The Impossible – researching emotional scenes

As part of my research, I have been looking into different movie scenes that are considered very emotional.

One of the scenes that is discussed regularly online is the reunion scene from The Impossible, a film that is based around the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and focuses on the experience of Maria Belon and her family who all survived the catastrophe.

 In this end scene it focuses on the family being reunited again after searching for one another. I have watched the scene several times and each time I have watched it I have written down the different factors that made me feel emotional.

Here are the reasons:

  1. I found that the music was the key factor that had the biggest impact on me. The music in this scene is very dramatic , slowly building up to a climax as the brothers rush to meet one another. The music , as well as being emotional, created a tense atmosphere as well. Throughout the whole film you are waiting for the family to be reunited and as I was waiting for the music  to grow faster and louder, I felt myself becoming more tense as I was waiting for another disaster to keep them seperated.

      2. Even though this film is set around a Tsunami which many audiences would not be able to relate too, the fact that it is based around the struggles of a family is something that  audiences will be able to relate too. The loss of family is something that many people are fearful of, so putting  the audience in a situation where they are confronted with a family losing one another really plays to their emotions and puts them on the edge.

      3. The cinematography in this scene is very effective in creating emotion. The film uses a variety of shots ; however, I found that the most emotional shots were the close ups. This is because the camera really captures the emotion on the actors faces, meaning that we can really relate to the characters and feel the same emotions that they are.


Sourcing Music + Sound Effects

The same way I did for my horror / fear movie, I have spent time researching into music and sound effects that are going to have the biggest impact on my audience and in my film.

Here are some of the music / sound effects that I have managed to find that I believe will work for my film.

This music is perfect for the beginning of my film. At the beginning everything is perfect, sunny and happy… all three emotions and feelings that are portrayed throughout this music. This instrumental uses higher notes and a quicker tempo to help give the emotions of happiness. I particularly like the bird tweets that are placed in various places throughout the instrumental as it gives it a natural feel and also the illusion of being outside, which is where the beginning of my film starts.

When my protagonist drops her food I want to edit the shot into slow motion, with this sound accompanying it. The reason for this is I believe slow motion can really highlight a problematic situation and by adding the slow motion sound effect as well it will increase the dramatic feel and pull the audience into the story further.

This piece of music is what I am hoping to use for the sad / emotional part of my video. I think this music will work well as it’s very slow and sticks to lower chords which give a depressing and upsetting feeling. It is also a well known pop song that includes emotional lyrics, so by using the instrumental of this song the audience will instantly relate it to the version they know which will increase the chances of them feeling emotional.

I asked my project partner for feedback. Here is what she had to say :

“I love the slow music one, it instantly made me feel sad as I know the original version with the sad lyrics so I instantly put two and two together. The happy music is perfect as well, made me think of a sunny day and made me all happy and giddy. I think the slow motion sound effect will work well as long as it is used appropriately, it could be quite difficult to incorporate but would be really effective if managed!”

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.


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.”

Project Revamp

After receiving the presentation feedback from fellow peers and analysing the most effective route for my project, I have decided to slightly tweak my ideas.

Initially I wanted to create three adverts that will emotionally connect with audiences in a variety of ways; however, after hearing that a better route for me would be to create just three short pieces of video rather than adverts, I have decided to create three short films that will focus on different story lines.

I believe that by creating two short films,  I will be able too experiment with different video elements in a more in depth manner as I won’t be restricted to sticking to an ‘advertisement’ style.

My previous research into advertisements is still relevant as they still use the same video elements as short films do; however I will now be researching into short films as well to gain an understanding of how they are structured and formed.

This will need me to create a new treatment which can be seen in the next blog post.


“My Daddy Is A Liar” Researching Content

As part of my developing of ideas I have decided to research into other companies ads and look how they create emotion within an audience.

I have already established that I want to create a series of short adverts that will raise emotion within the audience by using different video elements; however I am still not sure on the route to go down with the kind of storyline that I want to focus around. I am clear that I do not want to create a typical, ‘normal’ charity advert as after reading the article by The Guardian it is clear that audiences have become numb to the emotion and are asking for more. I have debated about the different story lines that I could create to help create emotion and have started to put together an idea that will focus on a non emotional situation and create it into something that has the ability to create emotion within an audience.

To help me develop further on my ideas I have been looking at lots of different adverts, not just charity ones, and have been analysing them to deduce what factors they use to create emotion.

One of the most emotional yet revealing adverts I came across was an advert for insurance company MetLife which is considered as one of the biggest life insurance companies in the world. Many people will not find the prospect of a life insurance company as an emotional situation in comparison to a situation like child abuse; however, through the use of the advert “My Daddy Is A Liar” they have managed to create a relatable, powerful video that audiences have clung too much harder than many of the charity campaigns that they have seen.

The advertisement from MetLife has been able to create emotion and passion for several different reasons.

The most powerful attribute of the advert is the use of the non-diegetic voiceover that narrates the story behind the advertisement. The use of the voiceover is key to creating emotion as the audience are able to relate to the young female protagonist who is shown, this being important as it is implied that she is the one who is narrating the emotional story of the advertisement.

The non-diegetic background music is also an emotional contribution. This is because when the advertisement is focusing on the positive scenarios at the beginning there is happy and upbeat music which determines the happiness and glee that the audience feel from watching the scenes. Yet, halfway through the advertisement the music suddenly changes to a more slow and dramatic piece of music to accompany the revelation that the scenes we saw at the beginning are actually in reality sad and upsetting situations. The use of slower and lower key music has the capability of creating the emotion of sadness within an audience.

As with any video footage, camera shots and lighting have major parts to play in creating emotion. The lighting especially determines the emotions that the audience should be feeling. An example of this is when it has been revealed how much the father has been suffering and the camera focuses on the young girl writing the poem. The video shows her sitting in a dark room with a single beam of light focusing on her as she writes. This has the connotation of her being “the light in the dark” for her father as he focuses on creating her a better future, this can then affect the audience as it can be relatable to an audience who also have children and can sometimes feel the same struggle.  Many wide shots are used in the advert to show the full impact of the scenarios that both protagonists are going through which have a bigger impact on the audiences, especially when it focuses on the struggles of the father. Close up shots were used several times throughout the advert, especially when it came to focusing on how the young girl feels when she sees her father struggling. The use of close ups are important as it really allows the audience to feel how the character who is being displayed might feel.

All four elements of voiceover, background music, camera shot and lighting are elements that I really want to focus in on my own production work as I believe they are key to being able to create successful emotion within an audience, whether it be happiness, sadness or anger. This advertisement inspires me as it shows that a simple idea can be formulated in a way that makes a massive impact on audiences just through the use of video elements.

An article based around the advertisement and stating it the “saddest TV advert ever” can be seen here where they discuss the advert and why it is effective. It also highlights how successful it is at promoting life insurance and whether audiences would buy the insurance from MetLife after viewing the advert.


Article: KARA O’NEILL. 2015. The saddest TV advert ever? Tear-jerking clip is a must watch for parents who do the school run. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 February 16]

Term 2 – Creating Ideas + Inspiration

For my second term of Intensive Production I have decided to focus on video and the emotional impact that it can have on audiences. I want to explore the way that different aspects of video can change the emotional status of an individual. The different aspects I will be exploring are:

  • camera shots
  • sound
  • lighting
  • costume
  • setting

The inspiration for this idea originated from a Save The Children advert that had been shared on Facebook. The advert had received 52 million views through Youtube and Facebook; however it was my own reaction to the advert and the comments that people had posted about their reactions that started me thinking about the how video can affect someone emotionally and mentally.

Among the comments I read, people were stating that they were “reduced to tears” and that it “gave them another outlook on life” and I began to analyse how people could become so emotionally connected to a person that they had never met before just from watching a 90 second video campaign.  I started to write down different aspects of the video that brought emotion within myself (which will be explained in greater detail in my next post) and quickly realised that it was elements such as close up camera shots, diegetic sounds and shocking imagery that brought the  most emotion.