DVC23 - Road to Success (The Writer) at DVinfo.net

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Old October 2nd, 2013, 07:18 PM   #1
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DVC23 - Road to Success (The Writer)


Hello guys,

I wanted to start saying we had a great time shooting the short film even we were so close to the final day I couldn't afford to sleep on sunday to monday night finishing the effects and the sound!

I tried to document a little of the process that we went through to make this short. Basically my friend Henrik and my brother Fran worked in a rough idea for two days that was put onto paper as our "script". We had a lot of crazy ideas but no time to develop the characters more in the 3 minutes (or we were in such a rush that couldn't think more about that!)

We tried to show how a man gets too much into himself and chases an idea so hard that he can go crazy and be completely lost. We wanted the audience to feel that kind of lost. It has that strange Lynch feeling (at least in our heads!)

Henrik Raaste (the lead actor) and I worked for two days in my parent's basement to build Nick's working place. This is how it looked before:
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-t...924_184045.jpg
And this is after 90% of the work!:
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-j...926_180513.jpg

It was a little tough to do it just the two of us, but it worked out quite nicely! (but I spent 150$ in wallpaper, glue, brushes...!!)

Then production itself began! We shot at a friend's house (Christian Knappe, "The Figure"!) the dinner scene where the writer has a lot of friends and we get to know his girlfriend. Also shot the scene in which he is dining alone.

Next day we shot the editor scene with Henrik and my father! at my father's book shop. After lunch we went to the basement to get ready for a long 5 hour shooting of the wrtiter's crazyness!! I am setting up a video with some fun stuff behind the scenes of this day!!

We are not native english but we tried to do it in english to make it easier for the audience (really not easy for us!) and maybe that's one of the things that I would have put more effort in. We got to rehearsal the very day of the shooting, so doing it in english and not being professional actors made it more difficult.

With more time for production I would have had more clues of the relationship between the writer and his girlfriend and with the editor. Some dialogue with them would have improved the personality of the character, but we had no time! Unfortunately we could only use the last week for the entire thing.

However we are really happy with what has come out and what we have achieved in such a short period of time!

To go a little into the gear, it was shot with a Canon 650D (Rebel t4i) and used a slider for a lot of shots (great tool!) and a sometimes handheld. Tokina 11-16mm, Canon 50mm 1.8 and Samyang 85mm 1.4 were the lenses used. I did all the lighting with an 800w redhead, a 350w fresnel, a 4 bulb CFL light, reflectors and flags. Not to forget the smoke machine I bought for 45$ to get that nice texture in the basement!!
I edited with Premiere Pro and did some tricks with After Effects. The music is from Luke Neumann from Neumannfilms, it has greeeeat stuff there, can't be happier with that. I just feel I should have boosted the volume at some points to give more punch to the action. I color graded it with Resolve Lite (my first try at it, always used Premiere and After Effects for cc and grading).

I hope you like the short film, and feel free to ask any questions you might have! I will upload the BTS video tomorrow!

Cheers,
Andres Mata
andresvideo.net

Last edited by Andres Mata; October 2nd, 2013 at 07:19 PM. Reason: images were wrong size
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Old October 2nd, 2013, 07:37 PM   #2
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Re: DVC23 - Road to Success (The Writer)

Nicely shot and well acted. Good compositions and good lighting!

***Spoilers if you haven't seen it***
I have to admit I was confused by the ending, but I after watching it again I think that the weird dude at the end represents his alcoholism, and thus when he shoots him, the pages appear full and what he sees through the hole in the wall is a part of his novel. Am I close? Haha. Or is it supposed to be ambiguous like a David Lynch movie? Either way, great job!
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Old October 2nd, 2013, 07:50 PM   #3
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Re: DVC23 - Road to Success (The Writer)

Loved the slow tracking shots and the cinematography in general. The technical aspects of the shoot were all pretty faultless.

I found the arrival of the "devil" character very effectively creepy, with nice foreshadowing in the audio. I'm not completely sure I understood what was happening in the film, but as you say, I do understand that there was an intention to be slightly oblique and I was really blown away by your production values.
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Old October 2nd, 2013, 07:51 PM   #4
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Re: DVC23 - Road to Success (The Writer)

Hola Andres... tu filme es increible, muy bueno.... Que chevere! Probablemente sea el gañador...

On production values alone, you've got a professional piece here, and watching this led me to your website where I looked through your other videos. I can see the rest of us are up against a pro. You have pro actors, pro lighting, excellent sound -- and damn it, you spent $150 on wallpaper, etc. Que tio serio! Mereces el premio! I can see that if you're hanging around for future contests we're going to have to lift our game out of the hobby bracket.

While I'm sure we appreciate you did it in English, I would have been just as happy to see the actors let loose in Spanish. You already had subtitles up. Hell, in my own short, coming up, I went with French for part of it, because it put the movie in its environment -- and because sometimes an actor just transmits nuance better in her or his own language. But your guys did great, no problem at all in English -- y de todas manieras, es la lingua del mundo de hoy, claro.

Where the hell did you find an old typewriter? I hope it was hanging around in your father's place -- that you didn't add that to your prop purchases.

You had good development, ratcheting up the tension (and the Neumann music was well chosen), and I particularly liked the introduction of the black-eyed character with the snap pan.

Did you storyboard, or just get a lot of cover for your shots and decide in the edit?

A couple of minor things I may as well write about, otherwise it will be a total rave review: I didn't see what motivation or explanation the party scene brought to the story (was it to celebrate a previous writing success? or was it simply a social scene to introduce the girlfriend?); when the black-eyed character was introduced and offered to "help" the writer was he playing the devil (in a style reminiscent of this, one of my favourite shorts, by Tony Scott:
), or was he a manifestation of the writer's guilt or imagination? Either way, which female "friend" was the writer meant to call? His dead girlfriend? Then why call her? And, sorry if I'm obtuse, but who was the dead guy holding the gun? It's hard for me to tell from the make-up and angle if it's the writer himself or some other character (the black-eyed guy?), or a cipher.

Don't worry too much about answering the questions, though. They are minor next to the pleasure procured by just diving into the atmospherics of your movie. I loved your film, and all the care and preparation and effort you put into it is up there on the screen. You can be proud of it, it will make a great addition to your website gallery, y, como ja he dicho, creyo que hagas gañado esta competicion. Bravo!
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Old October 2nd, 2013, 08:02 PM   #5
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Re: DVC23 - Road to Success (The Writer)

+1 to all the above. Great work. Very much a short film. Extremely jealous just by the opening scene with all the cast on set.
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Old October 2nd, 2013, 08:30 PM   #6
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Re: DVC23 - Road to Success (The Writer)

Great work. Clearly a lot of effort has gone into your short - the production design, the sound, the cinematography and its all come together in a dark atmospheric short. I was slightly confused by the ending too but overall enjoyed your short.
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Old October 3rd, 2013, 06:35 PM   #7
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Re: DVC23 - Road to Success (The Writer)

Wow, guys!

I'm blown away for your great critics on the short!! I am so happy that you enjoyed it that much!!

I will try to explain the ending as we understood it. We wanted to give it a WTF!? feeling, trying to emulate (not even reaching his talent) that David Lynch touch, where you don't know what the hell is going on and it is still open to a lot of possibilities. Our thought were that the Figure is kind of his conscience, it's obvious that it's not real because when he shoots him, he vanishes.
Then through the bullet hole (...that is not clear in the film unfortunately!) he sees the scene with the dead bodies, who are his girlfriend and himself! Maybe that's not clear because the shot is so short, his head is leaning back and he is wearing no glasses (he was supposed to have shot himself). This last part can be real, imaginary... it's not clear even to us! While editing I though... well, maybe he is just writing about that, or that is a hole to his mind and that's what happens in his novel! A lot of crazy stuff, totally open to the viewer's choice!! :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derwin Dalida View Post
I think that the weird dude at the end represents his alcoholism
I also thought that the Figure is related to alcohol, as Derwin points out. But only saw this possibility the very day of the shooting. Alcohol is very present in the film and I used many bottles to compound the shots. There are many shots with bottles out of focus in the foreground as you can see.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Burleigh View Post
and damn it, you spent $150 on wallpaper, etc. Que tio serio!
Hahaha, Marc, I initially spent 80$ but when we used it there was a big part of the wall in the background that initially wasn't going to be papered out, but just in case I needed to show it I went out to buy some more paper and glue! (the walls were not ready for paper, so we used reaaally a lot of glue. Spending that money on that hurts!!! :)
And yes, the old typewriter is my father's (hasn't used it for 20 years!) and all the furniture and props you see were hanging around in the garage. I didn't storyboard but as it's my parent's basement I had a good idea of the shots I was looking for. But I wish I had done it, it really makes things much easier!
About the dinner-party scene, they were supposed to be celebrating a previous novel or a previous success (maybe he was sure he would sell the novel and was celebrating in advance!) but that's not really clear, mainly because there is no dialogue there, and we used the scene merely to introduce the girlfriend. Would have loved to get more info there, but had no time to develop the scene!
Thank you so much for pointing me to the Tony Scott short. Never heard of it and it's a BLAST!!

We put so much effort in this, I am so glad that you really liked it like that. Means a lot, guys!
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Old October 3rd, 2013, 06:36 PM   #8
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Re: DVC23 - Road to Success (The Writer)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Lewis View Post
+1 to all the above. Great work. Very much a short film. Extremely jealous just by the opening scene with all the cast on set.
Thanks for your words! Only 7 friends there, trying to look like it's really crowded! ;)
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Old October 3rd, 2013, 07:11 PM   #9
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Re: DVC23 - Road to Success (The Writer)

By the way, here's a quick and dirty Behind the Scenes to show you how much fun we had doing the film (even though the video is not very fun haha!!)

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Old October 4th, 2013, 07:23 AM   #10
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Re: DVC23 - Road to Success (The Writer)

Thanks for the BTS. That has to be the most pro set up of any DVC film, I think. Impressive.... a lot of softboxes, a really nice slider. And you bought a new mirror to bust up. Como ya he dicho : que tio serio!

It looks like a really fun, cohesive crew you have there. Was the 'blood' your own mix? Water, thickener and colour?

Oh, and I meant to say, the actress who leaves a message on the phone -- she has a really good accent in English. Don't know why but reminded me of the (very different) film El Secreto en sus Ojos (ya sé que es argentino y no de España).

With the gear, that crew and your talent you should be turning out some great shorts and features.

Now that you've said that the guy at the end was the writer, I can see it. Really I guess I needed him wearing his glasses for me to get the connection right away -- at that angle and without his glasses, and with his hair messed up, I wasn't sure.

I'm not as big a Lynch fan as you (early Eraserhead trauma maybe), but I do appreciate the way he leaves things unexplained (and often inexplicable).... and when I saw Mulholland Drive at its Cannes premiere I was blown away, had to suddenly re-evaluate him as a masterful director (though I still think that was only so good because US television dropped it as a series and he was forced by French studio Canal+ to turn it into a complete movie). Another director in the same vein, I reckon, is David Cronenberg (have a look at "Spider" for instance). And of course a touch of Kubrick (The Shining).

Last edited by Marc Burleigh; October 4th, 2013 at 01:42 PM.
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Old October 4th, 2013, 01:37 PM   #11
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Re: DVC23 - Road to Success (The Writer)

Andres: I agree with most here that this was well shot, great camera angles, and I especially like the way the alter ego or whatever he was kept popping up around the room.

One thing that distracted me in this film, and one other done in the contest, is the insistence on use of a typewriter as a symbol of a writer's tool..... I suppose there are some very old writers that still use them. But I was so happy to dump my old typewriter in late 1980's for a word processor, and 25 years later it seems overused as a symbol.....
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Old October 4th, 2013, 04:47 PM   #12
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Re: DVC23 - Road to Success (The Writer)

Nice job, congrats! Nice looking shots all around, classy special effects. The smoke was a great touch.

I was disappointed at the end when I couldn't really figure out what was going on, but that's just me I suppose. (After reading everyone's comments it all makes sense.) I enjoyed watching!

My favorite shot was when "The Figure" appears in the wrong place in the room- it was set up and executed perfectly. Bravo!
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Old October 4th, 2013, 06:53 PM   #13
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Re: DVC23 - Road to Success (The Writer)

Thanks to everybody for your nice words!

Marc, the lighting setup is nothing too fancy! A cheap CFL bulb softbox, a 5$ ikea china ball, a red head and a small fresnel! All combined with care and will look like some expensive rigs have been used! The blood was some blood intended for visual effects some friends who also make short films let me. It was a really thick fluid, if that adjective can be applied here.
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Old October 5th, 2013, 02:33 AM   #14
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Re: DVC23 - Road to Success (The Writer)

Really impressed by what you were able to put together Andres. It looks really professional.

I applaud you for working in English, despite it not being your native tongue. I don't think I could have pulled off the same thing.
The shot at 1:00 is awesome -- the light coming through the windows looks great. As you touched on in your post I was missing a bit of context in the first minute. I got the editor but didn't get the girlfriend bit. And to be honest, I don't think you really need to have them. Once you get into the room with your lead and start going through the struggles of writing is where I think your story thrives. When I'm done watching I remember that part and forget the intro. So in a nutshell, I think the 2nd half of your film could stand alone as the entire piece.

You certainly have a bunch of stellar shots, it's well acted (yay for friends who can pull that off), it's well edited, music is used effectively. I can't really say anything negative about it. (Technically you cross the 180 at 2:01, but that's being really really picky... and it's a rule you can break anyway).

I was curious as to how you added the text to the papers at 2:46. I know how I would have gone about doing it but whatever you did worked perfectly so I was curious what your method was.
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Old October 5th, 2013, 07:06 AM   #15
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Re: DVC23 - Road to Success (The Writer)

Hello Adam,

Thank you for your words, having watched the film you made, they mean a lot! You did an outstanding job, man!

About the text appearing on the white sheets, I recorded the sheets with some dots painted on to track them:
https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-v...-writer_01.jpg

Right before adding the text I had to "paint" the dots out of there! I did it by tracking every dot and creating a layer with a mask offsetting the layer a bit to overlap the dot. The layer was linked to the track of the dot. For 8 dots, I had to track each, create a null to each track and a layer with a mask linked for each one. A lot of work but not difficult, just takes time!!
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-G...-writer_02.jpg

With AE CS6 you can track and resolve a 3D camera, not only the dots. That would allow to place some nulls in 3D space and then put the text layers on those nulls, oriented to fit the paper. Masks were added to fit the overlapping sheets. Then I added a fade in preset to the text.

Take a look to this tutorial if you are interested, it shows a more advanced technique and it's what helped me to get this effect working easily. It really looks great and flies the text in 3D! (Tut costs 2€ but it's totally worth it, even though it's in french and I don't speak a word!):
https://mattrunks.com/en/tutorials/a...aph-dispersion

I hope this quick look is helpful to any of you! Btw, the blood splatter on the wall and the face of the writer, and the black texture on his skin was all added in post, also! (we couldn't put on all the makeover because we had to continue shooting more scenes!) Made in Photoshop and tracked to his face, box and wall in AE. Here's a before/after of the close up:
https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-G...riter-dead.jpg
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