A Nightmare on 5th Avenue

For my video re-cut trailer, I transformed The Devil Wears Prada (David Frankel 2006) from a comedy-drama into a horror film. I changed up the story line to make it seem like Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) was a vindictive boss who was trying to transform her assistant, Andy Sach’s, into one of her minions.

This is a screen shot from the movie, it shows how terrified Miranda’s workers are of her.

In the original movie, Miranda was extremely harsh on her workers, and therefore it was easy to make her look like a mad women. I ended the trailer with Miranda talking to Andy and saying that “ You know what Andrea I see a lot of myself in you”, by ending the trailer with this line I hoped that it created a creepy effect for the audience.

Specific links to course readings:

Since I transformed my re-cut trailer into a horror film, it was key for me to add in a creepy sound track to make the genre change effective.  After watching about 8 trailers in the last blog, I noticed that almost all the horror trailers that I watched had distinctive creepy/scary music soundtracks.  The dark and scary music that I added in served as a signifier. According to Danesi, he notes that signifiers can be objects, sounds, or even figures, but “[their] meanings are all established by social convention or through the channel of historical tradition” (Danesi 31). Meaning that, the dark and creepy music is a symbol to the audience that the movie is a horror film. Thus, in order to make it clear to my fellow classmates that I transformed the movie into a horror film, I symbolically used daunting music.

A couple of units ago we discussed Klosterman’s reading about how laugh tracks are used to convince audiences that they must laugh at certain scenes, when most of the time those scenes aren’t even funny. In class we noted that Klosterman’s laugh track example was a common manipulation technique that people use today. He says that “[laugh tracks] take away the unconscious pressure of understanding context and tells the audience when they should be amused”(Klosterman 174). Similarly, when I was transforming my trailer I decided to use these daunting sound tracks as a method of manipulation. Instead, to make the audience actually feel terrified and scared I added in a scary soundtrack, though if I were to remove this sound track and just keep the audio, my trailer wouldn’t be scary at all.

Lastly, I also applied Bernard Dick’s reading on Film Anatomy in my editing choices for my re-cut trailer. Dick talked about how a sequence of “Montage shotscan be defined as a series of shots arranged in a particular order for a particular purpose”(Dick 14). In the beginning of my re-cut trailer I used a montage sequence when describing Miranda Priestly, I pieced together about 5 different scenes from the movie, which demonstrate her scariness, and added the audio to make it more effective. In my case, my purpose was to create a depiction of fear in the character of Miranda.

Rationale for creative choices:

I really enjoyed transforming this movie because it is one of my all time favorite movies, and I know all the scenes inside and out.  Some of the creative decisions I made were in part because I knew the movie so well.  I chose to add the twist to the end of the movie and make it seem as if Andy really did turn into Miranda by having the scene where Miranda says “ But you did… to Emily”. I personally feel this particular scene is the most effective in order to evoke a sense of fear in the audience. Next, in the middle of my trailer I had a good 20 seconds where it showed Andy frantically running through traffic. I specifically cut various running scenes to create a sense of anticipation in the trailer. I also specifically chose two songs to blend together in my trailer, the first song was scary but had a sense of anticipation which was the emotion I was going for a the beginning of the trailer, but then I faded in a creepier song which had lots of different music levels that would give emphasis to different scenes. Specifically I aligned the audio for that last two title shots so both would have an introductory scary “ DUN” to it.  I also made a lot of use of the fade to black transition, because I noticed that this particular effect makes it very useful when trying to create a “scary” effect.

Frustrations, difficulties, and solutions:

For the most part I didn’t encounter any major problems when creating my trailer, though I did have a rather unusual problem with my audio. For some odd reason when I tried to make my audio 2 track shorter, premiere would not let me. I checked for all the possible errors, and even checked to see if my audio got locked somehow, but it wasn’t. In the end I just decided to delete the track and then add in the same track again, but already editing it to the length I wanted. Other than that this project was a big learning experience for me, and I never thought I’d actually be able to use this video technology so well.  For me, picking out which scenes I wanted to use and how I was going to piece it together was the hardest part, but once I did that it was all uphill from there!

 References:

Marcel Danesi (2004). “Semiotics,” excerpt from Messages, signs, and meanings: A basic textbook in semiotics and communication. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.

Bernard Dick (2002). “Film, space, and image,” excerpt from Anatomy of Film. Boston: Bedford / St. Martin’s.

Chuck Klosterman (2009). “Ha ha, he said. Ha ha,” excerpt from Eating the dinosaur. New York: Scribner Press.

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