Film Referencing

Film Referencing

A thriller aims to create high levels of suspense, tension and excitement as main elements. Through this the views emotions are heightened as there is a mixtures of anticipations and expectations. What I have learnt from looking at the codes and conventions of Thriller Films, I think that all the conventions play a key role in bringing the film to life as each element brings surprise, engagement, tension, mystery and creates an atmospheric feel. Personally I feel that sound carries a higher importance as sound connects not only to what emotions viewers gain but also with the visuals. It incorporates the feelings they gained with what they can hear. This overall creates great impact for the viewers as they can be overwhelmed with a range of feelings which makes a thriller film more engaging and adrenalin rushing; resulting in the viewer feeling on edge.
The films I have chosen for my film referencing are Orphan (2009) and Mindscape (2013). Both of these movies are based on the genre of Psychological Thriller. This genre appealed to me because of how interesting and common it is amongst people either you have experienced it, heard of it or seen it somewhere or another. I found that the best way to portray this would be to submerge it into a hybrid genre, making a psychological thriller and into my A2 film.
The plot of Mindscape centers on; John, a detective with the ability to enter people’s memories; he takes on the case of a brilliant but troubled and dangerous 16-year-old girl, Anna, to determine whether she is a sociopath or a victim of trauma. Then there is the film Orphan which is about characters Kate and John Coleman are rebuilding their troubled marriage. Kate had a drinking problem, but is in therapy and she has been sober for one year. The couple decide to adopt a child. When they meet the nine-year-old Russian girl, Esther, at the St. Marina Orphanage, they immediately fall in love with the well-educated orphan. Their young son, Daniel, is hostile to his new sister; but their deaf daughter, little Max, is enchanted with her – at first. Eventually, Kate begins to feel that Esther is manipulative and possibly even psychologically disturbed. John refuses to listen to his wife’s misgivings, and the wounds in their marriage reopen. Kate calls Sister Abigail at the orphanage, and the nun informs her that Esther has a troubled and mysterious history. Kate delves further into Esther’s past and discovers she is not all she pretends to be.
Melissa Fay Greene of The Daily Beast commented:
“The movie Orphan comes directly from this unexamined place in popular culture. Esther’s shadowy past includes Eastern Europe; she appears normal and sweet, but quickly turns violent and cruel, especially toward her mother. These are clichés. This is the baggage with which we saddle abandoned, orphaned, or disabled children given a fresh start at family life.”
Critical reaction to Orphan has been mixed, with the film earning a rating of 56% (43% among the Top Critics) on Rotten Tomatoes, where the consensus is: “While it has moments of dark humor and the requisite scares, Orphan fails to build on its interesting premise and degenerates into a formulaic, sleazy horror/thriller”. It also earned a 42 out of 100 on Metacritic. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave Orphan 3½ stars out of 4, writing: “You want a good horror film about a child from hell, you got one.”Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle also gave a positive review, saying: “Orphan provides everything you might expect in a psycho-child thriller, but with such excess and exuberance that it still has the power to surprise.”
Todd McCarthy, of Variety, was less impressed, writing: “Teasingly enjoyable rubbish through the first hour, Orphan becomes genuine trash during its protracted second half.” Manohla Dargis of The New York Times wrote, “Actors have to eat like the rest of us, if evidently not as much, but you still have to wonder how the independent film mainstays Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard ended up wading through Orphan and, for the most part, not laughing.” Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a D+ score, saying, “Orphan isn’t scary — it’s garish and plodding.”
Openly (and at times vehemently) negative reviews are abundant: from “galling, distasteful trash” (Eric D. Snider) to “old-fashioned and trashy horror flick” (Emanuel Levy) and “relentlessly bad”, albeit “entertaining” (Rob Vaux). According to Dennis Schwartz of Ozus’ World Movie Reviews, “The problem with Orphan isn’t merely that the film is idiotic–it’s that it’s also sleazy, formulaic and repellant.” And according to Keith Phipps from The A.V. Club, “If director Jaume Collet-Serra set out to make a parody of horror-film clichés, he succeeded brilliantly.”
Although the film received mixed reviews, Isabelle Fuhrman’s performance was acclaimed and positively received. Emanuel Levy said of Fuhrman “acquites herself with a strong performance, affecting a rather convincing Russian accent and executing sheer evil with an admirable degree of calm and earnestness.” Todd McCarthy proclaims that Fuhrman (as well as Bennett and Engineer) is terrific and that she “makes Esther calmly beyond reproach even when faced with monumental evidence against her, and has the requisite great evil eye.” Mick LaSalle continues in that Fuhrman “steals the show” and that she “injects nuance into this portrayal, as well as an arch spirit.” And as said by Roger Ebert, she “is not going to be convincing as a nice child for a long, long time.”
The film was the #4 film at the box office for its opening weekend, making $12.77 million total, behind G-Force, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and The Ugly Truth respectively. As of September 9, 2009 the film has grossed a total of $47,886,036.
Home media
Orphan was released on DVD and Blu-ray on October 27, 2009 in the US and will be released in the UK on November 30, 2009.

Mindscape (Anna)

John Washington, a “memory detective,” is assigned a seemingly simple case: he must make Anna Greene, a disturbed sixteen-year-old on a hunger strike, eat. Difficulties ensue, though, as he finds Anna could be much more dangerous than she seems.
What if a sixteen-year-old girl was a diabolical genius? For real, imagine what that would be like. For real. And such is the spirit of Jorge Dorado’s new psychological thriller, ANNA.
We can tell by all the sour looks, boozing, and flashbacks to his wife’s suicide that John Washington’s (Mark Strong) life isn’t going well. He’s a remote viewer—like Ben Kingsley in SUSPECT ZERO, but more Jason Statham-esque, and not a serial killer. His boss, Sebastian (Brian Cox), head honcho of the company Dreamsc–I mean–Mindscape, is understanding. He recognizes, after John’s wife’s suicide, John isn’t ready to be back on the big time cases. So he assigns Washington a seeming cut and dry one. A wealthy family in town needs a memory detective to get their moody daughter, Anna Greene, off a hunger strike. She’s moody, all right–and troubled–Lord knows she’s troubled. She can’t even go outside! It’s nice because, if you forget at any point in the film that she is a disturbed teenage girl, a reminder will be coming any minute.
Home media
The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray in Spain on June 3, 2014,and on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States on August 5, 2014. It was released on August 25, 2014 in the United Kingdom, August 26, 2014 in the Netherlands, and November 20, 2014 in Germany.


Director Research

Director Research



Jaume was born in Sant Iscle de Vallalta, a small town in the province of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

At the age of 18, Jaume moved to Los Angeles, with limited resources and a basic knowledge of the English language, determined to become a film director. He attended Columbia College and began working on the side as an editor.

Jaume’s surreal and often dark imagery quickly caught the eye of Producer Joel Silver who hired him to direct “House of Wax” in 2005. In 2007, his love for soccer took him back to Spain to shoot “Goal II: Living the Dream”. In 2009 he opened, “Orphan”, to critical and financial success. His latest feature “Unknown”, starring Liam Neeson, snagged the no 1 box office spot in its opening weekend.

In 2009  he started his third film of his career, Orphan, American psychological thriller starring Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, and Isabelle Fuhrman. The film centers on a couple who, after the death of their unborn child, adopt a mysterious nine year-old girl. Orphan was produced by Joel Silver and Susan Downey of Dark Castle Entertainment and Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran of Appian Way Productions.

The film was released theatrically in the United States on 24 July 2009The film received mixed critical reviews although Fuhrman’s performance as Esther was acclaimed. He then directed Unknown, a 2011 British psychological thriller starring Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones, Aidan Quinn, Bruno Ganz, and Frank Langella. The film is based on the 2003 French novel published in English as Out of My Head, by Didier Van Cauwelaert. The venture’s first film was Mindscape, a psychological thriller about a man with the ability to enter people’s memories, starring Taissa Farmiga, Mark Strong and Brian Cox.

Collet-Serra formed his own production house, Ombra Films. With money from StudioCanal, the small company will make low-budget English-language horror movies, with an eye toward launching the careers of up-and-coming Spanish filmmakers.

In a recent interview with Jaume Collet Serra, he was asked some questions that help us to realize what kind of director he is.

1) CS: Joel Silver is a great character and you’ve worked on a ton of movies with him. He refers to a movie like this as a commerce movie. Is that different from how you see it when you’re in the thick of making it?

No, that’s the movie I want to make. That’s what I did on “Unknown.” “Orphan” I wanted to make an elevated horror, elevated to psychological so it wouldn’t become another version of “Chucky.” Dealing with some sort of paranoia and human nature with the mom being overprotective of these kids. “Unknown” is a movie with a very simple concept, and so is this one. Movies with simple concepts are designed for the mainstream. You need to offer the concept then explore all possible angles on it. There’s not much you can do with them


2) CS: Besides the intellectual exercise of that how do you dig in and find yourself as an artist and a filmmaker within a commerce movie like this?

I enjoy it. I enjoy the challenges. If you saw the script I got to make this movie, then you see the movie it ended up being you’ll see my artistry. That’s where I enjoy taking a concept which is very basic, completely flawed, and making it work. Making it entertaining so people can enjoy it. For me it’s an interesting process. This movie is a movie that should be seen by as many people as possible. The only purpose is to entertain, and I’m happy that’s the case.

3) Question: What was it about the subject matter that piqued your interest?


JAUME COLLET-SERRA: For me it was the concept.  Also the challenge of shooting an entire movie in one set.  I think it’s very interesting for a director that enjoys thrillers and mysteries like I do to have the challenge to do that, and so that was the main reason for me, the concept, the air marshal world and also, you know, being afraid of flying just a little bit, and so, I thought that the fragility of the environment, a plane going from New York to London just in the middle of the ocean, if something goes wrong, it could become a very scary place, but I didn’t want to make a movie that was all in your face, hijacking terrorists.  I wanted to make a mystery in that environment.

4)Your movies have been in various genres, however you seem to spend a lot of time making horror projects. Do you enjoy the challenges of something different or the familiar?

I would say that even within one genre there are so many differences. The River was the only one that dealt with supernatural horror and the idea of found footage was something of an interesting experimentation. Most horror I have done has been grounded. I enjoy projects that are very human. I find it very interesting when there are bad guys that start getting control and there’s that sense where they are winning. It’s good to see how people get out of that. Also movies with high concepts like House Of Wax with a small town or Orphan which was easy to scary people.



Genre Analysis


Genre Analysis- Psychological Thriller 

1453548_541089339318003_1450952240_n-138yfdy (1)

In film theory, genre refers to the method based on similarities in the narrative elements from which films are constructed. The genre I have chosen for my Advanced Portfolio is Psychological Thriller.

Psychological thriller is a fictional thriller story which emphasizes the psychology of its characters and their unstable emotional states. In terms of classification, the category is a sub-genre of thriller; “dissolving sense of reality”, moral ambiguity, and complex and tortured relationships between obsessive and pathological characters. Psychological thrillers often incorporate elements of mystery, drama, action, and horror, particularly psychological horror. This is also known as a hybrid genre- A hybrid genre occurs when a director other creative professional attempts to merge two or more genres. While elements of one genre might be stronger in the work, the professional still abides by the guiding rules of both genres.

In psychological thrillers, characters often battle their own minds: they attempt to determine what is real, who they are, and what life’s purpose is. A distinguishing characteristic of a psychological thriller is a marked emphasis on the mental states of its characters: their perceptions, thoughts, distortions, and general struggle to grasp reality. The protagonist of these films is set against a problem – an escape, a mission, or a mystery. No matter what sub-genre a thriller film falls into, it will emphasize the danger that the protagonist faces. The cover-up of important information from the viewer, and fight and chase scenes are common methods in all of the thriller subgenres, although each subgenre has its own unique characteristics and methods.

In addition to the traits of a regular Thriller, a Psychological Thriller incorporates elements of drama and mystery film. The suspense in this sub-genre comes from the mind, rather than from a psychical threat. The protagonists in Psychological Thrillers must rely on their mental resources to solve the situation. Because of their nature, many Psychological Thrillers cross over into the Horror genre.

A common definition of “psychological thriller” is a thriller subgenre that focuses on the unstable emotional or mental states of the characters, often in combination with elements of mystery, suspense or psychological horror (the last one, in my case). As a thriller subgenre, it’s permeated by tension and suspense, often surprising the reader with twists or different angles on the same problem. It can contain elements of terror like dread, anxiety and fear, or elements of horror like revulsion, trauma and shock.

But no matter the flavor, psychological and emotional stresses are the engine of this subgenre.

In a psychological thriller characters don’t rely on their physical strength to overcome their enemies, but rather on their mental resources, and often times the enemies are not external (other characters or circumstances) but internal (phobias, insanity, urges, feelings, fears). Even when the enemies are other characters, the conflicts are usually played out through mind games, deception and manipulation, or even sustained attempts to demolish each other’s mental equilibrium, as opposed to the banging physical action in classic thrillers.

Another important aspect that differentiates psychological thriller from a classic action thriller is the nature of the characters. In a classic thriller we have good guys vs. bad guys, with quite clear distinctions and the corresponding actions. And even when the antagonist is obscure or unknown, we never doubt that the protagonist is the good guy. In a psychological thriller, however, the nature of the protagonist it is often questioned, and sometimes good or benign characters become or are revealed to be monstrous.


In this respect, psychological thrillers don’t only play with the characters’ minds; they also play with the viewer’s mind.

Character motivation and state of mind are also among the most important things in a psychological thriller, since the plot entirely relies on them, and the director needs to have a good understanding of human psychology. The emotional and mental developments of characters in a psychological thriller must always be plausible and believable, even when they are outrageous (such as a child becoming a murderer) or come as a surprise (such as the protagonist being revealed to be insane). Surprises in fiction must never take readers aback, their purpose is to stir and stimulate re-evaluation, and they must always seem absolutely logical and inevitable in retrospect.

The most common types of narration chosen to create psychological suspense and maintain tension and emotional stress are stream of consciousness and deep first person POV. There are exceptions, but they are rare and less powerful. Narrative style is very important, because it must erase the interface between the reader and the story, and plunge the reader directly into the throes and terrors of the protagonist. POV is also essential in the manipulation of atmosphere, which can greatly contribute to the effect of the psychological thriller.

Because the psychological thriller deals first and foremost with the human mind, the most common themes it touches upon are philosophical or psychological in nature, such as identity, honesty, determinism, fatalism, sanity, dualism, and the exploration of the darker sides of the human behavioral motivation. It’s less aimed at direct entertainment, and more at provoking thought and shifts in understanding of the human mind.

It is a very powerful genre, but also very difficult to get right.






Institution Research- Warner Bros.

Media Institution: Warner Bros

wblogo Warner Bros. began with the four Warner brothers, Albert, Same, Harry and Jack. Warner Bros Entertainment Inc., formerly known as Warner Bros. Studios, commonly referred to as Warner Bros. (spelled Warner Brothers during the company’s early years), or simply WB- is an American producer of film, television, and music entertainment. Warner Bros. International Television Production (WBITVP) aims to establish or acquire production companies in major television territories around the world in order to become a leading producer of local scripted and non-scripted programming. In addition the Parent company of this industry is Time Warner. This media institution is public and owns/produces a large number of entertainment media for audiences. Warner Bros is under the leadership of Time Warner which owns a lot of products in their institution. They own products such as

  • New Line Cinema/Television
  • HBO (home box office)
  • Warner Bros; Interactive Entertainment, Pictures and Animation
  • DC Entertainment
  • Warner Home Video
  • Half of CW Television Network
  • TNT

images (2) timewarner

Warner Bros. is a member of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. is a fully integrated, broad-based entertainment company and a global leader in the creation, production, distribution, licensing and marketing of all forms of entertainment and their related businesses. A Time Warner Company, Warner Bros. Entertainment stands at the forefront of every aspect of the entertainment industry from feature films to television, home entertainment/DVD, animation, product and brand licensing and interactive entertainment. The company’s vast library, considered one of the best and largest in the world, consists of more than 6,650 feature films, 50,000 television titles and 14,000 animated titles (including over 1,500 classic animated shorts). Warner Bros. Entertainment’s employee population ranges from 5,000 to 15,000 on any given day in North America (depending on the level of television and movie production) and some 2,000 employees overseas. In 2013 Warner Bros was ranked Number 1 in the Studio Market share. The percentage of Warner Bros’ market share is 16.4% and their total gross is $1.297.7 billion. So far they have 22 movies tracked and 13 movies were out from their institution this year only.   “Some of the most popular films created by Warner Bros Fox are: Harry Potter (Producers & Distributors), Valentine’s Day (Distributors), Sex and the City (Distributors), The Hangover (Producers & Distributors), The Dark Knight (Producers & Distributors) and Slum dog Millionaire (Distributors). Warner Bros Produce and Distribute a variety of films in different genres, from Comedy, Romance, Fantasy, Adventure, Action and Horror. “ Warner Bros. Pictures produces and distributes a wide-ranging slate of some 18-22 films each year, employing a business paradigm that mitigates risk while maximizing productivity and capital. Warner Bros. Pictures either fully finances or co-finances the films it produces and maintains worldwide distribution rights. It also monetizes its distribution and marketing operations by distributing films that are totally financed and produced by third-parties

. 220px-Orphanposter Mindscape Related to the genre, some movies that were produced with Warner Brothers are for example Orphan (2009) Orphan was released on DVD and Blu-ray on October 27, 2009 in the US by Warner Home Video. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK on November 27, 2009 by Optimum Releasing. The home media include alternate scenes and footage, and one alternate ending marketed on the DVD cover. The opening previews also contain a PSA describing the plight of un-adopted children in the USA and encouraging domestic adoption.Also for Mindscape(2013); In August 2013, Warner Bros. published the first official theatrical release poster. Warner Bros. distributed and released the film in Spain on January 24, 2014


Industry Research


What is Hollywood? Well you may know it as a district in the central region of Los Angeles, California, in the United States. It is notable for its place as the home of the entertainment industry, including several of its historic studios. But in this case the research is based on Hollywood as an industry.

Hollywood came to be so strongly associated with the film industry that the word “Hollywood” came to be used colloquially to refer to the entire industry. From about 1930 five major Hollywood movie studios from all over the Los Angeles area, Paramount, RKO, 20th Century Fox, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Bros., owned large, grand theaters throughout the country for the exhibition of their movies. The period between the years 1927 to 1948 is considered the age of the “Hollywood studio system” By the mid-1950s, when television proved a profitable enterprise that was here to stay, movie studios started also being used for the production of programming in that medium, which is still the norm today.

The name Hollywood was coined by H.J Whitley, “the Father of Hollywood”. It all started off with just an experiment in the late 19th century.

1910 The first film ever made in Hollywood went public, being only seventeen minutes long.

1912   The first official film studio opened up by the name of Nestor Studio, in Hollywood.

1914 The first official Hollywood film, made in a Hollywood studio came out to show; directed by a legend of the Golden Age of Hollywood- Cecil B. DeMille.

And so, by 1915 the American film industry, initially based in New York, began its way to Los Angeles; beginning the American film industry.

The Big Five of Hollywood     

MGM) Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer       download


It was established in 1924 from parent company Loew’s Inc. Around the 1930’s it was known to be the biggest and most prolific of the ‘Big Five’. At one point it had even released an average of 1 feature film per week. Also its parent company, Loew’s, provided the largest exhibition and distribution network in the world. It was said that “There was no film or star too big for MGM”. MGM produced some of the most dazzling films of that era.

The Wizard of Oz: Trouble in Paradise (1939)                      wizard of oz

In the making, four directors were involved. Richard Thorpe, who lasted two weeks and then George Cukor, who lasted two to three days, Victor Fleming was involved in the making for four months and then finally King Vidor was brought in to finish the production which only took him 10 days. Even with the different directors the movie is seen as a stunning piece of art. It won two Oscars and six awards, also eleven other nominations. Although the film received largely positive reviews, it was not a huge box office success on its initial release, earning only $3,017,000 on a $2,000,000 budget. The film was MGM’s most expensive production up to that time, but its initial release failed to recoup the studio’s investment.

Paramount       paramount

Established as a distribution company in 1914; then bought by Zukor in 1917, who merged it with his production company and therefore becoming the first vertically integrated company. Many of the directors in the early days of Paramount were Austrian and German exiles and because of this many studio films had a European look, full of dramatic lighting and elaborate set designs. One of Paramount’s main directors was Cecil B. DeMille, who invented the Biblical Epic. It is said that if you try to imagine different stories from the Bible or anything from ancient mythology you would probably picture the films of DeMille.

In contrast to DeMilles epics, Paramount also had the German director Ernst Lubitsch. Who directed films featuring the glamorous lives of the “jet set”. A recurring theme in classical Hollywood films the lifestyles of the idle rich. These films continued to be successful at the box office during worst depressions in the US speaks to the fact that Hollywood audience functioned to great fantasy.


Fox      20th

It was established in 1913 by William Fox; he founded Fox Studios in 1914 and began building his empire by buying up chains of movie theatres. Fox had eared great success with this strategy with films such as Seventh Heaven (1926). Though this film was a box-office hit, Fox found himself set to gamble with big budgeted films.  He continued in this manner until the stock market crash of 1929. By 1930 was seen as a national decline in box office and the studio as close to bankruptcy. Five years later Fox merged with 20th Century Pictures, becoming what we know today 20th Century Fox. Proving to be successful from the very beginning, their 1934 production, The House of Rothschild was nominated for an Academy award for best picture. In 1935 they produced the classic film Les Miserables which again was nominated for best picture.


Warner Brothers                                        warner

It had been established in 1924 by Harry Jack and Albert Warner. The Warner Bros is best known for its innovation in sound technology, producing the first ever sound film The Jazz Singer in 1927. Warner partnered with Western Electric to develop a sound system, involving a huge amount of investment. It became famous and the “first talking picture”, it was a huge international success, grossing 3 million dollars.

The genre that Warner Bros is most associated with is the gangster film.  In 1939 the head of production at Warner, Darryl F Zanuck, announced a series of films whose stories would be drawn from newspaper headlines. Being the inspiration behind movies like Little Caesar 1931 and The Public Enemy 1931 and the commercial success of these two films determined studio policy the rest of the decade



Warner Bros is of course also known as the home of Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes characters. Looney Tunes began as a way to promote a library of musical scores that Warner had acquired. The Walt Disney Studios were the first to introduce short musical cartoons called “Silly Symphonies”. Warner Bros quickly copied the format, hiring ex-Disney animators and by featuring a mouse named Bosko, who resembled Mickey Mouse. Looney Tunes animators eventually distinguished themselves from Disney by developing scenarios more risky or “adult”.

RKO (Radio-Keith-Orpheum)                              rko

It was formed at the beginning of the sound era; from its parent company RCA (the Radio Corporation America) headed by the tycoon John D. Rockfeller.  RKO was partly responsible for streamlining Hollywood film, instituting “unit production”. This involved RKO contracting independent producers who were responsible for making specific films that had a specific style or story line. In other words different producers were put in charge of different genres.

Even with this approach RKO was not seen to associate with a particular genre. This is partly because studio kept changing its production policies and did not commit to any one type of film.  The studio is mostly remembered for producing two classical films: King Kong 1933 and Citizen Kane 1941. It is said that television killed RKO studios.