Thursday, 6 September 2018

Analysing film openings - new guide

This post is a work in progress. I've done multiple highly detailed posts on this, but I aim to simplify this major element of coursework in this post - with links for further material on some of the themes I'll highlight.
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THE 5 BASIC THEMES OF YOUR COURSEWORK
Showing knowledge/understanding of filmic conventions, and making clear you've APPLIED research into these, is one of 5 fundamental strands of your coursework and its assessment:
  • AUDIENCE
  • INDUSTRY + TECHNOLOGY
  • CONVENTIONS
  • PRE-PRODUCTION/PLANNING
  • REFLECTION - PRESENTED CREATIVELY USING TECHNOLOGY
THE BASIC CONVENTIONS RESEARCH IS SPLIT IN TWO...
You need to first research the general conventions of film openings ... generally!!
If you are channel surfing, and VERY quickly unconsciously assessing what format you're seeing (that's news; soap; sitcom etc), you are processing media language clues or signifiers. Your challenge in coursework is to identify the media language that immediately identifies a text as belonging to a certain format - in this case not just film, but film opening.
You'll analyse a number of film openings from different genres, then summarise your findings with at least 1 vodcast backed up with additional posts on specific parts of the media language (eg idents, titles).

Once you've pitched and settled on a fixed idea, you'll repeat the process, this time focusing on GENRE, not GENERAL, examples. What media language enables an audience to quickly recognise a film opening as horror, rom-com etc? Again, you'll summarise your findings in at least 1 vodcast + further posts.

KEY FILM OPENING THEMES TO DISCUSS
There are infinite elements of the media language of film openings you could focus on, and you could spend days drilling into every single shot in a single film opening.
You are free to split the following themes into smaller topics, but this is my suggestion for helping you make links and comparisons between your opening analyses; organise your evidence of learning; and to set out clearly how this research has impacted your work/thinking. I will say more on each below.
  1. IDENTS, COMPANIES, PRODUCTION CONTEXT
  2. TITLES
  3. SOUND; GENRE SIGNIFICATION
  4. 1ST SHOT
  5. CENTRAL PROTAGONIST + NARRATIVE
  6. MISE-EN-SCENE FOR EXPOSITION
  7. TRANSITIONING TO MAIN FILM
  8. OTHER POINTS
As with any attempt to break down a general point, there is a lot of potential overlap between these, but focusing your research and analysis in this way should help.

THEME 1: IDENTS, COMPANIES, PRODUCTION CONTEXT



THEME 2: TITLESNumber of people/company names in titles:
Start/end time of main titles: 0:02-1:01
Running time of main titles: 1min
Titles in order using exact text (including case) [see this eg]

TITLES ANALYSIS 1: THE COMPANIES
State how many companies were credited, and use your earlier research to discuss why/what different terms were used for different companies. This is very important detail for creating convincing titles.
Look out for companies/institutions like Film4/BBC (often commission a film to be made), or BFI, National Lottery, UK Film Council, Screen Yorkshire, EM Media (etc) - who more often finance productions.
Try to use terms such as Indie, subsidiary, conglomerate, big six to denote the types of company.

TITLES ANALYSIS 2: ROLES
How many specific roles were given a title? How were actors roles split up? Are you surprised at how many/few there are? You could have a look at IMDB's full credits listing to get a sense of how selective these opening titles are!!!
Which ONE person gets TWO credits for the same role? Detail precisely the order/wording of this.

TITLES ANALYSIS 3: GENRE/NARRATIVE CONNOTATIONS
Denote (describe in detail, illustrating with screenshots) the design of the titles: font (this is a serif font; this is a sans-serif font), colour, case (UPPER, lower, Sentence), size, positioning, any movement/animation, any additional graphical elements.
Discuss the probable preferred reading: what the filmmakers are trying to symbolically communicate to the audience. Do the titles/their design connote/signify the genre and/or anything about the narrative?



THEME 3: SOUND; GENRE SIGNIFICATION



THEME 4: 1ST SHOT



THEME 5: CENTRAL PROTAGONIST + NARRATIVE



THEME 6: MISE-EN-SCENE FOR EXPOSITION



THEME 7: TRANSITIONING TO MAIN FILM



THEME 8: OTHER POINTS



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