Question 1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
One of the most important aspects of our thriller film was location. We had to find the right location to establish the genre in which we were to set our thriller film and to connote the genre of the opening. The location we chose to use for our thriller film wasn’t based in one strict area and we filmed several scenes in various different places around Norwich such as Anglia Square and Magdelane St. These locations seen in The Pursuit are rather dystopian portrayed as unglamorous, prosaic and mundane. These characteristics of our locations help to give ‘The Pursuit’ a very cold and grainy feel. We got inspiration from original British thrillers/dramas such as ‘Kidulthood’, ‘Se7en’ and ‘The Killing’. We chose to film a moderately large section of ‘The Pursuit’ in Anglia Square due to its dull and grey appearance, it’s also vaguely known for its derylict and neglected surroundings. Thus we were using generic conventions to signify the genre as many original thriller films such as the estates/industrial areas in ‘Essex Boys’ . These sorts of locations are a visual metaphor for moral ambiguity and corruption.
We developed the generic conventions of original thriller films by ensuring that at the time of filming, our locations were isolated with little form of any other human contact. Isolated surroundings can be unwelcoming and eery much like the murder scene in the countryside in the film ‘Heavenly Creatures’. Therefore we attempted to shadow this by making our surroundings isolated and detached.
The locations we used were inspired by modern grime films and TV shows; such as This is England, Skins and A Clockwork Orange. We used these to challenge generic conventions of other noir thrillers such as The Third Man. We did this because when The Third Man was first created the locations used were representative of the time, therefore we wanted to make our film representative of our culture in 2014.
The dull and grey appearance of Anglia Square, Norwich.
Isolated surroundings in ‘Essex Boys’ creating an unwelcoming feel.
Isolated and detached surroundings are a generic convention of thriller films and an easy place to carry out a murder (shown in this scene from ‘Heavenly Creatures’.
Camera Angles We succeeded in using a range of different camera angles in our thriller film, ranging from over the shoulder shots, to medium close ups. We tried to use close ups where appropriate in our film as we felt they were important to help engage the audience and also to keep the mise en scene feeling claustrophobic. Nearer the end of our thriller film we used a close up of Toby’s feet while he was ascending up a flight of stairs with a slow motion effect on the shot which allowed us to build tension for the audience and hint that something could be about to happen. When thinking about these close ups we linked it back to the opening scene of “Kill Bill” in which we see ‘Bill’s’ feet walking, this creates suspense whilst also keeping the character of Bill ambiguous. Close up shots are often found in thrillers because they are effective in conveying emotion and engaging the audience. For example, in “Witness” a close up is used of the boys hands as he panics to lock the door, this helps to heighten the tension amongst the audience. Therefore they can be used to connote the power or status of a character. We used this generic convention when first revealing the protagonist ‘Toby’ to the audience. By using this close up the audience were strictly focused on him as his face filled up the frame and was key in establishing Toby emotions at the time. We use a low angle shot of Toby in the image shown below in order to hint to the audience that he may have an elevated status over Jack and Harry. Toby dominates much of the screen time throughout our thriller film therefore further portarying his power and status as a character.
Close up of Toby’s foot (in The Pursuit). This shot creates enigma fear due to it filling up most of the frame.
Opening scene of “Kill Bill Vol. 1”, close up of Bill’s feet
Slight low angle, close up shot of Toby, engaging the audience and showing the emotion that Toby is showing.
Camera Angles/Shots •
We attempted to hint to our audience which character had the most elevated status and was the biggest threat. We attempted to fool the audiencne in the fact that Toby seemed to be vulnerable as he was being followed but tried to hint to the audience that Toby may in fact have the more elevated status out of the three characters. We did this through the generic convention of the low angle shot. Low angles are often used in thrillers to connote the power and intimidation that they possess, a good example of this would be in the film ‘Psycho’ during the scene where Norman Bates’s house is shot with a ghostly shillouette of him standing beside. The use of these low angle shots used specifically around the character of Toby suggest that he is always looking down on others and making others look up to him, furthermore enhansing his power and status.
A particular useful shot type we used in ‘The Pursuit’ was the over the shoulder shot. This shot portrayed the sense that Toby was getting followed and allowed the audience to be put in the shoes of Toby’s stalker (Jack).
Toby shown from a low angle shot connoting his power. Norman Bates’s house shot from a low angle in the film ‘Physco’.
We felt that it was very important to use enigma in our thriller film because it allows the film to take an interesting turn that the audience were not expecting or were unable to predict. It can also create a certain amount of tension within the audience as you are lurking into the ‘fear of the unknown’, this becomes a powerful agent of getting the audience engaged.
Enigma plays a very big role in ‘The Pursuit’, enigma can come in the form of a person or object that is mysterious and difficult to understand. We have used this enigma in our characters causing great illusion with our audience. It appears at first that Jack is the danger whilst shadowing Toby but then as our film continues the audience have been deceived as they see Jack lying dead on the lift floor and now are left wondering if Jack was just a harmless character trying to deliver a message and leaves them wondering that if the character of Harry who Jack met in the lift was responsible for this murder.
We wanted to give the audience something to think about throughout our thriller film therefore engaging them in order to captivate them. The phone that is being held serves an enigma because it is never revealed to the audience who’s phone it is nor revealed to the audience who’s number is listed on the phone with the message saying ‘RUN’. Furthermore added to the enigma in ‘The Pursuit’ is the hand that is placed firmly apon Toby’s shoulder in the second last closing scene, this bears the question to the audience about who’s hand that was and what happened to the person who’s hand it was as Toby is the only character appeared to be left in our closing scene.
Shot of text from unknown number saying ‘RUN’. Displayed on phone who audience don’t know who it belongs to.
We decided to use the name ‘Transit’ for our film title because it directly links with the events that are happening on the screen.
Toby is being pursued by his stalker Jack for the main section of the film, therefore this is where the idea for our title came from as our whole film is based around someone being followed or pursued.
Using a title that gives a sense of foreboding is reasonably common within the thriller genre and within the film industry. Thrillers such as ‘Se7en’ and ‘Drive’ emphasise this point as the title begins to explore the main themes of the film and gives a slight hint about the storyline of the film, for example Se7en is about a series of seven different murders whereas Drive is about a stunt driver who is on a getaway.
We felt that the title of our thriller film gave a good sense of foreboding, as it sets the scene for the film and gives the audience a slight hint as to what the film was about. We also chose to put our title in black and white as it suits our noir type thriller film.
Title from the thriller ‘Se7en’
Title from our Thriller film – ‘The Pursuit’
Title from ‘Drive’