Here is my final film:
Here is my final film:
“Although often associated with boring work and essays, let’s not forget that writing is still a hobby. It’s one of the better ways for people to communicate and vent out their frustrations. Each genre is like a whole new world. Writing gives those who are too scared to speak a platform, a voice. Writing calms me down, as long as it’s for fun.”
|Success Criteria||Reason||My Critique of “Lights Out”||My Critique of “Tuck Me In”|
|Have characters that are likeable and realistic, make them worth caring about.||The characters don’t need to be super developed; they just need to be recognizable and different from others. Maybe one defining trait.||The character in lights out is quite relatable and comedic. People normally care more about characters who are relatable. For example, in this short film, when she gets scared, she hides in the blanket, something most people would do in that situation. She is also comic relief as shown in the part where she duct tapes the light switch.||Since the movie is only a minute long, there wasn’t such characterization apart from the man being a father. This, however, makes us sympathetic towards him. He has a child, so we care about what happens to him.|
|Have an actual storyline, not just a situation.||An actual story line will get and keep people watching invested. Situations followed by other situations have no flow and can quickly put viewers off.||The film “Lights Out” does have a storyline following one character and the “demon” stalking her. It isn’t unfocused.||This mini film doesn’t really have a story line, it’s just one supernatural situation.|
|Get from the situation to a story as quickly as possible.||It’s important to introduce the situation and get to the actual story as quickly as possible as there is no time to develop the characters or to develop an elaborate backstory.||The film got to the central plot pretty quickly. It showed off the setting of a house, the main character and then started to reveal the plot. It didn’t waste time telling a backstory on why the demon is stalking her.||The film gets to the supernatural occurrence at around 0:30. This is quick, but the film is only a minute long. However, they didn’t waste time developing a backstory.|
|Have multiple different camera angles.||Multiple different camera angles create more varied and interesting scenes which the viewer would want. If your film is filled with just wide shots it gets boring and if your film is filled with only close ups, nothing is new and quickly will also get boring.||There were multiple shot types in this film, including point of view shots, close ups. There were also shots angled downwards which added variety.||This film has different shot types, from close-ups to point of view shots. It kept the film feeling fresh and new.|
|Don’t have too much exposition where it’s just a lot of dialogue. Max 1 min of exposition.||There is not enough time to have around 2 minutes of exposition. Horror movies tend to have more action than dialogue and if you have to much exposition, there won’t be enough time for the build-up and action.||No exposition at all, no explanation of why the demon came to be and why it is following the main character. This film gets straight to the action and that was especially important considering that this film only had a run time of 2 mins.||There wasn’t any exposition wasting time. The film used dialogue which isn’t a bad thing. There was only a simple set up in the form of “check under the bed.” This allowed the film to still have enough time to build up suspense.|
|An ending that’s interesting, as in don’t tie up all loose ends, up to interpretation. Not a “happily ever after.”||A clear-cut conclusion sometimes isn’t very interesting. Many films have done the “happily ever after” trope and it’ll get boring. Having an open ending encourages discussion which is good.||The ending isn’t a happily ever after and is quite vague. It doesn’t explicitly show the woman being killed by is hinted at. This ending is up to the audience’s interpretation.||The ending is quite vague, but that isn’t a bad thing. If the film revealed which one the kids were fake, it would have less impact. It’s up to the audience to interpretate and theorize which Alex(the kid’s name) is fake.|
|Use of sound to amplify the effect of scenes, such as to create tension and suspense.||Without the right sound, your film won’t have an impact. Sound can be used to create suspense which is helpful to add. Sound can also help with building up a climax and during a jumpscare.||This film uses sound to build up suspense with the creaks and to amplify the jumpscares. It also uses silence to build suspense with only the quiet buzzing of a lamp. This creates unease in the audience.||The music at the start already is mystery which creates an uneasy atmosphere. During the part where the dad looks under the bed, the creepy music comes back. This is a good use of sound because it creates a feeling of “what’s going to happen” when the music comes on.|
|Having a buildup to the climax. Not just a scare out of nowhere.||Random scares spread throughout the film won’t be very effective. Yes, it may catch someone off guard once, but a build-up will be more effective and will be more satisfying.||At the start of the film, there was a random scare that wasn’t really effective but after that, the final scare when we see the demons face is built up with sound and suspense. It was satisfying to see the final payoff after all the suspense.||The film had a small build-up towards the big reveal, one line of dialogue. Unlike “Lights Out” this film didn’t use too much time setting up and creating suspense, most likely due to time constraints. The scare is still effective but with a bit more suspense and unease could be better.|
|A jumpscare, almost every horror film has one of these.||A jumpscare is a key element of horror, jumpscares can be used as the final big payoff.||The film has 2 jumpscares, one at the start to give us a view at the figure on the monster and one at the end as the big payoff. The first jumpscare was sudden but not very effective because the monster was quite far away. The second one however, was effective as an ending.||There wasn’t really a jumpscare in this film, unless you count the reveal of a second Alex. That “jumpscare” however, wasn’t really scary.|
|Use of lighting to set the mood and atmosphere, specifically a dark and moody one.||Mood and atmosphere are very important in horror films, they allow viewers to immerse themselves in the film which will benefit all other aspects.||The film sets the mood and atmosphere with an establishing shot of the house. The house being surrounded by darkness sets a dark atmosphere. Light also plays a big role in the film. When the lights are on, the main character and we are supposed to feel safe and when the lights are off, we feel vulnerable. This really creates a sense of immersion.||This film uses lighting to set the mood. When the setting was brighter, it seemed safer, for example when talking to Alex. When the lighting was dark, it seem more dangerous, for example when searching under the bed.|
Part 1: The Horror Genre
The horror genre often aims to create fear or terror in the viewers. A common film element used in horror movies is the “jumpscare.” The jumpscare often has the background sound quieted as to create suspense then appear to shock the viewer. Often, jumpscares are close-ups of the frightening item, image, or thing.
Although jumpscares are effective, a good horror film isn’t just crammed with jumpscares since that’ll cheapen the film. Instead, the atmosphere of horror films is often moody and dark creating the right mood. Horror movies also often have less dialogue in favor of more action. An example of this is “A Quiet Place”, a movie with little dialogue but was still received well by the audience. This was accomplished by having the main antagonist(s) hunt using sound. Since the director carried this theme throughout the entire film, whenever there was a sound louder than a whisper, it would have caused suspense for the audience.
Lighting is also a very important aspect of horror films. Many scenes in horror films often have underexposed lighting which adds to the fear aspect. Sometimes lighting is used to obscure an image or character, causing suspense and unease. Silhouettes are also used often in horror movies, such as when the antagonist creeps up on the protagonist and we can only see the silhouette of them.
Sound design also plays a big part in horror movies. Often, loud and sudden sounds will accompany jumpscares to make it more convincing. Suspenseful music can build up to something large and it sets the tone. If the sound design is off, it will become very apparent to the viewer. For example, if something falls to the ground, the sound should reflect that and not sound like a bell ringing (unless a bell fell).
Since horror films aim to be scary, they may choose to use less conventional camera angles, such as the Dutch Tilt. Non-conventional angles can create an unsettling theme which helps. Another film technique used is the dark voyeur in which we see from the perspective of the antagonist or “stalker”. This technique is used to show the vulnerability of the victim. When watching a horror film, viewers expect scary scenes or maybe even some violence. If a film classified as horror doesn’t scare or shock or evoke some type of fear from the audience, it doesn’t really do its job.
Some requirements of a short horror film are that there can’t be too much exposition, if your dialogue lasts for too long, you won’t have enough time to set up something and pay it off. You can’t waste time filming something that won’t play a bit part in the plot. Because of how short the film is, the smaller choices affect the film a lot more. Things such as sound and lighting play a bigger part and should add to the scenes and not take away.
Part 2: Horror in Context
Horror is often different in different parts of the world, with different stories being shared. Horror in the west more often leans toward a more obvious slasher type of horror. However, western horror also takes influence from literature with many horror books written by Stephen king adapted into films. Some examples are “The Shining” and “IT”. In western horror, there is a mix of the supernatural and just plain murderers. Although western horror films may have a more relatable background and setting, they are also less tactful in how they scare, often relying on “shock horror”. They use many jumpscares and a fast and loud orchestral score to scare. They also may contain gruesome deaths. However not every western horror film relies on the same strategies as movies like “A Quiet Place” rely on psychological horror more than physical.
Eastern horror from countries such as Korea and Japan on the other hand is more subtle without much of the “in your face” jumpscares. Eastern horror puts atmosphere first and sets up for a big pay off. An example of this is “The Ring” where the girl crawls out of the TV is set up.
Horror may also be influenced by the cultural and historical contexts of the region. Films may be influenced by stories passed down through time. However, whether these films are successful is up to the execution. For example, a film may take from mythology and include creepy monsters but if the viewers don’t know or recognize it, then they won’t be scared.
Although my cultural background is from China, I grew up in Canada which caused me to view horror as a genre filled with jumpscares and gore. I used to believe that movies like “Nightmare On Elm Street” and “Friday the 13th” were the pinnacle of the horror genre. Since those films had jumpscares and had a slasher plot. Now that I’ve done the research, I realize that many horror films aren’t all like that.
Part 3: Inspiration for my Film
Since for this project, we should not have violence, I’m thinking about creating a psychological horror. Something made with creative use of lighting might be good. For specific fears, a standard “something is following” is always good but maybe something more creative and innovative would be better. Some techniques that could be used are lighting and unique camera angles. Silhouettes and fade to black could create a sense of mystery and maybe a red herring could work. For example, you see a scary shadow but it turns out to be just a plant or something similar. Maybe you could see an outline and then the lights dim and it disappears. The short film can also have a dual perspective, where it cuts to the “stalker” for a while after a set period. This will allow us to use the “dark voyeur” technique and make it seem more like horror. This idea, however, may become annoying if we use it too much so maybe use it sparingly. I’ll try to keep dialogue to a minimum because too much exposition may cheapen the scare factor. Loud sounds may be added as a jumpscare since that’s what I mainly know from horror films. Maybe even sound could be kept to a minimum because “A Quiet Place” was successful and that film was pretty silent.
My Story Part 1:
For my mini-film, I will film myself writing something, such as a story. This will be done on the computer via typing. I want to go through the stages of writing by having shots of typing, a focused face, and ending with printing. I want this film to have a calming feeling as writing is something one does when relaxed. I want this film to show that writing can be comforting, that someone can derive joy from something originally associated with boring school work.
My Story Part 2:
Location: I will film my 5-shot-sequence at the MS/HS library because that is seen as a place of peace, and quiet.
For my fifth shot, the interesting angle, I’m thinking about shooting a top-down shot. I think I’ll be printing out what a wrote and film the paper sliding out of the printer from above. I don’t want the camera to be too high up but still want to capture the rest of the actual printer. I’ll use an aperture of f/8 because this won’t be a close up so my field of depth shouldn’t be too shallow. I will use a focal lens of 24mm or 25mm. For my white balance, I will find a printer that is strictly inside the school without any windows nearby. This is because my white balance will be around 3200K because it’s still inside the school and sunlight would mess that up.
Here is my storyboard:
A Story in 5-Shots