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Monday, 31 January 2011

Preliminary Exercise/Editing : REVIEW/SKILLS ©

For our preliminary exercise, we were expected to film a character opening a door, sitting on a chair and exchanging a few words between each other. However we had to base it on a thriller film, for example the techniques used. We made our exercise into a sci-fi clip, because we thought it would be interesting to do, and editing could make it more interesting.

Our idea was to have a girl, which I was chosen for unfortunately, to walk into a room and have someone from the future, which was Eda, to tell me that I will die in the next 7 days, but she could save me supposedly. We wanted to include a few different camera angle shots to make our scene more interesting. We started with a match cut with my hand opening the door, with a cut away/match cut of my foot stepping on the room. In all honesty we probably just did it to increase interest in the audience, and to possibly create suspense, though that wasn't our aim. We also used a lot of OTS shots to show that there is conversation with the characters, and possibly to show the audience there is a connection between the two people.

I think it went well considering the fact that we didnt do much planning. However, for our film I feel that proper planning is in order.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Black Swan : RESEARCH ©

 Black Swan

Last night, I went to see an amazing film called Black Swan, which is about Nina (Natalie Portman) ballet dancer that grows an unhealthy, dangerous obsession with gaining the lead part in a production called Swan Lake, and has a deep confusion for what is reality or imagination. This film seems to be a psychological thriller, with some romance/erotic aspects included, due to the fact of the sexual scenes within the film.

I really enjoyed this film, it made me speechless. The camera work blew me away. I could tell it was from a director that likes to break the rules. It was mainly handheld camera work, which increased the suspense and tension in the audience, as well as making you feel like you are dancing with her, like you are part of the production. I loved the way they mixed her mental issues and infused it with her obession and compulsion for dance and competition, which truly made this a memorable, captivating film. Black Swan used some typical suspense techniques, such as the false plateau's when her mother turns up suddenly. What made this film thrilling was the fact you couldn't tell what was real or false, especially when her eyes appeared to turn into that of a swan, and the scene when her legs appear to violently contort into that of a swans legs. The audience then later realises that it is all in her imagination, she believes she is turning into the black swan, she is slowly losing herself. All her hard work and effort pays off in the end, not sure if for the better or worse.

I would like to reference some techniques in this film in my groups thriller film. I really liked the camera movement, the way in and out. It sort of, gave you an insight of the mind of Nina (Portnam). It really portrayed the transformation in her character, to innocent and pure to the complete opposite. Flawless film.

                                                The trailer for it is here:

Friday, 28 January 2011

watch black swan: RESEARCH

Black swan
On the 28th January I watched Black Swan in the cinema, I found this film both very disturbing and thrilling at the same time. In order to understand the film you had to pay close attention because it did get confusing at some moments. The film was based around a ballet dancer who wins the lead in the production "Swan Lake" and seems to be perfect for the role of the graceful white swan, but not so ideal for the black swan. However with time she slowly loses her mind as she becomes more and more like the black swan. The film shows two sides of Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) but like I earlier mentioned the viewer has to pay very close attention. Black Swan is a psychological thriller, which I consider the most thrilling and exciting thrillers because it really questions your mind and make focus on details more.
I liked the opening title sequence of this film because it was a huge contrast to the rest of the movie. The film started without any images but just credits accompanied with orchestra music which signifies purity and gentleness in contrast to the rest of Black Swan because even though some of the dancers are accompanied with soft and gentle music it never as innocent as the beginning. Which just comes to show Nina transforming from a white swan to a black swan. The whole film is quite mysterious, one thing might appear so clear but the viewer later on finds out that might not have certainly happened.

Preliminary Match Cut Annimatic Storyboard : PLANNING

This is the storyboard for my groups Preliminary Match cut Exercise. I took the images as i would be directing the short film, and so we produced this animatic using Jelly Baby's to portray our Actors.  

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Your response to the 'Watching' Documentary : RESEARCH ©


In class we watched a documentary about opening title sequences called 'Watching', and it is about how significant opening titles are to the rest of the movie. Is it crucial to have an amazing opening to draw the reader in early on? Or is it better to have a fairly bland opening, so that the movie seems lifted and more interesting to watch? We will find out...

In the documentary, Thomas Sutcliff, the voiceover and presenter of the show, said this interesting statement, 'Films need to seduce their audience into long term commitment. While there are many types of seduction, the temptation to go for instant arousal is almost irresistible '. I think by this statement he meant that the audience need to be dragged in from the moments the credits start rolling, in order to capture their interest so that it will be continual throughout the film. However, Jean Jacques Beineix, a Director, says that there is a high risk for 'instant arousal'. This could possibly be due to his feeling that films should 'nurture the desire' and make you 'wait for the excitment'. I do agree with his point that you shouldnt give too much away to avoid the audiences disappointment towards the film, if it doesn't live up to the opening that is. On the other hand, if the opening is bland, then the audience is most likely to switch off before even getting a chance to be engaged. So in theory you can't really win. In my opinion though, I do prefer instant arousal, as personally I like to be dragged in from the start, sometimes a little too much suspense is daunting.

'A good beginning must make the audience feel that it doesn't know nearly enough yet, and at the same time make sure that it doesn't know too little.' This quote, said by the presenter of the film, means that knowledge actually keeps the audiences interest. If the audience knows barely anything by the first 2 mins of the opening, they are likely to switch off. Why do you think in the famous play, Romeo and Juliet, we were told the whole plot before the play? This is because the audiences curiousity makes them want to find out how and why it happened.

Some filmmakers and critics believe that openings should follow a certain structure to draw their audience in. Critic, Stanley Kauffman, describes the classic opening as one that should start with a good establishing shot, for example an overview of NYC, then a a zoom in of a particular building, probably an apartment, then a high angle shot tilt of the building, followed by a zoom in of the window, then the bedroom, and then the scene. He described it as 'everythings in place'. This could be considered the classic opening because it sets the scene and prepares the audience for the film. Personally, I do like this opening as it does set the scene, but then again a little variety would be appreciated. A director who likes to break the rules and change peoples perceptions of the perfect opening would be liked.

The Art of the Title Sequence : Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: RESEARCH

I liked this title sequence because it was like watching something new and fresh. The opening image we see is of the Universal Studios I dent, this image is pixelated along with the music being changed to a more game like feeling; this is to show or parody a retro style. The title itself is interesting, the font is nothing special but is still stylised with the ‘the word’ font being different, I believe this is to symbolise that Scott Pilgrim is different from the world.  The images that are used are quite graphical, I think that it has a sort of anime theme to it in terms of how the images come about, for example when the band start playing and we get the credits the images come from instruments being played, so in essence we get visuals of audio, this is what really appeals to me about this particular opening.


Response to 'Watching' Documentary : RESEARCH

Thomas Sutcliffe explained that film openings needs to seduce the audience into long-term commitment. He meant that the opening must grab the audience from the off, Danny Boyle said that it must show enough ambition at the beginning to entice the audience to keep watching.

However, different directors have different views for example Jean Jacques takes the view that the film opening title sequence should be patient and that the audience should wait and experience an organic building of the story and excitement, and then reach a climax. Jean explains that the risks of immediate arousal is that you would have to hold that same level of excitement throughout the while films, maybe you wont achieve this and answer all their questions.

The beginning shot is very hard, as it has to make sure that the audience does not know everything but sill enough to keep them enticed to watch it. The introduction of characters, the setting and the general tone of it helps the audience identify how they will react and feel about this film. The audience has to feel like they want to know more, it is said that once you as the director have the audience on your wavelength, it allows you to do anything.

Stanley Kauffmann, a film critic described the classic film openings to be that of establishing shots such as the city of New York. He also said this went on to be evolved into shots that show you the setting but then zoom in and show more and more, and end up showing where characters live or work and how the world they are in works.

An effective title sequence is something that hits the audience on the head from the off, wake them up and reel them into the feel, an example of this is from the title sequence of the film ‘Sev7n’. The opening has a psychotic feeling and tone and some of the images we see are clear foreshadowing of what is to come in the film.

Orson wells, the director of Citizen Cane, wanted to achieve the feeling of being in the film straight away and forgetting that your even watching a film, in his ‘A Touch Of Evil,’ however Universal Studios didn’t agree and they put into the scene titles and also another score, this allowed for the opening to lose some edge.

Film Noirs are films that where usually made in the night, one of their favourite tricks is to have the end of the film at the beginning, this entices the audience because they will want to know what happens at the beginning to reach this point, an example of this is Memento by Christopher Nolan.

The Shinning is an excellent piece of Cinema. The opening title scene is very effective as the use of a high angle camera gliding in the sky looking down upon a car is as if they are being prayed. The slant that the camera does also adds to the awkwardness and weirdness.

Structure of Thriller Openings with Examples : RESEARCH

Looking at the vast amounts of thriller films made, they all seem to open with three basic structures, a narrative opening, discrete title sequence and titles over a blank screen. Below I will be looking at each in a bit more detail:

A Narrative Opening:
A narrative opening is when the story of the film is taking place, with the title sequence running with it at the same time but over the images, one example of this is the panic room opening.

What we can see from this is the opening credits running over the images from the movie, both working in unison with the music. We don’t get any other information apart from the credit and the fact that the story seems to be based in a city. We also don’t get any foreshadowing or any sense of tone to which we could have guessed how the film would be in terms of atmosphere.

A Discrete Title Sequence:
A discrete title sequence is when title sequences are separately edited sequences; they stand alone from the film opening. They are edited and stylised in post production.

This is the opening from the film ‘Enemy of the State,’ and right from the off we can see heavy editing in terms of how many cuts there are, these cuts are synchronised  well with the heavy and fast music. As the audience we can get a very good idea that the tone of this film and its atmosphere will be one of action and thrill. The credits are there ever present over the editing opening.

Title over a Blank Screen:
These are openings that have the title appear in a blank screen, that then are followed by a narrative opening. An example of this type of opening is from the film Donnie Darko.

Here title here is the last thing we see, it is separate from what we have just seen, and is given the most time to be viewed by the audience. The title itself with the slightly weird font and also the weird situation in which we have found the main character suggest this feel will be weird and complex.

There is also another type of opening to thriller films, which can be called ‘Stylised Editing’. The stylised editing is when the opening has many effects and is visually complex meaning that the director and editor have taken a long time in post production.

Font Analysis : RESEARCH

The font is very important tool, for anyone making film openings and even posters; this is because the style of a font, the size of it and even the colour can go a long way in telling the audience how the film is for example its tone, atmosphere and genre.

There are mainly two types of fonts:

Serif fonts –
These fonts are usually used in a more serious context, and so films such as period’s pieces and romance films would use these fonts.
Examples are ‘courier’ & Times New Roman

Sans Serif fonts
 This font type is seen as more modern and friendly, less formal. Films such as romantic comedies, and comedies would use them.
Examples are ‘Arial’ & ‘Calibri’

Font Analysis of a Font that appeals to me:

The font of the film Terminator 2 is very appealing to me because I feel it fits it purpose extremely well. The font is striking and looks metallic, this is an obvious link with the fact that the terminator is made out of metal himself. Also the font looks artificial, as if it has been bent into shape this again complements how the main character was created. The font is simple but effective, it is not formal or informal but yet maintains a seriousness.The font is very important tool, for anyone making film openings and even posters; this is because the style of a font, the size of it and even the colour can go a long way in telling the audience how the film is for example its tone, atmosphere and genre.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Introduction to editing: SKILLS

In our lesson quite a while back we received an introduction on how to use Final Cut pro, they taught us most of the basic skills in order to understand the programme.  We was then given loads of different shots already filmed and was told to match cut them and create a scene in a movie.
When editing the video clips I had to consider the continuity, camera angles and pace. It was very important that I got this all right because otherwise it would have jumped or wouldn’t have been as smooth as it could be. The continuity was important because it joined the clips together so they run smoothly. The camera was also as important because if one clip had a different camera angle from the other it was harder to link them together. The pace was very significant because if all the clips were at similar pace the whole think run more smoothly.
To create my final video I used quick cuts, long cuts and also shot reverse shot to try and make my video more efficient. I used quick cuts to shorten some of the clips because they were way too long and could bore the viewer. However I did use some long cuts too and this was to create a sense of suspense. I also included shot reverse shots to show the connection between the characters and also to show the exchange of the lunch box.
I did find that there were some limitations with the shots given. Mainly because some of the clips were shot in the different camera angles which made it harder to link them and create continuity. I think if I were to film the clips I would have used different camera angles so it would have been easier to link together.
If I was to do it all over again I would try and cut the clips shorter or make them longer so they wouldn’t jump when moving to the next one.
Overall I believe that I could put the skills I learnt into use when editing our thriller title sequence. But now that I have some more experience I hope to create a more successful sequence.

Font analysis: RESEARCH

The font used can change very dramatically how we view the opening scene of a film, it can expose hints about the story that we now won’t need to be told. The font has to be very prĂ©cised to its specific need, the size, shape, effect and movement of the font have to be exactly right to give out the right impression about the genre of the film.  
The Number 23 contact sheetThe opening title sequence I watched was ‘the number 23’, the opening was so well set out it really gave you a thrill and without saying anything made it very clear that this film would have a lot to do with the number ‘23’. They have used a serif font for the credits, which looks  very historical and appears like it’s been written on a type writer which gives the that it can be very old, and could be implying that it concerns someone’s history and past. There are no images included in the opening sequence, but loads of number and sentences which seem to somehow add up to 23 which increases the suspense, and makes the view want to find out why this number has such an immense meaning. In addition the background they have decided to use is brown/yellow which again gives the impression that it’s old and can suggest that its regarding someone’s past. The numbers and credits seem to move at unsuspected times which can suggest that the film has an unsuspected twist. Also at times blood starts to spread and splatter from the number 23 which again creates suspense and impatience to find out what will happen in the film. I found this opening sequence very effective because it really does keep the audience entertained and wanting to find out more and this is all done with both the font and the jerky nature of the camera.

watching a thriller: RESEARCH

The opening of Devil is very interesting in many ways for example it starts with no image and all that can be heard is a voice over, this creates both suspense and anticipation. When an image does appear it is upside down with suggests that the film will be abnormal and unnatural. They used a sans serif font which was quite basic, small and bold. In a way the font contrast the movie because it’s white and normal unlike the images being shown behind and also the movie as a whole. The music also helped in creating suspense, it was thrilling and upbeat. The camera then travels down to the elevator which can imply that, that will be the main setting. Throughout the film there are loads of different hints given to suggest that the film is somehow related to the ‘devil’ which can foreshadow what will happen next. The most obvious one is the light flashing every time something bad is going to happen, some more settle ones are the devil face in the camera and also the camera showed all people in the lift dead when they wasn’t. All these hints suggest that something unnatural and horrific will occur. The flashback shown of the man committing a ‘hit and run’ suggests that all people in the elevator had committed a sin of some sort and that is why they have been killed. I found some aspects of the film very thrilling and anticipating, over all I fairly enjoyed this film.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Arts of the tittle: RESEARCH

Se7en contact sheetI watched the title sequence of Se7en I really liked this opening, I found it very effective and exciting, I also really liked the editing effects used. The style of the font was a serif font, it was skinny and small it looked like it had been scratched on the screen. I found the font very interesting and I think it made the opening sequence more thrilling. In a way the font can imply someone being tortured or something similar to that. What I found fascinating is that they only used ECU which is quite different to other openings. The camera was probably hand held which is how they got that shaky effect, which worked so well with the images and font. When editing they have used a lots ECU’s to make them move from one to the other very rapidly which again adds a very thrilling effect. What I like most about this opening is the speed of the images changing, but at the same time you get just enough information to insinuate what the film could be about. So over all I think the font, camera and images work very well together to create a thrilling and exciting title sequence.

Structure of openings: RESEARCH

I watched the title sequence of Se7en I really liked this opening, I found it very effective and exciting, I also really liked the editing effects used. The style of the font was a serif font, it was skinny and small it looked like it had been scratched on the screen. I found the font very interesting and I think it made the opening sequence more thrilling. In a way the font can imply someone being tortured or something similar to that. What I found fascinating is that they only used ECU which is quite different to other openings. The camera was probably hand held which is how they got that shaky effect, which worked so well with the images and font. When editing they have used a lots ECU’s to make them move from one to the other very rapidly which again adds a very thrilling effect. What I like most about this opening is the speed of the images changing, but at the same time you get just enough information to insinuate what the film could be about. So over all I think the font, camera and images work very well together to create a thrilling and exciting title sequence.

Livetype and Soundtrack Pro: RESEARCH

In our lesson we got an introduction to Livetype and Soundtrack Pro by the technician, even though they only demonstrated some of the basics, it still helped to understand the programme and made it easier to use. Furthermore I do wish to increase my knowledge of the two programmes as we get more chances to use it. However I did learn how to change the effects on my text, such as fade. I also found that you could also have your text written in pencil and all other interesting effects.
This wasn’t my first time using Soundtrack pro, so i found it easier than Livetype.Soundtrack pro isn’t too difficult to use, all you have to is pick a sound and drag it in the timeline, after this you can fade it in and out, put the volume down and more. Soundtrack pro will be very important to my thriller opening because sound makes a huge difference to how the opening comes across to the viewer. In my introduction I come across loads of different sounds that could be included in my thriller like screams and scratches but I can’t yet make my mind up seeing as we still haven’t got an idea on what our final idea will be.
Overall i haven’t got many ideas on what effects to use in my thriller opening but hopefully when me and my group decide on what we’re doing I will have more inspiration.

Thiller audience: RESEARCH

  1. There was 31 suspense films released in 2009 and 503 released altogether last year.
  2. Action, animation and comedy films account 52% of Box Office in the UK in 2009. This is because they are family movies and can appeal to a wider audience.
  3. I think thrillers account for such a low proportion of UK Box Office because most have a smaller age range because you have to be over a specific age to watch them which cancels out a large amount of audience.
  4. From the genre by gender diagram I can tell that women enjoy more suspense thrillers in contrast to men who enjoy more SCI-FI’s and crime. But you can clearly tell that both men and women enjoy horror films equally.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Structure of Openings with Examples : RESEARCH ©


I watched the opening trailer of Arlington Road and although not my favourite thriller opening, I quite liked the editing effects used. The font wasnt particularly interesting or different, it is just a sans serif font, which is quite bold and thick, which could portray some sort of seriousness in the context of the film. What's interesting is that the although the background images are pretty normal, with variation of camera angles and shots from ECU shots to EWS shots to handheld camera work, the editing has slightly shifted the connotations of these images. Editing effects such as negative pictures, pictures tinted red (and the connotations of red are danger and blood).

What appeals to me about this title sequence is the way they distort normality. I quite like this, because the camera angles and shots are relatively simple, as long as you are a pro at editing to make it as effective as this :)

Font Analysis : RESEARCH ©

Font Analysis
Font is a very important aspect of an opening title sequence, as it can reveal elements of the film, without the story even being told. The shape, size, typeface and movement of the font can reveal the genre of the film, from thriller to comedy to sci-fi.

I watched the opening title sequence to Se7en and I got the thrills from just watching the opening. It really appeals to me because it is very effective at evoking suspense just by the text itself. The font for the credits is somewhat childlike in it's sans serif format, in that it looks hand written. This contrasts with the backgroud images of deformed hands, razor blades and needles because these are quite disturbing objects to have. Also, the text background differs between images and just a black screen to this futher enhances the erractic, shaky nature of the text. The text looks almost scratched out, like chalk on a blackboard, which could possibly reflect the torture that is represented in these images.

 I really like this opening title sequence, hopefully I would use something somewhat like this in my groups thriller opening, it is v. effective.

What Interests Me In Intertexuality In Films: Research

Intertexuality basically means a film borrowing an idea from another film, and you might realise that some films may have similar camera angles, use of mise en scene and sound. One example could be a numerous number of films using ideas of the shower scene from the successful known film 'Psycho'.

What i love about intertexuality is that lots of film directors have copied the idea of famous brilliant movies scenes but have changed it to their content and made it more successful and more effective to the audience and in the way they use the idea.

Now let me get into more depth of why Psycho was used to much. The film was very famous for its shower scene in which it conveys horror and voilence, without showing a great amount of detail. When the unfortunate victim inside the shower falls after being stabbed, the shower curtain rail unhooks from the railing which is greatly used in many films.

Another example where intertexuality is used is in the great film 'Stepfather' where the stepfather is stabbed brutally in the neck and falls into the shower with the shower curtain rails being ripped off and falling in the bathtub with him. The similarity of both films is that when significantly injured characters would use any type of object for balance and support in order for them not to fall.

Introduction To Camera, Skills

In one of our media lesson, we was given a tutorial session on how to use technical equipment like memory cards and cameras properly to create a adequate film. He taught us all the basics and also the health and safety issues on how to take care of it and use it properly with care.

The teacher gave us two SD memory cards, both cards being able to record on average one our filming. The reason for two memory cards is that it saves us lots of time of having to take one memory card out and replace it with another when a card is full, so it saves us time and effort. Therefore when one memory card is full of recording it automatically switches to the next one.
Now about the battery, the teacher told us to get the battery and slide it in the video camera and lock, and the safety issues of the camera is that we shouldnt force the battery in our pull it out as it would damage both the battery and the video camera.
In addition the have the best camera shots and camera movements he told us to use a tripod where the video camera would rest on, this would make the filming more steady and better.

One thing i thought would be good was if the tripod could go lower so you could have the video camera more closer to the floor, this would make more shots easier to do. At the time being in the film we made about a newspaper, the shots we took were POV, close up and some over the shoulder shots. But with more time with the camera and more recordings to come we would be doing more types of shots.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Livetype and Soundtrack Pro : SKILLS ©

Livetype and Soundtrack Pro
To tell the truth, I didn't learn much from the introduction of Livetype or Soundtrack Pro that our teacher showed me, I only learnt the basics. Therefore I can't really write much about it, but hopefully I
will expand in knowledge as I get more in touch with the feel of the program. However, what I did learn was the variety of different effects you can do with the text you use, such as fade out and dissolve. You can also have the effect of the text being made out of clay, or being drawn on with pencil, which I found pretty cool, but not exactly useful for a thriller opening title sequence. For my own thriller sequence, I would have wanted to use the text effect 'Frigid', which creates the effect that is similar to the one used in the movie 'Se7en'. I didn't think text could have so much of an impact on what impressions the audience will get from the film. I found that just from watching Se7en's opening, it sent a chill up my spine. It was probably the erractic nature of the text on screen, and also probably the use the the ECU shots of weird objects, such as razor blades and needles, which coincidently are also torture weapons of some sort. The amazing thing about it is that all those effects were mainly done by editing. I would like to further enhance my skills by watching youtube videos and probably sneaking into media to play around with the program :)

Additionally I also didn't really get much to learn much about Soundtrack Pro, though I found some pretty cool and useful sounds. You can create a whole scene by just using sound. The power of your imagination of enough to make up the pictures. I looked through the sounds and I found sounds ranging from people screaming, to aeroplanes and vehicles, to sounds of instruments and more. It's pretty easy too, from just dragging and placing it in the timeline you can create a variety of tracks.

Friday, 21 January 2011

'Watching' Documentary on Film Openings: RESEARCH

Thomas Sutcliffe said ‘Films need to seduce their audience ….the temptation to go for instant arousal is almost irresistible ‘this suggests that he believes that you need to grab the audience’s attention at the first look. This might be because by doing this the viewer will keep wanting to find out more and wont stop watching.
However, Director Jean Jacques Beineix, believes there is a risk to an ‘instant arousal’. For example, he believes that it is possible not to answer all the questions that the audience might have, which would make the film disappointing and pointless. In addition, it would be hard to keep up the tension and suspense of the title scene, which could make the rest of the film unsatisfactory.
‘A good beginning must make the audience feel that it doesn’t know nearly enough yet, and at the same time make sure that it doesn’t know to little’ this is important because it keeps the audience wanting more, but at the same time they have information about what type genre it is, for example whether to laugh or cry.
Stanley Kauffmann describes the classic opening as; New York City, and then a slow zoom into a building past the receptionist into a private room. This works very well because it tells the audience about the setting and gives them all the information they need up to this point without any dialog.
Kyle Cooper’s title sequence to the film Seven is so effective because it suggests to the audience right away, what the film is about. However it still keeps you wanting to find out what will happen next.
Orson Welles wanted to achieve a sense of suspense right from the opening of a ‘Touch of Evil’. However Universal Studios wanted the film to start with the music that accompanied the logo. So Orson Welles wrote a 58 page memo which then turned into a court case, which he unfortunately lost.
What is meant by a ‘Film Noir’ is a film that has a very dark and sinister side. Most of the time ‘Film Noirs’ are made during the night, they use shadows to create suspense and anticipation. The trick of the ‘Film Noir’ is to start at the end and unravel the story as the film progresses.
The Shining does well in creating suspense in the opening, this is because it is "merely picturesque", the screen is full of omens. The camera seems to be acting as a predator that is following the car, as the narrator says "everything tells us that these people are travelling in the wrong direction".

Thursday, 20 January 2011

A Thrilling Read - Practice of Camera Skills - What Went Well?

Our initial idea was to set the scene inside of a lift, this was our idea as it would lead the viewers to ask questions and also it would be shot in a way that made it look quirky and weird but also thrilling. This idea was however shot down due to practical issues such as the lifts only being available to disabled students, and so we had to come up with a new setting.

We chose the stair case because it is surrounded by glass sheets that allow for us to see the outside, I felt that this for some reason would allow our newspaper reader to feel exposed and would fit in well with our short film.

As a group we discussed how we would implement the criteria that we had to abide by, which meant having to include a close up, POV shot and an over the shoulder shot. I felt that if we used generic shots that are normally associated with horror/thriller films we would produce a sound and well made short film.

Our first show was an establishing shot that then panned across the screen to our actor, who is reading the news paper, this shot sets the scene and tone, and we already have made the audience ask questions e.g. why is she sitting reading a newspaper in such a place? And why is she alone? Or is she not?

Our next shot was that of an over the shoulder shot, this again just established that where we are and what it is that the actor is doing, it helps with the continuation of the short film. After this shot we get a shot from the top of the stairs at a high angle looking down upon our vulnerable, this is a type of generic shot that I wanted and see in most thriller films.

I suggested to my group that we should use the POV shot to show menace and indicate that our actor is being watched, of course this indicates the usual sense of dramatic irony as when watching it the audience will know something that the person within the film doesn’t, also this is a use of Intertextuality, from the psycho shower scene dramatic irony.

For a first short practice film and also for the majority of our group, a first use of a film camera of any kind, we worked extremely well and our film came out looking extremely well made, it was short simple but very effective.

Below is the film we made, without sound.

Introduction to Camera - SKILLS : RESEARCH

Last lesson I was introduced to the Camera that we would be using to create our opening to a thriller.


Of course we had to be taught to be camera literate starting with the basics such as how to use it properly, configure it our liking and needs and also and rather importantly how to use it in a safe way.


The first thing I learnt was that of having a certain amount of contingency filming for about 4 to 5 seconds before any acting can start, this allows us to create a effective and realistic cut while editing, and also iron out anything that maybe isn’t quite right.


Attached to the camera was a small microphone, this allows us to half very good quality sound, this then enhances the realism of anything that we wanted to make. The lighting was also an issue that we would have to consider while filming, the camera had features that allowed for a brighter visual and even darker, this could come in handy if we are filming on a very sunny day and want to cut out some sunshine.   


My group and I were given a battery and two memory cards. These memory cards would contain all our filming for this project, and the way in which they work is that when they are both put in, one has priority over the other so in other words, when one is completed or full of recording the camera switches to the second memory card.


To allow for a stable and easy way to manoeuvre the camera, we learned about how to set up and use tri-pods. This was essentially a reinforcement of what I had already learnt from GCSE.


After familiarising with the camera, my group and I were given a task to practice making an effective thrilling scene. The criteria was that it had to include at least 12 shots, and had to include a close up shot, a point of view shot and an over the shoulder shot.  

Newspaper film excercise, what went well?

Our last lesson was based on an exercise to film someone reading a newspaper in a thrilling way, which then had to edit. With a variety of captivating camera shots and angles, we created somewhat a thrilling and griping clip.

To begging with we first discussed the different camera angles we could use, alongside the ones we had to do, a POV shot, an over the shoulder shot, and an extreme close up. The first shot we filmed was a pan of the background, which then came to reveal me reading a newspaper. We thought this would be a great shot to introduce the setting to the viewer. After that we include an over the shoulder shot of me again reading a newspaper,  next we added a high angle shot of me, to suggest that I am vulnerable and defenceless to the audience. Afterwards we used a POV shot to create a sense that I was being watched, we also done this shot handheld to create suspense and mystery due to the shaky outcome of the camera. Whilst I walked up the stairs to see who’s watching me, our group used a number match on match actions with my feet walking up the stairs to create a match cut. This may not have created suspense but it made our short clip more interesting. The clip finally ended with the newspaper and my phone disappearing. We didn't show who took the newspaper, or how it got taken, which, I think. To thrill and question audience we didn’t show how the newspaper or the phone disappeared, which contributed in making out clip more thrilling.

Admitting that it would have been more successful if we have planned our clip thoroughly before hand, but for our first filming exercise I believe we did very well considering the boundaries we had. Seeing as our original idea didn’t work out, which was to film our clip in a lift, we had to make up our plot in very short space of time. For the next time we film I feel that we need to spend more time planning our film and what camera shots, movements and angles we need to use to make it a more thrilling and interesting clip.

Introduction to camera: SKILLS

 On Tuesday we received a lesson on how to use the technical equipment to create a successful film. We were taught the basic skills on how to use the camera e.g. how to insert the memory card in and how to take it out, etc.
We were given two memory cards, both of them have one hour of recording time. If one memory cards was to fills up it would automatically start recording on the second card. This was very useful information because now we know that we won’t have to waste time replacing and inserting another card. The method of inserting the battery is a slide and lock. Some advice we were given by the technician is not to force the battery in or out.
He also taught us how to open out the tripod and alter the height. This is very helpful information to keep the camera straight and to adjust angle of the shot.
 It would have been helpful if the tripod could go down lower so it would be able to include more shots.  For the moment our group have only used some basic shots, which include a POV, close up and an over the shoulder shot. However in time with more experience we will be able to do some more interesting shots.

Introduction to camera : SKILLS ©

Camera skills summary
When we had finally been given our media cards, we were given our first piece of technical media equipment to use, a video camera. We were taught the basic skills of the camera, how to use it e.g how to insert the battery in, etc.

We were given two memory cards, which both of them have one hour recording time on each. If one memory card fills up, it automatically starts recording on the second card. I think this is useful in order to save the time of replacing and inserting another media card, and the two media card holder slots int he camera make it convenient. To insert the battery, it is a slide and lock action. A tip we were given by our teachers is to not force the media card or battery in.

The teacher had also taught us how to unfold the tripod and adjust the height to low to high, this was useful to keep the camera still or adjust from low angle to high angle shots. It would have been useful to perhaps have detatchable wheels on the tripod legs, to make tracking possible, so far we've only done the basic shots including handheld shots, but hopefully with more skill and experience developed we would be able to do more daring shots, such as swooping shots or even bird eye view shot. I think with more skill and experience, I will be able to update this blog with more information on

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Newspaper exercise - Introduction to editing : SKILLS ©

A Thrilling Read
In our lesson, we had an exercise to do which was to film someone reading a newspaper in a thrilling and exciting way, which seemed an impossible task, but with a variety of  interesting camera shots and angles, we managed to create not nessicarily an exciting clip, but certainly somewhat a thrilling clip.

At first we thought about the different camera angles we could use, along with the ones we were obliged to go, which were a POV shot, an over the shoulder shot, and an ECU shot. For our first shot we filmed a pan of the surroundings, which then revealed to Edit reading a newspaper. We thought this could possibly just be to introduce the enviroment to the audience. After the over the shoulder shot of her casually reading a newspaper, we then added a high angle shot of Edit, to portray her as vulnerable to the audience. We also used it to evoke the sense of Edit being watched. To further portray the sense of Edit being watched, we used some handheld camera work, also from a high angle, to make the audience feel a sense of uneasiness, due to the shaky nature of the camera. When Edit walked up the stairs to investigate who was watching her, we used match on match action with her feet walking up the stairs. This wasn't really used for suspense, it was just to make the clip more interesting. Our clip finally ends with the newspaper being stolen secretly, without the victim knowing. We didn't show who took the newspaper, or how it got taken, which, I think, questions the audiences minds, making our clip more thrilling.

For our first filming exercise, I think we did pretty well considering the limitations we had. We'd originally planned to film our scene in a lift, which wasn't avaliable, so we practically had to make up our plot on the spot, and additionally we only had an hour to film 12 shots. Admittedly, I wish we had planned it out more throughly and thought out the pros and cons more but overall I'm pleased with the video we produced. Next time, however, I think there should be more teamwork and discussion in terms of the camera shots, movements and angles.


List of Thriller sub-genres - which inspires you at the moment and why? : RESEARCH ©

Thriller sub-genres
The definition of a thriller is a suspenseful movie, play or book. However, what most people don't realise is thrillers divide into sub-genres, and in films most of them tend to overlap with each other. Here are a few examples of thirller sub genres:

Crime thriller - This is a hybrid type of both particular genres, crime and thriller, merged into one. Crime thrillers usually focus on the criminals rather than the policeman, and the area of focus is usually the action of the crime, rather than the psychological aspect of it.

Legal thriller - This is a thriller in which the law is involved, and the laywer heroes/heroines are usually the protagonists of the story. It may or may not be based around the proceedings in a court room, and there is the constant danger of a life being lost. One of my favourite legal thrillers is Time to Kill.

Psychological thriller - This is a sub genre in which the conflict between the main characters is mental and emotional rather than physical. This is probably the most popular type of thriller, and one of my favourites too. I like the way how psychological thrillers don't neccissarily have to be gory and terrifying to engrave a message in your head. Two of my favourites would have to be the Panic Room and Gothika.

Supernatural thriller - In this type of thriller, abnormal, metaphysical elements are included along with tension, suspense and fear. It introduces the idea of an unnatural substance in the film. Examples include What Lies Beneath and Rosemary's Baby.

What inspires me is the use of false plateaus, because I think it really builds up the suspense to climax, then releases it only to make the second climax even more thrilling and exciting. I would like to use this technique in my groups thriller film, as I think it is effective in making it the true essence of a thriller film.

Films that I have enjoyed and/or may be a possible influence:

Sunday, 16 January 2011

List of Thriller sub-genres - which inspires me at the moment and why: RESEARCH

Thrillers are a broad genre of literature, film and television, they include a wide range of sub-genres that can be enjoyed by many. Below are some sub-genres that most engage me.
  •    Horror thrillers
  •    Mystery thrillers
  •    Psychological thrillers
The reason that these are my favourite sub-genres of thrillers is because of the way they can create fear, anticipation and engage an audience with what is happening on the screen. What I like most about thriller films is that they give you a sense of adrenaline and build up the suspense to sometimes find that nothing happens. They seem to give me a thrill which can be expected from a thriller movie. 

Below are some of my favourite thriller films.

Here's the trailors to these films.