Saturday, April 9, 2011

JC LIVE!

JC LIVE had been great. Unfortunately I was unable to make it to the concert, but it feels good to see that the backdrop was there. The organizers of the event asked me to make some changes to the backdrop so it does not look exactly like the original design, but looks good. Thought I should upload it.


On Set for Sweet Vengeance

These are a few pictures we took while shooting for our final film "Sweet Vengeance". Thought I should post them on my blog.








Thursday, April 7, 2011

Final Film "Sweet Vengeance"

This is our final film for the OCR project.

video

Premier of our Film

23rd of February 2011,
We had the premier of our Film "Sweet Vengeance" along with the films of our class mates. It was a great experience, many people enjoyed our film and the reaction they gave was more then satisfactory for us as a group. The audience for whom our film was made for were young people and according to our research they did like it and in fact a few of the girls liked our film better then the other films which was a good thing as many girls do not like to watch thriller, horror/slashers films. We handed out questionnaires as well after the premier of our film and the response was very positive and encouraging, for us being first time film makers. To wrap it up, our film was quite a success and our group is pretty much happy with it. However there were some things that we think should be changed, therefore this is not our completely final project. We will edit a bit more and add a few things that still seem to be missing. I have posted the video to our blog just to show the film that was screened. Hope it is good. 

video


I have also posted some of the questionnaires that the audience at our focus group filled out. Their response to our film was good.






Monday, February 21, 2011

Evaluation of final media project

We had to answer the following questions to evaluate our final film: 


Q1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?


Answer:
Codes and Conventions Followed:
- The main thing in a slasher/horror/thriller genre is that there has to be a killer. The movies that I watched had killers, and their presence was felt very early on, in the opening of the film (Amusement, Saw II, I still know what you did last summer, Scream and Wrong Turn).

(Saw II)

(Amusement)

(I Still Know What You Did Last Summer)

- Anger and revenge is one of the main themes of that motivate the killer in a slasher/horror/thriller film. Sometimes the killer just finds pleasure in torturing the victim (Saw II) and sometimes the killer has a motive, which is not revealed in the opening of the film.
- In the slasher/horror/thriller genre, enigma is important and is created right in the beginning with the opening titles. In the opening titles of House of Wax and Glass House II and The Good Mother, the shots are slow paced, however, enigma is created in the later part of the opening titles through the shots and sound effects. In our film Sweet Vengeance, we have created enigma at the point after Henry receives a text message from an unknown number and before that there are some slow paced shots but since the audience comes in knowing that this is a slasher film they know something is going to happen soon and even the slow paced shots create suspense.

+Slow paced shots:

(Glass House II: The Good Mother)


(Sweet Vengeance)

+Enigmatic Shots:

(Glass House II: The Good Mother)

(Sweet Vengeance)

- In slasher/horror/thriller genre, color correction and lighting is used to give a sense of darkness and shade in the film. By doing so, the film connotes mystery and enigma that is needed to interest the audience. This has been done in Saw II, House of Wax and Glass House II: The Good Mother. In our film, we have used color correction on the outdoor shots as we had to show Henry come back home at dawn after partying all night.

(House Of Wax)

(Glass House II: The Good Mother)

(Saw II)

(Sweet Vengeance)

- Young people are mostly the main characters or the victims in a slasher film. Mostly people in their teenage or more likely in their 20’s are shown, having a great life till someone comes along to destroy it. This is done to attract young people to watch the films.

(I Still Know What You Did Last Summer)

(Scream)

In our film we have shown Henry, the victim, come back home after partying all night. First of all, his face shows his age and depicts him to be a young man. The formal dressing was chosen to show that he was in his 20’s and not a really young boy and also to show that he is a wealthy sort of partier who goes to classy parties. Lastly, the answering machine was something we thought of using to depict Henry’s character as a playboy sort of person.

(Sweet Vengeance)

(Sweet Vengeance)

- The opening of most slasher films has something to show the personality of the main character or the victim. We followed this convention by using voiceovers in our film in the answering machine shot where we tried to show that Henry was a playboy, we thought of having female callers to show that he is popular with the girls. This is done in movies like Amusement; I know what you did last summer, Saw II and Glass House II: The Good Mother.

(Amusement)

(Glass House II: The Good Mother)

- Music and sound effects play a vital role in creating the atmosphere of a slasher/horror/thriller film. In the opening titles of Amusement and Saw II, there are sounds (rather screams) heard of people who have been killed or tortured etc. In Amusement, however, there is a sound of an evil laugh when the title of the film is shown which adds to the atmosphere of the film. We followed this convention by keeping the music in certain scenes according to the mood that needs to be created. In the opening of the film, the music is calm and smooth, but as the film advances to the ending of the opening title, the part where Ria comes in, the music changes with some build-up.
- The fonts used in the credits in the opening titles of most slasher films are simple and not very fancy. They have some simple animations though, like fading into black. We have kept the titles simple and the animated it with a simple fade in and out.

(Glass House II: The Good Mother)

(Glass House II: The Good Mother)

(Sweet Vengeance)

(Sweet Vengeance)

- We also observed that in slasher films, there are no credits in the important parts or the parts of the film, which have enigma. We did the same thing in our film. Henry receives a text message and after that there is no title seen except the name of the movie, after we show that something attacks Henry.

(Glass House II: The Good Mother)

(Wrong Turn)

- The design of the title of a slasher film mostly has something to do with the main theme of the film. For instance, in the films Amusement, and House of Wax, the font depicts puppet strings, and wax seal - so the font and design reflects the theme of the title or a motif related to the title. However some titles are simple such as Saw II, Glass House II: The Good Mother and I Still know what you did last summer.

(Amusement)

(House Of Wax)

(Scream)

We tried to represent the feeling of fear and slashing in our film through the font of “Vengeance” in the title. Vengeance was written in chiller font and in red color to represent blood and revenge and was animated to create a thrilling effect.

(Sweet Vengeance)

- Ria, the killer in our film, is dressed in dark coloured clothes when she appears in the film. The same convention was observed in Saw II, in which Jigsaw is shown in the opening of the film. We planned on dressing Ria in black to personify her as the killer and the person who would take revenge later in the film and to connote her villainy, murderousness.

(Saw II)

(Sweet Vengeance)

- We observed that even when the logo of the production company does appear before the movie begins, the names come in again during the few opening shots of the film. We followed that convention.

(Glass House II: The Good Mother)

(Glass House II: The Good Mother)

(Saw II)

(Saw II)

(Sweet Vengeance)

(Sweet Vengeance)

(Sweet Vengeance)

(Sweet Vengeance)

Codes and Conventions challenged:
- One of the main conventions that we broke in our film was to show the female as the killer. Though it has been done in Glass House II: The Good Mother, it is not common for the female to be the killer. We broke this convention because we thought that this would attract more females to watch our film because it is mostly observed that males are more interested in watching slasher films than females and this may be because females are more likely to be shown as the the victim in such films. So our film has a different approach, where the man is the victim and the woman is the killer. We planned for this to be done as far as possible without gender stereotyping.
- Another of the conventions that we broke was that in most slasher films, there are white people, but in our film we have South Asians as our main characters. We broke this convention because we live in a South Asian country and also because we wanted to represent South Asian people and not the white people seen commonly in films.


Q2: How does your media product represent particular social groups? 

Answer:
- We have shown Henry to be a young, affluent and rich person in the film. This is shown through the car he drives and the house he lives. 



(Henry's House in the film)

This is not exactly how most people in Pakistan live. A large part of the population in Pakistan consists of poor or middle class people but the social group in our film is not the mass population of Pakistan but the really small population that is rich and living a modern lifestyle. Depicting Henry as a rich person was just done to add to his character. There is no reference to class in the film and is rather focused on betrayal. Making Henry rich also shows him to be a person who does not care about anyone else and just wants to think about himself and in fact it is due to his own selfish reasons that lead him to kill Ria, who is alive and wants revenge.
- As the film begins, Henry is shown coming back home in his own car and he also has a chauffeur and then he goes into his house. The majority of the people in Pakistan cannot afford to buy a car and having a chauffeur without a car is out of the question. 

(Henry's Car in the film)

(People traveling on Public Transport in Karachi, unlike our main character)


This represents the people of the small high class society in Pakistan, who can afford to buy cars and live in big, independent houses rather than flats. However, this also represents the parents of the high class society, who let their children do whatever they want and provide the best things for them and let them live their independent lives. 
- It is also explained through the messages in the answering machine that Henry had spent the whole night partying and come back home in the morning. This depicts the character of Henry to be a party person and probably a person who is also living on the income of his parents. Such people in the population of Pakistan are few; however they are present in the country and belong to the high class and rich society. So perhaps the masses would enjoy watching such a person suffer as Henry will suffer for his thoughtlessness.
- In the film, Henry has an answering machine, which depicts him to be a social person who likes to stay connected. The use of a cell phone in the film also depicts the same thing and also shows that he is up to date with technology. Many people in Pakistan can afford cell phones and the use of it is quite common, however, people in Pakistan cannot afford answering machines and that is something that the high class society can afford.

(Use of Cell Phone in Sweet Vengeance)

Henry receives messages on his answering machine from two girls. The mass population of girls in Pakistani society are not how young girls have been represented in our film due to the fact that Pakistan is a religious state and the majority of the population in the society are Muslims; the majority of the Muslim society does not allow young girls to interact with young boys, in fact most of the girls in Pakistani society do not attend co-education schools, due to the decision of their parents. Girls also do not get the privilege of achieving higher education as boys do, and it is the small high-class society that gets a chance at this privilege.

(Girls in a classroom in Pakistan - only girls school)

- The names of our characters, Henry and Ria, are actually their nick names. Since they are representing the high class society, they have nick names and use them rather than their birth names. They do this to have some cool names, for popularity, and want to e known by those names. They are basically Muslims, but they do not want to use the names. They want to have names which they like and want to be called by those names.
- Ria is the character in th film who is the killer. Mostly males are the killers in slasher films. Having a female killer who is South Asian was done to attract females towards our film. In the Pakistani society, girls are not like that, so the film does not represent them, however, it was done to attract females so that they would be interested to watch our film.
- Our film also has a South Asian cast. In most slasher films, there are less or no South Asians or Asians present. We did this to attract the Pakistani audience at first, but also to bring a change in the slasher films, and so we have broken a convention of slasher films, so to say. 


Q3: What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?


Answer:
Our group chose "Dimension Films" as our institution because:
- Dimension Films is a famous Institution and this would enhance the film’s distribution and success in the industry.



- Dimension Films has produced many thriller/slasher/horror films, however, Dimension Films has done more thriller/slasher films than horror films. Our film would give the audience a hint of what to expect of our film being and its genre as it would be released through the institution of Dimension Films and audiences may know what kind of films to expect from this institution.
- Since Dimension Films is a famous institution it would definitely have the budget to support our film, which would help us make the film better and also the film would get a wider, more global platform.
-  Dimension Films has many ways of releasing films and these include cinema release, direct dvd release, internet (using dimensionextreme.com) etc. The institution would release and distribute our film in the most suitable way to reach the largest audience in the most effective way.
- Dimension Films also has the ability to carry out a great marketing campaign to promote our film. This would help our film in advertising it to reach the target audience.





Q4: Who would be the audience for your media product?


Answer:
The age group of 15-30 years (male and female both) would be the audience for our media product because:

- This is the age group that watches horror/thriller/slasher films, while older people mostly don’t.
- Love and betrayal is the main theme of our film and it is something that would attract both males and females as males tend to watch slasher films and females tend to watch love stories, also by changing the codes and conventions of such films we are hoping that we will be able to attract more female audiences to our film.
- Since most slasher films have their characters based on this particular age group, it would be better to target the same age group that has been shown in the film. So hopefully, since we stuck to that convention with age, we should still get the young demographic. Our film will also suit the desi culture as they are familiar with love and betrayal, mostly the male betrays a female, and therefore they would be able to relate to this film.

We are targeting a wide range of classes in our film i.e. low, middle and high class societies because:
- People from the low class society like to watch representations of the high class society and in this case the high class is represented as morally doubtful and violently killed so they might like that.
- The audience in Pakistan can relate easily to other cultures that are different from our own culture as most of the films we see here are either from Hollywood or Bollywood, and therefore they would find the representations of our film familiar and easy to understand.
- Since we have broken a convention, we think that this would be understood by our audience and we not only tend to distribute our film among the Pakistani society but also worldwide as the film has a story and representation that all cultures and can relate to.


Q5: How did you attract or address your audience?


Answer:
- We attracted our audience first, through the story. Love and betrayal is something that the age group of 15 to 30 years can relate to and will enjoy. According to our post production research the story was captivating for the audience, as we intended it to be.
- We attracted our audience through the difference shots we took and the way we edited the film. Our film started with some slow paced shots but as the film advanced towards the text message scene, enigma started to enter the film, then our film began to speed up. We edited the film in such a way that would help us create the enigma that was needed and also added color filters to darken the shade of our film, something which is seen in most slasher films.
- We attracted our audience through the sound effects and music that we used for our film. The sound effects and music were added to create the atmosphere, especially the music. The different soundtracks helped us change the mood and atmosphere in the film.
- The voiceovers we used in our film were also something that we added to attract the audience and to tell them a little bit about Henry. The voiceovers depicted that Henry was a playboy, and we figured that something like that would attract the audience or probably amuse them in a way.
- The big house and car added in attracting our audience as well. It gave the audience some idea about the life or the lifestyle that Henry was living.
- We made the logo of our production company (Mediatronics) to attract the audience. The logo added a professional touch to our film, something that is present in most horror/slasher/thriller genres. The same goes for the title of our film i.e. Sweet Vengeance. We animated it a bit to attract the audience to our film.



Q6: What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?


Answer:
- Camera angles and movement was one of the aspects that revealed that it’s not easy to shoot a film. It requires skill and practice.
- The different software that we experienced using showed that practice is needed there as well, however, once everything is learned, it is child's play. This showed us that we need to learn how to  use technology before we attempt it and once we do, it is easy to use.  
- We used online surveys, rather than printing them. 











This way we were able to post them on Facebook to get more responses i.e. respondents could answer in the comfort of their homes and at time that suited them. We really have gotten quite a bit of response. What led us to this thought was that in this modern age nearly everyone uses the internet and on such social networks there are people we don’t know directly, which would be great to carry out surveys.
- We made blogs, one of the main things in media studies, to carry out the analysis and updates about each and everything about our project and what we have learnt so far.what were the advantages of using blogs/ disadvantages.
- A significant part was played by cell phones. We were able to communicate with each other easily and cheaply and even in the middle of the night if necessary.
- Email also played a vital role. We were able to attach different things related to our project and send it to each other. This was quite helpful as it saved time for completing the project.
- We also observed the way different institutions carried out their advertisement campaigns through social networks and mediums such as television, internet etc.
- We also learned that technology can be a menace sometimes. We faced internet problems in the process of making our film. We faced network problems via cell phones at times when we tried to contact fellow group members.
- We encountered certain format issues an problems with computers crashing as well. This showed that technology can be a menace at times and it can delay work that needs to be done, if it is not working. 
- We used Youtube and other sites during the process of our research and preparation. This showed that we can carry out our research while sitting at home instead of going out and doing things.
- Overall, we discovered that technology can be a menace at times, however, it surpasses that as it helps to make work easy and gives us more options to work as well.



Q7: Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full?


Answer:
- One of the most weak points in our preliminary film was the camera angles and movement part, which we have improved and now we have a much better understanding of how to compose shots. In our preliminary film, we had shot our actors just from one angle, which did not seem quite good when it was edited. This taught us that we need to change the angles to make the shots more interesting to watch. We missed out on match-on-action as well in our preliminary film and after viewing some films for our final film, we noticed that our film needed match on action because without it the shots would seem really boring or disconnected and time continuity would be spoiled.
- The use of a camera and its quality were something that we understood after our preliminary film. It was a problem for us to use the school cameras as they were not compatible with the new operating systems on some of our computers and also these cameras required a certain data cable to transfer the data into computers, something that consumed too much of our time and delayed the editing for our preliminary film. However, when making our final film, we used a camera that was compatible with the common operating system and was also user friendly (was easy to transfer data to the computers). The quality of the camera we used in our preliminary film and the one we used in the final film showed some difference. This was something we understood about cameras and their use and quality.
- We also learned how important a storyboard is to make as it adds details to the film. Our preliminary film had a simple story of a bully being called to the principal’s office and their conversation being shown. It was shot in the Media Lab and we did not really put much effort in making the story. We just came up with a few lines and added them to the story. The end result of the movie seemed really terrible and boring because of our shots from the same direction and angle. We learned from the mistakes we made in our preliminary film and we mended that in our final film. There is a huge difference in our preliminary film and the final film because we made storyboards and this helped with planning so we realized that planning really helps with efficiency and quality.
- The Mise-en-scene is another of the things in a film that we knew nothing about when we started, but now we pay more attention to it as it is very important to bring reality and meaning to the film. We shot our preliminary film in our school’s media lab, and in the background all the computers and chairs could be seen.


The room did not look like a principal’s office. Our principal was wearing a school uniform, the same as the bully was wearing. We had no experience of lighting either.



- Lighting in our preliminary film was terrible because we did not have any idea about lighting and how it affected our film. In the final film, we used color correction to balance the lighting and to make the shade of the film dark, and this added to the suspense and the thriller effect in our film.
- Sound is another important aspect of a film. The sound in a film also helps to bring life to films but it also helps in building the mood in the film, which is very necessary. We did not use any music in our preliminary film but we have used a lot of music and sound effects in our final film and it has helped us a lot in creating the suspense and enigma that we needed.
- We learnt how to edit our video on Adobe Premier Pro and also learnt how to use Adobe After Effects as well, which is an animation and special effects software. The use of After Effects can be seen through our group’s logo as well as the title of our film, i.e. “Sweet Vengeance”.
- We did not have a proper logo for our preliminary film. It was just written in a simple font without any animation. We made a new logo for our final film which looked much better than the logo we made for our preliminary film.


(Preliminary Film Logo)

(Final Film Logo)