Produce a trailer to a thriller movie, aiming at certificates for either 15’s or 18’s
The task we have all been set is to produce a trailer to a thriller movie, aiming at certificates for either 15’s or 18’s. Anyone who chooses to aim at the 15-age limit is obviously more restricted as to the type of material they can include than someone who chose to do an 18. This is one of the many elements worth considering when producing the trailer. We have chosen to aim for the 18 certificate.
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The next step was to view previous trailers for thriller movies that have been done by either famous directors or that have been done by local sixth form students as part of their coursework. We watched classics such as Silence of the Lambs, Jaws and one of the all time favourites – Psycho. The purpose of this is to gain some insight into what works and what doesn’t work when making a trailer. I managed to gain an understanding into the type of music that works as well as all the various camera angles and transitions. Watching the Jaws trailer made me realise how dramatic, eerie music can create a tension so deep that the audience physically sit on the edge of their seat. Psycho also made me appreciate how black and white film can add mood and feeling to a piece of film, as well as the importance of “mise en scene”.
It is hard to believe the age of the film, as even by today’s standards it is still a fantastic piece of work. What I also learnt from Psycho was that as long as you are shooting in black and white, you can get away with using almost anything as fake blood. Any liquid with a dark tinge to it would do the trick, maybe even something like Worcestershire Sauce would do! In my thriller movie, I hope to create a piece of work that impresses in all areas, from choice of music, through editing, to mise en scene. This is something I am very interested in, and I am not prepared to miss such a worthwhile opportunity.
The Plot of our film
Our story will centre mostly around two people. These being a mother and a young daughter. The opening shots will be establishing shots of a beach, and soon the camera will focus in on the mother and daughter playing merrily on the sands. It will become apparent that these two are indeed very close to each other, and that there is also a lot of love between them. However every now and then there will be a shot from behind of a person watching them. From the angle the shots will be taken at, it will become apparent that this “stranger” or “stalker” is focusing on the mother and daughter. As time passes, the mother and daughter decide to walk home as the evening is drawing in. however the stalker has followed them home and is watching their every move. The mother and daughter eventually go to bed. However, the young girl soon finds that she has difficulty sleeping due to the sound of what she thinks is a dripping tap. She goes downstairs and turns off the tap, but then can still hear dripping. She turns on the light and her mother is dead on the kitchen table. The dripping noise is the sound of her blood falling on the floor.
Strangely enough, none of the ideas that I have had for this project have derived from previous thrillers that I may have seen. Although I was impressed with the trailers I did see, both famous and local, I am not a large fan of thrillers, and I am pleased to say that none of my ideas have been taken from any movie, whether it be famous or done by an amateur. I am not trying to copy or emulate any film or any style of film within this project. This is partly why I am very excited and anxious to start filming.
Types of shot, sound and titles
The end product will have many different types of shot and transitions. However, not all of them can be planned. The various angles that the shots will be taken at will probably be decided on the day so we can see what works best.
However, for the opening to the thriller, there will be shots of a beach taken from different angles, that will all dissolve into each other, before dissolving into a panning shot of the beach, followed by the close ups of the mother and daughter. This will help to establish a mood and set the scene.
We have already chosen our music. It comes from an album that I bought three years ago, called “Chilled Out Euphoria”. One of the tracks is very moody and will give the film the slightly dark, sad and eerie mood it deserves. There will be diegetic sound introduced when the girl hears the dripping tap and also if she screams when she finds her mum dead.
As for the titles, I think they will be appearing in between the opening shots of the beach. I.e. Shot of beach, followed by fade into 1st title. Then 2nd shot of the beach followed by another fade into the next title.
This was the part I was most looking forward to – actually capturing the required footage. I used a Sony HandyCam as well as a tripod to do my filming. The Sony HandyCam is a very lightweight, small yet incredibly technologically advanced. It can be operated by touching various parts of the fold out screen, which make it not only easy to use, but also fun.
The tripod is a vital tool when doing any kind of filming. Nothing appears worse than a shot which contains lots of unnecessary camera movement, it appears unprofessional and is a clear sign of not thinking through what is needed in the shot. It allows a steady movement of the camera at a constant speed, so the focus of attention from the audience is always on the “mise en scene” rather than the poor quality of the filming. The tripod – simply don’t leave home without it.
By the time it came around to shooting the footage, we had come across a very big problem. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a mother and daughter who were not camera shy. Even after much persuasion, they were all still reluctant to be filmed. So instead, I asked my good friend Tom Sherwill if he and his girlfriend Nicole would play the leading roles in my thriller. It would be the same story line as planned; only Tom would be the one who walks into the kitchen to find his girlfriend dead on a table. After much thought, I also realised that this would make it a lot easier for the audience to relate to, seen as the people who I expect would watch it would be around the 18+ mark, and therefore probably involved in relationships of their own.
After finally sorting out the cast, Tom, Nicole, Jeremy Creed (who is to play the stalker), and I piled into Tom’s car and headed for Vazon bay, a very picturesque and tranquil beach on the west coast of Guernsey, ideal for the establishing shots.
I took numerous shots of the beach and all its components, i.e. seaweed, waves and wave breakers. I then took many other shots, including ones of the couple kissing, showing their affection for each other and also shots of Jeremy’s lower body with the couple in the background. I managed to gather around 15 minutes of footage, although there was still some filming to be done that had to be done at night at my house.
The following evening, the four of us met at my house with an aim to complete the filming. The shots left to do included ones of Jeremy entering the house, Nicole going for a glass of water and Nicole lying dead on the table with fake blood around her. This was a lot of fun, and I managed to obtain everything I needed to begin the editing process the following week…
The editing process was a much more time consuming process than I first anticipated. After transferring all the footage to the computer, I then had to familiarise myself with the Adobe Premiere Version 6.0 editing software. The first thing I had to do was actually separate the entire film up into the little clips of footage that could be used with greater ease and efficiency. This in total took about 2 hours, but would prove to be beneficial in the long run. I used the Razor tool for this and copied and pasted the clips into various folders called “bins”. These folders were named i.e. “Beach Shots”, in order to make the process of finding a clip easier.
The sound track was then imported and placed in the Audio section of the editing program. At first, I followed my story board very precisely, but as the editing progressed, I realised that there were some things that were going to be extremely complicated, which then resulted in me having to resort to a plan B.
One function which I used frequently in the beginning of my piece was the dissolving of a shot into another shot. I also slowed most of the beach shots down to emphasise the love between the two individuals and to also give the feeling that every second they spend together is cherished.
Titles were created using the Adobe Premiere program, and used in between many of the establishing beach shots. This helped to break the piece up and allow the audience to have more time to take in just what is happening.
The music also goes very well with the footage, and is very emotional. As it was taken from a Euphoria album, every song fades into the next. I managed to time it to perfection so that when Tom walks in and sees Nicole dead on the table, the next song, which involves a heavier rhythm and direction, kicks in, which also adds great effect to the shots of Nicole smeared in blood.
At the last minute, I had the idea of putting shots of the couple kissing over the shots of Nicole lying dead with blood on her face. I did this well and was amazed at the emotion that is created just from this simple editing technique. I then chose to round it off by having the title flicker before remaining on the screen for a few seconds. This simply adds a scary, yet dramatic feel to the title.
Finally, I placed the credits at the end, but changed the audio track to a calmer, yet somewhat spooky soundtrack, also taken from the Euphoria album. This was merely a nice way of rounding off the piece and bringing it to a definite conclusion.
This project has been a tremendous success. The amount of time that has gone into it has proved worthwhile, as I am way more pleased with the final outcome than I ever thought I would be.
I was suitably satisfied with my use of mise en scene. I paid close attention to the Rule of Thirds, which states that placing your subject off center gives a more visually appealing shot, and also makes good use of the entire frame, instead of just centering the subject every time.
I believe that my different choice of music gives a similar effect to the music that is used in “Jaws” and “Psycho”. The moody and moving music contrasts well to the shots of the couple merrily walking along the beach, this makes us feel at unease and as if something is not quite right, something that the couple are clearly completely oblivious to. This is also present in the afore mentioned thrillers. For example in “Jaws”, when the young girl is happily swimming in the sea, the eerie music kicks in, and whilst she is still smiling and enjoying her swim, the audience know that something is not right, and suspects something to go wrong.
Something that is also similar to the movie “Jaws” is the graphic nature of the death scene where Nicole is lying dead on the table with blood around her. In the movie Jaws, the blood from the victims is a major focus in the scenes, much like the way it is in the ending of my trailer.
So whilst my movie is original in its music content and storyline, it still shares some of the typical codes and conventions that are common in many thrillers.
Something that has also made this project a success was the enjoyment I had whilst creating the entire piece, from the filming to the editing, and all the bits in between. It was a lot of fun and a very memorable experience.
However, next time and indeed in future pieces, I hope to receive a little more input from members of my group. Often I felt like the workload was being left to myself, and whilst I have no objections to working hard, it seemed as if I was doing way more than my fair share of the work. However, there was an advantage to this, as it meant that my ideas played more of a part in the final piece, and that compromising with group members was not really a factor. However, this was my only complaint.
I am pleased that I was unable to find a mother and daughter who didn’t mind being filmed, as it eventually worked in my favour. Not only were my cast easier to work with, but also the audience are also able to relate to them more than a mother and child.
But the thing that pleases me the most is my choice of music. Whilst many opted for the more obvious choice of heavy metal, I stuck with a more subtle, calmer yet more effective piece of music, which builds and builds the whole way through until all is revealed in the final death scene.
I hope to work on more film projects in the future and look forwards to it with much anticipation.