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Thriller planning: Sequence of events

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This presentation details what is going to happen throughout our thriller movie, when it is going to happen and why it happens. I also slightly explain what effect it will have on the audience and on …

This presentation details what is going to happen throughout our thriller movie, when it is going to happen and why it happens. I also slightly explain what effect it will have on the audience and on the narrative as a whole.


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  • 1. What is going to happen throughout the sequence, and why? After much discussion, we eventually came up with an idea of what we wanted to happen and when, as well as a few other potential ideas for the sequence. This is a first draft of our plot.
  • 2. Running: To begin the sequence, the victim is going to be running from the murderer in a field. They look over their should to see the murderer chasing them, then look over again to see that the murderer is no longer there. They stop and survey the area; the murderer is not in sight. All that can be heard is the sound of the victim’s breathing. Suddenly, the screen goes black, accompanied by the thump of the victim being knocked unconscious. To do this, we agreed that this would need to be done from a point of view shot of the victim, allowing the emotions of the victim to be better conveyed by putting the audience in the position of the victim. We could also potentially add in some shots of the legs of the victim as they run, further increasing the rapid pace. We wanted to have the victim’s breathing very audible when the stop to emphasise how isolated they are in this field, introducing the conventional thriller theme of isolation. There’s no one in the area that could help them; it’s just them and the murderer, making this feel like a noescape type of situation. This will most likely be the shortest section of the sequence to be able to keep the sequence to a maximum of two minutes, allowing time for other details to be added. This is setup, after all.
  • 3. Title: While the screen is black, the title fades in. We haven’t yet decided on a font style for the title, so the image to the right is just an example. This should be within the first 30 seconds of the sequence, as this my title research indicated that this is a conventional place for the title of thriller titles to appear within the opening sequence. TITLE
  • 4. Dragging + title: The title screen then fades out, showing the passage of time between the field section and this next section. The victim begins to come to with blurred vision, but keep closing their eyes. As they close their eyes, the screen fades to black and shows the title again. Eventually, the victim focuses their vision, allowing the audience to see that they are being dragged backwards. We discussed the possible idea that the victim vomits on themselves at this point, exaggerating their shock at the position they are in. TITLE This section, much like the running section, would have to be a first person shot to be able to show the victim’s current position fully without giving away too much detail about the position they are in or what is happening to them.
  • 5. Dragging: It then becomes clear that it was the murderer dragging the victim backwards. The victim looks around the room, dazed, trying to work out where they are. From this shot, the audience sees the murderer place the victim into a chair, and tie them up. We discussed that the victim could possibly be tied up with rope, as it is somewhat easy to escape from and makes the audience hopeful that the victim could escape. This would create a red herring within the plot as the victim won’t be able to escape. This form of red herring, where the victim’s escape seems hopeful but is then dashed, is conventional to the thriller genre. It is evident in movies such as American Psycho, where the female victim has almost escaped from the psychotic murderer but is then killed at the last second. It ultimately makes the victim’s death more dramatic and thrilling, and the audience is willing the to live but they ultimately don’t. Furthermore, this is the point at which the audience would see that the victim is female due to the two-shot used; a conventional victim within the thriller genre. It is also evident in American Psycho, as well as Black Swan and Panic Room. Due to female characters often connoting vulnerability, this would further the threatening tone of the murderer.
  • 6. The murderer’s desk In this shot, the murderer walks towards their desk which is positioned in front of the chair that the victim sits in. They pick up the iPod on the desk, and turn on Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life.” We wanted to have some kind of upbeat, diegetic music at this point to show the mindset of the murderer – they are completely relaxed, and okay with the idea of killing this victim. There are a series of knives lined up on their desk in height order, showing their OCD. Also on the desk is pile of jack the ripper books, neatly piled and aligned with the side of the desk. The board in front of the desk is shown to hold. many images and texts relating to Jack the Ripper and the murderer’s past victims, all connected with pieces of string. The order on the desk and the cluttered board could represent the contrasting mindset of the murderer at this point. The order of the knives indicate that they need order and routine, whereas the board represents them as being confused and obsessive with planning out killings. Both of these factors add to the representation that the murderer is psychotic due to the spilt personality; a conventional thriller villain, much like Hannibal Lecter in “Silence of the Lambs” or Patrick Bateman in “American Psycho.” The board of images aids the development of the plot. The audience might be able to make out some of the images on there, and therefore get an ideas of what to expect further on in the movie. It also develops the murderer’s character, as it would be assumed that it was created by him. We discussed at this point also flashing shots of the images on the board, and superimposing the text onto the actions of the murderer. These shots could create suspense within the scene, as it foreshadows that those images depict the fate of the victim. As well as this, the superimposition of the texts about various Jack the Ripper killing would indicate that the murderer has an obsession with the killer. In doing so, the audience have a method of gauging how crazy the murderer is, using their knowledge of Jack the Ripper murders and how gruesome they were.
  • 7. Cleaning of the weapon: In an over-the-shoulder shot, the murderer hovers their hand over the numerous knives, picking up one on the end. They then proceed to pick the knife up and clear it, furthering the psychotic aspect of the murderer as it would seem as thought they have an obsession with the murder tool. The example shot about, taken in front of the murderer, would allow us to contrast the actions of the murderer and the victim. The murderer would slowly clean their knife, as the victim frantically tries to escape from the chair that they are in. This contrast in movements would make the victim’s actions more frantic and scared relative to the murderer’s actions, due to the sharp contrast between the two. We discussed the possibility of adding in close ups of two actions – the victim struggling in their chair and the murderer’s cleaning of the blade, emphasising this contrast
  • 8. Escaping The next shot shows the victim escaping from the ropes that bound her arms and body, and she falls to the ground to begin her escape. However, her legs are still bound, so a quick escape is impossible. Instead, she begins to drag herself across the floor. This could be done using numerous shots. We could use a long shot to show her within her environment – the isolated, dark room (we discussed the possibility of setting this in a warehouse, so this shot would allow us to show this setting effectively) which would emphasise how impossible her escape is in the vastness of the room. Alternatively, we could do this from a point of view shot, which would put the audience in the position of the victim and therefore make them feel the magnitude of the situation more effectively, once again making them will the victim to escape.
  • 9. Crawling Following this, the murderer slowly walks towards the victim who frantically crawls across the warehouse floor. The contrast of pace at which they move also indicates that the escape of the victim is almost impossible, giving the audience a false sense of hope once again. We discussed that this should be shot from behind the murderer as they walk, with their knife lined up with the victim’s body, foreshadowing that they are definitely going to die. This would reestablish the themes of death and murder within the narrative.
  • 10. Reaching for the escape From a point-of-view shot from the victim, the victim reaches for the exit that they are so close to. They hold their arm there for a few seconds, before the murderer grabs them and turns them round. They take their knife and move it round the face of the victim, toying with their life. This toying with life is, again, something that can be seen in American Psycho, when Bateman spins his chainsaw before killing the victim – he could have just killed them. This creates suspense and makes the audience question whether or not the victim is going to be killed, toying with their emotions and consequently making the eventual death more thrilling. During this time, the victim could cry or whimper slightly. To show the significance of this death, we discussed the possibility of the victim stating her importance by saying something like: “Don’t you know who I am? I am ____. You can’t kill me!” This would allow for this event to be developed later on in the narrative, giving this sequence relevance within the overall movie.
  • 11. Killing The murderer then takes the victim in their arms and kills them by slashing their throat, much in the style of Jack the Ripper. As the murderer nonchalantly walks back to their desk, the victim slumps to the floor. We discussed that, to make the murder thrilling, we had to show it. It has more of an impact if the audience can actually see the victim being killed, as it is a definite event; there’s no doubt that they just died. However, we didn’t want to make it a horror or slasher movie by making this event overly-gory. Instead, we decided that we should shoot this from behind the murderer – the act of killing the victim can be seen, but the in a way that doesn’t actually show the killing.
  • 12. Back at the desk At the desk, an over-the-shoulder shot shows the murderer placing an image of the recently-killed victim on the board with a red cross through it. During this time, the camera slowly zooms towards the image in the centre of the board, also of a woman. This develops the narrative, and suggest to the audience that the murderer is going to strike again, giving the scene relevance again within the overall narrative. As the murderer walks away from the board of images, the murderer could stick a knife into the picture in the middle of the board, clearly indicating their intentions later on in the film and therefore developing the narrative. We discussed that the picture in the middle should be of someone of great significance with an important role, showing how crazed the murderer is to try and pull something off of this size.
  • 13. Final shot In this final shot, we wanted to show the victim dead on the floor, possibly with a pool of blood forming round them. The murderer walks out of the warehouse, closing the door behind them as they walk. When the door closes, the music stops playing, leaving the audience alone with the dead body of the victim. If we were to maintain this shot for a few seconds, it would give the audience no escape from the enormity and reality of the situation. It would almost simulate the experience of finding a dead body. We discussed the possibility of tilting the camera downwards to show a small note on the body of the victim; some kind of message to whoever finds the body. I suggested writing “Ripper” on a small card, as if the murderer has left a note to signify his presence within society. This presents chaos within the narrative – the murderer has escaped into society, and clearly intends to strike again, but does not fear people knowing who they are. It should also be noted that we don’t intend to show the face of the murderer in any of these shots, much in the same way that the opening sequence of Se7en and the entirety of Zodiac don’t show the face of the murderer. This introduces the theme of mystery within the narrative as the murderer could be absolutely anyone. In doing so, the audience will be more engaged trying to work out who the murderer is, and therefore the thrilling moments will be more thrilling as they are invested into every character in some way.