Sunday, 20 March 2011

Evaluation Q1 - Use of Conventions

There are many different points in which ways our media products both relate and differ to real ones, for a number of different reasons. Mainly, when we were thinking of what to do for our production, we deconstructed lots of films that we were interested in using. By doing this, we ensured that each aspect of our film made sense and used important aspects of other films, which is a very important point as we made sure we included a lot of points from other films. The notes and themes analysed were American Psycho (2000, Mary Harron) (deconstruction of intro), (notes) , Donnie Darko (2001, Richard Kelly) and Lost Highway (1997, David Lynch).

These included themes, elements, clich├ęs, conventions and more when we started rafting our film. As a collective, all of us agreed that to make our films as good as possible, we had to incorporate these wisely and strategically into our own production. We made sure we took into accounts the conventions and forms used in the films that we watched, such as American Psycho, Donnie Darko and Lost Highway. These are the three films we studied in the most depth and took the most inspiration from, because they are all perfect examples of psychological thrillers, and have very important aspects and elements that we wanted to use in our production.

Notable examples of forms and conventions we used from films included the style of shooting, especially from the film Donnie Darko. In the film, the main character peers down a long staircase in the darkness, and we tried to replicate this in our own production by having a very similar shot taking place on the stairs. Another example of following the conventions and forms in our film is a shot taken from American Psycho. In the introduction sequence to the film, there is blood dripping on a white screen while the credits play. We took inspiration from this and decided that it would be a good idea to include a similar shot in Torment: Dreamscape, and we replicated this by pouring blood onto a surface in the introduction to our film. Lastly, we took an idea from Lost Highway, in which throughout the film there are a lot of hallway shots. As a group, we thought that the ominous, foreshadowing and foreboding look of the sequences looked marvellous, so we thought that it would be a good idea to do something similar for our shot. Our production includes similar hallway shots to Lost Highway, and there are a number of shots that reenact the main character of the film.

There are a few more ways in which our production uses and develops conventions of real media. These include camera angles, archetypes, binary opposites and more. Firstly, our films implements the use of a wide range of camera angles, and we did this because we wanted to keep the audience interested and  anxious to what will come next. The angles themselves range from close ups all the way to panoramic and establishing shots, and we included some angles for specific reasons, such as dutch tilt/dutch angles to signify that something is wrong, or that something bad might happen. We also used close-ups to signify panic and other expressions and themes intrinsic to our film. These are conventions in our film that are also used in real films, such as the ones we studied and took inspiration from. Sound was also a convention used, both diagetic and non-diagetic sound, and the soundtrack we used is closely related to that in films such as American Psycho; ie not too outstanding, but more subtle with a hidden message of foreboding.

We also heavily incorporated the aspect of mis-en-scene into our production. This is evident when the main character wakes up after the establishing shot; we took care to ensure that we used the element of verisimilitude, and we achieved this by trying to make the main character's bedroom look like a typical teenager's, maybe one living alone who has let his living conditions slip somewhat in his depression; there is litter and clothes everywhere, like empty drinks cans all over the desk. We also included verisimilitude by putting a copy of the book American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis on the desk, as well as Fight Club by Chuck Palahnuik, hinting at the possibility of a similar type of story.

American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis adding intertextuality and verisimilitude to the mis-en-scene.

Another convention that we included is the use of binary opposites throughout. This applied to characters, places, lighting and more. Primarily, the binary opposites are implemented in the flashback scenes in our film. We edited the past events to a black-and-white tint, so signify that it was definitely in the past, and this contrasts with the present which is in full colour. Other examples include the contrast between the two characters, and indeed the main character himself. Firstly, the film mainly focuses on the main character in the present day, and there doesn't seem to be anything noticeably bad about him, even though he looks slightly perturbed and troubled. This contrasts greatly to the second view, or second side, of the main character, and this side really makes an entrance when the flashbacks start happening. It is the given implication that the character has done something foul and horrible, as there a frequent scenes of knives and blood spatter (once again reminiscent of American Psycho). The lighting also plays a large part in the binary opposite theme, as there is lots of varying light in our film. For example, the establishing shot of the house is set in the pitch black, and it quickly changes to a brighter, interior light, signifying the importance of good (light) and evil (darkness).

Although we largely incorporate a large variety of conventions and forms used in real media productions, we also challenged and didn't take the normal route when it got to recording ours. For example, whereas most well-known psychological thrillers such as the ones mentioned above, there is at least a short introduction that focuses on a largely normal setting, with nothing too out of the ordinary. For example, the introduction to American Psycho features a few minor characters and the major one sitting in a restaurant and talking with each other about regular topics:

We challenged this convention and decided to get straight into our storyline straight away, without much time  apart from an establishing shot. We wanted to interest our viewers straight away and getting them to think about what was going on immediately. This differs from the convention of real psychological thrillers and slashers as there is normally a small introductory scene detailing some of the main characters, and this is a way in which we have challenged a form and conventions of real media products. 

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