Another emotional theory is by pyschologist Richard Lazaru, called cognitive appraisal.
His research shows that people’s experience of emotion depends on the way they appraise or evaluate the events around them.
A key example he uses is :
“If Tracy is driving on a winding road by the edge of a high cliff, she may be concerned about the danger of the road. Her passenger, on the other hand, thinks about the beauty of the view. Tracy will probably feel frightened, while her passenger may feel exhilarated.”
Before I start to piece together my ideas for my short film that focuses on using editing to make audiences sad, I have to research into why audiences cry at movies in the first place.
In an article “People why cry at movies aren’t weak they are emotionally strong” from Elite Daily (here), the writer talks about how its a positive sign that audiences cry at movies as it can make them more “empathetic, sociable and generous”.
“Empathy is a vital aspect of emotional intelligence” – John Haltiwanger, Elite Daily
“Movies are designed to impact us on an emotional level and they frequently succeed in this endeavor.”
” When we watch films with highly emotional content, it releases oxytocin — a potent hormone that also behaves as a neurotransmitter in the brain. Oxytocin is what helps us connect with other humans and compels us to be more empathic, loving, trusting and unselfish individuals. Paul J. Zak, a neuroeconomist at Claremont Graduate School, is a world-renowned expert on oxytocin, which he has dubbed the “moral molecule.” In an experiment conducted by one of his graduate students, participants were shown a video from St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, TN. One half of the group saw a portion of the video in which a father discusses the terminal brain cancer of his young son, Ben. The other half watched a part where Ben and his father visited the zoo. The portion of the video in which Ben’s cancer was discussed was obviously more difficult to watch and produced a more emotional response. But the participants who watched it exhibited a 47 percent increase of oxytocin as measured in blood, which also proved to alter their behavior in positive ways.”
“What this all suggests is we cry during emotional movies because of oxytocin, which makes us feel more connected with the characters while increasing levels of empathy, altruism and even fulfillment.”
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.”