Please follow this link to see my Evaluation questions:
(The rest below are just my drafts and ideas)
Question 1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
The codes and conventions for magical realism are varied. These films are usually set in real-world locale, small towns and rural areas, with ordinary characters. Time tends to be fluid, it doesn’t have to be linear or set in a particular time at all. Usually characters don’t know what is happening any more than the viewer so they are discovering the truth of their reality as they go along. Key events have no logical explanation but the events have a deeper meaning than what is simply on the surface.
In my film:
The title of my film is “Words Never Hurt” which is a play on words as the whole story is about words -written or spoken- and the impact that they have on the two characters. I chose this title as it is quite intriguing and would confuse people even before watching the film, as they would be aware that words do hurt. This is the first step for making the audience want to watch my film, as they would be curious about the story’s narrative.
The boss uses words to give orders to the writer, who then writes a story that influences the young boy, who in turn at the end, erases written words and deletes the writer’s existence. The title it placed centre frame on a shot of the writer’s hand writing. The font is very curvy as if handwritten, to fit with the conventions of my film, as everything revolves around writing. When it appears, a faint sound of bells is heard in the background, which is a recurring sound motif that will be hear every time something magical happens in the film. I chose this sound because bells are very conventionally used in magical film as we associate this sound with magic.
Both characters have quite specific locations and both very different. The writer is seen in a small room, showing that he is not very wealthy, with red as a predominant colour. Light is coming into the room through the window, like a halo, representing his ego and the way he considers himself superior. The young boy, on the other side, appears for most of the film outside, in the rain, with main colours of grey and green and other cold colours. This shows how unlucky he is and also reflects how his emotions. The only time that the boy is seen in the house, is at the end, when he comes home, which is the moment where he really starts gaining power and affecting the writer with his actions. This can give the message that having a roof over your head is all you need but also that the two characters are now in equal situations as they are both sitting at a desk in a room. This shows that the young boy is already re gaining power and is only very slightly being manipulated at that moment.
For costumes and props, the writer is dressed in quite old fashion clothes, showing his lack of fashion and the fact that he works from home. This is relative to the audience, as it influences the way that they feel about this character. If he had been wearing a suit, the audience would have found him more professional and have more respect for him. This choice of costumes results in the audience siding straight away with the young boy.
His hair is too long which shows his lack of care. The young boy is wearing slightly ripped jeans and a coat that is a bit too big for him. This shows that he doesn’t really have anyone to care for him and is very lonely. Once again this means that the audience will automatically feel sorry for him and side with him.
Throughout my film, I used parallel editing to link the two characters together and show that the events were happening simultaneously. I also used flashbacks of the boss’ voice to create a non-linear story and make it overall more interesting. However towards the end, these mix into the story, to add a magical twist and a slight sense of confusion and thrill as the audience can’t tell anymore whether these shots are flashbacks or happening at the same time as the story. I was able to do this near the end of my film, by taking out the flash transitions between the former flashback scenes and the shots of the writer. As well as that, we don’t see any close ups of the writer’s face until more than half way through the film, as the audience doesn’t know if they can trust him, or if he’s a good character. For the young boy, it’s the opposite, as the first shot of him is a close up. This shows the audience straight away, which character is the protagonist; which character they should feel more attached to.
For the writing in my film, I used 3 different types of fonts: Night wind sent, apple chancery and Angelface which were three fonts linked to the theme of writing but slightly different from one another to avoid confusion.
Towards the end, I accentuated the colour red in the close ups of the writer, the whiteness in the shots of the young boy and took out all colours from the boss’ scenes. This was to empathise and fit with my chosen genre as one of the conventions of magical realism films is that all the colours are more pronounced than in a realistic film.
In my poster:
I chose to place the title of my film at the bottom of my picture as this is quite conventional for a thriller. I used the same font to link to my film and create a sense of branding but chose to write it in black this time to make it slightly more sinister and attract a slightly different audience.
I placed the actor’s names at the top, in white letters and with the “hanging letters” font so that it linked to my picture of the “hanging” little boy. I also placed them either side of the big hand which shows that they are separated by the writing, that they aren’t in the same world, and is also the way I positioned them in my film, one on the left side and one on the right side. At another point in my film, when the writing comes on the screen, I made it go either side of the writer’s head, so the poster links to that as well.
The setting in the poster isn’t precise, I chose a black gradient background from top to bottom to portray the darkness and badness coming from the top (the writer) and the innocence and youth coming from the young boy, trying to fight back the manipulation of the writer.
In my poster, I portrayed what was happening in the film, with a more graphic image, as the young boy is hanging from the writer’s hand like a puppet, having to obey to everything that the pen dictates. The boy is dressed in very light colours, once again showing the innocence and purity and his head is dropped facing down; lifeless. They are both centre frame, but although the writer’s hand is much bigger than it should proportionally, the young boy still occupies about the double of the picture, showing that actually he isn’t as manipulated and controlled as we might first think. This whole image fits with the magical realism genre as it is a picture that wouldn’t have a realistic explanation, however it is constituted of only realistic images, coming from the film. Lastly, the saying “What if your fate was in someone else’s hand?” written with the chalkboard font, empathises on the manipulation side of the film, and the theme of being controlled by the words.
In my Magazine:
When I was reasearching into the codes and conventions of magazine reviews, I looked at a lot of exesting ones, from Sight and Sound, Empire etc and even though they all had things in common, the layouts were quite different. I chose to go with quite a simple layout, I didn’t want to cram my review with information as that usually tends to put off people from reading it. My main inspiration was a review in the Empire on the BFG, Spielberg’s latest film as I loved the idea of one picture occupying the background for the double page and it really made me want to read the article. I then ended up mixing that a bit with another review on Caroline as I found the titles in that one really good. I used the same design as the Empire in the corners of my double page, making my review very conventional, looking like it could have been published in the Empire.
I hesitated in deciding what picture to use, all I knew was that I wanted one where the action was happening on the left side of the screen, so that I could use the right side to put the writing. I ended up choosing the one of his upside down reflection in the puddle as I felt it represented a lot of things from the film without really giving anything away: The water showed the misery and sadness that he feels at the beginning, the reflection is mysterious as we can’t see who it is, it also shows that the audience doesn’t give him much importance and only looks at his shadow and most of all there’s a sense of magical and confusion, which would make the audience want to read the article to find out what it’s about. I used Photoshop to make my background colour grey rather than purple after some audience feedback who thought it didn’t really fit the rest of the magazine.
I followed the conventions of a film magazine for most elements, like the layout and the page numbers and the brief summary of the film at the beginning of the article. It was important to have these elements included, to distinguish my magazine review from a poster, which is what it looked like in my first edit. I also needed my information to be clear, as there are a lot of film reviews in every magazine, so they need to be clear, eye catching and attract the audience by making them curious to want to read more.
- How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?
The title of my film ‘Words Never Hurt’, is written in the font Night Wind Sent throughout my three tasks, which was the element I thought was the most crucial for the branding of my projects. This creates uniformity and shows the audience that the two ancillary tasks link back to the film. As well as that, in both my poster and my magazine, the young boy is the predominant character portrayed even though this isn’t extremely clear at first glance. In the poster, it looks like the hand of the writer is predominant, but the young boy takes up most of the picture. And in the magazine, he is upside down, showing once again a lack of control, however he is the only character portrayed. So, these two tasks show a young boy in power even if we might not realise it straight away, which is exactly what happens in the film and represents how he regains control in the film and ends up being the only character left. Moreover, in my three tasks, there’s a sense of manipulation and control, with the boy being held my pieces of strings in the poster, being controlled in the film and being upside down in my magazine. However, I choose different ways to represent this. In my poster, I decided to show a more sinister picture, very emphasised on the control and manipulation to attract a different audience than I would with the magazine, where I put forwards the life questions and self-reflection over how important the power of words is.
In my poster, I respected the basic codes and conventions, by having a main image in the centre of my poster and a plain background to make sure all the attention is drawn to the boy. This is quite classic and would comfort the audience by showing them something they know. I wrote the title in big letters to attract attention, placed in under my image and then wrote all the credits in the special credits font. I also added a little rhetorical question “What if your fate was in someone else’s hand” that are often found on posters, to spike the curiosity of my audience and make them want to watch the film. In my magazine, I chose to keep it quite simple and have a large portion of my magazine only occupied by a picture of the young boy as I thought that in this case, simpler would be more effective. I then wrote my title and did two columns of writing to fit the conventions of magazine. I added a brief summary of the basic information regarding my film, such as the director’s name, the cast and the plot explained in a few words. This was put before the article about my film in order to give the basic information to the readers and make them want to continue reading the article. I also added a screenshot of my film, which is often done in magazine, once again to interest the audience.
For my film, I used flashbacks to create a non-linear narrative and make it more interesting, this also fitted the magical realism genre. The music in my film is also very important and I used a sound motif that I repeated every time something magical happened in the film, to make it clearer for the audience. This is very common in many different genres, but particularly in magical realism films, such as in ‘Amelie’, which is why I chose to create one.
Both my poster and my magazine are quite monochromatic, with mainly colours of black, white and grey. I did this to set the tone of the film and show that it was based on an important concern and not just a film for distraction. In my film however, I worked with colours a lot, playing with them to create a better sense of the magical realism genre. All the shots of the writer are overly red, showing his growing anger and his evilness. The shots of the young boy are very white and plain, to represent the innocence of the young boy and the shots of the boss are very saturated to show his lack of emotions and empathies towards the writer. This was done so that my audience felt bad for the young boy, and disliked the writer and the boss. In my poster, I put a gradient background with half of the top of the screen black and the bottom of the screen white. This means that the writer’s hand is against the black background and the young boy against the white one, showing once again, the evilness of the writer represented in his hand, against the purity and innocence of the boy. Also, in the poster, the bottom white colour represents the hope and shows that the boy will regain control at the end. All the elements are there for the audience to see however, my aim was that the audience would only interpret the poster in this way after having seen the film and not before in order not to give the storyline away.
In my poster, the hand is oversized which shows the importance and the power, however, the boy’s body takes up 3/4 of the image, which shows that he actually has the power and will gain control. Again, in the magazine, the whole left side is occupied by a picture of the young boy and all the writing is on the right side.
Mode of address:
I decided to break the fourth wall in my three tasks to engage with the audience more. In my film, I used a close up of the young boy, looking straight at the camera. This had a slight disturbing effect on the audience but is perfect for the magical realism genre and makes the audience participate more in the film rather than just passively watch it. I did the same in my poster by writing the question: “What if your fate was in someone else’s hand?” and in my magazine, I also addressed my audience using the pronoun “you” and the use of imperative such as “put a comma in your life, sit down and enjoy the film”. This attracts the audience more and makes them reflect and question themselves. The three tasks have a different purpose and are used to attract a different audience by showing different aspects of my film.
3) What have you learned from your audience feedback
Once I had chosen Magical realism as the genre of my film, I had to decide on a target audience. Initially, I chose 15-20s as it is my age group and I thought my film would attract that audience. However, I did a lot of research and found that this genre usually attracted people in their mid 20s to 30s, middle class, Europeans. It is a really interesting genre, as Luis Leal said: “In magical realism key events have no logical or psychological explanation. The magical realist does not try to copy the surrounding reality or to wound it but to seize the mystery that breathes behind things.”
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson, 2004)
Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)
Trainspotting (Danny Boyle, 1996)
Big Fish (Tim Burton, 2003)
Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin, 2012)
Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006)
All of these films target an audience between 15/18 and early 30s so this is why I changed my initial target audience.
When I put my first edit up, I still had a few shots to film and a lot that I knew needed modifying, so I didn’t show it to my audience straight away, as I already knew what wasn’t good. For my second edit, the main thing that was mentioned, is that the ending was confusing. So as one person proposed, I added a shot where the writer disappears and the only thing left is an empty chair. I also deleted and re filmed most of my shots, with better lighting and with making sure the camera didn’t shake.
This made me realized that what I thought was clear, needed explaining more for my audience, so I changed my initial ending to reach my audience’s expecatations.
My 3rd and 4th edits are very similar as I was planning on doing some additional filming so I wanted to have a bit more feedback from my audience before I did so, in case they thought of something else that I should re film.
I modified everything that my audience told me to, I reduced the length of the scrunching up of paper, added a sound effect of a sneeze and added a rewind sound at the end. The main comment this time was that some parts of my film were either not believable/clear enough or too long. So I learned that I had to make it a little clearer and knew that with the use of music and sound, this would be easier. I also came up with a new idea after my audience’s responses and decided to add a character as the writer’s boss, to add flashbacks and make my film more interesting and give a bit of background to why the writer had to write this story. My audience responded really positively to it.
For my 5th edit:
These were the responses for my 5th edit and it was very encouraging. They liked my new idea which showed that I had understood what my audience wanted to see. However, I had intentionally desaturated the shots of the boss, more and more throughout my film, to empathies the lack of emotions coming from him, which seemed to have not been understand by one member of my audience. So, in my next edit, I made that even clearer by desaturating more. I thought about the proposition to add a female voice as well, but then thought it would be to confusing. I changed the sound motif’s emplacement a bit at the end, resulting from what Tess had said.
For my 6th and 7th edit:
My audience didn’t really like the fonts that I originally chose. So, as a result, that changed my vision and I chose other fonts for my next edit as I learnt from their comments, that the chosen fonts weren’t very conventional. I found this very challenging and had to try lots of different fonts before finding the one that I liked but it made me realise that my audience didn’t decode my film in the same way that I had encoded it. In my 8th edit, I was still unsure about the fonts and was waiting to see how my audience would respond to them.
I finally found a font that I really liked in my final edit and my audience also thought it fitted well with my genre. The comments on my final edit were very positive and proved to me that even though I changed a lot of elements as a result of my audience’s feedback, I had learnt what they liked and wanted to see in my film and was able to do so. It made me realise that audiences read and understand texts in a very different way than the one I had planned.
For my magazine:
My initial audience idea was a slightly more mature and older audience than I was aiming at with my poster. I focused more on the psychological aspect of the film, relating the events to what happens in daily lives. I created my magazine based on “the empire”. This magazine targets both male and female, middle class, between 17-30. However, it usually attracts people who already have quite an interest in films as it is 4 pounds so quite expensive compared to other magazines.
So my target audience for my magazine was 20-30s film lovers.
For my first magazine edit the comments were:
In light of these comments, I changed the quote on the left-hand side and added a “did you know?” box and a graph. I also added screenshots of my film to give an insight on my film. These changes were made as I realized that I needed to make my magazine a little more interactive and easy to read.
For my 2nd edit, the comments were:
I knew the screenshots weren’t actually a very good idea and I decided to get rid of them, as my audience didn’t find them effective. Their vision fitted with mine and I decided to make my poster slightly simpler again. I was also told that the font could be better, so I changed that and made it look more homogenous. I was also told to add boarders to my magazine, and that the layout wasn’t very conventional and looked more like a poster than a magazine. For my next edit, I did a lot of research and added things that made a big difference and made my magazine look much more professional.
For my 3rd edit, I mainly just showed it to people, so I don’t have any written comments, however, I was told that the pale purple boxes didn’t look good. I was also suggested to make my picture more saturated and to replace my poster image with a screenshot of the film. So I learnt that my original idea of colour wasn’t liked by my audience and as a result of their feedback, I changed the background to a grey colour which was much better. Having done that, the purpely/blue colour that I used for the ‘director’, ‘cast’ and ‘plot’, didn’t fit my colour scheme, so I tried various colours and red is the one that turned out the best.
The final reactions for my magazine were very positive and show how they responded differently from what I was expecting for example with the main purple colour and the many screenshots pictures. But thanks to their feedback I was able to learn and understand what they wanted and was able to create a final magazine that they liked.
For my poster:
For my poster, my initial audience choice was an 18-20-year-old group, interested in original, creative independent films. The poster is slightly more sinister looking and dramatic than my film in order to attract a slightly different audience by showing a different side of the film. The poster catches people’s attention very well and is very mysterious and interesting, which is what people that age like. Also, it is quite simple looking and there’s only one main action taking place. However, I ended up broadening my target audience to 18-25s as I think, I had narrowed it down too much causing a small niche audience which wasn’t my aim. Also, to make sure I was not making a mistake, I showed my poster to a lot of people between 16 and 30 and that’s how I narrowed it down, seeing their reactions to it.
For my 1st edit, the main comment was to change the position of the title and its font, to change the quote and to make the background a bit more interesting. I had originally placed these elements like that, as I thought it would be effective, however reading what my audience thought made me realise that they didn’t agree with my original idea and that I needed to change quite a few things. So, I added a gradient to the background, going from black at the top where the hand is (symbolizing the evilness of the writer), to white at the bottom, where the young boy is. I also swapped the emplacement of the title and the actor’s names.
2nd and 3rd:
My audience mainly commented on my fonts and the name of my film. I learnt that my audience found fonts very important and that it played a big role in the way that they understood my poster. So, I changed the font of the actor’s names, of the quote and I also changed the title of my film and its font. I hadn’t added the credit blocks at the bottom of the poster yet, so I also did that in my 4th edit. I also had the idea to add shadows at the boy’s feet to give a bit more depth to the picture.
My audience thought that the credit blocks were too squeezed together on the centre and needed spacing out, which is something that I hadn’t thought about. Once again, the way that my audience saw my work was different to my intentions. Also, now that I had changed the font of my title, there was no branding link with my film. So, I changed the font of my title and made it the same font as the one that I used in my film so there was a sense of branding that would be clear to my audience. I also spaced out the credits and rearranged them so that it looked more professional.
The comments were very positive for my final edit. For every edit, I realised that the audience interpreted different things than what I had planned, and I changed a lot of my original ideas to fit their expectations.
Research and planning:
For my film:
When researching into the codes and conventions of Magical Realism, I used Google and YouTube mainly as they were easy and perfect for research. Google was useful to find articles about this genre and then YouTube enabled me to watch similar videos and find inspiration. The only downside with this, was that there were a lot of websites that came up with a lot of information, so it was hard to select exactly what I needed to know in a short amount of time. Because of this, the research and planning stages were quite long and it took some time for me to come up with an idea for my narrative.
By watching short films from the magical realism genre on YouTube, it helped me find inspiration and be more creative in coming up with my own original ideas.
Survey Monkey was another platform that I also used, as it was quick and easy and I was then able to send my questionnaire out to people in my target audience via email, including quite a lot of teachers from my school. I was lucky as I didn’t need to reach an older audience, otherwise this would have been limited with my online survey as less people from the older generation use technology. These surveys enabled me to find out who my target audience was and what they were looking for in a magical realism film. For example, I asked them what their favourite thing about magical realism films was and offered them a choice of different narratives to choose from.
For my poster:
When researching the codes and conventions for posters, I searched lots of magical realism films than I had found when doing the research for my film, and then looked at their posters, to get an idea of the structure, colour and other elements that I should try to do. I then researched various themes from my film in google image, such as “manipulation”, “control”, “power” etc to see if any pictures would come up that could inspire me for my poster. I ended up finding quite a few and then did a mixture of my own.
For my magazine:
For this task, I also used Google, and looked up “features used in magazines”, I read articles and looked at different layouts.
For my film:
For the creation of my A2 piece, I used Final Cut Pro, a Panasonic digital camera, my phone and YouTube.
I used Final Cut Pro to put together all the shots that I filmed with my digital camera. As I’ve been using this software for nearly two years, my skills have developed since my AS project, which enabled me to be more creative. During the process of my film, I also used my phone to take pictures whilst filming and to write notes on what shots I needed to film in what order which it helped me stay organised and not waist time. I also used it to communicate with my actors, telling them the times we needed to meet and what clothes they needed to wear, so it was very helpful. The last media technology that I used in the construction of my film was YouTube, as I posted 8 different edits. This was in order to get feedback from my audience and see what points I needed to improve on; what they liked and what they thought needed changing. Media technologies were very useful for the construction of my piece, as nearly every step of the production relied on the use of a technology. One of the disadvantages was that I had focus issues with my camera so it stopped me a little from being creative as I had planned extreme close ups of the writing on the page. However, this Panasonic camera was of very good quality so the image quality was great. On the other hand, Final Cut Pro enabled me to be very creative, as I learnt to speed up music, overlay two different clips at the same time, put effects and transitions and add fonts front the “Dafont” website. I didn’t feel restricted in what I wanted to do, so it didn’t limit my creativity. I decide not to use a microphone, as none of my characters spoke, so that made it easier for me as I had one less thing to worry about. For my A2 film I spent a lot of time working on sound, trying to find the perfect balance between a music that would fit the magical realism genre and one that would be thrilling and keep the audience’s attention. To achieve this I had to try a lot of different music, never feeling quite satisfied with the result until the very end. I also created a sound motif which appeared every time something magical happened. This was a creative decision which I was able to do due to my knowledge and experience of the software and I thought it fitted the genre really well.
For my poster:
Once I had come up with a plan of the poster I wanted to do, it was time to create it. I used the school’s photography studio with great lighting kit and a Sony Alpha A330. The lighting was very adjustable and I was able to use two different sources of light to get the result I wanted. I took a photo of the hand with the strings first and then a photo of the young boy. Once I had my two pictures, I used Photoshop to edit them together. It was a bit hard to understand how it worked at the beginning, but I managed to cut out my two objects thanks to the selection tool, and the use of the layering tool was also very useful so that I could work on different layers which felt safer. Another tool that I found very useful was the gradient tool, which enabled me to make the background more interesting. I only used this in my second edit but was able to adjust it to the angle that I preferred and decide on the proportion of black and white that I wanted. Finally, I also used the paintbrush tool to create shadows at my character’s feet to create a sense of depth and make it look more realistic.
For my magazine:
I used the software Adobe InDesign for the construction of my magazine. I found it slightly more complicated than Photoshop, probably because I had never used it before. However, I’m glad I used it, as it is much more adapted for a magazine review than Photoshop would have been. When organising the layout, I used a tool called “filler placement tool” which was a big help as it just fills up whatever space you select, with random text, in order to give you an idea of what it would look like once the you’ve added your article. It was also good so that when I showed my first edit to my audience, they were able to picture what it would look like, rather than just seeing two empty columns.
Up until now, for the evaluations stages, I’ve mainly just used word document. But I am planning on using a wix and prezis in addition to other websites.