Squadron – made up of media students Laura and Bonnie, and creative writers Sarah, Alex and Jackson – aimed to explore the key elements that make good thriller film through the creation of a trailer/teaser for our hypothetical feature, Black Flat. The idea stemmed from deciding on Warrandyte as a location and using the surroundings to inspire our characters, build our storyline and influence our shot decisions. We looked to other thriller and horror trailers for inspiration and went location scouting for the ideal, eerie vibe. From there, we developed prose for our overall concept and wrote a script for the two key scenes we eventually came to shoot.
Pre-production was an important step for our group in order to maximise our efficiency and level of preparedness. Between casting, permissions, call sheets, safety reports, storyboards, shot lists, and weekly timelines, we went to great lengths to ensure we had all bases covered. We also allocated crew roles, decided on the appropriate equipment with transportability and our skill set in mind, and organised wardrobe and props. Evidently, a lot of work went into the pre-production phase, but it was certainly all worthwhile and contributed to the creation of a higher quality product.
As for the shoot itself, we had endeavoured to film Tuesday of Week 9, which (quite literally) by the force of nature, we were forced to reschedule the shoot because of hail. This in hindsight was a blessing in disguise. It gave us a chance to regroup, and discuss important changes such as the addition of both male cast members – Chris and Scott.
Location One down by the river provided mixed weather conditions and Bonnie as camera operator had to ensure that the cloud coverage remained constant throughout the shots. This was to avoid cuts going from light to dark for the all important continuity element of the teaser. Progressing onto Location Two out at Black Flat, we knew time was of the essence. We managed to wrap the shoot on 3pm, but in hindsight we could have used more time in the morning to not be so rushed.
Sound recording and design was another crucial element of our production. Sarah was our designated sound operator, capturing both ambient sounds and of course the dialogue of all our actors. As our cast had varying levels of experience, this presented a few challenges as the varying volumes of their voices sometimes got lost amidst the sounds of nature. This was combatted however with a bit of vocal direction and simply waiting till disruptive sounds (ie. wind, water) had passed. In terms of sound design, Jackson composed an original score for the teaser by reimagining the original Teddy Bear’s Picnic. His resultant dark and creepy track was ideal for our production as it ticked the box for one of our aims: to investigate how sound can influence genre.
It was most logical to approach the editing process by structuring our scenes as they were written in the script, and to later experiment with the highlights and key moments of our footage captured to condense into a trailer (as seen in our screener). This process led us to acknowledge the importance of continuity as well as the power of audio editing and layering in the thriller genre.
Overall, our experience in this project was invaluable as we learnt a lot about collaboration and the necessary conduct for all stages of production. The challenges and successes we came to encounter will undoubtedly inform our future film and writing endeavours.
Please enjoy our final prototypes below:
Rough Cut Scene One (Full):
Rough Cut Scene Two (Full):