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Old October 4th, 2007, 04:36 PM   #1
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"Conviction" - new short film

Check out our latest project, "Conviction." We're trying out different genres. Any feedback is very welcome. Shot with the Brevis 35mm adapter.

http://www.cineverapictures.com/clips/conviction.html
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Old October 4th, 2007, 05:37 PM   #2
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It was wonderfully shot and composed. Horrible sound effects though, you need better 'punch' sounds and better 'silenced gun' sounds. At first, I thought someone was playing basketball. Also, the original gun sounds needs to be much louder.

When the hitman talks to his boss, the chief needs to look around and make sure those cops are not still there. Also he must whisper and be very quiet. Who knows, the cops could be watching still. Also, he managed to untie himself?

I thought he was going to shoot himself in the head at the end.

So it was very well shot, excellent locations and characters. Aesthetically it's beautiful. Though the story is somewhat faulted as I have explained.

One more thing, the hitman looked very similar to the guy in the video game 'Hitman' and the upcoming movie. Maybe it was coincidence?

http://www.digitalbattle.com/wp-cont...me_129847c.jpg

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Old October 4th, 2007, 06:24 PM   #3
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Pretty much agree with Justin. It looked great, the lighting is super well done, 10 out of 10. There was something lacking in the camera angles. I liked the first two shots, then it seemed like the camera was more of a spectator rather than telling the story. I know this is kind of a strange comment, I don't know, it just seemed very basic. The shower drain shot was ok, but its been done a little too much.

A big thing for me was that this short looked great, really nice camera movement (very smooth and stable) but the dialogue and acting was horrible. Every line was so cliche. "Ok tough guy, start talkin", "I'm out... yeah sure you are". Just didn't work for me at all. If you had a better script, I think you'd have an awesome liitle short. By the end, I was just appreciating the lighting and production value. The acting/dialogue was just too cheezy for me to be interested.
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Old October 4th, 2007, 07:03 PM   #4
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Okay, here are my thoughts. There is certainly potential for a director there. It does need some work and I agree with the other comments above herein mentioned. My biggest suggestion to anyone making films is to make sure the film is cast properly and then work with the talent to get the best performances possible. If you don't have that you really don't have much. All technical aspects of films can be overlooked with good and powerful performances even if the premise has been done previously. Though I don't suggest doing something that has been done before, I do think if it is done correctly it doesn't matter.

I.e. gangster films didn't have to end after the first Scarface or even Godfather. Many came afterwards and succeeded, like Goodfellas.

Having said that let me be more specific on this film without incorporating the other comments, which I already agree with and no need to restate.

1. The premise HAS been done many times before, even the shots, so I wouldn't say this is an original piece, however, it was fairly well executed compared to most indie films out there (excluding theatrical films).

2. It got a bit confusing after the guy walked in and talked to the guy getting beat. I am still not 100% what this short was about. A hitman caught by cops who he worked for?

3. The music was too melodramatic and doesn't help because the acting was already melodramatic. I thought of "chopping Broccoli" by Dana Carvey when the music started. =)

4. I thought it could have moved a lot quicker. You might have gone for the film-noir feel, but for a short I’m not sure it works. People already suffer from ADD, so make the cuts and story move as quick as you can.

5. It seems like you have passion for film making, so next time try to spend more time working with the actors and rehearse, rehearse and rehearse. Film is forever. Rehearsing is not.

One question. What camera did you use?
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Old October 4th, 2007, 07:55 PM   #5
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Wow, those are great comments! Thanks for helping us get better. We shot this on the JVC HD100u.

I agree that the story isn't completely obvious. The real story that we made was that the chief of police hires this guy to kill people they can't convict. We did have some VO but it was really cheesy and would've killed it. So the cops catch this guy, but they don't know their boss (the chief) actually hires this guy. Then he lets him go, but the hitman decides he's done.

Anything else we could've done better cinematically? We were the DP and gaffer for this piece (and writers), so we'd love to hear how to improve in that area. Did these actors look too young for the part? Bert, you said the camera angles looked lacking. What did you have in mind? Please keep the feedback coming!
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Old October 5th, 2007, 12:50 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Brian Posslenzny View Post
Anything else we could've done better cinematically?
That is NOT what you should worry about. Let me emphasize again that you can have a great movie with bad lighting, but good performances and story. However, you cannot have a good movie with beautiful lighting and bad performances.

If you are focusing there you will make the same mistake again.

From your comments and the film you seem way too concerned with lighting, camera composition, style etc, which is simply FORM of the film, NOT substance. You need to focus on substance. I have seen 100s of shorts and maybe only 3 good ones. 98% of them are just bad and cheesy. At least yours had some visual style.

Look at American classics that were not shot for the style, but substance:

Saturday Night Fever
Mean Streets
American Graffiti

In other words, those movies were really poorly shot, but they had substance. Other commercially successful films without any special FORM were Blair Witch Project, Fahrenheit 9/11 and Borat. None of those movies were shot in a way that gave them the “wow factor” visually speaking.

I don’t care where you live, there are people you can find that can act and are right for the part. The actors in your film were not right.

On your next film focus 90% of your energy on the script, then the casting and then performances.

Good luck.
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Old October 5th, 2007, 05:12 AM   #7
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As far as cinematography, the only flaw was that the gun looked incredibly fake at the end. It has a shiny aluminum small-bore barrel insert like those found in airsoft guns. It also has some words embossed on the side ("STARS"?) that makes it look fake. Considering the tone of the movie, I would probably choose to light it more low-key but that is a stylistic choice and doesn't reflect on the quality.

As was already pointed out, the script and some of the acting is the real problem. It usually is the failing of most movies, including my own. Your line, "I'm done" was very similar to one used in something I shot (didn't write) last year that made me cringe on the set.

Ever since Quentin Tarantino became popular, everyone seems to want to replicate his work. That isn't necessarily bad, but people forget that his strength is not in drama but in his ability to make absurd characters seem more real and interesting. A murderer isn't interesting unless his motivations are explained either through actions or dialog. Also, you deflated your tough guy by the fact that he was captured and tied up in a chair by a couple of peons.

These scenes might make sense in a larger project. It is difficult to flesh out characters in just a few minutes. The good thing is that you know how to light and shoot so you can move on to trying different projects until you find your own style. Writing and directing also take practice and the good thing is that you can shoot other people's scripts and learn more and more about the process until you get your own great script.
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Old October 5th, 2007, 01:36 PM   #8
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Couldn't agree more, Marcus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Duke View Post

In other words, those movies were really poorly shot, but they had substance. Other commercially successful films without any special FORM were Blair Witch Project, Fahrenheit 9/11 and Borat. None of those movies were shot in a way that gave them the “wow factor” visually speaking.
You're right. Script script script script. Would've the story been better if it were longer, giving more time to flush out a story?
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Old October 5th, 2007, 06:16 PM   #9
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Would've the story been better if it were longer, giving more time to flush out a story?
If you are looking for my personal honesty, the answer is no. I think the others agree. Your issue isn't cinematography. It was story and acting. Making a bad story and acting longer, just means you will have a longer bad story and acting. Yes, you may have been able to save some of the holes in the story, but not the story as a whole, nor the bad performances.

Next time, get a really good script, and cast it right. Then rehearse for several weeks and develop characters with the actors.

That is the only way I can see anyone succeeding.

Hope that helps, and please take all of what I say as a method to help you improve.
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Old October 6th, 2007, 07:54 AM   #10
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Last edited by Marcus Marchesseault; October 6th, 2007 at 08:37 AM. Reason: duplicate
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Old October 6th, 2007, 08:26 AM   #11
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Some of the elements you mentioned that would have been in a longer version are interesting, but I think this genre has been overdone. Too much posturing and not enough substance has reached epidemic proportions. If you really did it right, you probably could make some money as a mainstream action movie, but that would require a big budget to start. It would be better to develop a script with your own style and have a clear message/story to deliver to your audience. A dark gangster movie may have been very influential to you in the past, but it's impossible to recreate that feeling in the same way. Find your own way of creating that emotion in the audience.
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