Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Thriller Film - Evaluation

In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
The music we used was influenced mainly from two films; layer cake and Kidulthood, combining computer-electronic sounds and “hip hop” or “dub” music. The music was made by a student from City College on his computer at home with a strong bass beat and electronic overtones. The music gets faster toward the end, developing on itself using different types of music and creating dramatic tension. Comments were positive for the music, “Loved the music” and “music fits well”, however one “could have changed it a bit” and “gun shot not very realistic” showed we needed more variety, however it was hard to find good music and a good gun shot without copyright.Our editing was simple and fast paced, picking up audience interest and drawing them into the film. This feature is common in action-thrillers and other types of thriller as it pulls in the audience, and as they commented back “good editing” and “very good” showed we did a good job.We used some interesting camera techniques to create effect, like the shot (used twice) of the characters feet progressing up the stairs, inspired from Millers Crossing, which also uses the shot to create tension (as we hoped to in our film), however in the audience feedback, one audience member commented that the shot could have been steadier. We could use this in the future by developing a way to maneuver the camera up the stairs with a more steady hand. Another was a close up of Simon’s phone, showing the failed phone call. This type of shot is used in many films, to draw attention to the phone or conversation specifically. However, audience feedback made us aware to the lack of interesting variety of shot distances, as we were focusing on what was in the shot more than if it was mid, long or close.We filmed at night/sunset, so he film had a dark & mysterious mise-en-scene. An audience member commented on the dark “nice dark shots” showing we probably went the right way filming the plot at night. A typical thriller convention is that main action is shot at night, especially criminal actions like robbery and murder, as we had in our film, creating a more sinister feel to the film.A typical prop for a gangster/action/crime-thriller is a gun, used by “goodies” or “baddies”. We had 2 guns in our film, used by both the main male protagonists, and a gun exchange between teenagers, in an unprofessional manner, inspired by the unprofessional usage of weapons in Kidulthood, and Layer Cake. We also had our characters for a short while on tape, which is a typical gangster-thriller convention, and also a sign of a flawed hero or a bad figure. We used the smoking as a gangster theme mainly, but the flawed hero works as Simon isn’t really a criminal, but is obviously being influenced.We used quite a few other thriller conventions like the urban setting as we filmed in a busy street, and we used a lot of mystery and intrigue by not showing the house-owners real face giving him a hidden identity similar to that in Layer Cake as we never learn the male protagonist’s name. We also used stairs shortly, in our feet-close-up shot, although a typical set of thriller stairs are spiraling, we thought it added to the feeling of a chase and Simon getting caught. However one audience feedback said that the male protagonist wasn’t clear.We also use the typical shadows convention, some more prominent than others and mainly created by the house-owner, adding to his mystery. Our favorite shadow was the one when he walks up to his door and his silhouette is cut out on the side of the house. Shadows are a big thriller signifier and are used in many classic thriller films like china town and millers crossing for varied effects and connotations. We also use vanishing points in the shot outside before Simon enters the house, a simple thriller signifier used in films such as Layer Cake, to create effect. We think that this vanishing point suggested there was a hard escape for Simon & Co. if they thought about running, creating claustrophobia, which is also used towards the end of the film when Simon is trapped in the main bedroom about to face the house-owner, created by how the camera stays close to him, and his scruffy actions again suggest a flawed hero like in Vertigo, with fear of heights. The use of guns to make the main characters seem flawed, resulting to extreme violence for a simple crime, which is a popular characteristic in thriller films.
Audience feedback gave us a few comments varying from “Who were they? Why were they there? Got a bit confusing who was who.” To “lots of signifiers”, with suggestions for “more lighting effects”. This showed us we had the right idea planned, however we needed to display it better on screen, with better lighting.We didn’t really challenge thriller aspects of films, as we wanted to develop on the ideas from other films and other signifiers. This worked quite well we think as it made it easier to focus on simple thriller aspects of films.

How does your media product represent particular social groups?
All the characters in our film are male, most notably the main characters, both represented as “violent” gangsters, however one is represented as inexperienced and youthful, and the other more classy and older. The younger one acquires a low social class on screen, and seems quite poor; however the classy gangster has a higher social class and obviously richer, gaining power with his steady gun actions. The cast is represented as a mainly white-based gangster group, however Jitmal is mixed race, half Sri Lankan. Audience feedback showed one person asking “Why weren’t there any ladies?” proving the noticeable gender casting, and how it would appeal to different people.We don’t really have a representation of women as there are no women in our introduction, however we could be suggesting that women are usually represented as more innocent and don’t get involved with gang-crime, as we represent gang-crime as a man’s job.We represent men as criminals who like violence, and act about the law. Original thrillers represented men as rebellious figures, however nowadays we represent them as power hungry, and that the only way they can prove their power is by committing crime’s and making people fear them, like how Simon resorts to an armed robbery because of his friends.We don’t really represent a villain, hero or victim in our thriller as both characters seem to be in the wrong (resorting to gun’s), however we have tried to represent Simon as an innocent villain, blurring the lines of victim and villain as he’s young, however committing an extreme crime.We have sort of represented the modern world’s gangsters and other social groups as wrong do-er’s, as none of them seem to do anything morally right.In general, we represent gagster’s as being aggressive criminals (negatively), and we represent them as mainly men who are powerful but vulnerable and are subjected to influence of others.

What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?
The kind of media institution that would distribute out film would have probably distributed films alike. I researched Kidulthood, Adulthood and Layer Cake to find what company distributed the films. I found that Kidulthood and Adulthood were distributed by mainly thriller-producing films, and Layer Cake was distributed by an independent film distributor from America (and more mainstream)The most probable company would be Pathé Pictures (Adulthood’s distributor) because the other types of films it has distributed have been more main-stream and suitable for the type of thriller we have made. However Working Title is also a possibility for the distribution of our film, as although is produces main-stream films, they like to pick up and develop new talent (like ours), and they are a British film company, and our film is British. However its connection with Universal Studio’s makes it’s films more mainstream and less independent, however our thriller isn’t extremely independent or a risk to a company.None of the films I researched were eccentrically showed on TV, proving that a gangster-thriller like these are more likely to be released in the Cinema’s, on DVD and on Blu-Ray.All these researched films were shown in multiplex cinemas instead of art-house ones and our group agreed it was a more likely choice of cinema to show the film, because smaller ones (art-house) show more independent and classic films that aren’t so mainstream.

Who would be the audience for your media product?
We researched the films that inspired us and found the audience demographics that seemed to enjoy it.With all 3 films the most popular age group were the 18-29’s, closely followed by the under 18’s, however the movies had a mix in the gender preferation, as both gender’s seemed to enjoy the films pretty much equally (information acquired from thought that the audience would mainly be under 29, and above 13 or 14, as they are the sort of age groups that enjoy watching action-thrillers about young adults (teens or early 20s). However, we thought that males would enjoy it more, and we targeted them more than girls by making all our characters male, though this will probably put some girls off, it didn’t seem to affect views on other male-leading films.Our target audience (working class, young adults and mainly male, and made up of mainly students as earlier questionnaires proved 75% of people who enjoyed gangster-thrillers were students) would probably watch TV drama’s like CSI or The Bill, as they have similar aspects, though they would probably usually be out with friends, and only watch the occasional gangster-thriller film.

How did you attract/address your audience?
As I’ve already stated, we were aiming for working class or students, who were young adults and mostly male.I think that the fact that the main characters were young adults, and all male, would attract many people to the film, as they could relate to them or find it amusing to see what other people like them would get up to. We also attracted the audience with the urban mise-en-scene, with a busy street, places that the viewers could relate to as it’s a real place (not fictional), or admire.Our narrative can also attract the audience with the loyalty from the close-knit gang, as the members wait and phone him to help. The audience could sympathize with them or relate to them if they have such a group of friends, and maybe make them think about what they would do. However our audience feedback was confusing with “clear but confusing”, “very clear” and “wasn’t always clear”, showing that some audience members had trouble following the plot (probably because of Jakob playing 2 roles), where others understood. Also we let the audience identify with Simon as we follow him through the story from the gun exchange to the shoot off in the house, as every shot relates to him.We also thought attracting our audience came from a good hook, which proves successful with audience feedback saying we had a “good hook”, mainly because of the mystery and intrigue of the house-owner (faceless) and the quick paced editing which draws the audience to the action, and the mystery of the gun shot at the end and the questions it would raise.

What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?
We learnt a lot throughout the production of the thriller, regarding different aspects of technology including camera work and editing.We developed shooting knowledge, and how to capture certain shots due to the lighting we were given, and learnt that filming once wasn’t good enough if we wanted the best shots, and a full battery was essential. Audience feedback showed us that the majority of our shots were steady and well shot, and the average mark out of 10 was 8.3.We tried to explore different uses of the camera, with some interesting angles and shots used, however we mainly stuck to normal straight on ones. We learnt how to best capture high angle shots and long shots, and how to maneuver the camera up the stairs whilst filming. We had difficulties with some shots, and realized wheels or a skateboard would make things much easier, though we didn’t have access to these so compromised with hand held filming or following the movement with a twist of the camera stand.We developed understanding of creating certain thriller signifiers, like claustrophobia can be created with close ups to make it a busy mise-en-scene and create a trapped feelings.Editing became quite simple after we got the hand of the program, however we had to learn certain effects on the program such as quicken shots, cut shots down, separate sound and video, adding effective titles & transitions (to make it more interesting and effective), and alternating between captured material to create a flowing story with a readable narrative. Although we thought we did quite a good job of fast-paced editing providing how many times we had to cut it down, re film and re capture our material.We also had to learn to edit the music to fit in with the shots, to fit the right bits of music in the right places, so it ended smoothly with a crescendo of sound at the end, which also helped us deal with our problems with speech and silencing parts of he clips, and make other bits louder.

Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?
We feel we have developed on many aspects of our group and learnt more along the way.During our thriller planning we already experienced most of the main points needed; story boards and scripts. However we learnt we needed extra information for filming to go smoothly, like camera angles, shot types and cast movements, planned on separate papers with room diagram’s (in note format for meetings) and dialogue.The filming process was again, different with extra aspects we needed to pay attention to, but we got used to changing camera angles and standing in bushes, and developed understanding of the camera from what we had during the preliminary, with the 180 rule, shot reverse shot and match on action (some used in both, some only in preliminary).The editing process was easier the second time, as we were already mildly familiar with the software and how to edit/rearrange our footage. However we had to learn how to sequence shots more efficiently, as that wasn’t needed in our preliminary. We also had to learn how to use titles on the film foreground, and the effects in and out, as we hadn’t used that before, as with the quickening up shots, rendering and exporting to windows media for YouTube, where we had an advantage of me already having an YT account.We also learnt to share out tasks, as there were many more than from preliminary. Jakob did more of the practical things like acting and editing and ideas, as he’s imaginative and practical. I filmed mainly and edited because Jakob and Caroline thought I had a steady hand, and Caroline planned and edited with me, and helped set up the mise-en-scene before we filmed to make sure it included the appropriate things, as she is organized and prompt.In conclusion, we learnt a lot during the production, especially that we needed to plan further ahead to meet deadlines, and organize/communicate throughout the group to get the best results.

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