Links To My Co-Producers' Blogs

Monday, 21 March 2011

TW - Evaluation Question 7

Looking Back At Your Preliminary Task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to full product?

As you can see, our preliminary is of a very poor quality, with jerky camera movement, background noise, and even an unintentionally added character due to poor camera movent! This was before we began shooting our actual production and as you can see we lack real experience here. However we believe we have rectified all the problems from this task and we have vastly improved our finalised production because of it.

One important point to begin with, is that in our preliminary task, we did not use real actors, just the people in our group. However in our film we used real 'actors' so that we could meet plot objectives and also common conventions, for example casting a character to match the 'Scream Queen' character profile. Although due to busy schedules the cast were unable to film on many occasions, we did finally get the job done, in which you can see the more advanced acting skills displayed in our final production.

Another point to make is that we have rectified all jerky camera movement from the preliminary, so our final cut only includes still shots without any unintentional movement, which adds quality to the production. The editing is carefully completed in the final production as you can see, and there is no background noise or unintentional characters being caught inside frames. The reason for this is both hard work and determination to get every shot to a standard we believe to be perfect, and also due to large quantities of editing. This came from teamwork within the group that we believe came from doing the preliminary, and realising how much work there would be to make a good production. If one member was not completing the soundtrack, then they would be pod-casting, or designing the call sheet, or editing the production, etc. There were so many jobs to do that this definitely helped add value to our final cut, whereas in the preliminary task we probably shot and edited the whole thing in a combined total of around 30minutes, so it lacked real quality.

Finally, our final production actually has a real base of story, whereas due to the rushed pace of producing the preliminary task, we created a very basic interrogation sequence in which the suspect would not confess, enabling us to incorporate the shot reverse shot sequence which we found difficult to use beforehand.

TW - Evaluation Question 6

What Have You Learnt About Technologies From The Process Of Constructing The Product?

We have used many technologies in constructing our product, whether it be social networking sites for feedback, or audio recorders for voiceovers and podcasts.

The technologies we used are as follows: IMDB (film search site), Facebook (social networking site), digital video camcorder, digital audio recorder, livetype, keyboard, imovie, scanner, audio converters, email, mobile phones and USB sticks.

The first technology we used was IMDB, a movie database website. We used this for statistics and production information about films we deconstructed in our research and planning. This helped us give evidence that the slasher films we chose to deconstruct were in fact successful, with the website giving us valuable statistics about how much each film grossed, in more than one country, and also it's box office totals, again from more than one country. In response to what I have learnt about this particular technology, I have learnt where to access up-to-date information about just about any film made, and also about upcoming productions. I have also learnt how to access the website, and find the required information, such as profits produced. This website also gave synopsis' of the films, so we could compare these and gain knowledge on common character usage and what slasher plots consisted of ( common conventions used in slashers) to gain a better understanding of the genre we were working in.

Screenshot of

A scanner was required so we could put our completed storyboards and call sheet on our blogs, so I have learnt how to use the scanner and then how to get the scanned info from the computer onto the blog, a process I have never had to perform until now. Ifthe scanner was not available for

use, I would have had to take a picture on my phone, and upload to Facebook, before copying the image into a blog post,  which would have taken much longer than simply scanning the document then inserting the image into the blog post.
Scanned Image Of Our Storyboard

Screen-shot of audience feedback obtained from
Another technology we used is the social networking site, Facebook. This allowed us to post our rough cuts and company idents, in order for our friends to give feedback. Without this site it would have made it a lot more difficult for us to gain feedback as significantly less people would have viewed our video and therefore we wouldn't have obtained as much feedback.

The digital audio recorder and video recorders we used helped us significantly because they enabled us to record pod casts and our whole production respectively. Without these we wouldn't have been able to make our media product, or analysed it because there would have been almost no other way to create the production the high quality we did. I have learnt how to operate both these products, and also how to plug them into a computer safely so the work we had done could be imported and edited before becoming our production. The video recorder also came with a tripod, which whilst filming I learnt how to operate in order to get the desired camera shots for our film.

E-mail was used so we could contact our group members, and give relevant information and documents, whilst we used USB sticks so we could keep important files and upload them from home. Mobile phones were used to communicate with group members and also we needed to use one as a prop in the film, meaning it was key to our production. Without all these we would have not been able to communicate with our group, and most importantly, we would have not been able to transport and keep files from the school environment to home so we could upload files such as our rough cuts onto youtube and then to the blog. This would have caused problems such as the fact we would not have been able to obtain audience feedback as facebook is restricted in school for use.

We learnt how to use livetype and imovie to enable us to produce our company identification and our finished cut, and without these the quality of both products would have been a lot worse. livetype enabled us to complete an ident from scratch with a background, soundtrack and the company name on it, with the possibility of a logo if needed. Imovie enabled us to cut each clip to the desired length, piece them together to make the film, add soundtrack and also sound effects if needed. Without these our film would basically not exist therefore they were the most significant pieces of technology we used.

Finally, we used a keyboard to produce our soundtrack, as we wanted to recreate a soundtrack similar to John Carpenter's 'Halloween' so using the keyboard was necessary ton get the same eerie feel to the scene that the 'Halloween' soundtrack creates. Without the keyboard we would have had to rely on the soundtracks already created on imovie, and we believed this would take away the originality of the soundtrack to make our film seem completely different to others.

TW - Evaluation Question 5

How Did You Attract/Address Your Audience?

Initially, our audience was addressed in our media class when we premiered our 1st rough cut to the group 

To attract audiences, we also used social media sites, such as Facebook. On these sites we posted our Company Identification videos and our 2nd rough cut, so our friends (aged 17-19) could comment on them and tell us what we could do to improve, and what they enjoyed about them.

This is feedback we received for our 2nd Rough Cut for our production entitled 'Oblivious'

This is feedback we received for our Company Identification

As you can see, there is significantly more feedback on our 2nd rough cut. This was extremely helpful to us as we felt that there was not much we could do to imporve our Company Idents, and also we felt that they worked brilliantly with our production. The rough cut feedback we recieved was useful and we have made changes in response to that. The feedback was useful because the people who gave us the comments, were in the correct age range for our production's rating (15) so we felt that not only would the changes we made prove to be successful, we also knew that our target audience will benefit from them as well whilst watching the production. Other audience feedback we have taken into consideration is from a vodcast we recorded in which we had a member of our target audience actually talk to us about changes we could do to improve, and also what they enjoyed about the rough cut.

Untitled from Jem Whitehead on Vimeo.

We have also recorded various podcasts to engage our audience, so they can listen to our ongoing schedule and how we were progressing in producing our film opening. This meant that because they can listen to our schedule, they know what to expect and when, so they are more likely to access it.

Finally, one of my group members, Jem interviewed a teenager who we would target as possible audience for our production in his spare time to discover if the age range we targeted would be interested in a new release.
He found that the teenager would be interested and also gave us an insight into what he would like to see in the production we are creating.

TW - Evaluation Question 4

Who Would Be The Audience For Your Media Product?

The target audience four our media production was initially a broad range of Horror/ Slasher fans in the teenage population, without specifying age ranges and gender aims for our target audience. This can be seen in my post about target audience.
Blog Post On Target Audience
Added Info On Target Audience After Increased Consideration To Our Film's Age Range and Target Gender
Stereotypical Group of Teenagers
As you can see above,  we then change our post and minimised our target audience to specifically 15-24 year olds, in either gender. We did this because it has been increasingly common for Slasher films to incorporate teenagers as main characters, and we have tried to replicate that, so it makes sense for our target audience to be in that very same age range, so they can heavily relate to the characters.

The first annotation shows how although we found it difficult to incorporate a group of teenagers, we managed to show a teenage relationship in order to meet the middle of our target audience of ages 15-24. This makes the film more accessible for our age range as they are more likely to view our production if the characters are in their age range, because again, it easier to relate too and is accessible.

TW - Evaluation Question 3

What Kind Of Media Institution Might Distribute Your Media Project And Why?

Due to the fact our production company is very low budget, and also that we are an Indie company, we cannot aim for huge production companies such as Universal Studios or Walt Disney Studios, so we have decided to target a more independent company such as Caravan Films. This is a small budget production company, and also inside the UK, which would be ideal for our project as it is in the same country, therefore easily accessible and is also in our budget range. These lower budget productions usually incorporate up and coming or debuting  actors to save salary costs. Lower quality and less adventurous locations would be use to also cut costs, as well as keeping mise en scene and props to a minimum in order to meet their low budgets.

If we were really being hopeful, or had evidence of success with a previous production, we could aim for a larger British Production Company, such as Working Title which is one of the most successful british companies. They have most recently produced the film Paul which is hugely successful and stars big name actors such as Seth Rogen and Simon Pegg, who have many defining lead roles to their name already.

TW - Evaluation Question 2

How Does Your Media Product Represent Particular Social Groups?

Megan Claydon portrays our 'Scream Queen'
In our media production we included very few characters due to the fact that we were only making a short film opening sequence, and there is usually a lot of narrative enigma and quite a few unrevealed characters in regards to the rest of the film in the opening sequence in many films, however we did manage to incorporate several stereotypical character types into the film opening.

The first stereotype we have used is that of the 'Scream Queen'. The 'Scream Queen' is most commonly portrayed as blonde, busty, very sexually active, and someone who usually meets an untimely fate somewhere in the film. Our 'Scream Queen' is killed off very early as this is only our opening to what would be a full, feature length production. In our production, this character, named 'Amelia' in the production, is played by 'Megan Claydon', as we believed she best fit the criteria.
As you can see from the pictures, both characters do bare a resemblance and this works to our advantage in our film.

Drew Barrymore is the 'Scream Queen' In 'Scream'
Another stereotype we used is the typical 'jock' boyfriend, in which we cast 'James Crowther'. The jock type character tends to be quite big and seen as strong on camera. He is also sexually active, although he does not show it off like a 'Scream Queen', however he is still killed at some point in the film due to his sins. In our opening, our 'jock' named 'Carl' leaves the house after engaging in sexual activity with 'Amelia' therefore his storyline does not progress, so we did not have to decide whether it was necessary to kill him off or not. The only real thing known about the 'jock' is that he is sexually active, and usually is quite unintelligent.
Typical Jock
James Crowther
In our film, gender and sexuality do not really play a part, as there are no majority genders in the opening, and because this is only a film opening we cannot use other conventions such as the 'Final Girl' or the 'Survivor', the one who defeats the killer. Also, both characters in the opening are made apparent to be heterosexual, because it is signified that they are in a relationship, and the kiss before 'Carl' leaves anchors that perspective. If the film were to progress it is undecided if we would incorporate other sexuality types. It would also be quite difficult if we did use other sexuality types as many people may feel uncomfortable having to showcase that in a publicly viewed product.

Both characters are also of the same ethnicity, and again, if the film were to progress then it is undecided whether characters of other ethnicities would be introduced, although both choices on different sexualities and ethnicities are plainly because we did not need to think past the film opening, aside from a plot that could possibly be continued.
Both characters class and status is unrevealed although due to the house and its size, accessories and furniture it is suggested that the characters are seemingly well off. This however is not too important to the overall opening, as our film would not progress past that. It is also revealed through watching that both characters are in normal physical state, as they can walk to the door from upstairs freely. A character who goes against this is the seemingly bitter 'Frank' (see above) from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, who has a disability which forces him into a wheelchair. The use of a disability is a good way to portay a sense of vulnerablility to the killer, however it would be quite uncommon to find someone who would be willing to portray their disability on screen with a low budget such as ours.

Finally, we used actors in the same age range as our target audience(15-24) as we felt this would best represent a relation between audience and characters, which is likely to increase attraction to our film. It also means the audience can better relate to the characters, which can provide a greater 'fear factor' which will both compliment and benefit our production.

TW - Evaluation Question 1

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

Our media product has used and also challenged many forms and conventions of real life media, mainly from it's genre, the horror genre.

To begin with, our film opening's title is 'Oblivious', purely because of the film opening. This is because the plot sequence revolves around a girl, who also demonstrates the 'Scream Queen' convention, being tormented by a mysterious phone call, whilst being totally oblivious that this is actually a killer playing a mind game with her before he decides to finally kill her, ending our film opening. The title 'Oblivious' gives an initial image of the victims being completely unaware of what is going on, and that is the exact image we wanted the title to portray. The use of this horror title has been backed up by IMDB's Best/Worst 'Horror' Titles, with a similar title 'The Unknown' ranking number 27 in the Top Rated Horror section.

Our company identification does not really resemble the typical eeriness and usually dark type identification you usually see before ht film begins. This is purely because we do not know what genre our company would like to primarily produce, therefore we have not constructed our identification in any particular way, just to meet our expectations.

We tried to incorporate a very rural and secluded setting, with an aim of a house away from today's urban culture and located nearer the countryside (see setting and location blog post). A quote from that post best sums up our aims for location planning;
'The house will be modern and we will be aiming to represent a middle class style of living. It would also help if the house we use is in a rural area as this will hopefully add to the tension and immediately give the characters a sense of isolation.
Still of house - eerie setting is apparent
We will be filming inside the house, so we will be aiming to recreate a typical modern middle class environment with aspects of mise-en-scene including; Electrical appliances, classy looking furniture and a sizeable amount of space in each room.
Finally, we will need to film at a time of day where it is dark out, because this will add suspense and also will not affect our filming as we will be filming inside with light. The reason we need the darkness is to add to the sense of lack of security the woman in our film will try to present which should combine with the rural landscape'
We aimed to pay homage to an environment similar to that of the film 'Scream's or 'Halloween's, in which both locations use a lonely environment to anchor the fact the victim cannot escape the killer.
The Amityville Horror's film location
is urban yet rural at the same time - this is a good replica
of what our film's setting ended up looking like
We were however unable to meet some of these goals,primarily the ones we set for the outer house environment, resulting in us having to change our location to a house in a urban environment. However in the shots we used, there is still a range of semiotics that help signify the lack of security and isolated environment we need, such as the foliage around the house, and also due to shooting in the dark, it is hard to specifically point out housing near the house. Although the original denotation would be to suggest the location is not isolated, we still believe that there is an element of withdrawal and lack of security for the victim as a secondary connotation at the least. 

The characters are seen here wearing typical teenage clothing,
they are not wearing anything that would make them look odd in the scene,
 after the implied sexual activity
In regards to our costumes, we did not really need to use to many eccentric pieces of clothing. For our 'jock' and 'scream queen' we used plain, typical clothes that we believed would fit their description in order to get a typical teenager look across to the audience. 

Mobile Phone used in our Production
Mask used in the production
We did however use some very important props, which were key to the film. To begin with, there is a close up shot of our 'scream queen' named 'Amelia' locking the door with a set of keys. Although this could be connoting safety, we wanted to differ from the typical preferred reading and use it to signify that she now has no way out and is trapped with the killer. The second prop we use is the mobile phone, which is important in regards to communication. Without the mobile phone the killer would not have been able to speak to Amelia in our production, although the conversation is unheard, meaning we would lose all tension the phone call provides before the actual killing. We then move to a close up of Amelia pouring a glass of wine, which shows she is committing a sin in horror terms as she is drinking alcohol, therefore she must be punished, which comes in the form of death commonly. The final prop we use is the mask for the killer, this is extremely important as it is required to hide his identity from both the victim and the audience, this is an extremely commonly used prop and as become a convention in typical Horror films due to it's excessive use. The mask helps progress the story as with the victim remaining both nameless and faceless, it provides narrative enigma for the audience as they want to find out who the killer it, whose identity is usually revealed at the end of the film, as a culmination of the films prior events.

Phone calls increased the pace of our editing
Our camerawork and editing is to a great standard we believe, as we believe we have added voiceover to desired locations where needed and in perfect position to replicate a conversation. This adds to the realism and verisimilitude of a phone call as they are usually fast paced with a medium amount of dialogue, however if one of the participants is under threat, like in our film, then the dialogue would be more past paced, which we believed to have achieved. We also believe that the very limited use of transitions seen in our film signify more positively that time has passed, because if we had added transitions after every scene, the audience would assume that we had not intended for time to pass and this was just for visual effect. 
Close-ups on action were just
some of thecamera shots we used
We have cut scenes to what we believe to be a perfect length, with the film meeting the 2:30min time limit almost perfectly, showing we have used maximum allocation to ensure our production is as good as it can be. Our range of shots can also be seen, with a range spanning form a close up on keys when locking a door or when Amelia washes her face, to an almost extreme long shot of the rear window of the house when Amelia and 'Carl' (male 'jock' character') walk past, to signify someone is watching. Our soundtrack is also to a inch perfect length we believe, and whilst it does play in a slightly noticeable continuous loop, we believe we met our expectation of recreating a Halloween type soundtrack, although we are careful not to make it to similar to avoid copyright infringement. 
Lack of track and pan shots meant
we had to use a wide range of angles
One negative point I would make however, is the fact that we did not use a lot of dolly, pan or track type shots, in which we tended to revert to different angles instead of following the character, which proved to be a huge success in the Scream film opening. This meant that we had to edit in many different angles instead of using one tracking shot to show what the character is doing, however this did mean that our camerawork remained steady throughout, which is a positive. 

Titles used in our production
We decided to use a very basic white coloured font, in a large scale, in order to immediately attract audience attention to our title against the dark, shot of the house/location we used at night. The drifting effect we used in our opening credits shows silent movement, which is what an oblivious killer would need, although after the killer has performed his act, he can move more freely so we have added a typewriter sound effect as the letters come onto screen, to add a sense of triumph and almost as if the sound is his reward for performing a perfect, silent kill. We did obtain a font from the internet because the ones available were not deemed acceptable to the needs of our production by the group, the font we have now used is slightly jagged, whilst being neat, to give a sort of scary form of intelligence to the titles, which would represent a killer, as they are also neat, careful, intelligent and crazy, hence the borderline jaggedness. 

Carl. Amelia's boyfriend, escapes
punishment for his acts of sin
Our films story in very basic terms is as follows; a boy and a girl engage in sexual activity, the boy leave, the girl is tormented and finally killed as punishment for her acts of sin. The story after the opening would revolve around the boyfriend of the victim and his group of friends dealing with the death of a loved one, whilst they also have to try and stop the killer from striking again as he begins to pick them off one by one. The story can be set up by the 'Carl' leaving the house, therefore he cannot be punished for his actions, so the killer can target him after 'Amelia' meets her untimely death. Because he is with a group of friends the killer may also have to dispatch of them as well. We would also like to incorporate a 'Final Girl' into our film to include another common slasher convention, although it is unsure at this point how we would slot her into the films plot, one idea we have in mind is that the final girl could be one of Carl's less sexually active friends who is considered as a 'Good Girl' so that the killer has no reason to punish her.
The scene does not appear urban even
though it is in fact very much so

Our target genre was the Horror genre, with a target sub-genre of slasher. Our film suggests this with a very eerie setting in a dark environment. I have already stated that the setting did not fully meet the rural setting we aimed for, however the type of shots we have used do not make this apparent in the slightest. This in fact worked to our advantage as it does in fact suggest horror due to the dark against the house lights, to signify that the opening will take place inside or around this environment. Another suggestion of horror is the soundtrack. The eerie continuous keyboard sounds make the audience feel the tension and show the loneliness of Amelia when she is alone in the house, as if something could occur at any moment. One more obvious point is the fact that the boy and the girl are committing sins, which is a common way to begin a horror film, and then the killer comes and punishes them. This is replicated in our film almost perfectly so as soon as it becomes apparent that the characters have performed a sin, it becomes obvious that it is unlikely that these actions will go unpunished.

The killer's entrance point is left
unclear as a form of narrative enigma
The two main characters of the opening are introduced by coming out of the bedroom, and are seen straightening out clothing to connote sexual activity, which is regarded as a sin. This was the sole reason for them being first shown leaving the bedroom, aside from the fact that the audience gets a brief view of what the surroundings of the house look like. The outside shot of the window also looks like someone is watching the proceedings, which in a way introduces the killer. The killer is introduced in the bathroom, almost stalking the victim, in a sort of jumpy manner, as he appears out of nowhere in a view of the mirror. It is implied through a zoom of the door that he entered through this entrance, but the view of the back window means he could have also through there.
A loud bang provided a scare for Amelia

We did not use many special effects, as this would have been unfitting to the horror genre. The only thing we did use was minimal transitions and a makeshift loud noise to scare Amelia. The bang was important as it provided a scare to our audience, the transitions were key to show time had elapsed.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

TW - 3rd Rough Cut

Here is our latest cut of our production entitled 'Oblivious'. We have added soundtrack and edited to accommodate for the 2:30 time limit.

TW - 1st Rough Cut

Our group had presumed we had already uploaded this particular rough cut to the the blog, however when looking through previous posts we found that it had not actually been uploaded.
So, here is our 1st rough cut of 'Oblivious':

Monday, 14 March 2011

TW - Vodcast Number 1

This vodcast includes news on how far we have progressed in creating our production, and we also have a member of target audience giving feedback.

Untitled from Jem Whitehead on Vimeo.