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Old July 11th, 2007, 10:53 AM   #1
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Plea for the ONE MINUTE SHORT:

I am writing this thread in earnest before DVC #9 to request that this time around, the only condition should be that the film has to be one minute only.

To be able to tell a story mainly with images is an art, and something that can be focused on in the one minute... trying to tell a story as simply as possible. It is a time constraint, a serious restriction that forces the filmmaker to really look into what is absolutely needed and what isn't. Every image begins to tell a story, which builds upon the last image, until it progresses in such a way that the time of the short just disappears.

Do it, Dylan. I've seen the work here over every DVC, and all I ever have to say is that the shorts seem to come in 3 lengths: too long, much too long, and very much too long. So much can be sped up, taken out, or just excentuated in a way to tell the story more effectively.

One minute. Make it resound past the minute.

Check out some of the ones that have inspired me from FILMINUTE.COM, click on the archives tab.
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Old July 11th, 2007, 11:36 AM   #2
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Here is my opinion. Sure, we could have a 1 minute limit, and that would 'disqualify' anyone who had a longer film.

However, limiting the films to one minute isn't going to make them better. Film makers need to be educated that just because there is a 3-minute limit doesn't mean their film needs to be exactly three minutes.

When I produced Fresh Baked for DVC 6, we had a limit of 3 minutes, and mine was 2:25 including the credits which were about 20 seconds worth.

When I was in college taking writing and other creative courses, one instructor drilled this into our heads: "brevity, brevity, brevity"

It holds true for a lot of things.

So Dylan, I vote to keep the time limit as is and not shorten it.

Just my opinion though...

Jim
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Old July 11th, 2007, 12:32 PM   #3
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Length is one of the most important aspects of filmmaking that NEVER gets covered... but is extremely important in every sector of it: commercial, corporate, industrial, artistic, etc.

I work for the public affairs sector for Caltrans down here in Southern California... and my company would laugh if I turned in a PSA, update, whatever one second too long or short. Time is money, these things need to be aired within a certain constraint. Happens all the time out here in the studios in Burbank\LA with commercial films, as you all probably know. There are exceptions, of course... but for the most part they want you to fit in.

Sure, having films one minute does not make them better, I've seen a pretty good amount of bad one minute work. Though the ones that are able to really put the audience in that moment, cause them to forget where they really are in relation to the constraint... truely have mastered not just the ability to tell a story, but tell it in the most effective way possible. Simply... with brevity as you've said.

I was challenged it once and said all the same things against it. The reality is: it wasn't until I did it that I realized much of the problems with my filmmaking. It allowed me to start and finish numerous projects, showing me my strengths and weaknesses. Now I can't get away from it... it's an addiction. So many little gems of work that allow me to work out bugs for bigger project I want to do.
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Old July 11th, 2007, 12:53 PM   #4
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I'm all for the idea of encouraging brevity for the specific purpose of efficient story telling and better development of such skills, and I would support a contest in which that was the predominant factor. But that also requires planning to tell a different kind of story. Not all stories work in a cliff's notes manner.


For example: My last DVC entry from DVC #3 was a horror short. Certainly not my best work, but I think my best entry thus far for the DVCs. However the first cut came in a few minutes too long, (I tried to make a slightly complex story covering a 30 year reference of time) and in order to bring it down to four minute limit (minus the credits) which was the time limit for that round, I had to judiciously cut most of the backstory and a few scenes that were intended to create a creepy mood with growing anxiety.

The final cut (coming in a 3 minutes, 59 seconds, and 29 frames) ended up being a skeletal version of the original story. I still enjoyed it, but a lot of viewers didn't 'get it' because of what was missing from the backstory.

The lesson I learned from that one was to plan a much simpler story line for that amount of time, which I would learn to do even more if I went for a 1 minute short. The approach would likely be 'just the facts' - which often works for comedic elements - but would miss the element of creating a 'mood' if the basis of the story involved developing a sense of fear, dread, drama, or mystery.

But then again, I'm always challenged in the DVCs to learn new things, new techniques, and better efficiency in story telling. That is the main reason why I enter. I'll be entering this one, so I am excited about what I will learn from it.

-Jon
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Old July 11th, 2007, 05:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Jones View Post
The final cut (coming in a 3 minutes, 59 seconds, and 29 frames) ended up being a skeletal version of the original story. I still enjoyed it, but a lot of viewers didn't 'get it' because of what was missing from the backstory.

The lesson I learned from that one was to plan a much simpler story line for that amount of time, which I would learn to do even more if I went for a 1 minute short. The approach would likely be 'just the facts' - which often works for comedic elements - but would miss the element of creating a 'mood' if the basis of the story involved developing a sense of fear, dread, drama, or mystery.
One of my favorite directors, Martin Scorsese, says in a book I read in a film course that, "film is about communication, and the director's job is to communicate the story in the clearest way possible." Most filmmakers I believe get bogged down with extra plot elements when they don't even know the main premise of their film. I've done it to. It's not about 'just the facts' and film being 'cliff noted', it's about communicating your story in the most effective way possible... which is often the simpliest. Commercials are the biggest example of this. Back story in a 3 minute or even in a 20 minute, if you ask me, is a little unnessecary for the simple fact that it takes up too much time! You end up with two separate films. If you paint your characters correctly, they can wear their backstory on their faces. This is something that came to surface very quickly for me doing one minute films: how much I need to tell the audience, and how each image builds upon the next. I began trusting my images more, looking at what I was displaying more intensely... as I slowly grew to realize how responsible I was for the images on the screen I put up.

I just finished the script for a one minute film fest I'm entering if anyone cares to see it, that I may eat my own words ;).
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Old July 11th, 2007, 05:29 PM   #6
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A little bit yes, and a little bit no. I'm a little conflicted despite the fact that I completely agree with you.

I find it ironic that Scorsese offered that quote. Not necessarily because it comes off as hypocritical, but rather that some who view his work think that he spends an inordinate amount of time introducing mood elements to depict what is going on in the mind of his characters. I like it, but some complain of being bored by his work.

While it is about telling the story in the most effective way possible, its not alway quantifiable to measure the efficacy of a given style, because taking the time to appropriately tap into the emotional context of viewership is what imparts the story in many cases.

But you are also absolutely right in that the use of effective brevity is definately a skill. Perhaps it will be my target skill to develop for this DVC. I keep thinking of how much efficacy is accomplished in a really well done 30 second commercial. It takes a lot of talent, and some folks do it extremely well.

In reference to my DVC #3 entry, my team and I have discussed it at length, and we decided that if we knew what we learned beforehand, we would have competely re-written the script to use a simpler method of demonstrating that the camera was possessed by the soul of a serial killer. Instead of using haunted flashbacks and quick flashes of newspaper clippings, we probably would have used a brief interaction between 2 people at a camera repair shop discussing an urban legend of just such a camera. It would have been quicker and easier to follow.

That particular DVC took us 3 days from conception to posting (it was a week long contest but we lost a few days due to a fried computer, so we had to borrow one to edit on). Given that the current DVC will run 10 days, I think we will spend a healthy amount of time chopping a story down to the proper and simple elementals and try to turn in as effective and quick a short as possible.

That will be my goal for this one.

-Jon
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Old July 11th, 2007, 05:49 PM   #7
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Brevity
is
good.


On the other hand, it's also difficult, and for many first timers and novices, having a few minutes to play around with lets them experiment more, test the water more, and practice writing a little more.

While I do believe that almost all films in DVC could be shortened by at least 50%, I think I'm going to let the three minute (and a few seconds) rule stand. I think we did four minutes last time, and the same stories were told, just stretched out one more minute, so we are going back to three minutes.
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Old July 11th, 2007, 06:45 PM   #8
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While agree that most of the films we see in these contests are too long for their content, I disagree with having contest that is only one minute or less.

If we were to have a contest of one minute or less, I think we would have a lot of slick, rapid cut, in your face movies that seem to be the current trend, but that lack real substance. They would be a whole lot shorter, but I doubt they would be any better.

I have had some difficulty, in past DVC Challenges, keeping to the time constraints. In fact I think one lost because it was too long, not because of content, but because of time only. I learned from that experience, but it is still all about content, not total length. The rules though specified 3 minutes! That was my error!

My entry for DVC #7 was short, very short, at only 50 seconds. It won, but I donít think that it was just because it was short. It was because I had a story that could be done in 50 seconds, rather than 3 minutes or so. Many of us have stories to tell that canít be fit into 50 seconds or 60 seconds. While time is always a factor, it is not as important as content.

I have gone to theaters to see movies that were short, at maybe 80 minutes or less, that I could not even sit through for that short time. Then again, I have been to movies that were well over two hours that I never wanted to end. It is content, not time.

If you can tell your particular story in one minute or less, great! But, to limit all of us to one minute will only restrict our ability to tell our particular stories.

DVC #9 is now on! If you truly believe that you can do it in one minute or less, then prove it to us and make that one minute film. I look forward to seeing your entry. For me, I want to keep the option of having a little more time if my story needs and warrants it.

Best of luck to all of the entrants!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mike
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Old July 15th, 2007, 04:22 AM   #9
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Well, can't beat em', join em'.

The thing about the one minute is that once you do it, all the presumptions you have about it are turned completely around. It doesn't need to cut rapidly... and rapid cutting doesn't mean no content (Hot Fuzz). You really take a look at what is needed and what isn't, and cut what isn't! Forcing to cut is one of the best things that has happened to me as a filmmaker... has caused me to make films that communicate better.

Try it sometime. It'll re-vamp your storytelling.

See you all at DVC #9...
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Old July 15th, 2007, 07:59 AM   #10
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there's nothing in the DV Challenge that says you have to fill up the 3 minutes. that's a maximum, as i understand it, rather than a minimum. perhaps it is a matter of educating users in this regard, rather than changing the time structure. i don't think that one-minute movies are inherently better. i'm never bored by the winning movies, because part of the reason that they are winners is that they tell a good story in the appropriate time. pacing is something you learn, not something inherent to the structure....
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Old July 15th, 2007, 05:18 PM   #11
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Brevity is great for many filmmakers, as most filmmakers cannot hold the attention of an audience for more that several minutes. However brevity doesn't hold true for everything, take the Godfather series for example.

Also, it's like comparing short stories to long stories. Edgar Allen Poe's short stories are beautiful and short, while longer novels like Shantaram are just as beautiful and may be very substantial as they take their time to develop complex social systems and values.

It's really a matter of how artistic you are as a filmmaker, and how well the script is written. Well written scripts with horrible artistic value / bland / distracting can be ruined. Poor scripts with excellent visuals can lack substance. (In my case for example, lol.)

Overall though I would like to see a 2 minute short competition instead of a 1 minute short competition. I find that 1 minute shorts are too snappy, like commercials and an extra minute can let the viewer wrap their head around it more. Just my opinion though.
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Old July 17th, 2007, 04:28 PM   #12
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If you've never done a one-minute, you just don't know of the amazing things one can learn from it!

I think I'm going to do one this DVC, since I've been pushing it soooooo much.

;)
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Old August 14th, 2007, 11:35 PM   #13
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Ok, here is a 30-second short.

This is why I didn't have time to pull off DVC9

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=101357

Enjoy,

Jim
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