Thursday, 15 April 2010

Change to Narrative

For our second rough cut we are going to slightly change our narrative and possibly have two alternative openings.
From looking at the footage from our central protagonist sitting in the bar we felt this looks at bit long winded and doesn't get the audiences attention immediately we considered starting the film with the flashback then fading into the bar afterwards and the voiceover playing over this, we like the idea of the film starting and us hearing footsteps as the first noise we hear.

We feel this is a much more exciting and interesting start to our film and also we felt we may have to squeeze too much into our two minutes if we had inside the bar-flashback-back to the bar. Also this way we can have a nice transition ending the flashback into the bar. We also shot two alternatives of either zooming into our central protagonists eye showing the red or zooming into his mouth showing his fangs and then into darkness and fading back out of his drink.

Also our film is no longer in French, due to the fact that we could not convincingly achieve the voiceover in French or gain feedback from a range of French speakers for our film, we also felt that our film was quite complex without the French language and that it may be too complex when including French.

Rough Cut #1


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

As we have chosen a hybrid genre using one very specific genre of Film Noir linked with aspects of Horror, I feel this has followed the conventions from many classic and modern noir films and used we used the stereotype of the central protagonist being a lone detective. Our idea of having a Film Noir/Horror and our central protagonist being a vampire detective linked well to existing media products, like Blade or Angel television series, whilst also being an individual idea. We originally planned to have our film in black and white as a strong signifier of the film noir genre as it can still be used today like in Sin City, however we felt it was not essential to the story as many Neo-Noir films are often done in colour like Chinatown.

Again with us having the film opening beginning with a voice over by our central protagonist followed the convention of many Film Noir films like Dark Passage and we wanted to add mystery and narrative enigma to our film hence why we originally decided to have our film in French however we later decided again this made it too complex and we couldn't convincingly create it either.

Another convention used in our film was having a link shot from the bar scene into the flashback, of the cigarette and the lamppost light, unfortunately the shot was not as close up as we had wished and this is something we would ideally have liked to re shoot but were unable to do so. Also our flashback was done in a different colour to the rest of the film which followed the convention of film flashbacks and rather than being in the usual black and white we had it in a red tint which again was a signifier of our film being about vampires and of the Horror genre.

Our title font was again following the convention of many horror, especially vampire, films by having a serif font that was again a signifier of a vampire film as the serif coming of the letters resembled vampire teeth and whilst small details were quite essential to the genre and mood of the film.

How does your media product represent particular social groups?

Our central protagonist is a detective, middle aged and white which give stereotypical signifiers that he is middle class aswell as his voice being well spoken English accent which is a signifier that he is middle class. As he is our main character it shows that we are glorifying or representing him in a positive light and so it seems that we are representing the middle class within the film.
However these are all stereotypes and it could be argued that our central protagonist is an alcoholic and unemployed, also he is smoking which is often seen today as a negative thing that is stereotyped to lower class people, so for the audience watching our film the meaning could still be polysemic and giving it narrative enigma. There are also aspects to our central protagonist that hint he is maybe the anti-hero of our story a bit like Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns like Unforgiven and whilst the story revolves around him that he is not necessarily the good guy, also due to our film having some hand held camera work that connotes a slight element of social realism which works well with representing a more unconventional type of character.

We have our victim girl who represents a young white middle class female and our villain as he is a criminal connotes he is a lower class character, again it is polysemic as these two may be in a relationship rather than it just appearing as a random attack. The girl resembles in many ways the idea of the scream queen, and our vampire is like the male killer as the attack on the girl resembles a rape scene which connotes there may be some sense of sexual gratification or desire that the vampire is feeling, also as the film is set in Yorkshire our vampire may also resemble that of the stereo teen yob.

What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?

film_four_logo.jpgOur film opening could possibly work as just a short film as we tell a story within the opening two minutes and may well appeal to a wide range of media institutions.
As it is filmed and set locally it may well appeal to the local branches of the BBC or ITV Calender
or other local media institutions also the National Media Museum in Bradford may well take an interest or even the UK Film Council as they like to see independent films being made also Film Four may be interested, also we will be entering our film to the co-operative film festival and it is on youtube and facebook so we are trying to widen the appeal of film to see what institutions may be interested in it.
Who would be the audience for your media product?

Our audience could easily cover quite a wide range of people, the Film Noir aspect of our genre may well appeal to a more mature audience and again due to the representation of white middle class characters then our audience are likely to be within the ABC1 category and caucasian, however it may not restrict lower class audiences neccessarily due to the Horror genre within our film too and especially the concept of the Vampire genre which is certainly popular and topical to date mainly with youth audiences due to films like Twilight and Cirque De Freak and also television series like The Vampire Diaries it is likely our film will appeal to a youth audience as well as the mature audience due to the hybrid of genre and therefore appealing to a wide ranging audience.
Also as the film is filmed and set within the north of England and especially Yorkshire that is likely to appeal to a wide range of people from the area, for example with the success of films like Calender Girls many people local people went to see it purely due to the location it was filmed in.
Again due to our low budget it is likely that we would release the film as straight to video/DVD so this would not be able to an international audience but more likely a UK national or regional audience.

How did you attract/address your audience?

We tried to keep our audience immersed within the action of film by having enough narrative enigma so that they were trying to work out what is going on within the story whilst also giving them enough anchorage and signifiers to work out the genre and the basic narrative of our film. We felt the French narration gave a mysterious aspect to the film and attract an audience that enjoys French language films or francophiles, however since we have changed our film to English we still feel that the mystery is in our film but making the narrative a little easier to follow by having it in English as we want to make the audience question the narrative not to confuse them.
Again with our film being quite a unique idea and original idea this again attracts an audience that enjoy independent low budget films that do not necessarily follow all the conventions of big hollywood movies.
The hybrid genre is also a good way of attracting a wide range audience due to the two genres that appeal to two very different groups of people.

What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?

We have learnt about how to get certain shots with the video camera's and the effects and signifiers we can add through different angles and framing of shots, also the effects we were able to add to our film with the programme we used to edit our footage. How little things effect the mood of the film like different music, lighting effects, use of angles and frames, contrast, narration, the pace of film, etc.

We learnt about the effect of lighting and how it can drastically change the mood of the film like the red lighting in the alleyway scene worked as a good signifier and made the footage look sinister.
We were able to use nice transitions to move the story along and used link shots for the continuity of the story. We were able to add extra sound in like the footsteps when our central protagonist walks down the alleyway as this was lost due to the wind but when we put it in again it made the footage look much more convincing.

Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?

We were able to expand on things we learnt in the preliminary task like the use of the match on action shots which we favoured in our film as it worked well with pace of film and also left much to the imagination rather than having to show too much violence on screen.
We also were able to expand our range of shots, angles and framing, and also lighting as we got a nice effect in our film in the alleyway scenes with the street lamp giving our film a slight red tinge which worked well with our genre and concept of vampires and blood.
As we wanted our film authentic and not too phoney and we tried to make our hints a vampires quite subtle by just having briefs shots of the vampire fangs and red eyes, and also adding plenty of narrative enigma by making the attack scene between the vampire and the girl look more like a rape scene than a vampire attack.

During filming we have of course had some difficulties and things that ideally we would like change about our film, in some of our shots the sound is not good due to the wind and so a boom mike may have been useful at this moment, however due to us putting the soundtrack and voiceover in its place it wasn't too much of a problem. Some of our shots may have looked better if they had better framing, especially in the bar scene, also we really wished we had more close ups and extreme close ups of the cigarette end as this would have made a clearer link shot for the transition to the flashback with the lamppost light.

For the mise-en-scene we took care in making a convincing bar setting, and focussed on details like bar glasses, ash trays, bottles behind the bar, etc. and luckily the framing we used made it look convincing however it could have been improved on.
We tried to use a variety of shots within the film and I think we achieved some fantastic shots in our project however I do wish that we had got some more interesting or exaggerated shots, like extreme close ups or high angles and we did use some nice canted angle shots to signify something sinister was happening on screen.

Perhaps the best thing we have learnt from our preliminary task was the research into genre and cinematography was key to creating a film, through watching film openings and extracting all the key details and conventions of film openings. We had to think about every aspect, how to have a convincing attack scene through match-on-action shots, a scary soundtrack which we used creepy piano music, the lighting which we had a hint of red to signify the genre and that of blood and vampires.

embed width="440" height="420" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src=""><br>">Original Video - More videos at">TinyPic

embed width="440" height="420" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="">
Original Video - More videos at TinyPic

(AT THE START. E.G. < embed) 

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Distributor, Budget, Exhibition

Our company name was originally to be Smirk Productions due to it being a hybrid of each member of our groups surname and also we though our production logo would link in nicely with the name being a drawing a vampires mouth smirking with two fangs poking out, unfortunately we then found that this name was already taken by a US indie company which made a film called The Gingerbread Man in 2005.
We then decided purely to change our production name to Smirking Productions as this had not been taken and still seem a catchy relevant name for our company.

Our Budget was around £30, and this covered the cost of the red contact lenses worn by our actor Mark Allan and two sets of Vampire teeth as more a precautionary measure.
We were able to hold of some fake blood free of charge and also of a Marlborough cigarette for our central protagonist to smoke, as well as costume this was again all free of charge.
We did not have to pay for our location or any of our actors, nor the equiptment except for the video tape used to take the footage in the film.


Jack - Mark Allan
Vampire - Olivier Trouille
Girl Victim - Kiera Benson
Bartender - Joseph Iliff
Man #1 - Tom Shaw
Girl #1 - Jess Owen
Girl #2 - Bethan Herbert

Director - George Scaife
Producer - Alex Burke
Editor - Robbie Miller

French Translation thanks to Olivier Trouille

Filmed on location at Alexandra Crescent, Ilkley and with thanks to Irina Nielsen.

Music by Kevin Macleod.

Re-shoot Schedule

We decided to re-shoot the footage where our central protagonist, Jacques, is bitten and becomes a vampire, we felt that the footage we had was too subtle and we never saw any relevance to the concept of him being a vampire. We have scheduled to re-shoot this scene on the 14th April 2010, again in the alleyway just off Alexandra Crescent in Ilkley. On location will be Alex Burke and myself, and our our central Protagonist played by Mark Allan.

Originally we felt we might like to re-shoot some of the footage in the bar and possibly the earlier alleyway footage but it seemed that the footage we had look much better once we had editied and cut it down as we had filmed at least 20minutes of footage by this point and so had a lot of footage to play around with.