Group 1: Dark Summer

Preliminary Group 2C: Pens

Monday, May 24, 2010

Note to the Moderator

Dear Moderator,

Thanks for taking the time to look around my blogs. It's been a long process, but hopefully it's been worth it! My group blog is linked to my individual blog. The link to the group blog is on the left hand side, along with the other guys in my group (Winnie, Michael and Jess.) Other links you can find there are for our teacher's central blog which is BLK Blog, which has links to all the other student and group blogs.

On my individual blog you can find all of my individual research, initial ideas and planning which was mainly done in the beginning of the project, before I started with my group. There is also work from the preliminary task, which includes the video clip, reflections on the project and answers to the evaluation questions.

I have also linked my finished film opening sequence at the top of my individual blog and the group one.

I hope you can get around the blogs easily and enjoy looking at all our work. I've organised all my work chronilogiaclly on my blog and we did the same on the group blog. I have used labels to identify my Research, Planning, Production and Evaluation that I have completed on my individual blog. We have done the same on our group blog and also labelled the posts we were individually responsible for, so for example posts that I have done say 'Published by Anisah.'

Thanks, again for looking at my blog

Anisah Audu
Candidate Number 4055

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Blog Closed!

This blog is now closed.
It's been a long, hard, fun task to do and it's finally over!
My work can be navigated using the links on the left hand side of the page.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Question 7: Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?

Preliminary Task:

Continuity task involving filming and editing a character:
  • opening a door
  • crossing a room
  • sitting down opposite another character
  • a couple lines of dialogue
  • demonstrate match on action, shot/reverse shot and 180 degree rule
Main Task:

Sequence must include:
  • titles throughout
  • some form of copyright-free soundtrack, including SFX
  • evidence of understanding of continuity editing
  • clear generic signifiers through character, action, MES, dialogue
Sequence should be based on:
  • a single narrative event or idea
  • only a few characters
  • one location ideally
  • Things to think about:

            1) We had many problems when it came to editing because we did not film everything in  a master shot. When filming the preliminary task, we were focussed solely on fulfilling the brief, but as we wanted to create an interesting opening, I think at times we may have strayed from simple tasks. This meant we had to re-shoot, or add effects. e.g. We added a 'ghosting' effect when Zoe runs away, as she was too far forward and the shot before wouldn't match on action.

            2) Our actress forgot vital parts of her costume, so we spent a lot of time waiting for her to bring the right clothing. In future we should definitly make clear to each other what is expected so we don't waste time sorting everything out.

            3) Using techniques like match-on-action. various angles, cutaways and many others, we gave the audience some variety, so that it wasn't boring camera work. Techniques such as zooms and pans along with a stationary camera provides the audience with different viewpoints and encapsulates them, so that they can engage in the narrative. e.g. The cutaways (pictured right) provide the audience with different point of views; looking on at Zoe, then from the stranger's perspective. Again, we are faced with the binary opposites of interior and exterior, which give create enigma as we know what is inside but not what lurks in the world outside.


            1) We tried to do paperwork, such as shot logs, storyboards, shot lists and a script, all of which were very useful in preparing for the shoot. It meant that we didn't have to stand around thinking about what to shoot and when.

            2) As we filmed in Michael's house, it meant that we had permission to access any areas and it was easy to get there on shoots, as he lives in close proximity to everyone in our group.

            3) Allocating roles was on the most part simple, as we took it in turns to film and edit so roles were generally shared out between us. It was important to try to include everyone, so that it could be a proper group project as opposed to people standing back (although this happened quite a lot at first)
    Creating Impact Films on Adobe              Preparing Paperwork with Michael

    Winnie and I taking care of equipment

            1) I found that the main reasons (apart from continuity errors) that we ended up re-shooting so much was that we didn't use our common sense. We were too focussed on the pleasing the audience's expectations and trying to create seamless continuity that at many times we failed to think logically about what we were actually filming. For example, in our first cut, Zoe looks around the room slowly, even though she was previously running frantically. It is as if she has forgotten the purpose of why she went outside.

    Similarly, in the prelim, it was unclear why my character was strange- there was no reason, even though it was funny. In the end, I think we were able to rectify the problems in Dark Summer, so the events were logical and made sense but still interested the audience.
    Overall, through gathering feedback from teachers and audience members, we have been able to achieve a narrative that follows the brief. I have learnt that it important to plan and research, as this is vital to give any audience something that they want. To create a media product that would be successful in the media industry, it is important to think about continuity and practicality as everything needs to make sense in order for anyone to understand and for the product to attract attention.

    Question 6: What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this project?

    As I had worked with most of the hardware and software before, I found it quite easy to use. The only difficulties I had were figuring out some settings on the digital camera, which did not prevent me from filming what was needed.

    What have I learnt?
    It is important to always save the project. Due to malfunctions with software and alot of transferring between programmes it was very easy to lose work. Luckily, when we did, the changes were easy to restore.

    Placing the camera in  the right place is vital. Many shots needed perfect framing, which was hard to get. The tripod came in quite handy for these, as it allowed us to get the camera in the exact position that we needed it.

    How to use different programmes properly, such as LiveType and Adobe Flash. Before this project, I didn't know a lot about Adobe Flash but I'd like to think I would be confident to use it in future projects.

    The importance of creativity. All our ideas worked well and I'm really happy with the Impact Films and BFE Production titles. These are original ideas, which make the sequence individual. Most of all the BFE title makes the whole sequence look slightly more professional, but the Impact Films connotes the edgy brand that we were aiming for.


    Question 5: How did you attract/address your audience?

    Firstly, we placed a member of the target audience (teenage girl) in the film, so that any viewer could identify with her or her situation.

    Women in thrillers often portray a vulnerable character:

    Examples of films with women:

    Popular films such as Halloween (Carpenter, 1798), Scream (Craven, 1999), Babysitter Wanted (Manesseri, 2008), Hostel Part 2 (Roth, 2007) etc all use women who are attacked in some way by powerful men. 

    Women tend to be vulnerable, crying and even though locations may be familar, they are not normal to the character. (ie a babysitter in somebody else's house.) The sense of familiarity can be important for an audience. Even though films such as Avatar (Cameron, 2009) are successful because they break the boundaries, using futuristic locations and effects, it's always a good idea to have films that viewers can relate to, which is what Dark Summer does.

    We chose a topic that was relevant to society. The audience can relate to Dark Summer as there have been many cases involving kidnapping in the media. The Madeleine McCann case is still fresh in everyone's minds, as she disappeared 3 years ago and the story was publicised so much. She was taken from her bedroom while her parents were near, similar to how Summer is kidnapped from her own home while Zoe is only one floor below. 

    Other stories such as the Joseph Fritzel case are even scarier, as the victim's kidnapper was her own father. This shows that nobody is safe-in this case, not even from parents. When watching Dark Summer, the audience could draw on this case when wondering about the identity of the stranger.

    Audience Gratifications:

              As there have been real life cases on kidnapping, the narrative can shed some light on these situations and engage the audience.

    Social Interaction: 
              >During the screening of Dark Summer, I noticed that when the masked man first appeared, many people were whispering about this. 
              >Important parts provide a basis for social interaction, when the audience are intrigued by what they see.

              >Pass time by watching an interesting film. 
              >Escapism; many people won't have experienced kidnapping or be able to identify with it, so it allows them to understand.
              >There are many twists in the opening, such as the man at the window and simply Summer being gone. The audience have more knowledge that Zoe, but this knowledge is incomplete, so enigma builds up which engages the audience.

    We used different platforms to attract the young audience. As nearly all of the audience use the internet, we thought it would be a good idea to post an event on Facebook, a platform that is used worldwide. The internet is an example of cross media convergence, as all kinds of platforms come together for anyone to use.

    Examples of websites we used include:

    By advertising on Facebook, we were able to get a reasonably large audience who gave feedback.
    I designed a notice that went around form groups, reminding them of the screening, as well.

    They were all able to identify:
    • The name of the film as Dark Summer
    • The genre as Horror or subgenre of Thriller
    • The target audience as teenagers or young adults
    Many suggested darker lighting, although this would have made the shots grainer.
    Nearly everyone gave the film a high rating and said they would like to watch Dark Summer in the future, which indicates we addressed our audience well.

    Question 4: Who would be the audience for your media product?

    We chose to make our film a 15. This would mean that anyone over 15 years old can legally watch, so we have already limited our audience. However, our core audience is 15-28 year olds and the secondary is 28-38 years old. We have not tried to broadcast to the audience as the narrative and characters appeal to both genders and as we have not used any offensive content (such as racism, sexism etc.) we should be able to reach a large audience, which would help to maximise profits. 

    We have the expertise to appeal to a young age group, as we are teenagers ourselves and know what the majority want. By using platforms such as Facebook, Youtube and Blogger we are appealing to young people who are used to the technological convergence.

    Example of someone who would enjoy Dark Summer:

    Question 3: What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?

    BFE Productions are a high budget production company providing the funding for the film. It is a British company, specialising in British films. They produce high budget films as well as low budget independent ones, with companies like Impact Films. Reel is the parent company (similar to Dreamworks & SKG)

    Impact Films is an independent production company, who have collaborated with BFE. As they are a smaller company, they have less capital available so BFE has provided contributed more to costs of production.  This means that BFE productions are able to expand their audience to the indie fans who would what Impact Films, but Impact Films also have BFE's audience to target. This means that both companies can broadcast, rather than narrowing the audience so they have a bigger chance of profiting. This is a good example of vertical integration and symbiosis. 

    As there is no distributor, we would hope to have Dark Summer entered in a film festival. Cannes and Toronto would probably aiming too high, so it would make sense to try the Raindance Film Festival in London, which is the biggest independent film festival in London and has premiered fims such as The Blair Witch Project - a thriller produced on a low budget, like Dark Summer. We could also enter into Sundance andThe London Film Festival, which houses world cinema. This would be a good idea for us, as it could help expand into foreign markets and if we were to successfully pick up a distributor we could achieve mainstream success and exhibit the film in multiplex cinemas.

    The Duchess (Dibb, 2008):
    Like Dark Summer, The Duchess was funded by Pathe, a French company, BBC Films and Qwerty Films (both British). This structure also uses vertical integration, like the synergy between Films and BFE Productions.
    Prom Night (McCormick, 2008):

    Who would distribute our film?

    In order for Dark Summer to achieve any sort of success, we would need to find a distributor:

    Vertigo Films: British film production and film distribution company. Through distribution, the company has many successful films under its belt, such as The Football Factory, (Love, 2004) It's All Gone Pete Tong, (Dowse, 2004) London To Brighton (Williams, 2006) and many others. Securing a deal with a company like this could even mean that in the future Impact or BFE produce more films.
    E1 Entertainment: This company has offices all over the world and currently distributes over 300 independent music and film labels. Recently, the company distributed An Education (Scherfig, 2009) which was nominated for dozens of awards and won a handful. Exposure like this could work wonders for our film and production companies.

    Where would we distribute our film?

    At first, as the film may not be a hit, we would try exhibiting Dark Summer in independent cinemas like The Phoenix or Rio. A typical audience for this kind of exhibitor is slightly older than teenagers but this would not be a problem. As our secondary audience is 28-38 year olds, we would have the chance for them to watch it. It is usually harder to attract older people to watch films anyway, as teens are more likely to go as a social event. 

    If we were successful enough to later be exhibited in mainstream cinemas, we would go for ones such as Vue and Odeon, which are leading cinemas in England.

    Question 2: How does your media product represent particular social groups?

    The social groups that Dark Summer mainly appeals to are AGE and GENDER.

    Zoe is the main character and has the most screen time, so she would be the face of the film. By choosing an attractive female actress, we not only appeal to the female audience, but also the males who may find her aesthetically pleasing. Jennifer's Body (Cody, 2009) starred Megan Fox as the lead character, who's sex appeal meant that males were more likely to watch the film. Our actress, Melis Celik, does not act as sexy as Fox and her vulnerability and nice attitude means that she can appeal to both sexes.

    In Dark Summer, Zoe who is 18 is a chatty character, with a Blackberry, nice clothing which would signify she is a popular sort of person. She gives the impression of a typical teenager who would go out with friends, have a part time job (babysitting) and possibly a boyfriend.

    Women Stereotype
    Zoe is the modern day woman. As she is 18, we expect her to be a student, studying in college or university. The fact that she has a job and is left to look after a child shows that she is responsible and independent. Unlike British films like Shank (Ali, 2010) which depict teenagers as loud, aggressive criminals, Zoe embodies the hard working, normal youths of London.

    Question 1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

    Dark Summer:

    • Genre: Thriller (Psychological)
    • 2 Main Characters
      • Zoe: female teenage babysitter
      • Stranger: masked man. It is assumed that he has kidnapped the child
    • Other characters: Summer and Mrs Matthews

    Theorist Tzvetan Todorov discovered that many stories follow a similar structural pattern. The classic narrative pattern comprises of an equilibrium, disruption, resolution with restored order and a new equilibrium. All films feature this structure, even if it is subtle. Examples similar to Dark Summer are Scream (Craven, 1996) and Prom Night (McCormick, 2008):

    Similarly, Claude Lévi-Strauss recognised another pattern that emerges in films, which is binary opposites. The main example of this in Dark Summer is the victim/villain scenario. 
    Others include:
    • Good/evil: I think we established this particularly well with the shot below, where both characters are seen. The audience sees the stranger, but Zoe does not, which signifies that he has more power and Zoe isn't; even the audience have more knowledge about the situation than her.
    • Interior/Exterior: The same shot is also a good example of outside and inside as the stranger is standing behind the door. In a way, the fact that he is outside, in the unknown is more chilling as the audience cannot see if there is anything or anyone else out there.
    • Fear/happiness: The equilibrium is disrupted as soon as Zoe hears the scream. Along with the strange music, the frantic running and shouting, the atmosphere is a scary one as nobody has the knowledge of what will happen.
    • Absence/Presence : We see the man at the door, then he’s gone. Also, the audience expect Summer to be in her room but she is never actually seen.

    Roland Barthes identifed five codes that signifiers can be grouped under. These apply to our film:

    Barthes 5 Codes

    The style of our opening sequence creates tension through starting of slow then building the pace through adding music, having less chatty dialogue and having the main character run around. By blending the familiar with the unknown, we are able to meet audience expectations while also creating enigma and making our film different to pre-existing ones.
    The thriller genre has become so lucrative by repeating successful formulas, such as the 'psycho killer' character in films like Halloween (Carpenter, 1978), Friday the 13th (Cunningham, 1980), Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Hooper, 1974) etc. but also adding something so that audiences don't get bored. This is what we have tried to accomplish with Dark Summer

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    My posts on the group blog

    To see any posts that I have done indiviualy on the group blog click here :)

    Monday, February 8, 2010

    Reflections on Test Shoot

    We had a test shoot on the 5th and 7th of February. (Friday and Sunday).
    On the first day we shot from 5-9 and on the second from 2-6pm. This was so that we could test out lighting and see whether we should shoot during the day or nighttime. The night shots looked better, with the masked man in darkness and the contrast of the bright interior against the dark exterior.

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    Analysis of American Psycho Opening Sequence

    Firstly, as common with nearly all opening sequences, the production company is shown, establishing the film's identity. The next title is 'Lions Gate Films Present' which reiterates the production company's involvment and brand image.
    The thriller/horror genre is made clear from the begining, when we see the drop of blood. The music used is very effective, as it fits the action that we see on screen. The timing is impeccable, and I would like to try fitting music to images like this in our own piece.

    The simplicity of just showing a plain background with titles in a plain font with random drops of blood is clever - the audience focus either on the words in front of them or the blood, which connotes murder and passion, which is significant as it relates directly to the plot. Furthermore the music is frantic which signifies Bateman's behaviour and the nature of the genre.

    As the blood lands we see the title 'American Psycho'. This is highly important - the font, colour and size must be significant and suit the style of film. I feel that the title in this film look good on screen - as the blood fades away, we are still left with 'American Psycho' which leaves an imprint in the viewer's mind; they will remember it.

    The colour red is used alot - the connotations associated with this colour are similar to that of blood - sin, pain, passion, anger etc
    Next, we see the lead actor's name. This establishes identity as well as crediting the actor with his peformance. The audience are given something which they are familiar with, as at the time Christian Bale was quite well known. Also, the fact that the knife appears when Bale's name does could be hinting at the fact that he is the murderer, as the audience will soon find out.

    Another big name is Willem Defoe. As we see his name, a raspberry drops through the shot. What was once blood is now fruit. The play on signifiers catches the audience's attention, confusing them as to why there is a change in information given.

    We then another name and a plate on a table in a restaurant. The gory imagery of blood and knives, connoting murder and passion have now become lavish, expensive looking meals which are which is supposed to be seen by the characters.

    Overall, the opening scene of American Psycho is very effective. It releases important signifiers to the audience so that  it is clear from the beginning that this will be a horror film. Furthermore, the inversion of horrific images into pleasant ones is very clever as this idea plays on the main character - he is cruel and twisted yet appears perfect. 
    I think that looking at openings like this I will be able to gain some understanding in techniques we could use for our own sequence. For example, we are using red props to signify the horror genre but we will also think about titles; 
    • What will actually be included? 
      • Titles themselves - actors, people working on the film etc.
    • In what order?
    • Need to think about fonts, colours
      • American Psycho used a black and white simple font - these contrasted against the background so that they were easy to read.
      • Do we want to have a plain font?
      • Red? Black? White? - and what will these colours represent?