I have written/directed a short film last year and as I'm approaching the production of my new short film, I would like to hear some experts options about the look of my film. This was a one-man-crew project and therefore I didn't have the resources/time to hire a DP at the time and I would like to hear some opinions of how can I improve my visual storytelling skills. I am aware of many of the errors I have made in my short but I'm not going to bring up my point of view as I would much prefer to hear some "fresh" observations.
Thanks in advance for taking the time to analyze this.
PS: feel free to comment on anything about this short but I'm mostly interested in hearing opinions about: cinematography and coverage(if that's a separate category at all).
There's actually a special section on the site to showcase work. Otherwise three minutes in, and I couldn't stick with it. You need to clean up your audio and do something with the colors. Shooting anyone against a lit window is a big no-no, fortunately you appear to have a newer camera that can compensate for that.
I would give the recording technique and overhaul. The foley was a tad awkward, too thin is my guess. The majority of your short is driven by narration, I would take a look into post compression and EQ, it can really drive home a clear sound that attracts the ear and keeps the listener engaged.
Your general concept of plot is pretty good, but this story could've been told in roughly half the run time. Stuff like that is essential when getting into festivals.
The flat natural unsaturated look came off nice in some shots (mostly exterior) but felt a little... too flat in others.
I saw the whole thing, and primarily what I noticed is that the tone is all over the place. You don't settle with one idea, you seem to chase one, abandon it and then go after another. Nick isn't really an integral part, because he disappears after he borrows the money. You also use way too many master shots, so nothing is cinematically defined. If you look at the very early silent films by Melies or Edwin Porter, they used nothing but long shots and played the whole scene without moving the camera at all. Films have come a long way since then, and cameras are far more compact, so you have to be more creative in movement. I also made that mistake in my first short film. This short wants to be a comedy, but the tone isn't there, and the overall coloring that you used goes against it. I think in order to make a good film you don't have to blow anyone away with visuals, I guarantee that if you find an actor who is interesting enough and can hold the screen, you'll give someone a reason to keep watching, and of course, everything begins with a good screenplay.
And it's okay, because I've realized that failure is an integral part of making anything that is a worthwhile endeavor. The German V2 rocket failed 14 times before it succeeded.
George: I did hire a person to clean the sound in post and they did improve the short but I guess not well enough. I wasn't happy with the results either as it didn't sound cinematic and I guess the right amount of compression is what was missing. I must say that I'm proud of recording he voice-over by myself though. My actor was really good. And yes the BMCC has a great dynamic range and by exposing to the right, I was able to recover a lot of the details in the shadow (with some noise).
Macks: I agree that the the sound needed a better approach both during production (I used the in-camera sound only, in some scenes), and in post( compression and folley are main factors).
Joshua: As for the movie being too long for its own stake is because I wanted to make sure to express the idea of Jonathan's life falling apart as much as I could. I wanted to show that this happens gradually. I do agree thought that for festival purposes, by cutting the movie in half, it would have greatly benefited from it. It's interesting that you're mentioning that the movie wants to be a comedy though. That wasn't really my goal but someone mentioned to me that it has elements of satire. As for using master shots mostly, I think that's my biggest mistake in this film. I just like the idea of perfect composition and getting points of view that nobody else gets. I don't like moving the camera much to be honest, but then again I do understand that this has been the standard for decades. In particular, in the last few years filmmakers have been seeking an extreme realism at the point that many movies use handheld despite the large accessibility of tripods and steadicams. I guess I will have to find a compromise between my personal style and what's now considered "cinematic". By saying that I have my own style though, I'm not trying to establish that filmmaking is completely subjective because I do understand the importance of camera movement, and coverage. I'm not just at the point yet to make these artistic choices.
Thanks for the advice everyone. I agree with some of your observations and disagree with some others but this is very helpful.
George: I did hire a person to clean the sound in post and they did improve the short but I guess not well enough. I wasn't happy with the results either as it didn't sound cinematic and I guess the right amount of compression is what was missing.
I can understand poor sound to an extent if it's one guy running the whole show, but if you went out and hired a guy for that you gotta give me a call next time lol.
Well I hired a person to clean the sound in post. As for the actual recording I boomed an overhead mic and got help by a film student I used to take classes with. Either way thanks for offering your help. I'm located in LA though. are you in in NJ? I'm shooting my next short in late May.
For indoors, and to some limited degree outdoors, a mic+boom will work. But for 'long shots', where the boom would be obvious, wireless mics would be in order.
In applying the wireless mic, some skill is involved in getting the mic close to the mouth of the talent, without being seen by the camera, given the framing, and position of the talent. Some of the audio sounded 'really processed', as in trying to extract something from heavy ambient interference.
For me, for a short, there is a need to for quick movement, story wise, into the story. Having a number of seconds or minutes on a shot, wastes time. Many 10 minute 'short' films could be 5 minute short films and tell the same essential story, and keep the viewer's interest.
Re: Voice Over.
Film is a visual medium. The quality of sound and dialog can enhance a film, perhaps be required for making 'story sense', but if sound is relied upon too heavily, it becomes 'radio with visual aids'.
I watched a French 'short' film on my Facebook Feed... I don't understand French so the dialog was lost, and even with the captions on (in French) I only got a little bit of the 'issue'... ok I did take 2 years of College French... nearly 1/2 century ago... anyway, I was able to keep in the story, because the visuals were telling the story.