Evaluation Questions

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

Our horror trailer features many conventions that are used in popular trailers today. For example, one convention we feel our horror trailer strongly shares is its use of editing. To make our horror similar and effective we incorporated key camera shots such as jump cuts, fades and wipes which can be seen in many successful horror trailers.

Our main objective for our trailer was to allow the audience to relate to the characters. For us to do this we followed and changed stereotype conventions, an example of this was featuring victims that in the trailer live normal lives. We then researched conventions based on antagonists for our trailer, as a killer would be a very important aspect for our trailer. The killer is the antagonist to our narrative, he is almost the main character in that he is recurring in almost every scene of the trailer.

Another key element to follow was identity, we needed the actor behind this role to fit the physical features of the killer, somebody who was big, fairly built and who may be intimidating to other characters in the trailer. We made sure the murderers identity was never made clear and this is reiterated through the camera shots as the camera briefly shows glimpses of the murderer. His identity is also never made clear as a horror genre convention was to follow the stereotypes of killers and their association with dark clothing. We then made sure the killer is always dressed in black clothing and this makes it hard to distinguish their features.

Identity, in terms of the victims, was based on the reaction shots and how each victims contact with the killer was established. Camera shots such as close ups, low/high angle shots helped establish the feeling of anxiety and discomfort. The challenge was how the killer is slowly drawing closer on each victim and how the audience can also see this happening through the course of the trailer.
One convention of typical horror films is that female characters are often murdered or killed in the early stages of the narrative. This is in fact challenged in our own film as Isabel, the only female character, has a greater sense of power than the other victims Michael and Reece. This is because whilst they are being watched and in Reece's case attacked, she realises that the killer is alive first and as a result manages to stay alive longer than any other character. This subverts gender expectations in the majority of horror films that all women are killed early on and do little to support the narrative, we found that using this as a theme made our trailer more original as well as reaching out to more female audiences.

Location is another key convention we followed when we planned our trailer. The location for one scene is a house. We used a house because we wanted to use conventions which were commonly associated with horrors. The reason a house was useful as it put the characters in their ordinary situations, where the horror could almost come to them instead of it already being there. An example from our trailer is when Isabel is at home on her computer, where she receives the message from the killer and connotations of horror manifest from there.

Compared to our AS thriller opening, the conventions we used differ in several ways. For example, last year's production involved using a girl as the main character and giving her a sense of power over the other males. However, this time Isabel, the girl character was given a neutral position and in fact some males had bigger roles than her. It was not only the representation that we found had been changed but the construction and planning of our trailer was also improved. This was because our knowledge had increased and we had a better understanding of how to use the camera, the editing software and the other technology.

Another issue was in that the AS production was to make an opening, whereas this year's was a trailer, we both felt it would be more challenging as more footage would needed to be filmed and the editing would be a lot more complex. Also, there were different conventions to abide by or subvert for either task and this was important to remember throughout making the trailer. As a whole product it was felt by many that we did a more thorough job this time because of our experience and practice within media. Some feedback even said that they preferred this year's task and we both enjoyed making the trailer more than the opening.

The soundtrack for our trailer challenges conventions which are associated with the horror genre. Our soundtrack consists of a piano which creates eeriness. We wanted our soundtrack to challenge many of the themes of desperation and loneliness of trailer. This enabled us to develop   our soundtrack by adding loud noises which coincides with the jump cuts in our footage to make the trailer more effective. The graphics we incorporated in our trailer helps explain the narrative in our trailer. A majority of the graphics included text which highlights our horror trailers tagline, “If you want to hide the truth, make sure it stays hidden”, this tagline makes the audience realise the importance of the film title, FRICTION, and the connotations which are related with it, such as contact, we developed on this by having the killer having physical contact with one of the victims.

What have you learned from your audience feedback?

During our production for our horror trailer we needed to establish what target audience we wanted our film to appeal to. Once we had the screenplay ready, we then analysed films which were similar to our script and chose our film certificate from there.

Two films we have found which inspired us to film Friction were Saw and Final Destination 2. The audience feedback from both films is that they both appealed to males between the ages of 15-24. However, both films also appealed to women as the percentage of women and men who watched Saw and Final Destination 2 is nearly equal.

What we interpreted from this information is that an idea we could incorporate for our horror trailer is to make it appeal to both genders. We had four different genres of music which we wanted to use as the soundtrack for our trailer. To help us decide what would be most effective, we created a poll and then created categories; fast and exciting, medium and synchronous, slow and emotional and other. These four categories reflected each genre of music we wanted to use for our trailer. Medium and synchronous received the most votes and we chose the music in this category which contained an orchestrated piano which gradually increased in tempo to a dramatic finish.

The audience feedback we had gained, in our poll, came from the unbiased viewpoint of our 15-24 year old demographic. This allowed us to make our trailer more effective as it would appeal to the audience we had aimed towards through our research and these are the expectations our target demographic would like to see incorporated in a horror film.

Another idea was to choose contrapuntal music, as it can make a contrast to the violence and action the audience views on the screen. This can be very effective and was a choice we had contemplated in our trailer production.

To help us decide themes and features we wanted to incorporate in our horror, we created a questionnaire which has helped us to break down key features such as audience feedback. For example, the length an audience would expect an average horror trailer to last and what themes (eg. gore, introduction to characters) should be highlighted in the trailer to make it unique. To make our questionnaire reliable, we specifically handed them to the target audience that we aimed for through our Pearl & Dean research.

An example question in our questionnaire was to obtain a vague idea to what the audience expects to see integrated in a horror trailer. With this information, we created pie charts which illustrates that more than half of our target audience would like a horror trailer to have a plot which narrates the story along with the action scenes. A thorough analysis of the collection of our pie charts and graphs shows a correlation to explain that the younger demographic who watch the horror genre want to see more action and less of the story, yet the older demographic from the age of 28+ want more information. We then realized that the 28+ year demographic was too old and they would not appeal to our trailer.

How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary task?

When it came to researching our ancillary tasks; the movie poster and magazine cover,
we relied on similar methods. This meant using Google as a base, to find out about their effectiveness as promotional tools towards the film. For example, image searches helped us identify what was normally on the front of these prints and the reason they were there.

Once we were confident in what a movie poster should look like as well as feature the appropriate information/images, we wanted to experiment with making one for our own film. Being that it was a horror film and called Friction, we began brainstorming colours, ideas and themes to put on the poster. It was soon obvious that we would use black as an over-riding colour so that people would instinctively know what type of film we were making.

This is because a horror movie poster that is filled with bright and optimistic colours would give viewers a confusing and wrong impression of the content in the film. With these ideas, we continued to browse the Internet and found www.bighugelab.com which allowed us to place our preferences on an already made poster template. We decided to design several posters rather than one, to give us more choice and the ability to ask people which they preferred. With this knowledge, we could then proceed to Photoshop and upload our ideas from the drafts making the process easier as a result of new media technologies.

The magazine cover was the harder task of the two, as it required more knowledge of journalism and publication rather than promotion of our film. It left us with a lot of choice as to what fonts, colours, text and photograph would be used for the final cover. This made us more eager to find out about the relationships between a magazine’s fan base and the film it is advertising, for the feature film would have to be key to the magazine’s readers for it to be chosen. As we completed our trailer, the poster and the magazine both coincide together well to connote and emphasise the film’s title of Friction. 

We used the conventions we researched from our poster analysis. For example, the correlation many horror posters share is the black edged format and dark imagery. The image of the train tracks was placed in the middle of the poster to highlights its importance as it illustrates the meanings behind Friction and the synonyms that derive from it. They all help establish the audiences’ feelings when they hear the title and what to expect from our trailer.

The magazine I felt was very effective, we see a person standing in the woods and can notice his clothes, however we can’t see his face as the shadow and the angle of the photograph blocks it out. This depicts our film Friction very well as the image will engage some of our target audience to want to find out more and go to watch our film.

With our magazine we followed many conventions used in other horror magazines such as FANGORIA which attracts a high volume target audience. To emulate this kind of success our magazine analysis helped us verify key features which sell each horror film Fangoria want to advertise through its unique selling point. We then decided to use our films tagline as our unique selling point. We placed our tagline in large font to attract our audiences’ attention. What makes our tagline so effective and unique is that it can be identified as a rhetorical question and its chilling tone.

Much of the success of many film magazines can be from word of mouth. We implemented this idea onto our magazine cover by putting the image of The Independent and a four star rating. We used The Independent because they are a well known tabloid and millions of people read their papers everyday. The idea of using The Independent on the magazine would be to promote our film through their word of mouth. This can potentially gain a wider target audience from people who read The Independent.

In conclusion, we both felt that the poster was more successful as an ancillary task than the magazine cover, it was easier to make, original as a creative design and more favourable when the two were compared in our feedback.

How did you use new media technologies in the construction, research, planning and evaluation stages?

In the early stages of producing our trailer, where we researched others rather than focus on our own media technologies were the most useful. The use of Web 2.0 such as Youtube is a major improvement compared to Web 1.0. This is because Web 2.0 allows much more freedom as anyone is able to upload footage, such as these film trailers, for other people to view and comment. We had taken advantage of this by viewing trailers but also reading the reviews and analysis which were added from other people around the world and improve on them.

Much of our planning consisted with use of test shots with the camera. This enabled us to get a rough guideline of what our final trailer was going to look like. These test shots helped us as we saw improvements we could have made and thus had many changes made to the screenplay and storyboard. Many of the improvements with the camera were still shots where we had placed secondary cameras, Sony Ericsson Satio and Samsung to get another perspective. This became very helpful because when we began editing, we had extra footage to choose from.

The internet also had helped us create our film poster. We gained inspiration from bighugelab, a website which is an archive of sample magazine covers. The research we gained from this website and the posters we found on the internet saved us time compared to when internet was not available. Overall research and planning has been made much easier with the accessibility of the internet. The Apple Mac computers and the Library in our college were the main areas in which we gathered all our research for our trailer.

In the early stages of producing our trailer, we needed to obtain information on the area and genre that it would fit into, as well as study similar film products rather than solely focusing on the trailer itself. This meant researching across the internet, as a start, to find out about the basics that make up a trailer. For example, as we already knew the genre would be horror, it was useful to look at recent trailers and past ones that had been successful.

That way we could learn about how audiences were scared and how to make them continue watching the rest of a certain film. The Scream and Final Destination series were among some titles that helped the most, so much so, that we decided to analyse the Final Destination 4 theatrical trailer in more depth to get an understanding of horror genre conventions.

This was ideal to look at as it shared common themes with the trailer we wanted to make and as whole films they both belonged to the sub-genre of psychological horrors. Without the access to new media technologies this research would have been a lot more time-consuming, complex and possibly invalid. For example, if we were reliant on only newspapers, magazines and print, it would have made our findings more out-dated and more importantly not representative of the audience we would be showing or catering our trailer to. In other words, prints such as: The Guardian or Empire magazine are focused towards older reading audiences and are less likely to feature films just for the teenage demographic.

Instead, we used the Internet, primarily Youtube, to watch and read the comments on recent trailers in order to gather the opinions of the people within our target audience. Rather than settling for those in one magazine (somewhere not everybody can access and may even have biases) we looked at movie trailers similar to our own; Saw VII, Triangle & Jennifer’s Body. That way we could see our target audience respond to professional horror films. This is where online technology (Youtube) showed it’s usefulness because each trailer had a rating system of 5 stars and comments where users could share their opinions. As a result, we used these statistics in our research to determine which elements of a horror trailer were most favoured among audiences.

Also, the expanse and daily update of the Internet, led us to find other student’s trailers and not just those of the film industry. This was particularly useful as they were made by people of a similar age and background, which allowed us to see what types of horrors other people wanted to make, as well as how they were received by audiences.

We also felt that relying on one camera was lacklustre and only offered one angle, one set of options and one standard of quality. To improve this situation, we added our own camera phones in every scene so that another perspective of the action could be picked up. This meant we had three recording devices; a Samsung Digital Camera, a Nokia video phone and a Sony Ericsson video phone which in fact turned out to be a huge benefit because our final magazine cover photo was a still from the Sony Ericsson’s footage.

For the main course of recording however, we used a Samsung S1065 Digital Camera, we felt that even though it was made to take photographs rather than video’s, it was more appropriate for the type of recording we needed. Once we had set it to video mode, there was a number of settings we could choose from such as, the level of flash and/or focus.

To experiment with the camera’s features and test them we filmed establishing shots for each scene. This gave us an insight to how a place would look on camera, as it can be different to real life. It was down to our experimentation that we found a blurring mode, where we both agreed that it was an effective and unique way of presenting a scene.

Where this may not be as useful in a full film, it stood out in the trailer as being something original, and in fact correlative to the character in the shot, as there own senses were blurred and unaware that they were in danger. Lastly, the fact that it made the mise-en-scene hazy and distorted, combined with it being used in the final seconds of the trailer teased audiences into wanting to see a clearer remainder of the film.

During horror trailers, there are often graphics or credits relevant to the film trailer that appear on screen. We wanted to emulate this and have our own set of titles appear appropriately throughout the teaser trailer. However, we didn’t want them to become more important than the action, rather just in-between shots as pieces of extra information to fuel the narrative. The best way to achieve this was have them appear on a black background to make sure that they wouldn’t subtract anything from the shots or be distracting.


With this in mind, we were ready to start designing the titles and import them into our editing. However, before making them digital, we storyboarded how they would look to see which style came out the best on paper. First, we wanted to use upper caps and have the words appear scattered across the screen. Unfortunately, this was not as effective as we first imagined, so we decided to change the fonts and positioning of the words. Then, using Macintosh software such as; Livetype and Motion, the graphics improved. For instance, when the word would not fit fully on screen, we changed the upper caps into lower and further switched the colours to match the style of our trailer.

New Media Technologies are digital, often having characteristics of being interactive and manipulated. Some examples include; the Internet, computer multimedia, video games, CDs and DVDs. It is clear that without these examples the production of our trailer would have been a lot more testing or even impossible.

For instance, the following is a list of equipment we used throughout the construction of our trailer, and were key elements towards every stage: Sony Video Camcorder, Samsung Digital Camera, Adjustable Tripod, Sony Ericsson Video Phone, Nokia Video Phone, Apple iMac Computers, USB Pen Drive, SD Memory Card.

These individually and all together made the process shorter, easier and more enjoyable. Possibly the biggest benefit of owning new media technology, was that the following problems could be avoided or at least solved: 
  • Embedding youtube videos into Blogger as it was disabled by request
  • Finding official statistics and demographics from popular horror films
  • Choosing the right day to shoot our trailer to coincide with everybody's timetable
  • Designing trailer graphics and credits (picking the right font, colour, style, etc)
  • Creating a new blogger, hotmail and youtube account with the same details
  • Finding suitable horror trailer music that was copyright free and of a good standard
  • Shooting the trailer within limited time, actors, locations and resources
  • Meeting deadlines as sometimes shots had to be re-designed and re-filmed
  • Editing and using effects to a high standard and choosing the right take
With every selection of editing there was excess footage of either practice shots or failed zooms that we decided to make into a deleted scenes video. The use of sound in our trailer almost became as important as the action, this was because we were unsure as to whether to create our own music or find a copyright free soundtrack. To not limit our options and be unable to find any audio that was royalty free, we extracted the sound from one of our scenes to see if there was anything of musical quality.
To our surprise, where we had filmed noisy train tracks we had picked up the electrical current of the rails which contained an eerie and high pitch sound. We played on this and opened it in Garageband, a music editing programme, which allowed us to alter the speed, volume and tone of the sound. Our efforts were successful but perhaps not enough, as we both agreed that the sound would not be suitable for the entire length of the trailer.

However inspired by this, we looked for a similar piece of audio and found exactly that in www.competech.com which had a copyright free track entitled: ‘Unease Piano’, that satisfied us, fitted the duration and themes of our trailer and complimented our pre-existent editing.