Friday, 25 March 2011

Welcome to my blog!

This is my blog, detailing the process of creating the opening of the new feature film "Suburban Zombie"

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Eval Q1 Use of Conventions

When looking at other film openings it became apparent that there are conventions that are followed for film openings, not specific to film genres. Some examples are:

  1. The production and distribution company idents being the first thing that appear on screen.
  2. The film titles, including film name, actors etc. Is the next thing that appears on screen. Either seperated in an animation from the first scene of the film or over the top of the first scene.
  3. The establishing shot of the film is usually an extreme long shot, or a fade in.
  4. Non- diegetic music over the top of the first scene.
  5. The last shot of the opening scene fades out, and no more titles appear after this.
Fight Club ident

Suburban Zombie Ident

These are some of the key conventions in the zombie genre:

Establishing shot
  • Post-apocalyptic setting.
Word zombie never used, however it is used satirically in the film "Shaun of the Dead" where Shaun tells Ed not to use the "z-word".
Normally revolves around a group of different characters e.g a white racist paired with a strong black character.
 Low Budget
Urban setting used
Big, isolated building
Conventions used in Suburban Zombie 
 Post-apocalyptic setting
Our film includes this convention, as the setting in the house is clearly very run down, and void of life, excluding the two protagonists and zombies.
Word zombie never used
 Our film follows this convention, as the only time the two protagonists acknowledge the zombies is when one of them says "Dinner time!".
Normally revolves around a group of different characters
Our film challenges this convention, as the two protagonists are both white males, and wearing similar clothing (jeans and hoodies) we did this to create a sense of unity. 

 Low Budget
 Our film follows this convention, as we were clearly operating with an extremely low budget. 
Urban setting used
We chose to challenge this convention by filming in a remote location, in the grounds and around an abandoned house. 
Preffered Reading 
By getting audience feedback we found that our encoded meaning was easy to follow, or as Stuart Hall described it, the "preffered reading". None of the people we recieved feedback from had deciphered an oppositional reading

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Eval Q2 Representations

In our film opening "Suburban Zombie" we represent social groups mainly through the zombie characters, but also secondly through the protagonist character.

We decided to represent sterotypical working class British "hoodied youths" or "chavs" as we felt that this would be easy to represent, throught the form of zombies, in our film opening. The way in which we followed the sterotype of violent, anti-social, hoodied and slightly dopy youths was not just through costume choices, but also the way in which the zombies act. To start off with, we ensured all the zombies were dressed in hoodies, trainers and rough trousers or jeans. This goes along with the sterotypical working class youths or "chavs". The second thing we did was utilise the stereotype of "chavs" being dopy and stupid. We did this by making them hunch and walk slowly and erraticly. The reason we did this was, since they are zombies. we can justify their movements, whilst also following and pushing the stereotype that we had decided to include.

Ben Drew
Some examples of other films which have followed this sterotype of youths as yobs are Harry Brown and Kidulthood. In Harry Brown the only teenagers that are shown in the film are violent and disrespectful. Mainly being shown through the antagonist - Ben Drew, who also plays a similar character in the sequel to Kidulthood, Adulthood.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Eval Q3 Distributor

Our film "Suburban Zombie" is a zombie film,  a more specific sub-genre of horror. Whilst deconstructing zombie films in the research and planning stage of our coursework task I came across a number of different film distribution companies, for example; Continental Distributing, 20th Century Fox and Focus Features. These companies distributed films such as Night of the living dead, 28 days later and Shaun of the dead, respectively.

Recent Zombie Films

Director + Year: Ruben Fleischer (2009) 
IMdb Rating: 7.8/10
Budget: $23,600,000
Gross: $75,590,286 (USA) £3,001,207 (UK)
Distribution Company: Columbia Pictures

Resident Evil: Afterlife -                                                                                                                                                                                                         Director + Year: Paul W.S Anderson (2010)                                                                                               Imdb Rating:  5.9/10  
Budget: $60,000,000 (estimated)
Gross$60,128,566 (USA)
Distribution Company: Screen Gems

 Colin -
Director + Year: Mark Price (2008)
Imdb Rating: 5.3/10
Budget: £45
Gross:  $798 (UK)   
Distribution Company: Kaleidoscope


Kaleidoscope, the UK distribution company behind the film "Colin" is one of the only distribution companies that is relevant to us, due to the fact that we are low budget, indie film-makers. Kaleidoscope are also behind other low budget films other than Colin, such as "Slave" (Darryn Welch, 2009), which again shows that they would be a perfect company that might distribute our film. Colin has achieved a huge number of DVD sales considering the budget of the film, on it has achieved, as of 21st March 2011, 16600 sales. This shows that our film could do well with sales, even if, like Colin, it is "Straight to DVD".                                                                                      

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Eval Q4 Audience

Our film "Suburban Zombie" will contain strong gore and horror, such as when one of our protagonists gets eaten by a zombie and lots of blood is shown on the characters, as well as when a zombie is shown with an arrow in his stomach after being shot by the main protagonist. which suggests that the BBFC Rating will be at least at 15, if not 18 
(BBFC Rating). Although the opening doesn't contain too much physical gore, we were planning for the rest of the film to contain a lot more gore, as well as some moderate sexual scenes. We expect the primary audience to be male, between the ages of 15-24, but could appeal to a higher age range, as there is a pre-existing zombie fan base, from the first "...of the dead" films. There is a secondary female audience for the film, as we were planning on including a strong female character later on in the film.

We already know there is an existing audience for this type of film, from films such as "Colin" (Mark Price, 2008) and "...of the dead" films. As well as the zombie comedy film "Shaun of the Dead" (Edgar Wright, 2004). From researching, watching and deconstructing these films we know that our film fits in with the same primary audience. 

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Eval Q5 Mode of address

Killing scene
To keep our audience attracted and interested in our film we have included narrative enigma, for example the film starts out with a running then killing scene, and the audience doesn't know who the two protagonists in the house are, why they are there or even (at the beginning) if the two events are in the same area. We have encorporated humour in the form of one of the protagonists turning and saying "Dinner time!" Before proceeding to charge into a fight with the zombie group.

Recording the soundtrack
In terms of the soundtrack, we used two seperate tracks that we recorded as a group. The first track "L490" is solely acoustic, with three guitars used that slowly get louder as the track goes on. We used this to build up tension at the start of the film, up to the fight scene. We decided to keep the first two shots of the film (the establishing shot of the house, and the shot of the weapons against the wall) silent, as we felt this would entice the audience. The second track we used "Black Storm" is an original song that I (Kyle) wrote and recorded with my band. The genre of the song is rock/metal, and the reason we used this is because we felt that it fit well with the fight scene of the film opening. It also reflects on our primary target audience, as this genre is most commonly associated with teenage males.

We included aspects of gore in our film opening, most prominent is the large amount of blood on one of the protagonists during the fight scene, this reflects on our primary target audience (teen males) as well as the conventions of other zombie films.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Eval Q6 Learning on Technologies

For our coursework film opening "Suburban Zombie" our group used a wide range of different technologies:

Facebook and Youtube

Feedback from facebook
We used the social networking site "facebook" to recieve feedback, by embedding things such as our film rough cuts, and rough idents. We found this worked well, as when we embedded items we recieved a fair amount of good feedback.

IMDB and Google

We used Google primarily for online research, such as into the zombie genre, and make-up effect ideas. IMDB was great for finding out details about other zombie films, such as the budget, production company, rating etc. 

USB Sticks

We used USB sticks a lot when editing our film, as they are an easy way to transport files from seperate computers, such as the soundtrack songs "Black Storm" and "L490" from my home computer, to the Apple Macs in school.


We emailed between each other as a group regularly in preparation for the coursework, which proved to be very useful, especially in situations where we were trying to organise what days we would be filming.

Camera, Microphone and I-Movie

For the actual filming of "Suburban Zombie" we used hand-held digital camcorders for the footage, which we then uploaded to I-Movie on the Macs. For recording our podcasts, we used a small condensor microphone before uploading to the Macs for editing in I-Movie, then uploaded them to Vimeo for embedding into our blogs.

Kristal recording software

We used the website "Scribd" for uploading scanned in documents such as the storyboards and call sheets. We then used the embed feature to add them to our blogs.


For recording the soundtrack songs "Black Storm" and "L490" I used the recording software "Kristal" because I had used the software in the past and it worked well for recording all the instruments.


I found the softwares I-Movie and Kristal particularly useful, as without them finishing the coursework couldn't have been possible. Also I was suprised at how youtube and facebook became for feedback, which was a great help when making improvements.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Eval Q7 Learnt since Prelim

When I filmed our prelim I didn't have much idea about how much planning and preparation is needed to make a film look the way you want. The task was fairly simple: "A continuity task involving filming and editing a character opening a door, crossing a room and sitting down in a chair opposite another character, with whom she/he then exchanges a couple of lines of dialogue. This task should demonstrate match on action, shot/reverse shot and the 180-degree rule."

Untitled from Roam Hamilton on Vimeo.

In terms of planning for our prelim, we did not use things such as a storyboard or a call sheet, which are features  that we included in our actual coursework task. For the filming, we didn't think about aspects of mise-en-scene such as props and clothing, which is something we considered in great detail for "Suburban Zombie" 

Some other things that we didn't include in the prelim, but that we used for our final coursework film are; rough cuts, company idents, a large range of shot types and a soundtrack.

One main thing we didn't include in the prelim is detailed research into the genre, which is something that we spent a long time doing in preparation for filming 'Suburban Zombie', mainly through a large amount of deconstructions of zombie films, that we split up between the group so that we could get more done. I deconstructed a few zombie films such as Day of the Dead and Night of the living Dead.

Our research into zombie films helped greatly with creating our film, as it gave us a clear understanding into the genre conventions, camera shots, soundtrack etc.

Another big thing that we didn't do when creating the prelim was assign group roles, which is something that was key to our creation of 'Suburban Zombie'. We assigned a cinematographer- Alex McCluskey, a Director- Sam Boyes and I was the Producer. These roles helped distinguish who needed to do what task, which in turn helped us to get the preparation for filming finished.

Friday, 11 March 2011

SB - Tom Savini

Tom Savini, AKA The Sultan of Splatter, The Godfather of Gore.

Tom Savini is the most influential special effects artist of all time, he has worked on all of George A Romero's 'Dead Trilogy' aswell as Friday the 13th and Creepshow.

Savini is primarily known for his groundbreaking work in the field of special makeup effects. He got his breakthrough working with  George A. Romero, providing a convincing wrist slashing effect in the opening scenes of Martin (1977). The following year, working with an expanded budget on Dawn of the Dead, Savini created his signature palette of severed limbs and bite-marks.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Friday, 18 February 2011

ALL - Conventions of the Zombie Sub-Genre

These are some of the key conventions in the zombie genre:

  • Post-apocalyptic setting.
  • Word zombie never used, however it is used satirically in the film "Shaun of the Dead" where Shaun tells Ed not to use the "z-word".
  • Normally revolves around a group of different characters e.g a white racist paired with a strong black character.
  •  Low Budget
  • Urban setting is used
  • Big, isolated building

Thursday, 17 February 2011

KM - BBFC Rating

BBFC 15 Rating Criteria - 
The work as a whole must not endorse discriminatory
language or behaviour.
Drug taking may be shown but the film as a whole must not
promote or encourage drug misuse. The misuse of easily
accessible and highly dangerous substances (for example,
aerosols or solvents) is unlikely to be acceptable.
Strong threat and menace are permitted unless sadistic
or sexualised.
Imitable behaviour
Dangerous behaviour (for example, hanging, suicide and
self-harming) should not dwell on detail which could be
copied. Easily accessible weapons should not be glamorised.
There may be frequent use of strong language (for example,
‘fuck’). The strongest terms (for example, ‘cunt’) may be
acceptable if justified by the context. Aggressive or repeated
use of the strongest language is unlikely to be acceptable.
Nudity may be allowed in a sexual context but without
strong detail. There are no constraints on nudity in a
non-sexual or educational context.
Sexual activity may be portrayed without strong detail.
There may be strong verbal references to sexual behaviour,
but the strongest references are unlikely to be acceptable
unless justified by context. Works whose primary purpose is
sexual arousal or stimulation are unlikely to be acceptable.
No theme is prohibited, provided the treatment is
appropriate for 15 year olds.
Violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction
of pain or injury. The strongest gory images are unlikely to
be acceptable. Strong sadistic or sexualised violence is also
unlikely to be acceptable.
There may be detailed verbal references to sexual violence
but any portrayal of sexual violence must be discreet and
have a strong contextual justification.

BBFC 18 Rating Criteria - 

In line with the consistent findings of the BBFC’s public
consultations and The Human Rights Act 1998, at ‘18’ the
BBFC’s guideline concerns will not normally override
the principle that adults should be free to choose their
own entertainment. Exceptions are most likely in the
following areas:
• where the material is in breach of the criminal law,
or has been created through the commission of a
criminal offence
• where material or treatment appears to the BBFC to
risk harm to individuals or, through their behaviour,
to society – for example, any detailed portrayal of
violent or dangerous acts, or of illegal drug use,
which may cause harm to public health or morals.
This may include portrayals of sexual or sexualised
violence which might, for example, eroticise or
endorse sexual assault
• where there are more explicit images of sexual
activity which cannot be justified by context. Such
images may be appropriate in ‘R18’ works, and in
‘sex works’ (see below) would normally be confined
to that category.
In the case of video works (including video games),
which may be more accessible to younger viewers,
intervention may be more frequent than for cinema films.
Sex education at ‘18’
Where sex material genuinely seeks to inform and
educate in matters such as human sexuality, safer
sex and health, explicit images of sexual activity may
be permitted.
Sex works at ‘18’
Sex works are works whose primary purpose is sexual
arousal or stimulation. Sex works containing only material
which may be simulated are generally passed ‘18’. Sex
works containing clear images of real sex, strong fetish
material, sexually explicit animated images, or other
very strong sexual images will be confined to the ‘R18’
category. Material which is unacceptable in a sex work
at ‘R18’ is also unacceptable in a sex work at ‘18’.

How these criteria effect our film rating:

Our film "Suburban Zombie" will contain strong gore and horror, which suggests that the BBFC Rating will be at least at 15, if not 18. Other examples of zombie films that have received these ratings are; Zombieland - 15, Day of the Dead - 18, 28 days later - 18 and Shaun of the Dead - 15. These films contain all the same gore and horror features that our film 'Suburban Zombie' also contains, so this gives more evidence for our BBFC rating to be 15.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

KM - Fight Club (David Fincher, 1999) Practice Evaluation Task

Budget - $63m
Box Office Gross - Worldwide - $108m
IMDB Rating - 8.8/10

For practice for the evaluation question detailing what our group has done in regards to using, as well as challenging conventions of film openings, not specific to genre, I have analysed a film (Fight Club) which is a different genre from our coursework film (Zombie).

Production company ident

The company idents first appeared on screen starting with the Distribution Company - 20th Century Fox, followed by the Production company - Regency Enterprises, the titles then start with a secondary production company "A Linson Films Production", the Director (David Fincher), then the three main actors of the film (Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter) before displaying the film title "Fight Club". This is a standard convention for film format.

Title- Director
The titles continue, naming the lesser known actors, as well as the music composers, film editors etc. the titles then transition into the opening scene, in the form of the camera panning backwards over the top of a gun after the last title has been displayed. This is similar to the feature that appears in a lot of Romantic Comedys, where the titles are in the diagetic world, however in this case, the titles aren't directly diagetic, but transition into the first scene.

A convention of normal film format is challenged here, as the first few shots don't contain a long, or extreme long establishing shot, which is commonly used in film. Another convention is also challenged through the fact that no non-diagetic is used over the opening scene, only dialogue from the two characters, as well as the narrators thoughts being heard aloud.

SB - Reshoot

We have changed our plot and are now planning a re shoot on thursday this week and have almost finished are old rough cut for friday but by the friday after half term our film will be completely finished and ready for the examiner. Our soundtrack is finished as well, Kyle has re-recorded L490 by 30 Seconds To Mars

Monday, 14 February 2011

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

KM - Film Titles

For the opening titles of "Suburban Zombie" we are going to use large, white, serif font. The reason for this is because this style of font and colour is used frequently for the opening titles, as the serif font signifies the serious nature of the film, and the white colouring signifies decay and it reinforces the seriousness.

Here are a couple of examples of zombie films that have used this style and colour of font:

Day of the Dead (George A Romero, 1985)

Night of the Living Dead (remake- Tom Savini, 1990)

Monday, 7 February 2011

KM - Salex Productions Blog

I have recently set up a separate blog for our production company "Salex Productions". This blog will contain posts about "Suburban Zombie" that relate to the production company, such as Ident ideas -

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

ALL - Podcast 2

Our 2nd podcast , we talked about make up, locations and inspiration from a deconstruction:

Podcast 2 from Alex McCluskey on Vimeo.

KM & AM - Podcast 1

a podcast about filming times and locations, cast and scenes:

KM - 2nd Day of filming

Conor O'loughlin (Zombie)
Yesterday (1st February) was our media group's second day of filming for our feature film opening "Suburban Zombie". We were filming the zombie scenes, as we had already shot the solo scenes of the protagonist (previous blogged). One of the things we found when filming was that sinse it was at night, the camera was skipping frames when trying to get a light focus. We have decided to try shooting again in the day time, and compare the footage. Here are some pictures of the shooting:

Sam testing out different angles with the boom mic

Monday, 31 January 2011

ALL - Meet The Group

Group photo

Kyle Meeson- Producer

Nickname- Royal Kyle
Favourite sayings- "Hello!" "Caam Darn"
Favourite film- Fight Club
Favourite TV show- Lost


Sam Boyes- Director

 Nickname- Boy-Z, Boyzey
Favourite sayings- "hrmmmmmm"
Favourite film- American History X
Favourite TV show- Being Human

Alex McCluskey- Cinematographer

Nickname- Cluskey
Favourite sayings- "Buttered toast"
Favourite film- The Hangover
Favourite TV show- Loose Women

AM - Rough Ident Draft 2

Yet again the new updated Salex productions company ident.

KM - Ident Feedback

To get some feedback on the second ident that Alex (cinematographer) has been working on, I put a link to the ident on youtube through facebook and recieved some great feedback and suggestions:

Screenshot of feedback

Sunday, 30 January 2011

KM - First day of filming

Wednesday (26th January) was the first day of filming for the opening two minutes of our feature film "Suburban Zombie". We filmed the scenes with Jack Hanson (our protagonist) yesterday, and will be filming the scenes with the zombies later in the week. The filming went well, and we used a lot of coverage so we could see what lighting etc. would fit the best in certain scenes when editing. Here are some images and a clip of the filming:

Alex and Sam discussing different camera angles

Jack Hanson (our protagonist)

Using different levels of lighting for coverage, which will help when editing


Wednesday, 26 January 2011

KM - George A Romero

George Andrew Romero (born February 4, 1940) is an American-Canadian film director, screenwriter, and editor best known for his gruesome and satirical horror films about a hypothetical zombie apocalypse. He is nicknamed "Grandfather of the Zombie." - Wikipedia description

Here are some of the films that Romero had directed in the past: Night Of The Living Dead, There's Always Vanilla, Jack's Wife/ Season of the Witch, The Crazies, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead.

The first zombie films (such as White Zombie and I Walked With a Zombie) featured zombies which were in isolated settings and usually in high society, George A Romero was the first director to feature zombies in primarily urban settings, also in Romero's films such as Dawn of the dead and Day of the dead, the zombie characters are purposeful in the task of hunting and killing humans, rather than aimlessly wandering around like in the zombie films before him. This is an idea we are using in our two minute opening, as the zombies are trying to reach our protagonist (Jack Hanson) inside the house. Romero's style was considered radical at the time- looking at social issues in the context of grim entertainment.

(Michelle Le Blanc and Colin Odell- Horror Films)

Monday, 24 January 2011

SB- Filming Schedule

We are filming scenes with Jack Hanson on wednesday the 26th, during the remaining hour of daylight and when it gets darker. Filming starts at 4pm and should end at around 6pm.This gives us atleast an hour of daylight to film our flashback scenes. And atleast an hour for our present day scenes.

We are filming our zombie scenes on friday the 28th with the people we cast as zombies.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

SB - Zombies in video games

A Recent sequel for Resident Evil.
Zombies have always been a part of  the contemporary western culture, so understandably they would be introduced into games.  Resident Evil was the first stand alone zombie game that made a deep impact on society. The game was regarded as a huge success all over the world and is still the biggest franchise in the sub genre of horror survival games.

Frank West trapped under the tunnels of the mall.

Another game that has made a huge impact was the game Dead Rising, this game set the standards for zombie games after it. It required the character to play as the protagonist Frank West, a freelance journalist trying to get a good story who breaks into a quarantined town on a helicopter, he heads to the mall and finds the remaining inhabitants of the town barricaded in with the baying undead bashing the malls doors in. The game has references to famous zombie films as well as slasher films. The whole idea fir the game is based of 'Dawn of the Dead'.

'Left 4 Dead' is a new first person shooter based in a post apocalyptic world, The game was a huge success due to the fact it had 4 different campaigns that involved trying to get to a boat and escape, fight off hordes of the undead in a house while waiting for a military evacuation, getting away in a helicopter
An example of the atmospheric lighting.
on top of a hospital in the centre of a city, and getting to an airplane at an airport. The game used one of the most advanced AI systems "The Director" his made it s every time you played the game, the game would be different the infected would never spawn or suddenly burst out in a huge horde out of no where twice. The use of a program called"cinema effects" gave the game it's eerie atmosphere.

The survivors attempting to pass some of the undead.
The game was well received and was so successful that it spawned a sequel 'Left 4 Dead 2' This game ironed out the flaws from the first game and added more, Left 4 Dead 2 used a more advanced version of The Director that drives gameplay by procedurally spawning enemies, weapons and items based on the players' performance. In Left 4 Dead 2, the Director has been improved to encourage more participation by players, forcing players through difficult gauntlets to reach the extraction point. It also has the ability to alter elements of the level such as placement of walls, level layout, lighting, and weather conditions, making each play session unique.

Another unique feature of the game was the Zombie classes, The Boomer, The Hunter, The Tank, The Witch and The Smoker. They all have unique characteristics that make the game harder and force players to be tactical and follow certain strategies when wandering through buildings and streets.

AM - Rough Ident draft

Rough draft idea for Salex Productions using Adobe After Effects.

SB - Make-up

Our opening requires some effects such as make up, fake blood and fake severed limbs. This is because the zombie genre is a very gory and violant genre and requires attention to the details such as make up and fake blood. We are going to be using some fake blood made with 2 part red food colouring to 1 part blue food colouring and then mix with 100ml of water, it gave a strong dark red colour similar to blood. To thicken the blood we used one spoonful of golden syrup to really try to achieve the texture of blood aswell as the colour.
We are also going to buy a fake severed arm such as this one

SB - Special Effects Tutorials

These are very useful special FX tutorials, that will help us in our production.

ALL - Storyboard



SB - Dawn of the dead remake (opening credits)

This video is a great example of fast takes that show action, and is what i want to try recreate in my zombie feature. As it uses fast takes, amazing shots and has news reports over the top, this relates to our film as we will hear a radio broadcast on in the diegetic sound.

AM - Group Roles

Throughout the production we will all be taking on the following roles:

Kyle Meeson - Producer
Sam Boyes - Director
Alex McCluskey - Cinematography