Shay’s AS Work : Main Task : Research & Planning


Initial Draft of R&P

This video is a short film about The drug trade flowing through China to expats students through the teachers and students at schools, as the ambassador slowly cracks down on this drug trade they make the huge arrest of drug kingpin Andrew Cartiole through witness accounts by the Ambassador himself and his son. Andrew’s about to turn state’s evidence on the big boss and the supplier of the drugs into the city when the ambassador recieves a call. The story follows the ambassador’s journey of dilemma and peril as he is stuck between trying to get his son back and continuing his crusade on drugs and finding the supplier of one of the largest drug busts of all time. He knows he needs to find Andrew’s boss but at the expense of his own son?


-What is a Thriller?

• Thrillers are films that ‘thrills’ the audience within the films plot. Thrillers are defined by the moods they elicit, giving viewers heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety. A thriller Film revolves around anticipation and suspense. The aim for Thrillers is to keep the audience alert and on the edge of their seats. The main protagonist in these films is set against a problem – an escape, a mission, or a mystery.

What are the key codes and conventions of a thriller?


• Criminals and Convicts eg. Wentworth Miller Prison Break

• Stalkers eg. ‘One hour photo’ directed by Mark Romanek

• Assassins eg. John Wick

• Down-on-their-luck losers eg. Jonah Hill in any movie

• Innocent victims inexplicably framed(often on the run) eg. The October Men

• Menaced women eg. Gone Girl

• Characters with dark pasts eg. Silence of the Lambs

• Psychotic individuals eg. The Shining

• Terrorists eg. Hans Gruber ‘Die hard’

• And obviously the protagonist with a perfect catchphrase who often gets the ‘girl’ at the end of the film


• The Props conventionally used within a majority of Thriller films regularly consists of weapons. The weapons consists of guns, bombs , knives etc… Said weapons contribute heavily to the thriller by adding suspense and a large amount of tension in a thriller film. The use of weapons can also help the director establish to the audience who is the Antagonist or Protagonist of the narrative.

Editing techniques

Thrillers rely heavily upon editing as much of the film is an action sequence usually defying the laws of physics. This means that it requires a lot of good special effects and good editing. These editing techniques include Jump cuts to create fast paced action and to build tension, Quick shots used a majority of the time to reiterate the feelings of tension, suspense and anxiety, Cross cutting as it builds suspense and tension, Flashbacks as they create tension as it leave the audience in either confusion or leaves them more intrigued as to the significance. Flashbacks also provide a window of knowledge into the characters background and past.


•The stereotypical setting of your everyday thriller is usually set in the booming metropolis or the urban landscape. The colors of the setting will be those that represent either loneliness, isolation or death as these are the typical motives in thriller opening, we will see an abundance of greyscale and darker colors. However Thrillers can also be set in quiet country villages, where often the villain will come from a desolate poor village with a backstory that will tug at the heartstrings and would be seeking vengeance on the world for their misfortunes.


•The stereo typical narrative of  thriller often follows the protagonist on his journey or quest for either vengeance, justice or something else noble the hero has to overcome. Having this perspective allows the audience to empathize with the character and connect with them as they feel as they are there with them on their journey as they feel more involved in the outcome of  the film. Subsequently there will always be some form of dramatic irony where the protagonist is unaware of the evil plot and the audience already knows the antagonists plans thus building tension. The longer you leave the audience with the burden of the plan the longer the suspense. Also when the protagonist is inexplicably captured the antagonist will reveal his evil plan before he kills the protagonist only to have the protagonist miraculously saved by either a seemingly small character or some new fangled technology with crazy new uses (see any James Bond film. Ever.)

Camera Techniques

•The camera shots can vary significantly between thrillers, they can be steady or move frequently all depending on the type of thriller and the directors ideas.

Close up’s in Thrillers are used to gauge reactions of the actor/actresses through focus on their face. Close ups usually help gauge the true emotion of the characters and it’s also used to capture detail in an important scene.

Tracking and panning shots  connotate movement. They are used very effectively when the are used ins scenes where the actors are being followed or stalked etc. They can also be used to establish a scene and let the audience get the full scope of the setting.

Tilted shots add a lot of dramatic tension and suspense to scenes, It’s also an easy way of getting a different shot of a different perspective of the scene for the audience to see.  Another great use for a tilt shot is to act as though the camera is a victim on the floor, and you are seeing what they are seeing from their point of view.

Long shots or extreme long shots are a great way to establish a scene and to open a movie. These shots can put the setting into perspective and can be used to create suspense or easiness depending on how the director wants it.

Low angle shots are very useful because they will emphasize just what the director wants rom a scene whether it is power to the character or weakness as a victim.

Hand held is use very often in horror/thriller films to add a sense of reality. It makes the audience feel involved and adds to the horror of the scene as you feel like you are there.

Point of view shots are taken from the point of view of the character. This is when the audience is able to see the film from the perspective of a single character.

Over shoulder is one of the best shots to build tension. This is used a lot in horrors and thrillers to add suspense, and is used especially around mirrors and reflections so the audience can see what’s happening as soon as the character does.

Key Thrillers

• Dark Knight Rises (2012)

• Shutter Island (2011)

• Gone Girl (2014)

• Jason Bourne (2016)

• Nightcrawler (2014)

• Argo (2013)

• Don’t breathe (2016)

• Bridge of spies (2015)

• The town (2011)

• Gravity (2013)

Tom Cruise

In my opinion Tom Cruise is one of the best actors of his generation,  he is so versatile and he can play so many roles, and has been doing so for such a long time. which is why his thrillers set him apart from the rest of the actors in the thriller industry.

> Magnolia

> Jerry Maguire

> A Few Good Men

> Risky Business

> Minority Report

> Mission Impossible 1, 3, & 4

> The Last Samurai

> Collateral

> Top Gun

> Jack Reacher

> Rain Man

> Eyes Wide Shut

Bruce Willis

in my opinion Bruce Willis is a good a great thriller actor because his combination of comedy, drama and action. He is believable. He seems like he could be a real person in all of his movies and in my opinion that’s what acting is. Hes not particularly engaging or captivating with a wide range of skills, but he is genuine and that’s important in selling a thriller film.

Matt Damon

Matt Damon in my opinion is a good thriller actor because of his versatility again and the fact he plays believable, relate able characters in all of his movies. He always shows great depth to his characters drawing the viewers in to the movie and that’s exactly what thrillers need to be successful.

Brian De Palma

Brian De Palma, is an American film director and screenwriter and is considered part of the New Hollywood wave of filmmaking. his career has spanned over 40 years, he is best known for his suspense, psychological thriller and crime films. He directed successful and popular films such as the crime dramas “Scar face”, The Untouchables, Carlito’s Way and the action spy film Mission Impossible.

Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock, was nicknamed the “Master of Suspense” for using a kind of psychological suspense in his films. This produced a distinct viewer experience and revolutionized the genre. Hitchcock directed more than fifty feature films in a career spanning six decades and is often regarded as the greatest British filmmaker “Unquestionably the greatest filmmaker to emerge from these islands”, Hitchcock revolutionized not only the thriller genre but shaped the movie industry into what it is today.

Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolanmade his first movie in 1998 with ‘Following ‘, but it was not until his second film ‘Memento’ in 2000 when he really broke into the industry. The publicity he received from these independent films gave Nolan the opportunity to make more the big-budget thrillers such as Insomnia in 2002, and the mystery drama The Prestige in 2006. This is where Nolan really took off,Nolan found success with the  Dark Knight Trilogy in 2005–2012, Inception in 2010 and Interstellar in 2014. In total his nine films have grossed over US$4.2 billion worldwide.

Why do thrillers appeal to audiences?

Thrillers tend to appeal to audiences as they seem to ‘reach close to home’ and be believable and relate able to the audience. this is also because thrillers have many sub genres.  The suspense of thrillers keeps the audience captivated and they enjoy buying into each plot they go and watch not to mention audiences enjoy predicting the plot.

Action Thrillers

Action thrillers tend to appeal to the younger audiences compared to many of the other sub-genres. This is due to the fact that it involves far more guns, explosions and car chases and to be completely honest, does not require much thought in and throughout the film. Action thrillers tend to attract a male audience more than it does for a female audience because of the aforementioned conventions. Despite this, occasionally females challenge the conventions and take on the role of the protagonist in films such as Charlie’s angels and Tomb Raider which tends to attract a female audience; but also stay mutually beneficial as it would also attract males as well. Examples of action thrillers would be some James Bond films, Mission Impossible series and The Bourne Series.

Horror Thrillers

Horror Thrillers tend to draw an audience which tends to be older not only because of the plots and goriness(ranging from teenagers to adults) but also because there are usually higher certificates on horror thrillers (15, 18) and they tend to be very violent and disturbing which isn’t for everybody. However, we need to consider that sometimes, because of the age restrictions it could cause the younger audience to want to go and see the film even more(e.g. Deadpool) . Horror thrillers tend to appeal to both a male and female audience and although there is a wide variety of age groups watching horror thrillers, the target audience isn’t as big. Examples of horror thrillers include Jaws, Psycho, Alien and The Excorsist.

Psychological and Mystery Thrillers

Psychological thrillers tends to tackle the conflict between the characters in the film and their mental and emotional issues rather than physical issues which can be solved with guns and explosions. Because there wouldn’t be explosions and jump scares they tend to attract perhaps a larger female audience slightly more than a male audience. Psychological thrillers also tend to need a bit of forethought and a lot of thinking to keep up not only with the story but with the characters and Therefore would attract an older, more intelligent audience because if the audience were not able to work it out, they might find it boring. Examples of psychological thrillers include Shutter island, Phone Booth, Blue Velvet and Suspicion.

Crime Thrillers

Crime thrillers are a combination of both films about crime and thrillers which delve into successful or failed crimes.the narrative usually follow the antagonist or the criminal rather than the police and as a result are usually more focused on physical aspects rather than psycological 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.

Hannahmellows. “Thriller Audiences.” Media Studies. N.p., 01 Jan. 2011. Web. 12 Oct. 2016.

Enemy of the state

The movie opens with the production credits and titles shown on a black screen with a strange font in all caps. The font is in blocked letters with weird symbols resembling ancient Greek or Latin, with some slow, quiet music in the background The sound is of a string instrument playing a solo accompanied by a drum beat resembling a heartbeat. Much like the sound in the opening of Ronin. This could have the connotation of a powerful shadow society or an all-powerful god like power we are about to meet in the following scene (resembling Greek gods). The music then fades out as an establishing shot of a lake front is shown and a carr pulls into the landscape. The words “Occuquan Park, Maryland 0645 hrs” appear on over the shot also in all caps as if to symbolise the boldness of the scene and the situation and the fact it is in military code could be a connotation of danger but  could also however mean security the connotations are unsettled as we as the audience are unsure at this point of the opening scene and are left in complete suspense and without any reference. We also hear a typing sound effect as the words appear onto the screen which could suggest the importance of this moment and the confidentiality of it as it disappears just as quickly or could be a connotation of the darkness and secrecy. There is a medium shot of two characters who appear insignificant who are placed around the area, one stood and one sat on a bench, what makes us as an audience weary of them is the fact they are wearing suits with ties suggesting to us that they are either of official capacity or they are at a job. The man wearing a red scarf could be making a bold fashion choice or it could be foreshadowing death to come. We are also weary as they have earpieces in suggesting this may be a coordinated/planned event and they could be security. The man standing is centre frame the entire shot suggesting his importance in this scene and as he warms his hands on his breath he looks towards the camera which could suggest he is weary of all thigs and is very aware.

There is diegetic sound is the car door slamming shut and the dog whimpering and barking, as the older character gets out of his car with his dog. The fact that this old man is the first person to speak in this scene suggests maybe he is very opinionated and that he isn’t afraid of saying what he wants. There is a long shot from behind as he gets out of the car and lets his dog out, showing him in his current surroundings and setting the scene. We then cut to a close up of him before he throws the tennis ball and the dog chases it before cutting back to a long shot. This all happens with him speaking as the only sound other than the barking.

As the ball is thrown we then see a close up of another character in the other car, who is dressed in black in a black car holding a black phone , which seems to suggest that he is not a good character. He has his hair slicked back, the conveying to us a very formal, very professional character like very powerful. Also, the car frame engulfs half of his face in the shadows, adding to the anonymity of the character. The director uses colour to establish mise en scene with the characters as he uses brighter colours with the old man and the dog, and darker colours for the two security guards and the man in the car. As the window comes down and he looks up and raises his finger we cut to a close up of the old man who says “goddammit” suggesting his dismay at the presence of the man in dark clothes. There is no music or ambient noise at the moment just the conversation of the man on the phone as background noise. The old man walks towards the car as we cut to a long shot as he again exclaims his dismay by telling him he doesn’t want to see him there. The man in Dark clothes opens the door regardless and says “5 minutes” and opens the door. The Old man’s dialogue is angry- other man sounds more calm, suggesting a power dynamic When he does this it shows his power and authority but also the fact that he cannot take no for an answer. As he gets out the car we see that he towers above the old man shadowing him suggesting darkness shadowing over the old mans future.

We then cut to a long shot of the light glistening on the lake and the shadow of the man in dark clothes again engulfing the old man. The man in the dark clothes then offers the old man coffee as we cut to a mid shot of both of them. The fact that the man in the dark clothes has a flask of warm coffee suggests this meeting was obviously premeditated and that he is prepared, not just for the cold but possibly for whatever the outcome of this meeting may be. Throughout the conversation there is a series of matched cuts from each person speaking to the other. As we continue and track them as they walk and sit down by the lake we have a medium shot of a 2 shot matched cut in conversation, however what we notice is that the tracking two shot is of the man in the dark clothing as he remains centre frame and not of the old man again playing on the power dynamic of the situation.  The tracking two shots as they talk about war could be symbolic of what is going on and the fact that they need to be on the same page but the old man is falling behind the curb. We get close ups and matched cuts again as they both sit down and continue the conversation. As the conversation gets heated we begin to hear the heartbeat again suggesting the heartbeat is the soundscape of one of the characters. As soon as the old man stands up and the other man grabs his arm the music intensifies again suggesting/ foreshadowing what is about to happen. The sound of the heartbeat intensifies as the old man walks away with his dog.

As both men walk back to their cars we have a Long shot which focuses on glasses man not old man walking away which then cuts back to the opening long shot with the lake as the backgrop suggesting the story like this scene may be cyclical. Long shot focuses on two guards as they Shadow him from the light as he is walking to the car. The scene is a lot less sunny and it seems much gloomier. We get a Close-up of one evil guard smiling and one wincing which could mean one is less cold hearted and may symbolise there is still hope and the other is merciless. The music climaxes and the heartbeat fades as soon as the murder happens and the man gets jabbed in the neck. The music continues to get more and more fast paced as the scene progresses and the dog barking is used to add to the sympathy for the character who just got killed.  The tablets again add to the idea of premeditation and the idea he was never getting out. We go from natural light by the lake to shadows in the forest where he gets killed which could symbolise how these men operate in the shadows and off the books suggesting that they are the antagonists of the movie.

We then cut to a Long shot car going into lake as we focus on the dog following the car towards the emptiness of the water. We also realise the time of day could contradict his life and the fact it is the start of a new day but is the end of his life. However this could also be symbolic as ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said “New beginning are often disguised as endings” and this situation could represent a cleansing and how it’s out with the old and in with the new and maybe the man in dark clothes is the protagonist protecting his country. However that would be contradictory to the last frame in this scene which is of the lonely dog whimpering and barking as his owners corpse is submerged and we feel sympathy for the deceased.

Jack Reacher Analysis

In the opening scene of Jack Reacher there is a build-up of tension through the sound and the camera work, featuring around the presumed villain character driving the white van centred in this opening shot, this shows that the criminal blends into the scene as the camera pans out to the big metropolis and the hundreds of thousands of people that might be there. The shot is a panning establishing shot. The idea of the shot panning into the metropolis has many implications on post 9/11 America. The fact that terrorism became the number 1 security issue and the biggest fear after 9/11 makes this scene of the metropolis and the white van significant much; like the idea of Russian spies was predominant after the cold war in themes of thriller movies. The white van is important because it has connotations of secrecy and is used in many films as the stereotype spy mobile with a portable army of computer in the boot or a bomb.

This ties in well with the next scene showing what we assume to be the main antagonist driving the car along the motorway showing, doing the same speed as everyone else; we see him in an over the shoulder shot implying we are in the back seat. This makes us as the audience feel like we are on his side or possibly we are his victim in the back seat. The fact that he is conforming to society and blending in is scary because the idea of home-grown terrorism has grown again post 9/11 and is one of the FBI’s biggest fears. As this happens the music is continuing to build tension as it increases in speed and percussion instruments are added.

As the scene then changes to show a bullet being made there is a high pitched instrument playing over the top of the music suggesting to the audience subconsciously that trouble is nearing. We also see that the man manufacturing the bullet has a bruised finger suggesting that he is possibly professional at this and maybe has been in this line of work for a long time. This again plays on the targeted audiences fear of terrorism. Another big fear amongst American security experts post 9/11 is improvised/ homemade weapons, these can be improvised explosive devices intended for high populous areas like the ones found in times square prior to the release of this film or homemade untraceable weapons and ammunition that the government cannot track or prevent the use of. Just from this the audience must feel some forms of relevance as 2012 the year when Jack Reacher was released was also the year of the tragic Sandy Hook shootings and so that must ring near and dear to the viewers and audiences.  Just in these few opening scenes we notice straight away the underlying connotations of each of these shots.f

We then see the car exiting out of the tunnel in a POV shot suggesting he is leaving the comfort of the darkness he is hiding in to go into the light to strike again at his victims, as he exits the tunnel we hear the music intensify which conforms to the idea of trouble being present now that he is out of hiding. It could also be an implication of a bullet leaving the barrel of a gun, him in the car being the bullet and the tunnel being the barrel of the gun.

The scene following this is an establishing shot of the booming metropolis and the fact that it is dawn may suggest that everyone is just settling into the city for a new day and it is an optimal time to strike at the heart of the city and wreak havoc. This again feeds to the idea of America’s darkest hour in 9/11 and how that was beautiful morning disguising the terror about to unfold. THz idea and presence of terrorism is strong within these opening scenes but what we realise is it has real life connotations, the idea of a bomb threat seemed strong within these opening scenes and by the time the world had watched this movie another harrowing ‘terrorist attack’ happened in the Boston marathon bombing, feeding the fear with domestic terrorism and I.E. D’s.

We then follow the car as it continues across the bridge and as it crosses the bridge it subliminally suggests the car has crossed a line and has made its mind up about what it has planned next as we can only see the bridge heading one way suggesting there is no backing out of this now.

As the scene now switches to the antagonist (we assume) continuing making the bullet we can speculate that it’s not just his bruised thumb that suggests he’s done this often and that he’s professional, he isn’t struggling and all the motions look synchronised and well-rehearsed. He is using an instrument with a dial on it as he pressurizes the bullet and has he gunpowder measured out, this suggests his lethal precision and his professionalism subconsciously again warning us as viewers that he is not one to be trifled with. The sound as this happens changes from the orchestra of various deep toned instruments to a higher pitched almost white noise suggesting the danger of these actions before resuming the symphony of the orchestra when we cut to the next scene.

The proceeding shot shows a bird’s eye view tracking the car travelling through the city, we see a flock of birds fleeing from the scene suggesting they sense danger and the fact that they are fleeing from the vehicle again suggests that he is dangerous. The sound seems to be building up to something possibly signalling his arrival near his destination.

Following this we see the driver of the car is wearing white latex gloves, this again suggests precision as its mainly doctors or work that need precision and accuracy and perfection that normally wear gloves again making us weary of his lethality or could suggest he likes taking lives into his own hands as many who wear latex gloves do e.g. surgeons and doctors. The fact he is tapping his hands on the steering wheel could suggest his calmness and patience in the situation and how what he’s about to do may be second nature to him now and it’s just another day at work or could suggest nervousness. The sound again builds up the tension of this scene and we begin to hear drumming towards the end of this scene and as we cut. The fact we cut from a close up of his hands to a POV of a passenger over his shoulder may suggest we are on his side and possibly he is not the antagonist.

The following scene then shows us the city and more specifically the baseball field again suggesting it could be a major city to have such a large stadium and that the city is an influential city. The soundscape of this scene could amplify the significance of this setting later on in the film or it could be foreshadowing the important event that may unfold here. The symphony seems to reach a climax at this point and breaks into a higher pitched version of the melody suggesting the strain on the situation and how unprepared the city may be.  As the car enters the parking structure the camera zooms in onto a security camera suggesting the car is a security risk and then the fact we see the car from the security cameras POV and still don’t see the driver suggests his knowledge of the cameras and adds to his ambiguity. As we cut to the security camera the sound comes to a sudden halt and all we hear now is white noise possibly suggesting the danger of this situation. However, it could also imply the fact that he is nervous and fearful of being seen.

We then see him pulling down the lever to close the cap of the bullet and as he pulls the lever with force we as an audience feel his anger and the fact he is sat up straight and he seems natural at what he’s doing and that he could have a military background. The fact the whole manoeuvre is extremely mechanical could imply his deadliness and precision. The camera is always behind him as we cut from a close up to a mid-long shot (all from behind) adding to his ambiguity as he is in the shadows and remains unseen and unidentified creating fear as the connotation could be he is possessed by darkness.

As we keep on following the car on the way up the parking structure we see that he is again weary of the cameras and that he is driving evasively, again suggesting his professionalism and caution. We cut to a camera angle behind the car tracking it up the structure possibly suggesting to the idea he is being chased and maybe we represent the authorities chasing him or could mean we are society catching up to his misdoings.

When he reaches his spot he runs over two traffic cones blocking off the area could be suggesting he has no respect for boundaries and nothing is off limits or could be a connotation on the fact he believes the laws don’t apply to him and he can do whatever he wants. We then see his feet leave his vehicle and walk away in a calm manner and place the coin inside the parking machine suggesting that it’s almost a force of habit or maybe that he is confident enough in his abilities that he doesn’t need more than 30 mins to complete his job and leave leaving a clue/taunt to the police. We then see the bullet sealed by him suggesting the fate of this story is sealed just as the music begins to dim and fade. As we then see the gunman walk and turn it almost reminds you of an officer in the military’s salute and march which again suggests he was ex-military.

As we see his face the music begins its journey back up to the peak of the music and the peak of the fear. He looks into the distance again suggesting ambiguity and danger. As we see him in his entirety we see what is stereotypical for the protagonist of the thriller, a male who is conventional in the sense that he has a clean shaven head and is wearing a jacket and jeans attempting to make himself blend in. As he puts his glasses on we assume he already knows his target as he knows he’s aiming in the direction of the sun; we then see a brief capture of his watch suggesting he’s on a schedule and his precision again.

From the gunmen’s stance with his sniper rested on the wall combined with the long procedure of setting up the weapon suggests that he is possibly ex-military and again suggests his professionalism. In this camera shot we get a clear shot down the gun scope, beginning with the cyclist and then the mother and daughter, as we see the child we see the gunman take the safety off his weapon which again reinforces to us he has no boundaries. The music then stops and is now just him breathing.

As the child and mother leave the crosshairs we almost feel relief as he moves onto the next target, we then see him focus on a Latino woman then a white woman carrying chocolates, at this point suggesting, he hasn’t found/decided his target yet. At this point we see the businessman right in-between his cross hairs of the target, then he moves on again as he changes his target to the woman carrying his briefcase and then back to the business man. This is a brief shot before a jolt in camera angle shifts to the sniper and then the parking structure.

We almost assume he won’t shoot when the sound of the trigger and the gunshot echo through and the man is left dead on the bench, it creates heightened tension and in the build up makes the audience anxious as to who the villain is killing after. It then changes to the POV shot again and this is because it adds tension to the scene as we are seeing what he sees and feel as if we are seeing their lives end from the perspective of the killer. It leaves the audience trying to guess who or what he is aiming for next, this is then followed by the gun aiming at the woman with the briefcase and killing her followed by the white female setting up a clear disequilibrium in the films narrative as the man depicted with the gun is now no longer seeming professional but just a terrorist. He then misses when trying to shoot the Latino woman and fires twice killing her with his second shot, again suggesting he is maybe not as professional and as lethal as we thought initially. This then goes onto show the mother and the child in his crosshairs and we don’t see if he kills them when the trigger is that final gunshot echoes we see him get into his van and drive away leaving behind the traffic cone and possibly suggesting him leaving behind the police and all the authorities searching for him as we see the police enter the building he’s already left.

Ronin Analysis

The opening of Ronin begins way before the writing starts to tell the story on the screen. From the very beginning, an Asian culture is portrayed through the use of sound; the sound reverberating gongs set the scene and the ambience of an empirical Japan where Ronin were established and link to the sound of prayer and an essence of spirit that will reverberate through the movie. This repetitive, gong is what we associate with prayer in Asian countries and furthermore is associated to the spirit within and how the Ronin were men who roamed the land looking for their spirit. This also tells us a major theme in this film could be religion. Furthermore, the quick drum beat creates an interpretation of a battle scene which creates a sense of conflict, this generates the idea of danger within the film we are about to see and creates anticipation for the audience. Anticipation is also generated through having words quickly fade on to and off our screens; this paired with the numerous connotations of the drums such as it being a similar sound to a heartbeat, which could represent that the loved ones are involved or possibly they are nervous about something.

The writing starts off by telling a tale, giving us as an audience some background knowledge and context for what the film will likely be based upon. ‘Ronin’ is immediately pushing the envelope when it comes to common conventions of a thriller as the tale that is spun speaks of protecting people from danger, which is extremely original and not overused in the thriller genre. The writing cuts rapidly onto and off our screens, possibly suggesting the lethality of the samurai mentioned in the story. The writing used in this sequence is white, and this makes it seem more dominant on the screen. The white dominating the darkness could symbolise purity and good, however the black backdrop could be telling us that the evil is there lurking, possibly inside us all and the power of good and purity will be challenged in this film. But what’s also disturbing is that the black is not the focus yet it takes up the majority of the screen possibly having connotations that evil is outnumbering good and hope is lost.

The writing technique shown on the screen throughout these sounds is very old fashioned and possibly written using a calligraphy brush showing they are unique, which links to the personas of the Samurais who were themselves unique and talented. The fact that the colour black dominates the white writing is also symbolic of their samurai lives and the darkness and hell they endured when they roamed the land aimlessly as hired bounty hunters if their master was slain.  As the word ‘bandits’ appears on the screen a longer and drawn out symbol sound occurs, this could be suggesting that the villains in this thriller or ‘bandits’ are condemned and banished and cannot escape what the future has entailed. This sword sound effect can also be portrayed as a connotation for execution, as these samurai have likely failed and let the person they were supposed to guard die, and thus their punishment for this failure could well be “death, misery or severe shame”. After this there is one metal sound which is very predominant that sounds extremely similar to that of two samurai swords (we assume samurai swords) at the same time as “hired swords” appears on screen the sound in some sense takes over the film at that point possibly indicating that bad has become more dominant over good.  The red title screen again is creating the idea of war and blood in battle. Moreover, the Japanese think it’s a symbolic colour of a sunrise possibly giving the impression of hope and positivity in the movie which contradicts the western belief of blood, death and warning which is commonly associated with the colour red. The title ‘Ronin’ is written in black and is far messier than the previous white writing, giving off a sense of instability, brutality and gore whilst generating the idea of death.

As the drums begin to fade from the soundscape we as the audience who already have linked this to the sound of a heartbeat can begin to assume it could be symbolising death, but the death of who? It could symbolise the death of the Ronin and that era of Japan, or it could symbolise the death due to religion as the humming faded too and we fade into a long shot of a church. This gives us as the audience the context that religion will play a large part in this film, but it could possibly be giving us a modern take as we see a modern church which juxtaposes the ancient humming we heard and associated with ancient Japan.  The church shows the contrast of old and new creating an unlikely pairing, possibly suggesting to us as the audience that a key convention of the film could be that the old and the new must work together in an unlikely pairing.

As we see the church it is only lit at the top which gives us as the audience the idea the top represents hope, purity and heaven whereas the bottom, towards earth and us, is dark, unwanted and brutal and symbolises hell. It could also suggest to us that religion causes darkness as it is all bright and happy at the top (so in theory all the religion should be like this too) yet the bottom is filled with darkness and despair which could be a reference to the religious turmoil going on at the time this was filmed as the IRA and religious terrorism and jingoism was ripe. As the camera begins to pan we see the word Paris appear on the screen. This gives us as the audience a sense of confusion as it doesn’t follow the narrative in the introduction about Japan and the Ronin. This shot of Paris juxtaposes the previous shot (introduction) because the idea of Paris with connotations of love, romance and cliché after the introduction on war, death and battle shows a complete contrast, much like the modern church in the old run down city. As the shot pans further we see the city and yet it is not what we would expect to see of Paris, it is run down and a more perverse side of the city which challenges the idea we have already depicted when we read the word Paris and thick of the clichés. The fact it does not stereotype Paris and yet shows us a different side may suggest that there’s two sides to everything, every story, every city and to an extent every person. Just as we reach the streets of run down Paris we notice a man walking down the stairs pictured, he is not centre screen and as he enters we hear a lone flute solo, suggesting this is now his soundscape. We slowly begin to hear the drums come back into the soundscape suggesting that possibly it is his heartbeat now and possibly the earlier ending of the drums was foreshadowing his death.

We then cut to a mid-shot of him and we see it is Robert De Niro, this has significance because we know immediately we are with one of the main characters of the film but are yet to figure out his role drawing us into the plot further now. The fact that we are tracking him could suggest we are with him or following him, however the continued soundscape of the lone flute may suggest his isolation and maybe he is hiding.  As he is walking he is never centre frame suggesting something about him is off and making the views weary of that. As he is descending down the stairs the light is behind him which could imply he is descending from hope into chaos from light too dark and as he reaches a gap in the wall he plunges himself into darkness which could symbolise he is a man of the shadows and could symbolise bad intensions as he hides himself from the light (possibly inferring God) and keeps himself in the dark (possibly inferring hell) which aligns well with the pretext created by the church. we also notice the graffiti on the ball behind De Niro as he descends down the stairs, this could have a link to the previous calligraphy in the introduction, however the graffiti tags lack the skill of the calligraphy written about the Ronin possibly suggesting De Niro is like the Ronin only without the level of skill.

As he stands in the hole in the wall he is still not centre screen meaning there is likely something off key about what he is currently doing making the audience suspicious. The fact that his face is half in the dark and half in the light suggests he is hiding and that he is a very ambiguous character full of secrecy.  We also notice at this point is beige jacket blends into the background suggesting he might be undercover and will thus not draw any attention to himself and that’s why he is hiding.  The fact that his jacket is beige and not white could suggest to us that he isn’t 100% pure and could be a villain hand have darkness to his soul. We also recognise he is wearing a tie beneath his coat suggesting he is a professional at what he does possibly implying this is a job or that what he is doing in formal.  It is at this point we hear and then see the car from an over the shoulder shot looking downward onto the street below, this puts as the audience standing behind him makes us and sympathise with him, this could also possibly create the idea of an accomplice or accomplices that may that could be introduced further into the storyboard. Furthermore, we also see a bannister between him and the street below possibly suggesting that there is something subliminally in the way of him getting to what he wants. We then see the black van that pulls up on the street below De Niro. The darkness of the van on the unlit street creates the connotation of evil and could possibly suggest that the people inside are up to no good. The fact that the Vans headlights are both directed straight De Niro could imply he is the hope and good in the story or could show the intelligence of the people inside the vehicle and the dominance they have on the situation as they know exactly where De Niro is.

We then cut to a close up tracking shot of the woman on the street, she just exits the vehicle and notices something and doesn’t break eye contact with it before shielding herself from the camera with the door and saying something to the driver. She is wearing dark clothes which could again imply her darkness within, the fact that she shields her conversation from the camera with the door could suggest she has something to hide just like De Niro and the fact De Niro is interested in this character could imply the importance of her secret.  As we see her slam the door shut and walk away we have a sense of isolation and yet at the same time power because she seemed to be commanding the driver rather than talking to him. We then track the woman and follow her as she closes the door, the camera movement is slightly stalkeresque like a predator stalking its prey. We follow her into the doors of the bar before she closes the door on the camera man which again implies her ambiguity and her isolation. The fact the camera is stalking her creates a sense of vulnerability too which juxtaposes how we felt about her before. However, it could be seen as the camera following her command giving her the power. As she enters the bar there is a matched cut to a close up of De Niro looking puzzled as to why she entered the pub. The fact that De Niro is intrigued could suggest again to her importance into the film as we know he is likely a key figure. However, what we are yet to find out is whether he is a stalker and a villain or a protector and a saviour. Once again we hear the clang of swords right before we cut back to her creating a sound bridge between them.

Taken Analysis

The very first image we as the audience see is that of a birthday hat, balloons, silly string and a large variety of what seems to be party decorations of all shapes and sizes dispersed all over the floor. This is portrayed to the viewers in a low quality and an unprofessional way which instantly shows us that this is likely to be a home video of a memory, likely someone’s birthday. Flashbacks are easy to recreate and are very good or setting the scene of a thriller so I could definitely implement this idea in my work. From that shot we jump straight to the footage of a young girl celebrating her birthday and blowing out the candles on her birthday cake; the number of candles reveals to us that she has just turned five years old. By divulging to the audience that she is five highlights the concept of protectiveness and that she is very young, fragile and incredibly vulnerable. The diegetic sound of this clip is of children’s laughter partnered with an eerie white noise; the white noise has connotations of death and pain which creates a scary thought when partnered with the children’s laughter. This establishes her as a pivotal character instantly because of her significance in the opening scene; understanding this I can use similar shots to establish my main character with power in my thriller. The non-diegetic music of a piano playing on its lonesome reciting a chilling solo piece builds tension and creates suspenseful atmosphere as it places the audience on the edge of their seats as it contradicts the perception of a happy childhood as piano music is sad and meaningful and usually based on a heart breaking story. The use of the piano solo paired with the white noise was very clever as it creates a sense of loss and loneliness which I could use in my thriller when establishing my character.  The fact that she is centre screen and the main point of focus also suggests his constant watchful eye even with her mother right there next to her looking after her. This could suggest his over protectiveness and how much he means to her but also could show how much of a control freak he is. I feel as if this is a useful opening to try and take into consideration for my thriller as flashback scenes are relatively easy to create and mimic, not to mention home video style does not take much in the ways of props and cast yet still creates ambiguity and a good opening for a movie as it draws the audience into what the significance may be of the scene. Also the camera’s movement also always manages to maintain the girl at centre frame, focused utterly on her and following her movements as she remains in the middle of the footage possibly suggesting she is the centre of attention and all focus will be on her.

What we notice in the next scene is as well as focusing on the little girl throughout the entire home video; the camera rocks. The camera movement could imply the cameraman is rocking as well possibly giving us the connotation that he is either old or it could also imply that the camera man’s hand is unsteady meaning he is worried or scared or maybe even excited. As the footage progresses we see the use of jump shots implemented; this gives us as the audience a bad feeling as it is normally used in the horror genre and the fact that they used it in this scene leaves the audience feeling relatively distorted about everyone in the scene. The diegetic sound of what we presume to be the child’s mother’s voice is blurred and faded when she seems to ask the question of “do you like it” as the little girl hold the toy horse. The fact the voices and chuckling is distorted is used to create effect on that scene meaning it is likely to have a deep emotional story to it and maybe the person remembering/ watching this is desperately trying to remember this time but it’s so long ago everything’s just a distorted memory. The director cleverly used the technique of echoing the words and sound that we hear further than normal which creates suspense and builds onto the intense vibe and adds to the anonymity of the clip. I believe this will be helpful as I film my thriller because I’d like my opening to be as suspenseful as possible and I think the use of sound techniques and the clever use of diegetic and non-diegetic sounds will be useful to keep in mind as I film my opening.

From this, as the scene progresses more and more flashes and jump cuts are used until it eventually flashes and cuts straight into Liam Neeson’s character waking up on the couch, visibly traumatised; suggesting this footage was a dream/nightmare which he was reminiscing about and the intensity of it has woken him up in a cold sweat suggesting fear of that memory. Nightmares also create tension and suspense but are also easy to film as they are dreams and the laws of physics and continuity don’t have to apply in dreams. The idea Liam’s character is reminiscing about his daughter (albeit in a nightmare) shows his daughter means a lot to him but could also suggest something bad happened to her her or imply something bad will happen to her. As we see the room it is revealed as a dark, plain room, having connotations that this could also represent his personality. The darkness of the room could suggest his life is currently engulfed by darkness and that could be why he was having a nightmare. This then leads straight into the soundtrack of suspenseful, thoughtful piano solo as he turns on a light. As we see the picture more in focus we witness a small house, plainly decorated and him with his book. It also reveals Chinese takeout which is seem in American culture as a sort of takeaway, junk food comfort food, again feeding the vibe he is alone and sad and full of darkness. This also depicts to us as the audience of his possible sorrow because the man in that video had a family and assuming the camera man is him his wife and daughter isn’t there anymore suggesting they’ve left or been killed all of which would fill a father with darkness and sorrow. As he eventually sighs a deep sigh and gets up off of his seat we see that for him it is even a pain to get up and possibly that he’s running out of reasons to get up. As he stands we see a picture of his daughter that he was holding which I originally assumed was a book, this tells us why he was dreaming about her. The fact the picture is placed next to the phone could be a connotation on the fact that he misses her and is waiting for her call home. We can assume that if his daughter is still alive he obviously still loves her as he has that photo up reminding him of her accolades and what shows he’s a proud father. Then we see the title in white blocked letters ‘Taken’ appear right next to the picture sending alarm bells off in our heads as the audience because it suggests his daughter has been taken.

I like the idea taken implements of the man with no purpose until something action packed and dangerous happens and suddenly he goes from zero to hero. I believe this is an easy plot to base my thriller on as it can be twisted in so many ways yet still remain original.

BBFC Research

There is a very large range of people of both genders that enjoy thrillers, the market for political, crime thrillers are just as big. Many people watch thrillers so I need to focus on a specific target audience to generate the best film with the most compelling story for that audience. As I am creating a Thriller opening sequence and not the entire film I need to take that into consideration thoroughly before I plan a script as it is extremely important your target audience want to watch what you produce. That’s how the film industry works. Political\Crime Thrillers are normally targeted at an older more mature audience. However, because the audiences in recent years have become more aware of current affairs my target audience may vary as young adults are beginning to pay more attention to current affairs as they realise it matters more to their future. In fact young adults are more likely to be opinionated and more up to date on current affairs and issues than any other group according to research done by Amy Richards and the PEW research centre . This along with the fact that most young adults watch thrillers means I believe my target audience would be between the ages of 19- 25. Due to this and the fact that I believe my plot will be along the lines of a kidnap for terrorism leverage or a heist thriller I think my film would try to stay in the 15 BBFC classification band.

The 15 classification from the BBFC has many classifications one must meet and not exceed. Firstly, there may be strong language ( this means swearing to a certain extent). Very strong language may be permitted, depending on the way it is used, who is using the language, its frequency within the work as a whole and any special contextual justification (which basically means swearing is acceptable as long as its not the C-word or the F-word and definitely not too frequently throughout the film.) “Violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury. The strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable. Strong sadistic violence is also unlikely to be acceptable. There may be detailed verbal references to sexual violence but the depiction of sexual violence must be discreet and justified by context.” -BBFC. As these are the two key parts I will possibly use in terms of any violence in my piece. I feel as if my thriller meets or stays under the criteria for a 15 rated movie, it stays under in every aspect except for language (optional) and violence.  My plot is  “ The story of drug trade flowing through China to expats students through the teachers at schools, one principal decides to crack down on the trade.  He/she is sitting at a restaurant waiting for a call from His/her son, he gets a text message saying he’s on his way home. He/she asks for the bill at the restaurant and is about to head home when He/she receives a call. He/she answers and hears a voice masked, demanding they stop trying to stop the flow of drugs. He/she gets annoyed and throws threats back to them. They then reply with a video of the man holding a gun to the son who is held captive demanding He/she stops their crusade. He/she pleads and gets given a date and time to stop the crusade by or the child dies. he hangs up and He/she is distraught at the restaurant. we then cut to behind the camera to the drug man and the son. the son gets up and says “do think he/she’ll figure it out?” the drug man shakes his head and says She better not or we’re all screwed walking out the shadows showing they are in it together and are both students.” So the main/ if only trouble I will face are language wise and violence wise when showing the kidnapping.

How will your opening fit your genre?

My opening scene fits to the thriller genre through many aspects. Firstly, my plot is based round a kidnapping, which is a common theme for a thriller. This creates tension, ambiguity and elusiveness which is key to making a successful thriller. Secondly, I am using dim, dark lighting and setting to create a more eerie, tension filled ambiance. I will be using an unconventional theme of longer shots to increase the feelings of suspense and tension as the audience will have dramatic irony on their side. I will also use close-ups to emphasise their emotions and keep the main character’s face in the dark for as long as I possibly can to foreshadow his intentions.

Initial Survey


From this i crafted a more focused survey, the results are below.



The story of drug trade flowing through China to expats students through the teachers at schools, one principal decides to crack down on the trade.  He is sitting at a restaurant waiting for a call from His son, he gets a text message saying he’s on his way home. He asks for the bill at the restaurant and is about to head home when He receives a call. He answers and hears a voice masked, demanding they stop trying to stop the flow of drugs. He gets annoyed and throws threats back to them. They then reply with a video of the man holding a gun to the son who is held captive demanding He stops their crusade. He pleads and gets given a date and time to stop the crusade by or the child dies. he hangs up and He is distraught at the restaurant. we then cut to behind the camera to the drug man and the son. the son gets up and says “do think he’ll figure it out?” the drug man shakes his head and says She better not or we’re all screwed walking out the shadows showing they are in it together and are both students.

The story then follows the journey of the man getting his son back only to begin to suspect him and find holes in his story, he then begins to follow his son and gather evidence on him and what he believes to be his crew thinking his son is just a pawn only to find out towards the end of the film his son is the kingpin. He then is faced with the decision of turning him in or not, eventually he comes to the decision of turning his son in and when they raid the drug storage facility his son pulls a gun and is shot dead and the film ends with him holding his dead son in his arms crying.



These were my initial storyboards, they contained my initial plans and ideas for the thriller opening. However after reading my survey and my research i decided that instead of building sympathy around the child then reveal his true intention id rather create dramatic irony and let the audience know the true intention and wait in suspense as the father finds out slowly throughout the film which then leads well to the ending. For this I have changed my story board to reveal his true intentions first before he gets kidnapped yet still reveal him afterwards just to add to the suspense again

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Also, something new i learned whilst completing the story boards using Drawboard PDF was to convert PDF to JPEG to put onto the blog. Roger taught me to use automator to covert my storyboard and put onto the blog.



Scene 1 (Kidnapper layer)

Carlos: Moaning and Grunting paired with heavy breathing

Carlos: where’s my glasses? I can’t see.

Masked man: Ah! You’re finally awake!


Scene 2 (bridge)

Kyle: I know it’s a problem. I’ll handle him, make sure he’s there.


Scene 3 (parking lot)

Michael santos: Phillip Jesseb

Carlos: Hey dad, just walking back to the car from that fundraiser for the anti drug association, lots of people are interested in our cause, mom would have been… Hey! Who are you? What are you doing! Hey!


Scene 4

Michael: Haha, He’s grown up into quite the young man

Max: (French accent) Ah yes, ever since diane passed away… it must be difficult growing up without a mother.

Michael: Yes, but he’s blossomed into quite the young man. Infact he tried to call me earlier, ill just call him back, my security can escort you to your car. Pleasure doing business with you.

Shit.. Antoine. Get the car!

*Phone vibrate*

Hello? Who is this?

Masked man: It’s a pleasure to finally speak to you ambassador jesseb



my preliminary choice for sound was Ben sound’s New Dawn as it provided the right tempo and ambience I’d like for my Thriller opener. Though I’m not 100% content and I will continue looking, currently I feel like this is my best choice. The sound I would like to recreate is that similar to the opening of Jack Reacher. It created tension, suspense and excitement just in the music.

However after discussing with Eddie Gripper he decided he’d help me compose my track for my film.


Some initial issues I faced was a lot to do with actors. My original plan was to use a family friend who is Scottish as the father of the Main character (Bradley). However, He planned a last minute holiday to Japan so I was not able o film with him whilst in Shanghai which posed a problem. However i solved this by finding another actor in bur ford to play the father. Another issue I faced was working with my brother. Being a Drama student he was a very judgemental and unhelpful actor tending to not follow instructions to begin with. However after a lot of re-takes in freezing conditions this problem was solved. Another issue I am facing is finding a restaurant big enough or a restaurant that will let me film in it. I think what I will have to do is change the restaurant scenes to dinner room scenes.





 This map shows my camera positioning and characters walking path



 ttIMG_0661_LI (2)IMG_0662_LIIMG_0664IMG_0665IMG_0666revrrrrSketch (27)

Revised Plot 

This story is about The drug trade flowing through China to expats students through the teachers and students at schools, as the ambassador slowly cracks down on this drug trade they make the huge arrest of drug kingpin Andrew Cartiole through witness accounts by the Ambassador himself and his son. Andrew’s needs to turn state’s evidence on the big boss and the supplier of the drugs into the city but he has other plans, when the ambassador is reviewing the case he recieves a call. The story follows the ambassador’s journey of dilemma and peril as he is stuck between trying to get his son back and continuing his crusade on drugs and finding the supplier of one of the largest drug busts of all time. He knows he needs to find Andrew’s boss but at the expense of his own son? We follow his journey of retribution in which he needs to break out the Kingpin (Andrew) and bring him to the supplier in exchange for his son, the story full of impossible mental, physical and emotional strain for him which ends with a twist. The son who was kidnapped ends up being the supplier and dies in his arms when the sniper shoots him in the plan to trap the supplier at the exchange (who he never suspected was his son all along).




Burford School Media Arts