Links to my Co-Producers' Blogs

Monday, 31 January 2011

WS - Update on Filming - 'Oblivious'

Although last week I blogged that we had finished filming, I did state that this was assuming we had every shot and all the shots were done correctly and to a decent standard. Unfortunately, we feel this is not the case. While we are happy with the majority of shots that we filmed, we aren't happy with three or four shots, so we will be setting a new date for filming again. The main shots in question are the opening shot, when we are outside the house and getting the establishing shot, and the stabbing of the girl at the end. We feel both shots could be much better than they are, and we want them to reach our high standards. We may also decide to re-shoot others before we go back out to film, although we are undecided on these as of now. 

As well as re-shooting some shots, we also need to film our Company Idents which we have now decided to record on camera before editing. We need to take a shot of an eye blinking and of a sharp knife. In some ways we are quite happy for having to re-shoot as it means we can hopefully improve our footage, show drafting and gives us the oppurtunity to shoot for our Idents.

A date will be posted when we decide to shoot again. 

WS - Company Idents - Update

We decided on our Company Ident names a couple of weeks ago. We decided to call our Distribution Companies "Jagged Edge Productions" and "HawkEye Productions". These names haven't changed, but I thought I would update the blog to tell you where we are in the process of making our idents. After consulting, we have decided we are going to film our Company Idents; a sharp, jagged knife for the "Jagged Edge" ident and a blinking eye for the "HawkEye" Ident. After filming these shots we will edit them, probably using LiveType. When the Idents are updated and hopefully finished, they will be added to the Blog along with an extended description of them.

JW - Reasons for our killer using a knife

From Halloween To Scream, the most recognisable slasher killers (Michael Myers off Halloween, Ghostface off Scream and many others), an average kitchen knife is the killers' choice of weapon.

The above picture is very similar to the knife we use in our production, we used it because Halloween and Scream are the two most influential slasher movies to us, and the choice of weapon from our killer needs to adhere to their codes and conventions.

"In John Carpenter’s era-defining slasher movie, the weapon is just your average, run-of-the-mill kitchen knife. Nothing out of the ordinary. But in the hands of a crazed mental patient in a William Shatner mask it becomes oh so much more." - Quote taken from

Friday, 28 January 2011

ALL - Podcast Number 3

We Created Podcast 3 on 28 January 2011.
In this Podcast we talked about:

  • Filming
  • Editing
  • Sound
  • Target Audience

TW - Mise-en-scene and Props

These masks are similar to the mask we used
This isn't the actual mask we used!
In our production we only need several props, however they all of extreme importance.

The first, and most important prop is a knife, which is what the killer will use to murder his victim. We had to be careful whilst filming however as this was a real knife and we did not want to harm cast members.

The second prop we need is a mask for the killer, as we intend for his identity to be revealed. We have evidence that this technique will be successful as it has already become a proven method for narrative enigma, in films such as 
Scream and Halloween.

The third prop we need alcohol bottle to imply that the couple in our production has been drinking, which is a sin and also points toward sexual activity, which is also regarded as another sin.

The fourth prop we require is a music player as a key scene in our film is when music is mysteriously playing from the music player, this is a scene that is paying homage to 
The Strangersalthough in our production, the music is only mysteriously playing, not caught in a loop to show how the scene is frantic, like in The Strangers. 

Lighting is another aspect of mise-en scene in our film, as we require some lighting, although there are scenes when there is intentionally no light. In one scene we even differ from light, to no light, to act as a scare to the girl, named Amelia in our production.

Finally, we will be using typical clothing, with the female wearing some slightly 'smutty' clothing to represent the sin of sexual activity to incorporate verisimilitude, with even the killer wearing only a mask outside of typical teenage clothing,although he will be wearing dark clothing to represent he is evil so people will believe that our plot could actually take place.

WS - Filming Update - Filming done!

I have been posting on Blogger to say when we were planning to film. Although it was hard to find a time when all our group and cast were available, our first filming is now complete. We filmed on Wednesday 26 January. We filmed on location at Jem's (a member of our group) house, as had always been our aim. We also managed to film at night, meaning we could use realistic and accurate lighting, to what it would be like at that particular time of day, an effect we were really desperate for. 

If we find we require added scenes, or need to re-shoot particular scenes, we will do so and I will again update my blog. Hopefully we will have got all we need, and it will be done well.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

WS - Sound and Music

Sound is an integral part of our film, as it is with any Slasher film. One part in particular, when the stereo turns itself back on, the music is vital to our whole film opening. As well as this we will need music for the opening of the film and when the credits are rolling, also for the end and when the killer appears to build tension. Luckily for us, Jem Whitehead is in a band called 'The FeedBack '. He has said he is happy for us to use their music when Amelia and Carl are in the living room. As well as this, Jem has offered to write and produce the other music we require. This is really good for us because it allows us to use original music, designed and performed by our group. It also means that we can have the final say on what the music is like, create and perform it specifically for our film. This means we should have the perfect sound for our opening, rather than having to settle for music that may or may not accurately reflect our film and it's mood.

We are, at the moment, not entirely sure what other non-diegetic noise we may add. After filming we will watch our film through, and decide then whether it can be improved by adding in extra noise. One thing we do not want to do is totally overpower the diegetic noise with non-diegetic noise.

WS - Casting Update

We now have a confirmed cast ahead of filming tonight. We have had to change our main character, Amelia, in the last week due to availability. Jem, a member of our group, is going to be playing the killer. This should ensure that the person playing the killer is aware of a number of Slasher killers, and their typical behaviour. We think this will help make the production seem realistic, rather than having an actor who is unaware of the conventions. Our opening scene only requires three characters:

Amelia: Mary Newton
Carl (Amelia's boyfriend): James Crowther
The Killer: Jem Whitehead

Having Jem Whitehead as the killer does actually go against our original idea. Previously we had decided that we wouldn't be in our production as we didn't think our acting would be realistic enough. However, when we were struggling for a cast that were available on the same day, Jem volunteered himself to play the Killer. We discussed it as a group before deciding that it would be beneficial to us, and not just because it was convenient. Jem. like the rest of our group, has watched a number of Slasher films and openings, and understands the conventions of the genre. An outside actor may not understand this, and trying to get them to portray the Killer in the way we want may have been very hard. Therefore we have gone back on our original casting idea and have cast Jem as the Killer.

ALL - Our Screenplay


Monday, 24 January 2011

WS - Microdrama

Although my analysis of our Microdrama was on the blog, i hadn't put the actual film on. So here it is.

WS - Planned Filming

We are now in a position to consider filming our final film opening. We are hoping to and expecting to film on Wednesday 26 January 2011. We need to finalize this with our cast and book out filming equipment. This gives us a couple of days, should we need it, to do extended filming. However, we are planning to do every shot on this day. The blog will be updated during the course of this week. 

Sunday, 23 January 2011

ALL - Raw Footage, full and edited version

This is our first Raw Footage. It has been edited to explain what each take is about.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

WS - Black Christmas (Glen Morgan, 2006)

For the IMDB page of Black Christmas (2006), click here.

This version of Black Christmas is a modern remake of a film from the 1970's, Pre-Halloween. The opening of this film is similar in length to the film opening we will have to make, and lasts 2 minutes 29 sconds.

Sound is quite important in this opening as it shows the change from happy christmas time, wrapping presents and drinking wine, to showing the fear that someone is in the house and watching the girl, before killing her quite violently. The film begins with a really upbeat christmas song, making the audience feel happy and warm inside, quite an unusual beginning for a Slasher. But this works quite well because it makes the change in mood more obvious. The music suddenly changes as the female character senses something is wrong when she hears rustling in a cupboard. The music builds up as she gets closer to looking into the cupboard, but there is nothing there. However the music continues as she sits back down, signifying the danger isn't over yet. It begins to buil up again as the girl realises something is missing, before a sudden increase in volume and a change of note as a bag is thrown over her head. The music then becomes faster and lower as a knife is stabbed through the bag before a last loud bit of music as the film title flashes up. 

The film opening, although quite short, does incorporate a large number of shots. The most significant shot is the Extreme Close Up of the pen which the female puts down, because it is that that shows something has changed and that there is somebody present when the pen suddenly isn't there. Early on there are a number of Close ups of christmas objects, confirming the time of year. Christmas is also considered a happy and joyful time, Binary opposition for what is about to happen. The camera shots also throughout the opening suggest somebody else is present, for example the shot looking through the clothes as the girl approaches the wardrobe/closet. High-angles are used to make the girl look vulnerable, while low angles are used cleverly, for example the shot that shows somebody behind the tree.

Mise-en-scene too is vital in this opening scene, and is cleverly thought out. All aspects link in with each other to try and create an effective opening. The outside of the house looks christmassy, further confirmation of the time of year and setting. The house is also quite upper class, clean and warm which could signify the kind of people that live their, as well as providing further binary opposition of good vs evil; warm and cold.The female is drinking wine, which is significant because of the view that Slasher killers often have on this terrible and sinful behaviour. The most key bit of mise-en-scene in the opening scene however, is the pen the girl originally writes a label with. She puts it down with it's lid and walks to her cupboard. When she returns only the lid is there, showing there is someone else there. She doesn't have much time to realise this though, before a bag is thrown over her head. The shot then has a straight cut to the titles. The film title is written on a red background in black writing. 

All of this is crammed into 2 and a half minutes, which could be helpful to our own filming.

WS - The Importance of Wes Craven's Scream

Halloween was a massive hit with audiences in 1978, and was quickly followed by a huge number of similar films, including Friday the 13th (Sean Cunningham, 1979), Bloody Valentine (George Mihalka, 1980) and Graduation Day (Herb Freed, 1981) to name a few. However, due to the repetitive nature of Slasher films, and the huge number of badly done sequels and remakes, the genre began to quickly fade towards the end of 1980's. The first half of the 1990's had also been very quiet for the genre, before Wes Craven's Scream.

Scream plays quite well, and generally follows, the conventions of a Slasher film. The opening scene, with Drew Barrymore as a Scream Queen, is quite an iconic scene within the genre. The following of the 'rules' also gives Craven ammunition to play with - it allows him to incorporate a huge number of false scares when people feel something is going to happen - but doesn't, creating tension frequently. But Wes Craven was too clever to simply follow other people's rules, and according to James Marriott, made his own contribution to the genre:
 "Scream's most lasting contribution to the slasher was simply to add a new level to teen obnoxiousness, genre familiarity providing another reason why these people have to die; and the film only flirts with real darkness inadvertently, through it's smug superficiality and a tone that lurches from the genuinely unsettling to crass comedy."
Halloween is obviously a very important film when looking to make a Slasher or just simply looking into the genre, but many would argue Scream fits in the same bracket. And Wes Craven definately understands the importance of Halloween, often referring to it in Scream, be it with Casey Becker calling it her favourite horror film in the opening scene, or when Randy Meeks, the Slasher boff character in Scream watching it in the house towards the end.The number of links between Scream and Halloween is high, which shows just how important Wes Craven, a Slasher genious himself, thinks Halloween is.

Another interesting thing about Scream is the inclusion of a Slasher Boff in the form of Randy Meeks, a friend of both Sidney Prescott (Final Girl) and the killers. Another quote from James Marriott is:
"Scream's clever-clever self-referentiality is redundant given the conventions of the genre, but the film is effective enough as a slasher, manipulative jump cuts providing the necessary jolts and a few deft touches putting it ahead of the competition"

Randy seems to act as Wes Craven's way of talking about the conventions, and recognising the conventions with in the film. One significant quote from Randy is: 
"That's the beuty of it all; Simplicity! Besides, if it gets too complicated you lose your target audience" 
The reason I think this line may be important is because it could potentially represent Wes Craven's feelings towards the genre. Therefore, this film could have all been made with this in the Directors mind. If the plot is too complicated, then people may be too concerned with that to be getting scared and creating their own fear within their mind. Randy may also be in the film to give Wes Craven's take on the slasher genre. Randy's rules to survive a Slasher are: 
"1. Never have sex. Sex = Death.
 2. Never drink or do drugs. It's a sin, it's an extension of rule number 1.
 3. Never under any circumstances say "I'll be right back"" 
 Randy also says, "Only virgins can outsmart the killer" and "The killer always comes back for one last scare", which follow more typical Slasher conventions.

To see some extra information on Randy Meeks, click here  

Another line from the film, one that I suggested we should use in our film comes in the opening scene. When there is a knock on the door, Casey Becker says, "Who's there?". The killer then rings her and says, "You should never say who's there". When there is a knock on the door in our film, we will take inspiration from Casey's line, although there will be no response.

So Wes Craven has clearly taken the Slasher genre and added to it for his own film, whilst keeping a similar outline to Carpenter's Halloween. Both films are inspirational in their own ways, to us, and to other professional filmmakers. 

Here is the link to the IMDB page for 'Scream'
Here is the link to the IMDB page for Wes Craven

WS - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974)

To see the IMDB page for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, click here
 Estimated Budget: $84,000 (estimated)
Gross: $30,859,000 (USA)

The film opening attempts to come across like a documentary. It starts with a couple of credits, such as the director's name, and then goes to a rolling text which is narrated. The narration informs the audience of what is to come in the film, and sets the tone of the film. It is presented as a documentary, which makes the audience feel like they are watching something about real events, which adds to the fear the film will create. The writing is in a serif font. Before images start after the documentary style speech, the film anchors the date, August 18,1973.

Throughout the opening there is a voiceover. Once the images start there is a radio style voiceover (or a newsreader) talking about some bodies been removed from their graves. Before the voiceover starts there is about a minute where the action flicks between black, blank screen and short images, like they are been taken by a camera. The short images we see are of a decomposed body, which could be quite disturbing to some viewers. The noise is quite eerie, and sounds possibly like an old camera taking photos, which the flash could backup. When the voiceover starts the camera is on another decomposed body that is out in the open. It starts with a close up of a body, but as the voiceover continues, the camera zooms out revealing a second body, and also shows more of the background: a graveyard. The early setting and mise-en-scene sets the scene for quite a scary and strange film.

The sound is mainly used to inform the audience in this opening, although the camera is quite a strange and old-fashioned noise. The sound isn't the most eerie part about this film opening, and doesn't really build any tension, however what the voiceovers are saying could be quite scary and worrying for what is going to come later in the film. The sound of digging during the blank screen is also quite concerning or scary. There is quite a subtle non-diegetic during the opening.

The film opening is quite strange in that it doesn't begin with an equilibrium, the killer is already on the loose. The first shot also doesn't occur until 1 minute 22 seconds, which maintains the narrative enigma and makes the audience create the fear for themselves through unrest and panic. It's also quite a strange film opening because we don't meet any main characters, again making the audience think for themselves, creating their own fear and anxiety.

WS - Sorority House Massacre (Carol Frank, 1986)

To visit the IMDB page for Sorority House Massacre, click here.
This film was low budget, and wasn't very successful at the Box Office.

The film starts with really long opening credits (about 1 and a half minutes), with music over the top throughout these opening credits. The credits are written in a serif font, typical for a Slasher. The word massacre in the title 'splats' onto the screen looking like blood, which could be a sign of what is to come in the film. The camera shot during the opening credits is an establishing shot, showing the house where the majority of this opening scene is set. The camera could be a steady cam is it is wobbling noticeably. Towards the end of the credits the camera starts to zoom in on the house. Comparisons can be made between this, and the titles in 'Halloween' when the camera zooms in on the pumpkin, or the opening steady cam POV shot of the house.

Music is important in this film opening for building suspense and creating an eerie atmosphere. The music is very suspenseful, making the audiences heart rates increase: usually the aim of the sound in a Slasher film. The music also suggests that something is going to happen soon, which creates a fear within the audience. Music plays almost right through the opening scene, although the diegetic sound is heard above the music.

The house in the opening is a picturesque and large house; a good place for a killer to be able to stalk people, hide and flee from. During the credits, you can see the wind blowing the trees, which suggests presence. Shadows on the wall when the man is asleep show somebody is watching him. The high angle also suggests this and makes him look vulnerable. This could also suggest that death or pain is imminent; why else would anybody be doing it?

The film cleverly uses high angle shots to show vulnerability and to look down on characters. POV shots are probably the most common, moving down corridors as if somebody is in the building and looking for victims. The PoV shot also gets a persons perspective of what is happening, the house is dead and quiet; scary! The use of a blue tint during the opening adds fear, but could also be to show that what you are seeing is a flashback of a character and not something that is actually happening now: the blue tint could signify memory, but could also be to show danger, nightime and fear.

Below is a video that includes the opening to the film:

WS - Deconstruction for Babysitter Wanted (Jonas Barnes, 2008)

The opening to Babysitter Wanted is quite short at about 2 and a half minutes. You do not really learn much, although you do see a killing. Subtle clues do give you some idea about the killer, not their identity but what they are like and there are clues they have done this kind of thing before.

The opening uses a lot of Close up shots, and Extreme Close ups. These workeffectively because they keep identitys secret, and give few overviews of the situation. They also give detail to important things, such as the blood on the hammer, the range of weapons the killer has available to him (including a meat hook) and the markings on the woman, similar to those a butcher would make on meat before cutting it up. Low angles of the killers feet help to keep his identity secret, providing the opening with a Narrative Enigma. The camera is often looking down on the female, making her look like the victim and vulnerable. The camera is often wobbling, using handheld shots which make the audience feel like they are there, and are witnessing this slaughter.

The film uses mostly non-diegetic sounds, apart from the the female screaming. The music is quite scary and adds to the mise-en-scene to add tension. There is one long, high pitched note which builds tension. This kind of sound can also make the audience hold their breath, feeling like something happening is immenent. The note ends when the hammer hits the womans head.

The mise-en-scene is vital to this opening scene, and provides a lot of tension, fear and worry for the audience about what this killer is going to do throughout the rest of the film. The woman is crying in the scene, which adds to the tension; she is clearly very distressed and knows death is coming. It makes the audience feel uncomfortable and you know what is about to happen to her. The blood-splattered weapons show that the killer has done this kind of thing before and has got away with it, and he appears very calm throughout. There is a meathook seen in the opening, an implement often used by butchers. This could signify howthe killer sees this woman, or women in general (he sees them as pieces of meat). The markings on the woman also appear to be like those a butcher would put on meat before cutting it, again comparing women to pieces of meat.

WS - Deconstruction of All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (Jonathan Levine, 2006)

$750,000 budget and took $41,000 on the opening weekend.

The opening shots of the film appear to be like an ordinary school day. The opening uses elliptical editing to show that time has passed and also uses transitions to change time and location. The new time and place is night time at a pool party. The pool party tells us the film is most likely set in America as pool parties are common there. The school also appears to be a typical American High School. The titles for the film are done in a Serif font, which connotes danger and is quite typical for a Slasher or horror film. The film makes use of non-diegetic sounds to create tension and fear. The setting, an isolated house at night time, also creates fear and suggests that something will go wrong.

The film uses quite a lot of binary opposition: males and females; virgins (Mandy Lane) and the sexually active (this is quite important because it is Mandy who survives); popular and geeky students and of course good VS evil is represented (this isn’t really seen in the opening scene however as the person who dies jumps to his death.) The film plays to its audience through images of the characters, for example the males are generally muscular and topless, whilst the females are good looking, thin and wearing bikinis. The film also makes use of stereotypes and counter-stereotypes; Mandy Lane appears to be a stereotypical cheerleader, but isn’t into all the sex and drugs that many others in the film are. A geeky kind of stereotype is also represented. The film opening also makes use of different camera shots to objectify women; early on there are a number of close-up shots of Mandy’s breasts and bum, suggesting this is all she is; she isn’t a person she is merely an object.
The film challenges representation in the film, whilst carrying on with some traditional reasons for people been killed in Slasher movies. The signs of sexual activity are everywhere in the opening scene. Males and females are kissing all around the scene, and are all only semi-dressed/covered. From the opening and knowledge of stereotypes, you would expect Mandy Lane to be a ‘Scream Queen’ (she is blonde, busty), but she actually comes across as more of a ‘Final Girl’ type of character, which questions representation and stereotypes within the Slasher genre. The film does carry through some things from the typical Slasher film though, for example the main things to stay away from been sex, drugs and alcohol. People doing these things, or combining all of them are likely to be punished by the killer for their sins. The film does further defy tradition by having the male character killed at the end of the opening when, traditionally, it is a female Scream Queen who is often dramatically killed at the end of the opening.

The film opening lasts 8 minutes and 25 seconds.
Click here to visit te IMDB page for 'All The Boys Love Mandy Lane'

Below is a video that inclues the opening scene:

Thursday, 20 January 2011

WS - The importance of John Carpenter's "Halloween"

Halloween is believed to be the film that "defines the Slasher genre". Before Carpenter's film there had been other similar films, such as "Black Christmas" (Bob Clark, 1974), but Halloween is still seen as the first "real" Slasher film by many, and is the film that most others in the genre will be compared to. According to James Marriott in his book "Horror Films": ( Click here to go to the Amazon page for James Marriotts book. )
"Halloween is not a message movie; it is designed purely and simply to scare the audience, and on this level, seen for the first time at least, it works remarkably well."
 It would be difficult for us as AS students to make our Slasher film without really looking into Halloween first, never mind Directors wanting to make money at the Box Office through a Slasher. Halloween holds all the conventions of the Slasher Genre, hence why it is seen as the film that defines the genre. To refer back to James Marriotts book, he writes:
"The rules of the Slasher, endlessly recycled but adhered to religously are as follows:
  1. A traumatic event in the past creates a psychopathic killer.
  2. The killer returns to the site of the event, usually on a specific date in the present that allows the makers to use a calendar motif in the title.
  3. The killer stalks and graphically kills a group of obnoxious and stupid teens of both sexes, usually with some kind of blade, often a garden or farm implement.
  4. A 'final girl' survives, usually boyish and often virginal, to thwart the killler, although he is never entirely vanquished."

This is the typical outline of the Slasher genre, that really began with Halloween. The genre taking off in the first place was down, almost single-handedly to this film. Halloween is regarded by most experts of the genre as the film that kick started it all off and made the industry the success that it was in the 1980's and to a lesser extent, in the late 1990's. Scream, the film by Wes Craven that is thought of as the film that re-ignited Slasher films in 1996, takes a lot of obvious influences from Halloween and often refers to Carpenters great. Arguably, one of the most famous shots in film history is the opening shot of Halloween, the steady cam POV shot of the Myers' house. The film is gripping, exciting and of course scary for first time viewers, giving it the desired effect that Carpenter was after. A quote from Carpenter is:

"I hate pretentious movies...I suppose I've gone the other direction and just tried to have a good time and have the audience have a good time. Sometimes it's work and sometimes it hasn't, you know?"
 One of the most surprising reasons that this film was a success and influential, was actually how easy, cheap and quickly it was made. It doesn't star any huge names or have brilliant special effects, it was kept simple with it's main, simple aim to scare people.The budget of this film ($300,000) was noted by other Directors and film makers, and it started off a huge wave of films, mainly Slashers going for low budget hits, Friday 13th (Cunningham, 1980) been a very good example. Most of the films that followed also followed the same kind of outline, and this is another reason why audiences loved the genre. They enjoyed knowing what was about to happen and been able to almost join in with the film, very different to anything that had been before it.

Extra details that I had noticed when watching Halloween that appear in other Slashers include:
  • A masked killer - even though from the opening scene, we know what the killer looks like and who he is, he still wears a mask to hide his identity and for fear purposes.
  •  The killer is often seen watching his target - very often the Final Girl, the one who he tries to catch, but always seems to evade him, the killer is often seen spying on her, or on his next victim.
  • The killer uses a brutal weapon - generally a blade of some sort.
  • The killer will be seen in the background - maybe in a reflection in a window or threw a window or open door (much like Michael is seen outside the laundry room whilst Annie is washing her clothes/locked in)
  • The same non-diegetic sound is made whenever the killer appears. (often a long drawn out note.) 
  • The killer appears to be Supernatural; They seem to have the ability to appear and disappear.
  • The killer often comes across as invincible. For example Michael Myers is stabbed with a knitting kettle, a coat hanger, a knife, shot six times and falls off the roof - but manages to escape. 
This is a link to the IMDB page for 'Halloween'
This is a link to John Carpenter's page on IMDB

WS - Deconstruction for the opening scene of "Scream"

Click here to go to the IMDB page for "Scream"
Directed By: Wes Craven

The opening to "Scream" is quite simple, yet absolutely brilliant. It is a very long opening scene at 12 minutes 26 seconds, but the way it builds up from creepy caller to knife-wielding maniac is gripping, memorable and genious.
The scene starts with long, continuous shots following the girl around the house while she is on the phone. This makes the setting and film seem quite peaceful, and although she appears to be on the phone to someone who, at best, is a weird stalker, you don't feel threatened and you don't think (apart from people who often watch Slashers, and understand the conventions) the blonde is in any danger (within this short part of the opening a Dutch Angle shot is used, suggesting early on that there is something strange and dangerous about to happen). However, when the caller mentions that they are looking at her, the camera shots suddenly become much quicker and more varied. This is very clever, because without actually doing much in the action this quickly gets the audiences heart rates going and builds up tension. The camera shots are also very clever. Most of the shots slowly move in on the girl, which signifies she is been trapped in and backed into a corner. The shot types vary more and more as the opening goes on. The use of a very fast POV panning shot looking out of the front door is a very good shot, it shows the tension and panic of the girl with the speed in which the shot pans, but it also shows the isolation of the house, telling the audience that there is nobody around to help, increasing the tension.

As with all Slasher films, the sound in the opening scene is absolutely vital to how the scene comes across (watching the scene with the sound off is very, very different!) and how scary the scene is. Whilst mise-en-scene plays a big part in building up tension and fear, sound is key to this. Early on, there is very little non-diegetic sound, when everything appears peaceful. In the establishing shot the film would be silent except for some insects making noises, which once again adds to the isolated feel, and of course peaceful feel. Inside the house there is only diegetic sound, for example the ringing of the phone and the sound of the popcorn. The first introduction of sound is when we first feel threatened for the girl, when the caller reveals he is looking at her. From here on in, sound is used to build the tension, often using long, drawn out notes which makes the audience hold it's breath. The music goes from quiet, to loud and back to quiet frequently building up tension and providing false scares. There is also the use of what sounds like a loud drum beat at one point, which strikes fear into the heart with every beat. All the sound is cleverly put together and works effectively to make the audience nervous, scared and yet gripped all at the same time.
 The mise-en-scene is very smart in this scene. There is the usual expected in a Slasher film: the low hanging branches on the trees, the isolated house and the brutal killing weapon. But Wes Craven takes Scream even further by been very intelligent with the objects he places in shot. One of the best examples of excellent mise-en-scene, is when Casey, played by Drew Barrymore, is leaning on the kitchen counter talking to the killer on the phone, and she is playing with a block of knives. This is a relatively simple action, and yet tells you so much about what is going to happen and seems quite ironic. The setting of the house is important; secluded and far away from any potential saviour (such as the Police as is pointed out by the Killer). There is more clever mise-en-scene in the shape of the popcorn. The popcorn starts off very steady and calm, but by the time the killer is breaking in and going after Casey, it is bubbling and popping a lot. This is very clever because Craven has used the popcorn to represent the pace of the seen and it shows the build up through his mise-en-scene.
Through all aspects, Craven has really created quite the masterpiece in his opening and combines everything very well. Each aspect compliments each other effectively, and you could argue that it would be exceptionally hard, maybe impossibly hard, to find a better constructed opening to a Slasher film.

Below is the opening scene of the film:

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

WS - Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978) Deconstruction

Click here to go to the IMDB page for "Halloween" 

There are two parts to the Opening scene of Halloween; the opening credits, and the opening action scene.

The camera is slowly zooming in on a pumpkin. Inside the pumpkin are flickering candles signifying hell/horror. The Sans-Serif font writing flickers between red and yellow, which also signifies hell/horror/fire (Sans-Serif font is an unusual choice here as it usually signifies light-hearted comedy). The music is eerie and suspenseful (this music also appears throughout the film) and it changes the audiences heart rate making them feel tense. The titles last 2minutes and 5seconds. Following the title scene, the screen turns black with two words written on: Haddonfield, Illinois. This anchors the location for the start of the film. It immediately moves away from polysemy and provides exposition straight away. The white writing on the black background shows binary opposition and could be representing good/evil. Reading further into the location, it seems deliberate that Illinois has been chosen; it isn't a huge city such as New York, it represents a quieter and more subdued location. The shot after the setting anchorage, is anchorage for the date (Halloween Night, 1963). The same applies in terms of the style, but the date informs the audience of exactly when the film is set; what day, month, year and decade.
Once the action actually starts, we have a POV (Point-of-view) shot from an unknown person (although we find out later in the opening that it is the killer). The shot is quite unique and carries on for the duration of the film opening, except for a short camera shot at the end. The shot is done using a steady cam, which gets the feel that it is someone's viewpoint, without been so over the top that the camera is jolting everywhere. The shot also uses tracking. The shot uses a very strong blue filter, which is often associated with horror films. The blue tinted camera signifies supernatural, night time and colness. The mise-en-scene is very important in the opening scene. At the beginning of the shot we see the house is detached, suggesting isolation and help isn't near. There are also trees over hanging in front of the camera creating shadows. Inside the house there are typical items, such as tables, draws and chairs. However small details make a big difference because they provide verisimilitude, for example the large grandfather clock and the knife. There is also an interesting part of the shot when POV shot is like looking through a mask, giving the audience a really close up view of the killing and it makes it more suspenseful as it is like the viewer is carrying out the killing. The sound in the opening (created by the director John Carpenter himself!) uses a lot of long drawn out notes which generally make the audience hold their breath, creating even more tension. 
The opening ends with a high angle shot looking down on Michael Myers (the killer) holding the knife, his parents and their house.

Here is the opening scene to Halloween. Please note that in this video the opening credits are missing. The credits, in the film, come before the opening scene.

ALL - Podcast Number 2: Rough Footage, Casting, Company Idents and Music

Monday, 17 January 2011

WS - My Pitch and Original Idea

Above is the pitch that I did to the group in an attempt to persuade people to carry out my idea. While I feel the timing of my pitch was right, I wasn't too rushed and I didn't finish too early, there were a couple of reasons why I wasn't as happy with it as I could have been. Throughout the Pitch, you sense nervousness, which I was feeling slightly, but not as much as it seems in the video. There is also the bit late on when I lost track of where I was and what I was saying, but generally, I thought the pitch went quite well.

Below is my original Idea.
  • Starts with an establishing shot of an isolated house.
  • Girly music can be heard. (Quiet to loud) Stereotypical Blonde Girl is putting make up on ready to go out.
  • Girl hears a noise, goes to investigate, camera focuses on open window.
  • Phone rings, unknown number. Answers…silence. Just before she hangs up the killer says something to suggest he can see her.
  • Girl doesn’t believe him but begins looking around the house and locking doors while still on the phone. Killer threatens her not to hang up.
  • Girl calls his bluff hangs up and returns to mirror.
  • Girl drops something on the floor, camera follows her down and back up. When she sits back in front of the mirror the killer has appeared behind her.
  • Film cuts to black with the knife coming down on a POV shot.

Inspiration for my original idea came from "Scream"(Wes Craven, 1996) and "When aStranger Calls"(Simon West, 2006). I wanted my idea to try and follow stereotypes (the blonde girl/Scream Queen), conventions of a slasher movie (brutal weapons, hidden identity of killer) and it also carries representation. Whilst thinking up my idea I was also considering the how easy it would be to access the setting, and how realistic filming was, for example I wanted to stay away from filming a lot of outside shots when it was dark as it would be hard to see. One bit of my idea that I was really happy with, and that we carried through into our final idea was the POV shot of the knife coming down on the female victim. Halfway through this shot the screen would cut to black, which i thought would be very effective.

ALL - First Call Sheet And Storyboard

Production Schedule

Sunday, 16 January 2011

WS - Inspiration

Before even planning any filming, we looked at a number Slasher film openings and did a little bit of research to learn about Slashers. Durling the planning stages of our individual ideas, we had to try and incorporate other ideas from existing films into our idea to show that our idea would work as a full length film.

 Before talking about the films that directly influence our film, I will talk about the inspiration of Halloween. In my opinion, it would be impossible to make a successful Slasher without first looking at and seriously considering Halloween. Our film, without taking inspiration in storyline from Halloween, does take a number of smaller aspects from it. For example, we are considering having a heavy breathing killer next to the camera just before our female 'Scream Queen' turns into him. Michael Myers can often be heard breathing in Halloween. We are also thinking of masking our killer like Myers. Early ideas were to maybe do an imitation of the famous first PoV shot in Halloween, but decided against it because we weren't sure we had the time, as well as not having the equipment to do it. We didn't think doing the shot handheld would work because it would be too wobbly and jerky. So our idea certainly takes inspiration from Halloween, but not in our plot.

Our idea, Oblivious, takes inspiration from a couple of films. Part of our film is influenced by the "The Strangers" (Bryan Bertino, 2008). The inspiration we have taken from this film is the idea of the music stuck on  a loop. We have adapted this to make the music switch back on (after the girl has earlier) which creates mystery and fear for the girl. This idea came about when we decided that we wanted to include false scares and we thought it would be a good way of building tension. We also liked the idea of using music to add verisimilitude. 

Click here to visit the IMDB page for "The Strangers" 

Our main inspiration though, is the film "Scream" (Wes Craven,1996). "Scream" is widely 
regarded as the film that brought the Slasher Genre back to life after a very quiet period in it's history. Wes Craven, the director of Scream is often referred to as a genius on Internet sites that look at and review Slasher films. For this reason, and because we wanted to have a similar kind of setting/story, we took huge inspiration from this film.

Click here to go to the IMDB page for "Scream" 

We took most of our inspiration from "Scream" for the reasons stated above. The inspiration that we have actually carried over to our film varies. For our opening we have used a Scream  Queen as does "Scream". Our reasons for this were to show inspiration from other films, as well as a Scream Queen been traditional in a Slasher, and we wanted to carry through as many conventions of Slashers through to our own film. The setting too was inspired by the film, as well as traditional Slasher films. The isolated house creates fear for the character and shows that help is far away. Another convention of a Slasher is to use unusual and brutal looking weapons. This is the case in Scream and we have also adopted this idea. As well as unusual weapons, the killer often also uses cloaks and masks to conceal their identity, shown in Scream and in our production, Oblivious. False Scares are also important in our film opening, and they have a very important effect in the opening of "Scream" as they buil real tension and fear to the audience.

Inspiration from "Scream"
  • A Scream Queen (Like Drew Barrymore's character in Scream)
  • The Setting (Isolated house)
  • The killers Weapon (a knife) 
  • False scares (Such as the knock on the door, happens in Scream as well as in our film.) 
  • The killer's identity concealed by a mask.
Inspiration from "Strangers"
  • The music stuck on a loop.
  • Loud knocking on the door.    

Friday, 14 January 2011

WS - Company Idents

In our group, we tested out a number of names to use as company idents. These were generally combinations of our names, but none of them seemed very good or effective. We changed our approach after discussion and came up with a name for our Production Company as well as a name for our Distributions.

Production Name: Jagged Edge Productions
This idea came up during our discussion. We thought we could effectively portray this in an image that would be instantly recognizable, as well as it been quite a catchy name.

Distributions: Hawk Eye Distributions
This too seemed like a catchy name for us to use. We discussed it as an idea and decided that we thought we could simply, but very effectively make a design that could represent this. After a relatively short final discussion, we decided on this Distribution company name because we believed it to be the best name we had thought of.

Before publishing these as our Company Idents we checked on the internet to see whether they were all ready in use. We couldn't find anything to suggest that they were already in existence and therefore had our final Company idents.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

WS - Casting

Much of our inspiration came from other films. One of our biggest inspirations, is the film "Scream" (Wes Craven, 1996). The relevance of this is that our main character could be compared to the Scream Queen in the opening scene of Scream. The girl in our opening scene will be a blonde teen who has recently taken part in sexual activity and consuming alcohol. This character could be seen as similar to Drew Barrymore in the film "Scream". A typical blonde girl who has been very sinful and therefore deserves to die (sex and alcohol are the sins; deserves to die is a reference to how these sins are punished in the Slasher genre). This kind of portrayal of women is common in Slasher films, but the link can be made between our character, and our biggest inspiration for our film opening.

We require three characters for our film:

  1. A teenage blonde girl.  This character is going to be killed in the opening scene of our film. She will be a very stereotypical blonde, and at the beginning of the film will show signs of sexual activity and alcohol consumption. Inspiration for this charcter came from Drew Barrymore's character, "Casey" in Scream.                                                                              
  2. The Boyfriend.  This character will be with the girl at the beginning of the scene before leaving. They will be a typical, older, high school kind of character, who could be leading the girl away from the good and on to bad things such as sex, alcohol and drugs. He will leave the house before the killing happens.  He would be a potential suspect had the fim carried on.
  3. The Killer.  The killers identity will not be revealed (Narrative Enigma). We are thinking of having them hooded and masked or maybe using camera shots to keep their identity secret. No clues will be given as to who the killer may be, but the reasons should be quite clear through the alcohol consumption and inclinations that sexual activity has been taking place. We are, at the moment, unsure how exactly we will portray our killer. Two influences could be the Scream killer, or the killer from Halloween.
 We want our actors to be convincing in their roles and so will be finding other people to do the acting rather than using ourselves. The actors we use will probably be around our age, which will also help with our target audience (teens to 35 year olds - young adults). One problem with using young actors could be the believability, but we think if we choose the correct people to be in our film then this won't be a problem.

WS - Planned Filming

Our group is planning on beginning filming the weekend of 15-16 January 2011. Further updates on the filming will be uploaded to my blog.

We have now changed our planned filming date. We will still take the cameras out this weekend (15-16 Jan) but will take some rough footage around our setting, rather than carrying out the actual footage for our film. Our cast will not be included. The point of this is to check the setting works well and to try and find some interesting shot types and scenarios that we could use.

WS - Target Audience For Our Slasher

Although Slashers started off with primarily a male audience, the presence of Final Girls has helped to bring in the female audiences. Although girls are often brutally murdered in Slashers, the presence of Final Girls has been massive for the genre. Final Girls are often very strong characters and often aren't the more good-looking characters in the film (they can be quite boyish and are often virginal; they also often have names that can be either male or female, for example Laurie or Sidney.), appealing to the majority of females who may see themselves in a similar fashion. Due to this, we think that the Slasher audience is starting to level out more between males and females. We believe that the target audience age is still between 15 and 25.                   

The target audience for our production (entitled Oblivious) will be primarily teenagers (both male and female). Although since we will not be doing an ending for our film, we cannot establish a 'final girl', we will give serious inclinations that our production will be a rather more conventional slasher movie.
The rating of our production, I imagine would be at least a 15. Most slasher movies are rated a 15 or 18, due to the amounts of violence and nudity (and in a more sub-genre of slasher, drug use). Yet again, since our production will be a conventional slasher movie, I imagine it'll have at least a 15 rating. So while the Target Audience for gender is all, our target audience age is much more limited (hopefully the film would appeal to people of all ages above the Age rating, but we have identified a much smaller target audience). Our main target audience will be people aged between 15 and 24 (15 depends on whether our film would be rated 15 or 18, but we would be aiming for our film to be a 15 to extend potential viewers). We think our film would appeal to this kind of audience because we believe they would enjoy the scares, the build-up in tension and a bit of gore. The predictability of Slashers which also allows people to almost join in and to know what is coming would, in our opinion and the opinion of some Slasher makers, appeal to this kind of age range, both male and female. 

Two key bits that I picked out when reading the information on the above link, referred to women and the age of most horror fans. Two short quotes taken from the site are, "Horror is most popular with teenagers and twenty-something’s", as well as, "As this site will show, many attendees and devoted fans of the horror genre are women"

Our Target Audience Summary : 

Primary/Core Target Audience : 15 - 24 year old males and females.
Secondary Target Audience :     25 - 35 year old males and females.