ANALYZING MEDIA: Movie Posters (From The Language Network)
Remember that movie posters are advertisements. The goal of a poster essentially is to "sell" the movie—to make you want to see it. How does it do that? The poster may have the movie title in a big and bold font. Images of the movie's attractive actors are usually featured. In addition, the actors' names are probably included somewhere on the poster to remind you that the movie has big-name stars. Designs, colors, and fonts are used to appropriately reflect the mood and tone of the film. And the poster probably includes a catchy sentence or slogan that piques your interest and makes the plot seem intriguing.
The visual elements on a movie poster can convey powerful messages. The best posters may make you anxiously anticipate an upcoming release. The worst ones may not have a persuasive effect at all. By analyzing movie posters, you can gain a better understanding of the elements that effectively grab the attention of movie-goers and sell the movie's story—even before viewers see it for themselves.
Questions to Consider:
Is the movie title prominently featured? Is the text easy to read?
Are the main actors shown? If so, which ones? What do their appearances and expressions convey about the movie?
What is the design of the movie poster? Does it accurately reflect the mood and tone of the film?
What other images are included? What do you notice about the framing of the images?
What text is shown on the poster? Is there a catchy slogan? If so, what does it tell you about the movie's story?
Is there any other important information included on the poster?
Why do/don't you think this movie poster is persuasive?
The positioning of objects, actors, and text within the frame of a poster to achieve a particular effect. For example, a movie poster for an action film might feature the main actor framed in such a way as to make him seem attractive, strong, and invincible. It might help position the audience.
The feeling created for a viewer by the director's use of details and cinematography.
The filmmaker's attitude as reflected in the movie—ironic, serious, and so forth. Big budget genre movie or Auteur film? Is there any relationship between film title and micro elements? What clues do we get from the title and the style in which it appears on the page?
A catchy and memorable phrase or sentence on a movie poster. An effective slogan should convey the mood, tone, and main idea of the film without giving too much away. It should capture viewers' attention and make them interested in the story.
(Each student to pitch their treatment in next week’s triple (11/11) to your group – you must post this work on your individual blog BUT BRING A HARD COPY TO THURSDAY’S LESSON)
Describe / Explain the following:
1. The action: identify the event your idea is based around; what actually happens (discovery of a body, an illicit meeting, a witness seeing a crime, someone waiting for someone else, a criminal act taking place, a telephone call, a chase, a short journey…) KEEP IT SIMPLE BUT NOT CLICHÉ; remember what was said at the conference – Avoid the ‘hooded boy following girl in woods’.
2. The theme(s): what should it make the audience think or feel, what “issues” will it raise (revenge, sexuality, voyeurism, obsession, fear, escape…)
3. The narrative: how is it structured: real time? Different time zones? Flashback/forward etc… Crisis? Mid-way through action? Result of an action? Will there be dialogue (as a rule, try an d avoid it or keep it to a minimum)? What about diegetic / non-diegetic sound?
4. The character(s): Who are they? Identify their roles; what are their characteristics, including gender, type, etc… Do they represent a type of person in particular? Can you think of similar characters in films / TV drama? (add pictures / screengrabs)
5. The setting and choice of location: where is it set? Add screengrabs or your own pictures of possible locations
6. The mise-en-scene: identify colours, type of lighting, dress codes, overall visual look. A screengrab from a similar product could help.
7. The camerawork: the style you are aiming for; again, citing some film / documentary / TV Drama examples would be a plus.
8. The editing: edited as a continuous sequence, use of cross-cutting, use of montage or combination or several?
9. Audience research: who would be your target audience? Your secondary audience? How do you know? You need to show you have tested your ideas on audience members. DO NOT WAIT TILL THE DAY BEFORE THE LESSON!!! Use Web 2.0 and your blog to get feedback / audience research.
10.Design a moodboard to illustrate your treatment
NOTE: How you present your work is up to you, however, can I urge you to look again at the criteria in your Assessment booklet?
Avoid another Scribd-embedded document. Opt instead for a PowerPoint embedded through Slideshare (register first then same process; copy and paste the Embed code in the HTML tab of a new post). Even better write directly on your blog or design a Prezi (it’s easy after you get the hang of it). See www.prezi.com
Insert tools into your blog to conduct audience feedback on your ideas or to find out who your audience is. Even better, design a questionnaire first to get a rough idea of what subject matter would appeal to which audience. You could film yourself presenting your ideas then upload to YouTube and direct friends to it. Get the feedback. Use Twitter to lead them there etc.
Whatever you do, make sure it’s creative and well-illustrated. YOU CANNOT LEAVE THIS TASK TILL THE NIGHT BEFORE.
Here is an interesting analysis of the opening sequence for The Shining which appears on the Long Road Media Blog (thank you, Long Road). Read it carefully and start doing your own for your chosen sequences. Remember to focus on a sub genre you want to work on for your project.
The film opens with a series of shots of panoramic landscape vistas showcasing the bleak desolation of the snowy mountainous surroundings, which will provide the backdrop for the film’s subsequent narrative developments. Various bird's eye view shots intermittently cross dissolve into one another, and depict an expansive clear blue lake, a snow-capped mountain range, and a densely populated forest of evergreen trees. The camera moves swiftly through its surroundings in each shot, sweeping past the breadth of the natural environs below it, and thus conveys to the audience a sense of the massive scale and large land span of the location depicted.
During the camera’s continual movement, it occasionally captures its views from distorted angles, which undermines the idea otherwise created by this series of shots of the benevolent purity of natural beauty and the wintry American landscape. It thus uses spatial manipulation to contradict the principal connotations of the images of nature captured in these shots, and hence foreshadows the heavy deployment of themes and imagery centred upon the supernatural that will follow.
Also indicative of this theme is the use of slow, sombre, unnerving and deliberate electronic music, which in conjunction with the seemingly oppositional images suggest a malevolence to the surroundings shown and imply an unknown danger amongst them.
Eventually the camera finds a road snaking through an aerial shot of a thickly forested area then picks out and follows a lone car in extreme high angle long shot, making its way along the road. The camera gradually moves increasingly closer maintaining its birds’ eye view position, but also gradually rotates to distort the angle and create a sense of unsettling foreboding in the manner described above. A series of shot changes track the car’s journey and depict a range of different natural backdrops indicating the traversal of time and space. As the camera finally tracks speedily in to a mid shot of the car from behind, revealing it to be a yellow Volkswagen Beetle, credits rise up through the frame from below in blue typeface, and each gives way to the next, departing the frame by rising out of it.
The moving camera overtakes the car and veers away to the left, aerially crossing country before again finding the car and tracking its journey, once again with another series of extreme high angle long shots, while the eeriness of the electronic score continues to aurally unsettle the viewer.
The camera’s point of view eventually shifts to depict an extreme long shot of a remotely located building amongst the mountains, trees and lakes. It slowly circles the building, getting gradually closer. This building is the Overlook Hotel, and will be the yellow car’s final destination, and the principal location for almost all of the film’s subsequent action.
Overall, the opening sequence has been gradually building up to this elaborate establishing shot of the hotel, and has served to highlight its isolation and remoteness and communicate an implication of danger, that the audience should by now have associated with this idyllic yet spectral location and its backdrop.
Here is the sequence:
(By the way, not everyone has uploaded their prelim... and those uploaded do not all feature a conversation!!! The brief was VERY CLEAR! Will need sorting out after half term)
Below is an example of a shotlist, though yours will obviously not be so long!
Here are some extracts of storyboarding from "The Big Lebrowsky" :
Their final product is not a top level but they have achieved a level 4 for planning.
Have a look!
Pete Fraser's post on AS Film Opening
- First the bad news; some of you have not caught up enough and managed to stay up to date and will therefore need to have a chat with us after half-term about the negative referrals we've had to write. We might judge that a meeting with parents is in order.
- Secondly, there are a number of things that you need to do by next Sunday (31th October) - 5.00pm.
All tasks set so far need to be completed on your blogs; in some cases, it also includes taking pictures to demonstrate techniques and illustratE a genre.
- All Thriller research must be completed to a good (A'Level) standard.
- All of you must complete an analysis of at least one DVD cover, analysing mise-en-scene and other choices (fonts, colours, style) carefully. Embed a picture of the DVD cover (could be annotated or comments made separartely). Choose a Thriller film that could be a source of inspiration for your own project.
- The final task is to do some research on a successful film director who has directed some Thrillers. You need to explain why the films are successful, what the director's "trademark" is, and embed trailers and screengrabs of interesting or memorable shots with some comment on technique and mise-en-scene.
Try your best to re-create one of these shots yourself or in a small group, making sure that you get the atmoshere of Thriller right. Aim to chose a shot with at least one or two characters in the frame.
Preparing for the Media Conference
Maps and details from there. SEE YOU AT EUSTON STATION AT 9.15AM ON THURSDAY.
Make sure you:
- Look again at conventions of Thrillers (some of you have done a Spidergram of Conventions of Film Openings rather than Thrillers)
- Provide a list of Thriller Sub genres including some of their codes and conventions and examples of films that could be put in each category. OF COURSE THERE ARE MANY HYBRID FILMS.
- Focus particularly on the "man-on-the-run" or "innocent-on-the-run" subgenre. Embed trailers or film openings. Use screengrabs to illustrate the kind of camerawork to be expected, the narrative expectations, the character types, mise-en-scene choices etc.
- Do the same for another sub genre of your choice, maybe the kind of film you would like to create for your coursework. Below is an example of work produced by another student on Conventions of Psychological Thriller (might not be totally accurate; this is just for illustration purposes):
- Write the synopsis for the first 10 minutes of your Thriller spoof - it should be obvious that you understand the conventions of the genre and are adding humour and twists to them.
I WANT TO STRESS THAT YOU SHOULD START LOOKING FOR INSPIRATION FROM YOUR VIEWINGS, GATHERING IDEAS FOR YOUR OWN FILM OPENING. START DOING MOODBOARDS AND COLLECTING PICTURES, FILMS POSTERS / DVD COVERS, SCREENGRABS ETC. Chart all your reflections on your blog. This must become on-going work.
Example of Moodboard in planning stages of script:
Example of Genre Moodboard illustrating the Psychological thriller using film posters:
1. Discuss how your group came up with the idea for the script. How efficient was the discussion? What key decisions were made? Embed your script.
2. Reflect on the planning / storyboarding stage and upload the storyboard.
3. How efficient was the shoot? additionally, embed screengrabs demonstrating the required techniques from the brief.
Once the editing is finished, you will be evaluating that too.
Finally, make sure you add the relevant tasks to your assessment booklet with a brief comment self-assessing your posts and get a parental signature. I'll add a comment and countersign them next week.
This is the actual work to be produced:
Preliminary exercise: Continuity task involving filming and editing a character opening a door, crossing a room and sitting down in a chair opposite another character, with whom she/he then exchanges a couple of lines of dialogue.
This task should demonstrate match on action, shot/reverse shot and the 180-degree rule.
Look at this example to prepare yourself!
You have to research two Thriller subgenres, one has to be the "man-on-the-run" subgenre, the other one a subgenre of your choice (pick one you enjoy watching). You could also draw a list of different subgenres, identifying their conventions and some film examples. For the main task, consider the kind of plot devices, character types, settings, mise-en-scene and types of shot/ camerawork and lighting you'd expect to see. Illustrate with examples from films and screenshots, making sure you analyse them. The better you do this task, the more marks you can start building up for the research part of your coursework.
Additionally, you can start gathering ideas and inspiration for your own film opening. Log everything on your blog and remember to list your own viewings.
To this end, you'll be working in groups of three, preferably with one girl per group though we may end up with a male Lead in one group. Come to the lesson having thought about and maybe already arranged groups. Girls, bring a costume! You need to look like a teenager instead of 'corporate' for once! We'll give you the space to get changed.
You could watch the sequence ahead of the lesson but it is not necessary.
After watching it, try and work out:
- How many shots are there?
- Where was the camera positioned for each shot?
- Which principles of continuity editing have been followed?
Then you're ready to write an analysis of shots and techniques used in this sequence to demonstate your understanding of them. You can use the following questions for guidance:
1. What principles of continuity are used here? How successfully? Refer to specific shots / screengrabs.
2. What is the effect of the editing on the viewer? What are we meant to feel at different stages? (ie before she enters the house, in the kitchen, in the corridor, in the bedroom, running away)?
3. What is the 'best bit' for you in this sequence in terms of learning new techniques and why?
Continuity editing is all about making your film work in a logical way (ordering the shots logically) so the audience can follow it easily and enjoy the story y without being confused; they are properly 'positioned'.
Can you remember all the techniques/ principles discussed in class? Can you find some examples of these techniques in other films (embed)?