The Results are in!!!….

Posted: September 20, 2010 in Media

So, about a week ago I posted that I had made a new, more specific questionnaire to give out to variety of people and get feed back. This should help me get the information from the audience so I know what they expect from my genre of film or my trailer, and then it will leave me to consider what to do from there…

But now I have the results. I will give out the general reply from the answers I got and then perhaps add a few examples of what people suggested/said. And then I will analyse their answers and explain how they will influence my choices when actually filming my trailer. Right, here we go…

 

What would you expect from a trailer that has a cross genre of thriller/revenge? 

General answer??

Well, I don’t think there was a ‘general answer’ as such because with a cross genre, people tend to expect a wider range of things from it than they would a trailer of just one clear genre (like if they were going to watch a trailer for a comedy film they’d expect humorous dialogue but if they were going to see a Rom-com trailer they’d expect a hint of romance between characters as well as funny dialogue). So it’s clear I’ll have to keep both genres and their conventions clear in my mind before I attempt to create my trailer. One thing that did repeatedly crop up was ‘lots of violence’ (because of the revenge genre) and ‘crimes’ (because of the thriller genre and to show why the main character wants revenge) – insinuating that audiences expect these conventions of the genre to be made prominent in the trailer so that they are clear of what genre the film is that is being promoted.

Interestingly I found a few people explaining that they would initially expect ‘Flashbacks‘ in the trailer to ‘something bad that happened in the past’ which I thought was a good point as the audience may expect this so that they know or at least have a hint to why the main character is seeking revenge in the film itself.

A few of the replies also talked about characters- they said things like ‘a troubled and obsessed main character who is angry at someone or something’ which I think insinuates that the main character is a particularly important part of any trailer and as the audience said, it is vital to introduce him and make it clear that he is playing the part in a thriller/revenge film.

And lastly some people stated that it should be ‘confusing’ or ‘have a complex storyline’ because ‘thrillers are usually quite shocking or confusing when you watch them’

How will these help me??

Well I now know certain conventions that audiences may expect from a trailer that is promoting a thriller/revenge film. I’ve heard that they expect things like flashbacks to help them understand what caused the revenge, a main character to be introduced and seen to be obsessed with getting revenge, lots of violence and crimes to show the revenge being carried out and a confusing and complex plot because that is what usually makes a thriller film according to the replies I have. I think that now I know what they generally expect I can think about whether to break these conventions or not. And even if I use these in my trailer I am still not going to leave the audience totally aware of my plot, as this would make the trailer seem too predictable and give away too much of the film itself. For example, if I did include flashbacks like the audience said they expected, they would be short and give small hints as to what happened without actually telling the audience the real reason why my protagonist wants revenge. But of course I want the genres to be prominent so that the audience doesn’t get confused and misjudge whether they’d want to see the film itself or not so in that case, I may have to keep a few conventions within my trailer just to be safe.

Do you like main characters in thriller/revenge films that you can sympathize with? 

General answer??

A straight ‘yes’ was the winning answer. I did get a few interesting explanations to this answer though, like these ones:

‘I prefer characters I feel sorry for because then I can enjoy the film more’

‘I always feel sorry for them. Even if they’re horrible they’re usually getting revenge for a very good reason’

‘If I didn’t sympathize with the main character I can’t connect with them. And that ruins the film’

‘Main characters in these films are always getting sympathy. You want them to get revenge even if they’re the most cruel character ever because most of the people they’re after deserve it anyway’

How will these help me??

Well it makes it clear to me that a likeable main character that the audience can easily sympathize with is one of the key things to remember when storyboarding and creating my trailer. Like the replies stated: I want my protagonist to be sympathized with so that the audience can connect with them, feel their pain and understand just why they’re doing what they’re doing. If I don’t make my protagonist this way then the trailer wouldn’t work. The audience have to make a connection with him and feel sorry for him even if he is doing bad things all the way to the end, otherwise, well they’d just be watching a trailer about a horrible person doing unjustified, horrible things. And that wouldn’t make the audience want to watch the film at all. So, I think I’m on the audience’s side here: the protagonist is one of the best things about thriller/revenge films. Which is the fact that they do unspeakable things that we wouldn’t usually accept the protagonist doing in any other genre of film, but if revenge is involved, we can’t help but put ourselves in their shoes and still sympathize with them even if they do the most horrendous things.

Some people complain that thriller/revenge films are predictable- how do you think this could be overcome? 

General answer??

Well since this was a question that really did require an opinionated answer I didn’t expect to get a ‘general answer’ from the replies I got. But there were a few I thought were very good, such as these:

‘Sometimes I think it’s obvious the person is going to GET his revenge- what if he doesn’t ??’

‘What about if the main character is wrong and has been told a lie- meaning the person he got revenge on were actually innocent’

‘I’m not sure how to answer that. But thrillers on their own tend to have big twists and shocker endings so maybe you could give the revenge ending a little twist to make it different o all the other revenge films out there??’

‘It’s usually the last thing you’d EVER expect. That’s what makes a good film. Something that no one would predict…like characters lying when you thought they were telling the truth or dead characters you thought were alive. Something like that.’

How will these help me??

 Well in general I thought these answers were helpful as they inspire me to think of various ways in which to make my film unique to it’s genre(s). I thought of this question because a lot of people via the internet ranted on about how predictable each revenge film is and therefore I thought maybe my film could try and overcome this. And I liked some of these ideas, most of them stating that a ‘big twist’ in the end was a good idea to make it unpredictable, which I hope to do with my whole child ‘innocence’ thing…

Which are better in thriller/revenge films- male or female protagonists? 

General answer??

Well this DID get a general answer. In fact it got a straight answer, which was ‘male protagonists’. No surprise there then as the exact same thing happened in my thriller questionnaire last year. 

How will these help me??

 Well it tells me one thing: audiences generally prefer male protagonists, in revenge/thriller films anyway. I think this may be because audiences can stereotypically link ‘revenge’ and violence to men and perhaps if a female protagonist takes the role then this might go against the normal conventions of the genre…which sometimes, audiences don’t like at all…so I should definetely stick to my original idea of having a male protagonist then. Just to be safe.

What settings or locations would you expect in a thriller/revenge film? 

General answer??

To be honest I don’t think there was a ‘general answer’ as everyone seemed to have different ideas about it. There were some that kept cropping up though like these…

‘A dark forest’

‘Depends on the plot.’

‘ Lots of various locations- the revenge person usually seeks his revenge on people who are scattered about a bit.’

‘Maybe a scary house where the main character can live??’

How will these help me??

 It’s given me some suggestions as to what locations audiences expect in revenge/thrillers, which is helpful as this way I can analyse the conventions and think about whether it would be a good move to break it or not. With locations in mind I find I agree with one of the replies I put above 100%- it really does depend on the actual plot of the film. I mean, ‘Kill Bill’ I know to have very many locations, a lot of them being large cities, but ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ only has a one– which is an old and small village based somewhere in Northern England and little elsewhere. So I now know that revenge/thrillers don’t necessarily have a strong convention of where it should be set (so the audience won’t be expecting a particular location from my trailer) and that, with any film, the location should just fit into my plot and be wherever audiences would expect the film to be set. (though I may want to consider ‘dark’ or sinister looking places as the replies did say that revenge/thrillers were usually dark and bleak films and the locations may want to reflect this).

What colours would you associate with a thriller/revenge film? 

General answers??

Well most pretty much everyone answered the same way, with black and red being the clear winners. I honestly did expect this result after looking at titles in other thriller/revenge films, and some even gave an explanation as to why they felt these colours would be appropriate for a thriller/revenge film. Here are some replies I liked:

‘When I think of a thriller/revenge I see black- because the films are usually dark and horrible.’

‘I think of red- like the anger and bloodshed the revenge creates.’

‘Red, black and white would be a good combination’

How will these help me??

Well when I want to add titles to my trailer I will have an idea as to what colours to use and which ones will convey my genre of thriller/revenge to the audience easily without misleading them or getting them confused. I also think it will help portray the mood and atmosphere of my revenge/thriller easily to my audience and help them decide whether they would enjoy watching it or not. But one thing is: what about if I want the titles to go on a black background? I think I should use white but giving into audience reaction I think I may think about breaking this convention with red titles.     

My Plot idea: 

A stranger moves into a village with his child, 

No one ever sees the child, though at first it seems that it is just because the man is a bit controlling, but later it appears it is more than that, 

Meanwhile, the local youth founders are being threatened/intimidated and then picked off one by one: although their deaths are each thought to be accidents/suicides, 

Although a girl who attends the local youth club believes their deaths are suspicious, 

She blames the stranger and tries to find out whether he is the culprit, 

He is, but he has a good reason for what he did: revenge, 

When he was younger, he attended the same youth club, which was still run by the same people, 

And they exposed him to crime and turned him into a criminal, 

He reveals that the boy he has with him is in fact him: it is his innocence, the innocence he lost, which explains why no one ever saw him, 

So he kills the last member and then turns himself into the police, 

But the girl is left wondering whether he fully deserves to go to prison as he actually saved her from having her and a lot of other child’s innocences destroyed too. 

Do you like this idea? If yes, why? If not, what could be done to improve it? 

General answer??

Thankfully most people seemed to like my plot, and these were some of the reasons they stated why:

‘It seems really different. I wouldn’t have seen that coming at the end!’

‘It sounds rather strange and like a big complex puzzle to solve. It would be interesting to watch.’

‘It has a shocking end. Not predictable at all.’

‘It sounds like a good revenge film but it has a nice twist with the boy and the ‘innocence’ thing.’

But, you can’t please everyone can you? Here’s some critical feedback I thought was helpful rather than insulting:

‘It sounds a bit too complicated…I’m afraid I don’t understand.Maybe you could make it a bit simpler?’

‘I think the boy ending up to be the character himself is far too confusing- maybe he should be something else? Like a ghost?’

How will these help me??

 Well I thought this would be helpful to perhaps look at places where I could improve my plot and perhaps go on to develop it with their suggestions so to appeal to a wider audience. Well, I liked the reasons that people said they did like my plot- most saying that it was unpredictable and different– which I was happy with as this is what I was aiming to do with the plot for my film. OK, granted, some did say it sounded confusing but I might be willing to let their comments slide. Afterall they’re going to watch a trailer for this film, not the film itself and therefore the whole deal with the child being the protagonist’s innocence is something they won’t have to get their heads around as it’s something I definitely am not going to include in my trailer. And anyway, I think thrillers should be confusing. I think it’s one of their main conventions. (‘the Usual Suspects’ and ‘The Sixth Sense’ come to mind….)

Do you think making a character who isn’t actually real could mislead/confuse audiences?Do you think it is therefore a good idea to include the character? 

General answer??

This was a bit two sided. Most people seemed to thinka character who isn’t actually real could be confusing but that doesn’t mean I should leave it out of the plot. Then again, some people just thought all of it was too confusing..

‘It may confuse people but that’s a good thing: predicatble films are boring!’

‘Confusing audiences is a good thing. They have to work it out for themselves then. You should include the character.’

‘A film that leaves you confused is a better than one that you know what’s going to happen at the end straight away. Keep the kid in because it’s a good idea.’

And then there was…

‘you don’t want to confuse people too much. They could get bored and stop watching the film.’

How will these help me??

 Well I think these answers are very helpful to me as the whole ‘making a character who isn’t real but is made out to be throughout the entire film’ was the only thing that was worrying me, as I was afraid my audience would get too confused. But thankfully although a lot said it was very confusing, they regarded this as a good thing. Some explaining that this ‘character’ would help make the film unpredictable and shocking, which most audiences would like better than a film that is simple and totally predictable (judging from my answers). So I think, judging from the reactions of my idea, I will keep the ‘character’ in my plot afterall, as I was doubting putting it in before I actually gave the questionnaire out. So it has put my mind at some ease.

Out of the plot of I have give you what do you think I should/shouldn’t include in the trailer? 

General answer??

Well most people pointed out the obvious and said that I shouldn’t give away ‘the end’ of the film. Which to be honest, wasn’t much help. But here’s what else they said I shouldn’t give away:

‘I wouldn’t say who (or what?) the kid really is. That would be telling too much.’

‘Do not give away why the main character wants revenge. That sounds like it would be fun to work out.’

‘Don’t say too much about the killings or show us too much of those particular scenes.’

and then what they said I should put in my trailer. Which I thought was much more helpful:

Tell us the characters, the location, and maybe some of the killings.’

‘You should put in the revenge murders and the strange little kid.’

‘Hints to why the guy is seeking revenge- like flashbacks.’

‘Make sure it’s obvious the man is angry and wants revenge.’

How will these help me??

I think they’re quite inspiring. It helps me know what the audiences themselves would do if they were in my shoes and had to create a revenge/thriller trailer. Therefore I can analyse their general ideas and see whether I could use them in my work. Well I agreed with most of them. Although I thought it was obvious not to include the final scenes or reveal who the kid is, why the protagonist really wants revenge etc I thought it was helpful to know the audience felt the same way about what not to say in trailer as I did. What I found most helpful was the ideas of what they thought should go IN my trailer. As they wanted me specifically to introduce important characters within the film (so they can connect with them straight away, making them want to see the film more)- so I now know that’s vital, and I know they’ll expect to see hints towards the murders (for an essence of excitement and tension) and for it to be made obvious the man wants revenge. And I had  a little thought that it was a good idea to include flashbacks as to why he wants revenge because then I can always imply something that is wrong in the trailer, and then it’s only until the audience watch the film that they realise that is not the reason the man is seeking revenge at all. As I said, trailers are decietful things….

What kind of balance (genre wise) do you want to see in the trailer? Like, would you want revenge to be obvious? 

General answer??

Well I think this was clear. But what am I talking about? I’ll let the audience do the talking:

‘It should be 50/50’

‘I think it should be half and half…because then it will make a better combination.’

‘Half and half would be a good idea. Two genres is better than one!’

How will these help me??

 OK some people did have different ideas about this but I’m going for the general idea and most replies simply stated  that a 50/50 balance between thriller and revenge would be best for my trailer. I think this is helpful as it tells me I need to think about thrillers now and start researching their films/trailers so I know what coventions they have. I know the basic outline of a revenge trailer, and now to get this good and equal balance the audience want to see I’ll have to analyse some thriller trailers too.

Do you think that a lot of violence is appropriate to include in a thriller/revenge trailer? 

General answer??

Well this was a heated, two sided battle. As you’ll see below:

‘Well yes it is because revenge films are really gruesome and thrillers can be nasty too.’

‘No. Maybe show it in the film but in a trailer there’s no need for it.’

‘Both genres are usually quite violent so yes, I would say so.’

‘No. It gives the good parts away!’

How will these help me??

 OK, so now I’m in a bit of a muddle: from the very two sided results I am not sure whether to include violence in my trailer or not to…because obviously, as some replies stated, revenge films and also thriller films are usually violent and therefore would require violence in the trailer so that the audience knows what the film will be like and whether they’d like to see it. But can violence give too much of the plot itself away? For example it could give away the fact a certain character gets murdered or beaten up before the audience has even had a chance to view the film, which could lessen the point in them going on to watch it. So I need to consider if violence is appropriate to include in the trailer determining on my plot, and if I think that the violence would make my trailer appear un-professional or would give too much away, what possible alternatives I could use…which comes across in my next question/answers…

Do you think that subtle hints at violence may be more effective than just seeing it? 

General answer??

Well generally this was just a ‘yes’ but some did supply reasons to their answers, and many were very understandable:

‘Yes because it doesn’t give too much of the film away.’

‘Yes it’s a better idea because it keeps us guessing and is more exciting.’

‘Subtle violence is often the most scary. So definitely a yes.’

How will these help me??

 Well this has solved my problem that was generated in the previous answers. I now know that audiences do not necessarily need to witness full blown violence in trailers to know that the film itself will be rather violent. I think that, in my case, subtle hints at violence could be the answer to all my problems: subtle violence is easier to film and easier to make look professional, as if I were to show just ‘violence’ special effects would be one of the only ways to make it look realistic, and I do not have the resources to do that in my trailer. So subtle hints at violent actions could be the key, such as used in ‘The Dark Knight’ where the Joker st*bs a man in the eye with a pencil– we don’t actually see the process itself– just a pencil, a head whacked to the table and the pencil’s disappearance and the audience instantly knows what has happened without really witnessing it. Which, as some replies said (and I personally agree with) can be much more effective on an audience as the fact that we are not actually ‘allowed’ to see what happens makes it appear all the more horrifying and gruesome.(which can explain why it is a technique regularly used in thriller films especially).

Do you value music as an important factor for a thriller/revenge trailer? Why? Can you give any ideas as to what kind of music would suit my kind of trailer? 

General answer??

I think every reply said music was a vital component in the trailer. But I did come across some good explanations as to why they thought so and suggestions as to what they thought would fit my trailer:

‘Yes it’s very important. It helps create mood and tells us what the film will be like. I think for your trailer you might need fast paced music for excitement.’

‘Well if it fits in with the type of film then it helps create an atmosphere in the trailer. Use maybe dark music because your plot sounds dark and strange.’

‘Music helps us wonder what’s going to happen next as well as helping us realise the type of film it is. So should use confusing music?? Naw, probably just some fast paced music to let us know your film will be hard to keep up with.’

How will these help me??

 Well this reinforces my theory that music is very very important in trailers as it helps the audience determine the genre and creates tension and this then goes on to hopefully make them want to see the film. If the music goes that is. Make a wrong move on the music side and the trailer could be un-effective and bore audiences. That is something the replies have made clear to me. I need to really really analyse my plot, the entire film before I choose the music I think will fit my trailer. I will have a good wide search on freeplaymusic.com for un-copyrighted tracks when I have completed my trailer and perhaps do trials for various tracks and ask audiences which one works best. And the replies have already given me some ideas: Fast paced, Dark and tension building music that implies my complicated plot and violent characters…

Do you think a voice over would be useful for my trailer? Why? 

General answer??

Thankfully for the person who hates voiceovers in trailers, most replies said a simple ‘no’. And why was this????:

‘NO. Voice overs on trailers are so cheesy. Just no.’

‘No, they take away from the excitement a trailer gives you.’

‘They don’t really fit in with the trailer. They just overlap in and get in the way. No I wouldn’t include personally.’

But then some people said:

‘Well sometimes they can be helpful. To get more information in without actually giving too much away.’

‘They can be good at persuading you to watch the film but sometimes they’re not necessary.’

How will these help me??

 Very helpful. It tells me I’m not alone in my hatred for voice overs. And I’m quite pleased that their reasons are the same as mine: they are ‘cheesy’ and clichéd, and most of the time just ‘overlap’ a trailer without actually working with it. Which takes away the trailers effect that it should have on the audience. And yes, I do understand the arguments of others that they can give extra information to the audiences and persuade them to watch the film but to be honest I think that I’ll wait untill I actually start to draw up ideas for the storyboards for my trailer and then decide whether a voice over would be appropriate. And then maybe I could do two trailers: one with a voice over, one without and then survey the audience and ask them which they prefered.

Do you think dialogue is useful to convey information in a trailer or can it give too much away?

General answer??

Like some of my questions, the answers were pretty similar and one sided:

‘I think dialogue is important in trailers. It helps us understand a lot about the film before we even watch it. Can it give too much away?? Depends. SOmetimes it can. ‘

‘It can give too much away in trailers but it can also be very useful for showing key things about the film. The point is to get the balance of dialogue right- you need it, but not too much or too little.’

‘Don’t overload the trailer with dialogue- that gets boring looks stupid. REAL trailers don’t have huge conversations in. Just remember to keep it short and simple and it’ll probably be effective.’

How will these help me??

So this is helpful: I now know that dialogue is pretty important and that too much dialogue can be equally as bad as too little dialogue. Too much dialogue: audiences get bored, the trailer drags on, tension withers and dies and the audience can be given too much information– which could result in them seeing no point in watching the film. Too little dialogue: then not enough information is given to the audience– they have little ideas of what the film is going to be like, the characters etc and then the audience doesn’t feel like they have enough information to go on or get them interested and then they won’t have any intention to watch the  film. So I need to make the dialogue balance just right: I need to put enough in so that they are interested in seeing what else will happen in the rest of the film but not too much so I give away the entire film. definitely something I have to think carefully when storyboarding my trailer.

So, in conclusion, what have I learnt from the replies I have got??

Well I’ve learnt that conventions of my two genres are important to include so that the audience can rightfully determine what kind of film is being promoted. But not all conventions are entirely necessary…

My protagonist should appear likeable despite the fact he is doing horrendous things- I need to get the audience to perhaps see his side of the story and sympathize with him even if he is not necessarily a ‘good’ character…

Predictable films are boring. And I will try to overcome this with my ‘shocker’ ending. Of course not portrayed in the trailer (giving too much away), but still I want my film/plot to appear unique and stand out to the audience…

I should choose a male protagonist because these proved more popular with audiences and more typical to my genre….

The locations I chose to set my film in should fit my plot and enhance the atmosphere of my trailer- like if I wanted it to appear dark and scary- I’d choose an old run down house….

That the colours black, red and white would be good for a revenge/thriller as they connote the usual things these films contain, like bloodshed, anger and violence, therefore giving me some ideas on title colour choice…

My confusing plot does not matter as such as audiences won’t really need to know about the confusing aspects of my film as they are at the end of the film. And therefore won’t be given away…

And the confusing part of the film is going to be left in as thrillers especially are usually rather confusing…

That in my trailer I should get the main points in, like the revenge theme of the film and the characters introduced to give the audience a taste of the film without giving away too much…

A 50/50 balance between the two genres of revenge and thriller would help get both genres equally conveyed to the audience and a better understanding of the film…

Violence is appropriate in the trailer so that the audience know more of what the film will be like…but it can give too much away about the plot itself so…

Subtle violence is  a better idea for my particular trailer considering my genres and the resources I have to hand…

Music is important for the trailer to be effective so I should be very careful in choosing which track to use for the final outcome…

That I probably won’t include a voice over as audiences generally don’t like them and their ‘cliched’ ways. But I’ll probably trial one just to make sure I don’t eliminate it completely…

Dialogue is important yes. But too much or too little can equally ruin my trailer. So I need to get a good balance of dialogue so that doesn’t happen

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