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.