Hi, I'm an AS Media student, and this blog contains research into the different aspects of film and media, specializing in the Slasher genre. The research has all been put towards the development of my coursework production 'Camp Ivy', which I co-produced with Poppy and Millie. Our coursework has been influenced by the rural locations and mise-en-scene in Friday the 13th and Eden Lake.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Evaluation Q1 - Conventions

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

Here is a written version of my answer:

A common convention of slasher films is to have the production and distribution companies titles appear first. In our production, the first title that appears is 'Fireline presents'. We decided to put the titles this way after researching Madhouse (William Butler, 2004) where the first title was 'Lions Gate Productions'. Another title from our production is 'A Cupkate production', which was influenced by the title 'A Gina Matthews Production' appearing in Urban Legend (Jamie Blanks, 1998). Again like in Urban Legend, the titles for the lead actors appeared in pairs. In our opening, the title of the film 'Camp Ivy' appears after the killing of the scream queen. The title fades in over the last shot of blood dripping down off the scream queens hand into the stream, which provides intertextual references from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho in 1960. The title is centered and fades to black at the end, similar to the title that appears in Scary Movie (Keenen Ivory Wayans, 2000) and Urban Legend.


We created our idents using a software called LiveType. We each created an individual ident, then a group company ident which we called 'CI Productions'. We used different animations, effects and sounds in our idents to make them eye catching and effective. One example of simple idents, like ours, are from a slasher film called An American Warewolf in London (John Landis, 1981). Although these idents do appear rather dated, the simple animated lettering concept is extremely effective, and continues to be commonly used in modern slasher films today.  


Our first shot is an establishing shot. We decided upon this as it is a good way to anchor the mood, genre and location of the film. The establishing shot is of the wooden, derelict cabins at Linton Camp, which is the main location of the film. There are many establishing shots used in slasher openings, one example is 5ive Girls (Warren P. Sonoda, 2006).


There is a lot of dialogue in the film, which provides exposition. Because of this, we thought it was essential to include a group shot at the very start of the production to anchor the characters and their situation. This also allows the audience to question who the protagonist and antagonist is.


Barthes' theory of narrative enigma is portrayed in our production when the killer is on screen. The killer is dressed in a black hooded jumper, which covers their face, so the audience are unable to identify who it is. The killers feet wearing heavy boots are also shown when chasing the scream queen, which help to portray to the audience the narrative enigma. This theory is used in many slasher films, both modern and old. A well known example is the Friday the 13th franchise, where Jason is always wearing a mask to hide his identity. The killer in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Marcus Nispel, 2003) is also hidden from the audience, by wearing a potato sack to cover their face. 


The sound in the killing scene of our production was heavily influenced by slashers such as Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960). We included high pitched strings which creates tension and reflects the screams that would be heard from the scream queen. Throughout the opening there is diegetic and non diegetic sound. The ambient sound of the birds has the effect of making the audience feel calm and relaxed, until they stop chirping after the killer appears on screen which anchors the feeling that something is wrong. There is also a long low note held throughout the sequence, which creates a constant feeling of anxiousness and tension. 


Carole Clover's theory of the final girl is portrayed in our opening. The final girl's name is Charley, which is a unisex name, and she is shown on screen as a sensible girl who follows positive morals. The final girl typically wears clothes which do not objectify her body, however despite wearing an over sized shirt, our final girl is wearing tight skinny jeans. By having the final girl wearing these jeans, we are part of the counter-hegemonic movement unfashion, meaning that we are going against the theory and are following modern day fashion trends. The binary opposite of Charley is Ashley, the scream queen. Her attitude is negative and lazy, and her clothes are more revealing. She is also portrayed as being immoral, as she has a boyfriend, unlike the final girl. Both these characters are stereotypes of female characters in slasher films. A famous example of a final girl is Sidney Prescott from Scream (Wes Craven, 1996) played by Neve Campbell and a famous example of a scream queen is Marion Crane played by Janet Leigh from Psycho. 


Our audience feedback was both positive and constructive. The intertextual references are clear to those who aren't extremely familiar with slasher films. As a group, we were most worried about our killing scene being unrealistic and not convincing, however no one picked up any major concern about this, and layering in the editing to signify psychosis and madness made the scene realistic which is what we wanted. Conventions from past examples have allowed us to achieve better verisimilatude. 

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