IntroductionThe ultimate task was to produce a short film with a length of 5 minutes, a film poster related to the short film, and a double page-spread. We were to chose a genre, story line, settings and everything included in the film to make it our own. The film which we made (In a group) is entitled ‘The Unchanged Variable’.
Film title: The Unknown VariableGender: All Certificate: 15+Genre: Action - Thriller
1. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? In our film, we incorporated Barthes Enigma theory of narratives. This is where tension is built up and the audience is left guessing what happens next. It is therefore the hermeneutic code which refers to any element of the story that that is not fully explained and hence becomes a mystery to the reader. In our film, our narrative share structural features that are brought together in different ways.
Our group realised that certain aspects of our short film would need to be similar to existing films in order for us to target the audience we intended it for. In order to do this, we had a look at many short films, as well as normal length films. We wanted to follow these conventions to make our film appear to be as professional as possible. At the same time, we were also willing to challenge forms of real media products in order to convey a strong behind the video. This would allow the film to be unique, and stand out in a way that is different from existing films.
When making the film as a group, we had to follow certain codes and conventions to help make our film look as professional as possible, and challenge forms of real media products. I have done a lot of research on cinematography, genre and narrative and this has provided me with a lot of knowledge in the film industry before starting to produce one of our own. I have also done a lot of research on the features which contribute the most in drawing attention to the audience in terms of narrative, storyline, texts such as title, taglines and stickers and much more features. As a group, we looked at numerous short films to give us an insight of how professional films look like. Personally, I was particularly inspired by the following short films: Black Button and Desire of a House Wife (Indian film). These short films inspired me in terms of cinematography and the story lines. I was also inspired by the setting. The film is set in a plain white room with two characters acting. This inspired me because it made me realise that a short film does not particularly have to be in different settings throughout. The idea of filming in a white room throughout the film would appear to be very dull and monotonous to me, if I had not watched the film. It is the story and the message behind the film which makes it provoking. Not only did we look at short films, we also looked at normal length films to see the differences between them and short films.
As a group, the first thing we considered was the genre of the film. We had numerous ideas within several films genres but our main chosen genres which we chose included both drama and thriller. It is therefore a sub genre of drama-thriller. A film with the sub genre drama – thriller paced segments and tense sections and this can be achieved by the use of quick cuts between shots and other camera shots. Whilst making out film, we tried out different shots and angles whilst trying to maintain a professional look on the film. Some of these shots and angles where for the purpose of creating anticipation amongst the audience. We used a lot of camera shots and angles in order to create different experiences for the audience as well as to create different point of views for different effects.
After deciding on genre, we went on to decide a story line and possible locations as well as the characters and the number of them to be included within the film. In terms of characters, we also realised that in order for a short film to be captivating, it does not necessarily have to include many characters. Just as the film ‘Black Button’ shows . The film has only two characters since the story line simply needs only two characters. Our film also contains two characters but we made sure that it still entices the audience.
Another convention which I have met is the use of close up, long shots and mid shots. For example in terms of the long shot, usually, the opening establishing shot of a movie is a long shot. It may build where the story actually begins for example a church, forest, city etc. which ever the location, a long shot is likely to be the best way of establishing it. So as a group, we experimented on using long shots at different angles for the purpose of appealing well to the audience. We did this with wide angle lens. The main thing is what the shot encompasses. If it encompasses a general setting that gives the opening shot of the film as much information as can be clearly presented with one angle, then it's an establishing shot and can be shot with any lens. An example of this is shown by the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Esj4DVEr7Sc
It is called a long shot because the camera is placed far away to capture a large area of view, and this is what we wanted to achieve.
In terms of Medium shots, I've learnt that The medium shot should generally contain all the action of the scene and it should be well matched with the flow of the long shot. If the medium shot is a continuation or a further development of the story contents captured by the long shot, then the medium shot should be matched to some characteristic of the long shot with which it is supposed to be intercut. John Ford is famous for relying heavily on medium shots in shooting his movies.
In many media products, it is the title, main image, and in film, taglines, are all usually used as a source of providing an insight of a film. I have learnt this by looking at many media products not only in film, but also magazines and books. This has definitely allowed me to be a lot more aware of how to create product which engages the attention of the audience at first sight, before seeing or reading about the actual product. The most common conventions of a film poster include the main image (mainly of the main character) which is usually the main source of attention along side the title which is usually bigger in comparison to other text, main actors, a tagline and a billing block. Also the certificate (of age entitled to view). My film poster challenges the conventions of a film poster mainly because instead of containing an image of the main character/s, I have provided an insight of the story by including an image of a scene including drug use which is cocaine. Usually, films don't always provide an insight of its story just by the main image. Main images usually include images of the main characters but in this case have used part of the story of what actually happens in the film visually. This situation potentially leaves the audience to wonder who is involved in the film and what they do.
Film covers usually contain images of the main characters at the front, with the names representing them. I was seeking to differentiate my own film poster a little bit, therefore I decided to add an image which reflects the main events within the film, instead of the main characters. In this case, an image of drug use. This is portrayed by the image on my film poster. I did this mainly because I was seeking to let the audience wonder what the events are within the film. The title is also another feature which contributes in allowing the audience to wonder what happens within the film. Other factors which emphasise this effect is the colour black. There is a sense of loneliness created by the emptiness of the surroundings of the image (the drugs). This is emphasized by the colour black and the main image being of a white colour contrasted against black background. The contrasted image against the black background enables us to see the image very clearly. Originally, the image had colour including some lilac on the £20 note which would spoil the colour scheme, of which I intended to be mainly black, white and red. I chose this colour scheme mainly because of genre.
2. How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?The film is aimed at the young audience between the ages of 16 – 25 mainly because of the drug use. I felt it would be necessary to include a theme which would be appealing to this particular age group. Common themes such as the colour scheme of my film poster. I used the colours red, black and white as my main colour scheme and also similar texts throughout. This was for the purpose of making it look as realistic as possible without making it look too dramatic. This feature also appeals to the audience and complements the story line of the film. The red and black depicts the genre of the film which is a drama-thriller in this case. What appeals to this age group the most is the events which happen within the film. Also the characters who are also young. The characters are late teens of eighteen and nineteen years. Having such an age group as characters also contributes to appealing to the young audience of 16 – 25.
I looked at different examples of film posters and reviews whilst focusing on the codes and conventions. After researching and analysing different film posters and film review, the purpose of a poster and review became clearer to me. That purpose is to advertise. Film posters contain features which are aimed to grab as much attention from the audience as possible. They usually include a title which stands out from the rest of the text, a main image which is usually the main source of attention, also sometimes include taglines . I have learnt that a main image and a tagline is there to provide an insight of a film, but not to give away the story too much as this would diminish the interest of the audience. Within my film poster and review, I made sure that I included a main image which I made to the main source of attention alongside the title. This is depicted by their sizes in comparison to other features. The tagline which I added as well as he main image provide an insight of the story of the film, without giving away too much.In terms of the film review, the large image and fonts contribute to emphasizing the genre of the film as well as appealing to the audience. Typical films with a young target audience such as ‘Harry Potter 'usually contain many images to intrigue the target audience. This is shown in the next page. I feel as though my film review could have appeared a lot more appealing to the audience if I had included several events as images. This would be for the purpose of engaging the target audience. Young audience are usually fascinated by pictures instead of words as they usually prefer to visualize with the images rather than to read and read a lot of text.
As well as creating our film, we also had to create ancillary texts which are individual film posters and a double page-spread of the film review. They needed to be an effective combination of the main product, which is the film . I decided to make a modern film poster (and review) as opposed to old style film poster such as Psycho or The Blue Dahlia. This is because we decided to create a modern film which would only make sense to also create a modern film poster. It may be argued that these films are not an effective
combination of the films they represent. I decided that my ancillary texts would be more modern than these authentic posters.
My film poster and review take the form of modern style of film posters with actors’ names, title, billing block etc. my ancillaries interlink with my main product in the sense that they show the two main actors. An audience who sees the short film would realise this.
The editing of the text as well as the image allows the film poster to look very modern. Compared to these old style film posters which appear in a lower quality than modern film posters. Even the text, I used certain fonts which contribute in depicting a modern appearance on the film poster.
The title of the film is ‘THE UNKNOWN VARIABLE’. This is what we decided as a group to call our film. For the title, I chose a Trajan font mainly because I was looking for a serif font which is quite thin. I chose to add a metallic texture on the title for a dramatic appearance as it would appear to be dull if it was a flat text with no texture. The title appears to be a shiny texture and this contributes to allowing it to stand out from the rest of the text. The title is written in capital letters were the first letter of each word is slightly bigger in comparison to the rest of the text in the title. This enables the title to stand out. Being a bigger size than the rest of the text allows the title stand out being one of the main sources of attention along side the image.
The cast names are shown here at the top in such a way that does not distract the title. In comparison to the title, it is in a smaller and different font. The cast names are in a serif font. This is so that it allows the title to stand out. The tag line is entitled ‘A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH’. It is in a red sans serif font. This tag line provides an insight of the story of the short film as it is suggesting that there is a scene of something risky happening within the film. Being in a red font, it is differentiated from the rest of the text and also the picture. The image is emphasized by the tagline suggesting that the risk here is that someone’s life is being affected by drug use.
This media product challenges the norms of the codes and conventions of existing media blogs as I have used an image which depicts the main subject of the film, instead of the actual characters. This image suggests to the audience that there are scenes of drug use within the film. This is reinforced by the tagline again, gives the impression that someone has put their life at risk. Drug addiction is the main thought which is drawn after looking at the tagline and the image.
I have also edited the picture on Photoshop to make it black and white, not only to follow the main colour scheme, but enable to audience to wonder what this film is about.
The billing block contains the names of the director, producer , writer, actors and the distribution company. It is the smallest text on the cover and does not distract any important features such as the title, image and the tagline which are the main features. It also shows the running time to allow the audience to know the length of the film.
The distributor company is ‘MCS Productions.’ The aim was to keep it as professional as possible. The names included in the billing block and the distributor are in a bigger to the rest of the text. It allows the names to stand out showing the importance.
We decided that our film is aimed at an audience of 15 years and above mainly because of the contents of the film which is quite explicit for the younger audience below the age of 15, although the explicitness is controlled, there is some drug use involved. This is emphasized by the image.
3. What have you learnt from your audience feedback?
The benefits of audience research are that they allow one to make decisions based on different opinions. This is why it is essential to get as much as possible. Feedback helps the receiver to understand themselves better through others, and can help them to further develop, especially if it is critical. The limitations however are that; results may not always be accurate, and also if there very little feedback, there are no opinions from a variety of audiences. I conducted questionnaires for 40 people asking them questions shown on the next page. I did this questionnaire as one of the first steps before making the film. The aim for this was to get opinions from 40 random people to get a view of their opinion, and also to find out the most preferred film genre for the young audience especially between the ages of 16 – 25 as this where the target audience for the film is.
The results show that the most popular film genre appeared to be Drama followed by comedy and horror.
After making the film, I constructed another questionnaire asking the audience for feedback on the film.
For this questionnaire I asked a wider range of audience which was 50 people different age groups. From their responses, I have learnt that overall, the audience were mostly attracted by the main image. This especially from the ages of 16 – 30. Most people were also enticed by title of the film. Many people believed it to be a crime film with elements of horror mainly because of the colours of red and black. I have learnt that as a way to improve, I should include a billing block.
How did you use media technologies in the construction of and research, planning and evaluation stages?
Most of my research was from secondary data such as internet research as well as primary research such as questionnaires. My secondary research included search engines on google and YouTube. This included research on genre, how to create short films including the angles and shots which makes a film look professional and in terms of editing; how create effective texts for film titles etc. I used YouTube to watch several short films of which many of them inspired me in terms of creativity. The internet provided facts on media conventions from existing media products. I have published my planning, research, publishing, work in progress and many more things related to the task on Tumblr. this is because it makes it easy to present everything on the blog for easy access.
I used Photoshop and InDesign for the film poster and double page spread of the film review. Photoshop was for editing images and text. I have learnt a lot from the internet how to edit text and photos on Photoshop from tutorials online and from my experience, I have definitely benefited greatly. I have tried my best to create a film poster which looks as professional as can be by creating my own text, especially the texture instead of just using a standard font. InDesign helped made it easier for me to create my double page-spread the way I intended to look.
Critically, I have faced quite a lot of difficulties whilst producing my film poster and the double page-spread. Whilst I was learning how to create certain texts on Photoshop, I did not particularly comprehend everything. As a result of that, I had to work out how to achieve certain outcomes of which some of them I managed to tackle, whilst others I struggled. An example of this when I was creating the fire text. I did not understand every step. On the positive side, I did benefit from certain parts of the editing such as creating a glowing effect on the text.
I also found that InDesign does not has auto correct which made it a lot more difficult when having to change the wrongly spelled words. The same goes for Photoshop.
We captured out film using a cannon 600 D camera. With this camera, we tried out using a lot of different shots and angles to get the best view of the actions and events in the short film.
We Adobe Premiere Pro for the editing of the film in order to create special effects to make the film look professional. This application also allowed us to remove unwanted scenes by cutting, and also to order the film in the way which we preferred.
I used Microsoft word and PowerPoint as templates for my texts. I used PowerPoint for the work which I converted to slideshare for ease of access. I also used Word for my other texts such as film poster analyses then converted to Tumblr for ease of access.
I Converted everything (including the work on slideshare) onto Tumblr which includes all my task work which I have produced. I found that it was much easier to write everything on word first before converting the work onto Tumblr and also from Microsoft, to Slideshare then onto Tumblr for ease of access. I used slideshare for the work which included more than one page such as the text progressions, evaluation and editing processes.