In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
I decided to create a horror, teaser trailer and worked with Sophie Liddle. We decided to separate duties immediately, so we knew exactly our roles were within the production.
We both planned the piece, with me filming it and Sophie doing the editing.
My horror teaser trailer follows the conventions of real media products to a certain extent. Just like movies such as 'The House of Wax' and many other existing movies already released onto the market, my trailer stars a young, beautiful, teenage girl as the victim. Not only this, but the female is also blonde, which is a stereotype in the media industry as being slightly unintellectual, which is why blonde girl’s are usually seen as the victim.
However, my trailer breaks the conventions, as it only stars two female actresses, which goes against Vladimir Propp's narrative theory, which states there is always a hero, who weds the princess, therefore meaning he is male. In my trailer, there is seen to be no hero, as that would break the suspense and ruin the storyline for the audience, but if the story were to be a movie, the hero would be 'Sophie Liddle', who is the brunette, female character, searching for clues about her best friend's mysterious death.
However, if my trailer was really advertising my movie, then my full storyline would follow Tzetvan Todorov's Narrative Theory structure, which is as follows:
1) A state of equilibrium - The two friends conversing happily together.
2) A disruption of that order - The blonde friend disappears.
3) A recognition that this disorder has occurred - The brunette friend knows her best-friend is dead as she is being haunted by her spirit.
4) An attempt to repair the damage - She looks for clues as to wear her friends body could be.
5) A return or restoration of a new equilibrium - The body is laid to rest, meaning the brunette female carries out her life alone, but content that her friend's spirit has entered the after-life.
This follows Todorov's Narrative Theory structure perfectly.
My print work, which was created on Adobe Photoshop, also breaks the conventions, as on the poster and magazine cover, the girl is not dressed up, or looking glamorous, she is scary and horrific. This questions the idea of 'The Beauty Myth,' Naomi Wolf (1991). Naomi Wolf states that attractive images of women are used on media products to sell, they don't only attract the attention of males, but of females too. She believes this to be a way of keeping a patriarchal society in place, by filling women with their own insecurities to keep them down.
My trailer also challenges Laura Mulvey’s theory as she believes that mainstream Hollywood film was the product of a male-dominated and controlled industry, again reflective of a patriarchal society. Her theory also states that regardless of gender, the male gaze occurs, which is where the audience sees things from the perspective of the male protaganist. My promotion package goes against this theory as there is no particular section where the girls are portrayed as being sexual objects or inferior to men.
I chose to have 'Lions Gate Films' and 'Twisted Pictures' as my production companies, as 'Lions Gate' is a well-known company, recognised for having bid budgets and successful releases and opposed 'Twisted Pictures' known for horror films in particular, with the likes of 'Saw' and 'Dead Silence'. Whilst researching their trailers, I noticed that common conventions of a horror teaser trailer are:
o Fast-paced in sections
o Eerie music
o Build suspense and tension
o Flashing words on screen (with strong adjectives, such as 'the gruesome event etc.)
o Haunted houses/isolated settings
o chase sequences
o Use of title cards
I included as many of these conventions in my trailer as possible, this way the audience would automatically know that my trailer was promoting a horror film, even from the very beginning, as people have become used to these conventions and now recognise them, subconsciously.
My magazine poster also follows some conventions of horror posters, the colours I have chosen to use are dark colours such as: greens, greys and reds. Red holds a strong connotation in the media, it can represent lust and passion, but in most cases (like mine) it represents death and horror.
The trees behind the ghostly figure make her appear slightly confined and trapped, they hint at the storyline of the girl's spirit being trapped in the 'real' world, it needs to be freed to the afterlife. This is a common convention used in horror products, it makes the actor appear isolated, showing there is no way of her getting away. I looked at the poster for the movie ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose,’ as a style model for this.
My magazine cover is similar, in the way it uses reds, blacks and greys to represent horror and death. Except in my magazine cover I have used a lot of white, which usually represents innocence, in this case I have used this colour to give a 'ghostly feel' to the front cover and pale holds connotations of death.
Another way, both my magazine cover and my poster follows conventions of real media products, is the way my model is glaring straight towards the camera, this is used so that the model is connecting with the audience. Except, it is usually used by attractive models, to sell magazines, promoting sex. However, I have used this technique to slightly scare the audience, so they become intrigued and want to buy either the poster, or the magazine.
How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?
I understand that the three pieces of work which I have produced: teaser trailer, magazine cover and poster, would be part of promotion package for my movie; 'The Abandoned'.
The teaser trailer would be released first in cinemas, which gives the audience a taster of the movie. Then, the poster would be released,it would be shown in magazines in advance of the movie coming out, in cinemas and maybe in stores such as HMV where the audience could buy the poster to display in their homes. After this, the magazine with the main actress featured on the cover, including an interview and pictures, would be released, a month before the movie.
There would be a lot more involved in the promotion of the movie.
▪ Production companies website- displaying information about the movie, release dates, sneak previews, interviews, pictures etc.
▪ Cast interviews on television and the radio- this will keep the audience aware that the movie is being released soon, slowly persuading them to go and see it.
▪ Magazines and billboards- advertising my movie. The more the movie is promoted, the more the audience is aware of it, the more likely they are to go and see it.
I also would have a website and a Facebook page for the movie which would be targeting my audience as they are young and interested in the internet and technology.
In the world of Media 2.0, my teaser trailer would be also be released on the internet and mobile phones (such as the Iphone), particularly as my target audience is age fifteen and above, which would mean they are of an age range which favours this kind of technology.
Although my movie is low-budget, it does not mean it is going to be unsuccessful. Paranormal Activity made millions of pounds worth of profit and only cost $17,000 to make. I believe this to be because of the huge promotion package involved.
My audience needs to be able to give feedback and become involved in the movie by being able to leave comments on websites, Facebook and YouTube about the movie.
To promote my movie further there would be interviews, features, competitions and opportunities for fans to become involved.
My trailer has been uploaded onto YouTube, which is a well-known website, which allows everyday people, to become prosumers. With my trailer being on YouTube, it can reach millions worldwide and people from around the globe can leave comments and give me their feedback. The term 'prosumer' is a blend of the words 'producers' and 'consumers', it means that the audience can be both. Due to technological advances, the audience becoming prosumers are more and more common, which is great. My work could also be promoted on fansites and blogs, giving it further promotion.
What have you learned from your audience feedback?
The certification for my movie is 15, I purposely gave my film this rating because with my film being released in the summer of July 2010, there will be a lot of school kids free from school, wishing to go to the cinema. This allows me to widen my audience, which will overall increase the profit of my movie.
Although, anyone above the age of 15 can go and see my movie, it does reach out to a younger adult audience; mainly ages 15-25. This age constitutes the largest cinema going audience group and it contains the core audience for horror movies. This is because they are more likely to see all the promotion details for the movie and have access to technological equipment and know how to use it.
I handed out questionnaires to 30 people between the ages of 15-22 before even beginning my promotion package. This helped me a great deal, as I started my package with a fresh idea of what my audience would like to see.
The questionnaires told me that:
• My audience mainly enjoyed horror movies (both sexes, as romance films mainly related to females, and action movies mainly related to males).
• My audience wanted something 'jumpy' and 'extremely scary.'
• My audience preferred the story to be around a death and mainly preferred ghost stories to any other type of horror stories.
Obviously, all of my audience did not wish to see exactly the same things, but I tried my best to give the audience a range of what they would like to see, and went with the overall result.
After I had made my trailer, poster and magazine cover, I gained more audience feedback. I showed the same thirty people who answered my questions the first time my work. They all seemed very enthusiastic and impressed with the result of my work. They enjoyed knowing that their questionnaires had helped me get the final result and Jonathon Elliot said :
'By knowing that my results helped gain the end result. I feel as if as an individual, I have had an impact on the work and feel involved with the production. I would definitely go and see the movie, buy the magazine and the poster would intrigue me. Therefore, the package has done exactly what it was supposed to do, by persuading me to go and see the movie.'
This shows how important feedback is in the media industry, as it helps producers know exactly what their consumers are wanting, therefore helping them target their audience and widening their profits.
How did you attract/address your audience?
I carefully used stylistic and formal conventions of the genre; such as a darkened mise-en-scene, after studying successful trailers, so I could appeal to my target audience.
My actors are a similar age to my audience, this was done purposely. With my actors being roughly the same age, my audience can relate to them and identify themselves with them. This links in with The Uses and Gratifications Theory (1974) which states that members of the audience are not passive, but take an active role in interpreting and integrating media into their own lives. This theory shows how the media is not only for entertainment purposes, but for everyday life use also.
With my story being based upon a strong friendship, and how they are torn apart by death, the audience can relate to this, also. Most people have a close friend, or would like one, so the audience can look for this throughout my movie. Another thing, with the main point of my film being death, the audience can relate to this as they will have more than likely lost someone important to them. Just like the actor in my movie.
Both girls used are attractive and young, which appeals to both sexes, as the male audience will find them appealing and girls may look up to them for style tips etc.
My work goes against the Hypodermic Syringe Model; which states the audience as being passive, I believe I have an active audience. This theory claims that audiences simply absorb what the media tell them and believe it and that the views in the media are inflicted upon the audience but my audience will take pleasure in generic conventions and having their expectations played on.
There are a range of different settings in my production, which I thought was important as I did not want the audience to feel that the trailer was shot in all of the same place. This made the trailer more entertaining. In each shot the miss-en-scene was taking in account, for example, in the bedroom scenes, I placed dead roses in the background of the scene purposely. This was because dead flowers are seen to be bad luck and they represent the death, which is the main aspect of my movie.
Another great aspect of the room scene is that the room is painted in a deep red colour, which represents connotations of death, anger and danger. Which is important to my movie.
The actors wardrobes were a feature I focused on carefully. I allowed the characters to wear brighter colours in the beginning scenes, to represent happier times. The blonde victim wears white, which represents innocence. As the trailer goes on the brunette is left wearing black for the majority of the time, representing mourning and sorrow.
A couple of scenes hold a great impact. My personal favourite is where the brunette is walking alone, towards the camera, the sun is directly behind her. I positioned the camera this way so that it looked as though the female was walking out of happier times (away from the sun) and into darker ones.
How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?
As stated earlier, by doing this project, in the age of Web 2.0 I am not just a media consumer anymore, I am a 'prosumer', I can reach millions via the internet through websites such as www.youtube.com and www.blogger.com. Both sites have meant that my work can now reach millions, it my work is easy accessible and anyone can view it and give me feedback.
My blog explains what I have done, how I have done it and displays my final production. People from all over the world can access my blog, view my work and leave me feedback.
The same concept goes for 'YouTube' people can view my work and leave me comments. The more talked about my work becomes, the more people will research it and leave me feedback.
Meaning, my A2 media work is not just viewable to teachers, classmates and moderators, but to the whole world!
With me being in charge of filming, I tried to get as many different shots as possible: high, low, medium, long, close-ups etc. This way my camera technique is not boring, but very interesting, keeping the audience entertained.
I developed new skills with the digital movie camera and Final Cut Pro.
My characters have a North-East regional dialect, originally they were going to speak the standard English, but then I thought it was better to keep their own accents, as it adds not only originality to my production, but also verisimilitude.
I conclude that if my promotion package were to be released into the media industry professionally that it would be successful and make a lot of profits, as I have received nothing but great feedback and listened to what my target audience would like to see.