For this media project, I produced a short film called 'Who are you?'. The subject of the film was mental illness and how it is perceived in society. I decided on this topic as I feel it is a taboo issue and wanted an original idea for my film. I also wanted to show that reality can often be scarier than fiction, and this is why I chose the horror genre. The main target audience for the film was those between the age of 18 and 25, as this is the core audience. However, I hoped to make the film accessible to everyone as I wanted it to be educational as well as entertaining. After much research, I created a 5 minute short film as well as a double page spread article and a poster to advertise the film. Throughout all stages of the coursework, I kept a track of my progress via online blog entries. I will now evaluate my work as a final task.
SHORT FILM CONVENTIONS There are many ways in which my media product used the codes and conventions of real media products. I researched genre before deciding on the subject for my short film, and decided on a horror film as this is my personal favourite genre therefore I had some background knowledge. It is difficult to define the genre of any film entirely, but I would say the end result of my short film would be classed as a psychological horror. I tried to follow the conventions of the horror genre and an example of this is the imagery of blood in the sink. I also tried to create a sense of panic and fear when the boy is running and this suspense is also a common feature of the horror genre. When planning the short film, I also researched narrative and looked at different narrative structures. I decided to follow a standard narrative for my own short film because the story itself is quite complex therefore an anti-narrative might make it too complicated for the audience to understand, especially in such a short space of time.
As part of my planning, I researched short film conventions which I then adhered to when making my film. These "rules" include: An exciting and original idea: I feel I adhered to this convention as I addressed a 'taboo' topic - mental illness. To help with this, I watched other short films on YouTube for inspiration and ideas. A strong script: I challenged this convention by having very little dialogue in the film, apart from at the end. I did this because the focus of the film is very much on the individual and what is happening in his own mind, rather than his interaction with others. As well as this, I didn't want to challenge the visual aspect of the film. Good acting: I considered a few different people before choosing Andrew for the role. I felt he was the best person for the role as he fit the description of the character and demonstrated good acting skills. He was also very enthusiastic and willing to work hard, which was a key factor as it is important to have a strong team behind you when working on a project like this.
High production values: Although there were only two of us in our team, we worked well together and produced footage of a high standard. We were working on a tight schedule to get the film finished but came together as a team and are proud of the result. Short length: I kept my film to a short length of 5 minutes as this is the running time of the most popular short films and was also the limit for the length of the film. Strong beginning: I challenged this convention as the beginning of my short film was quite slow and showed the boy beginning a 'normal' day. I wanted to give the viewer a false sense of security and show how the boys mind deteriorates through the course of the day. Avoids repetition: I tried to avoid repeating similar ideas in the film and this was quite easy as the film was so short. Exciting new techniques and styles: I experimented with various different editing techniques to produce the effect I wanted.
MUSIC I used dark rock music to reflect the horror genre. To introduce music to the film, I used an mp3 player as a prop. The boy has his headphones in and as he presses play, the music starts. This gives the audience the impression of hearing/seeing things from the boy's point of view. It also gives them an insight into the boy's emotions, which are that of anger and frustration, and I feel the music reflects this. As well as this, I used a range of sound effects to create the 'voices' in the boy's head, and also to create suspense as they get gradually louder. These sounds include whispering which I overlapped and screams to portray the horror. To create these sound effects, I overlapped different sounds using AcousticaMixcraft.
MISE-EN-SCENE The mise-en-scene used in the films was quite understated. I didn't use any specific costumes, but I chose to have Andrew wearing a black hooded jumper which he could pull the hood up. This was important as I wanted to show how the character chose to block out society and didn't want to focus on his surroundings. I also wanted to see if the audience would react to the stereotype of people, especially teenagers, wearing 'hoodies' as it is seen as an anti-social item of clothing. The sets and locations were not specifically set up for filming but reflected the issues in the film - for example, the boy going to the pharmacy suggests some sort of illness. The props that we said we would use in the brief were - a mirror, a clock and a post-box. I used mirrors quite a lot in the film to show the boy's image of himself, which was obviously flawed. The clock was used at the opening of the film as an alarm but also later to show time passing and how things are out of the boy's control. The post-box can be seen on the boy's walk to the pharmacy as he nearly bumps into it, which shows how he is not aware of his surroundings as his focus is on one thing.
ANCILLARY TASKS When making the film poster and article, I followed a house-style and used three colours - red, white and black. I used images taken on a digital camera for each ancillary task and edited these photos in Adobe Photoshop. Through both the products, I didn’t want to reveal too much of the story as this would make audiences intrigued and more likely to go and see it.
POSTER I kept the poster quite simplistic, as I didn’t want to give away too much about the story. I used one powerful image to create an impact and grab the audience’s attention. I took inspiration from teaser posters from the Dark Knight. I was quite pleased with the final results, as I think the poster looks quite professional and gets the point across. At the top of the page, I included star-ratings from popular film magazines that have good reputations. This is re-assuring to audiences that they are going to see a film of a high standard. I used the subtitle ‘Sometimes the horror is inside your head’ to convey the genre of the film as well as the content. It hints at the fragmented mental state of the character as he doesn’t feel safe inside his own mind. The title comes below the image and in this way I feel that the image is the most important aspect of the poster as it grabs the audience’s attention. The information at the bottom of the poster adds to the professionalism as this is a regular feature of film posters. It also gives the audience extra information they may need if wanting to see the film.
ARTICLE For the article, I maintained the house style of the ancillary tasks by using the same colour scheme. I chose the content of the article to be an interview with the film-makers as this gave me a chance to talk about some of our production techniques and enabled me to write an interesting article without revealing too much about the film’s content. The article is image dominated and I created this image by overlapping one image with another, then using the ‘Liquify’ tool on Photoshop to create a smoky effect. I used the title ‘Horror has many faces’ as a reflection on the term ‘Evil has many faces’ and also to show the content of the film as the ‘many faces’ could refer to the split personality of the character. At the bottom of the article, I included a ‘New Releases’ section giving a star rating and brief summary of other short films out at this time.
AUDIENCE FEEDBACK Before making the film, I conducted audience research in the form of a questionnaire to give me an idea of what my target audience would want to see. In the same way, I collected audience feedback after the audience had watched the film to get their opinions. Some opinions given were:
“I thought the music matched the mood of the film really well” “The film was slightly slow to start but was quite fast paced once the action got going” “The camera angles definitely added to the suspense” “I thought it was a paranomal horror to start with, until I realised that the ‘horror’ was within the character” “The best part was the editing techniques used, especially when the head spins around in the mirror – that creeped me out!” “The acting was really good, even though it was only one person, you could relate to the emotion of the character”
I also conducted a brief post-film questionnaire and the results were as follows: 90% of those asked said that they enjoyed watching the film. This is the majority of people so I am pleased with these results.
MEDIA TECHNOLOGY We used media technologies at every stage of this assignment: I used the internet and YouTube when conducting research before making my short film.
I created a blog to update while making the film. I could ‘follow’ other class members on their blogs and all our class-work was submitted via the blogs. I used a digital camera to take photos of my storyboard at each stage, and then uploaded these to Windows Movie Maker to create my animated storyboard.
I also used a digital camera to take still-photos to use on my poster and article. I used a digital video camera to record the footage for my film and uploaded this all to the computer. Once the clips were uploaded, I edited the film together using Windows Movie Maker.
I used Acoustica audio editing software to make sound effects for my film, such as the whispering noise. When the film was completed, I uploaded it to YouTube. This was also a good way of conducting audience research as people are able to comment on the film.
I used Adobe Photoshop when creating my ancillary tasks.