Short films are generally anywhere between 3 and 15 minutes long, but I found most were within the 4 to 6 minute bracket. Therefore I made sure that my film fit within this time scale so that it conformed to this general rule. It lasts roughly 5 ½ minutes, so fits comfortably.
My characters develop conventions of not only short films but television dramas and blockbuster films too. My female character, who remains nameless, was based on Effy Stonem from the Channel 4 drama Skins, although the stereotype of mysterious,
practically silent girl is also present in several other existing texts (e.g. Maggie in 17 Again, Ray in Channel 4’s Hollyoaks, Eli in Let The Right One In).
She is presented like this to provide narrative enigma (what makes her so interesting to him?) and also to foreshadow that she will be part of the sinister action later one in the film (connoted by the dark clothing, the almost trance-like way that he follows her without really thinking about it). My central protagonist, Chris Parks, also fits in with convention. He represents the shy, quiet boy who has trouble with confidence and therefore girls (much like Alex in 17 Again, Ron in the Harry Potter series and Christian in Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge).
All of these characters are very shy, and when presented with the chance to talk to his one true love acts foolishly and bashfully (although they generally get a sudden burst of confidence like Christian).
In Masque I’m challenging the stereotypical gender roles. Generally the girl would be shy and reserved, with the boy being the confident one that commands their attention, but I chose to reverse it in this film. This is very like the relationship between Effy and Freddie in Skins at first, and that’s what I tried to imitate. I think that the shy male character would appeal to a female audience, as vulnerable men tend to do, whereas the strong, confident, sexy female character would attract the male audience.
My soundtrack both conformed and challenged conventions of the short films that I researched. The music in short films tends to be primarily to build the tension or enhance the mood of the moment, but for the first section I chose to have diegetic dance music coming from the stereo. I chose to do this to provide anchorage of the age-group of the characters, and also to provide a light-hearted atmosphere to contrast with the sinister one later on. It also allowed me to play around with lyrics, and I was able to time the girl looking into the camera with the word “night”
to add another hint of a sinister plot. However, towards the end of the dance track I put in quiet, drawn out strings notes in order to add a slightly uneasy edge to the music. This drawn out minor key music continues throughout the corridor scene. This provides a narrative enigma; why is the music sinister when the action appears to be very positive? For the second part of the narrative I chose to have a stereotypical soundtrack, using timpani, violins and French horns to reflect the tension and the more dramatic moments in the action. I think that cutting it up was a good idea as it places more emphasis on certain important moments, but I ran out of time towards the end of production so was unable to do this as well as I’d like. I did like the way that the crescendo of drums ended just at the point when they started to rip him apart, and then faded to quiet music for the shoe shot, and this has proved popular with my target audience.
The storylines of short films are generally stranger and quirkier than that of feature length presentations, as due to their short duration they do not have to develop a storyline too thoroughly. However, I chose to base my film around cannibalism, a subject that can be (and indeed has been, e.g. Silence of the Lambs)developed into a longer narrative. I decided to use cannibalism as the twist because it was interesting and sinister, and provided much scope for several possible storylines. I decided in the end that I would try and merge this idea with my original idea of the love story, and came up with the final narrative.
When researching horror shorts I noticed that the titles were often white text on a black background that faded in either midway through or towards the end. I found that after a particularly tense part of the action the titles faded in to produce most fear in the audience as they have to imagine what’s coming next. Therefore I decided that I would try and use this, and placed a fading black screen just after the cannibals descend on him.
This also acted as a break between the night time scene and the final scene set in the morning.
I sought to conventions in order to make my film stand out and be more interesting, although merely developed some as they had proved successful in other texts.