Preliminary Task: I've Been Expecting You

5 Apr 2011

A note to the moderator

Dear Moderator,

Thanks for looking through my blog, I hope you liked it! A link to the group blog can be found in the bar on the right hand side, in addition to our teachers blog 'BLK' which can be used as a central hub to access all the other group and individial student blogs.

In this blog, you will find all my individual research in addition to an individual pitch for this project. My evaluation post on the preliminary task can be found here, as well as my seven evaluation posts for the final project.  

On the group blog the planning, reseach, production and evaluation can be found; anything labelled with 'Olivia Cole' is my work. All labels can be seen at the right hand side toolbar.

All the best,
Olivia Cole [Candidate No. 3165]

This Blog is now closed.


4 Apr 2011

7: Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?

The Brief
Unlike in the preliminary task, our brief for this project was much vaguer - all we needed was to make the opening minutes of a feature length film. As the options for the brief were so wide, this made the process a lot more hard but much more exciting, as it allowed us to be very creative.

The freedom we were granted in the project meant that we needed to do a lot more planning, so our group blog was very useful for sharing information. From the outset, we used it to communicate ideas with each other.

Our informal way of communicating with eachother was via facebook, where we created a group to share comments, photos, web links and video links with each other.

Just some of the paperwork we needed for the project:

  1. Storyboard
  2. Script
  3. Shot List
  4. Shooting Schedule
  5. Equipment Sign-off forms
  6. Final Treatment
  7. Seward Studio Booking Forms
  8. Actor Contract Forms
External Factors

As the size of the project was much bigger, it meant that we were more susceptible to influence from unwanted external factors. These included unreliable cast members, unavailability of the location, background noise during recces, dysfunctional boom mikes, and the power to the school being shut down on the day of a shoot! However, we were able to work past these in order to have a successful final product.

Organising Cast and Location
As we required some extras for our shoot, we used the social networking site facebook to collect them together and let them simultaneously see what the latest plans for the shoot were. This proved very helpful in knowing exactly what was planned for any specific shoot.

facebook example 2

Our location was slightly easier to manage, as unlike in our preliminary task, we didn't have to shoot in the same area as other people. As long as we had the Seward Studio booked, we were guaranteed no outside interruption.

On the shoots
As we were by now well practiced in our film understandings, in both the theoretical and practical sides, this made the actual shoots pass a lot faster, as we knew how to work the equipment and automatically followed film making techniques such as the rule of thirds or checking continuity. This meant that despite having a total of 10 'official' shoots, in the final shoots where we intended to use footage, we actually ran ahead of time, giving us time to experiment with shots and work in the edit suite.

Post Production
 As our preliminary project did not have any special graphics or effects, we had to make lots of time to edit so that we could teach ourselves any programmes that we were not accustomed to. Fortunately, our previous experiences with Adobe Premiere Pro meant that our basic editing was a lot quicker, giving us more opportunity to deal with the more challenging aspects, such as the green screen integration and the opening graphics.

Getting Audience feedback

Because our prelim task was a lot smaller, we only gained feedback by posting the video on facebook and requesting feedback. This time round, we publicised a test screening in the media block using posters round the school and a facebook group, as it was important that we could convince lots of our target audience to attend, which they did.

facebook example 3

Working in a team

Our group was lucky, in that Narishma, Frank and I had already worked together on the preliminary task, seen below.

Even with the addition of Eoin, our group worked with a similar dynamic as we all understood each others strengths, and used them to our advantage. Because of this, we also knew each others weaknesses, and could avoid problems by working around them. In my evaluation for the prelim task I commented that the most important thing it had taught me was the importance of planning ahead and documenting my work, which I feel I have achieved a lot better this time around. Overall, the practice we received as a result of doing the prelim greatly improved our work in this project.

6: What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?


HD Canon HV30 Camera

We were able to use HV30 video-cameras for our shoot, which was a real advantage as the footage was recorded to a very high standard, enabling us to edit easily and look more professional. However, the disadvantage of this was that we had to be very careful with them, and a lot of paperwork was involved to make sure they were always kept safe. Fortunately, this was made easier by the fact that we never needed to take the camera out of school.

Three Point Lighting

We were very privileged to be able to use our schools new multi-purpose Seward Studio, which came complete with a storage room with lots of lights. Three-point lighting is very good in terms of eliminating shadow and recreating a 'natural' look, but only when you have been taught to use them properly. It took some lessons and a few recces for us to work out how best to use them, which was made more complicated by the fact that different lighting was needed for different shots. Overall they really improved the mise-en-scene of our piece; we just had to be careful that the actors didn't overheat.

Overhead Lighting

The Seward Studio already comes equipped with an intricate set of overhead lighting. Unfortunatly for us, we wanted to shoot on the chairs rather than the stage, so we were only able to use a small amount of the lights, although we did learn how to use the lighting panel on the computers at the back of the room. This is a lot easier than manually controlling each light, and saved us a lot of time when setting up our shoots.
Camera Equipment

The equipment given to us for the shoots
Each group was given a set of filming equipment for our shoots, which really helped improve filming quality. Unless you intentionally aim for hand held shots, it looks more professional to have still shots, so the tripod was really efficient at doing that for us. It was made slightly more difficult because we sometimes needed to fit the legs within the rows of chairs, but still was a possible addition. The boom pole and mike were vital in recording spoken dialogue as the quality is much higher than using the camera microphone.
Green Screen

This is the method we used to take our green screen image of Frank (that was shot very easily) and put it in the clip.

Our final result was this; an animation of Frank appearing to be a hand drawn image.



Adobe Premiere Pro

The editing programme we used was Adobe Premiere Pro CS3, which is on the more advanced end of the amateur editing scale. I found this programme to be really useful and efficient - it allowed us to do all the effects we wanted to, as it has a very large bank of video effects and transitions. The only issue we had with it was with sound, as some clips only played out of one speaker, and there was no simple way to fix this, unlike on some other editing programmes.

3-Way Colour Corrector

Once we had finished editing the clips, we needed to start grading the entire video. Two effects that allowed us to do this were Proc-Amp and the 3-Way Colour Corrector. Between these, we were able to change the saturation levels and give the images a warmer or cooler tone. Initially, as we were new to the programme, it took a while to understand, and we started out with having our characters with faces that were too yellow. However, once we worked the effects out, the final result looked a lot more 'cinema-esque' than our initial shots. It took a long time to grade the images, but the final result was worth the time.

Magic Wand Tool

In transition: removing the background from the image

As we needed to include a green screened image,the magic wand tool was necessary for eliminating the backgrounds. The tool is fairly quick and efficient, although we hit some difficulties as we also needed the image to be in black and white, which made the process more complicated. Altogether, however, the magic wand tool is very good in removing unwanted background, and can still produce a smooth image if used correctly.

Adobe Photoshop CS3

We used photoshop to create our Lichtenstein effect, which proved to be fairly simple using the image effects available. The traditional Roy Lichtenstein 'dots' design was quite easy to replicate, and as both Photoshop and Premiere are both Adobe products, we had the added advantage of both of them working in synergy, meaning that it was easy to transfer the image from on e programme to the other  

An example of the Lichtenstein effect created using photoshop

Adobe After-Effects

Our main inspiration for the graphics at the beginning of 'EXCEPTIONAL' are from Spiderman 2. Premiere Pro is not very advanced in making graphic sequences, so we used adobe after-effects to create the montage. By scanning in four hand-drawn images, we we created the main part of the sequence, and intergrated nacompany and name credits between each image transition. On some video showing programmes, the movement can appear slightly stilted, but in general it recieved very good feedback from our target audience.

Internet: audio network

We used a website called the audio network to find our tracks for the film, as they provide songs at a very chap rate. The search features on the website were helpful in finding the right songs - in our case, clicking on the sub-catergory 'Epic' provided us with lots of options. The music is of a high quality and therefore sounds professional when played along with the film. The internet, of course, was also used for research purposes and presenting our portfolio, which was good as we could access it quickly from both home and school.

5: How did you attract/address your audience?

We wanted to input elements into our film that would help the target audience of 15 to 25 year olds identify with it.

The School Setting
Most people of this age will have recently attended a conventional secondary / high school, so we used a school lecture hall so that the audience could identify the type of society that the characters were part of.


Because of the traditional school setting, we felt that using some school stereotypes would encourage the audience to quickly recognise the roles of  the key characters. The 'underdog' is universally a popular figure, so we applied some of the main aspects of this identity to Angus. For example, he wears dark clothes and sits alone, both typical features of the 'outsider'. Jessica is the love interest, so we made sure that her characteristics reflected this within a teenage setting, as this differs slightly from an adult perspective. Camera techniques such as the slow zoom, and editing effects like the Lichtenstein freeze frame are intended to help emphasise her role as a romantic interest. The characters that most conform to their stereotype are the jocks, as they are only supporting roles and therefore the audience doesn't need to know much back story; it is more important to make it instantly clear that they are antagonistic characters.

Through our research it quickly became evident that a large majority of our target audience enjoy the comedy genre, and also enjoy it when it is present within other genres. Our film is not a pure comedy, but we wanted to make it funny, which can be done, as seen in the Harry Potter series, where an adventure/fantasy hybrid is able to incorporate lots of humour. A type of humour that resonates particularly well with British audiences is the use of awkwardness, which can be seen in the clip below.

Comic Book Style

We didn't want to neglect our secondary audiences of comic book and cult fans, so one of the main ways in which we wanted to target them was through the use of comic book graphics. We used a freeze frame Lichtenstein effect to create the common comic book layout over key shots, which helps to express information efficiently whilst recognising the traditional comic background that the film is based on.


Suspense and Enigma Code

We felt it important that something occurred in the opening sequence which would entice the audience into watching the film to find an explanation. In the case of 'EXCEPTIONAL', our enigma code is when Angus levitates the pencil, as there is, as of yet, no reason for his power.


4: Who would be the audience for your media project?

We felt that the Superhero Genre transcends many age, gender and nationality barriers, meaning that we would aim for a large reach of the audience. However, our primary audience would be males and females aged between 15 and 25 years old.  

Example of a target audience member: Male 15 -25

Name: Tom Howard
Age: 19 Years Old
Favourite Film genres:
  • Action
  • Comedy

  • Student, interacts with a lot of people his own age
  • Enjoys his own independence
  • Plays spport once or twice a week
  • Quite opinionated about film
  • Likes to keep up to sate about medai related news
  • Goes to cinema once a month
  • Watches more films on computer and televsion, usually in the evenings
  • Doesn't usually illegally download films unless he think's it's not worth buying.
Target Audience Member: Female 15 -25

Name: Rebecca Black
Age: 15 Years old
Favourite Film Genres:
  • Rom-Com
  • Adventure

  • At school, spends most weekends out with friends
  • Gets most of her money from her parents, babysits occasionally
  • Goes to the cinema twice a month
  • Likes to see films that she can talk about with other people
  • Likes to be 'in the loop' with media products

1 Apr 2011

3: What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?


We named our production company 'Offbeat Productions' because we wanted to make films with conventional genres and themes in an alternative way. We would be a British company that gains funding from large studios in exchange for selling our distribution rights, in order to reach a larger audience. We felt that 'Exceptional' would be an appropriate sort of film for our company because it is set in the UK, and the whole plot doesn't entirely follow the traditional superhero format.


As we couldn't put any company credits in our opening sequence, we created the fictional 'Box
Spotlight Pictures' which was based entirely off  'Fox Searchlight Pictures'.

Fox Searchlight is a subsidiary of 20th Century Fox Studios, which is owned by News Corp.

We felt that 'Exceptional' would appeal to Fox Searchlight because of their proven track record of distributing high-quality British films, and targeting a similar target audience of 15-25 yrs for many of their films. Seen below are some example of recent Fox Searchlight films.

(500) Days of Summer
This film conveys a similar style to ours in terms of presenting the focal romantic relationship, where the boy takes a long time to get past his social insecurities.

The History Boys
This film presents traditional British humour in the same way that ours attempts to - the awkwardness of being a teenager being a key element of both.

Fox Spotlight films rarely cost more than $20 million to make, although many are a lot less - some are below $1 million. This means that Offbeat Productions wouldn't have to secure funding from external sources that might want to interfere with the production stages of the film.

Publicity Trail

Ideally we could kick-off the publicity trail by releasing exclusive film footage at an event like the San Diego Comic-Con, as comic book / popular culture fans are amongst those in our target audience, and the events are always very well publicised. By getting the key influential bloggers, reporters and journalists excited, this can help boost our Internet presence.

What happens at Comic-Con?
This is Marvel's comic-con showreel from 2009

After this, a lot of advertising would be done via Fox Searchlight's YouTube channel, where teaser trailers would be released and linked into the social networking sites like facebook and twitter, as young people are notorious for using these regularly.


The Premiere would take place in Leicester Square, as the film would be made and set in the UK.
We would attempt to create an atmosphere like the 'Kick-Ass' premiere.


Using Fox Spotlight's status in the US as a foothold, 'Exceptional' would be released simultaneously in the UK and US, seeing at those are the two key countries that the film would appeal to - and because the film has a young-adult target market, a simulanous release would prevent film piracy from stopping people going to the cinema. After this, 20th Century Fox would send the film out to its offices worldwide, and any distribition rights would be sold to any country not covered by Fox.

We would want major multiplexes to show our film, as we are intenting for a mass audience reach. The main three that we would target, due to owning many cinemas across the UK, are:


31 Mar 2011

2: How does your media product represent particular social groups?

The two social catergories that are most clearly represented in our clip are Age and Gender. 


All characters featured in the opening sequenced are aged 17; the lack of adult presence suggesting that these are independent individuals who are not dependent on any authority figure.

The cast of Exceptional's opening clip
 In the establishing wide shot we can see that some stereotypical social groups are already emerging - to the right are the two conventional 'jocks', wearing varsity hoodies, which indicates their inclination towards sport. Angus (at the front) is sitting alone, suggesting that he is the outcast figure. His dark clothes connote that he wants to be unnoticed and his hunched over body language suggests a lack of confidence. To the right is Jessica who fills the traditional role of the love interest. We challenged the cliched idea of using a blonde actress for this part, but the flowery dress suggests she is a traditionally feminine character. The extras are of a range of nationalities, connoting that their are no racial barriers in this age-group in the film's setting.

Other action that represents age.
- Sitting quietly during class = a level of maturity
- Laughing at the Paper Throw = Not much empathy, the extras reaction shows the significance of  group mentality
- Bored Expressions = Stereotypical idea of teenagers disliking school.



PhotobucketOur protagonist is a classic underdog. He is a teenager who doesn't feel accepted by the world around him, and to present this insecurity we represented him as being isolated and unconfident. He would be placed at the bottom of the male social scale because he is quiet - shown by the stronger use of voice-over than actual dialogue. We wanted to show this aspect of insecurity by showing him interacting with girls. The dialogue with Jessica is scripted to be stilted and uncomfortable to show that he is at the stage where he is unable to properly communicate with the opposite gender.

The binary opposite to Angus's unconfident, unpopular male is presented through the use of stereotypical 'jock' figures who are portrayed as the alpha-males of the school community. The high five pictured in the screen shot above connotes that they behave in a laddish manner. They are more athletic than Angus, signifying that physical strength is an important feature of being on top of the social structure. The exaggerated movements of both characters also suggest that they perform for the benefit of the group in order to gain attention.

In our opening sequence the female characters are deliberatly not explained too clearly - this helps the audience view Jessica from Angus's perspective, where he doesn't know or understand too much about her, which in part is the reason for his inability to act normally around her. The Lichtenstein Freeze frame is used to show how Angus idolises her, and views her as separate from other people. The heart graphics that accompany this signify her role as a romantic interest within the film. Her clothes are used to suggest that she is a typical feminine character who becomes more submissive in the presence of a male character, but we challenged this assumption by having her confront the jocks about their bullying. When the boy she talks to stops provoking Angus as a result of her comment, this indicates that she has influence in the school and other people respect her.