Recorded evaluation

Above is the filmed version of my evaluation that I created in a previous blog explaining different aspects of my film and the process of researching and creating it. I believe this is important because it will help me consider how I might improve for my future projects and reflect on what I have learnt. Hopefully this will make me a better media student and increase my chances of doing better in the future. I believe I have learnt a great number of things of the course of this project and this has enabled me to also consider wider society and social norms. For instance in this project I was able to explore how was understand gender and sexuality.

Evaluation

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

My media text challenges conventions of existing media texts by using conventions of Romantic films in my Drama film. The very beginning of my film opening feels like a typical Romance film, the upbeat techno music I used, the types of shots I used of her walking, the use of the sunrise and even the bright golden tint I added to some of the frames all helped to build a tone that made the audience expect a Romantic plot line, as I had used typical conventions of a Romantic film. This means that when the audience noticed that my film was focusing on a couple who clearly had problems, and then later that one partner was being arrested, this all worked to subvert the audiences expectations and the conventions of my chosen genre. As well as this I feel that making a gay couple the main plot line of my film opening subverts most media pieces, as many films that include romantic story lines focus on a typical hetrosexual relationship. Some films do focus on gay relationships, however many Romance/Drama films are solely hetrosexual; Titanic, Pretty Woman, 500 Days of Summer are just three examples of films over the decades that solely focus on a male/female relationship.

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My film also uses typical conventions of the Drama genre of using a romantic plot line to further the interest in the plot and to make the characters more appealing and likeable to the audience. Drama films such as Titanic are an obvious example of this as the plot revolves around the relationship of the lovers, but even less obvious Drama’s such as Fight Club make use of a romantic story line. My film is no different in this sense, using the romantic relationship from the onset to further the plot and to make my characters more appealing and relatable to the audience.

I created a sense of insecurity in the audience within the romantic plot line of the piece, subverting the romance genre even more as most romance films want to make their audience feel comfortable with the film and even make them envy the perfect characters on screen. I didn’t want this. In my portrayal of my characters I wanted them to seem flawed, with Jess appearing very arrogant at times and Callie, even though she is who the audience is meant to sympathise with, seem very anti-social at times, for example when she picks up her phone in the television scene. I wanted my characters to be real and real people do have character flaws, I felt this was more important than conforming to the traditional Romance film, where one or both parties is considered completely innocent. This makes the audience uncomfortable as they want to side completely with Callie, however they can’t as she seems so obnoxious.

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•How does your media product represent people in terms of their demographics and stereotypes associated with social groups?

My media text portrays many different demographics and ‘types’ of people in what I hope is a positive light. I included many different demographics, married couples, the LGBT community, women, British people… Much of this is linked together in terms of the codes that I am encoding and what the audience is decoding throughout my film opening. I portray LGBT couples, especially lesbian couples in a way that is close to real life, as all couples will fight and have marital issues. However some may argue that I have represented LGBT couples negatively as they are shown to be unhappy in my film opening, as well as this, it is shown in my film trailer that homosexuality is forced onto people, carrying connotations that being gay is a choice if an entire country can ‘choose’ to be gay to obey the law. It is important to note that just because some aspects of the film do not portray characters of certain demographics in a positive light, does not mean that the film represents the corresponding social groups and demographics in the real world negatively. My film also represents married couples in a negative light as it shows that the married couple are having fights and arguments while the single male seems rather happy. The women in the piece are portrayed as being very different from one another, Jess is very emotional and capricious where as Callie is shown to be mainly unemotional and unaffected by her surroundings, only when she is being arrested does she respond emotionally, exclaiming “this is a mistake!”.

The representation of married couples shows them in a light that is real, focusing on the positives and negatives of married life. The couple do seem unhappy throughout, with the revelation that Callie is being adulterous completely surprising the audience, and her wife who although she is flawed, the audience sympathises with her in this moment in time. The relationship doesn’t seem to be a good fit as the audience watch them avoid one another thought the film opening, as they sit on opposite sides of the couch and move their hands as they touch all gives the impression that married life is not a great one. However their relationship is obviously a very caring one, as I depicted through the character of Jess, who fights to defend her wife, demanding that she be deemed innocent. After Callie is arrested Jess is clearly distraught at the thought of her wife going to jail, even though the couple aren’t happy they still show strong indicators of friendship through these small acts of love and care, portraying marriage as a positive relationship, even a very close friendship, even when the romantic aspect has broken down.

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

I believe that my media piece would be more appropriate for an independent film company, for example Film4, who mainly produce British low budget films making sure they have a “message”. My film is a low budget British film and has a message about the misuse and the following of the media. For this reason I think a company like Film4 would like to produce my film in full should I have asked them to. As well as this Film4 states that they produce media that is designed to represent many social groups and walks of life. I also believe a company like these would distribute my film due to the fact it is something different, new and truly unique. It is unique because of the romantic elements within it, this creates a bond between the audience and the characters within the text. This would mean that when watching the film my audience will want to watch it knowing from the start there are romantic and dramatic elements to it.

Film 4 says on its website “We look for range across our subject matter and budgets, though we prioritise stories with contemporary relevance, based around British-led talent or content.” This fits my film completely. Although my film is very obviously low budget, the story in my opinion hold strong contemporary relevance and is based upon British talent and content. I believe my film to to hold contemporary relevance as the subject matters at hand are ones we are facing today with attitudes toward LGBT individuals changing slowly and with the media being funded largely to fit certain ideals we are living in a society that has the same issues that I have focused on within my highly dramatised piece. Channel 4 also writes on their website that they are aiming to produce more diverse content that truly represents the British population and are looking to create all their scripted programmes with “at least one of the lead characters is either from an ethnic minority background or has a disability or is LGBT, or at least 50% of the lead characters are female.” The two most central characters in my piece are LGBT, my piece focusing upon a lesbian couple, as well as this the majority of the characters shown within my film, lead or supporting roles were women, suggesting that my film would fit Film4s diversity targets.

•Who would be the audience for your media product?

My media product was self rated a 15 due to mature elements of the film, for example the themes of government totalitarianism throughout which may be distressing to younger viewers, however there are many different audiences my film may be suitable for. For example LGBT groups may take interest in my film as a lesbian couple are represented in my movie, which is uncommon in films to be based upon a lesbian or gay couple in this way, furthermore my film will be of interest to people who are not LGBT themselves but are activists for the rights of LGBT people in places where these rights are not extended towards LBGT people, such as republic of Ireland where gay marriage is still being voted for today.In terms of age, I feel that my film would be suitable for those aged 15 due to the mature themes such as sexuality and dictatorship, younger people, especially children, may be frightened of suggestions that England may become a dictatorship and will be controlled by mass media. Linked to this is the idea of location, my film is a British film and will therefore attract a mainly British audience, with my audience being from the UK and Ireland mostly. In places such as England where gay rights are less controversial I’m hoping to gain a large audience but in more religious places such as Republic of Ireland where gay rights are more of a social issue I will likely attract less of an audience as some of the issues presented in my film are considered to be controversial. I may also attract a high need for cognition audience, due to the nature of my film discussing issues such as government control and media use, these are issues that will require my audience to use their central route of communication while watching my film, and therefore I may attract a more academic or more socially active audience, as people who have a high need for cognition are more likely to be these kinds of people.

•How did you attract/address your audience?

I pulled my audience straight into my piece by opening my film as if it were a romance movie, this was very important as it subverted my audiences expectations of the film, however it did not give to much away to the audience. The audience at this point in time will have questions they need to get answered, such as if the two women are a couple, or why Callie, my main character, seemed so distant and apathetic. By making my audience ponder so soon within the film, means the audience is more likely to watch the rest of the film in order for their questions to be answered. Due to the sudden change in mood and plot at the very beginning of the film I have built up within the opening an idea of character and plot, without giving too much away. The audience instantly begins to learn about the characters and there day to day lives through seeing Callie coming home from work and understanding that Jess was the stay at home wife, that they are a couple with marital issues ect. Because of this the audience is interested to find out what is happening with all the characters in the scene, Callie, Jess and Joe, they will obviously want to continue watching.

My film opening attracts an LGBT audience as LGBT individuals are looking for accurate and non stereotypical representation in film. I feel that this is how I attracted this kind of audience, as non LGBT people are represented often, and in a variety of different ways, gay people want the same recognition within media. The film opening is also a powerful address to female audiences, as at its heart the film is about women overcoming their break up. Many chick-flicks and Romantic movies geared toward women have this kind of set up, such as Bridget Jones’s Diary, which follows the struggle of newly single Bridget Jones in getting back onto her feet after she has broken up with her partner. To look at my film from a romantic standpoint ‘The Green Ribbon’ is very similar in context.

•What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?

I had never previously used the camera equipment (tripod and camera) before my AS media studies, and although I learnt some basics from my preliminary task, most of the process of editing and filming was foreign to me. Before this project I had never used a Mac before, so I had to learn about the icons and dashboard quickly before I could properly edit. This didn’t take long as I found out that there was a few things that were similar to the computer that I use at home. I got used to the software by doing things like blog work on the Mac’s this allowed me to learn computer shortcuts such as how to print screen and things like this. When it came to editing I read all of the how to guides on the internet, this then made me comfortable to begin to attempt using Final Cut Express. When on the programme I noticed how self explanatory most of it was, for instance the razor blade tool was used to cut the size of clips. I learnt how to import, export and log and transfer clips. This was in order to create the piece and later upload to YouTube. To cut I used the razor blade tool this helped me as in enabled me to cut and move any clip I wanted to. This was most helpful to me as I could take out some dialogue that I later found out was unnecessary. I also learnt how to crop the size of the image, to get rid of some head space that I could not get rid of when filming due to the shape and size of the room. I used wire frame to zoom in to the desired spot then cropped the image so it was the same as all of the other shots within the piece. The main challenge I faced was adding text into my piece, this was where I had to ask for help. This was my second attempt at my AS piece, which I have left on my blog to show the difference that I have made in terms of my camera and editing skills, as well as my use of things such as lighting that I never took into account before. I decided to try again with this project because I felt that I had learnt along the way with my initial AS piece and decided to try again.

•Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?

From the preliminary task I learnt how to coordinate myself when using a camera and tripod, I learnt how to set up and the camera equipment first of all, learning how to get a steady shot with the tripod and how to set the camera and tripod up. As well as this I learnt how to take simple shots, close ups and tracking shots for example. During my first attempt at my AS I learnt more abstract things, for example how to make simple shots appear more interesting, for example filming a long shot from behind a door to make the shot appear more interesting. In my current AS piece I gained more skills in terms of camera use, for example learning how to use the rule of thirds and apply it to my shots in order to make them more aesthetically appealing. As well as this my skills with using technology improved greatly. During my preliminary the editing was as simple as piecing my shots together in chronological order, when editing my final piece I had to use final cut in a more complex way; using the razor tool to cut out clips at the exact second they needed to be cut, editing lighting in post production and adding my own text, all of these were things I had to learn and use for my AS piece.

audience feedback

During my audience feedback (that I described during a previous post) I had my target audience watch a ‘premier’ of my film opening. Next I had my audience write on a piece of paper 1) their initial thoughts after watching the opening, and 2) how they would constructively criticize it. This means that I had a better idea of what my audience likes and wants from my film and how I can better tailor it to them. Below are images taken of the audience feedback I collected. I collected the data by having my audience write it down and afterwards I took pictures to put onto my blog.

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This one says “audio dialogue needs to be lower, it is drowned out by the music”. This is an area I can improve in as the audience member found that the dialogue was not loud enough and the music too loud, making it difficult to listen. I can fix this by going back into post production and editing the sound.

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“Amusing” this was a first thought of one of my audience members. I didn’t expect the film to be considered to be ‘amusing’, however this suggests that this audience member enjoyed the film and was entertained by the film opening, so I believe this was a compliment.

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This says “fear for safety of children”. This is reference to something that is inferred to within my film opening, that a public safety announcement needed to stress the safety of children within it. This individual obviously remembered that particular part of the film opening, meaning that it was a very prominent and emotional part of the film for some individuals.

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This says “intense” suggesting that the film was emotionally intense to view. This is more the reaction I was hoping for from my audience as the film was intended to be ‘intense’ and emotional.

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“It was great” This individual clearly enjoyed the film, which I am glad to know as a media producer, as you want your audience to enjoy your projects.

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This is another statement on the sound quality stating that this is an area of improvement as 2 of my target audience mentioned it. an improvement would be resolving issues with sound as some actors were loud and some were fairly quiet” This can be resolved in post to an extent by editing the sound, however as a media producer I have no control over my actors and how they portray their role.

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I liked this feedback, it says “interesting topic it brings to light issues that are prominent in society” I like this comment, which was a ‘initial thoughts’ answer, as this is exactly what I wanted in producing this film and becoming a media student, to create content that matters and reflects real issues to my audience. This comment suggests to me that I have succeeded.

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This was written during the ‘discuss improvements’ section of the feedback. It lists a few things I could improve upon and what the audience member would like. “acting. Smoother scene changes. Camera angles.” This suggests to me that the audience member would like to see easier transitions between scenes, which could be fixed in post by editing transitions and using small sections of related footage to ‘bridge’ to two scenes together. They would also like to see more interesting camera angles. This is something I could have done during filming, however now that the filming has been completed I can’t change that element of my project, however I can keep this in mind for my next piece. Finally the question of the ‘acting’ being a little off. However as a director and media producer I can’t change what the actors do and how they perform their roles.

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“Different. Good concept” This tells me that this audience member found the piece unique, which is always good as a content creator as there is no point in creating something that has already been done.

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This one was also complimentary “I liked it. The opening shots set the scene well” This audience member stated that they enjoyed the film in general, but also that they enjoyed my use of camera angles in reference to “opening shots”.

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This is another comment on actors and scene changes “You could improve the actors and maybe have smoother scene changes” the scene changes is something I can go back and improve by editing scene transitions to make them appear smoother, something that a previous audience member suggested. With the number of people complaining about actors this makes me believe that in future I should hire more skilled actors should the budget allow.

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“Sad” This is a ‘first impressions’ response, suggesting that the film made this audience member feel sad. This is a good sign as it means that I portrayed emotion well within the film in order to move my audience to feeling sad.

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This one is a more constructive comment on actors performance “Add more acting, less interruptions, less music” This person suggests that I as a director focus on the role of my actors more and have more dialogue build up throughout. This is understandable as an audience wants the chance to bond with the characters on screen, and can’t do this if the director isn’t focused on the actors during production as this leads to there being less of them on screen. I’m not sure what ‘less interruptions’ means, perhaps this is suggesting that I have longer scenes that are more in depth rather than cutting between scenes once my point has been made. This could be fixed to an extent in post production, but in order to do this properly I would have to go back and re-film to have more depth in my scenes. “Less music” suggests that the music I used was too noticeable, suggesting to me that I need to reduce the non-diegetic music as more than one audience member has commented on the music now.

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“better camera quality” This suggests that the film was in low quality picture, however the footage was shot in HD, the reason why this audience member believed that the camera quality was low was due to it being shown on a big screen where the pixel number is reduced, making the film appear as if it has been shot in low quality. Perhaps in future tasks like this I should take things like this into consideration in order to make the footage as true to the original as possible.

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This is a comment on the structure of my piece “needs to be more structured, actors need to be familiar with their lines” This suggests to me that the structure of the piece was confusing, this means that in future my scenes should be a little longer, making the structure of the piece more clear to the audience as they have time to understand what is happening. As a director it is very frustrating when actors do no know their lines, and this is picked up by the audience. However, as a director and content creator, I can’t change how well my actors know their lines.

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“creative” This suggests that my film was unique and interesting to watch as this individual complimented my creativity on the project. This doesn’t tell me exactly where I was creative (within my choice of shots? Music? Concept? I wouldn’t know), however it does suggest that it was enjoyed by my audience as they found it creative, and therefore interesting.

To me I believe that the audience feedback session was a success as my audience was clear about how I could improve, meaning I can make the relevant changes now I know what my audience want. As well as this I now believe my film opening to be a success as many people within my sample audience complimented the film opening, suggesting that it was emotional and creative. If I were to do this again I would use a more structured format of collecting information to understand exactly what my audience wants, for example using a questionnaire format so I can ask more specific questions and collect more specific answers.

Audience feedback plan

Now that my first draft for my film opening is nearing being completed I would like to take some feedback from my audience so that I know what changes to make in my second draft. I would like to take a sample audience of 5-10 people of my chosen demographic (young British adults) to come to a viewing of my film. I want to make this as if it were a real cinema showing, with the film shown on a big screen while my audience watch, as I want my audience to really believe that this is like a real cinema viewing. I may even have a concessions stand to add to the realism of this being a cinema showing.

My demographic will be young British adults, as this is the demographic that I want the ‘real’ film to appeal to and this would mean that I get similar feedback to what my general audience would give. I will advertise through posters to get people to want to come to the showing. I will be showing the film inside the academy in a large classroom that has been designed to look like a theatre or cinema and the film will be shown on a large television to mimic the big screen at the cinema.

During the showing I will be taking footage of the audience watching and reacting to the film and after the showing I will be setting a small task to my audience where they tell me what their initial thoughts were when they watched the film opening and how they would like to see it improve so that I can make these changes for my second draft. This is something often done in the film industry as producers want to make sure they have gotten the film ‘right’ for their audience so will often invite a sample audience to view the film and give feedback. I used this flyer to promote the event using the website Canva that is designed to create greetings cards.

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Film opening draft and final

This was the first rough draft for my film. It was filmed and edited in two weeks and was edited using final cut express on Mac. I enjoyed the majority of the film but felt that it needed some editing in order to appear a little more professional. From there I made these small details a little more interesting and professional in appearance by making small changes. For example the production logo was initially a black screen with the company name typed onto it. From there I decided it needed to look a little more interesting and therefore edited this so that I had an interesting background with interesting text type. This goes to show how much a small change could effect the overall ‘feel’ of the film.

This was the second draft for my film where some of it has been changed and edited in order to fit well with what I think would work better. Only minor changes had been made to make the film work a little better, for example the final credit was edited in a way that the watermark could not be seen. As well as this the transitions on my credits were made much smoother so that they appeared more professional and were more interesting than being stationary text. Minor changes were made with the imagery so that the cuts in the second half of the trailer had a little more context and the final cut of the television rounded the film opening off in a way that made it feel that it was the right time to be ended. Minor adjustments had to be made with the music timing as this added to the emotional tone of the trailer, so that the second song (the piano solo) came in sooner after the initial electronica song so the shift in mood was more obvious.

Final Decisions

As it comes closer to my time to film I have had to decide on some final decisions for my film opening. This includes my actors, my costumes, the props needed and any post production effects I will be needing. I made some changes to my initial idea, namely the choice I stated earlier in my blog that I will be depicting a gay couple. I decided to change this slightly into a lesbian couple as I feel that lesbian couples are highly sexualised in the media and are rarely shown to be just average couples. As well as this my two actresses I chose worked well together during auditions for the role and performed rather well alone. I felt that this would be the best choice for my piece also as they performed very naturally together as a couple.

Characters/ Actors.
My main actors are three females and one male. All aged 15-21 and all have some experience in performance. I liked these actors for a number of reasons, firstly because they were experienced, meaning that a filmmaker with less experience like myself will find it easier to work with them as they know what to expect from a filming session. As well as this I liked their ‘look’ so to speak. My actresses playing young married couple Callie and Jessica Bennett are young adult females who work well together on camera and appear to be a convincing couple. My actor playing Joe Cole, Callie’s elder brother is another young adult who is older than than the two girls, making it obvious that he is an elder brother when he comforts his sisters distressed wife later on in the opening. Finally I have a authority figure police figure who is played by a baby-faced teenage girl. This seemed like an odd decision at the time but I like how youthful she appeared to be as this shows how hatred and “hetrophobia” exists in the younger generations. I will also have a few extras for the TV scene.

Costumes.
Mrs Callie and Mrs Jessica Bennett.
Callie is a normal young married woman who studies at university. She will be dressed a little more fashionably than her on screen wife as she is portrayed to be younger, as she holds more up to date world views and is less hateful than her peers. As I want to get across that this is a young couple, both partners will be wearing an everyday and fashionable ensemble which would be considered youthful and fashionable for today. This also helps to portray the idea that gay people are just as ‘regular’ as straight people to my audience, as they dress and act in very much the same way as most women today would. This is also an easy costume to use for a drama piece such as this one as the idea of drama is for it to look like something that could happen every day. For example TV Dramas such as Emmerdale use casual and normal clothing throughout as it enhances the realism of the text. For women outfits such as skinny jeans and leggings have become popular clothing for the past few years, I want my actresses to be wearing them as this is something the audience could relate to. I have a few ideas for clothing and costume below.

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Joe Coles
Joe is a normal guy who works a basic job at a technology firm, however he is still rather young and during this scene he will likely be wearing casual clothing as he has popped round to his sisters and his sister in laws house for a cup of tea. In this context the average British male would wear something casual and everyday. Today matching tracksuits are popular mens wear even when not worn for working out. I was torn between having him wear a tracksuit or a plain T-Shirt and jeans. I felt that the T-shirt and jeans would be a more appropriate option as it connotes that he is plain. Outfits such as tee shirts do not have logos on them like tracksuits do and therefore this allows the audience to identify with him. Even though he is a ‘hetrophobe’ (a term coined specifically for the film to mirror the term ‘homophobe’ used today), he is a genuinely kind character who is level headed and calm, this is an aspect people like to see in themselves as they would rather identify with a positive than a negative character, and therefore the plain clothes will help to make him more relatable to my male audience.

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The police officer

As the officer isn’t strictly from the police force but is actually a ‘Family planning and safety’ officer, to make her wear a stereotypical uniform for a police officer would look odd, instead I’m having her wear normal clothes as if she were a ‘undercover’ officer, but with distinct props to show that she is in authority such as handcuffs and a badge with her ID on it. This would portray that this is an officer without having to wear the uniform. As well as this I want her costume to include a dark overcoat, so to make her appear normal but somewhat shady, as if she cant be trusted.

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Props:
I will need some basic props that suggest either a normal living situation at home, and the props the police officer uses to show that this has been disrupted. Mugs of tea suggest a happy and typical British family situation as tea is something that is a somewhat understated staple of the typical British home. Using a mug rather than a teacup connotes a typical and comforting environment, however, this strongly contrasts with the actual living situation of the partners. As well as this a kettle of water will also be used as there is a scene in the production where tea is being made to help calm the social tension. A sofa and television are also going to be used to connote that the room the family is sitting in is a living room, and the television will also be used as a plot device as it shows the news report on it. The police officer will carry an identification badge that has been made for the purpose, as well as a pair of handcuffs.

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Lighting.
As much of my piece is shot in the day and some of it in external settings it would be most logical to use natural daylight for the daytime and exterior scenes. This is because it is accessible and looks good on camera. Interior scenes are also being used for my film with the majority of it taking place inside of a house, for this naturalistic lighting can be used by using lamps and fill lights to create a homely setting. I may also be using a night time clip for effect and drama, in this shot I would want the majority of the scene to be dark to connote that it is night time but also to suggest drama while the headlights of traffic work to break up the darkness. I think if I were to use a faded filter on this shot it could look very dramatic and artistic.

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The above image is similar to the footage I would like to film while I have my filming underway. I love how the image gives a soft but dramatic, almost romantic type of look, I would like to include something so interesting into my film and it will give some variety as my piece is majority daytime shots.

Interactive mood board (creative post)

http://prezi.com/g6fpr5jmskvk/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share

Above is the link to my interactive mood board where each image can be viewed in full screen by moving the presentation along, I made the presentation on Prezi and designed it purposefully in this way for the interactive value in mind. As you can see it is exactly the same as my original mood board post, this is because the original mood board was simply a still image of the moving presentation I am presenting here. I use prezi often as I enjoy the interactivity of it and feel like images and typeface on prezi tend to look more professional than if they were put into paint for example.

Mood board post

As I am creating a whole new film opening, I will also be creating a whole new mood board. This one was designed using an online software as I felt that creating it digitally allowed for the board to be more polished and professional in appearance. It can be seen in full below.

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The images I chose all had different connotations and signified a certain aspect in the film trailer I am creating. The background I chose was something I felt fit the theme of my trailer as it appeared to be very feminine to me with the purple tree branches. It is also relevant to the film as it appears somewhat romantic with the purple and white and there being a hint of sunlight appearing to be shining between the branches of the trees. I felt that this was perfect as it highlights the romantic storyline in my piece, both with the breakdown of the relationship between Callie and Jess and the interconnected storyline between Callie and her boyfriend. The trees with no leaves on the appear to be autumnal, and as this is the time that I wanted the film opening to be set in as autumn is a beautiful season to film during, but also has signifiers of gloom. Finally the sunlight beaming through the trees is a signifier of the happy ending that the film has, despite the fact that the opening is rather depressing.

The image below signifies how heterosexual relationships have been made illegal as the cross through the couple signifies that they are not accepted in society. The cross through the couple appears as if they are illegal or are considered to be unwanted. It appears to be a sign that may be displayed in a shop or in other public places, further signifying the isolation and hatred towards straight couples throughout society.

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This picture signifies my couple. It shows a very significant moment in their life as it is clear that this is a wedding photograph, I chose to use this image instead of one of a couple fighting as I want it to be made clear that they were happy together at some point before the relationship broke down. This adds to the drama element of the genre of my film and its trailer as it is very much focused on the relationship of the couple. As well as this it shows how the dystopian society expects the ‘average’ couple to look like. The couple in the image do not look awkward or out of place, they simply look like a normal and happy pair who are prepared to spend their lives together, this further supports how homosexuality is considered the “norm” or even the “right way” to be within my dystopian society.

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This image suggests jealousy and infidelity. It seems as if one partner is suspicious of her partner, as she looks over her shoulder to see what she is doing. This is similar to what happens between Callie and Jess in my film trailer as Jess seems to know that something is going on. It also is an ambiguous image as it could be interpreted as either the woman in the image being the partner of either the man or the woman in the foreground. This links to my film also as it seems at the beginning to an audience in our current society where heterosexuality is the norm that Joe is the partner Callie, however as the film opening continues the true storyline emerges. The drinks in the foreground also have significant meaning, although a slightly vague one, as in my film opening the couple discuss their relationship while making a drink, a cup of tea.

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My film idea was heavily inspired by George Orwell’s 1984, which is why I decided to use a quote from the man himself as the only text in my mood board. As well as this I felt that the quote fit the themes of my film, as media is used as a device to control people, mimicking what the hypodermic needle model states. The image itself shows how respectable people are being controlled by what the media tells them, their minds have literally become the media they consume, even within the image we see that no matter what type of media they are consuming, they are constantly being shown a singular idea, as shown by the single hand acting as the puppet master.

media_indoctrination

is looked like a very lonely image to me, how the heart sits alone with nothing around it. In other pictures during my search for images to use often times there were two hearts side by side, this is why the single heart seemed sad and lonely to me. This symbolizes the character of Callie in my film as she feels isolated as she is not accepted in society due to her sexuality. Jess, her wife, also feels lonely as she knows her wife no longer loves her. They are a couple who are supposed to be in love but instead are emotionally separated from one another.

lonely

I felt that this image was something comical, but significant. It is from the board game Monopoly, and is a card that tells the player that they have to go to jail. This signifies how people are being imprisoned for petty reasons such as having ‘illegal’ relationships. As well as this it shows how jail is being treated too freely as a punishment and people are being imprisoned for crimes that shouldn’t be crimes, morally speaking. The image was the most obvious a signifier of the other images I was researching, with images of police officers, handcuffs and jail cells being the most obvious, but this image was the one that I felt captured the futility of the jail system in a society that uses it to scare people into a mindset.

rings

The above image signifies the couple’s marriage, and how up until recently everything seemed perfect. On the inside of the golden ring it is engraved with “my everything”, which seems sad in hindsight as the couple’s relationship breaks down. It shows how the relationship and the marriage was genuine. It also shows how their marriage is an important factor throughout the film and the opening, for example, with Callie’s brother being the emotional support Jess needs through the time where Callie has been imprisoned. In the trailer there is a small glimpse of this when Joe hugs Jess as she cries, signifying that the marriage has created family bonds that will not be easily broken.

raven

Within Celtic mythology Ravens were believed to by spy-like, a symbol of someone watching you. They were said to be deceitful messengers who would watch people from the distance and then relay information. This is significant as it mimics the law enforcement of the narrative, as a being that will watch people. This is also similar to themes in 1984 of “Big Brother is watching you.”

Production Diary – Final Thoughts

My theme of a couple experiencing relationship issues such as a cheating partner is not unique or original at all, especially for Drama genres such as television Drama’s such as Easterners where relationships are a big part of the tension throughout, cheating partners and the dynamic of relationships are often used as a plot device. However, I feel as if my theme of homosexuality, by using a lesbian couple, as well as the theme of law and government restrictions are less used by typical drama genres. Often in film gay couples are shown using stereotypes in order to make them appear more comical, they are rarely shown to be exactly the same as any other couple, for example in 2010 film ‘The Runaways’ Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning portray a lesbian couple, however their relationship is shown to be rebellious and short lived. My theme of control and law surrounding relationships came from the George Orwell novel 1984 which was a giant success and best seller, however few films have used his theme of a dystopian, ultra controlled society.

I feel my film looks at the influence of media in a way that the Hypodermic Needle theory would suggest, that the media has great power to change and inject society with the views and morals that media creators hold, and if a totalitarian government were to control media, this would lead to media being used as a tool for mass control. We see how Callie is bullied for her views when she suggests that ‘illegal’ couples do not harm anyone, showing how she is a minority in a society where the majority is influenced by the media.

I think a more British based company like Film4 might distribute this as it is very tied to British culture (British actors, locations, ext) and it is also rather symbolic and close to reality, if being a little overdramatised like the type of film Film4 like to produce. I like to think my film is creative and original so they would like to broadcast it. The more realistic locations I used along with the heightened dramatic characters is a lot like the style Film4 prefer to distribute.

I feel as if my film would be enjoyed by young adults, around age 15 and up as the themes used within the film are themes that teens around this age are becoming aware of, for example the themes of government control are seen to an extent in The Hunger Games, which was a giant seller toward young adults, but I also feel as if this film would appeal to the LGBT community as it showcases a realistic gay relationship. I have certified the film a 15 due to the use of discriminatory language and behavior used throughout the film, as well as its use of strong language.

I’ve learnt about editing skills and how films need the right pace and the right type of editing to work. I’ve learnt to critically watch my own work and always strive to improve, I’ve learnt how to use sound and sometimes silence to my advantage when making my film and using imagery and sound to affect the audience. At first I found filming difficult, I had struggled with angles and cinematography, however in my second time around doing AS I’ve found it much easier to film as I know exactly what I want and what I’m doing.

Audience Research

Audience is often defined by demographics, the age, race, gender, ethnicity, social class and even social groups your average audience member is expected to be. This would effect the final outcome of the media you create depending on whom the piece is created for. In film this would effect what types of music you use, the actors you chose, the settings you film in ect. However, audience has other components that would effect the film you are creating. For example if your audience is a passive or active audience. The passive audience will consume media without questioning its content, its meaning or its reliability. Will aimlessly consume media and will oftentimes ‘buy into’ the media, be it through buying things they see in television ads to undoubtedly believing the stereotypes the media teaches them to believe.The active audience, on the other hand, will question and discuss the content of the media they consume, will actively search for media that gratifies them, will do their own research on content and issues brought up in the media that they are consuming. They are purposefully invested into the media in a way that allows them to question it further.

There are theories of film as well as the theories of the audience that consume the film.

The “Hypodermic Needle theory” implied that media acted as a ‘hypodermic needle’ that has the capacity to ‘inject’ the minds of the public with information, propaganda and ideology. The mass media in the 1940s and 1950s were perceived as a powerful influence on behavior change, although this may not be all down to the media, as it this point in time other factors contributed to the change of society, such as the end of the second world war.

The Two Step Flow theory suggests that media is absorbed by the general public, however opinion leaders are the ones that pass on their own thoughts and ideas about the media that they just absorbed. The theory assumes that the majority of the audience is passive, and therefore simply listens to what they’re told and believe in whatever they see or hear in the media. The Minority of the audience is active and take their time to reach their own opinion on the media, and therefore pass it on.

Reception Analysis theory is an approach to textual analysis which puts more emphasis on the audience, as the audience consume the media text, they are defining what it means. The individual who is consuming the media text uses their own experience in order to make sense of the media. They put the media into context for themselves based off of their own beliefs, values, morals and experiences. Therefore, people with similar socio-cultural backgrounds are likely to make similar readings of the same texts.

Treatment

My film opening is designed to capture a small section of my film while making introducing my audience to my main themes, ideas, setting, characters, narrative and tone of the film. My film opening would be less than 5 minutes of my entire film and in order to understand the opening in more depth the entire film needs to be made known. First I will discuss in some detail my narrative and characters and settings.

Narrative:
This is set in the UK, almost exactly like how we see it today, in a dystopian future, there are significant economic problems. Due to overpopulation there is strain on recourses, jobs, education, healthcare ect. The richer are better off and the poor are much worse off, the gap between middle and working class is huge. Roughly 100 years before the time that the film takes place the government decided that the best way to combat overpopulation would be to advocate, and later enforce homosexuality through benefits, laws and the media. This is because it allowed the government to better control the birth rate, as couples have to go through a long process in order to be allowed to use genetic engineering to have their own child, while couples can adopt freely to reduce strain on the child care system. Since the laws have been enforced and media has actively pushed people to reject hetrosexuality, the strain on the system has gone down significantly and “breeders” have been blamed solely for the economic crisis. Hetrosexual couples are punished socially and lawfully, and must be made infertile in order to be able to marry, while sex outside of marriage has been made a punishable crime for straight partners. This echoes the laws of other countries that have existed, such as China’s one child policy, and Russia’s ban on gay rights.

Characters:
The story follows one family and one mysterious figure who is only briefly seen in the opening. Callie and Jessica are a typical couple of the time, married rather young Callie is a full time uni student and Rose is a secretary for a reputable law firm. They make a fair living together and have had a happy, if fairly rocky marriage. Joe, Callies brother who models for companies such as Lynx and Sony, is fairly well off and is a close friend to the family.
There is another character, inspector Rice, modeled off of the typical British detective Sherlock Holmes, wears a large overcoat and smokes a ‘vape’ (an electronic cigarette, a more modern pun off of Holmes’ recognizable smoking pipe). He has a double intention. He is hired by the British government to spy on people who are suspected ‘hetro’s’. He checks phone records, tracks cars and bugs houses in order to collect evidence. He uses his position to save people from imprisonment by planting evidence in their favor or helping them to escape completely.

Settings:
The film itself is set in the UK, Birmingham to be exact, where the divide between rich and poor is great. Locational connotations, such as Birmingham city center may be used however no direct links will be made to Birmingham itself as it is more important that the film is set in a ‘modern’ European country, where such injustices could never be seen to be possible. Places such as houses, parks and cityscapes may be seen, to suggest that this is a big, largely populated city.

Now I will discuss in depth the plot my story follows using the narrative theory Equilibrium Theory suggested by Todorov as it follows a specific pattern that suggests that all narrative media should follow.

The State of Equilibrium:
Callie and Jessica are a regular couple who have a normal, if dissatisfying life. Problems are arising in the relationship and it is clear that it has become very one sided, with Jessica desperately trying to keep the marriage together and healthy, and Callie becoming distant and ambivalent to her wife. This is because Callie knows that she is straight, and although ashamed by herself she has begun an illegal affair with a man who has a husband and two children. At the same time Inspector Rice has been put onto her case with a partner detective who has found evidence of Callie’s hidden double life.

Disequilibrium:
After a heated argument with her wife, Callie is arrested at her home for being suspected of being in an illegal relationship. Inspector Rice begins desperately trying to save her by trying to find evidence but so far has come up short, hoping that he can manage to clear her of all charges. While Callie is arrested her wife and brother desperately try to come to terms with her crime they also begin to fight for information and fight for more information as they believe that she has been arrested and held unfairly.

Recognition:
Callie continues to plead her innocence while her wife and brother begin digging for more information. They get no luck and it appears to her family that Callie has been wrongfully accused. In the mean time Inspector Rice begins to plot a plan in order to make Callie plea innocent in court, and with the right judges be cleared of all charges. This however looks risky when he see’s that Callie’s partner has also been caught and is willing to plea guilty to his crimes. Callie is called into interrogation with Mr. Rice where he tells her of his plan and what is happening with her boyfriend.

New state of equilibrium:
Inspector Rice manages to have Callie and her boyfriend escape the country to a sanctuary for people like themselves, a small island near Italy that is safe from government enforcement and is run completely to house hetrosexual refugees fleeing from Britain. It is here where Callie finds out that Britain was the only country that held these laws and in most other countries her relationship with her boyfriend would have been completely legal. They begin to form a new life on the island while planning to move to Australia to start afresh. Callie’s family is told of her whereabouts and they contact one another regularly and Callie and Rose become friends while Rose divorces Callie by law and begins another relationship.

Filming Diary

As filming is to go underway this week I have designed a filming diary to keep myself on track as well as to inform my cast and crew when the filming will be taking place and where they should be at the specific locations. It can be viewed in the below link to see exactly when and where I will be filming as well as what equiptment and props will be needed. The filming will be over the course of the upcoming week and will take place on 3 days.

Below is also an image of my filming diary.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 14.09.34

Storyboard Post

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In this initial page the audience is seeing our protagonist walking home. I’ve included no major signifiers that anything is wrong or out of place in his life, in fact, I’ve deigned him to look normal and happy, wearing normal work clothes and smiling as he walks home. This is to portray his “perfect” life, he has a loving husband, a good career, and lives in a nice area (as depicted by his surroundings). He receives a text from whom the audience assumes is his partner, and smiles as he reads it. I will be using mostly close ups for the initial opening in order to create a sense of friendliness within my character that my audience will find him a likeable character. Of course here there are no obvious signifiers of his sexuality, because I believe that my audience will assume that he is straight, however the text from the ‘mystery’ partner allows the audience to question this, if the audience do not consider his sexuality at all and simply assume that he is heterosexual, this allows the audience to be surprised later when they see he is married to a man, and allows them to question why they would assume his partner would be a woman in the first place, as I purposefully left all signifiers of the gender of the texter completely neutral.

DSC_0499

I next have further footage of him walking home, entering the home and meeting his husband. This is where the audience notices a ‘twist’, as there was nothing in the establishing shots to single him out as a gay man, it is likely that the audience would see this as a turn of events. Even now that the audience knows that he is gay, there is nothing stereotypical of the characters in order to portray them in this way, for example by expressing that there is a masculine and a feminine partner, or by using flamboyant decor in the home. However, through my use of shots, or example the over the shoulder shot of the two men, and the two shot showing the proxemics of them being far from one another, we see how there is discourse in the relationship. We also see how despite his happy and positive portrayal earlier, he is deeply unhappy with his partner. I have included a television shot in here also, of a short miniature advert of a body spray commercial, with the voiceover saying “for him and for him”. This is somewhat satirical of body spray adverts today that often sport the line “for him and for her”, as well as how even now media uses advertisements like this to push a ‘norm’. This also is included for dramatic purpose, so that the audience sees how normalised gay relationships are in this dystopian fiction, although this is very different from what we would normally see in a body spray advert, I feel that this type of technique allows the audience to understand the society in the narrative while maintaining verisimilitude as it is simply a twist on a normal television ad. I will be filming this separately and adding it in in post production so that the image looks like it is actually on the screen. I may be adding in more mini shots like this in order for the audience to understand what this fictitious society is like, for example by using small shots of newspaper articles or by having some extras play as couples in the background.

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On this page we see how the lightheartedness of the film goes away, the television cuts abruptly to the news, broadcasting that there is a public safety hazard of a straight couple being seen in Birmingham. This is a final signifier of the society in this dystopia as the audience now learns that not only that gay is the norm, but straight is illegal. This has been done to a rather dramatic degree, but of course as a drama film sometimes real life is exaggerated. As well as the news showing how society is very heterophobic, we also see how the protagonist and his husband strongly disagree on the subject, with the husband flying into a fit of rage shouting “that is disgusting” and the protagonist stating that “they don’t do any harm”. This will be done in a series of cuts from one partners face to the next as one argues the other retorts. With their conversation being very quick and the shots matching their pace, the audience will likely feel as if they are also in the middle of the conversation. This is also a means of getting the audience to consider the side of the argument that they sit on, and perhaps reconsider when they see their own arguments used against them. This is not a very comfortable position to be putting the audience in as they are watching an argument between a couple, an already very difficult situation, as well as this they are also watching their own beliefs on a sensitive topic being argued. They are mid way though an argument when they are distracted by the doorbell, accompanied with a shot of the door. This is to include a some suspense as the shot of the door implies that another character is about to enter, and the audience is allowed to ponder for a moment who this person will be.

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Finally we find out who is at the door, it is the police, or as my narrative calls them “The West Midlands Family Security Department”, establishing them (I included two officers to make the scene appear more ‘serious’ as two officers wouldn’t be sent out for a regular or petty incident) in a two shot in the doorway. Of course this is serious, with the two shot in the doorway promoting nervousness in the audience, they are sympathising with the couple, as any person met with officers at their door would be worried. Clearly the news report that we saw earlier was warning the public against our protagonist. Of course initially this looks like a mistake as we have just seen the two men as a legitimate ‘legal’ couple. However the police reveal a woman, whom the protagonist confesses to knowing in a solemn mid shot with his husband in the background. This is the part I feel lacks the most verisimilitude as police officers wouldn’t normally announce the suspect at the door, as well as this they wouldn’t stand around asking questions, and the protagonist wouldn’t simply confess at the door to such a serious crime. I may change this so that the West Midlands Family Security Department simply announce themselves, tell the protagonist his rights (“you have the right to remain silent, anything you say will be held against you in a court of law…”) and show him a photograph of the woman he has been accused of being in an adulterous relationship with. This way it is more similar to what might happen in real life, and by using a picture, although not as dramatic, is more practical as I wouldn’t have to find another actor. I will be drawing this alternate ending, as well as some smaller, less prominent shots in my creative post with a full explanation of my ideas, costume choices, sound choices, editing decisions and creative process.

Film Ideas

Im going to be creating a Drama film this time, I chose this genre because I find it interesting as a genre and I love how I can use my skills in a way that will draw the audience in and create tension and emotion within my audience. I will be making this film alone and decided myself that I needed to use a genre that would challenge me as a director producer and film maker. I wanted to do something that will subvert the Drama genre as well as create something that is unique and interesting.

Locations:
There will be several locations throughout the duration of my film, as drama as a genre is known to be about ‘real life’ but is presented in a way that creates interest and dilemas, I will have to be using very common locations, I will need to shoot outdoors somewhere as I follow an actor as they come home, the inside of a home and some kind of shopping centre as I film an interaction between some non-central characters. The use of plain and simple locations may decrease the interest of my film opening, however if I use them effectively enough it will only add to the realism of my film opening and will increase tension within the audience as it looks like somewhere the audience could be, this creates a greater sense of sympathy and investment into the plot and the film.

birmingham-city-centre-a

This is a picture taken in Birmingham city center, a main city like Birmingham will have thousands of people pass through its city center every single day, this location would be incredibly useful to use as it shows the audience a main city, so whatever I show here will express what the society is like in my film and what is considered normal here, for example if every person in the city centre were walking with a cat on a lead, the audience will know in this fictional society it’s the norm to walk a cat on a lead. More specific to my story; if I include several same sex couples in this shot even if passers by aren’t performing this will heighten the ‘normality’ of the same sex couples in this film and will show the audience that this is the norm in my film. Another great thing about this as a location is that it will be a great locational signifier as many people will be able to recognize the location, or at least know its in England by its surrounding shops and as is seen in the picture, the dreary weather. However, this location may be hard to film in due to the large masses of people and it could be hard to get the whole cast and crew up to the city center on the same day.

In comparison we could use just a regular shopping center or supermarket, this also has a high sense of realism as everyone goes to a supermarket to buy food and essentials and so by showing my film in a shopping center or supermarket we also get the sense of normality that I can use to show the societal standards I show in my film. The only downfall in this is that this means that there are less locational codes that allow the audience to understand where the location of the film is, but this will be shown in other shots and in other ways such as through accents spoken by my actors or by cultural cues such as the speaker on the news being from BBC News ect.

I need one indoor location from the inside of a house, it doesn’t necessarily need to be the home that is shown on the exterior as the audience couldn’t know if the exterior matches the interior, however I must use a real home as we will have characters walking around into different rooms and a set won’t be able to serve its purpose. I could possibly show this in a similar effect in IKEA as they have full sets made to look exactly like rooms in a home, should it be impossible to find someone who will lend their house to me for filming purposes. The use of an indoor location is important however, as it gives obvious signifiers about what the couple is like and their personalities, ie a neat and tidy house could be an indicator of a couple who value perfection and appearances, whereas a less tidy house could show a couple who are comfortable and gives the house a more cozy, lived in feel, an awfully messy house indicates a messy life and a couple who can’t share chores efficiently.

Plot:
My plot is something that I like to think is a little ‘out of the box’ but I know I can create something incredible with my idea. My film is set in dystopian England, where an overpopulation crisis has lead to the government to endorse homosexual relationships to slow down the population growth rate. This has happened to the extent that any other couple is victimised, with the media treating them as sinners and awful, the government removing all civil rights for them and discrimination against straight couples becomes normalised. This leads to people being afraid to ‘come out’ as straight with families disowning them and with strong hatred for anyone who doesn’t follow what the media tells them is normal. This will be shown through a news report on a TV in the family home and through some shots taken in a shopping centre where we see that everyone is in a same sex relationship. My film opening follows a couple, one person in the relationship who, is married to someone of the same sex knows that they are a hetrosexual, they are in an extra martial affair secretly with someone of the opposite sex. The other partner, who is deeply in love with the one they are married to is clearly very loving and supportive of their partner, but is feeling the deep rejection and hurt of having a partner who is distant and unloving.

Themes:
One of my themes will be the breakdown of relationships, as seen in my film plot overview we have a struggling couple, with only one partner knowing the cause of the stress between them. This is interesting as a theme in genre as it is something that most people can relate to. Another theme will be homosexuality, I feel like in the media at the moment gay people are used as stereotypes in film, no homosexual couple is seen as ‘normal’ in the media, we always tend to see them being young and flamboyant, this is something I want to completely remove from my plot, by showcasing a real gay person as someone who is honestly struggling in their relationship as anyone else could, evoking empathy from the audience as even people who are not gay will be able to relate, and by putting the media stereotypes of gay people into question, as as many as 10% of the western population being gay, it is unlikely that these stereotypes are true, welcome, or even somewhat evident in the LGBT community, however the way television portrays these stereotypes are as if the only way to differentiate between a gay and a straight person is via a number of set behaviours and mannerisms such as the ‘flamboyant gay man’, typical of TV dramas such as The Only Way is Essex and the ‘masculine lesbian’, often portrayed as some kind of joke character in films such as Pitch Perfect.

Sticking to the genre
Drama films tend to centre around relatable characters, the reason for this is so that the audience can empathise with their situation. I’m going to be using this conventional theme as a means of getting forward a message about society and the power of the media. Drama films also tend to explore conflict, internal conflict within the person and also external conflict between two people, which I will be using in my film as a means of exploring the situation my couple are in, the internal conflict caused by the breakdown of a relationship and the external conflict caused between partners who’s relationship is no longer working. This links to another common convention of Drama, relationships; the relationship expressed within mine will be explored deeply, with the couple in constant confusion and conflict.

Shots and angles: A common convention of drama themes is to use framing and camera techniques to create a heightened sense of realism, what’s meant by this is that they use camera shots and angels in a way that mimics real life but in a way that makes everything seem more interesting. With this in mind I need to decide how I am going to present my film opening, I will need to use establishing shots in my indoor scenes as this mimics how people will naturally look around in real life. This also sets the foundation for the rest of the film. I also want to use an over the shoulder shot as my actor enters the house, this is something I did during my preliminary task and I think it has a sense of realism in it and allows me to show a few key signifiers, such as the house number and the external view of the house that gives some key indicators of what economic class the couple are in, as well as being able to show either the partner use a key to enter the house or have their spouse answer the door, each has its own codes that are left to the audience to decide what this means to them.

I would also like to include a long shot and some profile shots as the actor walks to the house, this allows me to convey a sense of loneliness as well as allowing me to show the location of the scene, by the view I show the audience should be able to see that the location is set in a city in England from things such as the weather in the shot, the type of houses in shot (Ie, lots of semi detached houses will indicate a city location), and the surrounding area. As my film is being marketed to a British audience this is important for a sense of realism as British viewers may be less able to relate to an American location for example.

For the scene where the couple are in the kitchen I would like to use a two shot throughout, while I change the focus as each person speaks, this is a very flexible shot as I can use it to portray closeness (or in this case distance) as I position my actors so that one appears to be further than the other. The two shot also allows me to show each actor acting and reacting, an important aspect of drama films. I may have to use two cameras to cut between the two points of view, one focused on the two shot and another to cut between the conversation so I can use close ups as each actor speaks. This is something drama as a genre tends to do as it is a type of editing that mimics realism.

subverting the genre:
I will be subverting my genre through my plot, I feel that my idea isn’t something that has been seen in film before and I want it to be more common as big company film producers tend to shy away from topics that might be uncomfortable or controversial, which is a shame as film is one of the biggest things that influence peoples minds today. By creating something that I feel is close to me as a person as well as something that I feel can make the audience think about something they haven’t thought about before I am subverting the genre and the pattern we see modern media following. In drama films the common convention is either based off of unfortunate relationships (Ie Titanic, 1997) or historical events (12 Years a Slave, 2013) or events that are so far fetched and detached from reality that the audience can’t relate to them (Cast Away 2000). Although as a genre this is incredible, as it is allowing the audience to experience a deeper emotional state than other films, (such as horror that only requires the audience to be scared and does’t require deeper thought) I want to create a film that makes a statement now, about whats happening today in British culture, such as the hatred of gay people and the use of journalistic media with bad intentions (for example; The Sun Newspaper). I’ll be doing this by ‘turning the tables’, by creating a fictional society where the majority of the audience becomes the minority on screen, as I put them through what gay people face everyday in places like Russia, China even in America, and of course, in Britain, where still to this day in some parts of the UK there is no marriage equality.

Filmography:

Titanic (1997)James Cameron

12 years a slave (2013) Steve McQueen

Cast Away (2000) Robert Zemeckis

Pitch Perfect (2012)

References:

Chalabi, Mona. ‘Gay Britain: What Do The Statistics Say?’. the Guardian. N.p., 2013. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.

Draft Media Evaluation Creative Post

Media evaluation creative

I made this short film with final cut simply to give a quick overview of what my evaluation says. I found piano music online I liked and tried to make the clips run as at the same pace as the music. This was a summary of what I learnt from draft so I would know what I would need to do in order to improve in the future. I found the process very rewarding and I am keen to use the knowledge I have learnt to improve upon this draft. I think reflecting on this process will help me to better see how I made the decisions I did and how I produced this draft production.

Draft Media Evaluation

The use of a modern day thriller set in a workplace environment is a fairly original idea unique to my piece, the theme of using madness in order to drive my narrative forward has been seen before however, often in horror films such as The Shining as we see an abusive husband sink into madness due to his new job and the hauntings at the hotel he has moved into. As my film is a thriller it is uncommon however to see this in the way I have portrayed it. Its often viewed in film that those that struggle with mental illness are evil or ‘insane’ such as the Joker in the Batman series, he is often portrayed to be deviant from society, with twisted world views and an unstable and cunning mind. My Character Harry is nothing like the stereotypical ‘mad man’, as we see his struggle we see he is actually very normal, with some difficulties coping, I feel that my film is much more sensitive to mental illness in this way, as Harry is seen first as a normal person at work.

I feel my film looks at the social ‘chain’ of a work office, with the boss (represented by George) at the top, who at first seems to be just like everyone else is later revealed to be cold hearted and somewhat sociopathic, expressing how big companies often do not care about workers or customers but more about how much money they make and remaining powerful. Harry represents a lower class worker, he is clearly educated and obviously works hard but his own sanity and career is in the hands of his boss.

I think a more British based company like Film4 might distribute this as it is very tied to British culture (British actors, locations, ext) and it is also rather symbolic and close to reality, if being a little overdramatised like the type of film Film4 like to produce. I like to think my film is creative and original so they would like to broadcast it. The more realistic locations I used along with the heightened dramatic characters is a lot like the style Film4 prefer to distribute.

I think mostly adults would like to watch my film, as it becomes darker as it starts to build up I would like to be able to give it an 15 rating for drug use and I feel the plot is rather dark so mostly young adults up to those in their 30s would watch this. The film has a very psychological element so people who enjoy thrillers would enjoy this the most. My audience is likely to be attracted to the dark comedy and storyline of my film, as well as having a main character who looks similar to most young adults through his costume choices. Younger adults are more likely to see this film also because its plot centres around a rather scientific, somewhat futuristic form of authority taking control.

I’ve learnt about editing skills and how films need the right pace and the right type of editing to work. I’ve learnt to critically watch my own work and always strive to improve, I’ve learnt how to use sound and sometimes silence to my advantage when making my film and using imagery and sound to affect the audience. At first I found filming difficult, I had struggled with angles and cinematography, I struggled to picture what I wanted and once I had my footage I had no idea how to make it into a film in Final Cut, but slowly I started seeing gaps in my film, things I needed to film and things that needed refilling. after 2 days of trying to edit the film I had I realised I had to refilm everything. I assembled my actors and filmed everything in a single day which was difficult and tiring but after a few hours I had so much footage to choose from. The problem with my first lot of footage was I thought too much about editing later, so I made lots of small, disjointed clips to ‘stick together’ haphazardly, not really thinking about how I could put them together, so once I got to edit, everything was a mess. The second time around I filmed in large chunks, over and over again from multiple angles, meaning to edit later I only had to cut out what I didn’t need, giving a better sense of continuity, I stopped thinking about what I would have to take out and filmed everything I needed. I learned from this that though much of the second round of footage was ‘junk’ it was much easier to remove the useless video than to stick together lots of small clips.

Draft Mood Board post

vlcsnap-2015-05-06-12h41m20s203

This is my mood board. I feel like the way I used it to create a feel of my film is very close to what my film is.
The large scan of a brain shows how the film is very psychological, and how it is based on the thoughts of the actor. The blue and black x ray of the brain has a medical feel to it as well as looking very professional, and it looks good alongside the other colours I have used. The image of the colourful lab equipment is used to show how my main character Harry works at a lab, and how he has become a lab experiment. I felt the bright colours suited the light and dark theme throughout my mood board as well as bringing a sense of brightness to the board, making it more interesting to look at and symbolic that Harry once loved his job at the lab, however now he works on computers all day working out finances he has begun to hate it.

SPACE
There is an image of a man climbing a large stack of paper, this was supposed to metaphorically symbolise Harry’s struggle to climb to the top of his career, but he is finding it difficult as he is constantly being given new stacks of paper to climb. This was shown in my film as George walked in having seen Harry was working late and gave him more work to do. It is also symbolic of how much of a struggle work has been for him to the point he feels like he is constantly working with no joy in sight. The sand timer is there to suggest that something is running out, it could be Harry’s life working at a company that doesn’t appreciate him, the time it will take for the drug to completely alter his mind until he is no longer the person he once was or the time Alphalife has as a respected company once the news of its giant breech of trust has changed their reputation. The shadow image I used is to signify the feeling of dread, of being cornered and being stalked by your own mind, it is also shown in the image of a pair of feet following someone. This is a clear link to Harry and his struggle with his own mind, as all of the images on there are directly affected with his mind. It shows how this paranoid feeling has taken over everything, from his ability to do work without feeling trapped, to how he feels in day to day life.

SPACE
The heartbeat graph shown in green is a tie to my video, where you hear a heartbeat towards the end, the visual and auditory imagery together show it is important as a heartbeat can express fear and tension, or panic. In this case it is ambiguous which further interests the audience. There is an image of a bright orange bottle of pills and the link to the tic tacs scattered over the page is a clear indicator of the tablets eaten during the high stress point in the opening scene, I felt having the tic tacs to symbolise the pills instead of having images of them gave the mood board a little more texture and having the tic tacs there it gave it a little more interactivity as you could pick them up (and eat them). The use of the crumpled newspaper was mostly a creative decision, how it gave a little more interesting imagery as well as giving it more texture, however it also shows a type of journalistic media being ruined, showing how not everything you are told by “reliable” sources is unbiased or true, as Harry had been decived by his boss and job, at a company that is supposed to be trustworthy, somewhere that has been reported in media as being somewhere that helps people through its breakthrough labs and medical research.

Mind Games (draft film)

This was the first draft of my film and in summary I was not very happy with it. I felt that the story was overly simplistic and it doesn’t really reflect what I am capable of. As a result of this I have decided to start again and begin from scratch. I believe I first need to readdress the theme and narrative of my story by creating something that will challenge traditional conventions and audience expectations. If I can do this then I believe my production will be more successful and better maintain the interest of the audience. I currently believe that if this was to be made into a full film the audience would likely be bored and not provide a very positive review.

Draft Character Evaluation.

Each of my characters are fairly important to one another as my film centres around a man (Harry) and his boss (George Gates). At first it seems that Harry is simply stressed out. He believes that he cannot quit his job although he has just faced a pay cut that means he has to work more hours in order to provide for himself and his struggling family, although he works at a big firm he has been led to believe that he cannot work elsewhere as he has worked at this particular place for ten years and has little experience anywhere else. With the stress of his bills to pay and his children and wife to support he feels the stress is getting on top of his life. He has been talking to a therapist (Lacey Roberts) for some time about his struggles and had been put on benzodiazipenes, and recently after was put onto the antipsychotic drug Phosphoryloxy3 for his vivid nightmares that seem to follow him through his waking life. Little does his know that these drugs are causing his mental disorder rather than helping them. Its this story that drives the narrative forwards as in the opening scene we see his untidy work room and how after being given more work he turns to his prescribed medication. At this point it is obvious that he is struggling through a very different problem than most as he is instantly faced with nightmarish hallucinations. As the protagonist Harry should receive sympathy from the audience as through his clothes being casual and his struggle central to the plot the audience should feel some empathy for him as most everyone can relate to workplace stress.

His boss, George Gates at first seems very sympathetic, but after a phone call to his college we see that he knows more than the audience once thought. His description of Harrys symptoms and how he knows about his medication as he talks on the phone gives the audience the idea that something more is going on. George is a CEO of AlphaLife, the company Harry works for, that tests, makes and markets a range of medicinal drugs, with labs all over the UK. However, it is clear that they have started testing on unsuspecting employees, such as Harry. His formal dress makes the audience at first respect him, but later when his plan is evident, they should feel a sense of mistrust, as if they have been lied to, just as Harry does. It seems at first that George is the antagonist however it is later clear that he is simply a helper to the true antagonists wishes. What he doesn’t understand is that if this new drug works and becomes patented by Lacey Roberts AlphaLife will suffer giant losses due to this new ‘miracle drug’ reaching the market.

Lacey Roberts is Harrys therapist who we only hear about in the opening scene via the telephone. She is responsible for prescribing illegal and untested drugs to Harry under the word of her boss, George Gates, though it seems the two are on more informal terms, showing the audience that they have a plan together. She also works for AlphaLife and is interested in getting her new drug onto the market, but it clearly is not working as each new formulation has a host of problems, which are seen through Harry as they continue to test on him. She is seen from the onset as scheming and malicious and perhaps even a tad sociopathic in her determination to get what she wants, which feels incredibly wrong as she has been put into a position of trust to help so many people who have been affected by this negligence of care. Lacey Roberts is the true antagonist, planning on manipulating both her boss and people like Harry in order to become rich off of selling and patenting this new drug. She is a scientist, not a therapist and is truly a good person in disguise as she ‘helps’ these people through their problems but is knowingly ruining their lives.

Draft Final Decisions

Sound: I liked the effect of having the diegetic sound of the filming with the non diegetic music and sounds I added later. I felt the music I chose fit well with how I want the audience to feel throughout my film.

Costumes: The costumes of choice were good as they fit the characters initial stereotype, but later became a counter type as the audience understood the characters better. For example the male ‘boss’ in the suit fit the perfect stereotype of the ‘relaxed boss’ as his costume was formal but felt rather casual for a workplace environment, giving the initial impression that he would be more lenient as a supervisor and a better person to get along with. However later on in the play the audience almost feels deceived as they realise that he does not truly fit the stereotype that his clothing suggests due to the much more sinister personality he hides behind his kind demeanour.

Props: Props such as the computer and similar setting items were already available in the building we used, however, later on in the production when we use various props such as a large workload of paper were simply collected from my own home to use as I knew I wouldn’t need any close ups of them only the papers to give an effect. The pill bottle containing Phosphoryloxy-N was created using a pill bottle, filled with harmless sugar pills to prevent damage to my actor, and childproof lock to add to realism. The label was made separately and stuck on later.

Lighting: We often used daylight, such as in the first scene as it gives the best natural brightness, however the natural blue in daylight and the quality of my camera was making the actors face’s look very dull, so we had to use a yellow tinted fill light in order to correct this. We used a dimmer natural light by using shadow into the scene where our actor was walking down the corridor as I wanted to use some foreshadowing using the darker colour to signify that this is to be the villain.

Preliminary- The Exchange

The film was recorded by Mathew and was performed by myself and Nathan and later the editing decisions fell onto all three of us. This was a great way to learn the basics of filming and editing as a group as we all managed to put our own skills into it and learn from one another. We learnt some valuable lessons too from hindsight, such as not filming with the camera facing the sunlight and because it makes the characters look dark. Also the printed jacket I was wearing tended to look blurry and difficult to see when I moved so I decided to make my actors wear more plain clothes for when I film originally, with the camera facing away from the direct sunlight to avoid shadows. Something interesting I learnt while making this was how to zoom in using Final Cut, meaning I wouldn’t have to do it with the camera. We all made creative decisions regarding the shot types, such as a POV shot as the exchange was done and I was leaving. It was good to have the whole group work on a small project before we went on to film on our own because it allowed us to transfer the sills we had learnt together to the films we had to make alone. We had over the shoulder shots which we had to film and film again because it had too much of Nathan’s head filling up the shot and we learnt from this how to make an effective over the shoulder shot. Overall however it was a good experience because from it we learnt what to expect from a filming session and had practise in directing actors for when we did it later, making us more comfortable and knowledgeable when we filmed our piece.

Narrative evaluation

The Narrative a film follows is made up of many things; the plot line, the voice (who’s telling you the story), the POV (point of view, which character you’re ‘following’), The editing and camera use, and many other things. Many media share narrative similarities, these media are all put under one label; a genre, which helps the audience decide which narratives they like and which narratives they don’t. Though plot line is the most well known of all of the narrative devices, it isn’t the most important factor in driving a narrative. Other narrative aspects can change while the plotline stays the same and give the piece many different possibilities of genre. This is why narrative and genre go hand in hand, making each and every decision the director makes regarding narrative massively important in the finished product of the film. For example: imagine if director Christopher Nolan, who directed the film “Inception” decided to have the film running in chronological order. The film would have been completely different, as even a small, seemingly obvious decision could change the film by incredible measures.

A theory of narrative is the Binary opposite theory by Strauss. The theory states that every movie has a binary opposite. Binary meaning “to hold together”, these binary opposites exist so that they can keep the narrative together, imagine how boring a film without any differing characters. these opposites drive the narrative forward.
Some popular examples of binary opposites include.

  • Man VS Woman
  • Young Vs Old
  • Evil Vs Good
  • Hero Vs Villain
  • Human VS Robot

It is important to remember that Vs does not necessary mean that one is in conflict with the other, more that they are compared and contrasted to each other throughout. Some examples include:

Man Vs Woman: The movie Grease has man vs woman as a binary opposite as Sandy and Danny fall in love, roping in both of their groups of friends in a comical and heartwarming fashion. the Men, the T-Birds (Danny’s group of friends) vs The Pink Ladies (Sandy’s group of friends) aren’t as much in conflict as they are in contrast to pick out the main differences between the pair.

grease

Young Vs Old: The Powerpuff Girls. An animated series aimed towards young children. Three little girls with superhuman powers take on the evil Mojo Jojo. The power opposite of the young girls vs the old guy is comical and it serves as the main plot point of the series

powerpuff girls

Evil Vs Good. Most films have this binary opposite or some variation of it. Good vs Evil could mean anything from good people vs evil people, a good person vs an evil situation or some variation of that. An example would be Superman (1978) where the ‘good’ is Superman and the ‘evil’ is Lex Luthor.

superman-1978-poster1

Human Vs Robot: Big Hero 6.A film aimed at young children. A healing robot learns how to become more human through his owners example. This convention is much more new as at emerged around the time of the technological revolution to depict the constantly growing technological advances.

big hero 6

Propp’s theory:
Propp’s theory was more about character definition rather that plot devices, he had seven main character ideas.
this theory was created in the times when more fairytale type of stories were more prominent but it can be applied to modern day media. Such as in the Harry Potter book/film series.

The Hero- The main protagonist who’s plan is to do something useful, helpful or good for people.

harry

Harry, The Boy Who Lived is the only known person who can defeat voldemort due to how he survived one of his attacks as a baby, upon learning this he takes on the role to help protect the wizard and muggle world alike.

The villain— struggles against the hero

voldemort

Voldemorts plan is to live forever and become strong and powerful, he plans to do this by killing a lot of people in order to make horcrux’s and murdering his enemies.

The donor— prepares the hero or gives the hero some helpful object

hedwig

Hedwig, Harry’s owl, gives Harry his acceptance letter into Hogwarts, thus making Harry aware of his powers and allowing him to learn about magic.

The (magical) helper— helps the hero in the quest, often acts as a side-kick to the hero

ron hermionie

Ron and Hermione help Harry throughout all his quests to help keep him alive and to make sure he succeeds in his battle against Voldemort

The princess- This would be the woman of affection to be won but in todays less sexist environment its anything the hero wants and is willing to go on a quest for

hogwarts

Harry has many things he desires throughout the books, he wishes to learn magic, to stay close to his friends, but most of all he wants to keep Hogwarts, his safe place and home to many of his friends, safe from evil.

Her father- Again this was originally mean that the father gave the hero permission to marry the princess, however now its any one who wants the hero to get the prize.

dumbledore

Professor Dumbledore, head teacher of Hogwarts also wants to keep Hogwarts safe, knowing Harry is the schools only hope he often encourages Harry to do dangerous things for the good of the school.

The dispatcher— character who sends the hero on his quest

hagrid

Hagrid has a little more concern for the safety of Harry than Dumbledore, but he still knows that Harry must be able to help everyone, so he gives Harry words of advice to help him on his way.

False hero— takes credit for the hero’s actions or tries to marry the princess.

draco

Draco constantly attempts to sabotage the plans of the good guys, nobody really knows why except that he is a horrible person.

Genre Research

Genre is about dividing media into appropriate categories that have different codes, conventions and expectations from audiences in order for the media to reach the right audience and collect the best profits and ratings. This is especially prominent in film where genre is very clear cut and is used to decide the audience of the movie being made before its made. This also causes the audience to have certain expectations of the film they’re about to see when they purchase the dvd or the cinema ticket. This allows the producers of the film to easily asses what the audience is looking for and put the expected conventions into the film to get the best reviews and therefore increase revenue. This is good for the audience as it means they can easily asses the types of media they prefer to consume and pick out whatever they want to purchase according to the genre, and it is good for the producers as they know what their audience wants from their product and can cater to their needs.

The Thriller genre is all about emotional battles of wits between good and evil, heroes and villains and keeping the audience ‘on the edge of their seats’ which is done using the plot line, music and lighting. Thriller as a genre has been popular since before the film industry became popular. Lots of story books from the 18th century and before that have all the common conventions we have in modern thriller movies, such as the epic poem by Homer, The Odyssey, which was written in the ancient Greek era. This poem was later made into a play, which were a popular form of entertainment before movies and cinema existed. At the time The Odyssey would have either been called a tragedy or a comedy, as those were the only popular genres of the time. However his epic poem broke the normal conventions that allowed his work to stand alone from the standard of the time. Many people could have called this play an old time action adventure. I would say that today we could consider The Odyssey a thriller as the theme of constant battles of good vs evil throughout the poem and the use of emotion throughout constantly keeps the audience second-guessing what comes next. The book “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelly was written in the 18th century and though it was released as a horror it has many of the conventions we today would associate with a thriller. In the book there is a strong sense of good and evil, alone with more emotional factors such as death and love. At the time the book would have been considered a horror but by todays means it wouldn’t even be close to a horror as our views on what is horrifying has changed drastically since the publishing of “frankenstein”. Today it might be a paranormal thriller, or most probably a Scifi thriller, due to the conventions of the mad scientist and the theme of science being ever present in the novel. it is a good example of a thriller text as though it was written such an age ago in the 18th century it is still widely read and enjoyed today and is still relevant to the world today to the point of being taught in schools and having hundreds of reboots in literature, film, TV drama, comic books and artwork.

frankenweenie

(from the Tim Burton Disney movie Frankenweenie 2012. A readapted, rebooted version of Mary Shellys ‘Frankenstien’ novel, targeted towards children)

In more modern times of films, Alfred Hitchcock is a highly acclaimed director and is considered to be one of the fist Thriller directors, directing films such as “The Man Who Knew Too Much” and “39 Steps”. In the days of Alfred Hitchcock’s first movies, thrillers were expected to mainly be psychologically testing, almost like crime dramas today they had a sense of supsense. The audience expected the film to keep them guessing till the end. The Thriller industry was based on more intellelcutal movies that had shocking plot twists and took the watcher on a rollercoaster of different emotions. In the days of Alfred Hitchcocks movies age ratings weren’t assigned to movies and it was down to parents as to what movies they wanted their children to see, however most of the time children did not expect to be accompanied to a Thriller movie as they weren’t particularly mature or frightening. Nowadays thriller films tend to feature higher age ratings due to bloody violence and more fear being introduced into the plot lines, such as “The Woman in Black” 2012, that has gore, violence and fear from the onset, gaining itself a 13A certificate rating.

woman_in_black the 39 steps

The most popular idea of the film genre comes from the very popular and influential movie Scream, that came out in 1996 and has remained incredibly popular today, spurring 5 critically acclaimed sequels, numberous parodies and an audience as big as the genre it created, Scream was the first ‘Slasher’ film. A branch of of the classic Thriller genre,

The newly famous actress Jennifer Lawrence has recently rocketed in popularity due to her leading role in the thriller franchise “The Hunger Games”, however she has appeared in many Thriller movies before those ones such as “House at the End of the Street” playing the lead role of Elissa and has appeared in the “X-Men” movies “Days of Future Past” and “Apocalypse” as both characters Raven and Mystique. Her importance in modern media, especially thriller movies has made her a huge success, gaining a her a huge fan base and is a highly valued actress amoung directors as her part in a movie could potentially draw huge box office profits. this is because she has become connected to the genre, and therefore people expect what sort of movie it will be simply by the actress who performs in the movie. Her success can be highly accredited to her giant presence in the movie industry and she has received many awards for this, including an Oscar for best actress, a BAFTA and two Golden Globes.

SHOWBIZ Insider 092353

The film “Inception” is highly acclaimed in the eyes of most directors, critics and the public alike due to its unique plotline and how it has became such a classic hit. The new technology used on set as well as in film was considered groundbreaking for its time and thus it now serves as one of the modern classics of the film era. Inception, directed by Christopher Nolan, became a giant hit from the onset as its fast paced, action packed, high budget trailer depicting New York city in a wreck of destruction and epic special effects took hold of its audience. Christopher Nolan, who already had a big name as a director by this point and Leonardo DiCaprio, who was then and is now to this day a highly cherished and talented Hollywood actor gave audiences across the world high expectations for Inception, and the movie, in my opinion, met the highest of expectations and deserved every praise it received. The movie is cinematic gold. From the top class acting from Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Page’s excellent performance as the female lead role, to the flawless special effects to the seamless editing throughout, this movie gave Action Thriller a new meaning. This movie combines the old with the new of the Thriller genre. Taking some of Alfred Hitchcock’s desire to play on the audiences mind and drive the thrill of the movie with emotion and having the watcher questioning right to the end, Nolan blends this with more modern expectations of thrillers, a fast paced action movie lies beneath this epic mind puzzle of a movie, earning it all the praise it deserves.

REFERENCES

Filmography:

Inception

Frankenweenie

The Hunger Games

House at the End of the Street

X-men

Days of Future Past

Apocalypse

Subverting the genre and improving my film

The genre of my piece is going to be a thriller. After a class discussion I decided to make some important changes to my first movie idea to make my media project a little more interesting. I originally planned for my character to simply be in a nightmare sequence while sleeping at work so that by the time he woke up we could have his whole backstory. However I have decided to have only some elements of this remain in my piece, as my original concept was rather boring and very clichéd. I changed my original idea to having the nightmare sequence to happen while the character is at work to present the ongoing issues the character faces, and making it easier for the audience to understand. I believe having the character at a psychiatrist also will portray a lot more to the audience than simply having the nightmare such as that the character has an on-going mental illness that the character is struggling with this in day-to-day life. Also, seeing the character in his everyday attire will give a lot of indications to the audience as to what kind of person he is. I also believe that seeing the character in a very innocent and vulnerable state is going to get more of the audience’s affections for him and make them feel sympathy for him. I like this idea as normally in thriller movies the producers don’t try to focus on the audiences relationship with the characters as much as I believe they should, I feel if the audience has a strong emotional attachment with the character in my piece they are more likely to be moved by the piece as a whole and will be more easily influenced by events in the film. A good example of this would be in “Spiderman” as the movie depicted the personal life of Peter Parker, not just the acton packed life of his alter ego, Spiderman. This was effective at making the audience relate and empathise with him as a person and therefore they were more emotionally affected whenever he was in a difficult position. I did like this as a creative step as it meant that once a relationship was established between the audience and your character you are in a very good position to manipulate and influence their emotions. This is especially important for Thriller movies as the whole point of the genre is to keep the audience in suspense and to keep playing on their emotions.

spiderman

(Here we see Spiderman and his girlfriend Mary Jane in the movie Spiderman (2002). The audience builds up empathy for Spiderman through them being able to identify with his ‘true identity’ Peter Parker. Therefore in scenes where Spiderman is with his girlfriend there is a sense of joy throughout the audience as they are happy that the ‘good guy’ is in a positive situation. Similarly when he is in a compromising situation the audience feels tense and upset because they don’t want to see someone they empathise with in a negative situation.)

thriller conventions

I had to think in depth bout how I was going to make my idea go from a storyboard to a film. I had to think about things such as locations, filming times and how I’m going to film it (the use of angles, camera techniques etc.). For example my original idea for the chasing scene was to have the actor run and me run after him with my camera. However in test shots I did while deciding these things I found that the outcome was very messy, shaky and looked very amateurish, leading to the viewer feeling uncomfortable watching such a disorganised scene. I took some influence from “The Hunger Games” movie “Mockingjay” as there were plenty of scenes that used the handheld camera in very high action scenes, in the movie I liked this so I decided to try it, however it didn’t work as well for me when I tried it as the look was just too messy. I had to think of a new idea to improve the outcome of my scene, so I thought about different ideas. One of them was to film my actor running on a wide shot with a stationary camera, however on film though the shot looked neat it also didn’t portray any emotion. I wanted to try panning the camera as the actor ran, I liked how this looked when it was a mid shot at it gave a rather interesting clip of the actor running, however it didn’t portray a very scary looking scene, it didn’t give the impression of being chased like what I wanted, so finally I had the idea of a dolly cam. The dolly cam looked much better on film as it looked steadier, and made it easier to watch and understand. I also like the smoothness of the camera shot as it gives a very high quality, almost professional finish. Though it takes a lot more time to set up and takes more effort to use, I feel like the dolly cam is worth the effort as it gives perfect results almost every time. I wanted to make the dolly cam scene a little more interesting and a bit scarier so I thought I might cut together the shots of my dolly cam and the shots of my handheld cam and see how well the results are.

I feel like this scene in particular is very difficult for me to make decisions about as it has the potential to look more like a horror movie than a thriller as being chased in the dark is definitely a well known and very clichéd convention of horror films. However I like how it fits the standard of a Thriller film in my movie if done right as it will hopefully have the desired affect on the audience. The reason why I want a horror convention in my thriller film is because like thrillers, horror films are very good at building suspense in the audience. I feel like if I can get this scene right it will set the mood for the rest of my film. The danger is that because of this scene people will misread what my genre is, I can prevent it from looking too horror like by simply making this the only scene of that nature, and have all the rest of them just being very high emotion scenes with bright lighting. I will also edit the chase scene with a piece of music in a major key rather than a minor, as minors are more often associated with horrors and major keys more often are associated with thriller and action movies. This will balance out with the horror film conventions.

Use of lighting is very important to a scene as it tells the audience some key signifiers, such as the time of day, whether it is indoor or outdoor, the light source etc. the colour of the light is also a key signifier. Testing my camera in different lighting conditions it was no surprise to find out that the lighting it gives the best quality in is natural daylight. This is good as it means that I can film outdoors in the morning till evening very easily, however it serves to be an obstacle in my filming when I need to film indoors or in the dark. I know that for indoor lighting it might be best to film beside a window, as this will give the best source of light, however there are some scenes that I need to film in darkness to give the right effect. This is serving to be a problem, as my camera will not pick up anything in the dark. I had been given several solutions, i.e., to use a small lamp so I can film, however when tested the lamp illuminated all the wrong places and when moved it looked obvious and out of place, also it gave off an unpleasantly coloured tinge that my camera picked up as a yellow-orange shade that completely ruined the mood of the scene. I asked a cinematographer what I should do with this situation and I was taught how to alter the brightness settings on my camera. This means I can film in the locations normal lighting so that I can film and then I can go back and edit my piece to make it dimmer and darker. This way I have control over how dark I want my scene to be after I have the film, so I can change it as much as I like without having to go back and re film it.

Thriller films are often associated with dimmer lighting but lots of shadows, this is often achieved in a studio by using only one source of light as it illuminates the scene but will not have any lighting to cancel out shadows. Sadly, I don’t have access to a studio, or to any professional studio lights; however, I know how I can use the same technique with my current materials. Different types of light connote to different things, such as a yellow light is like an indoor light, like a lamp or a light bulb, or an outside streetlight. A blue light is a computer or television screen mostly, though it is sometimes layered very subtly over a white light in studio to give the impression of a professional and clean environment, such as a lab or a workplace. A plain white light is usually used when the scene needs to be illuminated well, such as in an outdoors scene, or a cityscape. It brings a very bright mood if the lighting is bright and dark mood if the lighting is dark. However white lighting alone doesn’t really connote to anything without a scene that amplifies that mood, white lighting simply looks plain.

REFERENCES

Websites

Buffam, N. (2015). Genre: Thriller – The Script Lab. [online] Thescriptlab.com. Available at: http://thescriptlab.com/screenplay/genre/thriller# [Accessed 2 Dec. 2015].

Free Online Film School: Learn Filmmaking, (2010). Film Lighting Techniques and Tips: With Pretty Pictures!. [online] Available at: http://www.lavideofilmmaker.com/filmmaking/film-lighting-tips.html [Accessed 2 Dec. 2015].

Filmsound.org, (2015). Introduction to Film Sound. [online] Available at: http://filmsound.org/marshall/ [Accessed 2 Dec. 2015].

Infoplease.com, (2015). Movies and Film: A Brief History of Sound in Movies. [online] Available at: http://www.infoplease.com/cig/movies-flicks-film/brief-history-sound-movies.html [Accessed 2 Dec. 2015].

Filmsite.org, (2015). Main Film Genres. [online] Available at: http://www.filmsite.org/genres.html [Accessed 2 Dec. 2015].

Creative verision of Film Poster

I did this by putting in all my information into a powerpoint presentation and taking screenshots of each slide. I felt that this was the best way to present this information clearly as it is a means of collecting all my information and condensing it into several slides. This also allowed me to organize my points so that each heading was a point that I was making rather than having large blocks of information to read through. As well as this when the PowerPoint was being played this would mean that I can read through as each slide progressed, allowing me to see each page quickly and efficiently. I designed the points with a creative but simplistic design because the slides are so text heavy it would make it more difficult to read as the PowerPoint progressed. I enjoy using PowerPoint as a creative and educational tool as it allows me to quickly and easily put together my information. I added the pictures of the posters on each slide in order to make it easy to reference back to the images I was referring to as I read it

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Film Poster analysis

The-Hunger-Games-Catching-Fire

The Hunger Games Catching Fire is a Thriller. The genre is most commonly known for creating suspense and excitement in the audience, the hero often being an outsider, but usually very knowledgeable/moral. We see this in the poster through the connotations and signifiers it presents to us, the poster shows a single protagonist, denoting that she is alone and seemingly very comfortable with this. The hero in the typical thriller is usually being the one who reveals the truth or solves the issue in the plot, we are also shown this in the poster with her hostile stance and her grasp on the arrow, we see that she is the hero and will be the one who will ‘save the day’. Often times in a Thriller the hero and the villain have something in common and can be seen as similar, we don’t see a villain in the poster in person but we do see how the protagonist can have traits similar to one through the fire imagery, as well as the statement at the top “Remember who the enemy is”, suggesting that perhaps there is some controversy regarding who the true villain is. Thrillers normally depict a battle between the protagonist and the antagonist, normally the battle is for justice. The poster here doesn’t give much away in terms of justice, but defiantly connotes to a battle, the stance Jenifer Lawrence (portraying Katniss, the ‘hero’ of The Hunger Games) is defiant and aggressive, she is in a fighting stance with her arrow aimed directly at the viewer, as if even the audience is a part of this battle.

The most obvious signifier in the poster is the use of blacks, golds and reds and the image of fire. Fire being mostly symbolic of danger it is also a symbol of passion, destruction and power. All of these are key themes in The Hunger Games, as a thriller film these are common key themes in thriller films and young adult literature. The institution who is producing this needs to know how to attract young adult literature fans to a thriller film and perhaps the use of color is a way to portray that this is both a thriller film, but it also represents the anger, passion and romance dynamic from the novel that the film was adapted from. The way the fire is behind the actress and bringing light from behind her is one way to depict a saviour as the light from behind is symbolic of the hero being the bringer of light, which has some religious context but it has made its way into contemporary media. The fact that this isn’t just light its fire has more of a dangerous, maybe rebellious twist to it and maybe even suggests the heroes rage and her desire to destroy. The fire is mostly framing the image and emphasizing the black, red and gold in the background and text. Gold being a colour of wealth, fame and beauty. Gold as well as wealth is also linked with being a feminine colour, especially next to the red that can be considered a very ‘sexy’ and passionate colour when associated with women. This amplifies the protagonists femininity in the poster, maybe hinting that this is some sort of plot point in the movie.

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We see in this still taken from the movie that the imagery does not change in the film itself, Lawrence is still portrayed in black costume and continues to wield an arrow. We also see how in the film she is different to how she is portrayed in the poster, with her face giving the appearance of being free from makeup, her hair tied back rather than free flowing and her facial expression shows that she is scared in this image, whereas in the poster she looks calm and collected. This is because the poster is designed to show her in the best possible light in order for the audience to look up to her and view her as a hero, but in the film we are led as an audience to want to sympathize and identify with her. This is why a poster may portray her as being strong, confident, sexy and defiant, with bold colors and powerful imagery, as an audience who hasn’t seen the film but has read the books will want to see her in this light in the movies. The institution that created this film (Lionsgate) wants to make sure that the image of Katniss on the poster is striking and bold in order for it to be interesting to the audience and for it to become a talking point, however in the film they want her to appear true to the novels that she was adapted from in order for the audience to be pleased. This is why the connotations of Katniss in the films is different from that of the poster.

The clothes the actress is wearing are skin tight and all black. Black often connotes to depression and death but in this photo, next to the passionate reds and golds signifying wealth and danger, and that the clothes are skin tight on the model (relating maybe to fashionable clothing and femininity, again.) the colour black takes on a new image. It is elegant and symbolic of maturity, rage and control, signifying a cool and collected hero despite the rage and passion she feels for her cause. It is also very powerful as a feminist image and gives the ultimate image of ‘girl power’. The close up shot of the protagonist alone gives the viewer the idea of there only being a single protagonist (which is true to the movie) and their feeling of isolation. This links to the black imagery of the model, being alone may be considered to be a signifier that she is weak, however the way that Jenifer Lawrence is portrayed in this poster makes her appear completely in control and is above all, independent. In the Hunger Games the protagonist feels alone in her cause as nobody else seems to understand who the enemy is (or is dead) and her being the only figure in the poster seems to be a direct reference to that. The protagonists stance in the image (bow raised, looking directly at where its aimed) denotes power and confidence in her cause. The bow alone is an ancient symbol of war, dating back to Roman times, which the film has many references to. Her long, flowing hair relating to femininity and beauty but it blowing out of her face showing her focus on the item she is aiming at, communicating to the audience how she is a fighter, a leader and is determined to fight for her cause. How the actresses face has been made up to look gives her the effect of sharp high cheekbones and a high nose, all the contours of her face have been made sharper and more angled, intensifying how powerful, defiant and feminine she appears in the poster.

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Here is a screencap from the movie, we see how even in Katniss’ more ‘glamorous’ moments she is still associated with the color red for anger, passion and femininity. She scowls at the audience in this picture (there is an audience in front of her in the movie, as well as a camera crew broadcasting this onto television) as if she is already angry. Even in her most feminine moments we see that she still retains her passion and her dominance, she wears red as a signifier of anger, her face is showing that although she is dressed for the audiences benefit of seeing her as beautiful or feminine, she hasn’t lost her own defiance. This picture from the movie almost perfectly creates the same sense of heroism and passion that the poster did, we see here how the poster is expressing to the audience the same tone of the films, there is a lot of bleakness throughout the film, and in the poster through the use of dark colours, but the red, the gold, and the image of Katniss glaring at the audience with contempt all suggest the build up of a battle.

A Similar poster is this one for Batman The Dark Knight. Both have common uses of having the protagonist a solitary figure in the center. Both have used fire in their image but in the second it is more likely to be linked with destruction and power than passion and femininity as the fire is burning up a building. The solitary character in this poster is more of an ambiguous figure as he is dressed in all black which is more commonly associated with the villain. However having the camera angled upwards means we are literally “looking up at him” which indicates a hero.  This is different to the first poster because having him in the centre looking directly at the camera would take away from the ambiguity of the movie. Also in The Hunger Games poster we are at eye level with the actress, signifying we are equal to her, rather than below her. In the first poster the fire is very bright and glowing, defining and lighting her face to give the viewer a good clear view of her expression and facial features. In this one you can’t see his face at all, the fire is used to completely cast with shadows and the parts of his face you can see are obscured by a mask. The different uses of fire in both photos really tells the difference between the two movies as The Hunger Games one paints the actress as an obvious hero, filled with rage and power of destruction. However, in The Dark Night poster he looks very dark, almost melancholy, and completely detached from the fire. His stance, like the first one denotes rage and power, but his a more concealed kind.

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Film Openings

Wall-E

Wall-E is an animated adventure/comedy movie which is aimed towards children. Animated childrens movies often have conventions such as a protagonist in a good vs evil battle and musical numbers. Musical numbers are very common in Disney movies especially as they appeal to younger audiences who can sing along with the lyrics. Other animated children’s movies that have themes like musical numbers and a good vs evil battle includes Disney’s Lilo and Stitch. This is often a typical narrative that can be seen in a number of films. Children’s movies are animated as they keep kids interested with the vivid colours and imaginative creations that cannot be made out of a live action movie. The visual appeal is incredibly important for children’s films as without these vivid colours the film would not hold their attention. The titles above demonstrate the vivid colours that are used in Wall-E and how they draw in the audience.

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The 2D and almost child like drawing of some of the scenes in the movie are attractive to children as it looks more creative to them and like something themselves could draw. 2D effects work well in the end credits to this animated movie as it contrasts against the high tech high budget animating they had the whole way through the movie. It makes the viewer more interested in the artistic elements of the scenes, which is what the designers were looking for as the mimicking of art movements is key to the theme of the credits. The below screen shot is taken from later on in the credits and shows how well the credits have recreated ancient and more modern artistic movements. The different techniques that are employed in Wall-E demonstrate how there are a number of different styles that can be used in animation. However unfortunately 3D animation seems to have monopolised the market and is currently the most popular at the cinema.

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The whole ending sequence is animated and depicts a childlike and cartoony history of human life, starting at the discovery of fire. The only difference between the title sequence of Wall. E and the true history of humanity is that there are robots present. This possibly implies that humans are re building the earth from scratch and the robots are helping them this time around. As these are ending credits it is mostly acting as a continuation of the movie, as it is giving a full insight of what happens after the movie. As the sequence goes on the form of art becomes advanced in sophistication; the first images being cave drawings, next there are mosaics, then charcoal and pencil drawings that depict humans becoming more and more agriculturally developed (farming fish and plants), the art then continues to develop through different art movements. This is signifying a rebuilding of society and going back through the motions that earth first went through.

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Using this as the end scene brings closure to the movie. The reason for this is it gives the audience some insight as to what happens beyond the movie.  You can tell that this movie is targeted towards children from its end credits as how happy and colourfully animated they are, as well as how simplistically everything has been drawn and shown so not to confuse kids who might not understand as well as an older person might. The extension beyond what has happened in the move might also lay the groundwork for a sequel. This is a common technique as it helps generate money from the previous audience who watched the first film. A good example of this is Toy Story which currently has 3 films in the franchise as well as a number of short movies which have been produced. I would predict that in the future Wall-E might get a sequel which would pick up after the events of this.

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The use of the art becoming more and more sophisticated throughout the video and then taking on an 8-bit type of theme during the actual credits makes the credits seem more modern as it brings to mind the current technologies in computers and gaming. Andrew Stanton (the co-creator of the ending credits) said ” There was a reference to Pong in the film, so we figured this would be the next step in the development of that gaming technology for them.”. The use of gaming characters in films was taken further in the Disney animated film ‘Wreck it Ralph’. This included a number of characters from video games and help draw upon the nostalgia factor. This would mainly appeal to parents but since parents are taking their children to see these films it would again help the film be more successful.

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The Last of Us

Like the end credits of Wall-E the opening titles for The Last of Us is used to show the viewer what happens over a long period of time. The Last of  Us is a thriller game aimed mostly towards those over 18 years old so the conventions are very different to those in a children’s animation, and are normally very different to that of a film as game and film have completely different audiences, narratives, conventions and purposes. However this opening scene is a great example of an opening scene that uses simple imagery and symbols in order to entice the audience. Thriller title sequences are normally used to get emotions running high before the scenes finally begin, this was used as a means of creating a ‘buffer’ between the true opening scene (which was all gameplay) and the rest of the game. This was because in trials it was found that game testers found the opening scene so emotional that they needed a break from playing, and this opening scene was thus created. This shows how the opening scenes have different purposes depending on the media that is being produced, however, they all seem to have the same conventions.

In this opening the technical effect of black and white gives an effect of ambiguity as the audience doesn’t really understand what they are looking at. This thus creates tensions as well as curiosity that makes the audience want to find out more by playing the rest of the game. The news reports being read over a quiet and melancholy guitar track has the functional purpose of expressing that what we are hearing in the minute of the opening credits is actually news sound clips from the past 20 years, allowing the audience to understand that a large passage of time has happened while updating them on the story before they continue playing. It is possible that the creators decided that these opening credits needed to have simple imagery in monochrome would allow for the audience to be undistracted from the large amount of auditory information that they are receiving, allowing the audience to focus on the voiceover instead of the images on screen.

The co creator of the game stated that he wanted opening credits to allow the player to recover from the death of the playable character the scene before, though normally games do not have opening credits, this is because as games are much more interactive than film, players would prefer to get on with playing rather than watch a film-like opening, although some games will include cut scenes mid game in order to give information, which happens to be the same purpose (or one of the many purposes) for this games opening scene. The melancholy guitar track works well after following this scene as though the cut scene into the credits is to allow the gamer to have a break after the emotional scene that they just encountered. The soothing guitar track helps for the audience who are playing the game to take a break from the gameplay and become observers for a moment. However the effect would be completely different without the background music as it creates a sense of peace, without it the news report would sound intimidating or demanding, however it doesn’t distract from the important sound (the news report) but rather compliments it so that the audience can listen to what they need to without being distracted by the background music.

Edward Scissorhands

The opening credits of Edward Scissorhands has all an all out creepy vibe. From the use of dimmed out blue lighting and the panning camera up the stairs. Theres lots of use of the camera panning close up to random steampunk type trinkets that brings a sense of disorientation as instead of seeing the overall image of the room or places these things are in we just get little snippets of information. The scene where the camera pans up a flight of rickety old stairs gives a sense of direction but this is broken up after the random cut scenes of trinkets and other abstract items come into the scene. Theres a real sense of abstractness throughout the who scene, the iron gates being followed by the blue lit human hands is one and it just gives a really unsettling vibe to the audience.

The snow over the opening title for 20th Century Fox (the institution that produced this) has connotations of winter, a fairly dismal time in terms of the weather conditions and how winter time is usually darker than the rest of the year. This links in with the ‘creepiness’ created by the music and the blue lights that create a ‘cold’ feeling. However, the snow is also used to connote to Christmas, a more festive time of year that is also signified by snow, we see this continued throughout the opening with the Christmas cookies being shown also. The contrast in the signifiers gives the audience a clue that the film may not be as creepy as the opening may suggest. As well as this we also get a sense that this might be a ‘Christmas film’, however unconventional it may be, Edward Scissorhands has been considered a Christmas movie since it has came out.

The music also adds to this effect, although at the start it is completely downbeat in minor, as the trailer goes on it picks up some more enthusiastic aspects while maintaining a creepy feel. It begins to sound more like a church hymn than an unsettling piece as it begins to include the singing voices and the delicate piano undertones which adds to the unsettling theme throughout the opening scene while also adding to the Christmas imagery, such as the snow and the sugar cookies I mentioned earlier.

The technical use of blue lighting gives the whole opening a creepy sort of vibe and puts the audience in a more disorientated state of mind for when the movie starts. This fits with the genre of the movie as it is a dark fantasy movie with undertones of romance its title scene should represent this. This also leaves the audience feeling confused and solemn which allows the movie to continue to influence the viewers emotions. As blue connotes to calmness and sadness, this being used along with the melancholy music in the background makes the whole opening credits very downbeat and dismal.

The use of close ups on random inanimate objects gives them a sense of importance and makes each item that has been seen in close up in the scene a personal closeness that couldn’t be achieved with a further out shot. When each item is in close up they are also either perfectly on centre and fit the framing or slightly off centre and a little out of frame. The mix of the two makes for a perfect variation and keeps the opening scenes interesting to watch. the use of bringing items on and off centre while still keeping them the item of focus using the rule of thirds further builds on the sense of disorientation these credits are creating. Having the items of focus switch over seamlessly gives the audience lots of things to focus on at once, one after the other and means they will not get bored while watching. The transition of focus items is always interesting, such as the transition from the off centre, out of frame stairs to the door. How the camera is canted and gradually turns to put the door perfectly in centre and in frame is the start of the opening credits and gives the audience a sense of confusion from the very start as the stairs are shot at a very awkward angle it means that the audience are trying to figure out what they’re looking at from the very start.

REFERENCES

Websites:

www.artofthetitle.com –  ‘The Last Of Us’ (The Art of the Title – The Last of Us) – accessed 1/12/15

www.makeuseof.com/tag/x-of-the-best-video-game-opening-scenes-of-all-time (Make Use of) – accessed  1/12/15

http://uk.complex.com/pop-culture/2011/06/12-best-video-game-openings (The 12 Best Video Game Openings Of All Time) – accessed 1/12/15

www.writing-world.com/fiction/opening.shtmlWriting-World.com (Components Of A Good Opening Scene) – accessed 1/12/15

Filmography:

2008 – Wall-e (Director)

2013 – The Last of Us (Director)

2002 – Lilo and Stitch (Director)

1990 – Edward Scissorhands (Tim Burton)