Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Evaluative Question 1 - In what ways does your media product use, develop, or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

Our media product is the result of a combination of two horror film sub-genres, teen and supernatural/possessive. The blend itself is a subversion of general horror conventions with there being several teenage characters largely being associated with slasher flicks such as Sorority Row; in true possession films narrative is largely focused around one teen girl among adults, for example, The Exorcism of Emily Rose and the pseudo documentary, The Last Exorcism. Our product challenges the conventional group of characters in a possessive horror this is because of the feedback we received from initial questionnaires regarding the identity of our main demographic; females between the ages of 15 and 18.

The narrative location is briefly outside of the girls’ school and within one of the characters' homes; these are safe places in which a violation would be most frightening. This choice is a fairly typical convention of real media products that we agreed would also be effective in our piece. The home becomes a prison when the spirit takes hold of the girls.

 







A feature frequently used in trailers is the use of a voiceover or, more commonly an abundance of dialogue. We subverted this convention and only used one phrase in our media product, "What do you want?", which is screamed by one character directly into the camera, giving the audience the point of view of the possessed. Dialogue gives the audience more insight into the narrative of the film; we however, felt it more important to concentrate onappropriate mise en scene to give an idea of the narrative and the genre, for example, the ouija board. A non-diegetic soundtrack did much of the work of a voiceover, developing this idea into something more effective. One film that include both of these features is The Craft, a poorly received horror film from the 90s. 
 
We chose to associate our media piece with film companies Twisted Pictures and Dark Castle. We used their institutional idents to help give an indication of the genre and associate our film with others that have used these institutions. Institutional idents are a traditional feature in film trailers of all genres.

 










Without the code of heavy dialogue it was important to define our characters for audience, and let them stereotype them. By dressing them in school uniforms reminiscent of that of St Trinians it was easy to give the idea of upper-class private school girls, promiscuity and rebellion.






The use of conventionally attractive actors is a broad and common feature of trailers of all genres, only really differing when the narrative of the film is somewhat based on a character's disfigurement or simply that they are monsters. Attractive actors make films appealing towards those of the opposite sex and especially important in a film of this type. We conformed to this convention in order to make the film appealing to men, with women already interested because of they are unable to relate to the characters. An example of this is Sorority Row, a film that could be considered a 'Chick Flick' because of the majority of female characters, despite its genre. Attractive women and sexy clothing e.g. lingerie, make this film also appeal to men.

Teen party clothing such as that in Sorority Row or Night of the Demons reflects the desperate nature of the situation by becoming torn, dirty and often bloodied; this typical aspect didn't play a part in our production. In fact, very little clothing is seen after the turning point of the trailer; the characters continue to wear the same clothing but the low level lighting and frequent extreme close ups does not advertise this There is more than a suggestion however, of the dire and dangerous environment they are in demonstrated by a host of wounds, cuts and bruises display on our characters in the final third of the trailer.
 





Final Girl Theory can often be applied to horror films; these include Halloween, The Ring, The Grudge and Sorority Row. Although usually associated with Slashers, our Possessive/Supernatural Horror trailer was made with the idea  that the most morally 'pure' character would survive to defeat the demon. This is displayed mainly by the use of a weapon and that fact she is set apart from her peers by not
 
'pursuing pleasure', for example, smoking and dressing provocatively.









The use of a knife as a weapon by the protagonist demonstrates the important skill of utilising the environment in order to give a better chance of survival. Weapons in horror films are generally
items found around the home in the desperate struggle to protect themselves and the other characters. Examples of this include Laurie in the 1978 film Halloween, in order to defend herself
against the crazed killer. The hint of subversion of this traditional convention is the actual pointlessness and hopelessness of such a weapon against a possessive evil spirit. This weapon is very
unlikely to defeat the evil antagonist and therefore will only provide temporary protection, if that.
 











Teaser trailers generate an interest in the audience generally by showing some of the most exciting material of the film. These are fast cut in and often in an order that does not match the true order of the film. This gives little of the narrative away. This technique of creating disequilibrium is jarring to the audience and is a way of pulling them in.  Despite this however, our one minute teaser trailers also features scenes to establish information such as the location and characters, despite being a more of a characteristic of a theatrical trailer. Usually, in this kind of trailer about half of the product is dedicated to the establishment of the initial situation and the rest to confuse and entice the audience with the disruption of the situation, relating closely to Todorov’s Theory. We subverted the convention of disequilibrium so that we might include more of the narrative in our trailer.





  • Our poster most obviously conforms to forms and conventions of the genre by featuring the film’s antagonist.
  • Rule of thirds that is often used to create effective posters, this poster uses very defined sections. Our product does conform to this but not entirely accurately, giving a jarring effect on the audience.
  • The bold whiteness of the face stands out against the background. White is a common colour used in the horror genre, usually coupled with red; this however is not featured.
    Unlike in teen horror posters such as Sorority Row or The Craft, only one girl instead of the whole group of characters is present, suggesting that she has some significance to the plot. This is namely as the embodiment of the antagonistic spirit, appearing decaying and threatening.
  • Like the poster of the film Orphan, this poster employs the one iconic portrait.  However, it is to the side, creating a landscape image with the title present on the other side.
  • Shadows around the image signify the darkness of the film and also so there are no distractions from the image, this is a convention we conform to because of its effectiveness. An example of this is the film poster of The Number 23. 

Our webpage is very typical of the horror genre and largely conforms to codes and conventions.
· Black background and same iconic image shows the threat and mystery of the events in the film, parallel to that featured on the poster.
· The title text of the page is at top in the centre, clearly standing out against the rest of the information on the page.
· There are share options linking to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and YouTube, something that has become very common among sites that generate interest with viral campaigns.
· There are links so that more of the page could be explored, as well as large font in order to draw attention and clearly mark the different options.
· There is the option to pre-order the DVD, online shopping in the second function of any film webpage, after promotion. Our film conforms to typical codes around the film generating profit.
· Teaser trailer centre of the page, with the tagline of the film and the release date underneath it.
· Involvement of secondary images on the page such as the planchette that give clues to the genre and the narrative.
· Placement of portrait makes her appear somewhat predatory, and follows the idea of the rule of thirds.
· The main soundtrack has not been included. The site remains silent except for the teaser trailer when played to keep the focus on it. This is one thing that is uncommon among movie websites and a code we have subverted.

Evaluation Question 2 - How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?

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We worked to make the combination of our main product and ancillary texts effective by ensuring that they each supported the genre of the film. We did this by using consistent themes within the tasks, such as darkness. We use elements of darkness in our teaser trailer through shadowing and low level lighting, as can be seen in the following exert, and followed this theme in the poster (which can be seen below) and website  by including black backgrounds. These all support each other by connoting the mystery and threat we wanted to suggest in the teaser trailer, and therefore creating a more intense feeling of tension through other platforms. The tasks also support one another through the use of the colour motifs.




Our research  of posters found that the colours of red and white are common among horror films, so we used this in contrast to the black background. These act to stand out against the background as well as connoting blood and the struggle between good and evil that occurs during the events of the film. 



We used the same font of Sell Your Soul for the  teaser trailer and poster , and used a similar looking font of OptimusPrincePS for the webpage due to the inability to insert new fonts into the software. The fonts appear simple but gothic, continuing the gothic theme created across the three tasks.

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We also created a sense of continuity through the three tasks by focussing on one main image of a girl with Ouija board symbols on her face. This is based on a shot in the teaser trailer in which the girl is seen with her face covered in markings, which is itself based on other media texts that use the same idea in order to show possession. This image is one of the pivotal moments of the trailer as it shows a manifestation of the spirit for the first time instead of just the victims, so we used this idea as the key image for the ancillary texts. We carried out a  photo shoot  of the actor with the horror make up, and  edited it  in order to make it appear more intense and memorable. The finished image was used in the webpage and poster to give the viewer a physical image of the antagonistic spirit, so that it appears more realistic and therefore scarier.The use of one iconic image is also a convention of horror films, such as that of  'Orphan' , as accessed here, so by adhering to this we are emphasising the genre of the film.

The combination of the three tasks is also effective due to the inclusion of conventions in each, such as institutional idents and the tagline , as these make the products appear more realistic and when combined make the project more professional in terms of appearance. This would act to interest audiences more as they trust that the film has been created 
effectively. In terms of attraction, our tasks also appeal to different demographics in order to broaden our audience through the different mediums. For example, as well as appealing through the main teaser trailer that would be shown in cinemas or on television, the webpage will attract regular online users while the poster could be placed in other advertising areas such as bus stops or billboards in order to interest audiences when they are in public. We considered the different options of advertising.

Evaluation Question 3 - What have you learned from your audience feedback?

With the help of a questionnaire we created on SurveyMonkey asking our audience about the codes and conventions of a possesive/supernatural horror film, our narrative and what you would usually see in a film trailer, we were able to use our audience's answers to help complete our final trailer. We recieved a positive response, and found many comments that we felt would help improve our trailer before submitting the final draft. Here are the results:


*75% of our audience are female
*87% of our audience are ages 15-18
*When asked what the main feautures of a possessive/supernatural film were, the main responses were ghosts, spirits, death and possession of the main characters, mystery/suspense
*When asked if the creature haunting the characters should be seen, 95% of people said no, saying that it would ruin the suspense as the fear of the unknown was important.
*When asked what locations would be used in a supernatural/possessive film, the main responses were the home of one of the characters, churches, abandoned houses, graveyards, and hospitals.


From this we could see what the audience wanted and what they didn't want; many films use focus groups, showing a small audience the film so that they can say what they like about it or what can be improved before the film is actually released, so that it can potentially be re-edited. It is important that their comments are listened to lists so that film makers, or us with our trailer, can ensure that the film/trailer appeals to the target audience decided, as they will be the ones to watch the final product.  

We learnt how to how to define our target demographic through questions on age, gender and ideas of narrative, and through research into demographics of films of a similar genre or narrative to ours, such as the ones we have deconstructed. This has helped us to define our target audience, which will be male and females aged 15-25, with the film's certificate being 15.

We felt that the characters would appeal to both genders; the males would be attracted to the girls, whilst the female audience would either admire the girls, or resent them if they cannot relate to them. This is supported by evolutionary research into mate selection; men will choose the women who are young, slim and physically attractive as they percieve them to be the perfect 'mate'. Women will be jealous of other females because they are competing for the attention of the males, and if they have those qualities that appeal to men. The girls in our trailer are typical of the 'perfect mate' in modern western society and film - young, average size 8/10, physically attractive, sexually attractive (seen through their clothing, and the way they walk/present themeselves), long hair and typically white.



Our female audience may also resent the girls because we have presented them as unattainable in their beauty and confidence, as many films do make their main female characters, but it is important that they do dislike them as it means they will feel less sympathy for the girls when they are killed.


Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have also been useful for recieving feedback from the audience on our trailer and our anxillary tasks, our poster and our webpage.

 On Facebook and Twitter we have set up pages for 'fans', so that we can share the creative process with people we know, as well as others who might follow us if people share the page on their own walls.


By posting our trailer, webpage and poster on Facebook we have managed to collect many comments which have been used to improve our coursework tasks, as it is important that the audience can give feedback that we take into account, otherwise there would be little point in asking for the feedback in the first place. All comments from our audience have been very useful and positive:




By creating a channel on YouTube to share our teaser trailer, test shots and behind-the-scenes videos has also helped to create a connection between ourselves and the audience, as they can see the creative process behind our trailer, as well as see the trailer itself, and they can comment here too:


It also means we can share the information more easily to other sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Blogger for the rest of our audience to see, meaning it is easy to comment on a variety of internet sites.







Evaluation Question 4 - How did you use media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?


Online technologies were particularly useful in terms of research. Due to the nature of our main task, the main technology we referred to was the website Youtube, as this allowed us to deconstruct teaser trailers and find any necessary tutorials for effects we wanted to achieve, such as injury make up . This made it easier to find resources and consider different inspirations that might affect our final piece, from multiple genres. IMDb, the online film information site, was also used in order to find out basic information about films that we were examining, so that we could better relate them to our projects. 
In terms of research, we also used the interactivity of multiple social networking and survey sites in order to communicate with our audience via different formats. For example, one of the first pieces of research that we conducted was the creation of a survey aimed at our target audience, on SurveyMonkey . This form of research was imperative for our project as it allowed us to collate the expectations of our target demographic with our other findings in order to better create a successful and effective finished piece. An example of the importance of the questionnaire can be seen in Question 5, which showed our audience’s expectations that we adhered to conventions of supernatural horrors, and led us to only include one shot of the embodiment of the spirit towards the end of the trailer in order to reflect the majority’s opinion. 

Other technologies that allowed us to communicate with our audience were the social networking sites Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Flickr. By creating pages on these sites, we were able to involve our audience in the various steps of the creative process, making them feel more invested in the finished product, and maintain a steady course of feedback on our decisions. For example, we posted our various poster designs on Facebook and asked for feedback, leading us to make our final decision of which poster would be most effective and therefore successful with audiences. We posted the webpage development and draft teaser trailer on social networking sites as well, in order to receive a wide range of feedback and make any adjustments that could improve the quality of our work. The use of social networking has also allowed us to advertise our product, and were this a real film we would partake in online advertising on a large scale in order to attract our main demographic of 15-25, who have a large online presence.

In terms of logging our creative process, we also regularly kept a blog on the website Blogger. This allowed us easy access to all of our information so that we could organise our work and become used to presenting our work in an appropriate format. Contrasting this technology with the project of last year, it has helped us maintain a much better sense of organisation and allowed us to experiment with different forms of media that could be useful to us, such as embedded videos and hyperlinks.  

video For the actual creation of our product, we used a range of technologies. This ranged from basic photo and video cameras in order to capture the raw footage, to editing software such as iMovie and Garageband. These editing softwares allowed us to create the teaser trailer easily, making them to the highest quality possible. Through regular usage we became well versed in editing techniques allowing us to test different effects until we had created a piece that successfully portrayed our concept. 
We also used content downloaders in order to take music and sound effects from Youtube, so that we could edit them on Garageband to achieve the sound we desired. An example of the effects we were able to achieve with Garageband is the layering of recorded whispers used throughout the trailer, which we felt was particularly effective. We were also able to use iMovie to reverse the sound of laughter to create unnatural sounds, which when placed with the whisper effects sounded particularly distorted and unnerving. We were also able to edit pieces of music to distort them to make them appear more effective and work in parallel with the images being shown.

The image for the poster was created using various editing software. The initial editing was achieved on Picassa and Adobe Photoshop as references in these posts, creating a base image to experiment with in different ways for the development of the final piece. After this the various different poster possibilities were created using the online photo editing software Picnik, which allowed a wide range of effects such as ‘Ghostify’ and ‘Blur’ to generate different choices for us to consider. By using a few different editing programmes we were able to examine a wide range of possible visual effects so that we could make more professional and informed posters. 


We used the webpage creation site Wix in order to make the webpage for our film as is shown in these posts . Due to the specific purpose of this site, we were able to create a professional product with appropriate effects and layout to support the genre and concept of our film. Although we had difficulty using the site at first, with repeated use and trial and error, we soon became used to the formatting and could achieve the effects that we wanted, such as the slight enlargement of hyperlinks when hovered over with the mouse. Here is our final webpage .

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Changed Poster



-Changed poster by Emily

Audience Feedback Further Ideas

The original release date for our film was chosen to be '12/12/12', as we thought that the symmetry of the date looked appealing and effective, for example on the poster . 
However, it was suggested that a lot of horror films, especially those dealing with the idea of ghosts or demons, are released on Halloween. This is to create a sense of consistency and adds to the theme of the supernatural that is trying to be created, while relating to the enjoyment in being scared that can arise during Halloween. Therefore we made the decision to change the release date of our film to follow this trend, so that it would maximise on the audience we reached. 
Therefore this is our finalised and changed poster.




-Emily

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Audience Feedback Further Ideas

Audience feedback led to the suggestions that we swap some shots around in our fast paced second half of the trailer, and find a different first sound track.


The first suggestion was that the final shot of Emma before the title, in which she has horror make up  inspired by horror make up research covering her face, should be swapped with the shot of Zoe's head twitching and convulsing. The reason for this suggestion is that it would create a more final impression of the trailer as a whole. It would also end the trailer with a very eerie shot so that it remained in the audience's mind.
We found this suggestion very useful and were pleased with the effect that the swapped shots created. We had the choice of using the shot of Emma to make it appear eerie, or using a more sudden shot to end the trailer on a more shocking note. We decided that we preferred the eerie and unsettling ending created by the use of the above shot of Emma smiling at the mirror, so used this as our final shot. We also incorporated fading out whispers to add to the tone. 


The second suggestion was that we should change the first piece of music. This was suggested because it was said to sound too similar to the second piece of music and the change in tone through the music should be more noticeable. However, we decided not to change the music. This is because we did conduct a search of other R'n'B and Pop music, but were unable to find another piece of music that we felt was appropriate for our piece. We also decided to keep the original piece of music because the majority of our audience feedback claimed that they liked the music. Although this does go against the suggestions of our teacher, we thought that we should follow the feedback of our audience in general in order to produce a product that was as successful and popular as possible.


-Emily

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Audience Feedback Ideas



One of the members of our audience fed back to us that the moment in which the five girls walk away from the school, they could be considered to walk in the shape of a pentagram. This was an interesting view of our piece that we had not considered before but find to suit our piece fairly well. A pentagram has ties with various magical and supernatural ideas, so it could be considered that this layout reflects some kind of satanic influence on the girls that will link to the haunting that occurs later.
Our original idea had been that the girls walked in this way to set them apart from everyone else and show them to be some kind of pack that separated themselves from others. This would emphasise their unlikeable characters so that the audience feels no guilt when the girls are killed.




-Emily



Friday, 23 March 2012

The Last Exorcism Trailer Deconstruction



'The Last Exorcism' teaser trailer explores the story of the possession of a teenage girl and her father’s fight for the soul of his daughter. The audience is introduced to this situation by the Reverend called on to perform the exorcism, the hook of the film is that although the exorcist has “performed over 50 exorcisms”, this is unlike anything he has ever seen. Its contextual relevance of this horror film comes from the use of a teenage main character and her demonic possession.
 








The teaser begins with the recognition of two institutions through the presence of idents. Lionsgate, Strike and Studio Canal are all featured, with usually only two used this is somewhat unconventional but suggests very high production values with three difference companies involved in fabrication.










The use of a conventionally attractive yet innocent looking main character features in both this trailer and in our own production. This is highlighted by the figures pale skin with little to no makeup, coupled with long, dark unstyled hair. The shots of these characters are also very similar, both represented through a facial close up. One slight difference is shot angle, this is interesting because of the characters’ very different role in each film. Where as in 'The Last Exorcism' this teenager becomes an object of demonic possession and therefore an antagonist, our production is the opposite. Our representation of an innocent girl is the idea of the ‘final girl’, a protagonist, the eventual survivor and eradicator of the demon. A high angled shot on the former is deceiving, convincing the audience of her apparent innocence. Our piece features a very slightly low angled shot on the character, demonstrating her power, though it may not be immediately apparent.







A use of weapon against a demon by protagonist is a common convention of horror films. In 'The Last Exorcism' this is fabrication through the use of a religious object, a crucifix, often thought to warn off the devil. This object suggests an idea that the possession is an on-going problem and there have been plans and preparations in order to deal with it. The use of a knife to protect a character against a demon suggests quite the opposite. This is a common household item that has more likely been grabbed in order at an attempt of self-preservation by the character. That lack of knowledge of the danger creates fear in the viewer.






In the trailer there is a short sample of the demon speaking through the possessed body, this is coupled with a close up very different to the shot we saw of the teenage girl earlier. She now appears someone completely different, no longer a sweet innocent girl but a brutal, bedraggled figure of evil. Her hair has been thrown over her face, suggesting she is on all four and has risen from the floor like an animal. This theme is continued through her stance with face tilted down, giving the feeling of a predator about to strike. One of own shots is comparable, a possession takes over as the character rolls her head, jolting from side to side.




Over the shoulder/close up shots of the character observes their possession in a mirror features in both productions. In 'The Last Exorcism' this is effectively achieved by a lack of focus on the actual character making her a background figure. The camera is actually focuses on the mirror itself and two crop ears laid against it; this creates fear because the threat cannot be properly evaluated because the audience is not allowed to see it clearly. The mirror itself is dirty, between this and the corn it suggests that she is in the family barn, in a rural area and therefore an idea of isolation. This isolation seems a lack of aid for other characters to protect themselves from this threat. Our own mirror shot demonstrates the effect physically of the demon on the character.




The bizarre, unnatural movements of a demon using human body is a feature used very commonly in possessive horror films, 'The Last Exorcism' is no exception. This action has been enhanced through the use of a vignette effect in order to create a shadow around the image. This implies that the figure is cast in torch light and there poses an immediate threat to the character holding the light/camera. A red filter has also been overlaid to give the idea of horror and a strong possibility of danger. The footage itself has been flipped so that it appears that the possessed is in fact crawling on the ceiling towards the audience; on closer inspection the angling of the door means that it is the camera that is upside down and not the character, this is supported by the position of her hair in relation to gravity. However, initially this creates an impossible and therefore supernaturally fearsome action. This suggests that maybe some home footage of the possession has gone wrong and the camera person has been forced to abandoned the camera, it has however continue to film and capture the true horror. In our production we also use the action of crawling. Doing this upstairs creates an animalistic quality and also very unnatural shapes, for example, the characters’ arms appear to be abnormally long.

- Meg



Also see... The Last Exorcism Poster Deconstruction