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This exercise helps us to understand you and your understanding of multimedia.
Media Art Expectation: Connections Beyond the Classroom: demonstrate an understanding of the types of knowledge and skills developed in media arts and how they can be used outside the media arts classroom.
Here are some links to the various colleges and universities that offer media programs.
Niagara College School of Media and Design
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho
shower scene took 7 days to shoot with 70 different camera set ups, the scene was only 45 seconds long, a nude model stood in for Janet Leigh; the knife never touched her body; no one was admitted to the theatre after the film was started, Pinkerton guards enforced this rule; people fainted, walked out, wrote death threats to Janet Leigh, sent angry phone calls, preachers talked of banning the film; first time ever included in a movie – a flushing toilet; trade mark cameo appearances in all films.
The story is based on a book by Robert Bloch, inspired by Ed Gein who not only murdered two women and kept their heads in sacks in his house, but robbed over 40 graves and used the body parts to make furniture, nicknacks and a “female skin suit”.
The brilliance was that you were allowed to use your imagination, which is more powerful than explicit gore.
Hitchcock felt that the most important part of a film was the audience. He utilized techniques to engage, manipulate and surprise his audience.
1. Juxtapositioning shots to build suspense: the shot will be of the character, his expression, then what he is looking at
2. Dialogue: during a conversation the Hitchcock will often show one of the characters preoccupied with something. Their eyes are distracted while the other person doesn’t notice, but his tells the audience something isn’t quite right. The audience is also drawn into a character’s secretive world. The focus of the scene then is not on what they are actually saying, but the sub-text – what they are not saying and the emotions attached to that.
3. Use Montage to create thrilling scenes: in the shower scene, the cuts are fast, calculated, from various angles
4. Only tell the audience what they have to know – careful revealing of information to audience to build and maintain suspense. Keep the audience always thinking, hide from then some critical information so they think of the whys and hows.
5. Use surprise and twists to manipulate audience’s emotions: Psycho, audience becomes attached to Marion Crane, then she is murdered; Norman Bates’s mother turns out to be Norman himself, with her body slowly rotting in her wheel chair.
6. Hitchcock used plot devices to create suspense: for example there would be a certain prop tied to the one “deed” that moves the action. In Psycho it is the envelope full of money. The shots include this envelope to remind the audience of the predicament that Marion Crane has gotten herself into and what is at stake.
7. Controlling the pace of the movie: how fast information is revealed, what is happening on screen, the number of plot twists, the number of character introduced and how their stories intertwine.
Alfred Hitchcock, ” I don’t care about the subject matter, I don’t care about the acting, but I do care about the pieces of the film and the photography and the soundtrack and all of the technical ingredients that made the audience scream. I feel it’s tremendously satisfying for us to be able to use the cinematic art to achieve something of a mass emotion. And with Psycho we most definitely achieved this. It wasn’t a message that stirred the audiences, nor was it a great performance or their enjoyment of the novel. They were aroused by pure film.”
Books on Writing
The advice and tips for writing short fiction – screenplays are very close to short story writing – based on Mark Baechtel’s book Shaping the Story and David Trottier’s The Screenwriter’s Bible. Other books that may be of interest: How to Make a Good Story Great by Linda Seger; How to Write a Movie in 21 Days by Viki King. Check the Category NON-FICTION, WRITING on this blog for more recommendations.
September 16 class notes:
Created a “story cloud” diagram for Marion Crane, with her name in the middle, her specific emotional life in the first circle, the various situations that revealed these emotions in the second circle, then the various secondary characters that facilitated these situations in the outer circle. We could draw lines between and around each word in our circle, as all are intertwined.
Created an “arc” of the storyline. Starting at the beginning/introduction/establishing scene, moving through the rising action towards the first climax – Marion’s untimely death.
The Reader’s Questions:
Who is telling the story?
Who does this story belong to?
Who am I with as the story opens?
Why does the story begin at this moment at the character’s life?
Where am I as the story opens?
What action is taking place?
When – at what time of day, what time of year, in what part of life – is this story unfolding?
What’s at stake for the main character?
What does/do the characters want? What stands between them and their goal?
What does he or she fear? What is pushing them into contact with that feared object?
Writing the Opening Scene
September 20th class notes:
Read the opening scenes from Fight Club and Three Kings, talked about what should be in the opening scene. READ as many screenplays as possible.
A scene is a portion of the story in which things are dramatized. In the opening scene, the questions of WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE WHY and HOW are answered or hinted at.
The scene should involve an element from each level of your cloud diagram – your central character, an emotional state which dominates the scene and a situation in which your primary character interacts with a secondary character.
Your story must have structure: a beginning, middle and end – the arc of the story will dictate how the action/suspense will rise and fall during this time – but there is always an opening scene, the middle of the story where the character meets certain challenges/obstacles, the end where conflict is resolved, your character wins/loses his prize. Write the opening scene with as much detail as possible. You are making an appeal to your audience’s senses: what are your characters wearing? are they inside or outside? If inside, is there a smell from cooking or from a fire or insense? who is the secondary character – describe their face – shape, shade, colour of eyes? Is their face lined or smooth? what emotions does it convey – joy or rage? how do they stand? or are they lounging with their feet up on the coffee table?
DON’T use camera directions. Write like you are writing a short story. The audience’s eyes are your camera.
What the Experts Say
Listen to the following podcasts for advice and tips from writers, directors and fimmakers. Access these podcasts from your iTunes. Go to iTunes Store. Then choose Podcasts. Put the title of the podcast in the search.
John Rainey talks about script writing in the Writer’s Voices Podcast. John started out as a professional actor, but worked his way into becoming one of the industry’s most sought after script consultants. Voted #1 script analyst in the country by Creative Screenwriting, John has professionally analyzed and consulted on thousands of scripts. He has worked as script consultant on such films as Invincible, Vacancy, Holes, and many more. He has several screenplays of his own currently in pre-production. John currently lives in Redondo Beach, CA.
Listen to this podcast on iTunes. Search Writer’s Voices Podcasts. Select John Rainey on Screen Writing. Enjoy.
The National Screen Institute of Canada presents an interview with Pen Densham, award-winning screenwriter, producer and director. His web site Riding the Alligator offers advice and lots of promo for this new book of the same name. Go to iTunes to hear his interview, which has lots of information and advice to aspiring screenwriters and filmmakers. iTunes – National Screen Institute- Canada(NSI)– National Screen Institute Podcast – Audio Interview with Pen Densham.
Excerpt from Chapter one of his new book, Riding the Alligator:
Eliminate “Writer’s Block” Forever
Secret #1 to writing:
This will sound bad I know but stick with me here…
Take the attitude you’re going to write ANY OLD CRAP
on the subject that you can come up with.
Whatever you think of — just write it down.
Any old nonsense — GREAT. Just put it on paper (or onto
A pile of steaming crap no one would ever read?
Not your problem — just write it anyway.
Just fill up pages and pages with any old crap and keep writing
straight off the top of your head for as long as you can.
Stop thinking about it and just do it.
Now if you follow secret no 1 you’re going to be surprised.
The biggest mistake most writers make is that they confuse
the creative process with the critical process.
When you’re setting out to write something you’re in the
I’ve written full books in 7 days.
But that can’t happen if you’re constantly worrying about
how good, bad, or accurate what you’re writing is.
You’re in the creative process.
Let your creative side come out by disengaging your critical
If I’m writing any old crap then my critical side has no work
to do. I know it’s crap already.