AS Media Studies Evaluation Rachel Cemlyn-Jones
In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?Upon making our final product „Disconnected‟, we used, developed and challenged forms and conventions of real media products. We met theconventions of a typical crime/ psychological thriller genre, but we also challenged some of these in order to give the audience a sense offamiliarity and repetition, as well as variation.Moreover, we used the help of our research into other thriller title sequencesto help us to construct a conventional opening that wasn‟t too distant fromwhat audiences would expect. By analysing the camera, editing, sound andmise-en-scene I was also able to learn the technical codes and conventionsthat help make a thriller, a thriller.Firstly, I studied the opening of Black Swan and as the images show, mygroup and I have used some of the conventions found in this opening in our 0:12final product. For instance, Black Swan portrays a weak, feminine femaleprotagonist through a number of technical codes including camera andmise-en-scene. Therefore, we used similar ideas to convey aweak, feminine female protagonist in our final product through some of thetechnical codes we analysed. In Black Swan the protagonist‟s costumeconsists of a white ballet leotard and tutu, the white connotes purity and theoutfit itself is very feminine. Hence, we dressed our protagonist in a blouseand skirt to add femininity but chose to challenge the conventions andclothe her in darker colours to symbolise mourning. 0:44Generic conventions such as the establishing long shot of the protagonist inBlack Swan also compares to the first long shot of our protagonist who toois centralised within the frame introducing her whole costume and bodylanguage to the audience. In addition, the camera shots and angles alsohelp to convey a weak character through the high angle shown on theright, we also used this convention when shooting the young protagonistactor to represent her position of weakness.Furthermore, the titles in Black Swan contain a black background and whitetext which I discovered was very conventional when completing myresearch. Hence, we used this along with the use of serif font because it‟sfeminine to relate to our female protagonist.
In addition, we incorporated some conventions from thethriller, Karthik Calling Karthik and we were particularly interested inthe use of a flashback from the protagonist‟s childhood. In thisflashback, the colour of the shots had been altered to signify achange in time. Thus as a group we felt a flashback using atechnique like this would fit our narrative and help to create anominous tone and link our opening to the thriller genre.Furthermore, the use of a dip to white effect before and after theflashbacks incorporated into our opening is also conventional of thegenre and helps signify to the audience that those particular shotsform part of one overall scene from her childhood. 0:27 0:15 However, in some cases we subverted the conventions in terms of camera and used reoccurring mid shots of our actors to convey both their facial expressions as well as their body language in order to reinforce the narrative and allow the audience to connect with the protagonist. This was instead of using conventional close up shots seen in many films of our chosen genre as we felt the abundance of close up‟s adds a sense of mystery to our product. But, we have used many typical conventions when considering camera too such as the use of an establishing shot of the house so that the audience is aware of the location of the scene. 0:08 We used a conventional score within our piece that created a melancholy and eerie atmosphere but we developed this convention by not building up the non-diegetic score to create tension or suspense as we felt this didn‟t fit the narrative at this point in the film. Alternatively, we have used lots of diegetic sound within our opening which is conventional and adds verisimilitude and authenticity to our product and helps to slightly increase the pace.
In terms of editing we focused on keeping to the conventions of 1:29 crime/psychological thrillers through not only centralising our protagonist within the frame but by giving her the most prevalence. We have used a dip to white effect before and after most of the flashback scenes in order to make it obvious to the audience that it‟s a flashback. As well as using a combination of intercuts, action match and eyeline match between the two actors to represent the fact that they are the same character. Moreover, we opened with a conventional slow pace then slightly built it up but, we then slowed the pace back down in order to create sympathy and 1:30 therefore, develop the convention of a climax. 1:31 0:34Evidence of unconventional lighting can be seen within our product mainlydue to the vast amount of natural light and the brightly coloured roomwhich ensures everything within the scene is visible. We had to ensure thatthere was enough light because we had dressed our protagonist in darkclothing, and if the light was too dark then she wouldn‟t be visible.Nonetheless, many thrillers such as James Bond also have scenes set inthe daytime therefore, we haven‟t journeyed too far away from the typicalconventions. We have also dressed our protagonist in a stereotypicallyfeminine costume which consisted of a skirt and blouse similar to thefeminine costume presented in Black Swan for the female protagonist.Moreover, the costume is also symbolic of mourning reinforcing ournarrative. Finally, when choosing a location for our filming we chose to setour protagonist in a large house connoting wealth which is stereotypical ofsomeone of her ethnicity. 0:08
How does your media product represent particular social groups?Throughout our product we focused on how different social groups could be portrayed to convey meaning to the text.The first representation represented in our product is gender and we decided to create a feminine and stereotypically weak femaleprotagonist through a number of codes and conventions. Firstly, her costume is very feminine, consisting of a navy blue blouse and ablack leather skirt and this use of dark clothing is then symbolic of her mourning. Moreover, the leather skirt could imply danger or amisunderstood character too which could be considered atypical and a point of strength. In the 3rd scene however, she turns to alcoholconnoting her mental instability due to the fact she‟s drinking during the day moreover, the vast number of alcohol/spirit bottles on thetable imply this isn‟t a one off experience. Therefore, this conveys the idea that she‟s not mentally strong thus, a weak character. 0:12 0:34But, we have atypically chosen to use a female of Indian decent instead of sticking with thegeneric conventions and using a white female. This was because, stereotypically Asianfamilies have strong bonds which is one of the key themes within our narrative. Due to thefact our protagonist and her brother were so close when he went missing it affected her sonegatively and has then led to her troubled actions and mental weakness. Ethnicity is alsostereotypically represented through the opening establishing shot of the large houseconnoting wealth within her family too. Furthermore, the protagonists costume covers herwhole body except her face which too represents a stereotypical representation of herethnicity as well as religion. 1:45
We have targeted a younger audience through the use of young actors andactresses. Our protagonist is a young adult, aged 20 years-old which isstereotypically represented through her vulnerability and lack of life experience.This reinforces her mental weakness and stereotypical representation because itshows that her childhood has directly affected her growing up. Furthermore, wehave also chosen to show the character at the point where she was told about herbrother‟s disappearance when she was only 11 years of age. She wears her schooluniform denoting her age because it shows she‟s still at school and it could alsorepresent her intelligence which is stereotypical of her ethnic background.Finally, this character is shot from a high angle portraying her weakness and theclose up shots help to clearly show her concerned and sad facial expression. 0:44Our protagonist is a stereotypical middle class citizen represented through the large house and mise-en-scene connotingwealth. Her costume and the location suggest a privileged upbringing but, this has been affected by her brother‟sdisappearance. However, it could be argued that stereotypical middle and upper class citizens are opinionated and speaktheir mind whereas, our protagonist has no dialogue throughout the whole opening sequence. On the other hand, in theflashback her character asks many questions. This conveys to the audience the idea that when she was younger she hadthis stereotypical representation and her brother‟s disappearance has caused the direct link which has caused herrepresentation and personality to slightly change. 0:08
What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?Research20th Century Fox, is one of the six major American film studios as of 2011. It‟slocated in Los Angeles and is currently owned by Rupert Murdochs NewsCorporation.It distributes a number of Sci-fi thrillers such as Star Wars and X-men, as well asa number of action/crime thrillers that are similar to my product including, Taken. Taken A retired CIA agent travels across Although our plot doesn‟t involve a kidnapping because we wanted to steer Europe and relies on his old skills to away from this cliché idea, it does involve a disappearance. Furthermore, if the save his estranged daughter, who has film were to continue the audience would see that throughout the film the been kidnapped while on a trip to Paris. protagonist is attempting to hunt down and find her missing family member (brother) in the same way the protagonist in Taken is attempting to use his skills to find his daughter. Hence, bringing our product into the crime thriller genre. Simple, generic black and white titles. The act of the protagonist looking through a photo album and having a flashback signifies the protagonist looking back at their memories. Dressing the protagonist in dark black leather connotes a sense of danger/ mystery about the character.
Fox Searchlight Pictures, is an American film division of Fox Entertainment Group alongside the larger Fox Studio, 20th Century Fox. It specialises in independent and British films. In addition, it has also distributed a number of films similar to my product such as Black Swan. In this film we see two different personalities of one particular character and the trigger which causes this change. The female protagonist is represented as weak. feminine and pure through high camera angles and pale pink/white clothing. After winning the lead in “Swan Lake” she then starts to be represented as a much darker and troubled character through the mise-en-scene.Black Swan For example, the darker clothing but, the weakness of her character is continuallyA ballet dancer wins the lead in "Swan Lake" portrayed throughout the film.and is perfect for the role of the delicate WhiteSwan - Princess Odette - but slowly loses her Similarly, we represent our protagonist as a weak and pure character through themind as she becomes more and more like flashbacks from her childhood. We then represent the more troubled and darkerOdile, the Black Swan. but still weak character that she is now through the main sequence of our product. Thus, aspects such as this and her mental instability bring our product into the psychological thriller genre. Again, simple generic black and white titles are found in this thriller. Representing both sides of the same character on screen at the same time to represent their change of personality over time.
After completing my research… After completing my research I have come to the conclusion that Fox Searchlight pictures under the parent of 20th Century Fox, would be the distributor for my media product. I have identified this through conducting some research into similar media products to my own and enquiring which media institution distributes each of them. I have compared our product to other films distributed by this particular institution such as Black Swan, and we have used and developed conventions as well as taken inspiration from this product therefore, the institution would be familiar with our product and know how to distribute it accordingly. Fox searchlight Pictures also specialises in independent and British films which I would classify my product to be hence, I believe this would be the most suitable and appropriate institution to distribute our product. 20th Century Fox is the parent company of Fox Searchlight Pictures, and they too have distributed popular films that compare to our product. For example, Taken, which has similar narrative ideas and themes to our product such as the disappearance of a family member. Furthermore, similar codes and conventions can be seen throughout both products reinforcing the idea that this particular institution should be the one to distribute our product. However, 20th Century Fox tends to set their films in America and include American actors such as Liam Neeson thus, this is one main contrast to the idea of this institution distributing our product as ours is set in England with British Actors. Additionally, I think that 20th Century Fox along with Fox Searchlight Pictures would be the most appropriate institution for our target audience. This is because they are most likely to watch a film of this institution compared to any other such as an Internet only movie. Moreover, I think our product would be popular and what audiences will expect due to the number of crime/psychological thriller conventions and technical codes we have followed. Thus, there isn‟t necessarily a gap in the market for our product because it‟s not completely different to anything produced before. However, although similar ideas have been portrayed in other thrillers, we have developed and challenged enough conventions to make ours unique. As shown through the comparison of our product to action/ crime thrillers such as Taken, and psychological thrillers such as Black Swan. This presents how we have successfully merged codes and conventions from these two genres of thriller. When considering whether or not our film would produce merchandise I decided it wouldn‟t be appropriate. This was because our narrative doesn‟t allow it because merchandise usually occurs from action or spy thrillers and our product is neither. Furthermore, I don‟t think our target audience would be particularly interested in film merchandise as stereotypically film merchandise would be sold to children and teenagers under the age of 18, and our target audience is predominantly females aged between 15 and 25. For example, popular film merchandise includes action figures or dressing up costumes from superhero films such as Spiderman.
Who would be the audience for your media product?As a group during the planning process we decided that the appropriate target audience for our product would be aged between15 and 25. They had to be over 15 as we have given our product a 15 age-rating due to the themes and issues raised in the text.For example, the idea of a close family disappearing and causing such emotional pain to the protagonist may be distressing for ayounger audience to watch. We also have young characters such as our protagonist whom our audience could identify andrelate to as well.Our product also has a few psychological elements similar to some of the distressing scenes found in the psychologicalthriller, Black Swan. This movie also has an age-rating of 15 and due to this psychological nature I feel the content of our productwould only be appropriate for those aged 15 and above to watch. Furthermore, the crime thriller, Taken also contains similarthemes and issues to our product and this film also has an age-rating of 15 due to it‟s violence and occasional drug reference.Hence, the fact that our product has similar ideas about narrative (missing family relative) means that our film will also appeal toa mainstream audience encouraging more people to watch it.We decided that our product would be suited to a more female orientated audience mainly due to the use of a female protagonistand the emotional aspect of the film as a whole. Furthermore, we have frequently used serif font which is generally viewed asfeminine. However, I think our product could also appeal to a number of males too due to the thriller conventions we have usedand stereotypically some of the content of our product will appeal to more males than females. For example, the mechanicalsound effect we have used over the top of the flashbacks in our sequence. Hence, the gender balance may even out but, it‟smore likely to attract a higher proportion of females. In addition, audiences who enjoy watching the thriller genre would alsowatch our film due to the number of stereotypical thriller conventions we have used. For instance, the fact that our product hassimilar ideas about narrative when compared to Taken (a missing family relative) means that our film will appeal to a mainstreamaudience encouraging more people to watch it thus, maximising our audience.In terms of race our target audience is rather broad. This is because it‟s predominantly aimedat people with an Asian ethnicity due to the Asian protagonist and antagonist. However, wehave also used English actors and set the film in England which would therefore attract manyBritish citizens to watch it too.
Target Audience FeedbackIn order to fully evaluate our product we created a survey using Google Surveys to help us receive some audience feedback. This is aSummary of some of the feedback we received. 84% of the people who answered our What was it about the opening that you liked? questionnaire told us they were aged 16- Overall, we received a broad amount of positives over many of the technical 25 which was great because it allowed areas for our product. However, the majority of people commented on how they us to receive feedback from our target enjoyed ‘the flashback element’ and found it effective when it kept ‘cutting audience age, and see whether we had back to the flashback’. chosen our target audience correctly. A number of people also commented on the narrative. For instance, some of the examples of what people answered includes, ‘I thought it was a captivating opening sequence’ and ‘I thought it was an engaging/interesting storyline’. Finally, we also received a number of positive comments on our use and choice of editing and music in terms of adding tone and atmosphere to the piece too. Furthermore, it was also reassuring toBelow are the results from our question about see that 82% agreed with the fact thatgenre and as you can see the majority (a total our target audience would be dominatedof 81%) said they thought it was either a by females too, due to the emotionalcrime or psychological thriller. This means we element throughout the narrative.can say we effectively used the codes andconventions of these genres to our ability inorder to portray a crime/psychological thriller Finally, 90% answered yes after beingeffectively. asked whether they enjoyed our opening and a further 80% said they would want to see the rest of our film. This means that we have successfully achieved creating an engaging opening that draws the audience in and makes them want to continue watching our film.
How did you attract/address your audience?Overall, our target audience is predominantly targeted at the female market, aged 15-25 and here are a number of ways we have attractedand addressed our audience throughout our product. We introduce our protagonist through a long shot making her appear very feminine and therefore, appealing to both genders. The flashback scenes may appeal to the latter ages of our target audience (22-25) due to the age of the 0:19 teacher and they may feel more 0:12 sympathetic towards the child. 1:48When the pace increases andaction arises our productappeals to a male audiencebecause her actions are more 1:16aggressive andtherefore, stereotypically moremasculine. 1:352:00 Our use of a few POV shots help bring the audience into the diegesis and see everything from her perspective. Therefore, the audience get to further relate and sympathise towards our protagonist and put themselves in her position. We have also used serif font for our titles and made Overall, we decided to not show the antagonist in the title them very simple attracting sequence, and instead make the opening one-sided towards the the feminine audience. protagonist making the audience feel more sympathy towards our her because they are completely unaware of her brothers whereabouts. This also increases the tensions and adds a senseThe ending stereotypically appeals to females of all of suspense and mystery to our opening and helping us achieveages due to the melancholy tone enabling them to an ambiguous atmosphere.sympathise towards our protagonist.
What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?Throughout the process of constructing this product I have learnt a variety of skills rangingfrom the use of effective planning, to skilled camera work and good continuity editing.I would personally say that one of the areas I gained the most skills through was the ability tolearn how to use camera in specific ways in order to portray different meanings. Forexample, using high angle shots in order to convey a weak and inferior character, and Ibelieve this is something we all achieved as a group through the filming process.However, some issues did arise when we were filming due to the quality of the camera. Forinstance when we tried to film a reverse shot of our protagonist looking out the window we 0:15found it impossible because we simply didn‟t have the equipment available to us to get theheight we needed to film the shot as well as the resolution on the camera. This would havebeen caused by the fact we had no budget either.Lighting was another issue when we came to the filming process which we had to overcome.This was because we had originally planned to create a dark and mysterious atmosphere butthis was not possible due to the fact that in our first cut we had attempted to create darklighting through closing the curtains in the room. However, this looked too fake and didn‟twork. Moreover, we then thought about filming at night but that was then too dark and thecamera was unable to pick out what we needed hence, we decided against this idea. Thiswould have been improved through the use of a correct three-point lighting system allowingus to use low key lighting to make it look dark and at the same time use a back light to pickout the subject from the background making it visible. In the reshoot we then decided as agroup to not fight the natural light and instead use it to our advantage as we learnt throughour research that it does not necessarily have to be dark in the opening of a thriller film. 0:34
During the process I believe I have gained the most skills in my ability to edit. This isbecause at the start of the project I was unable to use a Mac, but, now I am confident inusing the software, Adobe Premiere Pro in order to edit together a piece of film.When creating our continuity task I didn‟t participate in the editing too much and insteadtook more responsibility over the filming process. However, once I‟d learnt the basics ofthe software I could then gain lots of practise and this then enabled me to become muchmore confident with the software to the point where I was able to come in in my free timeand edit our final piece by myself. As a group each of us had this confidence whichallowed us to continually move the project forward as we were able to all come inindividually to do editing if we were not all available at the same time.Finally, we all also had an eye for perfection which helped us a lot through constructingour product. This was because it meant if the continuity wasn‟t quite right, or there was aslight jump cut or a missed transition we were able to pick up on it and improve it straightaway. This then allowed us to create a piece to the best of our ability which we are allproud of.
Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?Preliminary Task: Creating a piece approximately 60 seconds in length which shouldnt exceed 90 seconds and must contain a fewtechnical requirements such as:• You must not break the 180 degrees rule• You must include a shot/ reverse shot• You must include a variety of appropriate camera angles• You must edit so the continuity is apparent and meaning is clear• You must include more than one location• You must include some interaction between characters• You must include some non-diegetic soundMain Task: The titles and opening of a new fiction film, to last a maximum of two minutes. All video audio material must beoriginal, produced by the candidates, with the exception of music or audio effects from a copyright-free source.During the progression from our preliminary to our final product I feel I have progressed in many aspects. Firstly, I think something thataided us a great deal throughout the whole process, was our use of effective planning. This included researching into different genres ofthriller to ensure we used correct codes and conventions as well as researching into real media products to gain inspiration and see howthese conventions are used in films. Furthermore, I found that our detailed planning worked really well as it allowed us to plan out eachshot exactly how we wanted so we knew what to capture in order to portray particular meanings. Once we had planned this we were thenable to create a storyboard which proved very helpful at allowing us to visualise for the first time what our product may look like. By cuttingit up and sticking it on the wall we were then able to play around with sequencing and narrative to see how it affected the rest of theproduct. After this was completed, we then created an animatic which then gave us an insight into the timing and pace of our productthrough the length of the shots and transitions.
I am now much more confident with all the equipment we have been using since we createdour preliminary task. Firstly, our overall framing during shots has improved from ourpreliminary task, to our first cut and then to our final product as we have learnt how to keepthe camera straight and make sure everything is in line and not wonky giving the product anamateur effect. Since the preliminary task I have also improved my ability to film specificshots such as POV‟s. The one we filmed in our preliminary 0:30 is not steady and filmed toa bad quality, which compares to the much better POV we have used in our final product 1:16 . Furthermore, we have also learnt to include a variety of camera shots and angles intoour final product from our preliminary task in order to add more excitement to the piece. Inaddition, we were rushed when attempting to choose music for our preliminary task andended up choosing something that was dramatically too sad and therefore, ruined its overalleffect in our piece. As well as this, it has been cut out too quickly before the ending making itmuch worse than the way we have used music in our final product. For instance, in our finalproduct we got a friend to make a piece of music exactly how we wanted and learnt how toloop the music if it didn‟t quite last the needed length of time.Overall, I believe we have created a successful final product which meets the demand of ourmain task. We have learnt and used our knowledge of the codes and conventions ofcrime/psychological thrillers in order to aid us through the process by using, developing andchallenging them. As well as learning from our mistakes during our preliminary task, allowingus to produce a final product to the best our ability with the skills we have learnt throughoutthe year about representation, planning, filming and editing.