The Team

We are Flatline Films and we are currently in the process of producing our debut film 'Roadside'.

Director - George Gamble

Producer - Roam Hamilton

Cinematographer - Harry Knight

Here is our FlatLine Fims blog.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Welcome to my blog!

Hello and welcome to Roam Hamilton's blog!

On this blog you will find everything you need to know about my debut film opening 'Full Moon'.

This is in-fact my last blog post! I hope you enjoy it and find it very insightful, feel free to comment.

Full Moon Final Cut

Eval Q1

In what way does your media product use, delvelop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

This is a vodcast of me talking about key conventions in film openings. 

In my production straight away have 2 company idents. We have the distribution company 'Maroaders' and the production company 'Flatline Films'.

Here are links to these to idents; 'Maroaders' and 'Flatline Films'

The first shot we have is an establishing shot of a house. We then see titles on screen. The titles we see are ones of the production company and the filmmakers. We then see another establishing shot of the same house just from a different angle. So far this has matched up with the general conventions you seem to see in film openings. We chose to use these conventions because there are many examples of it being applied as well as linking into our preferred reading. Non-diagetic music comes in over the titles. This once again is a common convention used and we have applied it hear. However we have developed the convention of tracking one character or cross cutting between two. We have followed both character on screen at one time.

We have challenged the convention of not using dialog in a film opening by having our two characters talking. In film openings you usually hear non-diegetic music on it's own or have a voice over entwined with that. We have no voice over and include dialog. We then begin to use the convention of cross cutting between the two characters after the girl leaves. Now there is no dialog and just non-diegetic music and diegetic sounds on screen, e.g The car engine is a diegetic sound. That is how I have used, developed and challenged forms of convention in my opening.

Slasher genre conventions:
  • Psychopathic killer. (Freddy Krueger)
  • The use a weapon which could be used as a cutting tool such as; chainsaw, knife, axe etc. (Norman Bates uses a knife in the famous shower scene in Psycho)
  • The weapon can often be seen as a sexual object. (This connotes that when a person is killed there sexuality is being taken)
  • The killer targets teenagers. (Cherry Falls)
  • You have your stereotypical people who get slashed; Scream Queen (often a cheerleader) and a her boyfriend (stereotypically a Jock).
  • A final girl, typically a geeky character NOT sexually active which is why she usually doesn't die.
  • The father of the final girl who is often some higher force e.g a policeman or a sheriff.
  • The killer's identity is usually kept incognito.
In our short 2 minute opening we feel we have included some of these conventions. Such as; the psychopathic killer. We don't get any dialog from him however his character will develop throughout the film. We have also used a key convention of a knife, possibly the most commonly used weapon in the slasher genre. The main characters are teens. This links into our target audience. In our opening both our 'Scream Queen' and 'Jock' get killed. And the identity of the killer is kept hidden.

I gathered audience feedback of our 4th rough cut. I'm going to see if this matches up to my preferred reading the concept that was thought up by Stuart Hall. 4 different people gave me feedback. They all understood the narrative however they all said that the killing didn't quite work. This obviously isn't my preferred reading. They said it doesn't look like the girl is getting stabbed. This is a opposition reading.

To summarise I feel that I have used many of the key conventions within the slasher genre. However I do feel that we have challenge some conventions of film openings.

The challenges and limitations as a student filmmaker working within a small group for me were the fact we had to acquire actors services and then when we needed to re-shoot but they couldn't. Also conflicting ideas within a group, sometimes when I've realised that we need to re-shoot or change something and then the other group members have disagreed. Finally organisation. I feel I have had to organise my group and it can be frustrating at times. Especially when you have to rely on people to do certain things and then not complete it. If I had more time I would definitely take more sample footage and plan for my ideas more clearly as well as storyboarding different plots.

Eval Q2

How does your media product represent particular social groups?

The 7 key ares of representation are:
  • Social Class and Status
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Physical Dis/Ability
  • Sexuality
  • Region Identity
The characters that we see in our opening are Sam and Casey. 

Our actor Ollie Moulton
Sam is stereotypical Jock. He is played by Ollie Moulton and we feel he resembles. The character Steve from Scream who is played by Kevin Patrick Walls. His character gets killed which is a key convention within Slasher films that the boyfriend of the scream queen gets murdered. This will attract a male audience because boys thrive on gore. They don't really care who gets killed.

Our actress Megan Claydon
Casey who is our Scream Queen. She is played by Megan Claydon, we have based her character on the character Casey from Scream who is play by Drew Barrymore. Her name is providing intertextuality the film Scream. Her character will not typically appeal to females as they often tend to reside with a 'Final Girl'. However this will attract the Male Gaze, this is when women in film are seen as sexual objects. Men will be attracted to this character because of her sexual connotations. The Scream Queen and Final Girl are binary opposites to each other.

Social Class and Status:
In our preferred reading both our character are middle class. We have tried to signify this by the use of Casey's car being a VW Polo. We feel that this signifies her social class, if we apply the commutation test and change that to a Ferrari then she most likely be Upper Class.
If we look at Sam's character he uses an iphone this modern technology signifies that he is an upper middle class person. Sam's house which is quite large and detached which ones more may signify his social class to the audience, this is encoded in your preferred reading.

The age of our two characters is shown by the their general appearances. The core target audience for our film is teenagers 15-24. The age of Casey is signified by the fact that she can drive. Also the mise-en-scene used when Sam pulls out is iphone. This can stereotypically be seen as the technology of the young generation. Also becuase of the the genre the key conventions is that teenagers get killed.

The gender of these two main characters is apparent. You have your busty blonde female called Casey. And your stereotypical Jock called Sam. The clothing of provides anchorage for their sexual activity. He is wearing a blue dressing gown which signifies that he was not priory clothed. Whereas Casey is dressed nicely because she is now leaving.

Both characters are Caucasian. This is because this was filmed in Ilkley and I go to school in Ilkley the majority of people are Caucasian which is why it is this way. I have not deliberately chosen them to be Caucasian. This may therefore attract a wider Caucasian audience. The ethnicity of our killer is not kept hidden despite him being masked. We see his hands which give this away.

Physical Dis/Ability:
The Physical ability or disability of a person within a film is another key aspect of representation. In the Texas Chainsaw Massacre a character was in a wheelchair, this is an example of physical disability. In my production all the characters have physical ability. Once again the reason for not casting a disabled person was not because I didn't feel right to do so, it's because I do not know any disabled people and as a student filmmaker I am limited to casting my friends.

The sexuality of our two characters are heterosexual. This is at least our preferred reading. This is heavily signified by there behaviour and me as a filmmaker connoting that they have been having sex before the film started. This is all down to the interpretation of the audience. They might have a oppositional reading to this. The stereotype of a heterosexual blonde female is a 'dumb blonde'.

Regional Identity:
The regional identity of our two characters are the 'North' more specifically Yorkshire. The stereotype of people from Yorkshire are that they are all farmers and loose with their words. The countertype of this is demonstrated in our film as we represent our characters as upper middle class. This could be a problem for people outside of this region as they may struggle with their dialect. However this may attract a more specific audience from Yorkshire. This links in with our core and secondary target audience.

Eval Q3

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

The genre we are working within is the Slasher genre. We have looked at numerous films within the Slasher genre. These are the distribution companies of just several of the films we have looked at.
  1. Halloween - Compass International Pictures
  2. Cherry Falls - Entertainment Film Distributors
  3. Psycho - Paramount Pictures
  4. Scream - Dimension Films
  5. A Nightmare on Elm Street - New Line Cinema
  6. Friday the 13th - Paramount Pictures
  7. Madhouse - Lions Gate Films
These are films of the Horror/Slasher genre that have been realesed after 2009.

Saw 3D (Kevin Greutert, 2010)
Budget - $17m
US Box Office - $45.3m
UK Box Office - £8m
There was no UK Distributor however the US Distributor is Lionsgate.
Here is a link to the official trailer.

Human Centipede (Tom Six, 2009)
Budget - €1.5m
US Box Office - $181k
There was no UK Box Office figues this denotes that the film went straight to DVD release.
UK Distributor - Bounty Films
Here is a link to the official trailer.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (Samuel Bayer, 2010)
Budget - $35m
US Box Office - $63m
UK Box Office - £3.5m
UK Distibutor - Warner Bros.
Here is a link to the official trailer.

I found these films off listZe and I found all the figues of IMDb.

A small UK distributor that I have found is 'Caravan Films' one of their feature films is 'Lithivm'. This is a distributor that would release my film because I'm a low-budget indie filmmaker. They would not get cinematic release and would either go straight to DVD or even onto TV.

Production companies Warp X/Warp Films are the main main UK companies that get cinematic releases or any coverage in the US. 'Dead Man's Shoes' is a film from the Slasher genre that got a very small cinematic release in the US, it's Box Office takings were $6k. The distribution company behind this film is Optimum Releasing.

Another film distributed by 'Optimum Releasing' is 'Eden Lake'. These Box Office figues demonstrates how difficult it is for films produced in the UK to be big at the US Box Office. Eden Lake took $5.8k in the US and £482k in the UK.

We can compare these small indie films to a big Box Office Oscar winner film the 'King's Speech'. This film isn't in the Horror genre. This was produced by Bedlam Productions the UK distributor is Momentum Theatrical. This UK film had a $15m budget and took $123.5m at the US Box Office whilst it took £25m at the UK Box Office. This is an example of a company that wouldn't release my film.

Companies such as; Caravan films would release my film. Optimum realeasing might release my film however it would not gain Box Office takings in the US. Especially for UK films in the Slasher/Horror genre they very rarely gain cinematic release in the US.

Eval Q4

Who would be the audience for your media product?

My core target audience males with in the ages of 15-24, also they may prodominately be from Yorkshire as it includes actors from this region and is filmed their.

Ethnicity is is another area of our core audience as the two characters we see are Caucasian. Therefore this will attract a white Caucasian audience. If I apply the communtation test and change the two characters ethnicity making them Asian, this would attract a wider Asian audience.

The sexuality of the two characters is heterosexual. This is indicated by many signifiers. Once again the fact that these characters are heterosexual means that it will attract a wider audience. By stating this, I'm not ruling out the homosexual audience.

My secondary audience expands it's age range to 13-34. This leads to the BBFC ratings. We would be looking to get a 15 BBFC rating. The reason for this is that through the guidlines are production fits the criteria for a 15 rated film. For example use of easily accessible and highly dangerous substances is not permitted, we don't use include anything of that nature in our film. Although this is a slasher film we don't show any gore on screen. Nor do we include any suffering. We believe that because we meet the criteria we would gain a 15 rated film. The reason we put the age range of our secondary audience down to 13 is because although nobody under the age of 15 is permitted to watch a 15 rated film or watch it on DVD, you do get hold of them. I'm not 18 however I have seen several 18 rated films. Kids of the age of 13 would be interested in watching this film.

Examples of films Horror/Slasher films that are rated 15 are: Paranormal Activity 2 and Let Me In.

To confirm this as being my appropriate core target audience I decided to do a profile on someone who is within my target audience. Kieran Mitchell allowed me to question him on the genre. He is a 16 year old male and lives in Yorkshire. The questions are as followed.

Q. Which genre do you prefer, the horror/slasher genre or the rom-com genre?
A. I prefer the horror/slasher genre.

Q. What film is the character Marion Crane from?
A. She was in Psycho wasn't she.

Q. If you see a busty blonde female in a horror film what would her role in the film be?
A. A victim of some kind of crude occurrence such as a raping or a viscous kill.

Q. If you saw a geeky girl possibly a brunette in a horror film what would her role in the film be?
A. She might get killed but she wouldn't be killed becuase of her impurity. Most of the girls in horror films are killed because they are sexually active and seen as objects by males or killers.

Q. What famous horror film made by Wes Craven in 1984 was remade in the year of 210?
A. I know A Nightmare on Elm Street was remade recently and I think Wes Craven directed it, but it could be The Last House on the Left. 

Q. What is your favourite Horror Film?
A. Either Psycho or The Blair Witch Project, more recently Paranormal Activity.

Here is a link to a blog post on our target audience.

This is class feedback after our first rough cut.

This is now our 4th and latest rough cut.

There is a very large audience for the Slasher genre proven by Box Office figures from these films.
  • Psycho (1960) made $32m at the US Box Office.
  • Halloween (1978) made $47m at the US Box Office.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) made $10.8m at the US Box Office.
  • Scream (1996) made $103m at the US Box Office.
  • Saw (2004) made $55.2m at the US Box Office.
  • Paranormal Activity (2007) made $108m at the US Box Office.
These figures show that this genre has an incredibly large audience despite what some people may think.

Unlike these big Box Office hits my film would be a small indie production and would most likely not get any coverage in the US. Working Title are the big UK producers often sculp their films to suit US and UK viewers. Whilst companies like Warp do not and focus on the UK audience. Because my production is filmed in Yorkshire regional identity is something to consider. People from down south may struggle with the dialect and that is once again why my key core audience is the one of people from Yorkshire a broader region the 'North'.

My core audience is men. Despite this it's not to say that we don't want to attract a female audience nor are we ruling one out. In our opening we have a busty blonde female which attracts the 'Male Gaze' theory. She eventually dies. What will attract a female audience is a strong final girl. In our production we don't get introduced to this character however in our narrative we plan to have a final girl who happens to be our Scream Queen 'Casey's' sister. This will attract a female audience as she will be the main character, whilst the male audience will still be entertained with gore.

Eval Q5

How did you attract/address your audience?

We had many options on how to attract and address our audience such as;
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Interviewing our core target audience
  • Interviewing our secondary target audience
  • Interviewing media studies students
  • Interview non-media studies students
Facebook is an extremely useful tool to attract and gether feedback from your audience. It is extremely approapriate for our core target audience as most of our friends on Facebook are within our core target audience age range of 15-24. We can easily post our roughcuts on the social networking site and people give feedback. We have asked people to give us feedback on our videos posted and generally you get really incitefull feedback which allows us to take that on board, plan as a group and then make appropriate changes to our production. Feedback is such a key things because our narrative makes perfect sense to us the filmmakers however if the core audience doesn't get it, then your film won't be very good.

YouTube is a worldwide video streaming site which allows us to share our rough cuts to a worldwide audience. Unlike Facebook this gives us a opportunity for our secondary target audience to give feedback this age range goes down to 13 and up to the 34. YouTube was very helpful as we gathered a wide range of feedback. This was not limited to rough cuts. We uploaded videos of our group speaking about our film as well as our company idents, the killers mask etc. This really allowed our audience to get involved in the making of our film. We tried to keep updating our progress so that we were connected to our audience which we hoped would allow us to make a production that was within the interest of the audience.

Interviewing our core and secondary target audiences:
We did this so we could get a reflection on what type of film they can relate to. Once again this is all done with the purpose in mind to make sure the audience reacts positively to our film opening. One thing we did was test our killers mask effect on somebody in our secondary target audience.
This video is shows how we did this.

The reason for producing this video was that we could get a real live reaction our killers mask. This was to test the effect of it on a viewer. Please note that we feel this would obviously be more powerful on screen with the benefit of editing and suspense of a soundtrack as well as the narrative structure.

Interviewing Non Media/Media students:
The purpose of doing this was that we were able to gather feedback from two differant types of people. The good thing about doing this was that when gathering feedback from Media students they gave detailed analysis of the film picking up on camera shots, horror conventions, editing and using semioctics to pretty much deconstruct our film opening. This was natural for them to do as they are in the same situation (student filmmaker producing a film opening). When we got feedback from non-media students this was constructive in a differant way. They usually commented on the effect certain things had and what they liked and disliked about it which is just as useful feedback. We gathered most of this feedback from Facebook however we sometimes just simply asked them what they thought and wrote it down.

This is an annotated version of our final cut to show some of the choices we made to attract our audience.

Eval Q6

What have you learnt about about technologies from the process of constructing this product?

This is a vodcast of me listing the technologies that I have used in the process of constructing my media product and briefly explaining how I have used them and why.

Blogger was possibly the most important technology we used because our entire project ends up on blogger. It is not limited to word press. You can embed in videos and import pictures. We also can link words to useful sites. Blogger therefore is extremely important.

All the technologies that we used helped us project our creative vision onto the screen. iMovie was extremely useful as we could mash up our shots. It's amazing how much you can do with such a simple tool. One thing on iMovie that we used was videoFX. We used this to add transitions to some of our shots as well as speeding up some driving footage.

The soundtrack was a big part of our product and without a soundtrack especially in the Slasher genre you lose all dramatic effect on your audience. We used some more advanced software than GarageBand however we used iMovie to cut the soundtrack up and add in other sound effects to match our footage.

LiveType was used to create our two company idents. This software was complicated but in the end it was one of the most important pieces of software as it allowed us to create two fantastic idents which are essential for our film.

I think the only software that could have made our production better would have been through the use of HD cameras. This would have sharpened up the footage and as we have filmed at night the camera would have had less trouble trying to adjust to the light.

Eval Q7

Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?

Prelim Task from Roam Hamilton on Vimeo.

When I first went out with a camera to film my prelim task I didn't real no anything about film making. We didn't really do any research or preparation.

Our prelim task was basically just showing different key camera shots such as; shot reverse shot, match on action and the 180 degree rule. Compare this to our far superior 2 minute film opening. The key differences are that our film is constructed to a genre, in my case this was the sub-genre Slasher out of the wide Horror genre.

Our production has taken months to construct and their haven been numerous variables to consider when producing this. My prelim on the other hand took about 2 hours! Without research and planning we would genuinely not know the key codes and convention that are in the slasher genre. I personally did loads of research and planning all for the purpose of knowing as much as I could about my chosen genre. This is not trivial. Every single thing included in our film has been a carefully considered choice. It's not random, we are trying to signify many things to our audience, within this we have our preferred reading. We couldn't go out and film until we have done suitable research and planning. This is not just looking at our chosen genre. We had to most importantly plan our FILM IDEA! Research and Planning is surprisingly a lot more time consuming than the actual production and just as important, because if you have good research and planning then you are more likely to show that within your production. Without this you would be going out completely blind into the genre.

Time management is so important while constructing your film. This links into working in a group. Managing your own time is one aspect however when it comes to filming then I have had to organise my group and when you need to get things done and you have to rely on other people it can get incredibly hard. Looking back on the prelim it is amazing how simple it looks but that the time it felt stressful this signifies how much my skills as well as my time management skills have progressed as this is one huge project and it's very easy for some aspects to slip through the cracks.

For our film openings we had to pitch ideas to the rest of the class, we did this so that we could compare each others ideas before appropriately choosing who to work with. I already had an idea of who I was going to do this film with however it was helpful to see what other peoples idea's were which allowed us to create an overall story line from our ideas.

Obviously to make a film you have to have a cast. As a student filmmaker I was limited to casting my friends. It isn't as simple as just asking people though you have to consider representation. We looked at gender and age to make sure they would fit in within our narrative. We wanted to include a 'Scream Queen' within our film which means we had to try and work to the convention that she is an attractive busty blonde sexually active female. We successfully did this. In our prelim casting was not considered because we just acted ourselves.

Mise-en-scene was not a thought during our prelim task however in our film opening it is essential. Mise-en-scene includes; props, costume, locations, set-dressing, lighting etc. every single one of these was carefully considered. The main location was ambitious as it was quite far away in a rural area. Despite the negatives we chose this location because we felt it radiated our genre.  Costume is another thing that is very important. You have to consider it carefully as you have to keep this consistent throughout the entire film to avoid continuity errors. We must use mise-en-scene to signify our genre and perhaps provide intertexuality to our audience.  Mise-en-scene can connote many different things.

Rough cuts have been vital when producing this opening as they have allowed us gain audience feedback. This is so important to get because if the audience doesn't understand or like the film then it's no good, rough cuts allow the audience to see our film and suggest improvements we then take this feedback and make changes to our film based upon this feedback. We have used Facebook to gather a lot of this feedback. This is a great way to do it as the majority of our friends on Facebook are within our core target audience which means the feedback that is being received we really have to listen to. In our prelim we didn't make any rough cuts we just filmed and then edited.

Creating an original soundtrack for our production was really easy as one of my family friends is a composer. This allowed me to go up and create a superb copywrite free original soundtrack with him. In our prelim we didn't have a soundtrack over our footage. The reason for this is because it was a short task and we didn't feel we needed it. For our opening the importance of a soundtrack is huge as especially in the Slasher genre sound is what creates fear and tension within the audience.

Also we created company idents. This is part of the criteria for our film opening. Once again we didn't do this for our prelim task as we had not thought this through and didn't know how to use the software at this stage.

We all had important roles in our film opening I feel I heavily contributed to every single aspect of the filming project. However I probably produced the film more than anything else. This is why on our film opening one of the titles it says "A Roam Hamilton Production" on the prelim we don't have these titles as once again we didn't have much knowledge of this aspect at this point, plus it was also very mediocre production and had no narrative or genre etc.

Finally working in a group was challenging. I felt my contribution was extremely high compared to other members of the group which can be frustrating because you do have to rely on your group members. This links into time management. Sometimes when we need to film and can't because of some members or cast being busy it can be frustrating. It also includes collaborating with your group and sharing ideas. This can be challenging as you all have different ideas but I think we worked well and I felt I took charge which we needed as at the beginning we weren't communicating which caused confusion. In our prelim task because it was so short a sense of working as a group wasn't really there however I do feel it helped me when coming to work in a serious group to produce this film opening.

This is my final cut.

RH - Late change in Film title

On the day we have finished our production we decided to change the title of our film. It was originally called 'Roadside' however because of the slight change in story line we decided to change the name to 'Full Moon'. The inspiration for this came from the fact that on our last night of filming their was a 'Super Moon', this meant the it was a full moon and it was slightly bigger than usual. There was an Indian film made in 1961 with the title of 'Full Moon', because the film was made in India and was produced in 1961 we won't encounter any copywrite issues. We realise this film title signifies the Warewolf horror genre, however our title of 'Full Moon' hold many connotations and we don't feel this will be and issue.