Final Sequence

Prelim Task

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Note to Moderator

Dear Moderator,

Thankyou for taking your time to look around my blog and I hope you enjoy all the hard work i've put in to it. I have linked my blog to the group blog and also to James and Matt's blogs (right in blog list) to allow easy navigation. The same links are also present in the other group/individual blogs. Our class/teacher blog is also located under BLK Year 12 Foundation Portfolio and this allows navigation between all the blogs included in my year.  

My blog contains all the evidence of research, planning, production and evaluation, whether its theory evidence, continuity  applications, location research or special effect planning. I have also attached my preliminary task to the top of the blog and also its individual evaluation is located on the blog or under the prelim task label on the right side of the blog.

On the group blog you will see individual named Labels, for example all of my posts are labelled Alex and this will help you identify the posts which I am involved in on the group blog.

Kind Regards,
Alexander Thoupos (3835)

Sunday, 3 April 2011

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

Our film is titled, 'Cataclysm'. It is a post-apocalyptic horror/action film and involves a radiation leak, which releases a toxic gas into the environment. This infects numerous civilians and they mutate into beast-like zombies (which begin to kill innocent civilians) .The protagonist is Sgt. Murray and throughout the film he and his army proceed towards destroying these creatures and preventing the radiation from affecting anyone else. Sgt. Murray prevails within the army and in the fight against the monsters.

Our opening sequence in particular involves a soldier + two forensics uncovering the cause for all these deaths. The sequence opens with the soldier walking ruthlessly through dead bodies and meeting with the forensics. He tells the forensic officers to check a particular body which appears to be massacred. This body is checked and after attempting to attract the soldier's attention the forensics get attacked by some sort of mysterious beast (the audience doesn't see this, they just hear screams). The soldier hears screams and cautiously walks towards the forensics. He sees that they are dead and out of nowhere a beast-like creature jumps at the soldier and kills him.

The Horror/Action genre our film uses is fairly rare; however we ensured that in the opening sequence there was both horror and action. The opening sequence involves massacred victims and killings, which are used in pretty much all horror films. The tough soldier feel and the ruthlessness are often seen in spy/war films and at first the sequence could be mistaken as an action film, however by the end we realise that the killing of innocent civilians and the destruction caused indicates Horror also.

Sound is a key factor in building tension and scaring the audience. Most horror films are not scary when muted, therefore we had to ensure that sound was particularly effective. It took a few searches, however in the end I found a scary and tension-building piece which involves quiet and loud aspects to create tension as is used in most horror films.

Freeplaymusic was used to find copyright free soundtracks, we ended up deciding on a track called Evil Eyes as it is very tense, while not being too epic.

Continuity is used to refine the discontinuity of the editing process and to establish an ordered coherence between shots. We had to involve the 180º rule in all shots and this proved difficult to get around. For the shots filmed outside the fence, the fence was the ‘invisible line’. We ensured that all shots were directed at the fence and not the street so to remove all elements of confusion from the audience. We also ensured that there were no jumps so we obeyed the 30 degree rule. One example of avoiding this error was when the S/R/S moved from the Forensics to the master shot and this was an error. To avoid this we moved the master shot towards the end of the conversation and cut from the Forensics to the Soldier instead. Another technique we frequently included is match-on-action. This is involved at various instances, for example when the Soldier removes his helmet and when he takes his gun at the montage towards the end of the sequence.

All films end up with some continuity errors, however we ensured that no errors were distracting to the audience. One error which we have noticed is illustrated below. It is quite a minor thing, however should've been avoided.

Aspects of ‘Cataclysm’ appear in ‘Green Zone’(Greengrass, 2010), which is a military-based action film. The uniform was inspired by films such as ‘Green Zone’ and the characteristics portrayed by our soldier are also inspired by such films. The natural lighting used for the most of ‘Green Zone’ was also an inspiration as it would’ve been extremely difficult to shoot in the dark (+ with unnatural lighting).

The battle aspect in our film is also very reminiscent in ‘Green Zone’ and it’s important to include similar features as successful/major films use.

Our Film could also be compared to '28 days later' (Boyle, 2002). It's a film which involves ''the breakdown of society following the accidental release of a highly contagious "rage" virus and focuses upon the struggle of four survivors to cope with the ruination of the life they once knew'' (

Our film involves a virus (radiation) as well, which spreads and mutates humans who feed on the other humans, gradually attempting to wipe out the population. The idea of coping with these problems and attempting to destroy/solve the mystery is used in both 'Cataclysm' and '28 days later' and this is an interesting idea, involving lots of enigma coding. We also both involve the idea of coping and adapting to these awkward changes and the breakdown of society is apparent as we see moments of selfishness, as certain un-infected humans try to use others in order to protect themselves, whereas our protagonist (Sgt. Murray) shows elements of hero-ism as he saves numerous people (possibly a child) from unfortunate deaths.

(theatrical release poster)

Aspects of our film are very similar to Francis Lawrence's 'I am Legend'. I am Legend involves a fight against monsters who hide in the shadows (use link above as an example), much like our film. The Binary Opposites (Levi-Strauss) are also very similar:

Humans vs. Monsters
- Dark vs. Light
- Guns vs. Claws
- Tech vs. Strength
- Life vs. Death
- Normal vs. Strange
- Quiet vs. Loud

It is important for all films to involve Binary Opposites to appeal to the audience and the use of conflicting factors make films exciting and tense. The only main difference between our film and 'I am Legend' is we use a residential film whereas 'I am Legend' is located in a much more urban location. This is because it was much easier/more unique for us to film at a house.


We also have similar Equilibrium patterns. Todorov suggested that stories begin with an equilibrium where any potentially opposing forces are in balance.This is disrupted by some event, setting in chain a series of events. Problems are solved so that order can be restored to the world of the fiction.

1. Normal Life
2. Chemical Attack
3. Recovery/War
4. Creatures are defeated


We also used a variety of narrative techniques in our sequence. It was filmed completely in real time, so the events are portrayed at the same rate that the audience experiences them.  This is important to keep action flowing and to make it seem realistic and smooth. We also used cross cutting to establish multiple actions at the same time, for example the camera cuts between the forensics checking the body and the Soldier on his radio to base.

Roland Barthes invented a theory involving 5 codes:
  •     Enigma Code: Elements of a film which are a mystery at first, however are slowly revealed as the  film progresses
  •     Action Code: This applies to any action that implies a further narrative, it is closely related to the text's narrative structure
  •     Semiotic Code: Mainly to do with 'connotation'
  •     Cultural Code: The points at which the text refers to common bodies of knowledge
  •     Symbolic Code: It exists to describe the complexities of an element of the text

Although our sequence is only 2 minutes long, we attempted to involve coding as much as possible. An example of enigma code is the ‘beast’. We are not clear as to what the beast is, we just see a POV attack and this is a mystery at first which will be solved/revealed as the film progresses. Action Code is often used to create suspense for example when the Soldier draws his gun and makes his way towards the best the audience wonders what the resolution will be; will the soldier solve this mystery? Semiotic Code is used on numerous occasions, for example the soldier leaning on the fence indicates him being tired; we are not physically told that he is tired, but his actions indicate this. Cultural Coding is illustrated when the Soldier speaks. He has a fairly rough London accent and the audience associates perhaps this with, but also rough-ness (soldier representation).

Vladimir Propp created a theory which entails that all films should have 8 character types which are Villain, Hero, Donor, Helper, Princess, Father, Dispatcher and False Hero. These character types are used to move the narrative along and appeal to the audience. Our film covers all of them:

Villain: Radiation/Creatures
     Hero: Army Sergeant
     Donor: Weapons Expert
     Helper: Sergeant's assistant
     Princess: Female who meets Sergeant during recovery
     Father: Captain who promotes Sergeant
     Dispatcher: General
     False Hero: Soldier in opening sequence

All opening sequences need to both interest the audience and give them an idea as to what is going to happen, while also create an atmosphere to lead the film (while using genre conventions). Our sequence is immediately interesting with lots of unique shots (e.g. forward track at foot level) and the unknown element keeps the audience interested, as the soldier could easily be mistaken as the film's protagonist. The quiet/slow start is immediately destroyed when the soldier blows a half-dead bodies head into smithereens.

The music used is very simple and calm, which is important as we are introducing the film to the audience, so if we were to use epic music this could potentially overwhelm the audience. We also allow the audience to take in the sequence before introducing dialogue (after 50 seconds) and we also considered completely removing dialogue in order to increase tension and the unknown factor, however it’s important for the audience to vaguely understand what they’re watching in an opening sequence, again because we need to set the scene.

It is also important for opening sequences to revolve around the protagonist of the sequence and give them more screen time, and we illustrated this particularly in the first 50 seconds, however also during the duration of the opening sequence. His death is also emphasised as the audience sees the moments leading to his death, whereas we only hear screams at the time of the forensics’ deaths.

We also ensured that the titles conveyed a suitable image, however we ensured that they were not too clichéd or extravagant. Therefore we used simple, but bold running titles, and we used quite an epic end title which involves an exciting effect + drum combo, this creates a mysterious crime-esque effect.

The 'Bourne Ultimatum' (Greengrass), which is an action film uses similar features with a dark background and a plain and dull coloured font.

2. How does your media product represent particular social groups?

It is important for all media products to include typical representations, in order for the audience to relate to them and also to know what to expect from a particular representation. Films should also involve challenges to typical representations, e.g. Rocky Balboa who is an old man, however still proceeds to partake in professional boxing matches and is still quite nimble.

In 'Cataclysm' we used profession as an important representation. The soldier is represented as tough, ruthless, emotionless and important; this is conveyed by his emotionless shooting of an innocent half-dead body and his fairly slang/limited language. On the other hand, the Forensics appear much more afraid by the incident and they are portrayed as weak and fairly useless, they end up just walking into their insignificant deaths. These are fairly common stereotypes and in most cases the soldier will have/maintain authority (status).

A problem we achieved with our sequence is that we are A-Level students and arranging adults as actors would be incredibly difficult. However, the actors had to seem old as a soldier should probably be an adult and forensics are generally particularly old as they have worked hard to get where they are and they normally have climbed the ranks of their profession. This could be an example of a challenge to typical representation; however we ensured that we casted tall and mature actors (luckily for us, both Matt and I are tall and look fairly old).  

To help exaggerate the maturity of the soldier and forensics we ensured that the actors spoke in a monotone way and used relevant terms, such as 'Sitrep' and 'M.O'. These are necessary as the young actors need to appear educated and experienced.

Another representation we included was ‘Gender’. This is illustrated by the fact that the soldier in particular is male (plus also the forensics). The only female featured in our opening sequence is shown as a dead body. It is extremely rare for the protagonist of a military film to be female and this is why we casted a male soldier, because it could be distracting and give a weaker/less effective appeal if the protagonist of the sequence was female.

3. What kind of media insitution might distribute your product and why?

Our production company is titled, ‘Mangleweb Pictures’ we are an indie, British Action/Horror targeted company. We see ourselves as a similar company to 'Working Title Films', which are an English independent film studio based in London, UK. They have produced a variety of genre films, which include action films like ‘Green Zone’ and Horror films such as ‘My Little Eye’.


We would attempt to attract a national audience and we would most likely use a saturated release (use different release dates in different areas of England to create interest such as Avatar successfully carried out). This is because we are not a well known company and therefore it is essential for word-of-mouth to help us succeed.

Our distribution company is known as, ‘Bullseye Distributors’. We are unable to attract global distributors as this would be difficult due to the fact the majority of our films only appeal to a certain audience and our films never reach a global market. However, this is useful as we provide our own input into distribution methods and we also recieve higher profits as we do not need to pay another distribution company.

A possible logo which I created on Photoshop CS5

 To exhbit the film we decided that our film has a very specific audience, therefore a huge London premiere would not be a good idea. Alternatively, we would exhibit the film at festivals, such as the 'London Independent Film Festival'. They specialise in screening sci fi/horror independent films, much like our production company. 

We would sell the film in SD/HD. This would allow the user to purchase the cheaper DVD or get the HD Blu-Ray version (options). We wouldn’t produce ‘Catacylsm’ in 3D as that would be too expensive, and our business plan is to keep costs low so that we can get maximum profit, just like ‘Paranormal Activity’ did. Therefore, we would keep it simple with just two versions of our film with possible bonus content in the Blu-Ray version to offer an incentive to spend a little more to get bonus features as well as obviously better quality.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

4. Who would be the audience for your media product?

Our film is a Horror/Action, therefore our main target audience is males. We also concluded that the age certificate would be a 15, and this is suitable anyway because males under 15 are unlikely to want to watch our film anyway. Our primary target audience is 15-25 year old males. Our secondary audience is 25-40 year old males, and our tertiary audience is 15-25 year old females interested in the Horror/Action genre. 48% of Horror movie viewers are aged 18-24, and 24% aged 14-17. This illustrates that our target audience are the main watchers of our movie genre.

Example of ‘typical’ audience members

  • These are 20-24 year old lads
  • They are British
  • They have low paid part-time jobs and are students at Universities/Colleges
  • They like to use the term, ‘the lads’ on a regular basis and are keen social net workers
  • They like parties/clubbing and perhaps drinking too much
  • They are not all massive film fanatics, but they enjoy the cinema and in particular Horror/Action films as they enjoy the thrills and the action ‘fight’ scenes
  • They have similar characteristics to myself, but are slightly older and are more outgoing
Mood board representing our Primary Audience

Example of a Secondary Audience member

  • He is a 38 year old male.
  • He has a child who is 14 years old
  • He enjoys relaxing and watching films at home/cinema on his own
  • He loves fighting/violence and therefore action films are his favourite genre
  • He isn't intelligent when it comes to technology, especially compared to his child
  • Although he's not a technical guy, he loves well-used technology in films such as interesting lighting/good effects 

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

5. How did you attract/address your audience?

At the development stage, we created a unique and exciting idea which involves numerous audience pleasures (and pains):

- The Props are really exceptional. They create a realistic picture and a more dramatic effect/professional look. They got a huge 8.4% average rating in our questionnaire (the highest of all key areas)

- The element of mystery is also important, this invites the audience to predict the future/what is attacking all of these locals. It also allows the reader to look forward to discovering the cause of all of this mystery

- The violence is another appealing factor, particularly due to the fact that our target audience is males, therefore blood (cuts) and explosions are always exciting. The gun shot to the half-dead body leading to a bloody head explosion is mentioned by almost all viewers and is one of our Unique Selling Points

- The soundtrack/sound effects used are also significant as the audience empathises with the poor situation everyone is in and it adds to the tension and drama which are intelligently illustrated

- The washed-out effect used by our lighting is fantastic. It gives a dull, mysterious and interesting look, much like Misfits and it also helps draw emotion from the audience

- The use of younger actors could also appeal to the core audience as they are able to empathise with the characters


To gain the attention of the audience, we used two advertising techniques:

- We used a Facebook event to invite all of our friends (who make up the core audience) to preview our screening

- We also placed posters around the school. These were placed below another group's poster as we decided to have a symbiotic relationship to draw a larger audience and also advertise together

- We have posted the sequence on Youtube in order to recieve more feedback and get a larger/broader audience appeal/reach

The Screening

The Screening went very successfully. We managed to attract over sixty attendees and they were all very enthusiastic towards our project and interested in offering honest feedback.

A video of the screening process

An excel spreadsheet of our questionnaire results (click for full-size)

Our target audience are 15-25 year old males and this became clear due to our questionnaire results. The average rating (shown in blue) from our male audience was a huge 8.6/10, whereas the average rating (shown in red) from our female audience was 7.4/10. This shows a clear difference in appeal as although both genders enjoyed the sequence, males (our core audience) illustrate a greater interest in comparison to females (our tertiary audience).

Example filled in

The pie chart illustrates that most of the audience labelled our sequence as a Horror Genre. We were pleased to see that all of our ideas were reflected in our feedback as the actual genre is Horror/Action and 5 out of 21 members (we split the questionnaires between our group and I got 21) chose that our genre was Horror/Action and this is great as all of our ideas/inputs are realised by our audience