Evaluation<br />Practical Production Coursework<br />Anna Clarey<br />
Introduction<br /> I chose the Opening Sequence task for my practical production coursework, I worked as a pair with another girl in my class (Francesca Shaw) to produce the clip, which we made to fit into the Thriller genre. My contributions to the project were: costume design, organizing film schedules, writing the script, blogging weekly, handling equipment, writing the sequence plot, producing a synopsis of the film, and editing. <br />
In what ways does your media product use, develop, or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?<br /><ul><li>The genre of our thriller was predominantly thriller; the mood of the film, the tone of the music and the kind of scene the sequence set via mise en scene produced valid conventions which made it clear what kind of film was being set up. These certain elements are important in film because the typical conventions make it clear to an audience what’s in front of them, and an audience with a basic idea of what’s coming are more likely to stick around for the long run, confusion only hinders their interest.
However in some ways, I’d like to think we did challenge some of the conventions, for example some of the scenes were filmed in bright, open, natural spaces with a character wearing bright and innocent clothing- this is not usually the case when a film is about something as cryptic as hidden psychological problems. </li></li></ul><li>Nonetheless I was confident these changes would remain effective because when added to the eerily appealing music, it became clear this was no romantic comedy, it had dark and thrilling undertones to point the audience in the direction of ‘creepy’; this combination seemed to prove successful with the majority of our audience writing ‘Thriller’ when asked what sort of genre they thought the film belonged too. However producing an opening sequence needs two sets of requirements: those of a thriller genre and those of an opening sequence. <br /> The beginning to a film must produce certain things for an audience to make them feel comfortable with what they see; an established setting, established characters and conventions linking the media text to a genre- all these things we achieved successfully. Everyone interviewed about our work were able to establish who the main characters were, what was going on and which genre was being used.<br />Percentage (%)<br />Answer given<br />
How does your media product represent particular social groups?<br /><ul><li>The groups represented in our sequence were men, women, the lower class and mentally disabled people. The man in our sequence was depicted as quiet, but seemingly in control, the woman was meant to be perceived as aloof and feminine; these are perhaps not quite alternative to the stereotypical representations, but do offer a certain difference to what would usually be seen on TV: a man all about the women and his drink, and a woman all about the men and social life. The partnership the two share is very much about loving each other and little else; something many media texts often look over, incorporating the struggles of everyday life into the mix. </li></li></ul><li>As people from a lower class, there are semiotics to suggest they are anything but ordinary; instead of drab décor in the house, the furniture is very much ornate and the walls covered in pale but bright colours; though there is little in the house, the way it is presented says much for the people living in it. Regarding how Maggie and her partner are presented as mentally challenged, costume and mise en scene were meant to create this notion; they dress normally but with hints of something different about them, to suggest the disability they hide is discreditable and can be hidden from onlookers. Maggie’s bright clothing is meant to depict her benign state of mind, while her boyfriend’s dark and simple outfit suggests his issues are hidden. <br />
What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?<br /><ul><li>Considering our clip is meant to be a clip from a feature length film, a studio/production company would be a likely institution interested in producing it. However because the concepts in the film are not necessarily mainstream, an independent label such as Magnolia Pictures, or better known United Artists could produce the film, opposed to institutes such as MGM and 20th Century Fox who focus on producing films which are universally sound for a very wide audience, aiming to please as many as people as possible with conventional storylines and plots in their movies.
United Artists was first established in 1919, and has since produced films such as ‘A Hard Days Night’ by The Beatles; an iconic indie film, made to entertain a specific audience, Beatles fans, rather then people from every age group and social standing possible. </li></li></ul><li>Who would be the audience for your media product?<br /><ul><li>Hopefully, people who were interested in our feature length film would be in the 16-40 age range bracket, as we targeted a more mentally mature audience, an audience capable of understanding the concept of mental health and who are interested in being challenged in what they watch, rather then having the plot laid out, with obvious patterns of events, such as Barthes observes in his Enigma and Action codes. Any audiences below this bracket would be confused and so easily bored by the story, whereas anyone older may feel challenged by the ideas put forward and feel uncomfortable.
Gender and Race are not specifically targeted in our audience, but socio-economic status could be mentioned, as people from working class, and lower middle class, would be able to fund a trip to the cinema to see an independent film, people from these groups are also more likely to have diverse interests in current culture.</li></li></ul><li>How did you attract and address your audience?<br /><ul><li>Addressing our audience involved providing them with the things that make an opening sequence what it should be; equilibrium was set up with the narrative and shots of normal every day things, the notion of a disruption was introduced when the ‘missing’ posters were seen, and the narrator, Maggie’s partner, threatens with ‘today, she’s going to tell me.’ A sense of time was established through character appearance, the main character first appeared in pyjamas next to the window, showing it was the morning and not night</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>The narration is the main source of enigmas in this sequence, the brief background given about Maggie opens new questions about her character, and the way her boyfriend talks about her also encourages enigmas about his character. </li></ul>As well as this, we kept the actors young, in order to create verisimilitude and encourage people of a similar age to watch the film; the male voice over was also of a young age in order to match the actor. The storyline stayed around the young characters which meant the audience could relate in terms of age and stages of life to the main characters. <br />
What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?<br /><ul><li>The technology I used during our coursework was internet, DV camcorder, digital SLR camera, mobile phone, editing software, Youtube, Blogger, and Microsoft Word. These have helped me with learning about recording equipment and how to upload, edit and produce film. With blogging, this has involved scanning and uploading images from external hard drives; we also used recording equipment to produce sound for the soundtrack and voiceover.
The soundtrack was from a recording on an external hard drive and so had to be refined using software, improving the quality for our film. In some ways the film editing software we used was limiting as it had few transitions suitable for our sequence. </li></li></ul><li>Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?<br /><ul><li>After having worked on our final product, looking back on our preliminary task it’s obvious the changes we made have produced an overall better piece of film. Editing is much smoother, with less pauses and gaps between events and dialogue. Framing of shots are much neater and better set out, when filming our coursework we used ‘grid lines’ to help us put the main focus in the shot, in place. However in our preliminary task, this wasn’t used, so the focus of each shot isn’t where it should be, and the objects on screen are ‘unbalanced’.
We also used a much larger variety of shots in our coursework; from extreme close ups to long shots in comparison to all medium shots in our preliminary task. The sound recordings for our film are much smoother and refined, giving a better quality sound for the audience, making what the characters say much clearer; helping the audience feel more absorbed with the diegesis of the film.</li></ul>Poor framing shot<br />Improved framing shot<br />
Extreme close up (ECU)<br />Medium shots<br />
(Audience Feedback Graphs)<br />NB: Some feedback surveys had more then one genre listed<br />
Conclusion<br />Personally, I’m very happy with the final product, I feel the editing was to the best standard we could manage, the sound fits well with the genre and the narrative, lighting is controlled in all our scenes and character performance was as intended. We used a wide range of shots and diegetic and non-diegetic sound, though always parallel. Locations were perfect for what we wanted, fulfilling the purpose of showing a home environment and an outdoor public place, where children are expected to be. <br />The colours used with character appearance and décor also represented the atmosphere well, in the home there were bright walls with a darkly dressed boyfriend on the bed, symbolizing his retained character, as well as props, which set up a genuine scene of a home and helped give an insight into each character’s personality. However, if I could change anything I’d want to change the costume of the characters, as I don’t think it really fit the genre or created a very convincing image for the message I wanted to give; for Maggie especially. <br /> <br />