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Old September 17th, 2005, 09:34 AM   #1
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Idea for a short contest?

OK, I have to run this one past Dylan and the gang but I have had this idea that it would be quite interesting to release a simple, rather open to interpretation script for a 3 minute short and have everyone shoot in their own style with their own settings and actors, but it would be exactly the same short.

Why would this be interesting? Well, for me I would love to see how many ways folks can shoot a simple scene like this one:

Fade In
Car interior - afternoon (about 2:43pm on a Monday)

Mr. Smith - "Why yes dear, there does seem to be a dead body in the back seat."
Mrs. Smith - "One of yours dear?"

And so on.

I have said this in another thread before. I think I could learn a lot from seeing Ron Howard, Rob Reiner, David Lynch, Quinten and Rodriguez all shooting exactly the same thing. Can you imagine how the camera angles, lighting, characterization and even actors dress would be different for all those directors? That would be amazing to see for me.

Anyway, what does everyone think? I could write up a simple script outline and maybe talk Dylan into using something like this as a DVC?

If your interested, let me know by e-mail or here on this thread. If there is any interest, I'll write up a few scenes and we can give it a try.

Thanks,

Sean McHenry
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Old September 17th, 2005, 09:51 AM   #2
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We used to do an exercise like this in acting class. The same script, and the actors would all do completely different scenes. It works best when there is absolutely no stage directions, (dialog only), and the dialog is left unspecific.

No lines like:
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Old September 17th, 2005, 09:53 AM   #3
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Hit the Wrong key!

No lines like:

Why are you holding a gun to my head?

More lines like:

I've got it.
You sure?
Not really.

....
The unspecific lines lead to interesting variations.
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Old September 17th, 2005, 10:05 AM   #4
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Probably hard to have as a "contest" but it would be interesting as a kind of workshop where we afterwards could discuss and exchange ideas.
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Old September 17th, 2005, 10:07 AM   #5
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I think the idea sounds quite fun, though I'm not sure how much my opinion counts, being a non-contributing member of the boards...

I would tend to agree with Dick on the "no specific lines" idea, but I have to say, the process of trying to FIND interesting variations in specific dialog coule be quite entertaining, no? Using alternate definitions of the words "gun" or "head", for example (like a guy aiming a gun into someone's bathroom)? I sense comedy potential there. Maybe.
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Old September 17th, 2005, 10:25 AM   #6
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I've seen this done before in short film contests, with the basic script only, no characters or scenes. I think it would work well as a workshop, but might be a little more work rather than fun for a challenge, since it takes the most fun part of the creative process away.

Still, we could do it as a workshop/challenge, as long as I can enter! :)
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Old September 17th, 2005, 10:31 AM   #7
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I like the idea a lot. The educational value of seeing other people's interpretation is priceless. I was already imagining how I'd shoot it as I read through the post.

There's a slightly famous story about Alexandar Mackendrick's role in a movie called Dance Hall. The original writer had introduced a key scene that was 25 pages long. Mackendrick cut it down to one page, and the result would be perfect for this short contest idea.

Here is the final version of the scene
-----------------------------------
Young Wife
(negative inflection)

Mm-mm

Would be seducer
(questioning)

Mm-mm?

Young Wife
(quietly, with tenderness)

Mmm-mm

seducer accepts rejection, gets roller skates from closet and gives it to her

Young Wife
(giving the word several meanings)

Thank you.
-----------------------------------

FYI: Mackendrick was famous for drilling into his students that the skills that made you verbally proficient, would actually hinder your ability to be proficient in the language of images. As you can see he practiced what he preached.
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Old September 17th, 2005, 12:49 PM   #8
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The points you bring up Sean aren't bad ones but I have to say I don't think it would be as fun as it is now. My favorite part is getting together with my friends and laughing our heads of as we come up with about 100 ideas. Then we decide which one we should go with due to time restraints, feasibility of shooting it or whatever. I love thinking "I wonder what everyone else came up with for this?". That's a bulk of the excitement as well. The script would also have to be universal - I personally don't like movies about bodies really because forgive the pun but they've been done to death. If I were to get a script I didn't really care about, I probably wouldn't do it. I also tend to think that it would get boring. No matter HOW creative people got with it, if we get twenty entries they'd be dragging by the end, no matter who made them. I think the challenge is near perfect now. Just my two cents.
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Old September 17th, 2005, 01:10 PM   #9
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Ok then, the consensus seems to be not as a contest, but might make a good workshop exercise. I like that. Should I work up a few scenes to give it a shot then? I think we need a breather from DVC3 for a week or two and I wouldn't want to do this right before DVC4 so maybe I can get Dylan to get a rough idea of when the next one will be - I know it's to early to think about eh? (he said sounding a bit Canadian)

If Dylan can give me a round about date, I'll throw something together.

Also, no time limit per say. Just a rough timeline to get it in so we can all compare notes.

Sean McHenry
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Old September 17th, 2005, 01:11 PM   #10
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He mentioned 30th of october something. Around halloween. It would be cool to try.
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Old September 17th, 2005, 01:18 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mitchell Stookey
The points you bring up Sean aren't bad ones but I have to say I don't think it would be as fun as it is now. My favorite part is getting together with my friends and laughing our heads off as we come up with about 100 ideas.
Personally, I'd argue that a workshop/contest like this would in fact remove the absolute least fun part of the process. Coming up with original ideas, planning, preparing...it's a chore for those of us who have never been able to do it well, and it's not the least bit enjoyable. You get together with friends and laugh at all the ideas you come up with, I get together with myself, get aggravated and break things when I can't come up with any ideas whatsoever. It's a real pain; I'm no good at inventing new material, no matter how hard I try. I want to touch, I want to operate, I want to assemble, I want to make, I want to, quite simply put, DO. I don't want to invent, think, plan, prepare, get ready. Necessary steps for an endeavor like making a film, sure, but hardly my idea of "fun".

Though I believe my points are moot, as I don't think Sean's idea is meant as a replacement for the existing contest, just more of an "aside" to the whole thing (though please, correct me if I'm wrong, Sean).
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Old September 17th, 2005, 02:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Martens
Coming up with original ideas, planning, preparing...
I'm pretty sure you'll have to plan and prepare no matter what. That part has to happen. Coming up with the ideas is the part that gets you excited about what you're making. The creative process is absolutely vital, however challenging. And certainly not all my ideas are good ones. We thought about a model who gets bitten by a vampire and can't have his picture taken anymore and it becomes a big dilemna. Then we even took it so far that his wife gets pregnant with a baby and goes for an ultrasound and the doctors can't see the baby. It's absolutely ridiculous. And we were laughing for it. I just think that film is all about creativity and it adds so much to the completion of your project. Not only did you make something, you made something that's YOURS.
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Old September 17th, 2005, 02:43 PM   #13
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That's a good point about needing downtime from the contests. I remember getting really burned out when I attempted to join 4 contests which were all scheduled in a row. My whole movie making team didn't want to see or hear from each other for about 3 months.

Something light, fun, and not so competitive in between might be just the ticket to refresh everyone's spark.
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Old September 17th, 2005, 02:46 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mitchell Stookey
I'm pretty sure you'll have to plan and prepare no matter what. That part has to happen. Coming up with the ideas is the part that gets you excited about what you're making. The creative process is absolutely vital, however challenging.
Yes, yes, don't get me wrong, I recognize that--there's no getting around the invention of ideas, it's part of the definition of this medium. What I was responding to was the assertion that it's FUN, not whether it's vital. Both you and Dylan mentioned enjoying the process of creating, and I only meant to offer a differing perspective.

A process can be absolutely necessary and endlessly fulfilling, yet at the same time mind-numbingly boring, and incredibly frustrating for those who aren't terribly gifted at it.
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Old September 17th, 2005, 05:21 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mitchell Stookey
We thought about a model who gets bitten by a vampire and can't have his picture taken anymore and it becomes a big dilemna.
That's got a ton of comedy potential! I like it.

My suggestions:
I'd give us all at least two weeks off from DVC3.
Have the script very very short, say one page.
If there is a location, set it in a house so everyone has easy access to it.
We can take turns writing the scripts (Sean, you volunteered yourself to write the first one. :)
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