DVC22 - Reflections of Us - Adam Snow at DVinfo.net

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Old September 9th, 2012, 02:07 PM   #1
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DVC22 - Reflections of Us - Adam Snow

Hopefully everyone enjoyed watching my film "Reflections of Us". It was certainly quite the journey to make.

For this project I wanted to take the theme of GLASS and go beyond simply the object in its physical state and try to delve deeper into what glass represents. I eventually decided to break down the theme of glass, no pun intended, into 3 parts:

1) Glass as a boundary. It separates us. It separates inside from outside; the rain and wind from our dry homes; the things we want from the things we can have; from the things we can touch to the things we cannot.
2) Glass as brittle. It is fragile and break easily.
3) Glass as transparent. You can see what's on the other side yet you cannot pass through it. The only thing that can pass through is light.

*SPOILER-watch film before reading more* Using these concepts of GLASS I wanted to create an experience that portrayed these ideas. My film tells the story of a young couple in love who have met a tragic end. A horrific accident has cost the young woman her life. The man is left clinging to life as he is going in and out of consciousness. As he lays there we experience his thoughts -- his past, his future, his love -- pass before his eyes - before our eyes.

He stumbles in the darkness of his subconscious where he finding a glowing window. The boundary between life and death; between his love and himself; between his fingertips and what he can no longer touch. We then enter a world of light, of love, of tranquility, of peace where we discover a young woman. She is happy and safe. The young man is trapped on the other side of the glass, of life and death stuck only looking though a window as is beloved flashes before his eyes -- fragments of what once was.

She holds a rose. It's love, it's life, it's their dreams of a tomorrow together. But the rose slips from her fingers. Crashing to the ground and shattering like glass into a thousand pieces -- the fragility of life. We then discover what transpired. A horrible scene surrounded by sharp shards of broken glass. Finally, we are left with a glimpse of hope at the end. Are we left feeling he's alive and will cherish the memories of her or does he join her in death and they are reunited - well that I'll leave a bit up to interpretation.

It was my hope that my film would showcase the feeling of love (and heartbreak). The kind of love that I cannot explain but have always known. I wanted to show the connection between these two people and how much they meant to one another.

I decided to put the scenes of the young woman into a POV shot coming from the male character in order to place the audience in his shoes so that we could experience these fragments of moments and thought ourselves.

I had originally been all prepared to shoot but then though unforeseeable mishaps ended up without a camera late the night before I was shooting so I had to postpone a week. As a result I ended up losing 80% of my crew (so I was down to 3 people including myself and my dad... thanks dad for being a rock star and helping out) and only had a couple days to edit. I did however finish in time and was able to overcome the obstacles that I was faced with, so all in all, a victory in film making!

Other than that, everything was done in camera. I shot through some wrapped Plexiglas a couple of times to give the image a distorted and partially blurry appearance (example: the woman's fingers on the bouquet of roses). I also had a talented friend work his magic with a beautiful musical score.

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Old September 9th, 2012, 02:37 PM   #2
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Re: DVC22 - Reflections of Us - Adam Snow

Adam, wow! What a film / experience. This is a really beautiful piece, very evocative and you really earned honest emotional reactions from me. There are so many stunning images and set ups. I especially love the close-ups of the woman's eyes and hair blowing in the wind, but really all of it was so beautiful. I love the bed in the field, the window at night, the shattering rose, all of the imagery.

Your sound design is also so great and really effective with everything related to the car.

I also LOVE LOVE LOVE how much this piece drew on my senses. I could feel that grass, a touch on my wrist, you really captured physical feeling with your images.

My only criticism is that I feel the middle section becomes too much of a music video / montage. Some of the images really convey a sense of memory, ESPECIALLY the four shots in a row of fingers delicately touching things (the rose, the bannister, the arm, the window, which is probably my favorite sequence of shots in any piece in the competition!), but others don't connect to memory as strongly and we spend too much time on them. For example, her twirling in the sprinkler, while nice imagery, I don't think would hold such an important place in my memory if it was flashing before my eyes. It might be in there for a split second, but not to come back to it over and over and over again. I think the little detail moments really worked, but some of the bigger scenes were too repetitive. I hope that makes sense. I think you really pulled it off, the film worked and all the emotion is real, I just think some of the middle could have been pared down (or replaced with more types of memories) and it would have been stronger. But that minor criticism is a drop in the bucket to how much I liked your film and how well done I thought it was.

Congrats on the fantastic and excellent piece!
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Old September 9th, 2012, 03:49 PM   #3
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Re: DVC22 - Reflections of Us - Adam Snow

Also wow!

Very cool production value going on here, but in a very elegant old fashioned sense.

I am reminded of some scenes from the films of Terrence Malick (maybe the memory scenes from 'A Thin Red Line') - was he an inspiration to you I wonder? I am also (for some weird reason) reminded of Michael Bay music videos (I don't know why - did he ever get someone to hold a rose in a Meatloaf video or something)?

I'm in two kind of minds about the rose scene; on the one hand I find roses to be slightly cliche; but the payoff is definitely worth it (did you put the rose in liquid nitrogen or something)? The transition from the shattered rose to the glass on the bed was very powerful.
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Old September 9th, 2012, 05:24 PM   #4
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Re: DVC22 - Reflections of Us - Adam Snow

@Mitchell - Thanks for the feedback. Since the deadline I've gone back and forth a bit on that middle section myself. I ended up only having one day to edit the entire piece and probably would have changed a few things around had I had a couple of extra days to go back and review it with fresh eyes. Probably fell into one of those "but I love that shot, it has to make the cut" moments and couldn't bare the thought of cutting it at the time. However, because I cannot change it now I'll say that sometimes we linger on single memories for a long time. Much longer than they actually lasted in real life -- so the repetitive nature of those shots represent those moments which we replay in our minds repetitively in a desperate hope they will last forever.
Also, I love the touching moments leading up to revealing the actresses face too. It was my goal to try to take the view into that world and evoke the feelings and passion that are do hard to explain -- it sounds like I was able to accomplish that with at least one person, so it was a success!

@Simon - It's defiantly been a while since I've seen 'A Thin Red Line', though it's been on the list of things I should watch again for some time. Perhaps you've inspired me to move it to the top. I've been inspired by many things over the years and tend to watch a lot of movies. Tarrence Malick wasn't a direct influence but I'm honored that my film even made you think about his work for a moment. As for a Michael Bay music video with a rose, I'll have to see if I can find that.
A rose can be a very cliche tool to use. Like most things it's cliche because it has worked before so people keep using it and it loses some of it's originality. What I was wanting to do with the rose smashing (which I hadn't seen before -- that I can recall anyway) was to take an object that behaves very differently than glass and turn it into glass giving it the fragility that we associate with glass. I was able to find liquid nitrogen from the local gas store (not gas station, but store where you can get different kinds of gases) and luckily was able to get it smash relatively well.
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Old September 9th, 2012, 07:49 PM   #5
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Re: DVC22 - Reflections of Us - Adam Snow


I watched the video a couple of times and have to say, really great job! This has a totally different feel from the other competitors and is just a beautiful short film. It reminded me of a fragrance commercial as well! Your model/actress was really engaging and believable (is she your girlfriend?) and I loved the scene of the rose to the glass to the bed.

The credits were tastefully done and their slow intro was a perfect lead-in to the film.

I agree with Mitchell with the sensory affect and about left wanting for a couple of more memories interspersed into the flashback scenes. As you can tell, I love quick cuts:) and it would have been cool to see a 4-5 second quick-cut down memory-lane juxtaposed against the crash impact. However, that might have changed the tone of the movie, so I totally don't know!

Really enjoyed it!

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Old September 9th, 2012, 08:56 PM   #6
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Re: DVC22 - Reflections of Us - Adam Snow

@Toni - Thanks for the wonderful feedback. I think once I get a little further away from the shoot and am able to detach myself a bit more I might got back and try a few small tweeks with the editing. There were a couple of things that I wanted to do using After Effects that I was unable to do because I was facing the deadline. All in all I feel pretty happy with how the whole thing turned after my shooting mishaps and then having only one day to put together a cohesive edit.
I was the actor... and totally didn't give myself credit for doing so, haha. The girl is not my girlfriend, but she is a good friend and she did an absolutely wonderful job. I'm just glad she trusted me when I told her, "turn your head... no really, it'll look really nice". Anyway, I'm glad to hear that the film was fun to watch after the first viewing. I have certainly watched it a couple of times myself. ;-)
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Old September 9th, 2012, 11:09 PM   #7
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Re: DVC22 - Reflections of Us - Adam Snow

What a great looking film this is. I did not read your explanation in advance, and I hesitate to read it now, as I came a way with a feeling that I don't want changed. Beautiful filming, beautiful lady, and a real sense of loss at what may have happened to her....Just a great job.
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Old September 10th, 2012, 03:56 AM   #8
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Re: DVC22 - Reflections of Us - Adam Snow

Cool - what a great job you have done on this. Loved the shattering frozen rose effect. The whole feel of the film is..... I'm lost for words, such a great job. Just like everyone says its beautifully filmed. Well Done.
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Old September 10th, 2012, 08:22 AM   #9
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Re: DVC22 - Reflections of Us - Adam Snow


This was beautifully shot and very emotionally evocative. I also really thought you took something that could have been too cliche, a rose, and made it unique by shattering it, which really fit the theme too.

I think you left out what could have been another very powerful level by having no sound effects. The music seemed to stay at a single emotional tone to me, not really carrying the dramatic shifts in action between the accident and the dreamy state with his girlfriend.

It also seemed there was maybe a bit too long spent on just images of the girlfriend, and not enough on the rest of the story. Though the cinematography was beautiful, at a certain point it seemed more like a fashion model shoot than something driving the story. So little time was spent at the beginning and end reveal I thought it made it a bit less emotionally resonant, at least to me, not really knowing their story beyond the basics. If you wanted a longer sequence just on the girlfriend, then I would have used more of that time to reveal their whole story, rather than just how pretty she was.

I did think it was a very dreamy and beautiful piece, and with excellent production values.
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Old September 10th, 2012, 10:11 AM   #10
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Re: DVC22 - Reflections of Us - Adam Snow

Hey Mr Snow !

That slow-mo is smooooooth, epic in fact! What a gorgeous looking short film. Nice scene construction, excellent photography and great construction. Certainly the highest production value of DVC 22. Great music and sound design, really well cut together. It's been said already but I too scene weighting was a little out. Lots of middle and maybe not enough beginning and end. A really liked your central premise and it occurred to me that you could have achieved a greater twist by not featuring a car crash at all in the first scene. I know you were weren't disguising his involvement, only hers but I think it might have worked more strongly if we hadn't seen it at all. Just a thought, I may well be talking cobblers, I often do as you know!

All in all though a stand out piece from the Boulder crew, great stuff !
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Old September 10th, 2012, 01:47 PM   #11
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Re: DVC22 - Reflections of Us - Adam Snow

Hey Adam,

Wow, what a way to close the films of DVC22! This is a really emotion-inducing piece! It's elegant, well thought out, and has lots of production value! You'll have to give us more insight on how you got that super smooth slo-mo. It was wicked!

Really good directing choice with the rose and the nitrogen. I think that we as indie filmmakers are always battling with cliches, but I also think that one of the best ways to get past that is to find new ways to present that so-called cliche. It totally worked for this piece. And I really liked how the story progressed -- the main character's choice to perish with his love, the reveal, are all very nicely laid out, piece by piece.

Great coloring too! Your actress is gorgeous, and I would've liked to see a bit more light in her eyes -- just some off of a reflector, perhaps? I do understand, however, that you were going for a very particular mood, so that's particularly subjective. Otherwise, I have nothing else to comment on -- it truly is a wonderful piece. Congrats!
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Old September 10th, 2012, 09:23 PM   #12
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Re: DVC22 - Reflections of Us - Adam Snow

Seriously beautiful film. I see Ruth thinks you spent too much time on the girl, but none of us guys are complaining. Beautifully images in a highly emotional piece. The music was wonderful too. The shattered rose was outstanding. At first, I didn't want the guy to head for the light, but then when I saw what was waiting for him, I could understanding taking a win on the whole death experience. Adam, have you ever attempted doing music videos? I think you have a wonderful visual eye.

This is going to be the hardest DV challenge to judge ever.
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Old September 11th, 2012, 12:52 AM   #13
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Re: DVC22 - Reflections of Us - Adam Snow

Mr. Snow

WOW! Nice work, I enjoyed your film from beginning to end. I liked the lighting the camera work and the story. I will have to say I was very pleased by the shattered rose! Nice effect you really have me wondering just how you did it? Maybe liquid nitro?

I have nothing critical to add thank you for sharing!

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Old September 11th, 2012, 09:37 AM   #14
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Re: DVC22 - Reflections of Us - Adam Snow

Very nicely put together as everyone has said, abstract, looks great, and would work perfectly as a music video for a song about loss and grieving. You should totally find some groups to work with on this kind of thing!

I'm curious about the slo-mo shot, because I've never tried one. The shot was very clean. Did you use a high frame rate camera like an FS700, an Epic or a Phantom or something? Or was this simply software assisted 60fps from a DSLR? In any case, I enjoyed that part a lot. Nice work!
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Old September 12th, 2012, 01:05 AM   #15
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Re: DVC22 - Reflections of Us - Adam Snow

Thanks again for all the feedback everyone!

@Ruth - Originally I had wanted to have an underlying sound effects track but was forced to cut it out due to a diminished crew size. Unfortunately my dad couldn't hold a reflector, a rain hose and boom mic at the same time... oh the shame!
Although I would have found it a lot of fun to play around with yet another layer it made more sense to scratch sound and devote my time to creating the image. At least when I recall memories the most prominent element is the image. I can see those moments in my head while sound usually isn't a huge factor. Of course everybody is different and I'm sure some people are much more auditory sensitive in their memories, but in my case I'm I see the moment first. But your point is certainly a very valid one. Hopefully next time my dad will have have rigged some sort of boom holding hat or something!

@Mat - I had always intended to start of my film with the guy in the darkness as a matter of fact... and that's how the initial cut went. I even had the guy getting up off the ground and extended out that seen a bit. However, I felt that starting with the guys finger moving -- which I had originally near the end (he technically was reaching towards the girl, but that motivation is only evident upon a 2nd viewing) -- was a little better than starting it off in darkness. And then lingering in the darkness for an extended amount of time, although cool, didn't add very much in the scheme of things so I went for getting to the window sooner than later.
And, I have no idea what "I may well be talking cobblers" means. Man, I love your lingo!

@Joseph - I hear your advice about the reflectors, and actually we used reflectors for most of the shots. I think a bit of that was simply the compression that ended up online (as my full res version looks a lot better) and that there was unfortunately lots of cloud cover the second half of the day we shot, so the reflectors we were using weren't as affective. I do truly appreciate the feedback though, and will certainly make an extra effort the next time I shoot something to improve that.

@Dick - Thanks! And no, I haven't ever had a chance to do a music video... or I suppose I should say I haven't created a chance to. I have been trying to get my cousin to let me make a music video for him but he keeps postponing the final cuts of his songs... perhaps I should go find someone to make a music video for. Judging will certainly be close, there are quite a few very well done films!

@Frank - I'm glad you enjoyed my film! I was able to shatter the rose with liquid nitrogen... which was an experience in itself. After an exhausting effort to find a place to get it I found one not to far away from my apartment. Biggest catch is it evaporates so eventually when I was able to shoot we only got to smash 3 roses... and two of the shots accidentally had my hand in the background... opps. I had to hold the stem and smash it into the pavement as simply dropping it didn't make the rose completely shatter enough. Luckily something turned out that I was fairly pleased with.

@Andrew - I had the great fortune to get my hands on an Epic to shoot the slow-motion shots. Being able to shoot in slow-motion was obviously a key part in capturing those fragments of moments that are lost so quickly in real life so it really was a must.
I have a 7D and I did some tests @60fps and I wouldn't have been able to get shots like the rose smashing. You'd see rose blur, 2 frames of shatter and then it was over. I've seen people take the 7D @60fps and using twixtor ramp up to mock amazing frame rates (1000fps) but my trials to do the same were unsuccessful... even with a very fast shutter. In the future I would still like to see if I can figure out how to get it to work though.
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