacket he is wearing, making him seem more powerful. The close ups let the audience see the reactions on the woman’s face and makes her seem like the vulnerable, weak victim where as the man is more mysterious and dominant. The quick cuts add drama and keeps the audience at the edge of their seats as the pace is faster, naturally speeding up their heartbeats. The audience are asked to put themselves in the position of the protagonist, even though there are point of view shots and over the shoulder shots from the man more people would be able to relate to the woman as it is more likely for them to be in the situation of the woman and not many people would relate to the intruder. Hitchcock’s quote ‘ There’s two people sitting down, there is a bomb under the table, what’s more exciting, if the bomb goes off or if it doesn’t?’ refers to creating suspense and the audience’s expectations of what will happen. We used this idea by having the intruder in the room, looking around but not harming the woman as she walks out of her door in the morning fine. We can see that she is asleep, however the audience still wait for something to happen.
What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product? Other problems we faced included lighting, timing, positioning and editing. As there was no lighting equipment available to us it was hard to get the right levels of light in the intruder scene, with the blinds fully closed it was too dark, with them fully open and half closed it was too light and so we used black card to cover up the necessary areas to get the right levels. Another problem was that we could not raise the camera high enough for the medium high angle shot of the intruder, however we solved this problem by putting DVD’s under each leg of the tripod. In Cambridge, the main problem was getting the right timing as buses, pedestrians, cars and cyclists obstructed the camera though this could have been worse if we had filmed during busier times which is why we thought it was best to film after 8.30am/9.00am and before 12pm to avoid this. The final problem that occurred was trying to get the top letter with credits on to blow away but so that the bottom one stayed in place so that you can see the credits on that letter, this was solved by using white tack to stick the bottom one to the floor. We also had to make sure that my shadow was not in the film when I had to blow away the letter so I had to kneel down on the floor. The Panasonic IX series cameras that we had available to us were not of a good quality as it’s light levels were poor therefore in the scene filmed in the bedroom there is a slight sense of ‘noise’, a HD camera would have solved this problem. Another downside to the cameras we used was that the battery did not last long, for that reason when we went to Cambridge we had to ensure that we managed to finish shooting before the battery ran out. However, the strengths of the camera were that it was easy to connect to the computer and it is very simple to use as there are very few controls to learn and not many wires to connect to the computer or television.
The editing software we used was Final Cut Express, on the Apple Macs, it was quite complicated but we all learnt how use it quickly. We experimented and figured out how to speed up shots, add effects, match cuts, roll cuts together, change opacitys and overlay. Particular effects that we found useful were fading in and out between the credits and the intruder scene then to the morning scene and blurring the text in the credits. We also added a grey tint to the photos in the credits to make them look brighter and more mysterious, and we gradually increased the opacity of the title ‘Unwritten’ We used Photoshop to make a credit title which we then transferred onto the phone to use in our intruder scene. Blurred credits
We used a program called Audacity to edit the soundtrack for our opening sequence by changing the tempo and removing parts of the song to make it fit our work. Originally we wanted to use two songs, one for the credit sequence and one for the main sequence but decided that it would sound and flow better if we just used one track all the way through to the Cambridge scene where it would then change to diagetic sound.
Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel that you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product? At the planning stage when we were researching into the genre, my idea of a thriller was different to what it actually is, after finding out about it and what needs to go into a thriller, we started to come up with our own ideas and watching other films to get more ideas and inspiration. We drew up our storyboard with our main idea however we knew that when we started filming we may have needed to edit positioning and timing, we then filmed the storyboard to get an idea of the timings we had estimated and uploaded it to the blog. We had to plan when we needed to film so that we did not miss any lessons or miss our train, we also needed to ring the hotel before we left for Cambridge to make sure it was still ok for us to film at the discussed time. In doing so, they told us when they are busiest so we could avoid customers and rush hour with traffic, this allowed us to get our shots done quickly before the battery ran out. We also filmed in the right order to save time when we were editing. Our specific shot types have been improved as we used quite a range of point of view, over the shoulder, close ups, medium shots, panning, long shots and zooming. I personally feel a lot more confident with using the equipment as we used it a lot and made errors which we corrected easily. Overall our opening sequence was very successful as we encountered very few problems that we could not solve and not many changes were needed to be made from our storyboard, just making one or two shots longer and positioning, however next time I would want to start filming earlier so that we had more time to edit it.