Hello and welcome to my blog, this is for my slasher film opening, Liar. The blog includes all research and notes. Enjoy!

Friday, 28 March 2014

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Evaluation Q1; Conventions

This is one of the evaluation questions for our film opening.  "In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forums and conventions of real media products?"
after extensive research into slasher film openings, general film openings, and the slasher genre in general, Poppy and I found what conventions to expect from a typical slasher film. We researched a mixed variety of film openings such as, Love actually, The matrix, Four lions, Friends with benefits, Napoleon dynamite, Withnail and I, and Ferris beauller's day off. What we found was that in the majority of these films they use similar conventions, despite the genre difference. For example about 5 out of these 7 film openings included an audio bridge of a non-diegetic soundtrack from idents to titles, and which were carried on for about 30 seconds-one minute into opening scenes. We adapted this convention to our own film opening. We produced a soundtrack on garageband to start as soon as our titles start, and to end when our intertextual "film within a film" ends. However, after recieving a number of comments on this from audience feedback, we decided to extend this non-diegetic soundtrack further to play throughout the whole of our film opening. We realised this was much more effective, and fit in with some of the horror film opening conventions we looked at. For example from watching and researching into Trick or Treat's film opening, we saw that the non-diegetic music soundtrack played for a total time of 3 minutes 32 seconds, which 42 of it was played just over the titles. Another convention we found and used from Trick or Treat was the way in which the representation of the main "vunerable" character was portrayed. For example in Trick or Treat the main character is represented through his, bedroom mise-en-scene, hairstyle and clothing. We tried to signify our scream queen character's vunerability through her teenage, pink girly room and long blonde hair. However we also used a tight strappy top, and revealing pink shorts for her costume, which also signifies she is sexually active to really emphasise the scream queen character.

Another convention we researched and developed was the idea of having a phonecall between the scream queen and the killer, and also how the communication is represented through a television screen. After researching into any unique conventions we could find used in horror films, to help give our film opening a more modern appeal to it, we found the idea of the killer phoning the scream queen character from Scream , and decided to develop this further.  We decided to warp the voice of the killer by recording our own voices and using an app to give it a deeper, sinister effect to it. We got the idea of this from Saw as the character Jigsaw also does this.We also adapted  from Saw the idea of having the killer on a television screen, to really give a post modern appeal and attract an audience of teenagers to young adults. 

Our titles and title card were inspired from research into the opening titles from Scream. The title cards in scream are represented with a white coloured serif font, highlighted with a suttle red effect, placed on a black background. When the title card in scream is shown there is non-diegetic sound effects played over the top of noises from a phone and screams. We decided to adapt this idea as it seemed very effective. In our film opening we tried to use very similar effects for the titles, and found effective phone sounds and a scream in final cut pro which we layered over the title card. However for the title card lettering itself, we developed the idea further by animating the lettering of "Liar" so that it looked like it had been written with blood on the screen, and animated blood dripped down from the word.

Evaluation Q2; Representations

This is one of the evaluation questions for our film opening. "How does your media product represent particular social groups?"

Our film starred teenage actors and characters. After extensive research into the slasher genre, we found that the majority of the main characters are teenagers. We decided to use this for our own film opening, also using stereotypes for most of our characters, which again is an accurate representation of this genre.

We had two scream queens in our movie opening. The first scream queen was the girl in the film within a film, who was a stereotype.  We represented this with her costume as she wore revealing, figure-hugging clothes and she also had blonde hair and wore makeup. We used specific shots to make the character look vulnerable, such as when she screams, we used a high angle shot looking down on her to signify her weakness and vunerability. We also used a long shot for when the scream queen is running away from the killer, where she looked very small in the distance and the killer filled a large portion of the screen. This again signifies the scream queen's weakness and  is a stereotype of the teenage girl scream queen as they are often represented as weak, vulnerable, stupid, and naïve.

The second and main scream queen was also a stereotype. She had a revealing costume on which was also pink which shows that the girl is still young and therefore naïve. We reinforced this by having a pink bedroom with pink bedding that we chose specifically for the setting. We also cast a girl with long blonde hair as this is a stereotype of teenage girl, and blonde hair is often linked to being dumb and ditzy.

The scream queen's boyfriend in our film opening is also a represented as a stereotype. Although not much is revealed about him, we can see that he is wearing ‘typical’ teenage boy clothing. We did this so that the couple would seem like the average couple of a cheerleader and a jock stereotype typically seen in the horror genre.

The first killer in the film within a film was also a stereotype. His costume was completely black including a balaclava style mask. The darkness of the outfit contrasts to the blonde hair of the first scream queen, showing them subconsciously as binary opposites of good vs evil. We chose specific shots, such as very close cropped sections which makes the audience uncomfortable and also we used a low-angle shot as the killer swung his hammer, the camera looked up at him, making him look powerful. We used a specific jingle of music when he appeared to make the audience recognise the killer. We also chose to cast a male for the the killer character as this can signify a more physically intimidating figure and is also stereotypical of a slasher film. It is very rare that we see a female character for the killer. Despite the majority of the conventions we used being  very stereotypical of a slasher film, we decided to have the killer use a hammer rather than a knife the murder the girl. We thought this would make him stand out from other killers and give a more post-modern twist to the opening.

The second killer in our film opening was again a stereotype, however he was more a stereotype to the slasher genre rather than generic horror which the previous killer could be applied to. This is because the killer wears an old man mask and is seen as mentally deranged. He uses a knife to kill the boyfriend which is stereotypical of the genre and can particularly link back to Scream, as they also use a knife to murder the boyfriend Steve, and is also adapted from Psycho as the killer draws back the knife and stabs several times with a non-diegetic sound effect played over the top, as seen in Psycho.

Overall, our movie opening was very stereotypical of the genre. We thought sticking to stereotypes was a good idea because it followed a strict line with regards to how the characters acted and what they were like. This made it easier for us because we had lots of examples to draw ideas and notes from. 

Evaluation Q3; Distribution

Evaluation Q4; Audience

This is one of the evaluation questions for our film opening. "Who would be the audience for your media product?"

The target audience for our film opening is 15-24. Often a movie's main characters reflect their target audience, and the slasher film is a prime example of this. The characters are more often than not teenagers/college students, and there is usually a couple. This reflects the target audience. This was the most common target audience we saw throughout our research in to the genre. This tells us there is an already established audience for the slasher genre, and as filmmakers we would utilise this by also targeting the same audience.
Our primary audience would be males. This is because they are a very prominent section of audience in this genre. However, we don’t want to lose out on 50% of our potential audience so we have included a romantic element to attract females as our audience too. This is how many slasher films try to attract the female audience.
We decided to have two scream queens. This is using the male gaze theory to attract men into the film. Laura Mulvey's theory of male gaze is very heavily supported in the slasher genre, with the scream queens often objectified through the use of costumes, shot types, script, etc.

Our secondary audience would be couples as they often go to the cinema together to watch movies, and horror is often the choice of film to watch. This is another technique slasher films use to attract another key audience.
   We also want to appeal to an older audience as this will again bring in more people to see our film. We have done this through using the post-modern idea of a film within a film in the hopes to attract an audience for the story and effects too.
  Another way we have attracted an older audience is through intertextuality. We used a lot of intertextuality throughout our film and this helps with attracting an audience who have seen the other films we have references to in our film. This also helps attract a teenage audience as it gives a post-modern appeal to the film opening.

We also have to consider the BBFC ratings. Liar would be a 15 due to scenes of strong threat and menace and very brief gory imagery.
  We got a lot of feedback from our target audience throughout the making of the film opening, including comments on what age group would be suitable for the audience. We used this to shape our film towards their feedback especially as it was from our exact target audience.
The slasher genre has a very large audience. We can see this from some of the box office figures from slasher films, such as Halloween, which had a budget of $325,000 and a box office return of $70 million, and Scream who’s budget was set at $15M and got a box office figure of $173M, over ten times its budget. British horror movies are also successful too, for example An American Werewolf in London had a budget of $10M, and a box office return of $61M. Even extremely low budget films such as ours can have success, such as Colin, a zombie film that claims to have a budget of £45, which was shown at Cannes film festival after some previous success at other film festivals. This shows the extent of the horror genre’s audience. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Evauation Q5; Audience

This is one of the evaluation questions for our film opening. "How did you attract/address your audience?"

For our film opening we decided to go for a more post-modern twist on a horror film, rather than a stereotypical structure. We did this by choosing to use intertextuality, by making the very first opening scene a film within a film, which the audience does not realise until about a minute in when this scene is interrupted, and the real film is revealed with the main character scream queen's phone ringing loudly as diegetic sound over the other film. We thought this may attract a wider audience as it is countertype to the usual film opening and is unique. We thought it gave a post-modern appeal which may attract an audience of 15-20 year olds. However we did also partly stick to a stereotypically "cheesy" storyline found in most horror films, as we used the idea from Scream of the killer ringing the screamqueen, and also a convention found in most horror films of the scream queen running to find the killer before releasing he has dissapeared. By using these stereotypes in our film opening we did find comments from audience feedback on this, and it was espescially the younger, teenage audience that picked up on this. After getting this feedback along on our rough cuts, along with other comments,  we decided to cut and edit the scream queen's action scenes of running through the house, also adding diegetic sounds and transitions. We did this to make it to create more tension and suspense, and making it seem more realistic to the audience.

In order to test whether our film opening would appeal to an audience of teenagers to young adults, we devised a feedback form in which our audience filled in after watching the second rough cut of our film opening. Part of the feedback sheet was a section which asked, "For an audience aged 15+, do you think, overall, this works for an audience your age?" We got back about 60 of these feedback forms, and successfully 100% of feedback answered yes to this question.  Other questions on the feedback form were questions such as "What did you like/dislike about this film opening and why?" As the majority of the audience commented on the same conventions that needed to be improved, we took these into account and developed the footage around these comments. As a whole the audience feedback was positive, and the majority of the audience could identify which media products and horror films we got our ideas from. This was a success as they guessed correctly that most of our ideas were adapted from Saw and Scream.
As our primary target audience was aimed at teenagers, we used representations within our film opening to fit in with modern teenage life. For example the scream queen used a teenage code of language, using terms such as "Oh my God", and "What the hell". We also chose to use an Iphone for the scream queen's phone, as this is a modern piece of technology that a teenage audience could relate to. For the character's representation of clothing, we chose quite revealing pyjama shorts, and a tight strappy top, to signify the scream queen being sexually active, but also to create the male gaze theory.

Evaluation Q6; Technologies

This is one of the evaluation questions for our film opening. "What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?"

During the making of our film opening, we learnt about new technologies and over time developed our skills on them. The main new technologies we used were Final Cut Pro, Garageband and LiveType.
We used LiveType to create our idents. At first, Poppy and I had never heard of the software. We learnt by experimenting with different techniques on it such as different live fonts where the font has an effect or becomes animated, and changing the position of the words. We created our three idents using a mixture of our own footage and livetype.
We used Garageband for creating our soundtrack which again, Poppy and I had never used before, and therefore didnt know how to use it. However we started by learning the basics and then experimented with different instruments and sounds. We also researched into which instruments fitted in with the slasher genre most. We found that typically, strings or synth effects are used, as these help to create suspense. We kept experimenting until we found what we wanted for our film opening. I think our soundtracks really make the movie and without them it wouldn’t be as effective, and as shown on our feedback, many people have commenting on the soundtrack being very effective.

Final Cut Pro is what we edited our film opening on, which Poppy and I hadn’t used before. So we had to start learning from scratch. At first we learnt the basic editing skills such as, how to use the blade tool. We then started looking at different effects to make the CCTV footage as realistic as possible. This is an example of the editing skills we used for our film. Firstly, we added the effects such as Bad TV, and Black and White. This made it black and white and the quality of the screen slightly distorted and fuzzy. We then experimented around until we got the timer section,  with which we made a certain date and time countdown appear on screen to make it seem more realistic. We also edited it by cutting certain parts from scenes, such as the stabbing which we felt seemed fake at first, as did audience feedback.
We changed certain shots on final cut to make them more effective like creating close ups and dutch angles. However, some of our experiments didn’t make it into our final cut, such as experimenting with cross fading.
The most useful tools to us were the different effects and colour changing tools on Final Cut Pro, as these really helped create a sinister and slasher feel to our movie.

Overall, the technology we used helped us create very close to what we imagined and planned for. I think if we had used analogue film it would have not had the same look or feel to the movie, especially with all the effects we used and editing. It would also have been alot more time consuming. This shows how digitisation is making film making a lot more accessible to everyone for cheaper.
If anything, a better quality camera could have helped us in our low level lighting scenes of which there were a lot of, but overall the equipment and technology used was very good and helped us create what we had invisioned.
This has shown us that we could create a movie, similar to Le Donk and Scor-zay-zee and Colin, which were both made by Indie film companies on microbudgets, using similar technology to what we used.

Overall we have learnt how to utilise all these new technologies to our advantage, using Garageband to create a soundtrack and being able to experiment with different sounds, we have learnt how to decide if it sounded good or not so good, we have learnt how to make a basic linear cut on Final Cut and also how to add effects, editing, and transitions to develop the movie even further into what we wanted it to be.