Main Video Task - Plead

Preliminary Task - The Bully

Thursday, 7 April 2011

A Note to the Moderator

Hello and welcome to my individual Media AS-level blog. Thank you for taking time to look around!

You can navigate around my blog by clicking on the links on the right hand side of the page. There you will also find links to my Group Blog and the Main teaching blog (which contains links to the other blogs from our School). You can filter posts by labels, and there is a blog archive if you want to look through chronologically. My evaluation answers are posted here in reverse order from 1-7 for your convenience.

On this blog you will find the independent research I undertook, my individual initial idea and my final evaluation questions. It also features work produced for my preliminary task, including the evaluation, and the videos for both my finished preliminary task and main opening sequence are located at the top of this page. I really hope you enjoy watching them as they are the product of a lot of hard work and creativity.

On my Group Blog you can view the work I individually contributed towards throughout the development, production and post-production of our opening sequence, by clicking on the tag labelled 'Michael' alongside the rest of the work our group produced.

Once again, thanks for your time and I hope you enjoy reading and watching the content on my blog!

Michael Cassidy. Candidate no. 3140


My Blog is complete and is now closed!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

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

Before going into a detailed evaluation of our Film Opening Sequence, allow me to provide an overview.

The Film:
The film is a gritty British Courtroom Drama/Thriller called ‘Plead’, and follows the story of young woman who murders her boyfriend. The film begins with immediate disequilibrium, when Lizzie, aged 19, is arrested for the murder of Josh, aged 23, and confesses guilty to the charges outright. However her lawyer Arthur Windsor, believes there is more to the case, and begins to investigate.
The story is told through a series of flashbacks when Lizzie talks to her lawyer and psychologist, and from this we come to learn that Josh has been abusing Lizzie for years, yet her parents, her friends, nobody would believe her. In the end, it became too overwhelming and the only way out was to kill him. This is revealed in a final climactic moment, when she tells her side of the story to the courtroom, and ultimately she is relieved of murder charges, and is given help to cope with these traumatic events.

The Opening Sequence:
The opening sequence begins just after Lizzie has killed Josh. We begin in the bedroom whilst she is still on top of him, covered in blood, and breathing heavily. We follow her reaction as she comes out of her trance, and absorbs the events of what has just happened. However she is interrupted by a knock at the door, and rushes to clean herself up before she answers her neighbour. A sequence of dialogue occurs, where the neighbour, Paul, expresses concern oh having heard noise throughout the night, but Lizzie dismisses this, explaining she’s fine.

To answer this question, I will explore it using the conventions of genre, narrative structure, form and style.


(Click To Enlarge)

We considered the conventions of a real Drama/Thriller, like State of Play (Macdonald, 2009) and Se7en (Finch, 1995), and what conventions we would keep and challenge in our sequence.

In terms of narrative structure, our film does not follow a typical pattern.
According to Todorov’s narrative theory, a film should go as follows:

However, in the case of our film:
(Click to Enlarge)

Our narrative sequence occurs in real time, and does not use any cross cutting or fades. It all follows Lizzie, and this makes the film feel more real and believable, and has more impact.

We also considered Propp’s theory of 8 character roles.
In our opening sequence we used:

- The villainJosh, the antagonist, as he is the abusive boyfriend, and the threat.

- The heroLizzie, our protagonist and the one we support throughout the film.

In the rest of the film though, we would use:
- The helper – Arthur, the Lawyer that helps Lizzie through her court case.

The hero and villain characters are very typical conventions of a drama, and we chose to keep this in our film, although initially, it is not clear who is the villain because Lizzie is the one that committed the murder.

Our film is an opening sequence, and we needed to follow the format and function of opening sequences, so as to fit with conventions. From previously analysing opening sequences, we found that an opening sequence introduces characters, sets up the rest of the film, and uses titles.

- Our film introduces the characters well, and establishes the relationships between them. We can see this especially in the shot of the photo frame.

Our sequence also fulfils the function of being an opening sequence, as it has titles, which introduce the production and distribution companies, the producer, director, and editor, and the main actors; all of which are typical conventions of an opening sequence.

Our Titles:
(Click To Enlarge)

We can see how Se7evn (Fincher, 1995) similarly uses eerie titles to introduce the film, and fits with conventions.

We wanted to have a distinct style for our film, and we took inspiration from many other films. A lot of the camerawork was handheld, to give it an uneasy feel, fitting with the sinister tone.
We were inspired to do this from the film Collateral (Michael Mann, 2004), as much of the camerawork in that is handheld and achieves a similar effect.


We focused heavily on sound editing during the post-production process, as sound is the most effective way to subtly create tension. Having seen Paranormal Activity (Oren Peli, 2007), we were inspired to use a very low rumble drone, despite Paranormal Activity being another genre. We feel it was effective in creating tension, as it also adds to the uneasy feel.

One final way we tried to make a distinct style, was the grading of the shots. In general, we tried to make the shots look slightly desaturated, yet make the blood look very vibrant.

We also particularly tried to make the room seem very red, and the rest of the house very blue. We wanted to do this because the room is where the murder has just taken place, its hot and bloody in there, and its almost like another world. Then, when she goes to answer the door, she is brought out of this world, into the cold, dark, blue house.

Question 2 - How does your media product represent particular social groups?

In our film, we tried to represent young women between the ages of 16 and 21, through our main character Lizzie. She is part of the traget audience, and suffers through many problems in her life, and we hope that members of the target audience are able to relate to her and the issues that she faces, as they are very real themes that affect many women today.

We represented Lizzie as:

- The story told covers a 'taboo' that is a worry for many young women, being the security of a relationship and what goes on behind closed doors.

- Another example of a female character in a similar situation is Rose from Titanic (Cameron, 1997) as she is in an unhappy relationship with her fiancee, who is a very dominating and abusive person. However, she struggles through her problems, and manages to break free at the end of the film.

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

Our production company is Madhouse Media and they produce gritty British films, that sometimes transfer to the US, due to universal themes and concerns. Then main demographics they target are working / middle class Brits with about a 50:50 divide in gender, since everyone is affected by the serious themes in our films.

Madhouse Media is similar to a production arm of 20th Centruy Fox, Fox Atomic. They were well known for their film 28 weeks later (2008, Boyle), a British film that did very well in the UK and overseas.

Our distributor is Kingwell Studios. They distribute a variety of genres from drama to comedy, but they are all very British films.

Kingwell Studios is very similar to Universal, specifically when Universal work with Working Title, as they have a global presence, and are very successful in the UK. They have produced many British classics such as Four Weddings and a Funeral (Newell, 1994) and Love Actually (Curtis, 2003)

Release strategy
- We would have a national staggered release, beginning in London since our film is a gritty British drama and set in the suburbs of London. The film would be very low budget though, so we would not premiere it in Leicester Square or similar venue.

- We will first screen the film in multiplex cinemas around London such as Odeon, CIneworld and Vue and then we’ll release in other major cities around the UK like Manchester and Birmingham.
- We have chosen to do this as from our audience feedback, 90% said the film was a blockbuster, so releasing it in multiples cinemas is likely to increase our reach.

- This is a similar release strategy to Snatch (2000, Ritchie), where the film premiered in the UK on 23 August 2000 and wasn’t released overseas till a month later in Finland on 25th September 2000.

Question 4 - Who would be the audience for your media product?

Our Primary Audience would be:
- Female, Aged 16-21
- British
- Girls in a relationship (who may be vulnerable but secretive)

- They enjoy being social: going out with friends, going to the cinema, partying, especially with guys.
- They enjoy British dramas (both film and tv), such as Misfits and The Inbetweeners, and films like Love Actually (Curtis, 2003)

- Like to stay in some nights to watch a film with their boyfriend and going to the cinema fairly often.
- Mainly students further education: sixth form, college and university
- Probably won’t have a full time job, but may work at weekend in as waitress/on a bar.

Secondary Audience would be:
- Female, but older, more like 40+
- Mothers who have daughters of a similar age to the primary audience, as they may become concerned with their daughters lifestyle and relationship.
- They care for their children, enjoy British Television and Films, and may be married with another child, or a divorced parent with another partner (in which case they may be able to relate even more).
- They will possibly have a full time job, or will leave that to the husband. They will be financially stable. They may work with children of the target audience, and so may associate themselves with the Lawyer/Psychiatrist character in the film.

After the screening though:
- We found that our film appealed to our primary audience of females very well.
- Interestingly though, we found that some males also enjoyed the film, saying that there were interesting themes, but that they may not go to the cinema to see it, but instead wait for a dvd release.

Group 5 Sample Audience Feedback

- I am very pleased with the feedback we received, and feel we accurately targeted our audience through conventional genre techniques and choice of characters.

Question 5 - How did you attract/address your audience?

Our primary audience were females between the ages of 16-21, and the audience is highly influential at this point in their lives. We considered the theory of uses and gratifications when creating our sequence; in particular we focused on fear and pain.

We did this by creating a world which was real, and which the audience considered believable. This allowed them to suspend their disbeliefs and be immersed in the world of the film.

To do this we used specific techniques:
- We chose a popular genre.
Dramas are very popular in with this audience as it allows them to relate to the protagonist or the situation. In our case, we used a young teenage girl in a typical suburban neighbourhood. This is a convention of dramas, and it allows the audience to put themselves in the situation of Lizzie, and they ask themselves ‘what would I do in this situation?’

- We used many continuity techniques to make a seamless film sequence.
We used many continuity techniques, such as match on actions, shot/reverse-shots, and sound bridges, to create a flawless and seamless narrative. This allows the audience to further suspend their disbelief, and be immersed in the film.

We interviewed our audience after screening the film, and found that we appealed directly to our main target audience. 80% of females gave the film a rating of 7/10 or above, finding the plot very unique and saying they would watch the rest of the film.
Interestingly, males also enjoyed the film, but more so for the actress than the actual plot.

Group 5 Sample Audience Feedback