Evaluation question one charlotte marked 1

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Information about Evaluation question one charlotte marked 1

Published on March 29, 2014

Author: charmitch21

Source: slideshare.net

Question 1 - How does your media product use, develop or challenge codes and conventions of real media products? Media codes and conventions are incredibly important for media practitioners and media audiences. They are important as they allow media practitioners to give audiences what they want and expect. It is important to follow codes and conventions as audiences like familiarity and be able to predict what is ‘coming next’, thus enabling the joy of getting it right or the surprise factor when those predictions are not fulfilled. However it is accepted and essential to sometimes change and challenge conventions, to intrigue and excite the target audience. My group and I made a choice at the very start to study and work within the sub-genre of psychological horror. Psychological horror, as a sub-genre, has very obvious conventions which media practitioners make use of to create such intriguing narratives. As a fan of the sub-genre of psychological horror myself, I was already familiar with these conventions, but I carried out extensive research into real media texts belonging to the psychological sub- genre and other sub-genres to deepen my knowledge and understanding and to find out how existing media texts reflect genre and sub-genre. My promotional package follows the typical conventions of psychological horror films, trailers and magazine front covers which I will talk more in detail about throughout the essay. In psychological horror, it is a common convention for the antagonist/main character to look normal on the outside but on the inside they are very far from normal, they are psychologically disturbed. This inspired Hitchcock’s use of the name ‘Norman Bates’ in Psycho. Norman, ironically enough, sounds a lot like ‘normal’. Norman, however, was not normal, but instead utterly twisted. The antagonist of our film looks ‘normal’; he is a man that you would pass on the street and not give a second glance to. On the inside, though, he is not, as he has been left psychologically damaged by the fact that his mother had abandoned him as a child, leaving him to be brought up in care. Much like Norman Bates, he has been severely mentally affected by his relationship with his mother. With this in mind, we are following conventions. Our film takes place in a range of different everyday locations, from the family home, where scenes related to family life take place, to a car park, where the protagonist, Mari-Anne, is kidnapped by the antagonist, Dennis; a convention of psychological horror films is the inclusion of settings that are recognisable and that create realism for the audience. The audience will have regularly experienced being in a setting similar to the ones that the movie features and therefore it heightens the fear in a subtle way, as it is likely that the audience can imagine it happening to them in real life. Examples of common popular settings that feature in psychological horror are: schools (Orphan), hospitals (Gothika), family homes (The Uninvited/Hide and Seek.) Once again, we followed this convention, featuring extraordinarily scary events in ordinary locations.

Our film is called Forgotten and the magazine front cover, poster and trailer combine together to promote it. The fact our title is a one word title is a convention of psychological horrors. Psychological horrors always use ‘one-word’ titles for the films, for example, Gothika, Orphan and Psycho. The poster promoting our horror film follows conventions by using a script font for the title. When studying psychological horror posters, we noticed that posters promoting a psychological horror use a script font for the title. The posters for Gothika and The Uninvited, which are both psychological horrors, use a script font for the title. They do this as it makes the poster look more chilling and as if it has been scribbled by the psychologically warped antagonist; this creates a terrifying effect for the audience and widens their intrigue. The use of a script font is also powerful in suggesting that we, as an audience, will be exposed to the personal feelings and issues of the characters within this film. Please see below images of the poster for Gothika and The Uninvited where script fonts have been used for the title: *INSERT POSTER* We decided that it would be wise to introduce a script font for the title of our film, so that we followed conventions and it would also lead the audience to the conclusion that the film will expose them to the deepest and innermost emotions of the characters, the inner workings of their minds and enable them to connect with the film on a more personal level. This is the effect we were aiming for. Our poster follows general and layout conventions of typical posters, by having the image filling up the frame and the title of the film in the largest font in the middle of the frame. We completed the poster placing the institutional

information at the bottom of the frame in a tall font type. This is an obvious convention and is seen in all standard, non-teaser film posters, not just those promoting horror films, so we felt it was important to follow this convention. Presenting the audience with institutional information can be powerful on a promotional level. If the audience see the names of actors, directors or production companies that they like, respect and have seen the previous work of, they may be more inclined to watch the film being promoted on this poster. In addition to this, we placed the tagline below the title and the release date in a clear, visible font, also towards the bottom of the frame which is conventional. It is placed at the bottom of frame as that it the last place the Western eye will look, therefore the release date will stick in their mind, forcing them to go and see the film even more. It is a convention for females to sit at the centre of horror narratives, this leads to them featuring heavily in the promotional material. Psychological horrors tend to focus around females as they are more vulnerable and delicate than males and using females allows the audience to identify more with her, rather than a male. Males would be expected to strong and not to show their emotions. A female is shown in our poster to follow this convention and she also features in the magazine and trailer. This creates a strong symbiotic link between the promotional package which is a common. All of Gothika’s promotional material features the main character, to create a symbiotic link and to make it clear that the narrative presents her journey and that she is the one who will be affected by the film’s events. By featuring Mary-Anne so prevalently in our promotional package, it puts across a similar message. Another convention of posters is to use the image, colours and mise-en-scene elements to reflect genre and sub-genre. Our image reflects horror as it shows a female who has been brutally attacked and is looking scared; the image is unnerving and intriguing for the audience as they want to know what has happened to her. Some may say that our image looks like it is promoting the sub-genre of slasher rather than psychological because of the presence of blood. However, the use of bloog is minimalistic compared to horrors and the stark white background along with the ambiguous title and tagline are both sophisticated and intelligent to confirm the film belongs to the psychological sub-genre of horror and is not a slasher. Our image follows conventions as it is a medium close up of the character, and she uses direct address; it is as if she is inviting the audience into the world of the film and into discovering more about her experiences and emotions. Psychological film posters often use this type of camera shot to show the character’s facial expression and give an insight to costume as shown below:

We made many changes throughout the process of making our promotional package; we scrapped scenes and changed images. One of the main changes we made was using the protagonist, Mary-Anne for the poster and magazine front cover, instead of the antagonist, Dennis. We had to make this change because for the magazine, we used the actor who plays Dennis out of character, instead of in character and it is a common convention to have the actor in character, which at first we opted not to do. However, we later decided this broke too many conventions and it did not look good so we had to change it and use Mary-Anne instead. For the poster, the image was of Dennis’ back, this completely goes against general film poster conventions as it doesn’t show any of the character’s face which means no direct address. However, at the time we felt we had to do this because there is mystery around our main character, we did not want our audience to have any inkling about who he is or what he looks like as it would allow them to become more involved in the film’s narrative. However, we eventually decided that this idea once again, broke conventions too much as it lacked direct address etcetera, so we decided to use Mary-Anne. We are now using Mary- Anne for both, instead of Dennis, so that there is a clear symbiotic link. Because we changed the image, we obviously had to change the tagline too, as it is important for there to be a clear relationship between the tagline and the image, often because they help to anchor each other, for example as you can see above for the poster for Orphan, the image is of Esther and the tagline is ‘There’s Something Wrong with Esther’ Before we made changes to the image, our tagline was going to be ‘A Tormented Soul Never Forgets’ which also successfully hints at the narrative and sparks intrigue. However, it did not anchor the new image well enough and had no relevance or relationship to it. Our tagline now is ‘Blood is thicker than Water’. We believe it is an effective and appropriate tagline as it relates directly to the image and helps the audience to understand the film’s narrative, as well as sparking intrigue. It links to the main image of the poster, as our image shows the protagonist, Mary-Anne, crying a blood tear drop, while it indicates that the film’s narrative revolves around family. There is an element of anchorage, as it leads the audience to conclude that Mari-Anne’s torment has been caused by a family member; the audience

will be intrigued to watch in order to find out who, specifically, is at the centre of her problems. Below is our final poster. I have also inserted the image of our first poster which features Dennis, I have explained the reasons why we changed the idea but here is a visual. You can clearly see the conventions we challenged and followed: FIRST IDEA FOR FILM POSTER: FINAL FILM POSTER: *INSERT PICTURE* Our magazine is called Cinematic , we like the idea of our film magazine being called Cinematic because it is interesting and different. It suggests to the reader that the magazine is full of all the new films in the cinema, offering views, write ups and ratings about films. It sounds professional and sophisticated with a hint of fun which is what we are aiming to create for our magazine. When choosing the name of our magazine, we thought of many different titles such as Silver Screen, Filmtastic and Film Fresh, as well as Cinematic. We really liked Cinematic so decided to use it. We believe that it is a convention of film magazines to have a one-word or shorter titles such as Empire, Fangoria or Total Film and Cinematic is one word therefore we are embracing typical film magazine conventions to make our magazine front cover look as professional as possible! Typically, film magazines suggest their subject matter through their title, with Total Film being an obvious example. We have followed this convention too, with the name Cinematic acting as an obvious indicator that the magazine will cover film-related content. Our edition of Cinematic is a

‘Halloween special’ promoting our film Forgotten. We decided to make it a general film magazine and not specific to horror as when we researched horror film magazines, we found that they were less professional-looking than film magazines like Empire and Total Film. Please see below for examples of the kind of look we were hoping to avoid: As you can see in the images above, the magazines look ‘tacky’ and unprofessional. The images look animated and the text is not readable. We wanted our magazine to mimic magazines such as Empire and Total Film so we followed the conventions they use as they are well known magazines and always look professional as you can see below:

We managed to create this level of professionalism by using a medium close up of our protagonist, using direct address and by having a readable font type. As we changed the image for the poster, we obviously had to change the image for the magazine to create a symbiotic link. At first, my group and I wanted to challenge conventions by using the actor out of character as you can see below. Normally on film magazine front covers, the actor is in character, below are examples: Here, you can see our first magazine front cover and Daniel Radcliff as Harry Potter and Jonny Depp as Willy Wonka. At first, we decided against having our actor in character as we wanted to be different and add our own stamp on this section of our promotional package so we used the actor as himself, rather than in character. However, as mentioned, we opted not to use Dennis for reasons already stated and used Mary-Anne instead. On reflection, we felt that an image of Mary-Anne looking distressed and bloodied would be more powerful in drawing in fans of horror and drawing interest in to the narrative of our film. In terms of our magazine front cover; we followed general conventions, such as including an image, which dominates the frame. As mentioned, the image is usually an image of the actor in character promoting the film. The shot can be a long shot, medium shot, and medium close up or close up (see below). Extreme close ups are rarely seen in magazine front covers.

In a magazine front cover, the masthead is always in the biggest and boldest font and is placed at the top of the frame. This makes the masthead stand out and grab attention. The masthead will always be the same, in an identical font to maintain brand identity and to allow the audience to recognise it easily on the newsstand. This consistency will appeal to audiences, as they like familiarity and it will encourage them to buy the magazine. Our magazine successfully does this. The magazine is called Cinematic and on the magazine cover, it is placed in the biggest and boldest font at the top of the frame. This makes it clear that the magazine is a bold presence in the film magazine market and will draw the audience’s eye. *INSERT IMAGE OF POSTER ANDINDICATE MASTHEAD* Another convention of film magazines is to include a puff; it is usually placed at the top/middle right or left hand side of the frame and it normally promotes a quiz or information on new films being released. Our puff has ‘top 10 horror films’ in it (see below), reinforcing the idea that this edition is a horror special. This will grab the audience’s attention as they will be interested to see if their favourite horror film is listed in the 10 ten.

*INSERT IMAGE OF POSTER ANDINDICATE PUFF* Sell-lines also always a feature on film magazines; they can be found all over the magazine, promoting what is inside and they are conventionally in a column format. They are used to lure in the audience; if the audience see a sell-line promoting a film they like it is highly likely they will buy the magazine. Obviously, our magazine had to feature sell-lines. Our magazine has a colloquial and informal mode of address. In the sell-lines we offer a chance to win tickets to ‘Fright Night’ at Thorpe Park, we have a horror quiz and exclusives. These elements will attract and intrigue our young target audience. *INSERT IMAGE OF POSTER INDICTATING SELL LINES*

The date, issues number, barcode and price are usually in the smallest font and in the least prominent place as they are not as important. It is hoped that the audience will be seduced by the content on the front before they see the price and are ‘put off’ by how much they have to spend. The issue number reflects how well established the magazine is. For example, if the issue was 504 then the audience is more likely to buy it, rather than if the issue number was 12 as this shows the magazine is established and popular. The issue number on our magazine is 602, which demonstrates that it is an established and popular magazine. The date of our magazine’s release is October 2014 which will help to maintain the horror feel to this horrific Halloween special! *INSERT IMAGE OF POSTER INDICTATING SELL DATE, ISSUE AND BARCODE* In terms of the trailer, it also follows various conventions of this type of media. The first convention we have followed which must be mentioned is the use of a conventional narrative structure of the trailer. At the start of the trailer, the normal life of the characters is shown, we meet Mary-Anne and her family and the happy environment they live in, their happy life is signalled to the audience by seeing them having dinner together, the speed at this point in the trailer is slower and more leisurely. We see a similar opening in the trailer for Orphan, where it becomes apparent that the parents are ready to adopt. Then we find more out about Mary-Anne in our trailer, we find out her mother has died and her world comes crashing down around her, before her life is further disrupted when she starts to be followed and stalked by a stranger. The audience see the impact all of this has on Mary- Anne and her reaction. As the trailer continues, the audience see Mary-Anne arguing with her husband, always looking over her shoulder and looking like a shadow of herself compared to the start of the trailer as she looks exhausted and stressed, as this point, the trailer starts to speed up and faster cuts and edits are used. In the trailer for Gothika, when Miranda is in a downward spiral into the lunacy, the speed of the trailer also gets faster. In our trailer, this part is followed by the conventional montage of shots showing Mary-Anne suffering whilst tied up, bloodied and bruised in a dark, cold room; the audience can only guess that she has been kidnapped by the man who is stalking her. Towards the end of the

trailer, after the montage, the speed slows down and the name of the film and release date is revealed and finally, the sting at the end of the trailer. This structure is shown in every horror trailer for example, in Orphan the montage, the title of the film and then the sting at the end is apparent. Our sting shows Mary-Anne screaming and being brutally attacked by Dennis, this injects the last piece of horror and shock to the audience. The piece of action is fast, loud and brings an overload of scare, it also intrigues the audience as even more questions appear in their mind, and they want to know why this is happening to her. A media theorist who discusses narrative structure is Todorov. He is known for his theory on the typical narrative structure of a film. He says that film narratives can be divided into five key parts: equilibrium, disruption, recognition of the disruption, the reaction and repair of the damage and finally, the new equilibrium. However, generally in trailers, only the first two and a half of the components are revealed (equilibrium, disruption and reaction to the disruption). There is no repair or new equilibrium as that would ruin the whole concept of the film as the ending would be revealed. It is important for trailers to give audiences an insight into the narrative for them to make sense of it, but to not give everything away so that there is enigma surrounding the narrative. In our trailer we have clearly introduced the equilibrium of the film, (happy family life) disruption, (Mary-Anne’s mother dies and she begins to be stalked) and the reaction which shows how she responds to being stalked. This structure will have a positive effect of the audience as they will be intrigued to find out the repair and the new equilibrium. We have definitely followed the narrative conventions of a horror trailer. We wanted to follow it so we could give the audience what they wanted and expected, audiences like familiarity, so if we changed the whole narrative structure and speed, the trailer would be unsuccessful as the audience would not be gripped by it. Following this narrative structure is also good as it is exciting, builds up tension and introduces the audience to narrative in an engaging way.

As mentioned, another convention of horror trailers is the inclusion of a fast montage of shots that occurs towards the end of the trailer; we have included this by using a conundrum of quick edits and fast cuts towards the end of our trailer. The montage for the film Orphan includes: the mother trying to find out who Esther really is; a car accident; the mother being attacked and the father being seduced by Esther. In our montage we have included, a shot of bloody tools that Dennis has obviously attacked Mary-Anne with, shots of Dennis menacingly laughing and shots of Mary-Anne tied up, screaming and crying, covered in blood. All of these shots are really close together and have stabs of sound throughout to the make the audience jerk from shock and terror. The fast montage of shots is effective because it gives the audience an insight into the more horrific elements of the film which entices horror fans and makes them want to see the film even more. Trailers have an incredibly effective way of grasping the audience’s attention; they do this by using very slow edits against very fast ones. This keeps the audience on the edge of their seat and forces their adrenaline levels through the roof! We have mimicked this so that our trailer has the same effect. Notice this in the car crash scene in Gothika (see trailer below essay) Before Miranda Grey has the car crash the action slows down which makes the audience apprehensive as they know something is going to happen, then the car crashes and the action speeds up rapidly. After the car crash, the action is slow as Miranda Grey approaches the ‘ghost girl’ and then when the ghost girl grabs her face there is a stab of sound and a quick cut which makes the audience jump from their seat! Similarly, in our trailer we use slow edits, against very fast ones; these are binary opposites so they emphasize each other even more. In our trailer, the speed varies depending on the action. In one section of our trailer, the speed is very slow, even though it is scary as it shows Mary- Anne tied up and covered in blood, the action is very slow, this builds fear and suspense for the audience as they can sense something is going to happen to her, until there is a stab of sound and the shot quickly cuts to Dennis coming behind her. This fast edit against the slow action will really frighten the audience and make adrenaline and terror run through their bodies. The Gothika trailer inspired our ideas a lot, especially the conventional use of fades and straps throughout. Fades create tension for the audience and this is the exact emotion we want our audience to feel. With this is mind, we made the decision to intersperse fades between the shots in our trailer from start to finish. Through this we have been able to build up a sense of tension and apprehension for our audience, but also fluidity to our trailer, enabling the audience to fall into watching it quite easily. We don’t necessarily want them to feel scared and terrified all the way through the trailer, we want them to feel unnerved, tense and ‘on edge.’ This is a common convention of psychological horrors in general, they are never gory, yet they still have the power and ability to unnerve the audience as they are more true to life than any other horror sub-genre, the realism within psychological horrors is what makes them so terrifying. Straps conventionally feature in our trailer to help our audience to understand the narrative even more, through straps we reveal the death of

Mary-Anne’s mother and the intruder entering her life, the straps back up the action/narrative, complement it and help to explain it. The straps in the film for Gothika also back up the action/narrative, complement it and help to explain it, just like ours. The opening straps reveal that she is an ‘expert at knowing what is rational, logical and sane’, until she ‘woke up on the other side’ this explains the narrative by hinting that she will soon be irrational, illogical and insane and will become psychologically disturbed. In relation to setting, our trailer also follows conventions. Psychological horrors use normal, everyday settings to create realism. They tend to feature places such as schools (Orphan), hospitals (Gothika) and houses (The Uninvited/Hide and Seek.) Settings in our horror include: the family home; a grave yard and a car park. These settings are ‘normal’ places that ‘normal’ people have visited or frequent every day. In psychological horrors, the audience will have at some point been in the setting/a setting similar to the one that the movie features and therefore it heightens the fear in a subtle way, as it is likely that the audience can imagine it happening to them in real life. It is also conventional for trailers/horrors to make these settings chilling, in our trailer, we managed to turn an ordinary garage into a murderous torture chamber, through making it look bare and using a small lighting apparatus we made it look dark and cold, we also stained the walls and floor in blood and smothered the garage with weapons such as knives, screw drivers and axes to turn it into a chilling, horrific setting. In terms of sound, we’ve followed general conventions so that the trailer is professional and allows familiarity for the audience. Diegetic sounds which feature in psychological horrors are usually conventional horror sounds, such as screams, cries and heavy breathing which we have incorporated into our trailer. There is often not as much shouting or uses of loud noises. Antagonists are often very calm and controlled when it comes to their voice (Hannibal Lecter - Silence of the Lambs) however, when they switch, they become wild and untamed (Jack Torrance – The Shining.) We have integrated this into our trailer, by having Dennis calm at some points in the trailer which make him seem even creepier, however at the end of the trailer he has an outburst of anger and we see the crazy side to him. It must be remembered that people who are psychologically disturbed have no power over their personality and can have outbursts at any moment. Contrapuntal non-diegetic sounds often feature within psychological horrors; this contradicts with what is happening on-screen and could be reflective of the fact that the antagonist is mentally disturbed; his/her mind doesn’t think logically. Throughout our trailer, contrapuntal sound is introduced whenever Dennis is lurking to signify his persona. Other non-diegetic sounds we have featured in our trailer as well as contrapuntal is empathetic sound, when Mary-Anne is at her mother’s grave, the sound is a slow compassionate piano which mimics Mary-Annes feelings. Eerie non-diegetic sounds throughout our trailer build tension and create a sense of suspense which grips the audience.

In relation to mise-en-scene, our trailer follows conventions, but also challenges them. Costumes in psychological horrors tend to depend on the narrative. However, as mentioned, the majority of narratives maintain realism, which means, normally, characters are in everyday costume, such as jeans, t-shirts, day dresses, etc. Costume in psychological horrors can also subtly hint to the audience what is wrong with the character – Esther in Orphan wears an old fashioned dress with a collar, signalling that she isn’t actually as young as she makes out to be. The collar, meanwhile, hide physical scars that link to a traumatic past. Uniforms and other similarly meaningful costumes can also be seen in psychological horrors; we see Dr Grey in Gothika in a smart suit, signalling that she is at work but we also see her in a hospital gown signalling she has been admitted to the wards she once supervised. We also see Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs in a strait jacket. In our trailer, to create realism, we have followed these conventions. Some of our characters wear every day costume; Mary-Anne is often in jeans and a t-shirt and this casual, ‘normal’ look will allow the audience to relate to her and warm to her and will also draw to their attention the fact that extraordinary, scary things can happen to normal people. Costume wise, comparisons can be made between Anna from The Uninvited and Mary-Anne because both of them look ‘normal’ in terms of their costume. Throughout The Uninvited, Anna, is seen in casual jeans and tops, just like Mary-Anne. Due to certain circumstances, both characters begin to have psychological problems which make them abnormal or unsettled on the inside and their costumes change. By the end of the film, Anna is wearing a white night dress (see image towards end of essay), and at the end of our trailer, Mary-Anne wears pyjamas and, physically, looks a mess (see image below). Throughout the start of the trailer, the audience will see Mary-Anne in a light coloured (i.e. pink/purple/white) t-shirt and jeans and flat shoes (i.e. uggs/converse). Her costumes are feminine and so they reflect her femininity and innocence, while the jeans give her a masculine edge, representing the fact that she is the final girl who is strong and able to fight back. John is often seen dressed for work (see image below); this signals that he is a part of the family and chief breadwinner. It could also signal to the audience that he is career-orientated, an important detail, seeing as he often neglects to spend time with Mary-Anne due to work commitments, leaving her alone and vulnerable. Dennis often wears black within the trailer; he wears a dark leather jacket, workman’s boots, a dark, plain t-shirt and dark combats/jeans (see image below). The costume itself indicates that, by and large, he is ‘normal’ on the outside, while the darkness represents his murky, evil and depressed mind. He has a bald head, as his hair has fallen out because of the stress he has been through throughout his life. Dennis has old, crumbling skin and tired eyes which ones again reflect his troubled and distressed persona.

A convention we have broken in our trailer is the fact our lead female character has blonde hair instead of dark (see image above). In psychological horrors, dark haired female leads always feature: Miranda in Gothika, Esther in Orphan and Anna in The Uninvited. In our horror, Mary-Anne has blonde hair; this makes her different to other female characters that normally feature in psychological horrors. Blonde’s have a stigma attached to them and are labelled as ‘dumb’, so at first sight, the audience may thing Mary-Anne has no chance against Dennis. However it is soon revealed she is not ‘dumb’ but is intelligent and clever and can defeat him. We show her strength by conventionally using her as the final girl at the end of the film.

In this essay, I have successfully spoken about all the codes and conventions of horror in general, and the conventions of psychological horror as a sub-genre. I have also spoke about codes and conventions of trailers, magazine front covers and film posters. I have evaluated how I incorporated them into my promotional package, how I developed them and challenged them. I wanted to challenge conventions to show I am an experience and courageous media practitioner but I also wanted to abide by codes and conventions to give my audience what they expected and to allow familiarity for them. I had to stick to codes conventions throughout my promotional package to keep them hooked, intrigued and wanting to see the whole film. Please see the rest of my evaluation below 

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