My directorial debut

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by Lunja, Dec 15, 2006.

  1. Lunja macrumors 6502

    Lunja

    Joined:
    May 15, 2005
    Location:
    Lincoln UK
    #1
    Hi all-

    I recently directed a short drama for a University project. The film was a challenge to make since it was made by a group of two in ten weeks, which sounds like a lot but it took five to cast, and we could only shoot nights, and only when actors could come up from London (a 200 mile trip) because we could ony find two local people... :rolleyes: As you can tell, it was fun :)

    Here's the link to it: The Taxi Driver and His Wife

    Please feel free to give any feedback or comment on any part of it. Although I will say it looks a lot darker on YouTube, possibly because of the codec used to compress it.

    Anyway- please enjoy!
     
  2. P-Worm macrumors 68020

    P-Worm

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    #2
    I thought the story was great. Nice twist at the ending there. The dialogue felt natural and the actors were good too. Good job.

    If I were to ad anything, I would say that some of the taxi scenes could use some music behind them as there are a lot gaps in the conversation that made it ran dry. I don't know, maybe have the radio slightly on or something?

    P-Worm
     
  3. MacFan782040 macrumors 6502a

    MacFan782040

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2003
    Location:
    Scranton, PA
    #3
    Great story. One thing to say is make sure your audio levels are about the same for the backseat passenger dialog and taxi driver. It sounds awkward if the taxi driver's audio is considerably louder, because the cam mic is closer to the driver's mouth. Nice job though.
     
  4. Lunja thread starter macrumors 6502

    Lunja

    Joined:
    May 15, 2005
    Location:
    Lincoln UK
    #4
    Thanks for the responses guys.

    Just incase anyone was wondering what kit we used, we shot with a Sony DSR 300 DVCAM, and edited on Pinnacle Liquid edition.

    EDIT: We used remote clip mics, so I don't know why the sound levels are uneven... I'll speak to the sound guy tomorrow. Thanks!
     
  5. OldCorpse macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    compost heap
    #5
    WARNING: SPOILERS!

    I assume you are looking for real feedback, not just an ego boost.

    If so, well, for anyone trying to make it in the film world, it's brutal. Nobody cares about how nice a person you are, how hard you're trying etc. The only thing that counts is: can you engage the audience, or not? I'll speak from a Hollywood perspective (i.e. not 100% applicable to Britain, but close enough).

    I'm not going to comment on the acting, as in any student production, your options are limited. And I'm not making any technical observatins, as there are far bigger issues to tackle first.

    Wrt. the story: I could see the twist coming a mile away, so no surprise. The girl in the taxi was kind of a loose end... not very good in an 11 minute short... can't have loose ends in shorts. The very end, i.e. after the revelation that the young guy was having an affair with texi driver's wife, needed something more - as is, it sort of sat there limply self satisfied... and it shouldn't be satisfied (particularly that it was not a surprise), on purely dramatic grounds.

    Dialogue: cut it by 80% - you can convey the same thing with much, much less in the way of words. Film is a visual medium - 1. Be creative, SHOW, don't TELL.

    Film is a visual medium - 2: I watched the movie, but after the young man stepped into the taxi (first passenger), I switched to another tab in my browser, reading something else... why? Because I could still hear what was going on, and I LOST NOTHING BY NOT WATCHING THAT PART. In other words, it could've been just as well a radio play FOR THAT PART OF YOUR MOVIE. Not good. You are not taking advantage of it being a visual medium - cardinal sin. Exactly the same thing happened after the girl stepped into the taxi - another extended period when I just listened while browsing something else - again, I lost nothing.

    The music sucked. You can do a lot better - why so conventional?

    Back to the drawing board. Brutal? Yes, but if you accept it, you'll truly benefit from an honest, if painful critique. If not, you're not cut out for this business, and good luck.
     
  6. Lunja thread starter macrumors 6502

    Lunja

    Joined:
    May 15, 2005
    Location:
    Lincoln UK
    #6
    Most people would expect me to come out all guns blazing...

    But thanks. And I really mean that. It actually made me laugh when you said the middle part was like a radio play- I'd never thought of it like that!

    And I appreciate what you said about the music. At first I though it fit well, but I can see how it would seem a bit cliche.

    What I will say though is that the second passenger was not a loose end- if you watch it again, as the first passenger picks up his wallet you can see a picture of the second passenger. Passenger one is the neglecting boyfirend who 'works all the time' that passenger two is talking about.

    After University I'll take another look at the script and rework it, especially to bring out more in the second twist.

    Thanks for your comments- I really do appreciate them.
     
  7. SpaceMagic macrumors 68000

    SpaceMagic

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2003
    Location:
    Cardiff, Wales
    #7
    You've got some good critique here, so I won't add much more.

    I agree with OldCorpse on both accounts and like he implied but didn't say, the acting was pretty wooden. They were trying though but it's something about their voices, it's quite raw. Have you thought of adding a filter to their voice to make it a bit less amateur? If you look at Garageband you can tweak voices slightly, I'm sure you can do this is Soundtrack (i don't have the Pro suite so i can't say how).

    It looks like you've made good use of what you've got though, so just improve slightly on what OldCorpse has said and i reckon you'll be on your way to a 65-75%... saying that... i know nothing about your course lol.

    Oh.. btw, what camera did you use to shoot this?
     
  8. OldCorpse macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    compost heap
    #8
    OK Lunja, my congratulations - you just proved that you can take criticism. This alone boosts your chances of becoming a successful artist. I've seen many student filmmakers of varying talent. However, the ones that couldn't take criticism never went anywhere.

    You don't have to agree with the substance of the criticism, but you must listen to it as a favor to yourself. And let me tell you, if you are to work in this business, criticism is what you'll get day in and day out. 90% of the time, the criticism is valuable, even if not apparent at first. The best kind of criticism is the one where the critic is right, and has the right ideas about how to fix the problems. But even "poor" criticism is valuable.

    You will eventually learn how to listen. One example: when a studio exec (or simply a reader) tells you that the hero of your action script needs more "character background", as often as not, the truth is that your action is too slow or boring and has nothing to do with character background. You can put in all the character background you want, and the exec will come back with some other irrelevant notes. Are his notes still valuable? Yes, because even though his/her diagnosis and prescription is wrong, he/she is right in identifying the basic problem that for some reason your script isn't working. That's valuable.

    Finally, yes, on occasion you'll get someone who is just an ijit. Off the wall irrelevant nonsense. Guess what? Even then I don't come out "guns blazing". Why? Because you win more people with honey than vinegar. And that clueless exec might help me or hurt me in the long run... why alienate them?

    See how it works in practice? I'm spending time writing a long post for you, with the sincere desire to help you in your quest. Had you come out "guns blazing", I'd chalk you up as another loser, and that would be the end. But instead, you were mature and smart. That's how you got me to give you some of my X-mas time :)

    OK, onto your movie. Wrt. to acting, I intentionally didn't dwell on it, because it really can be very tough for a student filmmaker. In general, after the story, the actors are the hardest thing to get right in film. SpaceMagic makes some valiant suggestions, but that won't really work.

    First thing is to fix your dialogue. Write it and speak it OUT LOUD. Not "read silently to yourself" but OUT LOUD. Further, I'll give you an invaluable tip: record your dialogue onto a recorder and play it back. You'll be amazed at what you find. To make dialogue sound realistic takes years of practice, because realistic film dialogue is not simply recording how people speak in real life. It is a special kind of film-speak. You do the unnatural and make it sound natural. If you simply recorded how people spoke, it would sound extremely boring and full of useless ummms and hmmms. To get actors to do a good job of your dialogue, first and foremost your dialogue itself has to be good. What you have here is too much in the way of words - film is not a book you read out loud. Stop speechifying, fewer words are better. Economy. Less is more.

    Next, especially when you work with amateur or near-amateur actors, try and get them to STOP ACTING. Really. When they ACT, they are wooden. Still, I have to say, I wanted to avoid the topic, because it would be criticising you for something you have little control over. Fact is, if your actors have no talent there's nothing you can do. I've tried giving them drugs, I've tried having them do strange things, I've tried almost everything. It doesn't work. Now, with a few exceptions (rare "natural talents"), even professional actors need to be coached by the director. What that often comes down to is not really talking about the role, but trying to get them to STOP ACTING. That's why many directors intentionally try to throw actors off balance - by means ethical and unethical (Polanski would drive his actors into rages by staging conflicts, Kubric would do 70 takes of a scene until the actor was like in a dreamstate, others would use sleep deprivation etc.). And with no-talent hacks and wannabees, no tactic works. Rarely does a student have access to professional talent. Hence, I didn't want to speak to acting in your short... there's nothing you can do about it (well, other than writing in such a way that it demands LESS of an actor to pull off a scene - if there is inherent visual/situational drama in your scene, you don't have to rely on the actor as much to manufacture the drama for you... this is another reason why action movies which rely less on acting are easier to pull off with wooden actors... which is why Steven Segal, Chuck Norris and other woodsters have careers - look at that huge explosion!).

    Re-evaluate everything. Is boring camera angle "in a car" really something that will contribute to holding our attention? Really, we've only seen such scenes a trillion times. How about something slightly different. And no, I don't mean a pointless "point of view of a spider" angle. But there are many ways to show things, and you don't have to repeat the same old, same old we've seen and been bored to death by. Does staging have to be so unimaginative? Why don't you have your actors move in such a way that it holds our interest? Editing rhythms, do something that will keep us interested, instead of cutting at the most predictable moment. Use your imagination - that's all you have, since obviously you don't have a budget for a spectacle.

    Be persistent in re-examining your project. Don't rest or settle for second best. You'll be better for it.

    Good luck!
     
  9. FF_productions macrumors 68030

    FF_productions

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2005
    Location:
    Mt. Prospect, Illinois
    #9

    Great advice!!

    I'm at a loss of words right now...
     
  10. Lunja thread starter macrumors 6502

    Lunja

    Joined:
    May 15, 2005
    Location:
    Lincoln UK
    #10

    We got 76% for it :eek: But the feedback we got from Uni summed up to a bland, limp paragraph. At least I'm getting constructive criticism here :)

    To answer your question, we shot using a Sony DSR 300 DVCAM. It fared quite well for us, however we could have used a DVX100 (all standard Uni issue) but chose the DSR for the wider range of settings.

    Must get back to xmas - will post more soon.
     

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