Welcome to the blog of Rasam Productions and Full Throttle Distributions Sam Pollock (The Director) charting the evolution of the opening to the new feature film "Wrenched" jointly produced with Rob Shaw (The Producer) and Asa Newmarch (The Cinematographer). You'll be able to see the final cut on my YouTube channel as well as various short videos and vodcasts/podcasts right here on this blog! Enjoy and please feel free to comment/add suggestions!

Monday, 21 March 2011

ALL - Wrenched Final Cut

Here is the final cut of our opening 2 minute feature length slasher film.

Evaluation Q1

What Ways Does Your Media Product Use, Develop or Challenge Forms and Conventions of Real Media Products?   

Here is an example of some codes and conventions from a film opening I have deconstructed : (However this film is not from the genre I am working in)

Meet The Fockers (Jay Roach, 2004)
Budget : $80 000 000 
US Box Office : $280 000 000 
UK Box Office : £28 000 000
1. The Company Idents are the first to appear on screen and are played before the film. In this particular film they are Universal Pictures followed by DreamWorks SKG


2. Non-Diagetic sound plays throughout the company idents on screen and keeps playing through the first two shots and then the music stops.

3. There is an establishing shot which is common in most film openings but in this film the shot is of Chicago in America

4. The opening scene is featured around one male character and we find out alot about his life through exposition. For example in the first couple of shots we see him working in a hospital as a nurse and furthee on in the scene we find out about his family through him talking on the phone

5. The opening scene lasts for 3m 40s when the non-diegetic sound starts palying again over the shots where we see the film titles start coming up. We see text that says "Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Presents", another secondary company saying "A Tribeca / Everyman Pictures Production", "A John Roach Film" and then all the main actors. This is a common convention of film openings

Here is how our film meets/challenges these codes and conventions:

1. We also used Company Idents before the start of our film. We had a production and distribution company. We called our production company Rasam Productions because the people in our group were called Rob, Asa and Sam. Our distribution company was called Full Throttle Entertainment because our film was based around a car.

2. We used alot of non-diagetic sound throughout the whole of our two minute opening especially as we used a soundtrack which was palyed our most of the opening. We also used different sound affects at different points in our film but we tried our best to make them sound diagetic so that they added verisimilitude and didn't make them seem out of place.

3. We used three establishing shots in our opening. We used three because we wanted to show our audience the bigger picture and then narrow it down to where the opening will actually take place. The first shot is of a small village in the countryside, the second shot is of an estate in the small village and the third shot is of a house in the estate

4. Our opening is featured around one male character but also a female character. We did however try to focus on the man more than the girl because we thought we had to make the man look threatening and creepy but to make the girl look vunerable. This would also make the twist more of a shock at the end.

5. Another code and convention of film openings we met was having film titles. However unlike Meet The Fockers we had our film titles over the first couple of shots and not at the end of the opening sequence. In our film titles we included the directors name"A Sam Pollock Film", the main characters "Introducing Rob Shaw and "Starring Lucy Simpson" and finally "Cinematography By Asa  Newmarch".

Here is a podcast of me and the rest of my coursewrok group talking about some codes and conventions of film openings:

Here is a quick summary of key horror genre conventions: 

1. Masked Killers
2. Character Archetypes (e.g. scream queen, final girl etc)
3. False Scare
4. Knife is a common choice of weapon
5. Equilibrium, Disequilibrium, New Equilibrium
6. Isolated Location for the setting

Here is how our media product compares to these horror genre conventions:

1. We too have used a mask on our antagonist because it is a great way to hide the identity of the killer. In our case this is key because it is the girl who is the killer but we dont want the audience to know this an we wouldnt be able to do this without the use of a mask.
2. Again we have used different character archetypes such as we have a final girl in our film.
3. We have included several false scares in our 2 min film opening. You could argue the whole opening is a false scare because evryone thinks that the mechanic is going to be the killer when in fact it is the girl. The other false sacre we incorporated into our opening is when the girls is making the mechanic a drink and he comes behind her and touches her shoulder.
4. As knives are a common choice of weapon we decided not follow that trend. We thought it would be a better idea to use one of the mechanics tools as a weapon because then its more original.
5. In some ways we have used Todorovs theory of a film having an equilibrium then a disequilibrium and to finish a new equilibrium. This is because at the start of our opening there is an equilibrium that there is a mechanic working on a girls car. There is disequilibrium when the mechanic goes upstairs to wash his hands but goes into the girls bedroom and eventually gets killed by a masked figure. The new equilibrium is when the mechanic has been killed and there is just the girl left in the house.
6. We were unable to film at at rural setting for several different reasons but the village we filmed in was surrounded by countryside so we tried to edit it so it looked more isolated tan it actually is. However we were unable to meet this convention of the horror genre.

This is a reflection and summary  of how our media product uses, develops or challenges forms and conventions of real media products:

To summarise we have covered a whole range of forms and conventions from real media products. Just like in Meet The Fockers we have used Company Idents before our film starts to advertise the production and distribution companie behind the film. We have also used establishing shots to show the rural setting that our film opening is set it. In fact we have used three establishing shots and with each one we get closer to the house (eg The first establishing shot is of a rural village. The second establishing shot is of an estate in the village. The third establishing shot is of a house in that estate.) While these three establishing shots are on screen we have our film titles goin over the top of them. We see text that says "Rasam Productions Presents", "A Sam Pollock Film" and then all the main actors which will say "Starring Rob Shaw and Lucy Simpson" because it is their first time infront of the cameras.

Evaluation Q2

How Does Your Media Product Represent Particular Social Groups?

Our media product shows two different social groups, wealthy middle class people and low class poor people which is a binary opposition. 

We have used a very stereotypical "Final Girl' as the main character in our opening. However for our preferred reading we want the audience to see her as a "Scream Queen" because of the twist at the end of our opening. She is blonde which is typical for a scream queen but the cothes she us wearing are certainly not. Usually scream queens wearing revealling clothes but we decided to make the girl in  our film as being geeky, yet innocent. For example the jumper she is wearing is covered in items such as penguins, stars and Nintendo Entertainment System controllers. We chose 'Lucy Simpson' for this role because we thought she was the best person for the role and she wasnt afraid of being infron of the camera. Here is a picture of a stereotypical final girl and the actress we chose for our film so you can see the contrast between them.

Our other main character is a mechanic and he is portryed as being poor and working class. This is denoted by his oil covered face and hands but also his dirty boiler suit. We have also used intertextuality to the charater Micheal Myers in the Halloween films as he also wears a boiler suit. It also makes our character look alot manly and potentialy dangerous because only men would be working on a car and he is quite tall which makes him look more powerful. The fact we used narrative enigma also added to the dominance of the man over the woman. Another point that can be made is that when the mechanic goes into the girls bedroom and sniff the girl’s underwear it shows the man as being quite perverted. The man is also seen as being Yorkshire which is signified through the use of his diologue.


Gender: As I said above gender does have its place in our film opening as we have both a male and a female character. There is a distinct binary opposition here as we made the male look dominant, powerful and somewhat creepy whereas we tried to make the girl look innocent and vunerable. There are several charater archetypes such as sream queens and final girls etc in the horror genre but as we could only film a two minute opening we couldnt fulfill as many archetypes as we could if we did a whole two hour film. We chose to have a scream queen in our two minute because it is typical of the horror genre and because of the male gaze. If our film ever made it on to the big screen then certainly more males will be attracted to the film because of their being a blonde protagonist.

Sexuality: Both of our characters in our media production are are heterosexual. We also feel that if we were to convert our film opening into a full length film all our cast would remain hetrosexual and there would be no homosexual representations in our film for many reasons. This would be because it would be impossible to find any acters that would be comfortable acting this role but also there are rarely any charcters of this sexuality in slasher films so we would not want to break this convention. Killers are known to be sexually ambiguous which means they are unsure of their sexuality, however in our film we know that the female has a boyfirend as he rings her up half way through the opening.

Age: Slasher movies have a core target audience of a teen to young adult age range, mainly around the age range of 15-24. Both our acter and actress are in this age range as they are both 17 years of age. Just like in our Target Audience post our core target audience is 15-24 year olds and we would probably expect to see mostly males to watch our film. As both are characters are in the target audience age range this would attract our core audience and maybe they would be able to relate to the production more.

Ethnicity: The ethnicity in our production is dominantly white. As you can see the two characters are both white British because the area we live in is predominantly white British. However if we did have the chance to film the rest of our production and we were able to develop on our two minute opening we probably would try and create a more culturally diverse cast because over time and due to immigration laws not being as tight as they are today, England has become a muli-cultural society and this could be reflected in a full length film. 

Class and Status: Our media product shows two different social groups, wealthy middle class people and low class poor people which is a binary opposition. The girl in our film lives in a a wealthy home as we can see quite a few of the rooms inside and the fact that the family hastwo cars also adds to the middle/upper class range. However the mechanic falls under the working class. This is because of the clothes he is wearing but also the fact he has dirty hands and face. The fact he is working on a car shows his class but also labels him as an alpha-male who has power and authority over the girl although she has a greater status.

Regional Identity: Due to our film being set in Yorkshire, regional identity is portrayed by the characters, location and props etc. I feel that our production has alot of signifiers that help to anchor the location of our film. For example the first establishing shot is of the counrtyside and stereotypically people think of people in Yorkshire to be farmers. Another example is our characters both have Yorkshire accents, especially the mechanic. Usually in films the directors like to try and have characters that are upper/middle class and have a southern english accent. People with a Yorshire accent would only be used for comedy affect but because our film is set in Yorkshire it is appropriate to have people with a Yorkshire accent in it. 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.

Physical State: Both of our characters are in good physical state and do not portray any kind of mental or physical disability, however the mechanic does seem to be quite perverse. 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. Again like in the sexuality section it is very rare to see people with disabilities in slasher movies. However, there are some rare cases where there are characters that hace a disability such as Franklin Hardesty from 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre'.

Evaluation Q3

What Kind of Media Institution Might Distribute Your Media Product and Why?

As we made our film on an extremely low budget that only consisted of the cost of a tape and a few probs that added up to less than £10 it wouldn't be posible to ask a big distibution company to distribute our film. This is because the big companies only distribute the best films that will recognised by a wide audience at the cinema or on DVD. Some example of these big distribution companies are Universal Studios, Lionsgate and Warner Bros to name a few. 


We had to target a more realistic distribution company that would actually consider to distribute our film. I think that Warp Films is a very good example of a company that distributes very low budget films thtt still have potential to be a good film that will be recognised worldwide. A great example of this could be This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2006). This turned out to be quite a successful film compared to its budget of only £1,500,000 as in the US it made $330,000 and in the UK it made £1,300,000. The company that distributed this film was Optinum Releasing but I still beleive this company is out of our reach. As this is our first attempt at making a film this distribution company is still way out of our reach.

If we even had a chance to distribute our film we would have to research on the internet for a UK distribution company that was for amateur film makers that have worked with next to no budget and would probably never make it to many cinemas or DVD. An example of a film that is the closest to our budget is Colin (Marc Price, 2008). With only a budget of £45 it made it in to the cinema with the help of Kaleidoscope Entertainment which distrubted this film. I think if we had any chance of making it to the big screen the we could be looking at this company to distribute this film. However I still think that there are vey few companies like this so it would be very difficult to find someone willing to distribute our film.

Even if there isn't alot of ditribution companys in the UK that would accept our film we do know that there is an audience that watches films from our genre. For example films in this genre get realeased annually and people go to watch them in their thousands. Film franchises are created when good films have big audiences so the creaters decide to keep making them. E.g. Scream (Wes Craven) was first made in 1996 (Budget: $15,000,000) and this year, 2011, (Budget: $40,000,000) they are releasing their fourth film in the franchise. This is why I believe our film if it could be distributed would have an audience that is still enthusiastic for films in the horror genre or slasher sub-genre.

Evaluation Q4

Who Would Be The Audience For Your Media Product?
Our aim is to make our film a rating of 15 (BBFC Rating). The reasoning for this is because of the actors ages, sexual references, strong language and bloody violence. However we don't see the man getting stabbed therefore it is not as violent as an 18 rating film. The girl is wearing revealing clothes which backs up the reasoning behind the 15 rating. We expect the majority of the audience to be male, because of the sexual themes in it but also the ammount of gore.

We know that there is an audience available for this genre because we have seen the success of films such as Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978) which had a budget of $320,000 and made $47,000,000 in the US. Another example is Scream (Wes Craven, 1996) which had a bigger budget at $15,000,000 and made a staggering $103,000,000 in the US and made £8,000,000 in the UK. Finally Nightmare on Elm Street (Wes Craven, 1984) which had a budget of $1,800,000 and made $11,000,000 in the US. Using these three as examples we know from all of the box office figurest that our film fits into this genre and has a similar audience to these teenagers from around 15-25, both male and female.The age range of our secondary target audience would be alot broader. This is because teenagers below the age of 15 will still be able to see the film if it went out on DVD because they could just get someone to buy it for them. Also people over the age of 24 will be able to watch it because older people also like to watch a good slasher film but when the get over a certain age they will start to watch psychological thrillers.

Here is a video of our target audience giving us some feedback on how to make our film better

To summarise, I feel that the audience for our media product would be from around the age of 13-40 which is a very wide range but the ones who I beleive are most interested in slaher films.

Evaluation Q5

How did you attract/address your adience?

Here is our latest rough cut and I decided to use the annotations tool on YouTube to help me explain some key areas in which helped to attract/address our audience:

As this is only our latest Rough Cut it does not have any sound on it. Having sound will greatly improve our media product but it will also help attract/address our audience. This is because it will create tension in our film and the long notes will effect the audiences heartbeat which will inturn add suspense and fear which also helps with the preferred reading. It is a common convention in the horror genre that a film has its own soundtrack that people can refer too. For example here is the Halloween soundtrack: 

Here is our final cut "Wrenched" with our soundtrack now added to it:

Evaluation Q6

What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this process?

Heres is a video of me talking about all the technologies I have used during the coursework process: 

Here is a quick summary of all the technologies I have used and why they were so useful:

1. Blogger: Right from the very start of the coursework process we have been blogging on every stage we have been through. Its not just a guide telling everyone what stages we are on because we can also see other peoples blogs. This is great because our media teacher set up alot of other blogs that was full of information guiding us to create the best work we could possibly do. Click here to see a good example of this. We could also look at other media students blogs to se which stage they are on, how they have done things differently to us. We could
actually watch their film or generally look at their posts
and give them feedback

2. YouTube: We used YouTube to upload all of our footage and used the annotations tool to explain some points. This was extremely helpful because YouTube is used by millions of people and if we could get just a few people to see it then it would be extremely useful. Also IGS has a YouTube channel and all of our rough cuts were put on there and other schools that we are closely linked could see our films. Click here to see the IGS YouTube channel

3. Facebook: We mainly used Facebook for audience feedback. We all have hundreds of friends on Facebook and most of them are in our media class or the other media class. Also the vast majority of the people on Facebook were in our core target audience so it was even better to get their opinion and not just ours. I beleive that the feedback we got off everyone
has helped make our film alot better. Click here for an example
of audience feedback from Facebook.

4. IMDB: We used IMDB for looking up films we could deconstruct whilst also looking at the films director, year of release, budget, UK and US Box Office. This gave us a great indication which horror films were succesful and which ones weren't. This helped us alot as we could deconstruct the best films from within our genre and use the best techniques which made them all so good.

5. Scribd: This is very useful for things such as stroyboards, production schedule, treatment and casting and creativity just to name a few. Scribd was especially useful when we had to write or draw things using pen and pencil on peices of paper but it aslo needed to be put on our blogs. Once we had finished what we need to do on paper we used the Scanner to scan it in and then we were able to uplaod whatever we wanted to Scribd. It was also helpful when we had created things on a Word document and we had to put it onto a blog post.All we had to do was upload it to Scribd and then embed it into a post. Click here to see example of use using Scribd to upload our Treatment

6. Cameras: We used the school cameras alot during the coursework process for many different reasons. Obviously we mainly used the cameras for our filming our coursework but we also used it for behind the scenes. As you can see below we have a video of Asa (our cinematographer) using a camera and tripod. Other ways we used the cameras include filming our company idents that went before our actual opening and some audience feedback from our media class which are also our core target audience which was very useful.

7. Macs: We used most of our time on the Macs using for several different reasons. We used it for blogging, IMDB research, editing, making company idents, making a soundtrack just to name a few. This was a huge new experience for me as I have always used a normal PC or a laptop so it took a while to get used to but when I did it was great to use and it had alot of benefits.

8. IMovie: This was another new experience for me but we gradually got used to using it before we started our final coursework peice. For example we filmed a microdrama, a mise-en-scene task, swede film and our prelim task so I knew how to use it when we started filming for the coursework opening. I have learnt alot from using IMovie for example I have learnt how to use transitions, how to put titles onto a clip, how to use the crop tool, how to use the add sound affects etc. I feel very confident using this software know so it has been great learning a new skill. This picture shows how we imported our company idents, soundtrack and other recorded sounds into our production. This is another vital peice of technology that i have learnt along with everything else. I did realise that the file does have to be in the correct file format before you can import it. Even though we didn't use this way to import all footage we filmed it was vital we imported everything we had shot onto the IMac so we could edit it and make our product as good as it could possibly be

9. LiveType: I personally was the one who took reponsibility for the company idents. Again this was a new peice of software but i found it quite easy to use. We thought of the two ideas as a group but then I tried to replicate them as best as I could. I learnt how to add effects to the text and how to add a background video to name a few. Just like our rough cuts we got audience feedback on these idents on Facebook. Click here to see some audience feedback on our first company ident. I learnt LiveType is alot like IMovie. All you have to do is add sound affects to the canvas and you can edit the timing by using the timeline. The media browser alows you to view the font before selecting it so you know if you like it. The wideframe preview allows you to do the same thing but with all the effects on the canvas whilst it is all playing so you can also edit the timing of fonts coming on to the screen etc. Once we had finished the idents we just saved them and imported them into IMovie  

10. Garageband: Although I believe we left it abit late to experiment enough with this software i thought we did a great job. This was also another application that I have learnt how to use and with the help of a tutorial from our teacher or group managed to make a soundtrack that fitted in with every aspect of the opening. It was the icing on the cake doing the soundtrack because it made our 2 minute coursework opening complete. Garageband was abit tricky to work as some of the effects were hard to get to work together. The hardest part of making the soundtrack though is making sure that everything is in time and making the most of the peaks in tension. Also when we had finished everything  it was easy to transfer it onto IMovie as we just saved it and imported it

Evaluation Q7

Looking Back At Your Preliminary Task (The Continuity Editing Task), What Do You Feel You Have Learnt In The Progression From It To Full Product?

The first thing I found when we started on our coursework task is that it was an extremely big step up from the pre-lim task. There are several reasons for this but the main one I believe is that for our pre-lim task we were put into groups and we filmed the whole peice once and in an hour. However I have found that it has taken a considerably long time to manufacture a quality peice of work for our coursework. This has resulted in several re-shoots with many different stroylines and alot of different actors. This became a real problem as it was very hard to find good actors because most people are quite shy and dont like to be filmed. Also with the pre-lim task it was a matter of uploading the footage and puting together a peice of work that had match on action, shot reverse shot and the 180 rule. In our coursework once we had uploaded all of our footage we found that some camera angles/ shots didn't quite work so we had to re-shoot. The problem with re-shooting is that the actors have to wear the same clothes and the lighting has to be the same. 

Here is my pre-lim task: 

Apart from finding the coursework task a big step up from the pre-lim task I also learnt alot from my first media product. Looking back know I can see how much have learnt along the way. One of the main problems with my pre-lim task is that we didnt use a tripod and we just got someone in our group to hold the camera. This was a bad mistake as most of the shots are very shaky when they shouldnt be. As I have learnt from my coursework task if they are any shaky shot in our final product then we will get marked down instantly. Another improvement from our pre-lim which links into shaky shots is that from our pre-lim to our latest rough cut there is a vast increase in shot varaition which is a major factor that the exam board are looking for. For example there is a shot when Harry says that he is much better than me so we should of taken a low angle shot to show him as bigger and more controlling.

Another problem with my pre-lim task is that the acting was not really serious as we were amateurs at this point and it was our first performane infront of the camera. We didnt take it as seriously as our coursewrok task so we were trying to make it quite funny. This was mainly because the genres are very different in the two films as the pre-lim we filmed was obviously not a horror like our cousrework opening. 

Another progression I have found from the pre-lim task is that when we filmed it we only took us one hour to do it in and then we put it all together and that was it. However in the courswork task I have discovered how vital audience feedback is towards our final piece, without it our production would have been just our opinion and no-one elses. From the help of people in our media class and people in the other media class we have developed their ideas and made our film much better from it. It helps us understand not just what we want in our film but what our target audience wants and this had helped us greatly.
This is an example of us recieving audience feedback on 'Facebook':

Here is an example of us receiving audience feedback from our media class: 

One of our group tasks was to create the soundtrack for our film opening. However we did not use a soundtrack in our pre-lim task this made the task for us to make a whole new soundtrack and extremely hard and challenging one. We had to do quite alot of research and we did this by looking at 20 film openings and we found a few codes and conventions from them. We tried to base our soundtrack on this and we hope that when it is complete it will fit in well with our final product.

There were quite a few minor errors with my pre-lim task and it has helped me to make sure every little detail perfect in my final film opening. These extra points from my Pre-lim include:
  1. We needed to edit in the purposely broken 180 degree rule to show how it does not work.
  2. We could of had a set genre rather than just an everyday theme.
  3. We needed appropriate props and setting. 
  4. In the background we can see Sam so we should of made sure there was no one behind what we were shooting. 
  5. We needed to have narrative enigma. We could of kept Charlie's identity hidden e.g. shot of feet coming through the door rather than his face.
  6. There are a lot of jump cuts so we should of taken more shots.
  7. To show the viewers anchorage of where we were we should of taken a master shot of the room and its surroundings. 

This is our latest rough cut of our production and as you can see it is a massive improvement from my Pre-lim task: 

Sunday, 20 March 2011

ALL- Wrenched Rough Cut

Here is our latest rough cut of our 2 minute feature length film opening called Wrenched

RS - Wrenched Call Sheets


RS - Wrenched Storyboards