Monday, 31 January 2011

Thriller audiences

     31 thriller films were released in 2009, and 46 thriller films were released in 2010.  Action, comedy and animation account for 52% of the box office in the UK, whereas thriller only accounts for 4%.  I believe this is because action, comedy and animation are aimed at a wider audience as they are unisex and/or aimed at children.  Referring to the 'genre by gender' diagram, we can straightaway see what types of films are aimed at each genre, and what films are aimed at both.  I think thrillers only account for a small amount of people because loads of films are aimed at those aged 18 and over.  It's very rare for a thriller to be rated 15, however there are a few that are rated 15 such as:

- The Taking of Pelham 123
- The Stepfather
- The Shining
- Devil

However, some films are rated 18 such as: 

- Fatal Attraction
- Marathon Man

Some thrillers are even rated 12 such as:

- He loves me, he loves me not
- Jaws

I think the right age to aim my thriller film out is 15, just because it's the 'middle' age.  A good thriller film should contain the right amount of elements that will create the 'thrill'.  Furthermore, as most of us are 16 and 17, we may have more familiarity with thrillers rated 15.

Animatic jelly babies storyboard analysis

     In today's lesson, me and my group had to construct an animatic storyboard using jelly babies, which will then be our guide in the following lesson, for filming a short scene.  The scene had to be of two people meeting in a room and one sitting down.  Of course this had to be done in a 'thriller' type of way.
     When I first heard about the jellybabies, I assumed that we would be filming the actual footage with them, so this started to make me worry abit.  However, Benard then made it clear that they were only being used for the anamatic story board.  I was taking the pictures of the jellybabies and my group made sure I got as many shots as possible.  Today was much better than constructing our storyboard about the card swap, as I think my group understood our mistakes from last time and are improving as time draws closer to making our actual opening.  As shown in the picture above, we decided to use jellybabies with faces drawn on them, just to add a little bit of life to the storyboard.  We used the yellow one, and the maroon-coloured one on the left side of it.
     When we had all our shots, we headed over to the pc suite to export them onto final cut pro.  Me and my group struggled abit with getting all the pictures into the timeline at once, but eventually got there in the end.  Each picture had a duration of ten seconds and we decided this was way too long so we cut it down to four seconds per picture.  When we played the whole sequence, it turned out that four seconds was better, but it was still too long, so we decided to try two seconds per picture.  We played the whole sequence again and two seconds seemed fine although it was suggested we should try one second per picture.
     One thing we could improve on next time is constructing the dialogue as we will be needing it next lesson.  I think doing this today would of just saved time, but other than that I think everything else went well.  My group worked really quick today and produced a good amount of work.  

Our story board is on the blog below


Animatic jelly babies

Introduction to cameras: Skills

Before we were allowed to film we were taught how to use the cameras and keys things we mustn’t forget when using the cameras. These things were:
  • Ensure memory card is in and battery is fully charged before you start recording
  • Don’t touch the lens of the camera
  • Don’t leave the camera unattended
  • Don’t film in potential dangerous conditions e.g. in the rain
We also learned other things about the camera, such as, only touch the necessary buttons- record, zoom, focus etc, how to adjust the focus and how to adjust the lighting.
We were also giving some guideline of how to use the tripod. These were:
  • Always ensure the camera is properly adjusted and fixed onto the tripod, to avoid the camera dropping off, and also to get steady shots
  • Make sure the legs of the tripod are all balanced out, also to get a steady shot.
  • We can adjust the strength of the tilt and pan with the two knobs on the tripod.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Introduction to editing: Practice film – card game

Our group was given a scenario of a card game, and through film and editing, we had to create suspense.
We were to do a minimum of 12 shots, which had to include: point of view, camera movement, over the shoulder shot,  and an exterme close up. In the end we inlcuded all but one - camera movement, but in our planning we intened to cover all the requirements.
     In the planning we wanted the Mise en Scence to be a small round table in an empty room. That was all that was really need because less says more. As the audience will drawn into only the table where all the suspense is created.
     Another thing we orginally planned was to include all 4 required shots, which everything except the camera movement being done more than once.
     We also planned for the lighting to be dark. We realised that darkness in itself created some level of suspense.

One thing that worked well, was that we all had an understanding of how we could create suspense, e.g. shot/reverse shot, extreme close ups.
     Another thing that worked well for us was that we were able to plan out, through a storyboard, the sequence of our shots, before we started filming.
     Another advantage was that we all had knowledge of how to use the camera, so there were few problems and set-backs in that area.

However, we did encounter many elements that didn’t work well in out filming.
     One was that we didn’t use the time constructively. We were trying to perfect every shot by doing lots of different angles of the same shot and preliminary shots, that we didn’t have time to properly finish the clip, so when our time was running out, we produced poor quality shots towards the end, and wasn’t able to do some of the things we had originally intended.
     Another problem we encountered was with precision and accuracy of continuity. Because we were dealing with cards, when filming the same shot from different angles, we needed to make sure that the same were put down in the same order, but at times we forgot this. This restricted us in editing because in one section of the clip we couldn’t change the camera shot because the cards weren’t the same. This caused the clip to contain a lot less suspense.
     One last problem we had was that we didn’t incorporate many different types of shots. We left out camera movement, close-ups, establishing shots and a few others. This pulled down the quality of our clip.

On the other hand, I am now able to learn from these mistakes and try to overcome these in my opening title sequence. It’s like what they say – what don’t kill you, makes you stronger. Also others in my group may have picked up on mistakes I had not realised, and mention these to avoid making the same mistakes in our opening title sequence. Therefore our final opening title sequence, hopefully, will be much stronger and better quality than this practice clip.   

Thriller Audiences

In 2009 31 thriller movies were released and 46 in 2010. Thriller movies only account for 4% of Box Office whereas Action, animation and comedy account for 52% of Box Office in the UK in 2009, this is because Action and comedy genres are unisex and animation genres include children, so collective these three genres have a wide target audience – age and gender. Thrillers may only account for a small proportion of the box office because their age restrictions are mostly 18+, which greatly decreases the size of the target audience.
      From the 'genre by gender' diagram above, we can derive the information that with thriller audiences and their genders slightly more women than men watch them.

The age certificates for the films listed below are:
  • The Stepfather (2009) – 15
  • Marathon Man – 18
  • The Taking of Pelham 123 – 15
  • What Lies Beneath – 15
  • Jaws (1975) – 12
  • The Shining – 15
  • Psycho – 15
  • Fatal Attraction – 18
  • Déjà vu – 12A
  • He Loves Me He Loves Me Not – 12
From this information we are able to gather that thriller target audiences are generally 15+. So for my title sequence opening I intend to try to appeal to a target audience of 15+.

Structure of Thriller Openings

In film openings there are three basic structures, which are:
·       A narrative opening with the titles running throughout
·       A discrete title sequence
·       Titles over a blank screen, followed by the narrative opening
There is also a fourth type of film opening, which were going to refer to as, stylized editing.

A narrative opening with the titles running throughout is when we are brought straight into the film/story (as narrative means storyline) bringing us straight to locations setting then characters, while the opening titles are shown over the images. An example of this would be ‘Panic Room.’

This video contains the characterises of a narrative opening with titles as we are shown establishing shots, giving location and setting, then we are shown tracking long shots, giving the characters.

A discrete title sequence is a title sequence where the titles are separate from the narrative. An example of this would be, ‘Se7en.’

The music in the opening title sequence of Se7en is unsettling and the titles themselves shudder - shift and move, thus setting the tone of the film and giving the audience a felling to go along with. Discrete title sequences work well because they allow attention to equally be brought to the narrative and the titles.

An example of a title sequence with titles over a blank screen, followed by the narrative opening is ‘Dead Calm.’

(enbed video)

This type of title sequence is good because with no image and just titles it signifies the music.

Lastly, stylized editing is where the titles use a vast majority of edit effects – e.g. zooming - to appear very attractive and entertaining to the audience and gasp there attention. An example of this is ‘Taking of Pelham 123.’

A stylized editing title sequence is very effective because it allows the movie to be up to date with the latest technology thus ensuring that it appeals to it target audience, which in this case in mostly males, as stylized editing opening title sequences are commonly used for action movies.

The type of title sequence I enjoyed the most was discrete title sequences, because they’re not the most commonly used, but when they are used it allows me to appreciate both the narrative and the forces behind the movie.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

The Art of the Title Sequence: Catch Me If You Can

The storyboard of the opening title sequence for Catch Me If You Can
 In this lesson we went on, a website that allowed me to browse through many different successful movie opening title sequences. One title sequence that stuck out to me was ‘Catch Me If You Can’ whose creative directors were Kuntzel and Deygas.

The style of the titles is in a form of animation and connects itself by a line from one or some letters to the animation of the background. The titles say the name of the movie, actors, Production Company and the co-operators in the movie. The whole title sequence in the form of animation, therefore it contains multiple images, but still very skilfully incorporates titles, not over the images, but either strategically placed in the animated background (e.g. ‘Tom Hanks’ title) or is drawn from the background by lines (e.g. ‘Christopher Walken’ title). This title sequence uses mostly long shots and establishing shots. This title sequence appealed to me because I was glued to watching the wonderful designs and animations of the credits, also it describes the topic of the movie, which is what a good credit sequence must do, but in a symbolic way - describe what it’s going to happen in the film, or what is going to be about. 

Font Analysis

The type of font used in a movie is very crucial in portraying the theme and setting the tone of the movie, especially in the title sequence. So the type of font used is carefully thought about in order to reflect the movie appropriately, which is something I plan to do when making my opening title sequence.

There are ultimately two types of fonts: Serif fonts and Sans Serif fonts.
Serif fonts
     Serif fonts, e.g. Times New Roman and Courier, contain ‘sharp edges’ are more traditional. The ‘sharp edges’ on serif fonts generally give connotations as more elegant and formal.
Sans Serif fonts
     Sans Serif fonts are fonts such as Ariel and Comic Sans more generally hold connotations of soft, warm and friendly. This is because in French ‘sans’ means ‘without’ so Sans Serif fonts don’t have any ‘sharp edges’ giving them and softer approach.

Understanding the power of fonts, directors choose carefully which font to use for their movies, in order to generate the right representation. One movie that has thoughtfully chosen their font is ‘Rocky’ (1976). The font used for ‘Rocky’ is Franklin Gothic Heavy. This font connotes adjectives such as: hard, touch, strong, blunt and manly. This font was probably used because it very much mirrors the theme of the movie and represents the main character Rocky, also this font easily set the tone of the movie are hard and manly, as it was about boxing.
     Another film that carefully chose their font is ‘Pearl Harbour.’ ‘Pearl Harbour’ uses the font Palatino, which supports this movie, because this font depicts the seriousness of the movie, as it was about war, but also demonstrates the elegance show by the characters. 

Neville Brody, a successful graphic designer, typographer and art director explains what makes a good film font: “FONT CONVEY AN EMOTION WITHOUT ACTUALLY HAVING TO SAY THE WORDS.” This is something that I wholly agree with, so in making my own opening title sequence I will try to choose a font that will be able to emote to my audience.  

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Documentary on Film Openings

     After watching the documentary, I began to gain a deeper understanding of why a good beginning is so vital in a film.  Thomas Sutcliffe states 'Films need to seduce their audience into long term commitment.  While there are many types of seduction, the temptation to go for instant arousal is almost irresisitble'  By saying this, I believe he means you have to get the viewers' full attention, especially with the beginning as the rest of the film depends on it.  However, at the same time, too much cannot be revealed as the audience need a little knowledge about what will be happening.
     Director Jean Jacques Beineix argues that the viewers should not be exposed to the information so quickly, as the film has just begun and it may not maintain their level of interest later on.  He states 'A good beginning must make the audience feel that it doesn't know nearly enough yet, and at the same time make sure it doesn't know too little.'  He believes that the audience are still establishing the characters and the storyline itself, so because they're adjusting to it, they should be 'teased' with something that will keep them engaged.

Critic Stanley Kauffmann describes a classic opening as a film that goes from a large scale to a small scale.  It should normally begin with an estabilishing shot, then zoom into a close-up of a building, and then zoom into the actual building throw a window.  A perfect example of this is 'Panic Room', and it works because it's so simple - it doesn't give too much away or too little.

Kyle Cooper's title sequence to the film 'Seven' is very effective because it doesn't reveal anything about the actual storyline but it gives away what sub-genre it's going to be.  The music also contributes to this and because it foreshadows later events/sub-genres, the audience may feel as if they know a little about the film.  It's as if the small information you know is a taster of the film, and as curiosity is created, this draws the viewers in so they can find out more about the film.  Adding to that, the titles are small and the use of the black and white, make it really stand out (binary opposition).  The flashing lights and darkness remind me of an x-ray and this could also be linked to the sub-genre of the film.

Orson Welles wanted his film 'A Touch Of Evil' to jump straight into the film without the opening credits, however Universal Studios failed to agree with this so they added them on anyway.  Some may say they 'damaged' Orson's
film, but they believe that they were doing what was best as it was too risky to not stick to the original plan. 

Several directors create good openings by using the 'favourite trick of Film Noir'.  The trick is that the beginning of the film is also the ending of the film.  I believe that the trick allows the audience to know the ending of the story before the film starts, and then allows them to understand the full story of what had just happened.  One film that does this is 'Casino'. The film opens with Robert De Niro walking to his car, and once he's in the car, it blows up.  This leaves the audience asking questions as they are going to want to know why his car blew up, if it was planned, etc and as the film progresses, they will probably realise what the reason was.

Another film with a great opening is 'The Shining'.  It automatically creates suspense as little things start to go wrong.  The car is being followed by the camera movements almost as if it's a predator, and this sends signals to the audience about the car's whereabouts - the viewers want to know if the car is headed in the wrong direction.  Use of mis en scene and camera shots really contribute to creating suspense.

The Shining opening credits

Se7en opening credits

 A Touch of Evil opening credits

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Analysing 3 scenes in detail - 'The Stepfather'

When watching 'The Stepfather' in class, to be quite honest a lot of the scenes had me scared but I've narrowed it down to the three I think contained the most suspense.

The opening scene really caught my eye, especially as we had watched this scene before watching the full movie in a previous lesson.  After only five minutes into the film, I remember saying to myself that I would like to see the full movie.  The scene shows the man shaving off his beard and basically changing his identity.  We see a glance of sharp shiny objects and this really stands out in contrast to everything else as the viewers are left curious about what he plans to do with these objects - he goes on to just shave, but towards the ending of the film, similar objects are shown which are used as weapons against the family.  The stepfather then accidentally cuts himself when shaving his beard, but something seems weird about it.  He shows no sign of emotion or pain, which could be seen as normal as he may just have a high tolerance of pain.  I believe he's experienced this type of pain before which is why he handles it in the calm and relaxed way he does.  This creates suspense as it introduces his 'vindictive' side.  The sight of blood also creates suspense because it symbolises the use of blood that will be used later on in the film.
Another bit of the opening scene that had a high level of suspense was when what the stepfather has done to his previous family is revealed.  We see him making toast, and then going to rinse a mug in one side of the sink, but as the camera rolls over we see sharp tools and blood on the other side of the sink.  The use of binary opposition automatically creates suspense as he is just acting as if things are normal.  The use of non-digetic music in the background also creates suspense because 'Silent Night' is supposed to be a Christmas carol, a peaceful song, and the fact that's it associated with him may symbolise how he always gets his way in the end (bad overtaking good - binary opposition).  Another thing that creates suspense in this scene is when we see one of the family members he has murdered - the little boy.  Similar to the music, the stepfather seems to be very calm with the outcome of his previous plan.  After packing his bags and leaving the house full of a dead family, when he gets in his car he removes the small patch over his shaving cut and flicks it away.  When the car starts to drive away, a dramatic sound was used and a close up of the tyre was used too.  This also created suspense.

Another scene where suspense is created is when the stepfather Michael kills the old lady.  Suspense was first created when he drove past her house twice: the first time he greeted her, the second time he gave her a very sinister look which allowed the viewers to see he wants to hurt her.  When we're taken to the scene of her death, somebody rings her doorbell at first and a false plateau is used.  The old lady opens the door reluctantly and believes nobody is there, but we can see that he is inside the house and is looking at her from a point of view shot.  The audience are now expecting something to happen.  After she's closed the door and taken a few steps, one of her pitch black cats jump out and it's eyes are a very bright yellow as well as the very white teeth.  The use of binary opposition creates suspense here.  After she tries to go after her cat, she walks straight into the stepfather's trap, and this was a very high level of suspense as she was totally unaware of this.  I was literally at the edge of my seat from the moment the cat jumped out, because it was clear that he was going to murder, we just weren't sure how he was going to do it.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Favourite Thriller Movie of all time....

I actually didn't know this was a thriller, until one day on sky Thriller movie channel screened it....

Gran Torino (2008)

This film stars and is directed by Clint Eastwood; Who plays a recently widowed war-veteran who is diagnosed with cancer. The character Walt is a bitter and very set in his ways. He has strong views about religion and the way men should be. He begins to develop a good rapport with his neighbours through the son + daughter of a Hmong family (a ethnicity from an asian decent). 

I will not reveal to much... but basically the film changes the character. What's a thriller without a death right? This film contains false plateau, dramatic Irony which are the classic combination for a thriller.  

Unlike Alfred Hitchcocks, "Psycho", "Gran Torino" uses a variety of weapons, for example; guns and a baseball bat. Which is quite normal in modern day thrillers. The use of weapons make us know or judge a character quite easily. Which I would like to take in to consideration when filming our final opening title sequence. 
Just like in "stephfather" (2009), props can really help us judge a character quickly.


Intertexuality is a term used to describe when certain aspects of a film are borrowed from another film.  It's very rare to find a film that is 100% original, nowadays.  To me, intertexuality is quite interesting because even if one little aspect is borrowed from a movie, it could make another film really wonderful.  Others may find it useful as they may have enjoyed one aspect of a film so much, they would like to see it in a different film again, maybe used in a different way.

Going back to the 1960's, Alfred Hitchcock's famous film 'Physco' was a very original and successful thriller film.  Loads of thriller films have borrowed particular aspects from this film, mostly in the famous shower scene.  Here are 4 examples: 

- What lies beneath
- The stepfather
- Fatal attraction
- Succubus (student thriller)

What Lies Beneath

Most of the film is set in the bathroom, or well the major scenes, and similarly to 'Physco' the woman is the victim, and the same type of camera shots are used, e.g. close ups on the innocent women.  Both films have the men as the killers, which may symbolic of men being dominant characters in thrillers.  Both films also contain the water running which builds up to the victims being attacked. 

The Stepfather
 The shower scene from 'The Stepfather' is almost a replica of the shower scene from 'Psycho'.  Not only is the use of the big knife used, but the way the stepfather was positioned is very similar to where the killer in Psycho was standing.  The way the shower curtain is ripped is also another replica, as most of the same shots were used.

Fatal Attraction
As the others, one clear thing that has been borrowed from Psycho is the use of the big knife and the portrayal of the woman being the helpless victim.  However, unlike other films, the woman as the victim fights back and attempts to stab the guy.

Succubus (student thriller)
I really like what these students have done because it's as if they 'remixed the original'.  Aspects similar to Psycho are of course the big knife, use of blood and the shower scene - the person in the shower is also unaware of what's going to happen.  The dramatic music also only occurs when the stabbing does.  However, instead of the blonde woman being the victim, she turns out to be the killer!  Most thriller films love to portray the woman as the victim so I think it was nice seeing a different approach for a change.

Title Sequence Analysis

What Lies Beneath (2000)
Title sequence of "What Lies Beneath" is a very repetitive title sequence (I will explain further on).

Traditionally in a title sequence they try to cram the names of important people at the beginning. These companies depend on the success of the film because they invest in the production and supply the funds. The information that is mostly included in the title sequence are:

  • Distributor
  • Production company
  • Titles
  • main actors
  • Extra actors
  • Casting Director
  • Costume Director
  • Musical director
  • Editor
  • Product design (mise en scene)
  • Executive Producers
  • Director of Photography
  • Plus more....
Normally the title sequence occurs at the start and sometimes overlaps the start of the film. Just before the start of the film footage the title of the film appears just to remind you what the films called. 

 Here is a Time line from the start of the title sequence to the end. I custom made this to emphasise the repetition of the films titles. 

Notice how "20th Century fox" appear twice... quite greedy I think. 

I particularly like this title sequence because it's short and doesn't bore the audience to death with names of people who we probably do not know.  Unlike the images provided above, in the actual title sequence of "What lies beneath" they change the colour and look of the companies known logos to suit the ambience/mood of the film. Dominantly the colours are deep/blue's which almost seamlessly fade into the start of the film footage. 

Filming and editing the card swap


Last thursday, with the story we had from the previous lesson, we could finally film and then edit our short sequence.  Me and Jazzine were the actresses in the short film, while Natalie and Vanessa took turns to film us.  There was quite alot of time wasted whilst we were deciding who should act, nevertheless, when the filming began, we watched a few playbacks of some clips to see how they looked, and weren't scared to voice our opinions about what we think worked and didn't work.  We tried our best to get loads of different angle shots for each shot, as we needed a minimum of twelve shots in total.

During our filming, there was quite alot of laughter but me and Jazzine tried our best to maintain any funny business until the end of the sequence so it could then be cut off when editing, and could even also be kept so at the end of our final film, we can look back and see how it was when we first began.  We ended up getting a range of shots and I was really happy with most of them, however, when we began to edit, it turned out that we hadn't taken as many shots as we thought we had.

Whilst filming, we tried our best to include all four shots that were required: extra close up; point of view shot; over the shoulder shot and a tracking shot, but failed to include the tracking shot.  We did plan to get a tracking shot around the table but never had anytime to get round to filming this.  


I've had previous experiencing with editing but on Windows Movie Maker and a little with iMovie.  I also had a little with final cut pro when we first edited the 'bait tutorial'.  We had approximately 23 shots filmed, so it was fairly easy to watch and see which ones we thought would go well together.  We never got the time to finish filming our intended ending sequence so we had to work with what we had.  To the left is a picture of all four of us watching the clips, and below is what we were watching at the time.

In my opinion, one element that worked well was the point of view shot(s), as it created suspense and looked very effective.  Another one was the extreme close up for the same reasons and I really love the use of binary opposition between me and Jazzine's faces.  One other element that worked well was the use of over the shoulder shots.  I think these 3 shots should be included in the final piece as I can see them working really well in the thriller gene.  3 things that didn't work so well: the way it ended, it could of been more clearer; the lack of sound didn't really help it to be exciting; and I think it could of been longer.

Thriller Sub Genres

Its been some time since I posted my last blog. My bad. In any case, the topic in hand in this blog is Sub-genres. 

To me a thriller is a thriller, there is no two ways about it. Its either a thriller or it isn't. After watching different "thrillers" like "Gran Torino", "Inception", "Stepfather", it has become more obvious that there is sub-genres. Here's my ever growing list of thriller sub-genres that I actually know of:

Action Thriller (2003)
  • Action-Thriller
  • Psychological-Thriller
  • Crime-Thriller
  • Romance-Thriller
  • Supernatural-Thriller 
  • Spy-Thriller
  • Comedic-Thriller
The common dominator in all of these is that they all create suspense and dramatic irony in different ways that conform to their sub-genre. 
For example: Crime-Thrillers have the original "who done it" storyline. Usually the investigators have leads but most of them are dead ends. Miraculously a lead would turn up which the audience already knew and catch the thief. 

Personally, I don't have a particular sub-genre I like, I am more interested in the plot and how it pans out. If I was FORCED to choose it would probably be Action-Thriller because they are adrenaline pumping films. They make me leave my analytical mind out the door and just watch the emphatic climax's they can sometimes create. 
However my list is relatively small compared to the lists of titles on different websites.
The first website below displays and explains the various other sub-genres. Some I have never heard of! Like, "Film-Noir"  which is basically a dark gangster film. You learn something everyday. 

On wikipedia they have an extensive list with examples.

Introduction to camera: SKILLS

Two lessons ago, we were finally allowed to get our hands on the cameras and use them.  We were told to sit in our groups so we could all learn the basic 'do's and donts' of using the camera.  Some of these include:

- DON'T forget the memory card inside the camera as this may allow others to access your work
- DON'T leave the camera unattended
- DON'T touch the lense of the camera
- DON'T use the camera if the weather may harm it, e.g rain unless protection can be provided

- DO secure the camera on the tripod so it's strapped tightly
- DO return the camera on time, as it may mess up the schedule for others
- DO use a media card when borrowing the camera

We were also taught about the important things on how to use the camera itself, how to insert the battery and memory card correctly, how to use the focus of the camera and change it (auto focus and manual focus), and how to adjust the tripod correctly.

After learning the rules of handling the camera, each group was given a task out of the three (a game of cards, reading a newspaper, or a bag swap) and had to plan in the lesson and film in the following lesson.  My group had to film a game of cards, and we had about an hour and 30 minutes to construct a storyboard.  We decided to have no speech at all in it, because we thought it would be more effective.  Sadly, we have no pictures of our storyboard, but the main thing we had to do was take a plain scenario and make it interesting on film.

Practice film (Card Swap) analysis

In yesterday's lesson, me and my group used final cut pro and sound pro for the first time.  It was really exciting and beneficial, as we got to edit our short film that we had filmed from the previous lesson, and we got a small idea of how things will work when editing our final piece.  Using final cut pro, allowed us to cut out all the bits that we didn't want in our sequence, and also allowed us to preview our sequence as a whole before actually saving it.

We didn't get any time to add some sound into our short film but we did get to play about with loads and hear how different sound effects fitted the sequence.  In my opinion, I think the lack of sound makes the film a little less interesting, and this is one of the things I think I would change if I had the chance to do this again.  Not having sound also showed me how important sound is in a film sequence, and I'd like to take this knowledge towards the making of our final film.

We also had the chance to add subtext(s) to our film with different transitions, but as we were asked to focus on sound, we never really had any time to include some.

Our practice film is on the blog below.

Friday, 21 January 2011

How suspense is created in 'What Lies Beneath'?

Suspense is the growing interest and excitement felt while awaiting a climax or resolution. This is what keeps an audience "at the of their seats" in a thrilller movie. A great example of the use of suspense is in What Lies Beneath, here is how it is done: 

The film first begins with a grey back ground with mist appearing in the foreground. As soon as the fog appears, there is a sense of mystery as if something is coming. As titles (written in a white misty/ghostly font) fade in, shadows arise in the background revealing branches and a man. As the identity of the man is unknown, it makes the viewers feel anxious but draws them in. The shadows disappear along with the titles, which yet again is mysterious. Further into the opening, the title of the film appear as a reflection on water; this creates tension as anything could be beneath the dark water. After the title fades, a pair of dark eyes arise from beneath the water. The eyes look as though they belong to a ghostly figure from the dark skin and wet hair. As the ghostly female figure appeared so sudden, it gives the audience a fright but still drawn to the film as her identity is unknown until she arises...

The figure is revealed to be middle aged woman taking a bath; this is the start of the film. The female character tries to turn on her hair dryer but jumps when it suddenly clicks back on; this suggests she is a vulnerable character which leaves viewers wondering what would happen to her.

The non-diegetic music that accompanies the opening add to the tension, the eerie music begins before the opening with builds up through the titles (crescendo). This creates "nail biting" tension as it seems as though something is coming. The music is the main root of suspense as it gives the audience an uneasy feeling before the opening has begun.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

List of Thriler sub-genres

Thriller is a type of genre used in films that uses suspense and tension. A genuine thriller should provide thrills and cliff-hangers to keep the audience at the "edge of their seats" as the plot builds towards a climax.

The thriller genre can include the following sub-genres, which may include elements of other genres:
  • Conspiracy thriller e.g. Edge of Darkness
  • Crime thriller e.g. Silence of the Lambs
  • Disaster thriller e.g. The Day After Tomorrow
  • Erotic thriller e.g. Basic Instinct
  • Legal thriller e.g. A Few Good Men
  • Medical thriller e.g. Anatomy
  • Mystery thriller e.g. Unforgettable
  • Political thriller e.g. Rendition
  • Psychological thriller e.g. Red Eye
  • Rape and revenge films  e.g. The Last House on the Left
  • Religious thriller e.g. Angels and Demons
  • Supernatural thriller e.g. The Others
  • Techno thriller e.g. The Matrix
The sub-genre which inspires me the most is a psychological thriller as the conflict between the main characters is mental and emotional, rather than physical. This affects the audience in a deep and emotional way as they cannot relate to the killer. I would love this to be the genre of our group opening of a thriller. 

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The title sequence is the method most films use to present their title, key production and members of the cast.  It is usually followed by the opening credits.  It gives the audience a better insight on all the people who contributed to the making of this film.  The order of appearance for the information given in the title sequence differs with various films.

Title sequence opening of Pelham 123 in order:

#1 Distributors : Columbia Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures
#2 Production Company : Scott Free / Escape artists
#3 Film Supervisors : Tony Scott
#4 Main actors : Denzel Washington & John Travolta

#5 Title : The taking of Pelham 1 2 3
#6 Setting of the scene
#7 Other actors
#8 Casting director
#9 Costume designer
#10 Music supervisor
#11 Co-executive producers
#12 Editor
#13 Production designer
#14 Director of photography
#15 Executive producers
#16 Producers
#17 Current time  

This title sequence inspires me because it really blends in well with the movie. The same font used in the poster is used for the information provided, and the use of binary opposition doesn't only make them both look good, but because of the pace they move in, as well as the pace the scenes move in, curiousity and suspense is automatically created in less than 5 minutes into the film.  Adding to that, the mixture of digetic and non-digetic sound contributes towards the good opening.  It provides the information about the film's background and still keeps the audience engaged with the little clips shown in between.  I believe it achieves all the aspects needed for a successful title sequence.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Sub-Genres of Thrillers

Thrillers tend to use suspense, excitement and tension as the main elements in most of their films.  Some say that if the film does not thrill, it's not a successful thriller.  They're also known to keep the audience at the edge of the seat whilst building towards the climax of the film - the audience must always be engaged!  The primary sub-genres of thrillers are mystery, crime and psychological.  Here are some more examples:

- Action thrillers such as 'Enemy of the state'
- Conspiracy thrillers such as 'Snake Eyes'
- Crime thrillers such as 'Seven'
- Disaster thrillers such as '2012'
- Erotic/Romance thrillers such as 'In the cut'
- Legal thrillers such as 'A time to kill' 
- Mystery thrillers such as 'Angels and Demons'
- Political thrillers such as 'Seven days in May'
- Psychological thrillers 'Shutter Island'
- Supernatural thrillers such as 'What Lies Beneath'
- Sci-Fi thrillers such as Momento
- Techno thrillers such as 'Virtuosity

One thriller film that inspires me is the 2010 supernatural thriller called 'Devil'.  One of the reasons why I love this film is because even though it's a supernatural thriller, the plot of the whole film is so realistic (people aren't always what they seem to be) and I also loved the way 5 people who didn't know each other were forced to work as a team in order to stay alive.  Another reason why it's such a great film is because of the setting.  The lack of props didn't affect the film at all, and even though there were glimpses of other settings, the main characters were all inside one small lift.  Adding to that, speaking from personal experience, I was literally at the edge of my seat.  It followed all the rules needed to be a successful thriller (deaths, blood, darkness, eerie sounds etc) and when it reached it's climax, it was totally unexpected, as you would never have thought the devil would of been the person it was - there were loads of false plateaus.  The film really plays with the mind and creates alot of suspense in such a small amount of space.

Trailer for Devil 

What Lies Beneath - How Suspense is Created

One of the techniques that automatically create suspense in the opening of 'What Lies Beneath' is the use of sound.  There is an eerie type of music running throughout the whole scene and this straightaway leaves the viewer wondering what is about to occur.  Adding to that, there seems to be some sort of smoke floating in the background or it may be water, either way this fits well with the eerie sound (non-digetic) as it is quite anticipating.  Another technique used to create suspense is the use of binary opposition with the writing.  When the credits first appear, the font used is a very dominant and bold white and this stands out against the very dark background.  In addition, when the actual title of the movie appears, it is faded on very slowly and this is really effective because it's almost as if the title itself is laying beneath the smoke/water.  This again contributes to creating suspense as it's leaving the viewers with curiousity. When the scene actually begins, a woman is being shown sitting up in a bath tub. This starts with a close up of her and then zooms out quickly to a wide shot.  The closeup shows the woman in a different light with darkness surrounding her and a very pale grey face.  The fast change from the close up to the wide shot creates suspense as it's unclear if the woman that was shown at the end of the title scene, is the same person as the woman in the bathtub.  On top of this, the sound also contributes as the fast pace and the sound being put together will again make the viewer wonder what's going on or what's about to go on.  As the scene goes on, we see the woman in the tub fully as a wide shot / long shot is being used.  The camera slowly zooms in and all the viewers can hear is the woman panting and gasping for breath (maybe even sighing of relief).   The digetic sound we hear of her gasping for breath builds up some suspense as the audience are unaware of what happened, and would like to know more.  Towards the ending of the clip, a hairdryer is introduced into the scene.  The first sight of the hairdryer automatically creates suspense because she's in a bathroom where water is around.  When the woman starts to use the hairdryer, first it stops working and then when she tries to fiddle with the circuits to fix the problem, a spark/shock occurs, but the hairdryer turns back on.  The shock she experienced could be seen as a 'warning' or a hint to the audience that something bad is about to happen. During this, there's also a lack of sound because we hear nothing but the hairdryer, and we see the woman trying to dry her mirror, almost in a little world of her own.  Although she has no idea of what's about to happen, the audience do.  These are other ways of how suspense is created.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Title sequence analysis: Memento

The title sequence allows the audience to gain knowledge on the creators and all who helped the making of the movie. Titles sequences can come either at the start or end of a movie, and the order of the information giving in the title sequence varies with different movies.
The opening title sequence of Memento goes as follows:
  1. Distributors – New Market and Summit Entertainment
  2. Production company – Team Todd
  3. Film Supervisors
  4. Name of Film - Memento
  5. Names of stars and actors
  6. Casting Directors
  7. Music Supervisor
  8. Costume Designer
  9. Editor
  10. Production Designer
  11. Director of Photography
  12. Co-Producer
  13. Co-Executive Producers
  14. Producers
  15. Screenplay Supervisor
  16. Based on the story by…
  17. Director

This title sequence inspires me because it gives all the necessary information, while the font used for the title sequence and the way it appears on screen, keeps the pace slow by slowly appearing and creating suspense, making it highly suited for that movie and its genre.