Sunday, 30 January 2011

'Watching' Documentary On Film Openings

What Thomas Sutcliffe means when he says "films need to seduce their audience into long term commitment. While there are many types of seduction, the temptation to go for instant arousal is almost irresistible", is that films have to have the audience hooked and interested in what is about to happen and not just throw the whole storyline by revealing it straight away.

According to director Jean Jacques Beineix the risks of 'instant arousal' are that your audience are satisfied straight away and the rest of the film will be of no interest. He says that the greatest opening starts slow and then comes the dramatic dilemma or 'explosion' of the film. The audience have to be waiting and making them want more and not be satisfied in the beginning, otherwise too much wil be expected towards the middle and end of the film.

"A good beginning must make the audience feel that it doesn't know nearly enough yet, and at the same time make sure that it doesn't know too little" this is because the audience can't know too little otherwise they won't know what the film is about and what is going on. But if they know too much at the beginning then the rest of the film would not need to be watched as the audience know what is going to happen and they will lose interest and excitement.

The critic Stanley Kaufmann describes the classic opening as a shot of a city, then a building, then the camera moving upwards the building then going through a window and right past a receptionist and then meeting the important man at the desk. This type of opening works because these shots establish 'normality' of the character and then the rest of the film would usually contrast that and make the audience realise that it's not actually normal.

Kyle Cooper's title sequence to the film SE7EN is so effective because it foreshadows what is going to happen in the film and it shows the obsessive-psychotic nature of the character.

What's meant by 'a favourite trick of Film Noir' is the start of the film in the end and in the film it will go back in time to show the story from the beginning.

The opening of the film The Shining creates suspense by the camera being a birds-eye view following a car and going in one direction, almost like a predator watching its prey. The audience will assume that the people in the car are driving in the wrong direction as they are driving to 'nowhere' and towards darkness. The music also suggests that there is danger lurking ahead and this causes the suspense.

Detailed Analysis of 'Memento'

The opening of 'Memento' is quite interesting as the clip is reversed, which makes it very much linked to the title of the film.
The opening contains no speech but the scene is enough to explain the title and already make the audiences question what's going on, even more so that the film carries out the psychological-thriller genre well.
The music playing in the background helps create the thriller genre too. The music is very eery-like and sets you on edge for something to happen.

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Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Thriller audiences

There were 31 suspense films that were released in 2009, and 503 films were released altogether.  

Action, animation and comedy account fro 52% of Box Office in the UK in 2009 became more popular because it has a wide range of target audiences and has a bigger appeal.

Thrillers account fro quite a low proportion of UK Box Office takings (4% in 2009) possibly because not many people are keen on watching thriller movies, and possibly could be due to age restriction, so this gives an smaller target audience.

 Looking at the 'genre by gender' diagram above, the information that could be derived about Thriller audiences and gender is that females tend to watch more romantic movies that tends to be more calm and happy, while males tend to watch crime and action which tends to involve violence and vile actions.

Thriller movies tend to have an older aged target audiences as mentioned before this gives a smaller range of target audiences for thriller audiences.

Watching Documentary

What Thomas sutcliffe is trying to say is that their are two ways to seduce your audience by either going into a film or from the beginning of the film to seduce your audience with instant arousal. In my opinion i believe as part of an audience i would rather watch a film that instantly catching my attention from the beginning and seducing me into the film.

According to director Jean Jacques Beineix the risk of instant arousal is that you might start a film with a dramatic or action packed opening, you will pleasure the audience in doing so, however the audience will expect or from you after the opening and if the director doesn't have any ideas the film is over. Jean Jacques Beineix says that you should start an opening slow and then go into the dramatic instant arousal.

You have to to make a good judgment on how much information you give away in the opening of a movie, too much information might just give it away to the audience, however you have to make sure the audience doesn't know to little. So this judgment has to be crucial in order to pleasure your audience.

Stanley Kauffmann describes the classic opening as you get a view of new york city, then the shot of a tower block, a shot of the window, through the window pass the receptionist and then to the main office. What a classic opening does is that it establishes normality it just shows the audience how everyday life is but then later on in the film in unfolds to shows the audience it's not like everyday life, therefore it changes the view of the audience.

Kyle Cooper's title sequence to the film seven is effective due to, it foreshadows  whats going to happen next and it shows the obsessive psychotic nature of the films main character. With the effective of font and psychotic pictures.

The trick of the film Noir is that the film starts with the end of the movie. This leaves the audience in shock and instantly grabs the attention of the audience.

The film Shinning creates suspense through the camera angel it's shot at also the background music creates suspense. The camera is like a predator and the car is the prey, the cars is driving away into an isolated area it creates tension and this gives the audience a sense that something is going top go wrong.

watching documentary

Thomas Sutcliffe " Films need to seduce their audience into long term commitment. while there are many types of seduction, the temptation to go for instant arousal is almost irresistible" this means films should get the audience interested straight in, by using action!

According to the director Jean Jaques Beineix, the risk of "instant arousal" is that if you get the audiences straight into action in the film, the excitement would leave the audience satisfied and  they would expect to see more action after, so its more better to start with a steady calm begining and then go straight in with the action.

"a good beginning must make the audience fel that it doesn't know nearly enough yet, and at the same time make sure that it doesn't know too little" this is successful because if the audience know too much already in the beginning, there is not interesting moments after because they already know whats expected, and if the audience know too little they would loose interest by not not knowing much about the film.

the critic Stanely Kauffmann describes as a a classic opening is, a shot of a city scape, then a zoom up of the building then a shot of the window and then you go through the window straight into the building, this works because creates a mood depending on the music and the setting of where the place is.

Kyle cooper's title sequence to the film "seven" is so effective because it wakes every one up  and gets them straight into the movie by its phsycotic obsessive nature to the main character, and it also foreshadows what is going to happen next in the film.

Orson Welles wanted to achieve his opening to the film A film Touch of Evil, by the start of the film is the end and then goes back in time and shows how it all happend, this is what is meant "a favourite trick of film noir".

the opening to the film "The Shining" creates suspense by the camera being at birds eye view,makes the camera look like a hawk watching its prey, also the car is driving in an isolated place and the music playing over it suggests there is going to be danger.

'Watching' Documentario.

'Films need to seduce their audience in to long term commitment'. Many films capture their audience in the first moments, the first scene being one with a lot of action. In the documentary 'Watching' it states how so many directors are tempted to go for 'instant arousal' of the audience, rather than a slow built up start to the movie which builds a plot.

Jean Jacques Beineix, a director, states that the excitement should not be given to the audience in the opening. He states that all the action and drama should be built up and the climax should come later, the want and need for some action or drama should be nurtured and left to grow throughout the film. In his opinion, starting a film with such an exciting first scene leaves little choice of where to go; the thrill must be re delivered constantly or the first thrill will be forgotten rather than cherished by the viewer.

'A good beginning makes the audience feel they dont know nearly enough yet, and at the same time not too little'. There must be a judgement of how much is given away in the opening. Too much information makes the audience feel in control, as if they do not need to watch so intently, whereas too little information leaves the audience bored, tired and losing interest.

Stanley Kauffmann- a classic opening. A classic opening consists of and established shot. This would involve three different things.
For an example: shot of whole of london, shot of an office
shot of the window, then shot of the person inside we are focusing on. This serves a purpose of creating a mood, depending on music, as well us showing us a character (probably main), and also the general and a more specific location.

Kyle Cooper's title sequence is effective for various reasons, it introduces the viewer to the psychotic and obsessive nature of the main character in an abstract way, without showing any of the actual film, it tunes viewers to the 'same dissonant pitch'.

Popularly in film noir, the film starts at the end, then the events play back in time up until that point.

In 'the shining' we know our characters are going the wrong way as they drive in to the shadows, there is a sense of foreboding, the camera is like a predator and that we follow bares resemblance. There is a bird's eye view used.


Monday, 24 January 2011

The structure of thriller openings

there are 3 basic structures that an opening of a film can have. these structures are:

Firstly a narrative opening with the titles running throughout, this opening is an opening that is connected to the main film, this is an effective opening because it gives you an insight of the main film for example in the opening of "The shining" we see a car travelling in a certain isolated place, so we assume that the car has something to do with the main film.

Secondly a discrete title sequence, this is a totally seperet miniture film that is in the opening that introduces the film, this is effective because it gets the audience thinking, what is going on? for example in the opening of "seven" we see quick extreme close ups.

Thirdly Titles over a blank screen, followed by the narrative opening, this is effective because it connects to the sound over it. "Donnie Darko" has a blank screen behind the title, which gives a Quick and simple effect.

the Structure of Thriller Openings

Narrative opening: A narrative opening is when you are introduced into the film where the credits are played during the opening of the film.  The scene is set with a narrative opening this gives you an insight of the film and the credits just run through out the opening there is a example of a narrative opening above from the film 'The Shinning'.

Discrete Title Sequence: A discrete title sequence is a small self detained film, which is a opening of a film which is usually different form the film doesn't have any relevance towards the film and doesn't relate at all. There is a example above of a discrete title sequence from the film 'SEVEN'.

Titles over a blank screen of a narrative opening: This is just a narrative opening with titles over a blank screen as shown in 'Donnie Darko'.

Different types of opening scenes.

Narrative opening.

A narrative opening is when the credits are played over the actual film, we are introduced somehow to either a theme a setting or characters or all. This is quite a common opening, but for a reason, as it is usually effective.

In this example, 'The Shining', the music contributes mostly to the mood:

To stress the importance of music, here is a fan-made video of the opening credits with a happy song, and the complete different atmosphere it creates.

Discrete Title Sequence.

A discrete title sequence is kind of like a film in itself. The images and shots shown are largely unrelated to the actual movie and it's plot. They usually display a more abstract view, and are solely used for mood, rather than information. An example is shown in the film 'se7en'.
Another good example is in the british horror/thriller 'Creep', for which i could not find a video.

The music and images set a mood but do not give away a plot.

'Donnie Darko' shows firstly a title sequence over a blank screen, before continuing with a narrative opening.


Thursday, 20 January 2011

The Bag Swap (Filming and Editing)

After we had learned the functions of the camera, we had the task of doing some practice filming, in preparation for our actual thriller opening. We drew influence out of other movies, typically action and espionage, a genre which incorporates conventions similar to the common thriller.

We had the film 2 characters swapping a bag in such a way that it seemed planned, and connotes some form of action.

The lesson after we filmed, we had a quick re-cap on using final cut pro, as well as soundtrack pro and livetype. This allowed us to insert our memory cards, use our video drive and begin an edit.

The editing process required precision and flow, and we managed to produce a rough cut within the hour, then finalized it after a break. The next step was inserting a soundtrack, made via loops in soundtrack pro.
I decided to use a 'drone' for the first part of the movie, until the pace increased nearer the bag swap where i added some bassy drums and an electronic melody.
The drone is typical of horror and thriller movies and is very effective in creating a sinister atmosphere.

Adding and selecting sounds in soundtrack pro.

Arranging the sound sn the 'arrange' screen

Notice the film in sync with the music in a small display at the side.

Trying out backgrounds and fonts in livetype.

Arranging the whole thing together back in final cut.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Camera Work, An Introduction.

This is a camera slightly similar to the one we will be using in shooting our Thriller pieces.

Throughout our lesson, we were taught all the basics of camera work. We had previously learned about different shots before the start of this coursework, but this lesson was about using the actual camera and its functions. We learned how to operate a majority of its switches to do with zoom and autofocus, and also manual focus. We touched briefly on lighting, and obviously camera safety, as the cameras are very expensive.
I had learned about these things before in GCSE media, and also when working for my Bronze Arts Award in film making.


The term 'intertextuality' is used for when thriller movies borrow and use parts from eachothers idea's. This will be done quite a lot in our own productions i should imagine.
A fine example is shown in the previously mentioned 'The Stepfather'.
- Parallel with Hitchcock's Shower Curtain Scene in Psycho- when the stepfather is seemingly killed he falls against the shower curtain in a mess of blood.
-Numerous (too many) thriller and horror films center the basis of their scares in the basement of a house (if set in a domestic environment). The stepfather has all of his secretive operations going on down here.
From 40 seconds to around 2:30 is the backwards shot.
A very good trailer we watched in class was the one for 'Memento'. I found the reversed filming very interesting, and a technique i would consider attempting to use. It still managed to build suspense even though you could see what had happened already and the events played out in reverse.
When the viewer sees the gun it becomes clear what has happened but very mysteriously we do not know why and it gives away very little about the film.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

List Of Thriller Sub-Genres.

The genre 'thriller' has many sub-genres to it and these may include;

Action Thriller - This type of thriller involves heavy action and that would be quick and fast paced film. (E.g. Resident Evil)

Psychological Thriller - Thriller that would keep the audiences mind going and leading them to question many things. (E.g. The Butterfly Effect)

Supernatural Thriller - Things that occur out of the ordinary, usually to do with spirits or ghosts. (E.g. Paranormal Activity)

Political Thriller - Mostly set on plots that would take ones power and give it to someone else, tends to involve action. (E.g. Enemy Of The State)

Suspense Thriller - Thriller is set on tension, excitement and suspense, but suspense thriller takes a step further and really gets the audience's heart going. (E.g. Phonebooth)

Erotic Thriller - Consists of sexual activity and attraction between two people. (E.g. Fatal Attraction)

Conspiracy Thriller - Often contain journalists or amateur investigators finding something believed to be unusual and being lead on to something much bigger than expected. (E.g. The Conversation)

Mystery Thriller -  Usually involves murder and the investigation of the crime and 'whodunit' (E.g. The Game)


My favourite thriller has to be psychological thriller because I like the fact that it gets the audience thinking and I enjoy having to figure out what is going on and having to use my brain to solve answers. Psychological-thrillers not only affect you during the film but after the film also, you look at certain things differently and it affects the way you make a judgement about certain things too.
I particularly like 'The Butterfly Effect' as it totally had my mind racing throughout the whole film. I loved it.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

What is the definition of suspense?

Suspense is a mental uncertainty or excitement as the awaiting of a particular decision or outcome of an event. This can usually lead to anxiety or apprehension.
Suspense can be when one is expecting something bad to happen. It is a combination of anticipation and the uncertainty of the dealing of the event that is waited upon.
Suspense is a day-to-day emotion that happens to everyone e.g. waiting for the result of an exam, waiting for the confirmation of someone's safety, waiting for the result of a film characters action, etc.
It evolves around waiting for an answer verbally or physically and of something or someone's actions.

How is suspense created in 'The Stepfather' ?

Suspense is created in 'The Stepfather' with the use of eery music and good use of camera shots. The film doesn't contain a good lit environment, it's tended to be dim lit and gloomy which enhances on the thriller factor. There are a couple panning shots on weapons; first shot of shaving equipment and the second is on kitchen utensils covered in blood. Dangerous weapons are also a part of the thriller factor.
At the very beginning, the audience are introduced to the main character who looks like an ordinary man, supposedly getting ready for work. The audience see him in the bathroom shaving, then presented to a man who now completely looks nothing like before. He is presumably changing his identity as he dyes his hair, shaves off all his beard and wears coloured contact lenses, which leads to the question of 'why'.
The audience are then presented to the main characters family who have all been killed and left lying around the house and as the main character is casually walking around his family as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened, the audience are now fully aware that he is the stepfather.

'The Stepfather' contains a lot of false plateau as the music changes and where the audience would naturally suspect something horrifying to happen, but doesn't, which misleads and the horror and thrills occur when the audience is least expected.

Change of identification

Thriller Sub Genres

A 'thriller' can cover many sub genres, and it is arguable that most 'thrillers' fall in to a certain group.
 Action Thriller
This picture is from 'Die Hard 4' which would be described not only as an action film, but a thriller also as it has scenes of suspense.

 Psychological Thriller
Films such as 'Donnie Darko' and 'The Butterfly Effect" would be described as psychological thrillers. Not necessarily horror and not necessarily violent or rich in effects.

Certain aspects of the psych-thriller convene to the typical aspects of the thriller, such as the music, and parts that make an audience 'jump'

Romance Thriller.

Some thrillers show us a central focus on a relationship, this often follows an action role, such as the movie 'Fatal Attraction'.
Horror/supernatural Thriller

There are so many horror thrillers that 'horror' is its own genre, yet many of its conventions are about suspense, unexpected appearances, and false plateau. For example a film like Paranormal Activity.
Political Thriller
Political Thrillers tend to stay away from the horror and supernatural side of things and focus on a very real issue, yet still combine the suspense of a thriller. An example would be 'Enemy Of The State' or 'Vantage Point'.

Suspense Thriller
A 'Suspense Thriller' focuses solely on suspense through the whole movie, such as the movie 'Phone Booth' where there is a scenario throughout the whole film which builds up suspense and reaches a climax.

I would say my favourite is the psychological thriller, as 'Donnie Darko' and 'the Butterfly Effect' are both films i greatly enjoyed and would draw influence from in ideas for my final coursework thriller piece.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

How Is Suspense Created in 'The Stepfather'

'The Stepfather' displays many of the conventions of a thriller movie.
From the very start we are presented with a disturbing scene, where our main character (and also the killer) is shown changing his identity, going about his business happily whilst his family lie dead on the floor.
This is the stepfather cutting off his beard, after dying his hair and opting for contact lenses rather than glasses. The music around this scene makes things seem a lot more sinister, and our sinister thoughts are confirmed when we see his family on the floor...

So, when he meets his new family, there is already an element of thrill as we (the audience) know something the other characters are oblivious to.
One thing that stood out to me in 'The Stepfather' was the music often created an atmosphere in which you would expect something thrilling to happen, and then it doesn't. Only for what you expected to see to return a few shots later. This, is called a 'false plateau' and is common in thrillers and especially common in horrors.

Other obvious conventions of a thriller which were shown in this movie, were moments that make you 'jump'. The stepfather used his quite frequently while the eldest son and his girlfriend became suspicious of the stepfather's lack of credentials and began searching for clues around him.

The stepfather had a very annoying habit of standing right behind doors.

I am unsure whether i would draw much influence from 'The Stepfather' in my thriller coursework, however it is a good example of what a 'thriller' is, as it doesn't sway to far in to either the horror side or the action side of things.

The last sene, as expected is the most thrilling, complete with fast dramatic music, and the excellent mise en scene of a thunderstorm outside.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

How is suspense created in the stepfather?

Suspense is created through intensity within the stepfather, the main character is called David he is the bomb of the thriller movie when he meets the woman at the beginning and the end. Whenever he meets the woman the time for the bomb starts to tick we as an audience just wait for him to explode and destroy his prey which is the wife and kids. The normality which is created in the beginning of the thriller when he sets out his shaving equipment and shaves and dyes his hair there is a picture above showing this.

There is a creation of suspense already as the audience already know what he is capable of and what he is doing. Often the music in the step father creates a lot of tension, this effect works really well due to it keeps the audience on their toes, this creates a lot of tension within the scene and just keeps the audience thinking when will he pounce upon this family.

However the eldest son and girl friend become very suspicous of the step father and start to seacrh his room for clues the girl friend at first thinks he is just over reacting but later on realses he is right all along.

I think the step father has many good ideas within it however i will use some elements within my coursework but not many.

we have the best scene at the end as expected to be the most thrilling which it is they have been chased up into the attic where we as the audience think they are going to die now.

how suspense is created in "The Step Father"

suspense is created at the begining of the film as we see a normality established, as the character david does the usual norm by shaving and having coffee, and puts the radio on, so we can see every thing is casual, later this becomes subverted as he dies hes hair, this leaves a question to the audience thinking, why?
then we see the dead bodies.

Suspense is created in the scene were the cat jumps over the old lady, we would have assumed it was the killer, but we are relieved that its not the killer,  this is called a false plateau, soon after that the killer appears.

suspense is also created by a Bomb Theory when the man is in the supermarket again and meets a women, the audiences know that he is the killer, but the character doesn't.