Archive for the ‘Pre-Production Research’ Category

Titles and Poster Poll Results

I have decided to collate the results of both polls conducted last week now, so that there is plenty of time to organise how they will impact upon my production. I would like to get as much work which does not concern the actual footage done as possible, so that I have more time for the lengthy process of editing.

Poster Poll

The results of the poster poll

The results show that my audience much prefer Design One to Design Two of my poster ideas. Whilst looking over my designs, I was afraid that due to a lack of colour, Design Two was not clear enough, giving Design One an unfair advantage. Nevertheless, given the huge result that Design One received, it was unlikely that a small change in design would have made much difference. Now that design One has been chosen, my primary concern is making it look as sophisticated as possible, as well as achieving perfect lighting and composition.

Title Poll

The title poll results

There is a slight issue with this poll in that it received only nine votes, as opposed to the ten that the poster poll received. Unfortunately, as this is an anonymous poll, I cannot chase down the one person who did not vote on both polls. However, clearly the results show that even if this one person had voted, the results would stay relatively unchanged. I personally would have chosen the Santa’s Sleigh font, however, clearly my audience do not agree. I have decided that I’ll go with their choice, seeing as I have little reason to not to. Since deciding on this font, I have seen many other positives with it. I especially love the way that it perfectly reflects both the slightly ominous feeling as well as a traditional Christmas feeling.



Whilst I wait to hear back from the Scandinavia Coffee House, an aspect I have decided to focus upon is my titles. I figure that these are going to be the most important aspect of my intro and, as Maria von Trapp did once sing, the beginning is a very good place to start.


When I initially condsidered my titles, I thought that choosing a Christmas theme would be a blessing, as it meant I would be able to easily narrow my searches and focus on fonts and designs with a ‘Christmassy’ theme. However, the more that I considered it, the more I realised that on the whole, most Christmas film producers do not choose an obviously ‘Christmassy’ themed font for the titles of their films, and that this is in fact a very old choice. Some example are displayed below.

The titles for 'The Holiday' are spectacularly un-Christmassy. They are simple, black and serif, which leads them to be open to representing a variety of themes

Other than the gold and green colouring, the titles for 'Bad Santa' are even more simplistic than 'The Holiday', with it's sans serif design adn slight curved effect being it's only other notable features.

The same applies to 'The Polar Express'. Without the snowy background, these titles are not obviously from a Christmas film. Take away the gold colouirng and they become completely generic.

The general consensus seems to be that Christmas film titles should be neither obviously nor outrageaously ‘Christmassy’. Rather, the title should reflect the wider theems associted with the film. For example, The Holiday‘s titles reflect Christmas and sophistication.

Impact upon Production

This means that wehn it comes to selecting soem fonts to put up for audience opinion, I think I may try to choose some fonts which reflect the wider themes of my film. For example, because my film explores he darker elements of Christmas, perhaps a more serious serif font is in order. On the other hand, I may want to lure my audience into thinking that my film is a typical, happy Christmas film, and may therefore try to choose a softer font. Below are some of the options I am considering.  I have sourced the fonts from, a website offering free downloads of fonts.  

These fonts are sourced from

Santa’s Sleigh font 

This is personally my favourite font, and the one I would choose if I were making this production on my own views alone. The main reason for this is that I feel it has a good combination of the ‘Christmassy’ themes as well as not being too overbearing. It is open to other themes, and whilst it does not directly apply to the themes of female sociability and isolation, it doesn’t oppose these ideas, therefore making it suitable:

The Santa's Sleigh font

St. Nicholas font

This is my second favourite font, for the same reasons as before. It is ‘Christmassy’ enough to be appropriate but is open to other themes. I also like that it’s not too overbearing, unlike other Christmas fonts. My largest criticism is that it is quite old-fashioned, meaning it would be more appropriate for a film featuring traditional Christmas themes, such as A Christmas Carol. Given that my film is supposed to be  modern, I’m not sure that this font would be the best choice. Nevertheless, it is still suitable for the aforementioned reasons.

The St. Nicholas font

Handwriting Dakota font

This font is not particularly ‘Christmassy’, but I think it could be described as seasonal. I was using this font when I was editing my rough footage as replacement for the undecided font, however, I then decided that I actually quite like it and thought it was quite suitable. I think it is open to all my themes and can therefore be applied. This font is also suitable for my target audience

The Handwriting Dakota font

Next Steps

These fonts will have to be put up for audience criticism in order to choose the most suitable option.

The Sound and Music

So far with this coursework, sound is still an aspect which has pretty much taken a back seat, simply because I have very few resources at my hand to produce my own music. However, I have decided to take the initiative and find a way to come up with my own music. Most of this initiative was largely experimentational, which is why I was yet to make a post about it. Below are the stages I am going through in researching and producing sound for my production.


  • I started off with fairly basic research. This mostly consisted of listening carefully to popular Christmas songs, and the versions of them without lyrics in order to build up a vague structure in my mind as to how Christmas music is constructed.
  • I then moved onto more specific research. I trawled various copyright-free music websites in order to find out how modern producers were making Christmas songs. This is because I felt that many popular Christmas songs are out of date, and by listenging to amateur songs, I could allow for a for contemporary viewpoint that could infulence my own work.

MP3 Unsinged is an example of website used to research contemporary examples of Christmas music.

  • I also listened briefly to the music found on Christmas movies. Not so much to listen to the structure, but just to see how it interacted with on-screen action.

Below are some examples of the types of Christmas music and movie scenes I listened to, and what I was able to obtain from each of them:

When it came to Christmas songs, I looked to the list of Christmas songs that are played most annually in the Uk, to try and deduce from them if there are any elements which appeal to younger audiences (such as my target audience) in particular, or simply to see if the themes and ideas of Christmas are the most essential part of  a Christmas songs popularity. Belwo are the two most popular Christmas songs in the UK:

It can generally be said that both of these songs, although suitable for all ages, are aimed at youth. For example, both Mariah Carey and the members of Wham! are young in these videos, reflecting their audience. Furthermore, the content of the videos is also for younger audiences. Mariah Carey takes part in numerous child-like actives in her video, from sledging to snowball fights to sitting on Santa’s knee. The members of Wham! and the other actors in the video are all relatively young, and at an age when it is most acceptable to holiday with friends as opposed to family, reflecting a youth ideal.

The two most dominant themes of the songs are love and Christmas, although the type of love varies with each song. Much modern youth culture, especially that aimed at girls, involves a heavily romanticised idea of romance. An interesting aspect of Carey’s song is the idea of interplay between the concept of gift giving and the desire to start a romance, comparing them under the umbrella of ‘Christmas’. I enjoy this idea the most, as I think it would be particularly appealing to my audience.

It was more difficult to find aspects of ‘Last Christmas’ which would directly appeal to my audience. Whilst generally it is a highly popular and suitable song, I felt that the pace of the song and the instruments used would not be typical of muisc found in a Christmas film aimed at a younger audience. Carey’s piece is more rock-inspired, something I think I am more inclined to consider for my own piece.

Looking at Christmas scenes from films was also really important to me, so that I could understand the subtlety in which music is used to create an effect. This is especially true of Christmas, where something as simple of the sound of bells can be used to imply the theme.




I always figured that I would have to find someone with more musical talent and means of production than myself, so any of my own production was purely experimental. I used any software available to me, but most notable would be GarageBand. 

GarageBand was my primary software for experimental production

  • I mostly just played around with various sound structures which I thought sounded ‘Christmassy’.
  • Unfortunately, for this effect to be achieved, often I would have to involve a lot of sound effects, or the same sounds.
  • As a result, most of what I produced only sounded cheesy or horrifically amateur, only leading me to confirm that I would have to enquire into help from the outside.

Calling for help

In order to find help from the outisde, I asked the most musical person who is personally close to me, my friend and fellow Media Studies student Susannah Bradley. I was aware that both her older brother and sister had once been in their own bands and Susannah herself has extnsiv musical knowledge, leading me to believe thaty she would be my best bet. She informed me that her sister had recorded her own Christmas Song a few years ago, adn that asking for her help would be the most sensible and plausible option. She doesn’t live with Susannah, meaning anything we could produce would have to be completed upon her next visit, which is apparently soon.

Next Steps

I think the best thing to do will be to enquire with Susannah’s sister, Sasha, and see what can be produced in the time available. If it is possible to tweak and re-record a version similar to Sasha’s original, I think this would be more than suitable. The key will be to ensure that the music produced is suitable for my audience and the overall tone of the film. Given the short space of time, I am as yet unsure if there will be a chance to put this aspect up for modification according to audience opinion.

A Change of Location

One of my biggest concerns with the idea of a re-film is my location. I feel lie I have already been of a great burden to the cafe I am filming in, and do not want to push my luck. This is is why I intend to research into other locations I can use. If worse comes to worse, and I am not allowed to film in any of these locations, I will return to the Lounge with my tail between my legs and beg them to let me film again. Below is the prime location I am now considering:

Scandinavia Coffee House

Scandinavia Coffee House


  • A plausible setting – it is likely my characters would meet here
  • Will already have all necessary features of a cafe
  • Providing the correct table could be found, thw windows provide a view of the local abbey, which is decorated around Christmas time. This, combined with the fact that I may have to film in the evening will create a very ‘Christmassy’ feel

    The View from the coffee house


  • I may not be allowed to film there, or if I am, may notbe able to over a period of time.
  • Given that I may be filming in the evening, there may not be sufficient lighting

Next Steps

Whilst I would like to be able to come up with new plans, a production schedule and risk assessment, obviously I cannot make any more moves regarding the re-film until this cafe has given me the go-ahead. This means that for the time being, I will have to focus on other aspects of the course, such as the ancillary task, my film’s titles, sound and any last minute changes to pre-production aspects such as the script. I also intend to play around with my current footage to see if any of it is salvagable so that as little re-filming as possible can be done.

The Before Sunrise Effect

Research and idea development still play a huge role throughout even the pre-production phase, as ideas can always be changed, even at last minute if necessary. My most recent bout of researching brought me across two films which I believe will influence me greatly. These are Before Sunrise and it’s sequel Before Sunset

Before Sunrise tells the story of two strangers who meet on a train whilst travelling across Europe. Deciding to spend the day together, the two soon develop a profound frienship which leads them to spend a wonderful evening together in Viennna. Before Sunset tells the stary of the two nine years later, when they meet up for what is only the second time, to decide if they truly belong together.

Before Sunrise... not just your average romcom

Unless that synopsis made it unclear, romance is a dominant genre within the film, whilst the themes of friendship, sociability and (taking both films into account) change over time play a key role. Obviously these themes are all important to my own production.

After watching the films, I discovered that director Linklater adds quite an interesting layer to the simple romantic plotline. It is quite a quirky idea, that two people can become almost soulmates within only hours of meeting is quite implausible, like my own idea. I love the way Linklater presents the narrative. It is almost dreamy, as if it never really happened like a fantasy. Whilst I think this works well for the Before duo, I’m not sure it would for mine, given that I want my characters to be as relatable as possible to my target audience.

Nevertheless, genre and direction are not the only things I intend to take away from Before. The way in which conversations are filmed is exactly the effect I was hoping for within my own film. There is a heavy use of over-the-shoulder shots, which also create a strong focus upon the characters. Some good examples of this can be found below in the Before Sunset trailer. If I could replicate the cinematographic effects in the Before series, then my desired effect will be achieved.

The cinematography of the Before series intrigues me greatly

This is the trailer for Before Sunset, which should show all the aspects discussed above:

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.

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