1. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge conventions and forms of real media products? There are a few mains thing I think are most important concerning this question andthat is our setting, characters, props/costumes and structure. These are the things I thinkmost relate to conforming to or challenging the conventions of real thriller films. The entirety of our thriller opening was situated in a wood, and a wood or forest is anextremely conventional location for a thriller film. A wood creates an elusive setting inwhich the character(s) seem isolated and lost, as if nobody can reach them and they can’tget away from where they are. There are many examples of thrillers in which a mainlocation is that of a forest, some being Dog Soldiers, The Blair Witch Project and Evil Dead. Awood was an ideal location for our thriller as we wanted our characters to seem verysecluded from civilisation and this wood brought about this effect. In terms of iconography,the trunks of the trees appear similar to that of prison bars when light is shining frombehind them – and this gives a very enclosed feeling and a sense of entrapment. Thereforethe character in our thriller seems like they can’t get out and that they have to deal withwhatever problems they may face on their own. This is a very similar sort of situation as tothose of The Blair Witch Project and Dog Soldiers; in The Blair Witch Project a group ofyoung people have to face what they believe to be some kind of attack by a witch in a forestand in Dog Soldiers a group of military men on a training mission have to fend offwerewolves. The setting of a forest, especially since we filmed in autumn time, also addedto creepiness of the atmosphere. In autumn leaves were orange/ brown and were falling offthe trees; this symbolises time passing as well as perhaps death which can be seen as anegative thing. As our thriller consists of the current time as well as flashbacks, this symbolis quite appropriate. Death is also a conventional theme to be portrayed in thrillers ingeneral, in our representation of it using leaves it creates a kind of foreshadowing effectbefore we even seen any violence in the film. Linking to The Blair Witch Project, we also used a POV camera shot – a part where aremain character (Rhys) is looking around frantically as he thinks there is somebody else withhim. Through his eyes we see the figure of the Lady in the Gas Mask appear in multipleplaces – we managed to achieve a very nice effect! I’m not only pleased with this because ofhow well it worked but also because a POV camera shot breaks down the distance betweenthe screen and the audience- it makes the audience feel like they are a part of the film. Inaddition to this, our thriller opening sequence contains very frantic scenes of violence andconfusion. This primary thrilling scene draws the viewer in straight away, and also engagesthem as it causes them to raise questions about what is going on in the film and why thingsare happening. Therefore they are inclined to watch the rest of the film to understand themeaning of it all. This kind of structuring is also common in thriller products, such as in thefilm Body of Lies - the opening scene is that of a police SWAT team breaking into anapartment with terrorists within, an explosion follows. This is a very effective form of thrillerproducts and thus we are glad we conformed to it. The characters in our thriller also conform to those of conventional products; onecharacter is ordinary looking and relatable while one is devious, mysterious and seeminglyintelligent. Rhys is a character that dresses in usual clothes and just looks ordinary, andtherefore the audience can relate to him. The fact that a very ordinary looking person is in
this film realises the situation – it makes it seem like it could actually happen. Theconvention of extraordinary things happening to ordinary people is rather common inthrillers, an example I thought of was 28 Day Later. In this film Cillian Murphy play a manwho wakes up to a deserted hospital and city (because most people are now zombies), thatcharacter himself looks ordinary – a usual build, a usual haircut a usual face – but he findshimself in a very unusual situation. There is also the case of our other character, the ladywearing the gas mask. She is the antagonist in our thriller, and as in a lot of thriller she is avillain that appears human. However she is actually a hallucination experienced by Rhys, andbecause she differs between being in reality and in his mind she has a sense of mystery anddanger about her. Most villains in thrillers do tend to be some kind of extraordinary human(whether in brain or brawn), or some form of monster. She also wears an army-relatedcostume that contains military boots, coat and of course a gas mask. Connotations of themilitary tend to be strength, organisation and intelligence all of which are also relatable toan antagonist. For example, in The Fifth Element the villain is a very clever human and thusis the case in most good vs. evil situations. The last thing I will discuss in relation to our thriller and the conventions of realproducts is that of props. We didn’t need to use many props in our thriller opening but oneI’m going to talk about is our weapon. In one of the flashbacks the lady is hitting Rhys with arock; this is a very blunt and primitive weapon. I tried to think of thriller films in which bluntweapons are mainly used but couldn’t – weapons tend to be that of knives or guns in mostconventional thriller films. In Shaun of the Dead the main weapon of choice is that of a bluntone, as they make clear as it is apparently the best weapon for killing zombies – however,although this film has zombies it is not necessarily a thriller film, it’s a comedy. Thereforethis is one of the aspects of our film that perhaps challenges the conventions of real mediaproducts. 2. How does your media product represent particular social groups? The first character I’m going to talk about that represents a social group in our thriller isRhys. Rhys is a young man, about 19 years old, who has schizophrenia and is involved in thedrug scene. You often seen young characters involved in this kind of thing in crime/gangsterthrillers such as Twin Town. Now Rhys doesn’t represent a normal kid that’s a part of thedrug scene so he can’t be a complete representative as he is a character who already hasmental health issues. However, in our thriller those people who are a part of the drug/ravescene are represented to end up with problems as Rhys ends up being attacked by his ownmind as a result of abusing recreational drugs by using them with his prescribed ones.Therefore there is a negative representation of violence and mental distortion associatedwith this kind of social group in our thriller as it shows the effects on a potentially normallife as well as an underlying condition. You could also say this negatively portrays peoplewith mental health problems (an actual current issue and campaign against mentally illpeople being portrayed negatively in media as they are often villains, etc). However I think
this is meant to induce sympathy in the viewer, not to make them dislike the character. Rhysalso is a representative of all seemingly ordinary people. It is important to me that Rhysrepresents this as I believe this social group is most relevant to us all. I think most ordinarylooking people are thought to be just that, ordinary. However in most cases this doesn’tseem to be true; people’s lives are complex and full of history that you cannot understandjust by looking at someone. Therefore I think Rhys also represents all of us in a way – in thatwe can be mistaken for something simple when we in fact hold many secrets, although Rhysmay be seen as an extreme case of this as he is extremely abnormal. Rhys also representsvictims in our thriller, as he is himself a victim. He is fairly tall and fairly thin which adds tohis vulnerability, we also edited the footage to make him look paler to emphasise this. Eventhough Rhys is male and the general thought may be that males are stronger than females –in our thriller this is not the case. Therefore it may be considered that Rhys is anunconventional representation of a victim. The lady wearing the gas mask is of course representative of women. In films, womenare often portrayed as sex objects or people of a deceiving nature. In a way, we slightlyconformed to the idea of deception as this character has a lot of mystery to her. However,we gave this character a lot of power and strength although she is a woman – she is noclassic damsel in distress. Therefore she’s a slightly new representative of females in thatshe is strong, mysterious and slightly inhuman. 3. What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why? Thinking about our thriller film, if it was to be made into a complete production (not justan opening) we wanted the film to be fairly distorted and confusing. This was because themain character had schizophrenia and had heavy delusion/hallucinations; therefore the filmwould differ between looking at reality and looking at the world through his eyes.Consequently, the film would probably be a little confusing and perhaps quite heavy andmessily structured which could perhaps make it suitable for showing at some kind of arthouse or gallery. The film would have a pretty dark theme, and half of the film would bemanifestation of the mind and some not so the complicated natures makes it seemappropriate to those interested in the art that can be produced based in the potentialdarkness and disarray of the mind. However, this would depend on which sort of directionwe eventually went with the entire feature. Another possibility would be release straight on to DVD because the film does stickto quite a few thriller conventions, assuming we would stick with these if we made a fullfeature film. The setting, characters and themes all are pretty common amongst the thrillergenre so (as aforementioned) it would depend really on which direction we went with thefilm and how structured and obvious we made it. Also, because the film is fairly conformingit may not be a new enough idea to be appropriate for a release in a cinema as a featurefilm. Furthermore, although this film may not be good enough for cinema release it is adesired film type in our day and age. Psychological thrillers are some of the most popular of
their kind, examples being Shutter Island and Inception which were extremely successful.Thus this film would still hold what the majority of a modern day audience desires, andtherefore could be suitable for commercial release onto DVD.