Click here to be taken to my vlog about the things I have learned during media studies: https://youtu.be/Nw2TYu6Ypb4
Typed version of video: What is technology? Phones, tablets, stereos? Technology is so much more than this! Gone are the days of older tech such as green screens which have been replaced by computer generated imagery in films such as Avatar and many of the battle scenes in Star Wars. I predict that soon Google glass, 3D printing and virtual reality gaming are going to sweep the nation, taking their rightful place in more and more homes across the world.
But does technology make us a more anti-social nation? Yes! I can’t tell you how long I spend on my phone, endlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed, Tweeting about the latest celebrity news or political controversy and Snapchatting my breakfast, lunch and dinner. Do you do this too? I think that the positive aspects of technology can be overlooked. Facetime, Skype, or the old fashioned phone call allows us to stay connected to our beloved ones in other countries, or even those in the same house if we can’t be bothered to walk up the stairs. There is also no time limit, say in comparison to when using a phone (or payphone) was the norm and these apps are at no extra cost on top of the cost of the device which you’re using.
I find it is amazing how even the most basic of technology is can now be brilliant. Over the years, a process of miniaturisation has happened where all of our gadgets have gotten smaller, portable and more user-friendly. This allows everyone to get a little taste of the magic of creating film. Movie magic.
Instead of going into my A Level coursework blindly, I undertook some research into the film industry, and all of the quirks it has to offer. Years ago this would have meant a trip to the library, looking for one specific page in a 350 paged book. But now, laptops and the internet enable me to complete the same process, much more easily, and time-efficiently. For example, Google, a very popular search engine on the internet, allowed me to conduct research on multiple different websites into the typical conventions of a psychological thriller film, inspiration for a title of our thriller opening, and the unique and infamous methods Alfred Hitchcock used in his films to manipulate the audience’s emotions and keep them hooked like a fish eating bait. Also, to gain an even deeper understanding of psychological thriller films, I watched The Blair Witch Project on Netflix. Netflix is a Video On Demand platform which allows a subscriber to stream films and TV series’ on in one place. They also attract consumers by releasing Netflix-exclusive programmes such as Riverdale, and so some customers will buy the £5 monthly subscription to watch these shows. From watching the Blair Witch Project, I learned that the main themes in psychological thrillers are the large aspect of realism, heightened senses, a personal battle and an individual strive to find their purpose. More detailed information can be found in my post Analysis of Psychological Thrillers.
For my media project we created a thriller movie opening (available in all of your local cinemas, of course) just using a Panasonic HC-V180K flip camera, tripod and a bit of creativity. Overall, we unexpectedly deemed it to be a somewhat challenging process. Before this, we were given the opportunity to test our skills in a preliminary task, where we were instructed to just film one character walking into a room and having a conversation with another character. Here I learned about the rules of continuity: eye-line match, the 180 degree rule, 30 degree rule, match on action and shot reverse shot. I knew that filming from a high angle would make the subject look weak and being overpowered, while filming from a low angle would create the opposite effect. In class we watched a clip where one of the shots was taken from behind shattered glass to represent the subjects entrapment. So, whilst filming The Disappearing, I positioned the camera from a low angle behind the railings on her bed. Instead of making her look like a more dominant force, it made the railings look larger and more intimidating to the audience, emphasising the idea that Claire was emotionally or physically trapped. It also challenged the audience’s point of view as they were able to emphasise with Claire as they shared this distorted vision. So overall from this particular shot, I learned how to use the camera in the most effective fashion in order to create a symbolic message.
We did encounter some problems when filming. One of the shots which I found particularly hard to film was the extreme close- up of Claire, the protagonist, texting the mysterious unknown number. Initially, I perceived this to be one of the easiest shots because you’re just filming someone texting, right? Wrong! I placed the tripod on the bed against the duvet cover as we needed that particular floral print to be the background of the shot so continuity was in place: something which I learned from completing the prelim. I attempted to stay as still as possible to stop the tripod from shaking and the camera from going out of focus, but it took me numerous attempts to get it to work and stay in focus. It worked but it wasn’t as quick and simple a process as I’d hope, but I then learned how easily a camera can go out of focus if you are not constantly watching it. But, in hindsight, I’ve realised how the concept of a phone, converging the different platforms we needed: texting and photographing into one device helped us to carry out our film making as easily as possible. If the phone did not exist, then our storyline would be too overcomplicated and not realistic. How would Claire and the mysterious texter message eachother? Email? And then when he asks her for a picture would she have to use her camera and then upload it on to to her laptop to send it to him? This would be a very long and draining process and would completely destroy the element of tension that is key in any sub-genre of a thriller film.
In hindsight, I’ve gained an understanding of how the wave of digitalisation which swept the film industry has made it so much easier for us to film our thriller film. I can’t begin to imagine how hard and expensive it would’ve been to transport a big, bulky camera to the scene, then attempt to manoeuvre the camera into different positions with ease. We would’ve been limited with how much film we could produce by the amount of film stock we had and then would’ve spent quite a lot of time cutting out the pieces of film which we wanted and then editing it all together.
Instead of this long process of editing, we used Final Cut Pro to edit. It had a very simple layout so it was very easy to use, and there were dozens of effects and animated features available to us. As it is an advanced editing programme, we had the opportunity to be very creative with our film. The best example of our creativity is in our titles. Alfred Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense, once said “dialogue should simply be a sound among other sounds, just something that comes out of the mouths of people whose eyes tell the story in visual terms.” which is why the colour, style of font and integration of our titles was so important. For our opening titles, we used a ghoulish silver style font on top of the unfolding tension instead of just dumping them on a jet black screen. From experimenting with Final Cut Pro, I learned that integrating this into the action would make the titles more prominent whilst simultaneously making the whole piece flow better as well as refraining from distracting the audience. From editing The Disappearing some of the things that I’ve learned are how different effects and tones can be created just due to the style of credits and how to use an editing programme effectively.
So, remember, technology is an ever-changing, ever-advancing, ever-developing event;, there are positives, negatives and the even the craziest of ideas can become inventions. Just look at the EHang 184, an autonomous passenger drone, travelling up to 10 miles and hour, as well as folding up to fit in your parking spot.
Thanks for listening, and remember to stay tuned for more!
Many films, including ours, want a 12A age certificate; it opens up a very large audience for the film in comparison to an aged 15 certificate, without putting teenagers and adults off with a very low and ‘childish’ rating such as PG or U.
So, separately we undertook some research into the British Board of Film Classification, the BBFC, which you can find here: BBFC research. I found the guidelines for getting a 12A rating, and so we worked from this:
Audience feedback is a vital in the process of making a film. It allows you to find out what certain demographics like, dislike and want in film.
But, what is an age certificate if the target audience don’t want to watch the film? Even though I had carried out extensive research into the popular features of a thriller film, I wanted to ensure that teenagers and young adults would want to watch the film. So, our group carried out 2 peer evaluations earlier in the year, me and Nijaani undertook 2 sessions of spoken audience feedback, as well as a questionnaire which I created.
Before the final cut of The Disappearing, we carried out 2 previous peer evaluations:
Instantly after watching the opening for the first time, me and Nijaani asked our peers their reaction, what age certificate they believed the film should have and any improvements that could be made, etc. I then edited out a lot of the laughter that occurred during the questioning, but whilst trying to keep a rather light-hearted tone.
To gain an even wider audience feedback, Nijaani also interviewed her sister, asking for her opinion on the thriller opening:
I created and conducted a survey questioning people about their experience after having watched the opening of The Disappearing. This is the questionnaire:
Here were the results:
75% of the responses were completed by females. As the film was initially targeted at males it would have been ideal to have more male responses but this helps inform me more on how the film could be marketed towards females.
I ensured that we had a good range of different ages completing the questionnaire so I was then able to identify which age demographic found the film the most enjoyable. At first, I wasn’t sure whether to leave the questionnaire open to those younger than 12 as I had predicted that the film should only be available to those over the age of 12, but in the end I decided to do so as this was still an undecided age certificate. The demographics relate to the target audience of the film and so are useful in the range that they represent.
The audience feedbacks shows us that many viewers did in fact find the opening “rather scary” and from this many believed that a teenage market would be best for this film. All thought the film should only be viewed by those aged 12+.
The film was successful in meeting its aim of scaring or giving chills. This demonstrates that the techniqus used to ensure such a response were effective and that more of the same would be likely to continue this response to the film.
The variety of responses here show that different elements of the film contributed to its success; from music to the framing of shots to close-ups were all mentioned as making the film work well.
It is clear from the responses that everybody thought the film should receive, at least, a 12A rating with many thinking it should be a 15. As 12-14s would be key audience of this film, I may need to consider if I need to make changes to better attract this market to ensure they can see the movie, and a large target audience can be reached.
A very high and positive ressponse to a question about whether the viewer would recommend the film to others. All goes to show how successful the film could be and it is also noted that there were no responses less than 4/5 or 5/5.
Even though I did check my questionnaire multiple times before sending it out, at first this question only had a multi-factor response which was labelled ‘Option 1’. As the feedback started to roll in, I realised this error and corrected it. Word of mouth is clearly the method best thought to let people know about how good this film is – the most direct and personal method.
A very positive response showing that a very high proportion of those who watched this would watch this film at the cinema. This is the sort of feeedback that I would take to possible film investors to encourage them to put theirr money into the project with the expectation of them earning good profits.
A wide variety of responses that provides a lot of ideas for possible changes for the full-length production.
All positive. Again both as an encouragement but also data that will be useful for production of a full-length version.
It is clear that we were somewhat successful in having a 12A age certificate, as many of the interviewees believed that The Disappearing should have a 15 age certificate, most of them saying that the theme of horror was too scary for those of 12. Overall, it is clear that The Disappearing is scary; is liked by teenagers (and those older); is thought suitable for teenagers; is made to a high standard and many would wish to see a full-length version in a cinema. All the feedback indicates a success.
Alfred Hitchcock’s influences for The Birds
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock (1963)
First there are a few. Then there were a few more. Then there were lots. Lots and lots of birds. All attacking.
Making the change from a thriller to all out horror, Birds both builds tension as Hitchcock was famed for doing, but also is a film of pure horror – as Hitchcock did less often (the 1960 film Psycho is an exception). And this time Hitchcock pulls it off all this without even a musical score.
As would be imagined, birds are a constant theme throughout the film. Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) meet in a shop where he is trying to buy some love-birds. When she goes to visit him, she is attacked on the beach by a sea-gull. A gull flies into the house wall. Birds mass on a climbing frame outside a school. A large fire is started at a petrol station by the action of birds. Even chickens are acting unusually. The most shocking scene is where Daniels finds a dead body, lying in a room, with its eyes plucked out – by birds.
The sound-effects of birds are the ‘score’ of the film. The noise rises to build tension, in the usual way, but it is not entirely unexpected that this is another false lead from Hitchcock. That is how the film reaches towards a conclusion – the house has been under attack all night but the birds did not get inside, so Daniel goes to check the loft room. All is ok until she sees the hole in the roof, and then, again, the birds attack.
My main criticism of the film is that it might be a single theme that is repeated too often. Birds circling. Birds massing. Birds attacking. Maybe what could have been a few scenes in a more general horror or other film is used as the whole basis of the film – it feels like too much of a stretch.
The infamous scene in Birds where Melanie Daniels is attacked and killed by a swarm of birds
Producing The Disappearing:
The Disappearing will be produced by Firecracker Productions: a production company which we invented ourselves. During the process of finding a production company, we realised that as our film is a small Independent British Film, it would be unrealistic to expect a large production company such as Working Title to produce our film.
It is very clear that from their home page, Working Title are a professional Production Company. Although marketed as a British Company, it was originally called PolyGram Films and in 1998, a the bulk of its library of PolyGram films released up until March 31 was sold to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1996. In 1999, PolyGram was sold to the Seagram company and merged with MCA Music Entertainment, to form Universal Music Group. Eventually, PolyGram Films was sold and folded into Universal Studios in 1999.
Financing The Disappearing:
Our film was financed by the BFI and the National Lottery Fund. We were able to be financed by them because we gained some publicity by taking our film to a film festival. Overall, our film cost just under £250,000, which is very little in comparison to larger films such as Star Wars: The Force awakens, the film costing $245 million.
Finding a Distribution Company:
Attempting to find a distribution company which is suitable to distribute our film is difficult!
An alternative method is distribution is to do it through an online company where it would be advertised on web pages and apps. This alternative method is more cost effective, but, also less effective in terms of reaching out the general public. One of the reasons is because many people scroll past adds, use apps such as add blocker. Although, online distribution can be positive because it can reach a much larger scale of people in comparison to those who walk past a few billboards.
Distrify: an example of an online film distribution company
Distrify have made their website very user-friendly and it is very easy to sign up and start promoting your film. As is shown, you enter your email address and the process starts. This simplistic method would really draw in many starter companies in all fields of the media business; film, TV and online magazines.
The fact that I am struggling to find a physical small scale British Independent Distribution company is an indication as to how the market has been taken over by large distribution companies. Many of these companies emphasise how they can distribute overseas and have international links. This highlights how many distributing companies need assistance from companies outside of the UK and cannot solely be self-sufficient.
Surprisingly, in 2017 October has the most movies which are due to be released. After pondering why, I realised that it is because it is the month of Halloween. Halloween decorations would be plastered around houses in the days to come before Halloween. Scary films would be more commonly shown on television, getting everyone into a scary mood. But, trick or treating is for the younger children, right? No one over the age of 13 would be caught dead trick or treating on Halloween. So, in attempt to really scare themselves and impress their peers, teens visit scary places; Halloween themed theme parks, horror houses and watch scary films on a totally overpowering cinema screen.
Seeing as our film is a psychological thriller it would be ideal to release it during October. But this is not true. Our small film would be totally submerged in the sea of similar thriller films. So, it would be a smarter idea to release it during April- which stats say has the least amount of film releases.
It is also a good idea not to release a film during a ‘Dump Month’.
Dump Month: Usually categorised as the last 2 weeks within a month, or January or February
Some of the issues highlighted by releasing a film during a dump month are:
The dump month isn’t just a theory; it has statistical proof:
There is a clear trend in the chart that months with the lowest Rotten Tomatoes rating (most likely meaning that they are the lowest quality films) were released between January and February. This isn’t just a one off, the chart shows that between the years 2000-2013, most of the films were rated around 40-50/100, with the exception of January 2001, which scored 62/100.
The table shows that the months of January and February made profit in the lowest regions in comparison to other films in 2016.
Both statistics show that the months which are of the lowest popularity and so in turn make the least amount of profit are January, February, August and September. Coincidentally, these months are directly after the prime seasons: summer and winter, where people tend to spend the most money going out. This highlights that many individuals are reluctant to spend more money on going out to the cinema after they have most likely spent a lump-sum of money during their holiday.
After extensive research it is clear that distributing The Disappearing in April, as it has one of the lowest average ratings on rotten tomatoes, meaning that the competition won’t be as tough, but still maintains a decent profit rate. Although, it would be unrealistic to think that our film could make a viral impact on the audience as we would limit our film to having a small budgeted release, similar to film Containment.
The Disappearing marketing poster:
Whilst developing the titles for the film and poster, I analysed the different font styles used in psychological thriller films:
There was a clear colour theme of black and white, possibly with a hint of colour in many of the logos and posters I came across.
The Conjuring logo was one which struck me. Although similar to other posters, the pointed style of font proved to give it an edge. Its simple, yet bold, silver slightly pointed style font was effective as it heavily contrasted against the black background. The pointed style worked well because it give the film a slightly spooky and demonic tone.
I tried to create a similar effect in my poster: adding silver font contrasting against a jet black background. There are a small range of different font styles to symbolise the constant changing tone in the film, where the audience mistakenly believe that all is okay, but it is not. Looking back at my poster, I wonder whether using many different styles of font makes the poster look amateurish and confusing in terms of the genre of the film, but after doing extensive research into Hollywood Blockbuster films, I found out that many famous film posters do it too:
‘The Disappearing’ has simple, slim and spooky font because it is overpowered by the block black background. Ironically, if the font were slightly slimmer then it could essentially ‘disappear’ itself, symbolising the fate of the protagonist. I ensured that the title maintained a very similar font to the opening credits of the film allows there to be a sense of continuity and a similar tone kept. The names of the actors involved are not largely profusely featured because they are not do not star in any blockbuster hits, nor are they well renowned actors. They are in fact small scale actors, The Disappearing being their first official film. Despite saying this, I edited their names so they are slanted using the Italics tool to make their names more memorable, useful for further research into them and when talking about the film. The Director and Producer’s names have a traditional font style used in Hollywood Blockbuster films: small, condensed font. It could be argued that this font is more suitable for an action adventure genre film, but I believe that it provides our film poster with a professional touch and overall look.
Also, after some research I discovered that major companies use the same font for their products so when a member of the public sees the font they will instantly think of the item it is linked to.
For example, throughout all SPIDER-MAN campaigns the same font is maintained. This allows the font to be very recognisable to the general public. Also, it puts other companies off of using the font because the audience will instantly relate the font to the spider-man brand.
A Publicity Stunt
A publicity stunt is a planned event designed to attract the public’s attention to the event’s organisers or their cause. They can small scale attractions or mass scale events. For inspiration, I researches some examples of previous publicity stunts carried out by major film companies.
My favourite being:
The abandoned baby stunt took place in New York where a pram with it’s hood pushed down was left in a bustling square. The idea was that passers by would see this abandoned buggy, and curiously and concernedly peer inside the pram to see if there was a baby in there, and then immediately assess their wellbeing. Only to be greeted by a ‘devil baby’, with red eyes and an aged face. The idea itself was very unique and definitely played on the heartstrings of passers by. Also, the video was plastered around social media, and was copied by many famous youtubers. Although, I am not sure whether it was promoting a film or not, and the website gives me no more information. Some victims may have been distraught about the concept and idea of a powerless child, but the overall reactions were positive, and it is safe to say it was very memorable.
Exhibiting The Disappearing
If we were to release our film into cinemas, then we would steer toward independent cinemas more in comparison to larger, renowned cinemas such as VUE and Cineworld, where our film would compete next door to Hollywood Blockbusters (literally). This is because the demographics and psychographics are more suited in these areas. Demographics are groups of people within society which can be categorised into groups such as gender, race and religion. Psychographics is the classification of people in terms of their attitudes, aspirations and other psychological criteria, a method especially used in market research.
Some possibilities are:
- BFI Cinema in Southbank
The BFI cinema would be a good shot because it wants to give new and upcoming amateur film makers to have a wiff of the sweet smell of success by showing their film in a large cinema, which is likely to be visited by film fanatics and film critics. This way, the director, producer and cast will become more well known in the film industry.
2. Rich Mix Cinema in Camden
The Rich Mix Cinema in Camden is another possibility because it is a cinema which is mainly known by East London Hipsters, many of whom will be students. This demographic of students are the largest target market for Rich Mix cinema as they are aware that due to rising uni fees and housing costs many are cutting back on they amount of money they spend going out and so would rather prefer to pay for a less well known film at a cheaper cinema, than a costly figure of £12 at Vue.
Click here to view my presentation on prezi:
Click the link below to view my presentation:
Directed by Rupert Wyatt (2011)
Perhaps one of the most thoughtful of several series of one time-movies, then TV programmes, then which petered out before being revived on the modern day big-screen (think Star Trek and the rest), the Planet of the Apes series can address some interesting questions – not least, what if apes had evolved quicker than us and ran the planet and we were their beats of burden?.
Here we see how that ‘evolution’ may arise. A baby chimpanzee – Caesar (Andy Serkis) – is given a drug – intended for humans to treat Alzheimer’s disease, by medical researcher Will Rodman (James Franco). Soon this baby ape is overtaking baby humans in terms of intelligence.
The movie asks some interesting questions – who is more evolved, at least in terms of being more, er, human – in present-day society. The intelligent chimp is sent to a zoo-like compound where he is badly treated by its keeper. Caesar escapes and gets some more of the drug that enhanced his intelligence – he releases this among other apes and then he leads an army of these now very-intelligent monkeys.
The humans are shown to start suffering from a virus arising from the same medical work that will eventually severely curtail them. The eventual victory of the apes is assured as this is the basis of the whole series – this film explains how the earth became ‘The Planet of the Apes”.
There are many battle scenes in the film. The apes look very realistic; they are not the ‘humans in suits’ of the 60s and 70s originals but are here generated by using CGI.
The film does what is intended – it’s entertainment. But it is entertainment that rises above many other blockbuster films that are made both with less intelligence and feature characters with a lot less intelligence than both the humans – and especially the apes – in this film.
Blogging for media studies has inspired me to create a blog of my own focusing upon a passion of mine; fashion.
‘Avant-garde’ is a fashion blog which I will be working on after exams. I will be focusing on all of elements in fashion, new trends and different looks for seasons. So watch this space!
Our second audience feedback- but still scary! In class we watched eachother’s opening thrillers and gave our feedback on them. Here were my groups verdict:
Overall, I believe that we had mainly positive feedback from our audience. There were mentions of ‘good camera shots’ such as the various extreme close ups we used and the background sounds being ‘good’. At this point of viewing we were having trouble fitting the phone messages on to the screen without having a black border around them, something which one group said we could improve. Another group did mention that Elise had had a haircut and this ruined the continuity, but this wasn’t the case. Elise’s hair cut had happened after filming in order to keep continuity flowing. Curious, I did ask the group whether it looked as if she had had a hair cut and they said that they knew that she had had one and just assumed that it had changed. So, maybe next time it is a idea better to pitch our films to others who do not know the cast and can not be biased when providing feedback. The audience feedback was a vital and helpful stage in improving our opening thrillers. Right after we had received the feedback I went on to edit out the black border out of the screen.