Q1) In what ways does your media product use develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

I have followed many forms and conventions by using a number of filming techniques found in the contemporary movies. One of the major conventions followed is that my film is really fast paced, i.e. there are a number of shots of shorter duration used and this gives less time to the audience to think about what has happened and come to a conclusion too quickly. This convention is followed in various action and adventure movies so that the audience is not able to take their eyes off the screen for even a moment. The examples are films like Green Zone, Body of Lies, Bourne Trilogy and TV shows like 24.

I have followed the conventions of real media products in the way my intelligence agency scenes have been shot which are quite similar mainly to ‘24’ and ‘Bourne Trilogy’ where, for example, the sequence showing intelligence headquarters starts with a close up of a sub-ordinate sort of person in the office and the lead hero or the boss comes in after a while.

Another convention that I followed was that the music changes with the scenes to suit the situation. It starts with an eerie sort of music to start creating stress in the audience. The music then turns into a slow suspense soundtrack  to accompany the dialogues. But shots and the scenes move faster when the terrorists create panic and the security agencies are moving. I turned them into slow motion to add a dramatic effect to them which is also a convention used in Hollywood movies for action scenes, like in The Matrix.

I also added a slow paced rock soundtrack to those scenes.
At the climax, I connected the scenes by using a ‘swish’ sound effect which suggests to the audience that something big is going to happen. I then showed the explosion all of a sudden, trying to give a jolt to the audience, a convention that I noticed the most in Vantage Point.
At the point of the explosion, I have used another technique that is found in big budget movies like "Bourne Ultimatum" and "Vantage Point". The technique is to show the same explosion from several different angles and the sound of the explosion is repeated at least twice or thrice. For example, in Bourne Ultimatum, there is a part where Jason Bourne flies away from a bomb planted by Assassin. The sound of explosion is repeated at least thrice and there are even more shots for the explosion. In my video, I repeated the explosion sound twice shot from 4 angles. This allowed me to avoid focusing too much on graphics for bomb blast in order to make the explosion seem natural since the shots will pass by in barely half a second.The following is a clip from Vantage Point demonstrating both of the conventions. Also, I did not keep my camera still at the point of the explosion.

There are also some conventions of the video games that I followed, especially "first person shooting games", for instance, when a person comes too close to blast radius, he experiences a shrill noise ringing in his ear, like a dog's whistle. Also, the vision of the person becomes blurry. I have used both of these conventions in my video.
One convention that I have broken is that the protagonist in my movie is a South Asian, specifically Pakistani man. Whereas a protagonist working in a security agency is usually shown to be a 'white' man, since those movies are produced basically to entertain audience in the USA, UK, etc. and to represent the role of real agents with origination of US and UK in the Middle East positively. Through my characters, I will represent how the other allies in the war against terror such as Pakistan are also playing the role in fighting against terrorism.

Q2) How does your media product represent particular social groups?

The Muslims and especially Pakistani are the main focus of the movie because they are the direct victims of the events that are portrayed in my film. In the film, the lives and religion of the characters are being threatened by terrorist groups and this is exactly what is happening in the real world. The characters are also shown to be Pakistanis through the ethnicity of the actor and the variety of clothes, for example the blend of “kurta and shalwar” and “shirts and pants” in audience, which is a feature most common for the Pakistani region.

I have also represented that Pakistani society is unaware of how to protect itself. The way the first two terrorists enter the targeted mosque clearly shows that people do not care much about what is happening around them, for example, I showed that the cars kept passing by while the two put up a clearly visible ladder against the wall of the mosque and no one stopped to question this suspicious activity. This is an issue which would have been addressed if I made a full movie.

The terrorists in the movie are shown to be teens and young adults, which is also keeping with real life acts of terrorism in this country. It is also of great concern to society that the young generation is getting caught up in extremism and our youth is being brainwashed to carry out such attacks. This is an aspect that I would have wished to reflect through the rest of the movie as well. This problem does not remain specific to Pakistan but is present in most Middle Eastern countries as well. This is also shown in the movie "Rendition" where the terrorist is shown to be a young adult. The characters in my movie look even younger because that is a more realistic reflection of what is happening in Pakistani society.

I have also portrayed the security agencies' employees as young adults to show how the young generation is also trying to play its part in solving the issue.

The representation of the Muslims in my film is confusing I think but it is also confusing in the real world. "Who is on what side?" is an issue I have raised by portraying the above mentioned social groups. The antagonists and protagonist are both shown to be Muslims. The main concept is that the terrorists are only a few bad apples in the society, which need to eliminated with the support of the whole community. The security agencies are trying to solve the problem but they fail since the people also need to be aware and active in protecting the society.

Q3) What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?

My movie looks like a big budget action movie because of various elements such as the use of different locations, several vehicles, actors, special effects and sound effects etc. There are numerous large institutions that may want to distribute such a film for example Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures, but I would like my distributor to be 'Relativity Media'.

Relativity Media was founded in 2004 as a motion picture investment and production company. It has financed several blockbuster movies in Hollywood, especially movies that are very much like my media product such as The Kingdom, Vantage Point and Green Zone and many other action movies as well. Relativity Media have become involved in distribution quite recently, signing major deals such as with Fox for DVD distribution and Netflix for distribution via Internet. They also acquired Rouge Pictures in 2008 from Universal Pictures and took over the distribution and marketing operations and some assets of the Starz Overture Films subsidiary in July 2010.Approximately two-thirds of Overture's employees, moved to Relativity Media, including Peter Adee, formerly Overture Films' President of Worldwide Marketing, Distribution and New Media, and Kyle Davies, Executive Vice President Theatrical Distribution. (source)

Relativity Media is growing rapidly and is interested in movies that have an innovative and realistic approach. It is looking to distribute films in as many various genres as possible. It recently distributed films of all sorts of genres such as sci-fiction, horror, comedy, action, mythical, romance, etc. and will be interested to produce and distribute a movie on such a current affair topic as well.
The movies Relativity Media has distributed recently include Limitless, The Warrior's Way, Let Me In, Stone, Sanctum and Jack Goes Fishing which are all R rated with exception of Limitless(rated PG-13) and have been distributed globally. Since my demographics are similar, it is possible that Relativity Media may distribute my product. 

(Posters of movies produced by Relativity Media)

Q4) Who would be the audience for your media product?

I have segmented the profile of my audience in through six different aspects.

1. Age : The age range of audience for my product would be teenagers, at least 16 and above, to middle aged people around the age of 45. I have tried to target as large a audience as I could while also keeping in mind that the content would not be appropriate for everyone(violent content) or to the liking of people below and beyond this age range. The audience under the range that I have chosen represents the new generation who is keenly interested in global issues and more adapted to violence with the increasing influence of media in the recent decades. I have defined the least age of my audience to be 16 whereas usually the rating for a movie containing such elements is 13 for example, the rating of the movie Vantage Point is PG-13 even though it contains bomb blast scenes and the killing of several people. But I would like my audience to be at least 16 years old since a person of this age is mature enough to understand the problems that exist in the world and so understand the movie and context of violence better. I have chosen the maximum age of my target audience to be 50 years old because older people tend to like movies that have a more calm and relatively slow paced editing, that is shots and scenes of longer length. Whereas my movie contains fast paced editing, a lot of action and chaos, including loud sound effects such as explosions which might not appeal to the older aged audience.

2. Gender : The targeted audience includes mainly males since the subject of my media product is political which is more of interest to the males. Also, the genre of my movie is action, including fighting scenes and scenes that depict chaos which are usually appreciated more by the male audiences. I have only represented men in my media product, which gives the feeling of a male dominant society. These factors are unlikely to attract female audiences yet, I have several reasons to believe that females would also be interested in my movie. First of all, the reaction and response of females in my focus group, that included my friends aged between 16 and 19, was better than the male audience in general. They were more able to recognize the elements that I portrayed in my media product. One possible reason that this film would attract a female audience may be that I have chosen attractive and young looking male characters. Also the recent trend that has been noticed in cinemas is that the audience between age group of 13 and 35 is more oriented towards movies that are action packed and energetic, whether it is male or female. The following was seen for the movie "Green Zone" on its opening weekend.
"Green Zone exhibited a 54% male and 44% female demo split with 67% of the crowd skewing over the age of 30.(source1)(source2)"
This demonstrates that the females of a particular age group are also interested in action flicks.

3. Financial status/Employment : The audience of my media product can either be a student, a person employed in security services or a person having a white collar job, probably employed in a business firm or a corporation such as bank, media, etc. or in service sector at a good position. This is because such a person would be more educated and better able to understand the world issues. In the case of students, the product will be successful since students, that is youngsters, are generally free of responsibilities and have a keen interest in action movies and global issues. Whereas a person with low income and education level usually does not take much interest in world politics and would rather see an action movie with sole of purpose entertainment via intense action.

4. Interests/Hobbies: The targeted audience for my media product would be people with interest in global issues and world politics, especially on "War on terrorism". It would also attract those who like to see the involvement of security agencies in the current situation as well as those who read newspapers or watch news through television or the internet. It will also attract audiences keen in learning about foreign cultures and society, especially Muslim culture.

5. Language: The product targets audience that can understand English but dubbed versions of the movie will allow a wider range of audience.

6: Demographics: The target audience is global, since it would include all those whose countries/families are playing a role in the 'War against terrorism', mainly including American, British, Middle Eastern, Subcontinental audience.

Q5) How did you attract the audience?

I have chosen a mature subject for my movie in order to attract not only those who sort to movies for entertainment, but also to attract those who follow the global issues via newspapers and television. This was easy since the events in my movie have a good correlation with events that have taken place in the near past.  The representation of Muslims in the movie and the fact that the protagonist is also a Muslim appealed the Muslim audience more than any other religious community. Since the 'Mosque' is a holy place, particularly associated to Muslim community, it created a bond with the audience and developed hatred for protagonists on what they did to its sanctity.Another attraction was the action packed plot and special effects that the audience found enjoyable.

Q6) What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?

There are a number of things that I learnt about technologies, including equipment, softwares and internet, especially Youtube and Blogger.
The equipments that I used were an emergency light and my sony camcorder. In professional film making, the use of light is very important and it allows us to focus on the subject clearly. Since my handycam is not a professional one, it needs light to give the best quality of video. The emergency light was the only resource available to me and it significantly helped me in filming the scenes of security agencies since it was the only source of light apart from the monitor screens in that area of the gaming zone. It also helped me to illuminate the face of my protagonist, also making it possible for me to give him a glow effect in post production. I did not use a tripod stand while filming not only because it was unavailable, but also because I wanted to make my shots look hand held in order to make chaotic sort of scene. Even then, I managed to hold my camera steady and have steady pans and tracking with the help of editing techniques where needed.

Glow effect in Adobe Premiere Pro.

The softwares that I used were Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, Fruity Loops Studio and Sony Vegas.

I did all the editing of video in Adobe Premiere Pro, learning how to apply color correction and different effects to video. I had edited a couple of videos before in Premiere Pro to test the capabilities of this software so when I was shooting, I was able to picture how the edited version would look like. I was able to stabilize some shots and create stabilized zoom-in and zoom-outs, as well as pans and tracking in some shots. I also used After Effects to put in my effects.

I used Sony Vegas to edit the soundtracks, voice overs and sound effects and then compile them into one track. The reason for using two different softwares for editing video and audio separately is that, Sony Vegas is more easy to use when editing the soundtracks etc. and the interface of the software is user friendly in this aspect. While Adobe Premiere Pro has better options for conversion of formats of video and easier interface for editing.

I also used Fruity Loops Studio to compose some music on my own. For example, I created all the drum beats and the soundtrack for security agencies. Also, I found some useful sound effects in the software such as explosions and 'swishes'. The software requires a lot of time to learn and practice just like a real musical instrument, therefore I could not create the required soundtracks myself. But that problem was solved when I met Mr. Danish, who composes music himself on a similar software called Cubase.

Apart from the fact that the blog is a requirement, it was of immense help in organizing my thoughts and research. It allowed me to share my progress and research with others as well and get a feedback on my final movie. 
The most helpful technology that I had was Youtube though. It acted as a teacher for me throughout the shooting and in post production. We can watch a lot of videos, get help from experts on filming techniques and in learning the software, all without any cost or fee. Youtube has perhaps revolutionized internet, reaching out to individuals and giving them a chance to show their talent, express themselves and tell what they can do for the world. It is a forum which allows amateur filmmakers and artists to turn into professionals and get themselves recognized globally. 

Q7) Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?

When I started the preliminary task as a group, we had no experience of using the equipment as well as the softwares. The camera was provided by school therefore the shooting had to take place in the school as well. We were supposed to finish the task in one week, starting from Monday and presenting it on Friday. I assigned duties to my group members and planned how we were going to shoot the task. I asked each member to come up with a short script but then no one else came up with a script and we continued with what I had prepared. We practiced few basic shots such and tilt, mid shots, long shots and over the shoulder shot. We then had the chance to make another preliminary for the other group having my friends Aarish and Ibrahim. Here we practiced high angle shots, low angle shot and tracking. We tried to experiment with lighting and ended up in wasting a lot of time here to make the rooms dark and in the end we shot all the scenes again in a lightened room.
After the preliminary task, I presented the idea for final to Mediatronics group who wanted to make mystery/slasher sort of film whereas I was looking to make an action sort of film. So I decided to join Aarish and Ibrahim who also turned down my idea considering it difficult but I stayed with them since they had thought of a suspense/action film. I left this group later on as well since I felt that I was only one contributing and decided to carry on with my idea. Aarish and Ibrahim dropped media studies after November.
All these events taught me that to bring something different requires dedication which usually comes from yourself. Everyone was hesitant at how I would be able show such a topic, creating bomb blast, filming in Mosque or having so many extras to show Friday prayers. I overcame each of these obstacles on my own for example asking for permission from the Mosque administration,the police officers for security agency scene and the owner of gaming zone to film and learning each software.
Apart from this, I got more experience in camera angles and movements and editing when I covered my school concert as well as shooting two just-for-fun videos.
In the end, it became a bit easier for me to think of what shots to take, edit my movie and apply the edited soundtrack and special effects in my final movie.