Main Task 'The Witness'

Main Task 'The Witness'

Preliminary Task 'You're in my seat'

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Note to moderator

Dear Moderator,

Thank you for taking your time to look around my blogs. It's been a long process, but i have enjoyed it fully and really hope its worth it. My group blog is linked to my individual blog, so you will be able to navigate around from one to the other. The link to the group blog is on the left hand side, with the other members of my group's blogs also there (Lewis, James and Philippa). Another main link you can find there is the Main Class Blog which is our teacher's central blog , which has links to all the other student and group blogs.

On my individual blog you can find some of my individual research in theorys of opening sequences and films, initial ideas to the brief, the final sequence evaluation questions and some reflections on the production of our final piece after I had been put into Group 4. There is also work from the preliminary task, which includes the video clip and answers to the evaluation questions.

I have also linked my finished film opening sequence and preliminary sequence at the top of my individual blog.

I hope you navigate around my blogs easily and enjoy looking all the work. I have used labels to identify my Research, Planning, Production and Evaluation that I have completed on my individual blog. We have done the same on our group blog and also labelled the posts we were individually responsible for, so for example posts that I have done say 'Sam.'

Thank you for your time,
Candidate Number 3780

This blog is now closed


Tuesday, 5 April 2011

My location scout

This video is a compilation of pictures from our location scout, at the Grange Park Orchard to which I vistited in order to analyse its suitablity as the location of 'The Witness'. After reviewing the location and it's practicalities we have decided this where we are going to film our opening sequence.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Genre Research: Action/Thriller/Crime/Gangster

Definitions of film genres, as stated on

Action Films: 'This major genre type includes films that have tremendous impact, continuous high energy, lots of physical stunts and activity, possibly extended chase scenes (Like our film), races, rescues, battles, martial arts, mountains and mountaineering, destructive disasters fights, escapes, non-stop motion, spectacular rhythm and pacing, and adventurous heroes - all designed for pure audience escapism with the action sequences at the core of the film.'

'Action films and adventure films have tremendous cross-over potential as film genres, and road films often overlap with action films. (See the adventure film genre listings for examples of these action/adventure pictures.) Both types of films come in a variety of forms or genre-hybrids: sci-fi or space, thrillers, crime (Like our film)-drama, war, horror, westerns, etc. Often, action films are great box-office hits, but lack critical appeal because of their two-dimensional heroes or villains.'


'Thrillers are often hybrids with other genres - there are action-thrillers (OUR FILM), crime-caper thrillers,western-thrillers, film-noir thrillers, even romantic comedy-thrillers. Another closely-related genre is the horror film genre. Thriller and suspense films are virtually synonymous and interchangeable categorizations. They are types of films known to promote intense excitement, suspense, a high level of anticipation, ultra-heightened expectation, uncertainty, anxiety, and nerve-wracking tension. The acclaimed Master of Suspense is Alfred Hitchcock. Spy films may be considered a type of thriller/suspense film.'


'Crime (gangster) films are developed around the sinister actions of criminals or mobsters, particularly bankrobbers, underworld figures, or ruthless hoodlums who operate outside the law, stealing and murdering their way through life(Like our film).'

Evaluation Question 1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

Our film The Witness is an action thriller that follows our protagonist Jack; isolated and alone Jack finds himself at the wrong place at the wrong at time as two murders attempt to burry a body. Our film is unique because Jack is the anti hero, he is a drug user and therefore not perfect himself. After being spotted and chased through the forest they capture him and take him hostage. From this, the gang try to keep him quiet, by using his drug using ways as leverage and hurting those around him. After escaping; in order to stay alive and stay out of prison, he must take matters into his own hands to uncover the truth behind the gang’s murders and protect the next victims.


We ensured that we complied to continuity methods such as 'eyeline match' and 'match on actions' to create a seemless narrative structure.
Continuity example

There was one key continuity error when one thugs mask is not up, but this could also be interrupted as a natural change that it fell when he was running but he put it back up to conceal his idenity when he catches Jack.

Possible continuity error

Film genre

The Witness is the action thriller genre. One signifier of this genre comes in the form the gritty themes of gang violence and kidnapping. Our film contains a lot of emotional and powerful scenes which produces action and thrills our audience as well as numerous POV shots that allow them to empathise with him. The film Taken shares some of the conventions of our film due to its emotional, powerful scenes which would feature in our film, as well as its back-story of human trafficking; what our antagonists were doing to their victims before murdering them. The story line is somewhat similar one man is left alone having to track and bring down the antagonists and the victims are women. This film trailer is displayed below.


The kidnapping themes, reflects the victimization of woman that we present in our film, whereas the negligence shown by the antagonist on when he says ‘Good luck with that’ reflects the evil nature that we try to present with our antagonists. Both our film and Taken use close ups that last for several seconds to help the viewers see the emotion within our characters.

This chase scene from Casino Royale (Campbell 2006)  it features lots of quick cuts which jump from close ups to extreme wide shots disorientating the viewer reflecting the frantic mood of the scene a mood we tried to emulate in our sequence.

Narrative Structure

We studied the theories of Tztetan Todorov, a narrative theorist who examined hundreds of Russian folk tales to try to find similarities between them, and came up with a theory that he believes can be applied to every story ever written. He proposed that each story is broken down into these 5 basic steps:

Our sequence very much matches this theory; although the equilibrium of Jack being a loner and undisturbed is not perfect, this is the disruption when Jack spots the murderers. During our sequence this is not resolved, however, the film in its entirety would follow this theory. After the disruption, Jack’s escape would lead to him exposing the criminal ring and order would be restored with him becoming a hero after stopping the murders and trafficking.

Narrative continued

The Witness follows a dual narrative, cross cutting between Jack smoking and the antognists dragging the body before the real time sequence progresses to a point where both narratives join together. We have also used many binary opposites, as in Levi Strauss’ narrative theory, which says that important parts of the story always appear in pairs.

For example:

Our protagonist wears his hood down suggesting that he has nothing to hide while the antagonists wear balaclavas to show how they are desperate to conceal their identities.The running styles of the two contrasting sides are different, Jack runs wildly, arms flailing and leaping through bushes and trees to evade his chasers, but they run with their arms by their sides to maximise their speed showing their professionalism in this situation.

Contrasting Running styles

The lonlyness, isolation and vast location (shown by extreme long shots to establish scene at the beginning) highlight the danger of the event. Our film features Enigma codes and action codes, these keep the audience engaged as they asks questions such as 'Why does the boy look behind him, is he running away?' and 'Why is he going into the forest?' The main action code is when Jack sees the villains dragging the bodies which sets up the confrontation and chase.

Form & Function

The main purpose of a title sequence is to introduce character and narrative. We decided that superimposing our titles was the best option as this allowed the audience to focus on the action and connect with our protagonist Jack. The slow fade in and out reflects the undisturbed equilibrium that we create, titles do not appear in the chase sequence as we did not want to disrupt the fast, quick cutting nature. Superimposing the titles was inspire by the TV show heroes in which the titles are very subtle allowing viewers to focus on the action.

Inspired by the subtle Heroes titles
The opening of Black Hawk Down (Scott)also uses superimposed titles, although this is to tell a story; this is the style that we tried to emulate.


In the opening part of the sequence, we use slow editing which obeys the 30 degree rule to create a calm atmosphere and a false sense of safety with underlying senses of danger from the dark music that accompanies the footage. The second half of our sequence explodes into life with lots of camera movement, rapid cuts, and fast paced music to create a sense of excitement, adrenaline and danger in an otherwise normal and unexciting setting of a forest. Please take a moment to listen to the music of our sequence:

The fast pace and high BPM connotes our action genre where as the sirens at the end represent the gang culture, crime and gritty themes of our film.

Within the chase, apart from the POV shots, each shot is edited to about a second or less to create this fast paced, and are collectively matched to obey continuity principals creating our sequence.

Note the lengths of the running shots

We establish the chase with some long and medium shots, but use a variety of angles such as close ups and floor level shots to engage the viewer in the chase. To further engage them we have used lots of POV shots as this helps the audience connect and understand the characters and makes them feel much more involved with the action as it as if they were there.

Evaluation Question 2: How does your media product represent different social groups

The witness has a teenage protagonist from a fairly poor background, who has developed a drug habit. Most teenagers will know or be someone who has tried drugs and our although not the main intention for our film it does offer hope that drug abusers can turn their life around and still be a hero. This is all displayed through the prop use of the spliff and lighter, although this seems innocent in comparison to the murder taking place, it is still presented as a serious issue. We represent teenagers in quite a dark light, Jack is isolated and alone, a fact we try to show through extreme long shots and high angle shots which expose his vulnerability.

We did present several  stereotypes within our sequence including age and social issues:
These are stereotypes because teenage male characters are usually presented as:
  • Being athletic
  • Being rebellious
  • Being proactive
We stereotyped the thugs to typical antagonistic conventions:

As for gender in our sequence, we have followed conventional movies and presented women as victims who must be saved by the man. The only girl in the opening sequence has been murdered by men, and with trafficking themes, women are the victims throughout. We made the girl stand out by having her wear a red top which connotes sexiness amongst quite glamorous clothing which represents woman as quite concerned about their appearance. 
Victimized- The woman

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

Our production company is called Bite the Bullet Productions and as an institution produce British films, with British themes and iconography predominately target at British audiences. BTBP specialise in action and thrillers, as is evoked by the name. Our institution is somewhat similar to film4 who also produce British films although often with more global appeal. 

Similar To Film 4
 As for distribution, we would use Revolver entertainment, a well established distribution with headquarters in both the UK and USA responsible for Kidulthood and Shank who again share our target audience. We would have a staggered release starting with the UK and depending on success of film distribute to the states. We understand our film may not appeal to international audiences due the fact its not a high concept film (typical of internationally successful films) and its themes are quite iconic and exclusive to the British audience. Another reason for choosing revolver is that they specialise their methods of reaching their audiences and raising awareness via multi-platforms- directly helping us reach our target audience.