Our Film Opening

Thursday, 30 March 2017

This blog is now closed

I have now completed my AS Media coursework and with that comes the closing of this blog. No further posts will be made. Please feel free to look around my blog and I hope you enjoy reading it!

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Evaluation Post 1: In what way does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

Our film is called 'Disturbances' and is of the horror, thriller genre. We tried to conform to these genre conventions as best as we could though we slightly challenged some aspects of the genre.

Our Film Plot:
Our film opening uses, develops and challenges forms and conventions of real media products through the genre, narrative, character roles and editing techniques. We used various real life films as reference such as 'The Blair Witch Project', 'Quarantine' and 'Contagion'.

Our film entails a story of a group of teenagers investigating the mysterious disappearances occurring in a local forest in a North London suburb, and how as the film progresses the group gets smaller and smaller until one girl survives thus also enforcing the 'final girl' theme.

Our opening sequence definitely followed the typical format that similar opening sequences conformed to, and this was done well as having talked to peers and members of our target audience they felt our characters were well portrayed and they all wanted to see more.

Our two main inspirations for titles were The Shining and Se7en - both films of a similar genre. Sinister influenced our title order, The Shining gave us the idea of super-imposing the titles over the shot in order to build up a suspenseful atmosphere and Se7en inspired our contrast of white titles against a dark shot. 

Comparison of title order

Comparison of super-imposed titles

Comparison of the title contrast

We included dialogue but only from the middle of our sequence onwards, this was so we could effectively build up tension and a sense of mystery from the very start. We never had more than one character in a single shot so shot/reverse/shot was not a viable option, however we did this to show the danger in each shot and this was done to good effect. The main dialogue was our news reporter introducing the crime in the forest, an idea that was inspired from a similar style news broadcast in Quarantine and similar setting in The Blair Witch.

Genre Conventions for Horror/Thriller Films:

The following is a prezi which not only details the genre conventions for horror/thriller films but also shows where and how we followed and challenged these conventions.

Narrative Structure:

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We styled our film opening with genre conventions in mind as we wanted the final product to be as connoting of our intended genre as possible.

1) Grading
Grading in Disturbances (our film opening)

Grading in Se7en ( reference film)

Our grading is similar to that of Se7en. It is very low-lit with high contrast and low saturation to connote a dark, mysterious atmosphere as is conventional of our genre.

2) Sound
We took inspiration for our soundtrack from The Shining which uses a similar, spooky, classical soundtrack, and edited it so that it would build up in volume and tempo at points of action or at key moments in the film opening such as when the camera falls and breaks or when the antagonist says "it's done".

The Shining inspired our film soundtrack

We took inspiration for our dialogue in the news report from Quarantine as it also featured a news report and was of a similar genre.

The Quarantine inspired the dialogue for our news reporter

In conclusion, our film opening follows many conventions of the genre and challenges very few. This is good as the audience will easily identify it as a horror/thriller and therefore engage much more effectively with our film. With all this in mind it is safe to conclude our film opening is very similar to real media film products.

Evaluation Post 2: How does your media product represent particular social groups?

The film opening itself has a strong focus on the representation of young men within the age group of 16-24. This is because the film opening is largely focused on our antagonist who is of this gender and age group. We chose to represent this particular social group as powerful and in control as not only is it convention, we also felt it would empower men and therefore increase male appeal - particularly amongst the 16-24 age group. We created these representations through costume, acting and camera.

A large reason why we chose this social group to primarily represent in our film opening is due to convention. From my research it was clear that males are very strongly represented in the film industry, and therefore it would be conventional to have a male lead thus allowing audiences to identify with and engage with our film more easily.

The strong male representation in the film industry
There were 3 main ways by which we represented our character as powerful and in control:

1) Costume:
As you can see in this picture our antagonist is simply wearing a hoodie and tracksuit bottoms. First of all, this makes him instantly identifiable to the audience as being a part of the 16-24 age bracket as this type of clothing is very common amongst this age group. In this way our character becomes more relatable which increases appeal and better engages the audience.

We made sure that our antagonist took his hood off. This makes him seem more comfortable within this situation, and that way he appears more confident of his own safety as he's not trying to hide himself. This shows him to be in control of the situation as clearly there is no immediate risk to him.

Building on the previous point, the fact that he's wearing tracksuit bottoms and a hoodie shows how comfortable he is, as these clothes are associated with lazing around, and therefore once again shows him to be in control.

2) Acting:

Throughout our film opening our antagonist doesn't seem to walk with much urgency, rather he walks at quite a normal, comfortable pace. This shows there is no danger to him currently as he is in control of the situation.

Additionally, when the antagonist is sitting, he sits in a comfortable and laid-back manner. Normally, in such a tense situation you would expect him to be on the edge of his seat, and so this shows his power and how he's in control.

3) Camera:
Throughout the film opening the camera seemingly follows our antagonist. Through the continuity editing we have also placed the audience in the action in the beginning. Therefore, it creates the illusion that the audience are following the antagonist through the house, this means the antagonist sees and knows everything before the audience thus putting him in a position of power.


Both Sherlock and our film opening share similar antagonists. Moriarty in Sherlock is often seen to be in power and in control of the situation.

Moriarty from Sherlock
As you can see in this shot, despite being held at gunpoint by Sherlock, Moriarty stays calm instead of panicking as you would expect. In this situation, you would expect the power dynamic to be in Sherlock's favour, yet from Moriarty's mood and expression it almost seems as if he still has the power and is in control. This is the behaviour of a well constructed antagonist and so we were inspired by it when making our character choices.

Additionally, we used the news team as a means of representing the 20-30 age group as working, young professionals. This is obvious as they play arguably the biggest roles in a news team which is news anchor and news reporter and so this would require a very high level of professionalism. We also had the roles played by both gender and used two people of different ethnicities as we felt this accurately reflected the social make-up of London and so it was the sort of diversity the audience would have expected.

As you can see our characters are clearly portrayed as young professionals and display ethnic diversity.

This news reporter from Quarantine was a big influence for having a female news reporter.

Evaluation Post 3: What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?

Our production company was a London based company called Hammer Productions, an institution known for producing dark films - particularly horror/thrillers similar to our film.

Our distribution company was a global, horizontally and vertically integrated institution - Warner Bros. They are known for thrillers e.g. Inception, The Dark Knight, The Shining and therefore our film would be ideal for them to buy the rights to and distribute as it is the same genre and therefore targets an audience which is already targeted by Warner Bros. A big advantage of working with such a big institution is that they have global reach and appeal and therefore will allow our film to be seen by as large an audience as possible thus maximising commercial success.

This is an extract from the official Warner Bros website showing their global status and integrated nature.
Having looked at similar indie films and other films distributed by Warner Bros we have decided to incorporate both traditional methods and social media into our marketing campaign to effectively reach and appeal to our target audience. We also took inspiration from other films distributed by Warner Bros when designing our release plan.

Evaluation Post 4: Who would be the audience for your media product?

There are a number of audiences for our film. The primary audience is all horror or thriller fans - regardless of gender. Below is an emaze detailing our various audiences:

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Evaluation Post 5: How did you attract/address your audience?

We addressed and attracted our audience by considering the uses and gratifications theory and meeting the audience's needs, and also through conforming to genre conventions with appropriate themes and characters. Please find below a mind map explaining this in more detail.

Please click present mode in the top right of the mind map for easier navigation.

Audience Feedback

In total I interviewed 8 people - 4 boys, 4 girls - in order to get feedback on our film opening and judge how successful we were off of that. Below are two interviews that I recorded so as to show you the interview process.

The individuals in these videos were all 16 or 17, and therefore represented one end of our target audience age group of 16-24 year olds. On top of this I also interviewed 2 males and 2 females who were all 21-23 years old so as to collect feedback from the other end of the spectrum. As you can see below, I have collated all the feedback we received into one document.

In conclusion, it seems we were very successful as the majority of the target audience sample said they would watch the entire film, therefore we have clearly met their needs. People particularly enjoyed the suspenseful atmosphere created by the music, the cliff-hanger and the low-key lighting and for the most part were able to directly link this to the horror/thriller genre. This is likely to be because we conformed to genre conventions so the audience could easily identify the genre, thus reinforcing the importance of us following genre conventions and also gratifying the audience's needs for escapism and entertainment as they can easily immerse themselves. Additionally, the consensus seemed to be that people had a lot of questions about what they watched that they wanted to ask, this gratifies their need for social interaction as they will likely discuss this with their friends.

There were some issues that some people highlighted such as unconvincing acting, however it was always a minority and it never seemed to drastically affect their enjoyment. Despite this, I do agree that particular actors were unconvincing and perhaps in the future we would be more thorough and selective with our casting choices. Thankfully, it seemed that those in our target audience sample who raised this point still felt that their need for entertainment had been gratified and therefore we were clearly successful in addressing and attracting the audience.

From a personal point of view, although no one raised this I felt in hindsight that 'Jean Smith' was not an appropriate or classic name for a young, British Muslim. This could potentially limit the appeal to the Muslim demographic as they may find it harder to identify with this character and so 'Jean Smith' may not gratify their needs for identifying with characters. In hindsight, I would do more research into potential character names and choose one more fitting of a young, British Muslim woman.

Evaluation Post 6: What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?

Throughout this project, I have not only developed my already existing knowledge of technologies I've previously used but I've also learnt about new technologies and through practice become confident with these too. In order to explore my learning curve with regards to technology, I have created a prezi which can be seen below: