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!

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.

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