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Old November 9th, 2003, 09:05 PM   #1
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Pieces of April

This weekend I saw the new fine InDigEnt film, Pieces of April, shot on DV. Sure you could tell it was DV, sure it was very low budget, and sure it could have been done with 35mm for a much more pristine 'look'. But this movie was wonderful to watch, in every sense of the word. Once and again I'm reminded that it really doesn't matter what the hell camera you use.

Just tell me a great story, with great writing, with strong characters and with depth and realism. And shoot it on whatever the heck you have handy that allows you to bring your beautiful story to me, because I don't care! Just tell me your tale.
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Old November 10th, 2003, 12:59 PM   #2
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i'll have to go the other direction on this one. bottom line Pieces of April is a good movie BUT this movie deserved a better format ( even digital beta would have helped the look).. after seeing the previews months ago i decided this DV thing at InDigIt has gone on far too long. the "look" "NTSC/PAL format" on the BIG SCREEN etc does not fit the films. IMO it distracts from the movie. if you look at the list of movies InDigIt has done take a look at the actors/actresses !! why are these projects being shot in mini DV with these stars ? Tadpole has a $5 million actress - what they couldn't afford to rent a 4:2:2 camera ? ..

for me enough is enough on these mini DV projects that have stars - if the script fits the look ( 28days, even Steve S decided he wanted a dirty dv video look for his film = it was PLANNED ) then use it but if it doesn't fit and you have these kinds of actors i think one could raise another 30-50K to shoot on a better medium ..
YES we here on this board can't afford Film or HD or a better format - we shoot DV because that's all we can afford PLUS we don't have the Star power of these movies ... so if that's all you can afford then use it ...

i'm now at the point that i refuse to pay $10 to see a movie shot in ntsc/pal on the big screen ( i went to 1st showing of day bargain $6) ... for $10 i want to see my $$ worth. for $10 i expect to see quality ( script and image)

after seeing Pieces of April from now on i'll only be renting these movies shot on ntsc/pal mini DV ... they work better when viewed in INCH'es vs Feet.
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Old November 10th, 2003, 01:34 PM   #3
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Interesting, I've never made the connection between the price-quality of an actor and the method in which they're shot. I like 16mm films. Heck, I even love the look of Super8 films like Buffalo 66. DV, to me, is just another type of guerrilla format that develops its own texture that you either appreciate or you don't. It's just a preference thing.

There's also the fact that these films, with the type of stories they have, may never have seen the light of day had it not been for the low-budget fulfillment environment that InDigEnt provides.

I would, any day, watch a DV film like Pieces of April or Personal Velocity over a pristinely shot but poor storied 35mm production. And I'll watch it in the theater. Only $5.50 at my local arthouse dinner theater, since I'm a member.

But atsa just me.
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Old November 10th, 2003, 03:02 PM   #4
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Buffalo 66 actually did not use Super 8. It was shot on 35 for $1.5 million. Gallo used 35mm reversal to evoke the feeling of Super 8, but not actual Super 8 stock.


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Old November 10th, 2003, 04:39 PM   #5
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"I would, any day, watch a DV film like Pieces of April or Personal Velocity over a pristinely shot but poor storied 35mm production"

personal velocity another very good movie BUT again with the stars in the project they couldn't get another 5K to shoot with a 2/3" CCD camera ? .. from my understanding pieces of april was shopped around and they had no takers BUT i have to ask what was the budget they were shopping around ? 3, 4, 5, 10 million ? in the end they go to InDigEnt which does their project for 150K. i find it hard to believe that with the actor/actresses attached to the project 150K is all they can come up with ...


nobody sets out to make a bad or so-so movie ..
i have to give some type of credit to low budget 35mm productions that in the end are so-so/bad - they set out for a theatrical movie at least they believed in their projects enough to to raise $$ to present it in a theactrical format ..
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Old November 10th, 2003, 06:26 PM   #6
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Can I just chirp in here for a sec? Regarding them miniDV shot movies. . .was all of Chelsea walls done that way? or only some?
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Old November 10th, 2003, 06:49 PM   #7
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Chelsea Walls was entirely shot on DVCam. The titles, however, were definitely laser on 35mm over DV which was a very interesting choice and I think it helped perception of the film.

I was at a screening with Ethan Hawke and he kept rambling on about these "toy cameras" that they gave him. I was impressed by the filmout (the first DV filmout I had seen). I was less impressed with Ethan Hawke.


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Old November 11th, 2003, 02:35 AM   #8
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I saw something on Inside the Actors' Studio with Hawk, and they showed clips from the movie that looked amazing. . .some people in a bedroom, one was Dennis Hopper. . .looked freakin' great. But that's DVCAM, and not miniDV. . .so maybe that's why.
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Old November 11th, 2003, 08:08 AM   #9
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I have heard two different versions of what camera they used on Chelsea Walls. One article I read said they used a PD-100 PAL, while another suggested they used the Canon XL-1 PAL.

Either way, it wouldn't really matter if it's DVCAM or MiniDV. It's really the PAL factor that makes it look better.
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Old November 11th, 2003, 08:50 AM   #10
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I really enjoyed Pieces of April. I thought the images could have been better in parts. The scene in the diner looked a little blown out. I really liked the acting and the script was really smart. I really wanted to see it since it was shot on my old block in NYC. I heard that originally this movie was supposed to have cost $6 million but financing dropped out so they turned to indigent which gave Peter Hedges $150,000 to shoot the movie.
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Old November 11th, 2003, 10:52 AM   #11
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Chelsea Walls

FYI, on Chelsea Walls, they definitely used Sony cameras. I assume at that time they used PD100, but I can't confirm. Also DVCAM and MiniDV use the same compression. I'm sure had they used a PAL XL1, it would have looked as good. You can really see how a PAL camera can improve the filmout.
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Old November 11th, 2003, 12:37 PM   #12
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"I heard that originally this movie was supposed to have cost $6 million but financing dropped out so they turned to indigent which gave Peter Hedges $150,000 to shoot the movie."

this is where i have to ask - if the 6 million went bye-bye why didn't they go out and get 300K - with the star power in that movie i say they could have done it ..heck lets face it if Ethan believed in this as a personal film he could have put up the 300K ?
so instead they get 150k from InDigEnt ?? and shoot on hand size camera - IMO ethan could have asked somebody for a FAVOR and got a shoulder size camera ? i'm no ethan but i could call my local camera rental and ask for favor =free camera , or ask for a 1/2 day week ...

the origional contract betwen IFC and InDigEnt was fopr 10 movies ( 150K each) .. i see they are now producing #11 & 12 - same budgets ..i think it is time for them to move to higher budgets like maybe 200K or 300K ... these are un-real budgets when you consider the star power in them = we could never do em with these actors for that $$
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Old November 11th, 2003, 01:25 PM   #13
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Maybe Ethan just liked the grittiness of going guerrilla with the cam. Some people really do like that.

(raising my hand).
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Old November 12th, 2003, 02:09 PM   #14
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From MovieWeb.com - Like many independent films, Pieces of April was shot with digital cameras, but in this instance the director felt it enhanced the movie and energized it. "To me, it feels very immediate and very raw. It felt like life," he says. "Many of the films today feel disconnected from life, but for me, being able to shoot scenes so intimately was really thrilling. I wanted it to feel like we were peeking in on people."

Personally, I think the grittiness and intimacy of DV fit the film well.

Also, the financing for the pic had fallen apart 3 times. After the third time, InDigEnt approached them and offered the money. So after years of trying to get it made and 3 financing failures, within 2 weeks of the 3rd failure they had the InDigEnt money, a month later they were shooting and 16 days later the filming wrapped. This quick financing also allowed them to keep their cast together.

Regarding another InDigEnt pic Tadpole, director Gary Winick said on the DVD commentary that he convinced Sigourney Weaver to do it because the intimacy and long takes shooting with DV was like doing theatre.
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Old November 12th, 2003, 05:12 PM   #15
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""To me, it feels very immediate and very raw. It felt like life," he says. "Many of the films today feel disconnected from life, but for me, being able to shoot scenes so intimately was really thrilling. I wanted it to feel like we were peeking in on people."
"he convinced Sigourney Weaver to do it because the intimacy and long takes shooting with DV was like doing theatre."

can't argue with Directors AND the director/actors in Anniversary Party said the same using 2 shoulder size DV camera's that gave them even longer takes then mini Dv ...

Pieces of April shopped a 3-6 million budget around. They did not shop around the PAL/NTSC "look" with that budget. the director/writer didn't consider hand size dv25 camera when he shopped it around. so back then was he forgetting the intimacy of the script or felt he couldn't get that intimacy on a set ? IMO NO because you hire ACTORS to give you performance.

from experience there seems to be a more intimate atmosphere when there is less equipment on the set ..IE during rehersals i usually video tape = it is very intimate as only actors , director and camera are there ( no crew , no other equipment) BUT when we shoot with full crew the actors always come thru ....

but as was stated the $$ fell thru and somebody stepped forward with 150K and they didn't have time to shop around a 500K budget ? appears those behind the project didn't put up their own $$ ... i have friends that have put up their own 50 -250K for their projects with NO name actors because they believed in their projects ... BUT bottom line is you worked with what you GOT ...

please don't get me wrong i thought Pieces of April was a good movie and i plan to view it again when it's available on DVD. I felt with those actors & the script it deserved a little better PAL/NTSC. (camera with 2/3 CCD's ?,or 4:2:2 format ?) for the BIG screen...
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