Inwhatwaysdoesyourmediaproductuse,developorchallengeformsandconventionsofrealmediaproducts?Genre can be defined as “a set of conventions-recognisable usually throughiconography, familiar narrative, mise-en-scene, actors, and style ofrepresentation.” Sub-genre can be identified as a subcategory within a particulargenre i.e. our opening sequence would be classed as an action-thriller film.However, a hybrid is a film in which two or more genres are used in one film e.g. amartial arts action thriller.In order to understand what the actual codes and conventions for existingopening sequences are, we carried out extensive research, such as analysing avariety of thriller opening sequences in terms of camera, editing, sound and miseen scene. We achieved this through allocating 4 films per person to analyse in ourgroup and we then shared each other’s ideas after this. I found this extremelyuseful because it gave me inspiration as to which fonts suit which sub-genre/hybrid film types and how much of the following plot of the film should beincorporated into the opening sequence.An example of how we chose to keep in line with forms and conventions wasthrough the titles. This is because from our previous research we had learnt howto list the titles correctly, and we identified this as essential to continue to displaythat we understood how a professional opening sequence should look. As well asthis, we kept in line with conventions by keeping the titles small and to the side ofthe frame, which is common in opening sequences so that more emphasis is putupon what is in shot. Also, we decided on having our titles in red because thiscolour connotes danger, blood etc. that many thrillers incorporate into their films-thus keeping in line with conventions again.
The screen grab to the right shows how we kept in linewith codes and conventions when using titles:The screen grab below shows an opening sequence that weanalysed, called Se7en, which inspired us to use a black screen forour film title because we felt it encouraged us to focus more onthe title which was important in this circumstance.
Despite keeping in line with some conventions, we attempted todevelop the forms of an ordinary action thriller. This is becausealthough our protagonist is portrayed as a Russian spy (i.e. veryconventional) we wanted to develop the convention by showing thebuild up to the crime as opposed to the crime itself. This was done togive a different spin on the view of the Russian spy to the audienceand make them want to see more.However, we also chose to challenge conventions throughout ouropening sequence. An example of this is our use of light because mostsequences that we analysed in our initial research used low keylighting and generally kept light to a minimum, whereas we decided touse a lot of light. This was done to suggest to the audience that ourprotagonist is not as dangerous as other factors may suggest i.e. soundand titles. Furthermore, this idea of the “bad guy” turning out to bethe “good guy” definitely challenges conventions.
Howdoesyourmediaproductrepresentparticularsocialgroups?The main social groups that we hoped to represent when making our openingsequence were age, ethnicity and class (however, ethnicity was our primaryobjective).Why age?Our intended target audience is 15-30 year old individuals which is partially whywe decided to use an actor of our age-group, with the intention that the targetaudience would find it easier to associate with the protagonist and therefore theplot. Furthermore, by dressing the protagonist in youthful clothes e.g. jeans andconverses, it was subtly targeting a particular age group.Why class?We were inspired by James Bond films whilst developing our opening sequence,so we decided to attempt to target a particular class of people because(although James Bond’s are watched by a variety of people) the intended classwithin target of these films are middle class (i.e. A/B socio-economic group).This is because these types of people are the ones to fully appreciate the mise-en-scene used within James Bond films. Furthermore, we wanted our film to usethe same theme so we attempted to represent the middle class. However, dueto a non-existent budget we had limited options however the first setting was aspacious, well furnished office with a leather briefcase which we intended toportray a middle classed atmosphere.This is shown here (see clip 1.00-1.16):
There were several ways in which weinsinuated his Russian roots, forexample the foreign language spokenover the phone (see clip 0.45-0.48)and his dark hair and beard, as well assmaller details such as the Russiansickle and Russian vodka which isshown to the right:Why ethnicity?We chose to represent the Russian race very stereotypically byportraying them as the “bad guy” spy. We identified thisstereotype throughout our research (e.g. in many James Bondfilms where Eastern European “bad guys” are used) and usedthis knowledge to shape the characteristics of our protagonist.
Whatkindofmediainstitutionmightdistributeyourmediaproductandwhy?During the production of our opening sequence we cameacross a film that was very similar to ours in many ways,including shot types and plot (i.e. it uses the same stereotypeof Russian spies). Due to it’s similarities, I have come to theconclusion that the same type of media institutions would bewilling to distribute our media product. Furthermore, Saltwas produced by a major Hollywood studio called ColumbiaPictures, so this would be the ideal institution to distributeour product.However, this may be unrealistic because after researchingthe film Salt, I found that they had a budget of $110,000,000which was spent primarily on pyrotechnics. This is a majordifference to our opening sequence as we had a limitedbudget so this could affect the chances of a major Hollywoodstudio being interested in distributing our film.I therefore think that a more realistic institution would be aBritish TV film company (e.g. made by Channel 4) becausethey have a reputation for allowing a large quantity of peopleto view the film at once, however on a smaller scale thancinema.
Similarities between Salt and The Brief:Plot of Salt:“As a CIA officer, Evelyn Salt (Jolie) swore an oath to duty, honour andcountry. Her loyalty will be tested when a defector accuses her ofbeing a Russian spy. Salt goes on the run, using all her skills andyears of experience as a covert operative to elude capture. Saltsefforts to prove her innocence only serve to cast doubt on hermotives, as the hunt to uncover the truth behind her identitycontinues and the question remains: ‘Who Is Salt?’”From the above plot summary, there are similarities between the two films, forexample they both use the Russian spy stereotype, and also both protagonistsuse precision/skill to reach their goals within the films (as shown in thehighlighted regions.As well as this, Salt uses a large amount of cross dissolve transitions which issimilar to our opening sequence (see clip 0.15-0.18).The Brief would be likely to be distributed by a large firm because there is a gapin the market for a film like this. This is because the mise-en-scene of theopening sequence suggests to the audience that if they continue to watch thefilm, they will learn that the protagonist is not the fiend that they originallyexpect him to be. Therefore, through this subversion of conventions it makes agap in the market.
Whowouldbeyouraudienceforyourmediaproduct?The target audience for our opening sequence is young men between the ages of 15-30 years oldwithin a socio-economic group of A-B (with the exception of students).The reason behind the gender of our target audience is that our research suggested to us that malesprefer thriller films (particularly with action in) to females. This has become especially evident inrecent years where female actresses are used in action thrillers to appeal more to the males.Furthermore, this was emphasised when we conducted an audience survey post production, as shownbelow:As previously outlined, the reasoning behind the age group of our target audience is due to the factthat we believed that this age group would be more interested in the action aspect of the film. Welearnt this from identifying the target audience of other action thriller films, for example Salt (whichuses the aforementioned method of using attractive actresses to make the film more appealing). Aswell as this, the mise-en-scene used incorporates a youthful feel for example clothing, as theprotagonist wears jeans and converses which is not the stereotypical outfit of a spy.
We also decided on a target audience with a high socio-economicgroup. This is because we identified a link between the conventions ofan action film with wealth due to the gadgets that are often used.Therefore, these gadgets are associated with an impression of wealthbecause they would not be readily available to the every-day citizen.Furthermore, we decided that individuals with slightly more wealththan normal would be more likely to identify with the film/actors andenjoy the film more.
Howdidyouattract/addressyouraudience?As well as this we attempted to create familiarity with theaudience in order to attract them by the mise-en-scene. Themain way in which we achieved this was through clothing,because the protagonist wears casual, youthful clothing suchas jeans and converses on his journey which breaks thestereotype of what most people perceive as a “spy” uniform.As well as this, one prop that we used was intended tocreate familiarity also, as the mobile phone that is used (seeclip 0.38-0.44) is one in which a large quantity of peoplehave (particularly the target audience of our film).This is shown to the right:Once we had identified the target audience for our opening sequence it becameapparent that we should use aspects of our target audiences’ lives in the protagonist’sjourney so that familiarity could be established and the audience could feel aconnection between them and the protagonist.Firstly, we attempted to do this through location. This is because the train stationsetting is one that most people in reality will have had an experience with, so itproposes a threat to normal life because a “dangerous” character enters a place whichis familiar/safe to all. The audience is clearly aware of the location being a train stationbecause of the long shot of a train initially, as well as the sound of an announcementover the microphone (see clip 1.32-1.34).
Camera work was also used to attract/address the audience.This was because our use of a point of view shot (see clip 1.32-1.34) and an over shoulder shot (see clip 0.27-0.30) created alink between the audience and the character.We had also learnt from our initial research that in order toattract the audience in a thriller film, there were certainconventions that were set in order to do so. An example of howwe used these conventions to create suspense was through themusic score, as it was tense and built up slowly which is whatyou would expect in a thriller film. However, we decided toinclude a more energetic vibe to the music score also becausethis is more typical of an action thriller film.After the production of our opening sequence we decided tocarry out an audience survey to see whether we had beensuccessful in the way we had attempted to attract and addressour audience. We did this by firstly distributing a questionnaireand the film to friends and family (including to people outside ofour target audience-to use as a comparison) and later by postingit on YouTube and asking for feedback. Out of our results, themost successful data from the questionnaire showed that 89%of males thought the opening sequence presented ethnicity,90% of males wanted to watch the rest of the film (compared to76% of females), and that 70% males identified the correctrating of the film as 15.These results suggest to us as a group that we have attracted theaudience correctly because they gained the information that weintended them to when filming.To the right is a screen grab of the survey that we made andposted onto Google docs.
The chart to theleft shows thatthe majority ofpeopleidentified whatwe were tryingto representduring filming.This graphshows thatthe majorityof peopleidentifiedthe correctrating forthe film.Feedbackfrom ouraudiencesurvey
Whathaveyoulearntabouttechnologiesfromtheprocessofconstructingtheproduct?Before we started our project I had no experience at all of using Adobe Premiere Pro, cameras, tripodsetc. and even an Apple Mac so I have definitely learnt a lot. Throughout the production stage I haveedited parts of the opening sequence, used the camera effectively and set up the equipment correctly,as well as posting blogs in different ways i.e. voice recordings/podcasts/SlideShare documents.During our continuity task I began to grasp a limited amount of knowledge on how to take the best shoti.e. making sure that the camera is securely fixed to the tripod to ensure a steady shot is taken.There were some problems that we faced while filming. One example of this was that we had a largequantity of snow when we had organised to film the train station scene. This was problematic becausesome trains were not running which meant that the emphasis would be taken off of the ‘journey’ effectwe wanted to gain (i.e. the audience being aware of the fact that the protagonist is travelling to adestination) if there no actual physical trains in shot. Therefore, this meant that we had to postponefilming which put us behind of schedule.As well as this, we had issues with filming the train station scene itself. This was because many stationswould not allow us to film there which caused us a lot of trouble, and at one point we thought the plotwould have to be changed. However, we overcame this by identifying another train station which wasmore barren than others and managed to film there successfully, although again we were put behind ofour schedule.Another problem that we encountered in the filming of our opening sequence was a wasting of time.This was because we were inexperienced with using the camera equipment so initially it took a longtime to set up the equipment correctly. This meant that at the beginning of shooting there were manyshots that were not good enough (e.g. we had not secured the camera to the tripod well enough sotherefore had unsteady shots). Furthermore, we also had the initial issue where we did not check thecontent we had filmed whilst going along, so this caused a delay in the schedule when having toorganise a large amount of re-shooting content that could have been avoided easily. However, wequickly learnt from these issues and after the first round of shooting we had the process moving muchquicker.
I have learnt a large amount about Premiere Pro and found that I enjoyed the process ofediting a lot. An example of the type of skills that I have learnt is learning how to usetransitions effectively, i.e. the cross dissolve used with the credits create effect well however Iam now also aware that this effect would not suit everywhere within the film and should beinputted for a specific reason. As well as this I have learnt the basics of Premiere Pro well suchas cutting a shot shorter and inputting music and credits into the film.We also found Premiere Pro extremely useful in altering the sound and lighting. This is becauseas we had so many re-shoots we found that the natural light was different each time whichlessened the continuity when all the shots were put together. Therefore, we used the effectson Premiere Pro to change the lighting and make the shots appear to have more continuity.Sound was also altered because we found that at the train station scene in particular mostsounds were overpowered by the noises of trains, so therefore we made sure to alter this byturning down some layers of sounds using the programme.However, we found that when using Premiere Pro on the Apple Mac it struggled when holdinga lot of material (i.e. when we had finished filming there was a lot of content on the laptop) sowe found that it was extremely jumpy when playing back our content, despite having renderedall of it. This was problematic because we would often miss details such as if the camerajumped slightly. Although this was a problem, we ensured that we went through each clip veryslowly, however this was time consuming and often made us behind.The image below is a screen grab of how we changed sound layers on Premiere Pro.
Lookingbackatthecontinuitytask,whatdoyoufeelthatyouhavelearntintheprogressionfromittothefullproduct?Since the continuity task I feel that we have invested a lot more time in the planning sideof the project, such as by storyboarding extensively (including identifying length of shots),making/improving shot lists, researching our genre, establishingprops/costume/locations, and allocating specific roles for each member of the group.Storyboarding was a useful process because it allowed us to fully imagine what the filmwould look like ultimately and make amendments based on this. I feel that this processencouraged me personally to be more creative because ordinarily I excel in facts andfigures whereas in this task I needed to be creative which was initially difficult. However,after establishing our plot it became easier to be creative when thinking aboutprops/costume etc. which I think was essential in the representation of our Russianprotagonist.As well as this, allocating specific roles for each group member was important becauseeach of us then knew our role within the group which was needed as initially we hadissues in the functioning of our group. This was because (in my opinion) we did notestablish a leader for the group at an early stage which made it difficult to make decisionswhich lead to arguments. However, after discussions about this we decided that fromnow on I would lead/organise the group, Victoria Louise would be in charge of researchand Scott would be in charge of editing. Despite these roles, it did not mean that oneperson did all of that work however they simply had the responsibility of ensuring theresearch/editing was up to standard.This process of planning and research really prepared us well for the filming stagebecause it made us organised meaning that delays were kept to a minimum and our workwas being generated on time. This was very different to the continuity task where wewere constantly behind due to a lack of organisation.
This improvement in our camera worklead to an increase in our confidencewhen using the camera. This is becausewe became more aware of how toexecute a successful shot which gave usthe confidence to experiment morewhich shot types, for example usingzooms and point of view shots.This shot which was part ofour footage for thecontinuity task and is verydifferent to the quality ofthe shots we were taking inour final product. This isbecause the actresses headis not in frame and the armis the focus of the shot(which clearly isn’tintentional).From watching the oldfootage it is clear that ourtechnique had improved inthe final task because therewas much less of a trembleto the camera which meantthat we had learnt moreabout how to use theequipment effectively.
Overall, I think that our end product is good. This is because we usedmise-en-scene effectively to encourage the audience to experiencewhat we intended (as proven in our audience survey). However, I dothink that if we were to do this project again we would have moresuccess because we caused a large quantity of delays purely throughlack of organisation initially. Furthermore, these delays effected ourfilming process which has therefore lessened the quality of our film.Since deciding to keep our opening sequence simple and basic I thinkit has helped us (e.g. by not getting carried away with our intricateideas) however hindered us because it has limited how professionaland how ‘thriller-like’ (i.e. how scary) our film could be.