PLEAD - Main Opening Sequence Task

NERD - Preliminary Exercise

Thursday, 7 April 2011

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Post for the Moderator

Dear moderator,

Here is my finished blog. You will be able to find evidence showing what I have learnt through the processes involved (pre-production, production and post-production)

You should find my blog is easy to navigate through via the links on the right side of the page and the hyperlinks connected to the many images and clips.

You may find particularly useful the links to my teammates' blogs (Michael Cassidy and Adam Romo).

Thank you for taking the time to read through my blog and I hope you enjoy it!

Daniel Sheldon - 3720

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

Let me start by giving an overview of our film:

"Plead" is a gritty British courtroom drama, which follows the struggles of a young woman, Lzzie, aged 19, who has brutally murdered her abusive boyfriend of 3 years, Josh, aged 23. She pleads guilty to the charge of murder without considering the other factors involved.

It is the job of her lawyer, Arthur Windsor, to dig deep into her memories and those of her friends and relatives to reveal the hiddent ruth of this murder. THe film shows the courtcase and reflects on all the evens which may have lead up to the murder from the perspective of the Lawyer; this way the audience knows only as uch as the information presented in the investigation.

Inspiration for the plot

When discussing the plot of this film with Adam and Michael, I immediately associated this with the storyline of a court case in the BBC series Waterloo Road (Series 5), which follows a case where a teenager murders her father who has been abusing her mother in a similar manner to our protagonist.

This sereis targets a very similar audience (16-21 females) so I felt this is an appropriate example to refer to when finalising our plot.

Opening Sequence

The sequence opens with establishing shots of the suburban setting. We are then taken instantly to the actio, with Lizzie kneeling above Josh's brutally stabbed and blood covered body. She's breathing heavily taking her time to absorb the events which have only just occured. She is interrupted by a knock on the door from a concerned neighbour, Paul, who informs her that he has heard a "commotion" and desires to help; our protagonist, however turns him away.

Narrative Structure

Our film does not adhere perfectly to a typical narrative structure. However, Todorov's equilibrium-disequilibrium theory and Propp's theory of character roles were significant too.

Todorov's equilibrium-disequilibrium theory:

Our adaptation:

We open with diseqilibrium and the sequence occurs in real time to startle and engage the audience, making it feel more realistic and perhaps even uncomfortably believable.

Propp's theory of character roles:

Although these roles are typical of a courtroom drama, we included an essence of ambiguity to Lizzie's character (is she villain or hero?), to retain audience interest.


The task set was to create an opening sequence of a film, so it was important to follow a set format which would include the conventions of a title sequence. Earlier in the year, when studying TV Dramas we analysed many opening sequences and learnt that the conventions are:

  • the opening sequence introduces characters and their relationships

  • Sets up the rest of the film
  • Includes titles which introduces the cast and crew

Our opening sequence clearly presents the characters and through the disturbing shot of the blood splattered photo, the audience immediately understands that they WERE in a loving relationship.


We knew our film had to have a unique style to gain audience appeal. To get inspiration for this we designed the mise-en-scene based on an array of films we had already seen and was able to decide on components which helped to create the atmosphere we wanted to present.

We found a video on YouTube called Leave me Alone! by Blackbox TV, and found that the use of steadicam with a slight shake created an eerie and more realistic tone.

We recognised early on that audio is particularly useful in subtly creating tension and imposing a heart-stopping impact. For this we used the technique from The Dark Knight (2008, Nolan) and Paranormal Activity (2009, Peli) where audio is very quiet and goes through a crescendo over a long period of time till the sound is sickening and generally overwhelming with tension. We particularly used low rumble drones like in Paranormal Activity, although it is a different genre (horror) because we knew it was effective due to its realism.

Finally, we altered the hue and saturation in grading the footage to further intensify the drama. We attempted to desaturate the film to give the gritty British feel, however we boosted the reds to make the blood more vibrant. We also made the bedroom have a reddish hue, since this is where the murder just took place, representing the "heat" of the moment. In contrast, we included a slight blue hue over all footage outside the bedroom to accentuate a pristine, realistic and gritty feel to display to the audience that life still occurs as normal in the outside world.

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

Lizzie has strong representations of both age and gender, with many conventions overlapping.

She is a role model and a strong representative for late teenagers and young adult females through her efforts to contain and handle the traumatic truth.

The plot represents a taboo which the social groups are being represented may be experiencing behind closed doors. PLEAD reaches these demographics to give them the reassurance that they do not have to suffer in silence.

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

PLEAD Release Strategy
  • National staggered release
  • High profile premiere in Leicester Square
The film will first screen in multiplex cinemas around London and then we'll release in other major cities around the UK like Manchester and Birmingham.

It will be premiered in London because the film is a gritty British drama and set in the suburbs of London.

An Autumn Release
This is the time when the weather starts to become more dismal and stereotypical of Britain, and this reflects in the attitudes of the people.

After PLEAD has been released throughout the UK, we will release overseas, starting with the USA since they are particularly interested in British associations like the location of London with all its associations such as Big Ben and red buses.

This is a similar release strategy to Snatch (2000, Ritchie), where the film premiered in the UK on 23 August 2000 and wasn’t released overseas till a month later in Finland on 25th September 2000.


Our distributor is Kingwell Studios and they distribute a variety of genres from drama to comedy to romance providing they are all gritty British films, which is why we have adopted Snatch’s release strategy since it has a similar appeal in terms of its British values.

Kingwell Studios is very similar to Universal in that they have a global presence and also a dominating position in the UK. They have produced many gritty British films like This is England (2006, Meadows) and Green Street (2005, Alexander).

Our production company is Madhouse Media and they concentrate on gritty British films, however many will have international appeal, especially to the USA, so that creates this international status. Then main demographics they target are working / middle class Brits with about a 50:50 divide in gender, since everyone is affected by the serious themes in their films.

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

Primary / Broad Audience:

·      -Female
·      -Aged 16-21
·      -British (More specifically, young women living in a suburb)
·      -Girls in a relationship who may be vulnerable, yet they keep quiet about their situation.
·      -They enjoy going out with friends, going to the cinema, partying, socialising (particularly with boys)     and social networking.
·      -They enjoy gritty British dramas and courtroom dramas with very serious themes.
·     -Like to stay in some nights to watch a film with their boyfriend and going to the cinema fairly often.
·      -Mainly students in sixth form and university
·      -They won’t necessarily have a full time job, however the may work at weekend in a bar / nightclub.
Secondary / Niche Audience:

·      -Female
·      -Aged 30+
·      British (More specifically, women living in a suburb)
·      -Mothers to daughters who may be secretive, outgoing, promiscuous and also those in domineering / abusive relationships
·      -They enjoy caring for their children, going out to the cinema, watching gritty British films and courtroom dramas in the evening either on their own or with a partner.
·      -In an occupation which pays from all spectrums, however more specifically a secondary school teacher, since they spend most of their time with the age group being affected.
A   After the screening...
d·      The feedback from the audience told us that we successfully targeted our audience since the majority said they would like to see the rest of the film in a cinema.
·      I am of the opinion that after producing the film opening our target audience has remained the same, because we used conventions of the genre which adhered to the expectations of the age groups being represented.

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

Group 5 Sample Audience Feedback

Our primary audience were females aged 16-21. At this age they form their own opinions and passions of topical issues. With the target audience in mind, we felt it necessary to consider the theory of uses and gratifications, with a key focus on fear and pain.
PLEAD is set in a conventional suburban region of London to create a believable location, somewhere the audience could relate to as it is “ordinary”. The audience could now be immersed in the plot, allowing the storyline to play on their fears and pleasures of everyday life.
Techniques / Conventions used to achieve this:
Continuity techniques (used to create a seemless narrative):
·        Shot / Reverse Shot
·        Match on action
·        Sound bridges
·        Gradual steps in shot distances (e.g. CU à MS)
·        Adhering to the 180 and 30 degree rules
The feedback gained from the screening indicates that our film successfully suspended the disbelief of our target audience, with the many people saying they would like to see the rest of the film.