Wednesday, 2 May 2012

In what way does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

For our project we were asked to create a 2-3 minute opening to a film of any genre of our choice. We chose the genre of Horror because we're (Me, Jess and Sarah) all huge fans of t.v programmes and films within the Horror/Sci-fi genre such as Supernatural. There were many inspirations behind our film but Supernatural was one of our biggest influences.This was shown through our use of the Satanic ritual as Supernatural is focused around the idea of demons and Satanism is often brought up because of this (Satan himself is also brought up in this programme but that's irrelevent). We wanted to do something quite dark and mysterious as we wanted the storyline to be interpreted differently for individuals watching. This is why we haven't actually established whether my character Esther is real or not because we wanted to leave it to the audience's imagination.

We wanted our project to be original so we tried not to conform to the stereotypes that we see used in most Horror film openings - hence our idea of Esther's reality/non-reality not being established. However there are still some aspects of our film that would usually be shown to signify Horror within a typical Horror Film. How many times have I used the word Horror in that paragraph? It doesn't sound like a real word anymore.

Props we used that are often associated with Horror - Candles, Mirrors/Broken Mirrors, A rocking horse, Old books or a book and the Pentagram.

I know it sounds silly but candles are often used within Horror Films. Usually this is to give the characters within the film a sense of security as the lights have all mysteriously gone out and they can't find any other source of light. This may also be used to trick certain members of the audience into thinking everything will be okay because of old/current fears of the dark that individuals within the audience may have and the light symbolises security to them. But as is the case in most Horror films we (should) know that it's not safe when the candles come out because that means someone or something has shut off the power in order to sneak up on a character or to seperate the character from their friends because one of them/or the character themself decides to be heroic and try to figure out what's turned the lights out. However in our opening we challenge (I suppose) this use of Candles by having the Villain Jess use them rather than the Victim because it is a part of her Satanic Ritual.

Mirrors/broken mirrors.
This may be an obvious one but Mirrors are one of the most common props used in Horror Films. There is even a horror film called Mirrors about a girl who was possessed finding a way to rid herself of the demon by encasing it in a Mirror. In this film the Mirror is used as a way of containing somebody else's soul (like the Bloody Mary legend) though they can be used as a metaphorical or literal way of reflecting a character's soul (who's looking into the Mirror) or revealing what is inside their soul to the audience. Though you cannot see what Jess see's when she looks into the mirror because the scene shot isn't angled towards the mirror it is safe to presume that she can see something horrific/frightening about herself or maybe even Esther looking back at her. :OOO

A rocking horse.
Though we didn't intentionally add the rocking horse to our film as a way of signifying horror it is another common prop used within horror films. I think we just liked the creepy sound it made so we decided to use it but let's pretend that it was intentional. I think the use of the Rocking Horse in horror films could be used for three things:
  •  As a sense of security for audience members/the characters like the candles as it reminds them of childhood when you were told by your parents that monsters weren't real or could perhaps remind people of a time when you could just call and your parents would come rushing in to reassure you that everything is okay.
  • It could have the opposite effect and be used to horrify the audience that something so innocent and pure could be part or involved in something so terrifying. That in turn spoils this idea of innocence and youth and for some may become a subconscience reminder of horror for both adults and children when they see a rocking horse in real life.

An old book/old books in general.
I wasn't sure if this prop could be considered as stereotypical of most horror films but horror films that usually have an aspect of the supernatural tend to include a magical agent of some kind. The magical agent usually takes on the form of a book. In our film opening we can see Jess reading a SATANIC RITUAL  (effects on the words satanic ritual are courtesy of Harry) from an old book that kills off her best friend.

(Note this is not the book we used during filming. This is a book I found on google images.)

The pentagram.
Pentagrams are associated with black magic and Satanism which is why they’re used in most horror films with storylines linked to religion. So it was the perfect prop for our film. Though ours is made from cello tape it still had a massive impact on our setting as it not only added to the realism of Jess being a normal girl (apart from her satanic personality) who can't afford an expensive set up for her witchy rendezvous but also gave our scene more of a paranormal/eerie feel to it which was what we wanted. Much like most of the horror films pentagrams are featured in our pentagram was used for a sinister ritual rather than any other purpose so instead of challenging conventions of real media products we have used them within our piece pentagram-wise.

Another aspect of our film that challenges the conventions of real media products are the characters themselves. Our main character is Jess. A 16 year old girl who looks harmless but turns out to be a crazed, satanic killer. By using Jess as our main character we have challenged the conventions of most horror films because it is out of the ordinary for the killer to be played by a teenage girl when generally the killer would be played by a grown man who's out for revenge after a freak accident or in some cases young children who have been taken over by the devil. Films such as 'The Omen' for example.

Similarly the character of Esther within our film challenges the coventions of real media products because she is also young and seemingly harmless. Even the way her character comes across is quite naive and innocent (well she acts innocent) which goes against the usual conventions of horror. Whereas most villain's are potrayed as vicious and blood thirsty, Esther is potrayed as someone who is trying to look out for her friend rather than to corrupt her. This is shown when she says: "We can't afford accidents Jess. Do you want to get caught?" which suggests she is genuinely concerned for Jess even if she has led her astray.

We used a variation of lighting in both scene's of our final project. The death scene at the beginning shows two different settings so we had to use two different lighting schemes (?). For the Satanic ritual scene we used minimal lighting, the only lighting we did use was from the candles surrounding the pentagram (we have done a health and safety post on the candles so don't worry!) because we wanted the atmosphere that Jess was in to represent her inner darkness or the darkness of what she was doing which is used quite often in horror films. As mentioned above in my paragraph about candles people find security in having a scene in the darkness is like a signifier that something bad is going to happen. For the death scene we wanted the lighting to be more naturalistic so we tried to make the scene look really home-ly. We didn't make the room too bright as we still wanted to show it was night but we kept the kitchen light on to reflect into the living room where Sarah was sitting. We also had brief flashes of light coming from the television to establish normality as she's sitting at home watching television like an average girl would. I would have said that we've challenged the conventions of real media products through our use of lighting in the Death scene because most use dim/dark lighting as (like the Satanic ritual scene) the darkness is signifying the evil in the film and in our Death scene we've used warm lighting (i'm not sure if this makes sense so I will try and find another word to describe the type of lighting we used later) that doesn't tell the audience that anything is going to happen so when it does (had the scene not been accompanied with flashes of Jess's satanic ritual) it's unexpected.
The scene where we've challenged the conventions of real horror films the most is in the dream sequence. Our dream sequence involves a lot of natural light because it was filmed at Cedars Park but we added artificial, high-key lighting during the editing process to give it an unnatural glow. The reason we did this was not only because we wanted to show it was a dream but we wanted to show Jess's memories of her and Sarah as really happy as their friendship was a high point in her life (shown through high saturation) and almost to show the purity of her life before she met Esther. Everything was bright and shiny and then Esther appeared and her innocence began to fade. Another shot during the dream sequence we also used to show this idea of Jess's innocence fading is when Esther and Jess are mimicking each other's movements. We tried to show this by having Esther completely immersed in darkness whereas Jess still has patches of light surrounding her to show that Esther is manipulating/perishing Jess's mind but she still has some sense left in her. An example of this is when Jess throws Esther out of the room as an attempt to recapture some of her sanity. It challenges conventions of horror because dream sequences usually have low-key lighting and are dominated by darkness as if the dream is a warning of the things yet to come.


  1. Your labels have gone slightly awry. They need to be called 'evaluation'. Please note this is meant to be helpful and in no way an off of muggingness.

    1. I'll note that you were being helpful next time i'm grumpy in Media. I'll change the label to evaluation. :)

  2. Lots of detail showing a clear grasp. To develop you could:

    Include images and video clips from your comparator films to illustrate your points fully.

    Include hyperlinks to give your readers instant access to extra information, i.e change the text "Bloody Mary" to a hyperlink taking readers to a pagw where the legend is explained y=using the 'Link' button in your post design toolbar.

    I'm guessing this piece is still underway as you've gone into some sterling detail on the first few of the ideas I gave you. Have a look at my blog post - my very brief blog post - on the question ot see if there is anything else you can use to extend this. (I'll be back in a second with the link, Chrome is refusing to open up anymore tabs at this precise moment).

    Have a look at how other people have approached the question too to see if there are any more ideas.


    Here is the original set of ideas.