Why research is important
• Research has been incredibly important throughout our project. For
example at the very beginning, one of the first pieces of research we
conducted was looking at the key genre conventions of horror. This
was so important for us to know as our trailer was going to be a
horror trailer and in order to make it scary and recognisably a horror,
we needed to fit the conventions. Although, having studied horror
films in class we decided we wanted to push the boundaries and be
unique which means that our trailer doesn’t fit all conventions of the
horror genre. Our research enabled us to do this.
• The setting is where the film is located. Researching
the setting of horror films is incredibly important
because we need to know the types of places that
our audience will find scary in order to make a good
• After obtaining research on the setting it later
impacted our decision to have our trailer set at a
local marsh due to the fact that it is quiet and out of
the way. A marsh also has quite an eerie feel to it
which will make our trailer scary.
• Horror films are usually set in abandoned, isolated
and creepy locations often at night to make the
atmosphere eve creepier. It plays on the audiences
fears to make them terrifying, such as
claustrophobia and fear of the dark.
• For example the horror film ‘The Cabin In The
Woods’ (2012) is set in an old, creepy, dark cabin
located in the middle of a wood, far away from any
• We found in our research that the camera work used in horror
films is expressive, this is done by using canted angles, or even
hand-held camera shots.
• The lighting is almost always low key making it dramatic and
• Low contrast colours are used because they are gloomy.
• Selective focus is also used in horror films to make the audience
look at the most important subject.
• It was so important to have researched the mise-en-scene in
preparation of filming our trailer because horror trailers use
specific technical codes in comparison to other genres. After our
research we knew exactly what shots and lighting to use in
order to fit the horror genre.
• A good example of a horror film which used great camera angles
is ‘The Blair Witch Project’ (1999). This is because throughout
the film a handheld camera was used which makes the shots
jerky, adds realism, and makes the audience feel as though they
are part of the scene.
• After researching the iconography of horror films we found
that the mise-en-scene was easily identifiable.
• Lighting plays an important part and most horror films consist
of low-key lighting. Low-key lighting creates shadows. This
means the viewers have a restricted view and cant quite see
everything that’s going on in the picture, which makes it scary.
• We also found that props are used a lot in horror films, the
most out of all the genres. This is because props are used as
phallic murder weapons and the audience expect to see blood
and gore (depending on the type of horror film), and in order
to show the audience this props are needed.
• An example of a film which used a phallic murder weapon is
• This research aided us in making the crucial decisions on mise-
en-scene throughout our trailer.
• Narrative means storytelling. Ways of analysing narrative structures of media texts, and
associated issues and debates have been important to understand, and also when applying
to my production work.
• From my research of narrative I have found that there are four theories, these include the
Classical Hollywood Narrative, Character Types, Binary Opposition, and Time and Space.
• Tzvetan Todorov was a Bulgarian structuralist linguist who came up with the Classical
Hollywood Narrative Theory. This theory suggests that stories begin with an equilibrium,
which is then disrupted by a certain event setting in chain a series of events, called a
disequilibrium, which is resolved by a new equilibrium by the end of the tale.
• Vladimir Propp was a Russian critic who discovered Character Types. He identified that
there are eight character types and thirty-one narrative functions in a story. The eight
character roles are: the villain, the hero, the donor, the helper, the princess, her father, the
dispatcher and the false hero. The character roles and the functions identified by Propp can
be applied to all kinds of narrative.
• Claude Levi-Strauss looked at narrative structure in terms of Binary Oppositions. Binary
Oppositions are sets of opposite values which reveals the structure of text. For example.
good and evil. We understand good as being the opposite of evil.
• Bordwell and Thompson, in their book Film Art: An Introduction, defined narrative as “a
chain of events in a cause-effect relationship, occurring in time and space”. This simply
means when we are watching a film we try to connect the events to make sense of what is
happening to see a line of cause and effect. This is the most important factor in narrative
and a natural reaction. Narrative uses technical techniques to manipulate our awareness of
time and space, for example. Flashbacks.
• There are three theories for representation. These include:
• Jeremy Tunstel – argued that women in media text have four
main roles: domestic, sexual, consumer and marital. We decided
to steer away from this theory and make our female characters
• Laura Mulvey – the male gaze. Mulvey said that the camera in
horror films routinely objectifies women denying them any
identity and treating them as objects to be looked at by an
appraising heterosexual male by adopting technical camera
strategies such as close-ups, point-of-view shots, long shots and
tilts up the body. Once again we steered away from this.
• Carol Clover – the final girl theory suggests that girls can fight
back. The final girl is the only one of her friends who has
masculine traits ad is often similar to an adolescent boy. Her
name is often androgynous or at least not traditionally feminine.
The first final girl to fight back was Laurie Strode from
‘Halloween’ (1978). These feminist views influenced our trailer
because at the end Sarah fights back and kills the teacher.
• The character types Vladamir Propp identified are:
1. The Villain(s) – the ‘baddie’
2. The hero – our main protagonist and victor
3. The donor – who provides an object with some magic property
4. The helper – who aids the hero
5. The princess (sough for person) – ‘reward’ for the hero and object of the villains schemes
6. Her father – who rewards the hero
7. The dispatcher – who sends the hero on his way
8. The false hero – the double agent who hinders the hero rather than helping him
• In horror films there is always the female victim, the non-believer, the hero, the hysterical
character, evil character and the loved up couple.
• This researched helped us a lot in decided who the characters would be for our trailer and
what part they were going to play in the plot. We knew we needed at least a few of these
character types to show in the trailer to make it clear that it is a horror trailer and fitting the
• In our trailer the character types we have are: the female victim named Chloe Johnson, the
evil character, which is the teacher named Mr. Whittaker (who tries to kill Chloe), and the
hero named Sarah Smith, however our trailer challenges the typical horror character types
because our hero is the dead girl, who was also a female victim. In most horror films the
hero will be a strong male. An example of this is David out of ‘The Crazies’ 2010.
Themes and Tone
• Our research has helped me understand the main themes found in
horror films, used to scare, thrill and entertain the audience. Horror
films centre around the dark areas in life such as, the strange,
forbidden and alarming events. Themes are the common form of
horror films, and the main ones are; revenge, haunting, demons and
exorcisms, gore, serial killers, religious belief and ghosts. Themes also
fit into sub-genres within horror films.
• The tone in horror films is always dark and morbid in order to make it
• During our research we designed a questionnaire on SurveyMonkey,
featuring questions about our trailer and idea for a plot, to see what
people thought of it. We had a range of different comments back
which was very helpful in finding out if real people would be willing to
pay to watch our film. The questionnaire feedback also highlighted
areas for improvement.