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Old July 26th, 2016, 10:12 AM   #1
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Cupcake - Short on teen Prostitution (gh4 Panasonic)

Haven't posted here in forever, so I thought I would post one of my latest shorts since I started making films again.

Enjoy and questions, feedback appreciate, good or bad.

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Old July 27th, 2016, 11:23 AM   #2
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Re: Cupcake - Short on teen Prostitution (gh4 Panasonic)

Would love some feedback. Anything really. Also wanted to add a viewer discretion warning for the video since it is adult language and content.
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Old July 27th, 2016, 12:49 PM   #3
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Re: Cupcake - Short on teen Prostitution (gh4 Panasonic)

I"ll give it a go, I never made a short film like this in my life but I do watch a lot of films, and I mean a lot :) but that doesn't make me an expert in making one, so just take my opinion for what it is, a opinion.

First the good, the sound of your film was very good, I did hear something weird at 09:30 though when cupcake says "you called?" as it sounded like the voice was processed but it produced some artifacts, other then that, especially the voice from Darnell which was very clear.

The grading I"m not such a fan off, it looked like the film has a greenish blue tint, didn't like that.

About the story, Cupcake is first betrayed by Joy who clearly looks like she doesn't give a shit what happens to Cupcake, they appear to have talked about "the plan" but Joy thought it was not serious, she also doesn't seem to know Darell hits woman while Cupcake says "you know he does" but that doesn't seem to bother Joy, so Cupcake gets beat up. Then later when Cupcake called at the creeps house that she needs help, Joy again clearly shows she has no sympathy whatsoever for Cupcake but when Darell shoots the creep then suddenly she is compelled to shoot Darnell? That again made no sense to me why she would do that, now she did care? why? And at the end Joy is the hero by taking all the money and run of with the child just as Cupcake had planned from the beginning. It all just didn't make any sense to me. Like the creep, he calls for a hooker to kill her so he could use her arm for his ketchup while eating french fries?

Also Darnell came into the creeps house which wasn't locked, the door however was locked before, why did the creep unlock it?

And about the violence, I don"t mind a bloody movie, (Tarantino is one of my favorite directors) but I didn't feel for any of the characters, we get to know very little about their backgrounds and there are so many unanswered questions and weird plotchanges that all that remains is the senseless violence.
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Old July 27th, 2016, 01:14 PM   #4
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Re: Cupcake - Short on teen Prostitution (gh4 Panasonic)

Hi. Really appreciate you watching it and taken the time to give feedback. It always helps to hear different voices.

Let me try to answer some your questions or criticism and don't take this as a defense. It is not. Maybe just to clarify and believe me the is a laundry list of things I would have done different under other circumstances.

The door was open. Cupcake unlocks it when she tries to get out before getting beat. I just forgot to add a shot of the door cracked open.

The grading is a matter of taste. I used a thriller filter from color finale.

Regarding sympathy etc.. it is next to impossible to gain much with so little time to tell the story. I also watch a lot of shorts and I can't remember a single short where I felt something at the end. Even with a feature it can be difficult to gain the right amount of sympathy for a payoff at the end. Especially when I had to add some plot to it. This was loosely based on a true story and really the end of that story. Meaning the end of a feature I'm working on. Joy blames herself for the death and realizes in that moment cupcake was right and she needs to get out or she is next to die. Maybe it didn't come accords. Probably due to the time constraints I had. In other words I simply had no time to tell this particular story and also add a bunch of background without turning it into a feature film which I can't do for $1500. ��

Regarding the senseless killings that didn't seem to make sense. Well, most sense killings in the world make no sense. Why did Jeffrey darmer invite blacks teens into his house and cut their head of and leave them in the freezer? That made no sense. I don't think there is ever a logical explanation for how some people behave. Since this was based one. Story I saw told by a teenage prostitute it had some truth to it.

In any event thanks for watching.
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Old July 27th, 2016, 03:44 PM   #5
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Re: Cupcake - Short on teen Prostitution (gh4 Panasonic)

Quote:
Why did Jeffrey darmer invite blacks teens into his house and cut their head of and leave them in the freezer? That made no sense
When that would happen in a film I would expect the director to give some background as to why Jeffrey came to that type of behavior, it might have been something from his past with an abusive father. It helps me as a viewer to better identify with the character if I understand his/her reasoning behind their actions.
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Old July 27th, 2016, 04:18 PM   #6
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Re: Cupcake - Short on teen Prostitution (gh4 Panasonic)

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Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
When that would happen in a film I would expect the director to give some background as to why Jeffrey came to that type of behavior, it might have been something from his past with an abusive father. It helps me as a viewer to better identify with the character if I understand his/her reasoning behind their actions.
I agree that would be helpful, but so many times those things are never explained for a number of reasons. We don't know why Hannibal is bad in Silence of the Lambs of why he likes to eat human flesh. It is necessary to tell a story? Maybe. but I guess that depends on who you ask.

Do we really know why Superman can fly using a cape or why tie-fighters in Star Wars make sound, when there is no sound in space, or how they even turn, or how Jason from Friday the 13th likes to kill a bunch of people?

I could obviously give a million examples of unexplained things in movies that probably would help better understand them. There is a discussion forum where people get into arguments over that IMDB, and I think people in general like to debate this, which I think why we love movies :)

I wasn't trying to justify my position. I just wanted to point out so many movies and/or real life situations are not always explainable, especially, as I pointed out earlier why senseless killings are just that. Completely senseless without any logical explanation. On the other hand I also like films that leave some of it up to the audience and let them decide.

Prostitution is actually worse than what I have shown and so many get killed for no reason.

Having said that, I, like you, prefer some explanation in some films, but not all.

BTW, I am gonna give background in the feature film, this was just a glimpse into one day of Cupcake's life, which was based on a true story.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.
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Old July 28th, 2016, 10:31 AM   #7
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Re: Cupcake - Short on teen Prostitution (gh4 Panasonic)

Making a film is so much work... And then it is so easy for other people to look at it and rip it apart. You should be proud of this. Few people in the world could plan out a film, bring together the resources, and actually produce a finish product. I have crewed on more than one project that fell apart, never seeing the light of day.

Doing a dramatic film is especially difficult. This means having actors who can actually act, subtly convey emotions, and be able to direct that. A comedy or action film is much easier in this regard, but you managed to pull it off.

Then, to openly ask for criticism online? You are either very brave, very stupid, a complete masochist, or you truly care about improving for your next project.

I would just like to give you a few notes to consider for your next project. Likely, you have probably already figured these things out on your own, but I'll go ahead and say them anyway, just in case.

A) The background really seems to be competing with the actors and the foreground elements. These bright, blown out walls just seemed really glaring to me. Perhaps this was an intentional choice, but for me it didn't work. I come from the school of thought that you should use light to direct a viewers eyes around the frame, but with such a bright background, and everything being lit so flatly, I didn't know where to look.

If I were the cinematographer on this project, I would have wanted to shoot this when it is dark out, as to not have to deal with daylight coming in windows. I would embrace the darkness, lighting minimally, from extreme angles, as to have long moody shadows. This, I believe, would create a dark moody look that would match the subject matter of the film. Again, this is entirely subjective. Just because I would have done it this way doesn't mean it is the right way. Just something to consider.

B) Pacing/editing- Your editing was very good here. I only mention this because I believe with your next project you could take it up to the next level. The best motion picture editing, in my opinion, finds a rhythm. The editing becomes invisible. The editing here is just fine, but it doesn't seem to be completely invisible. It seems that some sequences should have a bit more time to breathe, while others could be tightened up a little. Some of the cuts also seem unmotivated, which draws my attention to them.

C) Audio- Your on set audio capture is very good, but I wonder if anything more could be done to create a stronger environment with the sound? Where is this apartment? Maybe traffic driving by outside, or something... The audio is just a little too perfect, too clean, lacking real world background sounds. If you watch a movie today, you will notice almost every scene uses audio to construct the environment and make it sound full.

To come up with an example, I just pulled up Netflix and clicked on the first movie that came up, Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves. We see a kid and his mom in the kitchen. At first the mom is on the phone, and we here the kid making himself a sandwich in the background. Then, as the focus switches to the kid, we can still hear the mom's phone conversation happening in the background. As the kid goes outside, we can her a couple crickets chirp, distant dogs barking, and far away traffic. Skipping ahead to another scene, there are two guys in a laboratory. There are different apparatuses making noices, other people in the lab working and walking around, so we hear foot steps and computer sounds.

D) Maybe break the rules? Your film seems shot very classically. You followed all the rules, and it came out fine. But for your next project, maybe try breaking some rules? Like instead of going in for a close up to show emotion on a character, what happens if you bounce back to an extreme wide shot, showing how alone the character is? Or how the environment is crushing them?

Also would be curious to see what would happen if in a emotionally charged scene you take the camera off the tripod and shoot handheld. The shakiness could add some energy and immediacy to the scene.

Anyway, I hope you don't take any of this as criticism of your film. Rather, just some ideas to toss around before your next project. Good luck!
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Old July 28th, 2016, 12:56 PM   #8
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Re: Cupcake - Short on teen Prostitution (gh4 Panasonic)

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Originally Posted by Adam Grunseth View Post
Making a film is so much work... And then it is so easy for other people to look at it and rip it apart. You should be proud of this. Few people in the world could plan out a film, bring together the resources, and actually produce a finish product. I have crewed on more than one project that fell apart, never seeing the light of day.
THANKS! I really actually appreciate the feedback, good or bad. I never expect everyone to like something and sometimes I will learn something new, if it is constructive and/or just reaffirm what I already know or believe.

And I agree, I KNOW how difficult it is to make a film, especially one that ends up being successful, and I don't mean by money or even good reviews, just a film that ends up according to the original vision.

I will do my best to respond of your questions and feedback.

Quote:
A) The background really seems to be competing with the actors and the foreground elements. These bright, blown out walls just seemed really glaring to me. Perhaps this was an intentional choice, but for me it didn't work. I come from the school of thought that you should use light to direct a viewers eyes around the frame, but with such a bright background, and everything being lit so flatly, I didn't know where to look.

If I were the cinematographer on this project, I would have wanted to shoot this when it is dark out, as to not have to deal with daylight coming in windows. I would embrace the darkness, lighting minimally, from extreme angles, as to have long moody shadows. This, I believe, would create a dark moody look that would match the subject matter of the film. Again, this is entirely subjective. Just because I would have done it this way doesn't mean it is the right way. Just something to consider.
I agree, but this had to do with me doing EVERYTHING myself and really didn't have the confidence I was gonna be able to pull off certain night stuff outside without permits, etc.

In addition, because of so many challenging things, which I won't get into here, I had a change of location last minute, which had all the big windows, but no depth, (white walls nothing in the space, didn't help me either. So yes, the original idea was to do a much more moody settings, which came out better in the second half of the film when she goes to Bernard's apartment. At least I thought it came out better and the aesthetics were much more appropriate.

This is something I will change when I do the feature film. FYI, this was really done to sell the idea as a feature and took place at the end of that, during one day.

Quote:
Pacing/editing- Your editing was very good here. I only mention this because I believe with your next project you could take it up to the next level. The best motion picture editing, in my opinion, finds a rhythm. The editing becomes invisible. The editing here is just fine, but it doesn't seem to be completely invisible. It seems that some sequences should have a bit more time to breathe, while others could be tightened up a little. Some of the cuts also seem unmotivated, which draws my attention to them.
Love if you could give me some examples, especially because I edit so much and pride myself in doing a pretty good job when I work on projects.

Quote:
C) Audio- Your on set audio capture is very good, but I wonder if anything more could be done to create a stronger environment with the sound? Where is this apartment? Maybe traffic driving by outside, or something... The audio is just a little too perfect, too clean, lacking real world background sounds. If you watch a movie today, you will notice almost every scene uses audio to construct the environment and make it sound full.
I see what you are saying, and I generally use sounds to enhance scenes, with just what you are talking about, but it was pretty damn quiet where we shot, and I wanted to use some of the silence to make Cupcake feel more alone. Then again, I didn't spend that much time thinking about that, as I just wanted clean dialogue./[quote]

Quote:
D) Maybe break the rules? Your film seems shot very classically. You followed all the rules, and it came out fine. But for your next project, maybe try breaking some rules? Like instead of going in for a close up to show emotion on a character, what happens if you bounce back to an extreme wide shot, showing how alone the character is? Or how the environment is crushing them?
I agree 100%. I usually do that. This had more to do with in cramp spaces where you don't get that wide perspective and I had to deal with a LOT of mirrors, which is always problematic.

Quote:
Also would be curious to see what would happen if in a emotionally charged scene you take the camera off the tripod and shoot handheld. The shakiness could add some energy and immediacy to the scene.
!
Initially I wanted to shoot the whole thing hand held to create more frantic characters, moments etc, but I just thought I t was too obvious and went with the more traditional style.

I got another project coming up when Im finally gonna use a new steadicam and will be a lot more dynamic, so all the things you talk about hopefully will come to fruition.

Again, I don't take offense to any criticism. I like discussing films, even my own, to flush through whatever set ideas I may have or reaffirm them.

THANKS, Adam!
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