The film ‘School of Rock’ is a comedy directed by Richard Linklater and produced by Scott Rudin. During the opening sequences, the various different film techniques prepare the audience for the rest of the film.
The film is about a “wannabe” rock guitarist, Dewey Finn. He gets kicked out of his band and poses as a substitute teacher for money. He then realises the pupils are musically talented and enters them in a rock competition “Battle of the Bands”.
The title graphics mix into the film’s opening scene. ‘Paramount Pictures Presents’ is printed in white block capitals on the back of a black t-shirt. It fades up from being fuzzy, to being clearer to read. The producer and director’s names are on posters on the wall in the club, again in block capitals and they stand out from other posters that are on the wall. Then the main character, Jack Black, is on a poster on the door. There is a picture of him with horns and three pairs of eyes, then his name underneath it.
When the doors open the film’s title is in red neon lights up against a brick wall. The camera zooms in until the title fills the screen. The ‘S’ in the title is flickering suggesting the lights are quite old. Then the viewer can see the stage which the band is playing on. The important names in the film come into screen one at a time and then two at a time and then the less important people’s names come into view four at a time. Mike White is the film’s writer and he also plays Ned in the movie. He wrote the film specifically for Jack Black. The title graphics run through the whole of the first scene. There are no graphics however during Dewey Finn’s stage dive, which prepares the audience, because during the film Dewey always wants centre of attention. The graphics are not there which allows the audience’s focus to be completely on Dewey
The lighting at the start of the first scene is very dark and fades up. It is grubby, but the posters on the wall in the club stand out because they are bright. The lighting then red, as if danger is ahead or perhaps a warning. Then it is dark and gloomy and the only light is from behind a desk in the club. This shows the audience how Dewey’s music career is doing, which is not very well.
As the doors open to go through to the stage, the red lights from the movie title stand out. The silhouettes of the figures of the audience become visible to see. The brightest light is on the band when they are playing. From the extreme long shot, the spotlights on the band are really bright. When Dewey does his stage dive, the lights dim. Then the lighting goes green as there is an extreme close up on Dewey’s face. The green lighting implies that Dewey is a bit drunk and may not feel well in the morning. At the start of the second scene, the light is natural coming through the window in Dewey’s ‘room’ indicating to the audience that it is a new day.
From the start the heavy rock music is playing and it gradually gets louder as- the camera goes further into the club. The viewers can hear footsteps and also the woman at the door stamping everyone’s hand who enters the club. When the camera then goes through the doors the music gets even louder and then the cash machine pinging can also be heard. Once Dewey has done his stage dive, the crowd’s response is mixed. They are surprised but at the same time not too surprised because seconds ago Dewey had done a guitar solo and acted as if it was all about him. The music cuts out abruptly and glasses smash. There is also a big thud when he hits the ground. Then Dewey says, “Wow, nobody caught me that was lame”. He expected people to catch him because he thinks he is really good, this also prepares the audience for how Dewey will continue to behave in the rest of the film.
The main character is the film Dewey Finn. Dewey is in a heavy rock band and plays guitar. When the band are performing, Dewey wants to be the centre of attention. At one point he knocks the lead singer off balance. He does long guitar solos and wants to be like his idol Jimi Hendrix which prepares the audience for the importance of music in the film and Dewey’s dominating character.
At the start of the second scene when Dewey is in his bed, it really shows what kind of person he is. He lives in an apartment with his friend Ned and his wife. He sleeps in the corner of the living room and on a mattress on the floor. The bed is surrounded by clothes and rubbish. There is a curtain around the bed where he sleeps. Dewey loves music and has shelves and shelves of CD’s and LP’s. He also has his beloved guitar sitting up against his shelf. In a sense he is surrounded by music. Above his mattress, Dewey has a ‘Black Sabbath’ scarf. The audience can see from this that having music in his life is important to Dewey, much more important than being clean and tidy or having a proper bed.
Dewey’s apartment is not very nice. The furniture is very old-fashioned and cheap. Instead of a table next to the armchair there is a stool. The television is old and sits on a trolley/stand, and at the bottom of the television stand there are videos which show the viewer that the apartment is ‘behind the times’. It looks like Dewey and Ned have had the flat since they were students and have not really moved on, which prepares the audience because Dewey is not very clean and does not take much pride in what he looks like.
Another important character is Miss Rosalie Mullins. Miss Mullins is the principal at Horace Green Elementary Preparatory School, considered to be one of the best schools in America. She is brisk, business like and very efficient. There is a big contrast between Dewey and Miss Mullins. Dewey is very lazy and cannot be bothered to do anything. Principal Mullins is dressed in a shirt and tie with a blazer and trousers. She also wears glasses. The suit she wears is very much like how a male would dress. Compare this to Dewey who at the same time of day is still in his dressing gown, slouching around the apartment. Dewey’s hair is very messy and greasy looking, meanwhile Miss Mullins’ hair is traditional and the viewer gets the impression that she is too busy to get a haircut or that her hair is not one of her main priorities. This lets the audience see that there is a possibility of a clash in personalities because they appear to have so many differences.
In her office, Miss Mullins, has shelves of knowledge books and encyclopaedias, whereas Dewey’s shelves are full of music. She has pupil’s artwork up on her wood panelled office walls. Also there is a Burger King crown on one of her shelves, suggesting she might have taken it from one of her pupils. The wood panels in her office show that the school is posh and quite wealthy. In contrast Dewey’s flat is very old-fashioned and he has no money. On Miss Mullins’ desk she has a letter rack and an apple. On a separate table she has a globe and also a vase. At first it appeared that they were two very different characters, however later on in the movie, the viewers see that there are similarities between the two of them, which music helps to emphasise by Dewey entering his class into “Battle of the Bands”.
In conclusion the use of various techniques in the opening scenes, such as title graphics, lighting and sound, prepares the audience for the rest of the film. The characters of Dewey Finn and Miss Mullins are central to the film and develop throughout the story.