Jury Coordination and Notes

Archive for March, 2016

What Makes a Good Horror Film? By Clayton Pickard, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

I saw The Witch yesterday and it started me thinking about what makes a great horror film.  There are two primary elements that make up a horror film: shock and suspense. Some horror films are only shock and some are only suspense.  The best films incorporate both.  Hitchcock said that good suspense is created when the viewer is informed of the impending doom and is complicit in the action.  He felt suspense was the more important element because one can close one’s eyes and still feel the spine tingling horror of anticipation.  But a viewer can close his or her eyes at the jump scares and not really feel anything.

The Witch primarily utilizes the suspense factor.  The film is set in Puritan times in New England.  Due to religious heresy, a family is banished to the wilds outside the settlement where they must start anew.  The director, Robert Eggers chose to have the actors speak in old English which made it atmospheric.  He uses everything in nature to create suspense, such as a black goat, a rabbit with bulging eyes and the sound of rustling leaves.  There are only a few jump scares towards the end of the movie. The brilliance of The Witch is how the suspense is built using period details, old language and religious mythology so well that you feel as if you are part of that world.
The Conjuring is one of the best horror films that I have seen.  It uses suspense and jump scares in equal measure, which makes it a truly great horror film.  In contrast, the Insidious series mostly uses jump scares. At the end of the day, I feel that suspense is the actual horror and not some cheap shock jump scare.  Even though the jump scares are terrifying they are not really scary in a horrific way.  They just scare you for one second unlike suspense, which is always lingering.

Of course, there are other factors that contribute to making a great horror film besides suspense and jump scares.  Music is very important for building suspense. I’m thinking of Psycho and Jaws. Make-up is also another element, which adds to the fright factor.  And, humor can be used to good effect in horror movies. Good examples are American Werewolf in London and Nightmare on Elm Street series. After researching and writing this blog, I’m excited that there are so many more terrific horror and suspense films to experience.

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Super Hero Overdose by Keefer C. Blakeslee

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

Superheroes.jpgSpring! Birds chirping, flowers blooming, people carting their Kleenex around because of all the pollen in the air (an unenthused yay). With the new season upon us and new movies opening in theaters, you can’t help but notice the plethora of comic book based films. In March, an epic battle between two of the most iconic heroes of their universe hits the screen. May brings an epic battle between two of the most iconic heroes of their universe. Wow! Where does Hollywood get its ideas from? In all seriousness, I’m not the only one to point out that two superhero vs. superhero movies steal the spotlight a month apart. Speaking of which, X-Men Apocalypse comes out in May as well. That means three comic book films open in the next few months. That doesn’t include Deadpool which opened last month, Suicide Squad which comes out in August or Doctor Strange which opens in November. Six comic book films take the spotlight this year. You might think that I would be jumping up and down from excitement. While my inner geek feels ecstatic, I can’t help but also feel overwhelmed.

Look at it this way. Consider my favorite dessert – chocolate. I love eating it at the occasional birthday party or maybe a wedding. When I eat cake once in a while, I enjoy every bite. When I finish it, I feel fulfilled because it’s a rare gift. However, imagine that I wake up one morning and my dessert choice is chocolate cake and I can eat it every day. It sounds like a dream come true, but as the weeks pass by I start to feel sick. I want to have something different for dessert. That anticipation for creamy chocolate goodness is gone because I have made myself fat and grown weary of it. Now I’m not saying my love for comic book films has disappeared. I still plan to see Captain America: Civil War and, get that adrenaline rush every time Tony Stark suits up. However, the hype of anticipating a new comic book movie has diminished.

As much as I hate when a trailer comes out and I have to wait for a film to be released, it creates an excitement that makes me want to see the film. When Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back came out in 1980, the film ended with Han Solo being frozen in suspended animation. The next film, Return of the Jedi, didn’t come out until 1983. The three-year wait allowed audiences to get excited. Same thing happened with Avengers. We had multiple films leading up to the grand assembling of our favorite Marvel heroes. The power of making your audience wait is strong.

When Hollywood knows that they have a hit, they try to do everything in their power to exploit every ounce of it. Hollywood knows that audiences love comic book based films. The films they push out please audiences, but the mass production of comic book films, I believe, will spiral out of control. The more audiences want comic book films, the faster Hollywood makes the movies. The faster they make the films, the sloppier the films become. Then, it doesn’t matter how many people in capes appear on screen because the story behind that masked character will be forced and rushed.

The reason I feel frustrated with this is because I know that super hero films can be great! I understaKeefer.Superhero.pngnd some people disagree with me (Willlie! I still respect you, sir), but comic book based films contribute a lot to the movie industry, not just financially but artistically. I’ve said this before, movies are supposed to bring you into new worlds and create interesting characters. Comic book films create a connected universe where you can place these super powered characters in a room and the script creates itself. They have built a following that attracts both moviegoers and comic book enthusiasts from around the world. These films serve as examples of the power of filmmaking. I just hope Hollywood realizes, soon, the concept of quality over quantity.

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Who is most important in making a film? by Gerry O.

Monday, March 7th, 2016

Professional films have a huge number of people working together to make the production come to life. Usually, the number people involved in a feature story production is around 500, but some films stick out. For example, Iron Man 3 listed credits for over 3,000 people – the size of a small town – who contributed in making this two-hour film. Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Who is the center of that large crowd? Who makes it all happen?”

There is a Director of Photography who sets up the camera shots. The director and assistant director envision the whole thing and assign each team their tasks. The producer takes care of a lot of the business side of the film. Actors make the film’s characters come to life. Editors assemble the whole thing and enhance the beauty aspects. Hair and makeup artists do the same to people. Writers give the actors the blueprint for what is expected from those characters, from dialogue to stage direction. Of course, there are many more people involved who help organize everything, build sets, place props on the sets and bring lunch to everyone!Gerry.O.jpg

So, WHO would you think is the most important key person in all of this organized chaos? Most would say director or actors, but really, a film isn’t made because of actors or directors, it is made to tell a story. All these stories are made for people to enjoy and learn from. Yes, movie lovers, DVD collectors and film historians are really the most important.  They are the reason for the film’s creation and, at the end of the day, are the reason films are still so huge today. Without an audience, none of these films would be made.

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