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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