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please help me with my reel


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#1 Josh Silfen

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 09:18 PM

I just cut together a rough version of a new reel, and I need help deciding what to keep and what to get rid of. I know I'm trying to cram too much stuff in, but I can't be objective enough on my own to know what should stay and what should go. I also know that some of the films represented look a lot better than others, but I didn't want my whole reel to come from one or two projects. I encoded this on my Mac, and it looks pretty good, but it may be a little dark on a PC.

The website is: http://www.joshsilfen.com

Click on the "reel" page and then the graphic for the "montage."

Any help would be greatly appreciated, and the more specific the advice, the better. Thanks a lot.

-Josh Silfen
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#2 Mark Allen

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 09:39 PM

Any help would be greatly appreciated, and the more specific the advice, the better. Thanks a lot.


Josh - you have a nice reel here. I like your natural lighting style. I'm going to try to give you an idea of what might be taking away from the reel more than adding...

All comments are in the play order:

Trim tail of shot with brunette sipping drink - just holds too long
shot of brunette in class room isn't necessary
neither is the next shot of kid with green.
Take out the shot of setting up the camera.
The getting in the car shots are nothing special, I'd remove those
There is a dark scene where a few of the shots are so dark I don't know what is going out of context of the rest of th emovie. (And a producer is going to see this and get scared "well, I want to see what's goin on in my movie!")
Shots on beach are just shots, could take those out
I like girl with water on face shots
very next couple shots in hallway could go, but aren't bad.
girl sad next to lamp.... good performance, but soft focus?
Love the girl sitting on the leaves... uniquely beautiful shot.
Girl covering her ears and dinner table shots... these are kind of plain and nothing to hire from.
(going to have to be quicker on the rest of my notes because I have to leave)
Something is wrong about the guy behind the counter - is it the quality difference or just a bland shot, I'm not sure.
The black and white with the guy getting shot seems... fake... but the last shot of that with the writing on glass is good.

Hope some of this helps.
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#3 Josh Silfen

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 09:46 PM

Thanks for your specific notes. I'll definitely take that advice.

neither is the next shot of kid with green.
Take out the shot of setting up the camera.


I agree that these shots are nothing special, but that kid in them has the highest ranking on IMDB's Star Meter of anyone I have ever shot, so I just put them in in case someone recognized him and was impressed by that.
-Josh
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#4 Lav Bodnaruk

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 10:16 PM

I agree with most of what Mark said.

The girl sipping the drink looks like bad performance, id just take it out.
On my computer, with 8ms referesh rate monitor, i couldnt see much of the detail in the driving shots and couple of shots in the strip club, that might do more demage then good in the long run, like Mark mentioned... you want it all to be visible;
yeah, also the shot with the girl next to the lamp, i too think that was soft... nice shot though.
girl sitting on the leaves is pretty, but soft edges do get to me...was it a flash back?

Some shots i really loved.
Overall dam good work!

PS. was the count down in intro needed? It probably adds to download limit... but its cool;
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#5 LondonFilmMan

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Posted 22 January 2006 - 02:24 PM

Josh:

Here is my input:

I think the darkness at the beginng should be cut to just where he turns the lights on, not where he 'messes' around with the door. For me, it is about 4 seconds too long. Remember you have the countdown too before that so we are sitting idle and un-entertained for about 10 whole frustrating seconds.

Where he dived in, we should have been closer to the action. it was an ordinary dive.

I like the shot on top of the water. I thought you could have timed the cut from when they put their faces in the water to when we saw the underwater shot of their faces in the water, a bit better.

What's with all this swimming? What's with this music? Does it match?

I think the blonde girl in the locker room should have had lots of tears streaming down her face and the dark-haired girl should have put her hand on her shoulder and demonstrated a comforting face. Then the blonde girl, now looking happier in the bar might have appeared grateful and the dark-haired girl could have looked a bit more like 'don't worry, what are friends for anyway?' As it was, it was mid-range emotion.

The shots in the bar are better. I don't like the shot of you zooming out of the roulette wheel. What were you trying to say? Surely as the wheel spins, people focus more on the wheel to see if they'll win...?

Music is too sad. Oh but hold on, a great chorus (if we are able to wait for it). But that might have been matched with the girl tapping on the window with her cute little wave. Whaddaya think?

Love the shot of the girls running. Great. The shot in the car. Also good.

The pole dancer? Nice. What's her number? Having said that, I think she should have been using her body *more* and giving a better pole dance. She looked a bit stiff. It would of been better if she was really into it, I mean really into her pole dance. Then.... followed by the shot of her face -- which was good. Sultry.

The kissing just after that appeared a little dark. Maybe just the web.

I like the way the music matched with the driving and then the girl at the door in the rain, crying . But why a shot from outside? Just for the sake of it? She should be cuddling him, *not* the dog.

Why does he then have to 'answer' to his Mum and then dad...? noooooo.....too immature.

Her sitting down in the woods...good. Nice view.

Overall, as usual, it would be nice to see some (real) sweat, p**s, s**t and blood, so I would know that these 'plastic' people actually mean it. But that's just me. They all look like they just enjoyed a great night's sleep, then powdered their nose. Where's the reality in that and how can we actually believe that they all have a cause to be so moody?

On this subject, I felt, too many 'moody' faces and middle-o'-the-road emotions.

I felt that the only real emotion I got was from the music.

You might make more of the skiier and take out some of the beginning water scenes.

The black and white stuf was tame.

The sexy girl with the mask at the end might of smiled sexily as we saw her through the mask and then all should of (naturally) faded to white/black as we 'fell asleep' ............geddit?
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#6 Josh Silfen

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Posted 22 January 2006 - 06:06 PM

girl sitting on the leaves is pretty, but soft edges do get to me...was it a flash back?

PS. was the count down in intro needed? It probably adds to download limit... but its cool;


This story was about a deaf girl who is happy until she get a cochlear implant allowing her to hear. She does not adjust well to the hearing world, so we shot all those scenes with a shift-tilt lens to give an 'off' feel as she experiences her surroundings in a new way.

I suppose the countdown is not needed, but I planned to have my name up there anyway, so I figured I might as well put the countdown behind it.
-Josh

Josh:

Here is my input:

I think the darkness at the beginng should be cut to just where he turns the lights on, not where he 'messes' around with the door. For me, it is about 4 seconds too long. Remember you have the countdown too before that so we are sitting idle and un-entertained for about 10 whole frustrating seconds.

Where he dived in, we should have been closer to the action. it was an ordinary dive.

I like the shot on top of the water. I thought you could have timed the cut from when they put their faces in the water to when we saw the underwater shot of their faces in the water, a bit better.

What's with all this swimming? What's with this music? Does it match?

I think the blonde girl in the locker room should have had lots of tears streaming down her face and the dark-haired girl should have put her hand on her shoulder and demonstrated a comforting face. Then the blonde girl, now looking happier in the bar might have appeared grateful and the dark-haired girl could have looked a bit more like 'don't worry, what are friends for anyway?' As it was, it was mid-range emotion.

The shots in the bar are better. I don't like the shot of you zooming out of the roulette wheel. What were you trying to say? Surely as the wheel spins, people focus more on the wheel to see if they'll win...?

Music is too sad. Oh but hold on, a great chorus (if we are able to wait for it). But that might have been matched with the girl tapping on the window with her cute little wave. Whaddaya think?

Love the shot of the girls running. Great. The shot in the car. Also good.

The pole dancer? Nice. What's her number? Having said that, I think she should have been using her body *more* and giving a better pole dance. She looked a bit stiff. It would of been better if she was really into it, I mean really into her pole dance. Then.... followed by the shot of her face -- which was good. Sultry.

The kissing just after that appeared a little dark. Maybe just the web.

I like the way the music matched with the driving and then the girl at the door in the rain, crying . But why a shot from outside? Just for the sake of it? She should be cuddling him, *not* the dog.

Why does he then have to 'answer' to his Mum and then dad...? noooooo.....too immature.

Her sitting down in the woods...good. Nice view.

Overall, as usual, it would be nice to see some (real) sweat, p**s, s**t and blood, so I would know that these 'plastic' people actually mean it. But that's just me. They all look like they just enjoyed a great night's sleep, then powdered their nose. Where's the reality in that and how can we actually believe that they all have a cause to be so moody?

On this subject, I felt, too many 'moody' faces and middle-o'-the-road emotions.

I felt that the only real emotion I got was from the music.

You might make more of the skiier and take out some of the beginning water scenes.

The black and white stuf was tame.

The sexy girl with the mask at the end might of smiled sexily as we saw her through the mask and then all should of (naturally) faded to white/black as we 'fell asleep' ............geddit?


While I agree with most of what you are saying, it seems like much of your criticism is about the acting. Do you think DPs are generally held responsible for performances in a film they shot? Should I fill my reel with the best performances I've shot and not necessarily the shots I think look best?
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#7 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 03:12 AM

This story was about a deaf girl who is happy until she get a cochlear implant allowing her to hear. She does not adjust well to the hearing world, so we shot all those scenes with a shift-tilt lens to give an 'off' feel as she experiences her surroundings in a new way.

I suppose the countdown is not needed, but I planned to have my name up there anyway, so I figured I might as well put the countdown behind it.
-Josh
While I agree with most of what you are saying, it seems like much of your criticism is about the acting. Do you think DPs are generally held responsible for performances in a film they shot? Should I fill my reel with the best performances I've shot and not necessarily the shots I think look best?


that's entirely up to you. I thought his comments were a little out of your capabilites, so don't worry about it.

I want to say that 6 minutes is too long; the song get's damn annoying after a while, and You could cut out a goof portion of the reel by putting in your best shots. There is a lot of filler in there.

Nice looking stuff though. I love the man turning on the lights to the swimming pool, great shot, and choice.
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#8 Hans Engstrom

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 05:59 PM

Nice reel, but as mentioned before it feels to long. I don´t think that you should care to much about notes that is outside your controll. I´m just going to add a technical note as I don´t even have my own reel and makes my living as a AC and not a DP. I think you should make is possible to download the video as well. My IE just freaked out after playing it online. This was because it reached frames that wasn´t downloaded yet. It shouldn´t do that but it happens sometimes and the sound when it starts flipping out is not very nice.

Edited by Hans Engstrom, 23 January 2006 - 06:01 PM.

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#9 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 07:36 PM

Nice reel, but as mentioned before it feels to long. I don´t think that you should care to much about notes that is outside your controll. I´m just going to add a technical note as I don´t even have my own reel and makes my living as a AC and not a DP. I think you should make is possible to download the video as well. My IE just freaked out after playing it online. This was because it reached frames that wasn´t downloaded yet. It shouldn´t do that but it happens sometimes and the sound when it starts flipping out is not very nice.



www.getfirefox.com ;)
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#10 Josh Silfen

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 12:21 AM

You could cut out a goof portion of the reel by putting in your best shots. There is a lot of filler in there.


Yes, but which is which? That's what I'm trying to figure out.
-Josh
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#11 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 09:25 PM

Hey Josh,
I think for me, it's fairly obvious which shots are great, and which are just average or even sub par.

there can be a method to your madness; like one's that are really powerful, and lit well, and are just an all around great looking shot.

I really don't want to tell you which shots, because as a DP, you should know which ones work & which don't.

best of luck.
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#12 Josh Silfen

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 10:20 PM

Hey Josh,
I think for me, it's fairly obvious which shots are great, and which are just average or even sub par.

there can be a method to your madness; like one's that are really powerful, and lit well, and are just an all around great looking shot.

I really don't want to tell you which shots, because as a DP, you should know which ones work & which don't.

best of luck.


All the shots work within the context of the film and scene they were shot in. Obviously this is far different from knowing which are the most effective on a DP reel. If you think you can accurately judge which shots 'work' without knowing anything about the story or the characters or anything about the film at all, then I think you have a very different philosophy about cinematography than I do. I also think that if being able to separate a certain shot from the experience of shooting that shot and all the work and sweat that went into it were as easy as taking a step back and looking at it, there wouldn't be a forum called "Please Critique My Work." I don't think people just want to be told "you're good" or "you suck," but rather receive specific suggestions for improving their work or their reel. I think as you shoot more, you will quickly begin to realize that there are certain shots that you love, but that no one else seems to see the brilliance in, or shots that you are often complimented on that you were always lukewarm about. For instance, the shots of the two girls changing clothes in the car in the nighttime exterior parking lot scene are ones that I have always been particularly proud of the lighting in. However, as Mark Douglas helpfully noted, they are nothing special, so I'll take them out. What does someone want to see in a DP reel? High Key lighting? Low Key lighting? Elaborate camera movement? Objective composition? Subjective composition? Happy scenes? Sad scenes? Celebrities? Obviously this is different for everyone that watches it, but I'm just trying to get a good consensus on which shots are generally considered effective on the reel and which are not. If you care to help with that process, please do. If not, thanks anyway.
-Josh

Edited by Josh Silfen, 24 January 2006 - 10:21 PM.

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#13 LondonFilmMan

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 04:38 AM

Personally speaking, I would make a list consistent with what I wanted to do. If all I wanted to do was to make commercials then I would make a reel consistent with that. If I did not know where I wanted to go, I'd cover all bases. Having said that, what good is a 'map' if you don't know where you want to go?

Anyway...I'd make a list...eg;-

SET-UP
tripod, dolly, steadicam, hand-held etc

APPROACH
close-up, wideshot, panning, tracking, viewpoint etc

STYLE
objective, subjective etc

LIGHTING
high key, low key, artificial, natural etc

MOOD
happy, sad etc

PEOPLE
male, female, old, young, single, groups, nationalities. etc

Make a BIG list and analyse it. Try to marry elements on your list but don't marry too many at once.

Whatever I did, I'd ensure my filming was wholly appropriate rather than self-indulgent, therefore I'd forget about "simple, elaborate" shots because I wouldn't see it that way. Getting my shot consistent with the feeling would be harder. I think that's what you have to do. I am unsure as to your choice of music. Its good music but a bit overbearing maybe. A bit distracting perhaps.
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