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Old September 29th, 2007, 11:25 PM   #1
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Fear

Well, I can now show my latest short.
Please check it out and let me know what you think.

http://www.morecowbellpictures.com/d...fear_small.mov

It's a little over 100MB.

Just make sure to use headphones or a good set of speakers.

Thanks,

Mike
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Old October 1st, 2007, 08:03 PM   #2
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The camera work was good and the color correction got everything looking clean. The editing had the right pacing. The acting of the salesman and woman was fine. I couldn't tell with the kidnapper as his dialog was rough. My big concern is with the use of Hollywood logic, which means that the movie relies on human behavior patterns almost only seen in movies. For instance, why would a kidnapper leave a window open so her screams could be heard for hundreds of yards? I'm guessing he wouldn't be concerned with her getting a fresh breeze. I had to watch twice because I thought you might have used the most ridiculous cliche' of all which is the killer materializing out of thin air just off camera. I was happy to see that you didn't show the car in the middle of a big open field with nobody around then suddenly the kidnapper springs up from just off camera. In that instance the camera and editing were good enough to prevent that from happening. Also, there were some trees shown nearby.

Although I didn't like that a salesman was sent out to the middle of nowhere on an appointment with someone who obviously wouldn't want people interfering, it was good that you didn't elaborate on his goals. If you would have explicitly stated through the dialog what his purpose was at the house, it would have probably seemed really forced. I give you some credit for not making the dialog obvious and forced.

The last part of the action I have trouble with is the level of the salesman's courage. He was bold enough to go into the house to help instead of driving away to a place his phone might have worked. Then, he panics when the kidnapper comes down the stairs. Those two actions seem to be at odds.

Lastly, I'm not saying I have done any better. I have certainly done worse. I am giving you every bit of critique my limited knowledge of writing and moviemaking can provide.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 08:12 PM   #3
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The camera work was good and the color correction got everything looking clean. The editing had the right pacing. The acting of the salesman and woman was fine. I couldn't tell with the kidnapper as his dialog was rough. My big concern is with the use of Hollywood logic, which means that the movie relies on human behavior patterns almost only seen in movies. For instance, why would a kidnapper leave a window open so her screams could be heard for hundreds of yards? I'm guessing he wouldn't be concerned with her getting a fresh breeze. I had to watch twice because I thought you might have used the most ridiculous cliche' of all which is the killer materializing out of thin air just off camera. I was happy to see that you didn't show the car in the middle of a big open field with nobody around then suddenly the kidnapper springs up from just off camera. In that instance the camera and editing were good enough to prevent that from happening. Also, there were some trees shown nearby.

Although I didn't like that a salesman was sent out to the middle of nowhere on an appointment with someone who obviously wouldn't want people interfering, but it was good that you didn't elaborate on his goals. If you would have explicitly stated through the dialog what his purpose was at the house, it would have probably seemed really forced. I give you some credit for not making the dialog obvious and forced.

The last part of the action I have trouble with is the level of the salesman's courage. He was bold enough to go into the house to help instead of driving away to a place his phone might have worked. Then, he panics when the kidnapper comes down the stairs. Those two actions seem to be at odds.

Lastly, I'm not saying I have done any better. I have certainly done worse. I am giving you every bit of critique my limited knowledge of writing and moviemaking can provide.
Awesome! Thanks for that.

As the salesman says to his boss on the phone, he's sick of these assignments out in the middle of nowhere. He only stops at this house (in the middle of nowhere) because he is almost out of gas and his phone is dead. Not because he has an appointment with him. :)

As for the girl and people hearing her... the actress screamed all day during this shoot and nobody came by. They literally live out in the middle of nowhere. Maybe a better shot of the house and farmers fields would have shown that.

The movie is called FEAR for a very good reason. The salesman did what he could, but when he couldn't free her and a large man with a knife came down the stairs... he did what probably a lot of people might do. Who's to say really?

Also, I had a strict 5 minute time limit including credits.

I knew this movie would cause this kind of discussion, I was really hoping that it would. :)

I'm really glad that you watched it and put that much thought into it.
I appreciate it.

Great comments.

Thanks,

Mike
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Old October 1st, 2007, 09:12 PM   #4
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Hi Mike

I should be doing homework right now but I'm taking a break. I'll just post what I liked and what I didn't in a list.

The lighting at 2:40 is excellent and looks really professional, I don't know if you used lights or if it was just natural. Also, 3:02 has good lighting.

I didn't like how she was yelling the whole time, it was just sort of annoying and very cliche. She was sort of just defenseless the whole time and didn't appear to fight back, which made her look weak.

I was hoping for some kind of conclusion, I know that not all stories have happy endings but I didn't feel like this one was justified.

The cinematography was pretty stong. The titles in the post editing were horrible though, bad font choice for the credits, and the title fear sort of just looks strange rather than scary or grunge like. Also, the title 'Fear' itself is pretty generic and there could be better ones.

The production values were pretty good and I think you make a good short film but the story could have been more dramatic and the characters could have taken more risks.

Justin
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 01:04 AM   #5
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Well, I'm actually going to disagree with some of what Marcus said. This is just my gut reaction/immediate impression. I got that the salesman was stopping for gas or maybe to use a phone, get directions or something. Also, I kind of liked the ending. It fit with the title. I felt that the knife was introduced fairly well, and served as the crux for the salemans courage. Sure, he had the guts to go down to the basement, but she was alone. When Mr. Badguy comes down, and the salesman sees the knife.. he chokes! There's a clever duality between him "choking with fear" and her being suffocated.

The only thing I would have done differently would be a very long shot at some point as the saleman approaches the house. Just something to show how truly isolated it was. I thought the shot from the porch as the car pulled in was really well done. Nice little piece.
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 07:34 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Justin Tomchuk View Post
Hi Mike

I should be doing homework right now but I'm taking a break. I'll just post what I liked and what I didn't in a list.

The lighting at 2:40 is excellent and looks really professional, I don't know if you used lights or if it was just natural. Also, 3:02 has good lighting.

I didn't like how she was yelling the whole time, it was just sort of annoying and very cliche. She was sort of just defenseless the whole time and didn't appear to fight back, which made her look weak.

I was hoping for some kind of conclusion, I know that not all stories have happy endings but I didn't feel like this one was justified.

The cinematography was pretty stong. The titles in the post editing were horrible though, bad font choice for the credits, and the title fear sort of just looks strange rather than scary or grunge like. Also, the title 'Fear' itself is pretty generic and there could be better ones.

The production values were pretty good and I think you make a good short film but the story could have been more dramatic and the characters could have taken more risks.

Justin
Thanks! The lighting was not natural. It was done by myself with some Home Depot lights. 2:31 (as he enters the house) is my favourite lighting moment.

As for the screaming... I debated with that. Most of the women that I talked to thought it was quite justified. If you notice... as soon as he comes downstairs the screaming starts to disappear as shear horror sets in. And yes, I wanted her to look weak and helpless. I was going to use another actress but she appeared far too strong on screen. These were choices I made for a reason.

The ending was in the original script that I wrote. Many people wanted to see what happened next... many tried to get me to change it. I wanted to leave it up to the viewer. I'm weird that way. :)

Thanks for all the comments! I'll try to take in some of these comments as I approach my next short.

Taking mores risks is something I have to learn to do.

Thanks again,

Mike
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Old October 2nd, 2007, 07:37 AM   #7
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Well, I'm actually going to disagree with some of what Marcus said. This is just my gut reaction/immediate impression. I got that the salesman was stopping for gas or maybe to use a phone, get directions or something. Also, I kind of liked the ending. It fit with the title. I felt that the knife was introduced fairly well, and served as the crux for the salemans courage. Sure, he had the guts to go down to the basement, but she was alone. When Mr. Badguy comes down, and the salesman sees the knife.. he chokes! There's a clever duality between him "choking with fear" and her being suffocated.

The only thing I would have done differently would be a very long shot at some point as the saleman approaches the house. Just something to show how truly isolated it was. I thought the shot from the porch as the car pulled in was really well done. Nice little piece.
You nailed it! I actually do have a shot of him getting out of the car and walking up to the isolated house, maybe I can put it in an extended cut. You nailed the reason why he stopped, I thought that was clear.

You nailed the FEAR aspect of the film as well. I told my actor (the salesman) the exact same thing that you wrote.

Quote:
"Sure, he had the guts to go down to the basement, but she was alone. When Mr. Badguy comes down, and the salesman sees the knife.. he chokes!"
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Old October 9th, 2007, 09:23 AM   #8
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Anyone else up for a look?

Mike
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Old October 9th, 2007, 03:57 PM   #9
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I don't usually watch horror movies, but this one seems ok to me. Everything I say here is large big IMHO.

The spot where she passes the car in slo-mo is not justified and looks too stuttery. Even if the stutter is intentional it felt to me out of place.

The closeup on the car's mirror, um, what is it for? You could show it two times from the mirror side, no one in the mirror first time, and the guy next time. Yep, it is cliche, but in your case the mirror did not play at all.

When she turns and looks back there is sort of vignetting on the lower right. What is it for? Are we supposed to believe that this is a shot through car's rear window and this is window tinting? Did not seem to work well. Oh, and the car itself. A young serial killer drives a Hyundai Elantra? Maybe he indeed is really smart to drive an inconspicous car, not a 20-year old rusty Camaro. Or maybe he has no money for a "real" car -- whatever "real" car means for his friends -- or maybe his parents bought him the cheap Korean car and everyone at school is laughing at him, so killing a girl is a way to prove something. Dunno. Anyway, the girl is ok, the salesman is top notch, the killer is not really convincing. Black sleeveless top with blue jeans?

Why did she look for keys first, before pulling trunk release? Baby toy with a wrapper on its head is a nice touch. Now we see a guy, we could see him 15 seconds ago in the mirror and be already frightened. But this works too. Both ways are cliche, so this one is no worse.

You show the mirror on the salesman's car as well. Again, I did not get the message what is it for.

When the low fuel light comes on, you usually have another 20 miles or so to drive. Why did he stop near this house? Did he want to ask for fuel? Unlikely that people store fuel in canisters in their garages these days. Did he want to call for towing? Well, possibly, if there is no gas pump in 20 miles, but without knowing that this house is located in a tundra I don't really believe. By the way, while someone might say that low fuel and died phone simultaneously are too movie-like, this had happened to me.

The blackout between the salesman driving the car and the toy on the doorstep is jarring.

The difference in outside loudness and in music playing in-house is too large, I had to turn volume down immediately, but then I had to turn it up back... I would prefer more compressed sound.

The killer left the hatch open, and he did not hear the girl screaming? Ok, I can believe this. What is hard to believe is how the salesman got in. The window is open, suggesting a way inside, but he walks away from the window and gets inside through... er... patio door? Maybe. But if I decided to get inside I would try the window right in front of me first.

Girl crying when the salesman trying to untie her is totally unreal or she just went crazy. She was so sane just a minute ago, and now when the help is close, she ruins everything. Not believable.

Again, the killer boy does not look like a serial killer, he has this softness about him. But maybe I am mistaken and real killers do actually look like this? Maybe that is me who thinks in terms of Hollywood cliches?

I don't care about titles, they look ok to me. Titles are not that important.

All it all, looks pretty slick. And frightening. But as I said I don't like horror movies. Too much horror around us already.
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Old October 9th, 2007, 11:08 PM   #10
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Liked it. Who knows how anyone would act in those circumstances, that's the fun of make-believe. Haven't we all read a true story in the paper and said " they did WHAT?!". No need to show the gas gauge, we'll take his word for the low gas thing. It's called "aesthetic distance", I think, in Mamet's book "Bambi vs. Godzilla". Needed a WS, but overall a winner. Oh yeah, good rack focus with the knife and the salesman.
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Old October 10th, 2007, 05:02 AM   #11
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"Again, the killer boy does not look like a serial killer, he has this softness about him. But maybe I am mistaken and real killers do actually look like this? Maybe that is me who thinks in terms of Hollywood cliches?"

I didn't consider the killer's looks to be a problem. Real serial killers have had a wide variety of appearances and many blended into the population quite easily. I also don't think the type of car is important unless it was conspicuous.

The wide shot of the isolated house is a good idea.

The girl crying spontaneously when seeing her rescuer also seemed off to me. I also didn't like the use of a plastic bag to suffocate her. It takes a long time to pass out and she could easily bite through the bag. I tested that one to make sure I didn't put my foot in my mouth. These are the things I am referring to in my first post. It takes great attention to detail when doing something unusual. It is easy to script the action for a scene with somebody cooking dinner since everyone knows how that is done. Unless you are an experienced serial killer, you must carefully analyze what would and would not work in your scene.

I realize this was a quick project with a lot of constraints. It really is good in it's own context. I'm just pointing out the sort of thing that bothers me in most movies in the hopes it helps you get past those elements in future works.

BTW, I think someone needs to check that house for termites before it falls into the basement. One of the main beams either still has some of the bark on it or else that striation is termites.
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Old October 11th, 2007, 10:31 AM   #12
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Liked it. Who knows how anyone would act in those circumstances, that's the fun of make-believe. Haven't we all read a true story in the paper and said " they did WHAT?!". No need to show the gas gauge, we'll take his word for the low gas thing. It's called "aesthetic distance", I think, in Mamet's book "Bambi vs. Godzilla". Needed a WS, but overall a winner. Oh yeah, good rack focus with the knife and the salesman.
Thanks! I appreciate the feedback.
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Old October 11th, 2007, 10:34 AM   #13
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The wide shot of the isolated house is a good idea.

BTW, I think someone needs to check that house for termites before it falls into the basement. One of the main beams either still has some of the bark on it or else that striation is termites.
I agree about the wide shot.

As for the house, it is well over 100 years old and the beams are actual tree lengths, not cut beams. Complete with bark.

The basement floor was also flooding in areas which made setting up the lights very tricky. :)

Mike
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Old October 11th, 2007, 10:49 AM   #14
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My aunt and uncle had a 300 year old house with a creepy basement like that. The scariest moment of my life was the first time I had to go down into that dark basement as a kid. Some genius put the dangling pull chain for the light at the bottom of the stairs!

Since you no longer have the 5-minute constraints, are you going to post a re-edit with added shots?
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Old October 11th, 2007, 10:57 AM   #15
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My aunt and uncle had a 300 year old house with a creepy basement like that. The scariest moment of my life was the first time I had to go down into that dark basement as a kid. Some genius put the dangling pull chain for the light at the bottom of the stairs!

Since you no longer have the 5-minute constraints, are you going to post a re-edit with added shots?
Thanks for the interest, yes I am. I'll be adding the wide shot of the house and maybe one or two other shots as well.

Right after I finish my current short which is due by October 26th. I start shooting it this weekend.

Mike
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