The brief was to produce the first two minutes to the opening to a thriller including titles and graphics that we would normally use in the media industry. This was to be aimed at 15 to 18 “certificate” so we were limited in what we were allowed to show as we chose the 15 certificate; this allowed us to have a greater variety of research that we could perform with relative ease. We carried out different research methods to achieve different angles of results.
To start with we analysed different thriller openings to find some inspiration and get different ideas from the beginning two to three minutes so we could try and replicate the standard. We analysed Alfred Hitchcock films as he made thrillers what they are today and made the conventions to a typical thriller, Dead Calm by Philip Noyce 1989, Misery by Rob Reiner 1990 and Basic Instinct by Paul Verhoeven 1993 were only a few and of course Hitchcock’s most famous Psycho by Gus Van Soit although this was the more modern 1998 version.
I have written essays deconstructing these thrillers (Appendix 2) which helped as it gave us different ideas as what our thriller should look like. We did this research by watching the opening to these thrillers and writing notes about the different aspects which affected the atmosphere of the thriller and what the key conventions were of these, mise-en-scene, sound, camera, titles and editing/graphics.
The most important thing that I found while analysing the thrillers was the importance to keep the audience on the “Edge of their seat” and wanting more and to keep them in the dark so the need to watch the rest of the movie to find what happens either before or after the opening sequence. We needed to be able to create suspense which we were hoping that the sound that we added to it would do create the added suspense that we needed to be able to class it as a thriller. To create the suspense we need to find a suitable sound track.
We needed information about what the target audience wanted so we put together a questionnaire (Appendix 1). This showed us the views of other people who we had to sample; ideally we would have done a lot more questionnaires so that we got more of an idea as to what people look for when they watch a thriller; which we found to be suspense. These questions tended to be closed questions with limited answers so we could analyse the results, the more open ended question were answered when we carried out the focus group (Appendix 1c. ).
The quantitative research that we carried originated in the questionnaire and we were able to put this information into graphs, which made it easier to compare the different results. This enabled us to ask the right kind of questions in our qualitative research of the focus group. The feed back that we got allowed us to alter some of our previous plans as to what we were going to do and we even added in a scene that none of us had previously thought about. We carried out all of this research to find out the target audience would want to watch and find the diverse views of the different people that we asked.
Our quantitative research coming from our focus group showed us different ideas and what to either put in or take out. We got our opening scene from this and the choice of car would originally come from this decision that the focus group came up with. Planning This process was the hardest time as all the decisions that had to be made were made here and it was not always easy to come to the right one quickly. Time was allocated to the people who could get the job done efficiently and by the deadlines that we set in group.
At first I was allocated the storyboard as I felt that I had the right kind of imagination to be able to see the thriller unfolding but later was given to George as my artistic talent was absent. Other than this responsibility the task were divided out equally between all four of us and we were able to produce a presentable planning folder with everything covered (see “Task Allocation”). We made a decision very early on not to include a script as this would seriously limit our choices of people to cast from.
If they speak on film it means that they have got to be able to act where as if they are just on screen we can edit it so they don’t have to be able to act and as we found from our research there is not normally talking in opening scene it is normally just to establish the opening to the film. This problem only came to arise when we found that the actors we first thought to be available were either rejected or refused after previously agreeing. Actors (Appendix 8. ) so this put us in the difficult spot so we ended up using some one from school.
The Recce was done by someone who started off in our group but could not carry on with the subject, so we were left but made it over all easier as he had some strong views which he would have liked to use. He chose this spot as he knew that the logistics worked out and it was easily accessible. This also suited the location that we wanted in the first place and it gave the general feel of the movie a eerie look. We did not have any certain props that we wanted to use and what is written in our planning folder is of the first idea (Appendix 8a. ).
The lighting in the pub was one of the things that were of great importance to us as it was crucial that we did not see the face of the actor. This also gave a great effect of a silhouette. Our first idea was rejected as it was ambitious and logistically nearing impossible, as the location that we would have filmed at was in Yorkshire and our time plan for each person did not fit so we could not fit it in, another problem that we would have over come with our location was if we filmed something and it either did not come out or we needed to re-film it would be difficult to go back up there.
So it was scrapped after we started to film and found the difficulties of it. This closely led to our second idea of which she committed suicide where she went into a room and simply died which as we lost all potential actors so the person who did this was not very elegant. This idea was embraced and quickly binned as it did not suit the atmosphere that we were trying to create. We ended up with the idea that she had kidnapped a child and was keeping him in a room in her house; we left it open ended so that the audience could guess as to what would happen next.
The feedback from the audience research was useful as it helped us develop the bar scene idea other decisions that had to be made to do with music. In the end the idea to use more classical music which really helped adds the right kind of image to the opening sequences. The planning of the time to get there and shoot the edit was way underestimated as we thought logically that we could shoot everything in one weekend and then edit in one day but found that we had to take several trips to the house to do the filming.
To get to the location only took about thirty minutes, which made it accessible. Construction The software that we used was called “Avid Xpress DV” and we digitised all the material that we had so we could work with it on the computers. Decisions were made by some voicing an idea and then having a discussion on the subject and then having either voicing it or someone just saying that they like the idea and either at this point the majority agree or disagree and oblige accordingly. Most ideas that have been voiced were normally accepted and at least tried out whether editing or filming.
The different ideas that we tried filming consist of the women in our story killing her self, or the idea that we started off with but did not get the opportunity to film were that she went into the house to kill a rich political figure, but the lack of actors forced us to make other decisions. Some of the decisions made on the set were not always smart ones as we could not use the diagetic music from one clip as music was playing to loudly and we could not use the suitable diagetic music that we needed so we had to import it from some where else and it did not fit the visual as well as I had hoped.
This decision on the set led to other repercussions down the line. While filming I regret not doing some thing about it but, due to lack of experience while filming we did not have the knowledge necessary to make the correct decision all the time. To start with we digitized the tape and after having put the entire analogue picture on to the computer we could start editing the clips. We only had a day to edit so we could not waist any time. To start off with we needed a good sound track to cover the clip.
We had previously picked a sound track for the non-diagetic music and we decided on the day that we should add another sound track to it so that it would add more of an eerie effect. We found this on the Emily Rose sound track and thought that it would give a good effect to the clip that we were creating. Next we needed to do the major part of the editing and we had to discard some of our footage as it was to dark when we shot it so it did not come out on the computer.
Now that we had to put together the clip we had to decide as a group what order to put the shots that we taken earlier in. this was the hard part as our story board did not cover this as it was made for a different story line that we could not for fill due to unforeseen circumstances specified elsewhere. After the had been complete it was time to editing the clips on the story board and add strobe and the slow mo to the shots this took some time as we needed to reposition the shots on the timeline as when slow mo was added it doubled in length so we needed to cut some of the stuff out.
Now we needed to add the titles which turned out to be quite difficult as we tired to do it in time with the music as all we wanted was a black screen to show the titles on. Evaluation Comparing what we have managed to produce, I think that we have successfully made the opening of a thriller to what our target audience of 15-25 years old would like to see in a thriller; I also think that older people would be interested in this movie as it includes the basic Hitchcock conventions excluding the traditional violins in a particularly eerie point.
I think that we have had great success over all and we had enough tape to be able put together logically an opening to the thriller that we set out to do. If I had my time again I would not do much differently but that would be some crucial changes that I would make which could potentially make life a lot easier. If I had the chance to do the car scene again I would definitely turn the music off as it made it hard to edit and it has possible affected our grade and how we will be judged.
Over all I think that we have captured the opening sequence of a thriller very well and have been able to use the conventions set by Alfred Hitchcock to our advantage and create suspense and tension in the sequence. The audience feedback that we received as a result of showing the clip to the target audience proved that we had done well but there were still things that we could have improved on, and that we did not see on the editing day.
For example we did not notice that we dropped the levels to low on the car scene when it pulls up to the house and we did not synchronize well enough the feet on the gravel and made it sound to monotonous. The camera and all the other equipment had to keep going back to the studio as there were other groups that needed the equipment to film their openings. So this made it hard to manage all of the group’s time and be able to have the camera at the same time.