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Genre - What is it? Why does it exist?

Using the class discussion and the pack provided as starting points, write a post addressing some of the issues around genre.

You could produce a documentary to engage with the ideas in a lively way.

Here are some of the slides from a series of lessons (we will look at opening sequences next week).

Starting your research! Initial Thriller Research

Time to get more familiar with the Thriler genre.

Find out about the generic conventions of Thrillers, the different ways in which the sub-genres are categorised, including a look at Charles Derry's classification. Look at how well thrillers do at the box office, which are the most successful of recent times, which are the classics of the genre.

Start watching too! Embed extracts, opening sequences, screen grabs. Look at gender representation and typical narratives in Thrillers.

In other words, familiarise yourself with the genre!


Some 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)


David Fincher's style - WATCH THIS!

You will learn so much about the choices that this director makes in his films, particularly the way he marries camerawork and editing.


The Preliminary Task

On Thursday you will be doing the first part of your Coursework Production.

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!


Opening scene: The Ninth Gate

Here's is an amazing opening scene with amazing camerawork and mise-en-scene which build the narrative.
Watch it and deconstruct it!

Welcome new AS Students! Some amazing resources to get you started (Composition and Editing)

Watch this on Composition:

What Is Composition from Press Play Video Blog on Vimeo.

And this on editing:

Finally, this UNMISSABLE, ABSOLUTELY CLASSIC documentary on Editing, The Cutting Edge:


Dear Moderator,

Here are the links to our AS students' blogs. They have all completed the brief that asks them to complete a continuity task and a film opening sequence. They have produced thriller openings.

They have all worked on their own to plan and edit their own films. We hope that you'll enjoy their work.

Candidate 9124 - Steven Attwell: Link to Steven's blog
Candidate 9302 - Rhianna Biggs: Link to Rhianna's blog
Candidate 9585 - Nicole Fleming: Link to Nicole's blog
Candidate 8073 - Thomas Hallisey: Link to Tom's blog
Candidate 9424 - Roshni Mepani: Link to Roshni's blog
Candidate 9542 - Kareem Tamam: Link to Kareem's blog
(Kareem is currently rebuilding his blog after his posts got deleted over Easter.)
(UPDATE: A week after Easter, Kareem was admitted for an appendectomy and has not returned to school before the coursework deadline. He has done his best to rebuild his blog from home but has struggled with further medical complications since. We will be asking for special considerations to be given.)

Please contact me via email if there are any issues with any of the links: h.o'

Thank you.


Evaluation - The final 20 marks


  1. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
  2. How does your media product represent particular social groups?
  3. What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?
  4. Who would be the audience for your media product?
  5. How did you attract/address your audience?
  6. What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?
  7. Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the
    full product? 

This is a great response to Question 1 by Kamini from last year:

These are interesting ones from Yasmin whose evaluation also made it into Level 4 (though it's not perfect!)

This is more of a level 3 but shows you how you can annotate your film opening in YouTube for Question 5:

This is an example of a director's commentary over the students' film opening (warning: it's not particularly high quality)
This is a better one:

Example from other centre (note - your evalution must feature on your individual blog)

Also take inspiration from A2 Evaluations - Look at Hasina's tasks and Chloe's voice over for instance.

Also look at the examples linked on the left hand-side under Essential Links (towards the bottom of the list on this page)

Just to remind you again, here are the criteria for a level 4:
16–20 marks
- Excellent understanding of issues around audience, institution, technology, representation, forms and conventions in relation to production.
- Excellent ability to refer to the choices made and outcomes.
- Excellent understanding of their development from preliminary to full task.
- Excellent ability to communicate.
- Excellent skill in the use of digital technology or ICT in the evaluation

Suggested tasks:

Here is an example of one student's research into the question.



In addition, remember that without solid audience research and a clearly defined target audience, you won't get a level 4 for Research and Planning.

On top of your BBFC research and discussion, think about the following:

You must have identified a clear target audience and you must show the steps you've taken to identify it and to test your ideas against this specified audience. This doesn't mean just an endless series of questionnaires. Use the range of techniques discussed including interviews, preferably with your target audience, and the tools available through Web 2.0.

Look at similar films and research their audiences - How was it marketed to appeal to the target audience? What are the viewing figures?

You must be able to answer these questions fully and with illustrations:

1. What is the core target audience? Is there a secondary target audience?

2. How would you describe the look and tastes of your target audience? (collage with key words perhaps)

And later, after a little more research and teaching, you also need to answer this:

3. What functions does this kind of film genre serve to its audience? (uses and gratifications audience theory - why not start researching that?

Think of films which features similar plots / characters / settings / types of editing and screengrabs / comment / analyse.

Remember to sum up your findings about core target audience, any secondary audience.

All magazines do it - for instance, look at NME's summary of their target audience:

Some ideas for you:
Target Audience Profile and Target Audience Media Consumption Profile:



Use the coursework checklist you were given. Tick off as you go. 


Storyboards uploaded to blogs (photos will do).
Take a pic of every single shot for your animatic.
Finished script uploaded to blogs
Shot list
Shooting schedule
Planning of locations, costumes, props etc…


BBFC research - link to blog - study guidance - decide on certificate rating for your film.
Gearing towards a post on more detailed audience research.


Start filming/editing.

Example of an animatic

Here is an example of the kind of storyboard you need to be aiming for (though this one is for a music video). You'll be creating the animatic next week:

Example of a shot list from a different centre

shot list


DO THIS - DO IT NOW! Planning and Storyboarding

You should be planning furiously as time is short. Start storyboarding your ideas - It is something that must be done well and that moderators will expect to see.

Click here to follow the link.


Thriller openings - 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.

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.

Choose 2 extracts from below.
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)


Investigating genre and generic conventions (lesson: 22.1.14)

You will be completing NICCS grids on Blade Runner, The Bourne Identity and one other trailer from the list below.
Generic Conventions AS task
Secondly, you should post your class notes on Genre. Why did you learn? What are the debates around genre? What is the importance of star association with a genre? What can we look for to identify a genre?
What about the triangular relationship?

You could write some bullet points to sum up your responses.


Analysis of Thriller Opening - Silence of the Lambs

Complete the analysis of a thriller opening.

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.

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.
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.

Learning about the Thriller Genre (independent study)

You will conduct research into the Thriller genre and give a presentation in class about it. Start with this:

Genre theorists from reigatemedia

Now investigate the conventions of thrillers - with examples / clips / screengrabs.

Explore the different types (sub-genres) of thrillers, identifying their specific conventions (characters, settings, typical narrative and iconography) and giving examples. (Don't just copy the same old PPT that does the rounds every year)



Marking Criteria for Research and Planning (level 4):
20 marks available

 Marking Criteria for production:
60 marks available
Production FOUNDATION PORTFOLIo Assessment

Marking Criteria for Evaluation and EVALUATION QUESTIONS:
(20 marks available)


Work to be completed on Wednesday 8th January

Dear all, I am sorry I cannot be with you this morning but my youngest is unwell and needs his mummy today. Below is the list of tasks to be completed during the triple. Issa will register you and be on hand to support you, and I'll also be checking / supporting from home.

1. You should have started your Thriller Opening blog over the holidays. I only have Rhianna's URL to add to the list at present so make sure you email me straight away. I should see your initial research on there (see Rhianna's).

2. Spend some time going through last year's blogs (this will give you an idea of the kind of research, planning and evaluation you'll need to do) and film openings (and the year before that!) Choose a couple of the students' film openings, embed into your blogs and write a few bullet points about the strengths and weaknesses you can see.
If you visit the OCR Media Studies weebly here and here you will find other film openings with their given marks out of 60. (for the 2nd one, scroll down past the magazine work to find the film openings)
Again, you can select one of the best ones (in terms of marks received) and take a few screengrabs. Annotate what you think the strengths are in terms of camerawork, mise-en-scene, editing and lighting.


Your coursework brief is to create the opening 2 minutes of a film and that includes professional looking titles/credits. Spend some time exploring the wonderful examples from this site (you'll come back to it again and again).
Make sure you spend a portion of your time looking at thriller openings.
Then choose a film opening (from the website or otherwise) and embed it into your blog. Your task is to design a timeline of the credits. You can use the presentation below to help you (ignore slide 11). Slide 10 shows the model I usually show students.

Credits and timelines from hasnmedia

Work well and publish as you go. I'll be keeping an eye. Email questions.