Here is our finished opening sequence:

Here is my finished prelim task:

06 April 2011

Closing Post

This blog is now closed, thankyou for reading :)

05 April 2011

Note to Moderator

Dear Moderator,

Thank you for taking the time to look around my blog. On this blog you will find my individual research into film opening sequences and the film industry and also a few of my planning and production work over the course of the project. As you can see, I have posted my finished film opening sequence and my preliminary task at the top of the page.

I have linked my group blog and the other members of my group's blogs on this page to the right, under essential links. I have also put links to our main and secondary class blogs.

Lastly, I have labled all my work as either, evaluation, research, planning, or prelim task, which can be found under labels to the right.

I hope you find my blog interesting and easy to navigate around.
Thankyou for reading.
James Thicknes.

04 April 2011

Evaluation - Question 1

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

Our film is called the Witness, and is an action thriller with some crime/drama. It is about a 17 year old named Jack, who witnesses 2 members of a gang disposing of a body and is now wanted by that gang. He has nobody to turn to as he himself is struggling with a drug habit, so he must get to the bottom of the gangs business on his own.

Jack is the typical anti-hero. He is the hero of the story but at the same time is a bit of a dark and dodgy character. Similar to Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting, (Danny Boyle 1996) who is the main character and hero, but is also a heroine addict on the side. A more extreme version of this would be Johnny Depp in Sweeny Todd (2007) who is the lead role, and also a violent murderer.

Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting
Johnny Depp in Sweeny Todd

Another film that was great inspiration to us was Taken (Pierre Morel 2008.) This film is an action thriller about a man who is tracking down his daughter who was taken by a sex trafficking business. Our film is also about a gang involved in sex trafficking, and our hero is completely alone in trying to put an end to it. Similarly to Taken, there are few other main characters in the Witness other then Jack, making him seem more isolated and unaided. However our film is a lot less of the explosive action and car chases, and more about the struggles and hardships that Jack suffers throughout the film.

According to Todorov’s theory of equilibrium, most films follow the same narrative structure of:

This structure is especially true with action/thrillers or crime films which our film fits into. We therefore chose to follow the same pattern, and our story goes as follows:



Similarly to most other films that follow this narrative structure, the equilibrium and disruption are present in the opening sequence. The hero's journey will make up most of the rest of the film, and the resolution comes right at the end.

The main purposes of a film opening sequences are:

-To introduce the characters – We introduced the main character and have left introducing other characters for later on in the film. We also showed two of the villains, but they covered their faces and therefore didn’t have much of an identity suggesting that they are quite low down in their gang.

-To establish a setting and key themes – The setting in our opening sequence is in the middle of the woods making the main character seem isolated and alone. We also showed a shot of Jack walking away from some houses, showing that he belongs in an urban setting.

-To engage the viewer and make them want to watch on – We tried to do this by having a fast paced chase scene with exhilarating music. We also ended the opening with a cliff hanger; we don’t know what happened to Jack and therefore want to watch on to find out.

Evaluation - Question 2

2. How does your media product represent particular social groups?

Our film focuses on a teenager from a fairly poor background, who has developed a drug habit. Drug abuse is a problem that a lot of teenagers can relate to in modern society, and in no way does our film glamorize this lifestyle. We represent it in the harsh and gritty way that a lot of other British films do. Through use of highly contrasted dim lighting, and dreary London sets, we think we have portrayed a bleak outlook on drug abuse.

Jack smoking a spilff

Jack is wearing simple and dull clothes that show he isn't very well off. This is further shown by the fact that he is wearing cheap branded clothes that go along with the stereotype that young males are very brand sensitive.

Nike trainers

Addidas hoody
 Opposed to the thugs who wear bulky walking boots, and all black clothing, suggesting that they don't really care what they look like, they just want to get the job done. They also wear their hoods up, and have balaclavas covering their faces, which takes away their identity and shows that they have something to hide.
Thug hiding his identity

Gender is another important factor in our film, and we have represented it in the conventional old-fashioned way. Stereotypically, in films women are the victims who must be saved by the men. We have gone along with this theme in our film, as the only girl in the opening sequence has been murdered by men, and women are the victims throughout.

We made the girl stand out by having her wear deep red clothing symbolizing lust/passion. Compared to the men who are wearing very plain black/grey clothes, the girl looks very dressed up, suggesting that she cares about the way she looks. This supports the stereotypethat young girls are superficial. This is shown below:

The girl is the victim

Evaluation - Question 3

3. What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?

Our production company (Bite the Bullet Productions,) specializes in action/thriller films, targeting both national and international audiences who are fans of the genre. They are also good at producing films of Britsh nature by capturing the realisim that is often showed in British cinema.

Our film would likely be distributed by a company of similar values such as Revolver Entertainment. Revolver entertainment specializes in delivering maximum media coverage via a range of platforms. They are responsible for the release of films such as ‘Kidulthood’ and ‘Shank,’ which are both set in London and gang culture feature predominantly. However ‘the Witness’ isn't really epic or explosive enough to be picked up by an international company and therefore may not do so well overseas. It's dark, grittiness and London sets would probably do better with British audiences and therefore a British institution should distribute our film.

Facebook Statistics

Since our film is targeting a younger market, it makes sense to utilize modern technologies to tap into that market. For example online marketing would be very effective at reaching teenage audiences by websites such as FaceBook and YouTube. In the UK there are over 10 million FaceBook users aged between 15 and 25, which is a huge portion of our market. Since online marketing is a global platform, it opens up to a global market. This means that our film could be distributed to global audiences. However since our film is fairly British and doesn’t have much of a global appeal, it could be screened in cinemas by request. This has proved to be very successful by other films such as Paranormal Activity, (Oren Peli, 2007) who used this tactic and ended up making a massive hype around the film, and reaching a huge audience.

Evaluation - Question 4

4. Who would be the audience for your media product?

Certificate rating
Our film would be appealing to the younger generation (old teens – young adults,) because of its genre, and the realism that is achieved by tackling the issues that face this generation today. Since our film would have scenes of violence and drug use, the certificate rating would probably be a 15. So our primary audience would be teenagers and young adults between the ages of 15 and 25 (predominantly male,) with a secondary audience of adults who are fans of the genre.

I think our film would be mainly for UK audiences, predominantly in London due to its British nature; however it might have a global appeal for other people who are fans of action thrillers.

Example Audience profile:

Name: John
Age: 19
Gender: Male
Hometown: East London
Lifestyle: He is adventurous and enjoys going out at the weekend, socialising and trying new things.
Tastes in Media: He uses lots of different media platforms such as Sky, and is always up to date with new technologies like the latest iPod. He is also a regular user of the internet and FaceBook.
Tastes in Film: He is a regular cinema goer, and enjoys action thrillers and comedies mostly. He likes his films to include fast paced action, hot girls and funny characters. Favourite films include: Kidulthood, Shank and Pineapple express


Evaluation - Question 5

5. How did you attract/address your audience?

Our main character is a 17 year old male who fits in nicely with our target audience as he would be somebody they can relate to. The male lead role would probably attract a more male dominated audience. We have therefore added a love interest between Jack and one of the female victims later on in the film, to attract a more well-rounded audience. This has proved to be successful in other films such as Pirates of the Caribbean, where the love interest between two of the main characters could be why it attracted a large female audience and did so well in its box office.

Will and Elizabeth in Pirates of the Caribbean

In order to appeal to our young market, we tried to make our film thrilling and fast paced. We did this through use of fast basey music and quick choppy editing during the chase sequence. To engage young audiences we used language and mannerisms that they can relate to. The realism of the film, and the fact that it tackles relevant issues such as gang culture and drug abuse, is also appealing to this market.

In order to anchor the fact that this is a British film for predominantly British audiences, we followed the same styles and conventions that other films of the genre have. For example the gritty and realistic way that the film is shot is appealing to the slightly sadistic British audience. Similarly to the film Shank, we would use relateable urban locations in London throughout the rest of the film. We hinted at this in the beginning of the film when we used this shot:

The alleyway and houses in the background show that Jack comes from an urban environment.
Also, the police siren connotes danger and violence, and again suggests urban roots.

After we had finished editing our opening sequence, we conducted a screening of our film, and gave a questionnaire to 50 members of our target audience (all aged 15 - 18.) We did this to to find out if we have successfully targeted them, and if our film makes sense so far. Our results showed us that everyone who was at the screening rated our film between 6-10 out of 10, with an average of 9/10 for the boys, and 7/10 for the girls. This reflects what we originally planned, as we said from the beginning that males would be our primary target audience.

Here is a sample of one of the filled out questionnaires:


Evaluation - Question 6

6. What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?

A list of the equipmeant we used during the production process:

-Sony Camera and mini DV tape (with tripod)
-Microphone and Headphones
-Dell computer
-Mac computer

-Adobe Premiere Pro cs3
-Adobe Sound Booth cs3
-Live Titles

Me Filming
Throughout the project I have developed my skills in editing and filming a huge amount. With the camera I have learnt the in and outs of the different manual settings, and have become better at deciding the best way to shoot a shot. This was particularly relevant, as we didn’t realise how easy it was to accidentally change the colour grading settings on the camera.  On one of our shoots we did just that, making half of our footage a strange washed out colour, rendering it useless.

I have become a lot more confident with using various softwares on the computer to edit our film. We used adobe premiere pro to do most of the editting of our film, and throughout the project I have progressively become better at editting accurately and quickly. I also learnt some tricks and techniques needed to create a certain feel within a shot. For example we brought up the contrast and darkened most of our shots to create a gloomy atmosphere within the forest.

Changing the contrast on Adobe Premiere Pro

We used Live Titles on the mac to create our titles and animate them. We only wanted a simple animation on our titles, as they weren't meant to be very distracting or noticeable, (apart from the last one which needed impact.) However looking through all the fonts and animations on the mac was interesting as this was a new programme for me, and will be usefull for future preferance.

Creating titles on Live Titles

Probably the most important thing I learnt from the process is the importance of lighting. Lighting can completely change the way a shot feels, and changes the way an audience reads into the story. For example, when we filmed our footage it was in broad daylight and sometimes quite sunny, this gave an optimistic feel which we didn’t want. This was fixable by changing the colour grading in editing, however it’s easier and quicker to get it right then first time. If I were to advise someone else who was doing the same project, I would say to avoid an outdoor night shoot at all costs. As we learnt very early on, it is a nightmare to light, and most professionals would shoot it in a heavily lit studio.

As you can see in this shot, we have beams of light coming through the trees. Obviouslty this made the shot alot brighter than the other shots, so we had to change the contrast and brightness more so in order to keep the sequence continuous.

Evaluation - Question 7

7. Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?

The most important skill I've learnt from the prelim task, was understanding how important continuity is. Continuity makes a film make sense, and helps the audience to follow what is going on. We achieved continuity in our film opening, by obeying the rules of continuity. These included the 180 degree rule and the 30 degree rule. It became habit for us to check that we weren’t breaking either of these rules which was helpful when it cam to editing because the shots flowed together more seamlessly.

The 180 degree rule

Match-on-action (MOA) is also very important for making continuity sequences and I have learnt how to make them look professional. Since we were filming a chase sequence, MOA was especially important, as it prevented the audience from losing track of where the characters were in relation to eachother. Here is an example of us using one in our opening sequence:

Match on Action!!
 Organisation was another skill that I've developed from the prelim task. We found that it was alot quicker and easier to edit and our footage when we had all our shot logs and shot lists at hand to refer to.

Me shot logging
 Group dynamics was very important in the project as morale tended to get low when we were filming in the middle of a forest at 6 in the morning. We quickly learnt that being well fed and rested impacted on how efficiently we filmed and edited, and so we made a point of achieving both before doing a task. Overall I think we did manage to work efficiently and we managed to delegate the work equally.