I found the brief very general. Thrillers, as I have discovered through my research, are not often just thrillers. Most are hybrids, for example, a Sci-Fi thriller like Alien (1979) directed by Ridley Scott or western thrillers such as High Noon (1952) directed by Fred Zinnemann. The thriller genre is something that hard to define; however, Todorov did try to define it as follows. “A genuine thriller is a movie that relentlessly pursues a single-minded goal – to provide thrills and keep the audience cliff-hanging at the ‘edge of their seats’ as the plot builds towards a climax”. Thrillers tend to encourage a certain level of anticipation, and an ambiguity and anxiety that lead towards a tension building finale. Characters can have a tendency to stay mysterious until the ending where every thing becomes clear.
The Departed (2006) directed by Martin Scorsese is a crime-thriller, where as Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia (2002) is a suspense thriller. Both these themes have influenced our chosen storyline. The crime idea fits in with the murder scenario, and the suspense idea fits in with our desire to make the audience feel high on edge.
I particularly like the enigmatic characters in thrillers. They contribute to the whole feeling of tension. I like the music that goes with thrillers. Without the music, the suspense would be nothing like as powerful as it is. The music can create such stunning affects upon an audience and I think it is a powerful tool to use when making thriller films.
The opening sequence of a film can be the most important moment. The audience will determine how they are going to feel about the film. This quick section outlines the filmmaker’s intentions and helps to set up expectations. Saul Bass, a graphic artist in the film industry said, “making a main-title was like making a poster-you’re condensing the event into this one concept, this one metaphor…a back-story that needs to be told or a character that needs to be introduced.” Films can hook their audience by using enigmatic codes and mysterious characters. This gives you a desire to keep watching to find out what happens. They can also give the audience a review of what the film content. If the opening sequence contains a lot of action, this can more or less be expected throughout the rest of the film.
Saw (2004), directed by James Wan, uses the mysterious Jigsaw character to draw you into the story. As the film progresses, more storylines appear, and lead to other enigmatic scenarios. The ending also seems satisfying at first, but then adds another twist in the story within the last 3 minutes. This makes you want to know what happens next, therefore making you want to see the sequel. The characters types contrast creating friction between the two. This makes it more interesting to watch as they attempt to work together. It is set in one main location, which is a disgusting, mouldy bathroom. A visual motif is used through out this film and its sequels. Themes such as death, violence and bloodshed are widely explored in this film. It also uses guilt, appealing directly to the audience. It also uses many shock tactics.
Our film will fall into the rating of a 15 certificate because we are no using graphic images. There is implied sex in our film, but there are no actual images. There is also no graphic violence, or illegal drug taking.
Our target audience is around age 15-30. The age of our actors would appeal to the chosen demographic, as they are the same age. It would not appeal to an old audience as there is too much revolving around sex, too many flashing images, and too much enigma. It would not appeal to younger children as it is a 15 and is not suitable for them to see.
Our film unusually targets female. This is because the film uses a female killer and not the stereotype male. The film does however appeal to males audiences too, because it uses sex, drugs and violence. The conversion of stereotype roles means the film may appeal to audiences outside the mainstream.
Our group each individually came up with our own ideas, which we then combined to create our storyboard. We each came up with ideas each relating to varied areas of the filming. From the storyboard we designed spider diagrams for each shot we wanted to film, exploring ways in which we could shoot and edit to create certain effects. This method was effective as it enabled us to see which shots would look good where and also allowed us to shoot quicker as we new what sort of shot we wanted where.
Our group decided not to follow the typical thriller conventions. We instead decided to have a female protagonist with deadly intentions. The stereotype male murderer has been eradicated and replaced converting the idea that men are stronger than woman. We found the song ‘Closer’ by Nine Inch Nails and decided the lyrics would be appropriate. We took influence from other thriller films such as ‘psycho’ directed by Alfred Hitchcock. We used the idea of very enigmatic characters and influential music.
Our group spent a lot of time debating which shots we should have, and what effects this would have on the audience. We agreed about our location we shot at, and also the speed of the film, and we compromised about sections of our ideas revolving around the police, and a chat room. We also discussed certain ideas such as connotations of, for example, clothes our actors will be wearing. After feedback from our tutor and other students we decided that our enigmas were incomprehensible therefore achieved our desired effect. Our idea about having a female killer was very popular, and we found many of the students asked wanted to know how it resolved, showing our cliff-hanger ending worked.
We designated section of our work out systematically. For example, the best artist drew our storyboard. After the feedback we decided to add more enigma as it was definitely seen as a positive.
For our casting we used members of the group, as that was most convenient. Filming entirely at my house meant there were no health or safety implications.
As we planned our production it was decided that Shauna would be in the film. I shot all the footage we used, with the exception of the night vision sections where Shauna is chained up. In general, whoever was using the camera at a particular time also directed the scene. We decided I should do the filming because I am imaginative and good at seeing potential for extra shots.
We rarely used a tripod because we wanted the footage to be shaky. We wanted the shots to reflect the film content i.e. the section with the drugs in, and also the personality of the main character.
The footage we used was generally eye level. We wanted the audience to appear to be on the same level as the main character to try and get the audience to relate. Some of ours shots were high-angled so she would seem vulnerable. This was done to confuse the audience as to whether she is a victim or a murderer.
When we got onto the set we changed a lot of our original ideas. We realised that not everything we had planned to do would be practical. For example, we wanted to have a very high up, high angled shot. We realised this wasn’t possible when we did a risk assessment. We instead changed our idea and did a straight angled shot and eye level. We centred our main character within the frame to make her the main focal point. This also looked slightly odd because not did not revolve around the rule of thirds. We used focus pulls throughout to give the impression of drunkenness and drug use. We wanted a blurry effect throughout so we adjusted the focus through each scene. This made the film reflect the personality of our character.
We decided to re-shoot a lot of our footage. This is because we couldn’t edit it to how we wanted it to look. We also decided that some of it didn’t fit with our revised storyline, so we replaced some shots to improve our film.
We didn’t use many transitions apart from a straight cut. We wanted the editing to be invisible and not interfere with the film.
We made the first shot of the crystal ball slower and therefore longer so we could add our title over the top. I also edited the first shot of when Shauna looks as if she is biting the camera. I split the clip and slowed the first half and made the second half a lot faster. This makes her move quicker than is possible. This intends to give the impression that she isn’t human.
We used night vision to show the room was pitch black. We also made some of the shots darker to seem more forbidding and threatening.
The only sound we used was a soundtrack. This is because there weren’t any diegetic sounds we could use, and there was no dialogue. The soundtrack we used was called “Closer” and was by Nine Inch Nails. This track reflects the aggression and animal like behaviour of our main character. This was mentioned as a positive by our audience.
Our film ties in with several theories we have studied. W.H.Matthews theory about mazes and labyrinths has some relevance. The confusion of the film could tie in with the mazes idea. Also when the main character and the man who is being chased through the woods fight, could be related to the ‘climatic duel’ idea mentioned within his theories. It could also relate to Ralph Harpers theory about ‘The World of Thriller’, with the main character going through an ‘existential crisis’.
Our film opening establishes the main themes that would follow. It shows many enigmas that fit into the genre. Our main character works well as she creates mystery and curiosity, as to whether she is the protagonist or the antagonist. Our film is also quite confusing with the flashes of different settings, such as the black cat. This is effective as it keeps interest by arousing curiosity, enticing the audience to keep on watching.
The camera moved around a lot during our film because we wanted the audience to stay on edge. This was quite effective because it had the desired outcome, but in our audiences’ evaluation, some people commented thinking it was just bad camerawork but his was the effect we originally intended. We kept the editing very basic because we wanted the film to flow. This worked well as it did not interfere with the content. Some of the locations we filmed in, e.g. the section in the woods and the sections were our main character is chained up, were results of a group decision to re-film a lot of our material. The newer footage uses much better locations adding to the overall effect of the film.
The soundtrack we used had words, and an audience member commented on the fact that the film sounded a bit like a music video.
We dressed our central character in black and red, and gave her make up a gothic touch. This fitted in well with our themes of witchcraft.
Our subgenre intention was horror and our audience all picked up on that. The age range our viewers chose was mainly 18-30, which was what we wanted. We wanted the film to appeal to both a male and female audience. Our audience said it would be more suited to a male audience, due to the sexual female character, the drugs, blood and general violence.
Everybody said they would watch on because the opening looked exciting and because they wanted to how the enigma resolved.
Our audience came up with many ideas about what the film is about: entrapment, torture, witchcraft, religion, kidnapping and sacrifice. All these ideas tie in with our original subgenre intentions.
I like the way our footage flows well and all our enigmas. I also like the focus pulls. If we had more time I would have shot more footage of the man in the woods as I felt he was minimally used. I would also change the soundtrack so that it didn’t contain lyrics.