What have you learned from your audience feedback? It is hard to define a specific target audience for my short film as it could be appreciated for many different reasons. To address the Reception Theory; the belief that a ‘text’, whether it’s a book, a film, a video game etc. cannot be passively accepted by their audience, as all audiences are active, never passive, and is instead interpreted by them based on their own individual experiences and cultural background. For example, in the case of my film, the humour elements would more likely be understood by somebody from the western world than from the eastern as the main protagonist, Marshal Mallow, is a parody of the western, archetypal man. The cultural theorist Stuart Hall came up with three hypothetical models in which audiences read media text; the first being a Dominant (or hegemonic) reading: the audience are fully aware of the text’s code and they accept the preferred reading of it that the creator intended; in my case a dominant audience would be somebody who can both understand the Film Noir
cliches that have been parodied, as well as seeing the character of Mallow as a mockery of the sexist nature of the 30’s - 40’s American white male. The second model is a Negotiated reading: the audience partly accept the text’s code and they broadly accept the preferred reading of the text that the creator intended, but they modify it to their own interpretation. So, in my case, a Negotiated audience would be somebody who understands some of the cliches of Film Noir that have been parodied but perhaps miss many as they’re not as familiar with the genre as a Dominant audience would be. The last model is an Oppositional (Counter-Hegemonic) reading: an audience who has a completely opposite reading to that of a dominant audience, usually due to their social situation. They tend to understand the preferred reading of the creator, but they but completely disagrees with it; bringing their own alternative frame of reference to it. An oppositional audience for me would be somebody who either disagrees that I
have parodied any cliches of Film Noir. Due to the cliches that I have parodied being very universally known as cliches of Film Noir, by those who actually know the genre, if somebody where to think that I haven’t represented Film Noir at all than it would be more likely that they are just unfamiliar with the genre and therefore do not know it’s conventions. An oppositional audience may disagree with my preferred reading of my film, that it is in fact a feminist text; due to the voyeurism in the short film actually being an on screen illustration of Laura Mulvey’s ‘Male Gaze’- The belief that media texts are very much seem through the eyes of men by portraying women as sex symbols, by my use of actually having the camera as his own Point of View as Mallow’s keeps staring towards the Fem Fatale, Lotta Clivage’s cleavage. An oppositional audience may see this as sexist, rather than criticising sexism, by interpreting my intended message differently for how I would have preferred them to do so. If I were to have to
choose a demographic for my film it would most probably have to be males aged 20-40 due to the sexually explicit humour and the fact that, as the film follows the story of Marshal Mallow rather than focusing too closely on Lotta Clivage, a male audience could perhaps relate to the lazy, sexually obsessed and money orientated attitude that Mallow has. I created a Facebook group for my production company to help promote the film, and therefore in doing so was able to get more audience feedback. There were two ways in which I collected data; the first of which being a survey with 7 questions that I created on SurveyMonkey of which I got 33 replied on. These 33 people consisted of mostly fellow media students who had a better understanding of film making than most of my friends were too. I tried my hardest to get people who have a wider knowledge of films, in particular classic cinema, to answer the survey however Film Noir isn’t a genre viewed by many. It is always incredibly important during the production stage to receive feedback on a draft of the final products as for me I was unsure of what else I needed to change, so for a further 33 people to watch it and tell me if they notice any flaws, faults or moments that could be improved will inevitably lead to me gaining a better grade than I would have got from not carrying out any audience feedback. I asked a selection of different questions; some were closed, and there for the answers had quantitative value to me in terms of learning what to keep the same and what to change from the feedback, and others were open, and therefore had qualitative value to me. The open questions were a lot more useful in terms of learning what I needed to improve. Examples of open questions I asked were as follows: How would you describe the relation between visuals and sound? Every response to this was positive; claiming that the music was perfect for the era and each specific tune was perfect for whatever section was playing at the time, for example the music for all of Lotta’s sections is feminine and a romantic vibe to it, whereas the title and the closing montage both have a dramatic, action packed tune to go along with it. Another open question was Does my short film look like it was made in the 1940’s? Please explain your answer. The majority of answers to this question were
positive, in terms of people saying that titles, music, costumes, props etc. made the film appear very authentic in terms of trying to look as if it was from the cinematic era in which Film Noir was most popular, however a few people commented on the fact that the quality looked too high for it to appear as if it was from the 1940s. I decided not to change this when editing my film as I disagree. Firstly, at some points in my film, such as the external shots, due to filming at night the quality was lower than that of the internal shots (This change in quality between scenes is normal of classic cinema) and secondly, in the 1940’s people were using film to record films and when I was viewing Film Noir movies from the 40’s, the quality of the footage wasn’t particularly grainy. I assume that peoples reasoning for that criticism was due to the modern generalisation that if a film is old it should be grainy, but that is not necessarily true. If I were to have added in a grainy effect than it would have made the quality of the external shots looks poor and would have ruined some of the stylistic shots that I had captured where the crispness of the shots was key. Some people commented on the fact that a light switch was seen in view and questioned whether or not it was accurate for the era or too modern, it is in fact accurate for a 1930’s-40’s style set as we were well aware that it was inevitable that the light switch would be caught on camera in certain shots so we purchased a vintage light switch cover to go with the rest of the room. The key open question on my survey was the final open question: What improvements would you want to see made? Please explain your answer. This
questioned housed the most irritating of all of my responses as the majority of people answered saying ‘Nothing at all’ which may appear to be a complement, but obviously I wanted to be able to know exactly what I need to change in order for me to create the best media product that I am capable of creating. The majority of those who did reply to my question with an improvement said that some of my shots, such as the shot of Lotta standing in the doorway that is narrated by Marshal Mallows as he comments on her beauty, went on for too long. Now, the issue with me asking people to give me feedback on a classic cinema genre such as Film Noir is that the people who were telling me what I should improve had little to no knowledge of the genre and were used to seeing quick cuts every few seconds, as well as a variety of different shots. However, during the 1940’s cinema hasn’t advanced greatly and it was only till the films of Hitchcock that the way in which films were shot changed drastically in terms of the number of new shots that were discovered; although Hitchcock was directing before and contemporary with this genre, he was much more recognised in the 50’s. It is a conventional Film Noir trait to have shots that go on for a while as at these points the audience is supposed to be concentrating more so on the narration than the visuals; and also this shot in particular is supposed to represent Marshal Mallow’s POV so, as he is describing the way in which Lotta looks, it would make no logical sense for him to then look away at something else. Even to this day it is not a fundamental rule of film making that one cannot have shots that do not cut
In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
for a while; Stanley Kubrick and Alfonso Cuaron, two directors that I admire the styles of, are both well known for their use of unchanging shots. A few people commented on the fact that some shots were too dark, even for a genre like Film Noir, such as the shot of Lotta walking through the alleyway, so I corrected this by using the ‘Luma Waveform’ in Adobe Premier Pro to make the parts of the walls of the alley that, Lotta was walking down, that the light didn’t touch darker, and the parts that the light did touch lighter. This made the contrast of light and dark greater, which is conventional of Film Noir; Film Noir is just standard black and white, its extreme black and extreme white. The contrast between the two is much greater than that of a standard black and white movie as the genre is greatly influenced by German Expressionist cinema that used the same style to create a contrast. Changing this was beneficial as not only did it make it so Lotta was seen more clearly, but it also lit up the rain more and made it more clear; light shining on the rain is also very conventionally Film Noir. I also showed my short film to a class of media students and then asked them similar questions as that of which my survey asked to try to receive more criticism in order to be able to improve my short film,
however I did not receive much in terms of improving my film apart from that of which I got previously on my survey so the effectiveness of the screening of the film followed by the questions was not particularly that effective due to the fact that the survey had acted as a much easier and clearer way for me to receive feedback on my short film; as I made it clear on the survey that I wanted people to explain their answers fully. As it was not particularly necessary for me to change too much about my film, the feedback wasn’t overly effective, but it made it clear to me what parts people liked most about my short film, as I asked questions such as How would you rate the different elements of my short film? Of which the majority of people liked the costumes and the music more than anything else, as well as What did you like most about my short film? Of which people liked the lighting techniques and the props the most. I think it was equally as important for me to find out what people liked about my film as it is to know what people thought I ought to improve so that I knew that those parts were safe and well done so that they did not need anything more to be done with them, unless I personally thought that they did. In terms of the feedback that I got that actually did influence me to im-
prove my film, the effects were very effective in making my film both more visually aesthetic, but, as previously mentioned about using the ‘Luma Waveform’ on the exterior shot of Lotta, it made the film more conventionally Film Noir by creating a greater contrast between black and white as well as making the rain that the light caught more visible; rain being another convention of Film Noir.
Before I decided to create a short film, I had to familiarise myself with the conventions of short film by watching as many as I could and analysing the similarities. However, short films don’t tend to really have conventions as they’re more of a form than a specific style. They tend to either be entire narratives or appear separate from a larger image; so one would assume that before, after or during the events of the narrative told in the short film, other events would be happening related to the story. My short film follows that structure as it begins with Private Investigator Marshal Mallows waiting for a case, and then a client, the fem fatale Lotta Clivage, enters his office and tells him that her “baby is missing”. The short film ends with a montage scene of action packed shots consisting of a train moving quickly, Marshal Mallows running through a tunnel, him firing a gun and finally Lotta punching out the camera which the audience would understand is supposed to be from Mallow’s perspective so really Lotta is punching him. This is set out as if it is a trailer for what is yet to some, however the audience never actually get to see more as it is never revealed why any of these events happen. This makes the audience feel excited as they want to see more but they never do, as the short film finished. This makes the audience go away feeling dissatisfied at the fact that they craved to see more which I intended for the audience to feel. This went to plan as a few people said in my audience feedback that they wanted to see more after this montage. Quite evidently, the entire film is an explicit parody of the conventions of Film Noir. But before I could do this, I had to research the history of short films, and the genre of Film Noir, what influenced Film Noir as a genre, Film Noir directors, the theory behind Film Noir but most importantly, as my short film is a parody of the conventions of Film Noir, I had to research into key tropes of Film Noir; such as the dialogue, the characters, certain shots and lighting. Music in Film Noir is very dis-
tinct from other genres, so when looking for royalty free music I stumbled across the music of Kevin McLeod who happened to create scores for Film Noir which were perfect for my short film. From start to finish, even including the films ident, which is in itself a parody. Not only does the title ‘A One Rehearsal Picture’ linguistically resemble ‘A Universal Picture’; the film company who made most of the famous Film Noir movies, but the idiom replicated the 1930’s-40’s (the era in which Film Noir became popular) Universal one; with a DC3 propeller plane orbiting the Earth as it spins on its own axis and then disappearing from view around the unseen part of the planet. I parodied this by purchasing a globe and having the words “A One Rehearsal Picture” printed onto the side of it, with a model plane stuck to the side of it; the same plane model that the universal logo used. I attached some white thread to the globe which acted as a pulling system and due to the harsh lighting; on camera the thread was almost invisible. My reasoning for creating an ident for my short film was so it acts as a signifier; instantly introduce to the audience that it is a parody of 1940’s cinema, as it is clearly parodying the Universal ident however it is clearly not modern. This was immediately followed by the film’s titles; instead of creating the films titles in post-production, I decided to take a still from some spare footage I had that never made the final cut, and I superimposed the titles and the credits over the top of it and then filmed the computer screen. This is an old fashioned cinema technique, which was used frequently in Film Noir (apart from they would have filmed an image with clear titles over it rather than a computer screen.) This gave the text a glow which was common of the titles in Film Noir. After the title, the actual film begins and there is never a moment where there isn’t a Film Noir convention in play. Visually, the props and the set are not only undoubtedly old fashioned; with a vintage office chair, a
vintage stereo, even a 1940’s style stabler, but the set can easily be seen to be a detectives office, as detectives offices in Film Noir have such a specific look to them that, in terms of the Reception Theory of audience, both a Dominant and a Negotiated audience would be likely to have a prior mental image as to what they’d expect a detectives office to look like. To create this, I added in a filing cabinet, files on the desk, added in Venetian blinds (which had a light behind it to create an interesting shadow on the wall as one of the most visually noticeable aspects of Film Noir, in terms of an audience being able to identify a film as being Film Noir, is by its use of shadow play). The best prop in terms of highlighting that the room in which the majority of the short film is set in is a detectives office is the door to the office, however I did not have a door that could even slightly resemble the right style of door that I needed so I bought a cheap door, painted it dark brown and cut out a panel to leave a gap large enough to fit in a window. I was unable to find a cheap enough window that had frosted glass, so I decided to get a large piece of tracing paper with the words “Marshal Mallow Private Dick Investigator” printed onto it. When the tracing paper was stuck over the hole in the door and was lit from behind it looked just like glass, and in fact, when it was later used as a means for a silhouette of the Fem Fatale to be projected against it (another conventional Film Noir shot) made the silhouette become crisp rather than blurred, of which the glass would have probably created. In terms of the audio, as previously mentioned the music works seamlessly with the visuals and is incredibly Film Noir, but it is the narration of Mallow that is the most audibly Film Noir aspect as the language used is known as ‘Hard-Boiled Dialogue’ which is when the descriptions of what is being narrated is quite sincere, yet melancholy. Despite my short film being a comedy, I decided that I wanted this melancholy tone in my short film as a Dominant Audience is
likely to see it as a signifier of Film Noir as Film Noir Gumshoe’s are never not melancholy characters; in terms of context my film, and all other Film Noir movies (apart from many Neo Noir films) are set in places such as New York, LA or Chicago during the Great Depression so many Film Noir movies focuses on the themes of poverty; hence why my short film begins with Mallow pealing the label off of a bottle of whisky of which he had “drained it’s drain cleaner content the night before”. Due to these typical themes of Film Noir that I have created, such as poverty, sexism, and violence (as seen in the montage scene) it could be argued that The Huge Snooze is a black comedy. The accent that Mallow’s speaks with is a very typical New Yorker accent which is expected of how a Film Noir Private Investigator is likely to speak, and Lotta’s voice was based upon Marilyn Monroe’s voice. Despite her films being more popular after the Film Noir movement in cinema, her voice is recognisable as being classically feminine and American, as well as working well for a Fem Fatale’s voice as it is quite a soft voice. It could be argued that The Huge Snooze is a postmodern text as it appears to fit in with a lot of the conventions of Postmodernity. Of course, the fact that my
short film focuses heavily on parodying the conventions of Film Noir is in itself a Postmodern traits, but there are many other examples of where the short could be seen as postmodern; an example of this is that it pastiches other popular Film Noir movies; in particular, possibly the most famous Film Noir movie, The Big Sleep featuring Humphrey Bogart. Not only is my film’s title, The Huge Snooze, a clear parody of The Big Sleep, but the film following the life of Private Investigator Marshal Mallow, a clear homage to Bogart’s portrayal of the character Phillip Marlowe. I even went as far as to put the book of The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler on Mallow’s desk as an intertextual reference; intertextuality being another Postmodern convention. The cringe-worthy black comedy elements of the film, in particular it’s sexist nature is a very postmodern element of my film as many postmodern texts ridicule politically incorrect topics such as racism, sexism etc. There are many examples throughout the short of where this is seen for example the fem fatale, Lotta Clivage (which is a cheap sexist joke in itself) is played by a woman with a large cleavage; with explicit references to her breasts in the script and even having the camera, which represents Mallow’s eyes, to move down towards Lotta’s
cleavage, which then cuts to a wide shot of the room, revealing that Mallow’s face was right up against Lotta’s breasts. The fact that her name is ‘Lotta Clivage’ may be seen as sexist as she is constantly treated as a sex object throughout the short, and her name is a description of the large cleavage that she possesses, as if that is the only defining characteristic about her. Due to the explicit references to her breasts in the film’s script, and with the narration and, in some cases, the shots representing the POV of Marshal Mallow, representing his voyeuristic nature as he looked judged Lotta sexually, this film could be seen links to the feminist critic Laura Mulvey, who speaks about the concept of the ‘Male Gaze’ in her Essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema by parodying the male gaze by literally having the male protagonists POV moving down very close to, and facing, Lotta’s cleavage, which then cuts to a wide shot of the room, revealing that Mallow’s face was right up against Lotta’s breasts. Another, perhaps more extreme example of this is when Marshal stops paying attention to anything that Lotta says and instead the camera, again from his perspective, moved down towards Lotta’s cleavage until the screen blacks out. Due to the previous shot from Mallow’s perspective, the audience is shocked to re-
alise that Mallow’s entire face has perhaps now dived into Lotta’s cleavage. Although this may seem sexist towards woman, I intended for the audience to realise that it was not mocking Lotta; in fact she is who the audience should sympathise with, the film is insulting the sexist nature of 1930’s and 40’s men, and the way in which they’d treated women; personified by Marshal Mallow’s and his grotesquely misogynist and money orientated nature and actually intended for a feminist reading to be made from it. For this, I was inspired by the comedy film Monty Python’s Life of Brian which was criticised by the church for ridiculing Jesus, but really Monty Python intended for the audience to realise that they were mocking the Romans. I believe that my short film has served its purpose in terms of people understanding that it is a parody of Film Noir, with obvious homage to The Big Sleep in particular. My film article could also be seen as postmodern as headline is “Here’s looking at you, Craig” which, as well as making it clear to the reader that the article is going to look into the acting career of Craig Cameron-Fisher (the actor in my film), in particular in regards to The Huge Snooze, but it is also a pastiche of the famous line from another Film Noir movie featuring Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca, in which Bogart’s character repeatedly says the line “Here’s looking at you, kid” which is also the line he ends the film on. However, this is likely to only be noticed by a Dominant or perhaps a Negotiated reader. As previously mentioned, the idea of playing homage to popular Film Noir conventions, as well as certain famous films within the genre, was seen frequently throughout The Huge Snooze so for that to continue into the article about the film establishes that parodying Film Noir is the main theme of my short film. As conventionally found in magazines; whether that be film, music, games etc. there is an underlying comic tone to the article. For example, one of the images used on the article, which is a still taken from the short film depicting Marshal Mallows laying back on his chair with his shoes up on the desk, and the caption reads “Craig seems like quite a laid back guy”. As well as re-establishing that the article is focused upon the main actor Craig Cameron-Fisher, the humour in magazines, especially on photo captions, tends to be overly cheesy so I wanted to address that convention of magazines
to try to create an authentic product. Most people would buy a film magazine to find out information either about upcoming films or to find out more about what happened behind the scenes, so for my article I made it so the main premise of the article focuses upon an interview between Craig Cameron-Fisher and an invented interviewer who asks Craig questions related to the relationship between Director and Actor as well as about the short film itself. A Q and A in a magazine is very conventional, and the questions, such as How did you and Davis (the director) meet? This gives the reader, who’d likely be a fan of the actor and/or the director, so they’d like to find out more about the relationship between the two. Within the article there is reference to previous films that the director had directed and as well as referencing previous stage and screen performances that Craig Cameron-Fisher had partaken in; both of which were made up for the authenticity of the article, however I created these imaginary films in order to visualize a potential fan base who’d be likely to read the article; if either had been involved with other films in the past that people are fans of than they’d be likely to read this article to see what the next film is going to be. No film article goes without a review of the film, so I made it essential for there to be a film review and a star rating on the page as well which helps to promote the short film; any reader who stumbles across a five star rating is more likely to read about the film. Finally, the film poster did not so much concentrate on the comical aspect of my
short film, but rather focused on the Film Noir aspects as the genre of Film Noir has a specific style in terms of the film posters made for them; which usually consists of a dramatic image of the main actor or actors which has been painted. I decided it would be much easier for me to take a still image from the short film; of which I picked one of Marshal Mallows peering through the blinds as that is a very conventionally Film Noir shot of which I also used as one of the images on my article) but I used Photoshop to make the image appear as if it was painted, which made the image undoubtedly Film Noir-esque. I decided that this image would be best suited for my poster as, not only does it show the main actors face in full view, but because Venetian blinds signify that the genre is Film Noir as these blinds are conventionally used in Film Noir as they cast interesting shadows as well as being mysterious as one can peer out of them unseen from those outside. I also added in 30’s or 40’s style Broadway text for the film’s title as well as a specific Film Noir font for actors’ names, a release date and various other essential information. I made it sure that the product was recognisable a film poster, but made it clear for an observer to be able to understand that the poster is that of a Film Noir movie.
FILM FIRST SHORT OF THE MONTH Had you been on TV or in Films before ?
Only minor roles in both TV and Film. Before the West End I was used frequently as an extra for ‘The Bill’ and ‘Holby City’ as well as multiple other shows. Noone noticed me though, I never even got on the credits, but we all have to start somewhere. And the extra work I did made me very aware of the difference between acting for film and acting for the stage. They’re completely different you know? Not many people know that but the stage and the screen are two completely different worlds.
Craig’s looking out for an Oscar with this film
Were you surprised at Davis’ choice to do a comedy rather than a serious drama like he usually does?
Craig seems like quite a laid back guy
Here’s Looking At You, Craig The Huge Snooze
Out 9 May This months Short of the Month comes from the up and coming film director Ciaran Davis. Like the rela-
tionship between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, it was not a surprise that British Film Director Ciaran Davis, recently voted Best New Director by BFI, would cast West-End star and writer Craig CameronFisher for his latest film. Cameron-Fisher and Davis first worked together back in 2009 with the gritty, kitchen-sink Vampire drama “Sewer Bats”; in which Cameron Fisher played the leader of the Vampire slayers. This started the beginning of the duo’s friendship, and they have continued to work together ever since. However, audiences may be surprised that the duo have decided not to do a serious drama this time; instead they’ve decided to give comedy a go. We intervirewed
Craig Cameron-Fisher about his and Davis’ friendship and the new comedy film: Ciaran Davis’ The Huge Snooze:
How did you and Davis first meet?
He actually approached me after a perfomance of ‘King Lear’ in London’s WestEnd; in which I played the KingHe stayed behind after the show to tell me how much he was blown away by my performance and that he said he would love to work with me. I’d seen his sci-fi movie
“It was only a matter of time before he decided to take a break from all of the grit and the violence” Counting Sheep before and I love his style and his attention to detail, as well as the
quality of the acting. Davis would never dream of casting an average actor purely for their star power; Davis only casts actors who he thinks are phenominal and perfect for his roles; usually unknown or up and coming actors. So, obviously, I was incredibly honoured to be asked and very excited to be working with him. From that point on we became great friends.
What was the first film you did together?
Sewer Bats. Not only was it our first film together, but it was my first film. I played a villanous Vampire hunter, who led a religious cult. As a fan of my serious acting, he wanted me to play a very serious role. I have to owe it to him as if it wasn’t for that film I would be a nobody. I was only known in the West End, never on TV and Film.
I cant say I was. Despite all of his films so far being quite dark and disturbing, as a person he is very much not like this. We are always having a laugh together, so it was only a matter of time before he decided to take a break from all of the grit and the violence and went for something a little more light hearted. Besides, The Huge Snooze is more than just a parody; it’s a tribute to a genre that has very much influenced every one of his films; Film Noir.
Where did the idea to go a comedy come from?
The idea came about when Ciaran and I were chatting about our joined love of Film Noir, and while in conversation we began taking the mick out of the conventional characters and how easily they were to parody, and this soon developed into a potential film idea.
What was your reaction to David asking you if you would write the script as well as star in film?
I was delighted. It made playing the role
of Marshal Mallow a lot easier as I knew him, and the way he would speak and act as I created him. Whereas with most roles I need to get into the mindset of soemoen else’s creation.
Who did you base the characters off of?
The gumshoe Marshal Mallow was based heavily on Marlowe from ‘The Bis Sleep’, played by Humphry Bogart. Bogart was popular for playing a lot of Detectives or cops in various different film noir movies. However, Mallow is a parody of him, or of film noir detectives as a whole. He’s a slob, he’s lazy, he’s sexually obsessive and he’s only a detective because it pays well. A lot of his characteristics are based upon aspects of my own personality though, as most of my characters in my various scripts and books are. Lotta Clivage, the fem fatale, isn’t specifically based on anybody in particular; she is merely a stereotypical Film Noir Fem Fatale.
Some feminist critics have accused the film as being sexist. How would you respond to these claims?
It dont think it’s sexist. Yes, there are many references to breasts throughout the film, with the camera facing the cleavage, but it’s taking the mick out of the sexist nature of men in the 1930’s and 40’s, not taking the mick out of the woman. I’d compare it to Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Mnay christians dislike that movie as they believe that it ridicules Jesus, however it’s not taking the mick out of Jesus, it’s taking the mick out of the Romans. The ‘sexism’ in ‘The Huge Snooze’ is historically accurate. It’s like when the N-Word is used in films about the Slave Trade. That doesn’t make those films racist; they’re just accurate to what the attitude would have been at the time. I apologize to anybody who may have been affended by the film, however Marshal Mallow is most definitly a helpless slob and he is not supposed to be liked, so it is clear that the joke is on him and not Lotta. Lotta, who has lost her baby and when she goes to Mallow for help but he doesn’t pay attention to her cries, is most definetly the character that the audience feels sympathy for.
Ciaran Davis has seemingly challenged the mundane with his short film ‘The Huge Snooze’. Davis set out to create a parody of the Film Noir classic ‘The Big Sleep’ and what he has completed is nothing short of brilliant. Craig Cameron-Fisher’s writing ensures that audiences will be laughing throughout the 7 minute run time. The charming script is highlighted fantastically by the black and white Film Noir theme that runs throughout the film. It becomes very apparent to the audience that Ciaran put a lot of time and effort into the lighting used throughout his film as it is used accurately and appropriately in order to deliver a stunning effect onto the way that the film is presented. - Jake Josling, Film Journalist
How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts? As clearly seen, the role and purpose of my main product, which is my short film entitled The Huge Snooze, was to create a postmodern take on the genre of Film Noir, by parodying many of the genres conventions, in terms of certain shots used, the narrative, the characters and the props and costumes etc. For example, the protagonist’s internal monologue is heard through the use of a hard-boiled nondiagetic narrative; typical of Film Noir, however in this case the narration is riddled with subtle jokes, establishing that this is a comedy. Every aspect of the film is a parody, even down to the films ident. Not only does the title ‘A One Rehearsal Picture’ linguistically resemble ‘A Universal Picture’, the film company who made
most of the famous Film Noir movies, but the idiom replicated the 1930’s-40’s Universal one; with a DC3 propeller plane orbiting the Earth as it spins on its own axis and then disappearing from view around the unseen part of the planet. I have also put a lot into the story in order to pastiche popular examples of Film Noir; in particular, possibly the most famous Film Noir movie, The Big Sleep featuring Humphrey Bogart. Not only is my film’s title, The Huge Snooze, a clear parody of The Big Sleep, but the film following the life of Private Investigator Marshal Mallow, a clear homage to Bogart’s portrayal of the character Phillip Marlowe. I even went as far as to put the book of The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler on Mallow’s
desk as an intertextual reference. Another reason as to why my film is an example of a postmodern comedy is due to its near cringe-worthy, black humour in the form of the almost sexist nature of the play; for starters the fem fatale, Lotta Clivage, is played by a woman with a large cleavage; with explicit references to her breasts in the script, and with the narration and, in some cases, the shots representing the POV of Marshal Mallow, representing his voyeuristic nature as he looked judged Lotta sexually. This links to the feminist critic Laura Mulvey, who speaks about the concept of the ‘Male Gaze’ in her Essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema by parodying the male gaze by literally having the male protagonists POV mov-
ing down very close to, and facing, Lotta’s cleavage, which then cuts to a wide shot of the room, revealing that Mallow’s face was right up against Lotta’s breasts. Another, perhaps more extreme example of this is when Marshal stops paying attention to anything that Lotta says and instead the camera, again from his perspective, moved down towards Lotta’s cleavage until the screen blacks out. Due to the previous shot from Mallow’s perspective, the audience is shocked to realise that Mallow’s entire face has perhaps now dived into Lotta’s cleavage. Although this may seem sexist towards woman, I intended for the audience to realise that it was not mocking Lotta; in fact she is who the audience should sympathise with, the film is insulting the sexist nature of 1930’s and 40’s men, and the way in which they’d treated women; personified by Marshal Mallow’s and his grotesquely misogynist and money orientated nature. For this, I was inspired by the comedy film Monty Python’s Life of Brian which was criticised by the church for ridiculing Jesus, but really Monty Python intended for the audience to realise that they were mocking the Romans. I believe that my short film has served its purpose in terms of the audience understanding that it is a parody of Film Noir, with obvious homage to The Big Sleep in particular. When I was collecting feedback on my short film, I asked an focus group who had just viewed my film whether or not they felt that the comedy aspects of my film; be it audio or visual, were explicit enough for them to understand that my film was a parody of the Film Noir and not just another Film Noir movie, and they all agreed that it was clearly a comedy, as it contained both explicit and subtle comedy elements. For example, the sped up section when Mallow is tidying his office to a sped up version of We’re in the Money is clearly comical; in a Bennie Hill-esque manner. Whereas a quick cutaway shot to the Cluedo board on the wall with red ribbon pinned to it, between cards stuck onto the board, to replicate a detectives cork board is a much more subtle joke. This suggested that my focus group appeared to hold Dominant, or at least Negotiated readings of my short film as nobody held am oppositional reading; everybody appeared to agree with my preferred readings, such as understanding the clichés of Film Noir that were parodied and understanding that the sexism was put in place to ridicule the archetypal male of
the 1930’s and 40’s by representing the way in which men then, and many now, regarded women as mere sex objects. The first of my two ancillary tasks was my film article. As the role of a film article is to promote a film by giving more information about it than that of a film poster, it was important to make sure that there are unifying themes in both ancillary tasks to make sure that they represent the main product to create a synergy between the products; so I make sure that the film article followed the same unifying theme as the short film does in terms of it involving the same style of humour that exists within the article as seen in the short film; in this case Film Noir Parody. For example, the articles headline is “Here’s looking at you, Craig” which, as well as making it clear to the reader that the article is going to look into the acting career of Craig Cameron-Fisher (the actor in my film), in particular in regards to The Huge Snooze, but it is also a pastiche of the famous line from another Film Noir movie featuring Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca, in which Bogart’s character repeatedly says the line “Here’s looking at you, kid” which is also the line he ends the film on. As previously mentioned, the idea of playing homage to popular Film Noir conventions, as well as certain famous films within the genre, was seen frequently throughout The Huge Snooze so for that to continue into the article about the film establishes that parodying Film Noir is the main, unifying theme of my short film. There is an underlying
comic tone to the article, as you would conventionally expect from the majority of magazine articles; whether it be film, game, music etc. For example, one of the imaged used on the article, which is a still taken from the short film depicting Marshal Mallows laying back on his chair with his shoes up on the desk, and the caption reads “Craig seems like quite a laid back guy”. As well as re-establishing that the article is focused upon the main actor Craig Cameron-Fisher, the use of overly cheesy humour is often used in magazines. The main premise of the article focuses upon an interview between Craig CameronFisher and an invented interviewer who asks Craig questions related to the relationship between Director and Actor as well as about the short film it’s self which gave me an excuse to put genuine context, as well as some necessary made up context, to give the reader more of an insight into where the idea to do the film came from and what it was like to create. This also gave me an excuse to address the topic of sexist humour in the short film which firstly made the article more interesting and also made the authenticity of the short film come to life as it was made apparent that the film had been getting complains, which it hasn’t really, to appear as if The Huge Snooze was a genuine short film by an established director featuring an established cast. This is emphasized more so within the article with reference to previous films that the director had directed and previous stage and screen performances that Craig Cameron-
How did you use media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?
Fisher had partaken in; both of which were made up for the authenticity of the article. I believe that the film article created a unifying theme between itself and the short film by following the theme of pastiche and parody of the conventions of Film Noir and individual Film Noir movies; as well as referencing specific moments in the film, for example the shots of Lotta’s breasts, to help explain why they were in the film. Finally, my second ancillary text, which was the film poster, did not so much concentrate on the comical aspect of my short film, but rather focused on the Film Noir aspects as the genre of Film Noir has a specific style in terms of the film posters made for them; which usually consists of a dramatic image of the main actor or actors which has been painted. I decided it would be much easier for me to take a still image from the short film; of which I picked one of Marshal Mallows peering through the blinds as that is a very conventionally Film Noir shot of which I also used as one of the images on my article) but I used Photoshop to make the image appear as if it was painted, which made
the image undoubtedly Film Noir-esque. I also added in 30’s or 40’s style Broadway text for the film’s title as well as a specific Film Noir font for actors’ names, a release date and various other essential information. I made it sure that the product was recognisable a film poster, but made it clear for an observer to be able to understand that the poster is that of a Film Noir movie. As I have used the image on the front of the poster within my article, and both of which are taken from The Huge Snooze itself establishes a unifying theme throughout the three products that what I was trying to create was a series of products relating to each other which play homage to the stylistic genre of Film Noir by parodying the many cliché conventions of Film Noir that ultimately define the genre so precisely. Finally, my second ancillary text, which was the film poster, did not so much concentrate on the comical aspect of my short film, but rather focused on the Film Noir aspects as the genre of Film Noir has a specific style in terms of the film posters made for them; which usually consists of a dramatic image of the main actor or actors which has
been painted. I decided it would be much easier for me to take a still image from the short film; of which I picked one of Marshal Mallows peering through the blinds as that is a very conventionally Film Noir shot of which I also used as one of the images on my article) but I used Photoshop to make the image appear as if it was painted, which made the image undoubtedly Film Noir-esque. I also added in 30’s or 40’s style Broadway text for the film’s title as well as a specific Film Noir font for actors’ names, a release date and various other essential information. I made it sure that the product was recognisable a film poster, but made it clear for an observer to be able to understand that the poster is that of a Film Noir movie. As I have used the image on the front of the poster within my article, and both of which are taken from The Huge Snooze itself establishes a unifying theme throughout the three products that what I was trying to create was a series of products relating to each other which play homage to the stylistic genre of Film Noir by parodying the many cliché conventions of Film Noir that ultimately define the genre so precisely.
Traditionally in Film Noir, the protagonist will narrate the film and the visuals will act out what it is that he is saying; like in a music video, so when making my short film it was essential for me to have an audio track before I could start on the visuals. So, after my script was complete, I began production on the audio track by working with Craig Cameron-Fisher, the actor who played the protagonist Marshal Mallow, to make sure that the entire narration was perfect for how we wanted it. This took a couple of recordings as there were certain things we both didn’t like with the original; for example some parts he spoke without enough enthusiasm and it meant that the joke wasn’t delivered as well as it could have been. As Craig lives right near Heathrow, this meant that we had to record the audio after midnight when the planes had stopped flying. Then, by using WavePad Sound Editor, I was able to remove any unwanted sounds, such as breathing, coughing, unwanted crackle etc. I then cut up the audio into a few different sections, to distinguish each scene or shot. After finding suitable copy-right free music, most of which came from Kevin MacLeod (The ones I used were ‘The Devil Rides Tonight’ (Which I used for the main title and the montage scene), ‘I Knew That Guy’ (Which was used for the section where Mallow was in his office alone for the beginning), and ‘Black Stockings’ (Which was used for Lotta’s (the fem fatale’s) theme.) These songs were also cut to size within the edit. I also used ‘We’re in the Money-The Gold Diggers Song’ from the movie ‘Top Hat’ (A very popular film from 1935, featuring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers) however I adjusted the speed and pitch to make it more comical, as well as only using a small section of it. I then had to find suitable and royalty-free sound effects; of which I got from findsounds.com, sound-effect-library.com and pond5.com. The Diagetic Sound Effects had to be sourced, edited, and slotted in to match the footage. These included a DC3
propeller plane, which had to appear to be coming closer, louder, then moving away as it circled the globe of the One Rehearsal Ident sequence. (This was a parody of the Universal Pictures ident of the 1930’s and 40’s) Then there was the electrical short of the “neon sign with a nervous tick”, which was a single, short spark sound effect, with I copied and arithmetically looped, to form the continuous sound throughout the office sections. This had to rise in volume when Mallow, the camera, and the audience’s ear, were closer to the window. Then there was the creaking wooden door, which similarly had to be louder when Lotta opened the door, as the camera was closer, than it was when she closed it during the two-shot. There were also various sound effects like a match being struck and the sound of Marshal’s leg hitting the chest of drawers which were added in as the footage looked bare without it. Finally, there was the freight train sound, with added doppler effect, and the specific sound of a gun being fired. All of the sound effects in the entire film were added in. After I had all of the neccessary audio that I requires, I used MixPad to mix the various audio clips and create the complete soundtrack - tracks including the Voice Over, Main Theme Music, Incidental Music, Foreground Sound Effects, Ambient Background Sound Effects, and, after the footage was filmed, I added the In-Camera Recorded Dialogue between Marshal and Lotta. All of these specific effects had to be precisely placed, and balanced for sound in with all of the other layers, so as to be audible, without overshadowing anything important. The Background Ambient Sound Effects Track was dedicated to the sound of traffic outside Mallow’s office. For this, I had to source the sounds of a variety of different car horns and engines from the era (1930s/1940s), together with police sirens, trams, bicycles, and such like, and layer them to create a realistic soundscape. No two vehicles are repeated, yet the sound runs throughout. Like the neon sign, the
traffic ambiance has to rise in volume when Mallow is at the window, and also when his office door is open. Finally, the dialogue, recorded on the camera mic (after the visuals were filmed) had to be extracted, run through WavePad to convert it to mono and add the ‘old fashioned’ sound, then dropped into this soundtrack as the final track of the five, but precisely, so that the background music of Lotta’s Theme exactly matched that playing was already playing as a separate track, so that the later could be faded out without any noticeable jump in the sound. From here, all I had to do was to match the audio file with the video. However, while editing the footage I noticed that the transition the dialogue in each shot would sound odd; and sometimes the dialogue would over lap when I was trying to make the audio continue from one clip to another; so in Adobe Premier Pro I used the ‘Constant Gain’ tool to make the transition a lot smoother as this made the audio fade seamlessly over each other. After this, the error was almost completely unnoticeable. When I had a complete audio track, of which was then used during filming as a guideline for the actors to know what they should be doing during certain moments, as the camera’s mic was only needed for the dialogue scene, most of the filming was done in a music video-esque style so for the majority of filming the mic was not required. As the original track was played out loud, this made it incredibly easy for me to match the footage to the soundtrack as the actors were perfect in keeping in time with the soundtrack, so all I had to do was listen to the soundtrack left on the footage and put the footage inline with the actual soundtrack. Of course, this did not flow perfectly throughout the entire film as some sections I had to make longer or shorter, but it did make the editing process significantly easier. I used Adobe Premier Pro to edit the visuals for my video. As I filmed my movie on a Canon EOS 550D (also known as the Canon Rebel T2i) in
‘mono’ and created the effects myself filming with a low ISO sensitivity, so that the camera picked up less light and made the shots darker, I used powerful spot lights that I focused upon certain things in shot to highlight them; for example to highlight the actors faces. Due to the actors’ already pale skin now being made paler by the spot lights, this created a huge contrast between the black and the white in each shot. Film Noir is not just ordinary black and white; the contrast between black and white is so intense that a Dominant or perhaps a Negotiated audience should see my use of such a contrast as a signifier; illustrating that I have attempted to recreate the cinematic style of Film Noir and not just filmed in black and white. I also did this during the external shots; for example when Lotta is walking through the alley way looking for Mallow’s office, I lit the alley way from behind by parking a car in the alley and using it’s headlights. This lit up part of the wall where the light actually touches, creating a contrast between light and dark, as well as also reflecting off of the wet floor and the rain it’self. Rain is another signifier of Film Noir as it is metaphorical of the melancholy nature of the era; 1930’s- 40’s during the Great Depression. I did not have to add any effects
to make the film look Film Noir in postproduction. I used the ‘Cross Dissolve’ effect to fade the ‘One Rehearsal Pictures’ Ident in at the beginning from black, and back out to black again after. This helped to replicate and parody the 30’s ‘Universal Pictures’ Ident. I also used this to fade between shot 3.1 and shot 3.2; the shot of Marshal Mallow lighting the cigarette and the shot of him knocking his knee against the chest of drawers. I did this for two reasons. 1) Fading is a very conventional method used in Film Noir so I felt that it was necessary for me to use it at least one during the actual footage rather than just the film’s ident, and 2) shot 3.1 is significantly darker than shot 3.2 so to have it immediately cut from one to the other didn’t look right, and was, to me, a clear movie error. I used the ‘Luma Waveform’ to make sure that the black surrounding the Globe in the ‘One Rehearsal Pictures’ ident was completely black as before the background was ever so slightly noticeable. I also did this to make the parts of the walls of the alley that, Lotta was walking down, that the light didn’t touch darker, and the parts that the light did touch lighter. This made the contrast of light and dark greater, and conventionally Film Noir. This also lit up
the rain more and made it more clear; light shining on the rain is also very conventionally Film Noir. I used the ‘Brightness and Contrast’ tool to make the opening sequence darker, as before hand it was noticeable that I filmed a screen. I also did this to make the shot of Mallow running through the tunnel, in the Montage sequence, darker as this emphasised the shadows greatly (as harsh shadows are conventional of Film Noir) Finally, there were many shots where I had to change the speed of the footage. The obvious one is the sped up shot of Mallow tidying his office, but I also had to change the speed of footage at various other points. For example, in the scene where Mallow is describing the way Lotta’s looks, the camera zooms into her eyes when the narrator (Mallow) says “Her eyes were the kind of green that would make envy jealous...” the actress looks up towards the camera as the word “eyes” are said, as well as lifting up her eyebrows when the word “money” is mentioned. However despite the timing of this matching perfectly with the audio, the actress reacts by opening her mouth in shock before the narrator says “As for her breasts”. This posed as an issue, however I was able to get around this issue by cutting the footage into two halves; the first
half was from the beginning of Mallow’s description of Lotta’s appearance up until the description of her lips, and the second was from the end of the descriptions of her lips up until the end of the description of her breasts. For the latter, I slowed down the frame rate ever so slightly so that the actress reaction was in time with the audio, but not too much so that it is noticeably slower. The result was unnoticeable as the footage looked the same speed as before, despite the timing now being a few seconds slower. When I was creating my film poster, I wanted to try to replicate conventional Film Noir posters, which tend to have an image or a few images of the main protagonist, or a few characters, posing in a dramatic way. The images are usually made to look as if they were painted, however are usually in a style so it is hard to tell whether it’s a photograph or a painting. I took a screen shot from my short film; a shot of Mallow looking through Venetian blinds as Venetian blinds are a major signifier of Film Noir, but I also sued it as Mallow’s facial expression is clearly dramatic. I put this image into Photoshop and tried to make the still look as if it had been painted in the style of Film Noir poster art,by using the ‘Cut out’ filter in ‘Filter Adjustments’, with the ‘Brush Size’ at ‘0’ and the ‘Brush Detail’ at ‘10’ to allow for the greatest quality on a screen shot from my film; a shot of my main protagonist looking through Venetian blinds (a very conventional Film Noir shot) to give it that slightly painted effect. I then put this into InDesign and I used the still as a background for my poster. I then found a font on dafont.com called ‘Betty Noir’ which had a Great Gatsby-esque, 30’s American style to it which I used for the title of the short film, ‘The Huge Snooze’. I made the text white and red, to contrast with the black background, and added a grey ‘Drop shadow’ on the title to replicate the shadows consistently used throughout the short film, and Film Noir as a whole. I used the font ‘Steeltongs’ to create a cast list at the bottom of the poster. By putting the font into Caps Lock, each letter I pressed became a new title, for example ‘C’ with caps lock on became “Music by”. This made the poster instantly more authentic as the specific font and the credits are always on film posters. I also added in a web address for the film as well as a Twitter and a Facebook address of which I photoshoped the
Facebook and the Twitter logos to make them completely white so that they are still clearly representative of the two websites, but fitted in better with the poster. I also did this to the Film 4 and the Studiocanal logos and added them into my film poster to make the poster look more authentic. I created the 5 star ratings by using the shape tool in InDesign. The cinemas that I decided to put on the posters as the cinemas that the film would be released in are specialised cinemas that would be likely to play short films; rather than major cinemas. This is the same for Sight & Sound magazine which would be more likely to review a short film than a major magazine like Empire would. Like my poster, my Film Article was also made in InDesign. The main premise of the article focuses upon an interview between Craig Cameron-Fisher and an invented interviewer who asks Craig questions related to the relationship between Director and Actor as well as about the short film it’s self which gave me an excuse to put genuine context, as well as some necessary made up context, to give the reader more of an insight into where the idea to do the film came from and what it was like to create.This also gave me an excuse to address the topic of sexist humour in the short film which firstly made the article more interesting and also made the authenticity of the short film come to life as it was made apparent that the film had been getting complains, which it hasn’t really, to appear as if The Huge Snooze was a genuine short film by an established director featuring an established cast. This is emphasized more so within the article with reference to previous films that the director had directed and previous stage and screen performances that Craig CameronFisher had partaken in; both of which were
made up for the authenticity of the article. When I had written this I inserted it into my InDesign document and then I used the ‘Split Columns’ tool to divide the text into three columns to make it look more like a article, as articles have split columns of 3 rather than a huge block of text. After a fitting Headline and pull quote were added (of which I used the ‘text wrap’ tool to make the text go around the pull quote rather than be masked underneath it) I took appropriate stills from my film that would work as stand alone photographs; of which I used one of Mallow leaning back on his chair with his feet up as well as the image of him peering out of the blinds that I used for my poster; using the ‘place’ function to embed them into my article where I wanted them and sized them appropriately. Like in my poster, I also added a five star rating next to the title of my film underneath my headline as well as a film release date. A friend of mine wrote a review of my short film of which I used the shape tool to create a red box and put the review within it. The article was looking a little bare, and didn’t quite fully look like a film magazine so I wrote ‘Film First | Short of the Month’ at the top of the article to make the magazine look more authentic as the magazine’s title was added and one would imagine that the fact that the page is labels ‘Short of the Month’ there would be other issues of the magazine, as well as other pages within this magazine, adding to the magazines authenticity. In photoshop, I creates a film strip and filled it with still shots from my short film and added this film strip to the bottom of my article to make the article look specific to the topic of Film, as well as just adding something a little more interesting and unique to the article as before adding it it looked too generic and very boring.