Q1.) What is a thriller film?
A novel, play or film, with an exciting and captivating plot. Typically involving crime or espionage. They are defined by the moods they elicit, giving viewers heightened feelings off suspense, surprise, anticipation and anxiety. They aim to keep the audience alert and on the edge of their seats.
Q2.) What are the key codes and conventions of a thriller?http://www.slideshare.net/billiewilson_/camera-shots-and-angles-for-a-horror-and-thriller-film
Cinematography/ Camera techniques-
Close ups and extreme close ups are used when filming the protagonist and can often be used to focus on props which aids the narrative. It allows the audience to see the full emotions of the character, helping to create an unsettling atmosphere. Moreover its used to capture detail in an important scene. Shots of antagonists will be cut quickly and will aim to hide their identity, for instance a silhouette or shadow of the character. Furthermore high angle shots are used to make the figure or object being looked down upon seem completely powerless and vulnerable. Tracking and panning shots are used to connote movement, and gives a sense that the character is being followed or watched. It could also establish a scene for the audience and lastly as the camera is moving it creates suspense as the audience dont know what’s going to be shown next. Tilted angles are a good way of showing a different angle of an incident to the audience. Extreme long shots or long shots put into perspective how deserted the setting is. Long angle shots are powerful in showing how intimidating or scary a villain Is and this would make the audience and characters feel very weak and insignificant. Hand-held camera shots are used to add a sense of reality, which in turn makes the audience feel very involved in the action. Point of view shots are used to put the audience in the characters shoes, which makes the audience feel more emotionally attached and scared. Over the shoulder shots are very popular in the thriller genre as its perfect in generating suspense. It usually used with mirrors and reflections so the audience can see what’s happening as soon as the character does. It’s used a lot to show a victim stood behind a victim.
- Jump cuts
- Cross cutting= is key as it’s used for building suspense which is essential for a thriller.
- Quick shots= frequently used to accentuate the feelings of tension and anxiety.
- Flashbacks= contribute to a sense of time and space dis-orientation in a thriller and this confuses the audience. They also give the audience an insight into a characters past.
- Black and white= highlights the use of shadows and can often appear quite eerie and dark.
- Protagonist in everyday clothing, to perhaps present a sense of vulnerability.
- Antagonist in dark clothes, as black symbolizes danger.
- Mirrors used to portray the reflections of a person’s soul and their inner self. Can also foreshadow the darkness within certain characters; expressing inside emotions they may not want to reveal.
- Confined and claustrophobic spaces.
- Exotic settings such as foreign cities, for example Jame Bond.
- Famous cities, with landmarks in view, for example London with Big Ben.
- Protagonist- often a brave male who seeks to restore equilibrium
- Antagonist- has a hidden identity that the audience will uncover as the film progresses. Often the antagonist goes out for revenge from a past event.
- The hero
- The villain
- Characters with dark pasts
- Psychotic individuals
- The innocent victims
Thrillers are often based around the genre of crime but it could be based on anything, with thrillers a lot of hybrids are involved where its two types of genre or a sub genre, you could have a thriller/horror or a thriller/action. Thriller’s narrative have often a complex structure, they like to keep the audience guessing on what will happen next and it has twist and turns. A lot of thrillers have a restricted narrative, questions and or riddles will be left unanswered until towards the end of the film. Sometimes the narrative is based around murder, where the theme is revenge, For instance in the movie ‘Law Abiding Citizens’; the protagonist is an ordinary man, who has his wife and child killed by two antagonists, meaning the theme of the film follows the ordinary man seeking revenge to find and kill the villains. Lastly, another major theme is the theme of identity.
Thriller Movies are usually not meant for giving messages they’re just created to scare us and to create tension, and to leave the audience questioning the plot.
Q3.) Name 10 key thrillers made in the last 5 years?
• The Babadook (2014)
A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.
Director: Jennifer Kent
Stars: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall, Hayley McElhinney
KEY= It’s a clever horror film that is driven by its ominous mysterious & shrouded figure which is inventive and modern for today’s genre.
• The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.
Director: Drew Goddard
Stars: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz
KEY= It’s an inventive way to subvert the genre with a re-twist of the dreaded knife of horror.
• Don’t Breathe (2016)
Hoping to walk away with a massive fortune, a trio of thieves break into the house of a blind man who isn’t as helpless as he seems.
Director: Fede Alvarez
Stars: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto
KEY= It’s an atmospheric, claustrophobic and undeniably intense horror thriller.
• Gone Girl (2014)
With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.
Director: David Fincher
Stars: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry
KEY= Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike deserve many awards for their exceptional performances.
• House at the End of the Street (2012)
After moving with her mother to a small town, a teenager finds that an accident happened in the house at the end of the street. Things get more complicated when she befriends a boy who was the only survivor of the accident.
Director: Mark Tonderai
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Shue, Max Thieriot, Gil Bellows
KEY= It had a good plot twist and Jennifer Lawrence was a strong lead.
• The Conjuring (2013)
Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse.
Director: James Wan
Stars: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor
KEY= Director James Wan created very technically proficient film.
• The Visit (2015)
Two siblings become increasingly frightened by their grandparents’ disturbing behavior while visiting them on vacation.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie
KEY= Shyamalan’s finest movie in over ten years is this atmospheric low-budget found footage film that finds a nice balance between horror and comedy, growing uncomfortable and creepy as the story progresses until it gets incredibly nerve-wrecking.
• The Purge (2013)
In the future, a wealthy family is held hostage for harboring the target of a murderous syndicate during the Purge, a 12-hour period in which any and all crime is legalized.
Director: James DeMonaco
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane
KEY= As it was a new, interesting concept and because of how graphic it was.
• World War Z (2013)
Former United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself.
Director: Marc Forster
Stars: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale
KEY= Despite some conventional passages and a soft ending, Forster and Brad Pitt, the producer of the film and one of its stars, pulled the picture together. They also managed to reawaken in a large-scale movie the experience of shock.
•Blair Witch (2016)
Rating- 5.5/10 After discovering a video showing what he believes to be his vanished sister Heather, James and a group of friends head to the forest believed to be inhabited by the Blair Witch.
Director: Adam Wingard
Stars: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid
KEY= For the wrong reasons as its trying to bring this story to new generations, repeating the same formula of the prequel, resulted in a total disaster.
Q4.) Name 3 iconic thriller actors?
Date of Birth- 2nd March 1968, Chester, Cheshire, England, UK
Birth Name- Daniel Wroughton Craig
Daniel Craig has starred as “James Bond” in Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015).
Daniel Craig is an English actor. Craig trained at the National Youth Theatre and graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1991, before beginning his career on stage. His film debut was in the drama The Power of One (1992). Other early appearances were in the Disney family film A Kid in King Arthur’s Court (1995) and the biographical film Elizabeth (1998), as well as in the historical war drama television series Sharpe’s Eagle (1993) and the action-adventure drama series Zorro.
KEY- Best known for his highly popular incarnation of James Bond in films like ‘Skyfall’ and ‘Spectre’.
‘Cowboys and Aliens’ (2011): Gross: $100,215,116 (USA)
‘The Golden Compass’ (2007): Gross: $70,083,519 (USA)
‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ (2011): Gross: $102,515,793 (USA)
‘Skyfall’ (2012): Gross: $304,360,277 (USA)
Date of Birth- 8th October 1970, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Birth Name- Matthew Paige Damon
Damon attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin School and he performed in a number of theatre productions during his time there. He attended Harvard University as an English major. While in Harvard, he kept on skipping classes to pursue acting projects, which included the TNT original film, Rising Sun (1993), and prep-school drama, School Ties (1992). It was until his film, Geronimo: An American Legend (1993), was expected to be a big success that he decided to drop out of university completely.
KEY- As he has featured in ‘The Martian’ and ‘The Bourne Legacy’,
which are both crucial thriller films.
‘The Martian’ (2015): Gross: $228,430,993 (USA)
‘Jason Bourne’ (2016): Gross: $161,704,965 (USA)
‘We bought a Zoo’ (2011): Gross: $75,621,915 (USA)
‘True Grit’ (2010): Gross: $171,031,347 (USA)
‘The Martian’ was one of Matt Damon’s most talked about films. The trailer for it is below;
Date of Birth- 26th July 1967, Shirebrook, Derbyshire, England, UK
Partner: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Parents: Eileen Yates Statham, Barry Statham
Upcoming movie: Fast 8
He got the audition for his debut role as Bacon in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) through French Connection, for whom he was modelling. They became a major investor in the film and introduced Jason to Guy Ritchie, who invited him to audition for a part in the film. Jason must have been doing something right because after the success of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) he teamed up again with Guy Ritchie for Snatch (2000), with co-stars including Brad Pitt, Dennis Farina and Benicio Del Toro.
‘Fast and Furious 7’ (2015): Gross: $350,034,110 (USA)
‘Gnomeo & Juliet ( Tybalt’s voice)’ (2011): Gross: $99,808,609 (USA)
‘Transporter 3’ (2008): Gross: $31,316,973 (USA)
‘Fast and Furious 6’ (2013): Gross: $238,673,370 (USA)
‘The Italian Job’ (2003): Gross: $176,070,171 worldwide, earned= $450,000
KEY= For being part of ‘Transformers’.
Q5.) Name three iconic thriller directors/producers?
Director | Producer | Actor
Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, Essex, England.
He was one of the first directors to dive into the genre that is thriller. The films he made were ground-breaking and shocked audiences all over the world; he did things people had never seen before. The first most recognisable film of his is ’Psycho’, made in the 1960’s. Its shower scenes, psychotic plot and chilling soundtrack, made the audience terrified- which is exactly what he wanted to achieve. Hitchcock was a master of pure cinema who almost never failed to reconcile aesthetics with the demands of the box-office.
KEY= He directed nine of the American Film Institute’s 100 Most Heart-Pounding Movies: Psycho (1960) at #1, North by Northwest (1959) at #4, The Birds (1963) at #7, Rear Window (1954) at #14, Vertigo (1958) at #18, Strangers on a Train (1951) at #32, Notorious (1946) at #38, Dial M for Murder (1954) at #48 and Rebecca (1940) at #80.
Born: 27 March 1963 Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
He came to fame through the crime-thriller ‘Reservoir Dogs’, which was his first film he directed and also written by him. In his career he won two Oscars, one from his most recent film: ‘Django unchained’. His film earnt critical acclaim and the director became a legend immediately. Two years later, he followed up Dogs success with Pulp Fiction (1994) which premiered at the Cannes film festival. At the 1995 Academy Awards, it was nominated for the best picture, best director and best original screenplay.
KEY= many people admire his work, and he’s been called: ‘the single and most influential director of his generation’
‘Inglorious Basterds’ (2009)
‘Pulp Fiction’ (1994)
Born: July 30, 1970 (age 46)
Christopher Edward Nolan is an English-American film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer and editor.
KEY= He is one of the highest-grossing directors in history, and among the most successful and acclaimed filmmakers of the 21st century. Over the course of 15 years of film-making, Nolan has gone from low-budget independent films to working on some of the biggest blockbusters ever made. He’s making impact on movie screens all over the world to this day. He’s directed iconic thrillers such as: “Insomnia” which was nominated for a golden globe award. He also directed “Inception” which was widely discussed as the best movie in 2010. The film won him four academy awards and to this day it is still considered one of the best modern thriller movies.
‘The Dark Knight’ (2008)
‘Batman Begins’ (2005)
Also produced ‘Man of Steel’ in 2013.
Q6.) Why are audiences attracted to thrillers?
- They are all exciting and thrilling to watch; keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.
- The audience love the conventional aspects of thrillers, and the jump-scares that they include.
- The suspense builds as the film progresses, keeping them captivated.
- They are sometimes very ambiguous, which keeps them watching for a solution at the end.
- Finally they enjoy predicting the plot.
Q7.) Which conventions of thriller will I include in my own and why?
I will use mirrors to portray the reflections of a person’s soul and their inner self, as they can also foreshadow the darkness within certain characters; expressing inside emotions they may not want to reveal. Moreover I like the idea of using a basement, or just a dark, claustrophobic room, as I think it can really add tension to the shot, and give it a very stereotypical thriller feel. Lastly, I like how they’ve made red symbolic, so I may incorporate the same idea using black as a powerful, authoritative and dangerous colour.
Opening scene of ‘Ronin’ analysis:
From the very beginning an Asian culture is portrayed through the use of sound. The reverberating gongs set the scene as it immediately links to the Asian practise of praying, suggesting a very religious theme, which links to the opening credits that we can see. This is because they look like they are written with great control and respect, symbolizing a very spiritual perspective, which links back to the theme. This repetitive, low sound is what we associate with prayer in Asian countries, significant in representing the background of the film. Furthermore the quick drum beat creates the interpretation of a battle scene and a sense of conflict, which generates the idea of danger within the film. As the explanation of the Samurais develops, a constant deep humming sound joins the gongs and drum, which again represents them worshipping to their god, which we, as the audience, believe to be a Buddha, due to the Asian ethnicity. Additionally, this links to the first shot of the lit-up church, which also reflects a godly and faithful (just like the Samurais are to the Buddha) ambiance. Furthermore the sound of colliding swords then becomes dominant from the humming, portraying a disruption and echoing the idea that violence has taken over. It also links to the Samurais again as they believed their swords were the holders of their souls. From there a higher pitched ghostly humming joins the soundscape giving the impression of unity, as there is clearly more than one voice. It creates a supernatural presence as the notes are held and are loud yet quite soft, referring to the slow movement of ghosts, perhaps portraying that there will be deaths occurring in the film. At this point we are very confused, due to the many different sounds we can hear. The writing shown on the screen throughout these sounds is very old fashioned, which is significant in giving the audience a sense of time; taking us back to the 1990s, and possibly written using a paintbrush. This is important in showing they are very talented, which links to the personas of the Samurais. The fact that the colour black dominates the white writing is symbolic of their bad lives and the grief and sadness which has occurred during them. The red title screen has connotations of blood, again creating the idea of war. However from an optimistic point of view it also has connotations of love, perhaps significant for inferring the film will have a recurring theme of passion. Moreover the Japanese think it’s a symbolic colour of a sunrise, possibly giving the impression of hope and positivity. The title ‘Ronin’ is written in black and is messier than the previous white writing, giving off a sense of brutality and producing the idea of death, due to the connotations of the colour black.
The panning establishing shot of Paris creates a very visual opening, as we instantly understand where we are. Moreover it deceives our original views of the film, as Paris is seen as the city of love, completely opposing to the violent thriller genre we as an audience were expecting from the opening credits. This makes it clear to the audience that it will be a paradox. It doesn’t fit with the Asian idea as France is not an Asian country, which is used to confuse the audience and keep them captivated and wanting to watch more. The restricted narrative and the fact that they are not giving a lot of information away, also leaves us to work everything out by ourselves, again making us continue watching as we want to know if we are right. Additionally the church in the background is lit up, which firstly portrays the holy culture but alternatively shows the contrast between the religiousness and the men, as Di Nero is not lit up, possibly showing how he is not linked to the church and therefore hasn’t got a religious conviction. The cut from the establishing shot to the mid shot of Robert De Niro, instantly grabs the audience’s attention and makes them focus on him, because he is the first character to be introduced and we want to know more. His costume gives off many different interpretations of his persona. Firstly he is wearing a big long coat suggesting he is hiding something that clearly we cannot know about, secondly his hat is black, which has connotations of death or danger, forcing us to think he is an antagonist. It also covers his eyes which creates shadows, again generating a very negative view of his character, making the audience believe he has a very cryptic persona, because the shadows infer he is very secretive and possibly covering something up. Finally his tie proves he is on a business errand, significant as it gives him an important and wise identity and perhaps could infer that he is completing a job, which immediately makes us question him. At this point the sound dies out and leaves only the sound of swords colliding together. The fact that only one sound can be heard shows his isolation and loneliness from society. We move to a high angle, looking down on him showing that he’s not very powerful and no threat to us. It then cuts to a close-up of him showing he’s observing something in order to keep us captivated and also to reiterate his curious persona. The change in angle shows that we aren’t scared to explore- portraying that he’s not of any threat. Furthermore, Robert De Niro repeatedly moves from the shadows into the light, creating a misperception of his antagonistic character, as we associate protagonists with the light, making us confused as to which person he embraces. After that a quick cut to an over the shoulder shot speeds up the editing pace and makes the focus on him move onto what he is watching. This is further intensified through the use of lighting as he is in the dark and the new ambiguous focus (what he is watching) is in the light, highlighting its importance. The camera then tracks him walking down the path into darkness, inferring he is walking down into danger, as he is still the main character. He walks past graffiti on the walls, which is not conventional of Paris, and significant because it links back to the human aspect within the title writing, which is significant in reminding us of the religious, holy background of the film. The rain gives off a sense of pathetic fallacy, and that something bad will happen. Lastly, he is never in the centre of the frame, showing his actions are hidden which disrupts the audiences comfort with him.
A motivated cut then takes the audience down to what Di Nero was watching, giving us, as the audience, the role of Di Nero, as we examine and follow it all, this effects the audience as we feel as though we are obtrusive. The camera tracks her getting out of the van, positioning her as the new focus. The camera is also placed eye-level to her, perhaps showing how the audience don’t know how powerful or important she is. Or alternatively portraying the idea of us being neutral and equal with her regarding dominance. The slow paced editing of the girl suggests she is confident and comfortable in her surroundings, meaning we become less apprehensive. In addition, the same Asian sounds of the colliding swords, used in the background when our focus was on Di Nero, is now used with our focus on the girl, which connects them, yet the audience are unclear of this link. This implies that they could be on the same team or possibly even related. This sound bridge could also infer they will clash or on the other hand he is going to try and kill her. The fact that she is a girl wearing light clothing infers she is either a protagonist or possibly a victim through her vulnerability. However she is also placed more in the light, compared to Di Nero, showing she could be more of a threat as she is in focus and looks very suspicious. Or alternatively, the lights could give her a positive and virtuous persona. During this, Di Nero is still observing from above, with a fence being in centre frame, creating a barrier, showing that he can’t get to her and rescue her. As an audience it’s frustrating not being able to reach her. As we track the girl, it almost puts us in Di Nero’s position, as we are now tracking her actions, making us, as the audience, feel very inquisitive and intruding.
We then move to a point of view shot of the girl. This positions us as an antagonist, as we have only just been introduced to her character and don’t know a lot about her, therefore we immediately judge and assume she is a baddie. In the front of the frame is the suspicious, smoking guy, who complicates the plot even further, making us wanting to know more. In the background is the girl who is out of focus, which complicates our original views of her being a main character, because she’s now out of our concentration. Lastly, the barman is in focus to draw our attention, helping us to follow the story better. The point of view shots portray the girl’s fear of the other men at the bar, as her facial expression is very concerned. This makes the audience soften up to her character slightly and reminds us that she is at risk. In addition when she takes off her coat, she becomes even more innocent and more likely to be a victim, as the men begin to notice her and her jumper is a very light brown colour, which is what we associate with protagonists.
Furthermore the coat was acting as a barrier however now she has taken it off, she seems defenceless. The diegetic bar sounds create a claustrophic atmosphere and the drums still playing in the background may infer confusion about where she is, again making the audience believe she is in danger. However the cut to a close up of the beanie man, reassures us that he’s not dangerous, as he made no eye-contact or direct address with her. Moreover the lack of subtitles for his French dialogue could imply that he fits into his surroundings and belongs where he is. The camera is also eye level with him, echoing how he has equal power with both us and the girl. He seems as though he is more of an open character too, as when we follow him into the bar, he leaves the door open for us to come inside, however with the girl, it shut onto us, which is a significance difference to show she could be hiding something. As he is walking the music intensifies and the drums once again become dominant. This firstly links him to the girl and Di Nero in a sound bridge, which is significant in showing that he is also part of the team, and secondly could portray footsteps or even a steady heartbeat, indicating he is not panicked.
The editing suggests they are working as one team, as the use of the series of matched cuts between the beanie man, the girl and smoking guy proves they are all involved in the action. The guy smoking produces a concern within us, as there is clearly a sign beside him saying ‘no smoking’, therefore we instantly get the impression that he is a man who will willingly go against the rules. The tracking shot used to follow Di Nero walking down steps into darkness is ambiguous, and also represents him walking down into a hellish world that he is going to intercept and interrupt. Alternatively it could show him getting lower and lower in the hierarchy. The fact that we are following him also shows how he has got the power, and we begin to believe he is a protagonist and start to panic as he begins to walk behind the railings, because it’s trapping him in. A light goes out in the window of the shop which is symbolic of death and normal societies dying off, again implying death will be a recurring theme throughout the film. It’s positioned there as it is in centre frame, therefore we notice it. As it is inside the pub window it could suggest that somebody inside the pub is going to die. The zooming in onto Di Nero symbolizes he’s taking everything in and his plans are becoming more solid and cemented. Or it could also infer his paranoia as he repetitively looks around him. The point of view panning shots are the same as the girl, which again links them together and makes the audience feel involved in the action. Moreover the tracking of him walking through the small alleyways, shows him getting more and more absorbed into darkness as we become more aware of his darker side. At this point it’s all about Di Nero, he has our full attention and focus. Moreover the sound effect of the water dripping, could almost imply the idea of decay.
Suddenly, the gun that Di Nero hides becomes the main focal point. One drum sound is used when the gun is shown, symbolizing one bullet, which in turn symbolizes death. The cut to the close up of the gun is quick and deliberate, to portray how the weapon can grab all the supremacy very hastily, again showing its importance. The use of the sword sounds also links back to the samurai idea, which again links back to the Asian culture, reminding the audience of the film’s background context. Moreover, it could portray his violent persona. The tracking of the gun justifies how, currently, the gun and violence holds the most power and is the most influential factors within the scene. Moreover the over the shoulder shot portrays how the audience aren’t scared of the idea of conflict, as we don’t jump away from it, we stay and follow his actions because we are intrigued. As he moves away from the gun, the angle is low. This could either represent how he is the same height as the gun so therefore equal in supremacy, or shows how he has become powerful and superior since hiding the gun. In addition he walks out centre frame, proving his authority and showing his character development since the beginning of the opening, when he was always situated to the side of the frame. At this point the sounds used inside the bar are also used with Di Nero outside, reminding the audience of how they are all linked somehow. Di Nero is controlling the camera and our interest and we experience an ellipsis of time, as we don’t see him walking around the corner into the bar, generating a sense of unknown, and making the audience curious about what he possibly could have done.
As all the characters meet together in the bar, it becomes very ambiguous as to who has the power. It cuts to the girl putting on her black coat, in the centre frame, which is significant in showing she’s a main antagonist, yet is still possibly a victim, shown through her anxious and agitated facial expression. However as she pulls out her gun, again it becomes powerful and the centre of attention. This links her and Di Nero as they both had their guns tracked, producing a sense of unity. The use of the mirror indicates sin and shows they are altered and not present in real life, giving the audience a false sense of security. As the old fashioned telephone rings- important in portraying the time it was set- the girl goes to answer it in centre frame, absorbing the audiences focus. However she soon becomes mysterious as she hides her face from the camera, because she could be trying to hide something. Furthermore it cuts away from her, therefore we don’t find out what she was saying or who she was talking to, meaning that we are lowered in the hierarchy as there’s now an aspect that we are unsure of, giving her more authority. Finally, the very constant and loud deep, mumbling music creates the impression of danger coming.
Opening scene of ‘The Sixth Sense’ analysis:
‘The Sixth Sense’ is a 1999 American supernatural horror-thriller film, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The film tells a story of Cole Sear, a trouble, isolated boy who is able to see and talk to the dead, and an equally troubled child psychologist who tries to help him. It stars Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment and Toni Collette.
The opening credits suggest an ambiguous nature of the film, as it’s based upon two extremely prominent and almost ghostly colours; black and white. The titles are written in white and they progressively appear and then fade out again, which conveys an ethereal feeling. Also black is more dominant than white, which is significant in suggesting that danger and death will take power over the good. However white also connotes the idea of a supernatural presence, suggesting some form of unnatural figures will feature in the film, hinting at the horror genre. The non-diagetic music that goes with the opening credits, such as the drum, which is very quiet however does get faster, could signify a heartbeat, which could be ours as we sympathise with her situation, or alternatively her own heartbeat, portraying her fear and distress. There’s only one violin playing quite slow and low toned music, perhaps symbolizing the theme of loneliness or isolation, however during the title there are lots of them which get louder and higher pitched. This could infer that something big will happen during the film which disrupts and unsettles the normality. Moreover before the title, the violin has short notes of music with gaps of silence, which generates suspense and could portray how the possible haunting may come and go into her lives repetitively. After the sound commotion of the title, the violin plays a continuous long note without stopping. This could infer that once the film reaches its dramatic climax nothing goes back to the way it was.
The repetition of the piano sound is very deliberate, as its slow and eerie which represents the movement of ghosts, reminding the audience of the genre. It’s also very isolated from the other sounds and is dominant compared to the violins, which emphasises the genre further as we link old, dusty pianos with abandoned haunted houses. The music is very mysterious, as each note is very prolonged, in order to hold the audience to the film and may symbolize the ongoing nature of the ghostly figures. It mirrors the credits as when a name fades away, the music gradually lowers and then becomes higher pitched again when another name appears, perhaps portraying that every character is involved within the storyline. The titles are written in serif font evoking quite a serious message, foreshadowing a very solemn and humourless plot, or alternatively it could mimic the writing of a gravestone, indicating that death could possibly be a continuous theme. When the title appears the music quickens, to again emphasise the climax in the film being very dramatic. The sound becomes very abrupt, because the audience almost hear a flurry of high pitched strings as if somethings scurrying away, possibly the idea of ghosts or even someone running away from something, indicating the film will have a paranormal atmosphere. Lastly, the title is repeated in order to show the thriller genre, because it looks like a supernatural figure moving across the screen as a silhouette, which again could symbolize that the darkness will keep appearing, however the light and optimism will always remain afterwards, perhaps indicating an ending where everything is resolved.
It then slowly fades into a completely black screen before the close up of the lightbulb turning on occurs, to quietly introduce us to the scene. I think it gives off an uncomfortable atmosphere as the character and the audience don’t know what else or who else is in the room, therefore we are in an area of unknown, which causes us to panic. Furthermore, the close up could symbolize an idea or sudden understanding of something, or it could symbolize hope in dark times, as we associate light with optimism. Alternatively, it could be the symbolic idea of the presence of ghosts, as the bulb gives out a dim glow, and we imagine ghosts to be barely visible, dull-white spirits, which, yet again, reminds us of the supernatural figures which will emerge throughout it. The lightbulb is by itself, without a cover, suggesting the room is isolated and very rarely used. This creates a sense of entrapment, or possibly inferring the idea of interrogation, which makes the genre ambiguous because we link interrogation with a gangster or crime genre. The slowly heating up of the bulb, proves the basement is cold, adding to the eeriness, because the presence of ghosts is associated with a shiver and the idea of ghosts is spine-chilling. It also emphasises the shadows, hinting at the idea of a lack of energy, so therefore possibly a lack of life, which again is what we associate with ghosts.
The use of diagetic sounds, for instance the door opening and footsteps, intrudes the silence and shocks us because we have been built up with the turning on lightbulb and cannot see a door or steps in the shot. It also fits the expected genre as it creates a sense of unknown as to who will appear. Cinematography is used to show the characters not alone. The eye level long shot, where the camera is behind the wine rack looking at the woman, creates the impression that something’s watching her. However this could also portray that we, as an audience, are the ones spying, which is effective in making us feel involved in the action, however makes us feel curious and intrusive of her personal life. The long shot also makes her seem insignificant in an empty space and the audience feel uneasy as she can’t see what’s stalking her, making her become very vulnerable- in particular when she turns her back on the wine rack. The editing throughout is very long, drawn out and slow, adding to the tension because the audience are desperately waiting to see what is going to happen, but the slowness of the editing makes them wait longer and longer, which could be symbolic of the sustained, prolonged lives of the ghosts. Additionally, the basement is very stereotypical of thriller and horror films and plays on the audience’s fears. It’s bare, cold, dark, and gloomy with stone walls, perhaps reflecting the discomfort of the character.
A mid shot is used to identify the character and sets the scene. Her outfit suggests she doesn’t belong, as her evening dress contrasts with the setting which is dusty and almost deserted. She also contrasts to the dusky, shadowy lighting making us believe she is completely isolated and vulnerable, especially when she shivers. The fact that she is a female also reiterates this point, as we assume women are in a weaker position and more exposed to any dangers. You could also say that she fits into the room, because her dress has stripes of red on it, suggesting the idea that she is dangerous or very passionate, which links to the idea that ghosts are a threat to us. The tracking shot of her trying to find wine shows every move she makes is being watched which emphasises how, whilst she is in the basement, she is in danger. The use of silence is very effective in this scene. It makes the audience feel uneasy and worried about what’s going to happen, as the audience tend to then pay a lot of attention to the very small sounds, causing them to jump more if something did happen. After moments of quiet there’s a sudden noise that is very hard for us to hear, however really disrupts and shocks the woman. The female’s sudden heavy breathing indicates her being scared, making us sympathise her, but also revel in her fear as we are the ones spying on her.
It then cuts from the dark basement to the candles, giving the audience a false sense of security, as it contrasts the previous gloomy atmosphere, because candles connote warmth and romance, and generate an idyllic environment, which relaxes the audience, however alternatively could make them feel more on-edge as they are expecting something to happen and don’t want it to disrupt the amorous ambiance. The candles also create a religious tone as light is a symbol of Jesus illuminating the world with hope and happiness. The living room presents calm, contrasting to the rest of the house which looks dark and unknown and mysterious. The bright colours and lighting also show this. However, the colour red is also symbolic of a threat. The colour is very significant from the start; the lightbulb turns red before turning on properly, her lipstick is red- highlighting her feminine persona- and the napkins are red, and due to all these items being in the house with the couple, it again shows how they are at risk. Most importantly the wine is red, inferring they are rich and live a luxurious life. Also only the man drinks it suggesting something bad is going to happen to him. Furthermore, the edge of the frame is a reddish colour wood and when the couple are reflected in the mirror, they are framed in red, hinting they are the next target. It also raises the question as to why this prop appears slanted on the chair. The hint behind this is that although it is a tender and rather romantic moment, there is something not quite straight. This suggests that the award and its position is a symbol of jeopardy. Both of them are dressed formally; the man in suit trousers and a shirt, and she has her hair styled up, giving the impression they are celebrating a special occasion, and that they present themselves well and care about their appearance, making us believe they are the protagonists, as in thrillers they dress in ordinary everyday clothes. This could show how they are insecure about their relationship and feel as though they have to constantly prove themselves to each other. The diagetic jazz saxophone music playing in the background, again creates a relaxing and romantic atmosphere, but is very cliché. Finally, the proxemics between them are at intimate distance and this shows a tenderness between them. She’s also sat on the floor beside him implying she worships and admires her husband, showing he has greater authority and is the dominant partner, which shocks the audience as many would disagree and argue that men and women are of equal supremacy in a relationship. The use of the eyelevel close-up shots increases the intimacy of the scene as we feel we are witnessing a very affectionate moment. It makes the audience feel part of it creating possibly a sense of jealousy of their tight relationship or perhaps awkwardness.
Opening scene of ‘Enemy of the State’ analysis:
Throughout the opening credits and up to the start of the dialogue, the sound symbolizes a very sad plot. This is through the use of the violin, which is very solitary and gives the impression of someone mourning at a funeral. Therefore, from the first few seconds we already know that death will be a common theme. Included in this soundscape is also a low quiet beat of drums, which could portray that danger is approaching and due to it being very repetitive it may alternatively symbolize a heartbeat. However, at this point in the film we are unaware of whose it is. It also stops when the old man says his first line, which could foreshadow his sudden death, due to the fast stopping of the heartbeat. The electronic typing of the time and location makes us believe its genre is spy or crime. Furthermore, it portrays the idea of computer games, perhaps inferring politician’s views of people’s lives. The font is white with blocked letters and Greek symbols, which portrays the American idea of Fraternities and Sororities and how their friendships contains many hidden secrets. It becomes clear that it is a CIA, governmental situation as the guy in the car on the phone signifies business and importance. The use of old fashioned black cars also gives off the impression of officials, politicians and presidents, which again shows his authority. Moreover, the black jackets, black suits and gloves symbolize darkness and violence, whilst the victim has beige coloured clothes and a dog indicating he is a protagonist, as anyone who has a dog is generally caring and benevolent. Their large jackets could show they are trying to hide something and the gloves strengthen this theory as they may not want to be traced. The cold and quiet environment could potentially show that these people are cold hearted and inhumane, which helps to portray the nature of their intentions towards the old man. Additionally, the location shows that the government has control everywhere as it’s a rural location with no CCTV. It also contradicts the usual city setting of the genre, because attractive rural areas of land are not usually used, because a city setting generates a sense of action and conflict.
The series of matched cuts of all the men in black coats could portray that they are on the same team, making us as an audience feel isolated, as we sympathise with the old man who seems to be un-aided, rendering us to feel threatened as we are outnumbered by antagonists. The close up of the man in the black car, shows him being half hidden by the window. This could portray his mysterious persona because the window blocks us from him, possibly indicating he is hiding something, or even hiding from something. Alternatively, due to his face being covered by the shadows portrays how he is an antagonist and a threat to us, as he is very anonymous. The fact that it is the start of the day contradicts the ending of his life, because generally death is associated with darkness, shadows and obscurity. His face begins in the shadows, which makes us confused as to what his role is because we assume- due to his light clothing- that he is a protagonist, yet the dark shadows suggest a more apprehensive and mysterious persona. However he eventually moves completely into the light, showing a more moral and pleasant side to him. The long shot of the bench, with the old man sat down on it and the antagonist stood towering over him, gives him a greater sense of authority. Also, the bench acts as a barrier between us and the old man, leaving him in a very dangerous position as we are unaware of what the antagonist is capable of, making him seem very vulnerable.
Throughout the shot/reverse shot of their conversation, the old man is very angry, yet the other man is not, perhaps showing how he is trained well for his job and can hide his emotions accordingly. During the discussion the dialogue volume doesn’t change and it all stays very monotone which could symbolize the idea of someone being tracked or recorded on a tape, which again highlights the genre as the thought of someone listening to your conversation creates a sense of uncomfortableness and is quite alarming.
Once the antagonist grabs the old man’s arm, the dramatic music of violins and drums begins again, which means the soundscape could be representing the idea of danger or a threat. After this point, fast paced editing through the motivated cuts are used to establish the scene and entice the audience, as they keep watching through all the fast cuts due to the increase in tension and the anticipation of them wanting to know what will happen. Furthermore it makes us focus more on the action of the antagonists capturing the old man. The long shot of the old man walking back to his car, has the colour of black gradually fill the screen with the black coat men and also the black cars, this could symbolize how danger is engulfing the good. Once the injection/murder occurs the music increases in intensity and climaxes, portraying the sudden pain of the old man. The extreme close up of his face also indicates the initial panic and fear and then reiterates his position. The music and editing quickens in the sequence of him being shoved into the back of his car, perhaps to show the panic of the antagonists to hide him immediately. It also speeds up time and hastens the antagonist’s plan, whilst giving the scene a sense of timelessness because the sequence doesn’t last very long. The diagetic sounds of the dog and nature continues which reminds the audience of the surroundings, perhaps symbolizing that his death will not be noticed because the familiarity of life continues without disruption, and normality will not be changed because of it, which indicates his insignificance to society. The music gets quieter and quieter as the camera tracks the car rolling down into the lake, and eventually fades and goes to complete silence, as it completely submerges into the lake making it clear to us that the soundscape could also be the old mans, as it follows his journey to his death in the sequence. However it also reiterates my point about it being the soundscape for danger, as when the car sinks, the music stops, because no one else is at danger. The tracking shot of the dog running after the car down the ramp, portrays the tight relationship between the old man and him, but alternatively could indicate the old man’s loneliness.
Opening scene of ‘Jaws’ Analysis:
In the opening of Jaws the music is very significant, as to begin with the audience can only hear the non-diagetic music of low beats- connoting the idea of a heartbeat- before the sea emerges from the black screen- connoting death which gives the film a solemn feel, creating a huge amount of tension because our senses are restricted- making us panic- and the music indicates that the following scenes will not be good. This restriction makes us apprehensive as we don’t know what is going to appear. This panic in the audience occurs through the use of the cello, which produces very low, bass notes which represents the shark as an unstoppable force of mindless and instinctive attacks. The music starts off slow and quiet however gets louder and faster, perhaps indicating how the speed of the shark quickens as it gets closer and closer to its prey. It then fades, to quietly introduce the scene, in to a point of view shot, which makes us feel like we are the ones hunting, making her our victim, of something under the sea and the music increases even more in speed, symbolizing the pace and rapidity of the shark, so therefore its determination to find food. The cello then becomes a constant beat symbolizing the shark’s instinctual, relentless and unstoppable behaviour. Finally because there is only one instrument it could symbolize the isolation of the shark. The audience are conditioned to associate the shark with its theme, which is exploited towards the films climax when the shark suddenly appears with no musical introduction, which shocks us as we are not expecting it. This sense of unknown could symbolize the shark attacks in general as they happen unexpectedly. Due to this music appearing in the opening scene with the shark, the audience associate it with danger throughout. As the title appears, a trumpet is introduced to the soundscape, which symbolizes its power. Furthermore it could portray how once the shark has attacked and the films reaches its climax, nothing will go return to normality. The point of view shot of the shark shows his movement under the water, significant in showing his power as he’s moving quickly and also help the audience follow the plot and guess what will happen.
Then, just as we assume something is about to happen, because the music becomes almost uncomfortable to listen to, due to the pace and volume of it, the music changes suddenly as the camera cuts to a completely contrasting panning shot, where we hear diagetic sounds of people communicating, kissing, laughing and making music, which lull the viewer into a sense of security. The quick cut is significant in showing how they are all completely oblivious to the dangers in the water that the audience know about, making us worry the girl won’t be saved, and emphasises the coldness of one with the blue tones from the murky water and the warmth of the other with the red tones from the fire. Moreover, the blue connotes the idea of neutralism, perhaps showing how the shark is in no threat, however the teens are in danger, as red is symbolic of a threat. Furthermore, the characters are making their own music using raw instruments, such as guitars and harmonicas, this is done to create and emphasise the juxtaposing shot of these people relaxing and having fun. The camera shows a developing interest between the two characters, as it cuts between them both smiling at each other and uses medium close ups of each of them to create the appearance of them being closer than they actually are. This tricks us because the sense of reality is distorted, because what we think is true is in fact not. However once the camera pans out to a long shot of the location, we can see the distance between them and how isolated she (Chrissie) is away from the group and the comfort of the fire. This is very significant as it indicates she is unsafe, vulnerable and likely to be the first victim. Alternatively, the colour red has connotations of threat, so therefore she could be the safer one because she is further away from it. The director would imply this thought to make us more shocked when the attack does happen.
A long tracking shot is used when the couple separate quickly from the group, to portray them running away from the safe area surrounding the fire, to the dangerous waters, this makes us dread what might happen. The fence, although it is weak and broken, acts as a barrier between us and the two teenagers, inferring that we cannot stop them from doing something irresponsible and foolish. Moreover, it is a barrier between the ocean, where we know a shark is lurking, and the seemingly sheltered and protected beach. As they have crossed it, it is symbolic in showing that they are now very susceptible and exposed to the jeopardies in the ocean. After the two characters have moved away down to the sea, we can hear more diagetic sounds of the water splashing, putting emphasis on the water and emphasis on the fear of what you are swimming above. Continuity editing is used throughout to help with the flowing of one scene to another. Quick match shots and shot reverse shots are used between the girl and boy, perhaps to indicate the sexual attraction between them both, making us focus on the affection amongst them. The dim, dark and shadowy lighting creates an atmospheric mood, as we naturally associate the lack of light with inevitable dangers. We can see Chrissie stripping before she reaches the water, in a long shot with her centre frame, meaning she has our full attention. This means that she is completely naked, therefore is very vulnerable because she has no protection.
A long shot is again used as Chrissie jumps into the water, which shows the mass scale and power of the water. Moreover it shows how insignificant and alone she is, as she gets smaller and smaller before she dives in. The camera cuts between the two characters, showing the distance between Chrissie in the sea and the boy falling drunk on the beach. The long shot of the boy lying on the beach symbolizes the idea of a washed up body, possibly foreshadowing the death of Chrissie. Also the sun has now gone behind a cloud, which shows that darkness and danger is taking over, as the colour black connotes a threat. The lighting gets dimmer and dimmer as it gets closer to her death. As the camera cuts dramatically from a long shot of her swimming to the point of view of the shark, effective in helping us link the two together, the familiar music track we heard before continues, as it is the shark’s soundscape. These shots are very long and drawn out to bring the film to a painful slow speed to increase the anticipation of the audience. After that, the next sound we hear is her panicking and screaming because of her pain and fear. The director chose to then cut between her screams to a shot of the silent beach, indicating that nobody can hear her, showing her seclusion and again how oblivious the others are of the shark attack. Moreover the next significant shot; a medium close up, shows her clinging onto the buoy and she is no longer yelling and crying, making the audience relax, as we associate buoys with safety, tricking the audience into thinking she is no longer in danger. The medium close-up assists in making her look isolated. Whilst the shark is attacking her, the camera movement is very restricted and mostly uses close ups. This is an effective technique to use in order to highlight and fully emphasise her rapid movements and how the shark is throwing her around the sea helplessly.
The final shot we see in the sequence is the now silenced waters, a long shot is used significantly to show how still and undisturbed the sea is despite the drama we just saw. It’s also significant in portraying the strength and force of the sea and how large it is compared to the weak and defenceless girl we previously watched being engulfed by the water. The long shot also emphasises how well hidden the shark is, as there is no evidence surrounding the attack, therefore the audience are encouraged to keep watching because we know there will be more of them. We never actually see the shark which creates a fear of the unknown.
Devise a narrative for your whole film and opening thriller sequence
I have chosen to make the opening scene of a psychological thriller. The overall film will follow the main male character- Kieran-and his girlfriend-Annabel, showing their relationship progress as they begin using drugs, which becomes the only thing keeping them together. They meet the antagonist of the film, who becomes their dodgy dealer. He runs a gang which murders people who have done wrong to him in the past, and due to Kieran and Annabel’s bad addiction, the antagonist blackmails them into completing the crimes and murders he has lined up, in return for the drugs. Annabel dies of a drug overdose, making Kieran become severely depressed. He then becomes aware of the horrific things going on around him and loses his sense of humanity, however continues working for the antagonist due to his desperate need for drugs. Kieran becomes haunted by it all, so much that his hallucinations cause him to betray his dealer- he does not give off a signal for one of the attacks. Therefore, with panic of what the antagonist would do to him, he runs away. His life becomes twisted and altered into hell and due to his distorted vision, he believes he is being haunted by his dead girlfriend and all the people he has killed. At the end he fakes his own death in order for him to restart with a new identity. It replays the end of the opening sequence with Kieran led on the floor, however right at the end he blinks in order to make it clear to the audience that he isn’t actually dead.
My opening sequence starts at the end of the film, with Kieran “dead” on the floor at the end of an avenue of trees, zoom out slowly from his eye and then quickly to portray going back in time. It then flashbacks to minutes before he dies, with him walking then running away from his mad visions. However at this point the viewers are unaware of whether what he can see is real or not and if so, who it is and why they are chasing him. Guy dressed all in black with black gloves, watching him from behind some leaves. Juxtaposition of the erratic chase compared to the calm of the stalking. Kieran runs round a corner and his leg slips. Black man walks sternly up to him. reaches in his pocket, sound of pen click- audience think its a gun- then he writes his name on an envelope and slips it in his pocket.
Choosing a target audience
My target audience is 15+, however I am aware that my actual viewers will be ages of 25+ as my generation choose to watch other genres such as actions or comedies. In order to protect children from unsuitable and even harmful content in films and videos and to give consumers information they might need about a particular film or video before deciding whether or not to view it, the BBFC examines and age rates them before they are released. This independent scrutiny prior to release ensures the highest possible level of protection and empowerment.
A classification for a 15 film means that no-one younger than 15 may see the film in the cinema, rent or buy it. There are many factors to a film which make it suitable for only 15 years old and over.
Firstly the work as a whole must not endorse discriminatory language or behaviour, although racist, homophobic or other discriminatory language and themes can be included. Drug taking can be shown, however cannot promote or encourage drug misuse, for example through instructional detail. Dangerous behaviour, for instance, hanging, suicide and self-harming should not dwell on detail which could be copied. There may be strong language and very strong language may be permitted, depending on the manner in which it is used and who’s using it. Moreover, there are no constraints on nudity in a non-sexual or educational context. Nudity in sexual context is allowed but no strong detail. Sexual activity is allowed but works whose primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation are unlikely to be acceptable. Strong threat and horror is allowed however a sustained focus on sadistic or sexual threat is unlikely to be tolerable. Lastly, violence may be encompassed but again, should not focus on the infliction of pain or injury.
An 18 classification means that the film is only suitable for adults, therefore no-one younger than 18 can see an 18 film in the cinema, rent or buy the film.
Until recently, 18 certificate films could not contain the depiction of actual sex acts, which more recently could only appear in films with an R18 certificate. Sex material which genuinely seeks to inform and educate in matters such as human sexuality or safer sex may be permitted. Sex works containing clear images of real sex, strong fetish material, sexually explicit animated images or other very strong sexual images will be confined to the R18 category. The language is also a lot stronger in an 18 film with the constant use of much ruder words.
For my thriller I will follow the BBFC guidelines to ensure it fits into the 15 certificate bracket. It will contain only small amounts of bad language, as there isn’t much dialogue in my opening and I feel it helps to portray the characters madness. Furthermore, there’s no sexual activity, but it does contain a death, however it doesn’t show how it occurred and therefore it doesn’t dwell on the detail and can’t be copied by the viewers. Drugs will be seen in the shots, however won’t be taken in a way which promotes or encourages drug misuse. I haven’t yet decided if I will show drugs being used or whether the audience will make their own prediction on what happened.
Consequently I have adapted my audience to a 12A certificate bracket because discriminatory language or behaviour is not endorsed by the work as a whole and there isn’t aggressive discriminatory language or behaviour. The misuse of drugs is infrequent and not glamorised or given in instructional detail. Also there is no promotion of potentially dangerous behaviour which children are likely to copy and no attraction of realistic or easily accessible weapons, such as knives. The clips of Kieran’s hallucinations could be seen as a psychological threat and a horror sequence. Although some scenes may be disturbing, the overall tone is not and the haunting sequences are not frequent or sustained.
I made a primary survey which focused mainly on the codes and generic conventions of thrillers, to find out what the audience are expecting to see. I chose to do a secondary questionnaire in order to receive more thorough feedback in which I can apply to my own thriller opening. Moreover, I needed help in choosing answers to questions that I was unsure of, for example what time of day I should film it. My secondary questionnaire concentrates on my own opening sequence, based on actors, plotline and location, as I need feedback from my viewers in order to make some decisions centred around my thriller, in order to make it appeal to a more extensive audience.
Summary of feedback for questionnaires
How will your opening fit your genre?
My opening scene fits to the thriller genre through many aspects. Firstly, I am using a flashbacks which are a common feature in thrillers. They help to create a feeling of space and time disorientation, therefore creating a feeling of confusion within the audience. Also it gives the audience an insight into the characters past. Secondly, I am using low key lighting to create an eerie atmosphere and the shadows will represent the inner darkness or evil within them. I will be using quick shots to increase the feelings of suspense and quicken the action. Moreover, I will use close-ups to emphasise their emotions, POV shots to display their distorted views and tracking shots to keep the audience interested in the storyline.
In your opening how will establish narrative, ideologies, tone and mise-en-scene?
Through my opening I will establish tone by using a dimly lit effect on my shots, to portray how the drugs are sucking out all life in his character. I will establish ideologies through following the development of his character taking drugs and how it’s taking control of his life. The ideas of society I would like to portray is how people are becoming more and more addicted to drugs, and nowadays its seen as a cool thing to do or something fun to experiment with, however I am trying to show the very worst effects of it. The costume of my main male character, Kieran, originally included light brown trousers and a shirt, with a light brown jacket, in order to portray his protagonist persona. Furthermore he will be wearing a red scarf to symbolize danger and death, and black gloves to portray how he eventually loses power of his actions and can’t stop taking them. However, after a discussion with my actors I came to realise that tracksuits and a hoodie would be a better option in representing his shambolic life. My spy will be wearing beige trousers, black coat, black scarf and black gloves- to emphasise his mysterious, ambiguous persona, but also to make the audience question his identity as they are not told a lot about his character and his motives until the very end. The colour black, however, clearly shows his antagonist role. The visions will be very pale/ white in the face with over exaggerated black eyes and will be wearing black leggings with a long black top, as black and white are both prominent ghostly colours. They will also have they hair back-combed to create a very evil and sinister look.
Choose a working title and justify it
I have decided to call my thriller film: “Toxic Choices”. I feel as though it is an appealing title which represents the storyline in an effective way. The word “Toxic” helps to portray the deadly, lethal drugs he is taking and how they are contaminating his life and transforming his identity. But combined with the word “Choices” it shows how the decisions he continuously makes during the film are all immoral and will eventually corrupt his life.
Following the feedback from the primary questionnaire, I realised that the use of too much dialogue can hinder the build up of suspense, as the audience stop focusing on the picture and the increase in music intensity, and concentrate on what the actors are saying. However, I feel as though the use of slight dialogue whilst Kieran is running away from his hallucinations, could help to show his frenetic persona. Therefore I have created a script for shots 25, 26 and 27:
Kieran: No, No, No, leave me alone! (heavy breathing) Fuck…..Fuck (tripping on branches but not falling completely).
Kieran: (grunting) help me…somebody, anybody…Help! HELP!
Kieran: (shouting) Lord save me, save me, please save me…
I think only having dialogue for Kieran creates a sense of isolation as he has nobody to turn to. Furthermore, by using repetition of phrases, it can help portray his utterly traumatic state as his thoughts are fragmented.
I used social media in order to contact all of my actors and ask about them taking part in my thriller. It’s effective to use as it means I can continuously send and receive messages to and from the whole group, therefore I can check that everyone has got the messages and that everyone understands what my visions for my thriller are. It enables everyone in the group to see whats going on and when, in a really simple way. Everyone replied with great enthusiasm stating they would love to be part of it. The only initial problem I had was finding dates to film, as its hard to work around everyone’s calendars, especially when it’s a big group. Moreover, the only solution I had for this was to split up the shots into sections where certain actors were used, for example, on Sunday 8th January my actors, Harry and Eddie were the only ones who were free, so I decided to use that time effectively and get the ending filmed which only features their two characters. The only problem with not filming from the beginning, is firstly I must ensure I film at the same time of day in order to keep the lighting continual and secondly when I come to the editing of my film, I must work extra hard as the clips won’t be organised into the order I need them in.
In order to keep my music choices copyright free, one of my friends offered to make the soundtracks for me. We discussed certain factors that I wanted to include in it in order for it to fit with my shots and editing pace, for example which musical instruments I wanted to be prominent or the volume and speed of it. He then used a program called ‘Mix-Craft 7’, in which he imported multiple sounds that we had decided on together to create the best soundscape, such as strings, bass, woodwind or special effects. After that he used a midi keyboard to record in multiple parts and once he was happy with that he mixed the pieces together and exported it into MP3. Then he sent it to me as a draft and I checked them all over, commenting on certain aspects I really liked or parts I didn’t think fitted with my vision. I then used MP3 Toolbox.net to convert them from MP3 into MP4 so they could be uploaded onto YouTube and put onto the blog. The four final pieces of music we came up with are:
1.)INSANITY REPRISE- https://burfordmedia.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/3-insanity-reprise.mp3
4.) ATMOSPHERIC SOUND- https://burfordmedia.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/0-random-atmospheric-cue.mp3
Why I chose to film my opening thriller sequence in the ‘Wild Gardens’:
- The tall trees tower over Kieran, almost as if they are trapping him in with his mad hallucinations, generating tension as he is unable to get escape.
- Creates a sense of entrapment for the audience, making them feel more involved in the action and more on-edge.
- Makes the audience feel claustrophobic, which again follows the thriller conventions of making the audience feel uncomfortable.
- Its one of the most typical settings of the thriller genre.
- Woods bring about the feelings of lost, fear and loneliness, which all assist in creating suspense.
- Once the sunlight is gone the woods become a very dark place in which we associate with murders, death and kidnapping, all themes which are linked to the thriller genre.
- I thought the long avenue of trees which Kieran runs up, could also represent the final stretch leading up to his death.
Risk Assessment for the ‘Wild Gardens’:
During the filming of my thriller opening scene there are many aspects which must be considered, in order to ensure the health and safety of my actors is maintained and also to make sure the filming equipment isn’t damaged or broken.
Firstly, when using the tripod outside on a windy day, or on unstable ground, it could easily be blown over, as it is very light. However a solution to this hazard is having someone at hand to hold it steady, therefore preventing it from falling over and preventing damage to both the camera and tripod. Furthermore, in my setting there are many big trees and therefore, regarding wind, branches may fall off and end up hitting my actors or breaking the equipment. To stop this from occurring I will check the setting over and move any lose sticks from the filming area, but also make a decision as to whether it is safe enough to film and call it off if the wind is too strong. A second hazard could be if I were to carry the tripod underneath the camera, as it could easily become loose and come apart, which again will end up damaging it. Consequently, to stop this I will ensure I carry the tripod correctly, using both hands, with a firm grip.
Leads are a big factor that need to be considered. There will be leads coming off of the equipment, which is a possible trip hazard for my actors, especially in the woods, as the leads will be camouflaged into the ground and possibly be covered by sticks or leaves making it hard to spot them. Therefore to prevent any accidents, once I am set up I will inform them where the leads are, so that I know I’m covered if they do trip. It’s also important to tell them because the equipment could be damaged too.
Moreover, at the bottom of the avenue is a big lake, which could be a huge threat. My actors could fall in, resulting in their costumes being soaked and they would become very cold, this means that I would have to call off the filming. Or with my equipment, if it were to fall in, it could be severely damaged or more likely broken, which means that I would have to pay for it to be replaced at school. To stop any of these happening, I will make sure everyone and everything stays a big distance away from the lake and ensure all my actors can swim in case an accident occurs.
As the setting is a forest, this means that there are potential ditches and marshland, which could clearly be a hazard to my actors and equipment, especially when the lighting becomes dimmer as we move into dusk. Before filming I will check over the ground and let them know areas to avoid.
I will put a note on the gate of ‘The Wild Gardens’ saying: “filming in progress”, to warn the public. It means that if anyone walks up the avenue they won’t panic when they see my actors dressed up as ghosts and it also means that they will not get in the way of my shots, eliminating the chance of me having to film again.
We are all arriving to the set by ourselves, therefore this isn’t an area of concern, however if I was driving my actors to it, I would have needed to make sure I drove carefully, ensured seatbelts were worn and made sure I didn’t get distracted from the road. As this would have kept everyone in the vehicle safe. There is a road directly outside of the woods, which has the potential to create an accident, however when crossing over to get to the Wild Gardens I will check both ways and lead my actors across safely. I will also hold my equipment tightly, to prevent myself from dropping them onto the road and creating a scene. If I can’t hold it all myself, I will ask my actors politely to help me, resulting in a quicker and easier cross.
Also before filming, I will inform my actors about the filming space and any hazards I have had to deal with, or possibly cannot remove. Therefore, I know they are aware of the situation and what’s around them, leading to a safer environment to film in.
Map of location and camera positions:
Above is a drawing of my location for film. I have plotted different colour circles to show where I will place my camera for certain shots. Moreover, it shows where my actors will start, where they will move and the crosses indicate where they end up at the end of my opening scene. It really helped me to visualize my setting and helped me to set up and position my camera and tripod at a faster rate, enabling my filming to be finished on each day before it got too dark. Additionally, it assisted me, as I knew exactly where to place my actors around the set, helping both me and them to organise themselves ready for each shot. I also used an additional hand held camera to film the same shots as the main camera however at a different angle, because I thought it could add a different perspective and make my opening more interesting to watch. The smaller brown circle indicates the position of this extra camera.
I chose to add in an establishing shot following a comment from one of my peers. A slow pan with no music adds to the eeriness of the scene and also symbolises the isolation of Kieran. Furthermore, it fits in with the conventions of the thriller genre.
I added in some more close-ups of Kieran to allow the audience to relate to him more and care about him. Also I feel as though adding in more close-ups of the spy, keeps his identity to a minimum and makes us more suspicious about his persona and his motives.
At the moment I have a front angle, handheld camera shot of Kieran running, which succeeds in portraying his fear and instability because his facial expressions are exaggerated. However, I have added a medium long shot from behind him – handheld- to symbolise his hallucinations that are following him. I know this may make it unclear for the audience as to who they are supposed to represent, but I feel this confusion adds to the psychological feel of the opening sequence, as nothing should be simple to work out.
Change of plan:
After my first edit, I came to realise- after lots of watching and some peer feedback, that my original ending just didn’t look quite right. This is because I couldn’t find a way to effectively film Kieran slipping around the corner and therefore my viewers were confused as to why he was suddenly unconscious on the floor. There are too many storylines in my opening, making it very hard to follow. So I have adapted my ending, in order to film and produce a higher quality thriller, which will also give me the opportunity to use a wider variety of interesting shots.
Instead of Kieran running and slipping around the corner and the spy coming and giving him a letter to help him succeed in creating a new identity, Kieran commits suicide by stepping into a lake. The spy’s persona has also changed, as rather than him helping Kieran he’s glad that he’s dead. This is because the spy is working with the drug dealer, who wanted Kieran dead for not succeeding in giving off a signal for one of the crimes, due to his hallucinations being too distracting. The main focus is not on Kieran’s instable and mad mind but more on how the spy is watching and stalking him.
Shooting scripts for my re-filming:
Storyboards for my adapted ending:
I changed my ending in order to make it a clearer and more tense storyline, as I have described above.
Art of the Title Sequences:
– The very first opening credit appears at 01:50 minutes into the film and reads: “Clint Eastwood”, therefore because his name appears first in capitals, a big and bold font, centre screen and does distract us from the picture- which is of him walking up some steps- we believe him to be the main character.
– At 02:04 minutes, the name of the production company fades in slower than the first credit. It is in a smaller font, however the “Malposa Company” which shows they are not playing on the ability of the actors but more so of the reputation and the genre of the company.
– After that, at 02:12 minutes the title of the film fades in, however the two words: “Dirty Harry” fade in a split second after each other with “Harry” being the first one to appear, in a big, bold yellow font. “Dirty” then fades in above it, just slightly smaller- showing us that the film is more about him as a character and not the labels attached to him- it is also in the same font but in red and not outlined in black, which could link with the genre of action and thriller as red connotes the idea of danger or a threat. It could also symbolize the blood of the innocent people he is going to kill.
– At 02:22 minutes the co-stars begin to fade in on the left of the screen, with the names of the actors being a bigger font than the word: “co-starring”, which again highlights how the characters are very significant in the plot.
– 02:34 minutes the next set of co-stars fades in on the opposite side of the screen, possibly portraying that the characters are against each other on two opposing teams.
– 02:46 minutes shows who the film features, in a much smaller font size and scattered around the screen, in no particular order. It also shows lots more people at once, which perhaps means they are not as important in the plot.
– 03:17 minutes the final cast member fades onto the screen, with “John Vernon” in a much bigger font, and centre screen, which shows that the company is relying on star appeal rather than the interest in the actual storyline characters.
– 03:30 minutes shows the ‘Director of photography’ who is “Bruce Surtees”, with the name being in a larger font which again proves how they are focusing on star appeal.
– After that at 03:42 minutes the names of the ‘art director’, ‘film editor’, ‘sound by’ and ‘set decorator’ fade in and spread equally on the screen in the centre.
– At 03:54, more behind the scenes people are listed and fade in, due to lots being shown on the screen at a time could maybe present how they are not as significant as other cast members.
– The final opening titles to fade in is the ‘assistant director’ and the ‘wardrobe’ but also the fictional events disclaimer screen. This covers up the whole screen, indicating that it is an important credit, and the company want to ensure they have covered all the aspects about their film being fictitious.
– 04:26 minutes has how it is filmed: “Panavision” “Technicolour”, centre screen but in a smaller font, which shows that at the time it was filmed they were using advanced technology, showing that they are an innovative and superior company.
– At 04:41 minutes the “Lalo Schifrin” is displayed as who produced the music. The fact that the name is bigger than their job, again portrays how they are using star appeal to influence the audience.
– This is the same for the associate producer’s name and the executive producer which is also bigger and bolder to influence the audience even more, as they recognise the stars and that’s what makes them want to watch the film.
– The screenplay and story fade in at 05:23 minutes hoping to have the same impact on the viewers.
– Finally the producer and director: “Don Siegel” is in a very big font to the top left of the screen, in order to not disrupt the picture.
In my opening sequence, I am going to use the idea of font size and placing of the titles on the screen to portray the importance of each character. I will also use a different colour for my title, possibly red, in order to symbolize the jeopardy he has created on himself from taking the drugs.
– Five seconds into the opening sequence the very first opening titles fade in saying: “Paramount Pictures presents”. The company name is a bigger font than “presents” and is white with a black outline, in order for it to stand out. Due to it being in the centre screen it catches our attention and highlights the company’s name.
– At 00:10 seconds, “Steve Tisch/Wendy Finerman” fades in, in a big font which again shows how they are using the production company names to grab attention.
– The use of a bold and big sized font for the names continues into 00:16 seconds which displays: “Robert Zemeckis” in the centre screen, which again makes his name stand out and nothing else.
– At 00:22 seconds “Tom Hanks” fades into centre screen with a much larger font that could symbolize he is a significant character, but alternatively the company are using star appeal.
– After that the title of the film fades in slowly: “Forrest Gump” in a smaller font, possibly indicating how they are not focused or proud on what the film is called or the plotline of it, but more about the top actors they have featuring in it. However, alternatively they could want us to concentrate on the picture behind, which is a high angle shot of the location. It includes a church, which could reflect a religious theme in the film. It also helps to set the scene.
– Between 00:30 and 00:53 seconds, four other names of actors involved fade in and out centre screen, in a big font. They all distract the audience from the relaxing tracking of the feather floating in the wind, which influences them, as we tend to watch films for the stars who appear in it.
– Casting, co-producer, executive music producer, visual effects supervisor, costumes, music, editor, production designer and director of photography, all fade in, centre screen, one after the other. This makes us focus on the names yet again and not the actual picture behind them.
– At 01:40 it tells us the film is based on the novel by Winston Groom, which is just extra information they are giving us in order to gives us the best impression of their film, before it starts.
– At 01:44, the “screenplay” fades in, again centre screen, making us concentrate on it and read the names they are giving us.
– Then at 01:48 seconds, the penultimate titles fade in, in a much bigger font, as it is a more significant role: “producers”.
– The final title to fade in is the director’s name: “Robert Zemeckis”, so that the audience remember his name throughout it and he becomes recognized for directing the film.
I’m not planning on using any aspects of the ‘Forrest Gump’ opening titles because I personally found it very repetitive and tedious to watch.
– In a big, bold capital font: “Touchstone pictures presents” is the first title to appear only 3 seconds into the opening. It fades from a black screen and appears in the middle of the blue background, which is surrounded by a black vignette. Furthermore, the music (low-pitched, long notes of violins) also fades in with it, getting louder as the text becomes more visible centre screen and then fades to complete silence again, when the text also fades away, leaving an almost black screen with just a hint of blue in the centre.
– 5 seconds later the production company fades in, increasing in size as more blue engulfs the background, resulting, again, in a slight black vignette. However, this time, the music is more deafening and uncomfortable to listen too, with different pitches of string sounds which do not complement each other. The text stays readable for approximately three seconds, before fading slowly out again along with the volume of the music.
– ‘Mel Gibson’ and ‘Joaquin Phoenix’ then fade in, centre screen, one after the other. In a slightly larger font, which makes it clear that the company are using star names to influence their audience.
– A split second after the black screen emerges again, the whole screen suddenly turns completely blue, and then slowly creates a black vignette. The black then moves closer and closer into the centre of the screen, causing the blue background to take the form of a shrinking circle, until the whole screen is black again. The title of the film: “Signs” fades on very quickly compared to the other opening credits. It’s a larger font and is much bolder and more prominent on the screen, making it the audience’s main focus. As all of this occurs the music suddenly climaxes into an array of different string sounds, with short note lengths, giving it a sense of urgency or alternatively it could represent the plot of the film where something very significant happens causing normality to never return.
– After the sudden change of the music pace, the fades of the titles in and out are a lot more abrupt. After 30 seconds in, four names of actors/ actresses who feature in the film are displayed. They all fade in and out of the centre screen, in a very uniformed way, being all the same size and type of font. This gives us the impression that possibly no character is more important; they all have equal impact on the plot.
– At 44 seconds, the ‘casting’ is shown to be by ‘Douglas Aibel’, whose name is a bigger size than the job title, therefore we assume they are focusing more on the status of the names involved in the production and not the film as a whole. As his name appears the music increases in volume, pitch and pace and then suddenly fades out, as his name also disappears from the screen.
– The music and the pace of how quickly the titles appear then return to a slow rhythm, indicating an ambiance of calamity or perhaps the idea that whatever caused the dramatic peak in the film has been dealt with and controlled. However this doesn’t last for more than 6 seconds, during only the ‘music by’ opening credits. As after that there is a sudden explosion of noise.
– 1 minute in and the visual effects supervisors fade in, again focusing on star appeal, as the names of the people are bigger and more obvious to the audience, which means that the audience are more likely to watch it if they recognise names of people who were involved. The theme of the circle-shaped blue background and black vignette is still notably used. During the next few titles more musical instruments are incorporated into the soundscape, such as trumpets and pianos.
– The final title to fade in slowly is the ‘costume designer’: “Ann Roth”.
– After that, each title fades in brusquely, along with a sudden harsh intensity of the music, which climaxes as the name appears and then suddenly fades out along with the text.
– Four titles appear one after the other: “edited by”, “production designer”, “director of photography” and “executive producer” using the same theme as before with the blue background and black screen outline.
– The size of the font increases massively with the final two opening titles, as they are the most important. The names of who produced it fades in first: “Frank Marshall” and “Sam Mercer” and then finally the overall producer, director and writer: “M. Night Shyamalan”. This concluding opening credit, stays on the screen for a longer amount of time and then coincides with the music’s sudden stop and doesn’t fade back out again, like the other titles, but cuts to a black screen, closing the opening titles on a sense of anticipation and apprehension. This completely precipitous stop in the titles, picture and music could perhaps mirror the histrionic ending to the film.
The only aspect of ‘Signs’ opening credits I will use, is the consistency and continual use of the same font, however I will use a different one for the title in order to show how deciding to take drugs can lead you to an abnormal life.
Overall, my storyboarding, scripting, planning and shooting went as I had hoped. The storyboarding was difficult to begin with as coming up with an innovative, unique idea was very hard and due to my initial idea being hard to film, because it did not looking realistic enough, I then had to redo my ending and re-stroyboard it. This took up a lot of my time when I perhaps should have been filming, so I had to be very organised and keep my actors up-to-date with days I needed them- luckily I did not miss a deadline! To begin with I decided on not using any dialogue as from my primary questionnaire and my own thoughts, dialogue can sometimes take away from the buildup of tension, but after the 3rd edit, my audience commented on how Eddies character was not clear- therefore dialogue was necessary. So I added in dialogue for Eddie which was: “You were right. He couldn’t handle it!” and then a close up of the evils guys mouth saying: “let the plan commence” in order to make the storyline clearer. I was very prepared in terms of planning my thriller sequence, as you can see further up in my blog I made sure I contacted all the actors and asked them about dates way before the day to ensure they were free. Moreover I told them which costumes they needed and luckily they had the perfect clothes for each of their characters. The filming was the most tricky to organise, due to my setting being outside therefore I had to move my filming dates a numerous of times because of rain and even snow, to keep it continual throughout. There is a change in weather slightly as Harry runs through the gate and comes out the other side, which I had wanted to change but would of had to miss a deadline to re-film it. However, other than that, I ensured to use lots of interesting shots and good framing throughout.