Darcey : Darcey’s A2 Work : Main Task : Research & Planning

Trailer Background Research

History of trailers

Up until the 1950s trailers were solely produced by the National Screen Service (NSS), they were contracted out by film companies to make and produce a film trailer. One of the most influential producers was Andrew J Kuen, in 1964 he created the film company Kaleidoscope Films. Kuan was presented with the Cannes Lifetime Award, he was credited of over 1000 trailers including the hit, ‘ET’.

Early trailers most often showed rehearsal footage, the often feature a big score sound tracks and short clips showing key features of the film. A good example of this is the 1942 film ‘Casablanca’.

https://youtu.be/S9ID5DHsX8g -link to trailer

The film starts off with an opening statement that uses a very big and clear text. This is different to what would be used in trailers today as companies usually put as little text in as possible so that the audience are focusing onthe action thats drawing them in to watching the film.

Just like screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-17-10-27most trailers do today, they briefly show one particular shot to show the audience the main characters.

Trailers have always been a key part of advertising and marketing for a film. It enables the audience to see key events of the film without giving away too much. The contrast between old and modern trailers is large, as before most key information of the film was shown in the trailer. However, in modern trai
lers, the key ingredient is showing the most action packed or exciting seconds of the film that will gain the most interest from the audience.

The length of trailers has changed over time. For example, the trailer for the 1941 film, ’Citizen Kane’ is 3 minutes 52 seconds. This is obviously a lot different from today as the average trailer length is 1 to 1 and a half minutes and a theatrical trailer is 1 and a half to 2 minutes. In thus specific trailer 46 seconds of it are spent on the same image of a microphone as a man talks, this straight away makes the film seem more like a documentary.

Different types of trailers

A theatrical trailer is one of the main sources of advertisement for a film, whether it is still in production or leading up to the film release. It’s main purpose is to attract the target audience to the film. This is done by showing the most exciting parts of the film, but being careful not to spoil the plot.

A teaser trailer is the producers way of briefly showing the most important and/or exhilarating part of the film, this usually doesn’t go over 30 seconds. It is only short because it is shown in the early days of production, so usually the production team don’t have enough footage to create a full trailer. Teasers are important to the production process as they show the film company the type of audience most interest in the film.

One of the most popular trailers of the year is from the DC film, ‘Suicide Squad’, already it had reached a particular audience as the DC comics characters are featured throughout, it also features a lot of very popular actors such as Will Smith and Margot Robbie. The teaser for the film contained brief pictures of each character as well as involving the briefest of shots of the action. The trailer was very well received by the public audience it showed more of an insight in to the film, the audience were a little look in to the background of the characters without telling the plot. However, when the film came out, a large majority of people spoke on social media of how the film wasn’t as good as they expected and that the trailer held most of the exciting parts of the film.

Key codes and conventions of trailers

3 good trailers from different genres

Silence of the Lambs

https://youtu.be/W6Mm8Sbe__o – link to trailer

The 1991 film, ’The Silence of the Lambs’, is an excellent representation of a  psychological horror. Throughout the trailer, the audience is constantly shown sscreen-shot-2016-09-12-at-23-27-19
hots of Hannibal Lecter and how he is easily manipulating Clarice Starling, there are multiple close up shots of his face while he is speaking to her. This part of the filming I would use as inspiration as I think it does done effectively to make the audience think as well as scared of what the film holds. I think that this is a very effective trailer as it gives you an insight in to the mind on Hannibal Lecter without showing you the main parts of the plot. The narrative is maintained throughout, this helps give the audience a basic understanding of the film plot.

Texas Chainsaw Massacer

https://youtu.be/HgJQvyngAeM – link to trailer

The Tobe Hooper film, ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ is one of my particular scariest films to  date. During the trailer there is never a moment where the audience is left bored, there is constantly acti
on happening, this automatically makes the audience full of anticipation as they want to see the final result of what happens to the group of friends. The antagonist is the film is called ‘Leatherface’, the audience are shown aspects of what that could entail as they are shown images of skin, this begins to create a suspenseful atmosphere. What I would like to take from this trailer is the fact that there is never a dull moment and the audience are always entertained. I think this has to be a main factor in a trailer, as this is what helps gain an audience. I also really like how in the beginning the audience are shown short clips of film that relate to the film as a whole, this makes that audience want to know what is going on.

The Dark Knight

‘The Dark Knight is my favourite action movie as it is full of anticiscreen-shot-2016-09-12-at-23-57-09pation and suspense, I think these are the two most important things to have in a film as it always keeps the audience on the edge of their seat. The aspect of this film i’d like to add in to my trailer is the makeup used. The Joker’s makeup is what creates his character, it is able to transform the actor in to a character that is feared by many as a play on the ‘fun’ kids character, the clown. The multiple close ups throughout the trailer, show the audience that he is a never changing which can be a very horrific image, especially if it involves someone l like the Joker who causes multiple moments of distress throughout. 

Trailer Analysis

Suicide Squad

Suicide suicide_squad_film_postersquad was the most highly anticipated film of 2016, this is because of the range of the most popular actors of the time all featuring in it. The film was distributed by Warner Brothers and produced by DC Entertainment. DC Entertainment market their films for a big  audience, this lets the budget of the film be much larger. The film is focused on a large audience rather than a niche audience.The variation of films is limited as the large majority, almost all of the films, are based upon super hero and how they’re going to fight the villains, most DC movies are adapted from cartoons or comics.

In all of the DC films, they have a wide range of actors who are all popular in the moment. This straight away is a marketing technique to gain a large audience for the film. For example, actors such as Margot Robbie and Will Smith are main characters. Margot Robbie gained popularity after her appearance in ‘The Wolf on Wall Street’, since that film she has been featured in many films and in my opinion is one of the reasons as to why the film has gained so much popularity.

A key point of the trailer which I think attracts an audience is the use of sound and music. In the official trailer, we are straight away greater with the Bohemian Rhapsody, this creates a contrast throughout the trailer as the song is upbeat and sounds happy and excitable, where as the trailer is constant scenes of wreckage and fighting. This evident contrast makes the characters seem more psychotic than they already shown to be, it is almost an illusion or an attempt for the audience to look in to the characters heads, this theory is particularly relatable to the character ‘Harley Quinn’. Multiple times throughout the trailer, there is sound overlaid, this again is adding to the theory that we are watching through a lens and that everything is manic. 

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-01-03-42One of the main selling points was that it is a DC Comics film, featuring a lot of different characters from different cartoons. The character ‘Harley Quinn’, first appeared in ‘Batman the Animated Series’ episode ‘The Jokers Favour’.


Throughout the Batman films and cartoons, the Joker has always been one of the main villains. The picture on the right is one of the first actors to play the Joker, and on the right is Jared Leto in Suicide Squad as the Joker. The two actors look completely different in their costume apart from , the typical makeup of the Joker. In the picture on the left, the character looks more from a cartoon aspect, the red grin on his face is so obviously fake and the makeup shows that, in my opinion, the older Joker doest seem as scary as intended to be. An important part of the Joker in the film is that he is a lot more modern. The ‘mask’ he wears does now look like makeup that he has put on, rather then a clown mask. He is also covered in tattoos which no other Joker had, the director of Suicide Squad, Danny Ayer said “Theres a very specific story in each of those tattoos… This Joker is a little more working class, who i believe could live in this world”. This specifically shows that the Joker is more than meets the eye. 

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-01-34-48The film starts with the audience being thrown right in to the the prison where the characters are kept. Straight away the audience is shown that we are in a very hight security area, knowing this whilst hearing someone screaming in the background unknowingly creates a sense of uneasiness.

It then cuts to the character who was shouting being ignored by a guard while his cell screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-01-34-59window is closed. We are not thrown straight in to the action and are instead slowly introduced in to what the film is about. I think this is more affective because it creates a paranoia within the audience because they don’t know the genre of the film and whether it’ll be scary or not. Everything in these two shots is in darkness, this is a clear indicator to the audience that nothing in this film is going to be positive. 

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-01-42-00Its not until 20 seconds in to the trailer where dialogue is introduced by what we’re guessing is a police officer. This establishing shot shows the audience that there is a meeting being held in what looks to be a restaurant or diner.


Then the close up of her face shows the seriousness in her voice. The lights in the background of the scene are key, because it shows that they are trying to make there best within a dark time. Overall, I think this was the best way to begin the trailer because it creates suspense for the rest of the trailer. What i also noticed is that the action that happens throughout the trailer is paced at the same tie as the music, so its gradually building up speed. I think that this is a very effective way that the trailer began.

Weapons such as police batons, guns and knives are shown throughout the trailer, however they are never used to show blood of conflict a large amount of pain among the characters. The music also relates to the questioning of the genre because it is exciting and fast paced. Just like multiple DC Comics films, i think that Suicide Squad is a horror-thriller, this is because there are elements of fear throughout the trailer but it also bases largely on the excitement and anticipation of the audience and how they interpret the relationships between the characters.

The trailer is not in chronological order, this is shown because there are clear contrasts between the different shots. For example, there is a few seconds of footage where the characters are stood in the night and then transitions straight away to them in the day light.

The expectations held of the film were very high after how successful the trailer was. After the film was released there were multiple critical reviews slating the film, saying that the trailer made the film seem more exciting as it actually was, also that the trailer contained all of the main events that happen in the film. CinemaBlend wrote a review of the trailer and expressed how they were “blown away” and it was “naturally on our list of most anticipated blockbusters”.

There is a clear narrative throughout the trailer and the audience begin to understand the plot of the film by what the police say in the beginning as well as what happens with the characters, even though the trailer is not in chronological order.

Short Film Background Research

History of Short Films.


Key codes and conventions of short films.

  • By creating a hybrid genre film, you are targeting a niche audience. This is when you use multiple genres such as romance, comedy and tragedy to make a more interesting story for the audience.
  • As a short film has a lack of time, they are normally single stranded rather than multi stranded. This means that the film will focus on one particular person and their journey throughout. The time restriction means that short films tend to be between 5 and 20 minutes long.
  • Short films are used as a way to display morals and emphasising their messages to an audience. The main aim is to push the audience to reflect.
  • Short films are either linear or multi linear. This allows a structure to be formed in chronological order. A non liner structure includes flashbacks, making it non chronological.

Distribution and Exhibition

One of Disneys quirks is how the company create spin off’s off of other popular films of theirs. For example, ‘Frozen Fever’ was released after the original film ‘Frozen’ because of the high demand for the popular characters. ‘Frozen Fever’ was released on to DVD two years after the original film was released. The release of the short film was part of Walt Disney’s Animation Studio’s Short’s Collection, on the DVD other popular shorts are part of it such as the Academy Award Winning “Paper-Man” and “Feast”.

However this is a contrast to how Pixar’s animated short film ‘Day and Night’ was released. The short aired at the cinema with the 2010 hit “Toy Story 3”, it aired before the film to make sure that it had already gained an audience. It was then also released on DVD with the feature film as well.

 Short Films


The thriller directed by Tom Harper is a modern day view of what it is like in a war based world. The film begins as a regular day at school with multiple shots between a calm and collected conversation between two teachers and an almost violent conversation between two school boys. The disequillibrium becomes apparent when the teacher tells his students how they have no choice but to enrol in military training for war. This atmosphere at the end of the film creates a sense of guilt and sadness for the boys from the audience as they are forced in to something they never knew was coming.

I think that the target audience for the film was young people, as it is based around young peoples reaction to their possible involvement in war. As I am a similar age to the boys in the film, I understand how they would be scared as although now-a-days multiple platforms show us more and more details about war, you never expect to come face to face with it. The film presents the ideology that young people are unaware of the surrounding world problems.

The lighting in the film is always dark, creating a mellow tone from the start of the film. The dark tones enable the audience to realise that there is a more sinister threat upon the characters.

Race is very clearly represented in the film. One of the main characters makes it clear throughout his hatred towards the african characters, as well as calling another character a ‘terrorist’ for his middle eastern ethnicity.

The Present

The present was directed by Jacob Frey, the film is obviously very modern by circumstances surrounding the boy. The film begins with slow close up shots focusing on the boys face, there is loud noise going on in the background, telling the audience that he is playing a game. When the mother puts the present box down on the table it becomes the central view point for the audience, this is also the time when light flood the room giving the thought to the audience that something happy or positive is coming. There are multiple long shots of the boy and his mum which shows their house as well. The audience are shown a ‘organised mess’, clearly identifying the face that it is a working class family, this makes the atmosphere of the audience settle because they can relate. When the boy see’s the dog is missing a leg he straight away throws it to the floor as if he is disgusted, this unfortunately shows the mindset of too many people in the world. However, when the boy stands up we are shown that he to is an amputee and only has one leg. This makes the audience understand the boy and his thoughts.

I think that the target audience for the isn’s specific, because it is animated it automatically seems more suited for a younger audience. However, when the story line is shown it is clear that it is a mature plot, gaining an interest from an older audience.

My Short Film Work

Horror Background Research

Key codes and conventions

  • Someone investigating a strange noise
  • Victim falls over in a tense moment
  • A vehicle won’t start: leaving victim stranded
  • “X times years before/later”
  • A short cut when they become lost
  • Location/setting: isolated places: theme park, a woods, countryside, isolated town.
  • Victims: generally it’s a group of people that the audience can relate to. eg in the film ‘Ouija’, theres a group of high school kids meaning it gained a young audience.
  • Sound/music: a lot of non diagetic music used in order to create atmosphere and set the scene.
  • Props: usually a weapon that will cause a slow death (not a gun): Knife, machete, chainsaw, axe.
  • Characters: Villain, teenagers, parents
  • Villain: Masked murder, mental patient, outcast, ghost/demon.
  • Sub genre: psychological, religious, sci-fi (war of the worlds)

Key actors

After extensive research on the most popular horror actors, my research shows that the most popular actors are in older films. This shows that in modern films there are no specific actors who perform in specific genres as most actors nowadays appear in several different genres. The same actors came up several times on the internet in older films, names the most popular actors.

Boris Karloff comes up multiple times on different websites and is highlighted as one of the true icons of his time for horror cinema. His portrayal of his roles in the films ‘Frankenstein’, ‘The Bride of Frankenstein’ and ‘The Son of Frankenstein’ resulted in his immense popularity, cementing his name in Hollywood.

Another actor that came up multiple time was John Jarrett. He is well known for his role in ‘Wolf Creek’ and ‘Wolf Creek 2’ as the villain, Mick Taylor. He was praised by Quentin Tarantino as the best Australian actor.

Key directors

Many of the same directors came up on multiple different platforms of research. Alfred Hickcock was named on IMBD and PopMatters as one of the greatest horror directors. PopMatters said his film “The Birds” helped define Hickcock as “the artist who defined onscreen suspension and chills”.

John Carpenter was mentioned on multiple sites as one of the “most influential post-modern horror pioneers of all time, his film “Halloween” helped to establish this. Carpenter is named as number two on www.Goliath.com as one of the greatest horror directors. One of his most noticeable qualities was his ability to create deeply affecting horror films on only a “shoestring budget”. He was also famed on scoring his own films, specifically the “Halloween” theme song.

Another key director is Wes Craven, who was was mostly known for his horror and thriller films. Names number three on www.Goliath.com as one of the greatest horror directors. His film “The Hills Have Eyes” is one of his most well knows films. His death in 2015 was highly discussed and IMBD said “he will be remembered as one of the greats”.

Genre and Target Audience

The genre that I am focusing my Media project is horror. This is because horror is one of my personal favourite types of films. Also because there are multiple sub genres and potential plots in which I can work around.

My target audience is for people around 17 and 25. The reason for this is because I an personally relate to the younger audience and as my friends are the same age as me I would be able to make an age specific questionnaire. However, it is important for my film to appeal to a bigger audience, I could potentially do another questionnaire which focuses more on the older audience and later combine the two. 

Main focuses.

The genre for my film is horror. This is one of my favourite genres, particularly psychological films that allow the audience to think for themselves about what they think is going to happen.

My film will be shown on the internet, in particularly YouTube. In modern day, more and more short films are accessible on different internet platforms. Films on the internet are able to gain a bigger audience as anyone can see them.

My main character in my film will be 17/18, the genre of my film relates to this because my target audience is from 17 to 25 year olds. I think that because my film is my psychological, younger people tend to imagine more dramatic outcomes so it helps to create the suspense.

Key genre elements of my film will be the suspense that I want to focus on building up throughout, I will do this by showing very short moments of the antagonist. I will also focus on the psychological aspect of the film, this is because it enables me to experiment and be creative with how I want the audience to feel throughout.

Questionnaire results


screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-12-02-54Although I only had 8 people answer my survey, I got a range of ages. This benefits the planning process of my film as I am aiming for an older audience.

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-12-03-22The result of this question is just what I wanted as I had previously planned to have a woman as the main character. I wanted to do this to contrast the regular gender of horror film main characters, who are usually men.

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-12-03-29With this question I didn’t have a preference of what I wanted the answer to be. I do have ideas for what I could do with both of the answers, so I am able to experiment with both of them. However, because most people wanted the antagonist to be seen, I am going to focus mainly on that.

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-12-03-35The most favoured answer in this question is the sub genre that I would have chosen myself. So, I am very pleased that this was the most popular as it follows my plan for my film.

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-12-03-41After planning different plots I decided on my two favourite ideas. I didn’t mind either one of there answers, t has now been solidified to what plot i am going to do.

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-12-03-50I had setting for both of these answers, so I would have been able to do either answer. It doesn’t make a difference to my plot if film at either one of there settings.


I hadn’t actually planned to use any music at all as I was worried it would take away from the seriousness of the film. However, that option doesn’t have any results because an audience prefer music an sound affects. Because of the results I am going to use some music and sound affects throughout.

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-12-04-12I am very pleased with how these particular results turned out because I think that it creates more suspense for the film to be left on a cliff hanger rather than all the questions to be answered. This result follows my original plan.

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-12-04-18With this question I didn’t have a prefered answer. However, i am glad that the most chosen answer is for it to be in chronological order because it helps me in the filming process as I won’t get confused with what I am filming and when.

Notification  (Seen?)

Afternoon: After school.

The film will begin with a girl who is 17/18 walking down the street with her head phones in playing music whilst she is looking on social media whilst she is walking home from school. There is a contrast to what the girl seems to what she actually is, because she is always by herself she looks very independent but all the notifications that come through on her phone say otherwise. The film then continues with her going home, getting something to eat and going on her laptop. When she’s on her laptop she opens up Facebook straight away to check her messages, revealing several messages from all different people.

Night: getting in to bed.

The girl get’s into her bed, not without complaining to her mum. She reluctantly get’s into bed, switching off her laptop and turning off the light.

While she is in bed, the camera focuses in on her phone on the floor coming up with multiple notifications like friend requests on face book and snapchat and someone following her on twitter, but all the notifications are from the same account called “Guest254789”.

Morning: In bed and waking up for school.

When she wakes up the first thing she does is check her phone, revealing the weird accounts that have been following her. Not thinking anything of it, she accepts all the requests and gets up from bed. While she is getting ready for school the camera focus on her legs, as if a male was looking at her.

When she gets downstairs her mum is waiting for her at the table, and tells her that a present was left for her on the doorstep and she hands her a flower and a note. The girl looks at the note and giggles thinking it was from her boyfriend.

On her way to school she is checking her phone again, texting her boyfriend saying thank you for the flower he left her. When he replies and tells her that it wasn’t from him she gets confused but doesn’t think anything of it.

In school

The girl is sat down at a table doing some work when she gets a notification on her phone from “Guest254789”, saying “hope you liked the flower” and “I’ll take you home from school today?” . She begins to find it quite weird and shows her friends and they all agree that it’s really weird, they all suggest that she blocks the account just to be sure.

Walking home from school.

She’s walking back home from school but on a different route, because she’s freaked out and wants to avoid the person sending her messages. She walks without headphones and not looking at her phone this time because she’s paranoid that she is going to see the person sending her messages. As she’s walking home she can hear a car driving behind her, as she turns to look at it she realises that it’s stationary. She carries on walking and heres the car start up again and drive, she crosses the road to try and get away from the car only for it to speed past her and ALMOST hit her.

Back at home

When she’s back at home she cries and tells her mum what happened. She leaves her mum downstairs, contemplating whether to call the police or not, as she goes up to have a shower. She leaves her phone on a stand in the bathroom, but as she goes to get in the shower she realises she has another notification from the same person. She clicks on the message and the camera on her phone starts recording her, the message reads “I told you I’d take you home from school today. Listen to what im telling you to do.”.

When she goes to sleep that night her phone is still recording her, the stalker is watching her sleep. (the stalker hacked into her phone).

School the next day

The girl is getting really paranoid as she thinks that the stalker is someone from her school, she’s walking around constantly looking over her shoulder. When she is sat in her classroom she gets another text saying “thought you could use a friend, I’m taking you home”.

Walking home

The girl walks the same way home as the night before, she rings her mum to tell her that she is walking home and should be home very soon. As she hangs up the phone she see’s the car parked down the end on another road, with a person sat in the drivers seat. She texts her mum to tell her that the car is back and she’s really scared.

She goes under an overpass so that she is out of view from the car and the person inside. The camera then switches to the person getting out of the car and walking towards where she went. The girl continues walking but hears a scratching noise so she hides behind a corner. Multiple close ups show that the man is walking towards her dragging a knife against the wall.

He ends up catching up to her, as she’s ringing her mum to tell her that the guy is here. She drops her phone on the floor so her mum can hear everything thats going on. A close up on to the girls body shows that he has stabbed her in her side, the camera then cuts to the mum on the phone trying to call out for her. The last shot is from a very low level, showing the girl being pushed to the floor with blood dripping from her head from hitting it on the floor, with the phone next to her face.


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Burford School Media Arts