How to create Murder Mystery atmosphere (journal entry 3)

The Creating Atmosphere Project (assessment 3) for COMU1152 Public Relations Writing (UQ, Semester 2, 2012), called for a group of people to create atmosphere via various visual forms. The other four girls and I successfully managed to create a ten minute presentation within a murder mystery theme.

The project included the tasks;
a 30 second visual piece (a short movie about the murder, alibi’s and characters),
a poster promoting an event (a wanted poster),
a six hundred word written piece (diary entries of the deceased),
a build up of atmosphere in ten minutes (we created atmosphere by use of costumes, characters and filling the gaps with relevant dialogue).

This is the step-by-step process that my group undertook to create a successful murder mystery atmospheric theme.

Step One – Create a theme, characters, setting and loose plot.
A Murder Mystery set in Australia during the 1920’s.
The characters are;
Scarlett Lawnton – a famous movie actress who was found face down on her dining room floor, with a pistol beside her,
Lucile James – an unsuccessful actress who is jealous of Scarlet and said she was having a bath at the time of the murder,
Bethany Walker – Scarlett’s oldest friend is in love with Scarlett’s husband and maintains she was in her car at the time of the murder,
Olivia Taylor – Scarlett’s sister who is looking after their ill father and wants the inheritance money, she claims she was at home when the murder took place,
Private Detective Whimsy – a friendly fellow who is following the trail of murder.

Step Two – Create a 30 second script and arrange filming; organise costumes, props and location.
Research

The online merriam-webster dictionary defines film noir as “a type of crime film featuring cynical malevolent characters in a sleazy setting and an ominous atmosphere that is conveyed by shadowy photography and foreboding background music.”
Props
the gun

Step Three – Research and write the 600 word diary.

June 10th, 1921

I have never felt so stressed and bothered. My dear husband has finally left for his business trip and it’s a small relief to have him away for the next two weeks. But at the same time I really don’t like it when he is away, I get so lonely, all by myself in this big house.
Bethany Walker also asks me so many pesky questions about when he is leaving and his return, and where he is staying. I asked her the other day if called for me, or to talk to my husband. That stopped her short.

Not to mention, I have the final audition today for a marvellous Busby Berkeley film. I’m quite positive I’m going to get the role: it’s down to Lucile James and me. Quite frankly, her acting is like a dead fish floating on water. Busby Berkeley’s assistant even told me that Busby has quite the disdain for her.

And yet aside from having a wonderfully established film career, I still sift through moments of loneliness and for all my fame I haven’t a real, true friend in the world.

I think I’ll invite Bethany and Lucile for dinner, and try to build some sort of bridge between us. All this quiet animosity is too much sometimes. I’ll invite Olivia too. Lord knows she’s been the most wonderful sister, caring after Daddy. I try to help, but I have so little time.

June 15th, 1921.

It’s too late to cancel the dinner now, I have already invited the girls but it’s going to be a dreadfully tense night. I wish my dear Richard was home to lighten the mood. But then again, the looks Bethany gives him it’s probably best to keep them separate.

Oh, I saw Daddy today, his health is rapidly declining, I can’t bear to see him in so much pain. However, he was awfully glad to see me. And I know why, because as lovely as my sister is, she’s a dull, straight girl and father needs a little life.

Unfortunately for Olivia, she did not inherit my good looks or my flair for acting. I don’t know how she can handle such a dreary life. Even though I haven’t seen her in six months, I almost had to twist her arm to get her to take a break from Daddy. It will also get her out of her frightful little cottage down by the gully. Only if her husband did not spend so much time gambling…

June 16th, 1921.

The dinner is tonight.

I can’t stop thinking about Olivia’s snotty letters to me. I know the real problem with Olivia is Daddy’s will, and I’ve told Daddy he doesn’t have to leave me anything. Richard and I are more than fine in the finances department. I’m a movie star for God’s Sake! But he will not listen to reason.

The rest of my day was quite successful. I’ve had housekeeping finalise the details for the decor for dinner and I have purchased the most splendid gown. Not to mention I had a divine lunch with my new director, Busby Berkeley (he broke the delightful news to me at lunch!). Although, I did not think he would announce it to me before the dinner tonight.

Everyone knows I’m a far superior actress than Lucile but I feel dreadful for her. She can hardly hold her tongue when she’s mad. She has the most fiercest and irrational temper. How I loath her when she has become angry. If she chooses to be like that tonight, I’ll be sure to give her a piece of my mind. Unless, of course, I give Bethany a piece of my mind first. I’ve found out the most terrible things about her and Richard. I can’t even bear to write it yet…

Step Four – Shoot, edit movie and lay a script for the presentation.

Script to include monologues from Private Detective Whimsey.

Step Five – Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse.
Learn lines
Ensure there are no problems with the movie
Practice with the tutorial technical equipment.

Step Six – The day of the presentation
Bring costumes
Bring props – gun, diary, diary entries, posters and a detailed description of the suspects.
Ensure all technical equipment is working.
Pat each other on the back and give the Lecturer a cookie.

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