Sunday, 12 April 2015

Reflective Analysis: Film

The AS film studies coursework was to create a short 2-5 minute film of any genre and narrative. I worked with Shanie and Hannah to create a family film which creates an uplifting atmosphere for the audience. Using the four micro features of cinematography, sound, editing and mise en scene, we conveyed the typical codes and conventions in a family film. I took responsibility in editing and acting in the film whereas Shanie took the main role of filming and director with help from Hannah who's main role was to obtain mise en scene and location. Shanie and Hannah also took the responsibility to finding appropriate music for our film. Our main focus was to convey an uplifting atmosphere through cinematography and editing.

The film begins with a shot of the bear on the floor laying on it's back with the protagonist's feet positioned on the far left of the frame. This was done in order for the audience to focus more on the bears state. The clear blue sky could contrast with the bear's appearance as it is covered in mud.

Through the use of mise en scene we wanted to create a divide from the bear to the protagonist. The barrier between them could symbolise the barrier between our protagonist's childhood to imminent adulthood. The choice in costume uses light colours to emphasis the uplifting tone we wanted to create in the film. Her blue jeans are shown to be folded unevenly at the ends which could suggest her youthfulness and her childlike appearance-her white trainers could further convey her purity and youth. This fits within our target audience of children and teenagers aged 6 to 18 as our main prop is a teddy bear which is stereotypically associated with children- this also follows the conventions of a family film. In addition, the use of a teenage girl as the protagonist could target a teen audience as they can easily relate to the character. Our film could be seen as an allegory for the fear teenagers face in their impending transition to adulthood from childhood as we cling to childhood possession.

Additionally, we established the youthfulness of the protagonist using a close up of the pink key; which connotes a sense of femininity and playfulness further reflecting upon the character's personality and age. This use of cinematography could allow the audience to suggest she has some level of responsibility as she has a key to her home. From the feedback we received from our audience, we found the use of camera angles visually appealed to them.

The use of match on action could convey the contrast between the natural lighting of outside and the artificial warm lighting inside; which could suggest the bear is taken into a warm environment of a home- which further adds to the uplifting atmosphere. In addition, this setting could follow the codes and conventions of a family film. This use of continuity editing conveys the steady pace of the film; this also follows the conventions of a family film where tension and fast paced editing is not usually seen in the genre.

Furthermore, we wanted to create a balance between her youthful side and her mature side which could be conveyed through the bear. This was done through the use of mise en scene and cinematography as the close ups and mid shots of the bear was framed as the focus in the film. We also positioned the bear in various shots closer to the camera in order to convey that the bear is more important than the protagonist. The scene of the bear covered in soap could add to the uplifting sense as it's dirty appearance is beginning to disappear. 

It can be suggested, the protagonist's childish personality is shown through her actions such as her pouring washing up liquid on her messily in order to clean the bear. This could also relate to our audience as ,stereotypically, teenagers and children are known to be clueless with household chores typically associated with mothers such as a mother washing a child's dirty bear.

The warm lighting of the home further adds to the friendly environment of the home. In these scenes, the camera is shown to be still which could reflect upon the safe environment of the setting as the camera does not abruptly move. The use of close ups maintains a focus on the bear being repaired by the protagonist. Mise en scene shows the girl is wearing pink nail varnish, further connoting her girly nature and femininity. Following the feedback received from our class, we cut these sewing scenes down as some believed they were too long and unnecessary in our film. 

The non diegetic soundtrack is continuous throughout the film. In our first draft, the audience did not like the music chosen as they claimed it to be 'too repetitive' and it did not create an uplifting atmosphere. Another soundtrack was chosen which was more uplifting and joyous. The last shot of the film shows the bear in the centre of the frame and of the other bears conveying a sense of importance for the audience. The window behind could suggest the barrier between the past life of the bear to its new life. From our audience feedback, we made the last shot linger more. This establishes the happy ending- following the codes and conventions of family drama- as the once lonely bear has finally found a home. I believe the uplifting atmosphere is successfully created through the use of mise en scene and cinematography.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014


Medium Shot: A medium shot shows part of the subject in more detail, you can still see hand gestures and movement.         

Long Shot: A long shot is used to allow the audience to see the character's body language. 

Extreme Long Shot/ Establishing Shot: This allows the audience to see the character's surroundings and the characters themselves. This shot focuses on the overall image.

Medium Long Shot: The subject is visible in the shot yet the audience can also see their surroundings. 

Canted/ Dutch Tilt: A canted/ Dutch tilt is a camera shot where the camera angle is deliberately slanted to one side. This shot creates the feeling of uneasiness and disorientation

Tilt Up: The camera tilts vertically up

Tilt Down: The camera tilts vertically down

Tracking/Dolly Shot: The camera is placed on a moving vehicle and moves alongside the action- normally following a track.

Crane: A crane shot allows the camera to shoot in the air- it can move up, down, left, right, swooping in on action or moving diagonally.

Handheld: This gives a jerky and frantic effect- the camerawork is not smooth.

Aerial/Birdseye:  The camera is taken from a helicopter  or any high angle which establishes the setting and movement.

Zoom: This changes the magnification of a shot. This changes the position of the audience quickly or slowly.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Vogler's Story Structure

Act 1
In which the scene is set and the hero sets out.

1. Ordinary World
The story starts in the ordinary world where the hero is going about everyday existence, oblivious of the adventures to come. This anchors the hero as a human, just like you and me, and hence we can associate ourselves with the hero.

2. Call to Adventure
The hero is next presented with a wrong done, a problem or challenge which they feel they must resolve. Thus the king calls for someone to save the realm from a marauding enemy, a private detective has a client bring a difficult case to them or an attractive other person is spotted in a bar. Thus the challenge is set, to defeat the enemy, solve the murder or win the heart of the other person.

3. Refusal of the Call
The hero may well balk at the thought of the task ahead, perhaps refusing the challenge or having second thoughts. The problem seems too much to handle and the comfort of home seems more attractive than the rough wilderness or dangerous streets.

This would be our own response and we thus bond further with the reluctant hero.

4. Meeting the Mentor
The mentor appears to help the hero prepare for the road ahead. Thus Gandalf, Obi-wan Kenobi and a host of other wise and experienced people teach the hero the skills they need and give them critical knowledge to help them survive.

5. Crossing the Threshold
Eventually the hero is ready to act and crosses the threshold, often literally as they leave the family homestead on their journey into the unknown.

Act 2

In which the main action happens as the hero survives the road and achieves their goal.

6. Tests, Allies, Enemies
Once out in the big wide world, the hero is confronted with an ever more difficult series of challenges that they may face, ranging from minor skirmishes and struggles against weather and terrain to riddles and various setbacks that would defeat a lesser person.

In this way the hero's character is both highlighted and developed. Now bonded to the hero, we feel a vicarious sense of pleasure as these challenges are met.

7. Approaching the Inmost Cave
At last the final destination lays ahead and the hero, battered but wiser from their trials along the way must prepare for the ultimate test. In ancient legend, a typical 'innermost cave' is the land of the dead or a labyrinth. It is the lair of the dread enemy where no help may be found and only deep courage will win through. Another threshold must be crossed here to enter the dragons' den of the innermost cave.

We swallow hard, as does the hero, at the thought of what might go wrong. To approach the innermost cave is to face death and still go on. This pause helps show the hero as still human and helps build the story tension before the high point of the story.

8. The Crisis / Supreme Ordeal
At last the hero must face their deepest fears, typically in battle with the dark villain. This is the ultimate test that the hero takes, where the real story perhaps is the inner battle whereby the hero overcomes their own demons in facing up to the enemy outside.

As observers, we feel scared for the hero and may be terrified that they might fail or die. In so doing we also face and, with the hero, overcomes our own inner fears.

9. Seizing the Reward
In defeating the enemy, the hero is transformed into a new state where fears are vanquished and the new fearless person is born. The reward in the story may be gaining new knowledge, a treasure or rescuing a princess, but the inner reward is in the personal growth that is achieved.

Act 3

10. The Road Back
After the story has reached its main peak, the transformed hero sets out home again. Having gained the treasure they are have no need for more adventure and nothing left to prove and so set out back home again.

Setting out home is reverse echo of crossing the threshold in setting out on the adventure. In contrast to the earlier anticipation of danger, the anticipation now is of acclaim and rest.

11. The Climax / Resurrection
The story has one last trick up its sleeve now, having lulled its audience into a false sense of security, as one last challenge faces the hero. Perhaps the villain was not completely vanquished or perhaps there are other people in need on the way back -- whichever way, we are again plunged into another climactic event, just when we thought it was safe to breathe easy again.

In ancient stories, the hero has to be purified before return. After the toil of the journey and the ordeal, they are formally reborn into a new and beautiful form.

12. Return with the Elixir
Finally, the hero returns to the hero's welcome, gives the treasure to the proper recipient and receives their just reward, whether it is the hand of the princess, the acclaim of the people or simply a well-deserved rest.

In this final part, all tensions are resolved and all unanswered questions answered, leaving the reader of the story satisfied and replete.


Vogler's work has been both criticized and acclaimed. Whilst some say there is nothing new in his writings and recommend the earlier Campbell's 'Hero's Journey' or Propp's Morphology of the Folk Tale, others praise Vogler for his clarification, simplification and placing of classic patterns into the modern genre.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Mise En Scene

The Great Gatsby- Myrtle's Death. 

The scene begins with Jay Gatsby's car driving dangerously on the road. Gatsby's car is the only bright cars driving on the bridge- the other cars are black. The car he drives and speed accompanies Gatsby's exciting and lavish lifestyle. 

The bridge seen in this scene may show the audience The Great Gatsby is set in a city presumably New York City in the 1920s.

 As Gatsby drives on, the audience sees Myrtle and George Wilson fighting. Myrtle is evidently injured as she has a visible cut on her forehead and her hair is disheveled. She is inferior to her husband as she is pressed up on the dirty window. Her face shows fear for her angered husband. 

There is a contrast in both Myrtle and George’s appearance.  The Great Gatsby was set in the 1920s era. The soft pale pink dress she is wearing shows her legs- her clothing may suggest she is feminine yet seductive. It may also suggest she is wealthy as her clothing looks very luxurious. Myrtle’s attire may infer she believes she belongs in a wealthier area; whereas George’s appearance is very scruffy and unkempt, both his clothes and face are covered in black streaks. George’s attire fits in with their environment and his profession as they live in a poor area in an auto-repair shop- which George owns.

As their fight intensifies, the audience can see the state of Myrtle. She is held on the window by George- this may suggest he is intimidating her to get answers on who gave her the extravagant pearls around her neck. It could infer George is trying to make eye contact with his wife yet Myrtle averts her eyes to the window; this may show Myrtle is guilty. She continues to look afraid of George and his actions.

After Myrtle escapes George's hold, she goes out to seek help. Myrtle's appearance does not fit into the environment that surrounds her. She is surrounded by the colour red which may connote she is in danger. 

Myrtle's look of relief after seeing Gatsby's car suggests she is looking for an escape both from George and from the poor environment in favour of the lifestyle Gatsby and her lover, Tom, lives.

The woman runs on the road in the hope Gatsby would see her and stop. The key light from the car alerts the audience of what is to happen. The light may also connote, Myrtle is walking into the 'light which may symbolise her foreseeable death. 
Like Gatsby's car, Myrtle's dress is very vibrant. This may highlight the important of the car and Myrtle in this scene. 

The car light shines on Myrtle's face before she is hit. The light may further connote she 'sees the light' - her death is imminent. 

Her facial expression and body language shows her desperation for the car to stop. Myrtle attempts to draw attention to herself by stretching her arms in a 'stop' signal but it does not work.

The shot of Myrtle flying in the air shows her red nail varnish. Again, the colour red connotes danger. However, as Myrtle was calling out for her lover Tom, who she assumed was driving the   yellow car, it could be suggested the colour red connotes her love.

Gatsby's expression shows the audience he did not intend to hit Myrtle with his car. He attempts to  steer the car away from her yet to no avail. The audience can see his determination to avoid hitting Myrtle and steer himself to safety. 

Even though they fought and George was visibly violent towards Myrtle, the audience can see his  shock as he watches his wife die in front of him. His hand on the window may suggest his helplessness as he can't save her from her death. 

The scene ends with another shot of the eye with glasses image- which may suggest they are all under the watchful eyes of God and all sins are met with punishment. This may connote Myrtles death was the result of her committing a sin.