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my first shot film


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#1 Denisse Campbell

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 04:32 PM

Hi Everyone! Here is a copy of my first short film. Please watch and give me your honest opinions.
Thanks

Denisse :)


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#2 Paul Bruening

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 05:15 PM

I liked it. Good little short. Solid pictures. I really liked the rolling cam on the bike shot. You might get some comment on the audio. Maybe some on the actors' delivery. Someone might comment on the length to content ratio. Frankly, no matter what you do, it's never enough. It's even harder to please other film makers. But, on this, I'd say this is enough. Keep at it.
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#3 Steve McBride

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 11:06 PM

Definitely not bad for a first film, but I found it very hard to watch the whole thing. I was very interested in it up until the dialogue started. When you're writing, do not spell everything out. You seemed to do that the whole time, you had the main character actually saying what's going on in her head. Your actor should be doing that through their performance.

You seemed almost scared on keeping the camera locked and it often effected the framing and composition of the image. This made it very hard to focus on the action that was going on and was even confusing at a couple of points.

Some of the cuts were very iffy. Some shots that lasted only a split second seemed very out of place since the vast majority of the film was longer shots so when a shorter one jumped in it sets you off a lot.

The biggest thing for me though was the sound. The music was at a decent level, but the dialogue was very low and very inconsistent throughout the video. The mixing was also off when you had more ambient noise like when she was getting off the bike you could hear the bike's chain very clearly even though you could barely hear the dialogue that was there a few moments ago. The cutting of the levels when actions spanned multiple shots (coffee) was also off which made it very awkward to listen to.

On your next project, definitely cut the dialogue down which will in turn cut down on time, this piece was very long for such a simple story. Don't be afraid to move the camera around. When you're finally done with your editing, run a normalizing filter through your audio and have it peak around -10 to -12dB which is where your dialogue should be with the music just below that and ambient around -6dB.
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#4 Tom Hepburn

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 02:06 PM

Hi Denisse,

A very good first effort.

A couple things I would consider for your next project. Obviously everyone isn't the same, but I find it more interesting when things are shown instead of presented in the form of dialog. For example, when she mistakes the gentleman on the street for Mike. Another take could be for him to just shake his head and have the couple walk away after his wife asks, "who was she?" As a viewer I already knew that this woman was a tad strange and that she thought this guy was Mike.

I would also clean up the audio and I have a suggestion that may help to do that. What I do if I feel like the audio isn't flowing on an edit, is to close my eyes, or turn off the monitor, and make notes to myself along the way-just listening to the audio. For example, "at point X, abrupt cut." One solution might be to do a short cross dissolve or set the level slightly lower for a specified time, 2 seconds for example, until the listener has time to adjust. Sometimes, you want that abrupt sound change depending on what you're trying to accomplish. You might be surprised what you notice when your eyes are not occupied.

As I say these are only suggestions and you have a lot of great things there.

Good Luck,
Tom
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#5 Denisse Campbell

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 04:37 PM

Thanks Steve,
I noticed the issues with the sound. I can still fix it. Thanks for that tip on the filter. I'm not afraid of camera movement. I just felt that it was the best way to tell this kind of story.

Thanks for your time.
Denisse

Definitely not bad for a first film, but I found it very hard to watch the whole thing. I was very interested in it up until the dialogue started. When you're writing, do not spell everything out. You seemed to do that the whole time, you had the main character actually saying what's going on in her head. Your actor should be doing that through their performance.

You seemed almost scared on keeping the camera locked and it often effected the framing and composition of the image. This made it very hard to focus on the action that was going on and was even confusing at a couple of points.

Some of the cuts were very iffy. Some shots that lasted only a split second seemed very out of place since the vast majority of the film was longer shots so when a shorter one jumped in it sets you off a lot.

The biggest thing for me though was the sound. The music was at a decent level, but the dialogue was very low and very inconsistent throughout the video. The mixing was also off when you had more ambient noise like when she was getting off the bike you could hear the bike's chain very clearly even though you could barely hear the dialogue that was there a few moments ago. The cutting of the levels when actions spanned multiple shots (coffee) was also off which made it very awkward to listen to.

On your next project, definitely cut the dialogue down which will in turn cut down on time, this piece was very long for such a simple story. Don't be afraid to move the camera around. When you're finally done with your editing, run a normalizing filter through your audio and have it peak around -10 to -12dB which is where your dialogue should be with the music just below that and ambient around -6dB.


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#6 Denisse Campbell

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 04:41 PM

Thanks Steve,
I noticed the issues with the sound. I can still fix it. Thanks for that tip on the filter. I'm not afraid of camera movement. I just felt that it was the best way to tell this kind of story.

Thanks for your time.
Denisse

Definitely not bad for a first film, but I found it very hard to watch the whole thing. I was very interested in it up until the dialogue started. When you're writing, do not spell everything out. You seemed to do that the whole time, you had the main character actually saying what's going on in her head. Your actor should be doing that through their performance.

You seemed almost scared on keeping the camera locked and it often effected the framing and composition of the image. This made it very hard to focus on the action that was going on and was even confusing at a couple of points.

Some of the cuts were very iffy. Some shots that lasted only a split second seemed very out of place since the vast majority of the film was longer shots so when a shorter one jumped in it sets you off a lot.

The biggest thing for me though was the sound. The music was at a decent level, but the dialogue was very low and very inconsistent throughout the video. The mixing was also off when you had more ambient noise like when she was getting off the bike you could hear the bike's chain very clearly even though you could barely hear the dialogue that was there a few moments ago. The cutting of the levels when actions spanned multiple shots (coffee) was also off which made it very awkward to listen to.

On your next project, definitely cut the dialogue down which will in turn cut down on time, this piece was very long for such a simple story. Don't be afraid to move the camera around. When you're finally done with your editing, run a normalizing filter through your audio and have it peak around -10 to -12dB which is where your dialogue should be with the music just below that and ambient around -6dB.


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#7 Denisse Campbell

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 04:59 PM

Hi Tom,
I tried playing the audio without looking and you are right I noticed the sound issues even more. I will try to fix it. I'm however Ok with the dialogue especially at that part. Like you said there are infinite ways. I didn't want a silent film. the beginning had almost no dialogue. I wanted the film to be very visual and for the images to sort of carry the film to make up for the not so perfect acting. It's difficult to do a no budget and get everything you want. I was also shooting myself and I was the only person on set who had any knowledge. There are times when it was just me and one other person holding boom, who had never done it before, and if I needed the lights to change I had to do it myself. It will get better. I wanted to make a film and I did.
Thanks for your time.
Hi Denisse,

A very good first effort.

A couple things I would consider for your next project. Obviously everyone isn't the same, but I find it more interesting when things are shown instead of presented in the form of dialog. For example, when she mistakes the gentleman on the street for Mike. Another take could be for him to just shake his head and have the couple walk away after his wife asks, "who was she?" As a viewer I already knew that this woman was a tad strange and that she thought this guy was Mike.

I would also clean up the audio and I have a suggestion that may help to do that. What I do if I feel like the audio isn't flowing on an edit, is to close my eyes, or turn off the monitor, and make notes to myself along the way-just listening to the audio. For example, "at point X, abrupt cut." One solution might be to do a short cross dissolve or set the level slightly lower for a specified time, 2 seconds for example, until the listener has time to adjust. Sometimes, you want that abrupt sound change depending on what you're trying to accomplish. You might be surprised what you notice when your eyes are not occupied.

As I say these are only suggestions and you have a lot of great things there.

Good Luck,
Tom
[/quote]
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#8 Ira Ratner

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 05:40 AM

Hi, Denisse! I thought it was great for a first film--but the extra S in your name is too redundant.

HAH!

Anyway, as the South Florida chapter leader of "Cinematographers Against Shooting Close-Ups of Feet and Putting on Slippers When Someone is Getting Out of Bed," it is my duty to remind you that now that you've done it, you're not allowed by law to do it again.

Seriously, it's a great effect for some reason, but it's been done in every film on earth. Now try thinking of a different, more creative point of view for a cut there.
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#9 Paul Bruening

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 11:53 AM

Along the lines of what Ira has mentioned: I wouldn't attempt to tell you how to direct. But there are a couple of useful rules of thumb to mull over when scheming your day's shoot-

From Spielberg, "A movie is life with the boring parts cut out." This rule would have knocked your presentation down to half or one thirds the length.

From Faulkner, "You must kill your darlings (some use the word "babies")." This has the same effect as the above rule. It's also why directors are rarely allowed to edit their own films.

From, I don't know where I got this little gem, "Cover what matters. Not what's happening." Her putting on the slippers matters more than the slippers. The repetition of her day matters more than the close-ups of what she's doing in that repetition.

See, I'm already telling you how to direct and that's wrong. But, this is the kind of stuff that directors mind-grind over all day long.
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#10 Ira Ratner

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Posted 23 November 2008 - 03:02 PM

I'd like to know what's going on with this thread here, because all of these responses were DELETED yesterday for a long period of time, and they now miraculously reappeared.

In addition, Denisse sent me a scathing PM on how mean and nasty my post was. She was most pissed about my comment about the redundant "s" in her name, and then went on to make cruel comments about my obviously horrible name of Ira, and that I was no Spielberg and that I should basically drop dead and rot in hell for what I posted.

Guys--was I THAT mean in my post? And is it possible that my sense of humor could go THAT way over someone's head?
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#11 Tim Terner

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Posted 23 November 2008 - 03:07 PM

Jeeeeez Ira, what are you talking about ? havn't seen a post in here by you up until now !!
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#12 Ira Ratner

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Posted 23 November 2008 - 09:02 PM

Jeeeeez Ira, what are you talking about ? havn't seen a post in here by you up until now !!


Uhhhhhhh....

Do you want to simply look up three posts from here to my post of November 21?
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#13 Kevin Masuda

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 10:56 PM

I honestly didn't see anything malicious in your post Ira, so not sure why she chewed you out.
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#14 Jim Hyslop

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 10:15 PM

In addition, Denisse sent me a scathing PM on how mean and nasty my post was. She was most pissed about my comment about the redundant "s" in her name, and then went on to make cruel comments about my obviously horrible name of Ira, and that I was no Spielberg and that I should basically drop dead and rot in hell for what I posted.

Guys--was I THAT mean in my post? And is it possible that my sense of humor could go THAT way over someone's head?


Well, I could see how your post could be interpreted as mean-spirited. That bit about the redundant s was rather gratuitous, and you never know how sensitive someone might be about their name. On the other hand, I don't think it deserved as harsh a reply as you say you received.

Denisse, if you're still reading this thread, I've found it extremely helpful to write up a reply, then delete it, then write another one, then delete that one. By the time you're on your third draft, you'll be calm enough that you won't regret what you wrote (or realize it isn't worth replying in the first place). It's generally wise to assume that no harm was meant, unless there is no other possible interpretation of the message.

--
Jim
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#15 Chad MacKenzie

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 04:05 AM

Pacing of the story was rough, and more dolly shots would be cool too.


Not bad though for a first time film
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#16 Jason Anderson

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 04:23 AM

Like the shot with the trees turning colors while she is on the bike. Alot of cutaways to soap dispenser, towels, sink, etc, sort of boring things that take away from story.

Jason
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#17 Denisse Campbell

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 05:57 AM

[quote name='Jason Anderson' post='262528' date='Dec 3 2008, 01:23 AM']Like the shot with the trees turning colors while she is on the bike. Alot of cutaways to soap dispenser, towels, sink, etc, sort of boring things that take away from story.

Jason[/quote]
Hi Jason,
Thanks for your time. To explain a bit about my story Her life is boring... that was kind of the point. Do you have a suggestion on how to show that something is boring, without boring the audience, I will gladly take it into consideration since I am learning and it is my first. For me, it was kind of an artistic choice to show how these small things have great importance to her, so these mundane activities are magnified because she does nothing else but that.. I don't want to bore my audience though, but the story is about a woman who spends her life doing a boring routine.

Denisse
[quote name='Jason Anderson' date='Dec 3 2008, 01:23 AM' post='262528']
Like the shot with the trees turning colors while she is on the bike. Alot of cutaways to soap dispenser, towels, sink, etc, sort of boring things that take away from story.

Jason
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#18 Jim Hyslop

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Posted 21 December 2008 - 11:45 PM

Thanks for your time. To explain a bit about my story Her life is boring... that was kind of the point. Do you have a suggestion on how to show that something is boring, without boring the audience, I will gladly take it into consideration since I am learning and it is my first.

For me, it was kind of an artistic choice to show how these small things have great importance to her, so these mundane activities are magnified because she does nothing else but that.. I don't want to bore my audience though, but the story is about a woman who spends her life doing a boring routine.


Costuming and colour choices can help a lot. Instead of a white blouse with a pink scarf and pink skirt, you might choose a more drab combination of greys or browns for her wardrobe. You might also consider playing with the colour correction - maybe desaturate the image a little, up until she meets Mike, then add more colour.

Acting can help too. When Angelique first entered, she was far too chipper - she looked content and happy. If her life is that boring, why is she smiling?

I like the bike ride - despite it being a windy day, her hair was pretty much locked in place. That also adds to the boring nature of her character. Yes, I know you said her life is boring, but an interesting character would not lead a boring life. Since her life is boring, she - by extension - is a boring character. That presents you with an additional challenge - how to take this boring character and make the audience like her. One way is for the character to recognize there's a problem with her life, and want to change it. You did that in the dialog, although it was a what my screenwriting instructor would have called "on the nose" by having her come right out and say it (you usually try to avoid being "on the nose"). I didn't realize until looking closely - and pausing the video - that the books she's reading are all self-help books aimed at changing her life. You might want to have found a way to work that in a little more prominently at the beginning.

It took me a moment to figure out that the shots of her reading the book and the cat playing with the clock were flashbacks. One big clue about the time shift would have been a difference in lighting - as it was, the two scenes were lit pretty much identically.

I couldn't make out what the neighbour was doing - was that deliberate? How did that trigger her thought to "look for the signs?"

At the park, I found the fade to black and subsequent fade-in to her entering the washroom a little odd. Normally, fades are used to signify a change in location or time, but in that sequence neither really changed. Was there a particular reason for inserting a fade to black there?

Watch the 180 degree rule. In the sequence with the married man, for the first two shots he's waving camera left, and Angelique is looking camera right. When she crosses the street, she's moving from camera left to camera right. For the two-shot, though, you crossed the axis: he was waving camera right, and Angelique moved from camera right to camera left. For the shot to match properly, he should have continued to wave camera left, and she should have entered from camera left. The positions they end up in match correctly, as does the shot where his wife joins them.

I'd echo Chad's advice about dolly shots. In particular, the shot where you zoom in on the, um, prophet would work better as a dolly shot, IMO. Nice ending to that scene, by the way.

The collision was a little too close to the edge of the frame for my liking - I'd have tried to frame it more in the centre.

It's probably just personal preference, but when she wakes up I'd cut one of two things: either lose the trying-to-focus bit (it's almost cliche), or lose the shot immediately before that and have Mike look directly into the camera when it's out of focus.

Were you the only crew member? I didn't see anyone else listed in the credits.

I've mentioned a lot of little things here. That doesn't mean I think your film is bad - far from it. On the whole, I liked it and there's a lot of promise there. And remember, most of this is simply my opinion - whether you choose to accept any of it is up to you :-)
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#19 Frank Cook

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 04:58 AM

Overall, I think you did a great job. Many of the comments are, "good... for your first film." Ouch! This is kind of like saying, "good for your first time cutting hair." Meaning it is bad, but not as bad as it could have been. If you did all of the production work yourself, perhaps that would explain the some of the problems other people have pointed out. A person working solo is too attached to the work emotionally to be objective. I suspect things like the audio problems are from low budget/lack of equipment, not your skill as a film maker. Never forget that the film business is brutal on one's ego. Even the best film makers get stomped and bruised from time to time. It is part of the learning process.

Here's my choices for improvement and why I would make them. Cut most of the first couple of minutes - Start with the woman in bed, then cut to the cat changing the clock. A daily routine is implied and the woman later states that she has a set schedule for the day. Shorten the bike riding - we understand a distance is covered. In the bathroom, it would be better if the writing on the mirror is not readable until the woman looks-up. Shorten the exchange with the man begging for money - it distracts from the story objective because we spend too much time with a secondary character. I was not bothered by the violation of the 180 rule in the scene with the married man, but the final scene should have been longer than either of the exchanges with beggar and the married man (Because the final primary character is introduced, and he is supposed to have a greater meaning in the storyline - more screen time).

So, there's my strikes at your ego. In my... well... all most never humble opinion, a little re-work would make your film good rather than "good for a first effort." I really like the concept of the cat changing the clock. I hope you put a little more effort into this project. I think people might say, "Your first film? Wow, I would have never guessed!" ;)
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#20 Jim Hyslop

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 01:20 PM

I was not bothered by the violation of the 180 rule in the scene with the married man


True, it's not a gross violation of the rule, and with all the crossings of the axes that you see in TV today it's much less jarring on the audience than it used to be. But, I feel it's important to learn and understand the conventions before trying to break them.

--
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