Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Evaluation Question 6

Evaluation Question 5

Evaluation Question 4

Evaluation Question 3

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

From our research, recurring distributors of the psychological thrillers are American companies such as Columbia Pictures or Universal Pictures which will help distribute the product over in America.
However, these films have A-list actors and high budgets, and are mostly filmed in America, which is the complete opposite to our media product. The suggests that, unless we were to have a high budget and well known actors, our product would not appeal to the American audience. Therefore our distribution would be targeted in the UK.

Two media institutions from the UK distribute films, which of which some genres are similar to ours.
These are Pathé Distribution and Verve Pictures .

Pathé distribution

is a company that has distributed films such as Memento and Severence. These films have a fairly low budget, Severence being £483,152, which is still more than our product, but for a full film is still a low budget. Like our product, neither of these examples have A-List actor/esses, which suggests that Pathé distribution will distribute products which aren't huge blockbuster hits, but more creative media products. Pathé is involved in all aspects of film making, from production and development to the distribution of the final product.

Verve Pictures is an independent UK film distributor, which specialises in British and independent films. This includes low budget films, compared to the American market. By distributing independent films a media institute such as Verve Pictures would be the type on institution we would use to distribute our film.

Evaluation Question 2

Monday, 10 May 2010

Youtube Links

- 2nd Rough Cut

- Final Cut

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Production and Distribution Logos {DRAFT}

It is uncommon for a film to start without the production and distribution logos being shown before the film. These are a simple way of advertising of the company for the contribution of creating the movie.
Well known hollywood production companies such as Universal

In our own production, we came up with a production company and a distributor, in which we created our own logos. We tried various methods of creating these production titles, with programs such as Flash, iMovie, and finally LiveType, which we found was easiest to use and most effective.

The idea behind our logo was to make a simple text logo, to suit the genre and avoid a tacky look. For our production logo, we chose the name Jameth productions, a mix between names, which makes it less likely to be copyright. The text used is called Gouldy Old Style, which is a serif font, which signifies the genre of thriller. The animation on text is called Elastica, which is a simple shuffle of the text, zooming in and then back out in a jumbled order. The background is black, with an animation of a build up of shapes, which appears behind the text. We like the simplicity of this and feel it is effective for our production logo.

The distributor is called Twisted Media, which we decided upon from the rope being twisted, and could relate to the genre of Psychological thrillers having a twist. For this logo we have gone with just text. Editing the shadowing of each letter to be different than the one next to it, by changing opacity, scale and offset. We feel this creates a bit more of an interesting look to the text, and with the animation, looks as though it has actually been twisted. The animation is called Quick Twist, and it simply twists the text as it comes onto the screen. The colour scheme is black, red and white. The red signifies a danger to the film, and the black and white contrast it to make it stand out.

For a sound track to the logos, we have used two very short soundtracks, using the same instrument as the main sound track, it signifies the production companies fit the genre of the film. The sound also slowly decreases, to easily blend into the soundtrack of the film, which reduces the blunt cut from one soundtrack to another. The soundtrack was created in Garageband, using only Reflective Strings, with a variety of high pitched and low pitched single notes which signify the genre of the film.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010


Psychological Thriller Soundtracks:
For this genre, the soundtrack tends to be slow, which builds up the tension. Through use of low strings and some high pitched strings, or a rhythm that upsets the viewers heart rate, which causes them to feel tense.

Our soundtrack:
For developing our soundtrack, we have to have an idea in what we want it to sound like.
We have decided that is should start off slow, whilst the car pulls in, which builds up tension. To do this we shall have a sequence of one low note which is prolonged. Throughout the main parts of the filming the soundtrack will just build up the general tension, and the ending with the fast editing sequence, quick, high pitched notes shall play, to upset the heart rate of the viewer and create a dramatic atmosphere for the film, until he sits up in bed, when the soundtrack shall die down.

To create our soundtrack we used Garage Band. A piece of software in which you can just pre-recorded sounds on the software to create compositions.
Here is a screen shot of part of producing the soundtrack. We chose to do the whole piece in Reflective Strings, using different pitches to create tension.

In addition to our soundtrack, we added sounds from the Imovie Media library over the sections of the protagonist hanging.
These were to emphasise the thrilling scene of the body hanging. Particular sounds we included were footsteps, heartbeat, clock ticking and there is one where in the actual shooting of the scene a police siren could be heard in the background.

Second Cut

So after the first lot of feedback, we set about making our changes to the production.
With re-shoots, deleting scenes and editing new sequences, we have produced our second cut.
What we still need to do before we finalise our production is:

  • Re-shoot the office scene
  • Create an advanced soundtrack, working on the one we have now to create some more tension.
  • Record the answer machine properly. 

Brief Feedback:
  • "Ending sequence helps it make more sense and looks better" - Emmie Bryett
  • "Good removal of burnt toast, leaves space for more important stuff" - Emma Graveling
  • "Change of the sound track to make it more varied" - Joel Colbourne
  • "Narrative is easier to follow" - Steph Meares
  • "Sound effects with wash in could help signify the dream" - Dave Burrowes 

Monday, 26 April 2010

First Rough Cut

After our first shoots, we edited the footage and put together our first cut.
There are areas in which we still have to film, and others that need to be improved.

We received feedback from our class and from the year 13 class.
However, with our class, we used a boom mike to record the sound unfortunately it wasn't plugged in properly so we cannot hear anything said. But we feel the feedback that was given from the year 13 was good enough for us to improve on.

Here is a video of the feedback given from the year 13's who watched our first cut.

Changes we've decided to make:

  • Delete the toast scene - we felt it was unnecessary, as the idea of foreshadowing was not really seen from the viewers, and we could do with the extra time to keep in the 2 minute limit.
  • Longer wash in effect to the scenes - to increase the idea of a dream
  • New final sequence. Fast takes and quick editing of varied angles of protagonist hanging - this is to create tension and to clearly signify the hanging.
  • Re-shoot the evicted scene, as it takes too long for him to exit and can be replaced by shorter takes and quicker editing.
  • Re-shooting the ending where he sits up in bed, as would be more effective from a straight angle so he sits up to camera, rather from a side view.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Title Name

Originally wanting to use Phantasmagoria as the film title, as we felt it had a relevance to the film, and could appeal to an older audience who know what the word means, however there is numerous films that have used this name, and one is coming out later this year, which means we cannot use it.

[IMDB page for films titled Phantasmagoria]

Film sleeve for the 2010 Phantasmagoria

So our second choice was The Snared. As it's meaning is related to the noose, which then signifies a hanging, letting the audience know before that the film contains such scenes. It also is related to being trapped, which links with the state in which the character feels in his mind.
There has been no films with the title The Snared, so there is no worry of copyright issues.
[IMDB page for films titled The Snared]

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Hardware & Digital Media {DRAFT}

The key to a successful shoot, is to get to know the equipment before filming. This saves time, and problems, which often take place during the shoot when the cinematographer doesn't know what they are doing.
A few easy areas to consider include:

Manual Focus
Unlike auto focus, in which the camera itself focus' on what it thinks is the main subject, manual focus leaves the decision up to the cinematographer, giving them ultimate control on areas of focus. This is very effective in extreme close-up shots and can be used creatively to shift from one area of the frame to another, switching the focus from something in the foreground to something in the background.

Exposure controls the amount of light that is let into the camera. Too much light, and the image will appear washed out, and details will not be seen. Too little light, and the image will appear too dark, and again, details will not be seen. It is important to get the correct exposure for the conditions in which you are filming in.
This technique is useful when filming in daylight, and wanting it to look like dusk, as it is difficult to make filming at night look lighter, so the camera picks up images. In contrast, it can increase the brightness of scenes, such as windows or white rooms, which could be used to give a dreamy effect.

White balance
White balance effects the colour casting of the image, an incorrect white balance can make an image have a blue, orange or green tinge to it. Auto white balance (AWB) will try and read the colour temperature of what you are trying to film, but sometimes may get it incorrect. For certain situations, the camcorder has individual settings for different locations. Such as a daylight setting, or a cloudy setting for filming outside.
White balance can be used to create effects, such as tints, to your filming. These can go against the correct white balance setting, for example, setting a blue tint to create a 'cold' scene which can look more creative.

Program (P) Settings

Portrait, sports, spotlight, night, etc are pre-set setting which may change the way the camcorder films. Sports is used for when filming fast moving subjects, it reduces blur by having the setting at a higher shutter speed, and sets the exposure accordingly. Portrait setting increases a high shutter speed and a opens up the aperture to create a short depth of feild, allowing focus on a close up.

Special Equipment

A Camera Dolly is a piece of equipment which holds the camera, and allows a smooth movement of the camera whilst filming. Mainly used for the tracking shot, the Camera Dolly has wheels which allows it to move as a unit, as well as being on an extendable and moveable beam.

Production Schedule

Props, Mise-en-Scene, SFX, Costume

Scene 1 - The Hanging
Location: Woods - Panorama Woods, Ilkley
Props: Rope, Torches, dog? Car.
Mise-en-Scene: Nothing much - just a wooded area.
Costume: Police outfits?
SFX: Key detail in editing to make it look like the man is hanging, without actually having to hang him.

Scene 2 - Burnt Toast
Location: Kitchen 
Props: Toaster + Burnt Toast. - Could do sequence of making breakfast therefore coverage shots taken of kettle and coffee making
Mise-en-Scene: Kitchen counter. Protagonist is not seen in this scene.
SFX: None. Sequence may need to be sped up if takes too long.

Scene 3 - Mothers Wake
Props: Photo Album, Bottle of Vodka, Sympathy Card.
Mise-en-Scene: Lounge
Costume: Formal wear.
SFX: None. 

Scene 4 - Fired
Props: Office box, Pens, Mug, Photo Frame.
Mise-en-Scene: Office - Desk, Computer, Big Chair.
Costume: Shirt, worn unsmart with sleeves rolled up and top button undone and untucked - to show his lack in care in appearance now he has been sacked.
SFX: None.

Scene 5 - Mugged
Props: None that can really be seen. Phone and wallet are handed over.
Mise-en-Scene: Dark alleyway, Streetlighting.
Costume: Hoodies and Trackies. Protagonist in casual wear.
SFX: Editing to make it look like he's been beaten up.

Scene 6 - Car Stolen
Props: Car
Mise-en-Scene: Quiet street.
Costume: Hoodie
SFX: Sugar glass which breaks easily.

Scene 7 - Evicted
Props: Suitcase
Mise-en-Scene: Stairway of a flat - other flat doors in view.
Costume: Casual, doesn't really care for his appearance.
SFX: None

Scene 8 - Wake Up
Props: None.
Mise-en-Scene: Bedroom- Bed, Duvet etc.
Costume: Topless - signify he's been asleep.
SFX: None.

Saturday, 3 April 2010


Within our media production, there is no dialogue in the filming, so a script was not necessary, but we created a screenplay for the actions which take place throughout each scene.

Screen Play Snared

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Developed Storyline

After getting audience feedback on anamatic, it was hard for the class to understand what was happening. So we decided to change our opening so that instead of being found in the house, he is hung in the woods.
This works better for creating verisimiltude of a person hanging, with use of branches and trees, and different camera angles. It also creates a better twist at the end of the story, as he attacks someone in the woods, but lets the person go, who then calls the police. As the police pulls up in their cars, he hangs himself in a tree, in hope that they will see him in time to cut him down before he is strangled, therefore breaking free from his final fate of death.

The woods makes a more creative location & mysterious atmosphere. Being filmed in the time around sunset, hopefully there is a location in which the sun can be seen setting which can create some good cinematography. To make sure there is enough light, car headlights could light the ground from the policemens cars, and search torches to light the body and trees.

Also with the character being older, the flashbacks we originally thought of suited a younger central protagonist, but needed changing to suit the older audience and character.
Here are our new flashback ideas :
  • Burnt toast (to foreshadow the bad events about to happen)
  •  Mothers wake (funeral would be harder to film, with location and extras, so instead the wake in the family house, in which the centeral protagonist is flicking through an old photo album, and girlfriend comes in to comfort him)
  • Gets fired (shots of  him packing up all his items in his office into a box)
  • Getting mugged (Ally way -claustrophobic space- 2-3 hooded youths attack him)
  • Car stolen/vandalised (shot through window? of someone breaking into his car)
  • Evicted from his flat (Shot of him coming down a flat stairs with suitcases)
- Expostion will be used through non digetic sound of answer machine messages, played over the top of the cuts of the body hanging, audio bridging over into the scene in which something related happens.
Messages will be from :
  • Boss calling -threatening to fire him if he doesn't come to work
  • Police - found his car, stolen and vandalised
  • Girlfriend - demanding he picks up
  • Landlord - reminding him his final rent deadline.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Podcast : Filming Update

After our first week filming we've done a podcast just to update on how we feel its going, and what we still need to do.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Vodcast : Making sugar glass

For one of our scenes in our media production, we want to have someone breaking into a car.
To create verisimilitude we researched into how to make sugar glass, which breaks easily without any harm. Indy Mogul is a website which has video tutorials on how to make special effects, and this is where we found out how to make it.

We vodcasted our making of our own sugar glass to include in our blog.

List of ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of 'corn syrup' - golden syrup
  • 1/4 tspn of cream of tartar
There was a slight issue of not having a thermometer available, so we had to guess when it would be ready. This might have effect on the final product, but if it fails first time, we will try again, and possibly purchase a thermometer as well. - it is a low budget production for a reason.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Possible Film Titles

For the title of the film we want it to be related to the theme of recurring dreams, hanging, or general fate and destiny.
Here is what we came up with:

The Snared.
a device, often consisting of a noose, for capturing small game.
anything serving to entrap or entangle unawares; trap.

a shifting series of phantasms, illusions, or deceptive appearances, as in a dream or as created by the imagination.
a changing scene made up of many elements.

a feeling of anticipation of or anxiety over a future event; presentiment: He had a vague premonition of danger.
a forewarning.

Blue Funk
n.a state of depression. : You've got to get out of your blue funk and get back to work.

the final resolution of the intricacies of a plot, as of a drama or novel.
the place in the plot at which this occurs.
the outcome or resolution of a doubtful series of occurrences.

(definitions found from online dictionary)

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Distributor & Box Office


For a film to be seen, it has to be distributed.
This selling of the production can be done through Cinema, Television and DVD. However its not just the showing of the film that is done through distribution, but also marketing.
A huge impact on British Cinema is Hollywood, and making a production appeal to the American audience, which is also important within distribution. If a film is produced for the american audience, but the distribution within America fails, then its success will also fail.

Marketing includes promotional posters, dvd sleeves, interactive marketing, interviews and reviews.
Often with posters and dvd covers, there will be different versions for America and UK. This is due to wanting to appeal to the American audience, which in some cases is very different in the way it appeals to the UK audience. An example of this is Bridget Jones Diary, a British film, which was made for the american audience.

On the UK DVD cover there is just the central protagonist,  Renee Zellweger, and the names of the other actors, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant rather than the images, as the UK audience would recognise the names and not necessarily need the images of the actors to be attracted to the film. On the other hand, the American DVD cover features all 3 main characters and the names to signify who is who. This suggests that the cast is less well known in America, even though Renee is an A list American actress, it is not enough to pull in a huge crowd.

Box Office

So in distribution it is important to attract the right audience, which in psychological thriller is quite undefined, as the box office figures have little that comes from a psychological thriller.
The latest psychological thriller that has been released was Shutter Island, which directed by Martin Scorsese and staring Leonardo DiCaprio advertised itself with those two people enough to make it more popular than other psychological thrillers. In its opening weekend in the UK Shutter Islands box office figure was £2,250,178, and $41,062,440 in the USA. In contrast to other opening weekend figures on the previous weekend, the rom-com Valentine's Day got $56,260,707. This suggests that the genre is not as popular, and does not have such a wide audience, even if it is directed by a famous director and stars A-list actors.

With a genre such as psychological thriller, a successful film might not get high figures in its opening weekend box office, however over a period of time of being shown in cinemas, and through word of mouth, a film has the ability to generate high box office figures, regardless of how successful the opening weekend was. An example of this is Silence of the Lambs, with in its opening weekend in February it got $13,766,814, yet by October 1991 it had earned $130,742,922


The initial storyboard for our production.

A more detailed storyboard will be created before filming


BBFC rating
With psychological thrillers stereotypically consisting of a complex plot line and mature characters, which naturally would attract an older audience, 25+, they can also attract a younger audience, of 15+, who like films which explore aspects of mental issues being shown differently to other genres of films. The themes of the psychological thriller can mean the BBFC rating doesn't have to be 18, as the issues which surround the plot line are mainly focused on the mind, there is less of a high volume of sexual scenes or extreme violence which could mean the rating has to be at 18, only viewable to an older audience. Therefore the rating can be a 15, increasing the range of audience of the film. 

In America, there is a different system, MPAA, which is as follows

[Found on Wiki]

From the psychological thrillers that I have watched, these are the ratings that they have, and a brief description into the content.

Memento : BBFC 15.  MPAA R.
 Includes aspects of sex & nudity, violence and gore, profanity, alcohol/drugs/smoking, frightening/intense scenes. Further details are given on the IMDB page

Don't Look Now : BBFC 15. MPAA R.
Includes mild aspects of sex & nudity, violence and gore, profanity, alcohol/drugs/smoking, frightening/intense scenes. Even though there is limited offensive material within this film, the rating could be related to the age that the film targets at as opposed to being based on how offensive it is.
Further details are given on the IMDB page

88 Minutes : BBFC 15. MPAA R.
Includes aspects of sex & nudity, violence and gore, profanity, alcohol/drugs/smoking, frightening/intense scenes. The violence and gore is quite strong, as the film is based on the story of a murderer hanging women, therefore the film has included quite graphic scenes.
Further details are given on the IMDB page

The Prestige : BBFC 12A. MPAA PG-13.
Total explicit content estimation 20/50.
Includes a vary of levels of sex & nudity, violence and gore, profanity, alcohol/drugs/smoking, frightening/intense scenes. The reason given for the 12A rating is the aspects of violence and disturbing images. Further details given on the IMDB page

Mr Brooks : BBFC 18. MPAA R.
Includes some strong levels of sex & nudity, violence and gore, profanity, frightening/intense scenes. But there is no details under the aspects of alcohol/drugs/smoking.
Rated R for strong bloody violence, some graphic sexual content, nudity and language
Further details given on the IMDB page

The Machinist : BBFC 15. MPAA R.
Includes some mild levels of sex & nudity, violence and gore, profanity, alcohol/drugs/smoking, frightening/intense scenes. Was rated R for violence and disturbing images, sexuality and language.
Further details given on the IMDB page

In terms of our own production, after seeing the ratings for similar films, I think a BBFC rating of 15 would be best for our film. I have come to this conclusion due to there being little images of sex & nudity, violence and gore, there could be some profanity throughout the main film, but nothing in the opening sequence. Use of alcohol/drugs/smoking may be seen, but no extreme levels. The main aspect would be within frightening/intense scenes, of which a man is hanging. The narrative would also suggest this audience with the plot following a psychological thriller, but understandable for an audience of 15+.

Although there is no non-Caucasian characters in the opening scene, it does not suggest that it is strictly Caucasian audience. No representation of non-Caucasian is present, positive or negative. Representation of the Caucasian characters does not really follow any stereotypes, and the characters themselves are based around the story rather than creating a representation of ethnicity.

Targeted to a mainly male audience through the:

  • Genre
  • Male protagonist
However there is a lack of male gaze, as any female characters aren't the stereotypical busty blonde. 

There is also an attraction to the female audience through:
  • Storyline -> sympathy
  • No excessive offensive material
The preferred class would C1, an upper middle class, where a plot following complex mind issues could easily followed by an ABC1 audience as opposed to a C2DE audience, which would prefer a film containing more action than dialogue. However the boarderline of C1/C2 is hard to distinguish and this film could target either audience. Within targeting an older audience, there is the thought of whether ABC1 would spend their time watching movies, as they could prefer to go to the theater or to a play, therefore the targeting of C2 would come in to attract the older audience who do watch films in their spare time.

Little aspects suggest the region of the film, as each scene could be anywhere in the UK, and does not follow any particular stereotypes of the Yorkshire Region.
Nationality accents are northern, but not as too strong that could cause confusion to audience of different regions and allowing them not to be able to follow the story.

The theme/genre of our production doesn't really portray sexuality as such. The central protagonist is in a relationship, which could show representation of a hetrosexual male, but there is no particular positive or negative representation of sexuality on the whole, nor targeting one particular audience.


Central protagonist : Male, around 26 years old, has an average job in which he works in an office, lives alone in a flat, has a girlfriend, and drives quite an old car - which signfies he isn't particually well off. He has reaccuring nightmares, in which he sees the future and things that are going to happen to him and his family. The film follows him trying to battle with his fate in which he sees in his dreams, showing a mental struggle to cope with the things that happen to him and trying to escape his destiny.

Possible people to act would be Jamie.
Jamie was our original choice, since he knew the ideas to the film so he will be able to act the way in which we want without any struggle of promting etc. But this faced problems which I would be the only one being able to use the camera and film.
We would also have to use alot of make-up and costume to make him look older.

Another alternative is to use my brother, who is 19, and would be more suitable to fit the older character look, as he can easily grow a beard and look more aged.
The only problem with using my brother is that he doesn't come back from University until the 19th, so filming would have to all be done in the second week of filming time. This could be over come by filming the scenes in which he isn't in in the first week, such as the burnt toast, and using someone else in the scene in which he is packing all his things into a box at his office, in which we already decided not to have his face in the scene, instead the shot is focused on the box and objects going into it.

In conclusion, we have decided to use my brother for the central protagonist, allowing both Jamie and I free to use cameras. The verisimiltude of the characters age would be more believable. The issue of my brother being avaliable to film can be over come with splitting the filming of scenes with him in and without him over the two weeks.

Other characters:

The landlord/lady.
-this person would be around the age of 50. They would only be in the scene where the central protagonist is coming down the stairs with their bags. With their clothing being quite dressed down, like sterotypical landlord/ladies.
The landlord in The Pursuit of Happyness

Unfortunately we could not find an actor that fitted this image, so instead we have decided to just have the landlord speak on the voice message, who would be an older person, but have him not actually be seen in the scene.

The Girlfriend.
-This character will be a brunette, which can avoid any common stereotypes associated with female characters. The scene in which she will be included would be at his mothers wake where the central protagonist is looking through a photo album of his mother. Her role here is to comfort him. She will be reasonably well dressed and middle class. She is concerned about her boyfriend, but over time gets annoyed with his moodswings and distant attitude throughout the film.

Emma Thompson in Dead Again

The Muggers.
- There will be 3 youths who mug the central protagonist down an alleyway. They will be hooded and will be common stereotypes of the way in which working class youths are. Although their faces are not seen, this will add to the way in which the social group of youths are percieved.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Location : The woods

There is a lot of choice of location for woods in the area in which we live, in this video we went to Panorama Woods in Ilkley. This is quite a good location in with it being close by and convenient. The trees are quite spaced apart for a wood, which makes it better for focusing on the tree in which the character is hanging.

With finding this tree with the structure in it, we are really happy with this location. The scenes of which the cars pull up will have to be filmed in a different location to this though, since it is on a hill where no cars can get to. But with editing we will have the first part with the police men getting out of the car and walking into the opening of the woods, then cut to them in the location with the tree.

Podcast: Change in Idea

After getting audience feedback, Jamie and I decided to make some slight changes to our initial idea. Here we talk about what, and how we intend to change it.

We much prefere this idea as it can include much better framing of shots and create more verisimilitude in the hanging of the male character.

Exposistion will be clearer through the answermachine messages of the various characters - who aren't actually seen within the opening sequence.

Lighting may be the hardest to over come, with filming at evening time, if we manage to find location in which the sun is setting, it could go wrong in creating too much glare and the subject not being seen clearly, or at night where portable lights will be needed to light up the scene.

An alternative would be to use filters and change the darkness on the camcorder, and film during the day and use these techniques may make it easier, and much more effective with visability and cinematography.


Our anamatic to our initial idea.

The anamatic goes very quick, which shows the fast pace of our film as the flashbacks occur. It is quite hard to understand at first, but there are a few scenes which aren't there due to location, but this is the general gist of our idea.

Audience feedback from the class included:

  • Mise on scene in the hanging - Kicked away chair?
  • Instead of having the knocking on the door and hanging separate - link together - more of each shot revealed slowly. 
  • Films to watch -> The Knowing, Space Odyssey, Sixth Sense. 

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Genre + Openings : Codes and Conventions

Psychological Thriller

Memento  [Christopher Nolan] [2000]

Production companies including New Market, Team Todd and Summit Entertainment, these are shown as text on black, in the same font as the following credits, which is different to other films, as it doesn't use animation for the production companys, which creates a more simple opening, with the audience not having the distractions of productions.

The opening sequence to 'Memento' I feel, is very interesting. It starts with a close up of a hand holding a polaroid photo, of a scene with blood stained walls and what looks like could be a head. As the credits are shown over the shots, and the music builds up, from slow strings, and gradually gets louder, building tension in the audience. The text is serif, which signifies a thriller genre, along with the sound creates a eerie atmosphere right at the very beginning of the film. The take is very long (about 70 seconds), and as time goes on, the hand shakes the polaroid, and the picture fades, which gives the audience the realisation that it is in reverse.

As the picture fades completely, it then goes back to the camera, he takes the photo and puts the camera away. Close ups of the males face are included to show emotion of the character. It then cuts to a shot of the blood pouring upwards, what could be on the wall as it is vertical, or it could be a vertical shot of the floor, and the blood is pouring out. A series of close ups are followed, with the bullet, a pair of glasses and the head of the man, then the gun flys through the air back to his hand. The male kneels down, the bullet moves on the floor, the glasses move through the air in a close up, then a longshot of the mans upper torso as the glasses go back to his face and the man turns, and the gun is shot. The creativity in this sequence is what I feel makes a film opening successful. With the audience already seeing the effects, but the way in which the sequence was put together keeps them on edge.

The genres for this film are mystery, thriller and film noir. These themes are shown within the opening sequence with stereotypical conventions such as mysterious music which builds making the audience feel on edge. The film noir genre was included by the director in an interview in the special features on the dvd, and it seen as this for his play with time, narritive and audience perception.

The budget for this film was $5m, and grossed aprox. $25m in USA and £1m in the UK. Which provides a clear view on how popular this film was for such a low budget film.

Don't Look Now [Nicolas Roeg] [1973]

  • Studio Canal animation
  • Opening shot with rain on a lake/river
  • Quick zoom and close up on the water - ripples shown from the rain
  •  Cross dissolve to blinds? with male humming
  • Girl in field pushing a wheel barrow
  • Boy on bike riding across the grass
  • Girl with toy
  • A film commonly known not to follow the conventions of its type, instead breaking out and doing something more creative. The opening sequence is dramatic and does go on longer than 2 minutes but shows the audience the background to the rest of the story and gets them interested.

88 Minutes [Jon Avnet] [2007]

  • Production companies : Millennium Films, Family Room Entertainment, Equity Entertainment
  • Film Title animation - large numbers of 88, with text appearing on top of the film title.
  • Close up on newspaper - storyline of death of princess Diane - exposition into time, date and location - "Seattle Times Newspaper"
  • Point of view angle shots cut between scenes of the two girls and a person walking through a hallway - creates a tense atmosphere and narrative enigma into who the person is.
  • Lots of close ups of objects.
  • Fast cuts and change of shots, creates tension.
  • Person sleeping, loud sound is made, sleeper stirrs and moves, but does not react to the noise. The audience knows something is happening but the character doesn't.

The Prestige [Christopher Nolan] [2006] 
[Production Companies: Touchstone Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Newmarket Productions, Syncopy]
[Distributors: Warner Bros. Pictures (Worldwide All Media - Non-USA), Buena Vista Pictures (USA Theatrical) Buena Vista Home Entertainment (USA DVD+Blu-ray) Warner Bros. (UK Theatrical) Warner Home Video (UK DVD)]
[Information From IMDB]

  • Production companies: Warner Brothers, Touchstone Pictures, New Market Films
  • Opening sequence - 3 mins 12 seconds
  • Title on black - fade to shot of a lot of top hats -> exposition into time period. Creates curiostiy
  • Voice over - "are you looking closely?"
  • Cut to pan of birds in a cage and new voice over describes basic magic.
  • Cuts between a basic trick and a magic show. - Creates tension as the audience doesn't know who the characters are.
  • Exposition through voice over and mise en scene -> know the film is about magicians, set in the Victorian time period 
  • Non diegetic sound - tension is created within the voice over and slow strings that gradually build up.
  • Diegetic sound is still used over the top to create verisimilitude
  • Non diegetic sound cuts out when male drops into the water tank, and then comes back stronger and more mysterious when the camera cuts back to him drowning after a jump cut to the old man and little girl.  
  • Narrative enigma is used to make the audience want to watch on
  • Ending at the beginning - Explains what the story is going to result in. After this opening it cuts to the court case, then back in time to how this all happened. 
  • Interesting way to tell the story and can set up a good twist that the audience wasn't expecting.

Not a psychological thriller - but follows a non linear opening sequence, in which the opening is the ending, or even middle of the film.

[Trainspotting] [Danny Boyle] [1996]  
[Production Companies: Channel Four Films, Figment Films, The Noel Gay Motion Picture Company]
[Distributors: The Criterion Collection (USA Laserdisc), Channel 4 DVD (UK DVD+Blu-ray) [Information from IMDB]

  • 5.40 mintues until the titles, but 1.40 of main opening.
  •  0-35 seconds -> scene from later on in the film. Includes tracking of 2 characters running away, various angles used. -> mise en scene signifies running from security men - suits- because of being caught shoplifting - objects falling out of pockets.
  • Focused on central protagonist - gives insight to the character as a little crazy as he laughs in the camera when he is hit by the car. Exposition of the character as his name is subtitled on the screen.
  •  Fast paced non diegetic sound - well known song of the time; signfies the kind of people and time period.
  • Voice over - "Choose Life" speech - starts basic then goes quite deep & bitter, then changing scene he goes on to say how he chose not to - instead choosing heroin. -> exposition into the way he lives and thinks about life.
  • Football scene - introduction into other characters with the way they individually act. Expostion of names with subtitle on screen.
  • Jump cuts to him getting high - basic story to his life. Mise en scene - run down house/flat. 

[Mr Brooks] [Bruce A. Evans] [2007]
[Production Companies: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Eden Rock Media, Element Films, Relativity Media, Tig Productions]
[Distributors: MGM (USA Theatrical), Element Films (Worldwide All Media - Sales), Verve Pictures (UK Theatrical)]
[Information from IMDB]
    • Opens with text on black screen
    • Voice over - Man praying + other mans voice. - the other mans voice sounds sinister, and what he is saying is urging the character to do something.
    • Production Company Produces... titles.
    • Central protagonist by a sink - mise en scene restroom in a posh place.
    • Diegetic sound - speech in the background
    • Non diegetic sound -> pulse beat, dramatic atmosphere.
    • Shot through champagne glasses -> Social class and status. (Non diegetic sound cuts out)
    • Panning through crowd
    • Close ups
    • As speech fades. non diegetic sound builds up again
    • Titles of film on back drop of city night lights.
    • Dialogue of speech gives exposition into central protagonist, but voice over expositions something is wrong and the first bit of text signifies mental issues, and other mans voice in voiceover signifies split personality.

    [The Machinist] [Brad Anderson] [2004] 
    [Production Companies: Filmax Group, Castelao Produciones, Canal+ Espana, Instituto De La Cinematografia y de las Artes Audiovisuales, ICF]
    [Distributors: Paramount Classics (USA Theatrical), Filmax International (USA TV), Paramount Home Video (USA DVD) Palisades Tartan (UK All Media), Tartan Video (UK DVD) [Information from IMDB]

    • Opening shot through window - Reflection in focus (City scene - exposition into location) Inside the room out of focus -> switches focus as central protagonist comes into frame. 
    • (As the room is out of focus, can make out a man wrapping a body in carpet - out of focus signifies a secretive nature about what's happening)
    • Cut to very long shot. Man driving + Parking. Carrying carpet body -> signifies murder
    • Facial expressions signify something has shocked the character, even though the viewers don't actually see it. Narrative Enigma.
    • Production logos on top of black screen - audio bridge of diegetic sound.
    • Titles of Actor,  Writer, Director over the opening shots.
    • 1.35 seconds until the Film Title.
    • Another example of a film with the end at the beginning.
    [Seven Pounds] [Gabriele Muccino] [2008]
    [Production companies: Columbia pictures, Relativity Media, Overbrook Entertainment, Escape Artists]
    [Distributors: Columbia pictures (USA All Media), Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (USA DVD+Blueray), Sony Pictures Releasing (UK Theatrical), ]   [information from IMDB]

    • Titles on  black screen
    • Audio bridge -> heavy breathing and dial tone
    • Shot of man on the phone - Diegetic sound of the other end of the conversation - 911
    • Male reporting his own suicide
    • Very close up
    • Dramatic opening - engages audience.