AS MEDIA STUDIES
UNIT G321: FOUNDATION PRODUCTION
September 2010 – December 2010
BRIEF FOR VIDEO PRODUCTION:
THE OPENING SEQUENCE OF A NEW THRILLER FILM
INCLUDING TITLES AND SOUND TO A MAXIMUM OF TWO
All video and audio material must be original, produced by
the candidate(s), with the exception of music or audio effects
from a copyright-free source.
Research Construction: Evaluation
•Research & Planning •Short continuity “director’s
in electronic format editing task commentary”.
e.g: individual blogs, demonstrating match
flickr on action, shot/reverse A response in
shot and 180-degree electronic format.
angle. Students respond to 7
•To include research •Maximum of 2 about research,
into the way audiences minutes of edited planning and evaluating
consume film; moving film footage to their opening to a new
include sound and thriller film.
•To include research titles.
into aspects of the
(Students work in
groups. Marks awarded
for quality and
Course book: OCR Media Studies for AS. Third Edition by Julian McDougall,
Published by Hodder Education. ISBN No 978-0-340-95898-8
INDEX for this booklet Page Number
•Title page 1
•Definition of a thriller film 4
•Planning opening to a thriller film 5
•Construction: The Shoot 6
•Construction: The Edit 7
•Research into aspects of the thriller genre: Task 1
(Case Studies) 8
•Research into aspects of the thriller genre: Task 2 9
•Evaluation: Response to 7 compulsory questions set by OCR 10
•Health Warning; Advisable working structure & Deadlines 11
•Keep to deadlines, if there are problems inform me immediately. Persistent
problems with meeting deadlines can result in students being asked to leave the
course. Parents and the Sixth Form Management Team are informed if students
do not keep up with their work.
•Marks are deducted pro rata if students let down in their group during the
planning, shooting and editing process. Marks are awarded for quality and
individual commitment to the project.
•Research and planning is individually marked. ALL students must post all
elements of planning onto their blogs.
•DO NOT GIVE COMPLETED STORYBOARDS TO OTHER STUDENTS IN
YOUR GROUP these are an individual responsibility.
•Avoid chopping and changing ideas.
• Keep ideas simple, plausible and possible.
• Avoid over ambitious /far fetched over complicated plots and reliance on
dialogue. Particularly avoid plots which represent characters and action which
are unfamiliar to you.
•Remember you are shooting the OPENING to a thriller film thus
you will want to hook the audience, you are NOT shooting a whole
story nor are you shooting a trailer.
THE SOUND TRACK – a vital component of mise-en-scene.
•The musical soundtrack is a vital part of the production; it sets the atmosphere
and may connote aspects of a particular character and place. Once the narrative
is storyboarded and all elements of mise-en-scene are planned (characters,
locations and costumes) begin research appropriate music for soundtrack.
Students may do the following:
•It is an OCR requirement that any soundtrack must be copyright free. It must
therefore be over 50 years old, released under a Creative Commons licence or
written by yourself. So research is a timely business. Useful websites include
mobygratis.com, ccmixter.org and freesound.org (for sound effects). All require
free accounts. For more complete songs, try http//:audio.e2bn.net or
www.freeplaymusic.com. Students can also use jazz, classical music or any
popular music written before 1959-1960.
•Students may compose their own soundtrack.
Students may wish to use music from unsigned artists (email artists and ask
permission first though).
DEFINITION OF A THRILLER FILM
Thriller and Suspense Films are types of films known to promote
intense excitement, suspense, a high level of anticipation, ultra-heightened expectation,
uncertainty, anxiety, and nerve-wracking tension, menace/danger. If the genre is to be defined
strictly, a genuine thriller is a film that restlessly pursues a single-minded goal - to provide thrills
and keep the audience cliff-hanging at the 'edge of their seats' as the plot builds towards a
The tension usually arises when the main character(s) is placed in a menacing situation or
mystery, or an escape or dangerous mission from which escape seems impossible. Life itself is
threatened, usually because the principal character is unsuspecting or unknowingly involved in a
dangerous or potentially deadly situation. Plots of thrillers involve characters which come into
conflict with each other or with outside forces - the menace is sometimes abstract or shadowy.
Generic Characters in Thriller films: Characters in thrillers include convicts,
criminals, stalkers, assassins, down-on-their-luck losers, innocent victims (often on the
run), prison inmates, menaced women, characters with dark pasts, psychotic individuals,
terrorists, cops and escaped cons, hit men/women, fugitives, private eyes, drifters,
duplicitous individuals, people involved in twisted relationships, world-weary men and
women, femme fatales (dangerous and or deviant women), psycho-fiends, drug addicts,
and more. The themes of thrillers frequently include greed, envy, jealousy, terrorism,
political conspiracy, pursuit, or romantic triangles leading to murder.
Generic locations in Thriller films: Dimly lit often wet narrow urban streets or
alleyways, lifts, staircases, basements, large featureless exteriors (reflecting moral
vacuum of central characters No Country for Old Men), shower cubicles, toilets, phone
booths, bank safes, interior of cars, top of a skyscraper, shores with tide coming in or
muddy river banks/canals, scrap yards, derelict factories, tunnels, and many more.
The purpose of a thriller is to put their (audiences’) toe in the cold water of fear to
see what it's like." Hitchcock.
1) Marion Crane in the shower (Psycho , Hitchcock 1960; 2) Hit men Vince and Jules (Pulp Fiction,
Tarantino, 1994); Post war racketeer Harry Lime trapped in the Viennese sewers (The Third Man, Carol
Reed, 1949); Gilda, classic femme fatale (Gilda, Charles Vidor (1946).
1 2 3 4
PLANNING: Opening to a thriller feature film:
DEADLINE: 22nd October, 2010
Please note that understanding aspects of the thriller genre, and individual research into
thriller films should be reflected in all aspects of planning. Each student’s blog should
include the following
•Brain storming details of initial-to-final ideas.
•A brief synopsis of the plot. No more than 100 words.
•Story boards that are readable and contain image, colour, camera positions/shot types,
any dialogue and soundtrack.
•Planning edit: For higher marks students should include details of transitions from one
shot to the other so that editing is planned. For example jump cut to…, or fade to black…,
or cross dissolve etc.
•Locations: Annotated photographs/sketches of locations are important. Decisions need
to be justified and relate to genre conventions, if students challenge the thriller generic blue
print then they need to explain this.
•Costumes, props and objects: All ideas should be annotated.
•Characters: Brief background details of the nature of the characters are important.
Characters can have names that may give a clue to their personalities or their fate.
•Casting of characters – brief explanations of casting decisions. Some student hold
auditions for roles and include pics or notes related to auditions. Avoid casting 6th
formers who are meant to be hardened gangsters otherwise the film will be
unconvincing. Casting should be discussed with course tutors. You cannot take
anyone out of lessons.
•Soundtrack: Ideas for soundtrack which must be evaluated. Explain purpose of final
choice and likely influence on atmosphere within mise-en-scene. Students can upload ideas
for soundtrack onto their blogs.
•Equipment list: Digital camera (students must include name of camera), tripod, lights,
microphones, filters for camera etc. Details of any special effects.
•Shooting schedule: Organisation of time (dates when going to shoot), to include
locations and names of actors required.
•Evidence of the individual contribution to the planning and individual responsibilities
during the shoot and edit.
•Some of you may wish to produce an ANIMATIC STORYBOARD (see PUR or STL
for further info)
Inter textual references: Student’s ideas need to be explained: 1) Reasons for choice
of ideas. 2) Source of ideas with explicit or implicit references to thrillers you have
researched. This could be through location, costume, character, action, shot type,
soundtrack. This is HIGHLY IMPORTANT
•Important: Identify the type of thriller being planned. Example: A psychological
thriller like “Sixth Sense”; gangster thriller Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,
Essex Boys, ; Mafia thriller The Godfather; comic thriller Snatch; or incorporating
elements of a futuristic/action thriller, Blade Runner, The Matrix; film noir thriller
such as LA Confidential, Jackie Brown, Memento.
CONSTRUCTION: The Edit
CONSTRUCTION: The Shoot
DEADLINE: Friday 12thDecember 2010
DEADLINE: Friday 3rd November 2010
•Lending Policy (cameras)work tutors that your allottedother schoolis available.
Always check with course To borrow a school camera or computer equipment
students MUST BOOK AT LEAST ONE DAY IN ADVANCE THROUGH MRS
DOUGLAS is allotted a computer for the edit. ALWAYS USE THE SAME
Each group IN THE SCHOOL LIBRARY .
•Responsibility with borrowed equipment: Students must check the camera in with
Mrs Douglas every two days if you need it for a longer period than this. Students who
flout these rules raw footage: Once the shoot is equipment on need to downloadStudents
•Downloading will be denied access to school complete you future occasions. the
will be charged for any equipment which is damaged or lost.
footage from the camera onto your allocated computer using a firewire cable to link the
•Students the computer. course work tutor prior to going outat the top of the screen.
camera to must inform In Premiere click the ‘capture’ button on location to shoot
their will load up a window which will help you to control what video and audio you
•Equipment your camera onto thecamcorders, stills cameras, tripods, dolleys than about
upload from available includes: computer. It is wise to download no more and
various microphones, best footage, which then has to be edited to approximately 2
8-10 minutes of your
•If you return equipment late you will lose ONEeditingper day per person from your
minutes of film. Further technical information on mark will be given to you on a
final coursework grade.
•Using time effectively: Students will be given media lesson time to shoot and edit their
films. During the shots to keep: students can only use thefootage, make an editing list of
•Selecting what shoot and edit Once students have raw practical lessons for
construction. No other mediaand other subject narrative your selected shots are and edit.
what shots you want to keep or where in the lessons are allowed for the shoot
Students will also be expected to use free periods and after school.
Guidelines for shooting film.
•Shooting the action:students have strongly advised to;
•Soundtrack: When Students are chosen the sound track it must be down loaded and
o take on your computer. same action so the most effective shots can be selected for
saved multiple shots of the
the final cut.
oHold shots steady wheretime effectively: Editing can be done in course tutor media
•Using post production appropriate
studies shots carefully including and excluding elements as appropriate.
oFramelessons, during free periods and after school.
oShoot material that is appropriate to an opening to a thriller film.
•Titles: Titles of shot distances appropriately.
oUse a variety should be included immediately the narrative begins.
oCarefully select mise-en-scene thinking about colour, figure, lighting, objects and
• If students use their own editing software make sure it is compatible with the school
•Camera angles: by checking with the technicianappropriate variety of camera angles
computer system Students are advised to use an
and movement in order to add to the appeal of the film.
•Close up shots: Students are often reluctantguidelines: ups, but these shot types are
Important to use close
most effective in drawing your audience into the action.
•Lighting: Some student productions the viewer. and are thus unreadable. Though you
Edit so that meaning is apparent to are too dark
may wish to achieve noir lighting effect make sure the action is decipherable,
professionalshot transitions and otherlighting to achieve noir or chiaroscuro effects.
Use varied directors use non ambient effects selectively and appropriately, for
Thereforejump cuts, that your action fade to lit; when looking at the rushes/raw footage
example make sure cross dissolve, is well black, slow motion etc.
and the lighting is too dark then students must re shoot the clip.
•Revisions with images, and If students shoot action which is different from the original
Use sound to original ideas: titles appropriately.
planning (story boards, character etc), any revisions can be briefly redrafted and
explained on the blog.
•Raw Footage: Students should have at least 9-10 minutes of raw footage to allow for
cutting during the edit.
•Do not put health and safety at risk, do not use pretend weapons in public.
Preparation from: 23rd November 2010
DEADLINE: 1st Draft 10th December 2010 - 2nd Draft 17th December 2010
Assessment is on an individual basis, and completed on their blogs.
It is important that engagement and enthusiasm are evident in your discussion, avoid
reading aloud from notes. You may reference particular features of your film to illustrate
your points. Do not repeat a point you have already made. Students may embed stills from
their films or other texts to illustrate their points.
The 7 questions are as follows:
•In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of
real media products? (This question asks how your research into specific thriller texts has
informed your production. Think about costume, location, soundtrack, camera angles,
character types, narrative structure, lighting, soundtrack, plot, title. You can’t discuss all
these but identify the most profound influence.)
•How does your media product represent particular social groups? (This question asks how
you have represented for example: Women? The villain? Race? Social Class? The hero? The
femme fatale? Region? The victim (here gender is important).
•What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why? (It is best
that students identify new media outlets to exhibit their opening to a thriller film. For example
websites such as You-tube, social network sites, MP3 players, games consoles. If the film is
innovative or challenging (students need to identify these features in their thriller opening)
then funding could be possible from Working Title Films or Warp films so that the film could be
developed as a feature film. Thus the following cinema outlets could be possible. For example
a multiplex (if main stream thriller), art house if complex/subversive thriller. T.V. outlets are
possible (scheduled time and channel must be appropriate), straight to internet and why?
Straight onto DVD is another possibility). Students must explain the reasons for their choice of
•Who would be the audience for your media product? (Students need to reference audience
research and justify in detail why a particular demographic would find the production
appealing. What real thriller films or TV crime dramas would this audience watch?).
•How did you attract/address your audience? (Student productions are viewed by other
students who complete questionnaires regarding the technical quality and appeal of the
productions. You may quote from the results of this research; you may discuss elements of the
mise-en-scene (technical, character, location, action, diegetic and non diegetic sound) that
you consider appealing and should hook audiences who would want to watch the rest of the
story. For example: Did you address your audience through a 1st person voice over thus
encouraging audiences to identify with this character? )
•What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?
(Explain what you’ve learned about digital cameras, camera angles, movement and shot types.
Explain what you’ve learned about editing, particularly importance of sequencing shots
(narrative structure) and using effects if you have utilised this feature; adding sound and
•Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression
from it to the full product? (Think about how the performing, shooting and editing of your
preliminary task lead to your ability to plan, shoot and edit your film production. Explain what
you’ve learned about working constructively in a group with regard to planning, the shoot,
identifying an appropriate sound track and title, and the edit. Explain your individual
contributions/ideas and responsibilities. Explain how you’ve coped with audience feedback ,is
it better or worse than expected; has it offended you; have the audience understood your
intentions and been able to read your film? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your
production? Explain what the most important thing you’ve learned about film making that you
•I will be monitoring all written and practical components
•Students are marked individually for written work
•Any student not contributing adequately to planning, shooting and editing their
production will have marks deducted. Irregular attendance will also be penalised in the
•If students encounter problems with deadlines they must seek my support
•If there are problems within a group please seek tutor advice without delay so that
problems can be quickly solved. These matters can be discussed with me in
•If students fail to complete the written and practical components to an acceptable A
Level standard it is likely their examination entry will be reviewed.
•If students do not pass this coursework unit is unlikely they will pass AS Level Media
Advisable working structure for course work
Lesson time Homework / free periods
Early Autumn Term •Analysis of thriller films in class. •Research into target audience
•Collaborative planning of thriller •Independent research into thriller
film. films through case studies (task 1)
•Tutor monitoring of individual •Completing research into thriller
student progress. film
•Shooting preliminary course work •Location recces and still
task photographs of
•Commence shooting the film •Auditioning/casting
22nd October - 12th •Shooting thriller film •Shooting thriller film in own time
November 2010 •Commence editing thriller film. •Revising research elements
•Tutor monitoring and support of (audience and research into the
individual students and group work thriller genre) in response to tutor
during production process. advice.
15th November - 3rd •Editing film in free periods
December •Editing film •Preparing for evaluation
Monday 6 December – Preparing and completing Evaluation •Preparing and completing
Friday 17th December of production process as a “director’s Evaluation of production process as
commentary” -addressing 7 specific a “director’s commentary”
questions set out by OCR Examination -addressing 7 specific questions set
Board out by OCR Examination Board.