In what way does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? Our film is a psychological thriller. A major influence for our film was Alfred Hitchcock. This influence is depicted in the scene where the inkblot cards are being shown and we see the autistic man reacting to what he sees. However we do not know what he is seeing, but we can tell from his facial expressions and body language that it is not a pleasant image. This causes the audience to feel unnerved which adds to the suspense of our film. Hitchcock was well renowned for his use of suspense.
How does your media product represent particular social groups?
In our film the main social group on which we have focused is that of people with a learning disability, as shown through the main character who has autism.
Another social group in our film is that of women shown through the female victim.
We have not been stereotypical when filming the autistic character. If anything, we have shown the autistic man in a
positive light as he is helping to solve the murder investigation. He is the protagonist, however this challenges conventions because the protagonist is usually shown as a heroic ,strong, handsome, confident character, for example James Bond.
A woman was chosen as the murder victim. This is stereotypical as many films portray women as powerless and vulnerable. The murder victim is a macguffin as she is not central to the plot which focuses primarily on the police investigation.
What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why? Our film would not be produced by a major film studio because it is an independent film. It is likely that our film would appeal to a niche market as it is specialised. People with an intrest in crime, psychology and minority groups may enjoy this film. Major studios such as Hollywood tend to produce films which appeal to a mass audience as this will make the greatest profit. In my opinion our film may be shown in art or cultural centres or small independent cinemas in a bid to raise awareness of autism featuring both positive and negative aspects.
Who would be the audience for your media product?
We surveyed a group of 15 people within our year group, many of whom said they would watch our film. As “White Room” contains a scene of violence, it would be rated certificate
Influences for our film
Films that we got our inspiration from were Rain Man (1988) and Mercury Rising (1998). Both films are rated 15 and are concerned with people with learning disabilities. Rain Man is a drama while Mercury Rising is an action thriller, so we combined these two genres in our film.
From watching both these films I got a good idea of how we should get our autistic actor to behave. A characteristic which an autistic person shows is repetitive behavior. In our film we show our autistic person playing with his hands and rocking back and forth repetitively. Autistic people tend to lack social development which is portrayed through lack of conversation, ability to mix with others and a lack of eye contact. In our film we show this clearly when the questioner in the police office puts his hand out to shake the autistic man’s hand and the autistic man does not return the hand shake.Instead he looks at the floor.
The film from which we got ideas for the mise en scene is “One Hour Photo”. We used a white room and high key lighting in our piece as shown in the above mentioned film. Using minimalistic credits was also an idea taken from this film.
Although our film is a psychological thriller it could appeal to those who enjoy horror films. Horror is shown in two ways;- the image of the dead woman and then the autistic man becoming distressed when shown the inkblot card triggering his memory of the murder he witnessed.
The camerawork uses close-ups in these horrifying scenes which add to the sense of terror that the audience will experience. Close ups also give the audience a sense of anxiety as the audience can only see a small part of the full picture, therefore not knowing what will happen next.
The lighting used in the murder scene uses a red filter which implies danger or death, these themes are associated with horror films.
The audience are asked to put themselves in the position of the autistic man. This is because they are aware that he knows who has committed the murder and he is trying to communicate this through giving clues and signs. The impact this has is great as it makes the audience connect with the autistic man and empathize with him. They want the police to discover who committed the murder.
What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?
The camera equipment with which we were provided was basic as the school does not have a large budget to spend on equipment. However the camera was always available for use when we needed it, which was very convenient.
When experimenting with shots we had to dismiss some of our ideas. One of these was to show the autistic man’s pupil getting smaller as this shows shock. This was done using an extreme close up. However when playing back this shot on the camera the quality was very unclear, so this idea was omitted.
When trying to find a location to film we had some difficulty. We needed a plain white room to film in for the scene where the psychiatrist was showing the autistic man the ink blot cards. A location was found, however when we played back what we had filmed the group decided that the light was not bright enough, so we had to find another location. The new location was our school’s medical room.
For our film we had to invest in some theatrical blood for the murder scene and a plastic sheet that the blood could be put on so as not to stain the drama studio floor. Both these props were quite expensive purchases. Had we found the right location outside to film the murder scene, the blood could have been placed directly on the ground and we could have washed it away with soapy water once we had finished. To cut the cost of props we could have used tomato ketchup instead of theatrical blood as the end results look very similar.
When using Final Cut Express we were able to enhance our film with special effects. We used black and white on one shot of the autistic man to show that when he looked up he was looking at a security camera. We also used four shots in a sequence and cut them so they showed for less than a second each to show that the autistic man was having a flash back. We ripped a track from a CD, took the track and cut it down in Final cut express so that it was just the intro that was playing. Next we looped it so that it would play throughout our opening scenes.
Looking back to your preliminary task, what do you feel that you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?
In our planning stage we came up with three solid ideas as to the plot of the opening we were to make. The ideas chosen were terrorism, kidnapping and psychological exploration. The psychological thriller was picked because we felt it was the cheapest option to produce, but one that we could make look professional. Also with the other ideas there may have been complications in getting permission to film in certain locations needed.
I feel that my understanding of how to use a camera to the best of my ability has greatly improved since the preliminary task. I have mastered how to effectively use zoom so that the shot is clear and not shaky. I have also improved my over the shoulder shot which is a hard shot which can be difficult to get accurate.
I feel that our end product was successful at fulfilling the task to produce the opening of a thriller. We managed to use a range of camera shots and different lighting. We also were able to work with Final Cut Express even though some of the things we wanted to do took time, in particular, how to apply the credits so they could be seen over the film.
We found it difficult to use superimposition. In the shot where we see the autistic man hunched in a corner we would have liked to superimpose the picture of the jackal over his face to show he was having a flash back.
Other than this our film went to plan and turned out the way we intended.