Trailer and short Films Research:
A2 Short Film Coursework Tasks
2) My provisional genre is Magical realism and my target audience will be mid 20s to 30s, middle class, Europeans.
3) Magical realism is a fiction genre in which magical elements blend to create a realistic atmosphere that accesses a deeper understanding of reality. Stated another way, marvelous events are presented as normal, everyday things happening to ordinary, everyday people. These are stories of people just like us going about the things we do every day—but with the addition of a slight hint of magic running along the edges.
Magical realism, science fiction, and fantasy all construct their own unique realities in different ways. It may seem like it would be easy to distinguish these genres, but the lines are not as clear as you might think. I have chosen the magical realism sub-genre, which is when a fiction takes place in a world that looks like our own, except for the introduction of a magical element, which cannot be explained by the conventions of our reality. What makes Magical Realism truly different from fantasy is that these magical elements are presented as normal to characters in these stories.
Magical realism is often associated with Latin American literature, Gabriel García Márquez’s being a big name in this genre. It is also becoming increasingly popular in contemporary American fiction.
Codes and conventions
The settings can be very divers, most of the time, magical realism films are set in real-world locale, small towns and rural areas. We need that feeling of community where everyone knows everyone else, whether it’s in a distinctive neighborhood in a large city like New York City or Paris, the swamps of the Louisiana bayou, or even the suburbs of middle America.
The characters are always ordinary, average. They are just people, plain and simple.
The plot has to depict everyday events in which extraordinary things happen. The elements that happen need to feel like a natural part of the characters’ lives.
Time tends to be more fluid in Magical Realism. It doesn’t have to be linear, or necessarily flow in one direction.
There is an air of mystery in Magical Realism, a desire to know what is real and what isn’t.
Setting is a big part of what creates that atmosphere.
Characters might not know what is happening any more than the reader, so they are discovering the truth of their reality as they go along.
It’s essentially the main thread that winds throughout a story, that ties all of the actors and events together in one continuous line. Events from the past influence the present and future, and sometimes, actions in the present or future can affect the past.
Food and nature are very common themes. It is people’s connection to the land and the world around them. Themes of destiny or fate can also be present but it must work organically within the story.
In a magical realism film, events and things have a deeper meaning than what is simply on the surface.
“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.” Luis Leal
Hints must be left throughout the story and interwoven with the narrative so that the audience realizes at the endi whrere the story had been going all along even though they didn’t recognize it before.
Key examples of magical realism films:
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)
Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)
Jeff Who Lives at Home (Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass, 2011) about faith and signs
Ruby Sparks (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, 2012)
Safety Not Guaranteed (Colin Trevorrow, 2012)
Amélie (Jean Pierre Jeunet, 2001)
Pleasantville (Gary Ross, 1998)
Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly, 2001)
Like Water for Chocolate (Alfonso Arau, 1992)
Guillermo del Toro
Jean Pierre Jeunet
History of genre
Literary magic realism originated in Latin America. Writers often traveled between their home country and European cultural hubs, such as Paris or Berlin, and were influenced by the art movement of the time. One major event that linked painterly and literary magic realisms was the translation and publication of Franz Roh’s book into Spanish by Spain’s Revista de Occidente in 1927, headed by major literary figure José Ortega y Gasset. “Within a year, Magic Realism was being applied to the prose of European authors in the literary circles of Buenos Aires.” Jorge Luis Borges inspired and encouraged other Latin American writers in the development of magical realism – particularly with his first magical realist publication, Historia universal de la infamia in 1935. Between 1940 and 1950, magical realism in Latin America reached its peak, with prominent writers appearing mainly in Argentina.
The theoretical implications of visual art’s magic realism greatly influenced European and Latin American literature. Italian Massimo Bontempelli, for instance, claimed that literature could be a means to create a collective consciousness by “opening new mythical and magical perspectives on reality”, and used his writings to inspire an Italian nation governed by Fascism. Pietri was closely associated with Roh’s form of magic realism and knew Bontempelli in Paris. Rather than follow Carpentier’s developing versions of “the (Latin) American marvelous real,” Uslar-Pietri’s writings emphasize “the mystery of human living amongst the reality of life”. He believed magic realism was “a continuation of the vanguardia [or Avant-garde] modernist experimental writings of Latin America”.
3 good modern examples:
The Cobbler (Tom McCarthy, 2014)
The Path of Zarathustra (Oorvazi Irani, 2015)
Midnight’s Children (Deepa Mehta, 2012)
4) My audience’s response to my two questionnaires
Summary of my questionnaire’s responses: Half of the people who answered my survey said that they watched short films, the other half said that they are rarely shown in cinemas so not very practical to watch, aren’t as common as long films and that they don’t really hear of them that much. Most of them said that they’d rather watch a magical realism film rather than just a realistic film and there was on average no preference for the gender of the actors. Interestingly, most people replied that they would rather watch a chronological film than a film with flashbacks. This is the idea that I followed at the beginning of editing but my audience wasn’t finding it very interesting so I added flashbacks and the reactions were very positive.
Once my narrative and ideas for my film were a bit more specific, I did another questionnaire. This time I only sent it out to people from my target audience, so that I could see specifically what they wanted to see and were expected. I asked my audience if they liked short films and if so, what they liked about them. The interesting reasons that came out, were that “they often address an interesting concept in a short amount of time. Can make you think”, they are “a very useful way to increase awareness/understanding” and can be informative. This time for the genders that my audience wanted to see, the main answer was “a male and a female character” however I thought it would be better to film two male characters to create a sense that none of the two characters have power on the other one due to their gender, but purely due to their age and place in society. I also thought that it it were two men, my audience could think that they were related or that the younger boy was in fact the writer when he was younger. These hypotheses would make my ending more surprising which was my goal. The majority of people said it would be better for the writer to receive a call from his boss, which is what I used in my film until I replaced it with a flashback. This wasn’t an option put in the questionnaire but an idea that I came up with whilst doing the editing of my film and thought would suit the film and the genre better. Finally, all the people who took the survey said that the writer should be using a computer to type up his story but I decided to challenge this idea, as I wanted my film to not be anchored in time. By not putting any elements of technology, it was hard to tell where the film was set, which is one of the codes and conventions of a magical realism film.
5) Key codes and conventions that will be used in my film
-ordinary characters (one adult and one child)
-a magical element
-old house setting and a field (quite rural)
– Chronological story
-Pencil, rubber and paper
-a lot of close ups
-lots of little actions
Genre: Magical realism
Narrative: Linear narrative
Shown: On social media and European film festivals
Target audience: late 20s mid 30s, middle class europeeans.
How to target audience: social media
Key genre elements: magical, unexplainable elements and events
Key point in narrative: magical influence of writer’s story on the younger character and then the reciprocal influence of the boy’s story on the older character
What ideology: What happens when you try and play with people’s life? You can’t decide for other people’s lives.
Marketing points: The film will make people reflect on their one lives and make them wonder if they are really in control of it or if their future is already written.
8) I am still hesitating for the title of my project. It will either be “The unfortunate Girl/Boy”, “a terrible mistake” or “written destiny”.
9) Film synopsis:
The film will start with a man/woman sitting at his desk and opening a letter/receiving a phone call saying that he had to write a story about a young child (girl or boy) who had lots of misfortunate events happen to him. As he writes, we see the events affecting the young child and gradually getting worse and worse. But we also realise that as the events turn out worse and worse for the child, similar events seem to gradually happen to the writer. For example, as it starts to rain for the boy, the writer spills coffee on his page, or smugges his writing a bit. When the boy sneezes, something falls off the writer’s desk. Then when the boy hurts himself, the writer turns around to get something and bangs himself on a cupboard etc. The film would finish when the boy goes home and has to do an essay for homework. He takes a piece of paper out and writes “once upon a time there was a writer sitting at his desk” and then complains that it isn’t good enough and rubs it out. Black screen.
10) My narrative will be linear with some parallel editing.
11) The film studio I would use would be Stenola.
Founded in the center of Brussels in 2009, Stenola scout for talented artists and collaborate with inventive and bold filmmakers. Their determination to support the making of high-quality movies intended for a wide audience, results in a particular care throughout the writing process, the production stage, and throughout the critical process of distribution.
Stenola collaborates with production companies who wish to benefit from the extensive financing and production services available in Belgium. Partnerships can take the form of coproduction or executive production. Among others, financing for coproduction is available through the Centre of Cinema and Audiovisual of the Federation of Wallonia and Brussels VOO (TV-NET-TEL), RTBF (Belgian Television), Wallimage / Bruxellimage, or Tax Shelter.
“The cinema that we defend are films whose very existence are motivated by a strong point of view, and the desire to reach out and touch an audience.”
This film company produces short films, full length films and documentaries and is a very European, international company which would be perfect for my film.
12) The themes and ideologies employed in my film will be manipulation, age, destiny and writing and creating. This goes against our current ideologies, as most poeple don’t write with pens anymore and don’t really read long stories either. My character will be out of touch with modern ideologies.
13) My film would firstly be distributed online, including youtube, social media and the Stenola website. After that I would aim to show it at a European film festival, as my target audience is middle class Europeans. It would be an international film rather than a national one.
All the scenes and locations for my younger actor:
I chose Rohan, in year 9, as he is a boarder so he is quite flexible for availabilities, he is a good actor and looks quite similar to my other actor, which was important for me as the audience can create a link between them and this can help with the magical side of the film.
All the scenes and locations for the actor playing the writer:
To play the role of the writer, I chose M. Hopwood, a member of staff at the boarding house, who I thought suited the role perfectly, was also quite available and a good actor.
-My older actor could have burnt himself whilst spilling the the, so I made sure it was cold.
-He could have also cut his finger on ht paper and hurt his knee on the desk.
-My younger actor was filmed near a road, although it wasn’t a busy road, this was still slightly dangerous.
-We filmed in the rain so he could have slipped or caught a cold.
-He had to climb a fence from which he could have fallen from or got a splinter
-I also wanted to film in the rain so I had to make sure I covered the camera with an umbrella at all time so that it didn’t get damaged.
-Lastly, the lighting in the room wasn’t very good, even though I chose a very sunny day.