This task required me to make an artefact based on the idea of Fear. I looked at a bunch of short films about fear, however what I found was that they were all in the horror genre. Edwards (1984) suggested that a clear separation between horror and fear lies in the distinction between external threat and the idea of threat but to this she added that terror is associated with extreme fear whereas horror couples extreme fear with disgust. (Neale 1999) I wanted to look into something deeper that breaks away from the horror convention. One short film stood out to me in particular.
According to the website How stuff works “Fear is a chain reaction in the brain that starts with a stressful stimulus and ends with the release of chemicals that cause a racing heart, fast breathing and energized muscles, among other things.” (Layton 2005). A lot of different people have different fears weather that is being afraid of the dark, or the fear of failure. As there are so many fears and each person is different I looked at 5 fears that we collectively share.
These are the (ONLY) 5 fears we share according to Psychology Today (Albrecht 1991).
- Extinction—the fear of annihilation, of ceasing to exist. This is a more fundamental way to express it than just calling it “fear of death.” The idea of no longer being arouses a primary existential anxiety in all normal humans.
- Mutilation—the fear of losing any part of our precious bodily structure; the thought of having our body’s boundaries invaded, or of losing the integrity of any organ, body part, or natural function.
- Loss of Autonomy—the fear of being immobilized, paralyzed, restricted, enveloped, overwhelmed, entrapped, imprisoned, smothered, or otherwise controlled by circumstances beyond our control.
- Separation—the fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of connectedness; of becoming a non-person—not wanted, respected, or valued by anyone else.
- Ego-death—the fear of humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the Self; the fear of the shattering or disintegration of one’s constructed sense of lovability, capability, and worthiness.
I thought this was an interesting list of fears which I found to be true during my primary research. During my primary research I found that many people feared dying which is at the top of the list. Many other people would give stereotypical answers, for example the fear of spiders or the fear of holes (Tryphophobia).
I was interested in the concept on why we let these fears consume us and how fears affect us. Fear is a very powerful emotion and a very strong motivating force. The more intense the fear becomes the more it affects a person’s behavior, mood and life. It could cause anxiety and depression. We go through life trying to avoid all these fears that we have. However sometimes they take over. While trying to find inspiration for my fear project, I came across this quote ‘please don’t feed your fears’. I thought this would be a good quote to base my film around. I have always seen quotes about people making you feel inferior only if you let them, this is similar to the fear concept. Your fears only have power over you because you let them.
‘The Bold Life’ (2012) suggests there are six ways in which you can feed your fears. Those being:
- You terrorize yourself with stories of fear.
- You expect the worst case scenario.
- You visualize the worst case scenario.
- You believe that you won’t survive your fear.
- You repeat a fearful story to others.
- Replay old memories of past failures.
During my research on what causes fear, I found that the media play a big part in contributing to fear. I came across the documentary ‘Bowling for Columbine’ (Michael Moore, 2002), which explores the columbine shooting and what influence two kids to carry out a massacre. The film touches upon the idea that the media had something to do with the massacre. They blamed Marilyn Manson’s music. Manson said an interesting thing about fear and consumption.
We are surrounded by fear, we consume fear. Fear is embedded into the audience brain as the media consists of showing us mediated images and videos on crimes, wars and unpleasantness.
SUSPENSE THRILLER GENRE
In addition to this research I also looked at the genre suspense thriller, in order to understand it better. I found that this genre is dominated by Alfred Hitchcock. He is the father of the suspense thriller. Derry describes a suspense thriller ‘as a crime work which presents a generally murderous antagonism in which the protagonist becomes either an innocent victim or a nonprofessional criminal within a structure that is significantly unmediated by a traditional figure of detection’ (Derry 1989). I also researched into the idea of ‘suspense’ and found that Alfred Hitchcock has his own way of showing suspense.
One of the conventions of a suspense thriller is ending with a twist. ‘A twist focuses on an aspect of the story (a character’s identity, motive, perception, location, an achievement or a moment left to chance). The twist will then turn that aspect on its head and reveal some kind of opposite of the most dramatic, comedic, ironic or horrific kind.’ (Worley 2014)
Worley discussed the five types of twist endings.
What one character achieves another character takes away at the very last minute! One character will finally get what they’ve been after throughout the story, only to have it snatched away by an opposing character (often their opposite – husband/wife, father/son, poor/rich). Unlike a Reversal of Fortune, in which Fate steps in to either impede or aid a character in achieving their objective, a Reversal of Fulfilment occurs as a result of BOTH characters fulfilling their opposite objectives relatively unhindered.
This research helped me understand the genre in depth and also helped me develop my idea further.
One film I looked at was The Eye (Pang Brothers, 2002) Even though this is of the horror genre I wanted to look at how this genre looks at suspense. There is a particular scene that stood out to me. The scene embedded suspense through the way it was filmed. For example, the main character hiding behind the walls, close ups on certain parts of her face. These all signify that something is going to happen, the audience are oblivious to it and the horror genre has set it up to scare the audience.
For my primary research I interviewed some people and asked them the following questions.
- How do you define fear?
- What are some of your fears?
- Do you think the fears that someone has depends on their age and gender?
- Is there any fears that you think we all share?
- Has your fear ever affected your life in a big way? If so how?
Here are the results below…
From the interviews I carried out I found that a lot of people struggled when I asked them how they define fear. While talking about fears each person focused on 1 particular fear. For example, the fear of failure and being scared of the dark. I found this really interesting. Another interesting thing I found was that the older the person was, the deeper they got in terms of their answers. In comparison to people who were younger who talked more about physical fears such as spiders. Many people feel uncomfortable while talking about their fears and it showed throughout these interviews.
The first idea I came up with was an experimental short which consisted of 1 shot and voiceovers. It was going to be a track shot from light to darkness to highlight that your fears bring darkness into your life. For the voiceovers I asked two questions to a couple of people.
- How do you define fear?
- What do you fear?
I was going to use the answers to these questions and put it on top of the track footage, however in my opinion I didn’t think this worked as I feel that the footage was too short. I didn’t think it matched with the voices as the voices sounded too ‘normal’ whereas the footage had a eerie aspect to it. I decided to scrap this idea, however I still filmed the tracking shot. It did not come out the way I wanted it to as it went dark really quickly and I needed it to be light. I slowed down the speed of this shot as it was too short, however I thought slowing it down made it look better as it gives more of an eerie feel to it. I used a LED light and a track to achieve this look.
REFLECTION ON THE TEST SHOOT
In conclusion looking at the test shot I realized that I need to focus on my technical work as this is something that I have always struggled with. For example, the lighting in the test shoot, it is very blue due to the fact that I wanted it to look like it was filmed in the day time even though it was filmed in the evening. I tried to colour correct this but It just made it look faded and not authentic. I need to learn how to colour correct properly which would help me greatly in achieving the look that I visualize. In terms of the camera I wanted to get more creative with it therefore I watched many tutorials and different videos on cinematic techniques. Here is an example of one of the videos I watched.
2ND IDEA – MY FINAL ARTEFACT
The second idea I came up with for this fear artefact was based around the quote “Don’t feed your fears” It would consist of one character who is holding a plate of food and throwing the food into the darkness (Which represents all their fears) They then walk away looking defeated having fed her fears which are taking over her life. This would be filmed in the alleyway where the track footage was shot. This film will make a statement about the world and how we let our fears impact our lives. We give our fears the power to make us feel scared. I implied this through making the fears ‘come to life’ I made them a physical thing by adding in sound effects. This is my final fear artefact.
Overall I enjoyed making this artefact. My 1st artefact was a soundscape and I think that it worked well however it was an ‘easy’ option. I am not very skilled with the technical aspects of fiction films however I did want to challenge myself, which is why I worked alone for this particular project. Like I mentioned before I wanted to stay away for the horror convention however I did take something from the genre. In this particular artefact I tried to build up suspense, so for example the film started out slow and the audience have no idea what’s going on towards the end it all become clear. It was a really experimental concept but I chose to film it this way as I thought keeping it simple is the best way to convey the message. In terms of this artefact the footage came out better than I expected.
There was a lot of problems in terms of lighting. I did not book out extra lights which hindered my chance to make the film look cinematic. The interior scenes were very orange and the exterior scenes were very blue despite changing the kelvin scale on my camera. This was a problem for me as I am not great at colour correcting my footage. I did try to make the colours seem more natural. I think the sounds worked well in terms of creating the tension and I thought the footage conveyed the message that I was going for.
The feedback I got for this artefact was that it was too dark. I agreed with this statement, however when I tried to brighten it just looked faded and dull. I did try to colour correct it though, Which I thought I did well on despite not knowing fully how to colour correct footage.
Here are some before and after shots.
Albrecht, K. (1991) The (only) 5 fears we all share[online] available from <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brainsnacks/201203/the-only-5-fears-we-all-share> [1 November 2016]
Derry, C. (1989) The suspense thriller: Films in the shadow of Alfred Hitchcock. New York, NY, United States: McFarland & Co.
Kanal von TheAndNicole (2012) ‘The scariest scene ever – the eye – Horrormovie’. in YouTube[online] YouTube. available from <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mb6pLDpbGw8> [1 November 2016]
Layton, J. (2005) How fear works[online] available from <http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/emotions/fear.htm> [29 October 2016]
Eyes On Cinema (2015) ‘Alfred Hitchcock explains the element of suspense’. in YouTube[online] YouTube. available from <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=md6folAgGRU> [29 October 2016]
Metlukh, N. (2016) Fears. Vimeo. available from <https://vimeo.com/126060304> [29 October 2016]
Moore, M. (2002) Bowling for Columbine[online] available from <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0310793/> [2 November 2016]
Neale, S. (1999) Genre and Hollywood. New York: Taylor & Francis
Tess (2012) ‘Please don’t feed your fears’ [online] available from <http://theboldlife.com/2012/06/6893/> [30 October 2016]
Worley, A. (2014) THE FIVE TYPES OF TWIST ENDING[online] available from <http://alecworley.weebly.com/blog/the-five-types-of-twist-ending> [29 October]