My product was the opening sequence to a Thriller film – Vampire Assassins.
I worked as an individual.
I had to film all the shots that would feature in the opening.
Audience Testing Results
What does the title of the film – Vampire Assassins – suggest to you?
Once they had watched the opening, most people said that the genre appeared to be horror. Although my opening is to a Thriller film, it is a cross genre with Horror.
1) What genre does the sequence belong to and how could you tell this? So I could make the Thriller/Horror genre obvious in my opening, I kept the conventions of a Thriller/Horror cross genre. I focussed on the micro-elements of camera angles, such as extreme close ups, and shots, including establishing shots, as well as the audio laying during editing, which allowed the opening to build more tension and set more enigma’s for the audience to follow. We used clear continuity editing and a voice over monologue to introduce the main character and the narrative. Some audience members had difficulty distinguishing between the two genres; which is where cross-genres can be quite confusing. Below is an audience member response to this question. I created a pie chart to clearly show my results for the question, from my questionnaire.
2) Who were the main characters in the sequence?
The main characters in my sequence were the Vampire and the Victim. I used these two characters in order to introduce the narrative and genre to the audience. The way I edited the opening also allowed the audience to see two different lives, a Victim’s and a Vampire’s, as well as seeing their two lives collide because of one another (the Victim knows too much about the Vampire kind and so she must be assassinated by a Vampire).
Casting the victim and the vampire was quite easy as I already had a volunteer for the victim. Only a day and a half was used on the Victim shots as their time and location was far more flexible and easier to find. Only one person played the part of the Victim while two people played the part of the Vampire as I was willing to show my face on film, for the Vampire, while the other member would be the Vampire’s body while I filmed it. The Victim The Vampire
3) What details made this clear?
I received similar answers in my questionnaire for this question.
Although only one of these characters are the main roles (the Vampire), I wanted to only have two people shown in film in the opening in order to keep to some Thriller conventions as well as matching up to some of the Horror conventions. The way I edited the footage allows the audience to pick up on the characters, as all but one of the Vampire shots were edited with a red wash which had the clear connotation of evil, bad etc. While all the victim shots were edited with no colour wash so normal colour was present, which could connote to the audience that not only is this person good but they are also normal, not a creature etc.
4) What is happening in the sequence? Is this clear?
In the sequence we see the Victim researching Vampires, how to catch them, what they look like, who to contact if they see one etc. and we see a Vampire looking for information of the next hit (the next person to kill) and then we follow the Vampire as they gear up and prepare for the assassination. Some answers from the audience show that they understood this about the opening though some answers were unsure.
In order to make this more clear in the sequence was to add more of a transition of the Vampire while they are in the Victim’s home; there was a transition/scene that didn’t get edited in because it was quite an impossible move to make as well as unrealistic with the equipment I have, however I feel that if I had the right equipment and time, I would have been able to make this transition/scene into the sequence as well as being able to make the sequence more clear.
5) What could make this clearer? I received a variety of answers from the audience from my questionnaire, however the most common answer that I received was that more information should have been mention in the Vampire’s voice over monologue. Originally more information would have been recorded however due to timing issues with the clips, they had to be edited. Originally I had a full A4 page of script that was going to become the voice over monologue, which I recorded fully with my video camera, however when I edited it along side the footage, it didn’t fit and flow with the images on the screen and so the majority of it had to be cut. Although this meant that I had wasted time in writing and recording, this also showed me how film makers have to take into consideration the length of shots and voice over’s.
6) What, out of the sequence, would make you keep watching?
The way I filmed and edited my sequence allowed certain enigma’s to become obvious to the audience i.e. “Who’s that?” – “Why’s she searching for Vampire’s?” etc. Enigma’s are one of the key features that are laid out in films, specifically Thriller films, since questions are usually trying to get solved for the characters, as well as the audience. A few audience members who did my questionnaire answered with “Enigma’s” while others replied with specific characters that they would want to follow through out the narrative.
7) Did the pace of the sequence feel right? The way I edited the beginning of my sequence was a little different to the shots later on in the sequence. For example the first five shots at the beginning of the sequence last at least 10 to 15 seconds and are very slow pace in editing, in order for the voice over to fit over it, however while the opening titles roll and the shots flick between the Victim and the Vampire, the longest shot in that section is 9 seconds. All audience members answered “Yes” for the question because of this, none of the shots were too long and the quick flow of the shots keep the audience’s focus.
8) Do the images work well with the music? I looked through the majority of none copy right music that my Media Teacher provided me, however I only managed to find three pieces that would be appropriate for my opening. The one that I chose to feature in my opening sequence was not my favourite, it was the only piece which continually built on the base line which, along side the images on screen, easily created tension for the audience. In order to test whether or not the music I chose would fit the images on screen, I tested the audio in iMovie, which proved to have positive results for myself and the audience members. All answers from my questionnaire clearly state that the audience believe my choice in music for the opening was good, and that it fitted the sequence well.
9) Does it feel visually interesting? Are the shots interesting or fairly typical and OK? While filming for my opening sequence, I had always like the idea of flicking between the two worlds (the Victims and the Vampires) as I thought that, as a viewer, this would hook me. Not only did I like this idea but it also fits in with some of the Thriller micro-elements. I received some general responses to this question however other’s elaborated into saying that they would continue to watch this film if it had been fully filmed and/or been a real film.
In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media? While editing I made sure everything was continuity correct, also I made sure that the changes between shots/narrative were obvious to the audience. Feedback from my audience has suggested that I have kept to these conventions however I have not made the clear Thriller conventions and micro-elements clear enough as many had stated that the genre was Horror and not Thriller/Horror. For example, I used the hand held camera technique which allowed the footage to appear more realistic, I also allows a shot dedicated to the weapons which is part of the mise en scene in a the Horror genre. I have targeted the conventions of Thriller and Horror genre, with my main focus on the micro-elements of cinematography. By using cinematography clearly through out the opening, I managed to make the opening of the film appear professional.
Continued… The typical horror genre characters consist of the victim, the hero and usually a monster or a supernatural create. This is where cross-genre film openings can easily fool an audience as the hero and the supernatural creature are combined into one character. Although this mistake is not necessarily a bad thing, I should have used more clear Thriller conventions while focussing on my cinematography. The micro-elements that I have used, tension building music and a red wash on the Vampire footage, fit the cross-genre of my film, develop the traditional way of a Thriller opening. In my film opening the shots switch between two narratives, the Vampire gearing up for an assassination and the Victim researching the Vampire. The two characters only appear in the same shot once, this almost develops the typical Thriller conventions, showing that even though few characters are seen, tension is still present in the audience. The protagonist of this sequence is the Vampire, classing as the hero and the supernatural creature, this challenges the conventions of typical Thriller films where the protagonist is the classic good guy, however in this opening you find the protagonist playing the classic role of the villain.
How does your media product represent particular social groups? One member of the cast seen in the opening sequence is a young girl; her costume is up to date fashion, she has straight hair and make-up. What connotes from this is your average teenager, which is a classic stereotype of the teenager. The media, films, television shows etc. Use stereotypes in order for the audience to clearly sum up a character in a short amount of time. When looked further, this could be connoted as teenage girls interested in Vampires, teenage girls looking for trouble etc. However since she plays the victim in the opening, this could easily be connoted as teenagers being more venerable than others. When I decided to create a Vampire film, I wanted to make this opening stand out from the previous Vampire films i.e. Twilight, Underworld etc. So I created my own idea of ‘The Vampire’ with the only reason for them killing people is because it’s their job. This typical Vampire is a stereotype which I break in this opening, a new creation of Vampire has been represented in this opening, by introducing the audience that Vampires, in general, are just misunderstood creatures that follow the orders their boss’s give them.
What kind of media institute might distribute your media product and why? My original plan for this film was to be a Hollywood film however when I began filming the opening, I realised the cinematography has more of an experimental look in the footage and in the media language used, for example the hand held camera technique. Film companies and producers such as Film Four are well known for their independent/low budget films. The films made by Film Four are usually British films such as ‘This is England’. Originally I planned for my film to be a Hollywood blockbuster however, with the cinematography and the voice over monologue I think it would be right to place my film as an independent British film. However, some well known, Hollywood films started off as Independent films such as the Saw series. The first film was low budget and was originally meant to be one film until Hollywood got hold of the story and wanted to make more of them. None the less, I firmly believe that my film would be made by a British film company, because the British Film Industry have a powerful history of making horror films such as 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead etc.
Who would be the audience for your media product? The majority of good Vampire and Horror films are usually certificated as a 15, due to blood, gore etc. I had this in mind while filming the opening, I also realised that as a Thriller/Horror opening this film couldn’t simply be a PG, I understood that this type of film would attract an older audience. When looking over the Synopsis for my film, I realised that very little blood is seen and, what’s more, there is very little gore, swearing, anything that would classify it as a solid 15. I decided that this film would be a 12, based on the fact that compared to other Thriller/Horror films, my film would be considered ‘Mild’. Using psychographics I can easily narrow down my audience into a specific group of people, shown in the chart presented. This chart shows the people who are more likely and willing to watch my film. The age range is from 12-18 which would class as Teenagers in the socio economic status, group E, however although I did not question Adults about this film, I feel that they would be a potential audience for the film. Considering cinema tickets appear to be increasing in price, I feel that only teenagers who have job would probably be my audience.
How did I attract my target audience? On a basic level, I knew my audience would be those interested in Thriller films and, to look further, those interested in Thriller/Horror films. In order to attract this basic target audience I used the conventions of Thriller and Horror films, such as tension building, diegetic sound, frequent close ups on characters etc. In order to attract men to the film I allowed the protagonist to be female and to be played by a ‘sexy’ actress, having a woman as the protagonist would also attract women who are enthused by the fact a female is playing a ‘kick-ass’ role in a film. The fact that there is a love interest for this character, women would automatically be interested in this part of the story line as they are more likely to be interested in the love interest than men. Clearly in seen in the previous slide, as well as the chart presented, the majority of my target audience would be people aged from 12 – 18 who are considered to be Thriller fans. Although this chart goes into detail, the factors vary on whether or not the target audience will be females from 12 -18 who are Vampire Film fans, whether they enjoy violent films, sexy characters, young actors, action etc. As well as the conventions and micro-elements that were kept through out the film opening I made sure the title - “Vampire Assassins” – seemed to fit the Thriller titles I researched, knowing that the title is sometime enough to draw the audience in. I also made sure that the font the credits were printed in fitted to the Thriller theme as well as making sure the colouring in the edits seemed appropriate for the film opening.
Continued… The idea of the protagonist in a film being a bad guy/doing a bad job is not an original idea. This technique has been seen in such films as Léon: The Professional . Despite the fact that this character is ‘The bad guy’ he is accepted by the audience because of the way he’s portrayed in a likeable way. For instance through out this film, we see how quickly and cleverly he works, and how seriously he takes his job. This is a likeable factor which the audience learn to love thus proving a successor in the protagonist role, the audience are also drawn to the anti-heroes in films, as we find it exciting and allows a sense of escapism with the narrative that usually follows to be interesting and complex. In order to attract my audience to my film opening, I had to make sure that my protagonist would be likeable, to achieve this I used the narrative device of a voice over which counts towards the protagonists inner monologue. Despite the fact that she’s would be considered a ‘bad guy’ in any other film, this device allows her to become the protagonist and likeable to the audience. The voice over monologue was also used in order to introduce the protagonist to the audience, showing them that this character clashes with the stereotypes of Vampire as well as the stereotypes of the ‘bad guy’. The uses of the monologue goes further as it is introduced to the beginning of the opening, the audience get used to the narrative type and begin to understand the character.
What have I learnt about the techniques from the process of constructing this product? Over the course of the project I have been recently updating my Blogger, for my coursework. Since I already have my own personal blogger, I found it easier to use than some of the others, none the less, I found it quite an odd task in delivering my coursework online. When using Blogger, I displayed my research, ideas, synopsis, plot, story board etc. From photographs uploaded or in the form of posts and text. This allowed me to develop my ideas further as well as track my progress and look back on any previous ideas or thoughts that I may have typed down for my film opening. The best thing about using Blogger was that I was able to re-read what had typed and easily edit it, I also found it quick and easy to use which allowed me to use my time. The one bad thing about Blogger was that, in certain occasions it would be unreliable and would sometimes crash, this became annoying when you finished typing out a 3000 worded post and then found it not to upload . Another piece of technology that I had to use for this project was iMovie. This programme was unfamiliar to me to begin with, however after my preliminary task, I became quite used to it. I found the software easy to use and it saved everything reasonably quickly. My only problem was that, on some occasions it would crash or it would take up to at least 30 minutes to upload certain files to the library. The way the footage could be cut was quite easy, basic clicking and dragging along the time line, however the most difficult thing was to remove the audio from specific footage and then placing it along the desired footage. This became difficult as the desired footage had audio as well which you either had to remove or to mute which proved to be difficult. This showed me that, in the industry, editing is an extremely important thing and that only the best can be acceptable.
Continued… In order to film my shots, I had to use a video camera as well as a tripod in order to gain the right level of shots. I used my own personal camera, a Samsung MX-C14, and my own personal tripod which had the height limit of 6 feet when fully extended. As my camera was up-to-date and ran on digital battery and memory, the quality of shots was high as it was a HD camera. The fact that it was light weight also allows the hand held quality of the shots to appear more obvious to the audience. I found using the camera quite easily, as I have had experience with videoing footage as well as using a tripod. The only problem that I had was that the battery power was weak and even when fully charged, it took longer than expected to film the shot thus using up more battery power. Over all I found these pieces of technology easy to handle and use. I feel that I have used them to the best of my ability and that, with out them, I wouldn’t have a project at all. Thanks to the technology my final product exists and, what’s more, I realise how important these, and other, pieces of technology are in the film industry and how they make the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful film.
Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in progression from it to the full product? Looking back at my preliminary task, I realise that even back in my early training and testing my cinematography was a clearly well used micro-element. A series of different shots feature in my preliminary task, as does with my full product. In contrast however, I have used different types of angles in my full product, as well as different locations. There is also a variety of shots in my full piece due to the fact that I had limited space in my preliminary task. From my preliminary to my full product, I feel I have learnt how to use the camera in a more advanced way as well as being able to tell a story without any dialogue e.g. the shots in the opening credits. There is a different pace in editing also, with some sections of my full product being quickly edited while my preliminary task was edited for continuity.
Conclusion Overall, I am very pleased with my final product. The editing between narratives and characters works well and clearly and I am very pleased with the way the sound and cinematography had turned out, making this opening sequence appear professional. I am pleased with the quality of it as well as the editing style in general, the footage flows quickly in some sections of the opening however I used a quick editing technique when the footage was switching from one narrative to another. One of the main reasons that I am pleased with my final product is that even though I worked as an individual, I managed to make a good enough product by myself without an extreme amount of help (though I should take this moment to thank my friends and my sister who helped with location spotting and the acting.) And that I managed to create a more successful product than my preliminary task. The weaknesses in my product would have to be that I didn’t give myself enough time towards the end, when approaching the deadline, as I felt rushed when it came to editing it. Another weakness is that, in my story board, I gave myself some transitions into shots which were close to impossible with the equipment I had thus showing my, again, how detailed and accurate story boards have to be in the industry. Despite these points, I am extremely pleased with my final product, I have enjoyed doing it and it has taught me various things about the film making industry.