Monday, 28 March 2011

Our Final cut

I hope you enjoy our final cut, thanks for watching!

Torment: Dreamscape Final Cut from Benji Hudson on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Evaluation Question 7

As you can see the prelim task was very basic, made whilst we still had the most basic of editing skills, it lacks a proper ending and the editing is still very very basic. It also features very little plot/ narrative at all, and lacked any proper development, it also lacks a definable genre, with little to no character identity.

For our main film we looked at a number of films within our genre i.e American Psycho, Lost Highway, Donnie Darko, Shutter Island and others, films that have big(ger) budgets and actors. We deconstructed them to gain further insight into how the film maker would produce a film that fits within the genre & to understand the codes and conventions of the genre, noting down repeating elements such as the disturbed male protagonist, the misc-en-scene of Patrick Bateman's apartment, how hollow it is, to Teddy Daniels Fedora. These deconstructions gave us a far greater insight into the way the films are made and allowed us to progress much more effectively with a greater knowledge of camera work and more ideas to incorporate into our film. This gave us our initial way into the genre and from there we developed our ideas, taking the best of each film and figuring how it can best fit into our film. The prelim lacked such ideas and thoughts and was a 'done there and then' job with plenty of improvisation.

One example of a deconstruction

For example the character in a leather jacket could have been anyone, it's never indicated who he is properly or where the location the scene is set in takes place. We also lack any anchor as to time frame of the prelim, something we rectified with our current film. With a modern computer and clothing to immediately anchor it in the present or there abouts.

We also went through several planning stages with different cuts for example here is our first storyboard, as you can see it lacks a large range of the shots used in our final film and its largely incomplete.
As a group we expanded upon these points and added more and more, we bounced ideas off one another in an attempt to see what would and wouldn't work within the film, for example at one point we had a party scene planned however we decided that this would be far too unwieldy to film properly and would require extensive use of extras and as such the continuity would have been fairly hard to keep track of. We went through several ideas before we decided upon one that we, as a group where happy with. As the producer of the film, the director would come to me and ask if I was happy with what was being filmed, if I was happy with how it was being done but he was allowed to experiment with that he did in leading me as a member of the cast. He told me what to do, where to look etc and ensure that the overall look of the film was satisfactory.
 However with the prelim there was no clear sense of role and everything became somewhat jumbled and confusing as to who would do what and it because fairly messy fairly quickly as it led to role conflicts over who had charge of what. We also had to agree on things such as filming dates and when we did what and as a group decide on the best course of action. We did this for podcasts and vodcasts so we could maximize our efficiency

We tried to keep the transitions to a minimum, we wanted the audience to feel that something was wrong and as such we relied heavily upon jump cuts to really keep the audience hooked in, to give off that initial narrative enigma required to keep them rooted to their seats.

We had too look for a location that fitted in with our film, unlike the prelim which was mainly done for the sake of convenience rather than actual setting. Here are some images I took when scouting possible locations

Here is a fairly average middle class house, suitable for our film.

For the ending of our piece it created a great sense of binary opposition.
We used social networking sites such as facebook to really mold our project to what the audience wanted and what they thought of the idea. This was a great advantage over the prelim, which had very little screen time.and audience feedback it was just made and completed with very little feedback. We also used sites such as Vimeo to help get the idea viewed by as many people as possible which was a great advantage.  

The prelim also features a very unclear soundtrack i.e there is none and lots of background interference from other noise sources, where as our finished & final cut features a mainly diagetic soundtrack designed to make the viewer wonder if what is happening to the character is real or not, to give specific release of tension when it is supposed to where as the prelim was totally random. Also the prelim consists of very few shot types whereas our final cut features a far greater variety of shots i.e a dutch angle to say that something isn't right about the scene on screen. However there was one shot where the camera did wobble occasionally when the character is tapping his keyboard for his computer- this is because we could not get the right angle with the tripod and as such we had to rest it on the desk and we used the least wobbly shot we had available.

Evaluation Question 6

The technology of which we used to produce our film really helped achieve the overall effect, with most of the effects done on location, because what we used would not allow for extensive digital effects, but it would allow for quick and easy editing with an easy to see and use interface the software we used came with the macs as a basic program called iMovie which allowed us to see the video on one layer and the soundtrack on another layer. This allowed for the manipulation of the soundtrack of the film with drag and drop functionality. We could also easily recover any lost footage in the trashcan, just in case of accidental deletes that may occur whilst editing. Overall this program really helped us edit our film with maximum quality and ease allowing us to change the sound levels on each individual clip and add transitions with ease.

This allowed us to edit with speed with some cuts being finished in several hours, which greatly aided us in getting viewer feedback swiftly. It also allowed us to easily see what we where changing, which helped to sort out any editing issues and the functionality vs interface was very easy to use unlike Song Vegas which is used on a more professional level.

We used a sound editing program called Audacity to edit the films soundtrack and produce songs for the film which would allow for us to make it all the more effective and fearsome.

As you can see Audacity provides very detailed feedback with the soundlevels and layers meaning a greater degree of control over the exact effect that the sound would give.

To create our idents we used a program called LiveType, which enabled us to create layers and render backgrounds to our idents easily then change individual aspects such as shadowing on letters on the spacing between the letters, the little details that add up to create the idents. it was very easy to use and meant that we could achieve some very high quality work with very little effort. It also meant that we had greater control over what was going on, on the screen.

The camera  (a Sony Handycam) we used wasn't the best at capturing dark footage and as such we used an improvised lighting rig, to help artificially create light, in a shot that didn't eventually make the final cut, however it gave us the chance to learn what the camera could and couldn't do. It gave off digital noise and induced blurring in overly dark shots which stood in the way of viewer enjoyment.

I also used Microsoft paint to produce some very basic posters over backgrounds for example:

It was very surprising just how easy the programs where to control what we could and couldn't do with the footage we had, we found that the tools provided although basic where very proficient in how they worked and allowed us to create something that really sent a reaction out through the audience. The film editing software was so smooth to use and its key advantage lay in the interface which was very user friendly.
The camera used allowed for some fairly clear shots with some digital interference, but overall it gave the effect intended. The software however was our key asset and if we'd had used software older i.e analog, then I don't think we would have come up with anything near as slick as we have done and the rendering power would have been greatly reduced limiting the effects we could have used in our film, for example the idents where totally done digitally, they would have been very difficult to reproduce on older software and hardware and they would have to have had a greater degree of live footage involved in them.

Another great asset in how we managed to produce our film, was the advent of web 2.0, with video sites such as or , which allowed for us to easily distribute our films and gather feedback as we posted them onto sites such as to generate feedback from a relevant target audience quickly and effectively, for example when we used Paint to produce some basic posters I placed them onto Facebook for feedback and I could easily screen capture what others thought of them, for example:

This allowed us to effectively alter our ideas in-line with what the audience thought.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Evaluation Question 4

 We have tried to make it appeal to as wide range as possible audience and as such have tried to appeal to the audience as best as we can with some gore for the male viewer and blood with some horror and suspense, reaching out to the typical male viewer and a male lead for the female audience.

We also have a much younger male lead than is usual for a Psychological Thriller and we really aim to show his emotions and his sense of loss and confusion, to appeal to the audience who would normally go and see a Psychological Thriller.

We aimed for a BBFC 15 rating which permits some violence and injury to be shown on screen but not with a strong focus on it and it would allow some mild swearing during the film. It would also allow the teenage audience to view the film in the cinema, however most people under the age of 15 would probably not be all too interested in the film because of the genre, despite the fact we are aiming for a teenage audience. One recent example would be Black Swan which was awarded a 15 rating for its content or Shutter Island which was also rated 15 by the BBFC. Which means that as a standard our film would fit in the correct market. However Lost highway was rated an 18, mainly for its sexual content, which features strongly throughout the film. It also focuses on the impact of violence at one point, which also lended itself to the 18 certificate.

Evaluation Question 3

Our film was a psychological thriller and as such it targets a specific audience, however we have intentionally gone against that. And as A small group our film would have been fairly independent and small budget affair with very little advertising. As such it would be best if our film went with a much smaller distributor as to get it best noticed. not something as large as say Warner Bros. who probably would have little interest in a small budget film with unknown actors and production company.
However they have been known to distribute films within our genre such as Inception (2010), however it featured a much more big name cast with a proven and critically acclaimed director behind the film, thus improving its chances as a mainstream film.
it features big special effects guaranteed to pull the bigger audiences and make far more at the box office than most normal films ever will.

Most of the films we looked at featured much smaller production companies such as Lost Highway, which was distributed by October films or Donnie Darko which was distributed by Newmarket films.

However American psycho was distributed by Lionsgate a much larger distributor who deal in a wide range of genres but mainly focus on adult action films such as The Punisher Warzone. Also American Psycho as a film would be much more financially viable as a production because it was an adaption of a fairly well known book and as such it had an already established fanbase who would be devoted to the film. Also the book itself received controversy over it's content and the publicity would certainly help it do well at the box office. It also featured several well known actors such as William Defoe and Christian Bale, who was still a fairly unknown actor at the time, however he still had done several films before. Whereas our film is full of unknown actors with no prior films done.

Also there have been very few British psychological thrillers in recent years and as such the market for them is still fairly unknown to anyone seeking to distribute our film as Psychological Thrillers have been notoriously hard to distributer such as Donnie Darko which distributors found hard to come up with a target audience for it.

As such I think our best distributor to go for would be Warp Films, who are based in the UK and have dealt with smaller scale films. They are responsible for distribution such films as Four Lions and This Is England both of which have done fairly well in the UK and are father well known. They feature a wide range of genres and don't stick to just one which would be an advantage to our film because of its untested nature in the box office. They are probably the best distributor to go to when it comes to getting our film to as wide a market as possible. Because of their smaller scale they are less focused on profit and their previous films have touched some fairly risky subjects and as such this would make them ideal for our film because it would give us greater artistic licence to produce the film we want to while still appealing to a wide audience who can enjoy the film.

Evaluation Question 1

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

In our coursework piece we decided to make our film within the genre of Psychological really get a sense of tension and atmosphere throughout the introduction, which in the end is revealed to be a dream. Typically dreams are used as a method of narrative enigma within the genre, but also intended to add some ambiguity to the films themselves, for example Shutter Island (2010)  

Which used its dream sequences to convey the sense of loss that the main character is suffering having lost his wife and provide some subtle narrative enigma to the character without providing obvious exposition.  

Donnie Darko (2001) provides us with a very 'cheerful' introduction with Donnie cycling through american suburbia, having woken up seemingly at random upon a hillside, immediately the audience are wondering what has happened, why Donnie has woken up in this unusual place; he presents himself as a basic archetype within the genre common to psychological Thrillers, the troubled protagonist- this is re-enforced by his dinner conversation with his family me mentions his therapist and his sister comments how Donnie has not taken his medication. 

This archetype is used one again in American Psycho (2001), with the psycho of the title being the anti hero- Patrick Bateman, the embodiment of  everything wrong with the 80's Yuppie culture. He murders women and men whom he lures away, in very explicit manner, however in a 'twist ending', another convention, we find that it might just have all been in his head. However it is left ambiguous via the fact that mistaken identity is a common and reoccurring motif throughout the film.

The opening shots of American Psycho have what looks like blood dripping down onto the screen a white background, we replicated this shot with Black and white blood dripping onto a pillow. The black and white idea coming from Memento   (2000) Which features strong manipulation of chronology, but only we stuck with the convention of Black ands white being old and in the past with the colour scenes being set in the present. However we used the black and white scenes only for several seconds, like intentional glitches, to show how fragmented the protagonists mind is in the first place and provide some basic binary opposition with the color scenes. Also to utilize a sense of dread, everything in the black and white scenes are presented as ominous and eerie. This again stems from Shutter Island.  

Obviously our biggest deviation from established convention would be the use of a teenage protagonist, something that only Donnie Darko has done in recent years, with most psychological Thrillers tending to use older male characters. Such as Patrick Bateman from American Psycho and Teddy Daniels in Shutter Island also Trevor Reznik from The Machinist (2004), all of whom are much older characters than the one presented in our film and Donnie Darko.

We felt this played best to our film and we reflected that in our misc-en-scene, attempting to show a typical Teenager with baggy blue clothes and Jeans and a fairly messed up room with litter located around the room, with a sly inter-textual reference to American Psycho the book by Bret Easton Ellis which lays on the characters desk. This would help to understand our prefered reading of insanity and/or a fragmented personality. However the audience didn't always pick up on this reading and often thought that it was being too confusing. But we did try to portray a teenagers room, one who had personality problems which is why we left it so blank as a reflection of the characters immediate personality, littered but bare. 
We intentionally left the house bare as to add to the ambiguity of the house as a dream creation it needed to be left bare and unassuming to properly allow the audience to convey what they saw the house as being, with the characters room being fairly ill kept to suggest his issues. 

Our introduction is rather similar to that of Lost Highway (1997), in the way that the character moves around the house to follow something that he's heard, and the main inspiration for the dream sequence itself came from the one within Lost Highway, the slow movement and echoing of a voice/ sound which we attempted to emulate within our film.

Also lost Highway features several sequences in hallways, with over the shoulder views, something we also tried to emulate in our media piece, to really create the sense of fear that is found throughout the film.


Evaluation Question 2

How does your media product represent particular social groups