Thursday, 3 November 2011

research, Influences and Script Revisal

(Work in progress, Pictures to be included and text will be revised slightly, script revisal will be elaborated on)

Selected Title: High School Revenge

When restricted to the 40's, 50's and 60's this title is quite difficult to work with when you consider that the more familiar high school revenge horrors did not really come into fruition untill the 70's, 'Carrie, 1976' seems to be the primer that got things firing. Then throughout the 80s and 90s there is a wealth of material to work with. I think one of our biggest problems was trying to link our ideas together. We knew almost from the offset that we wanted the piece to be aesthetically influenced by the 50's but we also wanted a more stylized and nuanced story arc than this period would typically allow us as far as the realms of horror are concerned. At the time Hammer movies were still big and the horror genre was quite campy in the majority of cases. This is where our selected theme and the choice of a Film Noir aesthetic and overtones really helped us to start piecing together fragments to create something new that should give the nostalgic feeling of a film from the past if done just right.

Selected Theme: One foot in the Past and one foot in the future
We have decided to create a film noir, set in the early 1950s and heavily influenced by films that fall within the Film Noir time bracket. This is our one foot in the past. Trying to think of our foot in the future the best examples I can think of are the films of Quentin Tarentino, such as 'Pulp Fiction, 1994', 'Jackie Brown, 1997', 'Kill Bill, 2003' and 'Death Proof, 2007'. Post Modern pastiches that are lovingly representing popular genres of past decades. We see our film as an amalgamation of various genres from the 40's and 50's, so the look of the film would be of the same ilk as a Film Noir, yet the themes would explore popular ideas in psychoanalysis that were included in films such as 'The Bad Seed, 1956' and 'Forbidden Planet, 1951'. We have elements hinting at Demonic Possesion within the trailer, a theme covered in 'The Uninvited, 1944' and which has been a prevalant idea in society ever since the creation of the New Testament. We have also talked about the girl being a communist research experiment, a literal representation of the Alien invasion metaphors used so heavily in films such as 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956'. If we could make the film in its entirety, these themes would really act as Macguffins seeing as the girls powers would never really be explained thus adding to the Film Noir Mystique. The fact that this trailer would act as a loving pastiche means that we can also add element such as the detective monologues in the same vein as the pulp fiction of the time, although this was not used commonly in the actual Film Noir movies it is a trend that has been popularized by more contemporary writers such as Alan Moore and Frank Miller. This helps to cement one foot more firmly into the future, which is our present admittedly. Another possible advantage to this pastiche format is that we would be able to touch upon themes that were deemed too offensive by the Hays codes standards, which is exactly what Film Noir films were attempting to do in the first place although we're not too concerned with doing this as suggestion is a tool that will only strengthen the authenticity of the Film Noir aesthetic.

Film Noir definition and Origin:

Film Noir is a genre which began in the 1930s and continued on untill 1958 with the release of Touch of Evil, considered by many to be the last true Film Noir. It is a French term meaning black film first applied to Hollywood films by the French critic Nino Frank in 1946. It is believed that the aesthetic of these films was derived from German Expressionism and the themes are generally pessimistic and dark, most often looking at the subject of crime and punishment, E.g. Gangsters and world weary Detectives. Often the protaganist would be battling against a force that seems to be much bigger than they are and these often overwhelm them. Themes of being trapped and helpless are common within the Film Noir genre. The term was not widely used amongst critics until the early 1970s.



The Bad Seed 1956

The performance of the little girl is fantastic, this is where the aesthetic look for our little girl came from, The Bad Seed was a revolutionary film acting as a catalist for many demonic girl premises that came later. This film was an adaptation of a play and the script is almost word for word the same. The film explores pychological themes of nature and nurture.

Forbidden Planet 1951

The one aspect of this film that really relates to what we want to do is the seperate manifestaion of the Id, the idea that someone could be responsible for all manner of chaos and not be aware that they are responsible or held directly accountable for what is happening.

Carrie 1976
A girl at high school is ridiculed for her peculiar ways and ruled over by her mothers fundamentalist Christian values, yet nobody knows including herself, that she has powerful supernatural powers, the wonderful aspect of this film is that you never find out for sure where her powers stem from, is it a demonic power of just telepathy? Its the strong religious overtones of the film that are provided by the mother are what make the audience feel that she may be demonic.

The Exorcist 1973

A film about the exorcism of a little girl. For our trailer we want to create the impression that the girl is possessed but ultimately this would be a misconception, what the girl actually is really isnt a concern for us although we would probably place emphasis on freudian theory as many 50s films are rife with this subject matter.


Touch of Evil 1958
Considered to be the last true film noir, Touch of evil has an aesthetic that is exactly what we want to capture. Black and white and tilted camera angles.

CG Style

The Incredibles 2004

When considering how our piece should look I think we all agreed that a characature style would be best, obviously last year Jordan picked up on 'Backwater Gospel' and it was tempting to look at that for our inspiration this time round, but we think the incredibles is a good, polished example of the same approach. Obviously we dont expect to be quite as sophisticated but the idea that our detective would have a Jaw like a sledge hammer, or our little girl would have eyes that take up over half of her head really do appeal. Its really either that or realism and we dont really feel that realism is a choice at all if we want this piece to possess any charm.

StoryBoard for Trailer and Synopsis:

Our synopsis and script for the trailer up untill now really have not expressed these themes enough and what we have is a much more modern premise that needs to be altered slighty. The trailer really has more dialogue then we can fit into the trailer. Too much of the story is given away by the fact that we have events running in an almost chronological order, at the moment its less a trailer designed to sell the film than it is our story in a nutshell with the climax cut off the end. It also does not illustrate the theme that we want to as its in full colour and theres not really anything that makes this a Film Noir other than the fact that theres a detective going up against overwhelming odds, but stylistically its lacking something.

Here are some revisals that I believe will help to assert this piece more effectively:

New idea for opening scene:

Our opening narrative for the trailer would be the detective doing a monologue in the style of pulp fiction classics. Our first scene would be the stereotypical sucking on a cigarette in a gloomy detectives office, blinds in the back and a fan light. Hes looking over newspaper articles and photos as he recounts his story. The camera passes over the headlines and clippings as the monologue goes on:

Scene: Detectives Office, camera pans down from ceiling fan to the detective sitting smoking. Cut to Close up of lips pulling on the cigarette.

Detectives Monologue (in a gruff voice): "New South Acres, 1953, I was called in to investigate a series of deaths at the local high school...

(camera pans across a papers headline on the desk, WILL THE TRAGEDY NEVER END, accompanied by a photo of the school.)

Detectives Monologue: ...The local polices attempts made them about as popular as Truman, They obviously couldnt stand the heat...

(Camera carries on down to another headline, LOCAL PARENTS DEMAND ACTION.) 'Truman was the American president who had to step down in 1952, he was not very popular at the time and is noted for using the expression "If you cant stand the heat than get out of the kitchen." This feels like a very Film Noir expression.

Detectives Monologue: ... A Girl, Abagail Turner had been implecated, all pig tails and eyes in an overgrown sweater...

(Camera pans down and we see the photo in his hand hovering over the desk of clippings)

Detectives Monologue: ... I thought they must be crazy...

(Cut to MS of detective taking another drag of the cigarette whilst holding the photo, than camera cuts back to the photo of the school on the first paper and gradually pans in.)

Detectives Monologue: ...How was I to know"...
(Photo of school fills the screen and a flash of lightning fills the screen, to mask transition into realtime shot, its raining and the school bell rings)

Notes for the following shots:

Our shot of the school should be gloomy and rain beaten so it is more indicative of the Film Noir genre.

The following shot in the canteen where the girl is tripped up should take place in a corridor with lockers, this means we get away with less extras, less props, one less set and we'll still get the same effect if not better, the sparseness of the scenes will add to the eerie feel. Film Noir is more about atmosphere than authenticity.

We can also shoot the following scene where she runs to the toilet crying in the same set at a different angle

The following shot in the toilet with the mirror is good, only we should emphasize her fear at seeing her darker reflection.

The next scene would be the science teacher seeing Abagail doodling in her book, the doodle shows a boy who tripped her up in a pool of what appears to be blood, again this doesnt have to be in class, she might drop her book in a hallway as he walks past.

Scene of girl falling down stairs, Preist/school counciler sees what happens and asks her to come to his office,establishing shot of outside the door, then we're inside as he grabs her head and compells demons to vacate her, camera cuts back outside the door, we hear her scream and a bright light fills the window and makes it crack.

MS of Principal sitting at desk, "students have been going missing all week, now the the counciler is dead! and the police havent any idea whats going on!", cut to MS of detective standing in the office. "Leave it with me sir"

Side on shot in corridor, science teacher talks to detective about Abagail, "She was always such a sweet girl but I had started to notice another side to her before she went missing, and ever since strange things have been happening all around the school

This is where the pace should change and we can have a series of action and reaction shots gradually gettin faster and generally hinting that Abagail is still there leading to the title sequence, but with the exception of the odd name and exclaimations here and there, there should be no other long winded sentences.

The friendly maths teacher that we changed to an R.E teacher should probably be a science teacher, my reasoning for this is that he would be the element of the film that explores the pychoanalytical approaches and we could get a nice soundbite from him along these lines.

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