1- In what ways does you media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
At the start of this academic year, each member of our group had a rough plan of the type of film they wanted to construct. As we came together and shared our different ideas, we found ourself looking into Mystery Horror rather than just the typical Horror that is being overly repeated and is often considered ‘boring’ and ‘expected’ by teenagers/young adults of this time. I have stated this from my own personal experience with Horror films (since I am a Horror fan) and from my friends’ thoughts of Horror films. However, according to the box office history for Horror movies found on – http://www.the-numbers.com/market/genre/Horror – the sales of Horror films have been at a constant decrease since 2007. On the other hand, if we take a look at the entire chart, the ticket sales are shown to have always been decreasing and increasing since 1995. This suggests that it is more than likely going to increase again shortly. Film makers are clearly challenged to make original Horror films, yet, similar enough to fall under the Horror genre.
This is a struggle that our group went through and came to the conclusion of creating a hybrid genre of Horror and Mystery combined. We have done so for many reasons which included the history of the box office for Horror films. We have found that the highest ticket sales were in the years 1997, 1999 and 2007. Then to further investigate, we looked at the films on those years with the most tickets sold: 1997 with Scream 2 and Scream (which is a hybrid of Horror and Comedy), 1999 with The Blair Witch Project (Mystery and Horror with a hand-held camera) and finally 2007 with I Am Legend (a combination of Action and Horror).
Adding Mystery allowed us to vary our film from others, and have a ‘shocking ending’ which is well known among successful films. A shocking ending is an ending that breaks the audience’s expectations at the end. Therefore, it leaves more impact on the audience. If we had used the typical Horror genre, our options would have been limited to two and could have been easily guessed by our audience. One: the protagonist getting killed by the antagonist. Two: the protagonist kills/escapes the antagonist. Furthermore, with our hybrid genre, it seemed more appropriate to end the short-film with a mysterious ending. The final scene of our film shows the antagonist (dark figure) standing behind the protagonist (girl), then slowly leans towards her without any shown physical violence. This had helped us to leave the film’s conclusion for the audience to decide: will the dark figure kill the protagonist or will it continuously surround the protagonist without truly harming her? Although, it seems more likely that the protagonist is going to get hurt, it is not actually shown in the film, therefore, the audience can use their imagination to decide.
Films that had inspired us with such an ending were Remember Me (where the protagonist dies during the 9/11 terrorist attack), The Sixth Sense (where the protagonist finds out he is no more than a soul), Inception (where the protagonist becomes trapped in his dreams) and the Saw film sequel etc. Although, not all mentioned inspirations were Horror, I feel that every movie has and should have aspects of every genre in it, but majors in one or two. This helps the audience to relate to the film better, since people have aspects of every “genre” in their lives.
As Jim Colins believes “since the 1980’s, Hollywood films have been influenced by the trend towards ironic hybridisation” which is what we had also done, considering how successful Hollywood films are.
Moreover, Horror films like The Ring, The Grudge, Paranormal Activity and sinister all include a dark figure which is the main element to the creation of horror and fear in a Horror movie. Our storyline shows the protagonist being innocent and vulnerable as the first few shots show her sleeping. Those used shots were also hand-held (therefore, shaky) which gives the vivid impression of the protagonist being watched. This hints to the viewer that the camera in our introduction is indeed the antagonist’s eyes. However, some of the shaky camera shots throughout most of our production reflect upon the protagonist’s vulnerability. This technique was inspired by The Blair Witch Project. Although, TBWP uses the shaky hand-held camera for a different effect (to get a realistic feel of video-taping all the actions), we were still inspired to use this. Our SLIGHTLY shaky camera was used to reflect upon the protagonist’s vulnerability as already mentioned. Another way we used to reflect on her vulnerability was her dress code: red pyjamas. The colour red is used to symbolises our protagonist’s fear, blood and death (at the end of the film).
Furthermore, we used three different scores in our production. One which is clam and slow but has a sense of mystery within it (since it is in a minor key). This score does not last very long and adds a depressing/haunted feel to the scene. It was combined with the shaky shots in the introduction to, again, reinforce the idea of the protagonist being watched.
The slow paced score was combined with the long lasting shaky shots as we introduced our film. Those shots concentrated on the protagonist in order to familiarise our audience with her. Later on, (when the girl/protagonist wakes up) a new score gets used. That score is also slow paced too (with slow paced shots) however, has an adventurous feel rather than a haunted one. It further continues as the protagonist is familiarising herself with her surroundings. As she realises that she is being chased by a dark figure, she starts running. As she runs, the mood of our film is straight away shifted (to match the protagonist’s feelings). In order to sucessfuly shift the mood, we again changed the music score into an alternative piece which gradually builds up in both tempo and loudness suggesting an ending/coda to both the film and the piece. Furthermore, the music score here tends to become rather too loud and uncomfortable to the audience’s ears during the chase scene. This was done to illustrate the fear which our protagonist felt. Another feature to change in order to change the film’s mood was the pace of editing (making shots last for a smaller amount of time), as well as our characters’ movement speed (which had to be done during the production).
The storyline that I had just went though that is supported by the music score which was inspired by The Hero’s Journey. Separation from the protagonist’s comfort zone, initiation and the return.
The advantage of not using any violence or strong language has granted us with a wider range of audience, targeting those early teenagers who are yet being introduced to Horror and are likely going to enjoy it more than our young adults. One of our main influences in targeting this wide range was The Sixth Sense which is also a Horror and is also rated PG-13 and has a very unexpected ending.
Another way we have used to target a wider range of audience (which may be slightly rare) was the use of the sign PG-13 on our poster. This belongs to America. However, we have used it to target both British and American audiences due to their larger population. We have been influenced to do so as we had studied the British production company Working Title during our AS academic year. Working Title had decided to target American audiences due to their large population, giving them a higher film budget.
After researching a variety of Horror films’ posters including the posters shown above, I have noticed that the protagonists are typically the main focus. On the other hand, the antagonist and the storyline take place behind the protagonist. The set of the film shown through the colour of the poster. For example, even though our poster isn’t fully green, it has hints of a green colour. This colour was added to reflect upon the storyline and set which is set in the woods/forest. Furthermore, the focus on the antagonist’s face shows her emotions which is also a part of the film’s settings. The dark figure, in our poster, is shown to be slightly invisible, again, reflecting on the storying since the dark figure (antagonist) is not always visible to the protagonist.
Furthermore, as I’ve looked at film posters I noticed how each poster of every genre must have a slogan reflecting upon the films’ storyline. So, after a discussion with the group, we decided to use the slogan “The entangled vision of a dream”.
While some films use the actors’ names in the middle of the poster, I decided to not use this idea. The two main reasons that drove me to this decision were the fact that our actors are not known enough or are not A list actors (since Hollywood’s films uses A list actors to attract a wider range of audience). The second reason was to have less text on the poster to allow the viewer to rather focus on the characters. However, the actor’s names, the production company, directors, editors and so on were mentioned in the smaller print on the bottom of the poster. I made sure that that print was white, as it was white in all posters I had researched. However, that text which held the credits for the cast is always a steeltongs font in real posters. Unfortunately, although I downloaded that font a multiple of times, it did not launch on Photoshop Cs6.
Finally, although I am not responsible for our magazine ancillary task. I am well aware that our teammate Shane/Hamdaan has been researching the correct terminology to use in the magazine review. He has looked at the magazines Cineworld and Empire, both of which consists of reviews as well as posters to look at as an example.
the required type of language to use in a magazine review must be easy enough to be understood by a variety of audiences. Also, easy read is often seen as more entertaining. When completing the magazine, we made sure that the film’s title Sweet Dreams were the same font on both the magazine review and the poster as in the magazines we looked at, the posters and magazines were very similar to one another.