Ollie’s AS Work : Practice Project

Western Genre Research

What is a western film?

. Western is a genre which revolves around stories primarily set in the late 19th century in the old western America. A large amount of westerns are set between the American civil war (1865) and the early 1900’s.

Western films props

.  In western films stock horses are the most commonly  used as a form of transport. Typically they would use weapons such as revolvers and colts. Some of the most well known are: Ruger Vaquero and the 1862 navy Pistol.


Western film characters

. sheriff

. Hero

. Sidekick

. Gunslinger

. Outlaws

. Indian

. Bartender

. Lady

Western film setting 

Westerns typically take place on open landscapes of mountain ranges with harsh terrains. Typically will see homesteads. The small towns often include a main street which will have the main business and services on it, such as a jail, stable and saloons.

Western narratives

. a typical western narrative consists of, a hero who rides on a horse and faces off a villain in a shootout, normally to save the lady from the villain. The sheriff normally is involve in the shootout normally and the villain is killed. The hero then rides off into the sunset with the lady.

Western Character Techniques

. The bird eye view

. High angle

. Eye level

. Low angle

. Oblique/ canted angle

. Dolly shots

. Tilts

. Hand-held shots

. Aerial shot

. Tracking shots

. Close ups


Western editing technique

 . Ellipsis (Linguistics)

. Eyeline match

. Fill light

. Flashback

. Flash forward

. intertitle

. Iris in/out

. Jump cut

. Mise en scéne

3 Westerns in the last 50 years

. Unforgiven

. Butch Cassidy and the sun dance kids

. The good the bad and the ugly

2 Westerns in the past 5 years

.  The Duel –

. Traded

. Outlaws and Angels

3 Iconic Western Actors

. John Wayne –  famous for his accent and the way that he spoke

. Clint Eastwood – Known for being tough

. Gary Cooper – Know for his natural acting style

3 Iconic Western Producers/Directors

. Anthony Mann – directed a famous western film called “El Cid”

. John Ford – directed Stagecoach

. Clint Eastwood – Directed and starred in may westerns.

Why do westerns appeal to audiences?

. Westerns made for a good story, the black vs white in many of them was very appealing. They were a staple Hollywood since back in the silent days. They were cheap to make simply because the sets were built if you wanted a new western all you would have to do is repaint the scenery.

. As America was urbanizing and industrializing rapidly, we were leaving behind our individualism for a new cultural identity. This caused a skyrocket in country music and western films.

. Westerns were also appealing as it had the best read genre and mysteries didn’t start to catch up until after WW1.


Why did the genre fall out of favor ?

. Its not so much that the genre has declined; it more a case of a public which seems hesitant to buy into the “Cowboy” image as if the one thing which is uniquely American in its origin is no longer a source of pride. To make a good western also requires a lot more than green screens and computer generated graphics and it is becoming more and more expensive to fund and produce a western film of high quality.

Resurgence in recent years of Western films

I believe Westerns have had a resurgence in recent years as views are missing the originality and thrilling nature of a western film. With and increasingly industrializing society people need an escape from it and to be able to revert back to the native era in the untouched landscapes and only natural ways of living and travelling.

Western Storyboards

Health and safety summary 

Hazard Risk Safety Measure
Filming from the bridge Camera falling over the side onto somebody. Making sure that someone is next to the camera at all times.
Filming near the road Tri-pod being blown over if a large vehicle drives past. Make sure that someone is holding onto the tri-pod while it is near the road.
Wet/slippery ground. Risk of slipping over. Not running & taking care while walking around the wet/slippery areas of the ground.
People walking near to the road. Being hit by a car. Keeping on the pavement.
Tree roots on the ground Tripping over had injuring yourself Being careful when walking around
Sharp objects left on the ground Cutting yourself Look out for these objects and if you see them put them into a bin
Bricks on the ground from the fire pit Tripping over and injuring yourself Making sure not to walk through/over the old fire pit.

Reflection On Your Western

My role was to draw up and add the camera angles into the storyboard. I also organised the actors for a set day in a specific location. The strength of the group was that everyone worked well as a team and co operated, listening to each others ideas and trying to integrate them into our production if they were valid ideas which could improve our Western. Our weaknesses were the planning for the actual filming of the Western as actors dropped out the day before, this meant we had to change the location of the film and had to be organised in a rush towards the end, meaning the standard of our film was not as high as it should’ve been.


When filming my role was to direct the actors and make sure they knew exactly what they were doing and felt comfortable doing so. Joe and I both assisted each other when setting up the tripod to get the still shots and the close ups. The strengths of our group was that Joe and I both helped each other when filming and if one of us was filming the other would set up the tripod or the area in which we would be filming the following scene. Again the weakness of our group was that it felt rushed and like we had to improvise and get the shots done as quickly as possible, although we had the plans and the story boards to help they were set in a different location until the actors all dropped out the night before.


My role when editing was to trim the clips down to the correct size, add a filter onto the clips so that the film looked older and the location appeared more baron, like a typical western setting. I also added sound effects and some special affects to the shooting scene when I added a muzzle flash. Finally, I added some natural noises such as trees rustling and birds tweeting. This noise was constant to add anticipation to the film for the viewer.


I am proud that we managed to produce a film in such a short amount of time also that we managed to organise the actors in such a short space if time.


If I could change anything I would find a different location which resembles a typical western film and get the actors suitable costumes, so the role they are playing is believable and fits in with the setting and genre of the film.


I have learnt the you cannot rely on actors to show up and you must make sure you have backup actors on standby in case any actors drop out. I have also learnt that it is essential to have a backup location in which I can still film my Western to a good standard, if the other location suddenly becomes unusable.

Thriller Genre Research

What is a thriller?

A thriller is a film which revolves around anticipation and suspense. The overall aim of the film is to keep the audience alert and on the edge of their seats. The protagonist in this genre of film is usually faced with a mission or an escape. Thrillers usually have many subgenres such as, Action Thriller, Conspiracy Thriller and Crime Thriller.


Key codes and conventions

The setting in a Thriller is very important and is almost like another character> Typically they are very extreme cases of nature where thrillers are set. For example Transformers was set in the desert, 2012 was set on land to begin with then as the film progressed the land slid into the ocean and earthquakes caused building and most standing building to crumble and the world to almost fall apart.


The characters in a thriller usually consist of: The Hero, The Villain, The Donor, The Helper, The Princess, Princesses Father, The Dispatcher and The False Hero. Typically the dispatcher will block the Hero’s path to success, the Princesses Father rewards the Hero, usually the Princess would be the Hero’s reward finally the Donor normally provides something to help the Hero and the Helper actually helps the Hero.


Within Thrillers mirrors are used to portray the person’s soul and inner self, they can also foreshadow darkness within certain characters expressing inside emotions they may not actually want to reveal. This is shown in ‘The Black Swan” when Nina shows fear as her dark soul is staring at her with piercing eyes from within the mirror.


Lighting such as ‘Low Key Lighting” created by the use of aback light is mainly used in Thriller films to represent a dark atmosphere which can typically be seen as scary or mysterious and adds dramatic effect as lighting reflects onto the characters and the atmosphere. An example of successful lighting is used in the shadows in the Thriller “Nosferatu”.


The use of sound within the Thriller genre is a very important element. This is because different musical genres within a film can produce different moods which effect the audience in different ways. For example, when Alfred Hitchcock produced “Psycho”, the music used is high pitched, this adds suspense and tension to the film. However, more action Thriller films use loud and jumpy fast paced music, this makes the audience feel excited and emphasises the fast pace of the film.


Thriller films also use a wide variety of varying camera angles, which show different facial expressions and body language. By using a wide variety of camera angles it helps to capture every single emotion which is within the film. This makes the audience feel like they are there with the characters throughout the duration of the film.


The narratives in Thrillers usually consist of someone being kidnapped, murdered or something which causes a negative effect which would then case the protagonist to tale on the mission for example to save the person who has been kidnapped.


The Props generally used in many Thriller films consist of weapons such as guns, explosives, knives etc. These contribute to adding suspense and a lot of tension in a thriller film, especially in particular scenes. The use of weapons can establish to an audience who is the Antagonist or Protagonist, depending on the narrative. Many other props within a thriller film uses aspects from other thriller films such as the shiny knife, the white shower curtain, the dripping bathroom/kitchen tap and blood. Thriller films such as ‘ Psycho’, ‘ The Stepfather’ and ‘ What Lies Beneath’ borrow aspects of proms from each other, this is likely because they are all thriller films so share the same sort of backstory or storyline.


3 Iconic Thriller Actors

Neve Campbell, is a Canadian actress. She is best known for her role as Sidney Prescott in the horror film series Scream. She got her start appearing in the Canadian television series Catwalk, before she played Julia Salinger in the American drama series Party of Five.



Matthew Lillard, was cast as Shaggy Rogers in the 2002 live action Scooby-Doo film, a role he later reprised in the 2004 sequel Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. When Casey Kasem, who had voiced the character from the show’s debut in 1969, retired due to declining health in 2009, Lillard was chosen as his replacement and voiced Shaggy in the two subsequent animated series, Mystery Incorporated and Be Cool Scooby-Doo!



Rose McGowan, made her film debut in the 1992 comedy Encino Man, where she played a small role. Her performance as Amy Blue in the 1995 dark comedy film The Doom Generation brought her wider attention, and received an Independent Spirit Award nomination. McGowan then appeared in the 1996 hit horror film Scream and starred alongside Ben Affleck in the 1997 coming-of-age feature Going All the Way.




3 Iconic Producers/Directors

Alfred Hitchcock, Filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock was nicknamed the “Master of Suspense” for employing a kind of psychological suspense in his films, producing a distinct viewer experience Hitchcock directed more than fifty feature films in a career spanning six decades and is often regarded as the greatest British filmmaker.[13] He came first in a 2007 poll of film critics in Britain’s Daily Telegraph, which said: “Unquestionably the greatest filmmaker to emerge from these islands, Hitchcock did more than any director to shape modern cinema, which would be utterly different without him.



Christopher Nolan, Having made his directorial debut with Following (1998), Nolan gained considerable attention for his second feature, Memento (2000). The acclaim of these independent films gave Nolan the opportunity to make the big-budget thriller Insomnia (2002), and the mystery drama The Prestige (2006). He found further popular and critical success with the  Dark Knight Trilogy (2005–2012), Inception (2010) and Interstellar (2014). His nine films have grossed over US$4.2 billion worldwide and garnered a total of 26 Oscar nominations and seven awards



Brian De Palma, Brian Russell De Palma is an American film director and screenwriter. He is considered part of the New Hollywood wave of filmmaking. In a career spanning over 40 years, he is best known for his suspense, psychological thriller and crime films. In a career spanning over 40 years, he is best known for his suspense, psychological thriller and crime films. He directed successful and popular films such as the supernatural horror Carrie, the erotic crime thriller Dressed to Kill, the thriller Blow Out, the crime dramas Scarface, The Untouchables and Carlito’s Way, and the action spy film Mission: Impossible.




Why do Thrillers Appeal?


Action Thrillers

This type of thriller would appeal to a younger audience compared to the other sub-genres. This is because it involves a lot more guns, car chases and explosions and doesn’t require much thought. It usually attracts a male more than a female audience because of these conventions. However, occasionally females take on the heroic role in films like Tomb Raider and Charlies Angels which attracts a female audience but at the same time would attract a male audience because the heroines are attractive. Examples of action thrillers would be some James Bond films and The Bourne Series.


Horror Thrillers

An older audience would be more likely to attract a wide older audience (ranging from teenagers to adults) because there are usually high certificates (15, 18) and are very violent and disturbing. However, because of this limit on age it could cause the younger audience to want to go and see the film even more. It would appeal to both a male and female audience as you often see couples going into the cinema – usually a scenario where the female is scared and the male will comfort her. Although there is a wide age range, you have to be a certain type of person to be able to watch horror films. For example, a person with a weak stomach for violence and is easily scared wouldn’t enjoy a horror thriller. Examples of horror thrillers include Jaws, Psycho, Alien and The Exorcist.



Crime Thrillers

This sub-genre of thriller is a combination of both crime films and thrillers which explore successful or failed crimes. They usually emphasize on the criminals rather than the policemen. They usually focus more on action over psychological aspects. Topics include serial killers, murderers, robberies, chases, shootouts and heists. Because crime thrillers tend to be similar to action thrillers they attract a similar audience – more of a younger male audience. Examples of crime thrillers include Se7en, Silence of the Lambs, Ocean’s 11 and Reservoir Dogs.


to portray the reflections of a soul and their inner self. Mirrors can also foreshadow the darkness within certain characters expressing inside emotions they may not want to


Burford School Media Arts