The Poisoned Premiere

This project was so much fun! And from skimming through other’s blogs, it seems everyone else had fun too. I’m really impressed with those students who started from scratch in terms of their computer software skills. I bet their trailers will be the most original too. I was ahead of about 75% of the class in that I work with Adobe Photoshop a lot, so I was pretty comfortable approaching the project. Even though Premiere’s tools were entirely different from what I was used to, I felt it was easy for me to test the tools and feel comfortable to play around.

I chose to recreate the movie The Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky, 2010), from a Psychological Thriller to a Fairy Tale. At first, I knew I wanted to go this direction, from dark to light, because I felt it would be more challenging. Finally, after much deliberation, I chose to create the movie into a Fairy Tale, because I felt it could be considered the furthest genre, especially if it was made for children.

Black Swan

But WOW, was it hard to find scenes that didn’t have scary images, angles, music, or even one where Natalie Portman and her mom are smiling together! At the same time, this challenge made me appreciate the work the director Aronofsky went through to make every scene support his original genre. Like Thomas Subchack said, a genre film relies on “preordained forms, known plots, recognizable characters and obvious iconographies.” So if I could find those known plots, I knew I’d be able to create my new genre.

(Spoiler Alert!) In The Black Swan, Natalie Portman gets the lead role in the ballet, The Swan Lake. She progressively becomes insane because she tries too hard to be like the evil, Black Swan, when she is criticized for being too much like the innocent, White Swan. She also thinks her competition begins to stalk her, when in reality it is her own alter ego. My version of the movie changes everything, except for the ballerina setting. Natalie is a little ballerina who moves to a big city to join a ballet company. She enjoys her time, but has an ominous feeling. The wicked witch does not like the little ballerina (no reason given), so the witch poisons her to make her into an ugly black swan. The trailer closes with the question, “Who can save her?”

Using the idea of a trailer to my advantage, I almost completely ripped the movie’s scary music and dialogue and inserted Classical Music to set the mood. The first half of the trailer sets up the “happy ballerina career dream”, so I used a happy, light classical song, The Sugar Plum composed by Tchaikovsky. The second half was a struggle, because I wanted to set the scary “witch” mood, but didn’t want too scary of a song since it was still a children’s Fairy Tale. So I chose the Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch song (no title, Herbert Stothart), which is also a recognizable song for people of any age, so the implications of an evil witch were within the music! I did not want a trailer with no words, because at some point I could not leave the images to tell the story by themselves. So I chose to overlay some of the images with wording to create the plot. I used tactics, like alignment, from The Non-Designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams, to have slides that were very clean cut and efficient. I changed the words very much because at first I had so much that it overwhelmed the images. By the end, I found a good medium where I let the audience assume for themselves what was happening.

Besides the music, the transitions were a huge advantage for my genre. The curtain swipe and the page swipe helped my vision of a Fairy Tale and flipping the pages of a book. I used the gradient swipe when the witch poisons the ballerina to imply the poisons were settling into her body. This is when I used the gesalt theory mentioned by Scott McCloud’s Understanding comics: The invisible art. I had to piece together clips that were not actually connected and created a new scene. The audience pieces them together and finds its new meaning. However, I was disappointed with the lack of simple sound transitions. I could not figure out the nice audio editor, and wished there were simple shortcuts around using the editor. Half my class experienced frustrations with the audio disappearing at one point, but thankfully Professor Delwiche and his Communication friends fixed the issue.

My advice to future students is to choose a movie you actually enjoy. You will be watching short clips of it over and over, and will be watching it for the tiniest details, so you can imagine how painful it would be if you chose the first movie you saw in your friend’s room, and realize it is a HORRIBLY BORING movie. Also, space out your time while you work on it. You start getting delirious and can’t see obvious problems if you’ve been working on the project for four hours straight. And this is a great MP3 converter y’all should use. 

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