Thursday, 12 November 2009

Costume, Props & Set Dressing.


The picture above shows the masks that the cannibals will be wearing. I am as yet unsure whether they will be decorated (like the mask in the teaser poster) or whether I will leave them plain white. I have made these masks out of modroc, a lightweight material that the actors can wear easily. There are 4 different shapes, with 2 masks in each design. This means that there will be 8 cannibals overall (although 9 if you include the female character, who will remain unmasked.

At the start of the film I will have a shot of Chris sketching something on a small black sketchbook. it will be a small drawing of the female character to add more anchorage about what his feelings about her are. It also shows more of his artistic, shy personality.


For Chris Parks, I want to go for a typical teenage boy look. He will be wearing jeans and trainers throughout the entire film. When he sits in the school common room on his own he will be wearing a "the joker" t shirt, another link to the Christopher Nolan film The Dark Knight, and foreshadowing the masks of the cannibals later on in the film. When he goes to meet the female character later on he will be wearing a casual collared shirt, as he is making more of an effort to look presentable for the girl. This clothing is typical of a teenage boy and so would suit the character perfectly.
For the female character, I would like to dress her in fashionable, black clothing, with lots of gold and black jewelry. This looks is heavily inspired by Effy from Skins. As she has been the inspiration for the character from the start of the production process I feel that dressing my character similarly would be a good idea and would help Jennifer to develop the character sufficiently. It would also link to the costume of the cannibals, as they all wear black, and I think it would add to the mysterious quality of the character.

For Sophie, the female characters friend, the costume will be more quirky and unusual. Bright colours and mismatched patterns that will most likely get odd looks is what this character would wear. She doesn't mind that she doesn't fit in because she doesn't really notice. This adds to the startling contrast between her and the main female character and more ambiguity as to why they are friends.

The cannibals will all be dressed very similarly. They will either be wearing all black or a black top and dark blue jeans. A few of them will be in black hooded tops, to signify delinquency. The dark colours (tying in with the female character) will add to the mystery and will also make them harder to see in the darkness as Chris is running away from them. They will each be wearing a mask (see above)

Intertextual Links

The Baccae - Euripides read by Ash Caton

This extract was taken from The Baccae. It is when a central characters mother and sister have just ripped him apart, but because such things could not be staged at the time The Baccae was written, Euripedes wrote a messenger's speech to describe the event. As I would be unable to show a person being ripped apart by cannibals, it is important that I look at all the different ways of implying what's happening.

The Masque of the Red Death
The Masque of the Red Death is a short story written by Edgar Allen Poe.

The story takes place at the abbey of the "happy and dauntless and sagacious" Prince Prospero. Prospero and one thousand other nobles have taken refuge in this walled abbey to escape the Red Death, a terrible plague that has swept over the land. The symptoms of the Red Death are gruesome: the victim is overcome by convulsive agony and sweats blood instead of water. The plague is said to kill within half an hour. Prospero and his court are presented as indifferent to the sufferings of the population at large, intending to await the ending of the plague in luxury and safety behind the walls of their secure refuge.

One night, Prospero holds a masquerade ball to entertain his guests in seven colored rooms of the abbey. Six of the rooms are each decorated and illuminated in a specific color: blue, purple, green, orange, white, and violet. The last room is decorated in black and is illuminated by a blood-red light; because of this chilling pair of colors, few guests are brave enough to venture into the seventh room. The room is also the location of a large ebony clock that ominously clangs at each hour. Each hour the clock clangs loudly, and everyone stops talking and the orchestra stops playing. At the chiming of midnight, Prospero notices one figure in a blood-spattered, dark robe resembling a funeral shroud, with a skull-like mask depicting a victim of the Red Death, which all at the ball have been desperate to escape. Gravely insulted, Prospero demands to know the identity of the mysterious guest so that they can hang him, and when none obey, pursues him with a drawn dagger through the seven rooms until the mysterious figure is cornered in the seventh room, the black room where the windows are tinted scarlet. When the figure turns to face him, the Prince falls dead at a glance. The enraged and terrified revelers surge into the black room and remove the mask, only to find both it and the costume empty. To the horror of all, the figure reveals itself as the personification of the Red Death itself, and all the guests suddenly contract and succumb to the disease. The final line of the story sums up: "And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.

This story is relavent to my film because of the idea of concealment and mystery that's signified by the masks. Although my character isn't escaping the Red Death, he is hoping to avoid being eaten by the cannibals, and the idea of black and red as a theme could reflect the sinister and bloody climax of my film.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


In my idea there are three main locations : the common room in school, a suspension bridge over the river and the woodland area close to the bridge.

The Common Room is used as a place to establish how the two central characters are relating to each other. The female character will walk through the doors and sit down across the room from Chris. This means that we can see that he is interested in her (by the way he watches her walk) but she is uninterested in him (sitting far away from him). It also allows us to establish the characters judging by where they sit in the room, how they sit etc. By sitting in the middle of a row of seats the female character can give off a dominant aura, and having Chris sitting in the corner on his own will highlight his shy nature and preference to being ignored.

The Suspension Bridge is used to be an unusual place to want to meet for a "date", as Chris thinks it is. It's not a conventional place to meet, like a cinema or a cafe, which highlights the mysterious side of the female character. There's also a sense of danger associated with old bridges, whether they'll break or not, and that will be played on by the character of Chris.

The Woodland is the main location in my film. This is where most of the action will happen. I chose to set it in a wood because it is widely seen as a sinister setting in the night-time. In one episode of Skins Series 3, there is a party in the woods in which Effy Stonem knocks another girl, Katie Fitch, unconscious, so this setting links to that. (See inter-textual links for more). I went to Middleton Woods in Ilkley to find a good location for the sequences and found a good spot, surrounded by trees. This is where I will place my cannibals. I think that the coverage of the trees will add to the sinister feel, and the flat land is a good place for the campfire to be constructed.

Monday, 9 November 2009


I have now determind who I will have to play the three main characters in my film.

Ash Caton

Ash is an experienced actor who I have worked with on several previous films, so I know that he is capable of a good and convincing performance. He is very good at portraying different emotions and characters. He is 17 years old, and so perfect for the character of Chris Parks. He looks right for the character, being average height, good looking and he looks quite shy. I think that Ash will be able to portray Chris the right way and he was the best actor that I auditioned for the part, so I have chosen him to take the central role.

Jennifer Austin
Again, I have worked with Jennifer on previous projects and so I know the strengths and weaknesses in her acting ability. She is also 17 years old, with long, dark brown hair and pale skin. I think that this is perfect for the female characters aesthetic. I think that she will be able to be dressed up like Effy Stonem and carry off the look. I will require the character to be sultry and silent whilst still holding the audiences attention. Jennifer played a similar role in another film I produced and so I am confident that she can carry this character well.

Jess Owen
Jess is also a very experienced actor, who again I have worked with before. She is 17 years old, with blonde hair. She is a little shorter than Jennifer and this will add to the juxtaposition of the two characters. She has a naturally bubbly personality and so will be able to fit into the character well. She is very enthusiastic, and knows a lot about film making so is a valuable person to have involved in the production process.

I am confident that these three actors will be professional and will be able to portray the characters in the way needed. I am happy with my choice and believe that they are the best people to act in my film.

Teaser Poster.

I have created a teaser poster for my film using a prop that I plan to use in the footage.

As a working title I have christened my film "Masque," a name developed from "Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allan Poe. (See intertextual links for more about the text) I think that this ties in nicely with the white, decorated masks that the cannibals will be wearing (See props).

For the tagline I adapted the tagline from "Alien," In space, no one can hear you scream. I think that my tagline fits in well with the narrative of my film and provides a narrative enigma for the audience. As this is a teaser poster, I don't have to put any more writing than that.

The poster shows a hand holding one of the cannibal masks loosely by the side of the leg. This ties into The Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan. When one of the central characters is first shown his back is turned to the camera and he holds his mask loosely by his side. As it was this character that originally inspired the masks in my film, I thought that incorporating him into my teaser poster was appropriate.

In the background of my poster is a picture of the Middleton Woods, which is where I plan to film the section of the film that involves the cannibals. This links the masks to the cannibals, and therefore provide anchoarge as to who is standing in the foreground.

I used Photoshop Elements 5.0 to create this poster. I decided to tint the image slightly red in order to signify death, and blood. I think that overall the poster is interesting and will entice the audience into wanting to watch the finished film.

The Hardware

Like last year, I will produce and process my work, including importing, editing and burning, on an iMac computer. Through working with them last year I am confident with this hardware and I feel I know how to use it efficiently to produce a good product. Mac computers are used by many film makers in the industry and so it will give me skills that I may require later.

For the capturing of my footage I will use a standard Sony mini DV camera (Sony DCR-HC27 Handycam Mini DV Camcorder). Again, having used this hardware last year I know that it is reliable and I can use it efficiently to get good quality footage. It is not the highest quality camera, but it is good enough for what I need to do. For further specification about this camera, go to

To go with this camera I will be using a standard mini DV tape. This will allow me to import the footage, including sound, on to the computer without any fuss. It's lightweight and so is easily transportable.

Last year a common problem with all the coursework produced was the sound quality. This year we have access to a boom mic with will help greatly in reducing extraneous noise from weather, traffic and background talking. This will hopefully mean a higher quaality of sound and therefore higher quality of overall product.

In order to keep the camera steady whilst filming I will be using a standard tripod. This will give a more professional finish to the footage that I capture, and will be less distracting for the audience than if the camera was shaky.

The Software

For the A2 Coursework task I will be using the following software :-

Unlike the software that I used for my AS coursework, iMovie HD, I will be using Final Cut Express 4 to do the editing of my footage.This is an industry standard programme used in the production of films and television series alike. It is far more advanced than iMovie, and being able to master the skills required will allow me to produce a product of a much higher quality.

Final Cut Express comes with LiveType included, an animated title and motion graphics creation software. Using this will enhance my product and allow me to create a more professional piece. More information about these two programs can be found at

As I don't have the recording equipment and musicians available to write my own soundtrack, I will create it instead on Garageband. It is very simple to use and can generate both soundtracks and SFX. It has a wide variety of different tracks that can be slotted together to produce a unique sound. Although Garageband only allows the use of pre-recorded tracks, a high-quality, unique and emotive soundtrack can be easily produced.

Alongside the short film that will make up the bulk of my coursework, I shall also be producing several ancillary projects including posters, DVD covers and magazine articles. To do this I shall use Photoshop Elements 5.0. Photoshop will be used to edit and improve images that i will put onto the front covers. It is a perfect programme for amateur photographers, you can edit images from your digital camera or images straight from the internet or your computer. For further specifications visit..

I will use Microsoft office throughout the coursework to produce any presentations that will be required. I will also use it to create the forms that I will require my actors to sign agreeing that they will appear in my film, and also to write up my screenplay.

Once my film has been produced I will use iDVD to burn it on to a disc. This is a very simple program to use, although it can take a long time to code the information before the actual burning and so does require patience. Last year I was able to produce a customised root menu screen on the disc for a film that I produced outside of school, and found that it was easy to reproduce on many different machines (to speed up the production process).

Target Audience and BBFC Rating

BBFC Rating.

Due to the slightly more sinister content (canilbalism) I have decided that my film should have a BBFC rating of 15. I think that anyone under this age may find the content distressing and disturbing.

According the the BBFC classifcation system, a 15 rating must conform to the following criteria :
Strong threat and menace are permitted unless sadistic or sexualised.
Imitable Behaviour
Dangerous behaviour (for example, hanging, suicide and self-harming) should not dwell on detail which could be copied. Easily accessible weapons should not be glamorised.
No theme is prohibited, provided the treatment is appropriate for 15 year olds.
Violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury. The strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable. Strong sadistic or sexualised violence is also unlikely to be acceptable. There may be detailed verbal references to sexual violence but any portrayal of sexual violence must be discreet and have a strong contextual justification.

There are other criteria for 15 rated films to meet, but I don't believe that I will have any trouble sticking to them. The above points are relevant to my film and I will have to take them into account in order to be able to use this classification.

Target Audience.

As my BBFC rating is 15, my target audience will be from 15 - 25. I think that the narrative is interesting to all ages, being something that doesn't often come up. The younger end of the audience will be able to relate the the characters, being of a similar age. The setting of the school environment is also relateable to this target audience, as is the situation of awkward relationships.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Character Profiles.

In my production there are three main characters, with the rest of the cast just extras.

The female character remains unnamed. She is mysterious and dark. She says very little but when she does speak it is in a sultry voice. She is very attractive and it is easy to see why the central protagonist falls for her.
I have mainly based this character on Effy Stonem from the Channel 4 series Skins. I think that this is the ideal look and persona for my female character. Effy is able to control everyone around her just with a look or simple comment, and I think it is this "magical" quality that I would like my female character to have. I would like her to look as similar to this picture of Kristen Stewart as possible, with the dark wavy hair, dark clothes and sultry look. This aesthetic is often seen as being very attractive and mysterious. I think that this would add to the characters appeal to the central protagonist, and would explain why he follows her so readily without explanation.

Again inspired by Skins, the female character will have a chatty friend that people think is a little bit strange. She will be talking to the female character non-stop, not requiring her to say anything at all. She will be dressed unfashionably, but she won't care because she doesn't understand that it's anything wrong. The character in Skins that she will be based on is Pandora. She is never far from Effy's side, and has a quirky way of talking, style of clothing, and an almost endearing ability to get everything wrong.
The central protagonist, Chris Parks, is a fairly nondescript boy of around 17/18 years old. He doesn't belong to any particular social group. He is fairly attractive, but not in a necessarily obvious way. He is quiet and artistic, and so becomes very flustered when the girl pays him attention. His clothing doesn't particularly matter, although it has to be obvious that he does not belong in the same group as the girl. He doesn't have a specific way of dressing, but he doesn't tend to wear dark colours all the time like the girl does.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Analysis of Short Films (Inc. Codes and Conventions)

In order to develop a more thorough understanding of the medium, I watched and analysed some short films. They varied in content and narrative, as well as being a mix of animation and live action. I got them from either YouTube, or Although I didn't go into thorough, in-depth analysis, I wrote down the main points from each film to get a collaborative idea of the conventions of short films.
Bullet Proof Vest
- Non diegetic narration.
- Talking quite brutally about the truth, doesn't matter about being "PC"
- Tackling the issues, mainly gun violence and its effect on children.
- Contrasts images of children playing with serious and fairly horrific narration.

The Furniture
- One main character that is introduced straight away, no ambiguity.
- Man is seeking reassurance from a doctor, implied mental illness.
- Believes the furniture is trying to kill him, then the twist at the end implies that the furniture did in fact kill him
- Fantastical narrative, based around 3 kidnappng cannibals.
- Animation, able to achieve more visually without limits of live action
- Situation turned around at the end
- Shades of "The boy who cried wolf"

- Tackling the issue of knife crime
- Split screen to show two possible narratives and the contrast between the two
- Background music, non diegetic but doesn't detract from the narrative

- Depicts the consequences of drug abuse in teenagers and the strength of peer pressure
- Mainly silent, relies on the visual aspect to tell the story
- Realistic and shocking storyline with a message
- Moral of the story read out at the end to reiterate the message
Turning My Life Around
- Tackles the issue of alcoholism and it's effects on the children
- Strong message that's shown again at the end
- Shows how one persons problem effects other - partic ularly children
- Animation

10 Seconds
- Tackles the issue of knife crime
- Relates it to reality, uses time to highlight the events
- Uses realistic situation to show how common knife crime is
- Contrasts the positive things that can happen in 10 seconds with the negative things (achievement with knife crime)
Reality Knocks
- Introduces the main character straight away
- Tackles the issues of trust in relationships and racism
- Twist midway through and then resolution at the end
- Long black title card
- Diegetic voiceover, whispering girl over shots of house
- Creepy feel to everything, dark atmosphere
- Girl with big hands
- Humorous narrative, twist on reality
- Maths obviously confused with the general norm
- Says something incorrectly (twist of reality) and confuses the audience
- Animation allows a talking rabbit, "Jim"

Stand And Stare
- Raises environmental issues, a problem that is very important to many people
- No characters to speak of, based around the life of a tree
- Emotive music used to influence the audiences reading of the text

- Surreal visual to go with a realistic narrative
- Central character introduced right away and is obviously the one whom the narrative is based around
- Sinister music to imply surrealism

- Music video featuring Lonely island Comedian
- Starts with normal chat, no music
- Man rips out his heart, heart starts singing, people react to it oddly.
- Goes against convention, well known actor.

The Jester
- Immediate introduction of central character
- Set in a dream to allow a more surreal narrative
- Twist at the end, the "dream character" actually being there

Skate : Tacky TV
- One long panning shot, tracking the movement of central character
- Slow motion to represent surrealism
- No narrative, relies on the surreal visual aspects to tell the story (or lack thereof)

- Wrong idea of the word Virgin
- Non-Diegetic family/fun music is played, relates to happenigns
- Builds up to climax of Sex talk
- Humorous storyline
- Breaks convention, Kate Isitt is a famous actress.

- Realistic but unusual narrative
- Character meets problem and then finds a resolution
- Shows the awkwardness of new relationships
- Twist midway through, boy gets killed
- Resolution when girl is reminded of her faith
- No dialogue, relies on imagery to tell the story
- Religious symbols (egg and cross)

- Many possible readings, ambiguous narrative
- Two characters are shown but are both the same person / split personality
- Short credits at the end, very brief

Codes and Conventions
-> Generally, short films tend to last anywhere between 3 and 15 minutes in length. However, I also found that a film lasting up to 40 minutes can still be defined as a short film rather than a feature length production.

-> Most short films have very low budgets, if any at all. This means that they are unlikely to contain big-name actors, extensive graphic work or expensive locations, costumes or props. This isn’t universal, however, as some short films have cost around £40,000 to produce.

-> The music in short films tends to be primarily to build the tension or enhance the mood of the moment.

-> The soundtrack can often last throughout the entire film, although can also last for only a part of it, or be cut up into several sections. Some class music videos as short films in more recent years as they have storylines that fit with the lyrics and more action based videos.

-> Their storylines are often quirky and unusual as the narrative doesn’t need to be drawn out like a feature length production is. They often have a twist to the ending to introduce a narrative enigma that never gets solved. This is in contrast to blockbuster films that (unless a sequel is planned) have to close the ending of the narrative.

-> The titles can be at any point during the film, often plain white on black writing. Titles can often be cut up and placed throughout the film in order to break up the different scenes. In horror shorts I found that after a particularly tense part of the action the titles faded in to produce most fear in the audience as they have to imagine what’s coming next.

-> Due to a lack of budget, many short films are animated. This may mean that they don’t have to include any actors at all, and allows the creator to develop locations and props that would have been expensive to involve when producing a live-action film.

-> Several short films include voice-overs or monologues, either to voice the central protagonists thoughts and feelings, or to provide a narrative enigma about who is talking.

-> Mise-en-scene is particularly important in short films as there’s not enough time to develop the character exposition. Therefore setting up the background with objects and pictures that would develop the character quickly is often what short film directors choose to do.