Storyboard #1

Here is a rough sketch of my storyboard for my ‘Fear’ video. I will be including extra shots however these are the key shots that I want and need to be able to capture.

A storyboard is beneficial to me as it  helps me get my thoughts together and gives me a good direction to start in. It also makes sure that I don’t forget to capture important and key shots, something that could happen if I am no prepared enough.

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Researching Monsters + Creating Characters

In a typical horror movie there is always a stereotypical ‘damsel in distress’ protagonist who is being haunted/ chased by a crazy, unknown monster. My own horror film is not going to be any different and there are several reasons why this is. In this blog post I am going to be researching into previous horror protagonists and monsters and also put together, in description, the characters that I plan to use.

As I plan to focus on how effective editing can be rather than the storyline of my short film, I have chosen to stick to a typical horror cliche story so that it is easy to understand  and simple which means more emphasis will be put on how effective the editing actually is.

Inspiration for my own horror movie monster

JIGSAW, Saw Movies

The Jigsaw is one of the most infamous horror movie icons. The reason this monster inspires my own horror movie creature is because he is a figure that is controlled by someone else, playing into the ‘fear of the unknown’ theory as the audience never really know at first who is controlling this character. The Jigsaw character is also very menacing to look at which instantly makes the audience uneasy, putting them on edge straight away as they are constantly expecting this character to do something scary.

GHOSTFACE, Scream

Some  of the scariest horror movie monsters wear masks and the character from ‘Scream’ is not any different. Ghostface is considered scary for the same reason as Jigsaw is… we, as an audience, do not know what is behind the mask and that makes us feel uneasy. The use of masks means that the identity of the monster is concealed which reduces the risk of an audience being able to relate and connect with them, meaning they become more fearful and dangerous to the protagonist as we do not know what they are capable of. The use of masks is a regular prop within horror, as can be seen in the images below which are taken from several different movies.

Killers, The Purge

 

Michael Myers
Hannibal Lecter

 

Through this research it inspired me to have my own ‘dissertation’ monster conceal themselves behind a mask. Even though I am focusing on how effective the editing is and am using a non scary plot line to create horror, I still need my characters to be effective and fearful. I want my horror character to wear a mask as it disguises the character and makes the audience ask questions such as “who is this person? Are they going to harm someone?”. These questions then add to the build up of the horror.

I roughly sketched what I wanted my antagonist to look like:

Even though this drawing looks pleasant because of the smile, I am planning on placing it on the suffocating, tied up pillowcase to give a sinister and uneasy feeling. The black holes instead of eyes takes away any connection that the audience may be able to  have with the antagonist while the ‘dried blood’ gives an ominous and gruesome feel. The tied rope around the bottom of the mask connotes the feeling of ‘being suffocated’ which represents how my protagonist feels with the pressure of her final dissertation deadline.

I asked my project partner, Tara Rance, for feedback on my antagonist.

I think that it’s going to work really well. I love the idea of the rope suffocating the antagonist which then represents the suffocation that the protagonist is feeling from her deadline. I think the ‘dried blood’ could be a bit too much but its worth a try, this character is all about creating an eerie feeling rather than being gruesome. Also, it would be hard to tie that ‘dried blood’ into the idea that this is a dissertation deadline monster’.

The Power of Sound + Sourcing Music / Sound Effects

One of the key differences to whether a horror movie is successful or not is through the sound effects/ music that is used. I have focused of the effect of music in a previous blog post (which can be seen here); however, I wanted to research further into how I can use music and sound within my editing to create more of an impact.

In many of the articles I searched through such as ” Putting fear in you ears: what makes music sound scary”  and “Why is scary music scary? Here’s the science.”, they discuss how music that is “non linear” has a bigger effect on audiences and creates higher anxiety which leads to the audience becoming more scared. A key example they use is the music from Jaws, “ominous bars of music signaling the approaching shark in Jaws, some of the most recognizable film scores were designed to terrify us.”

Reading these articles inspired me to start researching for my own music that I want to use in my short horror movie, a key element to my project idea that editing can change the mood of video.  I used YouTube to search through many different pieces of music, sound effects and songs to find the ones that I believe would be suitable for my own horror video.

This are the ones  that I found most effective and had the biggest impact on me as a listener (warning, some of the images are gruesome.)

As soon as I listened to these different pieces of music and sounds, I was instantly on edge as they are the definition of creepy and horror.  I found the last video, “creepy  child laughing”, the most effective as it played on my childhood fears of creepy characters that I can not relate too. Not being able to relate with the character that is laughing creates horror as it is  creating the fear of the unknown, an important factor for my own horror video. I believe that this specific piece of music will be really effective in my own horror video as the high pitched laughing connotes a sinister being which will help add fear to my short film.

I asked my project partner, Tara Rance, what pieces of music she found effective and why. Here’s the comments that she had to make:

“The first piece of music is very eerie. The mixture of the low, omnious tones and high pitched quick beats made the hairs go up on my arms as it made me think of creepy music boxes. The video  with the song that the creepy child is laughing was the most effective for me as I have always had an irrational fear , like many people, of dolls and creepy children so it just reminded me of them. It would definitely work in your video I think as its about an unknown figure that is haunting the protagonist and by having that creepy laugh it shows you that this unknown character is sinister and something to be afraid of.”

The Allure of Horror + How I Plan To Terrify

Psychologist Dr. Glenn D.Walters identifies primary factors of the horror film allure.

Tension – created through mystery, suspense, gore, terror or shock… all of these being straightforward elements of horror film making.

As I am not focusing on a stereotypical horror monster that can create terror and gore, I am going to have to rely on suspense and mystery when it comes to creating my own short horror film. This is going to be done by taking inspiration from films such as ‘The Strangers’ (which can be seen here) and using elements that I have learnt from the movie such as jump scares and creating the illusion of something happening when nothing exciting is actually happening.

Relevance – Dr Walters argues that for a horror video to be seen it has to be relevant to potential viewers.

Relevance can take the form of universal relevance , capturing the universal fear of death and the unknown.

It can also take the form of cultural relevance, for example dealing with societal issues.

Personal relevance takes the form of audience being able to identify with the protagonist.

Relevance is key to my horror film as it is what is going to help my audience relate and really connect with the piece of video. The more enthralled and engaged my audience are, the more likely they are to become scared. I am planning on connecting universal relevance  and personal relevance to my horror video as I believe they are the most effective forms of relevance.

I will create universal relevance by capturing the unknown through the figure that is haunting my protagonist. It will make them ask questions  such as “who is that?” and “are they going to hurt someone?”. It has been proven that ‘fear of the unknown’ is what drives audience the most when it  comes to watching horror movies. In an article by SCREENCRAFT (which can be seen here), the writer talks about how “it’s what you don’t see that will scare you the most”. They use Jaws as a key example. Through the  use of the iconic music score that represents the movement of the shark, fear was created throughout the audience without them physically seeing the monster.

References 

Filmmaker IQ. 2014. FilmMakerIQ. [ONLINE] Available at: http://filmmakeriq.com/lessons/the-psychology-of-scary-movies/. [Accessed 2nd April 2016].

Ken Miyamoto. 2015. ScreenCraft. [ONLINE] Available at: https://screencraft.org/2015/10/30/8-ways-horror-movies-scare-the-s-out-of-audiences/. [Accessed 4th April 2016].

 

Researching Scare Elements – The Strangers

To get a better understanding of how effective elements of scary movies are (e.g. jump scares, atmospheric music) I have researched into some of the highly recommended scary scenes that have been aired throughout the years in cinema and TV.

The Strangers (2008)

The Strangers is a horror movie which plays into the mental vulnerability of an audience. It focuses on a couple who visit a house out in the woods, who are then terrorised by three masked maniacs. The Strangers is considered so effective by many critics as it plays with the fear that people are in your home, watching you and ready to scare you.

As stated in my treatment, I am using my own house as a location for my piece of video that aims to bring fear into audiences because your own home is somewhere you would consider as ‘safe’. By choosing to use my own home I will be able to create fear into my audience straight away as I am using the scenario that most people dread – somebody being in your house while you’re at home. The Strangers has done the exact same thing by using a cabin that is known to the characters and a cabin that they have visited many times before. By placing these masked figures inside the house it gets rid of all boundaries, making the film unpredictable as anything could happen.

The scene I have inserted below is considered to be one of the most tense and vulnerable scenes throughout the movie, so this is the one that I have chosen to analyse.

This scene is a perfect example of how suspense and fear is created without anything dramatic happening. It also relates perfectly to my previously analysed article,” So you want to make a horror film?”, as it includes many of the basic elements that have been proven to work within horror movies.

Small aspects of the scene, such as at 1:58 when a loud thud creates a basic jump scare is a simple but effective way of creating anticipation and fear within the audience. Nothing is seen but the scenarios that are associated with the jump scare is what makes the audience fearful. It has been proven that audiences are affected more by what they can’t see than what they can.

 

“So you want to make a horror film?…”

Now that I have a complete project treatment and a clear outline on where I want to go with my project, I have started to research further into articles and pieces of video that can relate to my new project ideas.

As I am attempting to create a short horror piece that creates fear within my audience (even though the story is not an actual horror story !), I found this article by Film Maker Magazine very helpful and relevant. I have never created a horror video before which without the right research and practice could become a massive hindrance; however this article plainly explains what it is that people find so fascinating with horror and the easiest ways to create successful pieces of fearful video. Even thought my story line isn’t one that is filled with monsters, ghosts and gore and instead is just a simple story of a female being chased by her dissertation deadline, the same concept of horror movie formats apply to my piece of video if I want to be able to create this fear within my audience which is the overall goal of my project.

In the article it states that “technique, execution and timing are crucial” if I want to make a simple horror video that manages to actually scare audiences. They also state that a good horror film builds on atmosphere and is not just ” a steady stream of jump scares”.  Being able to build an atmosphere is what can either make or break how successful you are at scaring an audience.

“A good horror film has an underlying atmosphere, a moody visual undertone that creates a sense of dread, wonder and mystique and leaves us with snapshots of unforgettable imagery” – A.D.Calvo, FilmMaker Magazine

“…it’s more about haunting foreplay than bang, bang, and you’re dead.” – A.D.Calvo, FilmMaker Magazine

A.D.Calvo (the writer of the article) explains that suspense is key to creating atmosphere. People are generally more scared of what they can’t see rather than being confronted with something they can see as they are able to make sense of what they can see and can become immune to the fear that is being offered. Calvo says that suspense “should be a natural byproduct of your narrative” and not be forced into the story line. This is key to me as it has told me that my story line / story board needs to include naturally suspenseful situations such as someone moving in the background in a dark corridor, rather than try and force it on situations which wouldn’t be considered full of suspense e.g. boiling a kettle.

“Darkness and dramatic shadow are often used to elicit suspense, like when we hear something and can’t see what it is, or catch a glimpse of something moving in the background but can’t quite make it out.”

“The sense of blindness increases tension. It’s creepy to hear something and not know where it’s coming from.”

The post talks about the different jump scares which are involved within horror movies. Jump scares are crucial as they can add to the suspense; however, they need to be carried out well and with good timing otherwise they can add up too “a series of annoying bangs”.

Basic Jump Scare – we suddenly see something creepy and punctuate it with sound design (an orchestral swell or a percussive hit).

Faux Scare (a.k.a., Cat Scare, Cabinet Scare) – when something is making a sound and it turns out to be just a cat—one that jumps out, hissing, at the protagonist (or at camera).  “We breathe a sigh of relief in that moment, but then, oftentimes, we’re hit again, BANG!!, the Double Scare – BUT this time, it’s the boogeyman.”

Reveal Scares (e.g., Door Scare, Mirror Scare)- the protagonist swings open a door, obscuring the background, then they close the door, revealing the monster standing right behind them, like a magic trick.“That one gets me every time. And it also works great with mirrors. I mentioned this type of scare above, under Suspense, but without the overt use of sound design, it plays out differently, adding more suspense rather than triggering a jump.”

All of these revelations from the article are all ones that have been able to help me with the kind of approach I am going to take with my own horror video. It is an article that gives me the DO’s and the DONT’S for creating my horror video while also telling me what vital parts of horror need to be included to make my video successful. The different jump scare explanations will be important to me as jump scares are what make a horror video so they are crucial to my own production, which I have a better understanding of now that I have read this article by FilmMaker magazine.

A.D.Davo. 2013. So you want to make a horror film? On jumpscares and other frights. [ONLINE] Available at: http://filmmakermagazine.com/76622-so-you-want-to-make-a-horror-film-on-jump-scares-and-other-basics-of-fright/#.Vwzt8nErJaQ. [Accessed 13 April 2016].