Evaluation Questions…

Posted: May 13, 2011 in Media

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

A:

Trailer conventions

Within the conventions of trailers for films (in general) I used the following:

Intertitles…

In my trailer I conventionally used ‘intertitles’ that link to the film being promoted. Quite conventionally also I used the titles to ‘break up’ or serve as a kind of pause of fragmentation in the trailer itself- allowing certain scenes to appear clearly separate, of a different context etc. Although I don’t really admire this convention fully, as I feel it can take away from the trailer and the atmosphere it creates, I do see what their purpose are in the trailer. I feel that, if intertitles are used properly, they can be very effective and overall give the audience a better idea about the film. As I found with most intertitles, they carried a reoccurring theme or certain word to reinforce that the intertitles were all connected. The best example probably being the titles from the trailer for ‘The Edge of Darkness’. Here the titles repeat the word ‘Some’ top reinforce how the titles are connected and give a sense of the story developing- from ‘memories’ to ‘feelings’ to ‘secrets’. Leading the audience thus to realise what themes the film will explore and how the plot will develop (from someone’s memories of someone, to the feelings created by the memories to the secrets they find out about them perhaps). I did try to use the technique of repeating words to keep the intertitles connected clearly but found this didn’t quite work for the intertitles I had in mind. But, like most trailers, I still included keywords in the intertitles to help reinforce and convey some key themes within my film. Words such as ‘Forgive’ and ‘Forget’ for example convey Jack’s tormented past and the fact that the whole film revolves around the fact that while the youth club owners can forget what they did to him, he can’t. And that’s what leads him to take out his revenge. Also, having the phrase ‘it can be hard…’ conveys Jack’s inner struggle not only with carrying out his vengeance but also his struggle with himself – which is represented by the character of Ray, his inner child and lost innocence. This is very similar I find to the intertitles within the trailer for ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ ‘A brother’s love’, ‘A brother’s vengeance’ clearly showing, in a straightforward way, that the film will revolve around Richard’s revenge- the revenge for what happened to his brother.

The name of the film…

It is a well-known convention within most trailers to place the title of the film at the end (though not at the VERY end as this is where the information is placed). I conventionally placed my title on a black background- making it stand out from trailer and its other aspects and also reinforces the title’s importance overall. Trying not to complicate so simple an aspect, I simply found a font that suited my film (and it’s themes/genre), made sure it was eye-catching and easy to read and placed upon a black background. Simple. Although my font is very simple I choose it specifically because it looks gritty and tainted itself- reinforcing the themes of my film without complicating the font too much. I found this to be quite conventional in trailers- where the film names were kept simple but still had a hint of individuality- giving ideas to the audience about what genre of film they can expect/what themes it will contain etc. I found this on ‘The Wolfman’s trailer, wherein the ‘O’ was replaced with a moon, reinforcing that the film will revolve around werewolves and it will be the film’s main theme. Though I do think, for a film called ‘The Wolfman’, this is not entirely necessary- as if the audience has watched the entire trailer and still doesn’t work out the film is going to be about werewolves- what were they doing? Thus, I think it is a bit more of a necessity for a film such as mine, which is a little more complex and does not give away the themes of the film in the title as such (it can give indications but is not a clear giveaway- as it is down to the audience’s perception of the title). I find my choice in font more similar to that of ‘Taken’ or ‘The Sixth Sense’ where it is not complicated, not too simple, yet still strives to a give a hint, even if only a small hint, towards what the film itself will be like. Such as ‘Taken’s title appears gritty/dirty- indicating perhaps violence and danger within the film itself.

Production logos…

Though this wasn’t something I was particularly familiar with- as I didn’t require them in my AS course (creating a two-minute opening) I found that putting logos of production companies at the very beginning of the trailer soon to be a common convention- and something audiences would naturally expect at the start of any film trailer- no matter the genre/themes of the film itself. So I created the production logos from scratch, by myself and in accordance with my genre of film (words like ‘wrath’ ‘justice’ and ‘psychotic’ all having a ‘thriller’ tone about them I thought).  I did it quite conventionally also, making the production logos start the trailer off, and fade in/out to one another, introducing the fact a trailer for a film is about to start. Sometimes I noticed that trailers for films can use the production logos for other purposes or creatively intertwining them with the film being promoted- such as how the ‘Warner Brothers’ logo was used for the trailer for ‘Inception’– making the letters of the company name look like buildings/skyscrapers- instantly plunging the audience into the film and it’s supernatural/fantasy themes of dream worlds, anything being possible etc. Though I found this is pretty much a one-off thing, and typically trailers stick to just presenting the production logos as a starting point/opening for the trailer conventionally. Plus, I didn’t really have the technology or time to do anything like the‘Inception’ trailer did…though it was very creative and really clever too…helping to reinforce the whole atmosphere of the film being promoted before the trailer had even begun…

Information…

 What I soon also found to be very traditional/conventional within trailers was having most of the information about the film at the very end, with the release date either above or below it. The information conventionally consists of the director’s name, actors/actresses that star within it, production/distribution companies etc. This information was usually small and briefly on screen- mainly due to it needing to be there but not actually being persuasive or interesting enough to entice/persuade the audience to go and see the film itself. Prior to finding it quite conventional, I added  this to my own trailer- with the release date above my information (which contained the directors name, stars and various other roles I made up the names to fit). But instead of actually making up a date my film will be released on, I simply put ‘coming soon’ in bigger and bolder letters above the information. This way it is clearer to see and clearly more important to the audience and the prospect of them seeing it- as they’ll need to know when it is released in order to go and see it in the cinema, hypothetically speaking that is. Although I did at first disagree with the use of the conventional ‘coming soon’ in trailers, I soon found it to be quite useful for adding to the mysterious tone of the trailer overall and also to add further tension in the audience.  It was also very common within most promotional trailers for films, such as ‘Gladiator’ and so on. On further thought I also think this conventionally vague release date is usually used when a trailer is released on various media outlets quite a while before it is going to be released in the cinemas. Hence why the exact date is required- as it is included when the film is soon to be released- hyping audience excitement and grabbing their attention. I’d also like to add that I added a (totally made up) website for my film at the bottom of the information. Although it is small I felt it was quite conventional in trailers- as films with websites can then reach out to a bigger target audience- as the internet has a much easier to access and cheaper perhaps than others. It also opens up the prospect of gaining further information about the film itself to the audience- therefore cleverly allowing more opportunities for the creators to persuade them to go and see the film.

Critical Reviews/Ratings…

Although I was at first sceptical about including review ‘snippets’ and ratings (in stars) given by critics, I did come to realise that it was quite conventional in trailers and thus was something I felt I should include. At first I did worry about whether they ‘took away’ from the feeling of my trailer or somehow felt separate from the trailer itself- nevertheless I decided they would be helpful for me, as they allowed me to get across keywords that hint to the themes/atmosphere/genre that my film has. Thus the audience will not be mislead into thinking it is of a different genre or will be expecting a different type of film if they, hypothetically speaking, went to see my film after viewing the trailer. So, I made sure to include keywords, such as ‘vengeance’ (hinting to my film’s key theme of vengeance), ‘darkest’ (indicating that the film will be dark and at times, hard to watch, so not for the faint hearted) and ‘compelling’ ( to reinforce it will be very tension building, a convention of thrillers and therefore suggesting the film itself is of the thriller genre) so overall, I help to give the audience more knowledge about my film, leading them to know what to expect if they decided to go and see it (if it existed). I often found that, like my own specific choice in wording for the review snippets trailer conventionally tended to, if they used snippets from reviews, specific pieces that reinforced what kind of film was being promoted, mostly genre-wise, and often keywords could be picked out that did just that. Such as for the ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ trailer, which I initially thought was the best and most interesting use of reviews I’ve seen in a trailer- as they include words/phrases from reviewers such as ‘drop-dead terrifying’– instantly giving indications that it is not a film for the faint-hearted and could be quite a scary/tense film, ‘uncompromising’ which emphasizes the character of Richard and his path of vengeance, heightening what we’ve already seen in the trailer and ‘completely gripping’ indicating that it is a very tense film, and perhaps will therefore be of the thriller genre. (though it is a little different as I made up the reviews by myself and therefore had the ability to say specific words and such that helped paint a picture of what the film is like. But real films that actually exist of course don’t have this choice, as they can’t simply make up their own reviews and have to work with the reviews they’ve had on their film and choice the pieces that will help sell the film and put them in the trailer themselves). I’d also like to state that I was very influenced by the unconventional way the trailer for ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ used it’s titles- layering them over the top of film (with no dialogue and music in the background) instead of putting the reviews on black backgrounds, which I think is why I thought they looked like they were ‘separate’ from the trailer itself. But, I soon realised I’d have to stick to the conventions, as when I tried to do this it didn’t quite work and was hard to read.

Conflict shown- but no resolution…

What I also found very conventional within trailers was to show the conflict between two (or more) characters or even just the equilibrium of the film being disrupted by something (though usually it’s due to a character) and various tension building but no resolution or restoration of the equilibrium is shown or even hinted to. This being as trailers are intended to make the audience want to go and see the film. So, if they watch the trailer and find out what happens in the end, what’s the point in going to see it? Therefore, I instantly knew this was a convention that would be stupid to break and had the power to ruin my trailer overall if I had decided to break it. But I didn’t. I showed the conflict of characters through various camera shots- the ideas of weapons, characters being followed, watched, scared etc to reinforce that on the arrival of Jack’s character, the equilibrium is disrupted. As it is made clear he wants something from Kitty, or is hurting her somehow- which is shown through her dialogue ‘He’s gonna kill me’ and the varying shots of her looking intimidated/scared- and thus she seeks help from Alice, the heroine of the film to stop him. And Alice’s struggle to help her friend is shown clearly through how she is seen looking for objects (clues that reveal Jack’s guilt) and asks ‘what is it, what’s wrong?’ and ‘what does he want?’. And although I’ve made it clear (well, I’ve tried to!) that Kitty is being intimidated by a stranger and Alice is going to try to find out what this stranger wants or stop him even, which will restore the equilibrium, the audience is left, by the end of the trailer, not knowing whether Alice really manages to solve out the mystery surrounding the stranger and his actions or even what happens to Kitty. Therefore I think I’ve stuck to the convention quite well- showing a conflict between Alice/ Jack and Kitty/Jack and Alice’s attempt to restore the equilibrium without giving away the ending or even hinting to it. Thus the audiences are more in the dark about how the film will conclude, and as endings are often the most memorable scene of the entire film (think ‘Inception’, ‘Se7en’, ‘The Sixth Sense’, ‘The Usual Suspects’ and so on)  I think this is an important convention to remember when creating a trailer. Especially considering how my ending would be quite similar to those already referenced to considering my film would try to trick the audience into believing something only to reveal it is false at the very end of the film (which is Ray’s existence). Showing the disruption of the equilibrium of the film within the trailer I found was often, like mine, revealed through various conflicts between characters- such a fights, arguments and so on. Which can be seen probably at it’s best in ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ trailer- through the conflict of Richard and Sonny, wherein Richard’s thirst for vengeance for what happened to his brother is clear to not only us, but to Sonny’s character also. Setting up that these characters will, at some point, collide, but not hinting to who will come out on top at the end of the film. ‘The Green Mile’s trailer also clearly reveals to us the disruption of the equilibrium as well as the problems it creates- with the disagreements between Paul Edgecomb and various other characters revealing that John Coffey’s arrival on the Green Mile disturbs the equilibrium- mainly because of the fact Paul is seen claiming Coffey is innocent, whereas other believe he is not. But the trailer leaves it a mystery at whether Paul is even right or not, and certainly doesn’t tell us of Coffey’s fate- which would of course, have ruined the film before we’d even seen it, as it is, being the ending, a vital scene.

Are introduced/connect to character(s)…

I found this was, quite obviously, a common convention within trailers as the characters themselves, in films, are one of the most important factors of the film itself. They are the ones audience’s will inevitably connect to/sympathize with etc and will go on a ‘journey’ with them through the film itself. Therefore, it is clearly conventional and expected for a trailer – no matter the genre of film- to introduce various characters (especially the protagonist (s) as the film revolves literally around this role) and perhaps even their roles within the film so that audiences can identify them and get to know them a little before they go to see the film itself. As if they connect to a character for any given reason in the trailer- perhaps they sympathize with the problems the character is seen going through or want to see how the character develops through the film- that is a big persuasive technique almost- as this adds to the audience wanting to see the film. Obviously it also, on a more basic level, provides the audience with more information about the film itself- and therefore they’ll be more likely to want to see it if they at least know a little about it/ can recognize and name characters/ know their situations/relationships etc. Conventionally, I found trailers also tend not to introduce too many various characters- and if they do they only focus on a select few- specifically the protagonists or the heroes/villains- as they will be the characters that are most vital tot he film and will have the most screen time after all. Therefore, I made sure my trailer focused mostly on Kitty/Alice/ Jack because they all play different roles in the film, but are all equally important and provide different types of audiences that could connect to them, as they are all different in age, gender and other general aspects. I also made sure their roles in the film were clearly stated to the audience- Alice shown as the hero of the film clearly through her searching for evidence, shown as determined to restore the equilibrium, as if she’s going on a ‘journey’ or ‘quest’ etc. I found often trailers would, like I did, conventionally focus more on one or even a select few of characters- as this reinforces that they are the most important and further makes it likely that audiences will connect to them before they even see the film. For example, ‘Se7en’s trailer features an array of characters- but mainly focuses on Detective’s Somerset and Mills, reinforcing that they are the protagonist’s of the film and will attempt to restore the equilibrium by catching the killer. It gives the audience more opportunities to get to grips with the characters, connect to them and make them more likely to side with them within the film and want them to restore the equilibrium overall- somewhat enhancing their enjoyment of the film and interaction with it/the characters. Similarly, ‘Sweeney Todd’ focuses on the protagonist, Sweeney Todd/Benjamin Barker- reinforcing that he is the protagonist and that the film will revolve around him, his tormented state and his dark past- making us further connect to him and his motives for his bloody revenge before we even see the film itself.

I challenged/broke the following conventions of trailers:

No voice over…

To be honest, I realised voice overs were pretty conventional and almost expected by audiences when discussing trailers for films. But, I still, despite recognizing the convention, really disliked the idea. I think, from where I’ve seen or even analysed trailers WITH voice overs, that they destroy the atmosphere of the trailer that took so long to create (probably) say unnecessary things that audiences could have realised themselves anyway and are, to put it bluntly, cheesy. I think they are so conventional they have become quite predictable and, as I said before, take way from the trailer’s atmosphere by putting in some deep, cringe-worthy voice often spurting out non-vital information the trailer could do well without anyway. In fact, it’d  probably do even better without it. Anyway, besides from my hatred of them, which I made fully clear from the start, I did consider using the convention- but found that putting any old voice-over in m trailer- no matter how good the script was that I could have written for them, wouldn’t have achieved the desired effect had it have been any ordinary voice. It clearly has to be ‘THAT’ voice- the iconic one every single trailer seems to use. Otherwise it may sound a bit silly and extremely amateur. And I don’t happen to know anyone with THAT voice. So not only did I hate the idea of a voice over, but it wouldn’t have been achievable anyway considering what limits I have in technology, actors I can use etc. Oh and here’s an example (In the trailer for ‘Sleepers‘) of how I feel the voice over may be a convention in trailers an all, but it sometimes can literally ruin the feeling created by a trailer and thus ruin the chances of audiences going to see the actual film ( and as a trailer’s intention is to get audiences to see the film they’re promoting, it probably isn’t a great move…)

No USP intertiles…

A similar tale to the voice over convention, I was never that keen on USPs of the film being used as intertitles. Like the voice over, they seem to detach from the trailer itself, producing a kind of ‘jolt’ I feel in the trailer’s overall flow and development. As if you’re watching a film and are mid way through and then suddenly the screen goes black and tells you the name of the make up artist or producer or some other person who worked on the film you’re watching. At the end of the day, I know this is a very useful technique for trailers, which is why it’s common and conventional, as catches more attention of audiences and also brings in more audiences, meaning more profit of course when the film is finally released at the cinema. And I know this, as from research and personal experience of course, an audience member is far more likely to want to go and see a new film if the trailer informs them of a star they like playing a role within it, or the film being created by the director they admire the previous work of etc etc. It’s just normal for this kind of thing to be the big seller that trailers tend to rely on to pull in audiences to see their film. Of course if they have a big Hollywood star like Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt or the film is directed by James Cameron or Steven Spielberg then it’s inevitable that this is going to be used at every given opportunity to shove in the faces of audiences to get them to want to see the film merely by the presence or mention even of names such as these.  But of course, not only do I feel this somewhat patronises audiences to an extent (if we liked a star that much we’d be persuaded to see a film merely because they were in- surely we would recognize them? And we don’t need to be told over and over again to make sure we know they’re in it?) but there is also the fact that…I don’t have any USPs. I know I could have made some up, a bit like how I made up reviews for my film myself, but I feel this would have looked a little pointless. Giving that I don’t have a big star in my film and I’m not a well-known director and haven’t created any films I feel pretending that I have any of these things would take away from the fact I want the audience to focus upon other things in my trailer. I don’t want them to be concerned too much with those behind the film- I want them to get involved and interested in the story and characters of my film- as that I feel is more important and makes for a much more enjoyable viewing than including the stars or directors or whatever other USPs trailers usually throw in. On an even more negative note, I feel sometimes the USPs being included in the trailer feels as though the trailer is desperate for something to make it appear more interesting- to get audiences in no matter how bad the film looks- thus taking away the audience’s respect for the film somewhat and decreasing their likelihood of watching it even.

Red on black…

I think I broke this convention due to the fact my film (and therefore the clips included in the trailer) is black and white. Therefore having the intertitles in white would have seemed a bit dull- as they’d be too much white. I also think that having red titles makes it appear more dark and connotes bloodshed/violence/danger within the film- thus building the audience’s expectations of what the film will be like and making sure they are not mislead into thinking it’s something it’s not. Just a little bend in the conventions of trailers like this though I feel make my trailer appear a little more unique and interesting-as though it something different from most films out there and thus will improve the likelihood of audiences going to see the film itself.

Film/Genre conventions

I used the following conventions (though sometimes only through the plot I’d use were the whole film made) :

Revenge is not everlasting…

 I soon found it to be conventional within thriller/revenge films that the revenge only ever ends up hurting those who seek it out. Thus making the film overall more tragic as we are, literally, watching the character slowly destroy himself or herself (though that isn’t so conventional, as I’ll explain later) by becoming someone whom others and they themselves gradually come to hate- often resulting in their death. I love this convention as I think this is what makes Thriller/revenge genre so interesting and compelling- as the characters are so driven by the idea of vengeance that it consumes them and transforms them into something almost as bad as the thing that sparked off their vengeance. This also provides, like most thrillers alone have, an ending which is neither predictable nor typical- as the equilibrium is not necessarily restored by the end of the film and the protagonists (those seeking revenge) usually end up dead, the vengeance they desired having destroyed them. In ‘Sweeney Todd’ I found this to be a very tragic ending- as the whole film is built up around Todd’s vengeance on the Judge for being sent away on a false charge and thus, losing his wife and daughter. But caught up in the bloodshed that builds to him killing the Judge at last, Todd, not recognizing his wife, accidentally kills her. He almost does the same to his daughter, whom he doesn’t recognize either, but instead is called to the cellar where his wife’s body is. The realisation that Todd had everything he’s wanted, everything that had been taken away from him, he had it all back but his thirst for revenge made him blind to what he saw in front of him is what makes the ending so compelling. It may end with Todd dying, but he clearly welcomes death, raising his neck upon hearing Toby snatch up his dropped blade, and has a long-lasting effect on the viewer. This same welcoming of death is explored in ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ as Richard has successfully gotten his revenge on all of the group whom caused Anthony’s death, except for one. With Mark having a wife and kids, and appearing a much better person than any of the others Richard has already killed, he calls upon Mark to end it all. The confession that Richard feels just as guilty for what happened to Anthony, fearful of what he may do to Mark’s children as he no longer knows what he is capable of all building for us to sympathize with Richard. ‘I just wanna lie with my brother’ clearly welcoming the death Mark gives him in the end, the equilibrium may not be restored, but the final scene is terribly poignant and teaches morals of revenge- that vengeance consumes people and can ultimately be their destruction. However, I feel I used this convention in my own film/plot a little more like John and Tommy’s fate in ‘Sleepers’ as Jack is consumed by his path of vengeance, but is rather more frustrated with the fact, even when he gets the ultimate revenge, his fate is unchanged. Everything that happened to him in his childhood is till the same and he realises it cannot be altered. Thus he greets a prison sentence as nothing and is (or this is what I’d like audiences to think) for the rest of his life, doomed. Because of the fact nothing, not even revenge can take away what happened to him as the damage has already been done.

Forget and forgive…

What I also found conventional upon exploring thriller/revenge films was the fact that villains (those who inflicted the revenge) usually do not recognize the protagonists (that they did something awful to). This reinforces the importance of the theme of memory and how it links to revenge. A revenge is usually something characters get due to events that occurred in the past, it is clear that although THEY remember these things as clear as day, others do not. And it’s the anger that escalates from the fact that what happened seemed to have no effect upon those who inflicted the pain yet it can never be erased from the protagonist’s mind that conventionally causes the vengeance within most films of this hybrid of genres. ‘Sweeney Todd’ of course was the best example of this convention as throughout the whole film there is the ongoing fact that Todd remembers everything that happened to him and his wife and child, but no one else does and nor do they recognize him. And he plays this to his advantage to get revenge by taking on a new persona. Though he does say that, upon his return, what happened to him has changed his character ‘No. Not Barker. That man is dead. It’s Todd now, Sweeney Todd. And he will have his revenge’. clearly revealing the fact that what happened to him as completely changed him as a person- and we can see this throughout the whole film and it’s development, though it is tragic how it affects everyone else, especially the Judge that caused his pain in the first place, so little. I used this idea as a main theme in my film- the fact that the youth club owners don’t even recognize Jack, nor do they remember what they did to him further fuelling his rage and thus, in turn, his vengeance. Linking to my titles in my trailer about the fact that in order to forgive someone, you have to forget about what they did. But the question is, if you can’t forget what this person did, if it haunts you every day (as Jack’s past does to him) how can you truly forgive them? Which is what really, my film is all about.

Revenge is linked to the past…

I found it quit conventional and expected that  thriller/revenge films would be constantly linking back to the past, as the revenge is usually due an incident or series of events that happened in the protagonist’s past. Or, they are just as expected to be haunted by images of the past- memories of when they were happy, with family members they’ve since lost (and now want justice for their lives being lost) and it’s this constant attachment to the past in this genre of film that leads to the destruction of the protagonist. This is mostly the reason why I chose my film to be in black in white- to reflect the power the past has on the present (which is conventionally shown in black and white to reinforce it is a memory within films of nay genre, not just my chosen one) and reveal just how much past events and lingering on them have consumed Jack’s life. I also included memories from Jack in the trailer to reinforce that in the film, the protagonist would be constantly having flashbacks to what happened- making us connect to his character more and understand why he does what he does (his motives for the revenge in other words). I found it was conventional to include this notion within this genre of film, as ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ constantly has developing flashbacks throughout the film, each time they’re shown revealing a little more about why Richard is carrying out such a bloody and extreme revenge on this group. Maximus in ‘Gladiator’ also lingers on the death of his wife and son, using the memories of them to drive his vengeance and also when he welcomes death in the final scenes- reinforcing the power the past has on future events.

A tormented/troubled protagonist…

What I also found conventional in the genre of thriller films (with themes of vengeance) was the fact that the protagonists were not always predictable and nor were they wholly as ‘good’ as we’d usually expect from films in general. But this is what draws me to the main characters within this genre- as they’re much more interesting and easier to connect to because of their flaws and their inner torment. They aren’t perfect, but no one is and thus we can connect to their troubles and how they deal with problems a lot more. This can be seen in ‘Se7en’ wherein Somerset is a constantly troubled protagonist as he is torn apart by what he wants to do (which is retire from the police and get away from all the suffering and hate in the world) and doing what he thinks is right (staying with the police to help conquer the evil things he detests so much and helping Mills also). I think Somerset’s character is  a perfect example of this troubled, flawed and yet very compelling character we can connect to. As although it would be the ‘heroic’ thing to ignore personal worries/doubts and just get on with destroying evil, wanting to run away from the evil and suffering int he world is something everyone can connect to and therefore can connect with Somerset’s character a lot better. The more extreme version of this would be Richard within ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ as he is a murderer at the end of the day, yet we can understand, because of the circumstances, why he did it. As well as Lawrence in ‘The Wolfman’ whose inner torment literally causes him to kill people (being a werewolf)  but since it is not his fault as it is beyond his control, it means he is a lot easier to sympathize with and connect to. I used this convention of tormented protagonists within my own film/plot for my film through the character of Jack- as he is a constantly troubled and not necessarily ‘good’ character. As he murders his victims in the most terrible way- by pushing them to take their own lives. Yet still, he is troubled soul, and only does this because it is the only way he feels he can carry on with his life. Like Lawrence, he has no control over it.

Twists and turns in the plot/ non-existent characters …

 As I realised within my AS course, it is quite conventional of the thriller genre (no matter whether it has a theme of vengeance included within it or not) to have a lot of twists and turns throughout the plot. As thrillers tend to be tension building right up to the very last second, they need to keep the audience on their feet and actively guessing what is going to happen next and making them unsure of what is coming round the corner. These twists and turns are usually portrayed through various mystery elements – a symbol or plot point that throughout the film is surrounded in mystery and as the film gets deeper and deeper trying to un-riddle the mystery, things naturally come to the surface. And then there’s the convention of when thrillers fool us, tricking us into believing something is true and then leaving the great ‘reveal’ until the very very end. This conventionally, within the thriller genre, involves some sort of true identity being revealed- or an existing character revealing to be non-existent after all and vice versa. Such as in ‘The Sixth Sense’ what made it so compelling and ground-breaking was how it made the audience believe Malcolm Crowe’s character was alive when in fact it is revealed, in the final scene, that he is in fact dead. And merely one of the ghosts with ‘unfinished business’ that Coel so regularly encounters. Similar to how in ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ Anthony is believed to be alive, travelling with his brother Richard, but later in the film it is revealed that Anthony had killed himself and Richard is in fact alone. And has been all along. The interesting thing being because thrillers tend to cleverly make the hints at the characters not existing so subtle that we simply, as an audience, look over them and only realise them really after the end has been revealed to us. Within my own film and trailer for the film I used this convention with the character of Ray- whom in itself is very similar to the characters already described. As Ray doesn’t really exist, but his presence is felt by Jack and is a symbol of the innocence he has lost due to what the youth club owners did to him- just like Anthony, to an extent, represents the torment on Richard’s mind and his drive for vengeance. I f made into the full film, of course Ray’s character would only be revealed for what he truly is at the very end, which is why I briefly included him in the trailer to show his importance but not to give away too much about what his character really represents (as this would take away the dramatic ending scene thrillers conventionally are expected to have- see ‘Se7en’, ‘The Sixth Sense’ and ‘The Usual Suspects’) . 

 

Male protagonist…

 Within thriller films the protagonists are conventionally male. This may be due to the fact thriller films are generally prefered by male audiences (thus they’ll have more characters to connect to) or that many tormented protagonists that thrillers include are more suited to male characters for whatever reason. Nevertheless they are clearly expected within thrillers. As gathered by the fact in ‘Se7en’ we have Somerset and Mills, ‘The Usual Suspects’ we have Verbal Kint, Agent Kujan, Fenster, McManus, Hockney and Keaton, in ‘The Green Mile’ we have Paul Edgecomb, Brutus Howell, John Coffey, Eduard Delacroix etc, in ‘The Wolfman’ we have Lawrence and so on. In fact, thriller films don’t even tend to include many female characters at all- conventionally they are there almost always to play the role of the victim (Tracy in ‘Se7en’, Keaton’s wife in ‘The Usual Suspects’ etc). Which is why, due to the fact this is clearly a solid convention of films of the thriller genre, my protagonist, Jack, is naturally male also. I feel it is something that audiences generally could be put off of my film if I changed this convention- as it does seem to be a very solid and constant one. I feel that this specific choice in gender for my protagonist is also due to my theme of vengeance. I soon realised on analysing revenge/thrillers that protagonists are usually male also- which may be because conventionally, this is what audiences expect and they can probably expect the violent nature of revenge coming from a man than a woman (which is stereotypically but generally this is probably what audiences will expect) . Women also, with the theme of revenge, are usually the victims, or are the reason the protagonist is getting revenge. Because they had a pretty wife or daughter or so on but this alters due to whatever reason and thus they want vengeance. For example ‘Sweeney Todd’ gets revenge for having his daughter and wife taken from him, ‘Gladiator’s motives for vengeance is due to the murder of his wife and son, and both ‘The Edge of Darkness’ and ‘Taken’ are fathers on the path of vengeance because os their love for their daughters. This is probably when my film strays a little from convention. As although my protagonist is male, he is getting revenge not for a female character but for what happened specifically to himself.

Extreme close-ups…

As I found with my AS course (wherein I also chose to use the thriller genre, except not with the theme of vengeance as I did this time) thrillers are conventionally used within the genre of film- as they provide a way to conceal the identities of characters whom their identities are secret- such as John Doe’s identity in ‘Se7en’ and Keyser Soze’s identity in ‘The Usual Suspects’.  It is also conventional as it heightens tension within the film and makes the audience interested/intrigued to know who the character is and why they are not being revealed to us- and tension being built is a common occurrence within thriller films. These extreme close ups are also featured within the trailers for each of the film mentioned as the killer’s identity is something that will obviously entice the viewer and make them want to see the film and find out who they are. I used this within my own trailer to hide Jack’s identity- as with ‘Se7en‘ and ‘The Usual Suspects’– Jack’s identity is something that would be concealed from the audience for a long time in the film and the part he plays in the ‘suicides’ also kept a secret too. Thus the conventional extreme close up shots are needed in my own trailer so that his character is not given away before the film even starts and thus the audience is already interested in discovering the truth behind this mystery before they’ve even begun to watch the film itself.

Camera shots of weapons…

 What also found to be conventional within the thriller genre- in films and trailers- was camera shots that focused on weapons- be they knives, guns, daggers, screwdrivers or whatever. This is mainly because thrillers tend to be a genre that include a lot of violence- mainly through various crimes also. Such as murders within the film ‘Se7en’ and Sweeney Todd’s victims having their throats slit in ‘Sweeney Todd’. So weapons are conventional to see within the thriller genre of film- mostly through P.O.V shots from victims and various extreme close-ups, which are, by itself, a common convention within thriller films. This could be seen in the ‘Sleepers’ trailer through the weapon choice of a gun as well as the trailer for ‘Sweeney Todd’ wherein he brandishes a barber knife that he uses for a weapon to kill his victims as well as many others. Influenced by this convention, I naturally included it within my own trailer and would do further if I made the film itself. I did this through including shots of a screwdriver and a syringe (that I created myself) indicating that my film will contain a lot of violence and crime, which thrillers conventionally do. 

 

I Challenged the following conventions of thriller/revenge films:

Black and white instead of colour film…

Although I know it is conventional for films of any genre to be colour- as it is available to us now in modern technology and is therefore expected from the audience. Despite that, I was influenced by the use of black and white for memories/flashbacks that haunted some of the characters within thriller films such as ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ and so on. I think the use of black and white personally was a good idea as not only does breaking the colour film convention make my film a lot more unique and different but it also heightens the darkness of my plot therefore audiences can expect a dark atmosphere to my film before they’ve even see it (as they’ll gather this from the trailer). I think it also makes my film/shots look a lot more stark and gritty- reinforcing the darker aspects of my film and making it even darker because of the lack of colour. This was also inspired by Shane Meadows’ film ‘twenty-four Seven’ and ‘Somer’s Town’ as although they are like my trailer, modern, they are also put in black and white to intentionally reinforce their gritty realism qualities. On a more technical aspect I think breaking this little convention helped my trailer to ‘flow’ a lot better considering my situation. After all, I am an amateur and yes, most of the shots were filmed on school location. But turning the film black and white seemed to, to me, take this amateur look some of my shots had (such as the typically bright colours of school classroom walls) and make it look like it could be anywhere. And therefore breaking this convention was a good move I thought, as although some audiences could be put off by the idea of the whole film being in black and white, it makes my filming look far more ‘professional’…

Revenge has different motives…

A convention I found myself getting annoyed with in films of the thriller/revenge genre was that typically, protagonists are always set out for vengeance for pretty much the same reason. A family member/loved one is killed/kidnapped/hurt and then those connected to them are naturally effected by this, seeking out those responsible for the pain and getting justice. This was typically wives (as protagonists are typically male within the genre) and/or children. Such as in ‘The Edge of Darkness’ it is clear the protagonist’s revenge is due to something that happened to his daughter, the vengeance in ‘Taken’ is due to the protagonist’s daughter being kidnapped/taken from him and he wants revenge on who took her and to get her back. In ‘Se7en’ Mills gets vengeance on Doe after hearing he has murdered his wife Tracy and in doing so, also murdered their unborn child. And in ‘Gladiator’ Maximus gets revenge for the murder of his wife and son. And so, as you can guess, the list goes on. And I began to get quite bored, as it also seems to stick to the same idea- staying to the conventions rigidly in this aspect in particular. So I decided to break them. So, thinking about what other motives could be due vengeance I thought about whether whatever happened in the past could be specifically to do with the protagonist and not merely someone he loved/knew etc and therefore wants justice for. So I decided, to break this convention, that Jack would get revenge for the abuse HE suffered as a child from the hands of the youth club owners, instead of merely sticking to conventions and carrying out revenge arguably on someone else’s behalf.  Though I did think that, if the film were made, Ray would probably be made out to audiences so that they believed he was real and therefore audiences could insinuate it is HIM Jack is getting revenge for, which would only further confuse them into Ray’s real identity- as it is all about Jack and what happened to him. No one else. Which I don’t think is what audiences would naturally expect from the genre considering the films I’ve analysed and the route they all seem to go down. So it could surprise or even shock them as it is breaking conventions and therefore isn’t what they’d expect to happen.

Revenge is non-violent…

 What I also found common and quite an over-used convention in thriller/revenge films was violence. And the fact there’s usually a lot of it. Which is probably why vengeance films are usually called ‘slasher-flicks’ by some, probably because of the trend in violence in revenge films like ‘Kill Bill’ being the best possible example I can think of. I’m personally not a fan of gore. And although I know it is vital to include violence if you’re going to be getting some revenge, I have always prefered the more subtle and psychological ways of scaring audiences. As I find what we DON’T see is a lot creepier (9 times out of 10) than what we DO see. Gore I think sometimes taking away from the film’s overall effect and making it hard to stomach. And was also something I couldn’t really achieve in my own trailer- as it is something I do personally have the technology/skills to create and make it look effective (meaning that I could create it, but it’d look rubbish to be frank, and therefore is pointless to attempt). Therefore I broke this convention by making Jack, my killer, create intense mind games to play on the victims- mostly toying with the hidden guilt they have buried away inside of them about what they did to Jack as well as others. This can be seen in the trailer when he writes messages to Kitty that then mysteriously disappear instantly. Making her wonder what the messages mean (they’re all things she said to Jack when he was a boy) and question her own sanity even as the mind games intensify throughout the film. I think this break in the conventions seems like it could be a lot more effective overall and more spine-chilling than just murdering someone on-screen in a bloody fashion as many thriller/vengeance films tend to do. Any big Hollywood film can pull that off, but building a tense atmosphere to the point of breaking point is a whole different story altogether and a lot more effective. Overall I think it is conventional in a way that protagonist’s seeking revenge tend to want the ultimate revenge and go to extreme lengths to get it- as this type of revenge is perhaps more fulfilling for those seeking it. But it’s unconventional still as Jack doesn’t even murder those he gets revenge on- he does something far more sinister. He knows them so well he know which buttons to push that will bring them each to breaking point. Thus he uses this to drive them each to their own suicide. Getting his revenge by cleverly revealing to each villain that they know what they did was wrong and they know they deserve to die. A lot different then to the conventional way of doing it in this genre of film- ‘I don’t like what you did, so I’m going to kill you in a nasty/messy/painful way’ basically.

Heroine instead of hero…

Although I recognize that most heroes within thriller (also with themes of vengeance) are typically male- like the gang of friends in ‘Sleepers’, detectives Somerset and Mills in ‘Se7en’ Agent Kujan in ‘The Usual Suspects’ and so on, I found it quite hard, within my limited sources, to find willing male actors to fit in a conventional male hero role. Thus, I broke the conventions by having  a female hero- or rather heroine- to make my film a little more unique. I think this bending of the conventions of thrillers could help my film reach to a wider audience as male audiences will have Jack to connect to (also serving as a protagonist) and female audiences will have Alice (the heroine and protagonist to an extent)- thus no genders are left out with no characters they’re possibly able to connect/relate to. I also think that, as Alice is young and looks quite vulnerable, audiences are therefore more likely to connect to and sympathize with her. Thu when, in the film, she tries to find whom is killing her friends, they will want her to solve the mystery and restore the equilibrium in doing so. Further fooling them into thinking that Jack is the villain here when really, this is a different story altogether…

Villains made out to be victims…

I noticed within my research of thriller films (regardless of the theme of revenge or not) that usually victims were quit easy to spot from just appearance or status alone. Within the genre the conventional victim is a woman (usually the wife of the protagonist) or child (usually protagonist’s child), that traditionally/conventionally have pale skin, blonde hair, blue eyes and are calm, sensitive and caring characters. The best example being Tracy (Mills’ wife) in ‘Se7en’ who is, in my opinion, the absolute picture of innocence and vulnerability. These victims are pictured to be so innocent and pure so that when they are tainted/killed or whatever by the villains, this sparks anger in not only the protagonist but also the audience too, as they grow to love the innocent/harmless character and sympathize with them. These characters are also prone to getting hurt/killed mainly just by association. Such as, Keaton’s wife in ‘The Usual Suspects’ is murdered clearly just because she was married to Keaton, making her appear very innocent and feeling for her character as she really, at the end of the day, did nothing wrong and didn’t truly deserve to die. She was just killed by her connection/association with the villain’s other target. But I found this was too common within thriller films and thus I wanted to bend this convention a little bit in my own film to make it a little more interesting and unique. Therefore I thought I could make my victims appear perfectly vulnerable in the trailer – which is mostly shown through Kitty’s character- whom has blonde hair, blue eyes and wears white a lot- and then this would deceive the audience into a sense of false belief. Going into the film thinking Kitty is an innocent victim, like Tracy, who has got involved in something dark/bad only by association. And then in the film I’d slowly start to reveal Kitty’s character (and the other youth club owners) for what it really is. Showing she is no innocent, pure victim after all and on the contrary, deserves everything Jack does to her, no matter how cruel/dark it is intended to seem in the trailer. Thus, my real victims of my film, if I had to choose one, would have to be Jack. As he may be the protagonist but he is the one suffering, he is the one whose innocence was lost/tainted and he is the one who was taken advantage of as a child. Therefore I break the rules extremely by having on clear victim- the male protagonist of the film.

Q: How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?

A:

Final Cut of my trailer

My Poster

My Magazine Cover

Well personally I think having them altogether like this shows how they are a promotion ‘package’ as they all appear to effectively ‘flow’ and carry similar themes/ideas. Obviously the trailer was the biggest and most vital aspect of the package, so I used various ideas from the trailer and developed them for the poster/magazine cover. For example…

I made very sure that they ALL carried kept Jack’s identity a secret. Because in my trailer I specifically used extreme close-ups/P.O.V shots and so on to make sure Jack’s identity was kept a secret and therefore could interest the audience’s into watching the film more to discover his identity. I also think it helped add to/build tension in the trailer alone and the mystery surrounding his identity was further portrayed by the magazine cover and poster. As on the magazine cover it features Kitty alone, who is clearly being intimidated by Jack. Thus the audience gets to see more of what the character (killer) insinuated by the trailer is capable of but still doesn’t know who he is or why he’s doing these things to Kitty’s character. His identity is also hidden from audience’s prying eyes on the poster, wherein it contains an extreme close up of Jack’s bloody hand but not actually showing who he is exactly. Thus the audience knows he is the killer from the trailer etc- through the use of blood splatters- but still don’t know who he is or why he is attacking these characters etc. So the audience will think that the characters must have done something bad or that there is generally more here than meets the eye and will therefore be interested to find out who the ‘killer’ is and what their motives are (as none of the promotional package really identities him or explains why he is inflicting pain on Kitty etc).

They all carry a strict and reoccurring colour code- red, white and black. The conventional colours of a thriller film, this therefore makes the genre of the film being promoted, in all aspects, clear to the audience. They can presume it’ll have bloodshed/violence/danger through the use of red (text or the titles in the trailer, subheadings on the magazine front cover, the tagline on the poster etc) that the film will carry dark/upsetting/gritty/dramatic themes, such as vengeance and child ab*se through the constant use of black (text on the magazine front cover, black and white film in the trailer itself and the name of the film on the poster) and that it’ll also explore the themes of innocence/vulnerability/purity and what happens when these things are all tainted (the text on the magazine cover as well as Kitty’s white blouse she is wearing in the image, Kitty’s constantly white clothing in the trailer as well as the fact the film’s black and white and the poster’s mostly white background). Overall not only making the aspects all link together well, but also reinforcing what kind of film is being promoted genre and theme-wise. Therefore making the audience more likely to see the film as they are not being mislead into thinking it’s something it’s not.

I took the element within the trailer of making Kitty’s character out to be the victim (when she really isn’t within the film itself) and enhanced it on the magazine cover, also taking the words ‘do it’ that were written originally on her wrists from the trailer too. Thus developing those initial ideas to use on a different format, as I found promotion packages tend to do (they tend to carry a theme or idea) as this develops the audience’s understanding of the initial idea and gives them more information on the subject itself. Thus they’ll have a better idea of what the film will be like before they even go to see it, enhancing their chances of seeing it altogether.

All the text that describes the film itself or conveys its genre/themes etc on all three promotional aspects is linked somewhat and lead on from one another, all generally helping to build up a picture of what the film will be like before the audience go to even see it. The trailer for example opens up with ideas of inner torment, forgiveness, vengeance, the importance of memory and the past etc with ‘Sometimes/if you can’t forget…/it can be hard/ to forgive’. This is taken onto the magazine cover but with a different spin on it, perhaps developed from some of Kitty’s panicked dialogue in the trailer (such as ‘he’s going to kill me’ and ‘I don’t know, I just don’t know’) leading us ultimately to ‘I can’t do this anymore’ conveying that the character is frustrated, scared and feels like she’s been pushed to the edge. The ideas are then all rounded off nicely by the poster’s tagline ‘his torment… will become their nightmare’ linking to the idea of vengeance portrayed in the trailer and also to Kitty’s torture as seen in the trailer and on the magazine cover. Thus linking everything together- linking Kitty and her torment to the ‘killer’ and making the audience presume he may be getting revenge for something- though what it is exactly is intentionally left unclear. Thus the audience will be intrigues to find out what this revenge is really all about.

 I also tried to carry on the theme of bloodshed and violence by including a lot of blood within each promotional aspect. I used a hint to ‘blood’ a little in my trailer on the hands that were brandishing a syringe and on the syringe itself- reinforcing dark themes and the prospect of bloodshed in the film also. I developed this further in my magazine front cover my having  a blood splatter feature across my page and layer over the image of Kitty- reinforcing that the images of bloodshed could be linked to her character- indicating she may be a victim within the film itself.   I then further developed this on the film’s promotional poster by including droplets of blood, a hand print in blood and also a hand covered in blood. Reinforcing even further that the film will be violent and not for the faint-hearted- thus getting my film and it’s atmosphere/genres/themes across clearly to the audience before they’ve even seen it. This overall enhancing the likelihood of the audience actually enjoying the film (if they went to see and if it really existed) as they aren’t being deceived into thinking it’s something that it’s not.

I also used locations that were used for filming in the trailer to take the photos/provide the backgrounds for the poster/magazine cover. I particularly liked how I used the wall in ‘Kitty’s House often seen within the trailer, one the magazine cover also, as this conveys that the magazine cover is focusing on Kitty’ character and overall links better to the trailer itself. I also used the sink seen near the end of the trailer within the image for the film’s poster- as this reinforces whose sink it is, what may be going on in this scene in particular and how this image may be linked to Kitty’s intimidation that is conveyed in the trailer and on the magazine cover.

The only thing I would change, had I the chance, would be the fact that the magazine front cover has an image that is in colour. Clearly not doing well to promote or associate itself with even, a film that is entirely in black and white. And as the other aspects are in black and white, it kind of makes the magazine cover look a little separated from the other pieces and therefore the whole package is not as effective as it could have been. However, I found that usually magazine covers where more concerned with actor’s/actresses than films themselves. Therefore I can somewhat justify my choice in having the magazine cover as a colour photo as a magazine cover would be a lot more picky about what photo was on the cover and of course to attract more audience attention, would need more colour on it. It also refers to how the magazine cover focuses on an interview with the actress playing Kitty and not so much on the film itself- thus I can use this to convey why I chose to have it in colour whereas the other promotional aspects for the film are not.

Q: What have you learned from your audience feedback?

A:

Although I could state how audience questionnaires and their feedback helped me in general, I wanted to show how they specifically helped me at each stage of my development process in creating my trailer/magazine cover/poster etc…

Basic trailer questionnaires…

 Well this audience feedback i felt was vital. I created a short questionnaire outlining the various aspects and conventions audiences expected from a trailer for a film. This way, by being vague and not specifying which genre the trailer would be, I could discover the simple low-down of what audiences expected from trailers alone. This helped me ge to grips with what kind of things would be expected of my trailer (no matter the genre I picked to use or whatever) and therefore was a very helpful way to start off my course. As I beforehand had no idea what audiences’ may expected from trailers alone, what the codes and conventions of this form were etc, as I hadn’t even created one before, so this process of feedback really helped me out. It taught me that no matter how people can vaguely think ‘audiences expect from trailers this, this and this’ none of this is really clear in your mind until you ask the audiences yourself.

Thriller/revenge trailer questionnaires…

When I had got to grips with the basic codes and conventions of trailers by themselves (through getting audience feedback as well as analysing a variety of different genres of trailer) I chose a genre my own film trailer creation would consist of- thriller, with a sub-genre of vengeance. Although I did already know from experience in the previous AS course what audience’s generally expected from the thriller genre in film, it was still helpful to secure these conventions and expectations through getting audience feedback. As without it I could have easily gotten something wrong or forgotten something vital within the genres codes/conventions that would have naturally lead to my trailer not being as effective as it could have turned out. I also, having chosen a sub-genre that I hadn’t dealt with or even created before in film (revenge) felt audience feedback was vital due tot he fact I was unsure of what audiences would expect from a film including this subgenre/theme due to inexperience. My queries and sceptical views about whether this hybrid of thriller and revenge would even work in a film were voiced to an audience at this stage- which I found helpful as most audiences thought it sounded perfectly normal and interesting even- silencing my fears and allowing me to have the confidence to make my trailer the best it could be.

Plot questionnaires…

When I knew the genre and sub-genre I’d be using and what was expected of me from the trailer in terms of codes and conventions, I then had to create the plot for my film. This way I could figure out for myself how to turn it into a trailer to sell the plot (film) to the audience. However, I felt audience feedback was vital for me at these stages as they helped reveal to me whether my plot was good/what they liked about it/ what needed developing or changing etc and what they’d expect, looking at the plot, that I’d include in my trailer. This was especially helpful as I found, at first, the process of creating a trailer for a film that didn’t actually exist rather difficult and confusing also. Getting audience feedback on my plot was also very useful to help me develop it- therefore I could improve the plot for my film to increase audience interest in the trailer itself. Overall, the audience feedback helped me gain confidence in my plot, as I knew what changes it needed and why, and therefore I could start the process of storyboarding and then hopefully turning it into a trailer.

Storyboard questionnaires…

Getting feedback on storyboard ideas (when turned into a movie file) was probably one of the most helpful stages. As I was creating new ideas all the time from scratch and needed audience feedback to help me see what looked good/what didn’t/what needed development etc. And telling me all of this at such early stages in the process of my trailer I found extremely helpful as it meant I could develop my trailer at ease and without too much hassle (drawing replacement shots, re-scripting dialogue that audiences stated didn’t seem to work etc). This helped me to relax a little and feel more at ease with my piece as it made me realise that my trailer was still in its early stages and thus, developments/changes could me made easily and without a fuss. This was also helpful as I could, looking at audience feedback on my initial storyboard I had created, then go back and create more storyboards for my trailer, and then show THEM to audiences and get more feedback allowing me to improve my trailer further and so on.

Magazine and poster questionnaires…

Overall I found any audience feedback that I sought out for the development/ideas/process of creating the magazine cover and poster was extremely helpful. As I had never created a magazine cover of film poster before (but am naturally creative thus enjoy doing these kinds of things already) audience feedback naturally helped me decide what certain aspects were best to choose when I found I could not make up my own mind, which is often, and can be seen in the tagline choice for my film poster and the name choice for my magazine cover. Therefore I knew what was best for my magazine cover/poster as the audiences had actively chosen their favourites themselves and thankfully most of the time they either helped me decide a crucial decision or agreed on my own personal favourites.

Cuts of trailer questionnaires…

I found these questionnaire to be the most useful though, as the process of development in editing/filming was far more difficult/time-consuming than when my trailer was at its storyboard stage. Therefore it was vital to make sure audiences were happy with my trailer and it created the desired effect in them that I had intended for. I learnt here that although it is generally though that audiences can be sceptical about films when certain conventions of the genre (or even just trailer conventions themselves) are broken or bent, most are  very open to the conventions being broken/bent etc depending on whether the product is clearly creative/interesting and has broken the convention, whatever it may be, for a good reason. It also helped me silence any doubts I had about breaking conventions, as these usually troubled me as I wondered whether audiences’ might pick up on it and therefore reject my trailer. But such as when I broke the conventions of thriller/revenge films by having a character get revenge for events that occurred to him and not to others, I was sceptical at first at whether audiences would generally except this, but on getting audience feedback, they didn’t seem to mind and it didn’t affect the trailer’s overall effect in a negative way at all. Overall these various questionnaires of different cuts of my trailer were some of the most helpful, as they helped me with any concerns I had with my trailer- like whether it was right to have it in black and white instead of colour, whether audience’ could tell it was filmed in a school or not etc. Also, it was helpful to reveal to me what was wrong with my trailer and what needed further improvement- meaning although I did have to go an re-film certain shots at some stage (as audience feedback helped me realise it looked too much like a school environment), I am glad the audience pointed it out to me as it would have ruined the trailer’s quality had I simply not asked for feedback and left the trailer how it was.

Q: How did you use media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?

A:

Technology:

Video Camera…

Well, I used a video camera to film the shots to include in my trailer as well as to film the separate ‘dialogue’- which I did by covering the camera lens and then letting the actor/actress speak directly into the camera to enhance its volume and make it easier for audiences’ to understand what the character is saying. As I have used cameras regularly in the past, including in my AS course, I found it an easy technology to work with to get the shots and dialogue I required for my trailer.

Camera…

Although I could have easily used the video camera and set it to ‘photo mode’, most of time during my course whenever photos were taken for my work I always used a separate camera. I found this felt a lot more practical and professional for example when taking the photos on the two photo shoots for my ancillary tasks (the magazine cover and the film poster). As I have worked a lot with camera in the past and quite enjoy taking photos, I was at ease using this technology to create and improve my work. I also have a few associates whom are taking their photography skills to a professional level (at university and so on) and therefore knew if I needed help or advice in creating the perfect photo for my ancillary tasks, help was not far away in this area.

Programs:

Paint…

I found this program, though usually scrutinised for not being as ‘professional’ or complex as Adobe Photoshop, extremely useful and good at creating professional looking creative products for some of the aspects of my course. For example, the logos for my production companies I create on paint by simply layering font over certain pictures, which I showed to various audience members and then when I told them they were created on paint they didn’t quite believe me. I also used paint to create moodboards (such as the thriller and film poster one), develop the fonts for my magazine poster, and complete the actual construction of my magazine front cover and film poster itself. I feel overall it is an easy program to work with and although simple, shows you do not necessarily need all the big, expensive programmes to create and effective poster/magazine cover etc- all you need is creativity at the end of the day.

Snipping Tool…

Well this tool was extremely helpful for the gathering of photos/stills from various videos I had analysed, therefore not only allowing for my posts to look a little more colourful/creative/breaking up the information I had written and making it easier to read therefore, it also allowed me to analyse the various trailers/films closer when I had each shot to look at seperately- bringing to my eyes things I may never have spotted before. 

Adobe Premiere…

Adobe Premiere was used for the actual construction and editing process of my trailer. I’m glad I got the opportunity to use the software again as it creates a lot more professional a look than windows movie maker and also allowed me to develop the skills I had learnt from the programme last year. Although, as always, Adobe liked to play up a few times just for annoyance, and the programme is so expensive the school cannot afford it on too many computers (meaning sometimes we had to wait till a computer with the software on it was free etc) it is still a highly useful and detailed software for editing and making the trailer looking a lot more professional.

Windows Movie Maker…

Although this is a simple programme, I felt it was good for putting together storyboards, seeing how they’d run if made into a trailer and making them look a lot more ‘real’ potentially. Thus I could then visually see what didn’t work and what did work in the trailer myself which simply looking at my storyboards wouldn’t have allowed to do. I also used the programme for many experimental pieces, as it allowed me to get back into the atmosphere of editing films but on a  simple level, preparing me for what i’d have to do on ADobe Premiere, which is a lot more complex and detailed a programme. 

Websites:

Google…

As ever the search engine was my faithful port of call had I any issues/queries with anything that I needed help with. As well as allowing me discover information I wanted/needed to find out (whether it was about a film, convention, trailer or whatever), google images search also allowed me to collect images/photos I wanted for my blog-work- helping it appear more creative.

WordPress…

Clearly WordPress, as it was previously in AS, was vital for recording my blog work. It was more helpful this year as things have been added to improve blogging (like a spellchecker) and I found it a lot easier to use than last year, where I had some troubles getting used to it. But I suppose last year taught me what the website was like in terms of format and so on, thus I naturally found it easier, with this development, to use to my advantage this year.

IMDB…

I actually love this website. It was my port of call if I wanted information on a film like actor/actresses names, director names, release date, genre etc. It helped me a lot through my research process, revealing to me recommendations of films that might help me in my research and giving me the vital  information I required on the films that inspired me in my work.

YouTube…

YouTube was obviously very helpful for finding and downloading trailers to analyse in my research. Though sometimes YouTube was very annoying and didn’t like some of the trailers I was analysing, deleting them mid way through my analysis (thanks for that!). Anyway, disappointments and annoyances aside, it was useful for research and also for uploading my own creations of videos to get audience feedback on in an easier and more professional fashion.

Freeplaymusic…

As I used this last year, I already knew it was a very helpful and useful website- quite a gem for downloading various un-copyrighted music tracks that helped me in my trailer piece. As they have search engines asking what ‘feel’ of track you want and what ‘style’ I found it was easy to pick out the various tracks that could help me emphasize the style and feel of my own trailer.

Impawards.com…

Upon researching film posters this website just kept cropping up. And then, when I explored it further, I realised it was actually very useful for my own process in creating my film poster. As the website contains an array of downloads of different film posters- varying in genre/theme/style etc- giving me a wider range of posters to choose from for my research into them. The ‘awards’ also helpfully made me realise what I shouldn’t do on my poster to risk it ending up being like those that were voted the ‘worst poster’ and  what kind of thing I should look to creating to make it more like those voted for ‘best poster’.

Wikipedia…

As ever, if IMDB.com was not working (as sometimes the website is difficult to run on my computer) if I needed any quick info on films researching or checking I used Wikipedia. A helpfully little website that may not be as in-depth as IMDB nor as interesting, but simply had the information there if I needed it.

Empireonline.com…

As I had previously never created a film magazine cover before this course and therefore had no idea of what to include, how to do it etc, Empireonline was one of my most helpful websites for getting to grips with the film magazine industry. And therefore was helpful for my research into this ancillary task.

Totalfilm.com…

As with Empireonline, ‘Total Film’s website helped me research what could be expected of film magazine covers and helped me get inside the magazine itself- as I would have to know what film magazines were like inside and out (even if only vaguely) before I could create the front cover even, which websites like this, helped me to do.

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Creating my film poster…

Posted: May 1, 2011 in Media

Photo-shoot for my poster…

Well, considering I did at first think, looking at my designs, that the ‘swing idea’ would be probably the best choice for my film poster, I decided to go and experiment with different photographs based on this design.

Ok it is of course developed a little from the initial design, but I thought that the first one was a little too basic/plain and thus tried more extreme close-ups and P.O.Vs from Jack also.

Here is a sample of some of the photographs I took on this photo-shoot. Grant you they aren’t very good quality but I quite like the way they turned out. I used the swing that featured int he original trailer to keep to continuity between trailer and poster constant and correct. I also used acrylic paint as blood on the actor’s hand to reinforce bloodshed and violence. I then, remembering that my film IS in black and white, transferred the images to black and white to reinforce this to the audience and attempt not to potentially mislead them into thinking my film would be in colour (when it’s not). I experimented a bit with some different angles of the photos too, in order to try to make the image a little more interesting and to keep my options open about which I would eventually choose too. I like the surrounding and background of the images as they appear quite isolated and surrounded by nature- reinforcing ideas alone that the character here is quite lonely/isolated and also suggesting ideas of innocence and purity. If I had the knowledge and of course, better programmes to make my film poster, I would have liked to had kept the red of the ‘blood’ on the character’s hands- as this would have made it obvious what is on the character’s hands to the audience and would also directly imply bloodshed and violence. But, unfortunately, I don’t have the skills or knowledge to do this. 

However, it is this image (above) that I liked the best of all from the photo shoot. This is because I feel it is looking through the eyes of the character (which is Jack) reinforcing how we may come to sympathize with this character within the film. It also directly shows the empty swing and makes the audience wonder what the prop’s significance is, why the character is seeming to look at it and what themes it may imply. The fact the shot is also specifically high angle, so that the audience is looking down at the swing also reinforces the character’s power as well as the fact the character feels distanced from this innocent child’s play thing- thus indicating he may have problems from his childhood that affect his present or even his future. Thus, if the audience gets any of these references, they will wonder why the character feels this way, what happened to him and more importantly how it affects his adult life- which is really what the whole film is all about.

Developing the images/ creating the poster… 

After transferring the image into black and white I then proceeded to add the other features the poster would require- such as the film title, release date, certificate etc. I added the title of the film first of all, using the same font I used in the trailer itself to keep it constant and recognizable (but differed it slightly by changing it to black when in the trailer it was white). I positioned the title in centre but at the bottom as I feel this is a convention of film posters and is where audiences would expect it to be- it is also quite large in size so that it is not overlooked or easily missed as it is one of the most important aspects of the poster after all. I then added the important (but not important for persuading the audience to see the film) information about those in and behind the film (such as the names of the actors, director, writer, producers etc) in smaller writing below the title of the film (as this is a convention in film posters also). I kept it small so as not to take up too much room on the poster and made it red so that it stood out and separated itself from the titel of the film itself- red was also useful for connoting bloodshed/violence within the film itself. After this I added the release date of the film (made up of course) which was also in red (to make it stand out) but was intentionally bigger and bolder than some of the other pieces of text to reinforce its importance and to make it stand out. I put the website of the film (again, made up) directly below the release date but in a smaller font- so it is easy to see but is clearly not as important as the release date itself. I also thought this could be useful as it also features at the end of my trailer and therefore gives a sense of continuity for the audience. I also added ‘A film by Hannah Bunten’ in small red letters above the first letter of the film’s title as I think some film posters do tend to do this- and it was directly influenced by the poster for ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ (though posters will undoubtedly do this because the names of the director’s are popular and well-known, whereas mine isn’t. So my choice in doing this may not be such a good idea after all…it may be something I therefore choose to get rid of when developing the poster). Releasing I would have to give my film an age rating- I judged it to be of an 18 certificate (if it were actually turned into a film). This is because the film would contain scenes of dr*g abuse/child abuse/extreme violence/su*cide/upsetting themes  and many other aspects I only think a film rated 18 can rightly contain. So, knowing which certificate I needed I copied an image from google and positioned it in the bottom left hand corner- so that it does not distract the audience from more important aspects but still remains easy to see and will not be overlooked (I also think this is quite a conventional place to put the rating and therefore audiences would already expect to find it there as this is where they also tend to feature on DVD covers). I think the certification of the film being shown on the film poster is a lot more important than many may think at first- as if it was not there, audiences may become annoyed if they have been mislead into thinking they are old enough to see it. It also reinforces what they can expect from the film itself (i.e. it’s probably not going to be a feel good film or a family film either…). Finally I added the tagline of the film poster, which is the one that got the most votes in the questionnaire I handed out previously‘His torment….will become their nightmare’. Again I used red to connote the violence and bloodshed within the film and also to make the tagline stand out well against the black and white image. I put the tagline in two different places, as if it were leading onto one another as I think the pause creates tension in the audience and also reinforces how in the film itself, there is a big gap between what happens to Jack (which happens in his childhood) and then his revenge (which occurs when he is a young adult).As you can see for all of the text I added to the poster I kept the font simple- as complicating it I think makes it look unprofessional and like it is trying too hard to get attention.

Not completely satisfied with my first design I created an alternative one…differing aspects slightly to see if it would improve the overall effect of the poster. Here I changed the colour of the film’s title back into white (which is how it is in the trailer itself) and I feel this looks a lot more effective than the black one I used previously. It also is better for reinforcing the ideas of loss, innocence and victims in the film itself, therefore giving audiences a better idea of what the film will be like. Before I felt that the title of the film was not close enough to the bottom of the poster itself- thus it created a kind of unprofessional ‘gap’ that made the poster look a bit messy and empty also. So I shortened the gap and made the information below it a lot smaller, as I feel before the information was in too big a font (as usually it isn’t on film posters). The only thing I don’t like on this poster about the information aspect is the fact that it doesn’t really fit properly- and looks a bit strange and sort of unprofessional really. Another thing I don’t really like about this alternative design is the fact I missed out the film’s website to make room for other aspects…which I feel could be a bad move as it gives audiences more opportunities to discover more about the film and thus allows me more opportunities to persuade them to see it (hypothetically). To mix and experiment with things a bit I also tried having the image of the 18 certificate of the right hand side which I personally don’t think works as well, as it’s not directly in the corner as usually expected and also the image is a little too small and has less quality than the one in the previous design. I also made the release date a bit smaller than it was before- I don’t know why though- as in this design I don’t think it is as easy to see- which could be a bad move also. One thing that does look better is the ‘A film by…’ text which before looked a bit cramped, where here, in one long sentence, seems to appear a lot more professional and is easier to read somewhat as it lines up nicely with the title of the film. Here I also took the opportunity to try out a different tagline to see whether the one audiences prefered (‘His torment…’) is the one which would work best on the poster after all.  Here I used one I liked quite a lot ‘Revenge isn’t always sweet’ – as it is much shorter, snappier and therefore could potentially have a more direct impact on audiences when they read it. Despite this I made it much smaller than previous tagline, which may be a bad move as the poster appears a little bear without the tagline to take up the space as it did on the previous design. Nevertheless I positioned the tagline just above the seat of the swing, which I think is effective as it directly links to the ideas of innocence and childhood in the film itself. despite this I prefer the previous tagline as it was much easier to read, clearer and helped fill out a bit of the space on the poster.

Now this final alternate design is most possibly my favourite one…for reasons I will now explain. I used the white title of the film again as I felt it worked much better than the initial black one, and again positioned it closer to the bottom of the poster. I then also, feeling I hadn’t got the release date quite right yet, used a more conventional ‘Coming Soon’ instead of date itself- which I feel may not give a lot of specific information away to audiences but as it is more mysterious it obviously will gain more audience attention and will require them to be more ‘active’ audiences (rather than passive). What I changed probably most of all was the information at the bottom- making it situate itself around the release date rather than being totally separate from it- which I think didn’t really work and looks a bit ‘messy’ if I’m completely honest. Nevertheless I think it looked a lot better in white than in red- as this way audiences will find it easier to spot the information and separate from the other pieces of text that are red (avoiding possible confusion and ultimately them being mislead by the poster itself). Feeling it looked a bit strange putting the certificate of the film on the right hand side, I moved it back to the left again- but still, the image is quite bad quality and I feel it’d work a lot better in the direct corner rather than just ‘hovering’ almost by the information at the bottom. Feeling that the previous tagline ‘Revenge isn’t always sweet’ didn’t quite work, I went back to the ‘His torment…’ tagline I used in the first design as I felt it worked a lot better overall. This time though I took the opportunity to differ the position of the tagline slightly, having ‘His Torment…’ quite close to the top and near Jack’s hand, and then ‘…will become their nightmare’ near the bottom of the poster and next tot he image of the swing. This I feel helps to give a good sense of what the film is all about – THIS character’s torment, and the nightmare he inflicts on others because of it. However, I believe the main reason I prefer this design is the fact that, unlike the previous ones, it contains snippets of ‘critical’ reviews about the film itself. Inspired primarily by ‘The Hurt Locker’s poster, I created my own ‘fake’ reviews by ‘fake’ people (as the film doesn’t actually exist) and placed them at the top of the poster- which I feel takes up some of the space of the poster (as before it looked a little empty most of the time)  and specifically helps to convey what the film will be like through keywords such as ‘revenge’ (indicating my big theme of revenge) and ‘dark’ (conveying my film will be, well, dark- it will have upsetting/dramatic scenes some audiences may not enjoy for example). Although I usually don’t like review snippets such as these on posters, as I feel they take away from the film itself, here I think as the image is quite confusing/bear, the review snippets are probably vital for directly giving the audience information about the film. The thing I like most about this is the colourcode- as it sticks to the rest of the text on the poster- with the red/white text helping to separate different reviews and the size of the text helping to separate the ‘reviewer’/’critic’ from the ‘review’ itself and avoids confusion. 

Another photo-shoot/new ideas…

Well, although I had already started to make what could have been my final poster, I wasn’t entirely happy with it to be honest. I just felt it was ‘gritty’ enough and didn’t really capture the true feeling of my film or what I’d intend audiences to feel if they watched my film. So, feeling I wasn’t satisfied with the ‘swing’ images I created some more (of which you can see above). This was a very simple process- all that was required was the character of Jack’s hands for the extreme close-ups, some red acrylic paint and a bathroom (specifically a sink and a mirror). As I did with the first set of photos, I kept Jack’s identity a secret- as this was something I felt really needed to be concealed (for the sake of the trailer if anything). I used the paint for blood as I did before, which may look quite unconvincing in colour shots (red food colouring would have been ideal but I didn’t have any…) I looked over this aspect, reminding myself that the final image would be in black and white (as the film is in black and white) and therefore it wouldn’t matter as long as the audience could get the idea that it was blood. The biggest difference was the meaning behind the images- I felt before the ‘swing’ idea was a little too complicated with audience foreknowledge about my film- thus I wanted a visual portrayal of something being ‘Tainted’ to really get across the ideas behind my film to the audience through a simple yet effective image. So I experimented with drops of ‘blood’ in water-so the water is literally being tainted by the blood- giving out messages of something innocent turning into something bad/nasty, which really conveys the whole character of Jack if I’m honest. But I feel these didn’t work as well in black and white, thus I probably won’t use them for the final design.  Experimenting a  little, I did some photos of the Jack attempting to try to wash away the blood down the sink- and failing- reinforcing ideas that once you taint/spoil something you can’t take that away or redeem what you did ( which again, is like the whole idea of why Jack gets revenge in the first place, giving the audience a much better idea of what my film will be like in terms of theme and narrative also).

Overall, there were a lot of hit and misses- some worked very well, some just didn’t. Some worked well in colour, then didn’t when transferred to black and white or vice versa. But I think it was a helpful experience, as it was easy to do and create and allowed me to experiment with a lot of ideas and different shot types…

Moving away a little from the previous photos/ideas, I experimented with the mirror above the sink I was using initially- leading to what I call my ‘bloody hand print’ idea…

I liked this idea as the mirror is seen/used in the trailer with Jack’s haunting message of ‘do it for me?’ written across it in pen. Thus this connects directly to the trailer and either to Kitty’s madness (which is why it was used in the trailer, as it was from Kitty’s P.O.V), Jack’s torment or even both of these things. To add to the gory effect of the image I flicked paint on the mirror as well as the hand print itself as I felt this directly conveyed the idea to audiences that there may be some quite sinister scenes within the film- (such as murders, extreme violence etc) which some audiences may wish to be told about BEFORE they go to see the film…to avoid being mislead (as not all audiences can be expected to enjoy a bit of extreme violence in their films…). I think I even like the idea MORE when transferred to black and white- as the hand print and background really contrast to one another and it makes the bloody hand stand out very well. Overall I think it is a simple image- but this is what makes it effective- as it is not too complicated and therefore doesn’t have the danger of confusing audiences and potentially putting them off seeing the film itself.

However…to burst my own bubble, I think this image is a little TOO simple. And personally I don’t think it is complex enough to work as a film poster itself as it doesn’t really say anything about my film that audience’s can understand without any knowledge of my film being in their minds beforehand. Also, it seems to convey more of a horror film than a thriller, which could potentially mislead audiences a little and this is something I aim not to do.

Developing ideas/ creating the film poster…

Above is the original image which I think produced the best effect and looked well, the best to be quite honest. It is simply an extreme close up of Jack’s hand, adding to mystery and concealing the identity of the character, covered in blood, connoting violence and bloodshed (and the character carrying out his revenge if we’re talking specifically). The sink is also covered in flicks of blood and half of a hand print to further connote violence and bloodshed in the film itself, reinforcing it will play a large and also important part in the film itself. The purpose I think of actually using a sink is that, with water, audiences can get the idea that the character is trying to wash away the blood, this taint of his past, which is what Jack’s revenge is a ll about really- getting rid of the darkness of his past. I also like this image as it is very though-provoking, eye-catching and yet remains mysterious- for example audiences will wonder whose blood it is, why it is everywhere, what it signifies, whose hand it is etc and will therefore be more likely to want to watch the film to find out the answers of these questions.

So, keeping to the image itself, I tried to keep things simple. I like this initial one I created- as I feel the title of the film is in the right place- roughly in the centre and close to the bottom also- and works much better in black (as it ties in with the poster better- I tried white but it made the film’s title lose its boldness). I intend to keep the certification of the film exactly where it is whatever I do to the other aspects of the poster as there I feel it is out-of-the-way, easy to see and doesn’t interfere with the more persuasive aspects of the poster. I used my favourite tagline ‘His torment…’ again, and I found it very hard to position it, as it was hard not to make it overlap the ‘blood’ in the sink (because if it did it became hard to read and therefore would have lost its overall effect on the audience). I also used a technique I hadn’t before, which was making the word ‘nightmare’ in the tagline slightly larger than the rest of the text. This I think is effect for emphasizing it’s importance and adding to its effect on the audience. The only problem I have with this design at all is the bottom…as I feel it is overall too cramped and not very easy to read. The website may be of a different colour to separate it from other pieces of information but it is still too close tot he film’s title/release date and looks simply ‘crammed’ in. I also forgot to change the colour of the information and therefore it mixes up with the release date and makes the whole area a bit, well, ‘messy’ looking…

As you can see here I tried to sort out the information at the bottom- but for some reason it still didn’t look right…the information needed to be either below or above the release date to make it look a bit more professional- the website’s position also didn’t work well simply on the side, as it looked a bit out-of-place…(as you can see I kept everything else the same though, as I was happy with the other aspects and felt they didn’t really need changing)…

Here I think the information looks a lot better- as the release date is bigger, showing it to be more important, and is separated from the information (being above it rather than in the middle of it) which makes it look a lot neater and more professional. However the website for the film still needs to be in different place…as it is a bit ‘off centre’ and needs to be in alignment with the other aspects of the poster for it to really work. 

I also took the opportunity here to use a different tagline- seeing if it would work better than the previous one or not. Although I do like the tagline ‘Cherish the innocence…destroy the darkness’ here I don’t think it’s in a very good position as it’s half constricted somewhat by the ‘blood’ on the main image. I also think I agree on the audience’s choice of the ‘His torment…’ tagline being more effective also.

 

This one is annoying, as although I feel everything looks great, the tagline is still constricted by the blood on the image and  needs to be moved to prevent it being potentially misread by audiences. Which would obviously lead them to miss the point of the film/what I’m trying to convey on my poster completely. I think the information at the bottom has finally gotten much neater and more professional looking though (at last)…

Finally…

After much experimenting/developing I believe this is the final poster for my film ‘Tainted’. I think it looks much ‘neater’ than it did beforehand and thankfully the tagline (which is important for conveying information about the film) is not constricted by blood anymore. But obviously just me being happy with the poster I’ve produced is not enough, and I’ll be creating a questionnaire for audience feedback on this final design shortly to make sure I’ve made my poster the best it possibly can be.

Now to the poster: designs…

Posted: April 27, 2011 in Media

Before I could begin creating my film poster I thought it would be helpful to create a mind map- where I could therefore explore which character to have on my poster, where I wanted the title of the film, what messages I wanted to get across etc

The mind map helped me eliminate the idea of having Jack’s character on the poster, as I realised previously with the magazine cover, having his character featuring on the promotion for the film would give away the identity of the killer or ‘villain’ of the film (which would have made keeping his identity concealed in the trailer a bit of a waste of time if I just gave it away through another source). I also decided using Kitty’s character again for the poster’s image may appear a bit repetitive as I also used her for the magazine cover’s image. So I decided the best poster would feature either a close up of Jack, so as not to give away his identity, or Alice, the protagonist of the film, who is an important factor within the film itself, but didn’t feature on the cover of the magazine cover.

I then realised it may be good to work with something that specifically featured in the trailer I created- as this way the audience can get more information or clues about a subject or theme within the film itself- such as I thought about re-using the swing which features in the trailer (with Ray swinging on it and then at the very end, empty and still swinging) except have perhaps Jack’s character sitting on it, with a weapon in his hand and blood all around him. But obviously, a shot from behind him as this way his identity isn’t revealed and remains still a mystery to the audience (which of course, will make them intrigued to discover who the character is).

(By the way, I am aware that the photos aren’t entirely brilliant quality-wise… which is unfortunate, but I’ll hopefully be able to overcome this little problem by explaining them properly if the images are hard to make out…)

Design Idea 1…

My Thoughts…

 Well I quite like this idea, probably better than most of the others anyway. I think it’s quite simple but could be potentially just as effective as any other of the designs I have created that have more complex ideas/shots. Even though it’d only be an extreme close up, from Jack’s P.OV, of his bloody hands being washed in a sink, I think this altogether easily gets across a lot of ideas and also themes about my film that I ideally want to get across to the audience through my film poster. For example, the fact it would be an extreme close up means I keep Jack’s actual identity a secret from the audience as I did in my trailer and as I did in the magazine cover. So the audience still won’t know, even if they see the poster, magazine cover and trailer also, Jack’s identity before they go to see the actual film. And of course the growing mystery behind his character’s identity will make the audience intrigued to see the film itself. And the fact this a P.O.V shot conveys the idea that the audience will come to sympathize with Jack’s character in the end, and see things through his eyes and understand why he did what he did- even if they don’t to start off with. The blood Jack will be washing of his hands obviously conveys a sense of violence/bloodshed/gore/danger within the film and gives audience straight away a good sense of what the film will be like- so they are not mislead into thinking the film will just be wholly entertaining. It also adds to the mystery surrounding the poster- which of course will lead audiences to want to see the film and discover the truth of these mysteries- such as where the blood has come from, whether someone has been murdered, who, why etc (which also helpfully links to the theme of vengeance and thus the audience will want to know whether the character gets their revenge successfully or not). Overall I like it- I like the layout and I think it may be simple but is potentially very effective- giving the audience just the right amount of information about my film, but leaving most of it a mystery so that audiences’ will be more intrigued to actually see it.

I’d like to add also that this design was mostly inspired by the iconic poster for‘Schindler’s List’  as I personally think it is very effective- OK it may only be one adult’s hand clutching a child’s, but it really sums up what we can expect from the film- the idea of hope in mankind, in one another and the concept of how just one person can really make a difference. It also links to how Schindler, in the film, although he had saved so many lives, still felt he could have saved more. Leading him to say something like ‘I could have saved one more person. One more’ which is most likely to have been the girl in the red coat if he is specifically considering one more person he could have, or should have saved, as seeing her body is perhaps the pivotal moment of the film and it’s biggest turning point, as it makes Schindler realise she could have been saved. And he could have saved her.

Design Idea 2…

My Thoughts…

I did initially like this poster but I think, after looking over it again, it really doesn’t appear that special or particularly eye-catching at all. Of course, as with the previous design I discussed/explained, here I have chosen another extreme close up of Jack- but this time showing his hand and also a bit of his body as he carries a weapon- which is specifically intended to be a screwdriver. Again an extreme close up will keep Jack’s identity a secret from the audience, but I don’t think this looks like it could be as potentially effective as the previous design. This could also be seen as similar to the POV shot from the trailer- where Jack brandishes a screwdriver as he walks to the victim’s hiding place. This helpfully links the image on the poster to the trailer itself but I think it may be a little too similar to the shot in my trailer for it to work.  Of course there could also be blood splatters on his hand or his clothes to connote violence and bloodshed in the film, but it just seems a bit….dull? I think my main problem (beside from what to have in the background of the poster that won’t distract the audience from the main image itself) is the choice to have the tagline in big letters so it is superimposed over the top of the image which I think may take away from the image itself and the impact it has upon the audience.

I think this was influenced mainly by a very effective ‘character’ poster for the film ‘No Country for Old Men’ wherein the villain of the film, Anton Chigurh, stands with his weapon and the tagline (specifically associated with his character and his role in the film) is plastered over the top. Similar to how my character has an unconventional weapon of a screwdriver, Chigurh has a shot-gun with a silencer, leading audiences to become interested because the character seems unconventional and therefore more unique. Unlike my poster design though I think Chigurh’s weapon is  a lot more interesting and unconventional and also, I don’t have the same amount of technology to pull of the whole ‘superimposing letters over images’ thing. So mine may end up looking unprofessional and amateur if I do decide to go down this route after all. 

Design Idea 3…

My Thoughts…

Well I actually don’t like this design at all….but I’ll explain why I created in the first place. I just simply thought the poster could help reinforce the idea that Kitty is the victim of the film- as she will look distressed through this mid shot- a convention in film posters- while holding a sign saying ‘help me’. This directs the idea that the character is tormented and upset- crying out for help to the audience- which of course makes them sympathize with and connect to the character- as they’ll want to help her and find out what is really wrong with her. Although it links extremely well to the trailer – as Kitty is often seen in distress within in it and the first words are in fact ‘You have to help me Alice’ (spoken by Kitty herself). As well as the magazine cover- where the main image is of Kitty looking distressed, with the words ‘I can’t do this anymore!’ giving the idea that she is in turmoil to the audience and therefore it makes them more likely to want to know why and if she is helped in the film or not (and by whom). But, regardless of how well this design idea all links in, I think it is  a tad misleading. After all, if I made my film Kitty would be the character first to die, thus having her feature in the trailer, magazine cover and film poster could potentially make her appear more important a character than what she really is int he film. Afterall, the protagonists are Alice and Jack, not Kitty or the other youth club owners or even Ray. Thus I think it’d be best to put either Alice or Jack on the poster or a combination of the two, rather than characters who are not as important. Furthermore, this image appears too like the magazine cover itself and therefore makes me seem as if I am uncreative or just a little lazy…

Somewhat, I think this idea was mostly influenced by the film poster for ‘Invasion’ where the poster is mainly just a note from a character, similar to the ‘help me’  sign Kitty is holding up in my own design. It’s effective for giving a very blunt and verbal message- but not helpful for me I think as I wish to be creative in my poster’s design and also may need to give away a bit more information than this one requires.

Design Idea 4…

My Thoughts…

Well I don’t really like this idea as I find it to be a little too similar to others I’ve previously explained. As again it is an extreme close up of Jack, concealing his identity, with the screwdriver in his hand, connoting violence and breaking normal conventions of thrillers. Again this links well to the trailer, as the weapon is featured in the trailer and therefore audiences will be able to recognize it if they have seen the trailer beforehand (which is likely). It gets across the simple idea of conflict and violence (which is useful as my film would contain a lot of it) but I think, as with some of my other designs, doesn’t get enough information and hints about the content of my film through the image alone and therefore would have to rely on the tagline, which I don’t think is a very wise choice. As of course the image is the most important part of the film poster and therefore should be the aspect used to get through the most information to the audience. And with an image such as this one alone, I don’t think the poster, if produced would be very effective or successful.

Overall I believe this idea was mostly inspired by the poster for ‘Inglorious Basterds’– as here the main image is a hand clutching a bloody blade. Which I think looked simple yet very effective- getting across to the audience that the film would be gory/violent in an easy and simple way. But, the case is almost certainly that in the other promotions for the film ‘Inglorious Basterds’ there was probably more information portrayed to audiences- such as in the trailer, whereas my trailer tends to be quite mysterious and only hints- not giving a lot away. Thus, my audience will not, even if they have watched the trailer, know a lot about my film, so my film poster must offer them some new information to reel them in and make them want to see it. I also think that the poster here cleverly has the blade cutting through a swastika, therefore instantly revealing a  lot about the film itself- that it will be set in World War 2 (at the time of the Nazi party) and will revolve around this war and this group in particular. Whereas my poster design may fail if I produce it as it only gives an image audiences have potentially already seen- thus they may become bored and uninterested in seeing the film overall.

Design Idea 5…

My Thoughts…

However, despite my mostly negative comments on my designs for my poster, I do quite like this idea. I thought the swing would be a useful prop to bring into the process of the poster as I would be taking something from the trailer and developing it for the poster- thus giving audiences more, new information on the film itself (thus sustaining their interest in the film). So, the swing used to introduce Ray’s character briefly in the trailer and is also at the very end, empty and still swinging, I thought could be used with Jack’s character instead. It would be a shot from behind Jack, with his hood up perhaps to continue to conceal his identity from the audience. Already this will capture the audience’s attention as they will curious at who the character is and why he is on the swing. The shot would also be a long one so as to convey the distance and loneliness of the character- thus revealing to the audience more about Jack’s character, which would then make them question why he was lonely and whether this changes within the film. A long shot would also allow me to use the background of the photo to my advantage. As I know the swing is in a very isolated area, filled with trees, this will further heighten the character’s isolation and loneliness. The swing of course helping to represent the theme of innocence and how Jack’s revenge is all about the loss of it- and how it was stolen from him by the youth club owners. As I would have the background to play around with also, I would consider putting one of Jack’s various weapons at his feet perhaps (like the syringe or the screwdriver, which are both featured in the trailer, thus the audience could recognize them if they’d seen the trailer beforehand) and maybe even some blood splatters to connote bloodshed/violence/danger. This would of course help convey what genre of film is being promoted as well as gaining the interest of the audience even more so- as they’d wonder what had happened, who had been murdered, why etc and would then obviously want to go and see the film to find out.

Design Idea 6…

And then, the same idea, but developed…

My Thoughts…

At first I did really like this idea, but guess what, not so much now…Anyway, considering what I said earlier about not involving Kitty on the poster (as her character is in a lot of the trailer and also features on the magazine cover) and having more of Alice and Jack I felt was a very important thing to make sure of, and thus I came up with this idea. Feeling like I wanted to be a little more creative or illustrative, I thought I could take shots of both Alice and Jack and stick them in the centre of the poster, and then create a blood type background to conceal a lot of them and drip over the top of them almost to give it a more interesting look. The image of Jack is very similar to those already drawn- an extreme close up shot (concealing his identity) with the syringe in his hand (connoting violence and threat- and also his extreme and unconventional methods for getting his revenge) which also has the advantage of already being introduced as important in the trailer and so it will appear even more so if carried on in the poster also. The image of Alice will be a mid shot, quite conventional for posters I’ve found, and will also be a reaction shot (revealing her fear and making audiences interested to know what she is looking at/reacting to). I liked the positioning of the characters in this design as I felt having Jack and Alice’s images very close together could signify how in the film, Alice does end up sympathizing with Jack, though she does not at first, and their lives become very intertwined despite their differences and conflicts. Having them close also makes the audience naturally wonder how the characters are connected, who is good, who is bad, etc. I also intended for Jack’s image to go over the top of Alice’s a little to make her seem pushed in the background- reinforcing the idea that Jack is a more powerful and dominating character and making Alice seem vulnerable and innocent. Which of course will make the audience ask whether these roles may reverse or whether Alice will be able to become a stronger character by the end of the film (suggesting she may be the protagonist of the film). The constant use of red of course connotes bloodshed/violence/danger/threat etc which gives the audience a good idea of what kind of film they can expect this one to be (especially genre-wise). Although I do think this has the potential to look good, I don’t think it is as effective as some of my other designs. I also think it is a little overcomplicated- looking as if I am trying too hard to persuade audiences to see my film- which would put them off seeing it altogether. And, as it is quite a complex design (well…compared to my others) I think it could therefore be very hard to create and even if I did manage it, it undoubtedly wouldn’t look professional, considering the limited resources I have within my reach. Also, I don’t think it overall manages to say a lot about my film really, considering how much time it would take to make and how other, simpler ideas, appear to reveal a lot more about my film.

Design Idea 7…

My Thoughts…

This design idea is, like many of my others, an extreme close up shot. But this time, of one of my protagonist’s, Alice (instead of Jack, who has been the main point of focus on most of my designs). I thought this would be useful for getting across the idea that Alice plays quite an important and vital role in the film itself, and although my trailer I think does imply this, my poster can do no harm in reinforcing the idea further. Thus the extreme close up could be used to properly get across Alice’s feelings- which here would be sadness- as I would have her crying and looking generally quite frightened (ah yes, it’d also be a reaction shot, forgot to mention that earlier). Therefore not only would the poster convey how important Alice’s character is, but it would also make audience ask why she is crying, what she is reacting to, what will happen to her character and whether she will be strong enough to get through it etc. It also (for once) rightfully gets the audience on side with a character who deserves it (when before I liked to mislead the audience in my trailer and magazine cover by conveying Kitty as a victim) as seeing this character upset is most likely to make audiences’ sympathize with her and therefore they will connect to the hero (or rather heroine) of the film before they have even seen it. But, regardless of this, I don’t think this would make a great poster. Why? Well, it just seems too simple…I know that I’ve stated that I prefer posters that ARE simple but there’s simple and straightforward…and then there’s just laziness. Thus, I feel that this poster isn’t really saying anything and i don’t think it’d catch audiences eyes at all- as it isn’t eye-catching in the slightest…

Conclusion??…

Well I appear to be a bit undecided on which design I want to carry on with, as I like the first (the extreme close up Jack’s hands) but I also like the swing idea quite a lot also…the rest I think, after evaluating them, are going to be left undeveloped as I have stated why I don’t like them and why I don’t think they’d work. And plus a lot of them are awful ideas anyway. So, I’ll use the two designs I actually like, develop them, have some photo shoots and then hopefully I’ll be able to produce my poster…

Tagline Ideas…

Posted: April 27, 2011 in Media

Realising  that I may need a tagline for my poster, I quickly created a mind map which included various ideas…

There were also the following ones I forgot to mention on the mind map…

Sometimes our pasts….can determine our fates…

Some nightmares….will never go away

Forgiveness takes a lifetime….forgetting takes a second

Dark pasts…will lead to even darker futures…

Having my personal favourites from this selection of ideas, I thought it’d probably be best to ask for audience feedback and which they think works best. So I devised the following questionnaire and gave it out to a group of 20 people varying in age and gender. These were my results:

I am producing a poster on the basis of a film/trailer of my own creation. The film is called ‘Tainted’ and is of the thriller genre, with a theme of vengeance, and also is intended to explore various issues such as peer-pressure and child-ab*se. So, considering this, which of the following taglines do you think would work the best to get across the themes of the film?…

And also would you please leave any comments at the bottom, if you can, explaining which you like, which you don’t, and why. Thankyou.

Revenge isn’t always sweet…

Votes generated: /// (3)

Cherish the innocence…destroy the darkness

Votes: //// (4)

His torment…will become their nightmare

Votes:////////// (10)

It’s hard to forgive…if you cannot forget

Votes: 0

When you taint something it’s ruined forever…remember that

Votes:// (2)

Some nightmares will never go away

Votes:/ (1)

A Selection of the Comments Left:

‘I think some of them were a bit too complicated. I voted for ‘Revenge isn’t always sweet’ because it gets the ideas of your film across easily’

‘I liked the contrast of light/dark in the ‘Cherish the…’ tagline’

‘Some were a bit too long. Ideally the one you should choose for you poster should be short and snappy’

‘I voted for ‘His torment…’ because it really shows the conflict within your film and also sounds the most interesting’

”His Torment…’ was the best one, because it’s gets across all of the theme and other things in your film’

‘I like how you incorporated the title of the film in some but I voted for ‘His torment…’ because it was the most mysterious’

My thoughts on the comments….

Well I did expect that some of the taglines were a little too long and therefore overcomplicated– and audiences tend to prefer short and snappy ones that are easy to understand, easy to read and yet don’t tell them too much– just give them a hint about what’s in store for them if they decide to go and see the film. Therefore I understand that ‘His torment…will become their nightmare…’ won the vote, as although it a little long, it is not as long as some of my other ideas. It also helps to get across all of the things in my film that I’d desire to get across through my poster. Such as ‘His torment’– is a direct hint to the protagonist, Jack, and his torment at the ab*se he suffered as a child at the hands of the youth club owners (Kitty, Pete and Dom). But although I know this, audiences will not. So what they get from this is that one character, possibly the protagonist, is tormented– indicating the disruption in the film’s equilibrium. But also cleverly leaving the audience wondering why? How? Who? And also whose characters fault is it? And then there’s ‘…Will become their nightmare…’ which obviously is my way of directing the idea of Jack getting revenge on Kitty, Pete and Dom in the most hideous way possible, redeeming what they did to him in the past. But obviously, to audiences’ with no foreknowledge about my film or it’s plot, this will clearly give out ideas of vengeance and that the tormented character is going to take it out on a group or collection of characters. It also gives of hints that the vengeance may be gory or upsetting to watch, giving audiences a better idea generally about what kind of film is being promoted by the poster. Therefore they won’t be mislead about what kind of film the poster is promoting, and will not be disappointed if they went to go and see the film (if it existed…).

My film poster moodboard…

Posted: April 26, 2011 in Media

Above I have created a moodboard consisting of all the different posters I have been influenced by- and that I think are successful at promoting their films to audiences. Mostly I tried to keep to the same genre as my trailer- thriller and also ones that have themes of vengeance (such as ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’, ‘Se7en’ and ‘A Clockwork Orange’). These are the follow questions I think generated themselves from my moodboard and what my moodboard also made me consider about the creation of my own poster…

Should the heroes become the main feature of the poster?? I think this is quite a conventional move, as heroes are usually the protagonists of the film and therefore having them feature on the poster, usually alone, reinforces their importance within the film itself.  For example on ‘Inception’s poster the audience is made to focus mainly on Dom Cobb as well as the other heroic characters (his team) such as Ariadne. This is also used on ‘Taken’s poster where the main character and hero of the film (played by Liam Neeson) is the only character on one of the promotional posters for the film. Having the heroes on the poster also gets the audience immediately on side of the ‘good’ guys and has them sympathizing with or connecting to them (depending on how they’re presented on the poster) before they’ve even seen the film.

 What about the villains?? Almost as popular and well-known as heroes within films, the villains I think can be a much more interesting character to present on the poster. This is mostly because it presents the conflict and disruption of the equilibrium before we’ve even watched the film, so therefore we wonder who is going to restore it and how the villain will eventually be beaten. The best example perhaps being the presence of the villainous Joker on ‘The Dark Knight’s posters- as he is a well-known character already due to the film being a remake of older films/comic books/and TV shows he has the advantage perhaps of already having an existing fan base. Overall I don’t think villains are as popular as heroes to put on film posters- mostly because audiences may not have enough knowledge about the character to realise they’re a villain and therefore a character they shouldn’t connect with or ‘like’. Also, most posters are interesting as they show conflict and turmoil but do not reveal its cause, which is 9 times out of 10, the villain himself.

Also, what about the victims of the film?? Obviously not always a first choice as victims are usually short-lived and have minor roles most of the time also. But victims do have the advantage of revealing the disruption of the equilibrium through conveying that they are victims of something to the audience but not why, who is causing it and what happens to them. Such as Angier’s wife featuring on the poster for ‘The Prestige’- caught between the two protagonists conveying that she may become a victim due to their conflict. Most of the time though, I’ve noticed posters tend to convey the heroes themselves as victims on the poster, through various means, and then the audiences will sympathize with them and want to know what happened to them- thus they’ll want to go and see the film itself.

What about featuring all of these characters, a mixture of the three or both the villain and hero together?? I think this could be useful for conveying the sense of conflict within the film, making audience’s interested at the reasons behind this conflict, if it resolved etc. And also for giving us more characters to connect to and more information to help us understand more about the film before we even got to see it. ‘The Usual Suspects’ poster being perhaps the best example as it contains all of the main characters- including those who are heroes, victims and villains-  but it is clever enough to leave it all a mystery. So the audience sees all these character, can make their assumptions about each of them, but are still left unsure of what type of character they each actually play within the film.

Should no characters feature on the poster?? Should they be replaced by a simple yet effective prop or perhaps an illustrative piece?? Of course the prop has to hold a lot of significance and be interesting enough to grab the audience’s attention. The best example I think is the bar of soap on ‘Fight Club’s poster, which may be minimal but is simple and affective, as it works well with the tagline- ‘works great on blood stains’– indicating immediately that there will be a lot of humour as well as violence within the film. It also, seeming like an advertising campaign for the soap, reflects the strong themes of anti-consumerism and anti-materialistic lifestyles within the film. The simple use of the feather on Hitchcock’s ‘The Bird’s poster is equally effective, as it reinforces the main threat and source of conflict in the film without even featuring a single image of a character. Most of the time I’ve noticed that designers for the film poster may think this a little bit of a gamble, as there will be no stars/celebrities to attract audiences to the film (except perhaps their names) and it may look a little too simple. Therefore if props are significant, they are placed in the hands of the characters on posters also, like the guitar resting on the back of Joaquin Phoenix on ‘Walk the Line’s poster- reinforcing his character is musical and music is important to him. The props seem to tend to be more helpful if they are conveying or hinting more about the character to the audience- which is easier to see if the characters are actually holding or using the prop on the poster itself. 

What type of shot should the image on the poster be?? Obviously this is subjective to whatever meanings and messages the poster is trying to get across. A long shot, or extreme long shot for example, as used on ‘The Road’s poster indicates that the surroundings of the characters are just as important to the film as the characters themselves. It also indicates that the characters are alone- and it makes us wonder why this is and if it’ll change. The fact this allows us not to see any of the features or emotions of the characters also makes them seem dehumanized- as if they are insignificant and are not counted for- and again the audience will wonder why this is and who they really are. The same way that an extreme close up will be used primarily to heighten the emotions of characters, such as that used on the ‘Straw Dog’s poster to signify the character’s fear, as well as to perhaps conceal the character’s identity- like the extreme close up of the hand/knife on the ‘Inglorious Basterds’ poster. Most of the time I think it is the convention to have a plain old mid shot of the characters on the poster- as this helps to convey emotions as well as to not take up too much room on the poster and obviously, leave space for the poster’s other features, such as the image of Johnny Depp on the ‘Public Enemies’ poster.

What colours should feature on the poster?? Obviously ones that are bright, vibrant and most importantly, fit in with the ‘feel’ of the poster and the film it is promoting (mostly this is characterized by the genre of the film being promoted by the poster). For example, the colours on the poster for ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ are bold red with hints also of black and white- indicating the film may be of the thriller or horror genre- as the constant use of red indicates violence and perhaps even gore. The black makes the silhouette of the main character (Richard) stand out and also by keeping it a solid black makes his identity remain a mystery. Also, colours such as the solid yellow on the poster for the film ‘Taxi Driver’ reinforces the protagonist’s profession (as taxi’s in America are conventionally bright yellow) and furthermore signifies how important the protagonist’s job is to the film itself. Overall, I think for thriller film posters the standard colours are usually red, white and black (as I have discussed before) as they signify darkness, dark/upsetting themes, crime, innocence, victims, bloodshed, violence and danger- which most thrillers tend to contain. So just using these three colours instantly and easily gets across to audiences the kind of things the film being promoted will contain. This colour-code is also used on the posters for the films ‘Leon’, ‘Sweeney Todd’, ‘Inglorious Basterds’, ‘Reservoir Dogs’, ‘The Hurt Locker’ and ‘The Birds’.

Portrait or Landscape?? Well, it seems conventional that film posters are portrait, although I’m not quite why this exactly is…anyway I suppose landscape has the advantage of being able to fit a full (and large) image of the  stars of the film upon it without any of them being ‘cut off’. It also allows the poster to be used for the DVD’s cover- as DVD’s are also conventionally portrait (and tend to have the film poster as its front cover). But, as I am not making a DVD cover I see no reason why landscape posters are necessarily just stuck to being on the sides of buses or billboards- as they can be just as creative, eye-catching and interesting. Take for example the ‘Inception’ landscape poster, as well as the ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ one- which are equally as creative and eye-catching and also, as with ‘The Usual Suspects’ poster, allows for a wider shot if needed for a certain landscapes of a shot of a big group of people.

What about the film’s title?? Well it’s plain to see that the film’s title has to be clear, easy to spot and definitely not something audiences could easily miss- as it is, after all, the most important thing about the film in hindsight. If the audience don’t know the title of the film beforehand, how can they ask for a ticket to go and see it? It might sound a bit silly but it’s undeniably true.  Although at first I thought most posters had the film name in around the same place there are a lot of variations- as it depends I suppose on what the image is and how much space it takes up. For example, some posters have the title of the film at the bottom, below the image, like on ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘Brokeback Mountain’s posters. Whereas some may have it at the very top like on the ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Walk the Line’ posters, which I suppose reinforces the titles importance, as it is at the very very top. And then there are those who have the title in the centre, like on ‘The Green Mile’s poster- but I think generally film posters tend to stick to either the very top, or the very bottom of the poster to position the title. There are also those who creatively make the title of the film a part of the image, which I think is quite eye-catching and clever, such as how the image of the soap on ‘Fight Club’s poster actually has the film’s title carved into it, and how the poster for ‘I’m Still Here’ has it’s title intertwining with the image of its main star, Joaquin Phoenix. But wherever the font is positioned, it still seems to be put vaguagely in the centre, reinforcing it’s importance and making sure it is spotted. In terms of font this varies obviously with what type of film is being promoted. The poster for ‘True Grit’ for example having a very old-style western type font to reinforce its genre of a western film- and ‘Schindler’s List’ having a font which is long and thin- reinforcing ideas that it will be a very harrowing and upsetting film. Nonetheless the fonts for posters are usually pretty simple, as the designers do not want to risk overcomplicating things and therefore looking a bit tacky or too ‘over-thought’ perhaps. Thus usually bold and plain font is used with bold colours chosen specifically to reinforce what type of film is being promoted, which can be seen on the following posters: ‘Inception’, ‘In Bruges’, ‘Hard Candy’, ‘Buried’ etc

What about the tagline of the film?? Hmm…I’m kinda two-sided on whether I feel this matters or not. Because it can be helpful to give away certain aspects of the film, or even persuade audiences to want to see the film, as on the poster for ‘The Usual Suspects’- ‘5 criminals. One line up. No coincidence.’ it’s straight to the point, blunt and snappy. Yet it makes us quite intrigued to know why it’s not a coincidence and how these criminals might all be connected. But sometimes, I think taglines are easy for audiences to generally glance over and view as something not really as important as the other aspects of the poster. But of course the tagline is vital- it’s vital not to make amateur mistakes (like spelling or grammatical mistakes) as this could potentially destroy the whole impression the poster has upon audiences and therefore, destroy the film’s success. So it’s important to keep it simple but get ideas across and don’t make any mistakes. Or ramble. 

Where are the stars names and information?? conventionally I think, with most posters, these 2 things are quite different in terms of importance. Stars names being important. Information- important but not so much for getting in audiences… firstly names of the actors/actresses starring within the film are treated much like the name of the film itself on posters- either at the bottom or at the top but almost always vaguely in the centre (so if the film’s name is at the top of the poster, stars names should typically be at the bottom??). But again, as with the name of film, it’s all to do with what is on the poster, as then designers can then determine where a star’s name can be appropriately put without obstructing other features but while still being seen and easily spotted by audiences. Typically though, I think that stars names are put at the top (as long as the film’s name isn’t there already!) as this gets the names out-of-the-way of other aspects, most importantly, the image but still makes them easy to spot. This can be seen on posters such as that for ‘American Beauty’, ‘3:10 to Yuma’ and ‘The Assassination of Jesse James…’.  Sometimes though, to reinforce a star’s presence in the film, their name will be placed above their image specifically, so audience can, I suppose literally put the face to the name, this can be best seen on ‘Seven’s poster. As with the title of the film, the fonts of the stars of the film are usually kept plain, simple, and tie in with the poster’s other aspects if they are required to. Now, the information I think is a lot more conventional- and most of the time is stuck at the very bottom of the poster in small letters. This information may also include logos of the production companies that have produced it, the rating of the film (i.e. certificate 18) as well as even a website for the film. Though the information may alter slightly from poster to poster (some may reveal more info. than others etc) they all typically put the information at the very bottom to get it out of the way- which can be seen on the poster’s for ‘The Constant Gardener’, ‘Sweeney Todd’, ‘V for Vendetta’ and ‘True Grit’. I’d also like to point out that conventionally this is positioned under the name of the film, reinforcing this information is who is behind the actual film itself.

What about the release date?? Again I don’t think this takes up as much space- or appears as important for persuading audiences to see the film, but it is nevertheless, very important. As the audience will need to know when the film comes out in cinemas so they know when they can go and see it- otherwise, they won’t be able to go and see it. Sometimes, film posters are very vague about the release date of the film, simply stating ‘Coming Soon’ which keeps audience interested and tense at when the film will be released (and also means they may have to research it themselves to see when it is being released, which they probably could do with the film’s own website). This convention can be seen on the poster for‘Inception’. As well as this, posters can also be very vague about the specific date by stating things such as ‘This Fall’ (as used on ‘The Assassination of Jesse James…’ poster) or ‘This Winter’ without actually giving a date as such, which again, keeps the audiences guessing and raises their excitement about the film. And then posters can just be very specific, saying for ‘May 16th’ or ’03/03/03′ for example, giving the audience an exact date obviously will increase their chances of going to see it, but may not bring the same level of excitement and mystery as the other techniques appear to. With positioning the release date is typically at the bottom of the film poster, below everything else, as it is probably the last thing designers will want audiences to read- as therefore the date or the excitement/mystery is more likely to stick in their minds.

What about reviews and star ratings for the film?? Hmm…this is quite two-sided as well I think, as some film posters I think, don’t need reviews plastered all over it to persuade audiences to see the film as the poster is already affective and this could overcomplicate the design. But on some posters the reviews for the film or even awards won/nominated for are very useful- especially that for the ‘Buried’ poster which literally has the image of the protagonist buried in the reviews for the film and looks extremely effective. But of course, this is because it fits in well with the theme of the film, whereas this technique simply couldn’t be used to promote other films. Conventionally I don’t think posters tend to use a lot of review snippets- as they may clutter up the poster- but if they do they are typically either near the very top, immediately opening up the film’s themes or hyping it,  or some where above the title of the film. I think the most effective in this more conventional area being for ‘The Hurt Locker’s poster. As with all text on film posters, conventionally it seems typical to keep the font bold and simple- and can be altered to tie in with the film’s genre/themes etc but mostly isn’t to avoid overcomplicating the text or putting across ideas that the poster may be trying to hard to get the audiences’ attention.

Now,  although I have analysed some posters, I have only analysed 3, so I thought before I create my own poster, I’d better start analysing some existing ones from my chosen genre (thriller- and it’d also be good if they had a theme of revenge)…

Taken…

What are the main colours used in the poster and what do they connote?

The main colours featuring ont his poster are simply black and grey (black background and varying shades in grey for the letters on the quote from the film). This use of such dark colours connotes darkness within the film, or that it’ll have quite dark themes (reinforcing the idea of abduction we get from the quote and the name of the film itself). This way the audience are getting a clear idea of what kind of tone or mood the film will have before they even go to see it, making sure that they are not mislead. into thinking it’s something it’s not (for example, it’s clear from the poster’s choice in colour that this film will not be upbeat and cheerful, but dark and harrowing). The dark colours are also useful for helping to give the audience  a better idea of what kind of character the protagonist is. The shadow hanging over his face for example, seems to connote that he is in ‘dark’ or troubling times and thus the audience will naturally wonder why this is and whether he’ll be able to get out of this ‘darkness’ that surrounds him by the end of the film. Lastly, the light red used for the title of the film and in the leading star’s name ‘Liam Neeson’ helps connote bloodshed, danger, anger and violence will all play a part within the film as well. Which in itself signifies that this film may be of the thriller genre and reinforces also certain words within the quote we are given, such as ‘kill’.

What symbols are used in the poster?Do you need audience foreknowledge to decode the symbols?

I’m not entirely sure- as the quote in itself could be a symbol but it’s pretty straight forward and self-explanatory really. But I suppose it can be considered a symbol in the way that audiences need to see the film itself to discover who the character’s talking to and the details hidden behind his statement. Like if he really has the power or determination to do what he says- which is ultimately what will draw the audience’s attentions towards it and make them want to watch the film.

What are the main figures/objects/background of the poster? Are they represented photographically,graphically or illustratively?

The main, and only, figure featured ont he poster is Liam Neeson’s character, who is therefore clearly the protagonist of the film. Apart from the text and his figure, the background is black and plain- which might appear dull but is actually good for connoting how tormented Neeson’s character is- and how he is distanced from others- making us question why and whether this could change throughout the course of the film. The image of Neeson is presented clearly photographically, as it seems as if his photo has been taken at a separate photo shoot and is not a still from the film itself. The quote from the film has been crafted possibly graphically so that it is superimposed over Neeson’s figure and therefore reinforces how he is the one speaking these words in the film and that all the anger and determination in the quote is clearly evident in him.

Are the messages in the poster primarily visual, verbal, or both?

As with most posters, this one uses a pretty much equal balance with both visual and verbal messages- verbal messages are put across to audiences by the use of the quote from the film- verbally giving the audience messages and indications about the protagonist of the film and the themes within it also. For example, it says ‘if you don’t let my daughter go’ automatically telling the audience that the protagonist’s daughter has apparently been taken. And an indication at abduction such as this also indicates the film may be dark or upsetting- so the audience knows more about what they can expect from the film itself. It also says ‘I will find you. I will kill you’– indicating the protagonist is determined to do whatever it takes to get his daughter back- even resorting to violence. But the clever thing is- after reading the quote the audiences expect the father to be persistent and even violent but they have no idea where his daughter is, or whether he’ll eventually be able to get her back, so they therefore are likely to want to see the film and find out. Visual messages on this poster are just as important to conveying ideas about what the film will be like. The figure of the protagonist being obviously the biggest influence on the visual messages- as he is the only figure on the poster. The fact he is the only one reinforces his importance within the film but also, as he is alone, this conveys to the audience that he is troubled and reinforces his obviously tortured state of mind at his daughter’s abduction. The fact he looks deeply hurt and tortured could also reinforce the verbal messages that he is willing to do whatever it takes to get his daughter back- but will he be able to? The character’s morals can also be questioned through visual connotations we get in his pose and the lighting on his face- the fact a shadow appears to conceal a lot of his face and that he is looking at the floor makes it appear as though the character will go on a personal struggle as he searches for his daughter- and his character may suffer because of what he is put through. It somewhat makes him seem quite like a ‘anti hero’- one who perhaps has flaws or is willing to break the law to get justice (in this case, specifically getting his daughter back). This makes the character more interesting- as typically heroes within films are too good and are exceptional at most things- beating villains etc but having an anti-hero which Neeson’s character could possibly be, as it is somewhat implied by the poster, makes the audience more interested in him as he simply looks not like some courageous hero going to save his daughter from the clutches of an evil villain, but a simple man, who’ll do whatever means necessary to get her back (thus, the audience can connect to him more with these qualities- as he appears more ‘ordinary’ , as it is implied he has flaws as all normal people naturally have).  The gun is also a visual message, reinforcing the protagonist’s determination and making the audience believe what the quote says also. It connotes bloodshed, violence and danger, and also, makes the audience question to what lengths the character will go to get his daughter back (it also reinforces what I previously said about Neeson’s character being an ‘anti-hero’- as he clearly is going to use the gun to get his daughter back and therefore isn’t a ‘typical’ hero somewhat as he is using violence to get what he wants).  

Who do you think is the intended audience for the poster?

I’d say mostly male audiences are targeted by this poster- as discussed earlier the quote has clear vibes of anger and determination from the protagonist to get his daughter back- so, this, as well as the gun in his hand, connotes that there will be a lot of violence and therefore action within the film, which men stereotypically prefer more than women. Most importantly though, the protagonist is male, so therefore male audiences can connect better to him and the trails he goes through than female audiences can. Though more specifically middle-aged men would probably be the biggest audience targeted, or men simply old enough to have teenage/young adult daughters (so roughly around the same age as the protagonist) because they could connect even more to what the protagonist goes through and in general, what the whole film is about- which is one man’s determination to fight and do whatever he can to get his abducted teenage daughter back (and if an audience member is male, of a similar age and has a daughter or children also, they will naturally consider what they’d do if they were put in the character’s situation, and could understand and sympathize better with his actions). I don’t think female audiences are really targeted- as they stereotypically are the victims of the film (which some female audiences may find a bit sexist) and they don’t really have many characters connect to, apart from the daughter, but she is only mentioned and not featured, on the poster. So it’s safe to suggest the film will be more about the protagonist’s fight to get his daughter back and the journey he goes on to do it, than her story of being actually abducted.

Given that all movie posters have the same purpose- to get audiences to go and see the film- what persuasive techniques are used by the poster?

I think the poster persuades the audience to want to go and see the film basically through mystery- we know what has happened, what has upset the equilibrium (his daughter being abducted) but no details of this disruption are explained and we do not know how it’ll end. Will the equilibrium be restored, will he get his daughter back? Will Neeson’s character change because of what he is put through? As I said before, everything is clear- but audiences are told only the minor details and nothing much is explained. Thus, we want to see the film to find out more about the topics and points we have been given on the poster.

Which genre conventions are referred to?

Well, there are the typical and very conventional colours featured that regularly are used in thriller films, those being- red, white and black. Black connoting dark themes, which is reinforced by the theme of abduction the poster makes also clear through other devices. White suggests innocence and innocent victims (like the protagonist’s daughter) that regularly have to be saved or are hurt/killed within thriller films. Red, obviously connoting all of the bloodshed/anger/danger/violence in general that thrillers tend to contain. Disturbing and upsetting themes such as abduction which is conveyed by the quote as well the name of the film itself are also conventional for the thriller genre- as films of this genre tend to discuss and evaluate problems such as the abduction of  children, which is what this film is doing specifically, to perhaps bring them to the audience’s attention or even help fight/protest against it (such as the fight against the justice system in ‘Law abiding Citizen’ or the fight against corrupt government in ‘The Constant Gardener’). As well as this, the gun in the protagonist’s hand also serves as a convention- as they regularly feature in thriller films- helping characters, such as heroes, to get out of troubling situations or inevitably perhaps making their situation worse (like in ‘Perrier’s Bounty’….). A troubled and tortured protagonist is also quite an ongoing convention audiences almost expect within thrillers- as most characters within this genre of film often have dark pasts that haunt them, or troubling situations that they cannot get out of- and are helpless in- thus we feel more sympathy for them and want them to be able to fight back and win (like Michael and his ongoing struggle against gangsters he owes money to, which affects the relationship with his father in ‘Perrier’s Bounty’, the constant torture Richard feels at his brother’s suicide that prompts the murders he commits in ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ and Cobb’s reluctance to let go of his dead wife Mal which threatens to jeopardize the teams mission in ‘Inception’).

 Is a star used as a USP? Where is the star in it’s mise-en-scene? Why?

Liam Neeson is clearly the poster’s biggest USP. His name is clearly positioned at the top, almost like a banner. This means his name is clear to see even if not recognized by audiences (which, really, he should be). I think Neeson’s presence, considering when ‘Taken’ was amde, could ahve also prompted much audience attention because of his presence within the film alone. The fact he was established as a talented actor by his roles within dramas and romance films such as 1996 film ‘Michael Collins’ and upbeat rom-com ‘Love Actually’ but most notably his leading role within the epic drama film ‘Schindler’s List’ the fact this film is clearly an action-thriller could make audiences interested in seeing how Neeson deals with such an important role within a genre of film he is not entirely well-known for or really appeared to be connected to before. And judging from his recent films, I think ‘Taken’ could have been a route down to the actor making more action-packed and violent films, like his recent roles in ‘The A Team’, ‘Unknown’ and ‘The Next Three Days’.

Are ‘expert witnesses’ (i.e critics) quoted?

No. They’re not.

What pleasures (gratifications) are promised by the poster?

I think the poster appears to promise escapism- mostly through the action and violence that is implied by the quote ‘I will kill you’. Thus we feel as though we may be able to watch the film and not have to concentrate on it too much (which isn’t me being intentionally critical)- just simply lose ourselves in the action and escape from the mundane aspects of everyday life. But also think we are promised to learn something by the poster also- perhaps that the film will teach us more about the topic of abduction and it’s effects on the victim’s as well as their families- the fact the character appears so troubled and willing to break the law to get her back also seems to promise us a lesson on morals or indeed maybe justice also.

How is attention gained (humour, shock, surprise)?

I think the audience’s attention is primarily gained by the figure of the protagonist- and I think most attention is gained by the mystery surrounding the figure and the quote also. His quote also gains attention through shock as it appears as though he’ll really stop at nothing to get his daughter back- making us question how far he’ll really go. But primarily the mystery of who has taken his daughter, why they have taken her (was it something to do with him?) what he’ll do to get her back, how the ordeal will affect him/his daughter, and even if he WILL get her back is what mostly gains the audience’s attention and their interest in the film itself. It’s the fact the audience is only given  little, straightforward snippets of information with no intense or explanatory details is what makes it so alluring.

How does the tagline work?

I’m guessing the tagline here would be the quote itself, otherwise it doesn’t appear to have one. The quote: “I don’t know who you are, but if you don’t let my daughter go I will find you I will kill you” is technically the most moving and intriguing part of the poster. Firstly, superimposing it over the protagonist instantly makes the audience put two and two together and realise it is his character that speaks the line- yet we do not know at what point he says this or who to, so the audience’s interest in the poster increases. It takes up a lot of space on the poster, indicating this statement, thus the protagonist’s determination is his drive, but could also indicate that his drive to get his daughter back could consume him and dramatically change and alter his character. Overall the tagline is incredibly poignant, deep, tragic and clearly determined. The fact it is so blunt and understated reveals there is probably much more emotion buried beneath it, which understating the subject naturally exaggerates the character’s pain. Thus, we sympathize with the protagonist before we have even met him in the film, making us more likely to want to see the film and find out if he manages to get her back. Lastly, the determination of the character and his certainty that he WILL get his daughter back is clear ‘I will find you. I will kill you’ but what audience’s will want to know is, does he get what he wants? Is his determination and struggles rewarded? And naturally, only seeing the film itself can give them the answers they want.

Perrier’s Bounty…

What are the main colours used in the poster and what do they connote?

Primarily, as with the ‘Taken’ poster, the colours on this poster are  black, red and white- though mostly red and white. White itself indicates perhaps innocence and victims- but we don’t know who is innocent or a victim and who is not- as the audiences cannot judge just from the colour of the background which characters are bad and which are good as there are no specific indications at any character specifically in terms of colour. Perhaps this being an indication that the film is questioning who is considered as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and generally morals- like whether criminals can really be as innocent as any innocent bystander who has committed no crimes at all. It makes us generally question what innocence is and who can judged as worthy of this label. The consistent use of red again connotes that there will be a lot violence and bloodshed within the film- but why? And which characters will contribute to this violence? Will they all contribute to it?

What symbols are used in the poster? Do you need audience foreknowledge to decode the symbols?

Hmm….I don’t think so. Of course perhaps the coffee jar in the Jim Broadbent’s (playing the character of Jim) hand- which audiences wouldn’t necessarily know the true meaning of until they saw the film itself. Ok, it’s clear he may be intent on staying awake but there’s more meaning to it than that, which having seen the film, I know of (The true meaning being that he’s convinced he saw the grim reaper and he told him that the next time he goes to sleep he’ll die- which prompts him to try to force himself to stay awake through eating coffee granules, as seen in the poster, getting female characters to slap him in the face and even taking dr*gs). Beside that though, I don’t think there’s many ‘symbols’ that need to be decoded as such…

What are the main figures/objects/background of the poster? Are they represented photographically,graphically or illustratively?

The main figures of the poster are the long shot of Brendan Gleeson (Perrier) and the three mid shots of Cillian Murphy (Michael), Jodie Whitaker (Brenda) and Jim Broadbent (Jim). They look as though they are presented pretty much photographically- and as if they have all been taken at a separate photo-shoot (though the image of Brendan Gleeson could have easily been taken from the film as a still I suppose). The fact Brendan Gleeson’s character is a long shot could signify he is not only a powerful character (as he takes up more space than the others) but also one which is distanced from the audience themselves, revealing perhaps his character will be one we shouldn’t really expect to connect to and therefore he could be the villain of the film. Although the other characters only have mid shots, their importance is conveyed because of the central position of their image, especially Cillian Murphy, who appears to be directly in the centre of the poster (implying everything will revolve around his character and therefore he will be the film’s protagonist).  The background of the poster is a plain and solid white- although this may appear a little boring, this helpfully doesn’t distract the audience from the more important parts of the poster- which is namely the characters of the film that feature upon it. It also could indicate (by having the background plain) that this film will focus more on the character’s stories and relationships than other matters- and therefore could convey that this film is going to be ‘down to earth’ or realistic.

Are the messages in the poster primarily visual, verbal, or both?

Again, I think this poster relies on both the visual and verbal aspects of the poster to convey messages about the film itself- that way it just seems to work a lot better and become a lot more interesting also. The visual messages are mostly conveyed by the characters, their poses, positioning, props they’re holding and costumes also. For example, Brendan Gleeson (Perrier) clearly has a gun in his hand- conveying that his character may be villainous and may even be a criminal. It also makes the audience wonder what the purpose of the gun is- like how it got it, why he has it and whether he is after someone (which is reinforced by the title of the film- is his character after someone for a ‘bounty’?). It also makes the audience instantly realise that this film is probably going to be violent and therefore probably an action, thriller or maybe even a hybrid of the two. Also, the fact the characters played by Murphy (Michael), Whittaker (Brenda) and Broadbent (Jim) are all grouped together seem to convey the idea that these three characters are all closely linked and are perhaps even a team- but how are they linked? Are they family members? Friends? etc. The fact these three are all placed so closely yet Brendan Gleeson (Perrier) is separate from them somewhat makes us question why he is separate and how he is connected to them- is he after them? And if he is, why?  The three characters also look very small in comparison to his image- so this makes us question who has more control or power- does he have control over them? And if he does, how does this affect the characters or the film itself? Will this position f power/control change by the end of the film? As well as this, the jar of coffee in the hands of Broadbent (Jim) could also convey ideas to the audience that the film may have an element of humour in the middle of all of this action and violence- so perhaps it could be of the crime/comedy genre. Visually, a lot of the characters are very scruffy or natural-looking (as in they don’t really look like your average glamorous Hollywood stars) which is mostly indicated by their costumes, which are quite ordinary looking and the fact two of the characters have a  lot of stubble (Michael and Jim). This helps to convey to the audience instantly that this film will be more realistic, as the characters look just like any typical audience member, thus audiences will be able to connect to these characters more than the typical ones you’d expect to see on posters. This also could convey that the film will not necessarily be very glamorous and could be quite gritty or dark- like of the ‘kitchen sink’/drama genre (conveying trials and problems of ordinary British working class life) judging by the types of character being portrayed to us. The verbal messages are mostly conveyed by the tagline for the film ‘Blood is thicker than water. Nothing is thicker than thieves’- conveying again ideas that this film will also have comedy elements (‘thicker’) as well as crime and possibly violence (‘thieves’) and also reinforces ideas that their may be family connections between some of the characters (‘blood’) but who? Verbal messages about the film are also given to us through the snippet of the review of the film placed at the top- words from it such as ‘funny’ but also ‘hard-nosed’ at the same time helping to reinforce ideas again that the film may be a hybrid of both comedy and crime genres.

Who do you think is the intended audience for the poster?

In terms of gender in the target audience, I think males and females are targeted equally- this is because there are both male and female characters on the poster, seeming to appear in the same situation (reinforced by how some of the characters are clustered together) meaning that each gender will have a character they can possibly connect to or sympathize with. Not only this but all of the men on the poster appear very different- we have a young man, possibly in his twenties (Michael AKA Cillian Murphy) whom younger male audience members could possibly connect to, an older male character of about 50 + years (Jim AKA Jim Broadbent) and finally a male character who looks around middle-aged (Perrier AKA Brendan Gleeson). Ultimately this may reinforce ideas that perhaps male audiences are being targeted by this poster more than female audiences as while the male characters all vary in ages (meaning their will be a wider range of audience members who can connect to them) we only have one female character presented to us and thus the target audience for females will clearly not be as varied. Stereotypically men also are being targeted by the connotations of crime (mostly held by the gun in Perrier’s hand) and therefore possibly violence within the film, which male audiences are generally thought to prefer in terms of genre (and content) in films. 

Given that all movie posters have the same purpose- to get audiences to go and see the film- what persuasive techniques are used by the poster?

Again, as with most posters, this poster choses to leave most details about the film a mystery- therefore leading audiences to wonder what is going to happen and naturally intrigued, thus they’ll want to go and see the film. Here for example the poster tells us, in the film title itself, that there is a ‘bounty’ but we don’t know whose head it’s upon, who put it out, whether one of the characters will be able to collect it or even how it’ll effect the characters presented to us. We also have no idea whom ‘Perrier’ is, although we know he is the character who puts out a bounty, and obviously audiences will want to discover which of the characters on the poster this is too. There is also the question at the identities of all the characters presented to us, (Michael, Jim, Brenda, Perrier) as we cannot truly tell, from just looking at them, what type of characters they’ll be within the film- are they good or bad, how are they connected, who is the protagonist? What type of journey will he go on throughout the course of the film etc. Although personally I feel that the best persuasive technique used by this poster is the choice of costume/make up etc for the characters- as they look very well…normal. And looking at most film posters, they all seem to have elaborate or fancy clothes that generally shout ‘film star’ , but these presented o the poster are the exact opposite. And I think this makes the audience naturally persuaded to want to go and see the film- because these characters look like normal, everyday people, therefore we can connect to them easier and better and will furthermore be more likely to be able to connect to whatever storylines/trials/problems they come across in the film.

Which genre conventions are referred to?

Well the poster refers to the conventional colours typically found within the thriller genre- red, black and white (though mostly red and white). The constant use of white in the background may seem a little plain but appears to connote innocent and pure characters- but as all of the characters are surrounded by this colour we cleverly do not know yet which are innocent and which are not. Perhaps to bigger question being who is really innocent and can some be more innocent than others? The use of red also connotes violence/bloodshed/danger which are all quite common within thriller films. The little use of black suggests the film may contain dark themes, such as crime, which thrillers again tend to contain and are quite well-known for. The gun in Brendan Gleeson’s (Perrier’s) hand is also a common convention within thriller films, as they tend to contain violence and crime.

 Is a star used as a USP? Where is the star in it’s mise-en-scene? Why?

I think all of the stars that feature on the poster are used as USPs- Brendan Gleeson (Perrier) taking up most of the space ont he poster itself conveys that he may be useful for targeting audiences, most probably for his roles within the popular ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ and of those within similar films to this one (which I know because I’ve seen both of these examples) such as the witty and dark ‘In Bruges’. Jim Broadbent (Jim) is also used as a USP because of his popularity, being in films such as ‘Hot Fuzz’, ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ and ‘Moulin Rouge!’– which tells us, considering what the actor is most well-known for, that this film could be humorous as well as dramatic/thrilling. There is also Cillian Murphy (Michael), well-known for his role within the 2010 summer blockbuster ‘Inception’, as well as his sinister part as ‘The Scarecrow’ within ‘Batman Begins’ and‘The Dark Knight’– telling us that if his character is the hero, he is likely to have flaws or be a reluctant hero perhaps. And last, but not least, the poster has Jodie Whittaker, who is most well-known for her roles within the British teen chick-flick ‘St. Trinians’ as well as her role within the chilling TV series‘Marchlands’. Conventionally, the names of the stars are clearly positioned at the top of the poster, in a banner-like way- the stars first names being smaller and in red, last names bigger and in black- reinforcing ideas that perhaps last names of stars are easier recognized than their first…and are therefore more important to make clear and bold on the poster so that they are not overlooked or missed.

Are ‘expert witnesses’ (i.e critics) quoted?

Yes, one critic is quoted, which is positioned at the very top of the poster, distancing it from the other features of the poster (thus indicating it is telling us about the film and isn’t actually a part of it as such). The snippet of the review reads- ” An awesome, funny and hard-nosed crime film!”- which generally, not only helps to sell the film overall, but also reveals more about what the film is like the audiences- thus making them more likely to be happy in the knowledge of what type of film it is generally before they go to see it. For example, the review uses keywords like ‘crime’ and ‘hard-nosed’ to convey to audiences that the film may contain violence/crime and possibly even bloodshed. But it also refers to it as ‘funny’– linking maybe that it has wit or ‘gallows humour’ that ties in with the crime and dark parts of the film for comic relief- and also conveys that the film may be a hybrid of the comedy and crime/action/thriller genres.

What pleasures (gratifications) are promised by the poster?

I think not only is the poster seeming to offer us action- through all of the crime hinted to through various methods (such as the gun), humour- because of what is indicated by the review, but will also offer us a chance to truly connect with characters and perhaps knowledge on working class life. The means of how the characters are presented seems to offer us not just a chance to escape, but a chance to explore and learn about cultures and ways of life- in this case, the ‘gritty’ kitchen-sink spin on working class life. Thus working classes themselves are going to be naturally interested on the film’s take on this culture and the way the social group is represented also.

How is attention gained (humour, shock, surprise)?

I think attention is mostly gained through mystery. All of these characters are gathered together,audiences can all guess and assume things like costume choices, props etc will tell them a bit about the characters themselves but they really can’t know anything for sure. So, the only way they can discover anything solid about the characters and the story itself is to see the film. Attention is gained not so much about WHAT we’re told- and more through what we’re NOT told.

How does the tagline work?

‘Blood is thicker than water. Nothing is thicker than thieves’ the tagline is positioned near the bottom of the poster, and is quite small and in a light font, so it is obvious not deemed as important as other features- such as the images of the characters for example. Nevertheless it is clearly helpful for revealing to audiences several possible themes of the film itself- like the mention of ‘thieves’ indicates that one or more of these characters may be criminals- but does not specifically say who (though Perrier’s weapon could be a give away….). It also reinforces previous connotations that this film will be a crime/thriller. More specifically ‘blood is ticker than water’ conveys ideas that perhaps family relationships could be a big and explored theme within the film, and also conveys that one or two of these characters presented to us could be related by blood. But who? And how? And how will this effect the film? etc etc. All the talk of families and crime also leads audiences to think of gangsters, and the question of whether crime is more important than family to these characters/ Or do they come to realise at the end of the film that it’s really not? (which I know happens, as Michael does- about his mother and father). Also, I’ve literally only just realised that the tagline could also be taken in another way by audiences, and could be seen as being intended to be humorous. Like the tagline is indicating than thieves are stupid- ‘thicker’, which obviously would then reinforce the film’s comedy elements that have already previously been presented by the poster.

Well, I have analysed a few posters already (‘In Bruges’, ‘Inception’ and ‘Domino’) but I think I need much more research in this area before I begin to turn from my magazine task (which I believe is finished- and if it isn’t only requires a minimal amount of work) to my poster task.

While searching on the internet for various examples of film posters- mostly focusing on those judged as the ‘best of all time’ or got the most audience attention (as essentially, this is what film posters are for!)  I ultimately did come to notice a lot of websites discussing the worst. So, I realised it is important  not only to take inspiration from the best film posters, but to also be warned by the mistakes of the worst ones aswell.
So, here is the following posters not only deemed as bad by websites such as ‘impawards’ but are also ones I personally think are terrible, and taught me just as good a lesson as the best ones did…

Oh and as a quick note- I’ve tried to stay within my chosen genre of film (thriller, with a big theme of revenge) to help reveal specifically what I shouldn’t do when I make my own poster. Thankfully I’ve realised that there’s not actually a lot of posters for thriller films that are rated as particularly that bad, so hopefully it’s a good sign! I’ve tried to keep within the thriller/action/ etc genre so that the posters somewhat relate to what I’ll be creating myself and can therefore teach me a lot more  (most film posters that were rated as the ‘worst’ I found typically to be of the rom-com genre…)

Rule no.1- Get the photo shoot right…

Takers (2010)

I can see why this particular poster has been constantly propping up whenever I search for the ‘worst film posters’… the main lesson here I think being to get the photo shoot right to start off with and not trying to cover it up by cutting out actor’s heads from other photos and sticking them on completely different bodies. This makes the poster look very unprofessional and just a bit stupid- losing the audiences’ respect, not to mention their interest in the film itself. To be quite honest if a company doesn’t really care about how they advertise their film, do they really care about their film at all? If they couldn’t even be bothered to get the crew together for one good photo-shoot? Anyway, that’s beside the point. The fact is what I’ve learnt is to get the actors together that I need and get all of the possible photos I could want to use for my poster. That way, I won’t end up making my poster look like this….and totally putting off any audience member who sees it!

Rule no.2- Sort out what’s actually happening IN the poster…

Bangkok Dangerous (2008)

 

The thing is, when I first glanced at this poster I thought it looked rather cool and sold, what I presume it actually is, a cool ‘action/thriller’ film- I particularly liked the contrast of white, red and black and thought the chosen colours all worked together well and really sold the type of film it was supposed to be selling. But then, when I looked a little closer, I really started to get confused…and I still can’t actually work out what is going on. Like, what Nicholas Cages’ arm is actually doing, as it seems to be disappearing into, well, into himself. And don’t even get me started on the other hand…which looks as though it SHOULD be holding a gun (which would be good considering the type of film the poster appears to be promoting) but it’s mysteriously disappeared. So his hand is just hovering there, clutching at nothing at all. And furthermore, doing nothing at all to persuade audiences to watch the film, which is what it should, as a poster, be actually doing. No, it just all looks a little confused to me. They probably had a good photo of Cage for the poster initially, but they just messed it up by not actually being sure of what they wanted. So, I should make sure myself I have a clear image of what I want BEFORE I make the poster and not after- as then it’s obviously a bit too late. So- colours and style, good. Figure and ultimately most important aspect of the poster and its biggest selling point (which is Cage)- bad.

Rule no.3- Don’t overcomplicate things…

The Expendables (2010)

I think the main lesson here is don’t try to cram every single star into the poster- as it ends up looking a tad idiotic and rarely goes down well with audiences- mainly it makes me think personally that the film must be that terrible that the creators feel they have to get every single star in there who’ll reel in audiences, as if they give away anything about the film itself, there won’t be an audience. Overall it just clutters up the poster and takes away from any effect it could have on audiences. So, lesson is, although you shouldn’t leave things too bare on a poster, you shouldn’t really make it too cramped and claustrophobic either…

Rule no.4- …But keep it interesting at the same time…

Wanted (2008)

 

Ok, so it’s good to not go over the top because that leads to confusion and overall like the poster is trying too hard, I think I get that now. But there’s a difference in keeping it simple yet being intriguing and producing a good quality poster….than being extremely lazy and boring your audiences with a plain poster that simply doesn’t really say anything. Take the poster for ‘Wanted’ though personally I think this is actually quite a good film this poster does it no justice I feel. It’s just so- well…dull. Angelina Jolie, with a gun. Ok, great, what else? Nothing. Even the background is boring. There are just no hints at anything that could possibly be interesting about the film itself that are portrayed on the poster- all we get are vague notions of perhaps a crime/thriller or even action film (or any genre that could involve a gun as a prop??) and Angelina Jolie to star in it. Well, it doesn’t really speak volumes does it? It just looks like it could be from any film and therefore, really doesn’t attract any audience attention whatsoever. So- lesson learnt- keep it simple yes, but remember you do actually need to say SOMETHING about your film,or even just hint at something to catch the audiences eye.

Rule no.5- Don’t try to be too clever…

Brick (2005)

I think this is ok as a poster overall (it’s not as bad as some of the others anyway…) it just doesn’t make that much sense. It’s like the poster is trying too hard to get the audience’s attention while being clever and not giving anything away about the film at the same time – which is a good thing to do, but you have to give the audience something to go by- and by that I mean something they can understand. I don’t think there’s anything here that interests me on this poster mainly because well, I don’t get it. There’s no information I can latch onto or idea/hint that could stick in my mind. Nothing at all that makes the poster intriguing. Obviously it could all become clear once you’ve seen the actual film, but that’s not really good enough if this poster is supposed to MAKE you want to see the film. Main lesson here I think being- give the audience something interesting to go by about the film on the poster itself- and preferably something they can actually understand without previous knowledge on the film itself (as they wouldn’t have seen it yet and therefore won’t know much about it!).

Rule no.6-…But don’t be stupid either…

 Charlie St. Cloud (2010)

This is mostly about taglines on film posters, which I will analyse and research later on in the production of my own film poster. But overall this poster I think, appears pretty stupid anyway, because of the tagline alone ‘Life is for living’ really? I hadn’t noticed. Just that I think ruins the whole poster and gives a very unprofessional feel. Audiences are likely to read the tagline, laugh, and move on, their respect for the film out of the window and the likeness of them actually wanting to go and see it, out of the window too. So, the final lesson is- don’t make mistakes. And if you, correct them before the poster is finished and shown to anyone to avoid embarrassment, not to mention a very ‘unprofessional’ looking and probably unsuccessful, poster.

So, there are the ‘bad ones’ out of the way…now I can focus on the posters that I should take inspiration from (which will again, be mostly from my specific chosen genre of film).

Nevertheless I feel looking at bad examples has taught me a lot about what NOT to do when making my poster. The most important thing I think being balance– keeping it interesting, but not overcomplicated, and simple but not boring etc.