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Studying Horror Films


Making a horror trailer for a new horror movie. Genre ... In the trailer for the horror movie Scream the director Wes Craven is the USP ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Studying Horror Films

Studying Horror Films
  • Making a horror trailer for a new horror movie

  • A genre is a type of film romance, comedy,
    horror, science-fiction, action/adventure
  • Now complete the Genre Mix n Match activity
  • Sometimes a film borrows from more than one
    genre, these films are called Hybrids
  • Now complete the hybrid activity

So You Think You Know Horror
  • Name the films that the following characters
    appear in

The Conventions of Horror Films
  • List the conventions of horror movies
    (conventions are the elements you expect in a
    horror film)
  • Complete the conventions sheet attached

Horror Movie Conventions 1
  • Blood
  • Death
  • Killing
  • Villain
  • Victims
  • Haunted houses and isolated settings
  • Monsters
  • Evil

Horror Movie Conventions 2
  • Weapons
  • Darkness
  • Storms
  • Chase sequences
  • Gore
  • Violence
  • Screams
  • Ghosts

  • What makes us scared?

Suggested horror movies to watch
  • Scream
  • The Ring
  • Gothika
  • The Others
  • Blair Witch

Generic Horror Movie Log Sheet
  • When you watch a horror movie complete the
    following tasks about it
  • What is the film called?
  • Who directed it? (Have they directed any other
    horror films?)
  • When was it released?
  • Does it have any well known stars in it? If so
  • List the Horror genre conventions in the film.
  • What elements in the film created fear and
  • What elements in the film failed to create fear
    or suspense?
  • It is good to watch as many horror movies as you
    can. Some contemporary horror movies as well as
    some older horror movies (Halloweens, Nightmare
    on Elm Streets, Friday 13th, )
  • Complete the generic horror movie log sheet when
    watching horror films

Narrative and Character
  • Narrative most, according to Propp, film
    narratives follow this structure
  • Equilibrium disequilbrium a new state of
  • According to Propp again, there are certain
    characters in films and stories with certain
  • the hero the one on the quest and the one who
    saves the
  • day
  • the villain the evil one who causes the
  • the helper a person who helps the hero on
    their quest/the sidekick
  • the victim at the mercy of the villain
  • the donor someone who has something special
    which will help the hero
  • Complete the narrative and character worksheet
    on the horror movies that you watch

Brief Outline of the Film Industry 1
  • Production
  • A small production company will form and have an
    idea for a new movie. They will then have to get
    funding for this movie. Movies often cost many
    millions of dollars/pounds to make. The
    production company will go to a distributor for
    this money.
  • If the distributor likes the idea in other
    words that the film has a winning formula
    (similar films have been successful before) or
    that it is so brilliantly original that it amazes
    them (this is most unlikely to be the case).
    Also the idea must meet the conventions of the
    genre to which it belongs. Then the distributor
    may well lend the money for the production
    company to make their film.
  • The distributor can force changes to the idea and
    demand that certain stars appear in the film.

  • The production phase itself is split up into 3
  • Pre-production planning, design, storyboarding,
  • Production the actual shooting of the movie
  • Post-production editing the movie together,
    adding sound and special effects

Brief Outline of the Film Industry 2
  • Distributor/Distribution
  • These are the people with money. They are often
    the large studios Universal, Twentieth Century
    Fox and Warner Brothers. They are often part of
    huge media conglomerates Vivendi Universal,
    News Corporation and AOL Time Warner. They are
    wealthy and own much of the worlds media.
  • Once the film has been produced (made) then the
    distributors start marketing the film posters,
    interviews with stars, merchandise, soundtrack,
  • Seeing as the distributor lent most of the money
    for the movie then they scoop up the majority of
    the films profit.
  • The distributors are often American, hence this
    is why the American Film Industry dominates our

Brief Outline of the Film Industry 3
  • Exhibition
  • The showing of the film. This can be either
  • Cinema
  • DVD (rental and sales)
  • Video (rental and sales)
  • Satellite/digital TV and Box Office
  • Terrestrial TV

History of the Horror Movie Condensed
  • Horror movies have been around since silent
    movies (Nosferatu). Obviously being scared is
    something the audience want. The horror movie
    received a huge revival in the late 70s early
    80s (Omen and Nightmare on Elm Street) but died
    a sad death in the late 80s and throughout most
    of the 90s.
  • However, with the advent of the horror smash
    parody Scream the genre is, once again, extremely
  • What was frightening back in the silent movie
    days and what is frightening now may well have
    changed. As society changes so do our fears.
  • For example, when moving image was first invented
    footage of a moving train caused fear in the
    audience because people really believed that the
    train would come straight out of the screen
  • The web address above will take you through the
    top one hundred horror movies.
  • Research and produce your own power point
    presentation of the history of the horror movie

Textual Analysis of the opening sequence to Scream
  • The opening sequence to Scream is Wes Craven at
    his best he deliberately uses some of the most
    common horror conventions in the genre
  • Complete the worksheets on the opening sequence
    to Scream

Textual Analysis Important definitions
  • Denotation a description of what is actually
    there in the frame
  • Connotation what are the suggested meanings of
    the elements you have identified under the
    section of denotation
  • Complete the denotation/connotation activities

Camera Angles
  • Extreme Close Up
  • This is used to
  • Emphasise something.
  • What is this image
  • Emphasising? In other
  • Words, what is the
  • Connotation of this
  • Image?

Camera Angles
  • Close Up
  • This is where the
  • subject fills the frame
  • it shows emotion.
  • what is the connotation
  • of this
  • close up?

Camera Angles
  • Dutch Tilt
  • Where the subject is
  • tilted. Often used in
  • horror to create
  • disorientation. What
  • is the connotation of this
  • Dutch Tilt?

Camera Angles
  • Extreme Long shot
  • This is where the setting
  • Fills the frame. It is
  • An establishing shot which
  • Sets the scenewhat is the
  • Connotation of this shot?

Camera Angles
  • Long shot
  • this is where
  • we see the subject
  • in relation to their
  • surrounding
  • the setting dominates.
  • what is the connotation
  • of this image?

Camera Angles
  • Medium long shot
  • this is where the setting
  • and the subject are
  • in equal proportion.
  • What is the connotation
  • of this still?

Camera Angles
  • Medium Shot this
  • is when the subject is cut
  • off at the waist. You
  • can still see their costume
  • but also some of their
  • emotions. What is
  • the connotation of this still?

Camera Angles
  • Medium Close Up
  • When you can still see
  • some of the subjects
  • physique but their emotions
  • are clearly evident. What
  • is the connotation of this
  • still?

Camera Movement
  • Zoom when zooming in the camera does not move
  • Tracking (dollying) the camera moves smoothly
    towards or away from the subject
  • Pan the camera moves from left to right
    following a moving subject.
  • Hand-held camera produces a jerky movement,
    creating a sense of reality/chaos
  • Steadicam a hand-held camera worn with a
    harness to achieve a steady shot

  • This occurs everytime that a film is cut. A film
    is never shot in the order that the events
    happen. This would cost a fortune all
    sequences with the same location will be shot at
    the same time regardless of where they appear in
    the narrative. Sometimes the opening sequence to
    a film will be the last sequence to be shot.
    When a sequence has high octane action the
    cuts/editing is fast and numerous
  • Chase sequences are very good to demonstrate this

Soundtrack and Sound effects
  • Soundtrack this is the music playing in the
    background. It can be diegetic or non-diegetic.
    If the sound is part of the narrative, the action
    (eg a radio playing in the shot) it is
    diegetic. However, more often than not, the
    soundtrack is non-diegetic. Music playing in the
    background which is not evident in the action.
  • Sound effects these are the effects added
    during post-production. For example, explosions,
  • Jaws watch a shark approaching sequence without
    the sound and then with the sound!? Notice the
  • Costumes tell you something about the character
    (the genre too)? What are the
  • Connotation of the following costumes?

  • What are the connotations of the props in these

  • What are the connotations of the lighting used in
    the stills below?

  • If you were to pause a moment in a film, that
    frame would be mise-en-scene. Textual analysis
    of elements within this frame, in terms of
    denotation and connotation, is mise-en-scene.

Your practical production 1
  • You must first form a production team and invent
    a name for your production company
  • You must then begin your primary research
  • The target audience is very important in any
    media product. You must meet their needs in
    order for your product to be a success. So,
    decide on your target audience (teen) and create
    a questionnaire which sets out to discover what
    horror movies are popular with this audience,
    what their fears are, what conventions they rate
    as the most important in a horror film
  • Hint make your questionnaires easy to fill in
    and give the participants choices to choose from.
    Dont ask a random question like Why do you
    like horror movies? Instead, give them a list of
    possible reasons to choose from to state why they
    like horror movies this will make your analysis
    much easier

Your Practical Production 2
  • Once your questionnaires have been completed and
    your results have been analysed (together with
    your knowledge of the horror genre and your
    knowledge and analysis of horror movies clips)
    you will be able to begin brainstorming possible
    ideas for your own horror movie

Your Practical Production 3
  • Once you have decided on an idea for your own
    horror movie then you must write the TREATMENT
    for your film. A treatment is a 200 plot summary
    of what happens.
  • When the treatment is complete you may begin
    inventing your PITCH

Your Practical Production 4
  • The Film Pitch
  • This is a very short sales pitch about your film
    designed to get distributors interested in your
  • Films have been sold with pitches of only three
    words the film Alien was sold on the pitch
    Jaws in Space

The Film Pitch

Your Practical Production 5
  • Once you have pitched your film and created your
    treatment. You are ready to move straight from
    production into post-production.
  • The distributor farms out the job of creating
    the trailer for a film to a post-production
  • You, in effect, will become that post-production
    house and create your own trailer for your new
    horror movie

The Film Trailer 1
  • Film trailers are between 2-3 minutes long. They
    have about 100 cuts in them. They are designed
    to make the audience feel both
  • The pleasure of the text the audience
    recognises familiar conventions and narratives
  • Suspense in the audience by the use of engima
    codes. Who is the killer? What happens in the
  • The film trailer itself tends to be structured in
    the following way this structure is not set in
    stone and can be moved around to have a greater

The film trailer 2
  • The distribution company logo
  • The production company logo
  • The narrative establisher a series of longer
    sequences which establish the fundamental
    storyline of the film
  • The stars or the USP the unique selling point
    often stars or directors. Horror movies
    traditionally dont always use well-known stars
    because the audience feel more uncomfortable with
    actors they dont recognise and that dont make
    them feel secure. In the trailer for the horror
    movie Scream the director Wes Craven is the USP
    because he is famous for directing the cult
    horror film Nightmare on Elm Street
  • A series of quick, exciting, sequences that are
    full of suspense from the film this is the
    convincer in that it should create enough
    suspense to ensure that the audience decide to go
    and watch the film
  • All through the trailer will appear the
    conventions of the genre
  • The black and white film listings
  • Complete the trailer analysis worksheets
  • Go to for film trailers

  • Now, in your production teams, please storyboard
    your film trailer using the conventions of

  • You must number each image/sequence on your
  • Underneath each image on your storyboard you
    should include some notes as to camera angles,
    lighting, etc
  • Please see attached blank storyboard

Prop ListCast List
  • In order to organise yourselves effectively you
    must complete an prop list and a cast list for
    your trailer
  • Please see attached blank listings

Production Schedule
  • Your production team must complete a production
    schedule. You must not go over schedule as you
    will go over budget and the distribution company
    would lose profits
  • See attached blank production schedule

Edit List
  • Now you have shot your footage you must now look
    at the footage on your tape and number the
    sequences a description of them in the order
    they appear on the tape. Then you have to, using
    your footage list, prepare an edit list of the
    sequences you will use and the order they are to
    be edited in
  • See blank sheets attached

Evaluating your product
  • You must evaluate your product and the stages of
  • Please see attached evaluation structure

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