Saturday, 24 March 2012

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

In the time between the production of our preliminary task and our thriller, I have learnt several things about how to construct media texts effectively. The main thing I have learnt is how to use camera angles and shots to enhance the atmosphere of a film. For example, in our bird's eye view shot of Jonathon Cody travelling down the stairs, the bird's eye view shot implies that he is being watched. Furthermore, the high angle shot connotes vulnerability. Without the research and planning I did prior to making our thriller, I would not be aware of these things. In that case, I may have just used a static medium shot of Jonathon going down the stairs - this would be boring and would lose the audience's interest. In our thriller opening, keeping the audience gripped is vital.

Bird's eye view shot of Jonathon travelling down the stairs

Another example of this is our low angle tilt shot of an enigmatic figure in the window. Before, I would not have known how to use a tilt shot to show corruption and mystery - but due to my new knowledge, me and my group managed to use this, combined with the power shown by a low angle shot, to construct a great shot.

Low angle tilt shot of an enigmatic figure in the window
Also, I learnt about other techniques of film production, such as the 180-degree rule, match on action and shot-reverse shot. The 180-degree rule and shot-reverse shot are used in the part of our thriller where Jonathon Cody discovers his mother, Eve Cody, and there are shots from the positions of both Jonathon and Eve - but they never cross the line of the 180-degree rule.What I learnt about these things is shown in our thriller - for example, the way our thriller cuts from shots of Jonathon Cody to shots of the enigmatic figures to show the link between these characters and the possibility that Jonathon may be caught up or involved in the dark actions of these mysterious, enigmatic figures. Below is the final cut of our thriller, "From the Dark", where you can see the different shots and filming techniques being used for different effects.

While constructing our thriller, me and my group also learnt how to successfully cooperate to produce a successful thriller film. We each took one main responsibility - James was the main actor, Joe was the main cameraman and I was the main editor. Alongside this, we also each took a decent role in each of the stages of producing our thriller e.g. I was responsible for shooting some of the thriller. For some stages of producing the thriller, we had to work together to make the best choice. For example, choosing the soundtrack was a bid decision and we ended up making a joint decision after looking at several different soundtracks. Here is the link to my blog post displaying the soundtracks we made our decision from:

We chose the soundtrack based on the tension and suspense it produced, along with the way it pulled you into the action. The heartbeat, which becomes more and less prominent depending on the action, pulls you into the action and tells you what Jonathon is feeling. This also tells you how to feel.

A major decision for our group was the title for our thriller. At the beginning of the production process, when we had the idea of "marks" on each character to link them to each other, we were using the name "Marked". But when we decided to simplify (and improve) the film by taking out the marks, we had to collaborate to choose a new name. After many conversations, where we looked back through our research for inspiration, we finally decided on the name "From the Dark" (which one member from our group, Joe, slightly altered into "From the Night" for his final cut). This played on the generic thriller convention of locations, characters and ideas originating from the darkness or night. Also, the shadowy, enigmatic figures from our film lurk in the shadows and the darkness - this title is a direct reference to that. We chose the font because it was subtle and quite old-looking. This stopped the font of this title, or any of the other titles, taking your focus away from our thriller.

Titles showing our thriller's name, "From the Dark"
As aforementioned in Question 6, the process of producing our thriller also taught our group a substantial amount about how to effectively edit our thriller so that it was gripping - this was done using effects such as dip to black and cross dissolve.

By showing our thriller to members of our target demographic, as well as our teacher, we have been able to positively alter our film along the process of making it. When we received negative feedback, our group did not ignore it or get frustrated - we simply used it to improve our thriller and end with a film we are all proud of. If we had allowed to affect us negatively, then our film would have gone downhill. On the whole, the feedback we got from our target demographic was much better than we expected - this form that a 17-year old male (a member of our target audience) filled out was very positive (this form was used for Question 5). This person also found our thriller's narrative easy to follow and clear - this was also a very good sign, as it meant the main structure of our thriller was acceptable and we only had to slightly edit around it.

A questionnaire filled out by a member of our target demographic

Example of a cross dissolve transition

I do not think the film has many weaknesses. One weakness could be that it has not got a large budget, which prevents us from using the special effects, CGI and expensive equipment that are frequently used in big-budget films nowadays. This could prevent us from making the film more visually appealing to the audience that likes films such as "Transformers", where special effects play a large part in the appeal of the film.

Overall, I feel that the most important thing I have learnt about film making in the time between the preliminary task and the thriller we have made is how to edit and put together a film so that it holds the attention and interest of the audience and improves their enjoyment of the film.

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