My main media product was an opening sequence to a Slasher film which is a sub-genreof horror/thriller. The general plot was that a dangerous psychopathic murderer hadescaped a local asylum and was on the loose. A girl returns to her school in the eveningto collect her bag and receives a phone call from her mum alerting her of the news. Themental patient is then seen in the same building and abducts her. The girl then wakesup beaten and tied in a derelict building in woodland. The psychopath is then seenpadlocking the door and walking off into the distance which brings the openingsequence to an end. The initial artefact was a brief sequence of a teacher finding astudent in a classroom without permission, but when he hears the music his moodsuddenly changes and sits down with the student to join in. The reason for this artefactwas to show someone walking through a door from different angles and to get a feel forthe camera and editing software. From filming these two artefacts my skills haveimproved majorly as it was the first time I had used such professional equipment. Iquickly picked up on how to adjust the lighting settings on the camera so that it didn‟tcome out too bright or too dim on screen. I also learnt how the boom microphone canmajorly improve sound quality when recording someone speaking. Obviously at somestage I had to use a tripod which I quickly adapted to and it enabled me to get certainsteady shots without any unwanted movement as I didn‟t have to hold it. I also hadaccess to adobe premiere which is professional editing software which I thoroughlyenjoyed using and experimenting with. It enabled me to build on my editing skills whichcould be very useful to me in the future as it could potentially be a platform to build acareer on as I now know the basics and have reassured myself that it is something Ienjoy doing.
Once I had decided that I was going to makea Slasher movie I watched four films from thethriller/horror genre and analysed the formsand conventions to give myself an insight ofwhat and what not to include in my Slashermovie. The four films I analysed were;„Straightheads‟, „Gone‟, „Babysitter Wanted‟,and „Psycho‟ (Hitchcock 1960).
„STRAIGHTHEADS‟Conventions:Props Many props are used throughout including weapons such as guns, crow bars, and batons. Thecrow bars and batons emphasise the pain felt by the victim as the process is drawn out unlike agun, which can kill someone in one shot. The sound of the baton hitting Adam repeatedly is alot harsher on the ears than a single gun shot. The use of sniper rifles indicates the planninggone into the revenge, and indicate that they want to keep there distance. Torches are alsoused to emphasis the darkness and also create a sharp contrast in colours on screen. The manin the bottom right picture Is shown with one crutch, which could be used as a weapon, whichcreates anxiety and/or also show that this is not the first time they‟ve attacked as he could beinjured from a previous attack. Adam is regularly seen holding a bottle of alcohol after theattack, showing how he is suffering mentally.Costumes Typically, white is seen as a colour of purity and black of evil. This is represented throughAdam, who has done nothing wrong, is wearing a white shirt and the four men who exit thevehicle are all wearing dark colours, resembling evil. However the bottom right picture maycontradict the theory, but It could also indicate that because she has been raped and abusedAlice is no longer pure. Also the white shirt clearly shows the blood on Adam and likewise thecontrast of the dark clothing and the pale face of Alice show her shock and coldness.
Setting The opening scenes of the film are filmed in modern buildings in urban areas, and the shotsinclude a variety of bright natural colours. These factors give of a feeling of security, realityand warmth. However as the film progresses, the majority of scenes are set in a wooded areaor the derelict farm house, where when in the dark create a feeling of loneliness and anxietyand when shot in the daytime, the setting appears cold and unwelcoming due to the lack ofcolours and overcast sky. Also in the bottom right picture the bright headlights of the vehiclehide the identity of the people inside therefore creating suspense.Stock characters In thrillers/horrors, there is almost always a villain and a victim. In this case the woman is thevictim and the 4 men who get out the jeep and beat/rape Alice are the villains. Typically thevictim is usually a young woman like Alice- blonde, attractive. The villains are usually theopposite- old un attractive men. These stock characters fit into Vladimir Propp‟s narrativetheory.Stock events Likewise there are always stock events, such as brutal violence, or someone driving throughdark woods and then something happening, for example the car breaking down, obstruction orin this case hitting an animal which make the drivers stop and get out their car, which leavesthem vulnerable and exposed. Another stock event is that the story is based around revenge,which is apparent in „Straightheads‟. Stock events in this fit in with Todorov‟s narrative theorythat everything starts in equilibrium, and then an outside force causes disequilibrium.
Codes:Titles The titles are written in a blue font, which can represent the depressing and cold feeling throughout the movie.The font is pixelated and the effects make it very jumpy and suddenly zoom in on the letters, like the bottomright picture. The black background means there is no distraction, therefore the audience concentrate on thewriting which then has effect when it suddenly zooms in. It is very dramatic and prepares the audience for themovie by putting them at unease. It is the opposite of relaxing. The use of a sans serif font represents themodern feel of this film.Camera angles A range of camera angles are used to add effect to a situation. The bottom left picture is from the POV of thewoman, looking at her husband who is about to be attacked by four men. It gives the viewer her perspective ofthe situation. In the picture through the sniper aim, it makes the man targeted look vulnerable, and createssuspense whether Alice will shoot or not. The picture in the bottom right is from a low camera angle, making thevillain look powerful and even more evil, looking down on his vulnerable victim.Camera range There are a different range of camera shots in the film. The majority of close ups occur when somethingdramatic is happening, and can show the reaction of someones feelings. For example the picture below showsthe helplessness and shock that the woman feels as she watches her boyfriend being brutally beaten up. Theestablishing shots usually start a new scene, and show the setting. For example the picture below shows a longshot of the woman driving through woodland, indicating she is far from any help if needed, and is isolated.
Composition The shot below has both partners in frame showing the harm thathas been done to both of them and the pain they are feeling, unableto look at each other. This is in contrast to the other picture wherethey are both smiling.Lighting When the villains attacked it took place at night therefore thelighting was dark which emphasised the eeriness. The morning afterthe attack involved a bright daylight scene which is a harsh contrastto the scene before, and can represent the sudden change that hastaken place in Alice and Adams life because of the attack.Narrative theories Todorov‟s narrative theory can be seen in Straightheads as the filmbegins in equilibrium as life is normal with husband and wife goingto a party. Normality is then disrupted by an outside force (therapists) which causes disequilibrium.
„GONE‟Conventions:Props Various props are used in the film Gone, however the only weapon used as a prop is a gun.This can symbolise the fact that it is an abduction, as pain and torture isn‟t intended. It can beused to keep the victim under control by scaring them, and likewise can provide a suddendeath unlike a drawn out painful one. The gaffer tape also acts as a hint that someone hasbeen abducted as it can be placed over their mouth to stop them making noise. The torch isused in the dark woods to emphasise the lack of light, and the creates a sense of erriness thatcan be felt in the woods. A mobile phone is used at the end when Jill is on the phone to thekidnapper, which can create suspense as they cannot be seen but their voice can be heard,therefore the audience assume what he will look like.Costumes All of the costumes worn throughout the movie are mainly either black and white, whichportrays the contrast between good an evil that is present in the storyline. There is nocolourful clothing which would lighten the mood. It is all very serious. Also Jill is shownwearing white showing her innocence and representing that she was a victim, however she isalso shown wearing black when in pursuit of the kidnapper, showing he desire to get revengewith a sense of evil. The kidnapper is also shot briefly from behind and he is wearing a blackhood. This represents his sinister approach and how he is hiding his identity.
Setting Different settings are used throughout the film to enhance the reality ofthe story. For example the bottom right picture is a shot of a citybuilding in the day time that will be similar to what viewers would see ineveryday life. There is a constant change between urban and remoteareas which emphasises the isolation of these places to the viewers.Stock characters and events In Gone the Villian is the kidnapper who through the phone soundsmiddle aged, and the victims are Jill and her sister who are innocentattractive young adults. Stock events include the actual kidnapping, themobile phone call at the end, the violence and the scenes in the woods.
Codes:Titles The background of the titles can be seen as representing themud/ dirt found on the bottom of the hole In the woods wherethe kidnapped girls are supposedly kept. It is merged with blackwhich represents the darkness felt throughout the film. The fontis big and bold, highlighting the fact the girl is “Gone” . The fontcould represent the girl as it looks clean and pure compared tothe dark dirty background.Camera angles Different camera angles are used to enhance the suspense andaction throughout the film. In the 2 left hand pictures below thecamera angle is from above, making Jill look vulnerable andweak. The far right picture below shows a POV of what Jill cansee from within the hole, looking upwards. The other 2 picturesof Jill and her sister on the phone are shot from an angle thatcould be the POV of the kidnapper spying on them, thereforehave the eyes of the kidnapper.
Camera range A variety of camera ranges are used throughout the film for different reasons thatall contribute to the horror feeling. The Extreme long shots set the scene, forexample the picture of the city shows the vast area, densely populated, which is incontrast to the large area of woodland that neighbours the city. A long shot isused to show the specific location of the house, indicating it is in quite a secludedrural area, which creates the sense of loneliness and fear. Extreme close ups areused on Jill to emphasise her pain and suffering. A close up is also used to showhow she is walking bare footed at night in a wet woodland. This creates suspicionand curiosity as to why this is so.Lighting It consistently skips from the comforting urban areas, which are predominantlyfilmed in daylight to the remote location of the house which is situated in andaround woodland. These scenes are predominantly filmed at night time, whichenhances the eeriness of the secluded location. There is also a scene in anabandoned house which creates curiosity and anxiety, because of the large emptyspaces and unfamiliarity. Also the lighting is very dim, as only a little amount ofdaylight shines through the window, creating shadows and glare. Also when Jill istaking a shower, there is very little lighting which creates a contrast of thedarkness with the white shower curtain, which reveals the spooky silhouette. A lotof the film is shot in woodland which again enhances the isolation andhelplessness of the character.
„BABYSITTER WANTED‟Conventions:Props Various props are used throughout the film for effect. At the start of the film anotice is shown indicating a girl is missing. This builds tension and hints thestoryline of the film. Later on in the more dramatic scenes weapons are used togive the actor power and creates suspense for the audience, Eg. Whether she willshoot the gun. Also dangerous utilities such as Saws are used which make thescenario more gruesome as they provide more of a torture. The phone is also usedas it creates anxiety because you can hear the voice of the villain, but cannot seehim.Costumes As seen in the picture below, Angie is wearing a bright jumper, representing herinnocence, but also indicating that she is likely to be the victim. The murderer isdressed in a contrasting black, once again showing his evil, dark and sinisterpersonality. At the start of the film people are wearing casual everyday clothing.This allows the audience to relate to everyday life, making the story more realistic.
Setting The first half of the film is mainly set in daylight, in a town withlots of people around, creating security and comfort, however asthe film progresses, Angie drives to the remote isolated housewhich is far from any other humans which creates isolation andmakes the audience anxious. Also once at the isolated house, itis filmed at night time which creates eeriness and uncertainty.Stock characters and events Stock characters in this film include Angie who is an innocentwoman who turns out to be the victim. There is also the villainwho is the murderer on the loose. Stock events include Angiedriving away from safety, to the remote eerie house in thecountryside. Also the phone ringing and the villain speaking onthe other end is a stock event.
Codes:Titles The titles are written in a red font, which represents blood and stands out against the darkblack background. The writing is enclosed in a box, which could represent how Angie wastrapped by the villain. Also usually that font and the word “Wanted” are used to try finding akiller/criminal. However it is the Babysitter that is wanted, who turns out to be the victim of akiller.Camera angles: The bottom left picture shows someone looking down on the tools from their POV, making itseem as though the audience is choosing, and therefore the villain. The middle picture is alsofrom POV from a distance as if they are spying on Angie on the phone. The bottom rightpicture is from a low camera angle, looking up at Angie with the gun showing that she now haspower because of the gun.Camera range: The picture of the car is from a Extreme long shot as it shows the setting, and that it is in themiddle of nowhere, with no humans near. The picture of Angie is a close up as it focuses onher look of concern as to who is following her.
„PSYCHO‟Conventions:Props The prop used in the famous shower scene of Phsyco is a knife.Emphasis is on the knife as the woman repeatedly gets stabbedby it. The knife makes Marion extremely vulnerable andhelpless, therefore resulting in her death. Other props used inPhsyco include Stuffed birds of prey that are purposely placed inthe same shot as Norman which represents that he is a killer.Costumes As seen in the picture below, Norman is predominantly seenwearing a heavy trench coat, despite being inside whichrepresents his cold and sinister personality. In contrast to thisMarion is wearing a summer dress, which shows her femininityand warmth.
Setting The film is set in “A quiet little motel, tucked away”from anything else which adds to the suspense andisolation.Stock characters and events Stock characters in Phsyco include Norman, who is alonely psychopath who murders innocent women.Also Marion is the innocent woman who gets brutallymurdered. Stock events include Marion driving aloneat night, arriving at a run down, isolated motel. Themurders are also stock events.
Codes:Titles The font used in the titles is spilt. This can represent Norman‟s split personality, onebeing his normal side, and the other being his psychopathic mental side. The whitewriting on a black background emphasises the good v evil in the film. The animationsare also very jolty which is similar to the murder in the shower where there a lots ofquick short shots that make the scene more dramatic.Camera angles A POV camera angle is used to give the first impressions Marion gets as she arrives atthe motel. It is dark, raining and doesn‟t look very welcoming, therefore the audiencesympathises for her. The shot of the house is taken from a low camera angle, making itlook even more bigger and sinister than it already is. Various points in the shower sceneare taking from a high camera angle, making Marion look small and vulnerable.Camera range In the dramatic shower scene, the use of camera range is used excellently for effect.Within a few seconds the shot goes from a medium close up, to a close up, and then toan extreme close up that focuses on the mouth which indicates the fear and panic of thescene.
Composition Throughout the parlour scene, Hitchcock is clearly using visual composition to tellthe audience about the characters. Norman – surrounded by sinister birds – isclearly characterised as a murderer. Marion – generously lit and framed with small,stuffed finches – is clearly going to become his victim. Although many peopledon‟t recognise this on first viewing the film, when you watch the movie again, itis clear what Hitchcock was conveying through his use of visual composition.Editing For most of the film simple continuity editing is used so that it goes unnoticed tothe audience. However in the scene where Marion gets stabbed there is fast pacedediting that is done on purpose to enhance the drama and effect on the audienceand keeps up with the tempo of the music.Narrative theories Todorov‟s narrative theory can be seen in Psycho. The state of equilibrium isMarion stealing money from her job. The disruption to the equilibrium is herbeing murder by an unknown character. There is then recognition when her sisterand police find out she is missing. There is than an attempt to repair damage asthey search for evidence at hotel owners‟ house. They then return to a newequilibrium when Norman is arrested.Lighting Lighting is used in the shower scene that make the killer appear as a silhouette, makingthem look dark and sinister, where as in contrast Marion is clearly lit up, making herlook pure and innocent.
How used (my media product) There are particular codes and conventions from the existing Horror/thriller films that Iused, developed and challenged in my artefact.Conventions:Props In my film I used certain props that relate to the torture of the girl. The masking tape as a prop showsthat the psychopathic murderer has planned to torture the girl. This indicates to the audience thedanger and insanity of the villain, and makes them anxious of what he will do to her, creating thoughtsrunning round their heads. I also used a mobile phone as a prop as it creates tension and panic whenthe girl loses signal to her mother in the circumstance she is in. This is because it cuts her off fromreality and safety. Like in the real media products I analysed, the use of the weapon (mallet) implies thepsychopath intends to torture the girl rather than kill her quickly which prepares the audience forgraphic scenes later on in the film.Setting In my film there were two settings that emphasised Todorov‟s theory as it starts in equilibrium in afamiliar, safe setting of a school and then after the outside force (psychopath) had attacked,disequilibrium took place which is shown by the setting of an isolated derelict building in woodland,once this had happened. The school setting would have been familiar with the target audience andtherefore they could relate to it and put themselves in the girls‟ position, increasing the effect. Thesetting in the woodland would have made the audience realise that the girl was in danger as she wasisolated from any other human contact or help.
Codes:Titles I used a simple bold burgundy font which represented the blood of thegirl, against a black background so it stood out and created eeriness. Theblood represents the girls‟ torture and the black background represents thedarkness of the psychopath. The bold font connotes the psychopath‟sruthless personality, and it flashes on screen suddenly to prepare theaudience for what is to follow in the film by getting them on edge.Camera angles In the four existing films different camera angles are used toenhance the suspense and action throughout the film. There aremany shots from a high camera angle looking down on the victim asit makes them look vulnerable. There are also shots from a lowcamera angle to make the villain look threatening. Because of this Imade sure that when the psychopath approaches the girl the cameraangle was high and also used a POV of the girl looking up at thevillain from a low camera angle.
Camera range The camera ranges used for most effect in the four existingfilms were close ups that would clearly show facialexpressions and extreme long shots that would show thesetting. In my film I used close ups to show the girls reactionto being told that a psychopath is on the loose. I used anextreme long shot to show the isolation of the derelictbuilding in the woodland where the psychopath had takenand locked the girl.Lighting In all four existing films there is a large amount of scenesshot at night time in the dark. This creates eeriness and alsoshadows are formed which can create tension. My film beginsin the darkness of night and the lights go out when the girl isattacked. The following scene is shot in very bright daylightwhich acts as a harsh contrast and binary opposite for theaudience and represents the dazed feeling the girl gets whenshe wakes up.
Film Stock The ending of my opening sequence is in black andwhite. I did this to symbolise how the girl was nowlifeless and would soon die. It also emphasised acold feeling for the audience. It has the same effectas the film Psycho which is shot in black and white.
What I developed from real media products: In Psycho the villain is anonymous however the villain in my filmis not so that later on in the film the victim can have flash backsof his face which add to effect and the audience can get a feel ofthe trauma the girl is going through.Lighting I also developed the use of a torch which is used as a prop in„Straightheads‟. This would have been chosen as a prop as itcreates a contrast between the darkness and brightness andtherefore makes the screen appear black and white which createsa feeling of coldness and unfamiliarity. I used a torch light in myartefact for this reason but developed it by having it flicker onand off which briefly exposed the villain approaching the girlfrom her POV which gave it an eerie effect.Stock characters Another convention I developed was that in the four films that Ianalysed the victim was a girl in her twenties, however in my filmthe victim was slightly younger (a teenager) therefore the targetaudience of teenagers would feel more involved and able torelate to it, therefore enhancing their experience.
What I challenged from real media products:Costumes A convention I challenged was the costumes used. Inmost horror/thrillers it is conventional for the victimto be wearing white as it represents purity and thevillain to be wearing dark clothing to represent theirsinister personality. However in my film the villain iswearing a white uniform from the mental asylum.However this creates abnormality as the costume isan unusual item for a man to be wearing in thatlocation therefore creates a sense of fear as theaudience know he should not be there.
How does your media product represent particular social groups? In my opening sequence there are just three characters. Theteenage girl is represented as being a typical forgetful teenwho has forgotten her bag. Also she is seen walking into thebuilding already on her phone before it rings whichrepresents how teens of today can‟t live for a second withouttheir phone. The girl also represents the vulnerability of teengirls and how they are helpless when put into the situationshe was put in. After the news that her mum gives her thereis a clear change in her attitude, as she goes from being livelyand relaxed to very panicked and anxious. The girls mumrepresents how most mums are protective over their offspringand that they get worried easily. Also, she is shot in a kitchenwatching the news which is a typical thing a mother would doin the evening whilst cooking. The psychopath is a middleaged man which creates the ideology that psychopaths areusually this age. Their size and age makes them even scarierfrom the victims POV.
What kind of media institution might distribute your product and why? On a large box office scale, I would look to use a company such asMomentum pictures to compete amongst the very best films forviewings and awards. However if I wanted to start small and build myway up I would look to use the company „Film Four‟. My target audienceis teenagers and „Film Four‟ are known for creating films for cultural andethnic minorities. For example they have produced „This is England‟,„The Inbetweeners Movie‟ and the TV series „Skins‟. This shows theirexperience in this area of target audience. My film however does nothave cultural or ethnic messages and because of this my film won‟t bereaching the right audience. Globally, I would try to gain help from aninstitution such as „Warner Bros‟ or Universal Pictures. They are well-established and extremely successful companies with one of the longestrunning motion picture studios under their belt. Franchises such asJaws and The Bourne Identity make Universal pictures one of the mostdominant companies in movie production. They distribute films acrossthe globe and if I wanted to achieve worldwide recognition for my film, Iwould need to approach Universal Pictures for their assistance. Anotherway of distributing my product could be on a website such as Youtubeas the film could then be accessed worldwide. The ease of accessenables views to rise rapidly over a very short period of the time and dueto social networking site it can be shared by the click of the button.
Who would be the audience for your media product? The film would be rated a 15 due to the graphicscenes therefore the primary target audience wouldbe 15-24 year olds who seek watching films in thehorror/thriller genre such as „Straightheads‟, „Gone‟,„Psycho‟ and „Babysitter Wanted‟. This genre of filmseems to appeal to this age group as it is exciting,and the type of film you would see with friends as itwouldn‟t appeal to many couples, families or theolder generation. People in my target audience arealso able to relate best to what is happening in thefilm and therefore is more interesting for them towatch as they can put themselves in the onscreensituation.
How did you attract/address your audience? It is vital to attract an audience in order for a film to succeed. Formy film I carried out a questionnaire on my target audienceincluding questions about codes and conventions which provideduseful information on what they would/wouldn‟t like to see in afilm of the Slasher genre. From this I was able to choose what toinclude in my film and left out the codes and conventions thatwere not valued highly. I found that they expected at some stagein the film for someone to be in an isolated place away fromsafety. I also discovered the types of camera angles and rangesthat has most effect on them and therefore used these to attractthem. I also attracted my target audience by using a familiarsetting to them of a school as they would either still attend oneor have recently left. This enables them to relate to it and feelmore involved. Also by making the victim an age that fits into thetarget audience it enables them to associate the victim withthemselves and therefore they will be more scared as it could bethem. The target audience is also one that gets bored easilytherefore I had to ensure the film maintained build-up ofsuspense followed by action. The slow paced music helped buildup this suspense while the variety of editing speeds contributedwell to the action on screen making it more effective.
What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructingthis product? From the process of constructing my media product I have beenintroduced to various new technologies and learnt valuable skills fromthem. I have learnt how to edit to a high standard using Adobe PremierePro CS5 which is used by professionals. The complexity of the softwareallows for very technical and advanced methods of editing. The moretime I spent editing the more familiar I became with the software and Iwould discover new features every time that helped enhance my mediaproduct. Editing my initial product enabled me to become experiencedenough to edit my main product to a high standard. For my filming Iused the professional, industry standard „Panasonic AVCCAM‟. Beingable to use such quality cameras for the first time was very daunting asthere were so many settings and buttons to choose from. However Iquickly got to grips with the camera and enjoyed being able to adjustthe camera focus and alter lighting settings effectively. I have uploadedmy evaluation documents onto Google‟s „Blogger‟ website. This was thefirst time I had created a blog and was an experience I enjoyed. It is aninteractive way to post any writing onto the internet that can beaccessed via a simple web address by anyone in the world. I also createda Youtube account whereby I can publish my products for anyone in theworld to watch free of charge.
Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in theprogression from it to the full product? The initial product was a vital learning experience for me as it was my first timeusing such professional software and equipment. Obviously I made mistakeswhich I was able to identify and make sure I avoided doing the same in my mainproduct. For example when I went to edit my initial product some of the videoswere without sound. This was because I had not adjusted the sound input to theright setting on the camera when trying to use the boom microphone. Because ofthis I then had to re film that shot which wasted time. Another mistake I made inmy initial product was that I had music playing out loud that was being recordedby the camera when filming. This meant that when it came to editing, the songdidn‟t flow continuously throughout as it had bits missing from where I had editedout a particular clip. From this I learnt it was better to apply music separatelywhen editing as you can match it up with footage where you like without losingbits of the song. This helped for when it came to editing my main product. In myinitial product there are some shots next to each other where the brightness oflighting stands out against other shots even though it‟s shot at the same time ofday. Because of this I made sure that when I filmed my main product I adjusted thelighting settings on the camera to match the lighting in the shot at that time. Aswell as these technical aspects I was also able to learn directing skills, such astelling my actors not to look into the camera when acting as it takes away thereality. Due to me learning from my mistakes between the initial and main productthere is a clear difference in quality between the two products. The main productappears much more professional.