Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Dear Moderator,

Dear Moderator,

Thank you for taking the time to look through my individual blog! The rest of my work can be seen on my GROUP BLOG (Group 6). The link is also on the right hand side under 'useful links', where you can also find links to Eva and Jess's blogs who were in my group. You can find other student's blogs on the CLASS BLOG.

Here on my individual blog you can find my personal work: research, planning, production and evaluation. My posts are labelled with these titles so that you can find my work easily. Most of the planning and production in on our group blog, as it is work that we did together when working towards our final opening sequence. There are also labels on our group blog - my work has been tagged with my name. You can also find work from my preliminary task on this blog.

Above are YouTube videos of my preliminary task and final opening sequence, I hope you like them!

I hope you enjoy looking through my work, I've tried to make it as clear and organised as possible. I have enjoyed working on this project for the last few months and have learnt a lot in the process!

Thanks again for reading my blog :)

Megan Doyle
Candidate N. 3215

This blog is now closed!

The project is over, so this blog is now closed!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

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

Our media product is a film called Captive (we have filmed the opening sequence). It begins with a disruption: one of the main characters, a girl called Dannie, is kidnapped by an unseen person. When her boyfriend (Josh) gets to her house, he sees that there has been a struggle and that Dannie is missing. He enlists the help of Dannie’s best friend Charlotte to help find her. Josh had recently inherited a lot of money from his father, who it turns out, won the money from a corrupt business deal. The rival company are out to reclaim the fortune, using Dannie as a bribe.

Our film is a teen thriller, which incorporates elements of crime and action.


Our film opening incorporates many film conventions. Our opening features many genre-specific themes. The kidnap is especially conventional to the thriller genre, creating tension and mystery alongside the sudden blackout. These events tie in crime and mystery elements. Thriller films that also include kidnapping include: The Silence of the Lambs (Demme 1991) and Taken (Raimi 2004).

However, in order to break conventions and create confusion and tension, we chose to not show the action of the kidnap, by having a black screen of a blackout. Although a typical action film would show the action taking place, a thriller director would try to add suspense where ever possible - as in Taken. In our sequence, the audience only hears the kidnap, which is disorientating and adds suspense.

In this kidnap scene from Taken, we hear the girl panicking and screaming while seeing her father’s face. The sense of the unknown happening is very effective in creating emotion and drawing in the audience.

The element of mystery present in our opening sequence fulfils Todorov’s narrative theory: the film begins with an equilibrium which is disrupted, then restored towards the end of the film. This is a classical narrative pattern which creates a clear storyline.

Applying Todorov's theory to our plot
Other elements of film theory that we took into account:
-   Barthe's theory of enigma and action codes plays an important part in advancing the narrative in the opening sequence as well as hinting at what is to come.
-   The news report introduce enigma and villainous characters
-   The kidnap is a vital moment of action (the disruption) which causes the story to move on
-    We planned our character list according to Propp’s character theory
THE VILLAINS - The corrupt businessmen
THE DONOR - The escaped prisoner who leaves clues to Dani's whereabouts
THE HELPER - Charlotte
HER FATHER - Dani's dad
THE DISPATCHER - Josh's father, who causes the dispute between the businessmen and Josh
THE FALSE HERO -  We do not have a false hero in our story

This narrative pattern is used in all conventional films, from children films like Finding Nemo (2003) to films aimed at an adult audience like The King's Speech (2010).


As an opening sequence there are elements that are typically included:
-          Introduce main characters
-          Introduce setting (location and time)
-          Include some mystery/tension which draws the reader in
-          Suggest what is coming

Like the opening sequences I have looked at previously in this blog (Harry Potter, Narnia, The Sixth Sense, The Incredibles) our opening sequence includes these points which create a successful opening sequence. Like the opening from Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, our opening contains a lot of engima and a kidnap, which is gripping and surprising.

Using feedback from our audience screening, we can tell that our opening sequence is successful in these aspects. Almost all the people who watched our screening managed to identify the main characters (a girl and boy in a relationship), and most people wrote that they found our opening scene successful (average rating 7/10). When asked what the audience members predicted for the rest of the film common themes suggested were revenge, crime and finding the kidnapped girl, which are correct to what we planned in our film synopsis.

Here is the information we gathered from the screening:

Group 6 Audience Feedback

As our production company is a based on a small British institution, we verged towards a more indie, relaxed film style rather than typically Hollywood style. To do this we did used a homely, colourful setting recognisable as a classical English home (accents also served to establish the setting), in contrast to the modern settings used with harsh, bright lighting in many Hollywood productions such as the Cullen’s house in the Twilight Saga, for example. The pace of our film begins slowly, then suddenly becomes fast paced (shown through the quick kidnap and blurred, fast, point of view panning shot). For sound, we used a news report and low bass music to add tension and mystery, which is commonly used in thriller scenes.

We also paid a lot of attention to continuity, in order to make our opening as believable as possible. As this was a problem in our first sequence we wanted to ensure that we did not need to reshoot anything this time. Below is an example of the details we checked before filming.

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

Our film opening focuses on teenagers, featuring our two main protagonists who are 17 years old. Therefore, age representation is an important feature of our film, in the opening as well as when other adult characters appear further on in the storyline.

Stereotypes of teenagers:

• Carefree attitude
• Lazy
• Out with friends
• Partying
• Drinking alcohol
• Drugsa
• Crimes
• Gang culture
• Boyfriends/girlfriends
• Texting
• Technology
• Rebellion
• Moody

We kept with these stereotypes in order to present a realistic view of teenagers, however we didn’t want to represent teens negatively as they are our primary audience and to attract them the characters need to be appealing, relatable and positive.
We present teens as independent in our opening, as they are alone in the scenes. Through dialogue, the teenage girl is suggested to be very strong and self-sufficient, as she holds the power during the conversation with her dad. We used framing here to present her as powerful: she dominates the frame and stands on the stairs. On the other hand, the kidnap shows her to become weaker in the opening scene. Throughout the rest of the film, the teenage characters act to contradict this and present teenagers as strong and responsible. In addition, our use of props satisfies the stereotypes listed: we used WKD bottles and a mobile phone.

There are also gender representation issues that our opening scene addresses:
We have both male and female characters in our opening scene, and they are presented as equal in terms of power and importance.
Our female character, Dannie, is independent and seems in control when talking to her Dad. We can tell this through the dialogue, especially lines such as 'Dad, I'm 17 now, I can look after myself!'. However our opening sequence does not portray females as in power all of the time – Josh is also powerful. Dannie texts him to ask is he is ‘still coming over’, which could be suggesting that men are in a position of control in relationships. When Dannie is kidnapped, she is portrayed as a stereotypical weak female and when her boyfriend needs to save her, she is a typical damsel in distress.
Despite his dark clothing which connotes strength and authority, Josh is not portrayed as brave or strong when he discovers Dannie is missing – his point of view shot is blurred and moving very fast, suggesting confusion on his part. This condraticts the male stereotype.
Films that present teenagers in a similar way: Stormbreaker (Sax 2006) and the Harry Potter films, where the protagonist teens are in power and end up saving the day.

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

Our production company is Darkhouse Production, and we specialise in thriller films. Captive is a teen thriller – we have incorporated our knowledge of thrillers and teen media consumption to create this niche British film. A similar British production company is Coffee Films. They produce feature and short films, many of which are thrillers of horrors. There most recent films include Lucid and Into The Shadow. Coffee Films shoot on film, with a low budget. Like Coffee Films, we are aiming to reach fans of the thriller genre, however rather than targeting adults, we specifically aim at teenagers.
Our film focuses on the lives of British teenagers - their lives have not been glossed over, and the action is gritty and dark. Therefore I do not believe that our film would attract a Hollywood company used to distributing rom-coms or chick-flicks, because their target audiences, or audiences that recognise their brand name, are not the same as ours (for rom-coms, a typical audience would be young women, looking for a relaxing, funny film). Our film is aimed at teenagers and young adults, so an institution which has distributed similar films would be ideal. 
MGM distributed Legally Blonde, The Ex, Material Girls, amongst many other rom-coms. Their target audience is mostly adult women. MGM is experienced in distributing to this audience group, rather than teenagers and thriller fans.
On the other hand, Contender Films (distributing both films in cinemas and on DVD)  is a British distribution company which has released similar films to ours (A Very British Gangster, Shutter). This means that they have experience targeting our audience. Also, as they have recently been acquired by Entertainment One, they have funding available and are linked to other companies which would help them to distribute to a larger audience – possibly world-wide. 

Shutter is a thriller/horror with mystery elements, which are similar themes to the ones in Captive. Crime is also a part fo our film, like A Very British Gangster.


Our film could be premiered at film festivals to attract attention; however I think that to appeal to our primary audience of teenagers, it would have to be available for exhibition at multiplexes. Typical teenagers do not often have knowledge of small independent cinemas such as ‘The Screen on the Green’, as they show films that would attract an older audience into more serious films. These are also often in areas that are more upmarket (Hampstead, Belsize Park) and teenagers typically look for the cheapest alternatives.
 I do not think that a blanket release or saturation would be necessary. The people we portray in our film are from powerful, modern and live in London, so I feel that it would do best if shown in cities, where there is a high population of teenagers who are looking for things to do with friends.
In our audience feedback, the majority of our audience categorised our film as an independent film. However many also classed it as a mainstream film. There was also an equal split between people who said it would be shown in an independant cinema or a multiplex.

As the majority of teenagers are very tech-savvy and lead modern lifestyles, online exhibition could be a viable alternative platform for exhibition. Content for iPhones would also help with creating hype around a film, as would viral campaigns which would easily target the millions of teenagers who use social networking every day. According to, 20% of teenagers own a smartphone (converged technology) and 55% of 12-17 year olds use social networkign sites.

Examples of converged technology and new exhibition platforms

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

Our film fits into a subgenre of thriller: teen thriller. Therefore, our primary audience is teens and young adults (16-24 years old), both male and female. Our secondary audience consists of older or younger males and females, those who are interested in the themes that we address – crime, action, suspense, mystery...

Our film is aimed specifically at teens living modern, city lives (local to where the film is set), as this reflects the lives that the characters in our film live. The characters in our film live in London, a multicultural city in England. As a result I don't feel that are audience is limited by nationality or race, as our film inlcudes people of all backgrounds. Our film could attract an international audience, as Britain is a country of interest to many people. Stereotypically, Americans like films about Britain, however these are normally historical period films about royalty like The Duchess or The Queen, rather than teens of London.

A member of our target audience:

Name: Rachel Davies
Age: 17

-    Lives in London
-    Rachel studies Maths, Business and History at A Level and is planning to study Fashion Business and Marketing at university
-    Has a boyfriend, Harry, who is also 17
-    Enjoys going out with her friends, going to parties, shopping and also enjoys films.
-    She often reads fashion and gossip magazines
-    She dislikes animals and watching sports
-    Rachel has an iPhone and regularly downloads new Apps
-    She has an account on Facebook and likes to keep up with what's going on around her.
-    She spends on average an hour a day on the internet on her own laptop.
-    TV programs that she likes include Gossip Girl, Lost, Flashforward and Skins.
-    Rachel does not have a specific favourite film genre – she enjoys rom coms, however also likes more serious films like thrillers and suspense films.
-    The most recent film she saw at the cinema was I Am Number Four. She liked it for its exciting plot line and the fact that it featured well-known teen actors

      Judging by this information, Rachel would like our film as it is a teen thriller, but also has some elements of romance. She could go and see it with her friends or boyfriend at a multiplex in London. This plot in particular would appeal to her as it is about teenagers her age living in the same city as she does.


Here is some information we gathered from our target audience during our screening - from this we can see what sort of films this age group prefer:
Group 6 Audience Information

Many members of our focus group wrote thriller/horror as their favoruite film genre.
From the guidelines posted on the BBFC’s website , I believe that our film should be a certificate 15, for the following reasons:

- Strong threat
- Some dangerous behaviour
- Use of weapons (not glamorised)
- Use of strong language
- Some sexual connotations (no strong details)
- Violence, but no strong images of gore
Most of our audience suggested that our film should be rated a 15 on their questionnaire.

5. How did you attract/address your audience?

How we addressed our primary audience (16-25):

  • Our film features a predominant teen cast (both male and female), aged 17
  • Our young characters are empowered and independent during the film, portraying a positive image of teenagers.
  • Teens would want to come and see it as they relate to these characters due to being of a similar age
  • We used new technology, current themes and trends in our opening scene to ensure that we attracted 16-24 year olds from the start of our film. Mobile phones, relationships and alcohol are popular amongst our target age group.
  • As our main characters are both male and female (who are portrayed as strong), we can attract both as our audience.
  • The plot line is exciting, and different to what a normal teenager would experience in their day to day life. This plays on our teen audience’s aspirations and desires.
  • The kidnap and death in our film is not something that a teenager would want to experience, however the idea of excitement and risk associated is appealing to our audience. By including these in our film, we present a moment of escapism, adding excitement to everyday life.
  • The idyllic relationship between Dannie and Josh (Josh sacrifices his life to save Dannie as he loves her so much) is appealing to a teen audience. Similarly to the Twilight Saga, our film gives teenagers a chance to suspend their disbelief and experience this fantasy of a perfect relationship.
  • City life of young people is relevant to our target audience of modern teens.
  • Our use of a laid-back indie style in filming our opening scene gives a more realistic point of view, which is appreciated by teenagers who don’t want to be patronised in the representation of their age group.
How we attract our younger secondary audience (11-15):
  • The opening sequence attracts girls, as the main character here is a teenage girl
  • She is texting her boyfriend, which is something that girls of that age can relate too.
  • The stereotypical boy of the age of 13 might not be engaged by this; however the action later on in the scene, such as the kidnap, would be more interesting to them.
  • The rest of our film also contains a lot of crime-related action.
  • The boys would aspire to be the hero, Josh, who combats crime and fights criminals.
  • The male character is in the position of leader throughout the film (like Harry and Ron in the Harry Potter films), saving the girls.

How we attract our older secondary audience (Adult thriller fans):

  • By sticking to conventions of a thriller, we can attract fans of other similar films
  • We chose to use stereotypical thriller themes: kidnap, revenge, mystery, crime
  • Our film complies with Todorov’s narrative theory, creating a solid, straightforward plotline similar to other thriller and horror films.
  • Our films features both adult and teen characters
  • We paid special attention to continuity to make sure that our audience could suspend their disbelief – an adult audience might find the plot unrealistic as the teen characters are the ones in power, so securing other ways of making the film realistic for an adult audience was important.
  • Our film has many enigma codes and sudden plot twists, which keep the audience hooked and watching until the end.

Thrillers with similar themes to ours, popular amongst adult audiences

We held an audience screening for our primary target audience to see if our film opening appealed to them. Here is the recording of our event, alongside a table showing the results of our questionnaire. Both suggest that our sample audience enjoyed our film opening:

Group 6 Audience Feedback