Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Craig Jackson's Thriller Evaluation

Representation of a social group

We decided to represent the mentally ill in our product in this way because we believe it shows that the mentally ill aren't always responsible for their actions and that sometimes they can be suffering from delusions in their mind which have been implanted in their mind to make them to terrible things. I showed this as sound editor by putting in low pitched, quick and dramatic sounds which show the protagonist is terrified of his antagonistic subconscious and that he feels the need to give in and obey him.

In 'Shutter Island' there are some similarities to our product with the protagonist in the film Teddy Daniels turning out to be the same character as the antagonist Andrew Laeddis. Laeddis is represented as someone who is schizophrenic and has invented themselves a new role. Laeddis pretends to be an anagram called 'Teddy Daniels' who is a US Marshall. He does this so he can forget that in reality he is Andrew Leadiss, a man who shot his wife after discovering she had murdered their three children. In our film the antagonist and the protagonist are both the same person and they are mentally ill. They have both also lost touch with reality and so both are extremely delusional.
I believe the way we have represented the mentally ill in no way represents all mentally ill people, but it's something which can possibly happen as a result of an untreated mental illness such as severe schizophrenia. This is backed up by the real life case of Grammy award winning drummer Jim Gordon who could hear voices in his head which came in all different forms but with the most frightening voice to him being the voice of his mother. When, in his head, he could hear his mothers voice it would stop him eating for forcing Gordon to go into hiding to eat a box of fried chicken before the voice returned to stop him from eating once again. He also believed the voice was controlling his hands and stopping him from being able to play the drums. Gordon was so mentally damaged by his undiagnosed condition of schizophrenia that after killing his mother police found him frightened that the same assailant who killed his mother might come for him aswell. This is very similar to our portrayal of the mentally ill in our product where the voice is so convincing and has such a powerful life over the person suffering with the illness that it completely controls what actions they take and can eventually lead to them committing an awful crime such as murder. The voices of the antagonist (or subconscious) in our film which the protagonist hears are so convincing and threatening to him that the protagonist is prepared to do what ever he can to get rid of them much like in the case of Gordon. Therefore I believe that our film does accurately represent some cases of mental illness although our representation of the mentally ill shouldn't be generalised as to represent all those who are mentally ill.

Our film challenges the stereotypical assertions most people have about the mentally ill who assume schizophrenics are evil when in fact they are normal human beings who are severely ill. What we try to show to the audience is that their illness may make them carry out horrific acts however this does not necessarily make them callous people. I believe that our film is different from Shutter Island as I believe that there is no real message of representation about the mentally ill and I believe the narrative of the film has been constructed for purely entertainment purposes with little purpose of representation. I believe our story is more similar to the case of Jim Gordon as in our film we portray the protagonist as a victim of his subconscious and I think we can see that with Jim Gordon he is also a victim of his subconscious as it has tortured him into a situation where he felt the need to kill to make it stop which is exactly the same as what happened with our character. I also believe that those who know the case of Jim Gordon will also find themselves challenging stereotypes about the mentally ill whilst they would also find themselves challenging stereotypical assertions about the mentally ill if they were to watch our media product.

 Film review

 ‘Twice’ is a psychological thriller set in London which follows the story of James McGrath, a schizophrenic who is manipulated and harassed by his subconscious until he commits out horrific acts of violence such as murders and bank robberies. James perceives his subconscious to be a strange and callous individual who will soon let him go once he has carried out all the acts that his subconscious has demanded of him. As far as James is concerned he is just as much of a victim as all the people he has shot, stabbed, choked and tortured. Completely oblivious to the fact that it’s simply his imagination which is forcing him to do these things, James soon finds out for himself that there’s nothing he can do which will finally satisfy the bloodthrist of his sinister subconscious. He becomes terrified of what his subconscious is going to make him do next and so he sets of to go into hiding in an abandoned home. Whilst in hiding the police discover enough evidence to prove that the biggest serial killer in London since Jack the Ripper can only be James McGrath and they set out to conduct the biggest man hunt Britain has ever seen. Mean whilst James has still been unable to escape the mental torture his own subconscious puts him through and he begins to realise he has to attempt to escape his mind whilst unaware that he also has to escape the police who have been told they need to catch him dead or alive. James’ battle with his own mind has now turned into his own battle for survival. However, will James be able to escape his subconscious in time to organise a way of fleeing the police or will his subconscious drive him to life imprisonment, or worse yet death?

What magazine would be likely to feature a review of our film

I think that a review of our product would be most likely to appear in ‘Sight & Sound’ magazine as Sight & Sound features a lot of low budget films with a niche audience, such as Hunger as seen on the front cover,  and I feel that our film would probably appeal to a niche audience and would be more likely to be shown in picture house cinemas as I don’t think it’s the type of movie which would be a mainstream Hollywood production. This is because the narrative to our film has been constructed so that it is more about being symbolic of changing a commonly held stereotype that people with schizophrenia commit crimes because they are evil or twisted. I believe that films which are mot intended for symbolic purposes rather than entertainment are usually niche films whilst mainstream Hollywood movies are generally more about entertainment than a particular symbolic message. I also feel that our movie would appeal more to informed film goers who are more able to appreciate symbolism in films rather than the type of audience who watch films simply to be entertained.  I believe that sight and sound target this type of audience more as their articles are generally more complex and more detailed than other film magazines such as Empire which cover mainstream films and in much less detail.

What I've learnt about technologies form the construction of this product

The video camera we used for our product was good as it allowed us to capture everything without the image looking shaky. This was because the tripod was very stable and the camera was excellent to move on it. This allowed us to have a more professional image which improved the overall quality of our product. However, one problem with using these cameras was that the battery life wasn't particularly great and so it ran out of battery before we'd finished filming. Fortunately though we'd got nearly everything we'd needed and so due to our quick working it didn't have as much of a detrimental affect on our product as it may have done if we hadn't already finished filming. As we have had previous experience with using these cameras we didn't learn anything new about them.

This was my first time using Garageband and as sound editor I had to sue it alot which meant I learnt alot from using it. Whilst using this software I learnt how to create soundtracks from a large mixture of sounds and how to time when they play effectively to produce a film in which the sound helps build the atmosphere. A second thing I learnt was how to quiet down and increase the sound so that it can fade in and out as I like. A third thing I learnt about using Garageband is how to cut down the sound so that it would play effectively The good thing about Garageband is that it was pretty simple to learn to use and so I was able to produce the soundtrack I wanted without encountering many problems. However, the bad thing about Garageband was that it was sometimes hard to find sounds that were exactly what I wanted. I had to spend along time searching through many different sounds which didn't fit in with our thriller at all before I could finally find some which did.
We used Final Cut in order to edit the film so that we could have effects in it such as when the film flicks over from what is happening to show the antagonistic subconscious. We did this so that we could show what is going through the protagonists mind as he imagines this man telling him to kill the guy in the chair. However, to the audience they will not be fully aware of this and so it creates dramatic effect. This was a big part to our opening sequence and so it shows that Final Cut is actually very good editing software. I can't make any criticisms of it as I believe it efficiently did everything we wanted it to do.

Our use of, challenging of or development of opening sequence conventions and thriller conventions

Opening sequence conventions

In the still above we use the opening sequence convention of introducing setting by showing an establishing shot of the carpet shop our opening sequence is set in. This introduces the audience to the setting of our carpet shop and the sound track which I produced has hard hitting low pitched noises which creates an eerie atmosphere in the carpet shop and adds more drama to the opening sequence.

The still above shows that we are challenging the opening sequence convention of introducing characters as in our opening sequence it isn't made clear that our character who wields the knife is mentally ill or that the hooded character is the subconscious of the other character. The reason we have challenged this opening sequence convention is because it was necessary to ensure that we followed the thriller convention of establishing enigmas. By establishing this enigma and mystery around what exactly is going on our opening sequence is more in line with a thriller  opening sequence and also the audience would be more interested in the film as they would be curious to know what is going on. If we had of revealed the enigma then our film would no longer have been a thriller.

With the opening sequence convention of introducing themes we have challenged this convention as we don't directly introduce themes in our film. Instead, as the still above shows, we had pictures of the brains of schizophrenics which flashed up on the screen and sometimes came in  faded during the action in order to hint that what going on is something in the mind. We did this intentionally as a suttle way of introducing the characters so that we could include a opening sequence convention whilst at the same time maintaning the thriller convention of not revealing any enigmas.

Thriller conventions

As the above still shows, we have challenged the thriller convention of having an antagonist that exploits the protagonists weakness. The way in which we have challenged it is instead of having a antagonist and a protagonist we have unified both those roles as the character wielding the knife could be seen as a protagonist but at the same time they're subconscious is a antagonist who is trying to pressure him into killing the man sat in the chair. By unifying the role of the protagonist with that of the antagonist the audience is left with a dilemma of deciding for themselves whether the main character is good or evil. It also means that the protagonist is technically being exploited it by themselves. You could however argue that we haven't challenged this thriller convention and that we have instead used it as we choose to display the antagonistic subconscious of the main character as being a separate character who is hooded and quite manic. However, our intention was not to create them as two separate roles but instead have them unified and display to the audience how a schizophrenic can have two sides to their personality that seem complete polar opposites to each other.

As sound editor I used the thriller convention of having a brooding and fairly dark atmosphere presented to us through sound by putting in a hard hitting and loud escalating soundtrack which builds up the tension to our narrative. Aswell as this I believe it represents the sharp sense of fear felt by the protagonist whom wields the knife. 

In our product we used the thriller convention of establshing enigams. As the above still shows, we did this by not making it clear that the antagonist and the protagonist are the same person and that the protagonist is being exploited by their own subconcious. By not making it clear we hoped it would make the plot more interesting and also we hoped it would challenge and change the minds of those who don't believe severe mental illnesses such as schizoprhenia is an excuse for comitting crimes. By showing the genuine fear the progtagonist has for their antagonistic subconcious we hoped that it would show schizophrenia can have a severely detrimental affect on the behaviour of those who have it and that it can make them do things they don't even agree with themselves.

Our journey from the preliminary task to our final product



My IMDB page for our film

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Bryn Walden-Jones Self Evaluation

Challenging, Using and Developing Conventions of
Thrillers and Opening Sequences

A main convention of Thriller films is to conceal identities. In our opening sequence, we have tried to make sure that the antagonist is always partially hidden. The screen shot above shows how we have purposefully positioned the antagonist facing away from the camera and in other shots the character's face is either covered by hair or a hood, or by his dark clothing (another thriller convention). Using this technique forces the viewer to question the status of the character and helps to build an enigma.

Here is a shot used in many thriller films, an extreme close-up. We have used it here as our initial introduction to the protagonist. I think the shot works well in giving an insight into the characters feelings, but also does not give away to much information and therefore sustains the viewers confusion.

Our thriller opening contains a third character. This challenges conventions of most thriller films because, to begin with, the audience does not realise that the protagonist is in danger. However I think that this is able to create more of a shock for the audience when they begin to understand where the problem lies.

In our thriller opening, we have used an opening sequence convention by integrating the credits between shots. This works well because the credits slow down the feel of the opening and work as thinking spaces for the audience. It helps the audience concentrate on the opening and involve themselves with the speed and rhythm of the opening. Having these gaps between shots also helps build tension.
Behind our text, we displayed images that relate to the forthcoming story.

Like other film opening sequences, our title is displayed at the end. We developed this by using editing to make the text flicker. This reflects how the protagonists mind is not functioning properly either.

Representation of a Particular Social Group
In our thriller opening, we have tried to represent people suffering from mental illnesses through the protagonist. The protagonist is suffering from some sort of Schizophrenia or hallucinations and the antagonist is just a figure of his imagination. Therefore, to show this, we used editing to create flashing shots of the antagonist.

Similarly in some of the opening scenes of the film Fight Club (where the protagonist also has hallucinations of the antagonist) the "flashes" are used to show the protagonists imagination as they are only used when the camera angle is in his point of view. All of the flashes are shown in this Youtube clip below.

Below is an image of a brain scan with the illness schizophrenia. We used this in our opening to describe the illness more and also show that the story line of our film is realistic because we have proof of the represented group. 

Here is an IMDb page for our film.

Voiceover - How Did We Attract/Address Our Audience

To edit our opening, we used final cut express.  We had to learn how to add in transitions and credits. Final cut was easy to use because our work was previewed all the time.
We used Garage band to create our soundtrack. It took a while but we eventually learnt how to use it. We were able to match up our soundtrack precisely to our film because garageband also previewed our work.

Thriller Evaluation - Harrison Twinn

IMDB and BBFC Certification

Paramount Pictures might want to distribute our film. Paramount distributes films with dynamic such as 'Top Gun'. 'Twice' has a dynamic feel to it and has a sort of uniqueness to it.

Software and Equipment

Final Cut Express helped me learn about how to create dynamic scenes using transitions such as cross-dissolve and to use quick cuts during the editing process. One of its drawbacks that we had to solve was its incompatibility with other cameras other than what we have been provided with.

GarageBand was useful for using loops that were provided that were appropriate for our footage. Changing the tones and reverbs for the instruments were also a very useful feature to have as a plus for our thriller. One drawback was that it was hard for us to synchronize the soundtrack in time with the film.
The HD camera and tripod that were provided for us were very easy to handle and operate. The quality is also a big plus. One problem with it maybe is that the tripod wouldn't be very useful in limited spaces.

Magazine and Review

Total Film Magazine might be one example that could include our film in a review. On the cover of this magazine is 'Inception' which has the subconscious as a key element in the film which is similar to ours. Like the cover of this magazine, our sequence is set in a dark setting but it uses ordinary things, such as a building, and turns it into something extraordinary, which is the title. This is one thriller convention and our sequence has this kind of level of supernaturalism. This magazine tends to have sub-genre films on the cover as well. 'Inception' is an Action/Thriller. 'Twice' can be considered both Thriller and Crime/Detective. And just like 'Inception' our sequence has some unique element to it which is also what this magazine might go for.
This magazine includes films within its contents that seem to fit within the age range from 12A-15. I would consider our sequence to be around the age range of 15.
Because this magazine likes films that are blockbusters or are very interesting and clever, such as 'Inception', they do tend to exaggerate them more than any other magazine (e.g. bad language etc). I would consider our film to have an interesting plot and an interesting enigma to be on the cover on this magazine.

Review - 'Twice' comes to cinemas with a thrilling twist that will have you asking for answers. Caesar is the main character in this story, or as we would see it, the protagonist...but for how long? Alongside him, is Cain, the antagonist, who is the manifestation of Caesar's darker side, and the one responsible for causing insanity to fill your wide-screen cinemas with a disturbance that will have you praying for no nightmares anytime soon. The reason for this you ask? The answer...the horrible turmoil that Caesar has been put through by his suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder. And because of this, Cain takes a full advantage on his host and pushes Caesar to do his immoral bidding. From quick cuts and static screens in editing to reverbs and echoes in sound to the symbolistic images of light and darkness (good and evil), 'Twice' will have you on the edge of your seat with enigmas and complicated webs that will have you baffled. So, for how long will our protagonist play his beliefs of peace and non-violence as the pacifist? Will he play his role the whole way through? Or will his true, hidden self bring out the evil thoughts into action by the knife that he carries? And also, what is Cain's goal and how long will he keep it up before the law catches up? So many questions...the answers? Well...see for yourself...

Representation of Social Group


In 'Twice', our thriller opening sequence includes the social group that relates to people with disorders such as Schizophrenia or hallucinations. We represented this by using a second actor to be the split-personality of the protagonist, who is the antagonist or the doppelgänger . The antagonist wears black clothing to represent the darker side of the protagonist. At the end of our sequence the antagonist drives the protagonist to insanity through harsh ways to force him into immoral decisions. We represented this particular social group, because it gave an insight into what people who had any of these symptoms of a particular disorder were feeling and experiencing.

Black Swan

Similar to our thriller opening sequence, 'Black Swan' also uses the idea of a doppelgänger to represent a split-personality in the main character, which in this film, like ours, is a darker side to the character. Also, it is similar to our sequence in the way that the main character is forced mentally by the other self.

Real Individual

The real individual who would have a disorder that was represented in our sequence would have these symptoms and would be driven to any path that the disorder leads the sufferer to. In our sequence, we only outlined one aspect of what schizophrenia can cause, but in reality, this kind of illness can give many outcomes.

Thriller and Opening Sequence Conventions

For the conventions of the opening sequence, we included the credits for each role that were given to a particular member of the group and we used them during fade outs throughout the sequence to give some suspense to it as it went along. Also, we placed the title at the end so that the audience can understand its purpose after seeing the sequence.

Also, we used images in the credits and sometimes the footage in the sequence to set up and develop the enigma for our narrative. We did this with flickering images so that we could give it a representation of the mind, which was represented as somewhat vivid, yet unclear at the same time. And because they were images that resembled scans or x-rays, the flickering could represent the flickering backlight that a hospital would traditionally use to show these images.

Normally, the antagonist would be carrying a weapon, such as a knife, to kill his victim. But instead, we made the protagonist to carry the knife in our sequence. So, in this case, we challenged this convention because we wanted to give a conversion to the protagonist so that at the end of the sequence he will become the antagonist, the same as his subconscious.

The unknown figure was also another thriller convention that we have used. The shot that best shows this, is this shot, because the darker spot in the carpet shop is where the antagonist is standing, and not only does it flesh his character out as being evil, it also contributes to hiding his identity away from the audience. This shot almost looks as if the darkness is creeping up to the protagonist, who is in the light.

And lastly, another key convention we used in our thriller opening was of the 'Achilles Heel' of the protagonist being exploited by the antagonist. In this shot, the subconscious (the antagonist) is seen in its insane state, which in this case belongs to the protagonist. This not only reveals the weakness of the protagonist, but it also fleshes it out with a different perspective, being a dark setting and a character that expresses the insanity within the protagonist.

Prezi - From Preliminary Task to Final Thriller Opening Sequence