Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Production Log

Date: 12/ 9 / 08 Achieved: Phonecall project finished
Amendments: Framing, loud locations, holding the camera steady
Future Revisions: no zooming, wait for a empty and quiet background, use a tripod

Date: 23/ 10/ 08
Achievement: Se7en essay finished
Amendments: Last minute changes
Future Revisions: Remove sub-titles to have continuous prose

Date: 20/ 10/ 08
Achieved: Done Deal short film
Amendments: Didn't have enough cast members
Future Revisions: Plans cast more thoroughly

Date: 5/ 11/ 08
Achieved: plan plot for our thrillers
Amendments: Too many ideas
Future Revisions: No change, it's better to work with a lot of ideas

Date: 24/11/ 08 Achieved: Paper work
Amendments: Cast change according to relationship and friendship status & the way their character is represented in our thriller and their compatibility
Future Revisions: Think of cast earlier so they relate to the story more

Date: 27/ 11/ 08
Achieved: Digital Storyboard
Amendments:shots were re filmed due to lighting and framing
Future Revisions: Film shots more carefully to prevent re filming

Date: 28/ 11 / 08 Achieved: Fake blood made
Amendments: Golden syrup instead of corn syrup
Future Revisions: research where to buy corn syrup and consider possible revisions

Date: 1/ 12/ 08 Achieved: Soundtrack and voiceovers made
Amendments: Unexpected voiceover character
Future Revisions: Quieter surroundings and plan all characters needed for part.

Date: 2/ 12/ 08
Achieved: Location Recce shots
Amendments: Date changed
Future Revisions: Make sure location is accessible prior to planning

Date: 2/ 12/ 08
Achieved: Blog completed
Amendments: forgot about certain aspects
Future Revisions: Make a checklist earlier so everything is more organised
Date: 5/ 12/ 08
Achieved: first film shoot
Amendments: Characters had detention
Future Revisions: Make sure all characters are available
Date: 8/ 12/ 08
Achieved: editing of film shoot
Amendments: shakey camera shots
Future Revisions: try not to use zoom as much and make sure each shot is steady before moving on

Date: 12/12/08 - 4:50 pm > 8:30 pm
Achieved: Second filming shoot finished
Amendments: Our characters had clashes and on occasions forget their costumes so the filming date was pushed back twice. The filming in the living room location was time consuming and the owner of the house wanted to use the living room. It was raining so the establishing shots were hard to film as the camera kept getting wet.
Future Revisions: Prepare for all weather conditions and give all household members a timeline for expected filming duration

Date: 15/12/08
Achieved: Film editing
Amendments: Macs were crashing
Future revisions: Continuously save work

Date: 16/12/08
Achieved: Thriller blooper reel constructed
Amendments: Macs were crashing
Future Revisions: Continuously save work

Date: 17/12/08
Achieved: Improving blogs
Amendments: nothing went wrong
Future Revisions: -

  • Date: 5/1/09
  • Achieved: Going through second draft with Ms Berry
  • Amendments: She wanted us to change our storyline but we didn't because it would have made the last term somewhat pointless as we had been writing about the specific storyline and plot
  • Future Revisions: -

  • Date: 6/1/09
  • Achieved: Editing thrillers
  • Amendments: Our thriller had to be roughly 2 minutes but our was near 4 so we merged the title scenes with the shots and cut down unnecessarily long scenes
  • Future Revisions: Check length and cut as appropriately

  • Date: 7/1/09
  • Achieved: Made sound of house being trashed, general editing and composing more music
  • Amendments: Nothing we found sounded like a house being trashed but we tried to make it work anyway because we had to make our own sounds and not take them from the internet
  • Future Amendments: -

  • Date: 8/1/09
  • Achieved: Sound editing and general editing
  • Amendments: Teacher didn't like the trashed house sounds so we had to take them off the internet which might lose us marks
  • Future amendments: -

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Analysis of I Am Legend Opening Sequence

This opening sequence of the science fiction thriller I Am Legend (2007, Francis Lawrence) begins with a voiceover of a radio interview which plays over the sponsors credits. This forces the audience to listen to the interview and it sounds like a normal sports update on the radio. This creates a sense of normality as nothing is out of the ordinary. They then introduce the first visual interview which shows two women, one of the women are talking about discovering a cure for cancer in a shot-reverse-shot interview.
It then cuts and only black is seen and it is silent. The narrative techniques used were enigma codes as the silence and blackout of the screen poses a question for the viewer and leaves them wondering why it cut out.
The sound heard is a bang as if a drum has been hit and it fades to silence which builds tension. It shows an establishing shot of a extremely isolated location as diegetic sound of birds and the wind is heard. It flicks through various different establishing long shots showing different areas of New York and all the shots were extremely isolated with moss growing through the crumbled cracks in the road. All the cars on the roads were either underwater or rusted.
It cut to a bird's eye view shot of the isolated city as one lone car driving through the city this connotes isolation. There is only diegetic sound of the car driving, skidding and the sound of a deer jumping infront of the car. The sound tells us about the story.
Point of view shots are used to show what the driver of the car is seeing and shows even more of the isolation in the city. There is tracking and reverse-tracking camera movement.
Free-hand camera movement is used to follow our protagonist, played by Will Smith as he is walking, creeping along side a wall with his dog.
The editing techniques used are continuity which creates a sense of realism. They also used predominantly cut transitions with a couple fade transitions to show the movement in time.
The protagonist is represented as a lonely hunter. This is because he appears to be the only person in the isolated city and as he is driving in his car he pulls out a gun to shoot the wild deer running around his car.
The lighting in this film is predominantly bright lighting to connote realism and is made to look like natural lighting. This opening was shot in the studio.
This film contains conventional thriller aspects such as voyerism which is when someone or something is being watched but they are unaware. This is shown when our protagonist is watching the deer through the car window. Another convention is isolation, this film however contains extreme isolation.
We define a thriller by their conventions in association with their sub genre for example psychological thrillers are expected to contain specific conventions such as a red herring which is decieving the viewer, like Se7en (1995 David Fincher).

Analysis of Zodiac opening sequence

This third murder scene of the crime thriller film Zodiac (2007, David Fincher) begins with an establishing shot of a long dark road, barely lit by the limited amount of cars that are on the road at the time. This tells the audience that it is night time and where the scene is going to take place in this somewhat isolated city, which is a convention of a thriller.
It cuts to a side view of a woman in a poorly lit car which becomes a bit better lit as the light from the car behind her shines it's lights into her car. Strips of the light is shone over her eyes as the car is beeping signaling for her to pull over.
The camera cuts to a point of view shot looking into the rear view mirror showing the car behind her flashing it's lights.
The narrative techniques used are restricted narrative as we only see it from one persons point of view. There are restricted camera shots used to hide the identity of the antagonist as he walks next to the car. He is shown as a dark shadow figure.
There is only diegetic sound used as the car is beeping and the car is moving and stops. There is a dialogue and screaming towards the end of the scene. The antagonist, when in the car with the woman and her baby says "before i kill you, i'm going to throw your baby out the window". The scene then fades to black and it is silent. This signifies a change in time. This is also an enigma code as it makes the audience wonder what happened to the woman and her baby.
The main editing transition is a cut and fade.
Cape Fear

  • Soundtrack - builds tension
  • Diegetic - book dropping, shows realism
  • Orchestral sound was telling us about the story
  • Long Shots
  • Tracking shots
  • High angle shots - shows superiority
Mise En Scene
  • Amateur black and white typography
  • Both location and studio
  • Colonial 
  • Main character is wearing white. This makes the audience believe he is good and white is the colour of purity and innocence. However he walks past the woman whose books have just dropped which shows he is not a good guy and could be the antagonist.
  • Continuity
  • Slow editing, linked with the pace of the music
  • Shady deceptive character with a cigar

Cape Fear - Remake

  • Soundtrack builds tension
  • The only diegetic sound is he storm and rain
  • Orchestral sound tells us about the story
  • Negative effects on certain pictures
  • Extreme close ups
  • Restricted camera shots 
Mise En Scene
  • Distorted typography, similar to classic with the same colour scheme but smaller
  • The background predominantly shows water with pictures fading in and out
  • Water is used as "cape" means water
  • An eagle is shown as if it is looking for it's prey. Creates a hunting feel to the film
  • Voyerism
  • Teardrop turned into blood
  • Slow editing
  • Everything fades in and out
  • Tension building music
  • Extreme close ups of eyes
  • Voyerism

The Stranger

Monday, 3 November 2008


What makes a thriller and how is this evident in ‘Se7en’? A macro/micro analysis of ‘Se7en’ (David Fincher, 1995)


In this essay I am going to be examining how Se7en (David Fincher, 1995) is constructed as a thriller and how it creates tension and suspense. I will break down thrillers as a whole and identify and evaluate the sub genres within the thriller genre.

The film Se7en (David Fincher, 1995) was directed by David Fincher who has also directed such films as The Beat Of The Live Drum (1985), Fight Club (1991), Alien 3(1992), The game (1997), Panic Room (2002) and Zodiac (2007).

The New line cinema production made the film. Se7en (David Fincher, 1995) was released on September 22, 1995 in 2,441 theatres where it grossed $13.9 million US dollars on its opening weekend. It went on to gross $100.1 million in North America and $227.1 million in the rest of the world for a total of $327.3 million.

The film was generally well-received by critics and currently has an 84% rating at Rotten Tomatoes

The certificate for this film is 18 and so this film is aimed at 18 to 50 as 50 year old may be able to relate to one of our protagonists, Morgan Freeman's mood and attitude as they may be retiring as his character was in this film. Our other protagonist, Brad Pitt may attract a wider audience as he is a famous well known actor. He would also attract the female audience whilst still attracting the males.

Morgan Freeman would attract an older audience as he is an older actor. He would create a mature feel to the film and the audience would take him seriously as he is a famous actor known for his serious roles.

There is more than one target audience for this film. It may appeal to males because of the death, murder mystery and crime sub genres. It would also appeal to working class people as they could relate to the protagonists as they are both in the living conditions of a working class person. For example Detective Mills, played my Brad Pitt is living with his wife and their house shakes whenever a train passes by.

Narrative is the way the story is told, a word used to emphasise the plot or story structure within a media text. The narrative structure of Se7en (David Fincher, 1995) is liner. The story has a beginning, middle and end and is told in chronological order.

It is seen it both an omniscient and restricted narrative. The majority of the film is told from an omniscient narrative which means the viewer sees the story from more than one characters point of view. The audience sees the story from both protagonists point of views. However in the last scene a box is delivered to the isolated area the detectives are in with the antagonist John Doe, played by Kevin Spacey. Detective Somerset looks into the box and neither the viewer or detective Mills are told what is in it. This would be an example of when restricted narrative is used as we only see it from Detective Mills point of view.

This scene can also be used to show an example of an enigma code the film used. An enigma code is images or a sequence which controls how much that audience knows in the story. This could be an example because the viewer does not know what exactly is in the box although they know it has some relation to Detective Mills. The plot of the story is an enigma code as the viewer does not know who the killer is yet they are given clues, which holds their interest. It poses a question for the viewer.

This film also uses action codes, which are events which take place that give the story an order and meaning, they carry the story forward. The action codes are used as another person is killed and the detectives have more clues as to who the killer is.

Simultaneous action is cross-cutting between two actions happening at the same time in the narrative. This is used in the scene where out protagonists go to the killers apartment, see him in the hallway and detective Mills chases after him. The viewer is shown the chase between Detective Mills and the killer whilst being shown Detective Somerset trying to stop detective Mills. Simultaneous action is also used in the last scene where the viewer sees Detective Somerset distraught after looking it the box then cuts to Detective Mills being aggravated and provoked by the killer.

A closed narrative is when the film has a resolution. This film has a closed narrative as the problem has been solved although it could also be seen as an open narrative which is when the story has no resolution at the end, events are left open for the plot to continue because Detective Mills has shot the killer after finding out he had killed his wife. This would have ruined Mills life whereas the killers’ story had been resolved.

This is a thriller because of the codes and conventions used. The diegetic sound is used to provoke realism. The non-diegetic sounds such as the soundtracks are used to build tension by gradually increasing the tempo. It is set in a big city in America which can relate to Americans as it creates a sense of normality.

Realistic lighting was used to create realism within the film. Most of the most was set at night, in dim lighting and it was usually raining this created a miserable, morbid feel to the film. However in the last scene of the film they were at an extremely isolated location where it was sunny and dry with diegetic sounds of the wind to express the isolation of the area. Non diegetic sound, a soundtrack was used to build tension.

Todorovs theory proposed a basic structure for all narratives. He stated that films start with an equilibrium, a calm period or normality. Then there is a disruption causing a disequilibrium, a period of unsettlement. This is finally followed by a state of peace and a new equilibrium ends the chaos. A new equilibrium is formed for the protagonists.

Todorovs theory of equilibrium applies to this film. The equilibrium started with Detective Mills getting ready for work and Somerset wakes up alone in his bed and follows his routine for work. This is disrupted when a dead body with gluttony carved behind a fridge is found, this was the disequilibrium. It is then resolved as the killer is killed bringing an end to the chaos and creating a new equilibrium for our protagonists.

Our protagonist, Detective Mills is presented as the young reckless amateur. He is the replacement for detective Somerset. He showed his reckless nature when he chased after the killer despite Somerset telling him not to. He also wanted to break into the killers apartment, which required a permit. Somerset had to reinforce the rules to Mills but he disobeyed him again. This shows his inexperience as he did not know that he could not enter the killers house without a permit. His character acts before he thinks, the younger audience may relate to this character. This is a negative representation of Detective Mills.

Our other protagonist, Detective Somerset is presented as the mature, experienced lonely professional. His sophistication shows through his attitude and approach to the case. He did not panic or make any irrational decisions; he stayed calm and played the role of Detective Mills’ mentor. We can tell he is lonely as he says his wife has died and we see him going to bed alone every night with a set routine for waking up and getting to work. This is a both positive and negative representation of him as he is mature yet lonely.

Our antagonist, John Doe, played by Kevin Spacey is presented as a complex yet intelligent person with a mindset. He shoes his intelligence by his way of covering up after every murder. He removed his fingerprints and made himself untraceable to the police. He has a reason for his murders and implies that justice must be fought for. This is evident in the quote “An obese man... a disgusting man who could barely stand up; a man who if you saw him on the street, you'd point him out to your friends so that they could join you in mocking him; a man, who if you saw him while you were eating, you wouldn't be able to finish your meal.

After him, I picked the lawyer and I know you both must have been secretly thanking me for that one. This is a man who dedicated his life to making money by lying with every breath that he could muster to keeping murderers and rapists on the streets! ... A woman... so ugly on the inside she couldn't bear to go on living if she couldn't be beautiful on the outside. A drug dealer, a drug dealing pederast, actually! And let's not forget the disease-spreading whore! Only in a world this shitty could you even try to say these were innocent people and keep a straight face. But that's the point. We see a deadly sin on every street corner, in every home, and we tolerate it. We tolerate it because it's common, it's trivial. We tolerate it morning, noon, and night. Well, not any more. I'm setting the example. What I've done is going to be puzzled over and studied and followed... forever.

This shows that the antagonist, John Doe feels strongly for justice and targets the sinners, who have an exaggerated version of the “seven deadly sins” and kills them according to their sin. “Wanting people to listen, you can't just tap them on the shoulder any more. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you'll notice you've got their strict attention.” He believes you cannot tell people that they are acting in an unacceptable way, you must show them and force them to realise.

This is both a positive and negative representation of an antagonist. It is positive because it shows that he had the intelligence to know exactly who to kill, when and how to do it. He could be seen as intellectually superior to the detectives as they could not understand his motive and fell victim to his plan.

It could also be seen as negative because he acted irrationally and had killed all the people he considered guilty of sin, including himself and Detective Mills’ innocent wife and child.

In conclusion a thriller is made by the evidence and usage of the codes and conventions of a thriller. Se7en (David Fincher, 1995) used the conventional narrative structure and narrative devices.

Saturday, 25 October 2008


This is a thriller opening produced by students in Long Road sixth form college

Steady Camera Shots: 2
Framing: 4
Mise-en-scene: 4
Meaning Is Apparent: 2
Varied Shot Transition: 3
Sound with Images and Editing: 4
Clearly a film opening: 4
Codes and Conventions of a thriller: 4
Creating Tension and suspense: 3

Overall: 4

I gave this production a 2 for the abilty to hold a steady camera shot where appropriate because although the shakey, unsteadyness of the camera was intentional and intended to create instablity and tension there were no steady camera shots. This lacked the necessary evidence needed for a higher mark to show the ability of holding a shot steady.

I gave this production a 4 for framing a shot because there were no inapproriate props in the background and showed consistant abilty to include and exclude elements where appropriate.

I gave this production a 4 for Mise-en-scene because all aspects of the production were considered and appropriate including lighting, sound, figure, object, object positioning, movement of actors, props and casting.

I gave this production a 2 for Meaning Is Apparent because the meaning was not clear and there was no clear plot or storyline. There was not much way of telling what the thriller would have been about by watching this opening.

I gave this production a 3 for varied shot transition becasue although there were some transition, there was a limited variation.

I gave this production a 4 for sound with images and editing because the sound was clearly imported to play in time with the image. The soundrtrack was used to create an eerie tension in conjunction with the flickering effects.

I gave this production a 4 for clearly being a film opening because the viewer is left with unresolved questions.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Opening Title Sequence

Se7en Opening Credits

What Makes This A Good Opening Sequence?

Micro Elements

The opening sequence for Se7en is a good and gripping opening sequence because it clearly shows the audience that this is a thriller by having the conventional font of text, a stark writing style which looked like crudely written words, they faded in while often flickering. They show how attributes such as music, colour and typography can create a mood for a film.
There was dim lighting and everything seemed to be moving in slow motion with a series of montage shots of disturbing images appear quickly and briefly on the screen.

Macro Elements

The audience cannot tell clearly the plot of the film from the sequence, it does not give away too much information but leaves the audience curious with questions. This would make them continue to watch it.