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Cause for Concern: Where is your work, boys and girls?

:( Not one of you in group 1 is up-to-date despite the fact that I hadn't set any new work last week.
Catch up sessions for all at lunchtime - Tuesday and Wednesday, plus after school if necessary!
Phone calls home from Wednesday if you're not on the ball...

Tasks include Mr Molloy's and the earlier one on this blog (past students' videos).

For those who haven't posted their film poster analysis, this might help. If you have finished editing the video for it please post it.

Half-term Private Study - Thriller genre research/analysis

1. Complete the analysis two thriller openings.
You will consider and explore:
• How does the opening engage/create interest for the audience?
• Does it establish characters? How?
• Does the opening introduce themes, mood or story/narrative? How?
• How are the opening titles displayed?
• How is enigma established?

What you will need to analyse:
• Mise-en-scene;
• Use of soundtrack;
• Use of diegetic sound;
• Editing;
• Camera shot, movement and position;
• Use of special effects.

A. Analysis 1: Silence Of The Lambs
The first is the opening of "The Silence of the Lambs" directed by Jonathan Demme (focus on the first 6 min).
Watch carefully and write a detailed analysis of this opening sequence.
Create a 12-frame board of the key shots to accompany your analysis and number the frames for cross-reference.

Need help with analysis? Read the example below on "The Shining" to see a model of a good analysis.
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 to learn some tips.
You might want to watch the sequence first!

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.

Remember that to achieve higher grades, you need to be ANALYTICAL rather than just descriptive. Don't simply tell me that there is a close up at this point or a tracking movement at that point. Explain how it helps the narrative and how it is supposed to affect the reader.

B. Analysis 2: Choose one from below.
For your second analysis, you may choose one of the following (or get 2 done now! You will have to do a couple more anyway...). Again create a 9 or 12-frame board to illustrate your comments.

Opening scene of The Usual Suspects (couldn't find it with the opening credits)

The first 2-3 minutes of Memento:

The first 4 minutes of Enemey of State (though a look at the credits that kick off then wouldn't hurt!)

First 5 minutes of What Lies Beneath
(embedding disabled so link provided instead)

Please note: Bring a hard copy of your analysis (text only) to the first lesson after half-term - 2.11.11

2. 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.

Create a moodboard for that particular director's thriller style!

Extension: 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 choose a shot with at least one or two characters in the frame.

3. Complete the task that should have been done in class in lesson 3. Details and questions to answer are below in the previous post. It is a short extract from Enemy of State - Watch from 1:03 onwards.

Classwork 18 or 19.10.11 - Editing

Lessons 1 and 2: The Prelim- Complete the edit of your preliminary task. Screengrab key shots and your work in FCE. Embed your video.
- Then evaluate using these questions:

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?

4. What were the key elements from the brief you had to demonstrate and how well did you handle each one? Did you make any mistake? What are you most pleased with and why?

5. What did you learn during the course of this production? What did you learn to do or do better with Final Cut?

- Finally embed another student's sequence and offer some peer-assessment:
What is most successful and why?
Are there any mistakes and where?
What could you suggest for further improvement?

Lesson 3:The art of editing

Watch the clip below from 1:03 to the end then answer the questions that follow.

Enemy of the State, Tony Scott, 1998

1. What is the point of this sequence? Describe briefly how tension is created through the editing.
2. Look at the use of CU or Medium CU. Why are they primarily used here? Refer to specific shots (screengrab them) and embed them within your post.
3. Choose 15-20 seconds from anywhere in the sequence and describe each shot in detail, explaining its effect / function for the audience, as well as commenting on how the cuts (the editing) add to the meaning.
4. How far does the editing of this sequence fit in with the genre of the thriller? Justify your opinion.

Above all, do your best to engage with the sequence and the task.


Updated - Inspiration - Past students' film openings... WATCH!

Do check out Latymer School's film openings! What do you think?

Latymer YouTube Channel - film openings

And here you can watch some of the thrillers from Hurtwood with captions for one of their evaluation tasks.
Hurtwood thriller openings

HOME STUDY: Select and embed 2 students' openings into your new Thriller blog and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of both for next lesson.

List of recommended thrillers

Wecome to the Thriller Project blog!

To get you started, here is a list of recommended films you really ought to see in order to get a firmer grasp of the Thriller genre.
Of course you cannot see them all but you'll be expected to have seen at least 8 by the end of the first half-term, then keep watching throughout the coursework unit.
Arrange viewings between yourselves and keep a record of you what you've seen. Discuss what makes these films good thrillers or at least iconic ones. You should develop a better understanding of thriller conventions and sub-genres, and of course get much inspiration for your own project.
Some of these films can be borrowed from the Department. Some of the films from the list are 18-certificates so you will need to have that discussion with your parents / guardians; you also need to consider your own feelings.
1. Heat
2. Se7en
3. The Silence of the Lambs
4. LA Confidential
5. The Departed
6. Reservoir Dogs
7. Chinatown
8. North by Northwest
9. The Conversation
10. The 39 steps
11. Psycho
12. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
13. Charade
14. Strangers on a Train
15. The Third Man
16. Memento
17. Enemy of the State
18. The Servant
19. The Night of the Hunter
20. Rear Window
21. Rosemary’s Baby
22. The Others
23. Blue Velvet
24. The Ipcress File / Get Carter
25. The Fugitive
26. The Shining
27. The Killing
28. Blood Simple
29. The Usual Suspects
30. Cape Fear
31. No Country for Old Men
32. Double Indemnity
33. The Manchurian Candidate
34. Les Diaboliques (Clouzot)
35. The French Connection
36. Rebecca
37. Le Samourai (Melville)
38. City Of God
39. Delicatessen
40. Three Days of the Condor
41. After hours
42. Rebecca
43. Minority Report
44. What Lies Beneath
45. Copycat
46. The Bourne Identity
47. The Machinist
48. Fatal Attraction
49. Fargo
50. Schindler’s List (not a thriller but a masterclass in directing)