INTRODUCTION For my Advanced Media Portfolio project this year I chose to do the Short Film Task, in which I would have to create a short film of any genre of my choosing, alongside two of three possible ancillary tasks; a film poster, a review of the film that would appear in a film specialist magazine or a radio trailer for the film. I decided to create a product I myself enjoy, a short horror film and a homage to old slasher films of the 1980s, but blended with popular psychological thrillers. Alongside it I have created a Film Poster and Magazine Review. This product would be aimed at an older-teenage audience, around 15-19. Over the next few slides I hope to create a close textual analysis of my product and the changes I made over production.
QUESTION 1IN WHAT WAYS DOES YOURMEDIA PRODUCT USE,DEVELOP OR CHALLENGEFORMS AND CONVENTIONS OFREAL MEDIA PRODUCTS?
THE FILM: EFFECTS For my product, a short Horror Film, to have the effect I needed, I had to make the audience scared and for them to have genuine feelings of terror. To do this I had to understand the conventions of the Horror style and genre and apply them to my work effectively and creatively. Most Horror films will create emotions of fear and terror with harsh lighting and sound, gore and the building of suspense. To create a genuine sense of horror was difficult with my limited budget and small cast, meaning I instead wanted to create suspense through tension and moments built up through repetition and the usage of unusual and unsettling imagery. One of the montages early in the film, in which various objects and noises in 1 second beats play on the disturbed mind of the protagonist uses this, with the juxtaposition of the normally innocent „hang in there‟ and „no eating‟ posters highlighting the protagonists mental struggle, a struggle against social conventions and codes and the normal routine of things. I wanted the key message and motif that the audience should understand and that should link everything that happens in this film to be the title, “When Will It End?”. These words are repeated several times during the initial stalking stage where they flash on screen. The question is ultimately answered by the villain; “You wanted it to end, and now it will” and so his frustration becomes his downfall. The irony of this is what makes up the brunt of the films short plot.
THE FILM: CHARACTERIZATION “LISTEN FELLOWS, IVE HAD A REALLY RARE MORNING...” For the characterization of my protagonist I took inspiration from films with over worked and medicated office worker characters, particularly Edward Norton in Fight Club, James McAvoy in Wanted and Michael Douglas in Falling Down. Things common with all these characters are that they are simple, working men in which a part of them snaps and they then break moral and social conventions; Edward Nortons character breaks himself into two personalities and founds the underground Fight Club, James McAvoy joins The Fraternity and becomes an assassin and Michael Douglas goes on a psychotic rampage through Los Angeles. All of these wear a simple white shirt and plain tie, showing little to none of their own personality. They are also physicalized to look visibly crushed by society, looking gaunt and tired around the eyes. A thing to mention with all of these characters is that they seem to be an Everyman sort of character; they could be any man in any office. In making my character simplistic like this it helped the audience apply the characterization to aspects of themselves, and make them imagine a situation in which the events of the film could happen to them. Because of this the horror becomes more real. If it had been a more colourful and vibrant character it wouldn‟t have the same Horror effect.
THE FILM: LENGTH AND SLASHERS My biggest problem in production came that whilst most horrors will have a standard film length of around two hours to create a heightened level of tension, fear and atmosphere, in mine I had 5 minutes. To still create that effect I have tried to include a large amount of random and intense imagery. The occasional flashing up of the words “When Will It End?” highlight the protagonists struggle and frustration, with the villain never making large appearances, his only scenes being quick and sudden to highlight the fear and chaos his presence represents. The knowledge that Jokerface could pop out at any moment creates a heightened level of tension and fear needed for my film to appear scary. I have developed a few of the basic Slasher Horror conventions to suit my modern audience. When these were popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s the new effects made the horror scary, but in retrospect the horror portrayed seems excessive and cheesy. I am in the strong belief that the more blood and gore within the film the less the effect is, as it becomes unrealistic and silly. Whilst I wanted to reference the clichés and conventions of Slashers I decided to use a more psychological/thriller build up and not show the gore. This makes the film more jumpy and frightening but also matches my smaller budget.
THE FILM: SETTING I had to think carefully about the settings I would be using in my film, as picking the wrong setting would not have the dramatic impact I needed. Commonly in other Horror films, settings have included woods and forests, common settings in literature and film to represent mystery and fear, and Haunted houses and castles, the architecture itself being part of the building blocks that created Gothic Horror. Alternatively more modern horrors the settings have been standard and normal, like houses or streets, that have become haunted. Like having an Everyman character, these simplistic and ordinary settings help the audience associate more with the film and imagine the events happening where they live. They will thus take the fear home with them. This usage of every day yet quite sinister settings have been used to varying effects in Horror classics such as Scream, Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street. I decided I wanted to utilize this in my film and have the settings be ordinary places; an office, public bathroom and a living room. Before shooting I cleared these sets of anything that would give the protagonist a personality, such as pictures and ornaments. The only things seemingly in his life are work, drugs, alcohol and the tormenting from Jokerface. Through these bland and ordinary settings we too get little to no idea of who he really is and focus more on the horror unfolding. The big house setting is also a common setting in Horrors, as we see what would usually be a place of comfort is turned terrifying.
THE FILM: DUALITY “WE STOPPED CHECKING FOR MONSTERS UNDER OUR BED BECAUSE WE REALIZED THEY WERE INSIDE OF US?” Along with applying horror conventions to my work I also used the ideas of psychosis and insanity, common themes with Thrillers, to progress the films narrative. I took inspiration from films like Fight Club and novels like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in which the main antagonist or monster within the story is really part of the protagonist, that the part of themselves is the monster within. This is known as duality, or split personalities. I have tried to highlight this theme in my film, particularly in the brief scene in which my protagonist looks into the mirror after running out of pills and sees himself wearing the Jokerface mask in the mirror. This brings into question whether or not the villain really exists and is it not his own illusions and paranoia. In making my audience question this I add more layers to my story and the dynamic that in all normal respectable people can lie a monster.
THE FILM: MUSIC “THOSE WERE THE DAYS MY FRIEND” For the score to my film I wanted to create an interesting juxtaposition between the sinister, tense and fearful action on screen and some otherwise cheerful music. This has been used for years by the famed director Quentin Tarantino, notably in the famous ear cutting scene in cult classic Reservoir Dogs to Stuck in the Middle With You by Stealers Wheel. This usage of a gentle folk pop music over the pessimistic and cruel imagery makes the scene memorable, and also gives new connotations to this piece of music. Now if people who have seen the film listen to the song they are reminded of the film, which helps its popularity endure in an unconventional manner. Whilst I have included clichéd incidental horror sounds in amongst moments of tension in my film I decided early on in production that the most prominent use of music should be a juxtaposition, to create an odd contrast between the horror unfolding onscreen and the song. I chose the song Those Were The Days by Mary Hopkin to create this effect; its simplistic yet atmospheric Russian Folk rift and the reflective lyrics match up to the action happening in the film in an unusual way, and the screams over the song create a whole new dynamic to the song not previously seen. I hope one of the most memorable things about my film is its unusual usage of music.
THE FILM: INTERTEXTUALITY One of the things I thought vital to add into my film is intertextuality to other classic Horror films from which I derived inspiration. In essence this is an aspect of the film that I highlight at all moments with its clichéd storyline, masked villain and tragic protagonist. These are staples set out by these classic Horror films and I wanted to make sure I expressed this as much as possible. This postmodernism used in my film I reference as much as possible to engage it with the genre. One scene has my protagonist watching a murder scene from Horror classic Friday the 13th. This shows the links between the real and the fiction; this happens to someone watching a horror film so my audience could potentially think this could happen to them, making the horror more realistic. This scene is also there to give a little Easter egg to fans of this film and to link it closely to the Slasher genre.
THE FILM: INSTITUTIONS Like all films, my short has a production company logo or indent at the start, to show who has funded and helped make it. Eventually these images become well known in popular culture for their work. Some of the most famous production companies include 20th Century Fox, Universal, Disney and Warner Bros. I decided instead of using an existing production company indent that I would create my own. I drew the image freehand, scanned it onto Photoshop and edited it there, using the burn tool to add shading. I then animated the segment as the letters come onto the plaque to add a little motion that other professional indents have. Whilst this wasn‟t vital for the films plot, it did give the film a professional and unique aesthetic. At the end I also include a short credit roll, highlighting my cast and who did what during production. This appears in all films and acts a conclusion to the story.
FILM POSTER For my film poster I have utilized the conventional monochrome and red colour scheme common in mediums with Horror Elements, and used it to make my product appear mysterious and scary. When I was first editing my poster I had a really clear background, and one of the comments from my audience feedback was that the image appeared “too clean”. To change this I decided to add a mist effect to my poster. Fog is a conventional setting in Horror texts, a symbol of mystery and things being hidden. I decided against having the murderer big and bold on the poster as I wanted to highlight the theme of mystery that adds to the fear in the image. Instead I opted for a more wide focus on the normal setting around him. Conventions I have applied to my poster include the image being set at night, again adding to the mysterious aspect of my film. I have made everything black and white except the mask, which sticks out on the poster. One of the things noticeable in most slasher Horror films is that the murderer becomes the films brand image. If you have a highly recognizable villain, like Freddy or Jason, then the audience will connect with the film more and understand what the basic plot will be. I have a high contrast between the dark and light areas on the image, with the old fashioned lamplight illuminating the otherwise mist- cloaked image. I also included generic elements from Film Posters, notably the tagline, the release date, the social networking links to attract a teen audience, and the film festival awards. This makes the poster look professional and realistic.
FILM TITLE I came up with the name of my film early on in production, when I had an image in my head of an over worked and gaunt office worker typing four simple words onto his computer; When Will It End?, which eventually causes his downfall and targeting by the murderer. I was a bit concerned whether this would be too long for a Horror title, which are often short and snappy to remain memorable. But when researching into other films I noticed that a lot did have a longer title; Nightmare on Elm Street, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Blair Witch Project, Night of the Living Dead etc. so I decided to keep the name. For the typography of the films title I had to choose carefully, as picking the wrong font could make my poster look amateur and messy, and also ruin the horror effect that I‟ve tried to create through the image. I used a stock Horror Font and changed the colour to red to match the blood and gore that is connoted in Horror films, and made it the largest piece of information on the poster.
MAGAZINE REVIEW I have, from using several magazine reviews as a basis and style model, created a review for my film that would appear in a film specialist magazine. As my film is a short 5 minute long feature, it wouldnt appear in the mainstream features of the magazine, so I have placed my review later on in the magazine in a part of my fictional magazine called "Niche corner", fitting in with the personalized conventions of the particular magazine. Most magazines have certain features that are continued with each issue, as part of their house style. Conventionally magazine reviews have a main image that breaks the page up from looking bland and generic and gives an idea of what the film will look and feel like. I decided against using the monochrome colour scheme from my poster as it wont look interesting in a magazine, but decided on using this more abstract and unusual image. It is an image of my main villain, Jokerface, that has been altered on Photoshop using the smudge tool. This both shows the main villain of my piece and also with the abstract and contorted aesthetics shows the psychological aspect of the film. I have included the relevant information for the film, including the name, critical rating, trivia and overall verdict/summary. Sticking to the conventions of Magazine reviews I have also included magazine specific information, like the page number, Magazine title (Screen- bottom left corner) and feature name (top right corner). All the major titles in the font are red, which links it closely to the horror genre.