TheCoopers’ Company and Coborn School
In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge
forms and conventions of real media products?
When developing our thriller opening sequence we had many ideas in mind based on previous and
well known real media products. We had four main ideas when planning our thriller which we then
narrowed down to one, three of the four ideas were taken from clips of different successful
Our first idea was about a girl who kept having hallucinations, meaning everywhere she went, she
believed something or someone was following her. This effected her being outgoing and affected
her friendships. In the opening sequence, we would have seen the girl walking through a
graveyard, a field, or getting on a bus to school. Each time she see’s a figure appear behind her, this
could result in suicide, and we can show this by showing this main character hanging her toys or
other possessions first.
This idea we took from part of the film "The Exorcism of Emily Rose”; how she see’s demonic faces
in normal people and how it affects her everyday life and relationships. As you can see we
developed this idea and changed it to suit us and what we were able to do (it would have been
quite hard for us to show demonic faces in normal people so we altered this idea by just showing
hallucinations and flash backs which would be easier to create). Two thriller conventions which are
used in "The Exorcism of Emily Rose” and we would like to follow are ‘A narrative pattern of
establishing enigmas which the viewer expects to be resolved’ and extraordinary events happening
in ordinary situations. "The Exorcism of Emily Rose” has many enigmas in it and everything is a
mystery to the audience especially from just watching the trailer, this normally encourages the
audience to wanting to watch the film or keep watching after seeing the opening sequence of the
Our fourth idea and the idea we developed and turned into our own was group of young people on a
train, and the train has to take a detour due to engineering works, as the train passes through an
abandoned station, the tunnel collapses. As the survivors get off the train, they find a video camera
and record their progress as they try and escape the abandoned and haunted station. This gives us a
lot of options to use close up shots, intensifying the scene.
This idea required a lot of editing techniques and skills such as having the tunnel collapsing, we
thought this isn’t a very realistic thing to be able to create as we are just media students and don't
have the correct software and experience in editing to do this, so we developed it and changed it
slightly to make it more realistic to work with. An example of how we changed it was instead of
having the tunnel collapsing we instead had a power cut on the train, which we found much easier to
work with as didn’t require advanced media software.
This idea was taken from bits of, “The Blair Witch Project”, it relates to our idea as, the protagonist
has a video camera and is recording themselves and the events, making the thriller seem more
realistic. This is the trailer of the film… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfnXbXKi2-
The idea of filming at a train station and on a train, was taken from the film “Creep”, a lonely train
station creates a sense of mystery and adds tension within the film. We can create a deep sense of
fear from this setting easier than other settings, as the audience can relate it to a real life situation.
We also decided to use the same target audience as ‘Creep’, 16-25 years old as thrillers are more
targeted and watched by the younger generation. This is the trailer of Creep…
This is a post on my blog, telling the audience our final idea to our thriller…
Thriller Conventions incorporated in ‘Music Box’
• A Narrative pattern of establishing enigmas which the viewers expects to be resolved.
In our opening title sequence of ‘Music Box’ we create an enigma around the young
boy which creates suspense as he is shown as an unknown character. The camera does
focus on him many times, however not at any point during the opening sequence do
we understand who the boy is and why he is on his own at such a young age. By
keeping his identity a secret, questions are raised for the audience; 'Who is this
character?' ‘Why is he on his own?' ‘Where has the music box come from?’ These
mysteries then creates suspense for the viewer.
• Suspense is built through the plot and storyline of the narrative
The audience could start to get worried about the four friends safety as the little boy is
so unknown, Suspense is especially built down the alley way when the two girls go and
find the little boy as they are alone and young, also because the audience doesn’t
know what the little boy is capable of yet.
• Extraordinary events happening in ordinary situations
We decided a good but different location to film our thriller is on a train station
platform and on a train, also incorporated in this idea we also filmed down a poorly lit
alley. We decided to film at a train station, near where we live because this setting was
easy to access and it had the mysterious effect which we needed, especially when it’s
dark. The ordinary situation is four friends being at a train station and on a train but
the extraordinary event is finding the little boy sitting on the floor singing along to a
music box he is holding, its not an event you would see everyday.
• Themes of Voyeurism and Themes of identity
These two conventions include the boy and the group of friends. We may say there is ‘theme of
voyeurism’ used not only from the young boy watching the group of friends but also from the group
of friends watching the young boy. Themes of identity links in with one of our enigmas, ‘Who is the
young boy?’ his identity needs to be revealed, this won’t be seen in the opening sequence.
• The music included in the opening sequence of the thriller
The music within our opening sequence creates tension using both a Diegetic and non-Diegetic
soundtrack. The main Diegetic sound used is the sound from the music box, the whole way through
the clip we can hear the mysterious singing voice of what seems to sound like a child. As a child is
singing it creates an element of innocence and we wouldn’t really expect the child to be the main
The child is singing to a music box which is high in pitch which mirrors the child’s voice. This all adds
to the mysterious, eerie and enigmatic Mise en scene. We cannot quite make out the words the child
is singing which creates a secretive element to the piece which makes it even more daunting, the
only words we hear clearly are the three words at the end ‘we all die’ and ‘the world is spinning’.
The music also helps reflect the mood and threat in the characters. The sound coming from the
music box implies that something bad is going to happen, and that the little boy is around. There is
around a 30 second pause in the middle where the music doesn’t play it then comes back in creating
suspense for the audience as they know something may happen and the protagonists are in danger.
We hear the sound of the music box when the little boy is around so the audience will know that
something exciting may happen. The last words we hear from the soundtrack are ‘and we all die’
these words symbolise what is happening, the little boy here closes the music box and walks off, a
newspaper article then appears with a headline about four missing friends, the ‘and we all die’ may
stick in the audiences head when they are wondering what has happened, also because it was the
last thing they would have heard.
• Mise en scene
The Mise-en-scene especially the props help establish and insert into thriller conventions. The first
thriller convention which we feel is followed by the Mise-en-scene is ‘A narrative pattern of establishing
enigmas which the viewer expects to be resolved’, the lighting, colour and sound used establish
enigmas which the viewer expect to be resolved, however as our task was only to complete the
opening sequence they will not be resolved, many enigmas are still formed through these aspects of
the Mise-en-scene though. The props also add enigmas, for example; when the protagonists find out
their mobile phones have no signal, it will make the audience wonder what is going to happen next?
Also when they hear the sound from the music box, they first would wonder where the music is coming
from and if it is a music box or someone singing.
Another thriller convention in which the setting fits into is, ‘Mise-en-scene which echoes/mirrors
the protagonist’s plight’. The protagonist who could be said to be the young boy lives a very dull and
saddened life, we see this by his dirty, ripped clothes; the Mise-en-scene mirrors this as trains stations
are also dull and dirty and some don’t have much light or hope like the little boy.
• The Title
My group and I decided on calling our thriller ‘Music Box’. We thought this title was short but to the
point and will make the audience think and try and guess how a music box is involved in the story, if it is
at all? We first called it ‘The Music Box’ but then thought there are many film titles including many
thrillers beginning with the word ‘The’; The Ring, The Godfather, The Silence of the Lambs, The Shining.
Short titles are conventionally done in thriller movies to raise questions and provoke suspense. The title
appears at the end of our opening sequence after the newspaper article, the camera zooms into the
words music box at the end of the article, this then boldens and is presented on a black background,
having white writing here really makes it stand out. The titles at the beginning saying ‘J-A-G-M
Productions’ move across the screen like a train we then see a train appear moving in the same
direction. This also happens throughout the video when the names of each character appear on the
screen, they all appear and fade out like a train in the same direction as before. They also are in white
on a black background so they stand out to the audience.
Do the thriller conventions you have used indicate a sub-genre?
Our thriller opening sequence doesn’t necessarily connote a specific thriller sub-genre but
instead simply follows and uses generic conventions found in the successful thriller films.
When carrying out our preliminary research we found that action thrillers were the most
popular, however we did come to the conclusion that it is probably the most popular due to it
being the most advertised genre and probably includes the most popular films around which
are categorised under this genre. Specific sub-genres require specific key points which make it
this genre, for example; Action thrillers include car chases or stunts, Crime thrillers include
deaths and weapons and violence and disaster thrillers include some sort of natural hazard like
a hurricane or earthquake. As you can see it would be very hard for us to make our own
thriller to each of these specific genres as they require a lot of money and time to make.
As I said overall our opening sequence to a thriller doesn't fit into any specific thriller sub-
genre, however there are elements of it which may categorise it into a particular one. Firstly
our thriller could be categorised into the Action genre due to there being a mystery/missing
person in it, a crime may have been committed but as its only the opening sequence we don’t
know yet. Our thriller could also be in the drama category/sub-genre due to the story
consisting of elements from a drama and thriller. An example of this is the mystery and hidden
identity of the young boy this creates drama as his character would most probably be
developed throughout the thriller, there are also other plots and twists to be answered, like
“where are the friends?”
How does your media product represent particular social groups?
My group and I decided to use the social group of teenagers in our thriller opening sequence.
Teenagers were the best choice in our eyes as when we carried out our research we found that
teenagers and young adults were the man target group for thrillers and were the most people
who watched them. After finding this out we handed out questionnaires to this age group and
found out what they liked in a thriller. The teenagers were both males and females and were
middle class. We decided to use both genders as this represents the real world of genders
mixing together and friendship groups being mixed; also this allowed all 4 us (the group) to be
involved and part of the thriller. You can see the teenagers are from a middle class background
from how they are dressed and how they act; they are dressed in casual clothes but don’t look
scruffy; them being on a train will probably different them from being of a high class. The little
boy also helps establish the teenagers being middle class as compared to him they look clean
and well presented to the audience.
Using teenagers rather then adults builds more tension and suspense for the audience as
they are more vulnerable and the viewers may be in fear for the teenagers danger, this is also
why we see the girls go and investigate where the young boys gone and not the males of the
group. At the beginning of the thriller opening sequence we see the group of friends laughing
and joking around this stereotypes teenagers of society today; being loud and happy. Also
seeing the friends on a train establishes to the audience that now-a-days children don’t just
play on the street outside their house but travel all different places In a day.
Stereotypically we normally see a male adult as the killer or the threat in the film. We have
followed this convention and used a male but have developed and changed it a bit and made it
a young male; this does lose the effect of the power and dominance over the females as they
are older but still it shows how anyone could be a threat creating a further mystery.
What kind of media institution might distribute your media production
Firstly we will distribute our media product to micro companies to see what they think of it and
see whether it is successful. If so, we will pitch our idea to an international or larger media
company. Distributing and showing our media product to both small companies and large
companies will quickly broaden the audience base and the film title will become more popular so
we should gain a bigger audience from that. Our thriller at the moment only consists of an
opening sequence, so we are limited in knowing how successful it will be, I feel that using younger
characters in the narrative will make it successful and allow it to be shown in cinemas across the
country as the main age group which go to the cinema to watch films are teenagers and the
younger generation, they can relate to the films.
By distributing our media product to a smaller company first will allow us to get
feedback and let us know how successful our media product will be before we move on to larger
companies which would have wasted our time if it was not successful. Also more profit can be
gained this way as no money would be lost through commercialism.
Distributing to larger companies we would increase the films reputation which will
increase the amount of people wanting to see it therefore increasing profit. Although our target
audience is teenagers and young adults, I feel that it would also appeal to the older person as it is
set at a train station where this age group always will be commuting to work, also using this type
We should firstly show our film at amateur cinemas to gain popularity within local
areas and see whether the potential is great enough to make it at larger cinemas.
If this film is only successful in amateur cinemas a DVD will be produced a month or so
after the film was shown at the cinema for a week. If the film is successful at larger cinemas a DVD
will be produced about 2-3 months after the film has been at the cinema for 3 weeks.
What would be the audience for your media product?
Our target audience is 16-25 year olds male and female. In relation to our storyboard and our idea,
we think that it is suitable and meets requirements of this audience. The age group of the characters is
16-18 years old so fits in with the target audience and allows them to relate to them and the story
Our story relates to our target audience through our setting and Mise en scene. One of the
most popular forms of transport these days for young adults (16-25) is trains. Now days people travel
further to go shopping, watch the football etc. and to get to these places need the trains as it is
cheaper and faster than anyway else, also the idea of filming down an alley way, as this is seen as a
dangerous spot for the younger person to be hanging around, this will make the teenagers in the
narrative seem more vulnerable and cause more tension for the audience. The lighting used down the
alley is dark and the alleyway is poorly lit so we can just see what is going on and also are able to see
shadows, which also creates fear.
Also, a younger generation will understand the social aspect of the setting and this will
increase the interest they have as they too will have been in that situation. The sound used in the
opening sequence is a young child singing; the lyrics used are significant to what is happening
especially when it says the ‘world is spinning’ here we see the camera spinning around, giving a
blurred affect in the trees and ‘we all die’ here we see the young boy firmly shutting the music box and
the young girls approaching him, this can create fear for the girls safety especially for the audience.
In our research we found that the film ‘creep’ was similar to ours in many ways for example
this film was set at a train station and on a train itself. There is a main antagonist in which every one is
scared of and there are protagonists also. Also our opening sequence follows a few of the same
conventions which creep did, an example is ‘a narrative pattern of establishing enigmas which the
viewer expects to be resolved. ‘ An enigma being who is the boy? And at the end of the opening
sequence when we see the newspaper article ‘Are the friends still alive?’
How did you attract/address your audience?
We attracted and addressed our audience in many different ways, most importantly our Mise-
en-scene and editing. As our task was to create an opening sequence of a thriller we decided a
good but different location to film our thriller was on a train station platform and on a train. Also
incorporated in this idea we did some filming down a poorly lit alley. We decided to film at a train
station, near where we live because this setting was easy to access and it had the mysterious effect
which we wanted, especially when it was dark.
A Thriller convention which shows how the setting fits in is ‘Extraordinary events happening
in ordinary situations’, the ordinary situation was four friends being at a train station and on a train
but the extraordinary event was finding the little boy sitting on the floor singing along and
humming to a music box he was holding, its not an event you would see everyday. Another thriller
convention in which the setting fits into was, ‘Mise-en-scene which echoes/mirrors the
protagonist’s plight’. The protagonist who could be said to be the young boy lives a very dull and
saddened life, we see this by his dirty, ripped clothes; the Mise-en-scene mirrors this a trains
stations are also dull and dirty and some don’t have much light or hope like the little boy.
Filming at Train Station and on a train allows the audience to be able to relate to the story
more and feel they are part of it, or at least understand what is going on. It also makes the story
more realistic being in a local, popular place and make the audience think, that it could happen
anywhere, increasing the tension and suspense for the viewers.
The Next two slides are images taken of the setting we filmed at: At the train station and down the
As I mentioned in the previous slide, we attracted and addressed our audience in many
different ways, the second way being through camerawork and editing. We used many
reaction shots and point of view shots throughout to add to the tension, the reaction shots
allowed the audience to see how the characters were filming and the point of view shots
allowed the audience to feel how the characters were feeling and feel more worried for them.
We also used quite a lot of establishing shots to set the scene and permit the audience to get a
good feel for where the characters are, and example of this was one of the opening shots of
the train coming into the platform: it showed the platform, the time of day it was, the weather
and the train itself where the friends were on.
How did you attract/address your audience?
Establishing shot Reaction shot Point of View shot
Another way we attracted and addressed the audience was through our use of props and
the characters. We used teenagers as our main characters. This linked in with the age of our
target audience; 16-25 year olds allowing them to feel they are part of the situation. Filming it
on a train also related to our audience as that is one of the main source of transport for this
age group. The props we used were basic everyday props; mobile phones, a dog etc apart from
our main prop, The Music Box. This made the music box stand out more as it was an unusual
item to have with you.
What have you learnt about technologies from the process of
constructing this product?
When filming our media we didn’t have any problems with the video camera or camera
equipment even though we were using a basic DV video camera and tripod. We made sure
before we went out filming that we had enough space on the tape we was recording it onto
and took spare batteries with us just in case one ran out, but luckily enough we had enough
battery time for the 2 hours it took us to film. We also took with us a ordinary camera to
capture images of the setting that could be used for our evaluations and if necessary add it
into our footage for a still shot.
As there were four members in my group it did take us a long time to decide when we
were all free to film it, we finally decided to film it one evening after school and took the risk
of what the lighting was like through the video camera as it was night time and dark. We were
lucky and the footage did come out well and didn’t look too dark, it actually helped add the
eerie affect to the footage.
The problems we had with our project came after we had completed the filming and begun
to edit. It took us 3 attempts to upload our footage onto the computer as frames kept
dropping, to resolve this we had to split our footage in half, we learnt that we were trying to
upload to much footage at the same time and the computer/Serif couldn’t manage it all. After
filming we ended up having around 1 hour of footage and had to spilt it into two half an hour
clips. When we finally uploaded our footage onto Serif MoviePlus and started editing it, the
computer and Serif programme itself kept freezing and jumping which made it really hard for
us to edit. We found out that the problem preventing it from running smoothly was the
amount of video we had captured and uploaded onto one timeline, which affected the loading
of the sound wave.
This problem was resolved by cutting up our footage, only keeping the clips and shots we knew we
would use and deleting the shots which was just us messing around or us talking before a shot.
Once we had cut up all the footage we then exported the cut footage and added it into a new
timeline, this made it quicker for us to edit as there wasn’t as much footage for the computer to
load up each time, we opened the file.
When we had uploaded the footage onto the computer and watched it back we noticed that
some of the shots we had captured were shaky as we hadn’t used the tripod for that particular
shot. Using after effects we managed to resolve this and were able to still some of the shots.
After effects was another programme we used in the editing process and this was very helpful
when creating titles, it made the titles look more professional and gave us a wider range of title
choices as we could make them ourselves and make it look a way which suited us. Our opening shot
was a train coming in to a platform, so using after effects we found a title which entered the screen
like a train and left like one. When we first created this, we had it coming in a different direction to
what the train did, so we changed this for our final video by reversing it. We also used an effect
called bullet train which was used for our names coming in through the film, this also entered and
exited the screen in the same direction the train did, to symbolise them being on a train.
Most of our sounds we used, for example, the girls screaming and the sound of the train
coming in was from a website called www.freesound.org We found this site very useful as it had a
variety of different sounds we could choose from and what fitted our needs. Another site we used
when researching our sounds was www.dilandau.com this site was more for whole songs not just
quick clips of everyday sounds. In the alley way scene we had to cut out the background sound as
you could here us talking. When we watched the clip it we realised we needed some sort of sound
in the background to make it feel more realistic as at this point the music box sound had gone off.
On Dilandau we were able to find a night time noise called ‘Frogs talking’ which we inserted into
Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the
progression from it to the full product?
Before planning and creating our thriller opening sequence we carried out a preliminary task.
This was done to allow the media students who are not familiar with the camera equipment and
editing software to learn how to use it and allowed the students who have used it before to refresh
their memories with all the features. There are many features to the software including: Import,
export, Cut, Link/unlink, Pan and Zoom, Text inputting and audio input. There is also an effects pane
which includes the transitions or brightening of the footage and effects like fade etc. The preliminary
task allowed us to familiarize ourselves and practice using these buttons and function. Another
editing technique which we had to be careful of and learn is the continuity rule, this was mainly
carried out when filming. The continuity rule is making sure each shot follows onto the next one; an
example is, in our preliminary task Molly has her hair tied up at the beginning so we had to make
sure through the rest of the clip she has her hair tied up. Failing to do this will produce a bad
Below is our preliminary task; as you can see we haven’t used many skills and the final piece of work
is very basic, this is how we improved, by practicing.
A strength in our preliminary task is the levels of continuity, we followed the continuity rule
well, however a weakness which needs to be improved if we re-edit it, is the sound sync with
the action, especially the sound of footsteps and Molly walking, they are not playing at the
same time and sound very unrealistic.
In between our preliminary task and making our final thriller idea, we also did extra ancillary
tasks , for example, Sound Project and Test Anxiety. The Sound Project was merely to practice
using sound to illustrate a point and know how to add it in and make it sync with the footage
and the Test anxiety project was to practice editing on your own but working in a group to film,
making sure you all have a go at filming and use a variety of different camera shots.
anxiety%e2%80%99/ < this is a link to my blog, showing the post about Test Anxiety, it shows
the video clip and says what shots I used and why during the filming. This shows I understand
why different shots are used at different moments and also widens my knowledge for when I
came to film our thriller.
Sound project was our last filming task before actually going out and filming our thriller, as you
can see from the video below we as a group had improved from our preliminary task project
and used a variety of different shots, varied the editing transitions and effects and used sound
< make sure
Before planning and working on initial ideas we carried out some primary research this enabled
and helped us choose many elements to our thriller. We were able to find out what the good features
of a thriller were and what the bad features of a thriller were, examples of a good features of a thriller
are; establishing enigmas, using the Mise en scene to set a frightening but realistic atmosphere and
having a protagonist which creates some sort of drama. Examples of bad features of a thriller are,
unrealistic sounds, an unrealistic storyline and giving away the story too much at the beginning (not
having many enigmas to hold a mystery throughout). This will enable us to make a popular and highly
rated thriller for all. When we carried out our research we found out what the most popular thriller
genres were and the least popular genres and we then took these results into consideration when
deciding which sub-genre to base our own thriller on. When researching, we also found that although
some sub-genres, i.e. action thriller, are more popular, we cannot use them as we do not have a
sufficient budget or the resources and facilities to create a thriller of that genre. We found out the that
age group we want to base our thriller on was the 16-25 group, as we gave out more of these
handouts when asking people, therefore, will have a more accurate perception of what the public
http://alexhelsby.wordpress.com/2009/11/04/thriller-presentation/ < this is a link to the page on my
blog where our Primary research presentation is, for you to see the results.
After our primary research we then thought of a few initial ideas before choosing our favourite
and final Idea. In between choosing our final idea and drawing our storyboard we carried out some
research on soundtracks. In the process of creating our storyboard we first broke down our written
out storyline into shots, writing the number of the shot above the writing where each shot cuts, we
then drew each shot of how it would look like and how and where each character is framed. After
completing the drawings on our storyboard we then individually went through each shot writing what
is happening in the shot, what sounds are used (Diegetic and non-Diegetic) and the transition of the
Our storyboard showed a clear outline of our storyline broken down into short clips. This made it
easier and quicker when we came to filming as each shot was broken down so we knew what to film
By carrying out the preliminary tasks it allowed us to pick up positive and negative feedbacks
which we can use to make a good final product for our thriller. The positives which influenced our
final product would be the good level of continuity used in films, also the realism and use of sound
to set an atmosphere or certain mood needed. One important thing we did learn and used towards
our final product was leaving enough time to complete a task to a good level, including getting
feedback in between. Our Sound project ended up being quite rushed as we didn’t allow ourselves
enough time for feedback and problems which may occur. Learning this meant that when we came
to developing and producing our thriller we left ourselves plenty of time to edit the footage, any
problems which may occur to be solved, and hand in rough cut to be marked and for us to gain
feedback on, to improve for our final cut. As I mentioned we did face quite a few problems when
editing our footage (footage not exporting, software freezing and taking along time to upload sound)
so it was a good that we had left the extra time so these problems could be solved and not affect our
The next page shows our storyboards for our final thriller…