Technical Research

An eyeline match is a film editing technique associated with continuity editing. It refers to the path of a looking eye and it is commonly known to be similar to the shot reverse shot. The purpose of the eyeline shot is to show the audience what the character is viewing. The camera usually shows the character looking at something that the audience can’t see then the camera cuts and shows the audience whatever the character may be looking at, whether that is an object, setting, events or another character.

180 degree rule is a technique where the camera shows a spatial relationship between two characters within a scene, the camera should remain on an imaginary line in order to show the audience. The imaginary line also known as the axis connects the characters by keeping the camera on one side of the shot. If the camera passes the imaginary line, it is called “crossing the line”.

Editing on a fundamental level is a technique of acquiring raw footage and assembling shots in order to combine them into sequences in an attempt to finish a scene or a film. If editing is effective enough, it can bring out provocative montages, create a point of view on events and create an emotional connection with the audience and the characters.

Sound is very important factor in media. The subtlety of sound can make or break a moment on screen which will captivate the audience with numerous emotions which most of the time is a positive thing. Sound can also enhance the realism in a scene or in some cases, it can also add a comedic effect.

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Form Research

As an individual, I have decided to conduct some research about how an opening sequence is formed.

It is a good way to show the title and opening credits of any sort of film in numerous ways to set a certain theme to the film itself. However, I am making a horror sequence and it wouldn’t be very conventional to show titles as it may take the appealing approach to the audience and ruin the building of suspense. However, I am able to take certain aspects of the tile and opening credits and apply it to my own.

I will need to show effective production because it is vital to keep it authentic yet appealing to the audience without losing their interest. For example, an important factor of this could be sound. This is because sound is very important in a horror film and I will have to decide where in certain areas of the sequence it would be appropriate to include sound or to cut sound in order to create a certain reaction from the audience.

In order to show realism in the sequence, the acting will have to be up to a professional or authentic standard.  I believe that planning is absolutely vital and therefore it should be taken into considerate depth as it is in my best interest to figure out what should suit the sequence in terms of themes, etc. because a misplaced filming angle or a poor soundtrack may make the sequence look very unprofessional.

In order to make certain aspects appealing and authentic in our production, it is important that certain things look realistic. For example, I have observed closely at blood tutorials in order to apply into my own production so ultimately it will look professional in the sequence itself.

I also believe the enhancement of light will be important and that I will have to take into consideration where to apply darkness, as it is a typical horror convention.

Certain filming techniques have been taken into heavy consideration because it is important to show drama in the sequence, as it will appeal to the audience. I have looked at certain narrative structures that can draw inspiration for me in order to introduce plot and drama into the opening sequence. I have decided to use Todorov’s theory, this is because in his theory there is equilibrium a the start of the story but certain events or characters cause a disruption and the rest of the story will be an attempt   to repair the disruption. However, I have decided that I will apply plot twists or end the sequence with a cliffhanger as it could potentially appeal to the audience. 

Textual Analysis – Student Work

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXA95Vs0ogk

In this student’s opening sequence, I admire the approach they have decided to take. For example, they have included very typical horror conventions that they have used like the dark colour scheme in which fades in with the lighting. However, personally I don’t like the opening sequence because I don’t believe that it is authentic enough to satisfy me as a viewer. The camerawork was controlled and some shots were effective particularly the one where the car tyre hits the puddle. The set was unique as it was located on a countryside road and it gives another typical horror convention particularly the location being an isolated one.

Some of the props were poor such as the blood on the front of the car when the boy gets ran over. It wasn’t authentic enough to make me believe that it was blood and that is an area that I am keen to make sure that I won’t make the same choice. The soundtrack that was in the background seemed fitting as it ultimately built suspense and the climax of the opening sequence (when the music stops and the boy gets hit by the car) in which it seemed quite appropriate. However, I think the soundtrack could’ve been more relevant to the opening sequence because I personally thought that it didn’t seem relevant. To conclude, the opening sequence is well structured and layered out but there are certain areas where slight improvement is needed. 

Genre Research

Horror

A horror film seeks to create a negative reaction from the audience by portraying their fears. For example, if people are scared of clowns; a horror film will most likely depict them in a very startling way in order to disturb the audience. Horror films usually involve elements like ghosts, vampires, demons, monsters, zombies, cannibals and serial killers. This usually involves a supernatural origin. Horrors usually consists of subgenres which are films involved with a certain element or personalisation that is aimed at a certain audience. For example, these subgenres are:

  • Remakes of old horror films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  • Slashers
  • Religious/Satanic
  • Supernatural
  • Science Fiction
  • Horror Comedies
  • Action Horrors
  • Vampire/Zombie
  • Monster Movies
  • Psychological

The setting in a horror is typically small communities or isolated places. These represent isolation or being alone. Also, horror films show locations with dark history. For example, these places could be an abandoned house, haunted hotels and insane asylums. Typical locations that are often used in a horror film are as listed: lakes, country side, cities, woodland area, creep hotels and other locations that make the audience feel disturbed or isolated.

The technical codes for a horror film are very different from any other genre. High and low angle shots can help to connote fear and nightmares. POV shots are equally important because they allow the audience to see the setting from the antagonist/monster’s perspective. This type of shots typically happens during the middle or towards the end of a horror film. Handheld shots used during a horror film can make it extremely difficult for an audience to comprehend what is happening during the sequence. However, due to the shaking of the camera, it can connote fear and how petrified the characters are. One of the most fundamental factors in a zombie film is the use of sounds. It is important to use disturbing sounds in order to evoke emotion out of the audience. For example, a director should aim to have a very disturbing soundtrack or use sounds like footsteps or a heartbeat to connote the character’s fear. Extreme close ups can be used to show the audience what the victim is currently feeling at the given time. For example, ECU focuses on a character’s facial expressions during a sequence in which they are completely terrified.

The iconography in a horror film is extremely important because it sets to visualise a tone during the horror film and from that point onwards the audience will have a certain idea of where the film is going. Visual style is usually uses colours that portray evil, blood or danger like red or black. Black is a very common colour to use as it focuses on people’s primal fear of not being able to see in the dark. Low key lighting can be used to create shadows and odd shapes in the dark. Props are very important in a horror film as it helps the audience identify the antagonist’s appearance. For example, specific props can be identified with certain characters e.g. the finger knives with Freddy Krueger, a machete and hockey masked is linked with Jason Voorhees etc.

The narrative structure of a horror film is very simple. It usually consists of a protagonist, a man or girl that keeps up with the conventions of the genre and must embark on a mission to kill or solve the problem. Quite typically some narratives are formulaic and this most common in sub-genres such as Slasher films. After some series of events that turn the “slasher” insane or due to some twisted or terrible childhood past, they usually return to their hometown and kill the teenagers. The teenagers are portrayed to be stupid and immoral (It is very common for teenagers to be portrayed in this manner) and are usually shown to be the ones that evoked the “slasher” to come back in the first place. During these slasher films, there is always a survivor that manages to escape or kill off the antagonist which relates back to narrative structures. A good example of this style of narrative structure is the Halloween series or the Friday the 13th franchise.

The character types portrayed in a horror film are:

  • Main protagonist (victim or hero of the film)
  • Antagonist (monster, mutated freak, supernatural being, alien or a serial killer)
  • Immoral teenagers
  • Police officers that are either good or bad and contribute to how some victims are killed. For example, some police officers are portrayed to be extremely stupid and are often killed, leading to other characters being killed as well.
  • Ghosts, demons, psychopaths, stalkers, werewolves, cheerleader

Zombie sub-genre

Many films portray Romero’s concept of zombies in their sequences. Zombies are newly dead flesh eating creatures that have been re-animated by radiation chemicals, viruses, sorcery or acts of God. They can be very strong, but not very fast or agile which typically gave advantage to the survivors in the films as they could run away from a small pack of zombies without getting hurt or killed. Zombies are impervious to pain and can only be killed by destroying their brain or decapitation. Most modern films portray the zombies to be contagious and when people get bitten they will become a zombie. To conclude, this spread of zombies will ultimately lead to a plague where the zombies will vastly outnumber the living.

In modern portrayals of zombies, they depict them to be faster and much intelligent zombies. Examples of these portrayals can be 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later. In these films, a virus occurs where humans will turn in a zombie like creature but not a zombie itself in which they don’t die unless they starve. Typically, most zombie films end with a cliffhanger, a cure is discovered or everyone is killed.

The character types in a zombie film are:

  • A leader (usually guides the group and makes most of the decisions)
  • Children
  • Betrayer (someone who commits an act where they can influence other characters death or cause misfortune upon them)
  • Human sacrifice (usually involves a character sacrificing themselves in order to save others)

After researching a few horror conventions, I chose to go with the zombie subgenre. This is because I personally engage with the zombie subgenre as it depicts people having to survive an apocalypse as much as they can by avoiding getting bitten. The common conventions of a zombie film makes the audience think about what they would do in these given circumstances. For example, a typical George A Romero depicts a power struggle within the group and the fear of getting bitten, which is personally appealing as it gives a realistic approach to the film because if something of that magnitude actually happened, these are potential factors that could occur and determine who could potentially die.

Due to the length of the upcoming sequence, I have decided to use the leader character type to show the audience that he is the one responsible for the rest of the group and that he has the most power over everyone. I have decided that I could hint to the audience how a certain character will ultimately end up like. For example, I could show that a character is beginning to become selfish and very suspicious over the period of time which ultimately will show who the character really is.

Really good background research Pedro! Will you be using any of the character types you identify in the 4 bullet-points above?

Title Sequence Order

Title Sequence Order

The title sequence order is a very important asset to a film because it alerts the audience of who has made a lot of contribution to the film. For example, the distributor and production company are usually first during a title sequence due to the reason being that they have assisted in the making of the film hugely and have invested a lot of money for advertisement and promotional reasons in order to captivate the audience. The actor’s name will appear in the title sequence in order due to their character’s importance in the film and usually how big the actor is in the film industry. From this point onwards, the title sequence will show the rest of the crew that have contributed to the film and ultimately the director will be last as to show who their major importance to the film as they have placed their vision and turned certain concepts onto screen in order to entertain the audience.

A distributor’s company name has the possibility to come up 3 times where the actor’s name will only appear once during the sequence. This is because the distributor’s company will have paid a large sum of money for the film to be produced and to be viewed in cinema; therefore they will have priority and authority over how many times the distributor’s company’s name comes up during the sequence. The distributor’s company’s name and the production will usually come up in a lone title sequence and are ordered in how much contribution they have made to the film. The biggest reason above all else is for promotional reasons, giving the people who have made a significant amount of contribution to the film credit where it’s due. The film titles will also appear in a stand-alone title sequence, but they usually appear in a manner that is different from the other titles. For example, the title might appear in big bold letters, make a certain unique transition or even to an extent of doing a very abstract creation. The title order sequence always has the actor’s name in it, usually straight after the film title has appeared. Depending on how large the actor is in the industry, their name will have a certain size.

Production Company Identity

Distribution Company Identity

Actor

Actor

Actor

Actor

Actor

Casting By

Costume Designer

Music Supervisor

Music By

Editing By

Production Designer

Director of Photography

Executive Producer

Producer

Distribution Title – Production Title

Film Title

Writer

Director

Excellent post Pedro!

Textual Analysis

28 Weeks Later Opening Scene

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHf6Th-E3kE

One thing that is commonly used in Horror films is the inclusion of isolated areas and the lightening is typically dark to portray darkness and unknown. I have noticed that most horror related films start with a story that is not typically related with the main characters’ story. However, later on in the film all of it will relate to one another as a story arc.

In this scene of 28 Weeks Later, Robert Carlyle’s character comes across as the leader of the group as he is seated at the table with his wife. When the knock occurs, Robert Carlyle’s is determined to not let his wife open the door. This is a much known tactic of using the dangers of the unknown. This helps to create a bit of suspension during the scene and makes the audience wonder what possible danger the characters may face.

At the start of this video, the lighting suggests a very dark and isolated atmosphere within the house. This is a common convention used in a horror film, which helps to set the tone of the film and give a creepy atmosphere which ultimately will terrify the audience.

At 1:18, we hear a knock on the door and we see the actors’ reactions to it and we can clearly see that they are freaked out and scared at what may happen as it could be dangerous. This also gives suspense as it was unexpected.

World War Z Opening Scene

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKNWQNAH-GQ

In the opening scene of World War Z, there is a news report that portrays the disasters and strange phenomenon that is occurring across the world. This intrigues the audience because it gives a realistic standpoint to the film. This means that it gives a realistic approach which could help to entertain the audience as they could possibly enjoy the realism and be amused at the idea of something of that level happening. The opening sequence is very different from the typical zombie film, as it shows the audience what sort of events is happening all over the world and doesn’t really imply that there is a zombie apocalypse which gives the element of surprise when the first sighting of a zombie happens. However, people that only watch these films for entertainment may feel like that the opening scene is irrelevant and doesn’t really have anything to do with the film itself and therefore making it seem like that it is dragging which could lose a lot of potential viewers.

In the opening scene, there is glimpse scenarios of disasters that are occurring and I have drawn a lot of inspiration from this because I believe in a realistic approach to a film. I believe this is the best route to show the audience that something of this magnitude could potentially happen and it makes the audience wonder if humanity itself could actually prevent something quite like it if they reduced the amount of investments in things like foresting, pollution and experimenting.

 I Am Legend Opening Scene

The opening scene to I Am Legend is very interesting and appealing to all sorts of movie goers. This is because it starts off as news report indicating that someone has discovered a potential cure for cancer and that it is gaining positive results so far. This is a realistic approach to the film because cancer is a much known topic and it enables people especially the audience to see how things would change if a cure was actually found. This is intriguing because it doesn’t only apply to the zombie film viewers but it also applies to a science-mad audience. When the news report finishes, the camera zooms out to an isolated and empty New York. This is very fascinating due to the fact being New York is one of the most popular cities on Earth and to view it’s isolation at that magnitude will make the audience shocked. Will Smith’s character later on drives in a Camaro Mustang and again this scene will show how vast and empty the city is. During his driving, the audience get to see how untreated and different the city is. For example, there is a part where deer are running about and this again shows how wild creatures now realm the city. This gives a very realistic aspect and sets the tone for the rest of the film because it implies how Will Smith’s character can deal being isolated in a massive empty city like New York.

 

This is very good background research Pedro! To improve: Embed the YouTube clips into the blog. Secondly, have a concluding paragraph after the 3 analyses, saying what similarities they all share, and which ideas you plan to bring over into your own production.

Theoretical Research

Narrative – We believe the narrative is important in any story because it sets the tone to the story as it is the telling of the story, instead of the story itself. Narrative is important because the story is shaped for a specific targeted audience. For example,  ghost stories, jokes, dreams and fairytales all have different characteristics, but can all be targeted at different audiences.

Classical Hollywood Narrative Structure –This narrative structure supports a simple but compelling narrative. The three most significant components are a hero, a goal, and an obstacle separating them. Throughout this narrative structure, it involves how the hero overcomes the obstacle to reach the goal. The hero is usually helped by supporting characters who take on the hero’s goal as their own. The goal must be challenging in order to engage the audience. The obstacle would be nature, other people, personal reasons or characteristics of the hero.

Todorov’s Theory –Todorov suggested that stories begin with equilibrium where everything within the story is in balance. This is disrupted by some event, setting in chain a series of events. In order for the equilibrium to be restored, all the problems from the story must be solved.

Todorov suggested that conventional narratives are structured in five stages:

  • A state of equilibrium at the outset
  • A disruption of the equilibrium by some action
  • A recognition that there has been a disruption
  • An attempt to repair the disruption
  • A reinstatement of the equilibrium

We have taken into consideration of using Todorov’s theory because we feel like it seems fitting to balance it out and show the audience how the equilibrium can be unbalanced in a glimpse moment.

Propp’s Character Types – Vladamir Propp developed a theory based on characters where it enables us to identify their roles within a story. The character types are listed below:

  • The villain (struggles against the hero)
  • The donor (prepares the hero or gives the hero some magical object)
  • The (magical) helper (helps the hero in the quest)
  • The princess (person the hero marries, often sought for during the narrative)
  • The false hero (perceived as good character in beginning but emerges as evil)
  • The dispatcher (character who makes the lack known and sends the hero off)
  • The hero or victim/seeker hero, reacts to the donor, weds the princess

Levi-Strauss – Levi-Strauss’ is a sophisticated and important idea that help an audience understand how meanings can be shaped or reinforced in a text. Levi-Strauss developed an idea where the way we comprehend certain words doesn’t depend on what their meaning is but to understand the difference between the words itself and it’s “opposite” or more commonly known as “binary opposites”.  Binary oppositions are sets of opposite values which reveal the structure of media texts. For example, an individual’s understanding of the word “coward” depends on the difference between the word itself and its opposing idea, like “hero”. People should be alerted however, that Strauss believed that it is society’s understanding of these words that mean much more, than any other meaning the words could actually contain.

 

Remember what I said about ‘cold theory’. What you’ve put in this blog entry is fine, you just need to make sure that at some point, you relate all these theories to your own idea/production e.g. How do Todorov and Propp’s theories apply to your film?