Welcome to the blog of Rasam Production's Asa Newmarch (The Cinematographer), charting the evolution of the opening to the new feature film "Test Drive", jointly produced with Sam Pollock (The Director) and Rob Shaw (The Producer). You'll be able to see the final cut on YouTube [will be linked on a future day] as well as various short videos and vod/podcasts right here on this blog! Enjoy, and please feel free to comment/add suggestions!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Adios

Since the coursework has been finished now, I must farewell to this blog. We had our ups (the enjoyment of discovering some enjoyable classics from looking at the film openings, like Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and the downs (having to rewrite the entire plot of our media product and going through the nightmare known as the Halloween remake), but overall a great experience and now I must move on, but I will return during A2.

Adios!

Wrenched Final Cut

After a long development process, here is our indie, slasher masterpiece Wrenched!

Evaluation Question 7: Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?

After looking back at the work I did for my prelim, I have learnt many things in progression from it to the full product. These things include, better preparation for filming, in terms of script, storyboards, call sheets and time management, since when me and my group first filmed the prelim, we didn’t have much time to prepare for the prelim and we had to make do with a rushed script and storyboard, and due to that it lead to poor time management because we had to reshoot the prelim. In comparison with the progression of the coursework product, we had better time management, due to the multiple extensions of the deadlines and even without them, my group’s time management was still good, since we spent a huge amount of time researching by looking in books, using the internet, looking at film openings relating to our genre etc. We also made multiple storyboards and call sheets to increase the development of the media product, due to having to rewrite the entire plot and concept of the product after the first rough cut was shown to the rest of our media group. We learnt from this, that even though we had to change the idea of the product, we would be able to show more elements of development, via items such as storyboards and call sheets.

Another thing we learnt was camera techniques, since in the prelim, we had to film again, due to the lack of shot-reverse-shot and the shaky camera. We also used a few camera angles, such as, mid-shots and close-ups. However, when we came to filming the coursework product, we used many different angles in order to hide the mechanic’s identity, such as, low-angle and over-the-shoulder shots for when the mechanic is talking to the girl, point-of-view, Dutch angles etc. We also managed to overcome the shakiness of camera, seen in some parts of the prelim, since we lacked a good quality tripod. However, we managed to keep all of the shots in the product steady, by using a tripod most of the time, while for the point-of-view shots; we just used the steadiest hand in our group.

We also learnt how to use the power of mise-en-scene, since it was lacking in the prelim. For example, the clothing in the prelim just signified that despite of the modern day setting, the actors just came in their casual clothes, which was another element that made us look unprepared for the prelim. When the time came for the production of the coursework product, we used all the aspects of mise-en-scene. For example, the girl’s IPhone anchors the time period as being modern day, due to the how technological advanced it is. We used whatever we could in the coursework product, whether it be a knife sliced through bread in order to symbolise horror and an upcoming murder or a boiler suit being intertexual to the antagonist of the Halloween film franchise, Michael Myers and denoting the mechanic’s social class.

One more thing we have learnt is how helpful the use of research is, since there was no research before we began filming the prelim and during that time, we should have at least glanced at one or two rom-coms because the genre of our group’s prelim was rom-com. When we got round to doing the coursework, before we started filming the product itself, we did a huge amount of research in order to know what elements to use. For example, we looked at many different film openings in order to find out what techniques, we learned how to pull off these techniques correctly from the good, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984, Wes Craven) for example. We also looked at the not so good examples to know how not to pull off these techniques. E.g. Cry Wolf (2005, Jeff Wadlow) and the Halloween remake (2007, Rob Zombie). Besides from looking at film openings, we also looked at sources of information on the internet and books to see what people thought of these techniques and they pulled them off.

Here are both the prelim and the coursework products, so that you can see how me and my group progressed from them:

Then:


Now:









Evaluation Question 6: What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?

From the process of constructing my media product, I have used many forms of technologies for the construction. These include different websites, such as, Blogger and Facebook which I used to report on the progress and development of my media product, so that people looking at the blog can know when the final version is coming and can give feedback, in order to help me and my group make it a better product. I also used YouTube and Facebook to share the media product around the world, so that I could get feedback from the rough cuts, sample footage and final product on what to improve and how I can put the improvements into play, as well as knowing people's opinions on the media product itself.

Other technologies I learnt about and used included the cameras. The cameras were a key ingredient needed, since we used them to film the footage we needed for our media products and upload them to the Macs, which we used to edit and upload our footage. Despite being on a low budget, I managed to achieve what I wanted for the media product, since the concept was based on reality, with no sci-fi or fantasy twists and I believed that the sense of realism from the concept was captured, despite me and my group being amateur film makers. I feel that the media product came out successfully, despite the low budget, but we weren’t aiming to be a high budget film, so we could be the next best horror/slasher film franchise because if that was the case, then we would have used viral marketing to show off our product, like we did with the use of Blogger, Youtube and Facebook, in order to obtain the feedback.

We also used certain software to edit our product. These software programmes included, IMovie in which we used to trim down certain shots and insert transitions, along with titles to make our product look good. We also used specific sound effects to our product, in order to create a sense of atmosphere. Garageband was used to compose the soundtrack to our film, in order to add atmosphere to the media product along with the IMovie soundtracks and the song from the Feedback, which made it look good, despite being low-budget work. However, if we were students back in the last decade, we would have difficulties with this process, since back then was a time when computers were just starting out, along with the cameras. So it would be a long process, due to the technology not being as advanced as today’s, since computers use to be a privilege to have, due to have, so only those who could afford it.
Before














Now












Technology changed the film business over time because digital filming became available over time and has now become the driving force of the film industry, due to its power. (This is what we used in our product) Now, 3D filming has come into play, which is being used in films such as Avatar (2009, James Cameron) and the upcoming Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011, Michael Bay). In contrast, to when film making was in its first steps, the technology used included, hand cranked cameras and projectors which aren't as powerful as the cameras today, due to the methods of using them. Then during the 1920s sound film was introduced, which changed the industry forever because companies would be able to make films with complex stories and truly fleshed out characters, so that the audience would get the best experience from these films.

Evaluation Question 5: How did you attract/address your audience?

I attracted/addressed the audience, in many different ways. These included, using a narrative enigma on the mechanic, since it draws the audience into the story because they want to find out the identity of the man and it denotes that he is the killer of the story, when it actually isn’t and the twist is that the girl is the killer. This unexpected twist was another method that was used to attract the audience, since it creates an original dis-equilibrium that leads the audience into new territory, which makes my media product memorable, due to this.

Another way I attracted/addressed my audience was by, using a song by a band with permission, in this case, The Feedback. The song plays in a non-diagetic way, made to look diagetic by playing on the radio  when the mechanic is working in the garage at the beginning of the product. By using this song, it attracts the audience if it’s popular with them. For example, Linkin Park’s music is usually used in the Michael Bay Transformers trilogy and because of this; some people might only go watch the new Transformers film, Dark of the Moon (2011, Michael Bay), only to listen to the Linkin Park song. Besides for being an advantage to the company, me and my group in this case, it is also an advantage for the band, since it promotes them and it would persuade the audience to buy their CDs and listen to more of their songs, leading to a massive increase in profit for both the band and the production company/distributor of the film.

Here's an example of the song chosen for Dark of the Moon:




Intertexuality is also used to attract the audience, since it is used quite a bit. For example, the boiler suit is a reference to Michael Myers, the antagonist of the Halloween film franchise and it makes it easy for a fan of horror films to follow the preferred reading of my media product. Another example of Intertexuality being used in my media product is the mid-shot of the girl’s phone ringing, since the person calling her is called Freddy. This is a reference to the main antagonist of the Nightmare on Elm Street films, Freddy. Besides from being intertexual, it also signifies who the masked killer might be and people might understand this signifier, if they have seen any of the Nightmare on Elm Street films, and might gain knowledge of the product’s upcoming events, if it were a full product.

Elements of humour can also be seen within my media product, in order to move slightly away from the serious mood of it and give the audience a good laugh or two. These elements include, the false scare which is used when the girl is making tea for the mechanic and the mechanic taps her on the shoulder, this is used to add tension showing that something horrifying is about to appear, when it actually isn’t, in order to grab the audience’s attention and give them a feeling of fear, then a good laugh, once they learn that the scare is false. Another element is seen when the mechanic is sniffing the girl’s underwear, this used to add some black humour and mix it with the light humour, the false scare in this case, by doing this it will attract the fans of black humour within the audience and get them engaged in the media product’s plot.

Evaluation Question 4: Who would be the audience for your media product?

For my media product, 16 to 24 year olds would be the target audience with the media product being marked with a BBFC rating of 15. This is because after looking at the guidelines of the BBFC, I feel that the product is a 15 because it contains sexual references, the underwear sniffing part being a prime example, the amount of horror used for the opening and the references of violence. E.g. the killer slamming the mechanic on the head with a wrench. Recent examples of the 15 rating for the slasher/horror genre include, Scre4m (2011, Wes Craven) and The Roommate (2011, Christian E. Christiansen). These films gained the 15 rating because of the feeling of menace they have and the amount of violence seen in both films.

Another reason why my media product is targeted at the 16-24 year olds is that, the actors starring within  the film are aged within that age range and by aiming at that age range, and then the audience can then bond more with the characters and be immersed within the product making them want to watch it multiple times over and the characters represent the age range and social classes seen in reality, due to that it is verisimilitude. E.g. the girl is studying for her upcoming exams, connoted by the exam timetables she has posted up on her wardrobe.

Besides basing the chosen age rating by age rating, the rating is also based on gender and it will to both sexes because my product will appeal to females besides males, because of the twist of a female killer and due to that, it will give that feeling of girl power against male suppressors towards the female audience, which will attract them into watching the product. As for the males, they will be attracted also because of the female killer, despite being a final girl stereotype; she is depicting as being a wolf in sheep’s clothing and some men might find the girl sexy, due to that twist, since there are guys out there which judge a girl based on their looks, not their looks as it seems in this day and age.

From the feedback I got for the first rough cut, I was told to represent the social classes in a better manner and by doing that I expanded on the target audience I was aiming for in hand, by aiming it at the two social classes depicted in the film, working class and lower middle class. I can aim my media product at these audiences because of how the social classes depicted, since the audience can relate to these characters due to their, appearances, accents, and actions, making my media product verisimilitude. 

Evaluation Question 3: What kind of media institution might distribute your product and why?

My answer to the third question:



The website of my distribution company choice.

Evaluation Question 2: How does your media product represent particular social groups?

My media product shows two different social groups, wealthy middle class people and low class poor people. The mechanic is shown as being poor and working class because of his gritty style; this is denoted by his dirty, oil covered hands and the dirt covered boiler suit. However, it also shows men as being quite perverted because of the mechanic sniffing the girl’s underwear. This also shows some intertextual because it links in to the fact that mechanics and truck drivers tend to be quite perverse. Like the case of the truck driver who was prosecuted for murdering five prostitutes. The man is also seen as being a Yorkshire man; this is signified by his accent and his speech pattern and denotes that he is a proud British man.

The girl is depicted as being the final girl archetype because of the way she is dressed, like the jumper she is wearing for example, since it is covered in items such as penguins, stars and Nintendo Entertainment System controllers, denotes her as being geeky, yet innocent. This denotation is also seen in the part when the mechanic is looking in the girl’s room, since she has revision timetables, this connotes that she is hard working and organised, due to this, it links in to the early denotation with the girl’s jacket. Her hair is another denotation which shows that she is the final girl archetype, since it is brown and the stereotypical busty, sexually active girl is shown with blonde hair. The girl is also shown as being middle class because of the style of her house; this is connoted by the IPhone, the computer in her room, the furniture seen within her house etc.

Evaluation Question 1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?


My media product challenges conventions and forms of real media products because in my media product the killer is a female made to look like the stereotypical final girl archetype that being the twist of my media product, instead of being a male, since that is a tradition usually seen in the Slasher genre numerous times. Although, there have been many films which challenge this convention by having female killers, Scream 2 (1997, Wes Craven) and Fatal Attraction (1987, Adrian Lyne) being prime examples, despite this film not being part of the slasher genre. Another way that my media product challenges the different forms and conventions of real media products is that the murder weapon in the film is something that is rarely used for murder. For example, one of the reasons why films such as, Halloween (1979, John Carpenter) and Psycho (1960, Alfred Hitchcock) are quite infamous and popular is because the murder weapon being used is recognisable, iconic and it also symbolises the genre of the product, that being the knife. However, there are films which have used different weapons, besides the usual axe or knife. Hatchet (2006, Adam Green) being a prime example, since the killer uses a hatchet, hence the name of the film and due to this, the weapon used in my product is a wrench, leading to the working title of my media product, Wrenched.

Besides from challenging certain conventions and forms of real media texts, my media product also uses certain conventions seen in real products. One those being, the masked killer, whilst being a female in my product, I have used this convention because it is seen in most slasher films, such as the Scream and the Halloween franchises, it hides the killer’s identity creating a narrative enigma for the audience to figure out and it denotes them as being menacing and connotes them as being evil. Another convention that is seen in my product is the blame of being the killer being pinned on the boyfriend, since it makes the product lie to the audience about the killer’s identity and creates a dis-equilibrium relating to this, linking in with the appearance of the killer. A major example of this is in the first Scream (1996, Wes Craven) because the blame is put on Billy Loomis, the main protagonist/final girl’s boyfriend for being the killer after the killer’s failed attempt to kill the girl.

One more way that my media product uses different conventions and forms of real media texts is by the use of shot-reverse-shot when the characters are having a conversation with each other; this is used to connote their emotions and feelings. However, I also challenged this convention, by not showing the mechanic’s face in my media product, this was done in order to create a narrative enigma, it also connotes the man as being the killer because of his unseen face and his action which denote him as being the antagonist, like the part of the opening where he sniffs the girl’s underwear.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

RS - Vodcast Number 7: A Quick Summary

Unfortunately Windows Movie maker has decided to make the audio not match the visual, so sorry for that! Im not sure what to do:(. Anyway here is our 7th Vodcast. In this one I summarise the things we have been recently doing, plus what we will be doing in the next couple of weeks. Sorry for the video not being very long, and the lack of blogging recently!


RS - Third Company Ident

This is our most recent company ident for "Full Throttle Entertainment". It was created using Livetype software on the Macs at school by Sam Pollock. We recorded the footage using the school cameras and tripods at my house, we then imported the footage as background movie and then added titles over the top to finish it off. Any feedback on it we would really appreciate!


ALL - Rough Cut 3

This is our second Rough Cut of "Wrenched" the opening 2 mins to a feature length slasher film. Please feel free to give any feedback on the shots/narrative for ways in which we can improve on! It will really help! As usual, it is a rough cut so not all of the footage will be in the final cut. We will be re-shooting a fair ammount of the shots next weekend, such as the ending and the kettle sequence so feel free to give us feedback on any of those bits as we can make changes as soon as! Thank you.


Tuesday, 1 March 2011

ALL - Rough Cut Feedback 2

Reading the feedback we recieved on the second rough cut we had a discussion about how we are going to make it more obvious as to why the man is killed and redo the ending again due to it not making much sense. The re-filming will be done tomorrow.



ALL- Rough Cut 2

Here is our second Rough Cut, with the improvements from the feedback put into play.

RS - New Working Title + New Narrative

Firstly we have changed our working title to "Wrenched" the reason for this is because a wrench is used as the weapon in our film. The name has not been used before (we cannot see any with the same name on IMDB) and it fits in better to our narrative than our previous workting title.


After recieving feedback on our rough cut and sample footages we came to the decision to alter the narrative/synopsis of the film to make it a bit more understandable, the mise en scene work better and maybe tweak a few problems we had.

I have also got persmission to use Jem Whitehead's band The Feedback music, this music will be played on the radio/cd player that the man in the garage will be listening to. 

The ideas we have come up with for the new narrative are:

· Fade into a shot of a rural location, possibly on a high hill (To anchor the location)
· Fade into a long shot of a house, with a garage to the side of it. Rock music playing quietly in the background, signifying it is coming from the garage and someone is in there.
· POV shot tracking up to the house, music getting slightly louder
· The POV shot gets close up to the house; you then hear a car engine “failing” noise coming from the garage. The camera pans around to look at the garage door.
· Close up of a wrench being slammed onto a work surface
· Man working on the car shouting “god dammit” signifying he is frustrated with the car not working. The music is now full volume linking to the man’s emotions.
· CU and LA of someone’s feet walking around in the garage (the shot will be under the car)
· CU of a dirty oily hand opening the car bonnet
· The man picks up a half empty, dirty mug of coffee, he spits the coffee out because it is too cold, and slams it onto the work surface.
· Possibly a couple of shots with the man in the boiler suits hands over the bonnet, or his head under the bonnet at work.
· We will experiment with a few more shots for coverage and then decide on what else to add the day after.
· The music then cuts (the girl has turned off the music)
· The man hits his head against the bonnet of the car, because he is surprised to hear the music stop, so he looks up from the engine, but hits his head in the process.
· The man says something such as “Bloody hell, you made me jump there lass” We want the man to have a Yorkshire accent, because the stereotypical Yorkshire man is a dirty, smelly farmer.
· There will be a shot reverse sequence; however we will conceal the identity of the man for narrative enigma signifying he is the killer.
· The Girl replies with “Sorry for making you jump like that, are you okay? I just wanted to know if you wanted another cup of tea. My step-dad called and he wanted to say he will be another 15 or so mins”
· The man replies with “Ahhh smashing lass, yeah that would be grand. Do you mind if I nip to the loo to wash my hands?” This then cuts to a CU of the man’s dirty/oily hands.
· She replies with “Yeah, that’s fine, its right at the top of the stairs, I’ll just be in the kitchen”
· We see someone pick up the wrench when they exit the room, however we don’t see who has taken it for narrative enigma.
· It fades into a high angle shot of the girl filling the kettle with water and then her putting it onto the stand, then an ECU of the kettle light turning on.
· CU of the man’s hands being washed and steam from the tap (links to the kettle boiling)
· Cut shot back to the kitchen, and the girl is laying out a mug and dropping the spoon into the mug with coffee on it, foreshadowing something.
· Cut back to the man in the bathroom which is empty, we hear a quiet sound of a draw opening in the background
· Cut shot to into the hallway, a POV shot of someone opening the door slowly and we see the man’s arms.
· Cut shot again to inside the room and a drawer opening, we see the item in the drawers, women’s underwear.
· CU of clean hands rummaging through the drawer.
· Cut back to the girl in the kitchen, camera close to the kettle so we can see that it has nearly boiled. The girl is in the background putting the coffee away.
· Cut back to the bedroom, a hand picks up a pair of knickers, the shot stays with the knickers out of shot (as if being brought up to the man’s face) we hear a loud sniffing noise.
· Cut back into the hall with the door being slowly and carefully closed
· The man goes back into the bathroom to wash his hands, he reaches for a towel, and we see a masked figure in the mirror stood behind him.
· CU of hand holding the wrench, and it being flung towards the head.
· ECU of the kettles light going out and the kettle finishing.
· We hear a loud crash on the floor.
· The shot stays in the kitchen and we hear someone running down the stairs
· And finally a loud scream