The most ideal weather for mine and Emelia’s film would be a frosty, cold morning. We feel as though this would add a certain aesthetic to our film and would set the tone nicely. However, weather is unexpected and can not be changed, the best we can do is to cross our fingers and hope for the best! Our assigned date for filming is on the 28th of December. Here is the weather forecast for that day…
This weather forecast is almost perfect as there will be frost, ice and a bit of sun in the morning. Let’s hope that the weather forecast is correct!…
For the second version of our screenplay, Emelia and I took on board the various points of feedback from our friends, family and teacher. We altered our punctuation, including apostrophes, and some of our wording that before did not make sense. Emelia and I have also decided to go along with our teacher’s idea of using ‘Teddy Bear’s Picnic’ as a song for our character to sing rather than ‘Row Row Row Your Boat’ as it is creepier and will fit with the genre and mood of our film better. The largest difference between our first and second version is the length. Our version two is somewhat longer; this is because Emelia and I included the various pieces of plot that we had previously forgotten. With the added plot, we had to once again get feedback from our friends, family and teachers. For this version, our feedback was much more positive. People said that they could imagine our film opening clearly. They also agreed with the route that we had chosen for our characters. Emelia and I were happy with our version two but still did not have a title for our film. We planned to compose our own score but time pressures have led us to reconsider this idea…
Emelia and I wanted to look further into what audiences expect from a thriller film. To do so, we felt the most efficient thing to do would be to create a survey and send it out amongst our friends, family, teachers and peers. After writing up our own survey, I discovered a website called Survey Monkey. This would be much more efficient as it was easy to create, looked fairly professional, would allow us to share the link easily and would also allow us to analyse the results easily.
Survey Monkey was founded in 1999 by Chris and Ryan Finley. It has had over 25 million users and has processed a revenue of 113 million USD. When coming across survey monkey at first I was slightly confused, but quickly got the hang of it. I created the survey titled ‘Thriller Film Opening’ on the twenty sixth of November. Now, 5 days later, we have had 51 responses. In order to receive these responses, I sent the link of https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/KK6TXZC to my friends, teachers and family. By doing so we have received a variety of responses and can now improve our film opening from this.
The questions included in the survey are:
- What age group are you from? – I decided to have this question to begin with as I felt it could display what age range our target audience should be. The target age could alter various aspects of our opening.
- What is the most important aspect of a thriller film for you? – I felt as if this question would show Emelia and I what to focus on and what the majority of people do not find hugely important.
- What type of storyline would you expect to see in a thriller? – This response to this question will help us to edit our storyline so that it is what people would expect for a thriller, therefore helping us to make it seem as realistic as possible.
- What emotions do you expect to feel when watching a thriller? – I feel as though the emotions felt when watching a film are hugely important as they help the audience to feel involved and allows them to connect to thew film. Also, the results from the survey will show Emelia and I which emotions to target when creating our film opening.
- What features would you expect the antagonist (villain) to have? – The response to this question will help Emelia and I when it comes to the aesthetic planning of our film opening. We can dress and reveal our villain in a way that is expected of a thriller film.
- What features would you expect the protagonist (main character) to have? – This question is very similar to the previous question in that we can base our costumes and choice of character from the response. I decided to have the same answer choices as the previous question because I think this will help us to differ between the two as the answers may be different.
- Who would seem to be most vulnerable? – Emelia and I would like our opening to display a vulnerable character and so by asking this question, hopefully we will be able to portray this vulnerability through our opening.
- Where would you most likely expect a thriller film to be set? – By asking this question, Emelia and I are once again looking into what mise en scene the audience expect from a thriller film. We shall base the location of our film opening from these results in an attempt to fit our opening into the genre as best we can.
- What sort of colours would you expect to see in a thriller film? – Emelia and I will base the colour palette of our film from this response in order to make it seem as realistic as possible.
- For the opening to a thriller, what would you expect? – This question is aimed to display what people expect the most of a thriller opening. It will allow Emelia and I to decide what aspect to focus on.
Originally I had a few more questions lined up for the survey. However, Survey Monkey only allows non paying users 10 questions per survey. Because of this I had to decide which questions would give Emelia and I the most helpful responses.
Here are the responses, expectations and opinions of 51 people…
From question 1, Emelia and I can see that over a half of the people who took our survey on thriller films were in the age group of 16-20 years old. From this, we can work out that this will be our target audience. We can also see that the elder generation should not be included in our target audience as they were the minority from our results.
From question 2 Emelia and I can infer that, for the majority of people, the storyline is the most important aspect. From this, we now know to focus more on our storyline rather than our music for example. This question also shows us that the location, atmosphere and suspense is seen to be important aspects of a thriller film. We shall focus on these as well in an attempt to make our opening as realistic as possible.
From our results from question 3, Emelia and I can infer that most people expect some sort of crime, perhaps a murder, to be the main plot for a thriller film. Emelia and I will include a murder in our opening and from this feedback are happy to see that this is the sort of thing that audiences expect. Interestingly, this question also shows that the audience expect the film to be realistic and based on true events rather than fairly mythical involving monsters, ghosts and zombies.
The response for this question is varied yet shows a clear answer. Most people expect to feel fear, tension, shock, distrust and anticipation when watching a thriller. Emelia and I will use these results in order to create a tension and tone that will hopefully make the audience feel these emotions.
Emelia and I will base the mise en scene of the antagonist character in our film from these results. We shall use a tall, broad, adult, male wearing dark clothes. Hopefully, our character will come across as cunning and sincere throughout the opening. By following the expectations shown here, hopefully Emelia and I will be able to create a believable character.
Similarly to question 5, Emelia and I plan to use these results to base our protagonist character upon. The results show that most people expect the main character to be tall, caring, approachable, an adult and wearing everyday clothes. However, the responses for this question, compared to question 5, are fairly balanced.
From the responses to this question, Emelia and I can clearly see that every person, par one, who took part in the survey believes that a female character would seem to be most vulnerable. This does not surprise me as often in thriller films the most vulnerable character is a female. The question also shows us that a toddler or child would pose as the most vulnerable character. Emelia and I will bear this in mind when casting our young actress.
Our results from question 8 show that out of the given options, the most expected location for a thriller film would be in an isolated and rural area. This could combine with the second most popular option, a farm house. Bearing this in mind, Emelia and I are going to ask one of our good friends, Hattie, if we could use her farm as a location for our film.
Emelia and I were unsure upon which colour palette would be best for our film opening. From this response, we are still stuck between cold colours and dark colours. However, we could combine the two throughout the opening in order to make it seem as realistic as possible.
Our last question was fairly focused upon our specific task in hand. It has shown us that most people expect to see some sort of shocking event in the opening of a thriller film. They also expect to be introduced to the main characters and location. As well as this, our last question shows that most of our target audience prefer simplicity over complexity when watching the opening to a thriller film. Emelia and I will use these results and bear them in mind when fine tuning our plot.
Overall, I have found our survey on Survey Monkey hugely informative and helpful when looking further into expectations of a thriller opening. Emelia and I can now use these results when fine tuning our plot, filming our opening and creating mood using editing in order to create a 2 minute film opening that fits within the thriller genre as best as it can.
The Sixth Sense is a thriller movie from 1999. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, the film is about a young boy visited by the dead. Unlike the other film openings that I have previously looked at, The Sixth Sense shows no opening scene in the first 2 minutes but rather shows names of producers, actors, music artists and makeup artists…
00:00:00 – 00:00:13 : The first feature to the two minute opening is the ident for ‘Hollywood Pictures’. There is no sound behind the ident; this builds tension as often silence can create suspense effectively. The sequence then fades to black.
00:00:14 – 00:00:30 : The second ident sequence is for ‘Spyglass Entertainment’. Once again, the name of the company matches the theme of the ident. Once again, there is no sound. The scene then fades to black.
00:00:31 – 00:00:41 : The shot then shows ‘Hollywood Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment Present’ in simple font with a plain black background. On top of the shot, a subtle and quiet composed score is played. This calmness and simplicity adds suspense and tension. The shot then fades to black.
00:00:42 – 00:00:52 : The next shot follows on from this with the writing ‘A Kennedy/ Marshall/ Barry Mendel Production’. In the background the same subtle, quiet music is playing. This then fades to black.
00:00:53 – 00:00:58 : With the music continuing from the previous shot, the main actor’s name ‘Bruce Willis’ is shown. This then also fades to plain black.
00:00:59 – 00:01:07 : Suddenly, a tense sound effect is played when the title of the film ‘The Sixth Sense’ appears. The sound effect matches the movement of the simple title. This then also fades to black as the sound effect once again stops to continue the opening.
00:01:08 – 00:02:00 : From here in the opening, names of actors, producers, casting agents and music producers appear on the screen in the same simple way. The calm and simple music from before continues to play with the same plain black screen.
Silence of the Lambs was released in 1991 and is about a psychopath called Buffalo Bill and his murderous ways. Directed by Jonathan Demme, the film can be categorised as a thriller.
00:00:00 – 00:00:10 : The film opening begins with the famous ‘Metro Goldwyn Mayer’ ident sequence. The ident involves the roar of a lion to link to the commonly recognised sequence. The sequence then fades to black.
00:00:12 – 00:00:29 : The next sequence shows the logo for the company, ‘Orion’. Orion is “a constellation on the equator east of Taurus represented on charts by the figure of a hunter with belt and sword.” (Merriam-Webster). This shows that often the name of the company links directly to the theme of the ident. In the background to the sequence, a calm and melodic composition is playing. The sequence then fades to black.
00:00:32 – 00:00:40 : Fade in to opening scene. The same composed score is playing, therefore linking the opening scene of the film with the previous idents. The scene shows a foggy, winters day in a forrest. In the bottom right the location, ‘Woods near Quantico, Va’, is displayed. This sets the scene clearly. Emphasised diegetic sounds such as chirping birds are played in order to set the scene further.
00:00:41 – 00:00:45 : Nothing considering the shot, scene and location as the previous aspect changes. Both the diegetic, and the non diegetic sounds are still playing. However, the shot no longer shows the location in the bottom right corner but shows the production company in the centre… ‘A Strong Heart/Demme Production’.
00:00:46 – 00:00:49 : Once again, the various aspects to the shot have not changed. However, this time the main character’s name is displayed, ‘Jodie Foster’. The picture then begins to move slowly in order to show more of the location.
00:00:50 – 00:00:54 : The scene continues to move with the same sounds. However this time, a new name appears… ‘Anthony Hopkins’.
00:00:55 – 00:00:59 : More of the scene is revealed as a new name, ‘Scott Glenn’, is revealed.
00:01:00 – 00:01:05 : As the scene continues to reveal more of the forrest, the composed score remains calm. This calmness increases the suspense and tension. The title, ‘The Silence Of The Lambs’, then appears in the centre of the shot.
00:01:06 – 00:01:14 : A wide shot now displays a part of the forest. Over the mud hill, a woman begins to climb over in a hurried fashion. The music intensifies and the sounds become more emphasised.
00:01:15 – 00:01:24 : As this scene continues and the woman becomes closer to the camera, two more names appear. ‘Ted Levine’ and ‘Anthony Heald’.
00:01:25 – 00:01:37 : The opening scene then shows the same woman jogging through the woods. She is shown to be taking part in an ‘FBI Academy’.
00:01:38 – 00:01:50 :As the scene further continues, three further names are shown. ‘Brooke Smith’, ‘Diane Baker’ and ‘Kasi Lemmons’. Afterwards, three more names flash onto the screen. These include, ‘Charles Napier’, ‘Tracey Walter’ and ‘Roger Corman’.
The opening scene of the woman running through the woods with the same soundtrack and emphasised sounds then continues…
Emelia and I decided to pick a genre before carrying out any more of the other ‘pre-production’ work. We chose to do this because by knowing which genre we would like to base our film opening on, we could focus our other research around the specific genre. By doing this, our research will be more useful and will hopefully allow us to produce a more accurate and believable film opening.
Firstly, Emelia and I plotted all of the genres that we could think of onto a mind map. Once we had completed this, we picked out our favourite four genres. We ended up choosing Thriller, British Social Realism, Alternate History and Romantic Comedy. From these four genres we then began to research and to think of possible ideas and plots. For each one we researched what would be expected, what would have to be included and how to create a film of our own from that specific genre. We then came up with a plot and then deducted a genre at a time. Here is what we found…
British Social Realism
“Social realism is a genre of film that focuses on topical issues alive in a modern society which is represented by different ideologies. Themes such as money, drugs, prostitution and sex are quite usual in modern contemporary social realism films as well as class, religion and political views.” – Slide Share
The conventions included in British Social Realism films are:
- Location Shooting… to film in a real life location, not a studio.
- Non Professional Actors… in order to give the film a feel of reality.
- Semi Improvised Scripts… so that the film has structure but also has a sense of reality to it.
- Seriousness… as often these films are based on serious, modern day issues.
- Many Wide Shots… in order to allow the audience to get a sense of the location.
- Regional Identities and Stereotypes… this genre relies on the location and actors to fit within one another in order to make it as realistic as possible.
Our idea/plot for British Social Realism:
Emelia and I had two main ideas for a British Social Realism film. Firstly, we wanted to focus on the modern day issue of sexuality. We were going to focus the film on the prejudices towards a gay individual in a group of stereotypical teenage ‘lads’. We would have based our film opening in Boston as Emelia knows this area well and the area could represent our issue clearly. In the end, we were not fond of this idea and so came up with a new plot to fit the British Social Realism genre. We decided to focus on the issue of class. We planned to focus on the lives of two families, one rather wealthy whilst the other had much less wealth. To film this, we would film once again in Boston. However, this time, we planned to be based in Fenside and Sibsey Road as these two streets show the clear contrast in class as Sibsey Road contains huge homes for the more wealthy compared to Fenside that contains the cheaper housing. Although Emelia and I were happier with this plot, it was still not perfect and after researching into the conventions of a British Social Realism film, we did not think that this genre would showcase our skills in film making as the conventions, such as ‘Non Professional Actors’ and ‘Semi Improvised Scripts’, would make our film look rushed, not planned and not legitimate.
British Social Realism film openings that we watched…
- This Is England… (2007)…
- Nil By Mouth… (1997)…
- Face… (1997)…
- It Always Rains on Sunday… (1947)…
After watching these film openings, Emelia and I were sure that this genre would not be perfect for our film opening…
“Romantic comedy films, or simply romedy films, are films with light-hearted, humorous plotlines, centered on romantic ideals such as that true love is able to surmount most obstacles…Romantic comedy films are a certain genre of comedy films as well as of romance films, and may also have elements of screwball comedies.” – Wikipedia.
The conventions included in Romantic Comedy films are:
- A typical “boy meets girl” scene.
- Two protagonists… one male and one female.
- Often seen from the point of view of the female character.
- Sexual Innuendos.
- “And they all lived happily ever after”… the inevitable happy ending where the couple get together.
- Young and attractive actors.
- Based around a heterosexual relationship.
- Comedy and humour.
Our idea/plot for Romantic Comedy:
Emelia and I wanted to base our plot around the idea of speed dating. We were going to display a speed dating meeting in a stereotypical village hall for the first two minutes. We would focus on the conversations of the various characters in the hall and show that one male and one female are coming up with the same answers to questions and would be perfect for one another. However, the meeting comes to a close one section before they meet one another. Our film would then show these two characters going about their daily business whilst displaying the similarities between the two. We would then often show that the two characters are close to meeting but never do… however, to fit to the ‘happily ever after’ ending we would have these characters meet one another, get married and live a happy life together. Emelia and I were fairly happy with this idea but decided it was not perfect and so moved on.
Romantic Comedy film openings that we watched…
- Love Actually… (2003)…
- Bridget Jones’s Diary… (2001)…
- Friends With Benefits… (2011)…
After watching these film openings, Emelia and I were still not so keen and so once again moved on…
“Thriller Film is a genre that revolves around anticipation and suspense. The aim for Thrillers is to keep the audience alert and on the edge of their seats. The protagonist in these films is set against a problem – an escape, a mission, or a mystery. No matter what sub-genre a Thriller film falls into, it will emphasize the danger that the protagonist faces. The tension with the main problem is built on throughout the film and leads to a highly stressful climax.” – thescriptlab.com
The conventions included in Thriller films are:
- Low lit and dim lighting.
- Protagonist in mercy of Antagonist.
- Tense composed and compiled scores.
- Changes in angles of shots.
- A storyline to make the audience feel uncomfortable.
- Many jump cuts.
Our idea/plot for Thriller:
I will describe out plot in my next blog post as Emelia and I have decided to go with this idea!…
Thriller film openings that we watched…
- Seven… (1995)…
- The Silence of the Lambs… (1991)…
Emelia and I have decided to go with the Thriller genre for our 2 minute film opening.