Part 1- The ways in which our media product use, develop and challenge conventions of real media products
This section of my evaluation will be focusing on how our thriller film opening incorporates generic conventions of other thriller films. A convention of the many thriller films we looked at had a sense of mysteriousness. One example of this would be the film ‘Se7en’, where in the opening sequence, it is not clear what is happening because of the large number of close-ups. There are close-ups of the main characters hand actions and there are also several quick cuts, which help add a sense of mystery because you don’t know straight away what’s happening. There was suspense because the audience (our class) had no idea what was going on, so we therefore were keen to find out more of what was going on, which was why we kept watching. This is one of the conventions we used in our opening scene, we wanted to make the scene so the audience would not know what was going on; we did this by using many close-ups, over the shoulder shots and never fully showing the characters face. Another idea we used that added mysteriousness was the antagonist opening the door at the start of the sequence. The audience could not see his face, which made them want to know more about who he was. Another generic convention we incorporated was the gender of the antagonist in the first few shots. The antagonists in thrillers are predominantly of the male gender, which is why we filmed a male as the antagonist.
Our group’s way of challenging generic conventions of real media products is shown by our antagonist. In generic thriller films, the antagonist is smart, and seems to never have an obvious weakness, while our antagonist is shown to be obsessive and like a psychopath. This is shown by the numerous photos of women in his photographic dark room and by the shot where his hands are on his head and the hand-held cam jolts around him.
Our film is mainly thriller, however there are some conventional elements of a psychological sub-genre. This is again shown by the scene where his hands are over his head, and the camera movement is edited to look really fast, which gives the impression that he may have mental issues. There are also some horror twists to the thriller opening. One of the shots that show this is the shot where there are photos of women, which make the antagonist look obsessive. This is another convention similar to ' Se7en '. There is a shot with a character crossing someone‘s face out. It starts off with one line through the face and then becomes obsessive.
For camera angles, we have used an idea from the movie ‘Silence of the lambs’, The opening sequence shows a woman played by Jodie Foster running through some woods. The first impression that’s made is that she’s being chased, and this is because of the camera work. Handheld cam is used from behind her to give the effect that someone is chasing her and also gives an eerie effect. This is the thriller convention we used in our thriller opening in the shot where the antagonist is screaming with his hands on his head. We have also used ‘Se7en’ for our ideas on music. The soundtrack that’s played in the opening sequence of ‘Se7en’ is very eerie and makes the audience tense, which is the effect we wanted. We used the original soundtrack that was played in that opening sequence.
Part 2- How our media product represents particular social groups
Like most psychological thrillers, a person with a mental illness will be a male and not female. This is a usual convention in thrillers. Another social group represented in our thriller is ethnicity. The main characters in thriller films are predominantly white; we have incorporated this generic feature in our thriller opening. Also in thrillers, people with high authority like policemen are usually male. Our thriller opening shows a detective wearing smart clothing who is a male. We made the protagonist wearing a trench coat and smoking a cigarette because of generic conventions. Our protagonist is made to be high in authority and to look cooler compared to other characters in the story. A protagonist smoking would usually make him look cooler to the audience than other characters. Also, the protagonist wearing a trench coat will give the audience an impression that he’s high in power and it’s him that should be supported. Gender is represented in a stereotypical way in some scenes. An example of this would be the scene where the photos of the beaten women are shown, which gives an impression that they are vulnerable and weak.
Gender is represented in a stereotypical way in some scenes. An example of this would be the scene where the photos of the beaten women are shown, which gives an impression that they are vulnerable and weak.
Part 3- Who the audience would be for our media product
Our thriller is a psychological thriller involving an antagonist with mental problems, who is male. Our target audience will be mostly male because there are a bigger percentage of males that would be able to relate to his mental issues than females, so males may be able to relate to the film more. Because of some of the graphic scenes in our opening (photos, skull, saw, etc), our thriller would not appeal the younger target audience and should be for teens aged 16+. In the beginning of the clip, where it shows the antagonist in his photographic dark room, his identity as well as his age remains ambiguous, because of this, the audience would not straight away know how old he is and would therefore appeal to a wider age range, with the oldest age possibly being around 35.
A film that is similar to ours is ‘Se7en’. We got our idea for quick cuts and soundtrack from this. It is similar because it also involves a man who seems to be obsessive. There are also some graphic scenes in this opening like when the character shown is cutting the skin from the tips of his fingers. This film will therefore, like ours appeal to an older target audience like 16+.
Part 4- What kind of media institution would distribute our product, and why
In my opinion, this film could be one that would be produced in a major Hollywood studio. Being a Hollywood film involves making the film so it’s what people want to see. It also has to appeal to a large target audience, so there are many consumers of the product, which is what our opening has done; we have incorporated representations that would be appealing to a vast majority. For example, making the antagonist have mental problems a male may be more appealing to the male audience; the antagonist’s age being unknown would appeal to a wide age range, etc. It also, in my opinion, has potential for a sequel because most thriller films that have sequels have a main reason for the audience wanting to find out more. For example, from seeing the opening scene, the audience do not know fully about the protagonist because he is only shown for a small amount of time, which in result will make the audience want to know more about him. This is similar to the antagonist shown in our opening. Although he is shown for a longer time than the protagonist, there are many things in the scene that the audience will be confused about and would therefore want to know more about. An example would be why he has so many pictures in his room, what he does with the saw or why there is a skull on the table. Because of this, our thriller has potential for a sequel so all the audience’s questions are answered.
Our product would not be an arthouse film. An arthouse film is the opposite of a Hollywood film. While a Hollywood film attempts to appeal to a big target audience and to mainstreamers, an arthouse film bases its film on the producer’s beliefs and what he/she feels is right. Our thriller is a Hollywood film because it is what a mass market would want to see.
Part 5- How we attracted/addressed our audience
This section will be focusing on our audience and what methods we used to attract them. Earlier in our project, we put together a questionnaire, which was designed to help us find out main target market. The majority of people we got results from were male and their age was ranging from 14-25. Questionnaire 1.Gender?- Male 13, Female 9 2.Age- 14-25 26 and above?- 14-25= 12 and 26+ = 10 3.What makes up a good thriller?- suspense, tension, good characters/actors and plot twists, story line, action, car chase, adrenaline rush, fast pace, good music 4.whats your favourite thriller?- Silence of the lambs = 2, jaws, bourne identity, the godfather, casino royal, sin city, the birds, con-air, phone booth, the dark knight, cape fear, king kong, psycho=2, haunted house, the matrix, the shinning, the happening, mirrors, the dark, the unborn 5. do you go the cinema to specifically watch thrillers ?-no - we all got the same answer from everyone. 6. whats your favourite genre of films?- action =2, fantasy action, sci-fi, chick flicks, comedy =10, romantic comedy=2, horror= 3, thriller/action- bond films, crime
There are some scenes in our opening that may terrify the younger age group (13-). An example of this would be the shot where photos of beaten women are shown. This may terrify people aged 13 and under as they may not be as used to seeing images like that in media and may come as a shock. Meanwhile, people aged 16+ may not be as affected by this because of inoculation. An example of inoculation would be when a vast amount of graphic media is continuously consumed by the viewer, until they are not very affected by it anymore. Our target audience, the majority being 16-17 years of age are more likely to have been inoculated from seeing graphic images or scenes in media. The scene showing the photos of beaten women may also terrify the female audience.
Part 6- What I have leant about technologies from the process of constructing our product
I will firstly be talking about the camera equipment we were given for our filming. The cameras we had were very effective in filming and when we played the opening on a computer, the quality was good. Despite this there were some issues with the camera, particularly to do with the lighting. Our thriller opening started off in a photographic dark room, which meant we needed it to have red lighting. To do this, we used a red lamp, and turned off all the lights. It was a good effect because although everything was visible with the red lighting, it was still low-key and the room therefore retained it’s eerie effect. When we filmed with the camera, we could not see the red light properly and the room’s lighting just looked low-key, even when we tried the night vision mode. To solve this problem, we placed red filters over the lights instead of using the red lamp; this effect looked good when filming with the camera. This is the only problem we encountered whilst filming and everything else went well. The tape was kept safe at all times, the shots we filmed were easily uploaded onto the computer, and were also easily burned to DVD format.
We used some equipment that worked very effectively in our thriller. An example of this would be the shot where the protagonist circles his victim’s name. We needed to shot to be an over the shoulder shot so we could see what he was doing and also keep the camera still, which is why the tripod we were provided with was useful.
The editing software that we used was Final Cut Express. It was especially useful for our final film editing. We found we were able to film many of the same shots, and pick which one was best to use. This was done by playing the shots on Final Cut Express and deciding which ones to keep. It was very simple to place the shots we wanted in order and to delete the ones we decided we didn’t want.
Garageband was another useful software we used. It enabled us to put the soundtrack that we wanted in the opening scene, which was an edited version of the soundtrack used in ‘Se7en’. Orren was very good with this software and used it to effectively match the quick cuts, and also started the music at a suitable time. The editing of the music was also very simple. The lyrics of the song were taken out and put in at other times we chose.
Part 7- What I have learnt from our preliminary task to the full product
In my final section, I will be talking about my progression from our preliminary media studies task to our thriller film opening project. When we first started our thriller opening coursework, we needed to do some planning, involving researching what a thriller is and what generic conventions thrillers share, like suspense, mysteriousness, etc. We also needed to create a storyboard, illustrating the shots we needed to get done and in what order. These planning stages were particularly helpful as it enabled us to incorporate useful generic conventions. An example would be how we made the antagonist mysterious. His face is not shown and there are many close-up shots, which make the audience want to know what’s going on. The storyboarding was helpful as it meant we didn’t need to think for a long time about what shots we were going to do, and how to do them, which made our filming stage more efficient.
My ability to use different shots has been improved during this project. We were all allocated different main roles, mine of which was camera work. I used various shots like over the shoulder when the antagonist is shown circling a name on paper, point of view when the protagonist is looking over to his female victim, I have pushed the camera in during the scene with the detective. I practiced each of these shots before we actually filmed using them, which made me get better at it.
I feel more confident with the equipment we were provided with now we have finished our product. During the preliminary task, and when we first started our thriller opening, I sometimes had some difficulty operating the equipment, especially the camera. Working out all the functions of the cameras took a while, but I was comfortable with using them in the end.
Looking back at our project, I think it is very successful. The only problem we had was making the photographic dark room effect look good, as the shade of red was not at first strong enough using the cameras. We also had a time issue. Our planning was a bit behind schedule, which therefore resulted in starting our filming later then planned. Apart from this, things went well. We all contributed useful information in the blog entries, and we got the shots done quickly. The finished product that was burned to disc format looked really good in quality and the shots and music editing done on the Mac computers was very simple.