In preparation for the construction of my own short film for my A2 coursework, I have been watching short films. I have been doing this in order to recognise the codes and conventions of short films so that I can apply them to my own media product. I have noticed whilst watching short films that there are normally less than a few characters within the film and the storyline is normally focused solely on the protagonist. One example of this can be found in the short film ‘About a Girl.’ It is a nine-minute short film, directed by Brian Percival. In 2001 it won the BAFTA Award for Best Short Film. The storyline follows the protagonist, a thirteen-year old girl, along Manchesters’ industrial skyline as she talks directly to the camera. Secondly, it is worth noting that the majority of short films have some form of twist in the storyline, probably because they are so short that without, they would be uninteresting and said to be ‘pointless.’ Voice overs are popular in short films; often, the protagonist narrates the storyline in first person to emphasise the personal aspects of this. Also, this could be because voice overs are cheaper than a high tech boom. Lastly, most short films tend to feature actors between sixteen and twentyfive years in age. This may be because adolescent storylines are considered interesting and relatable (the younger viewers can sympathise and the older viewers are given a sense of nostalgia) or maybe because younger people are willing to work for free for interest or experience, or for little money (as most short films are low budget).
The purpose of a film poster is to attract an audience and to sell the film. Film posters are usually found in magazines (most commonly A4 size), on billboards (this is quite often the case in America but is less common in the UK), on walls in the cinema and for general sale in shops such as HMV and WHSmiths and at bus stops. The bus stop poster is a fairly new concept of advertising and was developed with the glass-enclosed bus stop shelters in mind. Bus stop posters normally measure 45 inches by 70 inches or larger, depending on the size of the panel at various stops. In the UK, film posters most commonly come in the following sizes: Quad, size 30 inches by 40 inches (762x1020mm), landscape format, double crown, size 20 inches by 30 inches (508x762mm), portrait format, One-sheet, size 27 inches by 40 inches (686x1020mm), portrait format, three sheet, size 40 inches by 81 inches (1020x2060mm), portrait format.
Conventions of film posters: a successful film poster must be eye catching and grab the audiences attention. To achieve this, there is usually a focal image to draw them in. The title of the film is usually displayed in a very large font and it, as well as the rest of the poster, must clearly define the film’s genre. It should be designed to attract the largest audience possible. There is usually some indication of when the film is being released and some information on the directors, producers and starring actors. There is commonly a BBFC certificate printed on film posters, unless they say TBC.
Different kinds of posters include: teaser posters. A teaser poster is an early promotional film poster, containing a basic image or design without revealing too much information such as the plot, theme, or characters. The purpose is to raise awareness and build excitement around the release time.There are some instances when teaser posters are issued far in advance before the film goes into production, although they can be created during the films development. Character posters for films with an ensemble cast such as Avengers, Batman or the Twilight saga may have a set of character posters, each featuring an individual character from the film. They usually feature the name of the actor playing said character or their character name followed by a tagline which reflects the character.
During my A2 coursework construction (making a short film) I aim to demonstrate how I have grown since AS level and the new skills I have aquired. One issue I discovered last year during filming was that continuity was a weak area. Continuity is an issue which should be considered in both pre and post production. For example, in the making of my AS coursework (a two minute introduction to a film) I only noticed a continuity error after editing; in one shot, there was a white mug on the work surface, and in the next shot, the mug was blue and patterned. Similarly, my other coursework group membets, Fade and Aimee, had a continuity error in their AS coursework; in one shot, there was a drinks can on the floor, and in the next, it was gone. My experiences at AS level have taught me that I need to be more careful and plan in advance for any continuity errors, and if they are to occur in filming, I must edit them out during contruction and editing. The role of continuity editing is highly important in the film making process; it ensures that a media product is coherent as a whole and, visually, makes ‘sense’ to an audience. Below I have pasted a continuity excercise which was shot by me and Oliver Marley at AS level and highlights the importance of how things must make visual sense.
I designed this double page magazine article using Adobe InDesign as practice for my own double page spread based on my five minute film as part of my A2 coursework. I based this double page spread on a 2007 article in Tesco Magazine. This was great practice in helping me develop my design skills as I learnt how to use various features in the program. I learnt how to insert columns and guttering, text, use colour and swatches, insert images and resize and rotate them maintaining their proportions and insert shapes. I will, without a doubt, use all these skills in the construction of my own double page spread.
Below is an example of a double page spread on the film ‘Avatar’ which featured in Unlimited Magazine. Avatar was released in 2009, ten years after its intended release. It is an American epic science fiction film and was written and directed by James Cameron. The film is set in the mid 22nd century, when humans are mining a precious mineral called unobtanium on Pandora.
As can be seen from the above image, a colour scheme has been carefully chosen, as I did with the creation of my very first double page spread which can be found above. Whilst I used a colour scheme of purple, pink and white, Unlimited Magazine appear to have based their colour scheme for the article on colours within the stills of the film they have used. They have used white text against a black background in order to make the main body of text stand out and be easily read. They have used the orange that the Na’Vi tribe feature on their bodies to create backgrounds for the main title of the review, a sub story column and the review titles at the top of each page. The use of a colour scheme is mainly for aesthetic purposes, although it also creates coherency within the magazine.
Most magazine’s film reviews tend to comprise the following:
Stills which have been taken directly from the film in order to demonstrate the genre and events within the plot to the audience as well as the advertise the film; photos taken behind the scenes of actors and crew with equipment; a large title- the title is often the largest text on the page and there may often be text effects which mirror the genre of the film; this means that when the reader is flicking through the magazine, this is the first thing that they are likely to notice; a colour scheme, as discussed above; a rating which is awarded by the magazine (however, some of the time due to ownership and media convergence, large conglomerates can influence the rating that they are awarded in a bid to almost advertise the film and entice an audience. One example of this is that Rupert Murdoch owns both 21st Century fox and The Sun Newspaper meaning that any film produced by 21st Century fox is extremely likely to receive positive feedback from The Sun Newspaper); the release date; information on the actors, producer and director; text-breakers which are normally pull quotes taken straight from the article and are in a larger and often bolder font and are sometimes in a different colour. The majority of the time there is a stand-first (a short paragraph presented in a larger font which provides an opening to the article and intrigues the audience); a sub-story article which is separated from the main body of text using pictures/dashes/lines and borders and is somehow relevant to the main article. For example, a separate column of text purely focusing on the main actor in the film, the genre of the film and the top ten films of that genre of the year or other films the reader may enjoy if they like this film.
After careful research and analyses into the codes and conventions of double page magazine articles, I have used Adobe InDesign CS6 to construct a first draft of my double page spread which will eventually be based on my short film. Though I have used placeholder text, an image from http://google.co.uk/images and have omitted some text and images, this is the desired look I am to create. The image is a screenshot and, unfortunately, I had to paste it in my blog sideways in order to comply with my layout.
Below is another similar example which I constructed in InDesign which demonstrates my ability to play around with layouts and design to achieve the desired affect. I believe the final draft (above) was most suitable and has the look I set out to achieve.
Postmodern films quite often consist of more than one genre, and ‘refuse’ to be categorised easily. This is apparent in Blade Runner which is part dark science fiction and part detective film noir. Whilst there are lots of sci-fi conventions within the film (flying cars etc) it also conforms to the style of film noir in that the lighting is fairly dark and often shadowy.
The terror that is found in this film is the future. It refers to the past whilst depicting one view of the future, which is a very important issue in postmodern film. Films that show the future seem to often be very sinister. We are constantly shown ideas of the future which are apocalyptic/show the mass spread of infection/the effects of global warming or, as in this film, where machines have as much, or more, power as humans (also as in Terminator) and where machines have taken over humans (as in the Matrix), and in this film where machines are humans.
The timeless theme of prejudices in included in the film: the underlying theme of racism is used where the ‘replicants’ are the inferior race, as such, even though their presence was not voluntary (they were created). Also, gender representations are made throughout. According to postmodern theorist Denzin, there are only ever two types of women portrayed in postmodern films, the good (middle class and respectable), and the bad (overtly sexual and disrespectful, common offemme fatale, as in Fatal Attraction). These have also been described as red and white women. In Blade Runner there are only three female characters: Pris, is a replicant prostitute. She is a red woman as she is sexually active and strong. Zhora, is an erotic dancer and therefore, she is also a red woman. Rachel is a white woman. She appears very much middle class, respectable and is wellspoken. Although she seems quite in control of herself, she is dominated by Deckard and cries quite easily. She is portrayed as vulnerable and needs to be protected. This conforms to the stereotype that women are inferior and constantly suppressed and dominated in a modern day patriarchal society.
The film is a prime example of a post-modern film. It contains instances of violence to signify freedom, the future is uncovered and it portrays a time where the unreal is real, and violence is moved into everyday life.
Intertextual references: reference to ‘America a prophecy’ by William Blake, Coca Cola advertisement. Biblical reference- Zhora’s gun shot wounds to each of her shoulders make her appear as a fallen angel.
The hunger games (2012) was written and directed by Gary Ross. It is an excellent example of cross-media convergence as well as branding, as the trilogy was originally in book form, written by Suzanne Collins. The genre of this film is action sci-fi and, in terms of style, is very futuristic. The camerawork, for the most part (with the exception of establishing shots in order to set the scene) is handheld and shaky, possibly in order to demonstrate the warped way of life in this futuristic society. There are also elements of romance throughout the film, such as the way Gale looks fondly upon Katniss, and seems disappointed as he watches the games and sees her relationship with Peeta progress. The inclusion of this sub-genre enables the audience to relate and demonstrates timeless themes.
The tone of the film is, in general, quite dark and sinister in order to directly reflect the events within it (fighting to the death). This also portrays the residents of the district’s unhappiness and longing for change; Gale even proposes that nobody watch the games in an attempt to have the tradition ended. However, there are playful elements to the tone of the film such as when Katniss mockingly says ‘may the odds be ever in your favour’ and when Gale mouths ‘war, terrible war’ at her during the district 12 reaping.
The plot is very similar to that of the Japanese production ‘Battle Royale’ in that the characters fight to the death in the forest. The structure is very fragmented (which is common in postmodernist film); flashbacks and alienation are used to create sympathy for the protagonist, there is a degree of awareness of mechanics in film making. Shots flick frequently between characters to show expression and build tension. Despite this, there is a fairly linear structure to the plot, which goes against postmodernism.
There are few intertextual references to other films since the film is set in the future, where the land and citizens have been split into twelve districts by class in order to prevent the reoccurance of war. However, there are links to Nazi Germany and the Roman Empire, i.e mass execution used in order to provide entertainment. This is also similar to the way in which the Olympics, in particular London 2012, were mass marketed and advertised and were universally watched and talked about. Again, this is also very similar to reality television shows such as Big Brother and I’m a Celebrity Get Me out of Here! in the way that the selected persons, or ‘tributes,’ are being constantly observed, and intervention by producers and game controllers is used to provoke situtations to provide entertainment.
The stereotype of the protective older sister is used in Katniss’ character, though the film mainly challenges stereotypes and breaks tensions, which is common in postmodernist productions. For example, a female protagonist, and heronine, is used and Peeta is the male underdog. Katniss is good at hunting and almost acts as a ‘father figure’ taking care of her mother and sister when she is at home and acting as the sole provided by selling her catches.
The main postmodernist feature which appears to be present is the use of hyperreality. The distinction between reality and media’s representation of reality has become blurred. and example of this is how the same poster used to market the film is used to advertise the games in the capital.
The Compact Oxford English Dictionary refers to postmodernism as ‘a style and concept in the arts characterised by a distrust of theories and ideologies and by the drawing of attention to conventions.’ Postmodernists claim that in a media-saturated world, where we are constantly immersed in media, the distinction between reality and the media’s representation of reality becomes blurred and, in some cases, completely invisible to us. In other words, we can no longer differentiate between real things and images of them. A hyper reality has been created. Some say that it has always been this way, such as Strinati who claimed ‘the mass media were once thought of as holding up a mirror to, and thereby reflecting, a wider social reality.’ Semiotics refers to the way in which signs represent ideas, people or places. However, Baudrillard believes there is only the surface meaning. Postmodernists argue that there are no original ideas anymore and that each text is made up of bricolage. There is no longer any original thing for a sign to represent; society consists of simulations of reality which replace a ‘pure reality.’
Postmodernist film upsets mainstream conventions of narrative structure and characterisation. An example of this is Michael Winterbottom’s ’24 hour party people’ where the protagonist breaks out of the constructed world of the film and directly speaks to the viewers via the camera lens. Another huge example is ‘the matrix.’
The Matrix (1999) was written and directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski and stars Keanu Reeves. It is a science fiction action film which presents the idea of a hidden reality and questions reality. The film also makes direct connections to this kind of simulation, for example, in one early scene, Neo (the protagonist) uses the book ‘Simulacra and Simulation’ to hide his software. Morpheus refers to the outside world (the simulated reality outside of the matrix) as the ‘desert of the real.’ This is a direct reference to Slavoj Zizek’s work ‘Welcome to the Desert of the Real’ however in an early draft of the script, his character referenced Baudrillard’s book.
Sometimes, images or stills can be needed during marketing and pre production. For example, a still from a film can be used within a magazine review. However, sometimes the required image is not considered ‘perfect’ or fit for use, and requires editing. For example, if a still from a film was required for use in a magazine, and the shot was perfect except there was a mug on the counter which was not wanted in the magazine, it could be edited out with the use of programs such as Photoshop.
Sometimes, only part of an image is required. This is evident in the construction of media products such as film posters. When taking a photograph, there will always be a background present, whether it be colour or shot against a white back drop, it will always be opaque. It is therefore necessary to ‘cut’ the background off so the remaining image can be placed where it needs to be correctly. This is a technique which can be achieved in many ways, with the use of programs such as Fireworks, Jasc Paint Shop Pro or Adobe Photoshop. Since I will be creating a film poster myself for my A2 coursework, I felt it necessary to demonstrate how this can be achieved. I used Photoshop, specifically the polygon lasso tool, in order to cut a picture of Cheryl Cole out.
Film posters use text effects, mainly to emphasise titles in order to clearly demonstrate genre. The appearance of titles on a film poster can enable the audience to reach their interpretations of what the feature will entail. Through my independant research, I have come to the conclusion that the genre which uses text effects during marketing the most is sci-fi, thrillers. For example, The film poster for ‘2012,’ as shown below, uses text effects on the title to give it a futuristic, alien feel.
After researching text effects, I was curious as to which text effects I could create in Photoshop. Learning how to create said effects would be extremely helpful when creating my own film poster, as it would allow me to create meaning and others could instantaneously recognise what my film was about. I have been reading over tutorials and have so far learnt how to create ‘fire’ and ‘ice’ which could be useful when creating an apolocolyptic film or arctic setting.