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16mm short inspired by Greek story of Persephone


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#1 CineMagic

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Posted 26 February 2006 - 01:05 AM

Apart from the obvious loose-ends in the story, I'd love to here any cinematic feedback/suggestions you may have. Here is the link:

http://www.defineart...ephone/film.htm

Cheers!

Daniel Cotroneo
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#2 Alex Haspel

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Posted 26 February 2006 - 02:19 PM

that looked really good.
visually, i think it had quite an 80's videoclip aesthetic going on.
i liked the beginning very much, especially as he enters the room with the girl,
but i found the middle part to look a bit flat.
(the part beginning with the in my opinion rather unmotivated dolly move as
she tastes the fruit/he knees down...)
there's also quite a jump in the light on his face as she stands up to touch his
face and you cut to the closeup....

but that's supposed to be constructive critisism and also just my humble opinion,
and besides that i'm also just a beginner and you can backbite at my latest work
here: http://www.cinematog...showtopic=12127

just out of couriosity, what stock/lenses/light package have you been using?
(my guess would be 7279 and primes of some kind since there was no pumping)

Edited by haspel, 26 February 2006 - 02:19 PM.

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#3 Mark Williams

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Posted 26 February 2006 - 04:51 PM

Apart from the obvious loose-ends in the story, I'd love to here any cinematic feedback/suggestions you may have. Here is the link:

http://www.defineart...ephone/film.htm

Cheers!

Daniel Cotroneo

Excellent work! Beautiful, dramatic, without a word being spoken. The story told by images that were Artistic in their composure..

I have crits... I dont know the story, so therefore I didnt know Why she stabbed him.. I thought the window at the end for some reason and perhaps it was the nets Just looked to modern and broke the illusion for me.. Also I wasnt that keen on the soundtrack.. It just Didnt have the same excellence of the film.. Although It was good.. Not sure why there was no Blood?
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#4 CineMagic

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Posted 26 February 2006 - 05:46 PM

Thanks for the feedback!

Haspel:

-We shot with the Arri SR1 with Kodak 500T 7218 and Zeiss primes. Some of the more extreme close-ups (lips and pomegranate) were on a zoom lens because our longest prime was a 50mm.

-In terms of lights, we had a basic Mole kit (650s and 300s), a 2k, 1k and Divalight. I used the natural daylight from the windows and corrected the Tungsten lights with 1/2CTB to leave the room slightly warmer. The wide shots with the windows are natural light, and I used the Divalight with daylight bulbs for the close-ups in front of the window.

-The use of silhouette is supposed to represent the underworld, thus as Persephone tastes the fruit, the dolly pushes her into silhouette with Hades. The dolly movement after this is unmotivated and had I done another take, I would have left it static after the initial move or pushed her back out of silhouette after she reveals the knife.

-I agree that the middle portion is flat. Due to time constraints (we only had our location for 10 hours) we were unable to punch in for close-ups during the knife part, thus we are left with that long two-shot for the entire exchange and the cause of jump in light when it cuts to the close-up where she touches his face.

Mark:

-Here is a brief summary of Hades and Persephone:
Hades, Lord of the Underworld, falls in love and kidnapps Persephone. Hades convinces her to eat the food of the underworld, the seeds of the pomegranate. Once done, she can never fully leave the underworld. Our director takes this a step further, making Persephone kill Hades with the knife he gives her. However, her attachment to him still makes this difficult, thus the grieving (as mentioned before, some obvious story loop-holes and oversimplification).

-Didn't really notice the window until you mentioned it. It does seem a bit out of place but hopefully most viewers will be concentrating on the action in the scene.

-The music is temp. Know any good composers??

-Blood would have been nice, though our costume rentals were rather expensive so I think they wanted to keep them as clean as possible.

Thanks again!
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#5 Black Panther

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Posted 26 February 2006 - 05:51 PM

Beatifully shot and excellent actors. I also lack the historical background knowledge to understand the real meaning but by judging just "what's happening on screen" it's a very dramatic and emotional scene.
I like the soundtrack.
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#6 Mark Williams

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 07:30 AM

-Didn't really notice the window until you mentioned it. It does seem a bit out of place but hopefully most viewers will be concentrating on the action in the scene.

-The music is temp. Know any good composers??

-Blood would have been nice, though our costume rentals were rather expensive so I think they wanted to keep them as clean as possible.

Thanks again!


Daniel

Sorry cant help with composers!

The music you have is quite good Its just the Film was so GOOD..

I think Blood would be good.. Perhaps just splashes or a dropped bloody knife.. Althought this may interupt the flow and put a new feel to it.. Not knowing the piece..

Arri SR1) And they call these cameras Antiques.. ;)

Again excellent work!

Just watched it again this time knowing the story and the Music fits better for me..
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#7 Chris Burke

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 10:28 AM

Apart from the obvious loose-ends in the story, I'd love to here any cinematic feedback/suggestions you may have. Here is the link:

http://www.defineart...ephone/film.htm

Cheers!

Daniel Cotroneo



My comments are about the actors. I think that they did the very best they could, bravo. Just curious if you cast union or not?
I thought they looked a bit contrived, poser like. I wouldn't have cast the girl. Although she did a good job Her face was too modern day college girl like. She is the sort I would see at a local college town bar on a Saturday night or shopping at the Gap, not a Greek maiden trapped in the underworld. No offense to her, just not perfect for the role. He was an all out poser, which with a non dialoge piece, works sometimes, but he didn't for me. I could see him "acting" not reacting. I saw no inner life. I didn't identify or feel for him at all. Even though this is greek tragedy, the medium is film and he was a bit theatrey. I don't know why he is angry with her. Isn't he in love with her? This pulled me out of the story. I didn't see what each character needed from each other like air. What kept them there? You have some great conflict and tension built in to the story. I would have liked to have seen more of that. She is trapped in hell and wants to leave, but loves her capture. He is lord of the underworld and resorts to kidknapping to get the girl. Why? What does she love about him? I wish the actors found more nuance in their characters. The story is very layered, I wish they were as well. Just my two cents.
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#8 steve hyde

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 11:41 AM

...I think we all agree that the overall visual presentation is quite well done. Congratulations on a nice looking short.

I'll offer my raw first reactions:

The Homer quote at the beginning struck me as a bit pretentious.

The temp music could be improved. I would spend some more time in the music library searching for something a bit less cliche. I can't put my finger on it, but the music was too dramatic too soon. Your film is a lot like walking into the climax scene of a feature. Music might have something to do with this.

The pomogranate rolling accross the table led me to expect your guy to unleash his sexual rage on the girl.
When she stabbed him my emotional response was mostly a shoulder shrug and I can tell you why:

In your short you did not communicate anything about these characters - only time and place. It is not a character-driven short and it needs to be. We need to know what is at stake between these characters so that we can identify with them, otherwise it takes on an almost pornographic form. Not in the graphic sense, rather in the sense that the interplay between characters can only be spectacle.

I don't know anything about the Greek story of Persephone (I'm embarassed to admit), but my guess is you did not touch on the central point of that story.

What is the central point of Persephone?

To sum up, I would suggest putting more energy into the script and less into costumes and such. This reveals my own bias which is to let timeless mythologies inform stories that are set them in the here and now.

I hope my comments and questions are helpful for you. I look forward to seeing more of your films.

Steve
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#9 LondonFilmMan

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 12:19 PM

I think the feel of the production was good and most other things were quite good. Your effort was actually quite good. Should one nit-pick? Can I ask...

- Weren't the beginning titles too quick? I personally couldn't read the first lot before they disappeared. I got it second time around, but I like to read slower and digest it. Plus, I wasn't sure about the content of the text.

"He caught her up reluctant on his golden chariot and bore her away lamenting". Hang on a tick, lets check the dictionary to see what this actually means. Does it mean: 'Against her will, he got her on his chariot and made a hole in her, then expressing grief about that'? (Is that right?) Mmmmm...anyway, I thought *she* slotted him. Point is, can we really understand this in such a short time?

It goes on: 'the heights of the mountains and depths of the seas' etc.... (shouldn't the latter come at the end?)

Aside of the text;-

- Did you have to pan up the tower...? If so, couldn't this be done smoothly..? Personally, I might not pan up, rather, have a wide still shot of the horizon with a *slight* zoom to a window. If that.

- Walking down the stairs was a good idea, the keys jangling, expected, but rightful that you did it.

- The fruit looked nice, but too long..? Might you have overdone the fruit's importance? Her face shot was ok, although didn't you track to her left side rather quickly?

- His teeth eating that fruit were rather good for those days. Did they have Californian dentists back then?

- Banging his fist and immediately 'clearing' the table with his arm was good. I felt his anger.

- A side-on shot of him approaching her...mmmmmm. Not sure if I liked that. How about over his shoulder looking down at her, followed by her reaction..?

- Why are we 'placed' at a distance when she takes that something from his hand..?

- The knife with light...if this is to be the knife which spells the end of him, couldn't it *glimmer even more with significance* and couldn't we see that glimmer reflect on her eyes as they glaze over..? Also his eyes too. Isn't he actually quite scared? I would be.

- The 'big' music was good.

- Actually couldn't she of thrusted the knife in harder..? and turned away sobbing as he reacted..? Or couldn't they have kinda leaned against each other as she joined him slumping to the floor? Or might she have kissed him deeply as he 'slipped away' (a last kiss?)

- The lighting appeared a tad dark in parts..but generally acceptable for that setting and mood. I might have expected more dust and dirt on set though. A cob web..?

- Generally the idea of the story....dunno... Isn't it all about him with her quite instrumental?

- The story starts with him. Him jangling keys (her waiting for him). Him eating fruit. (her watching). Him drinking (her watching nervously). Him moving by walking over to her. Wasn't the slotting also about him? (she reacts to it by screaming). I feel its all centered around him. "Grieving for his passing.." phew...

- Which lastly brings me to the ending title, which reads "As winter captures spring, so spring conquers winter. Grieving for his passing" Question: How exactly does one season "capture" another? Can't this text be more relevant to the story than philosophy over the dynamics of the seasons? Plus, you write: Grieving for his passing? Who is? Winter, Spring? or her? I don't think you said who.

This are just my humble thoughts....good luck to you.
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#10 Morgan Peline

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 07:52 PM

Hi,

IMHO I think that the the story is very confusing. There's a guy walking somewhere, then there's a girl waiting for him scared, the guy arrives, he gets angry, throws stuff around, throws fruit at her, she eats it and then he asks her to stab him, which she does and then she is sad. Huh?

If I had shot it, I would have suggested that you create more tension by the structure of the film but also by the use of camera. The problem is the whole feel of the film is far too fast to create tension. It feels like MTV not cinema. It needed to be slower, even still in fact, dare I say it more European in feel?...

Also I think your actors overacted - they weren't internal enough. Sorry, I get a bit pretentious sometimes.

How about this:

There's a lone beautiful girl waiting in a large foreboding room, she is scared, upon the table in the is a strange mysterious (magical?) fruit, every time she glances furtively at the fruit in the center of the table we see fear in her eyes. In the background we hear loud menacing footsteps. They are getting louder and louder. Someone is approaching the door and we know that she is scared of the person who is about to arrive as her eyes become more and more fearful. We also know, as the audience, that at no point must she eat the fruit because she is so fearful of it. The longer you leave her with the evil fruit the better. And then you in that wide shot as she is waiting for arrival, you can do a very, very slow track towards her as the sound approaches. I would have done ity with Steadicam to create a strange floating feel to make it feel a bit weird. (Can you remember 'Beauty and The Beast'?). The 'beast' arrives, he walks slowlt to her back, stops behind her, she is too scared to look behind her, he lowers his head to smell her neck menacingly and then quietly walks to the middle of the table. He slowly picks up the evil fruit and brings it to her holding it next to her face. She almost flinches as if it were poison. The 'beast' is very still and brings his head close to hers breathing next to her cheek. She turns her head away from him. He suddenly becomes demonic in his anger and flys into a rage because she refuses his command. (Think one of those actors who can become psychotically brutal in a half a second even though just before they seemed almost charming sociopath e.g. Gary Oldman or Christoper Walken or Jack Nicholson when he's playing a bad guy.) Out of fear the girl eventually reluctantly eats the fruit - the camera is always tracking in to create tension at this moment. Then the 'beast' slowly pulls out an evil looking jagged knife and smiles a horrible mirthless smile. Again she is scared. What will do with the evil looking knife? etc. etc.

You get the drift?

- What I think it needed was action/reaction to create a clear story.

-Then I think the actors needed do much much less. Inexperienced actors always overact - they 'act' rather than 'be'. This makes films less cinematic as far as I am concerned. This is why good actors are so vital.

And there needed to be much much more stillness so that when the camera does move or the actors go from stillnes to absolute violence you really feel the energy as an audience. Because your film is constantly on the move it feels like a music video rather than cinema.

Contrast is what films are about.
Action vs.Reaction
Black vs. White
Stillness vs. Violent motion
etc.
etc.

And then stillness with increasing tension can also be created with a still or moving camera e.g. The longer you leave a camera looking at one thing the more it becomes intriguing and then if you leave it even longer then it starts to disturb the audience because nothing is happening and obviously we are waiting for something to happen.
I think the opeing scen to 'Cries And Whispers' might have this - I still haven't watched this. Also a really, really, really slow track in can create tension because you can feel something is happening but you are not quite sure what it is.

Lighting: Obviously a taste thing but I would have used softer more naturalistic light. Ans also I would have used more fill light so your blacks a had a little more detail - but then that's a taste thing and also it could be because I watched a Quicktime version.
I might have also used a strange light colour filter or something (violet?) to make things seem more other worldly. May a heavy Promist?....

Anyway, as I say just my HO.
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#11 J. Fine

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Posted 28 February 2006 - 01:31 AM

Hi All,

Having directed this short Im glad to have found all these responses.

Many thanks for everyone's thoughful critique. I have taken much into account for a final cut, as well as plans for a 20 minute short I will be directing with the same DP this time next year.

I've noticed a few points of criticism which keep appearing:

I can see in retrospect that a number of story elements dont surface for most people. His anger, her change of heart, the stabbing, then grief. My intention was to show all these visually, almost to the point that they could be conveyed as stills. They largely didn't translate in the 4 minutes which we had.

I'm considering adding a voiceover narrative, akin to the one used in the opening sequence of Beauty and the Beast, which is told visually in still stained glass panels. The themes and storytelling methods are close to what I was looking for. Of course, Beauty and the Beast did not try to sum up the entire relationship of the two lovers in that brief sequence as I attempted. The speed of these beat changes was also difficult for the actors because they weren't motivated purely by their actions in the narrative, but by the themes behind the original myth. What are the thoughs out there on adding a narrator and losing the ambiguous title cards?

I do agree that the temp score by John Debney is not totally appropriate, and builds too quickly. I am now working on a score of my own.

Does anyone think this short could be appropriate for any particular festivals? I don't expect it would work in any of the obvious ones.

Thanks for input folks. Feel free to leaving postings on the film website: www.DefineArts.com/Persephone
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