Sunday, 26 December 2010

Psychological Thriller: An Introduction.

A psychological thriller generally tends to use very snappy cuts, as to keep the viewer in suspense- often leaving the action very unclear as to what happened to create a strong sense of narrative enigma, leaving the audience unclear as to what happened until it is revealed later in the film, another tactic that helps the film maintain its suspense is the use of sound, such as music to create a sense of atmosphere and pro-longed sense of dread that can last for scenes on end but it can be quite passive too. 

Lighting also plays a key role in the way that there is a strong use of shadow and the contrast with light, often masking things. The use of location often ties in strongly with a character and there is a repeated use of stairs and mirrors with the concept of illusion.
 The narrative often places an equal focus on character and on the plot of the film, however quite often the main character is found to be an unreliable narrator. Often the character has a back story that unravels as the film progresses and as such we gain a deeper understanding of the character as the film progresses. Often the character will have a conflict of identity- unsure about who they are or what their purpose is and as the film progresses the film explores the characters mind.

Notable Directors within the Psychological Thriller genre include:

Darren AronofskyWho directed Pi (1998) and Requiem for a Dream (2000).

Park ChanwookThe Korean director of the 'Vengance' Trilogy starting with Sympathy for Mr Vengeance (2002) about a man who is deaf and seeks a way to find his ill sister a new kidney.

Brian De Palma- The Director of Dressed to Kill (1980), notable for its strong use of dreams and mirrors and with strong aspects of a characters sexuality.

David Fincher- The Director of Fight Club (1999) a film about a man who is deeply unhappy with life and seeks a way to change everything around him. 

Mary Harron- She directed the film American Psycho (2000) about a wealthy young businessman, it includes several narrative aspects of the genre such as a first person narrator who is shown to be unreliable as the plot pans out.

Richard Kelly- Donnie Darko (2001), follows all of the conventions and leaves the audience guessing and lets the viewer interprit the ending. 

Stanley Kubrick- Films such as A Clockwork Orange (1971), focus on thecharacters mentality or in this case...lack of it.

David Lynch- Very surrealistic style of film, often the characters and the audience are left to decide what happened, for example Lost Highway (1997).

Martin Scorsese- Directed Shutter Island (2010).

Thursday, 16 December 2010

AS Media Film Pitch

The basic idea is that the home is being possessed by some force unseen- much like Amnityville Horror (1979)
Dir: Stuart Rosenberg

We have a quiet suburban house with no one home, everything quiet apart from someone upstairs, the viewer can tell because of some diagetic music heard from upstairs- but apart from that it appears the house is empty and fairly void of life. The camera then goes through several empty hallways to once again establish that no one else is home part from this one person and then finally we have a low angle shot of someone ( a teenage male) on the computer doing drugs and we then hear something falling downstairs such as a pan- the boy turns around and it is the first time we see his face. As he turns his computer screen flickers to show an eye blinking and looking at him and when he turns back around it's gone. He goes to investiage this unusual sound but begins to hear voices in his head saying various things- very quiet and the viewer wondering whether or not it is in his head or not. We have several POV shots from behind the teenager but nothing is ever confirmed to be following him and as he makes his way downstairs a shadow on the wall that looks like a hand seems to be reaching for him. However as he gets into the kitchen things get louder and louder and doors slam shut and it sounds like someone is trashing the house. He enters the kitchen and everything seems perfectly fine but as he turns off the light we hear a lound noise; as he wakes up.

I enjoyed the suburban setting- the feeling that the house is condemned; despite the seeming pleasant exterior. For example the shot above- a seemingly normal house with something dark hidden away inside. 
It makes a good loction for filming because it conveys that normality of a typical suburban middle class housing estate. For this reason it would make a great estblishing shot

I'd use a camera shot much like this because it conveys the aspect of binary opposition- a sense that there might be something else in the shot that the viewer cannot see.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Possible AS Film Opening Titles

  • Discord
  • Schism
  • Dissension 
  • Acid, blotter, cheer, dots, drop, flash, hawk, L, lightning flash, liquid acid, Lucy, micro dots and other names for LSD, as the hallucinogenic is a main part of the storyline.
  • Fissure
  • Rift
  • Disunity
  • Partition

  • The names that aren't related to drugs are all synonyms of the word 'split'. They are used because a split is what happens in the storyline, as the main character is separated, or split from reality through drug use.  

Friday, 10 December 2010

Edits to preliminary task

After our initial edit, we were given tasks to do and pointers about editing our film to make it more continuous:

  • Start 3rd shot later - edit so there's no pauses/jumping
  • Don't show victim or/and face of villain
  • Close up of villain showing identity
  • 4th shot earlier
  • Edit 6h shot - no pauses
  • Sound quality needs improving
  • Camera should be steadier, not shaky
  • Cut part of walking scene
  • No panning - should be over shoulder
  • Instead of two-shot, use high angle
  • Close up of fire extinguisher
  • No 'time traveling'
  • Following chair being pushed away
  • Sound effect of hit, skull being smashed

Monday, 6 December 2010

My Pre-lim task

Preliminary exercise: Continuity task involving filming and editing a character opening a door  and crossing a room and sitting down in a chair opposite another character, with whom she/he then exchanges a couple of lines of dialogue. This task should demonstrate match on action, shot/reverse shot and the 180-degree rule. 

Match-on action: A match on action, a technique used in film editing, is a cut that connects two different views of the same action at the same moment in the movement. By carefully matching the movement across the two shots, filmmakers make it seem that the motion continues uninterrupted.

Shot/reverse shot: Shot reverse shot is a film technique where one character is shown looking at another character (often off-screen), and then the other character is shown looking back at the first character. Since the characters are shown facing in opposite directions, the viewer assumes that they are looking at each other.

180-degree rule: The 180° rule is a basic guideline in film making that states that two characters (or other elements) in the same scene should always have the same left/right relationship to each other. If the camera passes over the imaginary axis connecting the two subjects, it is called crossing the line.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Sorority House Massacre Deconstruction

Deconstruction of "Sorority House Massacre"

Sorority House Massacre

Long opening credits with tense music building up - 1.17 minutes long
-Picturesque house
-Extremely slow zoom in as credits play
-Credits are sans-serif font
-Creepy, eerie and suspenceful music
-Wind blowing un the trees signifies presence
-White house with all the lights on

When the title of the film appears
-Traditional greek lettering for a sorority
-Then "massacre" is shown with blood-red colour, serif font, blood splatter - Sets the theme of the film
-Futuristic sound effect when "massacre" is revealed, building up tension

-Cuts to medium close up of main character in hospital, in the bright daylight
-Shot changes to midshot/2 shot of main character and the new entered character
-Flashback cue
-Creepy, scene setting music begins to play again
-Camera tracks footsteps- Low angle shot
-Door of the big white house is ominous and forboding
-Zooms in on another character sleeping- this hightens tension as footsteps are also heard
-There is a shadow next to the bed; someone is leaning of the character
-Scene cuts to a tracking shot of the empty sorority house - signifies lonliness
-Zooms in on character again; death is imminent
-Camera tracks through dark, creepy hallways
-Cut back to main character, close up to show fear
-Figure in bed
-Scene cuts to main character and new one- mood is lightened temporarily
-Camera looks downstairs, long shot of a girl in the doorway
-Music/atmosphere rises
-Man in the bed wakes up- Extreme close up of his face
-Blood- curdling scream from room- camera zooms out quickly
-Cut to 2 characters in daylight - midshot
-Final shot of little girl again

-A blue tint may have been used to create a dark effect

-Tense music throughout to create the illusion that something bad is going to happen
-it becomes fast and upbeat during parts to get the audiences hearts racing

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Deconstructing 12A's Microdramas: "Footsteps" - Emily Moore and Charlotte Barraclough

After the credits, the drama is quick to include and establishing shot. which in this case is a tracking, over-the-shoulder shot featuring the possible hero (Charlotte) and the donor (Emily). It also includes two of Propp's archetypes, which the donor gives the hero (or main character) a magical object, which in this case is a necklace. This scene also includes the first stage of equilibrium too, as the outset of the film is established. 

The following scene depicts the main character walking off after being given the necklace, and then three people chasing after her sneakily. This shot features a low/floor mid shot of the villain's feet. This is used to portray a narrative enigma as to who is following the hero, although we do actually find out later on the the film. Throughout the scenes, the creators and editors have used digetic sound, ie only natural sound is used, and it is implemented to create tension and to make the viewer more aware of what is happening between the characters. This part also establishes the second stage of equilibrium, in which a disruption is caused by action. 

The next scenes follow the villains pursuing the main character, and being visible, removing the previously laid narrative enigma. Zooming of the camera lens is also used to add to the tension. A transition is then used to signify a new part in the film, with the possible hero and the helper (Mel) being continuously stalked by Sophie and Faye who are portraying villains, with the probable intent of stealing the necklace from the main character (Charlotte), even though there were 3 sets of feet at the beginning. The mid-shot confirms that the hero knows of her pursuers, upon which they flee, using a medium to long shot, and the equilibrium is resolved. 

The target audience could be anyone who is able to understand the plotline, as there is no graphical content or swearing eg, so I would have thought that a suitable audience could be 11+ would be a suitable audience. Possible inclusions of social implications could involve the way there is a problem with crime in the country at the moment, what with the way Sophie and Faye portray two thieves. Possibly. 

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Lessons learned from our Micro Drama

1. Getting organised: It is vital that all the documents etc used in the creating of the Microdrama are readily available, so you now when to shoot, what to shoot and at what time, so everything is made easier

2. Make sure everyone knows what they're doing as to avoid confusion and to ensure you can film without any problems as to who does what

3. How to use a camera, eg videoing, panning, tracking, high shots and low shots etc

4. Make sure your choices for location cause no problems, eg wind blocking out dialogue

5. How to use iMovie to edit, add titles, transitions, sound effects and music

6. Learning to incorporate Propp's archetypes

7. Learning to incorporate Todorov's states of equilibrium

8. Make sure the best actors get the most crucial parts

9. Making sure to include binary oppositions

10. Don't forget to add extras to the video for higher entertainment value

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Top 5 Favourite Movies Ever Made

1. Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001)

  • Director: Peter Jackson
  • Duration: 178 minutes
  • Rated: PG
  • IMDB rating: 8.8/10
  • Budget: $93,000,000
  • Box Office: $314,776,114

Simply one of the greatest films ever made, in my opinion. An epic and powerful fantasy adventure, and one of the best adaptation from a book that I've ever seen. The Two Towers and Return Of the King are also amazing, check them out now if you haven't already!

The Battle Of The Last Alliance, LOTR

The amazing battle scene at the beginning of the film, between an alliance of Elves and Men, against the forces of Mordor.



2. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Duration: 169 minutes
  • Rated: 15
  • IMDB rating: 8.5/10
  • Budget: $70,000,000
  • Box Office: $216,119,491

A stunning World War II film following the story of American soldiers in France trying to track down someone, with plenty of brilliant battle scenes and emotion thrown into the mix. 

An infamous fighting scene in Saving Private Ryan, between Pvt. Jackson and a German sniper.

Re-release trailer: 

3. District 9 (2009)

  • Director: Neill Blomkamp
  • Duration: 112 minutes
  • Rated: 15
  • IMDB rating: 8.3/10
  • Budget: $30,000,000
  • Box Office: $115, 502, 313

A brilliant science fiction thriller film following differences between humankind and the unhostile aliens, or "prawns". It is bloody and exciting film that also deals with matters of xenophobia and social segregation. 

    Wikus Van Der Merwe and an MNU soldier evict a prawn from its settlement. 


  • Directors: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
  • Duration: 91 minutes
  • Rating: 15
  • IMDB rating: 8.4/10
  • Budget: £229,575
  • Box Office: £80,371,739

The best comedy film ever made, simple. Absolutely hilarious roles from the Pythons, with the Black Knight and Tim the Sorcerer, as well as the French soldiers and Sir Lancelot's running cycle making the film flawless.  

The side-splitting run towards the castle, by Sir Lancelot (John Cleese) 
He then proceeds to kill everyone in the castle. 

The classic scene of King Arthur and The Black Knight after his blatant defeat.


5. 300 (2007)

  • Director: Zack Snyder
  • Duration: 117 minutes
  • Rating: 15
  • IMDB rating: 7.8/10
  • Budget: $70,000,000
  • Box Office: $456,068,181
300 is a superb action film, adapted from the graphic novel. King Leonidas leads 300 Spartans into battle against Persian "God-King"Xerxes and his army of more than one million soldiers. Bloody and gory battles ensue, and the effects used are outstanding. 

Immortals, the Persian army's elite soldiers.


Friday, 8 October 2010

My Coursework Task


Your mission is to carry out the following brief:
Preliminary exercise: Continuity task involving filming and editing a character opening a door, crossing a room and sitting down in a chair opposite another character, with whom she/he then exchanges a couple of lines of dialogue. This task should demonstrate match on action, shot/reverse shot and the 180-degree rule.
Main task: the titles and opening of a new fiction film, to last a maximum of two minutes.
All video and audio material must be original, produced by the candidate(s), with the exception of music or audio effects from a copyright-free source.

The coursework is worth 50% of the AS (same at A2) and the marking (detailed later) is divided into 3 sections:

  • In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? 
  • How does your media product represent particular social groups?
  • What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why? 
  • Who would be the audience for your media product? 
  • How did you attract/address your audience? 
  • What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product? 
  • Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?
When the examiner is marking all this, they have got to write a paragraph for the exam board justifying the marks we've been given. The grid embedded below summarises the criteria they have to follow, and so we're advised to occasionally re-read this and ask ourselves where we think we'll fall within the marking scheme. For each section there are key components of the work which they have to assess as being one of the following:

If we  think we're currently at the 'minimal' or 'basic' level for any of these, ask ourselves and Mr. Burrowes what we can do to jump up to at least proficient.