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Old August 28th, 2007, 03:30 AM   #1
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The Conspiracy

A 20min movie my friends and I made this summer


Filmed on a Canon HV20
Rode Videomic


http://toucanfilms.net/?q=theconspiracy
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Old August 28th, 2007, 03:46 AM   #2
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You just sharing or looking for feedback? Also, is what genre is this supposed or intended to be?
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Old August 28th, 2007, 05:44 AM   #3
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well, I'm sharing but I would also appreciate some feedback. I am also demonstrating the quality of the HV20 and the Rode Videomic just incase anyone wanted to get a real world sample.

This is an adventure/action/drama
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Old August 28th, 2007, 06:37 AM   #4
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Okay, please take the following as constructive criticism and one guy's opinion.

The reason why I asked what the genre was is because it came across as a spoof/comedy, but I had a feeling it wasn't meant to be. Here are my main points, which you can either use to improve the film now or hopefully incorporate into your next project.

1. If you are going to pull off any movie of any genre it has to be believable. Having 18-21 year old kids play judges and Federal agents isn't a good place to start. I.e. if you are going to want people to take it serious, then you may want to consider taking the time and spend the money on casting your film with people that resembles or remotely resembles the characters they play. E.G. you wouldn't hire 80 year old Grandpa to play Superman or your 16 year old cousin to play a Mayor of a City, unless you want it to look silly.

2. When you do use actors, try to work with them and make their performance natural. The actors seemed like untrained friends and the performances reflected that. It just seemed wooden to me and robotic, which is why it seemed more comedic than anything.

3. When you do a short try to make it less than 10 minutes. I am guilty of making some long shorts, but I have learned since. Festivals generally want 10 minutes or less and this can definitely be a lot shorter. I was losing interest after a few minutes.

4. It was an ambitious film, but if you want to make an ambitious film you have to deliver. The shoot-out stuff came across, again, like a spoof or skit on SNL, which the audience would laugh at. Make a film within your means. Shoot-outs and FBI chases may not be the first film you want to make unless you have the means and money. Most of the props seemed unreal, such as the harddrive, the telephone tapping device. Again, that can only be done right with money or some very creative craftsman.

5. You also need to establish the environment where the characters are. I felt many times I had no idea where they were and that lost me completely. Like the offices. I had no idea where it was supposed to be.

6. I read the synopsis, before I watched it, but I never got a clear sense that it was followed. In other words, I never knew who the "judge" was supposed to be. The structure needs to be reworked and edited. It didn't look like it cost a lot of money to make it so some rewriting and shooting may improve the film. I'm not sure this is the project to put more time and money. You may just wanna learn from it, but I do think it needs to be edited. It may not sound reasonable to you, but that film could easily be 6-8 minutes and still get the same point across. The whole Iraq war plot wasn't strong enough or clear. Making statements that the Government is doing this or that, has to be SHOWN, not TOLD.

7. The music outdid everything else. You don't want the music to be the best in the film, or even distract from the story, acting etc. Unfortunately I felt this was the case here.

Next film try to make it without dialogue and see what happens. I.e. tell a story on action alone and see if people get it.

These are my initial thoughts that I hope will help you in some way. No intent to offend you.

Thanks for posting

Duke
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Last edited by Brian Duke; August 28th, 2007 at 10:14 AM.
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Old August 28th, 2007, 11:56 AM   #5
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I took a look at some of your previous work, this is definitely by far your best. That means that you are improving and that's a good thing!

Now for the bad... your editing needs to be improved. Some scenes go on for far too long when the really don't need to. This is something that I have been guilty of in the past as well.

For instance, when the guy is home near the beginning... the scene drags until the newscast starts. Get him sitting down in front of the TV sooner. You could do this by showing him turning on the TV, then show the TV for a bit, then him getting ready to sit down and eat. That will cut down on the stuff we don't need to see.

The opening scene has about 5 shots of the same thing... the guy listening to the receiver, try cutting it down to 2. We get the point after that...

Your opening credits and such are top notch!

Lighting is also something that needs work in spots. Too many faces are backlit, we can't make out their faces but we can see that they are lit from behind.

On the plus side... your camera work has improved tenfold! There are some really nice shots here and there. You might want to try going with the manual focus and playing with the depth of field a bit more. I have an HV20 so I know what you are working with.

Also, I would direct more and act less. That way you have more time to direct and get behind the camera without worrying about being in front of the camera as well. I did this in the early days as well, your films will improve even more when you focus on directing instead of acting. It's tough to do it all in the early stages.

I would also try to do something more within your age bracket as well, as suggested above. It will really help the audience believe what they are watching. Think... Disturbia. Shot mostly with teens, just a couple of adults, but still interesting.

I just finished a short for a festival with the HV20. If you want to have a look to compare just send me a PM.

Keep up the good work! You are improving and getting better with each movie. The funny thing is, I remember reading some of the same criticisms that I'm typing not too long ago. :)

Cheers,

Mike
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Old August 28th, 2007, 01:37 PM   #6
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Jason:

Nice work with the camera. At one point, I recall you talking about getting a Brevis.... By the depth of field exhibited on most shots, I assume that hasn't occurred yet. I keep thinking I want to try straight shooting without an adapter, and this film is good argument for it !!!

What were you using in terms of settings -- Cine mode ?, TV Mode, etc.

Agree that tighter editing would have moved this film from 20 minute to maybe as low as 10, with a lot more pace and feel.
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Old August 28th, 2007, 03:40 PM   #7
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thanks for your feedback guys, will definitely come in to consideration for our next movie.
Next movie I'm going to direct more, act less...I think that was the hardest part of this movie.

As for the shooting and stuff, no 35mm has been used (still need to get one.) This was all shot in cinemode in the 24p setting. Then I used magic bullet, the "buffalo" setting to add some more color.
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Old August 29th, 2007, 08:26 AM   #8
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Keep it up, Jason. I can't wait to see what you come up with next.

Cheers,

Mike
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Old August 29th, 2007, 02:15 PM   #9
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First off, I thought the images looked gorgeous. I'm more and more amazed by the HV20's output and am happy to say I'm now holding one in my hands. Have yet to fire it up, but am certainly looking forward to it.

Second, regarding your actors -- you're obviously making movies with friends and that's a good thing. I wouldn't take the criticism about the acting too seriously. You guys did a good job and nobody expects the acting to be top notch for this type of project. The great thing is that the more you and your friends do this, the better you'll get.

Framing. I urge you to watch your frame composition when shooting. A lot of it looked great, but some of it was off. In some cases you can probably readjust in post.

Overall, I think you did a great job and see a lot of potential there. Thanks for sharing.
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Old August 29th, 2007, 02:56 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Rob Gregory-Browne View Post
I wouldn't take the criticism about the acting too seriously. You guys did a good job and nobody expects the acting to be top notch for this type of project.
Hey Rob,

I'm sure you are referring to my comments. Let me clarify why I may be a bit harsh when it comes to acting (and story telling). No one wants to see a movie with bad acting and if we are making films as a hobby for friends and family then who cares about the acting/actors. You can put your bad acting grandma in your film since no one will see it.

However, having said that, if you are planning on getting some recognition, which I think Jason is, for either a festival and/or financing for a project or just trying to advance your career the having good acting is vital to your film. Most will agree that even if you spend $40 million on a movie, if the actors are bad who cares about the movie. On the other hand, if you have a movie shot with a Phone camera but you have a powerful story and performance you will go much father quicker. The reason why I responded wasn't really to create an argument, but to encourage people like Jason to focus on story and performance rather that Frames per seconds, bite rate, pixels, resolution and other tech stuff that a lot of people seem to be spending time on.

The new JJ Abrams is all handheld-cheap-camera (with some amazing Special Effects) and it is going to work. Open Water, Blair Witch Project, Borat are other examples of movies that don't look good, but they are very entertaining. "Handguns" is another really effective little short that is posted in this forum that doesn't look very good, but is very creative and entertaining, and surprisingly the acting is pretty good.

I'm not saying not to try to make your film "look good" but it should be secondary. Story and performance is priority. Most films, especially shorts, can be cast with little or no money, and it is worth it. It increases the value of the film. To omit that process by casting friends that aren't very good just seems to be counterproductive if you are attempting to make a career out of filmmaking.

Please take my comments as to make the film better, not to just purely criticize it.

D
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Old August 29th, 2007, 03:09 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Jason Dourgarian View Post
thanks for your feedback guys, will definitely come in to consideration for our next movie.
Next movie I'm going to direct more, act less...I think that was the hardest part of this movie.

As for the shooting and stuff, no 35mm has been used (still need to get one.) This was all shot in cinemode in the 24p setting. Then I used magic bullet, the "buffalo" setting to add some more color.
Having shot a couple of things with an adapter, and seeing your production, I muse about the worth of adapters. Yes they do give a different feel, but they have their problems. Your crisp images are not going to be as crisp, no matter what 35mm adapter you use. While I still struggle with low end adapters, self built and purchased, I wonder from time to time if I give to much away by using an adapter. I'm working on improving my image making capabilities, and will hope that will issue will eleviated to some degree.
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Old August 29th, 2007, 04:09 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Brian Duke View Post
Hey Rob,

I'm sure you are referring to my comments. Let me clarify why I may be a bit harsh when it comes to acting (and story telling). No one wants to see a movie with bad acting and if we are making films as a hobby for friends and family then who cares about the acting/actors. You can put your bad acting grandma in your film since no one will see it.

D
I don't disagree, Brian. But I think Jason has made a good start and certainly don't want to discourage him. Of course, if he's that easily discouraged, he probably shouldn't be making films because it's a brutal business (I spent 15 years as a screenwriter before switching to novels) and few people in it hand out praise unless they want something from you.

I'm just amazed at the quality of these inexpensive tools young filmmakers have these days. Where was this stuff when I was young and full of beans?

Anyway, I finally had a chance to take some test shots with the new HV20 and am AMAZED at the quality of the image. Much better than my Sony A1U -- which, of course, cost me twice as much....
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Old August 29th, 2007, 04:48 PM   #13
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I don't disagree, Brian. But I think Jason has made a good start and certainly don't want to discourage him. Of course, if he's that easily discouraged, he probably shouldn't be making films because it's a brutal business
I agree. I just want to add that I see on a lot of board comments like "GREAT" "AMAZING" "REALLY GOOD JOB" when it really wasn't. Obviously filmmaking is a matter of opinion, but I do believe there is such thing as good and bad. My only point is if a filmmaker did a bad or even just a mediocre job and you get a bunch of "polite" and "encouraging" comments about how great it was, he doesn't really learn and I believe it creates a false sense of reality.

Like actors go to auditions and hear "great" "very nice" but never get the job. Now occasionally they do have talent and the comments are true but just aren't right for the part, but most times its because they are just not good actors. Does that mean they can't get good? No. But if they are constantly being told they are doing great out of politeness they have no way of improving, or even thinking they need to improve. That is really my whole point.

This isn't about Jason's movie, just a commentary that I see a lot in this business. Negative feedback isn't nice to hear, and it certainly isn't conducive if it’s just negative without any explanation and/or resolution. My motto is: its wonderful to hear positive feedback, however, I learn nothing from it. It just validates that I got it right, which is helpful and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy =). I just don't want to hear it if I didn't.
D
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Last edited by Brian Duke; August 29th, 2007 at 07:03 PM.
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Old August 29th, 2007, 07:00 PM   #14
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Jason, I basically agree with everything Brian has to say about your short. But...putting all technicalities aside I would have have loved to see you do something that fit your age more. The roles you played, as stated before, was not believable...simply because of your age. The overall look of the movie was good...but even if you had great acting...the roles would still not be believable. I got to give you an A+ for putting this together though. You did have some pretty nice shots in there. The opening credits set me up big time..I expected something grand when they came on...great job with that. And the music..man...if you keep this up, and take some of the advice given to you here, then I expect everything to fall into place with your next go at it.

i liked the advice for you to concentrate on directing more than acting...to me it does not necessarily mean to take yourself out of it competely..but , especially if you are the writer, you should concentrate on how everyone (including yourself) delivers their roles. Ths might mean you have to practice, practice , practice the parts and maybe take some test shots to evaluate so you can perfect them. When you write your next script you should have in your mind the perfect person for that part and work it off of their personality etc.

I'm inspired.
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Old August 29th, 2007, 09:33 PM   #15
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thank you guys for all your comments and opinions. I understand what you guys are saying about the actor's and ages. The problem that we had with this movie was finding people to be willing to give us so much time. We were also in a bit of a rush because we were trying to get it done before we all leave to school.
So, I hear what you guys are saying about the characters, but our resources were limited this time.

One of our main goals for this movie was to have an interesting story with a good script, and basically just learn.
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