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X: Short Film
Transcript of X: Short Film
come out, come out, wherever you are...
1. In what way does your film use, develop or challenge the forms and conventions of real media products?
2. How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?
3. What have you learned from your audience feedback?
4. How did you use media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?
I made the decision to work in the genre of “thriller”, for my A2 short film. After deciding on the genre, I chose the sub-genre of a “psychological thriller” (with some aspects of a horror film). I wanted to work within this genre, because it is better to work in this experimentally as I think this genre allows me to have the most creative control. The thriller genre is quite open, it allows for one’s interpretation as there are fewer conventions for filmmakers to stick to. The audiences are more likely to be surprised by what they see, as the tension in these films can be built in many different ways. Conventionally, this genre will have an isolated female lead as the victim, but the perpetrator is usually a male. I wanted to challenge this in my film by having two female characters, which was a happy accident. These thriller films will often be confusing, showing disorientating scenes to make the audience unsure of what is really happening, perhaps making them think that it is just a dream. In modern day thrillers (and horrors) a technique that is often used is self-filming scenes; these are normally either hand-held point of view shots or stationary security camera footage, of which I used within my short film. For example, this technique is used in the feature length films Rec (2007) and the Paranormal Activity series.
I have also used some typical conventions of horror films, such as the sound effects that I used to create an unnerving atmosphere. I have used aspects from these different genres in the hope that my short film will appeal to more audience members, fans of these different genres. I didn’t want to commit to one genre, because this would mean conforming to the conventions of one genre; this would limit the amount of people that my short film would appeal to, and would limit my creativity. I wanted to merge the two genres when creating my short film and two ancillary texts and make this obvious within all of my final products. In my poster and double-page spread I used a grayscale colour scheme, which is commonly used in scary films. My poster features an image of the main character in my short film, a close-up shot showing the fear on her face, which is commonly used in thriller films.
My films narrative would be classed an omniscient (the audience is all-knowing whilst the characters are not) or unrestricted narration, which is when the main character within the plot doesn’t see everything that happens in the film, but the audience do; this is a similar concept to ‘dramatic irony’ in plays. This can be seen and is commonly used in mainstream media. I have noticed this in several films; for example, in Star Wars, where you see both the rebels and the empire; the audience know about Princess Leia before Luke Skywalker and Han Solo.
The film is made relatable, and therefore more scary, by having an urban setting. This makes the film more believable, and means the audience will feel like they can relate to the character and situation more than if the film was set in a dissimilar location. This is common in Japanese horror films, and can be seen in The Ring (2002) and The Grudge (2002).
I think that having an urban setting seems to have more of an impact on the audience than if it doesn’t, perhaps this is because members of the audience will look around their own home when watching the film, then realise they could quite easily be the main character in this film and be unaware of a stranger living in the attic. The fact that this is genuinely based on a true story, found regularly in the news, is also likely to frighten those who watch the film, as the fear of not knowing will grow. I used this to my advantage when making the film, as I made the house look as realistic and lived-in as possible. Strange things happening in the most normal of places will take people by surprise, and this unexpected twist may make them fear the events within the film more than if it were obvious as to what was going to happen.
I think that this helps to create more tension within the narrative; if they audience did not know, it would create a plot twist within the film, but because they do know, they’re expecting it to happen, therefore tension builds. As the audience are more in the know than the main character(s), they will try to work out the plot of the film, like in the film “Inception”. This is frequently seen in murder mysteries, such as in the TV shows “Pretty Little Liars” and “And Then There Were None”.
My short film features a twist ending because the woman living in Gina’s house is finally seen by Gina. The audience are more than likely going to be surprised because it is not a supernatural/ paranormal force, as they may have previously thought. Once they see that there is a woman living in the house, the audience will now begin to create their own perceptions of what will happen in the end but it’s not what they thought.
The concluding scene of my short film, like in the feature length film The Sixth Sense and the short film Lights Out, has no real conclusion. This abrupt ending means that the audience is likely to watch the short film again to try and figure out the twist ending and see if there was anything they missed; the film is then more appealing to watch more than once. This also may mean that they get friends or family members to watch the film, so that they can discuss the ending and share theories about what each audience member think happens when the screen goes blank.
This is commonly used in short films. Their narrative structure is similar to that of a feature film but they tend to be much less developed due to the lack of time in comparison to feature-length films. The plot is developed enough for the audience to get into it and want to watch until the end, but their is generally less detail, and generally the plots have the potential to be a feature length film if they were to be more developed. In my short film, although the audience will get hooked on what is going to happen, they do not know the name of the main character, what she does for work, etc., this is the same in the short film Lights Out (2013), which is now being made into a feature length film.
Short films tend to be darker, also, I think this is probably because it is a lot easier to capture an audience with a short horror or thriller film, rather than a short romance film. Due to the nature of a lot of short films, with darker content, there is often an abrupt, cliff-hanger ending. The audiences will see an event or series of an event but are unlikely to see the outcome, this means that the audience will be thinking about the film for minutes, hours or even days after they have watched it, trying to figure out what they think happened afterwards; this happens in the short film Black Hole (2008), and I also used the technique in my short film.
When filming, I made sure to have as many camera angles as possible, in order to have a variety of shots. This means that during the post-production aspect when editing, I have more choice, options and creative control. When filming each scene, I set up 2 or 3 cameras at one time, in order to capture the same scene from different perspectives without having to worry about the issue of continuity causing problems; this includes extremes such as long shots and close-ups and means there will be contrast within the scenes of my short film.
The use of long shots in my film help to show the bigger and gets the audience to look around in the background for something that may or may not be there (this also helps to build tension). These long shots also show the environment and set the scene; this is commonly used in natural scenes of films and films within the social realism genre.
The use of close-ups in my film allow me to show details that may otherwise be missed, such as the facial expressions of my characters; this is commonly used in horror films, especially to show fear on the victim's face. An example of this would be the ending scene, where Gina and Olivia make eye contact, there are shots that get closer and closer until there is an extreme close-up of her face that shows realisation and fear. Another example of this technique being used in my film is within the opening sequence, where the camera is positioned on the ground, and feet are shown walking past the camera.
The use of tracking shots in my film allows for the audience to be put in the perspective of the main character, Gina; this means the audience is likely to be more scared and feel more tense throughout the short film, because they feel as if they are experiencing the same thing as Gina. These shots, in my short film, are hand-held, as this slightly shaking view makes the shot see more realistic whilst also adding tension that would not be there with a smooth shot. I use this technique in the opening sequence of my film, where Gina is walking across the road and over to her house.
The entirety of my short film was shot hand-held. This technique is mainly used for films of the social realism genre, and I wanted to use it for my film for similar reasons, as it allows my film to look and seem more realistic to the audience. I thought that this would help the audience relate, which would mean they are more likely to feel more tension throughout the duration of the film, as they feel that they are experiencing what the main character is experiencing, as if they are alongside her doing her day-to-day tasks. This was particularly useful when filming the opening sequence as she walks across the road.
Another example of successful use of this technique in my film would be the point of view shots where the main character is running up the staircase; because this shot is shaking, it shows the nervousness and fear of the main character, as she runs to catch the mysterious person that she has just encountered in her home.
The point of view technique lends realism, and a sense of spontaneity, as it feels to the audience that it is unplanned. This is also true of when a character is shown filming within a film, which I used for a couple of shots in my film. I used this because I felt that it made the events seem more real. In the days where YouTube is consumed daily by most people, this is the kind of thing you’d see on the website captioned with a clickbait title of “stranger living in my home!” or similar.
This technique is used in lots of films that I’ve previously mentioned; the Paranormal Activity series, The Blair Witch Project (1999) and Rec (2007). I also thought that it would be an interesting technique to try out, because it almost breaks the fourth wall of the film, as she is the one holding the camera, and it seems as if she’s been filming herself the whole time. I think that it was important to include these shots in my film, because they make the whole situation more believable and less likely for audiences members to say that it’s the kind of thing that only happens in films.
Conventionally, film-makers will use music and sound effects to foreshadow what is going to happen later on in the film.
Music helps to set the tone and feeling of the film, and supports the idea of the genre of the film.
I chose to use music that was conventional for the music genre, therefore it will build tension. Traditionally, the music is creepy and eerie; this will signify to the audience that the film is the psychological horror/ thriller. I used a clip from a YouTube video, with the permission of its’ owner from 4:38 to 5:17 in my film, to try and build tension before the main character comes into contact with the girl - this sound helped to lead up to the pivotal moment of the film. After this, I used another track sourced from YouTube of a heartbeat.
Video USE Permission:
I used sound effects throughout my scenes to make them more realistic and/or to make the scene more intense. For example, I added in the sound effect of a doorbell to make the scene seem more plausible, as before the main character would have reacted to seemingly nothing or a very quiet, distance sound. I also added in sound effects and music that would make sequences scarier than without, these are both sound effects that slowly build and sudden loud noises. Throughout the video I used various effects; a mouse click at 2:47, 2:55 and 2:58 whilst the main character is using the computer. I also added in a loud doorbell sound at 3:05 - 3:07.
There are some diegetic sounds that I’ve left in my film, such as the main character typing on her computer, which sets the scene; this is conventional for the social realism genre. There are some sounds, that although diegetic, are loud and are intended to scare the audience. For example, when the main character rips open the box, or in the opening sequence, when the car drives past.
I made the decision to use a voiceover, which helps to explain what is happening to the audience and makes the plot of the film clearer. This way, the audience will make sense of the events more whilst hearing the fear in the main character's voice. In the voice over, I made sure to repeatedly mention how ordinary and normal her life was, as this will not only make the audience relate, it will produce more fear when the film starts to get weird.
I’m normal, ordinary, I’m average. I live in a town like any other, on a street full of children and pets.
I walk to the centre of town to buy food for myself and my rabbits; I live alone, you see.
It was a day like any other; I wore the same coat and the same glasses, I used my environmentally friendly shopping bag. I walked to my door, unlocked it, and walked straight in, like I usually do.
Nothing seemed out of place when I walked through the hallway and into the kitchen.
I had just bought a few items; just some bananas, some dairy free chocolate, another bottle of ketchup and a fresh loaf of bread.
In the evening I made myself some soup and bread.
It was just a basic Heinz vegetable soup, I think.
Like always, I ate by myself. Alone, at the dining table made for six people.
It was okay, I think. I remember it being (pause) kind of boring and plain. It wasn’t overly interesting, even with bread to soak it up. I left most of it, I remember that part, definitely.
Something made me come downstairs. That same part of me wished I hadn’t when- when I saw that all of my tea had gone, and the table was a mess. I remember reluctantly clearing it up and trying to go back to sleep but I didn’t get much.
The next day, after talking to some work colleagues about this strange event, I decided to look online for some ideas.
I found a blog entry.
It described my situation (pause) exactly. Like the author suggested, I thought I’d buy a camera.
I order with next day delivery, because, I couldn’t come with another unknown night.
As I was getting dressed, the next day, the doorbell rang.
Like I’d hoped, it was my parcel.
I grabbed it from the doormat, and brought it inside.
I put the camera up on my bookcase, above the dining room table, and went off to bed. I didn’t check the footage for a few days but (slight pause) when I did (pause) I couldn’t believe what I was seeing!
It was a girl? In my kitchen?
I just stood and I thought (slight pause) ‘what (slight pause) the (slight pause) fu-’
There is one line, right at the end of the film, that is supposed to stick out to the audience. The words “what the fu-” are said in the last couple of seconds; this speech is more prominent and puts emphasis on the words she is saying. I chose to do this so that the voiceover would be listened to more intently by the audience, as they will pay more attention to what she is saying that if it was simply just dialogue within the film; this adds some mystery to the voiceover, because people will wonder who is speaking, where they are, etc.
"WHAT THE FU-"
In the post-production, I edited the colouring of some of my shots. I changed the opacity to make scenes darker, to show that it was night time in which the specific scene was set. I changed the saturation/hue to make some of the footage more blue than orange; this ‘blue tint’ is typical of horror films and is often used in supernatural films as the colour is ghostly. However, I wanted to make this subtle.
I used transitions such as fade to black and dissolve, this way I can successfully cut between scenes and shots that normally would not fit together and make these flow; these technique is used in The Godfather (1972), Apocalypse Now (1979), Psycho (1960), The Hustler (1961) and The Shawshank Redemption (1994). Using the dissolve transition can help to make objects or people seem to slowly fade out of the shot; this can be seen in films such as Election (1999), Nosferatu (1922), and Field of Dreams (1989). I used cut away shots to show mundane tasks such as the main character eating or putting away shopping; this technique is used within It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) and Back To The Future (1985). I also used a technique called cutting on action, where you change shots as something is happening; this can be seen in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011), The Matrix (1999) and Jaws (1977).
These can be put together too, such as the match cut and the dissolve transition, these allow the scene to change to something completely different but to seamlessly do so, some films that use this combination are The Green Mile (1999) and Saving Private Ryan (1998), but I didn’t use this within my film.
I used overlays throughout the film to add on top of the footage that had already been shot. For example, I used a green screen overlay to add a security camera look to my footage, similar to that used in The Blair Witch Project (1999). I also added overlays (‘titles’) that added text to the screen, for example, in the opening sequence I used a ‘title’ to make the words “Based on a true story” appear on the screen, and later on in the film I used ‘titles’ to show the passing of time, “The next day”, “Some time later”.
The Mise En Scène
I used mise en scene to foreshadow and hint at what will happen throughout the film, in the same way that I used music to do this. For example, one signifier that I used within my short film is the bright red rug in the living room; the colour red is a sign of danger, which hints at the fact that later on in the scene, the girl who has been hiding is finally caught by the main character.
I made sure that the costume accurately reflected that of the character who was wearing it. I made sure that the clothing that the main character, Gina, was wearing makes it obvious that she is a middle-aged woman, e.g. she was wearing glasses and her hair up.
For the other character, Olivia, her hair was made to look greasy, messy and unwashed, her face was made to look as if it lacked sunlight and she had big bags under her eyes and she was wearing oversized clothes that the audience had previously seen the main character wearing.
The setting of the film was a family home in Chippenham, UK. I made sure that the house looked lived in, with lots of typical possessions scattered around. This can be as simple as having jackets and coats on the coat hooks and a coat and scarf on the end of the bannister; I made sure that this could be seen in several of the scenes, for example, in the opening sequence of the film.
I wanted to make it a more believable home; in order to add a feminine touch to the living room, I purchased some throw cushions and a cosy blanket. This way, when she falls asleep on the sofa, it seems more comfortable and natural, as if she will often accidentally fall asleep this way. I think that contrasting such strange events with a completely normal life, alike the one that my audience members will likely live, makes this film interesting and all the more disturbing, which is what I was hoping for.
In the previously mentioned opening sequence, several houses across the street can be seen, one with a cat sat outside on the window ledge. As well as this, the audience will see a car drive past, a man cycle past and a little boy running home from school. All of these things make it seem like a typical neighbourhood, probably similar to the ones that my audience members live in. This dissimilar environment is likely to remind the audience that this situation could quite easily happen to them, or may even be happening right now...
When creating all of my products, I made sure that they all relate in the sense that they all have a similar style and communicates to the audience the genre of psychology thriller with hints of the horror genre also.
The poster and the double-page spread have a grayscale, desaturated colour scheme with a touch of shades of green. I decided to use green instead of red because red hints at blood and gore, which is a bit too graphic for my film. I used similar fonts in both of the ancillary texts and similar images, because this adds continuity throughout the film. The four different fonts that I used for the double page spread are “Agency FB Bold” (for the main body of text) and “AR BONNIE Regular” (for the title, quote, text in the scroll and page numbers), “AR BONNIE Regular” (for the magazine name next to the 5-star rating) and “AR DARLING Regular” (for the information box); I used these different fonts because I decided that this variation would break up the page and make it seem more appealing for the audience to read the page. For my poster, I used a similar looking but slightly different font, “Agency FB Bold” (for the billing, tagline and release date) and “Face Your Fears” for the X. I decided to use “Agency FB Bold” for all of the informative text because it seemed more professional looking and was easy to read, which is necessary for a poster, that may only been seen by an audience member for a couple of seconds, so it needs to be obvious what the poster says. I chose the font “Face Your Fears” because it looked like blood dripping; I thought this was a little too gory for my film, as it relates more to the horror genre than the thriller genre. To resolve this issue, I simply made the X white rather than red.
I tried to make the design and layout as genuine and as professional as possible. I wanted both ancillary texts to reflect the mystery within the film, by making the audience ask questions such as “who is she?” and “why does she look frightened? whilst looking at my products. This inherently mysterious aspect links to the un-fully formed narratives of short films, as they generally do not give away everything as they are more limited on time than feature length films. However, there also needed to be some insight into the film, as this will allow the audience to get sucked into the texts and want to watch the film itself.
The “X” on the poster is not only eerie to look at, but the meanings make it creepier; it had dark, mysterious connotations because a X is usually a mark for something hidden, ready to be discovered (it is commonly used in adventure films, where pirates find treasure). The purposely enigmatic design seems to make the poster, and what it represents, more disturbing. The use of a single letter, rather than a word or phrase, means that the meaning is unclear; it invites a prospective viewer to wonder what it signifies, and will then want to watch it in order to find out.
I think that I portray the idea of the binary opposites “good vs bad” (Claude Levi-Strauss) better in the poster, as either side of the character I changed the background to a light grey and a dark grey, which is a different take on the idea that people have a devil and an angel sitting on each of their shoulders. This helps to show that everyone has a good side and a bad side but also symbolises the good and bad between people too.
Conventionally, my double-page spread uses a masthead, scroll, quote, full-page image and puts the article in columns. This can be seen in lots of existing double-page spreads, such as the article about Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End. Similar to my own double-page spread, they have used bright colours to contrast the black and white colour scheme, in order to make specific parts of the text stand out. The article was written to appeal to filmmakers who want to challenge the conventional tropes of a horror/ thriller film, because the film has an all-female cast and production team. The cast and production team are also all young people, which will hopefully entice a younger audience into watching my short film, so this was also mentioned in the main body of text in my film. In a way, I hoped that it would inspire more young people to be create and make things, even if they don’t have all the professional equipment and proper actors/actresses. In order to appeal to older audiences, too, I made the article look as if it were from an actual film magazine; I tried to make the design look sophisticated, as if for a genuine magazine for film lovers. However, this article could easily be found within a TV magazine, as if advertising a new film out, but it may look slightly out of place.
My poster includes the conventional aspects like a billing, release date and film festival logos. This can be seen in existing film posters, such as the Paranormal Activity posters that I have found online. I was inspired by the posters for X: Men, because the style was similar to what I had in mind that I wanted to create. I liked the contrast of grayscale with bright colours, and how the X on the posters crossed over the characters faces, and wanted to create a similar looking poster to these. I chose the photograph for my poster because it is a conventional shot used in thriller, horror and suspense films, to show to the audience that this is the type of film they should expect if they are to go and watch the film. The image shows a fearful and almost inquisitive look upon the woman’s face - it is clear that she is looking at something or someone she didn’t expect.
X Men Posters
The double-page spread has an article with a feminist approach, it talks about the short film being an all female cast and production and mentions that it is released on International Women’s Day 2016. This will be appealing to a lot of people who notice sexism in the film industry, as films like this are not common at all. The sexism within the film industry is slowly being recognised, for example, the Bechdel Test is commonly referenced when critics are talking about a feature film, especially in Hollywood. The Bechdel Test asks a film (or any work of fiction) to have at least two female characters have a conversation with each other within the dialogue; the conversation has to be about something other than a man, and an additional common addition is that both women have to be credited characters (the actress and characters name should be included in the opening and/ or end credits of the film). Although this test was originally created in 1985, it has become widely used in the 2000’s, when the issue of sexism in film has become a more talked about topic.
However, I don’t think the sexism itself is all that relevant to the film plot, other than it contrasts the normality of a man being the feared being and the woman being the victim, because both characters are women in our film; I have challenged this convention by having no male characters whatsoever and no men involved in the production team either. Therefore, out of both my poster and my double-page spread, I think that the poster is better at directly relating to and reflecting the short film itself, because it shows the main character looking scared; the fear and tension created within the film shows through the expression of the main characters face in the photograph used for the poster.
Personally, I thought it was useful for me to get the thoughts and opinions of my audience from before I even started making any of my products.
Firstly, in the research and planning stage, I sent out a questionnaire about my proposed short film. In this questionnaire, I asked 8 open and closed questions about the plot itself and smaller details, such as the age of the characters. I asked “Do you like the plot?”, “What do you like about it?”, “Which of these titles appeals to you the most, and fits the film plot the best?”, “Please add a suggestion for the short film title below:”, “How old do you think the two characters should be?” (this question also included the gender of the two characters), “Would you change anything?”, “If you answered yes, please specify what you would change, below:” and finally, “Please add any other suggestions or ideas below:”. I wanted to get my audiences initial ideas about the film, so that I could potentially change the plot/ aspects of the plot, in order to create a film that my audience will enjoy. I had 18 responses to this questionnaire.
Every member of my audience said that they liked my plot. When I asked about the title of the film, they mainly suggested other ideas than the ones I had come up with, but I found that most were already films and novels. Therefore, I later looked at the synonyms and found the name that I used, “X”. The question about character age and gender was fairly evenly split; "Man in his 40's, woman in her 20's", "Man in his 20's, woman in her 40's" and "Man in his 50's, woman in her 30's". The fourth option, "Man in his 20's, woman in her 40's", got 5 votes, and “Man in his 30’s, woman in her 60’s”. When casting the film, I had a male person to play Jonathan, however, he had to drop out and so I changed the genders so that both the characters are female, and I changed the main character's name to Gina. I decided that Gina is a middle-aged woman whilst Olivia is in her 20’s. Out of the people who completed by questionnaire, 15 people said that they would not change anything whilst 3 said they would; I had suggestions to make one of the characters get killed at the end and to make them involved in some kind of romance. After this question, I left a space where people could make some general comments on what they thought of my idea and the aspects of it that I had come up with so far; one of the most useful comments I got here was:
I think the fact that the woman hiding in his house should not be given away in the title. It would create more suspense and hold the audience's attention more if they saw the events from his perspective and don't spend the whole film thinking "well it's just the woman in his cupboard". The shock/surprise would make it more memorable and spark more responses from the audience. Putting them in his shoes also gets them to think what they would do in his situation.
After deciding that I would team up with my classmate, Esme, we had to make a decision on which film we would create, as we both had come up with separate ideas. So, together, we put out a question to ask our audience which of our film synopses they would prefer. This had 3 open and closed questions. We asked “Which of these film plots do you like best?”, “Which of these films would be the easiest and more practical to create”, and then we asked for any suggestions on how to make either film idea more practical/ easier for when it came to production time and we were going to get our footage.
When asking our audience members which film plot they preferred, we found that we got a split result, with 6 responses for both of the plots. This meant that they thought either of the films would be successful and appealing to themselves (the audience). In terms of practicality, the audience decided that my idea was more practical (as it got 10 votes) than Esme’s idea (as it got 2 votes). This makes my idea more favourable, as we want something that is challenging, but not so challenging that we spend all of our time in pre-production rather than actually filming and editing the short film. When we asked how to improve practicality, most people said that they had no suggestions for us. Two people suggested a change of location for Esme’s idea to be more practical, and two other people suggested that the crash would be hard to film, so it would need to be put across in a different way, e.g. a black screen but the noises of a car crash. Due to the results of our questionnaire, Esme and I decided that my idea would be best to work on, as neither of us can drive a car, and her film was quite hard to cast, so we decided that my synopsis would be the easiest to turn into an actual film.
The last questionnaire that I used in this stage was to decide on a tagline for my short film. It simply had one question, which asked “Which of these taglines do you like best?” with a list of suggestions for my audience to choose from. I thought that it was important that I let my audience decide this rather than picking it myself as a fresh point of view is generally better. I, myself, know all about the film and it’s plot but the audience members taking my questionnaire do not; this naivety means that they are basing their answer on which of the taglines most interests them and which would make them want to watch the film the most. I received 11 responses to this particular questionnaire.
Half of the answers (4 of 8) got votes, with "A lot changes in a year" getting one vote, "how do we know when we're really alone?" getting two votes, and the other two drawing in first with 4 votes each. "come out, come out, wherever you are" and "What happens when the Undiscovered becomes the discovered?" were the two most popular answers in my questionnaire, perhaps because these are the most intriguing of all of the taglines that I suggested, and so the people who answered decided that these two would be the most likely to get them to watch my short film, X.
After creating my short film, poster and double-page spread, I decided to ask my audience what they thought of them. This is vital, because the whole point is to please the audience that I have been aiming my products towards. I created two similar questionnaires in this section, as well as getting video and typed reviews of my film.
The first questionnaire was about my ancillary texts. I asked four questions about my poster and four questions about my double-page spread. I asked “What do you like about my poster?”, “What don’t you like about my poster?”, “What would you change about my poster?” “If you saw this, would you want to watch the film?”, “What do you like about my double-page spread?”, “What don’t you like about my double-page spread?”, “What would you change about my double-page spread?” and finally, “If you saw this, would you want to watch the film?”. I got 10 responses to this questionnaire.
In terms of my poster, many people mentioned that the sides of the poster seemed a little blank, however I did not intentionally want to change this as I was hoping this would make the woman in the photograph seem more isolated and alone (although I ended up unintentionally fixing this issue). However, several people brought up the colour of the text and especially mentioned that the release date at the top of the poster didn’t look right. In order to fix this, I took my audiences advice and changed the way this looked. I made the font all capitals and moved it to the left hand side of the poster. To balance this out, I decided that I would use my tagline on the right hand side of the page. I am a lot happier with how the poster now looks, and this also fixed the problem of it looking too bare at the sides.
In terms of my double-page spread, the only reoccurring issue that my audience brought up was the size of the page numbering that I had used. So, I simply changed the font size from 60pt to just over half, 36pt, and altered the size of the light grey boxes behind each. Due to the change of size, I found that I had a very obvious gap underneath my first column of text, so I added in another two lines so that I could fill up the space and make sure the page didn’t look too bare. I then realised I also had a noticeable gap above the main body of text, so I decided to add in a star rating and changed the position of the (newly edited) poster.
Most people said how the liked the varied camera angles and pace of the shots, and how this reflects the social realism aspects of the film. The voiceover was mentioned as it added suspense to the film. Lots of responses mentioned that the film was full of suspense and was gripping. A couple of people also mentioned the subtle hints throughout the film, which means they were definitely picked up by some if not all audience members. When asked what they didn’t like, many people joked that they didn’t like the ending because they didn’t get to find out what happens. Two people mentioned the change of volume in the sounds, but this was intentional in order to create more tension and suspense. In terms of what to change, a couple of people said that they wanted to see more (the food scenes, the ending, what happens after, etc.) however due to the time limit on my brief, this would not really be possible, and I didn’t want to change the ending as the cliffhanger was intention (and it clearly worked). All 10 people said that they would watch it again!
Would audience members recommend my film? Would they watch it again?
Once I had finished making all of my products, I wanted to get final opinions, to see if there were any obvious last-minute adjustments that my audience would prefer. By collecting feedback after my products are finished, it helped me to see how successful they actually were in enticing the audience into watching the film, and pleasing them, as this is particularly difficult when trying to work in such a broad genre as the thriller genre. But, overall, I think that I was pretty successful in appealing to what my audience wanted out of the film (and the poster, and the double-page spread).
The final audience feedback that I got was a couple of both video and written reviews of my short film, from people of my age group and both genders. The people who wrote/recorded reviews were people who were either interested in films in the sense that they enjoy making them, whilst the others were people who enjoy watching films.
One was from a media student at Chippenham College, Iona Duffy. She wrote a review of my film, here it is;
The short horror film ‘X’ by Harriet Moore is a psychological thriller surrounding real events of someone living secretly in an attic. For being a short film it kept me in suspense and on edge if the stowaway upstairs would ever be found. The voice acting makes everything clear and enhances the story as the main character is recalling her events to the police, making it look like she’s recalling her experience though footage and memory. The shots that were recorded were well captured, ranging from the ‘cctv’ camera shots to extreme close ups at the end, really selling that look of shock. The production is also professionally edited, making sure that the filler shots of the shopping being put away didn’t drag on, and the end scene where there are fast paced shots that cut back and forth between the main character and the stowaway really makes the realisation that someone is living in their attic hit home even more. The sound also adds a tight tension to the film, especially when the chase scene begins - I could feel the music making my heart beat faster. Overall I would recommend ‘X’ to friends as it captures all the elements of a real life event with thriller elements.
The second written review comes from a film enthusiast called Frederick Redding. Here is his review of my short film;
“X” is a thrilling and intriguing short film. There is a really exciting contrast between the banal events of the opening and the exhilarating final sequence. I really enjoyed the elements of social realism throughout – the shots of food preparation emphasised banality and the food seemed unappetising, and this was all heightened by the narration to paint a picture of a tediously normal life. I was struck by the distinct lack of colour, with beiges and greys dominating the shots, underlining the boredom of the typically suburban location.
Despite all this display of dreary normality, the overall effect of the film is exciting and even thrilling. The depiction of drudging routine that dominates the film slowly and very effectively builds up an atmosphere of tension and unease – I felt that the normality of it all could not on forever, something unexpected was surely going to interrupt the routine, though I didn’t know what it would be. This was exciting. This excitement exploded at the end, and the use of pacey shots and the heartbeat sound effect upped the tempo. I enjoyed the way the mystery of the situation was suspended all the way until the end, with the intruder’s face only revealed in the penultimate shot. In final shot the face of the protagonist was shown, and the previously non-diegetic narration merged with the words of the protagonist (“what the F…?”) and this really framed the film as a story told by her. It intrigued me – from what point in time was the story being told? What had happened next?
I got an email from an audience member, Harry Miller, who had also reviewed my film:
I also got a video review from my fellow film-maker, Esme Devoy, as we edited our films separately and they ended up rather different:
During the entirety of my project, I used a vast variety of programs and websites throughout the course this year. Not only for the products themselves, but documenting those, and any additional work throughout the A2 course.
I used Twitter to advertise my film. I used the poll section and provided a positive, negative and neutral opinion response. I set the poll for 2 days and I got 9 responses. 8 of those were positive (10/10) whilst 1 of them was neutral (5/10).
I used a blogging website called wordpress to track the progress throughout the entire project and every stage. As well as the website, I used the handy WordPress app for iPhone’s, which allowed me to make posts wherever I was, which meant that I could constantly update my progress, even whilst on set, using Wi-Fi or 3G. I also used wordpress to create a separate blog called scaryhappenings, which I used within my film itself, when the main character tries to find out what is happening to her.
For general blog work, I used Google a lot. I used gmail to communicate with my teacher, members of my class and most importantly, my target audience. I used Google Drive to get feedback easily, as documents can be shared with people through a simple URL. I used Google Docs and Google Forms the most, as this was a convenient way to get audience feedback fast. Google Drive was very useful, as it meant that Esme (the person I worked with) and I could share work easily thought this. I also used the search engine for research into films, Google Maps for the location research, and I used it to find images for my moodboards.
I used Microsoft Publisher for my moodboards. I used Microsoft a lot, as programs such as Microsoft Word were useful when typing up my script, shot list, risk assessment, etc. This can also be easily transferred into Google Drive. I used PowerPoint for several of the planning tasks that I did, such as planning the cast of the film, and to show my use of Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 when constructing an analysis video of the film City of God, for example...
For my film itself, I used five different cameras within the production.
FijuFilm FinePix S9500
This camera was great for photographing behind the scenes material and make up experimentation, etc. It wasn’t as good for filming itself, as the video quality was very poor and grainy. I did, however, use this camera to film “CAKE”, which is where I realised that the video quality was not good enough for my final product.
Canon Powershot SX30 IS
This camera had a handy flip-out LCD screen, which was useful in the scenes where it was needed for the actress to see themselves in the screen. I also used this camera for the fridge scene in “CAKE”, as it was necessary to see the shot, but this was hard to do in the confined space.
Canon EOS M
This camera is smaller and easier to handle, which is why I used it for the vast majority of filming, and because the video and audio quality was really good. I also used this camera for a photo shoot earlier on in the project.
Canon EOS 100D
This camera was used for a lot of the shots in our film as it definitely has the best picture quality out of the 5 cameras. As it is larger and bulkier than the Canon EOS M, it was easier to use this in some shots but not as practical for others.
Sony A200 Alpha
This camera had a protective glass over the lens, which meant that it could be used for the riskier scenes within the film (e.g. the surveillance scene filmed on top of the bookcase).
To edit my film, I used an Adobe software called “Premiere Pro”; I used three different but similar version of this software throughout the course, whilst editing in various classrooms at school and also when editing from home (CC, CS6 and CS8). Using Adobe Premiere Pro allowed me to edit the film on a simple and easy to read timeline, which was vital considering I have never used any editing software before. I learnt the functions of different types, and settings, throughout the project. For example, I learnt how to use a greenscreen though the use of the Ultra Key setting. I also worked out how to create title pages that included text, so that I could overlay them onto my footage.
I began editing my film at school on the Novatec laptops in our media suite. However, the screen colouring and sound of my computer was off, so I decided that editing at home would make more sense, especially as the school computers lacked in memory and space.
Then, I continued to edit on my HP Pavilion laptop but found it was a little slow and that this sometimes made the footage lag on-screen. This is possibly because my computer has a lot stored on it and is used constantly, which slows it down.
I edited the majority of my film on a MacBook Pro, which was quick and easy and had a terabyte of memory, which meant that I did not have to worry about freeing up or running out of space whilst creating my film.
I also used the MacBook Pro to screen record for parts of my film, I did this using QuickTime.
When completing film research, my main two sources were Wikipedia and the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), as these are both fairly credible sources. I tried to stick to using credible and reliable sources such as Thesaurus.com for the film name research and to look at words for film analysis. In terms of film classifications, I used the official British and American websites for the film classifications companies; British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). In terms of watching films to analyse, I mainly used the Netflix app on my smart TV and laptop.
For the music, I first searched on Free Music Archive, but I didn’t come across any music that I would want to use in my film, so I decided to look at YouTube. This is where I found not only my music, but also my sound effects. I downloaded the music from YouTube through a website called Save From Net, which was quick and easy to use.
YouTube was one of the other main platforms that I used throughout the project. I used this for research into existing films and the conventions and forms of short films, but I also used it for uploading my own content. Once I had exported it from Adobe Premiere Pro, I could upload the video easily, straight from my files and onto YouTube for my audience to see.
Before I began to make my final poster, I began to try out ideas on a website called PicMonkey, which is a free online photograph editor that has similar functions to Adobe PhotoShop; it was quicker and easier to use but the outcome wasn’t as good quality.
To make my poster and double-page spread, I used Adobe PhotoShop CS6 / CC. I used this both at home and in school to adapt my poster and double-page spread whenever I got new audience feedback on them.
I used various social media websites and apps to advertise the products that I had made, and ask for some audience feedback on them. I used these websites and apps on my iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro. The best thing about using social media was the practicality, and the wide range of people that would see what I had posted, rather than me simply just emailing a handful of people something. Using social media meant that I reached mainly younger people, who my film was aimed towards, as they are the most likely age group to be using these websites and apps, and the ones that I am connected with.
I used Twitter to advertise the feedback form for my ancillary texts, and used the poll feature to get some feedback on whether my film was liked by those who watched it or not. I ran the poll for 2 days, with three different options which essential were positive, neutral or negative. I got 9 responses in those two days, 8 of which were positive and the other was neutral.
I also used Facebook to advertise my film to my friends, and my parents posted the film on their Facebooks too, in order to get some feedback from an older audience, so see whether the film is appealing to an older audience too.
Lastly, of course, I used Prezi to create this my final evaluation. Prezi is great because it is a more aesthetically pleasing Microsoft PowerPoint, however I think it is definitely more time consuming! It is easy to insert images and videos, and easy to customise using the style using their varied themes.
"creeper in my apartment"