A2 Media Coursework Chosen Brief: A short film in its entirety, lasting approximately five minutes, which may be live action or animated or a combination of both, together with two of the following three options:
A poster for the film
A radio trailer for the film
A film magazine review page featuring the film
The Short Film I have decided to do a short horror film, looking at genre theory as well as media language. In terms of genre theory, I am planning to look closely at the genre of horror and its conventions, and try and replicate these conventions within my film and the extra tasks. I will also look at media language, taking into account the ideas of denotation and connotation. To do this I want to use lots of features in my film that have two levels of meaning; the denotation and the connotation.
Media language and representation Firstly my main character will be a teenage girl who dresses in gothic clothing. This already has connotations with darkness and horror; representing the main character as bad. The idea behind this character is that she has been abused and bullied all her life and eventually snaps and takes revenge. However, I intend to subvert this stereotype by giving an insight into her background and showing events from her point of view. This will represent the other characters as the villains despite the fact that come the end she will be the one killing people. The other character’s will all be represented negatively. The majority of the colour will be black and the lighting throughout will be dark connoting the genre of horror. I will however emphasize colours like red as they too connote horror and anger. The denotation’s of these aspects will rely on the audience’s personal experience etc but the preferred reading would relate to the character’s anger and her murderous intentions.
Audience theory I want to follow conventions of realistic/natural horror’s so it will be life-like but will provide the audience with a sense of escapism also. The idea is to get inside the head of the main character by the use of flashbacks so it allows the audience an alternative view; as many horror’s are shown from the perspective of the victim’s. For my film I want to explore the idea of telling the story from the “villains” point of view and in doing so, the villain will seem less of a villain. In doing this I intend to challenge the audience’s views of the stereotypical horror villain; many horror films like Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th have villains who have been mistreated and have reasons behind the way they are yet the audience is made to dislike them as they are represented as “bad”. So I want to play around with the idea of a passive audience who see the villain as “bad” because that’s how they have been represented and give the audience a story from the villains point of view.
Conventions of a Horror Film I think horror film conventions can be divided into different types of horror. And depending on the nature of the horror film there are conventions that it follows. For example, a monster horror has different conventions to a psychological horror. Main types of horror film… Slasher/torture porn Monster Psychological Supernatural Natural/real Fantasy
Slasher/ Torture porn
Blood and violence
Things that push the audience out of their comfort zone.
Some kind of psychopathic killer
Hero/heroine who survives – usually the main character whom we have got to know.
Often set in isolated locations e.g. Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Sometimes (not always) revolve around innocent people being killed
The killer is usually male, with some exceptions
The killer is often concealed by either a mask or clever shadowing
Slasher’s like SAW take on the “torture porn” idea; these conventions differ slightly from slasher’s but remain very similar. SAW is notably different from other slasher’s in that the killer is better known to the audience and we actually grow to know his character better than those of the victims
Fantasy creatures – sometimes recognisable from myths such as werewolves (Underworld) but sometimes made up for the sake of the film.
Often a mixing of human and fantasy.
Exotic fantasy worlds
Magic and supernatural powers
Quite often female protagonist (not always)- Pan’s labyrinth, underworld, resident evil, Ultraviolet, Blood and Chocolate and Gingersnaps to name a few.
Violence and scary situations (in order for it to be horror fantasy and not just a fantasy film)
Lots of CGI and effects for things like werewolf transformations.
Sub-human “people” or creatures such as the Thing are the villains in monster horror’s
Often the villains won’t die and can’t be defeated – creating much of the fear.
Often revolves around a group of people who then get picked off one by one
Quite often there is a survivor
The people are often quite stupid and their stupidity results in their death.
The group work together to find a way to survive.
There’s a lot of violence and blood etc.
The monster’s look deliberately scary (obviously) to form fear in the audience.
These sorts of horror’s aim to mess with people’s minds, rather than to show explicit scenes of blood and violence.
They often address common psychological things and add twists and enigma’s; for example the sixth sense
It exposes the evil that hides behind normality
They frighten the audience mentally as opposed to visually.
They focus on situations and use subtle, implied effects and imagery to scare the audience.
They focus on and exploit human fears
Don’t have any particular pattern for characters; they can vary from male to female; young to old. However often they follow the stereotypical weak female, strong brave male idea.
“Supernatural” refers to something that isn’t natural.
Contains supernatural beings or humans with supernatural powers.
Similar to fantasy
They address traditions like death, the afterlife, the demonic and evil.
Often use beings like witches, wizards, vampires, werewolves and ghosts.
Supernatural horror’s as a whole differ from fantasy in that they are more subtle and remain fairly realistic.
A female protagonist is a convention of this genre although not always the case.
They differ from psychological horror’s in that they don’t just rely on psychology to scare the audience; for example werewolf and vampire films often contain violence and gore.
Human based threat
Revolves around people in a recognisable hyper-reality
Addresses possible issues as opposed to exaggerated, make believe issues
The villain or threat is human, or animal: either way it is something recognisable and possible
They don’t exaggerate the aspects and keep it believable
Realistic gore and violence again not exaggerated
Theory Propp- Horror often follows Propp’s narrative structure theory: Lead Character Can be either the victim or the villain Victim Can be multiple victims depending on the story- usually if the protagonist is the victim, they then become the survivor Villain Often has a trademark characteristic for example Freddie Kruger is known for his costume: the stripy jumper, cowboy hat and knife-gloves. Binary Opposition There’s almost always conflict, of the stereotypical “good Vs evil” Horror usually sticks to Propp’s theory by beginning with equilibrium, then disequilibrium, then re equilibrium at the end (but can change based on circumstances)
Credits at the start or end of a horror follow horror conventions by use of colour scheme, font, sound, title movement/transition and images. Many horror films use hand held camera’s for a more personal feel, there are often a lot of close ups when focusing on important aspects like a murder weapon or a wound. Sound is important to horror as it forms most of the atmospherics and is key to scaring the audience. A lot of dissonance is used in horror to make the audience jump, fast paced music and drum beats that resemble a heart beat often are used to build up tension and slow, creepy sounding music is used to build tension also. Horror’s vary in location, many are in isolated areas as it puts the character in an awkward position with no one else around to help, as well as places them in a situation that they will struggle to escape from. Deserted barns/farms and old buildings are also sometimes used as well as larger houses or churches and quaint villages (with the right mise en scene and characters a quaint village can be really creepy)
My title sequence idea This is an idea I had for the credits/ title sequence so did a quick mock up with photo’s from the internet. I was playing around with ideas on connoting horror successfully through things like music, imagery and editing to get an idea of genre theory
Natural/Real horror conventions II have decided I’d like to make a horror that fits with natural/real horror conventions. I am also keen to bear Propp’s narrative structure theory in mind when casting and writing character profiles. Here are the conventions I will need to follow: Human grounding with no supernatural elements Minimal gore Realistic sound, props and violence Human based threat Believable narrative and characters Realistic setting and mise en scene