Evaluation by Oliver Clubb
In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real
The Film we made, ‘Witness’, is typically a thriller. To make our project faithful to the genre there were a number of
conventions that we needed to follow such as character type, settings, narrative structure, iconography and sound.
Character construction was one of the ways we followed the genre of thriller for our ﬁlm. We had two characters; The
Photographer and the Murderer. The Murderer more speciﬁcally shows the ways in which we followed the genre of
thriller. Because we only had two minutes it was very hard to create characters the audience could identify and familiarise
themselves with. This was achieved by creating a stereotypical character characters the audience would easily be able to
recognise. The Murderer was dressed in overalls, very cliché but a recognisable trait of Murderers nonetheless. His car was
a battered old 1989 Ford Escort. We felt an older more battered car would make for a better stereotypical serial killer. The
mannerisms in which Sam Thorpe acted also contributed to the construction of the Murderer. He played a brash but
cautious part. He represented the Murderer as a man always looking over his shoulder, jumpy and nervous when dragging
out the body from his boot, but quick and brash when digging the hole but moving onto menacing and glaring when
driving his car. Other little touches we felt added to the ﬁlm and character giving him a little more depth such as him
having to prop up his car boot with a bit of wood, and dragging the spade before the chase. We felt this little touches added
to the character giving a little bit more depth and adding to the archetype in the limited time scale available to us to portray
him to the audience.
Another way we kept to the conventions of thriller was through the narrative. We decided to use parallel action as our
technique of building tension and letting the story unfold. Both characters were seen in the woods, one harmlessly taking
photo’s, and one burying evidence. They way we edited our ﬁlm was to show both events happening at the same time,
letting the audience assume that at some point they were going to cross paths which provided a narrative enigma.
In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real
media products? cont...
The techniques used in the ﬁlming of the chase also helped make the ﬁlm more like a thriller. it had to be tense and
exciting, thrilling in fact, to be a faithful recreation of the genre. The use of proximity in the chase added to the tension
and excitement of the scene. We decided to drop the idea of the killer chasing the photographer with a spade as it would
be unrealistic; he would be to slow. We felt him pulling out a gun would drop the excitement caused by a proximity chase
so no weapon was used. A good old fashioned foot chase proved successful in making a harrowing chase scene.
Shot, angle and composition were very important factors in making a suspenseful scene. For example, in the 2001
ﬁlm ‘The Bourne Identity’ the use of unconventional camera angles in the opening scene helped drastically build up the
tension for what followed. This was a technique we used in our project. Canted angles were sparingly used to build up
the idea of menace in our chase sequence, high angles positioned in trees and a low angles composed to show the forest
ﬂoor attributed to the manic and wild chase scene. This coupled with jump cuts helped build up the psychotic nature we
were trying to convey in the Murderer.
Music played a huge part in making our ﬁlm. A non-diegetic score was written by us speciﬁcally for our project that
followed all the conventions on ﬁlm soundtracks for Thriller’s and Action ﬁlms. Many elements of the piece were added
for effect to help it conform to the conventions of Thriller. A pedal in the score was added in the background to add a
menacing sense of foreboding in the piece. Arpeggios helped to raise the tension, this coupled with rising sequences
which gave the impression of building up to something increased the tension in the chase scene. The use of the chromatic
scale gave an unnerving impression which was doubled by discordant rhythms which also attributed to the uneasy
feeling given by the music, which helped make the ﬁlm conform to the conventions of Thriller as the music made the
scene a lot more exciting and tense.
How does your media product represent particular social groups?
The two main characters in our piece had a lot of thought and planning put into them to represent what we were
trying to convey. The Photographer was constructed to be a fairly typical middle aged man. His dress sense
suggests he is in his late 30s or 40s, the glasses he wears also connote some sort of academic background, but this
mixed with his dress style suggests he of middle class background. The audience is position to view the
Photographer as a neutral character, he is neither a positive or negative representation of middle aged men but is
more used as a device to reinforce the negative portrayal of the Murderer.
The Murderer is constructed to be a stereotypical villain and serial killer. As we only had 2 minutes to show the
Murderer as a character we decided to construct him as a stereotypical serial killer. We dressed our killer in clichéd
overalls but felt it was the easiest route to take to effectively portray a serial killer to the audience in the time given
to us. We decided that the serial killer would drive a battered old 1989 Ford escort as an old and particularly worse
for wear cars are seen as more iconic with serial killer stereotypes. This is seen more clearly especially seeing as the
Photographers car was a newer more stylish looking one which helped make the Murderers car look older and
outdated. Essentially the Photographer was constructed as a neutral character to be a control and something the
audience could use to compare against the Murderer who the were audience were positioned to view as a villain in
a negative way.
What kind of media institution might you distribute
your media product and why?
If our ﬁlm were to be produced by the ﬁlm industry I believe it could be a UK ﬁlm production. My reasoning for this is
that it is not a high budget production. independent ﬁlm production companies in the UK are always suffering from ﬁnancial
problems and securing enough funding for their ﬁlms. Witness however is not a high budget ﬁlm as it is mainly narrative
driven and does not require any special effects, high proﬁle actors or dangerous stunts. I think a well established but UK ﬁlm
production company could handle the production of ‘Witness’. Although it is true that it does not have a very large budget,
some scenes such as the chase scene may require a more established and experienced ﬁlm production company. I feel would
need a production company on a bigger scale than Cipher Films (the responsible for KidultHood and AdultHood) but is
probably not grand enough to be produced by the major 6 Hollywood studios. For this reason I think it would be perfectly
suited for a company like Working Title, a high proﬁle UK production company responsible for hit UK ﬁlms such as ‘Bridget
Jones’, ‘Love Actually’ and more recently ‘The boat that rocked’.
When it came to the ﬁlms distribution, again I feel our ﬁlm is on to small a scale to be released by big American
distributors like Colombia Tr-star or Twentieth century fox, but instead would be more suited to be distributed by someone
like the French based distribution company, Studio Canal who specialise in independent European ﬁlm or a similar company
like Lionsgate, distribution companies that are not part of the Hollywood 6 oligopoly.
Who would be the audience for your
If our ﬁlm was to be produced professionally it would mainly caters to a mainstream audience. The Thriller genre is quite
popular amongst movie goers and in our market analysis it ranked the 3rd most popular genre. THe main audience we feel our
ﬁlm would be aimed would be 20 to 40 year old’s with a 50% split between male and females. The thriller genre is not as popular
among younger audiences as it considered a more ‘serious’ genre which is why the starting age bracket for our target audience is
The social classes our ﬁlm would attract are most likely to be C1, B and some A. This is due to the nature of the ﬁlm. It is
strongly narrative based and does not feature much action, it is more a psychological thriller than the opening minutes show it to
be. It is more likely that more academic and socially cultured individuals tastes would be catered for from watching Witness’ so
these social classes form our target audience.
In terms of target audience and psychographics, mainstream, succeeders and reformers are the most likely categories of
people to fall into our target audience. Mainstream people will ﬁt in purely because Thriller is a reasonably popular genre of ﬁlm,
Succeeders fall into our target audience because they are most likely to fall into the higher social classes targeted as mentioned
Lifestyle-wise, I feel the main classes of people that fall into our target audience are YUPPIES, DINKIES, EWES and MICE.
Young and upwardly mobile people are the most likely to fall into some of the higher social classes as as DINKIES. I feel EWES are
the most likely to be in the Demographic social class A because of their income. Suggesting they are professionals and possibly
intellects meaning a thriller ﬁlm may be the most appealing to them at the box ofﬁce.
How did you attract/address your
We considered what the target audience would be for a typical Thriller ﬁlm and during pre-production we considered this audience and
chose the best ways to appeal to them in the production of our ﬁlM.
One of the things we found out when we did our market research was that Action was the 2nd most popular genre among ﬁlm goers
so we decided to start our thriller in a typical enigmatic way that conformed to the genre but also add in a car chase element which might appeal
to a wider target audience.
During production used many techniques that would appeal to the typical thriller fan. Our story started off with two different characters
doing different things, a photographer and a murderer, which left a narrative enigma from the start of the ﬁlm. The thriller fan would already
have a snare to want to watch the ﬁlm and ﬁnd out what happened. The use of advanced camera techniques and composition all contributed to
the appeal of the ﬁlm. Canted angles and wide use of the shot types made the ﬁlm a lot more aesthetically interesting and exciting helping to raise
the tension throughout the opening sequence. The use of temporal extension also helped to widen the audience range and try to make it a little
more appealing to the masses.
In post production we referred back to one of the things we learned in our survey; that soundtrack was actually a lot more important to the
audience than we originally thought. We decided to write a score for our ﬁlm that encompassed all of the traits typical of a thriller soundtrack
such as a fast tempo, an exciting rhythm and and unnerving feeling.
During the ﬁnal stages of production and distribution we set up a facebook group to generate interest for our ﬁlm. On the proﬁle page for
our production company we updated it with news of how production was going as well as putting up photo’s of us during shoots. At this time of
print our group currently has 139 members and we have promised our community that the ﬁnished product will be uploaded to the group when
it is ready.
What have you learnt about technologies from the process of
constructing this product?
We used many different media technologies during our project ranging from software to internet websites and
hardware used for the actual ﬁlming.
We used an incredible wealth of hardware during the whole planning and production process. We decided to use
Apple computers mainly due to their astonishing ability to handle and process vast amounts of graphics, video and
multimedia we used in the process of production as well as the suite of programs on offer. We used an iMac which served as
our main video editing machine. We also used a Macbook Pro and Macbook, these switched jobs, sometimes serving as
editors for our production diaries and creating idents etc.
When it came to actual recording equipment we used a Sony HDR-SR7e camcorder which records in advanced video
codec: high deﬁnition or AVCHD. This provided us with superior video quality for a prosumer model that helped give our
ﬁlm a slightly more professional look. The camcorder was ﬁtted with a shotgun microphone to help catch audio far away
and a wide angle converter lens to help ﬁt more on screen. As well as being able to take advantage of new technological
advances in motion image capture we also used more old fashioned and dated technologies. During our car chase we used
walkie-talkies to orchestrate the tailing sequence which made the shoot a lot more effective and efﬁcient. We also used a
digital Single lens reﬂex camera for taking photographs and keeping a record of what was happening on location during
shoots. We stationed our cameras on standard tripods and during the interior car shots were able to make use a new
innovative product called the gorilla pod, a tripod with mouldable legs allowing the camera to be kept stationary in almost
We also used a very large amount of software solutions ranging from the consumers suites of iWork and iLife to the
more prosumer level of software like Final Cut Express 4. In iLife we used iPhoto ’09 and iMovie ’09, both come as standard
on Mac OS X, the operating system that came with the Macbook’s, Macbook Pro’s and on the iMac. Using iPhoto ’09 we
were able to categorise all the photo’s we had taken on shoot with our digital SLR and also create video slideshows as a
montage of the day’s events. We used iMovie ’09 as a basic editing suite to go over fresh footage and get a rough cut of what
our ﬁlm would look like. It was also used to edit together our video diaries as it was a very competent and effective piece of
What have you learnt about technologies from the process of
constructing this product? cont....
One of the other pieces of software we used in iLife was Garageband, a digital audio workstation and music sequencer. We
linked keyboards to the software via a USB interface and were able to effectively compose a musical accompaniment to our
ﬁlm and export it straight into iMovie to see what a rough edit would look like. One of the other uses of Garageband is its
podcast creation facility. When linked up with a USB microphone we were able to record our very own podcast complete with
jingles and stingers to use as part of the keeping track aspect of our coursework.
We also used iWork ’09, more speciﬁcally a slideshow creation program called Keynote ’09. We used it in conjunction
with iMovie and Garageband to create our ident. We also used Numbers ’09, a spreadsheet application which we used in
conjunction with keynote to do a presentation on market research using a survey which was typed up on Pages ’09.
Final Cut express 4 was our main editing suite that we used when it came to doing the ﬁnal project. Using it we were
able to utilise a number of tools and effects such as a vignette and colour correction in order to make our ﬁlm look just how
we wanted it to.
Due to the hypothesis of Web 2.0 we were able to take advantage of some incredible free user generated content websites
that have spawned due to this internet culture phenomenon. We used 4 main websites in the production of our project.
Youtube, a user generated video hosting website was where all our videos such as the video slideshows created in iPhoto ’09
and the preliminary task were held on our account. We also took advantage of photobucket so all our photo’s taken with the
digital SLR could be uploaded and embedded to any of our pages. We also took advantage of the social networking website
Facebook and created a fan page which could be joined to generate interest for our ﬁlm. All of our work has been presented
using this; Blogspot, a blogging website which celebrates the very concept behind Web 2.0. All of our work has been uploaded
to our blogs and we have been able to embed all the work created and uploaded to Youtube and Photobucket. We really did
take advantage of all tpyes of new media technology available to us.
Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the
progression from it to the ﬁnal product?
One of the things I feel we have learned is great planning will result in a great ﬁlm. When we sat decided to make Witness we
spent a good week ﬁnalising ideas before we even considered what the thing would look like . For our preliminary task we
spent less than hour talking not only about what was going to be in the ﬁlm but also storyboarding and scripting. For Witness
we spent a very large amount of time planning. When we had come up with a story we created a ﬂow chart that could be
reffered to any point in preproduction. By this point we had spent a good week on the story of our 2 minute opening. For our
preliminary, like I said, we spent less than an hour, and looking back it shows. Our storyboard was incredibly detailed this
time round and comprised of roughly 60 separate shots compared to only 12 for our Prelim. These shots were also a lot more
advanced, features like depth of ﬁeld and slow motion are not present in the prelim but because we did a lot more planning
for ‘Witness’ we were able to add in these more advanced features. We also researched locations so we knew exactly where
we were going to be during our shoots and were not surprised when we turned up. This is because we went location hunting
before hand instead of just looking for a place once we had the camera as was the case with our Prelim. Sound was also a
huge factor in the production. Originally the sound quality on our prelim was quite bad. This is something we knew could
have occurred so we used a shotgun microphone on the camera to capture the sound we needed of the shutter closing etc.
Editing was also a lot more structured and planned. Because we had a very rigid storyboard we were able to shot for shot see
what we wanted in the ﬁnal piece. We ended up with roughly 4 different versions, each one being tweaked to the point of
perfection untill we felt it was just right. In our prelim the soundtrack was just a song that we could ﬁnd on our phones. For
‘Witness’ we spend time composing a soundtrack which would perfectly suit what was required to follow the conventions of