Check out our latest movie!!

Posted by PhillyFilmmaker 
Check out our latest movie!!
May 17, 2010 04:51PM
Hello there!!

Yes it's 2010 and that time of year again.
I present to you, our 2010 48 Hour Film Project submission.
The genre was Thriller/Suspense.
The prop was lettuce.
The line of dialogue was 'Be sure she gets the message."

Please let me know what you think!

Re: Check out our latest movie!!
May 18, 2010 10:41AM
One of your best works yet. Once again, though, you have some fundamental issues that really mess with the film.

Good points:
- Good lighting, although I think I saw some instances where exposure changed within a shot (ouch -- very hard to fix without messing with editing). The framing was well considered. For once, it looks like you were confident in where the camera wanted to be within a scene. I may not agree with all your shot choices, but as a viewer, I accepted them. That confidence goes a long way towards making the viewer keep watching.

- Best lead performance you've gotten yet. Subtle. I don't think you hit all of the character's necessary beats, but that could be a writing issue.

- Good editing choice to start with the first card. No need to explain it. The question of "what just happened?" gets us through the next three minutes.

- Interesting concept.

- Man, recut that intro. You had compelling scene material, but those titles were so long and boring that they sucked out a lot of the hard-won attention you won from us. Look at your running times! Two title cards ran from 0:47 to 1:10...that's 23 seconds to look at "Scrambled Egg Films" and "Coda"!!! Whatever atmosphere you gained just got deflated in a major way.

- Music. It works nicely for the prologue before he arrives at the card game. But during the card game, your music tramples all over the sense of realism. It telegraphed every emotional beat, taking away their impact by giving us a "blankie" to hold on to. Music very often softens up the hard, realistic impact of a scene (look at a sex scene, for example) by "prettying" everything up. In the card scene, try taking it all out. Yes, I mean all of it, no exception -- until at least the final beat before Joe shoots out the lights. Put a much, much louder gunshot for every time the gun discharges. In fact, if I were sound-designing this, I would make each successive gunshot louder to make the viewer really jump.

- Pacing. You picked a very tough genre -- psychological thriller -- for a 48-Hour Film Project. This genre requires build, nuance, time to get to know the character, time to have the character behave and interact with others to understand his dilemma and his problem, without feeling the sense that we're being rushed through narrative beats.

- I see an old problem cropping up here. You had me up until 2:45, before which was the best thing you've ever shown me. But the minute we get to the card game, your film falls apart because of the old nugget: Acting. I literally burst out laughing whenever the two women talked, they were so bad. The bald guy was just as bad. The host was only one step better. They looked and sounded like high-school students arguing over boy bands rather than people in a game of death. This is a Deer Hunter setup, my friend...and none of your actors was capable of getting to a place of intense, genuine psychological turmoil, which was what had brought them to this juncture in the first place.

- The acting design in this scene also needed much, much more work. You're talking about a suicide pact, basically, so there were many ways you could have gone to make the characters more fleshed out. But you need to hit the beats, . The black girl should have been the one who was just looking for a cry for help. You needed to sloooooow the scene way down. Give the characters real beats. For example, the black girl should have been pivotal because she's the scared one. But you didn't give her time to gain our sympathy. I would have tried an arc like this:

She starts out glorifying death. First death clues her in that it's real. Nerves. Gets more and more scared as time goes. When her turn comes, she shatters and begs for her life. Make sure her final shooter is our lead. He can't bring himself to shoot her. He asks the host to just let her go, she doesn't really want to do it. So the host lets her get up, walk to the door...and shoots her in the back. As she dies, she cries, and we're forced to watch. Host executes her. This makes Joe realize he doesn't really want to die, himself.

The lead needs an arc in this scene as well. You didn't really hit all the beats of his internal change. How did he get from "cavalier, I wanna die" to "I'm going to try to get out"? That is an internal beat that would be as important as, say, Michael Corleone in The Godfather right before he assassinates Sollozzo and McCluskey. Remember the long, extended push into Al Pacino's face? That shot was one of the most dramatic in the film, complete with the elevated-train sounds, Pacino's internal beats, the brilliant editing choice (we don't see Sollozzo anymore until Michael shoots), and the fact that Sollozzo is speaking in Italian but we no longer get subtitles. All those tension-building devices help us really get sucked into the moment.

You don't have enough screen/filming time to give every character a complete arc, but you still need one player who is sadistic, unafraid. You tried to make the red-headed guy into this, but he flunked the grade acting-wise. You needed an actor with menace, with an edge of insanity, who could enjoy the death, fear and suffering of the others while staring his own death in the face. Imagine Michael Rooker or Dark Knight Heath Ledger in this role. Somebody we'd be afraid to run into on the street. The host was also a lightweight. Not having a convincing "villain" in this scene really hurt the stakes.

- Also didn't hit that final beat properly Now, how an ending works is usually related to how the rest of the film works. The ending is hurt by the ridiculously bad acting of most of the card players. This put the sympathy element of your story in a very bad jam so that whatever happens at the ending, we're mildly interested, at best.

But, the ending could still have been better shooting- and editing-wise. It's not just, "He survived". It's, "He regained his will to live." That moment, to the lead character, should be almost cosmic. That is the moment for a big music cue.

By showing him too soon after the lights go out, you missed a chance at some suspense. I would recut this so that after the last flash, we see the door open (but not who opens it). Light is cast onto the carnage. (Here, ideally I'd try to show the faces of all the dead players, but I doubt you have that coverage) The door closes. Extend the moment as long as possible, using all your coverage, to prevent showing Joe. Now choose a "reveal" shot for Joe where we see that he survived.

I was just rewatching Lethal Weapon 4. The scene right after Riggs (Mel Gibson) kills Wa Sing Ku (Jet Li's character) and he's trapped under rubble is the kind of beat I'm talking about. Murtaugh (Danny Glover) wakes up and desperately looks for Riggs, so frustrated and scared that he's almost crying. And then he senses where Riggs is and jumps into the water. That music cue where Riggs and Murtaugh combine strength to lift the rubble off (saving Riggs) is a gorgeous one, and look at the beautiful photography as well. (Andrzej Bartkowiak...) At a moment like that, you need coverage, you need great lighting, you need grand, larger-than-life shots that really nail the sense of rejuvenation.
Re: Check out our latest movie!!
May 18, 2010 02:23PM
Yes, the cons of an incredibly tight deadline.

Deer Hunter as in the Christopher Walken/Robert DeNiro scene in the end?

Would no music throughout the card game build even more tension with just room tone and the gunshots?
Re: Check out our latest movie!!
May 18, 2010 02:37PM
> Would no music throughout the card game build even more tension with just room tone and the
> gunshots?

Yes. And the actors' sounds. Basically, source sounds ("diegetic" sound). Watch Fritz Lang's classic M when you get a chance. The tension in a real-time, no-music scene can be suffocatingly intense when you do it right.

Also look at Martin Scorsese. He loves using music, especially pre-existing songs, but when it's an intense, personal, violent scene such as Tommy DeVito's execution in GoodFellas, the beating of Nicky and Dominick Santoro in Casino, Travis Bickle's gun-crazy rampage at the end of Taxi Driver, and on and on, Scorsese takes out the music and lets the scenes breathe. This draws the viewer into the situation, with no music cues to telegraph what's about to happen next, which takes away our sense of "safety" and makes us pay attention much more.

But taking out the music is only part of it. You also need to slow things down, vary the rhythms, establish a real sense of threat, really get inside the head of these characters. If we don't feel like we're in the room, and that the bullet might rip through our head, then we're just watching a bunch of pictures. Humans respond instinctively to sound much better than image because sound is interpreted with much less effort by the brain.
Sorry, you do not have permission to post/reply in this forum.


Web Hosting by HermosawaveHermosawave Internet

Recycle computers and electronics