Manipulation AS Media Thriller Proudction Report
The task was to produce the opening sequence to a thriller. The sequence should be between two and three minutes in length and should include titles for the film. In our group was Emma, Kim and Bill.
Our group’s aim was to produce a sequence which looked professional but on a limited budget. As a group we had worked together before on a previous project which went well but we wanted to improve our planning to have more time editing the sequence.We watched a few films to get an idea of the conventions of a thriller. There are several types of thrillers including detective like Seven and Along Came a Spider. There is also the action thriller like Lethal Weapon and Gone in Sixty Seconds.
Most of the films concentrated their opening sequence on introducing the characters and building suspense. We liked the way in which Seven tries to give the audience clues about the film in the sequence without giving the whole film away. We were targeting an audience group between I8 and 30 as this range were old enough to understand the underlying clues and are not too easily shocked. In ourfilm we wanted to play withthe audience’s senses and confuse, them so we agreed that this age range were more likely to accept anything we could throw at them. The people we would expect to watch our film are people who like murder mysteries with a edge.
So we thought it would appeal mainly to males as generally they like to be shocked.The detective element of our thriller has wide appeal as most people can relate to something they have seen or heard in the news. There have been many detective films so the conventions are already set. We wanted to stick to the conventions already set so the audience could concentrate on the story line more.We all agreed that we wanted the camera to be still in all our shots as we didn’t think we had the capabilities to pull off a good zoom or tracking shot. But this made us worried that if we were using all close ups and the camera was still the project would look a bit dull.
So we thought we would try and use a lot of different angles to focus on parts of the action. As for the locations wewanted them both to be inside as we would have more control over lighting and the weather would not affect us filming.PlanningWe decided to produce a sequence with a similar feel to it as Seven as we liked the idea of using mainly close-ups. Using mainly close-ups would mean we could produce a impressive looking sequence which didn’t rely on the strength of the acting. Keeping the sequence very simple would increase the impact on the audience but the sequence would rely on getting the right type of sound track and props.Kim storyboarded how our group thought the sequence should look and the main features we wanted to include.
We wanted to parallel edit the two different sequences to produce contradiction and suspense. The shots of the voodoo doll being prepared should look really dark, dingy and a bit perverted, while the shots of the girl should look very ordinary like it could be anyone getting ready to go out.The locations for our sequence had to look very different to get the right effect with our parallel editing. Bill suggested using his room for the filming of the making of the doll as he had most of the props at his house and he was going to be starring in it. In Bill’s room we wanted to get it pitch black with a concentrated pool of light in the middle to make a contradiction with the lighting of the girl getting ready, which would be well lit.
The shots of Emma getting ready could be filmed in any neutral place, so the white walls of the media room provided us with the second location.Our props were going to play a major effect on the mise-en-scene so we planned very carefully what the set would look like and what we would need. We wanted to buy a voodoo doll to use but we couldn’t find one in Cambridge so Bill made it instead. This looked even better then if we had bought one as it fitted the whole home-made effect of the scene. We also had a spotlight to create the pool of light which Kim modified to get it more compact. Other props included newspaper to put down on the floor so it didn’t look so plain, and a few tools.
There were several ideas as to how our film could develop from this point, but my personal favourite was that the film was going to show this girl’s fight against the killer’s manipulation. The title we decided on was ‘Manipulation’, as that is what the killer does to his victims. The film will try to shock the audience with the ways in which the killer seems to have no emotions or motives, and because it’s young girls dying.We wanted to construct our title in Premiere after we had got the rhythm of the sequence right in iMovie. This was to enable us to have more control over the titles in terms of where they were placed and how they moved. The font was chosen because it had the effect of being home-made, so it fitted with the sequence of the man making the doll.
The titles were only going to be shown over the shots of the man making the doll because it would have spoiled the effect of the girl being very normal if we had put our vibrating text over her shots.ConstructionWe decided not to have a establishing shot, and to start with a close-up. This was so the audience have no idea where they are or what is going to happen; this creates suspense in the audience. The first shot is of the man’s hands putting latex gloves on, which will get people thinking he is preparing to do something. The next shot is of Emma’s eye in extreme close-up. This shot is supposed to unsettle the audience as the eye takes up the nearly the whole screen, and people are usually very un-easy about seeing a eye that close up.
This will put many questions into the audience’s heads – Who is the girl?, What is going on with the mans hands?, Is there a link between them?After a few parallel cuts it becomes apparent to the audience that the hands are making a doll, but it’s not clear why yet. But even if the audience has realized at this point it is a voodoo doll, and if they suspect its of the girl getting ready they will soon get frustrated because we only use close-ups of Emma so they haven’t got a clear picture of what she looks like. This tries to tell the audience she has no face yet. It is not until the man has sewn her face onto the doll that we reveal her.We try to make many comparisons between the two sequences to disturb the audience. We have a quick shot of Emily brushing her hair, then it cuts to a shot of the man stroking the hair of the doll.
This is meant to look really creepy and perverted, like he enjoys what he is doing. Another contradiction between the two sequences is when there is a shot of Emily putting on her necklace; you see the coming together of the two ends, then in the next shot you see the man pulling apart apiece of string attached to the doll. This part of the sequence is quite subtle but it is supposed tosuggest the idea that he will pull her world apart and there is nothing she can do about it.During filming the sequence of the doll being prepared, I set up the camera to where we wanted it and then we placed the props in the right position, as this was the easiest way to set it up. We filmed all the shots that were needed in the first position, then moved the camera slightly and zoomed in to get the second set of shots. I filmed a lot of the shots several times to ensure we had choice when we edited.
During the editing I took control of the I-Mac as I have the most experience using the equipment but the whole group put input into how the dynamics of the sequence should look. Bill was the main inspiration for the music. I put forward a Leftfield track which fitted well, but we soon decided it was too fast. So Ben found some interesting drones to place on our sequence; he also came up with the idea of creating feedback, as it would fit in with the disturbing images to have a weird sound.EvaluationWhen we showed our sequence to a audience they all understood our very simple story line. But not everyone noticed all the subtle clues placed in our sequence.
I was very happy about this as we had aimed for this effect.There were some very good comments made by the audience about the mise-en-scene. They liked the way in which we used our props: they said the doll was very effective as well as the gloves and the photos. Some people understood we had put the photos in to show the killer had contact with the people he kills; it shows he plans the killings. The lighting was also commented on as being a good contrast between the two different locations. I had my own view that the shots of Emma near the end of are sequence were too dark and needed re-shooting, but the audience didn’t pick up on that point.
The main plus point pointed out by the audience was our use of framing. They enjoyed the use of close ups, which I was very pleased about because at the start of the project I had some doubts whether the audience would comment on the lack of different camera angles and distances. The audience understood we were trying to keep information from them by using the close ups. They also liked the way we had cut Emma’s face up, focusing on different points on her face to isolate parts so she became more of a object-figure then a real person.Several people enjoyed our use of parallel editing gradually establishing the link between different parts of the narrative and creating a rhythm.
The parallel editing was also used to emphasis the sinisterness of what the killer is doing, like in the shots which cut from Emma combing her hair to the killer fingering the hair on the doll. This set of shots was my personal favourite part of the sequence, as it really has a effect on the audience. I had some doubts about whether the music really worked, because it wasn’t really music, it was just a load of weird drones and noises. But the audience commented that the music seemed to be an underlying rumbling sense of threat. This has broadened my thoughts on the type of music you can put onto the visuals, and in future work I will consider the same type of sound track. Some people didn’t understand why we had put the feedback on the sequence, which in my mind meant that it stood out, so it didn’t work very well.
I think our sequence would lead very well into the rest of the film as it doesn’t give too much away. This was confirmed when we asked the audience and they came up with several different opinion as to what will happen.