DVC 17 - BELOW - Mitchell Stookey at DVinfo.net

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Old October 14th, 2009, 10:03 AM   #1
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DVC 17 - BELOW - Mitchell Stookey

I realized the other day I hadn't entered a DVC since #9 so it's been quite awhile. I always wanted to enter and talked with friends of making some but we just never got around to it. Well this time we were determined to enter and actually make something. I worked with some old crew and some new (as far as DV challenges go), and we had a blast making this.

Details that might interest people:
- Shot on the HPX-170 (actually the very first thing I shot on my new camera)
- Title credits were made in After Effects and fashioned after Andrew Kramer's amazing tutorial "Ancient Titles" from his website "Video Copilot"
- My friend Gabriel actually has a hole in the bottom of his closet that leads to his basement
- My girlfriend is the lead actress

Any criticism and feedback is most welcome! I think that the DV challenge has been invaluable to me for developing my video skills and I still have tons to learn, so please point out any places that can be fixed or improved!
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Old October 14th, 2009, 12:12 PM   #2
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Mitchell yours was the first one in this Competition I have watched that made me think "This could be a real Hollywood horror flick" very engaging and beautifully shot! Cool idea!

Good to see you back
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Old October 14th, 2009, 02:03 PM   #3
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I just watched your trailer for "Below", and I loved it. You create a tremendously terrifying atmosphere with your use of sound and the dream-like blur. Very good.
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Old October 14th, 2009, 02:55 PM   #4
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I am watching these in the order being posted. So far, this one is the only one that has the trailer look of giving you bits (the right bits) and love the use of low frequency hum in there contributing to the right mood. Nice color grading as well and this certainly makes one watch the entire flick (if there were any :) )
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Old October 14th, 2009, 04:42 PM   #5
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Great Job

This is a great video... very nice...

The end was great, "spiral from the Base"... wow...

Only thing that bothered me, because I notice these on most commercials now is the out of focus edges/corners/vignetting... seemed like some shots were a bit more then others...

again very nice job...
Craig Bellaire
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Old October 14th, 2009, 05:25 PM   #6
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That was great. The shots were beautifully lit and the flow of the trailer was great. The shot looking up from the basement was really cool.
It really leaves you hanging at the end, which is what a trailer should do. I really wanted to know where the story could be going and what could possibly be down in the basement.
Give me more.
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Old October 14th, 2009, 07:26 PM   #7
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Well, Mitchell, it’s easy to see why you were the DVC champ for #9! First time I saw it all I could think was “WOW.”

As mentioned, great use of sound on this. It made the trailer yet is so often overlooked (I’m guilty of that).

I can’t find one thing to add as a critique; it’s so very well shot and edited. Love the crisp audio on the recording.

When the gal pulled the cassette out of the envelope it not only gives a great time reference but had my mind thinking, “now how is she going to play that...” Then you cut to the attic. Perfect! :)
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Old October 14th, 2009, 09:57 PM   #8
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Excellent. Well crafted. And how lucky are you to have a location where a closet leads to the basement? Unreal.

I noticed the Andrew Kramer title immediately. Thank you for altering it to your tastes. I've used it before myself for a 48 hour film I did.

Not much I can add, this was a joy to watch and left me wanting more.
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Old October 14th, 2009, 11:14 PM   #9
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Awesome job. Did you use a dolly for the opening shots? How about the stairs?
Nice composition, nice lighting, great timing and the hole in the floor is so perfect. I definitely want to see what the rest of the story is! How did you light the dark shot in the attic when she gets the tape recorder? I always have a hard time lighting a dark room (or for night) and keeping the image crisp and still visible.
Also there was a lot of depth of field fuzzyness which always looks sweet. How much of that was the fuzzy vignette in post vs. in-camera?

Really great work!
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Old October 15th, 2009, 06:23 PM   #10
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I don't think I've ever been happier not to have a film in one of these competitions. Sweet Fancy Moses, you came up with a trailer if ever I've seen one.

The soft vignette is quite literally the only thing about this I don't like. It really blooms like crazy, I can't say I'm a fan of the look.

I am a fan of secret, undiscovered spaces in otherwise ordinary locations, however. This has a definite House of Leaves flavor to it, and feels like a version of The Hole aimed at an older audience (though to be fair that film won't be released for a while, so I'm not sure what it's really like).

You knocked one out of the park, Mitchell, you should feel good about your chances here. Now please, tell me you're going to make this into a full movie. Short, feature, either way, you can't not make this!
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Old October 15th, 2009, 10:18 PM   #11
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Yeap, its a winner...
Chris J. Barcellos
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Old October 16th, 2009, 12:40 AM   #12
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Mitchell, you set the bar very high!! nice work. Too bad that guy didn't leave his disclaimer at the beginning of the tape.
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Old October 16th, 2009, 08:09 AM   #13
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Being new to fiction on films (my background is science documentaries), I had to look up the definition of a modern fiction trailer: 2 minutes 30 seconds max, 3 acts - #1 sets premise, #2 moves story forward dramatically, #3 wraps with dramatic scenes and music to recap and entice.

This trailer I believe has it all. Each act raises the tension. The final act has everything called for: drama, maximum tension and expectation as well as a great musical finale. And I was very impressed by the quality of the acting and its capture by the camera operator, and the suggestion of in-between detail by use of the dissolves between each scene.

This was a great trailer in my opinion.
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Old October 16th, 2009, 10:32 AM   #14
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Thanks a lot for all your comments! We all really appreciate both the positive feedback and the constructive criticism.

@ Craig and Robert: Yeah I understand what you mean about the vignetting, certainly one of those things that know the submissions are final I think "Ahh, wish I would have fixed that!". It is much too apparent and harsh in some shots, although I don't watch any television so I didn't know it was being overused in commercials. But thanks for pointing that out ;)

@Julia: We didn't have a real dolly, we had this tiny little piece of wood with 4 wheels on it to help with moving furniture, but the wheels all went different directions and it wasn't level or anything, so it was pretty tough to even get a moment of smoothness. Better than nothing though. The stairs was a handheld shot and I wonder if you're asking because it's obvious? It always looks SO wobbly to me. For lighting the dark shot where she gets the tape recorder, we just put a 250 watt light at the back of the room to cast just enough light for a few details, and then the actress just flipped on the real lights. The vignetting was all post.

@ Robert: So funny you should mention The Hole. After we were finished our trailer, I showed it to my friend in Toronto who said, "Oh cool. But it looks just like Joe Dante's new movie The Hole" (which he saw at TIFF). We looked it up on IMDB and the synopsis made us laugh out loud: "A pair of brothers stumble upon a mysterious hole in their basement that leads to the darkest corridors of their fears and nightmares." We honestly had no idea about the movie until after our trailer was complete!
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Old October 18th, 2009, 08:27 PM   #15
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Your entry has nothing but solid production values. I was impressed with every aspect of it.
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