Codes and Conventions

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Codes and Conventions by Mind Map: Codes and Conventions

1. Location/setting

1.1. We conform to this feature of comedy as we use a social atmosphere, as we can see by the people within the charity shop, auction house, etc. By doing this we allow multiple opportunities for our characters to communicate with others allowing dialogue to be constant and flowing which is of highest importance within a comedy as silence is a typical convention unless used for a moment of comic relief (for example, the scene in Carol's house within our film).

2. Sound

2.1. Numerous amounts of music were used in our film to help break the formality of silence. We used upbeat, popular tracks such as Wiley's 'Cash In My Pocket' and 'Naive' by the Kooks as songs with a 4/4 time signature in a major key tend to lift the emotions of the audience subconsiouly, even though the songs are only playing quietly and in the background to enhance the joyous emotions. Most Hollywood and Indpendent comedies use this technique. The only scene that we do not use music in, is the one set in Carol's house because of the shift in emotions, thoughts and feelings of the characters, therefore affecting the audience in the same negative way.

2.2. Diegetic and non-diegetic sound is used throughout our film, similarly as music is. This is a typical code and convention of any genre or style of film. Subsequently, comedies use a large number of non-diegetic sounds or sound effects to heighten comedy, in a very slapstick or non-naturalsitic way. However, this is one element of comedies that we have chosen to subvert to. We didn't want to use sFX as such as we were creating a naturalistic comedy and wanted the audience to feel as if they were watching real action instead of making it extremely stylised like a film such as 'Shaun of the Dead' directed by Edgar Wright or 'American Ultra' directed by Nima Nourizadeh. Using SFX is more of a way to disconnect the audience with reality and is used in comedies that involve sub genres of action comedies of for example and tend to be used in comedies with an animation/cartoon/comic book theme running through it. As our film was a nod towards a regional, female driven comedy, we kept it as close to our inspirations such as 'Calendar Girls', 'Stepping Out' and 'Bridesmaids' as possible, which barely use SFX at all, just music and diegetic or non-diegetic sounds to maximise the comedy.

3. Costumes

3.1. For each character, we had to give them a definitive style that represented their personality traits and emotional streaks. In comedies, typically the main characters will have costumes that are particle to them, and only they would wear, which is what I recreated with Becky, Carol, Victoria and Kathy within our film. For example, Victoria's outfits were the most extravagant as they had to assist in encapsulating her kooky and flirtatious nature. I was particularly inspired by 'Absolutely Fabulous' for Victoria's style. Contrasting to this, Becky has a lot more of an indie/relaxed attire style to her character. We wanted to represent a recognisable brand in Becky, so that teenagers and younger audience members could relate to what she was wearing as it was trendy (dungarees, glasses, crop tops) while also doubling the glasses effect of looking trendy by also having the undertones of a nerd or a studios streak to her. This is still a clear character choice which relates to comedy's codes and conventions.

4. Props

4.1. A lot of props act as iconography within comedies and 'What A Bargain' is no exception. Without props, our film wouldn't have the comedic effect that it does. Most traditional comedies use slapstick styles of props but we have used props such as the mugs in Carol's house and the anal beads to heighten the felinity and sexual innuendos that carry throughout the duration of our scenes. This was extremely important to me to capture during the edit as without these moments of iconography, the mise en scene of the film would be nowhere near as effective as it is now, as the settings/locations would have an absence of detail which would juxtapose what we have tried to capture in all three final film products. The props also assist in revealing details about the characters that aren't necessarily explain verbally, for example, the items they find in the charity shop bags, and what each particular character takes a liking to.

5. Lighting

5.1. For the duration of the film, a golden/warm colour grade is used to represent a realistic atmosphere and to recreate daylight (as we had to shoot later in the evening because of the charity shop opening hours). Daylight in a comedy is a typical code as it makes the audience feel at ease and as if they are witnesses 'real' interaction, as if its just an extract of the characters day and it makes the narrative feel less planned in a way.

5.2. We also use high key lighting and bright background and filler lights to make the shot as bright as possible to achieve the desired naturalistic effect. Some shots, however, did develop to brightly but I was able to lower the saturation and exposure on the edit so that I could construct the exact lighting/colour palette that I thought suitable to the shot and moment in the narrative.

6. Editing

6.1. For every scene, apart from the one that takes place in Carol's house, I used fast paced cuts throughout the edit to allow the audience to feel excited which influences the way they react to the comedy as the dialogue therefore happens faster and become more pressured because of the fast cuts. This, in turn, makes the film funnier as everything happens slightly quicker than perhaps it would in real life as we are constantly cutting form character to character. The same technique is used for reaction shots as the reactions are just as important as the dialogue shots so the audience can see the realism within the conversations as well as the humour.

6.2. Nonetheless, within Carol's house scene, the editing is slower and slightly more seamless as the narrative and tone become more serious and tense. This style of editing reflect that I have considered how a moment of comic relief should be presented so that the audience do not become apathetic and lazy when watching the film, as if the whole film used fast cuts and a high pace, it would become tiring and too much effort to watch.

7. Cinematography

7.1. Sometimes comedies can have very stylistic cinematography using shots like canted angles and extreme low/high angles, but we juxtaposed to this and went for a more documentary style of comedy. We used wide shots, close ups and generally muted shots so that it didnt take away from the character and dialogue. We did use extreme close ups in freeze frames for example, but these were purely used to heighten a particle moment of comedy or iconography.