Final Opening Sequence

Final Opening Sequence

Final Preliminary Task

Final Preliminary Task

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Post to Moderator

Dear Moderator,

This is my epic finished blog, I hope that you enjoy reading it. I have links to both of my teachers, and the other members of my group, Alex Thoupos's and James Reader's blogs on the right of my blog. Hopefully it will be easy to navigate between the all the blogs.

On my blog, you should find pieces of evidence of Research, Planning, Production and Evaluation. You will see my prelim task video and final opening sequence at the top of my blog.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog

Hope you are well,

Matthew Smith (3745)

This blog is now closed


Tuesday, 5 April 2011

1. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

Our film 'Cataclysm' is an Action Horror film, set in the days and weeks after a deadly radiation leak has affected all surrounding towns and cities and resulting and many people dying. The army is called in to assess the situation, calculate the death tolls and evacuate all those fortunate enough to survive the ordeal. However, unknown to the army, some people took in so much radiation that they became mutated, feeding on the flesh of those still walking. Sgt. Murray, despite his low rank in the army, prevails as the lead in this operation and battle against the mutants.

Our opening sequence needed to clearly convey our sub-genre of Action Horror and due to it being a very specialised genre, we needed to follow and use conventions of real films and opening sequences to make it apparent what our genre is right from the start. The only other film that we could think of that fits into the same genre as our film is I Am Legend
(Lawrence, 2007).

As in the trailer above, from 1:10-1:12, there is a sense of the unknown, where you can hear the noises of the beast, but can't see it. This is a very typical convention within Horror and Action films and is something the audience is used to seeing. This helped us a lot as not only could we build up tension and follow form very easily, but it allowed us to avoid including an actual sighting of the antagonist.

Another film that I found influential was Green Zone (Greengrass, 2010). A scene from the opening sequence features many of the characters gearing up in army gear and gas masks. This triggered the whole idea of our film and helped us come up with the idea for it.

 The sound used in our sequence was key to keeping our sequence within the genre that we wanted it. The tension building soundtrack, consisting of drumbeats, acoustic and choir voices, was the key element that we used to create a foreboding atmosphere and stick to conventions. This caused the audience to expect something to   happen, but not be able to work out what, still keeping the element of surprise.
 When we were shooting, although we needed to stick to conventions, we also wished to break the traditional conventions of darkness within horror products and used an environment that was bright, outside and sunny. This broke the typical form of a horror film and therefore, shows to the audience that there is something different, but as said above, the music still emphasises the genre. Although the location we used was open, the effect we used to wash out our shots cancelled the colour of the sky, however, it is still open and bright.

Todorov’s narrative structure theory shows a progression in the movement from equilibrium, to disruption and then back to equilibrium. It is applicable to our opening sequence. Below is a diagram of his theory, and how I applied it to our opening sequence.


Levi Strauss's theory of binary opposites definitely applies to our opening sequence. The binary opposites that appear within our opening sequence are:

  • Known vs. Unknown - This is most probably the biggest pair of opposites within our opening sequence. The most obvious example of this is the Soldier and Forensics against the beast. We have close ups of the characters, but only ever see the beast's POV. Another example of this is the first 20-30 seconds of the opening sequence. The soldier is unknown at this point, due to the gas mask and helmet but the once removed, we get close ups of his face. Again, this is something that is in most, if not all, horrors.
  • Silence vs. Loud - Although we have a soundtrack playing throughout the whole opening sequence, there are parts when it is quiet and these completely contrast with the drumbeats towards the end of the opening sequence.

Propp's character theory is applicable to our film as a whole, but only a couple of the characters are in the opening sequence.

  • The villain who struggles against the hero - In our opening sequence, it is the beast. However, in our whole film, the whole group of mutants are the villains.
  • The dispatcher who sends the hero off - The commander who our main character speaks to in the opening sequence through the radio works as the dispatcher in our film.
  • The helper who helps the hero in the quest - This would be the fellow soldiers who also fight in the battle against the mutants.
  • The princess who the hero deserves throughout the story - In the evacuation of the surronding towns, the soilder meets a young girl called Elizabeth who is taken by the mutants as a way of hostage.
  • The father who gives the task to the hero - This is not clearly distinguished in our film, as it isn't in most other films either.
  • The donor who prepares the hero - As with the father, this isn't clearly distinguished in our film.
  • The hero who seeks equilbrium - This is Sergant Murray, the soldier who prevails in the fight against the mutants.
  • The false hero who take credit for the hero's actions - The soilder in the opening sequence can be seen as the false hero as we would expect him to be main character before he is killed.
We can test this theory against the narrative structure of Action film, The Dark Knight.

2. How does your media product represent particular social groups?

Our opening sequence used the typical conventions of a strong British Soldier. We needed to convey that he was emotionless, strong, demands respect and enforces power. We attempted to express these through the following:-

Scripting – We used the little dialogue that we have in our sequence to give the audience an insight into the characters personality and the way in which he runs things. We decided to show him bossing the less authoritative forensics around. We also showed the forensics to be very down to the point, speaking in official terms and only speaking when necessary, which shows that it is just a job to them and that they are lower down in the social hierarchy, unlike the soldier who speaks into his radio to another officer.

Costume – As the soldier is the main character in the opening, we needed to make sure that his costume made him instantly recognisable as a soldier. We achieved this by using a camouflaged outfit and boots. We also used costume to signify that the forensics are forensics by having them wear full overalls and masks.

Props – As with costume, we needed to make sure that the soldier is instantly recognisable as a soldier so we used the gun and the helmet to allow the audience to see straight away what he is.

Action - The shooting of the unknown person within 30 seconds of the opening by the soldier shows his lack of emotion and that he is quick to make decisions, 2 typical traits of soldiers in films.

Our sequence doesn’t really include many social groups as. However, as the main character is male, which is generally seen as strong and build for the role of a soldier. This was basically a necessity for our film to make sense as there is a universal image of soldiers and we needed to conform to this to make it obvious.

3. What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?

Our production company, MangleWeb Pictures, focus on mostly small action and horror films who mostly target national audiences, however, more and more of the action films that MangleWeb produce are going international and worldwide. This is due to the action genre being a very widely appreciated and liked genre and the majority of people enjoy watching them. On the contrary, our horror films generally have a more narrowly targeted audience due to people who watch this genre of films being a lot smaller and more niche. Saying this, it is still a wide spread genre, just relatively, not as big.

The kind of media institution that would distribute our film would most likely be either a smaller British production company with funding from a larger distributor, such as the Working Title/Universal link. Working Title is a company that often work with British films such as ours, and would know perfectly how to successfully and efficiently market our film to the niche target audience that we have. Working Title have produced similiar films to ours, such as Hot Fuzz for the Action element and Shaun of the Dead for the Horror element.

On the other hand, it may be better for us to distribute through a large American distribution company such as 20th Century Fox or solely Universal. They have the funds and contacts to make our film an internationally, if not globally, appreciated film which appeals to a much broader target audience, therefore increasing revenue and success. Taking both of these into account, we would be more likely to wing towards the big American distributor as we don’t wish for our film to be limited to a smaller market and wish for it to be appealing to a large number of people which is do-able due to the unique, yet attractive genre.

4. Who would be the audience for your media product?

Our target audience is 15-24 males with a secondary audience of 15-24 females and 25-40 unisex. Our film has an age rating of 15 and therefore, we are not targeting but are still attempting to appeal to anyone under this age.

Name: David Baxter
Age: 17
Gender: Male
Nationality: British
Media Appeals: Horror, Comedy, Action, Adventure
General Likes: Sports, Friends, Gaming
Regular Cinema-goer: Yes, 2-3 times a month

We chose to have this target audience as we know the majority of teenage boys and young adults enjoy horrors and most definitely like a lot of action. This is also a rather large and broad target audience, with a large percentage of the British population within this age range, meaning our film is most likely going to appeal to a large amount of people.

We chose to have a secondary target audience of 15-24 year old females and 25-40 year old unisex. This is due to there being a the majority of both sexs within this age range, again meaning we are appealing to a large amount of people.

5. How did you attract/address your audience?

Mostly the people who go to watch our film are going to be fans of the horror genre and therefore will automatically like our film opening due to the typical conventions of a horror film that we have included. This was our way of attracting our audience. We attempted to draw on film plots and action that we knew our audience liked and put them into our opening sequence.

The blood and gore of this shot helps the audience instantly recognise the genre of our film.
The montage section of grabbing the gun, walking forward into focus and walking past the camera with  the boots gave the sequence more pace and is a typical convention of horror films.

The conventions that are in films that inspired us, such as I Am Legend, are also in our film. As this film was a massive success, and most definitely appealed successfully, using similar conventions and forms will appeal and attract our audience.

We screened our opening sequence to friends and teachers and asked them to fill out a questionaire. Below is a video of our screening, and a sample of a typical questionaire that we recieved.

In general, our questionaire was positively filled out, with an average score of 8 and the improvements were mostly about the acting in our sequence, which we knew wasn't a strong point for us.