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Question One:      

Micky  Mouse  first  appeared  in  a  1928  short  film,  and  now  dominates  the  world!  

 

         

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


Consider  narrative  form  (Propp/Todorov/Enigma  codes/Binary   opposition)     Vladimir  Propp  suggested  that  the  narrative  to  all,  if  not  most,  stories  follows  a  set  of   31  events;  perhaps  not  necessarily  all  of  them,  but  those  it  does  use  follows  a   particular  order.  However,  arguably  our  short  film  both  conforms  to  and  subverts  his   theory  as  it  follows  a  set  structure  at  the  beginning  yet  the  endings  is  not  typical  of   Propp’s  protagonist.  The  aspects  followed  are  as  such:   • 12.  First  Function  of  the  Donor  (the  hero  is  tested,  interrogated,  attack   etc.  preparing  the  way  for  their  receiving  of  a  magical  agent  or  helper)   • 14.  Receipt  of  a  Magical  Agent  (Hero  acquires  use  of  a  magical  agent)   • 19.  Liquidation  (Initial  misfortune  is  resolved)   • 25.  Difficult  Task  (Difficult  task  prosed  to  the  hero)     This,  however,  is  only  how  far  the  narrative  aspects  follow  through  to,  after  this  it  is   suggested  that  the  protagonist  ultimately  defeats  all  negative  forces  and  triumphs.   In  our  production  the  protagonist  misuses  his  “magical  agent”  causing  it  to  redirect   the  ‘happy  ending’.   It  could  be  suggested  that  this  will  fit  more  appropriately  with  Propp’s  character   theory,  as  he  developed  the  concept  of  narratives  being  constructed  around  seven   types  of  characters:   1. The  Villain  -­‐  struggles  against  the  hero.   2. The  “Magical”  Helper  –  helps  the  hero  in  the  quest.   3. The  Donor  -­‐  prepares  the  hero  or  gives  the  hero  some  magical  object.   4. The  False  Hero  –  Perceived  as  a  good  character  in  the  beginning  but  d   emerges  as  evil.   5. The  Princess  –  person  the  hero  marries,  often  sought  for  during  the   narrative.   6. The  Dispatcher  –  character  that  makes  the  lack  known  and  sends  of  the   hero.   7. The  Hero  –  aka  victim/seeker/winner,  reacts  to  donor,  weds  princess.     At  the  beginning  of  our  production  it  could  be  perceives  that  the  protagonist  is  the   hero,  especially  as  the  parts  of  the  narrative  theory  that  it  follows  is  in  the  path  of   the  hero.  However,  through  analysing  Propp’s  theory,  I  believe  that  our  protagonist   follows  more  of  the  role  of  the  false  hero  as  the  events  conclude,  as  he  is  punished   for  misuse  of  the  magical  object.   What’s  more,  the  light  bulb  is  the  magical  helper/object  that  leads  him  on  his   journey,  although  there  is  no  obvious  donor  an  unknown  force  acts  as  it.     Now,  Todorov  suggested  that  stories  begin  with  an  equilibrium  or  status  quo  where   any  potentially  opposing  forces  are  in  balance.  This  is  then  disrupted  by  some  event,   however  the  problem  is  solved  and  order  is  re-­‐established.  Again,  primarily  our  short   film  conforms  to  this  theory  apart  from  one  aspect:   1. A  state  of  equilibrium  at  the  outset  -­‐  our  protagonist  maybe  facing   difficulty  with  a  crossword  puzzle,  however  this  is  how  life  should  be  for   that  character.  


2. A  disruption  of  the  equilibrium  by  some  action  –  flickering  light  and   radio  static  causes  the  protagonist  to  disrupt  his  crossword  to  fix  the  light   bulb,  the  light  bulb  then  lights  up  in  his  hands.   3. Recognition  that  there  has  been  a  disruption  –  the  protagonist  becomes   aware  that  the  light  bulb  provides  him  power  of  some  sort.   4. An  attempt  to  repair  the  disruption  –  the  protagonist  DOES  NOT  attempt   to  fix  this  disruption  to  the  equilibrium,  instead  attempts  to  enhance  the   power  of  the  bulb.   5. A  reinstatement  of  the  equilibrium  –  although  the  protagonist  does   nothing  to  reinstall  the  equilibrium  the  light  bulb  breaks,  causing  events   to  return  to  how  they  were  in  the  first  sequence.     Barthes’  enigma  code  states  that  a  texts  portrays  a  mystery  to  draw  an  audience  in  –   poses  questions  and  intrigues.  Of  all  my  three  developed  texts  I  believe  my  poster   fits  this  more  appropriately,  as  the  light  bulb  in  the  centre  with  the  words  within  it   portray  a  sense  of  mystery  that  could  intrigue  an  audience  to  watch  the  short  film   simply  to  find  out  the  light  bulbs  relevance.  What’s  more,  the  photographs  in  my   review  simply  depict  the  light  bulb,  nothing  else,  unless  read,  my  review  still   develops  the  aspect  of  the  enigma  code.  However,  the  film  itself  does  not  play  on   this  mystery  as  much,  which  is  something  I  would  consider  changing  in  my  piece,  as   the  purpose  of  the  light  bulb  is  insinuated  almost  immediately.  This  perhaps  could  be   seen  as  an  anti-­‐climax  to  an  audience  whom  have  read  the  review  and  seen  the   poster.     Strauss’  theory  of  binary  opposites  is  a  more  complex  concept  in  which  it  is  believes   that  the  audience  does  not  understand  things  from  their  true  meaning  but  from   their  opposites  e.g.  good  vs.  bad.  Within  our  production  it  is  hard  to  locate  binary   opposites  in  the  narrative,  as  there  is  only  one  protagonist  –  no  antagonist  to   contradict  him.  No  obvious  good  vs.  evil,  or  young  vs.  old.  Therefore,  I  believe  that   we  have  subverted  this  theory.    

What  did  you  learn  about  the  conventions  of  short  films?  How  have   you  used  them?  

  Typical  codes  and  conventions  of  a  short  film:   • 1  –  2  characters  as  there  is  not  enough  time  to  develop  character  history.   Within  our  short  film  we  have  one  main   protagonist,  however  three  small  part  actors.   The  fact  we  have  the  one  protagonist  fits  the   code,  thus  conforming  in  this  aspect.   However  the  extra  characters  were  arguably   needed  in  order  to  help  the  narrative  swifter,   and  create  more  realism  in  a  sense.  However,   this  could  have  been  over  come  through  a   method  used  in  the  short  film  Hirsute  in   which  the  starring  actor  plays  two  different   characters.  Although  this  could  be  considered  as  more  appropriate  it  would  


have  also  acquired  a  lot  more  time  for  filming  and  editing,  which  we  didn’t   have  to  spare.     • Twist  to  make  the  narrative  interesting   Similar  to  the  short  film  Black  Hole  our  twist  is  revolved  around  a  light  bulb   that  possess  magical  qualities.   This  twist  allowed  the  narrative   to  take  a  more  interesting  turn,   as  the  possibility  of  the   protagonist  being  able  to  do   anything  is  created.  This   arguably  can  cause  the  audience   to  be  intrigued  about  how  the   character  and  light  bulb  will   develop  in  later  situations.     • Low  budget   It  is  evident  that  our  production  was  low  budget  through  the  setting  and  lack   of  actors.  The  setting  was  easy  to  construct  for  material  we  already   possessed  at  either  home  or  school,  the  only  thing  we  had  to  go  and   purchase  was  the  light  bulb  and  appropriate  wiring  to  cause  the  illusion  of  it   lighting  up  on  it’s  own.     • 3  –  10  minutes  long   Our  production  currently  is  between  3  –  4  minutes  long,  therefore  conforms   to  this  idea  of  a  short  film  through  it’s  duration.     • Everyday  situations.   Like  Black  Hole  being  set  in  an  office,  our  short  film  is  set  in  an  every  day   home  office  (recreated  in  cupboard  at  school  so  that  the  setting  would  not   have  been  interrupted)  and  a  meeting  room  (again  a  room  used  for  meetings   within  our  school)  this  meant  that  the  setting  created  a  realistic  ambiance.   Furthermore,  getting  caught  up  in  problem  solving  is  an  everyday  issue,   although  a  job  interview  is  not  perhaps  an  everyday  issue  it  is  something  that   does  happen  regularly  throughout  our  everyday  lives.  Therefore  I  believe  we   have  kept  to  this  convention  in  some  sense,  although  the  stumbling  across  a   light  bulb  that  miraculously  gives  you  the  right  answers  is  not  an  every  day   occurrence,  it  is  perhaps  something  we  regularly  wish  for.     All  in  all,  like  every    piece  of  media  text  in  existence,  there  are  codes  and   conventions  that  make  it  accustomed  to  that  specific  genre,  narrative  or  title.  For   instance,  by  following  the  above  conventions,  my  short  film  immediately  takes  the   role  of  a  short  film  rather  than  a  feature  length.  Additionally,  I  have  learned  that  you   do  not  necessarily  have  to  conform  to  all  of  these  convention  to  be  a  short  film,  as   long  as  a  set  of  foundations  are  there  it  is  possible  to  subvert  conventions  and  still  be   classified  as  a  short  film.    


Do  short  films  have  specific  genre?  What  conventions  are  adopted?     Through  audience  feedback  plus  our  own  interpretation  through  the  planning  and   creation  phases  we  have  determined  that  our  short  film  doesn’t  necessarily  have   one  primary  set  genre,  instead  is  a  hybrid  of  multiple  ones.  For  instance  there  is  a   sense  of  satire  in  the  opening  sequence  of  the  short  film.  Thriller  plays  a  slight  part  in   the  making,  as  the  soundtrack  during  the  second  scene  where  the  protagonist  is   completing  mathematical  sums  portrays  a  sense  of  tension,  whilst  suspense  is   further  created;  moreover,  the  use  of  a  light  bulb  as  the  only  source  of  lighting  could   insinuate  a  thriller  theme  as  large  shadows  cascade  over  the  walls.  However,  I   believe  the  most  dominate  genre  is  drama  as  it  depicts  a  journey  for  the  character   both  figuratively  and  literately  –  moral  journey  of  the  use  of  the  light  bulb,  and  the   journey  from  being  stuck  in  a  difficult  situation  to  the  job  interview.  What’s  more  it   is  a  realistic  situation  that  an  audience  can  relate  to  in  some  shape  or  form.  Lastly,   there  is  a  sense  of  intense  social  interaction  during  the  interview  scene,  although   perhaps  not  as  intense  as  typically  should  be,  more  made  tense  as  the  audience  are   aware  of  the  light  bulb,  and  being  aware  of  theories  such  as  Propp  something  must   go  wrong  for  the  protagonist  soon.  However,  it  has  been  suggest  that  the  “heart  of   drama  is  conflict”  our  short  film  doesn’t  have  that  form  of  conflict  that  would  be   expected.   Through  having  multiple  genre  aspects,  it  perhaps  makes  the  short  film  more   interesting  for  the  audience,  however  it  could  perhaps  confuse  the  audience  in  the   sense  that  they  do  not  know  how  to  relate  with  situation  or  characters,  as  they  are   made  uneasy  by  the  thriller  aspect.    

What  did  you  learn  about  real  film  poster  conventions  and  what  film   poster  conventions  have  you  included  /  not  included  and  why?  

  Film  posters  tend  to  follow  a  very  clear  set  of  instructions,  yet  still  all  manage  to  look   very  different  from  each  other.  Usually,  the  film  poster  is  used  for  advertisement  as   well  as  usually  depicting  the  genre  of  the  film  clearly.  Most  of  the  ‘Big  Six’  film   posters  focus  of  actor  and  directors  names  to  draw  in  an  audience,  combined  with   awards  it  has  won.   Main  codes  and  conventions:   • Colour  scheme   • Title  (usually  at  the  bottom)   • Awards   • Tyopgraphy  (actors,  directors  etc.)   • Image/Photography   • Written  language   • Pull  quotes   • Reviews   • Taglines     I  chose  to  include  most  of  the  typical  codes  and  conventions  in  my  poster  as  so  that   the  public  are  aware  that  it  is  in  fact  a  film  poster,  and  not  any  advertisement.  


Firstly,  my  colour  scheme  was  primarily  black  and  white,  with  the  title  in  red;  this   was  so  that  the  audience  are  drawn  to  the  title  (especially  as  it  is  quite  small)  but   also  so  that  the  audience  are  aware  of  the  light  bulb  in  the  middle  of  the  piece.   Through  accenting  the  main  image  I  arguably  conform  to  Barthes’  enigma  code  as   the  audience  are  made  aware  of  the  light  bulb,  however  it’s  relevance  and  why  all   the  text  inside  creates  a  mystery  of  some  kind.   Continuing  with  the  title,  instead  of  being  found  at  the  bottom  it  is  found  closer  to   the  top,  and  instead  of  being  accented  it  is  subtler  in  the  piece.  On  the  one  hand  this   serves  the  purpose  of  increasing  mystery  whilst  conforming  to  the  genre  of  thriller.   The  red  further  connotes  mystery  and  thriller  elements,  plus  have  a  direct  link  to  my   magazine  review  as  there  is  subtle  uses  of  red  within  the  layout.  However,  through   audience  feedback  it  has  been  suggested  that  the  title  is  too  small,  that  the  audience   pass  over  it  too  easily.  Moreover,  ignoring  the  link  to  the  review,  the  colour  red  has   not  other  connotations  to  the  piece,  therefore  is  perhaps  misleading.   The  only  reference  to  actors  and  directs  etc.  is  in  the  poster  credits  at  the  bottom,   this  is  because  it  is  one:  a  short  film,  two:  low  budget  therefore  actors  and  directors   will  be  unknown  therefore  will  not  attract  an  audience,  thus  would  have  been   useless,  taking  up  unnecessary  space.  Similar  feel  with  the  awards,  as  it  is  an   unknown  film  crew  and  actors  it  would  not  have  had  any  awards  to  date,  therefore   would  have  been  pointless  to  include.   I  did  not  include  any  form  of  pull  quotes  or  written  language,  as  I  believed  this  would   minimise  the  enigma  code  removing  the  sense  of  mystery.  By  having  it  fairly  plain  it   perhaps  attracts  a  niche  audience.  Yet,  being  as  bleak  as  it  is  this  may  put  an   audience  off  in  some  ways,  as  it  is  not  an  inviting  poster.    

 


Evaluation: Question One