Archive for September, 2011

Script

I’ve decided it’s time to start pulling the pre-production together, and started with the one thing I believe the rest of my production can be based on; the script. As such, a lot of other important decisions have had to be made:

The Title

The title of my film is soemthing I have had decided in mind for a while now. Indeed, I believe it is so effective at putting across the message of my film that I may not put it up for audience research yet. The title will be The Season to be Jolly. Taken from the well-known Cristmas song Deck the Halls, the title is designed to be ironic and sarcastic. Although the general connotations of Christmas are happiness, togetherness, sharing  and of course jolliness, the title links back to my idea of focussing on the negative aspects of Christmas. The character’s are not experiencing jolliness at the happiest time of year, and indeed their yearly reflections are what eventually drives them apart, hence, the title is sarcastic.

Although I am yet to make final decisions on features such as titles, below is an example of the kind of font I would want my titles to be presented in. I think it’s serif design makes it quite Christmassy, however, it is also quite sophisticated and holds the theme:

Early title ideas

Continuity features

I couldn’t really think of a better way to describe these other than ‘continuity features’. Basically, I intended to have many hints and occurences throughout the years which would show the steady decline and breaking apart of the friendship. However, timing has proven to be a huge issue with my script. Given that my production is mostly reliant on dialogue, and as  far as I can see, it will mostly consist of three people sitting at a table for five minutes, the timing of the dialogue is absoluetly essential. This means I cannot over or underestimate the amount of time it will take my actors to say something. As such, many of the little clues I intended will have to be cut. For example:

The necklace idea

I had intended that in 2009, Miranda would give Louise the gift of a necklace. By the next year, Louise has become so consumed by her unrequited love, that when  she wears it to meet with miranda and Ellen, it breaks and she cannot remember where she got it from in the first place, obviously causing large insult to Miranda.

The broken necklace would also parallel the characters' relationship

The baby idea

When I first wrote my character profiles, I imagined that I would make Ellen feel very isolated by her teenage preganacy and motherhood, and Louise and Miranda would show a disregard for Ellen constantly bringing up her baby. Unfortunately, it appears as if there will be little time for this to occur.

The teenage mother plotline was supposed to cause more a rift between the protagonists

The jobs idea

Also when I was first writing the character profiles, I imagined the careers of Miranda and Louise to play a larger role. Obviously becoming successful careerwomen would separate them from Ellen, but I also imagined that the differences between their jobs would separate them also; that there would be a sense of cometiton between them. However, again unfortuantely because I have had to spend time focussing on character establishment and reflection of events, there seems to be little room for this.

The girl's careers were also supposed to be a running problem

I am currently in the process of writing a basic version of the script, which I will obviously post when complete.

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Location, location, location

I’m pretty sure that I’ve managed to find a location for my film. Whilst ideally I would like my production to be set in a plausible, well-known cafe, such as Starbucks or Costa, I realised that this would not be practical to film in, let alone get permission to film in. This is why I decided to focus on smaller, more independent cafes to film in.

After consulting many local cafes, I decided that the location which would be most suitable to film in would be that of The Lounge, a cafe which focuses upon the ‘coffee-house’ format and appears to appeal most to adults. Given that is a simple cafe, the decor should be suitable for my film, and I was told there was no problem with the obvious Christmas decorations that would have to be put up. Below is the Google Maps photo of the outside of The Lounge.

The possible location of my production

I would have tried to get more photos of the location, but my filming there is conditional based on the cafes busy periods and providing the cafe will be in a suitable condition at the time, which is why I was asked to check these details around a week or two before filming and which is why I also thought it inappropriate to take photos at that time. Obviously if I am given the go-ahead to film there, I will update with photos of the exact location within the cafe where I think the majority of the filming would take place.

Film Poster: Sex and the City

I was struggling to think of a suitable third film poster to analyse which would be associated with my own production. I’d already covered the conecpt of setting a narrative over many years, as well as the theme of Christmas. The only other dominant theme or aspect in my film which I could think to focus on was that of female sociability.

Whilst I’m aware that I may have let Sex and the City (King, 2008) sway my production too much as it is (given the parallel of the Miranda characters), I thought that it’s film poster would be suitable for analysis given the general parallels between it’s characters, for example, middle class, professional women who have been friends for a long time and regularly see each other and discuss aspects of their lives such as jobs and romance.

I decided not to go for the UK/US official poster for Sex and the City, given that there is not a lot to analyse in the way of female sociability. The UK/US poster has a heavy infulence on the title, and largely plays on using the Sex and the City name and franchise as an incentive:

The UK/US poster for Sex and the City does not appropriately express themes of female sociability

In a quirky twist, I’ve decided I will analyse the German poster for the film, simply because I believe it is more useful to me:

The German poster for Sex and the City

Shot Types and Composition

The poster only consists of one shot, which is of the four protagonists on what is presumably a night out. I beleieve this shot is extremely successful as it implies all the main themes associated with this film including fashion, friendship and romance .

The shot type used is a wide shot, which just about squeezes all four women into the portrait format. This makes the poster quite unique; rarely does a film poster consist almost entirely of a simple wide shot showing the characters doing something as mundane as walking down the street. Once more, the producers are relying on Sex and the City’s pop culture status. They rely on the idea that their target audience will be able to gather all necessary information simply from seeing the four women on a night out. Although there is of course the possibility that this is a teaser poster, hence the lack of information revealed instantaneously.

The composition of the characters is also very important. For example, Carrie Bradshaw can be found in front of the other women, whilst the others walk behind her in order of dominance within the film. This again adds to the idea of the shot acting as an incentive. Carrie is the main feature of the Tv Series, book and film and therefore must be the main feature of the poster.  

Carrie is often presented in front of the other characters, showing her importance within the series.


Overall Composition

This poster has a very simplistic layout in terms of composition. It has only four main features: the main shot, the titles, billing box and the release date. This means it differs greatly from the posters I have already analysed, where the use of a background was incorporated as well as a main shot. This is because the poster is trying to put emphasis on the relationship between the characters rather than the plot of the film.

The titles can be found at the bottom of the poster at an angle. There are several reasons for this. A simple one for example may be that by putting them at an angle, they take up more space and the audience’s eye is more drawn towards them, especially given their bright colouring. Furthermore, the lack of action in the main shot must be compensated for and this can be done by angling the titles without compromising the sophistication of the poster overall.

As far as the rule of thirds is concerned, this poster is quite effective. The human eye is naturally drawn towards the middle horizontal third. However, clearly there is little in this third other than the women’s bodies. This means that the brain must search the rest of the poster to find more features it can gain information from. In this case, the women’s facial expressions and the titles, which are placed in the remaining thirds, meaning all sections of the poster gain audience attention. The target audience also comes into play here. The women’s figures as well as their clothes would be considered important aspects of the characters and film respectively. Given that these are important to the target audience, they are placed in the first place they will look.

The middle third, usually the most occupied, is in fact quite plain


Titles, font and colouring 

Throughout it’s time on television, Sex and the City kept the same logo, which can be found below. However, for the film, a new logo was created, using a new font and new positioning of the words. This new logo can be found both on the poster, and in its usual form below. This new logo is used as the title on the poster. Given it’s new design, as well as the colouring, the target audience would be very quickly attracted to this. The new colouring in particular would attract those not in the target audience given that it is extremely bright and borderline garish.

The traditional logo for Sex and the City...

... being replaced with the new one for the movie

The new logo/title also incorporates a ‘glittering’ effect, which compliments many aspects of the characters, for example, the amount of money the women have, the fact that they are part of the New York glitterati. It also takes on the style of a handbag, shoe or other accessory, common props throughout he film and series.

The only other title which appears in pink is the release date. This is because it is the only information that the audience is not aware of, and is therefore just as important as the main title, hence the similar colouring. The actors names are in white, and do not show up particularly well. This is because they too are an important part of the franchise; anyone who knows Sex and the City is likely to know the actors names. Furthermore, the actors names are presented in the same order as they appear in the series opening titles, in-keeping with continuity. The billing box is also presented in white, given that the information it gives will not have immediate impact on the audiences.

The tilted title takes up more space on the poster

Impact upon production 

What I like most about this poster is the large focus it has upon the sociability of the characters, and how it uses this as the main feature of the poster. Although I would love to do this, I don’t think it would be possible for my own poster, given that I don’t have a well-known name or characters that my audience will instantly recognise. I do however hope to incorporate into my own poster the friendship of the characters, something which is easily and obviously expressed in the above poster.

Film Poster: The Holiday

The second film poster I thought I’d analyse was that of The Holiday (Meyers, 2006). The most important themes of this film to me are, again, that of romance and comedy. Also however, this is a Christmas film, and I was interested to see how this theme would impact upon the poster, being unsure how ‘Christmassy’ to make my own poster. The Holiday is a romantic comedy film, in which two women (one from the UK and one from the USA) swap homes for Christmas, and how they subsequently fall in love. This therefore means that the idea of Christmas sociability is common in the film, as it would be in my own, and I was interested to see the extent to which this affects the poster. Below is the poster for The Holiday:

Shot Types and Composition

Unlike One Day, this film poster has two main shots. They are both largely similar, and unlike One Day, both are close ups rather than a long shot. The close ups emphasise the expressions of the protagonists, which are important for expressing the genre to the audience. Clearly, these shots are the two most dominant features of this poster, so the genre comes across quickly and efficiently. Other than this, the shot types are very simplistic. For example, there is nothing distracting in the background, whilst there is a brighter, clearer foreground to focus audience attention.

The characters in the shots are compositioned based on gender and nationality. For example, the American woman is cross-sectioned with the British woman and vice versa with the males. The are also compositioned vertically, for example, the British characters occupy the left hand side and the American the right. This allows for audience attention to be spread evenly across the poster.

The contents of the topmost main shot also contains a slight reference to Christmas, in terms of the character’s scarves.

The character composition cross-section of this poster

Overall Composition

The main shots are placed in the topmost and bottom most thirds, allowing the middle third to be occupied by titles and such. The human eye is naturally drawn to the middle third anyway, however its isolation due to the shots emphasises it more. 

The main feature of the composition is that there is a strong equal focus on the four protagonists, and their relationships. This represented by the fact that the faces of the characters take up an equal amount of space on the poster and are by far the most dominant feature.

The background colour chosen is white. Usually used to represent innocence, in this case it more likely used to represent Christmas Admittedly, white is not the most ‘Christmassy’ colour, but it is more subtle. It also makes the black lettering of the title stand out more.

Titles and Fonts

Just like One Day, the font chosen for this poster is serif, similar to the font Georgia. Serif fonts are usually used for several reasons. For example, in formal letters. In this case, it is used in a similar fashion to One Day, in that it is used to represent the romance of the film. 

Again, the biggest title is obviously the title, for the same reason as One Day; the instant information that the audience needs to see is the title and the main messages that can be deciphered from the main shots.

The middle section, containing the titles

The second largest titles are the actor’s names. As well as being typical of film posters, again this acts as an incentive, even more so than One Day, given the extensive works of all four main actors. Interestingly, both females names (Diaz and Winslet) are presented before the males (Law and Black). This is because they are the protagonists, whereas Law and Black better fill the roles of the heroes.

The next largest title is the director’s name. This is interesting because in One Day, Scherfig’s name is only mentioned in the billing box. This shows that Meyers is perhaps better known. This further backed up with the ‘from the diretor of’ line, which mentions two films, emphasising her filmmaking career; audiences are more liekly to want to see a film from a well-known, more experienced director.

The release date is a slight anomalie. Not only is it a different colour than the rest of the titles, but it is not included in the middle section, where the rest of the titles are. This is for several reasons. Firstly, similarly to One Day, it draws the audience’s attention across the whole poster. Furthermore, the release date is simply ‘December’, implying that this is possibly a teaser poster; this would certainly explain it’s simplicity. The word ‘December’ also has the obvious connotation of Christmas.

The billing box and release date title have a different coloured font, to coincide with the above white theme

As far as letter colouirng is concerned, nothing daring has been tried. There is simple white on black for the main titles, whereas the billing box and release date are white overlaying one of the main shots. A lack of bright, overbearing colours implies that the target audience for the film is adults. This would certainly be true, given its theme.

Impact upon my production

I think the main idea I am hoping to take away from this poster is its focus upon the characters. Obviously the lives and interactions between the characters are pretty much the main feature of my production, and I want this to come across in my film poster. I will definitely consider making simply the faces and expressions of my characters the main focus of my poster.

Film Poster: One Day

Part of our specification for this Media Studies unit is to create a film poster for our production. This is why I intend to research film posters for films similar to my own, in the hope that I can pick up some ideas to improve my own poster.

The first film poster I thought I’d analyse was that of One Day (2011, Scherfig). I have mentioned this film before, as it is the main inspiration for my own concept. One Day follows the lives of two people over twenty years, visiting them on 15th July from 1988 to 2008, as their semi-platonic love for one another grows and changes. It is this main aspect/theme which I plan to focus in on. Furthermore, One Day can be classified in the genres of romance, drama and comedy, all of which I hope to incorporate into my own production to different extents. Below is the One Day film poster:

Shot Types and Composition

Only one shot is used on the poster, showing the protagonist couple kissing. This is a long shot, showing both characters in their entirety. This is reflective of how the characters are presented in the film; nothing about them is hidden as we are following their lives. The two are also locked in a passionate embrace, highlighting the genre of the film.

As far as composition is concerned, the shot is quite simplistic. For example, in the rule of thirds, both characters are occupying the middle vertical third. The audience’s attention is drawn to the top middle third, as this is where the character’s faces (and therefore, their expressions) and hands can be found. The characters are the only subjects that can be found in the foreground, causing more audience attention to be drawn there. There is nothing distracting in the background, and this keeps audience focus.

The alternate portrait poster. It shows the shot in it's entirety

Effects

The most obvious effect used in the main shot is that of sepia-tone colouring. This adds a slightly retro look, and tells the audience that this is not the typical processed RomCom from Hollywood. It is more traditional and focuses upon the romance. This traditional image is supported by the characters actions, as they are stood kissing á la a romance film from the 1930s or 40s.

Perhaps the most interesting effect used on the photo is the way it is divided, to give the impression of twenty (one for each year covered) small photographs, compiled to make a large one. This informs the audience of the general concept of the film, as well as adding a unique and memorable twist to the main shot.

The divided effect

Another obvious effect is that of blurring, used in the background of the main shot so as not to distract from the foreground action.

Overall Composition

The film poster is arranged in a landscape format, with the main shot occupying the left, and the official information (title, credits, billing box, and so on) occupying the right. In most cultures, it is most typical for people to read a poster from the left to the right, just like lines in a book. The above composition forces the audience to look at the main shot first, and process all the messages and implications it gives, before reading any information that can confirm these messages.

On the right side, information is presented quite spaciously. Indeed, in the rule of thirds, nothing is occupying the middle right third. Again, this adds to the retro effect of the poster overall, and gives it an old fashioned feel. This is complimented by the cream background which occupies a majority of the poster itself.

The right middle third, which is largely unoccupied

Titles and Font

All titles (other than the billing box) are presented in the same serif font, similar to that of Times New Roman, only a little softer. Obviously the biggest title is the title of the film itself. Other than the main shot, this is the most attention attracting feature. This is for good reason, as obviously the main shot and title are the most important and basic aspects of film posters.

The second largest titles are that of the actor’s names. This is quite common in film posters, as often if a film does not appeal to a certain audience, this audience could be drawn in based simply on the actors used. This could be the case here, given Hathaway’s fairly extensive past works.

Actors names are used as an incentive

The next largest title is the release date. This had been placed at the bottom right hand corner of the poster for different reasons. For example, logically, this is the last place the human eye will be drawn to, an the release date is often the last thing that needs to be presented to the audience; they need to be convinced to see the film first, and a release date does not make a good persuasive tool. Furthermore, it’s colour draws the eye across the whole poster. If it were placed above the billing box, the entire bottom right corner would be likely ignored.

The release date draws audience attention across the poster

The final titles are the tag-line and incentives ‘Based on the International #1 Bestseller‘ and ‘From the director of ‘An Education”. Tag-lines are typically small on film posters as they tend to be quite vague; they don’t tell enough information to act as a persuasive tool. The incentives work to the same effect as the actor’s names; if the actual film does not appeal to you, having read the book or seen other films by the same director may do.

An important aspect of the titles is the colouring. There are only two colours used, reflective of the number of protagonists. There doesn’t seem to be any particular prioritisation of the colouring; one particular colour does not represent more important information, for example. This again, could be reflective of the characters; there is an equal balance of their use. Also, the colours are neither bold nor garish, and add to the retro appeal.

The title is the largest title. Also, only two colours are used

Impact upon my production

I have rough ideas in my head for a film poster, and most of them are in the landscape format, which is why I chose the landscape version of this poster. The idea of photos within the shot to present he characters is quite appealing. I like the way it adds another layer between the relationship of the audience and the characters. Furthermore, it ‘humanises’ the characters more; they seem more realistic if photos of them exist.

I also love the way the font is reflective of the genre and themes of the film. I would love to be able to incorporate that into my own film.

It’s All in the Timing…

I thought I would finally decide upon the timescale of my production, seeing as up to this point, I have mostly just said that certain things will happen around certain years. I’ve come up with a sort of ‘schedule’, which shows what each character will be doing in each year. I should be able to base my script around this.

 

The timings of each event in my film

 

The first year will simply an introduction to all the characters. My only aim for this year is for all characters to be well established, including attitudes and hopes for the future. This will set the equilibrium. Until the final year, each of the character’s main events will happen each year. This will allow me to show them drifting apart. Obviously the main event in the final year will be the argument. In the above table, where there are gaps, this will be where the corresponding character is reacting to the main event. Obviously the majority of this will be clearer once my script is written.

The Third and Final Character!

After conducting my audience resarch, I have made a final decision upon the final protagonist in my film. Read on…

Character Three: Miranda

The main idea for Miranda came from my target audience, who suggested that a good third character would be someone who was focussed on their career. Although originally this was a main trait for Louise, I figure I could split this character to make two: one who is focussed on her career and one who experiences unrequited love and covers it with her career. I also think that seeing as nothing devastating happens to Miranda, she can be the middle ground for both Lousie and Ellen, and a character who the audience can relate to well.

Main inspiration: I said I would find an already existing counterpart for my characters to be loosely based on, so I wouldn’t lose my way when coming up with their characterisation. Miranda would be based on the character Miranda Hobbes, from HBO’s Sex and the City. The main character traits I hope to emulate would be Miranda’s sarcastic attitude to life, her devotion to her career and her loyalty to her firends, although obviouslyt this would breakdown slowly throughout my film.

The third character would be based on Sex and the City's Miranda Hobbes

 Age: 17-21

Occupation: In Sex and the City, Miranda Hobbes is a successful lawyer. Whilst I would love to have this as the career of my Miranda, I think it would be highly implausible, given the short time space of five years and her age. Instead I thought my Miranda could have a career in public relations. This is obviously a field which requires a lot of devotion and hardwork but is also quite flexible, and for Miranda to have gotten a small job in public relations and worked her way up a little in five years is more believable than the lawyer idea. So as to avoid complications, very little would be revealed about how Miranda fell into public relations, and hopefully by around the third Chritmas, the audience will accept it as the status quo. However, in my own mind, again I imagine Miranda to have gotten her original job through friends and family connections, but this will never be outwardly revealed.

Main trait or event which causes her to split from the other characters: Miranda’s career would be the main event which causes her to split away from the others. I imagine her to gain a well-respected promotion within possibly the third or fourth year. However, by this point, Ellen would have had her baby, and Louise would be struggling with her issues, so their interests will be divulging and Miranda will perhaps feel annoyed that her ‘best friends’ cannot be happy for her, or at least cannot express it fully. Given her fiery attitude, I imagine the final argument would mostly be between her and Louise, who also has a fiery side.

Apparent characterisation issue so far: I think there are still a few minor errors with Miranda. For example,even though I said I would try to make her job and vague and simple as possible, her age still makes it seem quite implausible. I also worry that my film will not really focus upon Miranda until around the third Christmas when she receives her promotion. Furthermore, the evnt which causes her to split away is not exactly disastrous or scandalous. I think that both of these things will make her quite a boring character, and I’m really aiming for quite an even focus on all three characters. I think these problems are quite easy to fix, or at least disguise, however. For example, in the first few Christmases, Miranda could have more dialogue than the other characters so she is not forgotten, and her true character can be revealed at the end, during the argument. As for her career, how she got into it shall not be specified, but this does not mean that she cannot talk about it in the present tense, and shouldn’t stop me from presenting her to the audience as a devoted careerwoman.

The following is a video showing an argument between Miranda Hobbes and fellow Sex and the City character Carrie Bradshaw. I think it shows the attitude of Miranda Hobbes quite well, as well as acting as inspiration for the final argument in my video:

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