Film Noir

What is it?

Film Noir is a style or genre of cinematographic film marked by a mood of pessimism, fatalism, and menace. The term was originally applied by a group of French critics to primarily describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly such that emphasise cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. The period that Hollywood’s Film Noir was genuinely excepted to be made in was 1944–54 and popular Film Noir’s were the work of directors such as Orson Welles, Fritz Lang, and Billy Wilder. Film Noir of this era is associated with a low-key, black-and-white visual style that has roots in German Expressionist cinematography.

After finding out the basis of what Film Noir is, I decided to do futher research into the genre. I went on YouTube and found a couple of videos from the same channel, one explaining the origins of Film Noir, and another explaining the all important lighting in this unique style of cinematography.

These two videos were very helpful in aiding my understanding of Film Noir and I will be sure to use what I have learnt when making the 20 second Film Noir clip in class.

The channel I found these clips on was ‘Filmmaker IQ’. They make tons of videos on everything to do with film making, and I will be sure to revisit this channel next time I want to research a filming style.

Filmmaker IQ-


Top Film Noir Films

These are the Top 10 Film Noir films ranked by The Guardian:


Film Noir Directors

18th_highlight_director_billy_wilderBilly Wilder- (June 22 1906 – March 27 2002) was an Austrian-born Jewish-American filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, artist, and journalist whose career spanned more than five decades. He is regarded as one of the most brilliant and versatile filmmakers of Hollywood’s golden age. With The “Apartment”, Wilder became the first person to win Academy Awards as producer, director, and screenwriter for the same film.

Fritz Lang, circa 1937Fritz Lang- (December 5 1890 – August 2 1976) was an Austrian film director, producer and screenwriter. In Lang’s early career he worked primarily as a screenwriter, finishing film scripts in four to five days. Lang went on to direct popular films of the silent era including ‘Metropolis’ and one of the first important German sound films ‘M’. Lang went on to direct some of the most important crime and Film Noir film of the American studio era, such as ‘The Big Heat’. Lang’s final film work was an acting role as himself in Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Contempt’.


Modern Day Film Noir

A good example of a morden day Film Noir film is the film ‘Memento’. Amnesia has always been common to Film Noir, and this breakout feature from Christopher Nolan carries on the tradition to its maximum potential — taking us on a backwards journey alongside a memory-impaired man investigating his wife’s murder.

The 2011 film ‘Drive’ Directed by Nicholas Winding Refn, is alos another very popular modern day Film Noir. Armed with a neon-lit Los Angeles and an infectious soundtrack, this film tells the neo-noir tale of a stuntman (Ryan Gosling) who moonlights as wheelman, ferrying crooks from job to getaway in record time. In between bursts of bloody violence, this critically-acclaimed film finds plenty of meditative character beats to make Drive one of the best slow-burn entries in the genre.

The 2004 thriller ‘Collateral’ embraces its L.A. Noir roots while playing with more conventional movie tropes, as contract killer Vincent (Tom Cruise) forces cab driver Max (Jamie Foxx) to drive him from hit to hit. Their violent and compelling crime-filled trip through Los Angeles makes the city more than just a gritty backdrop for the action – it turns L.A. into a character.



Initial Ideas

Now I have decided I will be doing the music video brief, I need to get some ideas together for my video. Here is a mind map I made in class of my initial ideas for my chosen brief:


Hip Hop mood boards:

Looking at several different mood boards online allowed be to see common conventions of the Hip-Hop genre. What stands out to me most in the mood boards is the idea of status and confidence. All the artists in the mood boards look powerful and the objects such as cars and jewellery represent the idea of high status. This signifies to me that the type of video style for a Hip-Hop music video would be performance, as it allows the artist to show of their status and confidence in the most explicit way.

Main Influences:

Below are some Hip-Hop music videos that showcase the performance style of music video. This style of music video is currently what I plan to create.

My Chosen Brief… Audio

So after research into all 4 of the available briefs I have decided to chose the audio brief. This is because I believe it requires the largest skill sets out of all the tasks as it requires the same camera and editing skills as a short film, it could result in a lot of locations like a trailer, and focuses heavily on audio, another aspect of media other than just primarily visuals. For these reasons I believe choosing this task will help me develop the most amount of media skills out of the 4 possible tasks.

I also have an interest in music and the videos that supplement it, and I think it will be a lot of fun producing one.


Evaluation of AS Media Product

For the AS Media coursework our brief was to make the opening title sequence to a thriller film. We were put into groups and had to produce a 2 minute title sequence, and all had to independently do research into thriller, documented through our blogs.


Here is the title sequence we produced:

Here is the evaluation I did on my product during my AS course:



Brief 4: Film Trailer

This brief requires you to make an promotion package for a new film, this includes a teaser trailer, along with two of the following:

  • A film magazine cover, featuring the film
  • A poster for the film
  • A website homepage for the film



What is a Film Trailer?

A trailer (also known as a preview or coming attraction) is an advertisement or a commercial for a feature film that will be exhibited in the future at a cinema, the result of creative and technical work.

Movie trailers have now become popular on DVDS and Blu-rays, as well as on the Internet and mobile devices. Film trailers are ranked third of the 10 billion videos watched annually on the internet, after news and user-created video. The trailer format has also been adopted as a promotional tool for television shows, video games, books, and theatrical events/concerts.


Professional Examples of Film Trailers

Above are 3 trailers for films coming out this year. They all do a good job of  showing what the genre of the film is and what the storyline is, but don’t give too much away and don’t spoil what happens in the film.

If I was to do this brief a key factor I would bare in mind would be to have plenty locations, as a trailer promotes different parts of the whole film and if my trailer was only in one or a handful of locations, it would not look very professional.

Brief 3: Advertising

The advertising brief is the production of an advertising package for a new product or service. For this you have to make two TV advertisements, and two of the following ancillary texts:

  • A TV program sponsorship sequence
  • A radio advert
  • A web pop-up


What is Advertising?

Advertising is an audio or visual form of marketing communication that employs an openly sponsored, non-personal message to promote or sell a product, service or idea. Sponsors of advertising are often businesses who wish to promote their products or services. Advertising is differentiated from public relations in that an advertiser usually pays for and has control over the message. It is differentiated from personal selling in that the message is non-personal, i.e., not directed to a particular individual. Advertising is communicated through various mass media, including old media such as newspapers, magazines, Television, Radio, outdoor advertising or direct mail; or new media such as search results, blogs, websites or text messages. The actual presentation of the message in a medium is referred to as an advertisement or “ad”.

Television advertising is one of the most expensive types of advertising; networks charge large amounts for commercial airtime during popular events. The annual Super Bowl football game in the United States is known as the most prominent advertising event on television – with an audience of over 108 million and studies showing that 50% of those only tuned in to see the advertisements. The average cost of a single thirty-second television spot during this game reached US$4 million & a 60-second spot double that figure in 2014. Virtual advertisements may be inserted into regular programming through computer graphics. It is typically inserted into otherwise blank backdrops or used to replace local billboards that are not relevant to the remote broadcast audience. More controversially, virtual billboards may be inserted into the background where none exist in real-life. This technique is especially used in televised sporting events. Virtual product placement is also possible. An infomercial is a long-format television commercial, typically five minutes or longer. The word “infomercial” is a portmanteau of the words “information” and “commercial”. The main objective in an infomercial is to create an impulse purchase, so that the target sees the presentation and then immediately buys the product through the advertised toll-free telephone number or website. Infomercials describe, display, and often demonstrate products and their features, and commonly have testimonials from customers and industry professionals.
Radio advertisements are broadcast as radio waves to the air from a transmitter to an antenna and a thus to a receiving device. Airtime is purchased from a station or network in exchange for airing the commercials. While radio has the limitation of being restricted to sound, proponents of radio advertising often cite this as an advantage. Radio is an expanding medium that can be found on air, and also online. According to Arbitron, radio has approximately 241.6 million weekly listeners, or more than 93 percent of the U.S. population.
Online advertising is a form of promotion that uses the Internet and World Wide Web for the expressed purpose of delivering marketing messages to attract customers. Online ads are delivered by an ad server. Examples of online advertising include contextual ads that appear on search engine results pages, banner ads, in pay per click text ads, rich media ads, Social network advertising, online classified advertising, advertising networks and e-mail marketing, including e-mail spam. A newer form of online advertising is Native Ads; they go in a website’s news feed and are supposed to improve user experience by being less intrusive. However, some people argue this practice is deceptive.



Here are two popular TV advertisements. Both were successful as they engaged with the audience and made them laugh, which is what I will try to do if I chose this brief.

Brief 2: Short Film

The short film brief involves making a short film in its entirety, it should last approximately 5 minutes. It may be live action or animation or a combination of the two. The ancillary options are:

  • A poster for the film
  • A film magazine review page for the film
  • A website homepage for the film


What is a Short Film?

A short film is a motion picture not long enough to be classed as a feature film. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences defines a short film as “an original motion picture that has a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits”.

A short film is slightly different from a “featurette” this term is given to films too short to be a feature film but too long to be a short film or a “short subject” (basically the same as a short film, however usually shown along with a feature film).


In the early days of film, short films and full feature films received about the same amount of popularity. Short comedies where the most popular and were produced the most. Short comedies usually came in series such as the outing of Charlie Chaplin’s little trap character.

Animated cartoons came principally as short subjects. Virtually all major film production companies had units assigned to develop and produce shorts, and many companies, especially in the silent and very early sound era, produced mostly or only short subjects.


Now a days a not as many but still a decent amount of animated shorts continue within mainstream commercial distribution. For example, Pixar has screened a short along with all their feature films since its initial theatrical run in 1995. Since Disney acquired Pixar in 2006, Disney has also produced animated shorts as of 2007 with the Goofy short “How to Hook Up Your Home Theater and produced a series of live action short films featuring The Muppets for viewing on YouTube as Viral Videos to promote the 2011 movie of the same name.

short films generally rely on film festival exhibitions to reach an audience. Short films can also be distributed via the Internet. Websites such as YouTube, Snoovies and Vimeo encourage the submission of independent short films and have attracted large communities of artists and viewers. websites like FILMSshort and Vimeo and apps such as Snoovie focus on showcasing curated shorts.

Short films are a typical first stage for new filmmakers, but professional actors and crews still choose to create short films as an alternative form of expression. Short film making is growing in popularity as equipment becomes cheaper. “Prosumer” or semi-professional cameras now cost under US$3,000, and free or low-cost software is widely available that is capable of video editing, post-production work and DVD authoring.

The lower production costs of short films often mean that short films can cover alternative subject matter as compared to higher budget feature films. Similarly unconventional film making techniques such as Pixilation or narratives that are told without dialogue, are more often seen in short films than features.

Tropfest claims to be the world’s largest short film festival. Tropfests now take place in Australia (its birthplace), Arabia, the US and elsewhere. Originating in 1993, Tropfest is often credited as being at least partially responsible for the recent popularity of short films internationally.


Real life examples

I decided to look further into short films by actually watching some to see the styles and conventions and how they differ from feature films (aside from the duration). I found the following videos on YouTube, as I mentioned earlier this is one of the main platforms for short film promotion.

This video brings attention to the issue of teenagers self harming. This is what is good about short films as it allows for people to raise awareness for an issue close to them or one they really feel strongly about and can do this with out having to have a big budget.

The next short film I watched was an animation. This film probably had a higher budget compared to the last one I watched as it would have to use specialist software for the animation. However it still does a good job of getting a very simple but important message across about jealousy and does it in a very effective and engaging way. It also reaches a wide audience as everyone has been jealous before and the fun and cute animation makes it appealing to children, whilst teaching them a lesson.

This short film is slightly different to the others as it contains a lot more dialogue than the previous videos. However it still does an effective job in getting an important message across.

Using short films to get across messages to do with controversial topics can sometimes mean more to the audience rather than from a big feature film. This is because the feature film is made by a production company with many voices and opinions, which can end up making it very hard to get a point across in the as there will be people who don’t agree and the film ends up sitting on the fence or the message gets dimmed down. Whereas independent film makers like of the short films above can easily create their film and get their message across explicitly with out anyone questioning them. However this can be a negative too as the message that an independent film maker could put across could be socially wrong.


Examples from my School

Next I decided to look at some short films that previous A level students from my school have made and see how they compare to the popular independent ones I found on YouTube.

This short film made by a previous A level media student from my school is overall very good. However the problem I noticed with it was that although the protagonist was very good, all the other actors were too young and weren’t very good actors, which made it obvious that it was a school project. A side from that the cinematography is good and it has a message showing a very extreme case of what can happen if your a nasty person.

I personally did not like this short film. Again there was the issue of teenagers playing adult roles however the main issue was I did not really understand it. I think the message that was trying to be put across was women keeping quite about being assaulted, however this was not very clear. The sequence of the calendar and the filler shots in between became too repetitive and boring.

My Thoughts

The short film brief sounds very interesting, I think it would be a lot of fun coming up with and idea and then making it into a film. If I do chose this brief there are a couple of things I will make sure to take into consideration when making the film after conducting my research today.

  • If my idea contains adult roles, I will try and get adult actors
  • I will make sure my film has a message, as the top short films all have a message

Brief 1: Audio

The audio brief is essentially a promotional package for the release of an album. The main task is to make a music video and the ancillary options are:

  • An album digipack (CD package)
  • Magazine advert for the albums release
  • website homepage for band/artist



What is a Music Video?

To begin my research into music videos, I decided to do some research into the history of them. First of all, a music video is basically bringing a short film and a song in alliance for promotional or artistic purposes. In the era of web 2.0, it is almost compulsory for an artist to create a music video to compliment the song as YouTube is one of the main ways to promote music, and through this the audience expect to watch a video as well as listening to the song, instead of just a blank screen with the song playing. The origins of music videos date back to the 1920’s, however they were more music short films. Music videos really came into prominence in the 1980’s. This was because MTV based their format around the medium. Before the take off of music videos in the 80’s, music videos were more commonly referred to as  “illustrated song”, “filmed insert”, “promotional (promo) film”, “promotional clip”, “promotional video”, “song video”, “song clip” or “film clip”.

Music videos use a wide range of styles of contemporary videomaking techniques, including animation, live action filming, documentaries, and non-narrative approaches such as abstract film. Some music videos blend different styles, such as animation, music, and live action. Combining these styles and techniques has become more popular because of the variation it presents to the audience. Many music videos interpret images and scenes from the song’s lyrics, while others take a more thematic approach. Other music videos may be without a set concept, being merely a filmed version of the song’s live performance.


Professional Music Videos

Next I decided to look at some real life examples of different genres of professional music videos to get an understanding of the conventions of music videos in general.

The first music video I looked at was Taylor Swifts “Shake It Off”. This song belongs the genre of pop. The video is more of a performance video rather than a narrative as the video does not particularly have a story, it just contains a lot of people dancing, relating to the sons name, “Shake It Off”.

The next music video I looked at was Nelly ft. Kelly Rowland “Dilemma”. The genre of this song is R&B and this video has more of a narrative, as in the video it follows the story in the lyrics about the relationship between Nelly and Kelly.

The third song I looked at was Soulja Boy’s “Crank that (Soulja Boy)”. This is a Hip Hop song and this music video blends a narrative and performance. The narrative is that a school Principle wants to know what this new trend is, and the performance is all the dancing in the video. The narrative however is only included to make out that Soulja Boy is well known and current, it does not really tell a story it just makes him look extremely popular, which is one of the conventions of the Hip Hop genre.

Eminem’s “Rap God” is as the title would deduce is a rap song. This too is performance based however a lot of the video relates to the lyrics, for example when they lyrics “got a laptop in my back pocket” is played the audience see Eminem walking with a laptop hanging out his back pocket. He also refers to himself as a “rapbot” which divulges the robotics through out the video.

Skepta’s “Shutdown” is the up and coming genre of Grime. This video is completely performance and it sticks to the genres convention of street culture in the UK, predominantly London, where this video takes place.

The next music video I looked at was from the indie rock genre. I looked at Joy Divisions “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. One thing I noticed straight away was that the the quality of the camera footage is very grainy. This is done purposely to fit the alternative stigma and audience associated with the genre.

Indie music is not a genre I am particularly familiar with so I decided to look at another Indie music video so I could give a correct analysis of the genre.

Next I looked at the Indie band the “Gorillaz”. The music video for “Feel Good Inc” and all of their videos I looked at are animation. The animations seem to tell the story of the lyrics in their videos, making their music videos narrative music videos.

Lastly I looked a Deep House music video. Tchami ft. Kaleem Taylor “Promesses” is a narrative music video as a story is being told whilst the song plays in the background. This is common in House music as in a lot of the songs there is not many lyrics, so a narrative video that links with the lyrics or a performance video linking to with lyrics can be difficult to do.


A2 Music Videos

After looking at these professional music videos by real artists with a record label and production company, I thought it would be a good idea to look at previous A2 media students work to see how they made it look as professional as possible.

This music video was made by a student from my school. As you can see has gone for the rap genre and made it look very professional. He has chosen a performance video however some of the lyrics do in fact link to the actions in the video. The mise-en-scene is very well done as he is made to look intimidating, a very common convention of the genre. There appears to be only two locations in the whole video, one being just a plain black back drop and the other appears to be curtains. This differs to most rap songs as they tend to have multiple people and multiple locations in the videos, however this is not the case in YG’s “2015 Flow”, as this rap music video takes place in one location and the whole video contains only YG and at the very end DJ Mustard.

This music video “Wake Up” was made by an A level student. This too is done very well as you would not know it was an A level media video if it did not say so in the title as it follows the conventions very well. It is a narrative music video and shows the struggle of trying to get a job and the feeling of wanting to break free. Multiple shot types are used to give a very professional feeling. The multiple locations is a big factor that makes it look so good, especially the fact that the locations take place in different countries as it makes the video look like it was made by a production company, as a viewer would think that an A level student would not have the equipment or budget to do this. However the student may have just gone on holiday and decided to get some footage to put into their music video.


My Thoughts

Although I have not yet researched the other briefs (which I will be doing in future blogs), I believe I will be choosing this brief. This is because I already have an interest in music videos and believe it will be fun and challenging. It will also develop in my opinion the greatest amount of skills compared to the other briefs, as it is a mixture of two mediums, music and video. I have also decided that when I go on holiday to Spain in the summer I will bring a camera and get some footage as looking at the “Wake Up” music video by an A level student, having multiple locations, especially ones in different countries makes the video look very professional. As for the genre of music I will be doing, I believe it will be Hip Hop. However I am not yet sure who will be preforming or creating the song.

Introduction to A2 Media

How it Works?

This course is split into two sections both worth 100 marks.

A2 media

G324 is the coursework element of the course, which will be documented through this blog. I have to chose 1 of the 4 briefs listed below which all consist of a main task and two ancillary texts. Through the blog I will document all the planning, research, the main task, the ancillary texts and the evaluation.

The portfolio (blog) is marked the same way it was for AS, with 20 marks awarded for the research, 60 for the construction (main task and ancillary texts) and 20 marks for the evaluation.

G325 is a 2 hour written exam which we will prepare for in class.


The Briefs

I get to chose 1 of the following 4 briefs for the basis of my product. Each brief comes with 3 options for the ancillary texts, however I only have to do and complete 2 of the 3 available ancillary texts.

brief 1

brief 2