Evaluation Question OneAS Level Media StudiesSuzanne Cole
Alarm clockIn the establishing shot the only part of a person seen is a hand and littleelse is revealed so that the audience are unsure who the person is. Mostpeople are curious and by making it so that they cant see the personsface they want to know who the person is, creating a sense of secrecy as itsuggests that the person doesnt want to be seen. This fits with the usualconventions of a thriller film as it is conventional to convey a sense ofsecrecy such as in Enemy of the State or Ronin. The clock is positionedslightly off of centre to suggest that something isnt quite right; somethingexactly in the centre would convey an idea of fitting in yet the clock isnt,suggesting that theperson whose handenters the frame isdisjointed andunpredictable, not fittingwith society or with whatis usually expected of aperson, prefiguring whatis to happen, causing afeeling of unease.
Beth’s feetThis shot is following a jump cut from one of the glass. By jump cutting from one to the otherit’s jarring signifying that the perspective has altered. This frame is in colour where-as thosebefore it were in a black and white filter emphasising that this is from a different perspectivefrom those before it; it is the first indication the audience has that two different lives are beingshown however, I have deliberately made this shot shorter than the others so that theaudience see very little and are kept intrigued by the addition of another person and thepossibility of the two people meeting. The sense of there being an oncoming meetingbetween the two people is a usual form of a thriller, a similar technique is used in ‘Ronin’; thecamera ‘searches’ a cityscape first before revealing DeNiro. I decided to instead create asimilar idea by how the frame is initially empty before the girl’s feet enter rather thansearching a landscape as I thought that this better fitted with my plotline.The most dominant thing in the shot is actually the background to suggest that the girl iscurrently of no particular significance as she could be anyone. This subverts thrillerconventions as the protagonist is usually dominant, but I have deliberately done this to causethe audience to undermine her importance so that at the end of the opening they are left toquestion why she is being targeted by the antagonist.
Beth’s hands in pockets Beth is now however the most dominant thing in the frame, suggesting that she currently has a growing dominance and importance in the film however, her hands are in her pockets undermining this suggested growing confidence and importance. It suggests that she is actually anxious as she feels the need to hide her hands and keep them close to her body, causing the audience to question why she is anxious. As she walks the camera also tracks her, keeping her in the center of the shot and so in the focus of the audience suggesting to the audience that she is the protagonist and should be trusted, much like is done is ‘Enemy of the State’ when the camera tracks the older man, not ‘Glasses Man’. I have decided to use this same element of camera movement to remain true to a usual thriller film and its conventions as it creates an alliance between the audience and protagonist. I however have developed this by not showing her face so its still unclear to the audience whether she is the antagonist or protagonist. However by having her in a colour filter and the other girl in black and white it not only demonstrates that it’s a differing perspective, but also conveys an idea that this girl (Beth) is open with the audience and more trustworthy than the other as the black and white filter creates a sense of shadows and darkness. In thrillers lighting is conventionally darker and includes shadows when showing the antagonist (such as in ‘Taken’), so I have made this distinction between the two people.
Laptop In this shot I have positioned the camera so that it’s over the shoulder of the antagonist. An over shoulder shot normally suggests that the person in the frame is trustworthy and in a position of protecting the audience, yet she is the antagonist. I have done this to challenge the audience as it creates a conflict of alliances as they don’t know who to trust since they are still unsure who is the antagonist and protagonist, despite the different filters; this is because I wanted to intrigue my audience and involve them. I have used this idea from the opening of ‘Ronin’ where there is an on-going conflict of alliance with either De Niro or the woman who is shown. I used this particular element as it creates more confusion and so a sense of unease, reminding the audience that anything could happen. I however developed it by showing both perspectives extensively, allowing the audience to make their own decision of who to trust. In addition the camera is positioned above her, suggesting an inferiority which conveys an idea that she is unthreatening in order to cause the audience to undermine her, making it all the more shocking later in the opening when the axe is revealed. In front of her an open laptop can be seen which suggests that she is open and honest, as the audience can see what she sees, suggesting that she has nothing to hide; although this is contradicted by the fact that her face still hasn’t been revealed, again to cause further conflict. This conflict is conventional of thrillers and used in the opening of ‘Enemy of the State’ fulfilling conventions but, I however decided to not show my antagonist’s face, subverting them also as I felt that this better fit my opening, helping to create an atmosphere of suspense.
Make-up There is then a series of shots with relatively quick cuts between them to show a conflict of the two lives of the girls as the shots jump cut between the two perspectives. I included this shot of the antagonist as it details her putting on make-up, suggesting vanity and a sense that it is important to her how she looks to other people. I have done this since in my first edit I showed too little of her as an ordinary person which caused it to seem as though she was a psychopath without reason. But by including shots such as this which detail her doing ordinary, mundane things it gives her an identity as well, moving my opening thoroughly away from the horror genre and firmly in the thriller genre. It alters the audiences perceptions since where they might have once thought her deranged, they now can see that she too is a person with reason. This is a pastiche from the film ‘Memento’ when two perspectives are shown but from the same point of view, in one of which a murderer is seen doing usual tasks. This particular technique I found effective to use in the beginning of my opening as it causes the audience to empathise for the girl before the opening develops further.
Title of Film Before this shot there had been two different soundscapes, one for each girl, to present the two characters differently reflecting their own differences. The antagonists soundscape is slow & draw out creating a sense of foreboding, whilst Beth’s has a slightly quicker pace with the high pitched sound of another instrument suggesting serenity or something harmonious and good juxtaposing the antagonist soundscape. In this shot however I overlaid both soundscapes to demonstrate a conflict of the two people as Beth walks up the steps leading to the house. I did this as it is conventional for the protagonist and antagonist to have a conflict between them of interests and ideals such as in the ‘James Bond’ franchise and ‘Tinker Tailor Solder Spy’. I found that this particular convention fitted my opening well as the aim of my opening is to create suspense, and by having an underlying conflict throughout it built up an expectation for the meeting of the two characters, achieving this.I positioned the title in the center of the frame and put it into a white font as it’s conventional of thriller films (‘Quantum of Solace’, ‘Vertigo’). The font I chose as it’s reasonably plain and understated although, it’s larger than any other credits in the opening to emphasise its importance. I have however subverted the usual background to the title. It is usually plain or very simplistic however, I decided to lay the title over a shot with several different things in the back as this has connotations of being cluttered and conveys an idea that there isn’t room for anything extra, suggesting that the arrival of another person will disrupt the other girl.
Jasmine’s feet at the top of the stairs I deliberately made this shot very quick so that it is conventional of a thriller as quick cuts are often used in in thrillers and other films such as ‘Inception’; I found that it is particularly effective at this point as it makes the audience aware of the fact that the two girls are going to meet one another to create an atmosphere of foreboding. This has particular effect at this point as the beginning has all built up to this point by the use of the shots already discussed as well as other close-ups of the two girls. The audience have been aware of the two separate lives of the girls, but the shot before this details Beth at the bottom of the stairs and, by cutting to this shot of Jasmine’s feet at the top it links the two girls, exciting the audience. By quickly cutting away again this sense of excitement becomes more urgent since it only allows the audience a glimpse of Jasmine. Additionally, as it cuts away to this shot the sound becomes louder and a much more solemn, shimmering sound is introduced, reminiscent of a horror film in order to challenge the conventions of a thriller film and suggest that the opening has reached a pivotal moment and something much more sinister is going to happen. I have done this to potentially cause the audience to feel discomforted, indicating what is yet to happen.
Axe Reveal This shot is also a quick cut for similar effect, and is cut just as the glint of an axe is seen. I cut it away soon after so that it gave a sense of threat and foreboding as the audience are unable to see the weapon anymore. I positioned the camera so that the stairs and Jasmine’s feet were central, and the audience’s main focus. This causes the axe to be slightly off of center and makes it all the more shocking for the audience when it’s suddenly revealed as there had been no hint prior to this that the character had such violent intentions. This is my ‘plot twist’ and is conventional of a thriller and has been used in films such as ‘Batman Begins’ and ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’. I decided to use a similar technique although developed it be placing it at the end of the opening rather than in the middle, as I feel that it leaves a greater impact on the audience.The axe has connotations of threat and violence, usual themes in thriller films, since Beth it seems is in jeopardy of the axe being used against her. By revealing the axe as Jasmine walks down the stairs, it also has connotations of the threat of violent consequences if she were to be passed, since she is on the stairs and so she has made them to be impassable. This given threat is conventional, used in thriller films such as ‘Irresistible’.
Extreme close-up of Beth’s eyes This extreme close-up again brings the audience closer to the protagonist of the opening, and through the expression of her eyes I have fulfilled the conventions of a thriller as it suggests that she is vulnerable and/or weak. This is conventional as it is usual for the protagonist to be flawed; this allows the audience to identify with them (Also, a protagonist without a flaw is unrealistic and would probably irritate the audience!). This is evidenced in other thriller films such as ‘Skyfall’, in which, James Bond is almost too independent, refusing help form anyone else. By then having the two meet one another it suggests a conflict between the two; this particular shot is cut to after the antagonist is shown to be slow and confident. By then cutting to this it demonstrates a diversity of characters conflicting as the pace is suddenly changed to one that is quick and urgent. By then cutting to black it suggests a loss of hope as the light is gone whilst the heartbeat reflects panic and vulnerability in the protagonist since it’s quick, conveying that she too s shocked. This conveys an idea that she was shocked at the same tie as the audience and knows as much as them, causing them to trust her and dislike the situation she is in.