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

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  • In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
  • For our A2 Media Studies coursework we had to create a teaser trailer (of any genre we wished) and create 2 ancillary tasks to go a long with it (in this case, a film poster and a magazine cover). My group and I chose to create a thriller film, so we had regular meetings to develop our ideas into a feasible and interesting plot, which we could then create a teaser trailer for. As we had worked on Thriller opening sequences last year at AS, we were very clear of the codes and conventions that would be found within a thriller film, they include: - Create a sense of enigma/ suspense - Contain some fast paced action (depending on the sub-genre of the film) - Tension is built up throughout the film - There will be scenes that thrill the audience (perhaps making them jump) - Fast paced editing - The protagonist is male
  • If I were to break this down further, I would also look at the codes and conventions of a psychological thriller, as this was the sub-genre of our film. Codes and conventions of psychological thrillers include: - The main or one of the main character suffering from a mental illness (could be known or unknown, it is usually revealed at some point in the film) - Mind games (could be between the character, but may also involve the audience) - A sense of danger and enigma - Dark settings - Isolation I am now going to examine whether our group applied these codes and conventions to our trailer, or whether we challenged them.
    • This is the final draft of our teaser trailer; it took 2 drafts prior to this to get it the way we wanted. We also got a lot of audience feedback to help us make the trailer more appealing to the audience.
    • But before all this could happen, each of our group members had to do some research into teaser trailers, so we knew what our trailer should look like. We established that:
    • - We should not show the whole storyline, a trailer is only meant to whet the audiences appetite and not make them feel like they know the whole story already. - Include many different quick shots in the shortest space of time as possible, whilst still making the viewer want to see the film.
    • - Establish some kind of comprehendible narrative.
    • - Include information about actors/ actresses, the distribution and production companies.
    • Leave the viewer wanting to see more.
    • We established these were typical of trailers as we each analysed 4 different trailers. I analysed: Audition, Donnie Darko, Amlie and I am Legend. By looking at and analysing these film trailers I felt a lot more comfortable knowing what the codes and conventions of a thriller would be and what is generally expected within a trailer.
  • We took this into consideration during our planning process and we thought of the many different ways in which we could present our narrative without giving too much of it away. Unfortunately, our first and second drafts of our trailer were too vague and did not establish any kind of narrative whatsoever. It took us a while to realise, and after some audience feedback, we took a step back from the production and watched it through the eyes of the audience. We agreed that it was far too vague and begun working on making the narrative visible to the viewer. To save our trailer, we turned back to our research and looked at what we had established as the typical codes and conventions of a thriller film. In the new draft of our trailer we included: A sense of Enigma: We left our trailer on a cliff hanger, creating the greatest sense of enigma possible. The only way that the audience would be able to find out the resolution to this enigma would now be to go and watch the film itself. Many film trailers (especially teaser trailers) present the audience with a sense of enigma, then leave the audience with a cliff hanger. Cliff hangers are one of the most effective ways of making an audience member wanting to go and see a film. This was the case with the I am Legend teaser trailer. The audience is presented with a sense of danger, where the main character is isolated in low key lighting. It is then eluded that he is attacked by something, but before the audience can figure out what is going on, the shot cuts to the title. This is the very same structure our trailer follows.
  • What is interesting about the fact that both of these trailers follow this structure is that they are of different sub-genres. Empty Vessels is a psychological thriller, whereas I am Legend is a sci-fi thriller. It could be argued then, that the majority of thriller teaser trailers (no matter what the sub-genre) use cliff hangers in order to attract their audience. Therefore, we conformed to the typical codes and conventions of real media products.
  • Include some kind of fast paced action: In most Thriller trailers, there is a presence of some kind of action, be this: a car chase, running or a fight. Upon looking at the first draft of our trailer, we found there to be no action whatsoever. It is not necessarily a requirement for there to be action, but it is a good indicator of genre. So when we met as a group to discuss our options we felt it would be a good idea to include some kind of action. We chose to make it subtle and include a dramatic scene that alluded to the idea of a fight. In this scene, the character of Alex hits a magazine out of her friends hand with quite some force. Not only did this add drama to the narrative, but alluded to the idea that there was going to be some kind of conflict between these two characters. We chose not to show whether or not his escalated to a fight as this scene alone would make the viewer question what is going to happen next. So it also creates a sense of enigma for the audience. This is a scene from the Donnie Darko trailer, there are many scenes in this trailer that hint to the idea of there being fast paced action. This shot is under a second long, but it still gives the audience a hint to the genre of this film. The inclusion of police cars suggests that there is some kind of anti-social behaviour or dangerous scenes within this film. But as the audience does not know what they will want to continue watching the film as this builds up the sense of enigma.
  • Tension is built up throughout the trailer: A typical device used within trailers to build up the tension is the use of different editing speeds. Typically, a trailer will begin with slow shots that establish the storyline, develop character and introduce the themes within the film. By the time you have reached the end of the trailer, there will be many quick cuts (that can range from half a second to 3 seconds) that build up the tension. These build up tension as the audience may not understand why certain shots have been included and this could lead to confusion, they may also feel overwhelmed by the amount of scenes and actions that are being thrown at them in such a short space of time. We used this technique of varying editing speeds within our trailer, at the end of the trailer, we have one long scene (of the main characters friend talking to her through a closed door that lasts about 10 seconds. It would have been very boring to have just this shot in the trailer. So instead, whilst I was editing, I incorporated about 5 or 6 shots that were related to the storyline, each of these shots was about 1 or 2 seconds long. Coupled with the music that was reaching its crescendo, I was able to transform an originally boring scene into a scene that becomes the crucial point of tension within the trailer.
  • I found that this was a common technique in all of the trailers that I analysed, even in Amlie, which was a romantic comedy. So this is a technique used in all trailers in order to draw in their audience. Therefore, we conformed to the codes and conventions of a typical trailer.
  • There will be scenes that thrill the audience: As our film belonged to the psychological thriller genre, we decided as a group that we wanted to make the focus of the trailer the psychological state of the main character. Therefore we chose not to include any intensely thrilling scenes, especially not any scenes that would make the audience jump. We just felt it would be more effective to keep it subtle and make the audience question their own lives rather than thrilling them to the point where they are not paying attention to the narrative. Depending on the genre/ sub-genre of the film and the content some trailers are naturally jumpy (such as Horror trailers) as that is just the way the film is. Film trailers such as Audition are jumpy as the majority of the film is jumpy too, therefore the amount of thrilling scenes within a film is usually reflective of the film itself. As a group we decided that we did want our film to be too thrilling, hence why our trailer contains no thrilling scenes. Therefore, our trailer challenged the conventions of a typical thriller trailer as we did not include any intensely thrilling scenes. We chose to do this as we wanted our trailer to play subtle mind games with the viewer, and we felt that a thrilling subject (in this case a mental illness) would be more effectively portrayed through a calm tra