Welcome to the blog of Rasam Production's Rob Shaw (The Producer), charting the evolution of the opening to the new feature film "Wrenched", jointly produced with Sam Pollock (The Director) and Asa Newmarch (The Cinematographer). Here is a link to our final cut! There are various short videos and vod/podcasts right here on this blog! Enjoy, and please feel free to comment/add suggestions! Remember there are links lists on the side of this blog to make it easier to navigate to useful posts!

Monday, 21 March 2011


Hello and welcome to my blog!

Use the links lists and blog archive (on the left) to navigate through the blog for easy use.

This blog contains all you need to know about "Wrenched" Rasam Productions debut film.

Feel free to comment on any of the posts/videos vodcasts or podcasts.

I hope you enjoy my blog as much as I enjoyed creating it!

Have fun!

ALL - Wrenched Final Cut

Here is a video of our final cut of our opening 2 minutes to a feature length slasher film.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Evaluation Question 1

 Evaluation Question 1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge the forms and conventions of real media products? (i.e of film openings)

Here is a short podcast in which I talk about the ways in which film openings adopt similar ways to introduce characters and titles etc


My film opening challenges the conventions of a typical slasher opening because the girl in our film appears to be a typical scream queen when infact there is a twist and she is actually the killer. We build up the man to be the killer in the opening sequences using narrative enigma to conceal his identity, we also have him wearing a blue boiler suit; which is an intertextual reference to Michael Myers from Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978). Therefore if people have seen that film before they will expect the man to be the killer. We had the man act really shifty within the house as best we could so that he would seem to be the antagonist, we also used a few high angle shots of the girl to make her look vulnerable and low angle shots of the man to make him look more menacing and powerful for good effect. We decided not to go down the route of using a big knife as the weapon in the film and decided to use a wrench instead; we also played on the words abit and it eventually changed to "Wrenched". 

However we do use several "normal" conventions such as having the titles being played over the establishing shots and having our company idents before the opening sequence begins just to draw the audience in a bit. Also typical for a slasher we wanted to conceal the identity of the killer and the best way to do so; was to use a mask. Our mask is also an intertextual reference to Halloween as it is all white and simplistic, again if the audience have seen the film they will pick up our prefered reading.

We tried to make our film opening use the same conventions of a typical slasher soundtrack by using long and low keyboard/synth sounds. Using films such as Nightmare on Elm Street (Wes Craven, 1984) and Halloween as examples, they both use similar soundtracks and with the technology that is available today, we could take these aspects because they work so well and adapt them into our soundtrack. The aim of the soundtrack was to build suspence and make the audiences heart beat abnormally like a typical blockbuster slasher/horror would.

From watching and deconstructing several film openings (which can be found on this blog) we learnt the ways in which slasher films use editing within their films. Older films in this genre don't tend to use many special effects which was really useful for us as we didn't have a budget for our films, also with the technology on the Macs we could get close to the effects of the 80's films. Films more up to date though are extreamely high budgetted and depend highly on special effects, blood and nudity to become successful which was a no go for us. Therefore we had to adapt our film to be similar to the films from the 70's/80's and work with the technology and budget we had available. A prime example of how the budgets have changed is the original Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984 having a budget of $1.8m (a link can be found here.) whilst the remake from 2010 with the same title has a budget of $35m, a link to the budget can be found here.

After looking in detail at film openings I have created a top 8 list for the conventions (remember this doesn't mean the rules, it is just what usually happens in an opening) of a film opening.

  1. The company idents will play before the opening begins (Production and Distribution Companies). These idents can be edited to suit the movie such as the Warner Bros logo for the Harry Potter franchise, this is to connote the genre of the film.
  2. An establishing shot to give the audience an idea of the genre. Maybe a haunted castle or a council estate to give an idea to the audience of where the film is set and what it is about.
  3. A key character such as the protagonist or the antagonist is shown with usually a MS/CU. This will be to introduce the audience to them, so they know who they are and what they are like.
  4. Some sort of sound effects or soundtrack will be played throughout, maybe starting over the top of the company idents to draw the audience in and immerse them into the film.
  5. The names of the starring role, can be presented as "introducing" if it was that actors first film. If it is a very famous actor it can be shown first as a selling point to the movie such as "Arnold Schwarzenegger" people who see a famous actors name will be attracted to it no matter what the film is about.
  6. The name of the director and producer. Can be presented in different ways such as "A John Carpenter film" or "A film by John Carpenter" or just simply "Directed by John Carpenter".
  7. A narrator is used in several films usually to tell part of the story or if some of the audience have not read a book (if the film was based on a book for example), they can just listen to the narrator and they will have an idea of what it is about. It's also just an easy and slow way to start a film without large explosions and special effects, it keeps the cost low.
  8. High explosives and special effects are used not only for entertaiment but also to connote the genre of the film. Films such as Star Trek use these two aspects in the whole of the opening, as the film is Sci-fi it contains space ships. There is a battle between two spaceships which therefore contains multiple explosions. However explosives and special effects are very expensive and are only used on large blockbusters.
In conclusion we have used the forms and conventions of a real media product which follow the "top 8" above by:

1. We have used company idents before the opening sequence begins, e.g when "Rasam Productions" and "Full Throttle Entertainment" come up on the screen like a typical film opening.

2. We have an establishing shot to give the audience an idea of the genre/location.

3. We introduce the protagonist and antagonist in the opening sequence.

4. We have a soundtrack being played.

5. We have the names of the starring actor/actress in the form of titles played over the sequence.

6. We have the names of the director and producer played over the opening sequence.

However we do not have the final two "typical" conventions that I found when I deconstructed most openings. Mainly because of the budget which limited us to not having high end special effects and explosives but also because we need to cause tension and not have a narrator talking over the top of the sequence. We believe that having the majority of the forms and conventions in our film, it will be successful and it works well.

Evaluation Question 2

Evaluation Question 2: How Does Your Media Product Represent Particular Social Groups?

Social Class: In our film opening we represent two different social classes using the two main characters. The two main characters are the Man (Jason) and the Girl (Nancy) however we also see a picture of a third person by the name of Freddy (Nancy’s boyfriend), we do not get to see him in person in the opening though. The girl in our opening is living in a middle/upper class house, we can tell this because of the girl having two cars on her property. The house is semi-detatched; neat and tidy which is typical for this social class. The man is portrayed as working class, mainly because of the job he is doing, being scruffy with the clothing he is wearing, having dirty hands and knocking mugs of coffee over and not mopping it back up.

Gender: Our film opening has both male and female characters and we wanted to adapt the stereotypes into the opening. We had the girl in the kitchen and getting tea for the man who is typically doing the job. We adapted some archetypes into the opening too as we had the scream queen (which was actually a twist because she was the killer) as the girl in the film. We chose to have a scream queen because of the male gaze. Males will be attracted to the film because of their being a blonde protagonist.

Sexuality: The two characters within our opening are straight (hetrosexual). We thought this would be the best choice because in the slasher genre there isn't a wide range of homosexuality. It would have also been hard to find two actors/actresses that wanted to show their homosexuality on our film so we chose to go with that decision

Age: We aimed our film at the age range of 15-24 mainly because most of the films within our genre are in this age range and we thought it would be easier to find actors within that range. I created a post in more detail on the Target Audience. Both of our actors are within our core target audience so they would actract an audience similar to their age. Typically for a slasher the audience would be male becaue of the gore, horror and sexual actions within it.

Ethnicity: Both of our actors are white and British because the area we live in is predominantly white British. With us only filming the first two minutes of the film we would have had a chance to get some actors from a different background in and have a wider range of ethnicity within the film.

Physical Ability/Disability: We don't portray the characters of having any disability. This is probably because we were not looking for anyone who had a disability for several reasons. Just like for the sexuality section I believe that it would be extremely difficult for us to find someone who had a disability and would feel comfortable acting infront of the camera but also having it shown to alot of people on Facebook and YouTube etc. People with disabilites are not common in slasher films however, there is a very famous character in  'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre' called Franklin Hardesty whom is in a wheelchair.

Regional Identity: Due to our film being set in Yorkshire, regional identity is portrayed by the characters, using things such as Yorkshire dialect "bloody hell!" but also the location and props etc. The establishing shot is of the counrtyside and stereotypically people think of people in Yorkshire to be farmers. Also the fact the mechanic is working class and asks for four sugars in his tea could also signify he is poor/working class and a stereotypical Yorkshireman.

The male character in our film
Michael Myers from Halloween
The Man: in our film opening is portrayed as a typical Yorkshire man, a dirty unhealthy farmer, the social class is typically working class and we could show this from the man’s speech but also the clothing he is wearing and the job he is doing in the first place. Therefore using this stereotype we could easily get our point across what the man will be like. We chose the clothes he wears very well to portray his occupation but also as a intertextual reference to the slasher film Halloween. We tried to make the man’s age seem around the 30-50 range however we don’t show any anchorage of this in the opening. We did not have any actors available in this age range so we had to improvise; we used narrative enigma to hide the actors face so we never saw that he was fairly young. Having the man in this age range, we thought would attract an audience of a similar age range because they could relate to him. We wanted to adopt the typical “old man” stereotype and make him grumpy and miserable.

Here is our Scream Queen
Alfred Hitchcocks Scream Queen
The Girl:in our film opening is portrayed as the typical teenager; she is wearing a hoodie and talks with slang and an accent. The teenager stereotype is very strong as older people complain all the time about them hanging around in hoodies causing trouble. We chose a girl with blonde hair because we could easily portray her as the typical scream queen in a horror film, however we decided to cross her with the teenager stereotype so instead of wearing very revealing clothes just for the male gaze we decided she should wear a hoodie so that she had strong teenage stereotypes. We also portrayed the girl as working class because she was from Yorkshire and the typical Yorkshire person is from a working class background. We showed the girls sexuality because she gets called by her boyfriend (Freddy), when the phone (the phone also connotes that she is upper class because it is an expensive phone but it also connotes the time period because people wouldn’t have that type of phone 10 years ago.) rings it has a picture of the two hugging each other but it also has three x’s after his name to denote a relationship. The revision timetables on her wardrobe connote her age and also that she is organised.

Evaluation Question 3

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

With so many horror films being released annually there are a certain ammount that really make it big time and create a new franchise, a perfect example of this is Saw, a whole new idea of horror films and now 7 years later they are onto their 7th film in the franchise. Another example of a very sucessful franchise that is recent is the Scream Franchise, they are now up to their 4th release this year. There are also regular remakes for example the most recent ones Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and a slightly earlier one The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Taking these into account we have evidence that the target audience for film is not gone, people are still interested in this genre of film (slasher, a sub-genre of horror) therefore we believe our film could fit into the market and be sucessful.

With our film being created on zero budget (also known as Indie) we would need to find a distribution company that wont be too expensive, so this rules out any of "the big 6" film companies for example Universal Pictures.

Or I could choose Warp Films as they are a UK based company and produce low budget films which are also very successful. Donkey Punch and Dead Man's Shoes are good examples of what Warp has produced, very low budget (compared to the Big 6) yet they can still make a good profit. However our film has a budget even much lower than this small indie company; therefore it does seem a bit too far away for us. Even with a budget of less than £50 there are still examples of films getting into cinemas with Colin; a £45 film which made it to the big screen, so it is a possibility this could happen to ours.

After research on the internet and from my own knowledge I found out that the best choice for a distribution company would be Optimum Releasing, giving the fact that we have no budget to work with. Optimum Releasing is a fairly low budget British Distributor company which is ideal for our film and would fit perfectly into this company. They release over 200 films a year and are one of the most prominent distributors in the UK independent film and world cinema market. Optimum Releasing work with Warp FIlms in distributing some of their most popular films This is England (£1.5m Budget) and Donkey Punch ($3m or about £1.8/9m) which both have budgets less than £3m which is very low budget compared to American films.

Evaluation Question 4

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

The target audience for our media product would be for 15-24 year olds because of the part in our film when the man starts sniffing the girls underwear connoting a sexual reference, therefore it would be for an older audience. Also the language and gore within it which would be for an older audience. Later in the film there were plans for it to get worse but just for the opening we would keep it for the audience of 15-24. There is a post here which backs up what I said in a bit more detail and gives links to the BBFC website which has the guidelines for the age ranges of films.

 The age range of both the actors is within this age bracket and therefore it would attract similar ages to the actors, the sexual references however would appeal more to a male audience because of the male gaze but also that stereotypical males prefer horror, as a contrast to girls which stereotypically prefer rom-coms. However with the twist in our film, having the girl as being the killer would appeal to a larger female market because they will want to see and find out what happens; but also men like women that can fight and would therefore love it (for example Lara Croft, a perfect example of a killer that is solely made for the male gaze audience)We took this into consideration and therefore we thought we went with the appropriate age bracket. The age of the girl is connoted by the exam timetables which are on the wardrobe as the man walks into the room, this can link to the audience of the film.

Evaluation Question 5

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

Here is our latest rough cut in which I explain how we addressed/attracted our audiences. I used the annotation tool on Youtube to do this and I think it worked really well!

Throughout the course I have been updating this blog and posting links to any recent videos such as Rough Cuts or Behind the Scenes which I had uploaded to Youtube. I then posted them to Facebook and recieved feedback on any piece of work which I then tried to improve as best I could; using the feedback. Using this we could get family and friends to give us feedback which we could then screenshot and give as evidence, there was also a larger audience on Youtube in which we could do the same but appeal to a larger audience.

I have embedded our final cut here