Matthew Mountford-Brock

Name: Matthew Mountford-Brock
Candidate Number: 6157

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The End

I hope my consistent posts on this blog were interesting to read and portrayed my skills well. I enjoyed this media project and strongly hope that you enjoyed reading about it and watching it!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Evaluation Question 6

This is the answer to question 6 again, this time in the form of a prezi presentation. This shows an ability to use a variety of media tools.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Evaluation Questions

1. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
In Evasion, many typical thriller conventions are portrayed. As our sequence was a crime/man-on-the-run thriller, one convention which would be expected and was incorporated into our sequence, is a chase scene. Our chase scene through the streets is similar to many chase scenes in past movies, and captures the audience from the start. The use of a gun as a prop when the henchman is pursuing the man on the run, also showed a generic convention of a crime/action thriller. 
One aspect which may be considered to challenge the conventions is the fact that the man on the run was identified from the very beginning of the movie, setting up the rest of the movie for probably a pursuit in that particular area or neighbourhood rather than a whole country, and over the course of hours or days rather than weeks, as the man has already come close to being captured and clearly after the opening sequence would only have a matter of time before his pursuers find him again. Another way that Evasion challenges conventions is that the people chasing the man on the run were not police chasing a vigilante, as is often the case, but seemed to be a small group of young criminals chasing another young man. This adds mystery to the plot and suggests that the pursuers are criminals wanting to capture the man for other reasons than to uphold the law, but probably something more along the lines of interrogation or revenge for a past regretted incident.

All of the aforementioned factors show the conventions of a crime/action/man-on-the-run thriller. This is in a way a hybrid but is also similar to many movies, which involve factors of all those genres. Although this movie was not a direct influence, we found similarities after shooting with Evasion and The Bourne Trilogy, which follows a man constantly being pursued, while he pursuits the truth. The mise-en-scene of the movie is influenced and similar to Adulthood, a UK crime/drama movie.

 2. How does your media product represent particular social groups?
Evasion mostly represents young middle class men of a variety of races. All the characters are young, athletic males and there is evidence to suggest they are middle class, such as their clothing, their car and their phones. Although there is not a variety of genders or ages represented, the races of our characters have a wide range. There are characters of Pakistani, Indian, Jamaican and English descent all featured, however they are all UK citizens, and all speak English. 

The young males are represented in a rather stereotypical manner. This adds to the realism of the sequence, and also reflects society and deals with possible issues surrounding the behaviour of this social group. All the actors are male and the kingpin, shows especially hostile behaviour in his scenes, typical of how young males are portrayed in the UK. The fact that they are also criminals carrying guns, faces head-on many issues over crime amongst young people in the UK in modern society. This can appeal to the target audience as they are also young males, but in the bigger picture it could also educate them about the consequences of such behaviour, should they have experienced or are taking part in criminal activity.
3. What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?
This movie is the kind which you would expect to see produced by an independent film company in the UK, or by a popular terrestrial television broadcasting company such as the BBC, ITV or Channel 4. The movie is similar to Kidulthood which was a BBC production, and used many actors associated with the BBC such as Noel Clarke. Channel 4 have been invovled with such UK movies as This Is England which is similar in terms of setting.
The production values on our movie are also obviously low, so it would not be associated with a major studio, especially an American one such as a Hollywood studio. The sequence does not follow the usual format of a television movie, as the opening sequence is rather fast paced and comes across like a movie. Usually in a television movie the opening sequence would be short, simple and finish with the title. Evasion could definitely be an arthouse film, as it appeals to a small audience rather than a wide one, with Evasion mostly appealing to the particular urban sub-culture which so many young males in the UK are a part of. 
The movie could be an internet only release as the target audience are generally enthusiastic users of the internet and technology. Another option would be a straight to DVD release as the movie does not have high production values meaning a cinema screening would be unlikely, and unnecessary with the target audience being such a minority in the world spectrum. A company such as the BBC may benefit from releasing our movie as although it portrays crime, in the full script there would be moral conclusions, to put into perspective the aggressive culture of many young people in modern society.
4. Who would be the audience for your media product? 
The main target audience for our movie would be a rather small group. Evasion would be aimed at young males in the UK who are part of the urban sub-culture. This movie would appeal to them as the characters share the same appearance, attitude and lifestyle. Our movie has a rather fast-paced action style and contains scenes which indicate violence, such as chasing a man down with a gun. This narrative is stereotypically what young males enjoy to see in a movie. Other movies which share this target audience include Kidulthood, Adulthood, Green Street and Snatch. 
5. How did you attract/address your audience?
Evasion included many conventions to attract the desired target audience. The main point when trying to attract a particular audience, is to make references that only their sub-culture, rather than wider society, can relate to. This makes small groups of people with a strong identity feel understood, and they are usually very enthusiastic about the rare movies that express their attitudes and way of life. The easiest way to make specific references to small sub-cultures is through the mise-en-scene and the language. We used some slang in the script of Evasion such as the line "My man won't know what hit him" but did not take this idea too far as this could be considered unprofessional because it may repel more people than it attracts, especially people such as film critics, whom are unlikely to be part of the target audience and therefore may become uninterested if there are lines which they do not understand. 
The whole cast are young males in the UK which would make this audience feel greatly represented and understanded, and of course two sides are shown, the pursuers; who were the more evil people in the script, and in contrast; the supposedly innocent man-on-the-run. Other aspects that the target audience can relate to are the appearance of the characters, which include popular fashions among young men in the UK who follow the urban sub-culture, and the setting which of course portrays a typical neighbourhood on the outskirts of London, which would look similar to where many of these people have grown up or lived for a large portion of their lives. 
Some scenes such as the one where the kingpin is speaking in a hostile manner to the henchman over the phone, may appear quite shocking to older generations who in some cases hold manners and a polite tone in high regard in terms of their values. The portrayal of a gun in the movie also may appear shocking to these people as most UK residents have never seen a gun on the streets, which is of course an idea incorporated in our movie. 
The audience sees the storyline from the perspective of the henchmen if anyone. The only point of view shot used is one of the henchman watching the man on the run crossing a road. The viewer, following the henchmen's characters would develop an opinion, and hope for the man on the run to escape, as they can see the henchmen's and kingpin's aggressive attitudes and violent intentions, which would put them off the character. This idea of the audience developing a preference of a certain character, and siding with them, would make them more intrigued by the movie, and create more suspense when their favourite character is in danger of being captured or killed.
6. What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing the product?

The process of constructing the product was a completely new experience and the production was a great education in the practical work of the modern media world. The camera was a Canon HD which produced great footage and was especially effective when used for close ups of character's faces. When filming our rough cut, we originally had the kingpin's scene in a very dark room with minimal lighting, however the camera did not capture the setting very well, and the shots were quite grainy, which forced us to film in a normally-lighted room in our final version. One problem faced when filming out on the streets was that the dolly did not travel smoothly on the pavement and therefore caused very unsteady shots, forcing us to use a handheld shot instead when the henchman is walking towards the car. The dolly was successful however in the kingpin's scene where the camera rotated around him slowly and smoothly. A problem with the camera was the low battery life. In preparation for our final shoot we charged the camera to full battery, unlike for the previous shoot, however we were still pushed for time towards the end, in our final shots, as the battery was running low. 

During editing there were very few problems. Final Cut Express was very useful and the effects we used most commonly were the fade effect on the video, and the titles over our shots, which had an added shadow effect for a clearer outline and more professional appearance. These titles also fitted the mise-en-scene as the titles were simple to fit the simple street location, and no-nonsense approach of the characters in the movie. Garageband was also useful as it allowed us to take Ashgo's track produced in FL Studio 8, and edit the track, and add tracks. We added two tracks and used the keyboard to record our short instrumental sequences such as the bell sounds in the intro, and the cymbals which build suspense towards the end of the chase sequence.
7. Looking back to your preliminary task, what do you feel that you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?

When we planned our preliminary task we failed to think about all the loose ends of the storylines and the continuity of many shots. We did not research our genre or create an effective plan. This all changed when we planned our thriller opening sequence. Ideas were discussed for around a week and a half before all the group decided on one storyline. All of the group members had similar ideas, and we incorporated aspects of each person's ideas and used them in our script. The genre did not require extra research as all of us are fans of thriller movies and are no strangers to the man-on-the-run, action or crime sub-genres. 
After deciding on a storyline, we began work on our script, which in terms of dialogue, just included the short exchange between the kingpin and the henchman over the phone. Then came work on the storyboard. This required a lot more thinking as we had to decide how to introduce characters, how to finish the sequence with an effective shot, and what streets to use for our setting. The storyboard took around two hours to complete together, as we had to work out many factors, but we were eventually successful.

On our first shoot we all came with knowledge and lessons learned from the weaknesses in our preliminary task videos. The main problem in the continuity task most recently done before this, was continuity. This is something our group combated head on and considered throughout. In our opening sequence we also used a wide range of shots compared to our respective preliminary tasks, which consisted of mostly midshots and point of view shots. The point of view shot used in our opening sequence was more appropriate than when this shot was used in the preliminary task and was more relevant. The many camera shots we used included pan shots, a tracking shot, an establishing shot, longshots, midshots, a point of view shot, close ups, an extreme close up and a high angle shot from a rooftop.

The equipment, especially the editing tool of Final Cut Express, was used much more confidently when piecing together our opening sequence. We discovered many new effects which we did not know about and discovered many techniques such as overlapping audio, editing audio levels, using fade effects, and adding titles. Our chopping skills also improved as there was appropriate hangtime for all our shots in our final cut.

Overall I feel that this was a refreshing and enriching experience, and we fulfilled the main task very successfully. I can say with pride and confidence that our group produced a good quality, well planned, and very hard worked on opening sequence for a thriller movie which was a great first time effort, and portrayed our media skills and knowledge of thriller conventions to a high standard.

Evaluation Task 7

The first shot seen below is taken from the preliminary task we completed before we started work on our thriller opening sequence. The following shot is from the aforementioned thriller sequence. These shots exhibit how our skills developed before and after the thriller task. The first shot is an extreme close up from the preliminary task which aims to make the money in the man's hand the focus of the shot. However, this extreme close up fails to capture the focus, and the object in the man's hand is unclear. The second shot, which is from our thriller opening sequence is also an extreme close up. This shot is a much better example of an extreme close up, as the focus of the shot (in this case the phone) is in great view and all the detail can be seen, including the vital text on the screen of the phone which reads 'Unknown Caller'.

The shots shown here, exhibit the poor understanding of continuity which we had before taking on the main thriller task. Here is a shot of a character walking in a corridor and then in the next shot a man has appeared behind him out of nowhere. This is poor continuity as the man was not in the first shot and suddenly appeared in the second shot.

These shots show how our continuity skills have improved. The first shot is from the backseat of the car showing the driver going down a main road. The next shot comes around 7 seconds later and shows the driver around 7 seconds worth of driving down the same road, with the interior of the car and the angle all looking the same.

Although we were naive when shooting our preliminary task, there were some shots which we did well. These shots portray how well we did with the shot/reverse shot and keeping to the 180 degree rule. Unfortunately they cannot be compared to shots from our final thriller as this shot was not required in our opening sequence.

The following 9 shots show a technique used in our final opening sequence. This technique is an interlinking sequence to build tension. It portrays 2 henchman traveling to the same destination where they meet up in the final shot.

A final technique we portrayed is a point of view shot to prompt empathy from the viewer. This shot comes when the henchman spots the man on the run and we see it through the pursuers eyes.

Evaluation Task 6

The process of fully creating Evasion was not easy. Many tasks had to be completed such as coming up with the original idea, writing a script, identifying a target audience, assigning roles, shooting the sequence, chopping the clips, overlapping the soundtrack, adding the titles, and finally fully piecing together and brushing up the video.

To come up with the target audience, idea, script and roles, all we needed was a pen and paper, however the next step; shooting the sequence, required rather more equipment and preparation. No longer were we a team sitting down throwing ideas at each other.

We were now an organised team with a game plan, which had to be executed in timed conditions. This is because one piece of equipment used was the Canon HD camera, which did not have a great deal of battery life left when we took it out to the shoot. In this shoot we also used a tripod, and a microphone which attached to the camera. Small props required included the gun and the phones.

This is the tripod we used. The legs could extend for a higher stand. A dolly can also be attached to the bottom so that the tripod can be wheeled along.
This is the Canon HD camera we used. The red button on the right of the picture is the main button; record. The shots recorded can be watched back on the screen on the left.

Editing required more patience, than our quickfire filming. First we shot and edited the rough cut, before producing our final cut of Evasion. To edit the movie we used Final Cut Express, a great program on the Apple Mac which allowed us to edit the length of clips, easily piece them together, use great transitions, add titles, overlap audio, and do many more things. The soundtrack was originally produced on FL Studio 8, by Ashgo, however we added effects and an intro to the soundtrack using Garageband on the Mac.

This is the Mac computer system which was used. All the editing and sound programs used, were found on here. The mouse and keyboard were used to navigate.
This is Garageband. This program was used to edit and brush up the soundtrack which we imported. The tabs on the left with names of different instruments are the tracks. Each track is a new sound e.g drums, bells. The record button is at the bottom along with the play button.
This is Final Cut Express. This program was used for the chopping, editing and piecing together of the visual and sound. The image to the right is a shot of the sequence. When a sequence is being edited, each individual clipped is displayed along the timeline underneath the video boxes.

Evaluation Task 5

This is the annotated version of Evasion. The annotations note the conventions of thrillers, how Evasion portrays them, how it is unique and also how the soundtrack enhances the sequence.