Western Film is a genre that revolves around most stories mostly based in the late 19th century in the American old west. Most westerns are set between the American civil war and the early 1900’s. Western is one of the oldest genres and most flexible genres compared to others.
Key Codes of western:
Props: Guns such as a single shot revolver or an 8 shot magnum. Colts are also usually used.
Animals are used. Usually a male stallion horse or stock horse. They would usually have a whip or whips that the person on the stallion would use. Other props would be a sheriff’s badge and a Stetson hat.
Characters: Strong silent hero- Often has a near death experience. All the cowboys dressed the same and on horses.
A stranger that happens to play a large part in some part of the film- might die as a key event in the film.
Young good looking girl- Gets a lot of attention from the guys.
Sheriff. A wealthy farmer/ landowner that’s usually rich and evil.
Evil gunslinger and the good guys that wear black.
Setting: Usually set in the mid-west of America and will usually be in a remote town. The town is usually small, quite lonely and not welcoming. The set usually looks like it’s in the middle of a desert with sand and cacti etc. Buildings are usually timber board houses with swinging doors and there are outdoor building’s where the horses are kept.
Narrative: The storyline is usually about a hero who comes to town to drive the villains out. The hero usually is quiet and secretive but then suddenly makes an impact in the film. Usually there is a big shooting event taking place towards the end of the film that is the main part of the entire film. Everyone expects it and is usually the same throughout any western film.
The birds eye view: A shot from high above looking down on the set. Makes the audience think that there looking down on them; they have power. Usually shot from directly above- could be from a plane etc.
Long shot: A shot from quite far away. Usually has the person and some of the background in the shot or a group of people together.
Medium shot: Contains a person from knee level and above, to show some detail of action but not all of it.
Close up: Shows very little background, usually focusing on a face. The audience then focus on that person and not the setting around them.
Pans: Movement that moves horizontally. The camera is placed on a tripod so then it’s a better quality pan.
Tilts: It scans vertically- up or down.
Jump cuts- Where it jumps from one scene to the next- quite unexpected
Flashbacks- Where it shows flashbacks from previously in the film. It reminds the audience of the key events
3 key westerns made in last 50 years:
1. Once upon a time in the west.
2. The wild bunch
3. The searchers
2 westerns in the last 5 years: how were they received?
1. Bone Tomahawk- This was received well by all viewers and had a popularity of the film at nearly 100%. These were mostly films in America though.
2. The ridiculous 6- Compared to Bone Tomahawk, this was less popular and not well received. The averaged popularity of the people who watched the film was only 40%, meaning it did not go down well with 60% of the viewers. This shows that in recent years a western film needs to be fantastic to do well as we have many other genres nowadays.
The best 3 western actors of all time: John Wayne: He acted in the film searchers. He won one Oscar and won 24 other titles. He was nominated for the Oscars 17 times. He passed away in 1979, aged 72.
Clint Eastwood: Icon on macho movies and a living legend to most people around the world.
Randolph Scott: One of Hollywood’s greatest and well known western actor of all time.
3 Iconic western directors:
Anthony Mann:Anthony Mann was an American actor and film director, most notably of films noir and Westerns. As a director, he often collaborated with John Alton and with actor James Stewart in his Westerns.
Budd Boetticher: Brilliant American director. Mostly did westerns, simple but complex at the same time.
Sam Peckinpah:David Samuel Peckinpah was an American film director and screenwriter who achieved prominence following the release of the Western epic The Wild Bunch. He was known for the explicit depiction of action and violence.
Why do westerns appeal to audiences? Give 3 reasons.
I think that western films appeal to audiences currently and they always have for many year. I think this because they are always fantastic to watch which attracts most audiences. Also the western genre was one of the most popular type of book to read a few years ago meaning people will watch them. This meant that when western films were brought out people immediately wanted to see them as they you get different feelings or thoughts watching a film rather ran reading a book.. Over time, I feel that they have improved the films by adding more action and suspense, meaning the audience see something more interesting and are hooked into it.
Why did the genre fall out of favour?
All of the western films are very similar. This is the main reason why the genre has declined over the years. Other genres are the same, but they change small things to keep the audience wanting to watch more. However most westerns are always in America and the setting stays the same. This is my opinion on why westerns have declined. In addition to this, due to new technology, I feel most people like to see futuristic films rather than western’s if they had a choice.
However, recently it has come back and became popular once again. I feel one reason is that there are many well known actors that act in all genres. For example, Leonardo De Caprio. Everyone loves his acting and because of the influence he has had people will watch any film if he is starring in it. Another reason is that new technology is here compared to before and its developing rapidly. Because of the access to this, they can now add things such as special effects and VI type parts so that the audience is seeing something new compared to the typical Western’s.
Lead to the tracks
Western film plot.
Title: Lead to the tracks
Four actors: One protagonist, one antagonist, a hostage and a dead person.
5 minutes long roughly- western opening scene.
Set in the fields of Brize Norton.
On the top of the hill.
At the old train track from many years ago.
- Protagonist looking out across the hill and fields- showing the view.
- The protagonist looks down the hill to see the antagonist and the bottom near the tracks looking up at him.
- The antagonist turns around and lifts up the hostage.
- The protagonist needs to save the hostage, so he starts walking down the hill towards the tracks.
- The antagonist moves backwards with the hostage and disappears into the track area. The protagonist goes to find them at the bottom of the hill.
- Dead person lead on the tracks, scares the protagonist as the spots the other two staring at him from a distance and the other end of the track.
- The protagonist says “let her go, or else”.
- Hostage hits antagonist in the face with their elbow and he falls to the ground. The other two try and run away but only get to cover behind a nearby tree.
- Antagonist gets up and shoots hostage in foot- falls to the ground.
- The other two have a shoot off, both firing shots all over the place. Antagonist gets shot in the chest and falls to the floor
- Protagonist walks over his body and shoots him again.
Different camera shots:
Extreme close up
Wide angle shot
Low angle shot
High angle shot
Over the shoulder shot
Point of view shot
Filming on friday 30th- afterschool until sunset
The hostage (Alice)
There are no speaking lines in this role as the only line in the film is the protagonist (Joe). It is basically a silent film so it fits in with the western theme and based on natural noises and not speaking.
Firstly, you’re not in the opening shot, as you’re the hostage the antagonist has you hidden in the track area when the other two are looking at each other across the field.
First appear when the antagonist drags/picks you up from the tracks and shows you to the protagonist.
You and antagonist (Ollie) will go back into the tracks as the protagonist walks down towards you.
In the track area, you elbow Ollie in the face and run away with Joe, but you get shot in the leg running away- you stay led there for the time the other two are having the battle.
Starts at the bottom of the hill looking up towards Joe.
You pick up the hostage and move her in front of you to show the protagonist.
The protagonist sees the hostage and walks towards you- you move back into the track area with the hostage.
Gets elbow in face but shoots hostage leg after
Has gun war with antagonist but gets shot in chest
Falls to floor, and Joe walks over you and shoots you in the head.
Starts walking over to the top of the hill, and sees antagonist at the bottom of the hill.
Sees the hostage so starts heading towards the tracks.
Both meet at the track and says “let the hostage go”
You run away with the hostage trying to get away from antagonist.
Hostage gets shot in the leg so you move her to the side. In anger, you get your gun out and start shooting at himfb
You shoot him in chest
Stand over him, shoot him in the head- end of scene
Walking round up the hill as a civilian- in the background.
Health and safety information
Filming in a public field but away from most people. In Fields in brize Norton. We will put up a sign at the start and end of the field saying that we will be filming for a period of time.
All getting the bus to Brize home from school, so make sure seatbelts are on etc.
Equipment is staying at my house, so will have to keep it all safe
Every actor is either 16 or 17 meaning we don’t have to worry about using actors that are younger than us.
I will make sure that all equipment is carried safely to the fields, and that we do not look suspicious moving equipment in public and near the roads.
Reflection on my Western film- Lead To The Tracks
My role in the planning was a joint effort between me and Lewis as we were working together on this project. We both decided on filming in Brize Norton as we both live there and it’s a quiet area, meaning it would be quite easy to film in the location we chose. The strengths we had with the planning was we knew exactly how we wanted to film it. Also, the actors we chose all lived close by meaning it was easy for them to get to Brize and film with us. The weaknesses we had with planning is that we weren’t very specific on what we wrote down to do and ended up changing a few scenes when it came to filming.
My main role in filming was to make sure everyone was in the correct positions and they all knew what to say and do for each scene. Lewis mainly did the filming, but I also did a few scenes such as the panning shot and the tilt shot. The strengths of our group was that we stuck to a specific deadline so we had to get everything done. However, our weakness as a group was that there was too much messing about and re-shots of scenes meaning that we didn’t get every single shot we originally would’ve liked. In addition to this, not everyone took is seriously and was difficult to get a perfect scene. However, we did manage to get enough footage in the time that we had to work with in editing.
Both me and Lewis did an equal amount of work in editing. We both decided on what effects to get and which music to choose in the background. We both decided we needed to cut the sound is most clips due to people not saying what they were supposed to say. Our strengths were that we got editing done quite quickly, meaning we could focus on making sure all the affects worked well and if any small changes needed to be made. Our only weakness was that we haven’t had much experience with final cut pro, but the we use it the easier it gets to remember how everything works. Overall, i am proud that after editing the short clip has turned out better than originally expected. I also enjoyed the filming itself.
The thing i would change is choosing actors more carefully. As i learnt using your friends may not always be the best idea! In addition to this, we shot lots of small separate shots which means that when we put them together they were quite jumpy. We need to film a few separate short scenes in one to make the quality much better. I have learnt that we need a lot more planning to get a longer film, and that things need to her organised as early as possible so then i have longer to edit before the deadline.