Saturday, 4 April 2015

Friday, 3 April 2015

Evaluation - Question 1

1. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

Generally, my media product to the forms and conventions found in thriller film openings. To create feelings of anticipation, suspense and anxiety that are generated by the thriller genre, I have understood, developed and adapted these forms in my product. As the opening is of the psychological-mystery thriller genre, I have drawn inspiration from Hitchcock's techniques - particularly those used in Psycho [1960], where I adopted the method of employing extreme close-ups and a variety of angles.

I have replicated the convention of there being a protagonist and an antagonist in thriller films. The idea of the protagonist, a normal female young adult, hearing a murder take place, witnessing the antagonist and the audience not knowing what will happen next/what is the antagonist's identity conforms to mystery thriller narratives. However, I have challenged conventions by having both the protagonist and antagonist be female - something that is not usually seen in the thriller genre often. Also, to combine both the psychological and mystery sub-genres, I have made it seem that the protagonist may not be mentally stable (through the effects and the mise-en-scène). This suggests that the protagonist may actually be an obstacle to herself, which heightens the suspense of the narrative. It, also, gives vulnerability and a weakness to the character - a quality which is very much seen in thrillers.

Drawing inspiration from Hitchcock's Psycho has influenced the editing and composition of shots in my opening. In the shower scene of Psycho, Hitchcock used a variety of angles with close-up shots and extreme close-ups shots in order for the action on screen to translate into the minds of the audience. I have replicated this in the most dramatic sections of the opening (the overhearing of the murder and the sight of the antagonist) to push the audience to
empathise with the protagonist's situations, which intensifies those feelings of terror and disorientation for the audience. Additionally, to enhance those feelings I added special effects to the murder section. By adding an echo to those shots, I have visually captured the state of disorientation that the protagonist is feeling as she overhears the murder next door. Also, I experimented with the lighting. As the opening was filmed during the afternoon, I made
use of the shadows casted into the room (the layout of the room with a large front window helped this). The use of shadows is another convention thriller films often use to capture a sense of enigma. Furthermore, psychological thrillers (like many of Hitchcock's) begin quite slowly to help build up suspense and anticipation for the viewer. I chose to adhere to this by using long takes at the beginning (with the first 40 seconds of my opening having only one cut) to establish it in the thriller genre. Also, the slow-paced beginning enhances the feeling of anticipation as the viewer is naturally waiting for something to happen. This feeling is replicated in the final cut to black where the antagonist is about to turn so the viewer can see her identity - this creates intrigue and enigma, making the viewer want to watch the rest of the narrative unfold.

The setting of the opening is a normal suburban household, as I wanted to capture a realistic world that the audience is easily familiar with. The first shot establishes this and the protagonist in relation to the setting - that she lives there by herself, which adds a vulnerability to her character already. Furthermore, the filming of the antagonist outside the neighbour's house confirms the normality of the location, as well as allowing the audience to make links to
the antagonist and to the murder that occurred next door. The location, also, allowed me to experiment with the lighting. As the opening was filmed during the afternoon, I made use of the shadows casted into theroom (the layout of the room with a large front window helped this). The use of shadows is another convention thriller films often use to capture a sense of enigma.

Through the mise-en-scène, I have managed to show the character's personality, as well as allude to possible themes that the rest of the film might tackle. In regards to the props, I have put emphasis on two particular pieces (the glass filled with alcohol and The Great Gatsby novel) in order for the audience to construct the following narrative for themselves. The Great Gatsby is known for its unreliable narrator and his distortion of perception. For the viewers who know this, it suggests that the perception of the protagonist may not be stable. The question of her mental stability is, also, brought about by the make-up - where the protagonist's make-up is smeared suggesting she is tired and not of a clear mind. The emphasis on the alcohol in the opening enhances the idea that her perception may be distorted (like that of the narrator's in The Great
Gatsby), as she hears the 'murder' through a wall, rather than viewing it first-hand. Furthermore, the shot where we see the alcohol dripping down the wall at the same time we hear the neighbour screaming, mirrors the image of blood being spilt. This allows the audience to believe that the victim has been murdered. However, the drip on the wall is not seen at all after that, suggesting that perhaps the protagonist is making this up in her head in a state of paranoia. This confusion of what is real and what isn't replicates the atmosphere of suspense and tension created by the thriller genre. Less significant props, such as the books and pens in the background help the audience to gather ideas about the protagonist's character, confirming what we already see - which is she is quite well-read and intellectual.

One important feature that enhances the visuals is the audio. It was interesting to experiment with foley sound for the murder section, and I found that, especially with action occurring off screen, distinguishable impacts in the sound help to replicate real life physical violence. I thought creating the foley sound from scratch helped to make the murder more realistic for the audience. For the soundtrack, I adhered to the conventions of the non-diegetic sound being quite simplistic typically used in mystery and psychological thrillers. The simplistic soundtrack and lack of dialogue helps to prevent detracting the foley sound, which is an important focus as it gives vital information for the audience. Using only a synthesiser, I was able to create a simple, yet quite foreboding sound, that further established the genre and helped to enhance the tension and the drama in the scene. However, I feel that using a synthesiser adds a modern twist to the soundtracks - challenging the typical use of orchestral sounds in thrillers (mainly strings) that is employed, for example, in Psycho.

Finally, the title credits play a vital part in a film opening. If done incorrectly, credits can take the viewer away from the world of the film and can diminish the thriller's atmosphere. The sequence of the credits in my opening follow the normal form used in most films.I chose to have quite a simple yet dark title credits to reflect an eerie, ominous atmosphere. Also, the effects on the text mimic the idea of distorted perception. The title credit, also, evokes an eerie atmosphere with the dark background and grey spotlight. The red drips mirror the alcohol dripping on the wall later on, and further establish the mystery thriller genre for the audience. I have chosen the Wall of Silence as the title of my thriller opening. The phrase is ironic to what actually happens in the opening (where the focal point is the sound of an intense struggle occurring next door), which teases the audience. Also, the phrase 'a wall of silence' is associated with the lack of witnesses in a police investigation - I thought this would be appropriate as there is only one person around at the time of the murder, and she does not even witness it occurring (only hears it). There has been a TV movie and a film (released for Argentinian audiences) with this title, so I don't think using this title would be a problem if the film was released.

Overall, my thriller opening adheres to most conventions and forms of the thriller genre, allowing it to evoke the same atmosphere and mood as other psychological and mystery thrillers in order for the intended emotions to be brought out for the audience.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Evaluation - Question 2

  2. How does your media product represent particular social groups?

My thriller opening shows four different groups: female, mixed race, white and young adults. I hoped to challenge some stereotypical representations of these groups, but not too extremely as the audience is familiar with certain representations.

All characters (the protagonist, antagonist and the victim) in my opening are female, which is not typical of the thriller genre. Usually, there will be a male antagonist, a male protagonist and a female victim - which is said for most films in general. However, I wanted to challenge this convention to have some originality in this genre. My opening represents females as intellectual, able and quite powerful, instead of submissive and easily discarded characters shown in most thrillers. Yet, I have kept the victim to be female as well, as the audience will expect there to be conflict between two females, rather than between a female and a male victim. Furthermore, the protagonist shows vulnerability with her flaws (of drinking and unreliable perception) - I chose to do this, not only to propel the narrative, but to create realistic characters in a normal world that the audience can easily emphasise with. This is, also, enhanced by the normal setting of a surburban house and the everyday, normal costume of jeans and a jumper for the protagonist.

For my thriller, I felt it was very important to include a variety of ethnicities to, again, create a realistic world. The protagonist is mixed race, which is an ethnic group that is rarely seen in film. Although mixed race is hard to distinguish on screen, I felt it was important to challenge the usual ethnic representations of there being mainly white or black characters. I feel by challenging this convention, I have made it more representative of the real world. I have adhered to the representation of white characters in film - it is typical of most films of the antagonist to be white, so the audience is quite familiar with seeing this in film.

And finally, the representations of age in the opening. Both characters are young adults - ranging from early to late twenties. In most films, the antagonist and protagonist tend to be this age as they tend to have more power than the other age groups, so I thought it would be appropriate to adhere to this convention. I have, also, represented some of the stereotypes surrounding this age group - such as the, almost, heavy drinking of the protagonist mirroring the representation of young adults being linked with alcohol in the media. However, I have challenged the stereotype of this age group being quite reckless. As the protagonist is shown reading, and the scene including more books and notes in the background, it creates a representation of them being very intellectual and quite well-read. Furthermore, the calmness of the setting, emphasised by the little action and long takes at the beginning of the opening, challenge the idea of recklessness linked to this age group.

In conclusion, my thriller opening represents its social groups in challenging ways as to be representative of modern society, as well as adhering to representations that are familiar to the audience and to the genre.

Evaluation - Question 3

3. What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?

Here is a script, in case it is not very clear to hear...
Production companies provide films funds for production through either earnings or investors (which can be studio or private). The budget a production company provides, depends on whether they may be major conglomerate or an independent company. Usually, conglomerate production companies work with well-known, talented filmmakers that are sure to create films that will garner huge audiences and profits. For my film, I feel that it would gain its funding from third parties as it, being a mystery-psychological thriller, doesn't need a big budget production that, for example, an action or adventure film would have. A suitable production company for my thriller would be Hammer Film Productions, which is based in London and founded in 1934. It is known for producing successful thrillers, film noirs and horrors - with it even having its own series of Gothic 'Hammer Horror' films made between the 1950-70s. Its most successful low-budget mystery-psychological thrillers were Paranoic [1963], Crescendo [1970], Fear in the Night [1972] and many more. More of the big budget feature films include Let Me In [2010], The Resident [2011] and The Woman in Black [2012]. I felt that this production company would be quite appropriate for producing a film of my genre and low budget.

Also, distribution is a very important process after film production, as it makes the film available for viewing across many regions and platforms. This stage is vital in the film's success, as it generates an audience and a profit through it. A distributor, generally an organisation, handles the theatrical release of a film - the film's distribution companies can vary if the film is being distributed across many countries. Distribution companies can, also, take over the exhibition of the film - where they handle the promoting, marketing and release for home-viewing (for example, DVDs, Blu-ray etc). Working with the production company Hammer Film Productions, will be helpful with my film being distributed by Warner Bros (an established major conglomerate studio) due to their distribution partnerships.  In 2013, the company grossed an industry-leading $5.083 billion in the box office and took the top position in the domestic, international and worldwide box office.They have distributed successful thrillers such as, Hitchcock's Warner Bros.North by Northwest [1959], Se7en [1995] and V for Vendetta [2006] - with Se7en being distributed by Newline Cinema, a subsidary of Warner Bros. Having Warner Bros. as a distribution company will allow for worldwide distribution, which will be very beneficial to financial success.

Due to digital media becoming a popular form for modern society, I would promote the movie via social media - as well as promoting it through TV and radio advertisements.Being a free publicity method, I feel social media, such as Twitter, Facebook  and YouTube, would be perfect to attract more attention to the film than older forms of media would, such as posters . Perhaps, creating teaser trailers on Youtube, trending hashtags on Twitter and a Facebook page for 'sneak-peak' content will be beneficial as it will create a hype, as well as allowing the audience to get involved before the cinematic release.  Furthermore, I would have a staggered release for my film. An example of this occuring is via Se7en, which was released across 34 countries over the period over a year from Canada in September 1995 to Estonia in December 1996. Although I would not go extremely that far of releasing the film over a year, I believe that a staggered release would further the hype surrounding the film as countries wait for the film to be released. Also, by doing this, it will allow countries to give their opinion on the film before other countries have seen it which will, hopefully, influence soon-to-be audiences positively. For home-viewing release, I would distribute across a variety of platforms in order to reach a wider audience. Along with standard mediums such as DVD and Blu-ray, I feel that my film would benefit from on-demand providers like Netflix, BlinkBox, LoveFilm and Amazon Instant - this platform is on the rise as many would rather watch a film in the comfort of their own home than facing the rising prices of cinema tickets.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Evaluation - Question 4

4. Who would be the audience for your media product?

Example Target Audience Member
Name: Lucy Shaw
Age: 22
Info: Studying at University. She enjoys reading mystery novels, watching films and socialising with her friends. Her favourite films are Salt [2010], Shutter Island [2010] and Gone Girl [2014] and her favourite TV shows are Lost, Pretty Little Liars and Stalker.
Why would they watch my film?: I believe that, as she likes mystery and psychological films and TV shows, she would very much like my thriller as it is combines both genres. The shows and films she watches tend to have many hidden clues and meanings, that allow the audience to anticipate the narrative. I feel that my film would do the same - the opening already establishes a sense of enigma and includes small details that some viewers may use to guess what happens next. Also, as she enjoys socialising with her friends, I believe thriller films are good conversation starters - as viewers interpret the clues and narrative differently, allowing them to conversate with each other to fill in parts they may have missed out when watching the film.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015