Group 3 - Exceptional

Prelim Task Group 1E - "I've been expecting you"

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Note to the Moderator

Dear Moderator,

Firstly thank you for taking the time to look at my blogs, it has taken alot of time and work but I hope that it's been worth it. I am very pleased with everything that has been produced and hopefully you will enjoy having a look around.

My blog is linked to the group blog, you can get from my individual blog to the group blog by following the link on the right hand sidebar. I have also included the links to my group member's blogs (Olivia Cole, Frank Tan and Eoin Brogan). There is also a link for the class blog called BLK Foundation Blog, which is linked to everyone's work. Feel free to have a look around.

On my individual blog you will find all of my individual research, initial ideas and planning prior to when we got together as a group. You can also look at my work from the preliminary task, including the final video, reflections on the development of the project as it progressed and my answers to the evaluation questions.

The group blog provides evidence of the research, planning and production work that we used during the process. It shows the development from our early ideas to the final project and the influences that shaped our film.  The finished and final opening sequence has been linked at the top of each blog.
Hopefully you will find it easy to navigate around my blogs. Everything is organised in date order from the start of the project in January 2011 until we finished in April 2011. I have used labels to identify all the research, planning, production and evaluation work that I have completed on my individual blog. On the group blog, we have used the same labels to organise the posts. You can also find a label with my name showing my individual contributions.

Once again, thanks for taking the time to look around.

Narishma Poonwasie - 3620

Closing Post

The project has officially come to an end. It has been alot of fun (but alot of work) and I have enjoyed working with my group during the process.
Goodbye Blog!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Question 1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

Genre and Conventions
The primary genre of ‘Exceptional’ is Action/Adventure but the sub-genre and most dominant genre of the film is Superhero. The film also fits into a number of other genres including romance and comedy, mainly due to the hero and the love interest.
Our main inspirations for the opening sequence include the Spiderman trilogy (Sam Raimi – 2002, 2004, 2007) and Kick Ass (Matthew Vaughan – 2010).

Conventions of Superhero films and how we followed them:
  • Unpopular, Nerdy Superhero
  • Popular, pretty girl as the hero's love interest
  • Hidden Powers
  • Orientated around a school setting in a large city
  • Idea of morality and good triumphing over evil
  • Special Effects
  • Epic Soundtrack and Voiceover Introduction
Spiderman Vs. Exceptional
How we broke conventions:
  • Angus is more socially awkward and isolated compared to Peter Parker
  • He doesn't have a latex costume or mask
  • He doesn’t have a special superhero name, i.e. ‘Spiderman’ , ‘Batman’, ‘Superman’
  • The concept of showing how he discovered his superpowers in the opening titles is not normal especially as this is not a sequel
Narrative Structure

Our film consists of conventional character types that are found in nearly all superhero films.
  • Hero - Angus Archer
  • Love Interest (who becomes the damsel-in-distress) - Jessica Butler
  • Nemesis - Fame Hungry presenter/journalist
  • Helpless citizens
Jessica follows the stereotypical
love interest role
Todorov's theory of equilibrium

Todorov's theory states that the narrative in every film will follow the sequence of: equilibrium (the norm.), disruption (an event to disturb normality), journey (the hero has to find a solution) and a resolution/new equilibrium (a new normal is found). When constructing the plot of 'Exceptional' we kept this in mind and ensured that we followed the theory.

Binary Opposites

In order to form conflict within the film, we used the following binary opposites:
  • Good vs Evil
  • Outcast vs Popular
  • Hero vs Villain
  • Female vs Male
Barthes' Codes

We incorporated Roland Barthes' theory that a narrative can be broken down into Action, Enigma, Semiotic, Cultural and Symbolic Codes into the opening sequence in order to intrigue and assist the audience while they are piecing together their ideas about who the characters are and what events will follow.

The main codes that we used were:

Action Codes
  • When the bullies throw the paper ball at Angus, we know instantly that they are his enemies at school and that at some point in the film they will be defeated/humiliated.
  • When Jessica tells the bullies to stop picking on Angus we know that she is not the 'snobby' type of popular girl and is most likely going to be involved with Angus at a later time

Enigma Codes
  • Why does Angus not reveal his powers to anyone?
  • How and why does Angus have superpowers?
Cultural Codes
  • The School Bell - the audience would understand that they are in a school

Continuity Editing

In order to ensure that the narrative was seamless for the audience, we had to follow a number of rules relating to continuity including the match-on-match, 180 degrees, eyeline match and shot-reverse-shot. Most of our sequence follows the rules but we did have a few errors that we spotted in post-production. These include the bright pink coat being folded over the chair differently and a seat being down in one shot and then being stored up in another. Below is a video of some of the continuity errors made in Spiderman.


Conventions of Opening Sequences and how we followed them:
  • Introduction of main characters
  • Opening credits displaying the names of the main actors, director and producer
  • Establishing locations
  • Use of continuity editing through match-on-match action, shot/reverse/shot and following the 180-degree rule
The majority of inspiration for the opening sequence, especially the graphics came from the opening credits of Spiderman 2 (see the video above). This allowed us to establish the brief story behind Angus' powers without having to spend time on that in the film. In a way this was also a way in which we challenged conventions because our film is not a sequel, whereas Spiderman was. Therefore in Spiderman it was merely a refresher for the audience, whereas we are telling the story for the first time.


We decided to incorporate the comic book aspect into the film by applying comic book freeze frames on certain shots in order to establish characters or highlight changes in scene. Kick Ass did this to some extent with the rectangle detailing location, etc. Although this is mostly associated with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, as their USP was the gaming special effects that were applied.

Question 2: How does your media product represent particular social groups?

In order to target a broad audience, we looked at a range of representation areas, including age, gender and social status. I think that the most important one of these was Social Status because it enabled us to magnify the concept that our protagonist is a social outcast.

Social Status

As you can see from the still above, Angus is sitting by himself engrossed in his drawing, while everyone else has someone sitting near them. We purposefully placed the actors like this in order to emphasise visually how isolated the hero is. To demonstrate it clearly to the audience we used a Master Shot to not only highlight the isolation but also where everyone was sitting in relation to him. It also points out the different social groups that exist in the scene.
Of course we would not be able to draw attention to how isolated Angus is without demonstrating the stereotypical social groups in a school. We decided to include three of the most conventional character types that are included in superhero films, these were:
  • The Jocks
    • They are usually the sporty type
    • They 'run the school'
    • Normally pick on the vulnerable
  • The Popular Girls
    • Very feminine characters
    • Prettiest girls in school
    • Everyone wants to be them or with them
  • The Outcasts
    • Isolated from the others
    • Usually quite 'nerdy'
    • Picked on regularly

Gender is mainly represented in our opening sequence through the costumes and the interaction between the hero, Angus Archer, and the damsel-in-distress, Jessica Butler.
Jessica's costume is conventionally very feminine
The Bullies have stereotypically sporty and casual clothing
The interaction between the two main characters reflects something similar to the situation that many males and females find themselves in at school. It is evident throughout the opening sequence that Angus is uncomfortable and nervous about talking to Jessica due to how clumsy and hesitant he becomes. The main ways in which this is demonstrated is the ‘clumsy clamber’, the slight hesitation when handing back her coat and the shot-reverse-shot of their conversation.

To demonstrate the idolisation of Jessica we have used the voiceover and a comic book freeze frame effect. Jessica is the girl that Angus has been crushing on for most of his high school life, and following the conventions of other superhero films, she is the popular girl at school who is very feminine. When brainstorming ideas for the character of Jessica, we took inspiration from Mary-Jane Watson in the Spiderman Trilogy. 
Mary-Jane Watson

Question 3: What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?

The name of our production company is 'Offbeat Productions'. We are an independent company based in the UK that specialise in producing films with niche concepts.

For 'Exceptional' we decided that 'Box Spotlight' would distribute our film, they are a global institution who are both vertically and horizontally integrated. They have a keen interest in films that are able to reach wide audiences but have niche plot/ideas. The main aspect of our film that would appeal to them is the fact that we are pushing the extent to which the hero is isolated, and even though he fits many of the conventions of the typical hero, he does not have a latex suit and he hasn't got a special superhero name. This makes the narrative much more 'real' and relative to everyday life.

'Box Spotlight' is most similar to 'Fox Searchlight' as they focus on producing and distributing films with niche concepts and are made independently but still have a wide appeal. Examples of their biggest grossing films are displayed in the moodboard below.

Fox Searchlight's top grossing films
'Exceptional' would be released nationally in the UK in the biggest cinema chains, including Cineworld and Odeon, due to the audiences that we are appealing to. The premiere for the film would probably take place in Leicester Square and would be a red carpet event, due to the distributing company of the film and the wide audience appeal.

Rolling out the red carpet at Leicester Square
After its release in cinemas, 'Exceptional' would most likely be shown on Sky Premiere, Sky Drama & Romance, Sky Sci-Fi & Horror. This is because of the different features to the film and the different markets that it could appeal to. It would be broadcasted on these channels because Fox Searchlight which is owned by News Corporation, which is one of Rupert Murdoch's companies. He also owns BSkyB which means that to maximise the profits that they make, they will show it on their own channels.

Flowchart of ownership and possible platforms
to broadcast 'Exceptional'

Question 4: Who would be the audience for your media product?

Target Audience
The target audience for 'Exceptional' is 15-25 year olds, mainly males who enjoy watching films regularly and are interested in similar films from the same genre. They are most likely interested in technology and the latest gadgets around. Ideally they are attending/have attended a school at some point, this is due to the setting of which the film takes place.

Target Audience and their interests
Secondary Markets
  • Young Females (especially teenagers) - due to the romance aspect to the film involving the hero and the 'damsel-in-distress'.
Young Females
  • Pre-Teens (or 'Tweenagers') - they aspire to be older and want a taste of the the lifestyle that the jocks/popular girls in high school have (i.e. being popular, parties, socialising, etc.)
  • Superhero Genre Fan Base - this genre has a very large and dedicated audience. This audience ranges from young ages to old, whether they are fans of the new/most famous superheroes or they are fans of the original comic books themselves.
Collection of images from Comic Con 2009

Question 5: How did you attract/address your audience?

During the planning stages of making the opening sequence we tried to draw upon our case study: Avatar (Cameron, 2009) by having different aspects in the film to appeal to different audiences. Therefore allowing the film to have a wide reach.

The superhero genre automatically means that there will be an unrealistic aspect to the film because it is very unheard of that people can move things with their mind. This means that the film can offer the audience a sense of escapism from their everyday lives. By following most of the conventions of the superhero genre we could appeal to the mass audience that enjoy the genre.

However, the fact that Angus appears to be one of the more believable/'realistic' superheroes, as he does not have a latex suit or a special superhero name, means that some of the audience would desire to be like him. The sense of realism could appeal to a sector of our target audience that prefer the realistic, darker styles of superhero films, i.e. The Dark Knight.

Even though Angus has superpowers he still has to deal with the issues of an ordinary 17 year old boy at high school. This means that most of the audience will be able to relate to his circumstances and will be able to identify with him. We purposefully chose not to state where the high school was located because then it would allow for this theme to be universal and applicable to anyone who has attended school.

'Exceptional' would appeal to females (especially teenagers) with the romance storyline between Angus and Jessica. Not only would the romantic aspect appeal to those who enjoy the romance genre, but it would act as another sense of escapism as the audience could experience it through the main characters.

In order to create the conventional epic opening of a superhero film we used our soundtrack and the opening graphics. The music at both points in the sequence starts off quieter and gradually picks up volume, which allowed for the atmosphere to build. This worked together with the graphics because they were telling the story of Angus' powers. Although when we got feedback from the audience screening it was evident that this was not very clear as the majority of the audience did not understand the relevance of the drawings.

Opening titles
After post-production was completed, we held an audience screening for people to watch the opening sequence and give us feedback. We asked them to complete a questionnaire in order for us to measure how successful we had been at appealing to the audience.

In order to publicise the publicise the event we used posters, facebook and word of mouth. We also uploaded our video to the latymermedia YouTube channel, in order to reach wider audiences.

We used facebook to send out invitations and publicise the screening

When we were planning for our screening we decided to form a symbiotic relationship with Group 2 ('Cataclysm') in order to pull in a larger audience for both screenings. We did this by sticking up the posters together and having a joint screening.
Exceptional Poster Group 3