In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media productions? PRODUCTION; For my media product I produced a short film. I first looked at many genres used in film, these include, comedy, thriller, drama, romantic comedy, etc. I then chose to produce a film in the thriller genre; I began my research by looking at directors and short films in this genre. Thriller is a broad genre of literature, film, television and gaming that includes numerous and often overlapping sub-genres. Each different genre has its own set of characters and conventions. Thrillers are characterised by fast pacing frequent action, and resourceful heroes who must thwart plans of more powerful and better equipped villains. Literary devices such as suspense, red herrings and cliff hangers are used extensively. The conventions of thriller genre are greatly to do with sound and editing. e.g. quick cuts and camera angle changes and music that gives tension when appropriate. It can be the use of lighting, especially the creation of shadow. Mirrors and stairs are also conventions of thriller movies. I used many of the conventions from thriller films in my production. For example many films in the same genre as mine are based around crime; my storyline is based upon alcohol, drug taking, revenge and murder. I have used these elements as they are something that not everyone is used to in everyday life, therefore they work well in scaring and shocking the audience which helps to produce the right effect and create meaning in my production.
Having only a few main characters is also a convention, the audience understand that the character I have chosen to show them within the first scene is the main character. Due to other films in the same genre also using this technique audiences have learnt to recognise the main characters. An example of a film that does this is 28 Days Later by Danny Boyle. Most thrillers are located within ordinary locations where extraordinary things happen; I produced my short film in a kitchen and field. These are locations that an audience can relate to. The kitchen is an everyday location in which the audience are less suspecting that something is going to happen. What the characters are doing ads worry to the audience, this confusion leads them to want to know more. In the field, as this location is slightly more unfamiliar they believe what is happening to be uncommon and almost extraordinary. Many people consume drugs in residential properties and they are more commonly used as murder locations than rural settings (fields). I used this technique to influence the audience and lead people to feel uneasy and less safe. The field scene was also filmed during the night; night scenes have a lot of shadowing which leads the audience to feel like they are being watched, this was the effect I was going for. I think this worked particularly well. Thriller films often include a theme of identity; I used this in my production through a voiceover. The audience can hear the character talking about their life and how the actions of others affect it. I did this to encouraged the audience to feel sorry for this character however inappropriate their actions have been.
Jeopardy is a standard plot elements; this was included in my thriller by placing the main character in a situation away from other characters in a dark wood. The audience understand that this character is at risk and are made to feel uneasy. Many news stories of young girls being rapped or murdered start with the character being drunk and wondering off. Audiences watching this film will feel anxious watching Olivia get up and leave. This was just the effect I wanted to make happen. In particular I used lighting, shadows, and music to create tension and suspension which are frequently used in this genre. I used quicker music during scenes of the murder; the heavy base suggests the heart beat of the innocent victim becoming quicker as they grow closer to the murderer. This stops suddenly when the character is grabbed. Again I used music towards the end of my film through a flash back that told the whole story. This scene was of a slower pace so I chose a song to fit accordingly. I used female characters for both the villain and the victim; this worked well as the villain was unsuspected by the audience. Female characters such as villains and other action roles are fast becoming more common in thriller films however heroes are still frequently ‘hard’ men there to protect the vulnerable female victim (Hitchcock’s blondes). The fact the murderer is a both a woman and a character the audience are shown to be the victims friend is used to twist the plot and also as a red herring as the character is unsuspected.
Different camera shots and movements are particularly used to effect in thriller films. Slow camera pans are a particular characteristic in this genre. I used them frequently through my film, however I think it worked most effectively in one scene. This scene was towards the end of my short film during a flash back telling the whole story. The shot panned around the characters at the kitchen table slowly. I wanted this to be a slow scene to allow the audience to understand that the main character was dead and that this was playing back the last night of her life. I think the slow pan and the slow music worked together effectively to create the right mood and inform the audience of what was happening. When filming I used mostly a hand held camera; this allowed me to create ‘shaky’ POV shots to encourage the audience to think the characters are being watched. I think I did this effectively and my idea was portrayed to the audience how I wanted it to be. In my production I followed the conventions of the thriller genre. For me I think this worked well as the potential audience knew what to expect. Audiences tend to be hesitant at seeing a film they are unsure of, if they know they like a certain film they are likely to see a similar one. The conventions also acted as a safe solution for me and worked as guidelines to help me produce my film.
ANCILLARY TASKS; I produced a advert and a review. Again I conformed to the conventions of the thriller genre when producing my ancillary tasks. I used two clips from my film layered to create the background of my advert which is commonly used in this genre. I also paid attention to the font type; I chose one that was specifically chilling/scary and which the audience would recognise to be linked to the thriller genre. The font I decided on looked like it had been scratched into something; the audience subconsciously link this to something they have previously seen or heard, for example it looks like chalk scratched into a chalkboard, the noise of which most people find upsetting. Colouring can also effect the way fonts are used to capture the audiences attention and each colour has its own connotations. I chose to use white for the title on my advert as is associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity, and virginity. It is considered to be the colour of perfection. Here I subverted the conventions of the thriller genre and used a colour unfamiliar to usual thriller posters. I liked here how the connotations contrasted with the theme of the film, and how the colour contrasts with the background. I think this worked effectively.
How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts? For my ancillary tasks I produced a poster and a magazine review. I first researched into what made film posters successful, I looked at the layout, font size, images chosen and the writing included. I found that they mainly contained photos of the main characters often taken from the film. They also included important elements of the film, for example the poster for Fight club has the main character holding a bar of soap as soap making is worked into the plot. I did this for magazine reviews as well. I found how the layout of the writing changes how eye catching it is and affects whether an audience will bother to read the article. I think my main product and ancillary texts work well as a combination as they all interlink and support each other. Easily the audience can identify them as being together from the images which were all taken from the film. Because of this they all work together and advertise the product effectively.
What have you learnt from audience feedback? I showed a draft copy of my ancillary texts and final product to a number of people, this included both male and females from different age groups. I asked people for the honest opinion; I received both positive and negative feed back. Which allowed me to improve greatly. In my final product a lot of people felt that the scenes were too dark and hard to read. The audience also felt that occasionally the camera was too shaky and the shots were uncomfortable to watch. Working on this I edited the colour of the darker scenes to a lighter brightness and saturation. With shots that I felt were too dark I ended up filming them again, this also helped with the ‘shaky’ scenes. Overcoming and solving these problems helped my film to reach a higher potential. I think that using audience feedback helped me to identify these problems that at first I didn’t really see and because of this I think it worked effectively. To gain audience feedback for my ancillary tasks I handed out a questionnaire for each. They included different photos and whether the layout, font size, and colours worked to the full potential. Most people thought that the layouts were good, but font size and colour needed to be bolder and brighter. I have improved these so hopefully they now work better and are more eye catching. The audience also chose the photos they thought would be most effective for the advert; as they will be the potential audience I took their word for it and used the image they voted for. I was really happy with the positive feedback I received. I had wanted to create a film that was eye catching throughout, but I was worried the constant flash backs and repetition of scenes would lose the audiences attention. Audience feedback reassured me that the film wasn’t too repetitive and did work successfully.
How did you use media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages? In my advanced portfolio I used a number of digital technologies throughout the research, production and evaluation of my advanced portfolio task. These included BlogSpot, Microsoft word, Windows Movie Maker, Paint, Serif page plus, a camera and tri-pod, a Apple Mac (iMovie), iTunes, Photo Plus and finally PowerPoint. On a PC using Microsoft Word 2007 I produced the script and a lot of my research. After doing this I copied my work into a post on BlogSpot. This was my first time using a blogging site and initially I found it strange to use, but after becoming more used to it I now find it a practical way of planning. I think this was also a more effective way of viewing easily my planning and research. It also meant I could add posts and edit certain things as I went further into my project. I used a digital camera and tri-pod to film the footage which I used in my final production. I found the camera fairly easy to use after using the same one for my foundation work. Having used it before it meant that I knew how to use different modes and I could film scenes quickly. I used the tri-pod for only a couple of shots, it was less difficult than last year to set up and allowed me to create more steady focused shots.
Also using iMovie I edited some of the shots to play in reverse. I also changed the pace and the colour effect of these scenes. I did this to show the audience that this wasn’t what was happening and to help them to understand that the story was returning to the beginning. I used ‘sepia’ and increased the speed to 200%. I think this worked effectively and allowed me to tell the story and avoid confusion from the audience. After completing the filming I used and Apple Mac to upload my voice over for the final scenes, for which I had used a voice recorder. Also on the Mac I used iMovie, using this software I edited the scenes to produce a film. I fist ordered the shots as well as to add different effects such as transitions from scenes. I mainly used ‘fade’ between the scenes as it is the most commonly used. It also linked scenes smoothly and subtly and so didn’t distracted the audience from the focus of the film. Here you can see an example of where I have used fade to link two scenes together. It looks almost as if they are layered over each other. Here this technique worked particularly effective as the audience can tell from the transition that the new scene is of a later time.
Again using iMovie I used preloaded sound effects for things such as the sound of a tape rewinding. I uploaded a song onto iTunes to use on my film. Audiences recognise different music styles as representing different moods. I used a slow quiet song which created a sad moving atmosphere. The song I chose helped to define the genre of my film and the lyrics also suggest about death which is common throughout. Using specific tools on iMovie I was able to fade the music and sound effects in and out when I wanted to. I was also able to lower and mute some scenes to play other effects over the top. Originally I had wanted to create a silent movie, but I found it hard to create tension and suspense without the use of sound (music/voice). When creating my ancillary tasks I used Serif Page Plus, Photo Plus and Windows Movie Maker; I have had a lot of use with each programme therefore these were fairly easy to produce. I used Movie maker to produce the layered image for the background of my poster. I uploaded two photos I had edited on photo plus and used a transition to fade the two images together. If I had access to a Mac or photo editing software at home it would have been easier to produce this layered image. However I think that what I produced does work effectively. I changed the colouring in another scene to draw attention to the character and to inform the audience that something important was happening or about to. I used a green tint as this is a colour associate with greed and jealousy. I made the scene lighter as well so the character would stand out more against the background and the other scenes which are all fairly dark. I think this worked well and the audience understood the meaning effectively.
I have chosen to produced my evaluation via PowerPoint as I think that this is the easiest way to present it. Its easy to read from and allows me to add in photos and information where appropriate. I can also scroll through the slides and easily see where mistakes have been made. I used a scanner to upload my storyboards on to the PC which then I transferred to BlogSpot. This was easy to use and allowed me to draw by hand something which I could then evaluate on my blog. It also meant I could keep all my planning together.