Thursday, 27 November 2008

Ideas for Thriller Opening

Storyboarding: Here are a few images of our storyboard.

protaganist- girl
antagonist- male character, father perhaps

14 year old girl- slightly disturbed. Bright red lipstick, black boots, white and black stripy dress.

Father- male character- alcoholic: wife beater, jeans, overall scruffy look.

teddy bear
whisky bottle
toys and soft teddys scattered around girls bedroom.

Due to the nature of our chosen sub-genre and after research into the BBFC, I have decided that the best cerfiticate for our thriller would be 15, its disturbing narrative would be too complex and harrowing for children aged 12-15 but it lacks gore and horror, similarly sex and nudity thus why it wouldn't be placed into an 18 certificate.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Continuity Task

Taking into consideration that it was only the third time any of the group had ever filmed anything with a continuing narrative before, I believe we were successful in many aspects of the filming. We followed the task set and included everything that was asked for: someone entering and then exiting a room after a brief conversation.

Use of sound was effective through the fade ins and outs helping to keep the piece of filming continual. In addition varied shorts such as high angle cleverly portrayed the actor as inferior which was the intended effect and mirrored the narrative.

However editing at the beginning lacked consistency meaning that the narrative lacked continuity. The filming must look natural and convincing which ours did not due to poor editing. Aditionally my poor acting skills didn't help.

Another point to take into account is that when there is a new shot, to make sure that the angle changes as otherwise it looks to jumpy and as if something has simply been cut from the piece of film.

We showed initiative in displaying the male character as inferior but it would have been good to use a low angle shot of the actress in order to then portray her as superior.

Lastly, if our group was to do this task again I would take into consideration all of the above points which would improve the overall filming. Time was not an issue within our group; we worked efficiently and completed the task within a set time.

Audience Research

Classification 15- Contains strong language and infrequent bloody war violence and sex/sex references, attempted suicide scenes, horror, drug use and nudity.

Classification 18- Contains strong bloody violence, brief scene of strong sexualised threat, very strong language, sex references and strong sex.

The information above is taken from the bbfc website of recent classification decisions of a wide selection of film genres.

Thriller classification guidelines:

The differences between a 15 and an 18 certificate that would be expected within a thriller is the severity of the language, horror, gore and violence, for example a 15 would have bloody violence whereas an 18 would have strong bloody violence.

Due to this I believe our thriller should be classed as a 15, but however appeal and target a wider audience: 15 – 30 year olds.

For more information on classifications see the bbfc website:

Practice Anamatic

(Due to technial problems I was unable to upload the anamatic)

I believe my anamatic was quite unsuccessful, although from this I learnt many valuable points. It was mainly because of the quality of drawing; we split up the storyboarding between our group so that we each had four shots to draw, the outcome of this was a lack in consistency and some of the drawings were very unclear. From this we learnt that the storyboarding should be done by one person and as a group we have allocated the best drawer this job.

However, the inclusion of sound within the anamatic was quite effective as was the timing of each shot, for example the lengthy shots creating suspense and the quick shots displaying the action. Chosen sounds fitted in well with the action on screen and at the same time helped to emphasise the action.

From this practice anamatic I was introduced to the programme premier and the different effects and settings that it had, becoming accustomed with this programme was good practice before going on to storyboard our opening the a thriller.

If I was to do the anamatic again I would drastically improve the quality of the drawings, remember to add in vital arrows showing the movement of the camera, i.e. panning and make sure the drawing was accurately in the frame to portray the type of shot that was going to be used.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Practice Filming

(Video file size was too large to upload and i don't know how to compress the file)

The practicing filming task I believe was a valuable and useful experience as it helped me gain skills and become more familiar with premier, a programme I previously had no knowledge about. I learnt how to use the filming equipment safely and effectively, how to upload the video onto the computer and then how to edit it, add audio effects etc.

Whilst completing the task I came across a few problems which were mainly due to lack of knowledge on the use of premier, for example cutting a piece of music so that it’s not too long, I now know to use the razor tool. My main problem was that the finished edited piece of filming didn’t save, so when I later returned to it I had to add the soundtrack in again which I rushed and now the final piece is not up to as high a standard as it was. However I was impressed with our actual filming as our group managed not to break the 180 degree rule, although we did miss a shot which therefore meant that one of the actors appeared from nowhere in the following shot. A mistake which will be taken into consideration and mistake that will not be made again.

If I was to do this task again I would familiarise myself more with premier before starting the task, in order for the completion of the task to me more time efficient. As well as this I would take more time and care over the editing so that it’s more precise. Lastly the lighting used was very dull and made the piece of film look less professional; I will therefore pay more attention to the lighting in future.

Our group’s organization during filming was efficient and we finished our filming in good time allowing us to proceed with the next sub-task that was planned for the next lesson. However the entire group including myself needs to become more accustomed to the use of premier in order for the organization during the sub-task of editing to be more effective.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Summary of Analysis (Thriller Openings)

After extensive research and analysis it has become apparent as to the different types of codes and conventions that are common within the thriller genre.

Editing, sound, mise-en-scene, titles and camera all combine together and work effectively in giving the audience an insight to the protagonist in the film rather than focusing on the antagonist. For instance fast pace music is common within most of the openings I analysed as it reflects upon the protagonist’s race against the clock which is typical of the narrative within the thriller genre.

In addition, it became obvious that in order to fully understand why codes have been used in different ways a knowledge into the sub-genre is needed, The Illusionist uncommonly displays slow paced editing because of its sub genre, drama/mystery- a genre that possesses slow unwinding complex plots hence the use of slow editing. However it still holds elements that can be seen in the genre thriller as a whole, for example the use of dark colours connoting evil and death.

To clearly summarise- Key codes and conventions within the genre thriller as a whole:

  • Titles which reflect the protagonists psychological state
  • References to images such as blood and weapons
  • Heightening and quietening of music to create suspense
  • Dark colours and tones, connoting evil and death
  • Mise- en-scene which echoes the protagonists plight

Monday, 3 November 2008

Thriller Opening 5- The Illusionist

The Illusionist (2006)
Director: Neil Burger
Drama/Mystery Thriller

(Video as provided on VLE)

Editing throughout this extract is one of a slow pace which reflects upon the narrative in the film, one that focuses on character development and reveals several plot twists which is reinforced through the heightening and quietening of the music: common generic conventions of drama and mystery thrillers.

The chosen sound track helps the viewer to establish the time period, classical, which tends to act symbolically of the dated era, the chosen colour scheme, sepia also reinforces the old time period in which the film is set as photographs in those days came out in sepia.

Another main colour used within the opening sequence is black, connoting mystery hence the mystery genre the film possesses. It could be suggested that the chosen title font reflects the protagonists psychological state, the curviness and easy flowing font could signify the protagonist to be one who is easily manipulated.

Use of the camera shaking and chosen transitions create a sense of illusion; like everything is a blur mirroring the title of the film. The lack of quality of the images presented aids to the feeling of mystery, nothing is being revealed.

The extract closes with an extreme close up of a pair of eyes, tying in nicely with the idea that eyes are central in creating illusions and hypnotising people (form of magic) which is a main theme within the film.

Thriller Opening 4- Mission Impossible

Mission Impossible (1996)
Director: Brian De Palma
Spy Thriller

Fast tempo music has been chosen, typical of spy thriller genre and also reflects upon the protagonist’s race against the clock further cemented through the extremely quick pace of editing which also creates suspense for the viewer, again common of the thriller genre. The extract opens with an explosion setting the scene for the audience on what is to come.

The titles run quickly of the screen and help to show the protagonists psychological state. There are many references to the government through the close ups of special government equipment. Many of the shots have been put into negative mirroring the type of equipment government official’s use.

Dark colour has been used helping to establish the dark and mysterious tones that are common within spy thrillers. Furthermore close ups of the characters faces help the audience to engage with characters emotions and deep concentration.

Juxtaposing images of different characters help explain the narrative and show how two rival governments are working at different stages on the same investigation.

Thriller Opening 3- Casino Royale

Casino Royale (2006)
Director: Martin Campbell
Action Thriller

The opening of the extract helps the audience to immediately establish the action thriller genre through the gunshot and dripping blood which covers the screen. A main theme throughout the film is gambling which is referenced through images of playing cards; spades, diamonds, clubs and hearts and a roulette board, echoing the protagonist’s plight.

The soundtrack has been cleverly chosen as the lyrics reflect James Bond’s character, “You know my name” is not only heard several times throughout the title sequence but it is also the title of the song which mirrors a typical line in all the James Bond films “Bond... James Bond.”
Action is evident within the title sequence, shoot outs and fighting, symbolic actions defining the action thriller genre.

Use of colour helps the audience to establish James as the protagonist, he is shown in black and white; white portraying him as the “good guy” but the black shows mystery and some evil, purely by the fact he takes so many people’s lives. Contrasting, the villains have been shown in red representing their fate and death to come.

The editing quickens throughout the sequence reflecting upon the race against time (common in action thrillers).

The titles are displayed in white to stand out against the mainly red background, the main characters and directors titles have been centralised showing their importance and the rest of the titles have been placed in random places around the screen showing little significance.

Thriller Opening 2- 28 Days Later

28 Days Later (2002)
Director: Danny Boyle
Horror/Sci Fi Thriller:

The extract opens with screeching violins reflecting upon the protagonist’s emotional state; sense of longing for normality, which the long drawn out notes of the violin expertly display. The chosen music also has an eerie feel to it, a typical convention within a horror/Sci Fi thriller.

Constant images of blood reflect upon the horror elements that will be evident in the film; it also plays on the theme of death, again another theme evident within this film. Special effects cleverly create the effect of mutating cells being viewed under a microscope which is shown through the twist of colour, black into red, thus acting symbolically of themes within the science fiction genre.

The conflict in horror thrillers between the main characters are not only emotional but physical and mental too, as mentioned the protagonists emotional state is displayed through the use of the sound, their mental state has been demonstrated through special effects; flickers of black and white interference that can be seen on a TV creates a feeling of madness and loneliness, this technique is particularly common of the horror genre when the TV fuzzes and switches off due to the antagonist. Moreover, the protagonist’s physical status can be depicted through the images of blood, suggesting he/she may experience near death situations.

The placements of the titles are in no particular arrangement or relevance, in random corners of the screen, perhaps suggesting twisting plots and a complex narrative.

Thriller Opening 1- Panic Room

Panic Room (2002)
Director: David Fincher
Crime Thriller:

This film fits into the sub-genre “Crime”, and displays many typical conventions the audience would expect to see, defining its genre.

An establishing shot of a city opens the sequence and already the audience is introduced to a typical scene where crime commonly takes place. Editing evident is mainly cuts which quicken when the beat of the music changes and crescendos helping to create a sense of panic, mirroring what can be seen on screen; the title ‘PANIC ROOM’.

Mise-en-scene showing blocked square city buildings echoes the protagonist’s plight, block buildings representing the square room where two of the main characters have been trapped in during the film. Moreover the titles, which have been positioned in the foreground over clips, again reiterate the protagonist’s situation as the chosen font is serif signifying a sense of being trapped due to the solidness of the outline of the font.

Transitions such as fade in/out have been used at the beginning revealing to the audience what is to come. In addition low key lighting reflects upon the dark sinister feeling being created indicating that something bad is going to happen.

Non-digetic sound of police sirens can be heard at the beginning symbolic of danger and crime. Furthermore as the opening sequence draws to an end the audience is introduced to one of the main characters who later on in the film becomes the victim. Centralising the opening around the protagonists is typical of crime thrillers which tend to focus on the victims rather than the policemen and women.

Researching the Thriller Genre/Coventions and Sub-Genres.

What is a thriller?

A thriller is a book or film which is designed to keep the reader or viewer on edge with suspenseful and sensational action. Thrillers have also been produced in the radio, theatre, and television media. This genre is incredibly large, and thrillers often overlap with pieces of work produced in other genres; mysteries, for example, are often thrillers. Many people find thrillers very enjoyable, and they appreciate the fast pacing and complex plots associated with this genre.

Several characteristics help to define a thriller. Thrillers typically involve sudden plot twists and lots of red herrings, for example, keeping people unsure about what is going to happen. This suspense can get almost unbearable, especially in a long piece or a television series. Thrillers also have a lot of action, which is often chaotic, and they typically feature resourceful heroes and exotic settings.

The plots of thrillers can vary widely. Some are supernatural, for example, centred around mystical antagonists. Others are scientific or medical in nature, forcing their protagonists to contend with biological agents or mysterious scientific happenings. Some are simply straight mysteries with clever, horrific, or intriguing antagonists, while others be focused on the inner workings of the legal system, environmental threats, technology, or natural disasters. One long-established thriller genre is the spy thriller, featuring an often heroic and dashing spy who must confront whichever enemy happens to be popular at the moment.

- taken from:

Typical conventions within a thriller:

A crime at the core of the narrative (often murder, but not necessarily).
A complex narrative structure, with false paths, clues and resolutions.
A narrative pattern of establishing enigmas which the viewer expects to be resolved.
A protagonist who is systematically dis-empowered and drawn into a complex web of intrigue by the antagonist.
Extraordinary events happening in ordinary situations.
Themes of identity.
Themes of mirroring.
Themes of voyeurism.
Protagonist with a ‘flaw’ which is exploited by the antagonist.
Titles often reflect an aspect of the pro/antagonist’s psychological state.
There is often a scene near the end of the film in which the protagonist is exposed to risk.
Mise en scene which echoes/ mirrors the protagonist’s plight.

-Taken from:

Sub Genres of Thrillers:

Action thriller - In which the work often features a race against the clock, contains lots of violence, and an obvious antagonist. These films usually contain large amounts of guns, explosions, and large elaborate set pieces for the action to take place. Notable examples are James Bond films.

Conspiracy thriller - In which the hero/heroine confronts a large, powerful group of enemies whose true extent only he/she recognizes.

Crime thriller - This particular genre is a hybrid type of both crime films and thrillers that offers a suspenseful account of a successful or failed crime or crimes. These films often focus on the criminal(s) rather than a policeman. Crime thrillers usually emphasize action over psychological aspects. Central topics of these films include murders, robberies, chases, shootouts, and double-crosses are central ingredients. Example, The Godfather.

Disaster thriller - In which the main conflict is due to some sort of natural or artificial disaster, such as floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, etc., or nuclear disasters as an artificial disaster.

Drama thriller - In which the story consists of the elements of a thriller and drama film. These films are usually slower paced and involves a great deal of character development along with plot twists. Examples include The Illusionist, The Interpreter and The Prestige.

Eco-thriller - In which the protagonist must avert or rectify an environmental or biological calamity - often in addition to dealing with the usual types of enemies or obstacles present in other thriller genres. This environmental component often forms a central message or theme of the story. Examples include Nicholas Evans's The Loop, C. George Muller's Echoes in the Blue, and Wilbur Smith's Elephant Song, all of which highlight real-life environmental issues. Futuristic Eco-thrillers are of the Science Fiction genre.

Erotic thriller - In which it consists of erotica and thriller. It has become popular since the 1980s and the rise of VCR market penetration. The genre includes films such as Fatal Attraction.

Horror thriller - In which conflict between the main characters are mental, emotional, and physical. Two recent examples of this include the Saw series of films and the Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later. What sets the horror thriller apart is the main element of fear throughout the story. The main character is not only up against a superior force, but they are or will soon become the victims themselves and directly feel the fear that comes by attracting the monster's attention.

Legal thriller - In which the lawyer-heroes/heroines confront enemies outside, as well as inside, the courtroom and are in danger of losing not only their cases but their lives. The Innocent Man by John Grisham is a well known example of the type.

Medical thriller - In which the hero/heroine are doctors or medical personnels working to solve an expanding medical problem. Robin Cook, Tess Gerristen, Michael Crichton, and Gary Braver are well-known authors of this subgenre. Nonfiction medical thrillers are also a subcategory, comprising works like The Hot Zone by Richard Preston. Films such as Awake are other examples of medical thrillers.

Political thriller - In which the hero/heroine must ensure the stability of the government that employs him. The success of Seven Days in May (1962) by Fletcher Knebel, The Day of the Jackal (1971) by Frederick Forsyth, and The Manchurian Candidate (1959) by Richard Condon established this sub-genre. A more recent example is the 1980 film "Agency".

Psychological thriller - In which (until the often violent resolution) the conflict between the main characters is mental and emotional, rather than physical. The Alfred Hitchcock films Suspicion, Shadow of a Doubt, and Strangers on a Train and David Lynch's bizarre and influential Blue Velvet are notable examples of the type, as is The Sixth Sense by M. Night Shyamalan and The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (who also wrote Strangers).

Spy thriller (also a subgenre of spy fiction) - In which the hero is generally a government agent who must take violent action against agents of a rival government or (in recent years) terrorists. Examples include From Russia with Love by Ian Fleming, The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum, and television series such as Mission: Impossible and 24 (the latter demonstrating a break from the norm by Robert Ludlum, as it is as much a psychological thriller as a spy thriller.)

Supernatural thriller - In which the conflict is between main characters, usually one of which has supernatural powers. Carrie by Stephen King and Unbreakable by M. Night Shyamalan and Torchwood are notable examples of this genre. This type of thriller combines tension of the regular thriller with such basic horror oriented ingredients as ghosts, the occult, and psychic phenomenon; the supernatural thriller combines these with a frightening but often restrained film. They also generally eschew the more graphic elements of the horror film in favor of sustaining a mood of menace and unpredictability; supernatural thrillers often find the protagonists either battling a malevolent paranormal force or trapped in a situation seemingly influenced or controlled by an other-worldly entity beyond their comprehension.

Techno-thriller - A work that usually focuses upon military action, in which technology (usually military technology) is described in detail and made essential to the reader's/viewer's understanding of the plot. Tom Clancy defined and popularized the genre with his The Hunt for Red October, and is considered to be the "Father of the Technothriller."

-Taken from: