Final Video Task - Captive

Final Video Task - Captive

Preliminary Video Task - The Transaction

Preliminary Video Task - The Transaction

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Dear Moderator,

Thank-you for looking at my blog, I hope it was easy to use and pleasant to read. The other relevant blogs are linked under essential blogs on the left, including our group blog, main class blog and other group members’.

This blog contains all my individual research, planning and production notes from back when I did the preliminary task as well as my evaluation of our final opening sequence. At the top of my blog are the two final films I made, the top one being the opening sequence and the bottom one the preliminary clip.

Our group’s blog contains all the research planning and production information that our group worked on together, and in it the work relevant to my contribution is under the tag; Eva. The other tags I have over the two blogs are planning, production, research and preliminary task. They are pretty self explanatory, so I hope you enjoy our opening sequence Captive and look forward to your assessment.

Eva Calland-Waller, 3116

Monday, 4 April 2011

The End!

This blog is now closed! (: byeee!

Question 1 of Evaluation

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

I am going to split this question into four main points; genre, narrative structure, form and style.


The genre of our film was Thriller/Horror. After some research on the genre, and the success of the last year’s work, we decided that it had sufficient success for us to use it for our final sequence. The trilogy ‘Scream’ has a similar style/genre opening sequence, and to date has grossed over $500 million in the box office so this encouraged us to take inspiration from the first film.

In our sequence, we wanted to create suspense and enigma over who the kidnapper is. A similar use of this idea is in the first Scream film opening sequence. There is a telephone conversation with the killer, but we don't find out who they are until the end of the film. This enigma helps prolong the excitement and suspense, which I found really effective.

These are the conventions we followed:

Key: (caps = convention)

FIGHT SCENE – there is a struggle where the girl is KIDNAPPED but there is ENIGMA involved as it is during a blackout so we are unaware of the appearance of the kidnapper. The GIRL’S LIFE IS THREATENED as the news report she listens to on the radio indicates that the kidnapper is Keith Roberts, a MURDERER that has escaped from jail. The HERO is implied through the appearance of the boyfriend. The title of the film is Captive, so further implies that the girl is being held HOSTAGE or has been CAPTURED for motives the audience is currently unaware of. This could be a REVENGE story, and by reading a synopsis of the film, you can see that it is, with Josh’s father being the cause of the CONFLICT. By the end of the story, the hero also manages to KILL THE ANTAGONIST.

As you can see, our plot follows many of the conventions of a thriller/horror, so we initially thought that we would be able to show in a mainstream cinema because there aren’t many unconventional factors. From our questionnaire results though, we found that 60% of our responses said that it should be shown in an independent cinema and 2% said it could be shown in either a mainstream or indie cinema.* From this data we have revised our initial thought of calling it a mainstream film, and now view it as an independent production.

Narrative Structure


Our narrative structure follows the conventions of Todorov’s narrative theory. There was a brief equilibrium with Dannie home alone preparing for her weekend which was followed by the disequilibrium of her kidnap. Later on in the film, the restoration of the equilibrium occurs with the rescue of Dannie by her boyfriend, Josh, and the murder of Keith Roberts.

Most films follow this convention in all of the genres available; for example in Star Wars Episode 4 this is shown.

Equilibrium: Luke at home with Uncle and Aunt
Disequilibrium: Luke’s Uncle and Aunt get killed
Restoration of Equilibrium: Luke blows up the Death Star
New Equilibrium: Luke is a rebel hero

This sequence of equilibrium-disequilibrium-restoration of equilibrium follows the same pattern as our film, so we are confident that applying this theory follows the expectations of the audience.

We also used Strauss’ theory of binary opposition.

Binary opposites we used:
·         Lighting= before Dannie gets kidnapped there is strong lighting vs she gets kidnapped in a blackout connoting danger, confusion, mystery
·         Good vs Bad
·         Antagonist (Kidnapper) vs Protagonist (Josh)
·         Teen vs Adult
·         Innocence vs Corruption


Propp’s character theory was also applicable in our opening sequence.

The 8 character roles:
THE VILLAINS - The corrupt businessmen/ The prisoner
THE DONOR - The escaped prisoner who unintentionally leaves clues to Dannie's whereabouts
THE HELPER - Charlotte
HER FATHER - Dannie's dad
THE DISPATCHER - Josh's father, who is the primary cause of the disequilibrium
THE FALSE HERO - We do not have a false hero in our story

The use of Propp’s character roles in our film, following the traditional male hero rescuing female victim is similar to many comic-book action films. The representation of women as inferior or weaker to the men is somewhat developed in our film through Dannie’s inability to save herself without Josh.

In Spiderman, the contrast between the male characters and the female ones are quite prominent. The men have all of the main roles, while the only woman with a strong role is the love interest of Spiderman. This character plot mirrors ours, so again I would have hoped that the audience were able to relate to our opening sequence through its similarities with other films.


Continuity Theory:

(The videos used in this presentation are not made by me, apart from the preliminary task example titled, 'The Transaction'.)

The film we made was an opening sequence, so our aim was to make sure that this was understood by the audience. We achieved this by having the titles appear throughout the sequence, ending on the title of our film; Captive. We tried to use the sequence to introduce the primary characters. The girl, Dannie, was introduced on the phone to her dad, telling him that he could trust her to do the right thing; “you can trust me dad,” while carrying some alcohol. This immediately explained to the audience that she is slightly rebellious, a typical teen making the most of a free house. There are indicators in this conversation that something is going to happen to her when she says “nothing is going to happen”. We tried to use the dramatic irony to suggest that something WOULD happen, and believe that this was successful. Her dad is introduced as being away on a trip of some kind and that he was not going to be back for a few days. The boyfriend is first introduced via the text message conversation between Dannie and him, and the audience finds out that he would be arriving late. The radio report introduces the antagonist, and suggests the location of Dannie; London, and that he is heading her way. All of this information was used to show the isolation of Dannie, making her look more vulnerable. 91% of our audience in the premiere thought that the opening sequence was effective, with only 4 people disagreeing. From this we can deduce that on the whole, the film was effective as an opening sequence.


We tried to follow the typical horror/thriller conventions, so our opening sequence had a similar style to lots of other horror/thriller film openings. We particularly took inspiration from ‘Scream’, and the rather ordinary setting and initial events that occur. We used the tripod for basically all of the shots, and this was to create the effect of normality and equilibrium before the kidnapping. The lighting was hardly changed post-production as we wanted the bright lighting that was already quite effective during Dannie’s time alone in the kitchen. For the blackout though, we faded into a completely black background as we did not have time to redo the blackout scene with illumination of her phone. Our audience response also indicated that this was something that we could have worked on, with 15 the people mentioning it as constructive criticism.
The only uses of a handheld shot were when we could not get the appropriate angle with a tripod –the close up over the shoulder shots were the only times this was a problem though, and there wasn’t any noticeable movement so it didn’t distract from the story. 

zbH1Fn on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs
created using the animated gifs maker at MakeAGif
We used a point of view shot for Josh’s reaction, and had the camera loosely on the tripod so we were able to move it around effectively. As a last shot, I thought this was effective as it finished in a panicked situation.

The titles were a simple font so as not to distract from the film and to be enigmatic, not revealing the genre too clearly.

 The main title at the end was in a different font, and was creepier, connoting the genre of the film more obviously.

Question 2 of Evaluation

2. How does your media product represent particular social groups?

The two main social groups represented in our opening sequence are age and gender.


In our sequence, the 2 characters seen by the audience are a teenage girl, Dannie, and her boyfriend, Josh. The purpose of this was to indicate to the audience that Dannie is very isolated, and that the only responsible adult she is in contact with is on a work trip. This ambiguity furthers the gap between the ages, with her and her boyfriend in London, and her dad off somewhere unknown.

Dannie is a typical representation of a teenager, she promises her dad that she is going to just stay at home, but in reality the audience can see that she has alcohol and that her boyfriend is coming over. The alcohol and sexual implications via text conform to the classic teenage stereotypes, but not necessarily in a negative way. Hopefully this will be appealing to our primary audience; teenagers.

Teen stereotypes:
·         Slackers/ Lazy
·         Rule breakers
·         Drink alcohol
·         Take drugs
·         Messy
·         Have underage sex/ Promiscuous
·         Go to parties/ raves
·         Immature
·         Unreliable


The portrayal of gender in films have traditionally been that the male characters are the heroes/ strong leads while the girls are weaker/ need saving. The horror/ thriller genre is particularly stereotypical in this sense, and often follows these conventions.

In our opening sequence, we followed the conventions of horror/ thriller films to an extent, as Dannie is the person that gets kidnapped and her boyfriend later on in the film is the person that goes to rescue her.

Dannie is the main character in our opening sequence, and seems to have the run of her house at that moment. She is presented as a strong lead in the beginning, managing to fool her dad and organise her boyfriend to come over. As the sequence goes on though, she loses her control of the situation; as soon as there is a blackout. Then the male (presumed via the news report) kidnapper has the power in the situation, and kidnaps her. The arrival of her boyfriend, Josh, restores some control over the situation, but linking to age, responsibility and maturity again, he is initially at a loss about what to do.

Question 3 of Evaluation

3. What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?

Before we did our premiere and got our feedback from the audience, I thought that the efforts we had made to conform to the horror/thriller genre meant that we could potentially release our final film into a multiplex/mainstream scenario successfully. After we did the screening though, we found that the majority of people watching thought that it was more suited to an independent/ one off cinema release. From this, our release strategy changed, and would now be focused around film festivals. 

We would then have the potential to branch into the horror/thriller genre festivals such as:

The Bram Stoker International Film Festival or the Dead by Dawn Festival (both in UK)

Or we could branch out into a worldwide festival audience and try and screen in such places as:

·         Dark Carnival Film Festival (USA)
·         A Night of Horror (Australia)
·         Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film (Belgium)
I feel that there is a lot of potential for our film within these circles because it is based around traditional horror/thriller themes, but the plot is slightly varied so there is a fresh part to it that gives it a chance at doing well. Our film is niche though, and due to its setting in London with teenage protagonists, the audience range will have decreased from general horror fans.

Our Production Company is Darkhouse Production, and we have decided that we specialise in the horror genre. Another Production Company that specialise in the horror/thriller genre is Dimension Films. They have produced and distributed many films such as Scream, Halloween, The Mist and Scary Movie.

Their specialism in this genre would be beneficial to our film as they would understand the best way to get the optimum reach for our film. A lot of their films are aimed at teenagers as well, and our feedback indicated that people thought the audience should be rated a 15, so we would be trying to draw in the late teens and young adults.

Question 4 of Evaluation

4. Who would be the audience for your media product?

I had a different idea of what our primary and secondary audience would be before and after the feedback from our screening.

My initial primary audience profile was something similar to this:

A teenage audience – 15+
Male + Female
Worldwide audience
Horror/Thriller fans
Crime fans

And my secondary audience was:

People outside the age restraints, but that are fans of the genre/ content – pre-teens and adults

After we received the feedback I decided to revise the primary audience profile to this:

15-25 Year olds
Male + female
Niche audience
British citizens/ Londoners
Horror/ thriller fans
Crime fans
Teenage couples

And the secondary audience to:

People outside the age restraints, but that are fans of the genre
Families with teenagers
People interested in British independent films

A character profile: Isaac

He is 17 and lives in London.
He enjoys horror and action films.
He has a girlfriend aged 17 who also likes horror and action films.
He goes to the cinema a couple of times a month and likes to watch DVDs with his girlfriend at home.
He likes to listen to an eclectic mix of music including dubstep and hip hop, and has an iPod touch.
He reads the metro on the way to college.
He studies Politics, Media, English and Mathematics.
He wants to work in journalism.

 Isaac would be part of the primary audience for Captive. He could buy the DVD when it is released, or could go with his girlfriend or mates to the cinema. It is a film centred on where he lives, so that may also draw his interest. He likes to keep up to date with the news, and so may want to broaden his film knowledge by seeing this film.

Question 5 of Evaluation

5. How did you attract/address your audience?

Primary Audience

Our primary audience was addressed in a variety of ways.
The protagonist of the opening sequence and hero of the film are both teenagers. This helped draw in the interest of people of similar ages without them having to see the whole film. The two characters visible in the opening sequence are a guy and a girl. The girl’s role within the film, and the suspense at her outcome should appeal to the female audience while the strong male protagonist should draw the male target audience in. The themes of horror, thriller and crime are often associated with men, but the romantic element between Dannie and Josh adds a feminine appeal to the film. The film is set in London, so British citizens, in particular Londoners, will be drawn to a film based around where they live.

Secondary Audience

The genre will appeal to people outside of our primary audience, such as adults that enjoy horror films or a family with older teenagers. The romance and chase, with only a few fight scenes means that those interested in slasher films would not be particularly interested, but those that like an action based thriller would be more inclined to watch.

We held a premiere for our film at 1:00 on 30th March in the Latymer Media department. We advertised through posters and via the internet to get the largest amount of people that we could, with a variety in ages.

The premiere was a success with 47 people filling out feedback forms for us.

Group 6 Questionnaire

As you can see by our video, the majority of the audience enjoyed the film and through the questionnaires we can see that we got the majorities interest. By this we can deem that our opening sequence was successful at interesting the primary audience we chose.