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Tuesday, 11 May 2010


In year 12, I was set a brief to design a music magazine, where I based it on the genre pop. I had been required to use relative conventions such as the colour scheme, being quite feminine. This included a front cover, a contents page and a 2 page article spread aimed at a young female audience between 16-25. From doing this project I gained new skills and technology such as printing, working with a digital camera (photography), the use of a tripod: help to maintain an excellent, high quality image and written theory. From using Photoshop, I learned the ways of editing and cropping of images, as well as creating style fonts. This has enabled me to become a lot more confident whilst working with the school’s equipment throughout my A2 productions.

This year, at A2 level we were given a brief with a selection of questions to choose from, and then go on to produce the product for our project. With this brief, we had more creativity and freedom and it enabled us to work in a group.

My group consisted of Rachel Talbot, Niomi Bolam and myself, where we decided to produce a film trailer based on the genre Horror, along with a film magazine front cover, featuring the film and a poster for the film. The target audience would be for people aged between 15 – 25. We each had our own role for the project. I was responsible for photographs and locations, while also have some partake in the filming. Niomi Bolam’s roles were the filming and planning/storyboards and also help Rachel with the cutting of the music, whilst Rachel Talbot took the responsibility of the editing and music. We helped each other throughout as we were working as a team; where we were able to express our opinions about the product such as what could be improved on.

By creating a brief, this will help people understand our project and what we will be intending to do, as well as giving ourselves a guideline; and meeting the criteria we will be aiming towards.

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

In the Media world, today real video products such as film trailers as well as magazines and posters, hold typical conventions and connotations. Every trailer tends to present the director/producer/ star credits and the film’s production company, including their logo, which helps promote it, early on in the trailer. Other common features a trailer holds is music and sound effects, voiceover while the name of the film is shown at the end of a trailer often followed by the all important release date. A trailer only includes the key moments of the film, which are not placed in the same sequence; not giving away any crucial plot details. As I wanted to produce a media product which looked realistic as possible and hold these specific features, I thought it would be essential, while also relevant to research and analyse existing products, based on the same genre.

I decided to look at various horror film trailers such as ‘Paranormal Activity’, ‘30 Days of Night’and ‘I Still Know What You Did Last Summer’ using You Tube looking at the camera work such as establishing, extreme close-up, long and over the shoulder shots aswell as high and low, eye–level angles. Also the sequence or the order of the shots in trailers they tend to go in and also how the soundtrack has an effect on the trailer, fitting in with the different cuts. I then went on to pick an existing film magazine – Empire, and follow the same conventions.

Empire magazine is a well established film magazine, which promotes new films to a wide audience, informing them of new releases and trailers and stating reviews, while also including special features. After I analysed different issues of Empire, I noticed that the text of the name was always placed behind the model/character a majority of the time; a significance of what a well established magazine company it is, due to the audience being able to recognise it immediately. I used the same style of writing, the way in which reporters do; where I decided to research fonts on the internet on a website called Dafont and find one which was nearly identical of the version on the magazine and include this in my product. The font I downloaded and used in Photoshop was Champagne and Limousines. I followed the same conventions and included these in my ancillary product, such as the date, price, barcode, magazine’s website; to make it look a lot more realistic, while at the same time make it look exciting and attractive as possible, and appeal to my target audience. The close-up shot of Katie on the front cover of my magazine shows her head pointed sideward’s, appearing scared but also mysterious. According to theorist Marjorie Ferguson (1980) this is known as the Chocolate Box, where there would be emphasis on the eyes with them having a mystery mood. I followed the typical convention of using young, attractive women with slim/slender figures which would appeal to both the female and male audience.

One major element was use of positive language, as this is what captures the audience’s attention. I followed the same rule they tend to use for the colour scheme, which was where they used a maximum of 4-5 colours combined together. I was inspired by the layout and stories/features they included on their cover, and also the fact that most of the time they included a background of the character and the mise-en-scene, which covered the whole page.

As well as film trailers and magazines, another important product that is produced and promoted in the industry, is the film poster. I gathered together a range of horror posters including ‘Sorority Row’, ‘Drag Me to Hell’, ‘The Strangers’ and more and again analysed the typical conventions they used; and how I could aspire to them, allowing me to help receive appropriate ideas. The products used various camera shot distances in their posters such as long shot in ‘The Strangers’ to help create suspense, and close-up shots to emphasise the drama. I wanted to make it look eye-catching and exciting as possible and stand out to the audience. I noticed that the slogan line was a key element to attract people into going to see the film. The conventions they tend to use are the name of the film and its release date, as well as the name of the stars, credits/productions, shown at the bottom of the page and sometimes showing the age certificate and mise-en-scene to reflect the film’s plot. For instance, ‘The Strangers’ poster shows the mise-en-scene of a woman standing in a house, giving an indication that strangers have entered the woman’s home.The colour red and black is used the majority of the time in posters, which suggest danger/blood/evil. Planning was important to include such as flat plan designs (magazine and poster), storyboards, questionnaires, brainstorms and music samples. This helped to develop the work at a higher standard and challenge the forms and conventions of real media products.

From filming our teaser trailer, I have learned there are many different things that are involved and that need to be considered. For example, mise-en-scene is the placing of the setting to be filmed. We had to take into account what props were going to be involved, the lighting, character behaviour, make-up and anything else that will be in the frame of the camera lens at the time of filming. A typical horror film includes the most obvious mise-en-scenes such as graveyards, darkness, mists etc, which could be seen in the trailer ‘The Uninvited’. This was the reason why we used the forest as our location, to create suspense and drama. Not only did we include it in our trailer but again also through the ancillary texts. The setting is a major element when establishing what the genre of the film is.

From analysing horror trailers, I noticed there was a typical sequence that was used. The trailer begins with equilibrium, where it would start off normal but quite slow, with slow music, introducing the central characters and giving a brief insight of the storyline, highlighting the film company and other various texts. This is the case in our film trailer, where the music starts off quite slow; introducing the main characters Grace and Katie; showing the audience that they are up to something, which will draw the audience in, into wanting to go see it. What tends to be the case afterwards is the order of the story changes sequence sometimes jumping to the future or going back to past or presence. The scenes become shorter, while the cuts become a quick pace, with the music soundtrack matching this sequence, being upbeat.

As the audience we were targeting was 15-25 years old, we had to take into account what expectations would be expected throughout the trailer, to help attract the ideal audience. Daniel Chandlier quotes “Each written text provides a ‘reading position’ for readers, a position constructed by the writer for the ‘ideal reader’ of the text. Thus, embedded within texts are assumptions about the ‘ideal reader’, including their attitudes towards the subject matter and often their class, age, gender and ethnicity.” The audience will be able to understand the theme and know the certain generic convections, expecting them to happen.

We wanted the trailer to be effective and creative as possible, so using all of these different shots was essential to do. Close-up shots in the trailer show the reaction of the character which emphasises how they are feeling to the audience. For example the close-up shot of Grace in the bedroom scene, shows that she is up to something, and seeking to do something evil. The slow zooming in on Katie in the bedroom creates slow reactions, building up suspense. Over the shoulder shots are also used. This can be seen in the bathroom scene where the camera is shot behind her, as she quickly turns around giving a reaction. It looks as though someone is watching her from behind or approaching her again creating a dramatic effect, likewise in the living room scene where Grace is brushing her hair and she jumps and turns around when the door bangs shut. In the forest scene where Angellica is following one of the girls, a low angle shot of her feet is shown, suggesting she is the dominant character.

In the project, we have used young, female characters; where typical teenage culture is seen, i.e. jealousy. Through the different angle shots and close-up’s it represents the character’s mood, feelings and dominancy.
High angle shots in the trailer and in my ancillary texts (poster) show vulnerability. For example I decided to base my poster on the party scene from the trailer, where I used the typical convention of using the mise-en-scene of the actual setting of the living room, where the two friends Katie and Grace can be seen looking up to no good and mysterious; placing something in Angelica’s drink, while she is seen as an outsider standing behind them, looking innocent and as though she doesn’t belong in their world. She looks smaller suggesting how vulnerable she is and as if she’s threatened by them. I purposely have made them stand out bigger, as they are the more dominant characters in this clip, due to them being in control of the situation. We were careful of choosing what colour clothing they wore, to help represent each character. Angellica wore white to show innocence and the fact that she is the victim here, while Katie and Grace wore blue and pink, which are much more powerful colours, to show their dominance. Although it is a horror trailer, the poster does not really hold scary connotations, this reason for this is because I didn’t want to give too much away about the plot, and who the villain really was. However, I did use a black and white theme; black to represent bad.

Daniel Chandler: “Conventional definitions of genres tend to be based on the notion that they constitute particular conventions of content such as themes or settings or form (structure and style) which are shared by the texts which are regarded as belonging to them”. This quote relates well to the conventions I have stuck to where I have defined the type of genre I am using through the locations, lighting and angle shots/framing used.

•How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?

From looking at my main product and my ancillary texts, I’ve learned that a film trailer is not the only product that needs to be included when promoting a film. In the Media society today, what tends to be the case is the publicising of a magazine and poster of the film, a month before the release of the teaser trailer in the cinema, to help attract a great deal of attention to the film. Then the real trailer is released and shown in cinema and TV etc. The marketing and promotion departments of film companies also produce a plentiful supply of images and extract of the film, before they are released, meaning they can be widely talked about across television, newspapers, radio, videos etc (a slot is purchased in TV, radio to advertise the film and its features). They work together – a convergence of various individual ways of promoting a film, which can be used in various ways, such as trailer in cinema, on TV, on the movie’s website, on You Tube, being made available to iphones. However, because of our group not being experts who work in that industry, we were unable to advertise it like that. But there are two parts which we have included in our project, when promoting the film, which involves a poster, magazine and the trailer, which are distributed before the film’s release. On the poster I have used a typical convention of using basic information and a tagline, telling very little about the film, without revealing any spoilers. This is designed to tease the audience into thinking what it is about, and encouraging them to go see it through the exciting camera shot and slogan line. A realistic image of the key setting and the main characters has been incorporated into the film poster, with the page being portrait. Again, on my front cover of the film magazine, I have included the mise-en-scene from the film of the forest scene; a typical convention Empire uses, also fitting in with the narrative side of things too, as it straight away suggests the genre is horror, along with a powerful colour scheme which will stand out to the audience. Red I thought fitted extremely well with the genre Horror as it can suggest danger. Clear text was important, as I wanted it to be readable and easy to identify by the public.

Many films have a PR department that can help push advertising on television or radio, where the public will find all the latest press releases, photographs of products and applications, and other information of the film. Many films also have a production company such as Warner Bros Pictures and MGM. In this case, we have used Columbia Pictures, which is an American film production and distribution company.

It is important to buy advertising on television or radio or through magazines/posters, press screenings or special events, to help promote the film to an audience and to give worldwide publicity through interviews with stars, video clips from the trailer and podcasts which are then posted onto the movie’s website. It especially helps if the central characters in the film are international stars as they help attract different audiences, through their past films they have starred in. However, a film that is low budget, with unknown actors, for example Paranormal Activity ($17,000) have a much harder job when promoting it and becoming a success, which was bought and distributed by a major company. Doing this it spread across the internet and become a major success with the largest audience (15-25), meaning it appealed to the younger generation. This is the audience we were targeting, therefore we thought it would be a sensible idea to promote the film through a popular horror website (Dread Central) and setup a Blog; featuring song samples, trailers, video extracts, photographs, interviews, competitions and opportunities such as a poll’s or audience feedback to help make the product better and to make the public feel they have a say about the film. In the real world, we would have posted the trailer on the internet, through the movie’s website, along with a poster, as well as post interviews from the characters and public to make it look realistic as possible and make links to the film’s website or Facebook page.

In the age of Media 2.0 today a lot has changed, where promoting films have been a lot more flexible and achievable (can be producers/prosumers aswell as consumers) due to the high rise of internet users and mobile phone features; apps on iphones which give information on current films and future releases. It fits particularly well with the younger audience that we are targeting, as they favour this type of technology. Other features include social networking sites, like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Blogger, where the public can join groups or become fans of certain topics, and share/discuss their views via writing on the page’s walls. Twitter has become very popular with celebrities/actors nowadays, where they can update fans on news of what projects they are doing; again attracting the audience.

•What have you learned from your audience feedback?

Our decision for our target audience 15-25 was partially based on the audience’s feedback through questionnaires we handed out, as well as polls we presented on our Blogs. There tends to be a higher amount of the younger generation that prefer to watch a film based on the genre Horror, as it is the largest cinema-going section of the audience and horror films are also popular with this age group, which we found out from our research . For instance, it helped when we searched different film websites and their social site pages; where we had a brief look at what sort of fans and the average age range, which were fans who enjoyed watching these types of films. From our questionnaire we found that females were found to be the favourite choice to have as a victim in a horror trailer; which again could appeal to the male and female audience – Naomi Wolf “If you use an attractive model on the front cover, it helps attract both the female and male audience into purchasing the product”.

Once we had finished our teaser trailer, we posted it onto our blog, where the audience were able to watch it. We decided it would be a good idea to show the trailer to different types of audience, the audience we were aiming it towards (15-25) and to an older audience. Rachel Adams, 17 said that she “enjoyed watching the trailer and thought it would especially capture the female audience due to it including an upbeat, dance soundtrack and focusing on young girls’ antics.” She also went on to say that “it included the typical conventions of a teaser trailer such as credits and text etc and consisted of fast paced cuts, creating suspense.” However, we asked if there were any disadvantages, she said “if there was anything I’d have to comment upon it would be the fact that it could have been made a little bit scarier and shorter.” We then showed the trailer to the older generation. Jackie, 46 said that “she could tell it was a trailer based on the genre Horror, however it comes across a lot more like a spoof horror trailer.” She then later went on to say “it is exciting and holds a lot of drama through the fast pace cuts and various shots.”

•How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?

Throughout our project we used various samples of new media technologies such BlogSpot to create a website for our film, where the public could follow and post comments, You Tube where we were able to watch horror trailers and analyse them and furthermore the film’s homepage website’s and fan pages. We posted the hyperlink onto our Blogs, where the public would be able to view and access them. This fitted in well with the use of our multimedia skills. Questionnaires were handed out to the public, as well as a music poll presented on our blog’s. This was to help us find out what the general public would want to see in a horror trailer; preventing it being biased and it not just appealing to us as group of what we would prefer to see. The results were then presented in bar graphs and posted on our Blogs; making it easier to read and to show the audience that we took their answers seriously. Location was majorly important, so we decided to take photos of interior and exterior shots, using a digital camera and a tripod to maintain a good quality image to help us decide upon which location was the most appropriate to use and best suited. These were also posted on our Blogs along with our planning such as storyboards that we had scanned in to show our ideas and how far we have progressed. From using Blog, we have gone from a consumer to a producer one example being where we uploaded our trailer onto You Tube and then onto our Blogs, showing our technology skills.

Furthermore, from this project we have managed to develop our skills in Photoshop such as creating different effects such as placing shadowing on the photograph or font, editing fonts and cutting out images using the magic wand tool.

For the editing process we used the software Final Cut, where we were able to edit the clips and create text for the titles and credits such as a small introduction about the film. Once we had uploaded all footage onto the computer, we sat and viewed all of the clips, picking out the most realistic ones at the highest standard possible. From doing this we realised we were short on close-up and reaction shots, especially in the party scene so we therefore had to reshoot this scene, identifying what we had to do. We were aware we made some mistakes whilst filming such as when filming for the bathroom scene, in the glass you could see myself and Niomi’s reflection of the close-up shot of Katie. Therefore, we decided to cut the image and modify it slightly so it would make it a closer shot of her. Throughout all of the filming we made sure we filmed enough footage at different close-up shots and angles, for us to have plenty of variety to choose from and to avoid having to reshoot, because if it was an exterior shot and the weather was different it wouldn’t have worked. Therefore, the weather setting was an important element to have. Because our trailer is horror then for obvious reasons we wanted the natural lighting to be quite dull, gloomy and miserable to help create suspense, while interior lighting would appear dark, suggesting evil and the characters are victims here.

From the poll results we placed on our Blogs, about which music soundtrack would you like to see in a horror trailer, Sour Cherry was the most popular choice. Through the programme audicity we edited the song, where we cut it down to the appropriate length that our trailer was going to last for and then imported it into Final Cut. The song is quite upbeat and fast, which we wanted our trailer to be, to create a sense of excitement.

After we completed our film trailer, we had to upload it to You Tube first and then share it on our Blog Spot, via hyperlink where they could view the trailer and then post their opinions, allowing us to receive feedback and review the positive and negative comments, and what could have been improved or slightly changed. This shows how seriously we were taking our project, and how much we were willing to get it up to the highest standard. Overall I feel as though I have met the different conventions and connotations of existing media products and that my production gives a genuine/ real representation of products which include the genre Horror. Doing this it has enabled me to go on and progress my media skills.

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