The Group <ul><li>My group consisted of me, Nathan, and Muhammad. Nathan played James, the victim in our opening sequence. He also created the main title of our film. Muhammad worked as cameraman. I played the kidnapper and created the music that was in our film. </li></ul>
The Task <ul><li>Our task was to create an opening sequence which was between 2 to 3 minutes in length. We had to use copyright free music and create our own titles for the film. </li></ul>
The Opening Sequence <ul><li>The opening sequence my group created was set in the thriller genre. When we started developing the idea for a thriller film, we looked at many other films in that genre and what plotlines they follow. We looked at horror thriller films like ‘ Saw ’ , psychological thrillers like ‘ The Machinist ’ and action thrillers like ‘ James Bond ’ . We decided that our film would do well if it were set in the psychological thriller genre and we also had some ideas of what to do for our plotline: have the story revolve around a posh teenager who has been kidnapped. </li></ul>
Question 1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? The opening sequence my group created was set in the thriller genre. We decided that our film would do well if it were set in the psychological thriller genre, and we also had some ideas of what to do for our plotline; have the story revolve around a rich teenager who has been kidnapped. Our characters are common to films in the psychological thriller genre; a victim and a villain. You can see similarities to other opening sequences here as we introduce the main character. To establish James, we took the average teenage boy and applied items to him which only wealthy people would generally be seen using. These items include the silver watch, converse shoes, the iPhone 4 and texts from his mother.; the text tells james that a large amout of money has gone into his bank account, this reinforces his character and help the reader understand he is rich. James Silver Watch iPhone and texts
Question 1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? These elements of victim characters are seen often thriller films, ‘Firewall’ for example uses elements like this to establish posh, wealthy characters, however we also challenge the genre here too because James isn’t dressed like a typical ‘posh’ guy, he wears common teenage clothes; jeans, long hair, bright t-shirt, ect. This was a good move because people see teens dress this way, it also help us get a younger audience interested because if they see the main character dressed like this they can relate to him and will be more interested in the film. Sarah, daughter of a wealthy banker in ‘Firewall’ James has wealthy parents To further build the character and fulfil the conventional and common formula of opening sequences we showed the main characters name in the text he recieves James’ name in the text message
Question 1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? The plot line in our film doesn’t quite follow the conventional thriller kidnapping routine , which is kidnapping for profit; as seen in popular films like ‘Firewall’ and ‘Ransom’. In our film we bring something a bit more sinister in. We use the thriller horror idea of being isolated and abandoned after being kidnapped. This is our USP (unique selling point) and where our film name came from. With this new twist on the Psychological thriller genre we can bring in new audiences and give our film individuality. Unlike the horror thriller franchise ‘Saw’ , our film does not ‘punish’ or ‘test’ the main character for things they have done wrong in the past, at least not in the opening sequence; this is because we want to set up enigmas like other opening sequences do. Neither does it kidnap the main character for a profit, instead we have the main character abducted for a seemingly random and unknown reason but one which would become clear as the story developed. This is good as it creates enigmas and makes the audience wonder what the reasons are behind the kidnapping which is very useful to me because it will keep them watching the rest of the film. This is very similar to many opening sequences too because they put enigmas into their opening to keep the audience watching and interested in the plot.
Question 1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? Here you can see the main title of our film ‘ABANDONED’. It keeps the industrial feel of the locations in the film and the font style of the word is also rough and worn which emphasises this. The shades of blue have connotations of coldness and being alone which helps show what our film is like. This is similar to other films as they usually have titles which match the themes and ideologies in the film. We didn’t put the title at the beginning of the film, we put it at the end of our opening sequence. We did this this is because when James disappears into the dark it adds tension as it fades in, it also gives the audience an understanding of what has happened to James.
Question 1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? The setting for our film was thought through thoroughly. We wanted to use locations that were quickly and easily associated with the thriller genre. We looked into abandoned buildings and farm houses but thought it would be better to use somewhere that looked like it had come out of a ‘Saw’ film. As you can see in these images, the industrial look and feel of the boiler room can pass as somewhere from a real media product like in the first Saw film. Saw’s industrial setting Our industrial setting The pipes and brick give the rooms the industrial look and the walls are whitewashed which emphasises the dirt that builds up over time. The whole room looks utilitarian and it was important for us to get the setting right as we wanted to get a feel of realism and believability.
Question 1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? To get good outside settings we looked for grotty alleyways close to some form of landmark. This was important for us because in conventional films and generally in opening sequences there is an establishing shot with a recognisable landmark. If a film is set in London there will most likely be a shot of Big Ben to establish setting. The use of a dirty alleyway is good as it is often found in the thriller genre and it is a setting where people usually get kidnapped in other opening sequences. Our establishing shot This good for us because an establishing shot will set up expectations and will help the audience realise where they are in the film, what types of place they’ll see and it also reinforces the genre of the film. This can be seen in nearly all opening sequences and in the thriller genre it helps set the tone.
Question 1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? We use different types of shots throughout our film to give variety yet show similarity between our film and other films in the same thriller genre. This helps us keep the audience entertained and help them relate to the genre easier. In this close up we wanted to get just above eyeline level to show the situation of the character but a bit above them to give the impression they are small and the victim. As you can see the similarities between our shot and the shot from ‘Saw’ are very close. Our close up Saw’s close up
Question 1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? In the establishing shot we decided to get a shot of the church tower, this helps set our begin street scene. It gives a clear indication to the audience that the film is set in a town or city. In the Silence of the Lambs there is a shot of the woods which shows that this opening is in an isolated place. We took ideas from other films in the genre to tell the audience where the film is set, and like the Silence of the Lambs, a successful media product, we can achieve the same effect. We decided to do this because we wanted to be similar to other opening sequences Silence of the Lambs opening shot Our opening shot
Question 1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? Overall we wanted to closely stick to the common conventions of both the thriller genre and opening sequences in general. This is because we knew they did well and by using common conventions we wouldn’t let the audience feel confused and not wanting to watch the rest of the film. We also stuck closely to the conventions of the thriller genre because they are the conventions we see everyday and in almost all thriller films. However we don’t always stick to the common conventions, we picked some of the best features and conventions from opening sequences and thriller films then added our own twist as we vary our plot line slightly from other films in the genre. It seems in the opening sequence that James is kidnapped for his money but instead he is left abandoned for more sinister reasons. Another alteration we decided to implement was to have James dress like a normal teenager and not someone from a boarding school. This was very important for us because we wanted our film to do well and we wanted to connect with our audience. We couldn’t just create a carbon copy of a film which is already there, this would be boring and no one would want to see it. I think we managed to develop the conventions of the genre and opening sequences well and in some places it could pass for a real media product.
Question 2: How does your media product represent particular social groups? The social group I have represented in my media product is the wealthy teenage student. I think I managed to establish and represent the group well because of the items and messages I associated with him. The clothing James wears however, challenges the common ideas and conventions of a wealthy student. What people usually expect is fancy shirts and middle class school uniforms. We decided not to do this because we wanted to come across as realist and show James as a normal student; this helps us connect more with normal, young audiences who wear jeans and jackets. As you can see, James wears a t-shirt, jeans, a jacket and converse shoes; these are typical amongst teens and students at this time.
Question 2: How does your media product represent particular social groups? We knew there were two types of teenage stereotype in the media, these are ‘teens as fun’ and ‘teens as trouble’. When creating James we decided to take elements from the ‘teen as trouble’ stereotype. These included the loner outlook, the not bother attitude and the rebellious fashion style. Here you can see James’ ‘not bothered’ attitude as he shows no emotion after gaining half a million pounds. You also see in this still James has long hair which shows his rebellious side. Here we placed James outside a church and sat him down with a sort of empty look on his face. This helped us represent his lonely life because groups like emo’s who are often shown as being lonely upset people are commonly put in gloomy gothic places with sad or passive emotions.
Question 2: How does your media product represent particular social groups? The text messages we show also give the impression James and his social group are vulnerable to being kidnapped and can get targeted for ransom. As you can see from the audience feedback people can tell what James is and how he fitted in with the opening sequence. Overall I think the way we represented the wealthy student turned out well, this is because we looked at Dick Hebdige’s images of teenagers in general. We took the wealthy teen and mixed him with trouble which gives a new twist to the social group, this will hopefully get people interested and want to watch the film.
Question 3: What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why? In my group Manya researched film institutions which would suit our opening sequence. He looked at three films and the nationality of their institutes. Because we are making a dark, gritty film we wanted to use a British film institution, they often have association with the type of film we have made therefore we believe it would be beneficial for us to have a British institution distribute our film rather than an American one. These two films for example are in the same genre as our film and are distributed by British institutes. They are dark and have similar styles to our opening sequence which is why I would want a British institution to distribute it , it would also appeal more to this type of institute too which is good. Momentum Picture is a distribution company which might distribute our film. They have distributed films in different genres but have had many in the thriller genre, some of these film aren’t very well know too which suggests they are up for distributing independent films which would benefit us.
Question 4: Who would be the audience for your media product? When working on the research I discovered that the target audience I should be making the film for is working class people of around 30 years old. The gender and ethnicity of these people doesn’t matter because both genders and all ethnicities can enjoy the media product equally. The nationality of the audience does matter though, because we are creating a British film I imagine a British audience would prefer to watch the film rather than an American one because they can relate to it more. Because cinema tickets are around £5 this audience would be ideal. They have a good income and would be able to watch the film on a weekend for fun and it wouldn’t cost them very much at all. When conducting audience testing I found out that another type of person would like my film; a younger, teenage audience. This is because the people who I sent the questionnaire to were in their teens and they all enjoyed the film. This audience is a good because the main character in my film is their age and they watch the film because they can relate to him. This group of people will most likely be in the E or D socio-economic status group because they are students but this doest matter because the ticket price is fairly cheap.
Question 5: How did you attract/ address your audience? There are many ways in which I tried to attract and address my audience. The title of the film ‘ABANDONED’ is the first way the audience might wounded and become interested in my media product. The letters in it are capitalised so it stands out and it’s in a rustic style which added more visual interest to it. The word itself creates some enigmas as people will wonder what or who has been abandoned. The interesting plotline in my film attracts the audience because it seems simple and easy to watch at first but gets darker and more interesting as it develops. This aspect of the plot will hopefully attract more people to see my film and will keep them interested longer and wanting to know more. The timeline of the film is simple as it is chronological, this wont confuse viewers and it keeps the film moving. The main character in the film is James, he is a student who looks like a typical teenager, this helps me attract the audience because if people see something they can relate to they are going to be more interested in it and watch it to find out more.
Question 5: How did you attract/ address your audience? We have created enigmas in our opening sequence which we hope will get the audience involved with our film. The main enigma we have made is ‘where does the black hole lead to?’ This hole symbolises James’ journey into the unknown and we placed it at the end of the sequence to get viewers to want to follow him through it. As you can see from our audience feedback people would watch the rest the rest of the film because of this enigma. The music in my film attracts the audience and makes them feel more involved and immersed in the world which we are showing. It adds atmosphere and builds up in the right places to create tension and suspense. When in the boiler room the music changes to a give a sense of mystery and confusion which help because that is mirrors James’ current situation and help the audience see that.
Question 5: How did you attract/ address your audience? I think our style of cinematography will attract the audience, we use a variety of shot types but a majority of them are long shots and close ups. This is rather unconventional and should make more people want to view this new approach. The answer I got back from the audience feedback questionnaire show we attract the audience through the genre of the film. This shows we managed to capture the conventions of the thriller genre like music, lighting and locations to keep the audience happy and wanting more. Overall, we attracted our audience by sticking to normal conventions of the thriller genre and planting enough enigmas to get them wanting answers.
Question 6: What have you learnt about the technologies from the process of constructing this product? The main thing I have learnt about technology thought constructing this product is how to set up and arrange a blog. The website we created are blog on was blogger.com, this site was quiet versatile and suited the groups needs perfectly. I made several posts throughout the course of the practical and added images sounds and videos though its easy to use interface. Another piece of technology I used throughout the course of the practical was the internet. This allowed me to view and edit my blog, gather research from other sites and help me conduct testing and get feedback for my opening sequence. One of the main websites I used was IMDb, this is a website which holds data on thousands of films. I used the website to see which films did well, what type of films they were and which thriller films in particular did well with audiences. Wikipedia was also a good source of information when I was conducting research, I used it for researching thriller plotlines and choosing distribution companies and institutions.
Question 6: What have you learnt about the technologies from the process of constructing this product? The camera we used to record our footage was Nathan’s Kodak Zi8 HD camera. It was a simple and easy to use camera that have very good quality capturing. Even though I only have limited time working with it I soon learnt how to use it’s functions and managed to record some scenes in the boiler room with Nathan. The camera also have a slot at the bottom so we could place it on a tripod, this was vey useful when recording a majority of the scenes in our opening sequence. The overall quality of the film is good and it hasn’t changed much after it was put on YouTube. The main editing software I used was iMovie. I had training with it while working on the preliminary task and I was very easy to use. It served our purpose well and had enough options to help us make our opening sequence as good as possible. The major problem we had with it was its slowness and recurring crashes. We over came this by saving our progress often and persevering with the software.
Question 6: What have you learnt about the technologies from the process of constructing this product? I created the music for our opening sequence by using a Program called Logic Pro 9. This is a powerful program which I already had training on, it has many virtual instruments and lots of ways to edit, mix and input the sound. One of the best features and most useful for our editing process was the ability to convert files into other formats and move them about without hassle. Once I got the finished version of the music I moved it into iMovie and started editing it to the video with Nathan. Through doing this practical task I think I have developed and built upon skills I already have and learnt some important new ones, especially about movie editing software and blogging websites. The technologies I used were quiet professional and served us well while we were making our opening sequence; the only problems being with iMovie. Overall I think I used the technologies and programs well as I have managed to create a good product with my group.
Question 7: Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product? I think the difference between the preliminary task and the full product has been quiet big and I have learnt a lot since completing the prelim. When I started I knew very little about camera work and editing, this can be seen in the prelim itself. Although my preliminary film only lasted around 45 seconds you can see we were beginners and you can pick out faults everywhere, when shown next to our final product you can see clear improvements. Here you can see a big increase in the quality of the image, this is mainly because we used Nathan’s camera in the final film rather than a college one which we used for the prelim. When editing, we took more care in getting the action to match on better. If you look at the prelim film it is jumpy and doesn’t really flow well, this is clear when Nathan is going through the door. In the opening sequence the match on action is much better and flows almost seamlessly. The continuity of the shots also improved greatly, in our prelim I’m sat forward than leaning back in a shot reverse shot scene. In our full product we watched our previous clips thoroughly to make sure we had good continuity.
Question 7: Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product? The use of shots and the variety of shot type has improved as well in the final product. In the prelim we only have about 4 different shots types, but in the opening sequence we use around 10 which helps us keep audiences interested longer and get across important points in the plotline. Since the preliminary task I have realised the importance of the sounds in the film. In the final product music adds to the atmosphere and puts it to a higher level, the prelim was lacking that. Overall I have learnt many new things since the prelim and have developed some skills too, you can tell this when you watch the full product and compare the prelim to it. The final product is much better than the prelim and I think that shows just how much we have learnt as a group too.
Conclusion I am very happy with the end result and am glad to have developed an idea into a real opening sequence. I worked well with the group and I am glad to have done this with them. I think our product has been made well and has fulfilled its purpose well and comes fairly close in some places to being a real, professional media product. I am pleased with our audience feedback because it shows us we have made something people like and the answers I got back from the questionnaire show we created a thriller film which can be easily identified. The main strong points of the film which give it it’s thriller character are the sounds and music, the type of lighting and the locations we used. I think we could have improved on the costume more but this didn’t take away from the overall appeal of the opening sequence.