1. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? Upon creating the finished product “Money”, we used, developed and challenged forms and conventions of existing media products. This meant meeting with the key concepts and conventions of a typical action-thriller sub genre. Before trying to achieve this task I looked at a variation of thriller texts and analysed their use of camera, editing, sound and Mise en Scene. This enabled me to correctly identify the generic conventions seen in particular sub-genres. I looked at the opening of “Sin City” in order to develop the editing of my text. We noticed that cartoon features of black and white were used (see 1:39 to 1:41). This idea of animation was developed into the Dinosaur production label at the beginning of our text (See 0:01- 0:09). As well as this key feature of editing, I also recognised that the text (See 0:27) was dominated by minimal colours (red, white, black). Therefore, we developed the idea and used a selection of predominant colours to feature in the opening of our text. The colours we used included blue, black, white and red. (See 0:22 to 1:04). As well as looking aesthetically pleasing, we felt that each colour connoted a particular meaning. For example blue connotes masculine nature, white connoting innocence of victims, red connoting blood (thus adding to the ‘thrillerness’) and finally black connoting a mysterious and dangerous characteristic.
The third extract in which I looked at, was called “Mission Impossible 2” produced by the company Paramount Pictures. I liked the way in which the actual title of the film dominated the first 39 seconds of extract. As well as this, I also noticed that the use of red and flames was a dominant feature in the opening of the extract (See 0:01- 0:39). Due to the fact, that are title was called “Money”, I felt that it was almost obligatory that we included this feature within the opening extract (See 0:33 to 0:40). Through enhancing the feature of money within our text, it meant that the audience became engaged with the hidden meaning of the title. In addition to this, I also identified the type of non-diagetic rock music that was played within the course of the text (See 0:01- 0:39). Therefore, in order to best meet with the codes and conventions of an action thriller, I chose a mild ‘rock’ sound (See 0:33- 1:11). This sound worked well with the CGI title sequence and fast paced editing because it created an overall ‘action’ effect that would typically be viewed in texts like “Mission Impossible” and “Casino Royale”. As well as looking at “Sin City”, I also looked at the thriller “The Illusionist”. I noticed that shaking camera shots were used to create a morbid atmosphere (See 0:01 to 2:20). In order to sustain this morbid –yet mysterious- atmosphere within our text, we used shaking titles to give the same kind of gloomy tone (See 0:15- 0:30). This meant that the audience members were introduced to the “thriller” side of the text.
Throughout our text we focused on how certain social groups could be conveyed in order to develop the narrative. The idea of using a train station meant that many audience members could relate to it (See 1:18- 2:01). This is good because the protagonist is socially represented to be of high wealth and class. This means that a juxtaposition is used because the train is seen as a common form of transport. Therefore, showing that the text represents the high class and the working class sector. We decided to continue using the predominant colours of blue, black, white and red. Upon, editing this location shot we altered the colours of each building (See 0:57- 1:01). This helped to reinforce the contrasting social groups within the text, for example the protagonist being wealthy means that he would be in the red building. This is because it shows levels of royalty, wealth and sophistication. Whereas, the dark coloured building represents the “unidentified criminal” that the protagonist is searching for. Therefore, meaning that the black building represents a social class with lower standards and less income. Nevertheless, we chose to position the buildings fairly close to each other. This was used to reinforce that within the narrative the two characters would eventually meet. We felt that by including members of the public it heightened the realism of the text. In order to clearly emphasise the difference in culture and class we used a Mid Shot of our protagonist walking onto the train (See 1:37- 1:41). This enabled the audience to see the members of the public. 2. How does your media product represent particular social groups?
One of the main social representations for our finished product was race. In common action-thriller films like Bond and Mission Impossible, the hero is always white (skin colour). Nevertheless, we wanted to subvert from the generic hero. Therefore we used a black actor to play the part of the main protagonist. From looking at films like Casino Royale and Mission Impossible, it was apparent that age was a key part for the representation of social groups. We decided to use a teenage actor to represent a formal detective aged 25. This was reinforced through the fashionable clothing and the intense facial expressions that the main protagonist used throughout. This was particularly evident in a Mid shot that we used towards the end of the title sequence (See 1:57) and a Long shot of the entire body to express the protagonists clothing (See 1:37 ). Originally, we used the difference of class between both characters. However we found that the difference between a James Bond style detective and an English teenager was too abstract for the ideology in which we were trying to create. Therefore we decided to use a James Bond style detective and a formal business man. In order to show the formality of both characters, smart dressed was required.
Casino Royale Upon distinguishing what types of media institutions would distribute my product, I gathered information and research about my chosen sub-genre (Action- thriller) and the films within this particular category. I noticed that there were many similarities between our protagonist and the character Bond in Casino Royale. This was notably evident upon looking at the two images of Bond and our main protagonist. EON (standing for Everything Or Nothing) is a film production company set up by the film producers “Albert R.Brocolli” and “Harry Saltzman”. There are twenty-three Bond films in which EON productions have produced, nevertheless they have also produced many other films including the major success of “Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang” (also based on the book by Ian Fleming). Plot summary “ James Bond goes on his first ever mission as a 00. Le Chiffre is a banker to the world's terrorists. He is participating in a poker game at Montenegro, where he must win back his money, in order to stay safe among the terrorist market. The boss of MI6, known simply as M sends Bond, along with Vesper Lynd to attend this game and prevent Le Chiffre from winning. Bond, using help from Felix Leiter, Mathis and having Vesper pose as his wife, enters the most important poker game in his already dangerous career”. (www.imdb.com) It is evident that there is a distinct comparison between the CGI title sequence of “Money” and “Casino Royale”. Nevertheless, whilst “Casino Royale” used the theme of playing cards and poker, we decided to use patterns, flowers and targets. This was so that a juxtaposition was created to show the audience members that the narrative is complicated. For example the flowers could signify that (further into the narrative) a romance or love interest could be introduced. Throughout the course of both texts, the theme of guns has been used. This helps to reinforce the action behind the genre. The Mid shot of the gun in “Money” is good because it shows the entire features of the item. Thus, meaning that the audience recognise that the gun will be used later on in the text. Consequently, building suspense throughout the extract. 3. What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?
The gun in both images is an iconic signifier for the representation of the action-thriller genre. This shows that both texts withhold similar narratives. A primary reason for the continual success of the Bond films, is the fact that a brand has been made. Therefore, consumers are not extremely bothered by the content because the quality of the brand name is so high. Both my protagonist and the character Bond are dressed in a formal way. This is used to show the audience that the protagonists will defeat the villains because they have the high tech-equipment, money and high sophistication/ class. Both protagonists show a serious facial expression. This is used to represent the narrative and genre of the text. The photograph has been taken to represent a particular scene within the film. This helps to further promote the film as well as making certain scenes more iconic than others. The positioning of Bond within the photograph is reminiscent of the signature look for the gun barrel sequence within the Bond collection. The focus of both images is emphasised on both protagonists. This is good for promoting the texts in an effective way. In order to discover what type of media institution would distribute my product, it is important to draw comparisons against existing media products. I have chosen to look at Casino Royale and The Bourne Identity as they are both classified as action-thriller genres.
The production company for The Bourne Identity is Universal Studios. As this is such a well-known production company. It means that consumers are technically purchasing the brand name and not the actual quality of the text. Similarly, to “Casino Royale ” and “Money” where the symbol of the gun is used to reinforce the sub-genre of the text. The poster shows that the film represents aspects of romance as well as action/thriller. This is good for broadening the consumer market for the text. Thus, meaning that it attracts a wider audience. The quote emphasises the action behind the text. Thus, helping to maintain a male audience. The contrast of the yellow and blue background connotes many meanings about the narrative of the film. It shows that there are many sides to the main protagonist. It also reinforces that the subject of the film is diverse and appealing to a broad variation of customers. The poster uses a centre ‘target’ to show the ‘thrillerness’ behind the text. This also guides audience members as to what the narrative of the text is about. Similarly to James Bond, the term “Collector’s edition” shows that “The Bourne Identity” is a trilogy of films. Thus, meaning that our film “Money” would have to be left in an ambiguous style in order to introduce a sequel. Universal Studios is one of the “six major American movie studios” and is one of the longest-living Hollywood studios in existence today. The movie studio has produced a range of successful films like “Jurassic Park”, “Jaws” and “E.T”. All of which, are famous for their action genre. Nevertheless, the company have also produced films like “Love Actually”, “Mulholland Drive” and “Winchester 73”. Each of these films obtain different sub-genres, thus showing that Universal Studios are involved in producing a range of sub-genre and not just action. The characters appearance is representative of the action- thriller genre. Although, the use of the oversized jacket shows the character to be physically and mentally strong. This is a distinct contrast to Bond who represents himself in a formal and more professional way. The Bourne Identity
Using the research… If this extract were to be extended then it could be made into a Hollywood film, this is because the narrative of the sequence is unfinished. Thus meaning that opportunities are available to alter the narrative and make it longer. Our media product would predominately be targeted at the 18+ market, due to the serious nature of the text. This is supported through the rustic look of the protagonist, for example the poised facial expressions and the smart clothes used. Younger audience members may find it harder to relate to the text because they do not immediately identify with heroes/ heroines as being formally presented (e.g. smart suit), instead they think of ‘Superheroes’ and ‘Action figures’. As the text in which we have created is fairly commercialised it means that the text would not be seen as a TV movie, art house film or internet only release. This is due to the high engagement in which has already been created throughout the text. Thus, making it easier to continue with a distinctive narrative in order to engage a global audience. I could imagine that if this film was a Hollywood success then other series of the film would follow, much like the collection of James Bond films that have been processed over the years. Using the research in which I have conducted about EON productions and Universal Studios, I have decided that Universal Studios would be a suitable production company to distribute my film. This is because EON productions are renowned for their production in the Bond trilogy, therefore meaning that it would be harder to establish a new film within this company. Whereas, Universal Studios have targeted a range of consumers, this is supported through the broad selection of films like “Love Actually” and “E.T”. Therefore, meaning that “Money” would have an increased chance of success because the company is not just dominated by one particular genre.
4. Who would be the audience for your media product? As our text in-keeps with the codes and conventions of an action thriller it means that the target audience for our product is more widely spread. This is good for generating a high profit and gaining an established film name. Therefore, the target audience for our thriller would be 18+. This is due to the serious nature of the text, for example the newspaper that it used throughout would not be as widely engaging to those of a younger audience because it is seen as disinteresting/boring. However, older audiences will be more likely to actually see what the article says at the end of the scene, where a over-the shoulder shot is used. Despite getting feedback saying that this particular shot was edited to slow, we intentionally tried to create this. This is because the beginning section of the text was so fast paced that we wanted to create an immediate juxtaposition into the next shot. Another reason for the slow paced editing in this particular shot is the realism in which is created. We wanted to make it clear to audience members that the main protagonist was waiting for a train and not chasing it. This consequently helped to engage an older audience because of the thought-out directions. Upon analysing the suitability of our product with the genre in which we have established, it is important to draw comparisons against similar films that currently exist. I watched the opening sequence of the film “Donnie Brasco” and analysed the codes and conventions and the four key concepts. This enabled me to link ideas and examine the resemblance between my extract and the chosen text (Donnie Brasco). FOR EXAMPLE: The opening of our text was fast pace and helped to reinforce the action within the narrative. Upon introducing this, we then slowed down the editing to make the latter part of the sequence realistic and relatable to audience members. Whereas, Donnie Brasco used slow pace editing through the majority of the opening sequence in order to dominate the shots to obtain more ‘thrillerness’ rather than action.
The moving tiger at the opening of the text introduces the production company. The tiger becomes cartoon once jumping through the ‘square’ in the centre of the screen ( upon roaring). As well as looking at Casino Royale, The Illusionist, Sin City and Mission Impossible, I also compared my text to the film “Donnie Brasco”. The animated dinosaur that is used in my text presents the production company. The dinosaur moves across the black background and roars. The use of white font on a black background, emphasising the ‘thrillerness’ of the text. The use of white font on a black background is also used in Donnie Brasco in order to establish the genre for the rest of the narrative. During the title sequence, we used location shots to establish the Mise en Scene. Donnie Brasco also used location shots in order to reinforce the setting of the text. Thus, helping to engage and guide the audience through the narrative Our text was mainly dominated by LS and MS shots in order to establish the Mise en Scene. Whereas Donnie Brasco used more shots of CU’s, MS’s and ECU’s. This was apparent in the shot after the title sequence where an ECU is used to show the characters eye. Thus, helping to lead into the upcoming scene, whilst establishing that he will become a crucial character within the text. Money Donnie Brasco
How did you attract/address your audience? In order to fully evaluate our finished product, it was important to gain as much feedback from as many people as possible. As part of the evaluation process, we set up a Facebook group called “Money AS Thriller film opening”. We sent out emails and messages to entice people to watch our video. After people watched our text, they left responses and comments based on the footage in which they had seen. These comments included: “ Great animation” “ I really like it when that gun shot sounds and the music kicks in ” “ It's really good, you've done a really professional opening, i like it, some really good shots!” “ really good! i love the opening bit its similar to the Casino Royale opening!” “ I thought the opening where the titles flashed was really good because it set the feeling/ tone from the very beginning. I also thought that the money title with the background of money was really good because there was a lot of attention to detail which made it look more professional and well designed. I loved the opening bit of the gun and then when the names of actors came up, it looked really good and draws your attention in so that you want to keep watching it. Only thing i noticed was on one bit there is a long pause where the screen was black and I think that could be edited slightly faster, other than that, amazing! good work ”. The feedback in which we received from the Facebook group was very complimentary, a lot of people found that the CGI title sequence worked really well upon creating our action-thriller genre. Nevertheless, after speaking to people they wished that the whole opening sequence was dominated by CGI. This is due to the engaging tone that was created, through the fast paced editing, ‘action’ music, professional Mise en scene and various camera shots/ angles. The people that watched our video and commented were all teenagers between the ages of 15- 19. This helped us to identify if young people would enjoy watching our text. From the feedback, it was apparent that everyone engaged with the action-genre and the protagonist within the narrative. Therefore, meaning that ‘young people’ would be a large audience for the text that we have created. Nevertheless, because we did not receive feedback from people over the age of 19+, it may mean attracting them to watch the video by posting it elsewhere, for example “Myspace” or “Twitter”. Other comments that we received from the website www.youtube.com : “ nice video ” and “wow! that's well good, I like it! ”.
Throughout the text, there was a continual reference to the “gun”. Not only did this keep the audience engaged with the action-thriller genre, but it also kept the audience members waiting for the gun to be used/ fired. From the research (into action thrillers) I conducted, the idea of weapons and guns was very apparent in each text. Therefore, in order to meet with the codes and conventions of an action thriller it seemed almost obligatory to include a gun in the opening of the text. The contrast between the ‘oriental’ background and the black gun has been used intentionally to create a juxtaposition. Through, doing this it would allow us to develop the narrative, for example shooting in different locations would reinforce the protagonists journey throughout the narrative. The close up shot of the protagonists shoes, is used to reinforce the formality of the character. Thus, meaning that an older audience would appreciate the carefully thought-out Mise en Scene. We wanted to reinforce that the protagonist was waiting for something. Therefore the close up shot did not only show the protagonist’s shoes, but it also showed the platform line. Thus, helping to establish the setting of the text. This helped all audience members to relate to the Mise en Scene of the extract (common establishment= train station). We have decided to call our thriller extract "Money" this is due to the fact that the subject matter is so common that audience members can relate to it. This enables audience members to raise issues and questions whilst watching the text. For example: - the importance of money in society - how desperate people get over having lots of money - the fight and or disruption it can cause between individuals. We are hoping that audience members react to our text in a positive way. Thus, reinforcing the decision to make the text as realistic as possible.
The variation of shots enabled the audience to become connected to the main protagonist whilst he was trying to find the criminal. This helped the audience to travel with the protagonist, thus helping to keep the audience fully engaged. Also, meaning that the audience were seeing the action from the eyes of the main protagonist. This is reinforced at the end of the opening sequence where an over the shoulder shot is used to show why the protagonist has been searching for the criminal. (Newspaper shot). In order to represent the protagonist and the action-thriller genre in the best way, we filmed the same shot over and over again until we found the camera angle that worked best. The two shots above were merged together using a cross- dissolve transition (that was created in the editing stages). Firstly, we used a Long shot of the protagonist to establish the Mise en Scene. We felt that this worked best because it would allow audience members to see the entire silhouette of the hero. This would entice younger audience members to watch the text because it would create an ‘action-hero’ image in their minds. (similarly, to James Bond in Casino Royale). The second shot we used was a Mid shot of our protagonist walking onto the train. This made audience members feel as if they were ‘travelling’ with the main protagonist. Thus, making it easier to distinguish between hero and villain. Therefore attracting an older audience because the camera is helping to tell the ‘story’ or narrative.
What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing the product? Throughout the process of preparing and filming our action-thriller text, I also learnt a variation of editing skills. I learnt how to use the camera effectively, in order to present the shot in the best way. This was a dramatic change from our continuity task where the success of our extract relied heavily on the quality of our narrative and actors. Nevertheless, as a group we carefully storyboarded each shot so that we knew exactly what we were trying to achieve during the filming process. From the continuity task to the animatic to the production of our action-thriller, I have learnt how to use a digital camera effectively in order to capture specific shots. I learnt that lighting was a key part to the aesthetics of the image. Despite this, because we did not obtain expensive lighting equipment we often had to use alternative methods of capturing a shot. For example using a Table light or using natural light (depending on the time of day). Upon making our animatic, we drew a storyboard and took a selection of images on the digital camera. Upon doing this we were able to transfer the images into Premier Pro. This meant that we were able to focus on other areas of the key concepts, for example camera shots/ angles, editing and sound. We used a variation of sounds attached to the program “Premier Pro”, whilst doing this we also used a microphone to make personalised sounds, for example screaming (See 0:35 of animatic). This was good for creating the exact sounds that we wanted, whilst learning how to use the equipment at the same time. As well as learning how to use the digital camera, I also learnt how to use the video camera and the tripod effectively (the camera used to make “Money”). From the continuity task to the actual filming of our thriller, I have learnt how to form a variation of shots/ angles. Before filming our actual text, I was unable to hold a steady shot. However, after much practise I have learnt how to do this effectively for a significant period of time. From looking at other action-thrillers it enabled me to seek certain camera angles as I thought that they would appropriately fit into the text we were presenting, for example over-the-shoulder shots. In order to effectively make our CGI sequence similar to those seen in Casino Royale and Mission Impossible, we used a piece of software called “Adobe After effects”. This software was good for creating engaging graphic features and visual effects. I learnt how to use media ‘layers’ effectively, in order to create the desired shot. As this program was on the Apple Mac computer it meant that as well as ‘layering’, we could also use a variation of effects and transforms. I felt that I could use this software to a particular level of success, nevertheless I would like to develop my skills on this program so that I feel confident enough to keep using it. An example of someone using Adobe after effects
Looking back to your preliminary task, what do you feel that you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product? From the teacher feedback in which I received I was very pleased with the results we got from our rough cut. The positive areas of our text outweighed the things in which we needed to improve on. This was good because it meant that as a group we could focus all our attention to the certain areas of improvement. Personally, I felt that the improvements and suggestions we were given meant that we knew exactly the things that needed changing. In order to improve the quality of our product, I have decided to research more sound effects to determine what will best fit within our text. Through doing this I believe it will strengthen the text and help best meet with the generic codes and conventions of an action/thriller genre. In order to make the extract consistent and concise we have decided to cut our other protagonist from the text. I am hoping that it will increase the 'thriller'ness of the text because then the main protagonist is never in contact with the suspect/criminal. Therefore making the audience more engaged and kept waiting for something to occur. As part of my self progression I am pleased with the time and effort in which I have contributed. I have thought of ideas consistently to enable the editing, narrative and entire sequence to progress. I can also understand the improvements in which have been given and will therefore make a conscious effort to re-evaluate the text to ensure it can perform its best to meet the generic codes and conventions of a thriller genre. The editing of the action/thriller text will need to be closely looked at. We decided that the shot of the protagonist dropping the cigarette after the CGI beginning was quick (See 1:19). This was due to the use of cross dissolve as part of the transition that separated the two shots. Consequently, meaning that the audience missed the majority of the shot because of the rapidness of it. Therefore we will either use a different transition/re-arrange the shots/ re-order the sequence. One idea in which I contributed was that of the production logo. After watching the openings of various other thrillers -like Sixth Sense, Lady in the Water and The Village- I recognised that the production logo at the beginning was an important part of the opening sequence. Therefore, in order to challenge our text with other media products I thought that maybe it would work if we had a moving animation (cartoon creature) within our logo. I also felt that the idea of having an iconic symbol helped to reinforce the action-thriller sub-genre, along with the narrative. Therefore we decided to use the idea of a ‘gun’ because we felt it best represented the narrative, character, genre and Mise en Scene of the text.
From the preliminary task in which I originally conducted, I feel that I have progressed to a new level of understanding. Not only do I feel more confident using certain technologies, for example the camera but I have also learnt a variation of other things. I have a clearer understanding about how the four key concepts make up the filming and not just the narrative. This means that the focus of the task has been more specific to looking at how the editing, camera, sound and Mise en Scene can be used in order to represent the text in the desired way. This is an example of how we used a cross dissolve to merge certain shots together, this then helped to make the text look more professional. When conducting our preliminary task I relied heavily on the performance of our actors in order to present our text in a certain way. Nevertheless, after much development I have understood that the audience is guided through the text using the key concepts. In “Money” we have engaged the audience by using a variation of shots so that they can clearly distinguish numerous things, for example who is the hero and the villain, the location choices and the props. An example of the main protagonist being established as the hero is in the CGI title sequence at the beginning of the text. By, only showing one character it immediately engaged audience with the nature of the character. As the character is smiling and holding a gun, it shows that he is a good person defending his people. One main problem in which we faced during the filming process was our ability to take the correct shots at the right time. Our aim at the beginning was to engage the audience with a full story, nevertheless after presenting our footage we discovered that we trying to film far too much. In order to overcome this problem we designed a new storyboard where the attention was less on the narrative and more on the key concepts and conventions of an action-thriller. This was apparent through the choice of sounds in which we made. After doing much research on a variation of sound effects, we finalised ideas and included them into our text. In the beginning of the text we wanted to set a more ‘thriller’ genre before entering into the action. Therefore we used an eerie and gloomy sound to help build suspense (See 0:10 to 0:31). Upon using this sound we were able to reinforce the ‘thriller’ side to the opening by using flashing titles and slow paced editing. (See 1:41) (See 0:51) (See 0:10 to 0:31). Overall, I feel that it was necessary for mistakes to be made in the first task because it meant that I learnt what should and should not be done during filming, for example breaking the 180 degree rule. There is a distinct contrast between the preliminary task and the creation of “Money”. The standard of filming, editing, location choice, sound and camera angles has drastically altered the way in which our footage has been presented to our chosen audience. Thus, helping to not only identify with what our target consumers want but also challenge other films that have the same sub-genre.