Cam’s AS Work : Practice Project

  1. What is a western?

A western is a genre of film that usually shows the life and culture of the western era in America, story lines and plots are usually based around outlaws, bounty hunters and avengement. However the overall goal is to maintain order in a broken and divided

  1. Key codes of a Western include;
  • Props – Cowboy Boots and Old Revolver Guns, Stetson Hats, Wild Animals (Horses and Cows) Whips and Extras. Usually the antagonist of the film will wear black and other dark cloths to show their dark morals
  • Characters – Washed up Bounty Hunter, Young Sidekick, Sheriff, Outlaws. These characters are often repetated in various storylines and they play the same type of character
  • Settings – Old saloons and towns, vast deserts and some settings will be centered around a particular locations eg Mine or Station. However some films will feature sequences that will take place in different places like caves and ranches.
  • Narratives – In a cliché story line, the plot consists of a tragic death, followed up by the hiring of a Bounty Hunter or hero Sheriff , that is set out to find and kill the murderers, often a sidekick is featured and other characters will play important roles in the plot. However the overall goal is to maintain order in a broken and divided society that is being threatened by an antagonist.
  • Camera Techniques – Close up shots and still mounted shots, this usually occurs when shooting in the desert or town to build tension. In scenes like bar fights and stand-offs, the shots will usually include close ups to build tenstions and long shots to show the location and setting of the scene. Other shots include extreme long shots.

3. Key Western films

key westerns

The good, the bad and the ugly

This Film with Clint Eastwood started off the style and genre of the western film.

-Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid

Paul Newman starred in this western which was credited for its on-screen relationship between Paul Newman and Robert Redford. This film highlights and started off the partnership theme of the western genre

– Unforgiven 

this film turned the western genre on its head by showing that the Western idea was flawed in its logic and the ideas were unrealistic. And further showed the harsh violence


True Grit – This film starring Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges was released in 2011, directed by the Coen Brothers this film was received with critical and commercial success.

Django Unchained – Directed by Quintin Tarintino, this story of a slave seeking vengeance and attempting to find his wife from whom he is separated from. this film was also critical success and a box-office hit, grossing $425 million.


Clint Eastwood has starred and played the lead role in many western films, he has taken the western genre and made it his own in films like the Good, the Bad, the Ugly in 1966 and A fist full of dollars

Gary Cooper has also starred in many westerns and played role in most of them, his character as the cowboy has set the tone for the cowboy role in western films

7. – I believe that western genres appeal to audiences due to the real depiction of a time that a modern audience doesn’t truly understand fully eg cowboys and gunslingers, furthermore audiences enjoy watching violence and the journeys that the western genre is based upon. Lastly i think that westerns appeal because of their dark comedy and light tone that the films follow, like in the 2012 film – Django Unchained.

8. – I think the genre fell out of the audiences favor to the vast repetition of virtually the same story line, settings, plot and characters that are always being reused in western films, and I believe that the audience got bored of the same film

9. – I believe there has been a uprising in the popularity of western due to the new film technology like IMAX and 3D film technology, also improvements in sound design and film quality make audiences more likely to watch a western film

Sources; –


Roles – For this short film, I would be taking the role of Director, Producer and Editor.

Location – The first thing I faced was finding a suitable shooting location, along with actors and props also. I contacted a friend who lives on a ranch style-farm, after looking around this location i concluded that this would be an ideal shooting location for my western due to the large scenery, horses and stables and also the farm setting.

Props – For the film I used different western costumes e.g. Joe is wearing denim jacket which is revealed when the white pooch is removed during the shoot out and a stetson was also acquired white a moustache. Harry wore a stetson too, followed by a brown jumper and finally a chequered blanket over the top, taking inspiration from the Clint Eastwood films.

Actors – Finding actors was not too difficult, I recruited 2 very good friends to act in my western. These people are; Joe Jenkins and Harry Davies.

Story – For my western film I decided to follow the route of suspense, the aim was to build a story and then build suspense to entice the audience. To best achieve this, music and sound was heavily used to change the mood of the film. Thought the film the ongoing sound of the wind and constant sound of the horses built up the setting which was then followed by the suspense music which was implemented to show how the film would play out.

Shooting and Editing  – The shoot was a one day shoot and lasted around 3 hours. The actors were very easy to work with and co-operative. I have used Final Cut Pro X for previous projects, so I found the process easier and faster. However, the editing process was long, the bulk of the workload took about an hour to cut the shots and add titles. The remaining hours were spent adding music at the right time and adding horse noises to fill the scene with more sound and tweaking each scene to make it as effective as possible. Overall the film is packed with sound design from the creaking gate to the walking footsteps. All these sounds were added in the edit to make the scene more believable. The two pieces of music were added to show the mood and emotion of the upcoming scenes e.g. the build up to the shoot out had a build up of suspense music to go with the story.

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FCP X Timeline

As you can see lots of additional sound has been added in the timeline to fill the scenes with sound and make the film more suspenseful and realistic. The sound design of the film was one of the biggest parts of the edit. I cut the music to the correct place to show the significance in the change of the scene.  The pace of the film changes quickly, the opening and first several scenes are very slow along with the lack of music to show the slow pace. As the plot thickens the sound design slowly drops off to emphasise the music and focus the audience on the plot and the characters emotion. As the suspenseful music goes on, the story picks up pace up to the climax of the shooting.

This is the original storyboard that I sketched out to give an idea of how the story would play out in the short. The sketches gave me an idea of what shots and angles i would use to make my film the most effective it could be. In the final cut some scenes have been altered  due to practical reasons and some shots were not used due to flawed logic in the plot.

The final outcome I was pleased with. The acting, edit and final product was the best I could have done in the time window.





Burford School Media Arts