Wednesday, 23 February 2011


Cloverfield follows the story of Rob whose friends have set up a surprise party however it seems clear that from leaving Rob has left a relationship sour with a woman named Beth. As the party goes on it is interrupted by a quake which leads the party onto the roof of the building. As they look into the distance they witness an explosion which sends flaming debris tumbling towards them. The group of friends make their way into the street where they witness the statue of liberty's head come crashing towards them. After Rob loses his brother he decides to turn back in an effort to save Beth while avoiding a giant creature and its spawn.

Much like The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield is shot through the viewpoint of a handheld camera in an attempt to offer realism to the narrative. Through this camera the audience witness an attack almost mirroring that of 9/11, with images of dust rushing through the streets as a skyscraper collapses and people trudging around covered in dust in disbelief. Scott writes in his review ' The filmmakers add to the realism by tapping into history, as the look of the monster attack is clearly informed by the Sept. 11 tragedy. The roiling balls of smoke and dust barreling down Manhattan streets, the shell-shocked and dust-covered New Yorkers walking around like zombies, the swirling storms of loose papers -- this is, we can all testify, what an attack on New York looks like.' (Scott, 2009) 

Also similar to The Blair Witch Project, the film was cleverly advertised using viral advertising. Paramount did well to keep everything about the film secret, the cast was hugely unknown and even the title wasn't fully specified. Again this worked extremely well and before the film was released forums were full of ideas about what the 'Cloverfield Project' was, many following the easter  eggs and clues set down by the creators. In Knight's review he writes ' Paramount – who kept the production and even the title under wraps – are going to take a lot of hits from critics and cranky web surfers who have been expecting something a tad more substantial than what Cloverfield offers. For here is a movie that doesn’t stop for any of the standard psychological explanations for what we’re seeing or even pretend to have any depth.  It’s never even clear what exactly the monster is or where it came from, there are no scenes of worried scientists with worried explanations and theories on how to stop the mayhem, no wrongheaded government officials addressing the nation. All refreshing (as was the blackout marketing campaign – surprise is Cloverfield’s best friend). (Knight, 2008)

A clever technique employed by Reeves is the way that the so called footage that has been found doesn't seemed to have been edited in any way. By this it means that when Hud stops recording we are left with remnants of Beth and Rob's relationship before the party and the reason why they fight at the beginning. This really puts the characters relationship into context and after the death of Rob's brother Jason he realises that Beth is his love. It adds another emotional level to the narrative in effort to raise the believability and empathy within the characters. Rich Cline writes ' There's not much more to it than that, although there are strong echoes of 9/11, plus a pointed jab at American military policy willing to lay waste to the city just to kill the marauding beast. And the double-layer videotape adds an emotional element as we see glimpses Rob and Beth's much happier day every time the camera stops filming. These touches, as well as the general urgency of the pace, help overcome the corny and contrived opening set-up sequences.' (Cline 2008)

Cloverfield should seem like a recycling of The Bair Witch Project but through a successful attempt in adding empathy with the characters while redefining the giant monster films. Through the use of clever editing the captured film feels like it has just been found showing the relationship between Beth and Rob easily creating their back story. Through the use of viral marketing it spawned a lot of interest and its camera technique created the realism which becomes horribly nostalgic of 9/11.

Bibliography - 

Mike Scott, Cloverfield review, 23/6/2009, accessed on 23/2/2011

Richard Knight, Cloverfield review, 22/5/2008, accessed on 23/2/2011

Rich Cline, Cloverfield review, 28/1/2008, accessed on 23/2/2011

Images - 
Movie Poster -!Cloverfield_poster.jpg accessed on 23/2/2011

Dust attacks - accessed on 23/2/2011

Cloverfield pictures viral site - accessed on 23/2/2011

Beth, Rob and Beth Happy days - accessed on 23/2/2011

The Blair Witch Project

Three film students set off in search of The Blair Witch legend. The students begin in interviewing the town members about their stories of the Blair Witch then enter the Black Hills Forest armed with a 16mm camera, a Hi8 video camera, and a DAT recorder in order to capture every movement and sound. After a few hours of wandering the forest Heather, Josh and Mike realise that they have become lost. They take shelter in their tent at night but are terrorised as they try to sleep by strange noises and the sounds of others around the area. As they continue on wandering the forest they lose their map and become more and more lost, causing them to turn on each other. 

The reason why The Blair Witch Project is so engaging for the audience is that the characters are truly believable in their situation. The actors within The Blair Witch Project were given very little instruction by their directors and also had a diminishing food supply. The actors were terrorised by crew members in order to create genuine fear reactions and it immerses the audience in to the documentary as they can empathise with the cast. The film being shot with a handicam was essential for budget purposes but also gives the film its impact. The 16mm camera definitely has the documentary feel while the handicam is there to document the ever growing gap between the cast members as they collapse into madness. The technique is taken from Cinéma vérité heavily used in documentary filming over the years and does so much to invade the imagination and let loose horrors even though the audience is never actually shown anything. In Lozito’s review he writes With no special effects budget, it was up to the filmmakers… to create not only suspense, but terror, the old fashioned way - relying completely on the imagination. They succeed… The first third of the film plays like a campfire ghost story and the attitude on screen is understandably light. However, as it becomes clear that something may in fact be out in the woods, just beyond the safety of their tiny tent, their terror becomes palpable. The approach of each night becomes more foreboding than the last as the film builds to its near-perfect climax.’ (Lozito, 2007)

Gore writes about the characters performance in his review ‘Donahue is quite convincing as the leader of the film project. In fact, her performance (along with the performances of her two co-stars) are so good, it's virtually impossible to tell they aren't really three filmmakers who disappeared’ (Gore, 2008).Donahue really holds up well as the lead of the film, showing genuine denial about being lost then leading up to her apologetic speech as she realises her ignorance and arrogance has caused them to be stuck in the situation. Most of the film dialogue is completely improvised that including the camera shots which in turn makes it seem that these three actors actually disappeared within Black Hills Forest. The two supporting actors should merit a mention as well as they exhibit believable reactions to their situation, Josh breaking down and confronting Donahue with the truth of her character and Mike who firstly falls into a breakdown but ends in being one of the stronger minded characters.

A reason for the overall hype of The Blair Witch Project was the way that the film was advertised. The creators used a technique called viral advertising where clips were posted on the internet leading to many speculations as to whether what the viewers were watching was real or not. A teaser poster was used in an attempt to reinforce the documentary style of the film and that three teenagers were actually missing, presumed dead. There was also a fake documentary aired on the Sci fi channel to do with the legend with interviews with friends and family of the missing teenagers, historians and paranormal experts (all fake). The use of viral marketing was extremely clever and by the time the film had come out most of the public were already talking about it.

The Blair Witch Project was a breakthrough in the use of a Cinéma vérité which was able to create such hype in use of viral advertising to fool the public into thinking that it was genuine footage. Both techniques have been used in many recent films for example Cloverfield which used teasing virals to advertise which led cinema audiences to investigate on the internet into trying to find out what Cloverfield was.

Bibliography –

Joe Lozito, 14th July 2007, The Blair Witch Project Review,  accessed on 23/2/2011

Lucius Gore, 4th August 2008, The Blair Witch Project Review, accessed on 23/2/2011

Advertising: Its business, Culture and Careers, Andy Tibbs, Trevor Beattie,, page 68-69, accessed on 23/2/2011


Movie Poster - accessed on 23/2/2011

Donahue - accessed on 23/2/2011

Donahue - accessed on 23/2/2011

Missing Poster - accessed on 23/2/2011

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Surgeon better version

Getting to grips with the Noir style now for my surgeon. Really need to crack on with everything else now so I'm taking this up a gear!! Happy with how this has turned out and look forward to seeing it all together in an animatic.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Playing with Noir style for character

Using Photoshop I decided to try out one of my drawings as a Noir style, simple lines with use of shadows. This is what I've created and I will move on to developing the expressions of this character for the story.

Noir style influence

Being a horror, dark and gritty, I feel that my work should definitely take on the style of film noir and much like the Sin City film add certain colours into the black and white to show an importance on certain objects. For example the red ribbon will definitely be a prominent signifier therefore to make it stand out to the audience will be blood red standing out from the black and white images.

Look back at the previous post bar the Tim Burton style part at the bottom to understand what I am influenced by
accessed on 21/2/2011

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Inspiration for hospital

I have come across this before but have found a video to go along with it. Inspiration will derive more from the outside rather than the interior but it is a very creepy and unwelcoming place. There is a Haunted Hospital attraction at the Fuji Q Highland park which is also the main setting and influence for the film shock labyrinth. Here is a video of Jonathon Ross taking part in the walk through attraction (From 3:45 til 5:50 but the whole documentary is interesting)

Haunted House

And the film inspired by the attraction:

Unit 4 refined Scribd presentation

Unit 4 Ideas Mark 2

Here is the refined story from the feedback you gave Phil.

Also I watched the trailer and then read up about the Friday the 13th 'franchise' and the overview of the films. Most of them seem extremely laughable and after witnessing the disgrace that Jason X was (Seriously who the hell came up with that idea?) I'm sure I wont be missing out too much. Thanks for the feedback on it though. In terms of my essay I found a book titled Understanding Realism looking into the relationship of moving image and appearance and reality.

Brain surgeon appearance influence map

Getting back into drawing

It's safe to say that I have neglected practising drawing people which has always been my strength I think. So In light of trying to come up with ideas of what my brain surgeon will turn out like I have done a few drawings from memory and a few with the aid of female models mainly Tilda Swinton and a new influence Lena Headey who comes across as a little more feminine.

This first page consists of two male ideas but I felt that a female character would be much more fitting into my story. The male images were supposed to be really horrific, stereotypical eyebrows meeting in the middle making them seem untrustworthy. The female character moved onto looking into more androgynous territory to make my character seem caring but have a sense of violence within her character.

The first two images are off the top of my head, the second one in my oppinion more successful, and the third being in an interest into developing the shadowy style I'm after for my work (drawn from a picture of Tilda Swinton). These images were developed in thinking of a more intimidating female character but I feel that I may move away from the Tilda Swinton-esque look for my character and go for a slightly more feminine but strong looking female in the look of Lena Headey (Known for Terminator Sarah Connor Chronicles which I thought wasn't too bad, Well much better than Terminator 3 but that's not too hard really).

A couple of images here are just copied drawings of Swinton and Headey in efforts to practice the shapes of the faces that I want to create. The middle right image is a pose of Headey but attempting to play around with features. I definately need to work more into my shapes but I feel that my character must change in order to adapt to the story changes. My character buries the evidence of her failed tests in light of trying to benifit others and therefore I feel she needs a slightly more caring image, still with a slight masculinity, to achieve a little sympathy towards her actions.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Reservoir Dogs Review

After a jewellery heist goes wrong the surviving criminals lie in wait at the warehouse rendezvous. However as they wait they suspect that one of the criminals is a police informant which causes them to fight between themselves.

The film is very cleverly shot and it connects the audience within its extreme use of dialogue. The most iconic scene from the film has to be the torture scene with Mr Blonde and the Police officer. The scene is terrifically paced, building up more and more tension as Mr Blonde shuffles around the warehouse just before he cuts off the officer’s ear. Much like the cop the audience is fixed upon the torture scene, experiencing his agony and fear during the torture and we feel trapped as we can’t look away. Just as Mr Blonde moves in to cut the cop’s ear off Tarantino cuts away to a ‘Mind your Head’ sign which is brilliant as the audience knows it has happened but believe they have seen it because of the prior menace of Mr Blonde’s actions and the camera being fixated on the torture. Jardine writes about his experience of this scene everyone, absolutely everyone I ever talk to about this movie SWEARS they saw a man’s ear get severed at this moment. But trust me; it doesn’t happen (on screen, anyways.)’ (Jardine, 2004)

In reference to the tension of the film it could be argued that even through the reveal of the informant halfway through this just adds to the tension of the film. The narrative structure is complicated and non-linear being a trademark of Tarantino and in exploring the main characters a chapter style is brought in. The tension that is experienced comes from the relationship of Mr Orange and Mr White and whether Mr Orange’s true identity will be made known to him. Canby writes about the narrative structure and its effects ‘"Reservoir Dogs" is immensely complicated in its structure, which for the most part works with breathtaking effect. Mr. Tarantino uses chapter headings ("Mr. Blonde," "Mr. Orange," etc.) to introduce the flashbacks, which burden the film with literary affectations it doesn't need. Yet the flashbacks themselves never have the effect of interrupting the flow of the action. Mr. Tarantino not only can write superb dialogue, but he also has a firm grasp of narrative construction. The audience learns the identity of the squealer about mid-way through, but the effect is to increase tension rather than diminish it.(Canby, 1992)

Another trademark of Tarantino is his use of dialogue and Reservoir Dogs is not scarce in its use of it. Each character is given their own personality and none of them seem to fill a stereotype, Tarantino’s choice of actors is brilliant and they all come together well fleshing out the dialogue and providing laughs. Mr White and Mr Orange’s relationship is the most explored throughout the film which provides the climax for the ending, they break the rules in revealing first names and during Mr Orange’s chapter it’s hard not to empathise with Mr White at the end as he misplaces his trust and neglects his previous friendship. Berardinelli writes about the characters The cast, which includes Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, and Michael Madsen, is first-rate, and the parts the actors have to play are fully fleshed out. Tarantino invests each member of his group with a unique and multi-faceted personality. Not content with stereotypes, the writer/director digs deeper, bringing out the humanity in even someone as viciously sadistic and reprehensible as Mr. Blonde.’ (Berardinelli, 2000)


Dan Jardine, Reservoir Dogs review, 9th March 2004, accessed on 17/2/2011

Vincent Canby, Reservoir Dogs Review, 23rd October 1992, Tomatoes accessed on 17/2/2011

Jame Berardinelli, Reservoir Dogs Review, 1st January 2000, accessed on 17/2/2011


Movie Poster - accessed on 17/2/2011

That torture scene - accessed on 17/2/2011

The commode scene - accessed on 17/2/2011

Mr Orange and Mr White - accessed on 17/2/2011

Monday, 14 February 2011

Unit 4 interim review

This is my scribd presentation as to how far I've got. I haven't been able to finish the treatment as of yet but I will post it up as soon as I can.

Unit 4 Ideas Redone

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Unit ideas Scribd presentation

Unit 4 Ideas

@Phil in reference to essay and Plot ideas

Hi Phil for my essay I was thinking of looking into Christopher Nolan's Inception and it's structure in terms of being much like a dream itself as it jumps from Cobb attempting to rescue Mr. Saito from limbo. Also looking into the ending and its similarities with dreams as being ambiguous and open to interpretation. I'm sure there is much more to look into but I really liked this film and would love to dive in and look into others interpretations and so on.

Also in reference to my plot ideas could you have a look into them so I can drive my character design from it. Just some feedback on whether I need to tweak anything or whether I'm heading in the wrong direction

Plot Ideas


Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Birds

Another Hitchcock classic which tells the story of Melanie Daniels who visits Bodega Bay in search of Mitch Brenner, a young man who she develops a crush on in a meeting at a pet store. However when she arrives the local birdlife begins to act very strangely, attacking the townsfolk causing the town chaos. 

 The film centres itself around the female cast mostly which is an explanation for the research and deconstructions by feminists. In any horror film the audience has sympathise with the characters involved and The Birds does just that. The audience are given the back stories of both Annie and Lydia and although they both seem rather strange in their manner it's hard not to sympathise with them. This is the opposite for Mitch, he just seems to be the lead for Melanie to stalk him, and his character isn't really looked into other than the obvious mummy's boy characteristic. Scott agrees in his review 'An important part of any horror film is that you empathise with and like the main cast. Hedren as Melanie is quite good, as is a young Suzanne Pleshette as the school teacher who pines for Mitch. In fact, all of the female characters are more fully developed than the male as Mitch is fairly dull, without too many distinctive character traits while the women are all given depth.' (Scott 2010)

The idea of birds attacking people doesn't seem that frightening at first, almost laughable, but when watching the birds the suspense grows and grows the more birds that are present. The scene outside of the school is probably the most intense moment of the whole film where Melanie sits outside the school while birds begin to flock behind her. She turns around only to see hundreds of birds perched onto the playground equipment firing up to a horrific conclusion of the birds chasing the schoolchildren down the road. The special effects have aged and it is easy to spot that the birds aren't real however through typical Hitchcock mastery the suspense he delivers is unbearable. The Birds soundtrack consists of synthesised bird sounds which also add to the creepiness of the flocking birds. Schwartz comments 'It's all ridiculous but Hitchcock earns his paycheck by making the scenes of the attacking birds scary, especially where they are gathering in great numbers outside the public school in the playground and then attacking the fleeing schoolchildren. It works as a shocker probably because its shock scenes are so unexpected that it makes us think about birds in a way we never have before.' (Schwartz 2007)

 Looking into a review from when the film was released it is instantly recognisable for the distaste of its gore. It states 'Having hinted at the ornithophobic horror to come, Director Alfred Hitchcock goes nattering on with an hour of some silly plot-boiling about a flirtatious society girl (Tippi Hedren), a lovelorn schoolmarm (Suzanne Pleshette), an Oedipus wreck (Rod Taylor) and a pair of lovebirds. Hitchcock addicts will just be getting jittery for their first fix of gore when it suddenly becomes clear that the birds is coming: man's feathered friends set themselves to wipe out an entire village on the California coast.' (unknown 1963) The review goes on to explain the distaste of the ending which works on so many levels especially in ambiguity. It leaves us with the thoughts of figuring out the reason for the birds attack and shows an odd shot shared between Melanie and Lydia where the mother embraces Melanie in her frail state, someone relies on her and Lydia enjoys this.


Scott, The Birds review, 17th August 2010, accessed on 8/2/2011

Dennis Schwartz, The Birds review, 11th July 2007, accessed on 8/2/2011

Unknown, They is here, 5th April 1963,,9171,830097,00.html accessed on 8/2/2011

Film Poster - accessed on 8/2/2011

Melanie and Mitch - accessed on 8/2/2011

The schoolhouse scene - accessed on 8/2/2011

Melanie after being attacked by birds - accessed on 8/2/2011

Style influences

By choosing horror as the genre for my story I feel that the artwork should compliment it and be dark and heavily based around shadows much like that of noir style.

In a search on google I typed in Sin City and in the images I stumbled across a french animation's stills. Renaissance plot is:

In 2054, Paris is a labyrinth where all movement is monitored and recorded. Casting a shadow over everything is the city's largest company, Avalon, which insinuates itself into every aspect of contemporary life to sell its primary export -- youth and beauty. In this world of stark contrasts and rigid laws the populace is kept in line and accounted for. (

I love these stills they are so gritty and atmospheric and would love to incorporate this into my artwork.

I think which would also fit in nicely would be to use the technique from Sin City where certain things emit colours while everything else in the shot is black and white.
I will try to incorporate these styles into my artwork and play around with the ideas. Another idea which I thought my give it a more stylised and exaggerated effect would be incorporating the style of Tim Burton's drawings and animations. This would keep in line with the horror and creepiness of the story but give the characters more style in their appearances.