CONSTRUCTION OF A MAGAZINE REVIEW

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As part of my research into similar media products concerning magazine film reviews, I thoroughly analysed the medium which can be seen in this blog here however, this was very much an individual exercise to expand my knowledge. In order for Jannath, my teammate, and I to learn more about film reviews, we found a vast range of examples to look at together. You can see us doing this above.

After understanding the conventional composition of the reviews, we put together a draft featuring two photos and a layout that drew inspiration from the products we studied. The video below illustrates parts of my construction process of Adobe’s PhotoShop and shows a number of problems I had to overcome to get the high quality review I wanted. You’ll see how I tackled getting the right font and how I correctly arranged the different elements in the piece.

After many attempts towards this layout, I found that it wasn’t what I wanted. It didn’t quite capture the mood or tone of my film, Screen Three, which film reviews tend to do. I thoroughly experimented and continued to contact Jannath through Facebook to discuss the successes and failures of the piece. Facebook works as an effective and accessible way to send images and receive response and you can see below. During the editing processes when I wasn’t with Jannath I could easily update her with what I had in mind and we could evaluate together to get the best result possible.

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Below is a video showing the composition of our film review. The clip reveals every element that we pieced together to create our review such as the images, the different layers of text and the shapes involved.

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ANALYSING MAGAZINE FILM REVIEWS: PRESENTATION

The purpose of a film review in a magazine is to objectively analyse the subject matter and give readers a fair judgement and assessment for them to learn from however, these reviews can be presented in a number of ways.

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Above is one I analysed of Bruce Hunt’s “The Cave”. It’s a double page spread, which is what our review is intended to be, and has a variety of elements that define it as a magazine’s review which are highlighted above. Along with the critical body of the review, many things are added in to visually aid the viewer and to catch their attention such as the large image on the right and the star rating system.

a-serious-man-annotatedIf you look at this analysis, many of the things highlighted in the review of “The Cave” are also featured in this review of “A Serious Man”. There’s a formula to these texts that needs to be added into my own work.

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Above you’ll find two magazine reviews from the same magazine. The differences are the film and the time of publication. Whilst the “Pirates of the Caribbean” text was published in 2007, the Spidey-flick appeared three years earlier in 2004. Total Film has definitely changed its style and appearance but my point is, the content of the reviews haven’t differed significantly. The red lines illustrate the similarities between the two pieces despite their contrasting appearances. This goes to show the formula involved in film reviews.

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Twilight layout 2It might be interesting to note from these reviews featuring pieces from the “Twilight” saga that the reviewing magazine has a lot of control over the appearance of the film. The two films being discussed are visually similar in style however, they are presented very differently by Empire Magazine and First Magazine. You can see this contrast above. While the review must emulate the style of the film this goes to show it can be manipulative.

“WAS ALL THIS LEGAL?!”

In order to create the cinema scene, Jannath and I had the right location, props such as popcorn and popcorn boxes, and the right lighting thanks to a projector. But there’s something missing from this that would sell the scene – sound. A film is supposed to be shown right in front of Peter’s eyes. Recording the audio from the movie on set along with the dialogue would just be impractical, lack quality and undoubtedly ruin continuity. In the editing process it would be a nightmare.

Film poster for Night of the Living Dead.

Film poster for Night of the Living Dead.

However, I realised the best way to execute shooting the scene would be adding the film soundtrack later on Final Cut Pro. I could have used a soundtrack from my past films or possibly shot an entirely new audio track to place over but in my research I found an opening I could not refuse. George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead served to create the old-fashioned atmosphere I wanted for the cinema which would be violently interrupted by and contrast with the youths.

But was this legal? In a short answer: yes. The 1968 film, and its soundtrack, has entered the public domain due to an “error by the distributor”. When the film was released, US copyright law required copyright ownership to be displayed on the actual print of a film (e.g. in the credits). Early prints of Night of the Living Dead had the title Night of the Flesh Eaters, under which was the copyright information. When the title was changed for theatrical release, the distributors apparently failed to include the copyright information – leaving the film uncopyrighted and in the public domain. So it was that the distributors received all the profit from the film, and Romero never made a penny from it. This also explains why there are so many different VHS and DVD recordings (mostly of poor quality) available today. Anyone is allowed to make and distribute a copy.

This all means I am free to use the film as I please and even add it into my own movie, which is exactly what I’ve done in Screen Three. Anyone interested in watching the film, click the link below – it’s legal!

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PUTTING A FIRST EDIT TOGETHER

In order to begin our film poster, Jannath and I needed a clear understanding on the purpose of the media and how it was constructed. We did this by looking at a range of film posters from all sorts of pieces, but especially from those belonging to the drama genre.

Whilst both being dramas, He Got Game (Spike Lee, 1998) and The Sixth Sense (M. Night Shyamalan, 1999) are two very different films and their posters illustrate this.

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We had the photo we wanted to use so our next move was to open it within PhotoShop and begin editing. By studying the content and composition of various posters of films, particularly those from the drama genre, I had the knowledge of how to put together this poster and PhotoShop allowed me to put it together. Using the website, Facebook, Jannath and I could easily share our feelings towards elements of our poster at different stages. We were able to discuss what worked and what didn’t work, and you can see this below.

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I sent her screenshots of the two images below. This provided her with a visual presentation of what I had been working on and together we could come to a conclusion on an issue. In this case, we were discussing where the time should go; above or below the central image.

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22 layersAbove is the image I manipulated as the main element of my poster. By adding adjustments such as “Contrast” and “Levels” and masking on PhotoShop, I was able to make a much more stylistic image that was true to the tone of the film. It also made a more appealing photo that more easily fitted into the poster’s black background. To the left here is the alternative layers that worked together to create the final piece. Images in PhotoShop are composed from a series of layers such as smaller images, shapes and text and layers. If a layer is above another layer in the layers window, such as “Layer 14” is to “Layer 13”, it will appear above it in the workspace. Many layers were pieced together to make the final piece below.

The majority of the layers in my poster were text which consisted of different fonts set out differently; having alternative spacing and sizes. Manipulating the settings of the text was vital in getting the right look, rather than sticking to the default settings.

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COMBINING POSTERS AND ILLUSTRATIONS


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In order to experiment with poster ideas, I used Jannath’s artistic talents to replicate the work we researched together concerning illustrate film poster. Above is an early draft Jannath put together using a still from our film.

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Above and to the left are examples of illustrated film posters from the Star Wars series. These have remained some of the finest and most famous examples of this technique of construction. The painted faces create an appealing look that Jannath and I wanted to replicate. In the video below, you can see the process I undertook in PhotoShop in order to enhance the image and match it to the style of Screen Three.

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Despite the success of the image above, Jannath wanted something more detailed and so she independently pursued a painting that would be used for the poster piece. This technique of creating images is far better than the pencil drawing since it offers a much nicer, authentic look.

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I made a number of alternations on PhotoShop to the high quality image I captured with my Canon 600D camera. Examples of these stage can be seen above such as adding darkness to areas of the photo, and adding text to create the poster. Our final piece can be seen below.poster 2 edit

GENRE THOUGHTS

In film theory, genre refers to the method based on similarities in the “narrative elements from which films are constructed”. So let’s look at how this applies to my A2 film, Screen Three.

Films that fall into the drama genre exhibit real life situations with realistic characters, settings and stories and I think my film follows these conventions. Most people have been to the cinema to watch and film and many of those people have come across other members of the audience who have been a nuisance to them in their cinematic experience. In drama, “audience can often relate to the characters” and in this way, the setting and the situation of our short film is real and somewhat familiar to viewers which suggests that it belongs in the drama genre. Similarly, the abusive relationship and hateful conversation between the elderly man and the youths in our film echo the “intense social interaction” that drama films often expose to their audience.

Also, drama also features the portrayal of a journey or some kind of character development which I think lies within the story of Screen Three. At the beginning of the film, our protagonist, Peter, is calm, collected and relaxed in his environment. However, once exposed to the horrors of the youths’ abuse he dramatically changes and becomes a nervous, angry and reckless man who is a danger to those around him. The purpose of a dramatic story line is to “move an audience emotionally” and this character development, which is arguably the focus of the movie, is what achieves this effect upon viewers. “At the heart of drama is conflict” and with the youths’ abuse in mind, this is certainly within our film.

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However, within drama films “a form of realisation or happy ending” is often featured. Our film does not conform to this convention with its dramatic, shocking ending but this “happily ever after” idea is conflicted in many dramas. James Cameron’s’ Titanic breaks all the conventions as all does not end happily for the protagonists but has rather a tragic ending.

TARGET AUDIENCES

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When money is put into a film and money is intended to come out of a film, it is very much a business venture. Within business ventures one must understand what they’re getting themselves into and a big part of this is evaluating who is going to consume what you want to make and why? For example, if you spend £1,000,000 in creating a film about model trains it’s unlikely to gain a high amount of revenue due to the niche audience it exclusively appeals to. Cindy Kennaugh, President of ‘On The Mark’, explains target audience profiles (TAP) and makes it clear why they are important in business.

She writes that  TAPs are a written and “very detailed appraisal” of your customers’ characteristics, attitudes, and behaviors. TAP information typically falls into two categories: demographics and psychographics.

  • Demographics –  describe who your customers are. The most frequently used demographic variables include age, gender, occupation, location, marital status, income, education level, and nationality.
  • Psychographics – describe why your customers act as they do. For example, you might determine that you have price-sensitive customers who choose the least expensive option, or trend-conscious customers who prefer the newest, most fashionable option, or early adopters who are open to choosing new, unproven options.

Thoroughly addressing and analyzing your film’s target audience helps you and the rest of your fellow filmmakers make better, more consistent customer decisions about how to best market and sell your piece. It also reduces confusion among functional areas through a common business foundation for decision-making. Improve overall marketing focus and communication effectiveness by appealing to the customers directly and understanding what they seek in a film production.

It’s important to figure out why audiences should watch your movie.

In addition to getting inside the head of your audience, your next task is to figure out why these people enjoy your genre. Why would they want to watch your movie? What makes your movie unique from the other, competing movies in existence? How will your movie to appeal to viewing needs of your audience?

So lets think about my A2 film, Screen Three.

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Peter Glanfield in SCREEN THREE.

Our film is a drama which is thoroughly explained in my blog concerning genre. Before seeing a drama piece, most audience members are expecting a character, probably a protagonist, with whom they can empathise with and follow throughout the story such as Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) in The Shawshank Redemption. I recognised this and wanted to achieve this audience gratification within Screen Three. I did so by creating the old man character and directing the audience’s attention upon him. I planned to do this through the cinematography in order to focus much of the film upon him. Conflict is the core of most films, which is an element audiences expect within their viewing experience, particularly in drama. The conflict in Screen Three works to capture audiences and make them more easily empathise with the old man character.

The old man character is interesting since he appeals to a huge range of people. Whilst appealing to the older community who can more easily familiarise with him and his situation, young people can see his vulnerability and the pain he is experiencing throughout the film which may draw them towards this character. In this way our film appeals to a mass audience who can ride with my film’s protagonist as the film unravels. The usual age group for dramas is 15 – 45 this tells me there is a big demographic audience that can be targeted, and this works with this character.

Conventional dramas feature realistic characters in “realistic, familiar” settings. With this in mind, not only does our film appeal to fans of drama, it also appeals to more members of society since the movie theatre is a piece that can empathise with. Many audiences members may find this comforting and something they like about the film which draws them in.

Jason Brubaker is a Hollywood based Independent Motion Picture Producer and an expert in selling a film and therefore has a wealth of knowledge in regards to target audiences. He asks, “why should your audience spend two hours watching your movie?” Answering this question is important in regards to making your movie; what will the audience get from our film and how will the film be crafted to appeal to an audience with this in mind? Well I believe audience members will sit through the piece for the ride. Due to the empathy created for the protagonist through the drama in the piece, they’ll want to know what happens to him. The film is under five minutes long which appeals to young people who’ll flick through the internet looking for short films to watch and also grabs their attention for long enough without them becoming bored, which appeals to many audience members.