Audience research – Focus Group

In order to conduct a focus group i needed people to chat to, and so i gathered some of my friends together and outlined the genre, theme and idea of the opening sequence of my film to the group. In response i asked the focus group for both the good and bad aspects of the idea, and for any constructive criticism or improvements they had.

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This is my focus group, it consisted of 5 people which were Guy Locke, Macaulay Harrison, Toby Woodroffe, Ben Walker and Ben smith (from left to right) age range = 16 – 17

I received both good and bad responses from the group, most of the group said that the idea was good and that the narrative was clear and easily understandable. Some argued that although the narrative was clear, it was too much to squeeze into 2 minutes and could consequently become confusing or rushed. Similalry, the films very special effects heavy which is good at establishing the genre as a futuristic, science fiction, action film making its genre and theme readily available to the audience. However, because the film is so effects heavy it may come off as strange or poorly edited if the effects aren’t excited perfectly, also too much use of special effects can make the filming very confusing once again leading to poor editing.

“If its going to be an action/ sci-fi film then it needs to be easily identifiable as an action film, so all the things you need to see in big hollywood films need to be replicated to the best of your ability”

However the conclusion of the group was that if the film was properly excited, i.e. the filming was good, the editing matched what was going on in the scene and the mood that had been created, the story wasn’t too wild etc. then the opening sequence would be very effective. I also found that the film would have to be (preferably) visually pleasing, lots of 80’s relevant effects should be incorporated like the VHS static on old 80’s films.

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Analysis of the mise en scene in the arrival scene in Back to the Future Part II

I will be analysing the mise en scene used arrival clip form Back to the Future part 2, and evaluating its effectiveness at establishing genre and over themes.

The scene opens with a tracking shot of a distressed Marty McFly as he stumbles out of the long dark tunnel and in to the year 2015. This long establishing shot shows all the various differences that have occurred to Hilldale over the past 30 years. It also shows how technology has advanced and has produced a new civilisation in which there are flying cars, flying skateboards and the weather can be measured accurately. With in this shot we see 3 main things, firstly the people. They are all dressed in a relatively 80’s style, with a few slight differences i.e. the clothes are brighter, bolder and more revealing. Secondly the  architecture has changed to become more futuristic, this evident from when a giant white set of writing painted on the road says “NO LANDING” another feature of the futuristic society. And finally the traffic, the traffic has upgraded and has become airborne, this is a typical code/convention of a science fiction film as it shows futuristic technology.
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Following this is an over the shoulder shot as a car comes in to land, at this moment we get a proper view of Marty’s attire, he’s wearing a multi colour hat and a red and grey jacket which has a rubbery texture and interesting slits in the joints.Following this is another sample of how technology has advanced in the past 30 years, as a gigantic 3D charm appears to pop out of the roof of the cinema and attempts to attack our protagonist. This piece of mise en scene is critical as it shows once again like other films i have analysed (Robo-Cop, Blade Runner, Running Man) that advertisement is key in the future, its the corporations way of controlling society. Also the architecture of the building is very futuristic as it employs lots of curves and is a general interesting design, a representation of how the future differs from contemporary society.

In conclusion i found the mise en scene used in this short clip from back to the future to be extremely interesting and very effective, the long establishing shot opens the audience up to an idea of what the future could possibly be like, also other aspects such as thew costume design make the future more interesting and colourful, it also establishes genre and the futuristic theme of the film.

Analysis of the Gas station scene in Robo-Cop 1987

The scene opens with medium shot of a thug dressed in a leather jacket, smoking a cigarette and holding a gun, as he attempts to scare and intimidate a college student. Enter our protagonist Robo-Cop who pulls up in a police vehicle. This scenario shows the survival of the fittest hierarchy in this dystopian future. Folloing this is a low angle shot pointing up at Robo-Cop as he walks toward the thug, the thug backs away as the two exchange a few lines of conversation. Suddenly the thug begins to fire at Robo-Cop causing one of the fuel pumps to become detached and consequently spray fuel everywhere. All the while Robo-Cop is stood motionlessly as he relays the footage on digital recorder implanted into his suit, this high tech piece of equipment ties in with the recurring theme of digital advancements in the near future as high tech machinery has been invented, this is a code/convention of futuristic sic-fi films.

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The scene continues as the thug speeds off on his futuristic and high tech motor bike, prior to this the thug had thrown his cigarette into the fuel causing it to catch alight and destroy the gas station. out of the flames we get a long shot of Robo-Cop emerging from the fiery inferno as he persists to shoot at the bike hitting the engine and the wheel, this leads to a lot of shaky close ups of the thug and the bike as we see the bike spark and begin to fall apart and the thug desperately trying to control the bike. We are then faced with three shots, the first is a close up shot of the bike and the thug going straight into a car head on causing the thug to go straight over the car, the second shot is a close up as the thug hits the floor and rolls out of farm and the final shot is a long shot as the thugs slides along the floor to an immediate stop.

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The scene concludes as Robo-Cop catches up with the bruised and beaten thug to question him, in conclusion i find that this scene is effective as it establishes a range of science fiction codes and conventions whilst also establishing genre and theme but its also effective through its camera angles, framing and use of movements.

 

 

 

Analysis of the mise en scene in Blade Runner 1982

This film is based in the future and must therefore make this apparent to the audience without being to obvious, one way in which this can be achieved is the mise en scene used. This film is especially rich in its use of colourful backdrops and futuristic themes. I will be analysing the mise en scene in the short scene from Blade Runner, aptly named “Retiring Zhora”

The scene opens with a close up of our protagonist stood in the rain as he scans through a busy crowd. He quickly jumps down after locating something, as the camera pans down we get a glimpse of the background, in it are lots of bright neon signs with Chinese writing on them as well as other big corporate brands advertising their logos all over the place, the most obvious is Atari as a huge sign appears in the background a little later on. This is typical of a futuristic, dystopian sci-fi film as in most (robo-cop, running man e.t.c) big companies tend to own/govern/run the world or at least large sections of it so these advertisements are a way of the companies reinforcing their authority. The film also uses the colour blue as the backdrop for most scenes, its a clever way of creating mood, naturally blue is matched with sadness which is a recurring theme throughout the film, this mood is further amplified by the characters and the story in the film, the constant flow of rain which is a direct result of the pollution also contributes to the theme of sadness as our world slowly dies.

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The film continues as we find our protagonist chasing a young women, the women is wearing provocative clothing, black pants and a matching top, over this is a see through water proof coat this costume prop is a typical feature of science fiction films as fashion in the future is supposedly similar to the year the film was made in this case the 80’s, but it differs in one key aspect which in this case is that its see through. Following this is a slow motion scene as the women goes crashing, desperately through pains of glass as she is shot at by our protagonist. The composition of the frame in this scene is very interesting, once again the neon lights have been used as they are reflected onto the glass, they disappear when the women goes crashing through them creating a shattering effect on the sign. This scene constructs a very futuristic theme through its effective use of mise en scene, the careful placement of futuristic props like the neon signs combined with the clothing used for both the protagonist, the woman and the large crowds creates an interesting setting of the dystopian future.

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In conclusion i found that this films effective use of mise en scene constructed a very effective dystopian future that was easily recognisable and relatable to our society but it still possessed that one big difference which made it so futuristic.

Analysis of the drive down broadway scene in the film “Escape from New York 1981”

The scene opens with the trio driving around in a rough, kitted up family car. In the background remains the waste of the broken city, including barricades, up-turned cars and general waste. The car navigates its way through and onto broadway. The car in this establishing shot is a point of interest, it is symbol of the destruction of the city and the corruption of modern day to day life, an old family car has been turned into an armoured vehicle as a result of the destruction and downfall of New York city. Following this is a medium shot of the trio in the car diverting down on to broadway, the dialogue that follows is a dispute followed by a question, the two in the back argue wether diverting onto broadway is a good idea or not, then the protagonist and driver asks “whats wrong with broadway?” this question is swiftly answered when the camera pans from left toe right following the car as it drives down the street, as it reaches the the right it focuses on a severed head on a stick. This visual aid allows the audience to realise and understand why the three were sceptical to go down broadway and it answers the enigma set by the protagonist.

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Following this is a point of view shot. through the barred window of the car, in front of them is what seems to be an angry mob wielding swords, pitchforks and other fiery weapons. The gang begins to attack the car by throwing bricks and other related items at it, the danger grows as they go further and further down the road and consequently deeper and deeper into the gangs territory, this can be seen as the crowd grows and grows and the threat to the car becomes increasingly worse. For the majority of this scene the camera doesn’t leave the car, its either inside or attached to the side of the car, at one point we see flaming arrows have pierced the side of the cars door resembling the threat that the gang holds. This is interesting as it also suggests that the car is solitude and shouldn’t be left in this situation.

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In conclusion i found this scene to be effective because it establishes the sadistic nature of man when its pushed to its limits but it also establishes who is better than others in the scene, not essentially good and bad more better than some.

Analysis of the fight scene in Flash Gordon 1980

I will be analysing the effectiveness of the fight scene form Flash Gordon and ale evaluate its use of codes and conventions of an action film, sic-fi film and of super hero’s.

The fight scene opens with a medium shot of the Hawkman explaining the situation to the audience. Following this is long shot of one of there hawkmans subjects hitting a gong symbolising the start of the battle. After this, the two men begin to battle. our protagonist, flash is pushed nearly over the edge, in this scene a shot paced above flash and shooting down on him shows how the platform they are standing on is hovering over a bright pink cloud which symbolises imminent death to whoever falls off the platform. Its also a visual reminder of the films theme and genre as a science fiction action film.

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The fight scene continues as all the hawk men gather around the platform watching in a coliseum style fashion, this scene uses a variety of shot types, these include close ups of the action and long shots showing the fight in full frame. The scene then takes a turn as flash’s opponent goes for a whip that was thrown onto the platform. Then the film uses an insert medium shot of the hawk man asking for the controller to the platform, this hen cuts to a close up shot of the controller as the hawk man fiddles with it, consequently causing the platform to move putting our protagonist in danger. We then see flash attack his opponent with the whip and consequently disarm his enemy. As his opponent falls the hawk man once agin fiddles with the remote putting our protagonist in even more jeopardy. This time spikes begin to rise out of the plat form.

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As the two fight in even more perilous circumstances, a range of insert shots from the ring side are intercut, flash’s girlfriend screeches out “we have 14 hours left to save the earth” this one line raises the tension of the film, this is further reinforced as flash is pushed to the edge of the platform and closer to imminent doom for him and planet earth. Our protagonist manages to fight back before having his head pushed closer and closer to a spike before lashing out at the enemy flinging him to the end of the platform clothing on for his life. Flash follows codes and conventions of a superhero as he is heroic and his mission is based on his sense of justice and love of man kind. This heroic personality is further shown when flash risks his own life by climbing down the platform to save his opponent from falling into the pink abyss.

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In conclusion i find this action scene to be effective as it uses a range of action codes and conventions in the fight scene whilst also using a variety of shot types that are related to a fight scene, including close up shots of the action. Setting aside the films cheesy acting and theme i find this particular scene to be very effective.

Analysis of the fight scene in Hotline Miami 2 : “Do you like to hurt people?”

In the short fight scene form the video game inspired film Hotline Miami 2, we find ourselves in a drug fuelled club, with a strict gang members only policy. In the background we see stacks of cocaine, classic 80’s technology and bundles of money. These features are all part of mise en scene, and are typical of the stereotypical gang member culture. These aspects of this particular scene are also presented in other 80’s film of the same genre, including scarface as the films theme revolves around drugs, guns, money and violence. This establishing shot sets the scene for the film and allows the audience to understand whats going on. Similarly, it allows the audience to understand who the good and bad guys are.
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Following this is medium shot of of the back of our protagonist, as he stands seemingly invisible watching over the drug crazed degenerates, our protagonist is also masked in a white lion head, and dressed in a tight, blood soaked vest with bandages wrapped around his knuckles. As its only our protagonist thats in focus and the background is blurred our attention is drawn toward the mysterious character suggesting he’s a point of interest. We then cut to a medium close up of another, smartly dressed man wearing a zebra mask, this suggests to the audience that there two characters are linked somehow evident from their masks but also from the separation between the costumes they’re wearing and the costumes that our protagonist and his friend are wearing. All the bad guys/ gang members are dressed in classic white suits a typical icon of the 80’s made famous by Don Johnson in Miami Vice. This separates them from our protagonist. We then proceed to see men tossing cash at a stripper, this could reflect the animalistic nature of humans as represented by the man in the masks.

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The fight kicks off after a long build up, as the scenes become shorter and the music becomes more intense, the protagonist and his companion look at their watches and begin to strike. What follows is an intense scene, the film uses insert shots cutting the protagonist in the main room and the zebra companion in the back room. This scene uses lots of close shots so that the audience is closer to the action whilst also making it look more believable. Following this is a tracking shot, showing both the fights in each room and the carnage that’s occurring.

In conclusion i find the fight scene in this film uses a wide range of action conventions whilst also using interesting camera movements and shots such as the insert shot featured earlier on in the film.

 

 

Analysis of the opening credits to 2001 : a space odyssey

the opening credits effectiveness is down to its ability to establish genre, time and other related features, i will be analysing this opening scene to 2001 : a space odyssey and analysing its effective use of genre specific features.

The film opens with a black screen whilst the faint sound of “Also spruce Zarathustra” composed by Richard Strauss plays in the background. following this is an establishing shot, as a sun possibly not ours, rises over a planet which again may or may not be our own, as the sun rises the tempo of the audio picks up and a great feeling of triumph is created, as its a very powerful piece. Following this is the brand title of “Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents” is brightly shown on the screen, this shows the audience that that MGM is the main production company involved in the making of this production and the film is a result of their involvement hence the use of the word “presents”. The white font in the relatively dark screen makes this piece of text bold and helps it to stand out, it also once again highlights the production companies importance and it wants to make this known to the audience.

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Following this is break in the titles allowing us to once again observe the sun rising over a distant planet. We are then presented with the director involved in the making of the film as it says “A Stanley Kubrick Production” once again the bright white font draws the audiences attention away from the background and toward the writing on the screen. However what separates this title form the first is that its marginally bigger than the first set of words, this suggests to the audience that Stanley Kubricks involvement in the film is much more important than MGM.

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Finally the music reaches its climax as the title of the film is presented on the screen, “2001 : A SPACE ODYSSEY”. Its bigger, bolder and brighter than all of the other text suggesting to the audience that this is the most important part of the title sequence, and is a result of the input from both MGM and Stanley Kubrick, they’re featured below the title where you can see it says “MCMLXVII” and then follows on to say the production company. Also by the time the title of the film has made it to the screen the sun in the background has risen above the planet and is in full vision suggestion that all the build up of this scene was for this title and once again reinforces the idea that this title is the most important part of the opening credits. After this the music draws to a close and the scene fades to black.

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In conclusion i find this title sequence to be very effective as it establishes the films theme and genre by its effective use of planets and the space themed song which resembled triumph and patriotism all added to the films ability to establish theme and genre.

 

Analysis of the opening scene to Blood Dragon – The Cyber War

The effectiveness of this of the opening scene to Blood dragon – the cyber war can be measured on its use of action codes and conventions, ability to establish genre and

The short film opens with a cross fade into a neon pink explosion, this instantly establishes the film as an action film as the explosion is a typical feature of most action films and is also part of the codes and conventions of an action film. After establishing the first half of the films genre, the camera pans down and tracks out/backward as a man (our protagonist), accompanied by some cyborgs, slides in on his belly, a few quick cuts show one of the cyborgs deflecting shots from a laser gun as they whizz by. Following this is a medium close up shot of the protagonist firing back at the supposed enemy. This scene further establishes the films genre as not only an action film but also a science fiction film, as the neon lasers and the cyborg team mates set the theme as a futuristic film which is a typical sci-fi code/convention. Following this is a slow motion shot of severed arm flying through the air with a packet in hand, this slow motion shot resembles the passing of time, whilst also allowing the audience to understand whats flying through the air, the arm resembles the consequence and brutality of war.

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As our protagonist opens the packet he finds two objects a futuristic looking video and a detonator. This section perfectly represents the 80’s perspective of the future, much alike the running man in which telephones still had cords in 2017, this features a world in which the most effective, portable and efficient form of media is still the VHS tape. This scene further establishes the short films genre as sic-fi action from the 80’s. As the film progresses we find ourselves in a large, pot-apocolyptic mansion thats filled with vintage arcade machines thanks to a large camera crane which pans up as it establishes the location of our protagonist and his band of cyborgs. As they cautiously walk through the characters are faced with television with a VCR plugged into it, allowing them to make sense of the objects given to them. The next scene is an animated shot of a cyborg who explains that there is a nuclear bomb hidden in L.A., soon a virus will strike effecting all the cyborgs and will cause them to tear the city apart. In order to prevent this tragedy the nuclear device much be activated. This section of the film establishes the characters purpose and goal it also follows Levi-Strauss’ as he describes narrative as a constant conflict between binary opposites in this case its peace = war.

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Finally the film cuts to a close up shot of the human (protagonist) and the cyborg shaking hands when suddenly all the cyborgs are over come by said virus causing them to become violent, the main cyborg grabs the nuclear detonator out of our protagonist hands and flee’s leaving our protagonist to fight off the others in a bloody battle. As each cyborg is hit by the neon green lasers fired by the protagonist, they each ooze bright red blood, this scene is a reflection of action/sci-fi codes and conventions as it presents futuristic weapons, good guys and bad guys, a cat and mouse chase and finally a new motive. This quickly cuts into a foot chase as the cyborg is chased after by our protagonist, this small scene uses a variety of quick cuts before truly establishing the location of the characters as the futuristic city of L.A. is shown in bright neon lights in the background, an effective way of establishing location and theme/genre.

In conclusion i have found that this opening scene is effective at establishing genre as it uses lots of sic-fi relevant props and bright neon lights to establish its futuristic theme, it also uses futuristic weapons and such to establish action/ sic-fi codes and conventions.

below is a link to the film and a link to the making of feature which goes into detail of how the films was made.

 

I have also featured as side by side clip of the before and after, as i found this film to be very VFX driven, i thought it would be interesting to see what it looked like when its stripped down to the raw footage

Analysis of the opening scene to Kung Fury

The following is an analysis of the hit indie film “Kung Fury”, i will be using the media codes and conventions of an action film to analyse and evaluate the effectiveness of said trailer.

As we draw in on the establishing shot of an apocolyptic Miami in the year 1985, we see various explosions going off in the background and the wail of police sirens echoes in the distance. This is an effective establishing shot as it establishes both year and location whilst also setting the scene for the audience. Following this is a medium shot of 3 youths walking down an alleyway and toward the camera. They are dressed head to toe in stereotypical gang clothing including tattoos, guns and headbands. As a police officer pulls up along side them to confront them about their illegal weapons he is swiftly kicked out of the scene as his car is catapulted into the air and shot at until it explodes. This i an effective way to further represent the lawless streets of Miami in 1985, as it was already touched upon in the establishing shot. This section of the opening scene makes it clear to the audience that the city is corrupt and has fallen prey to thugs and crime, the police force is out numbered and unable to control the lawlessness. After adjusting the audience to the rough environment, the film quickly cuts into a medium shot of man holding a very typical 80’s boom box with an equally as typical neon 80’s ‘arcade’ sign behind him, when suddenly another man enters the farm and shoots the man with the boom box in order to steal said boom box. This is also an effective way of establishing the theme of ‘survival of the fittest’.

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The ‘survival of the fittest’ lifestyle Kung Fury presents in its opening scenes

Following the scene demonstrated above, we draw in on the arcade in the background. inside are two teens, playing on a classic 80’s arcade games when suddenly after being a sore loser one of the teens kicks the machine and consequently prompts it to life to start its bloodthirsty rampage. After blowing up the head of the teen, the machine bursts through the roof in a big explosion. This particular scene presents a range of action codes, including futuristic machines, explosions, goodies and baddies and a mission waiting to be completed. Which is when our protagonist is introduced. Enter Kung Fury! the long shot/establishing shot of Kung Fury’s pent house temple reflects his name as these style of temples are typically associated with kung fu and other forms of asian fighting styles, whilst also being an apartment which reflects the second half of his name as a furious super american. The mise en scene used in the background suggests that the character we have been introduced to is some sort of super hero, the framed cover of time magazine with a big picture of Kung Fury on the front suggests that he is a national treasure. Other props used in this scene hint at the ridiculousness of this characters hybridity, for example he is a futuristic cop who has one foot in the traditional world of Kung Fu.

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Kung Fury on the cover of time magazine

Following this is a tracking shot as Kung Fury bursts through the paper wall and off the edge of the building, and straight into the Ferrari below.this is an effective scene as it establishes the extent of Kung Fury’s powers as he is able to free fall down what seems to be at least a 20 story building and into a car, to which he opened the door by shooting at it. This scene is also full of action codes, as it shows the futuristic car and also establishes Kung Fury’s motive, to fight injustice. This section follows a Todorovian style of story line, as the equilibrium is established as Kung Fury sits in his pent house apartment, when the phone rings i.e. the disruption, calling Kung Fury to duty. Kung Fury fights and destroys the deranged game machine and consequently saves the city, the new equilibrium. Following this is the origin story of how Kung Fury came to be.

In conclusion, i found that the opening scene to Kung Fury is effective as it uses a variety of action codes to establish particular things, it also uses a good range of camera angles, editing and mise en scene. It also clearly establishes location, character and genre allowing the audience to adjust them sleeves and relate to the coming film.

i have analysed the first 3 minutes of this clip below, but the rest of the film is available to watch including the trailer.