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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old June 27th, 2004, 06:51 PM   #1
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Interesting site for short films

While most of us here try to explain to each other how to do things, here is a site that tells you what not to do. Sort of funny, but true.
I did a search and didn't find any reference to it here at dvinfo.

http://filmmaker.com/DUMPS.html

dIRECTING
uNSUCCESSFUL
mOTION
pICTURE
sHORTS

hehehehe.
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Old June 28th, 2004, 12:38 AM   #2
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It's funny, but really cynical.

I'm sure the guy would lump this in the pretentious group, but there really is no room in creativity for cynicism. It's a form of creative sabotage, and never a very helpful thing to offer your fellow man.

Almost every story has a beginning, middle and an end. Almost every story has a single, easily discernible protagonist. Almost every single script falls into one of those general categories like 'fish out of water' or whatever general plot summaries you can come up with. There are so many stories told, retold; with different angles, different plot points, different settings. You can take any of these repetitions and turn them into some kind of unhelpful though mildly amusing list. But why?

If we all get so cynical as this dude, we might as well all just sort of give up and lay down in fetal position.
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Old June 28th, 2004, 02:01 AM   #3
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A thread discussing this site started by Chris last year.
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Old June 28th, 2004, 02:22 PM   #4
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Imran,

When I became cynical about filmmaking three years ago, my movies suffered. You're so very right about that! Glad I got myself out of that rut!

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Old June 28th, 2004, 04:45 PM   #5
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I linked to the site just for laughs. Some of the comments about his rules are very funny. Most took the site for what it was, a little tongue and cheek. I mean really, just about everything he talks about exists in just about every movie made.

If any got depressed by reading this guy, step back and think about what you are doing and why. I like the follow on comments from other readers who talk about their pet peeves. Seems everyone has at least one.

The best comment was the tongue and cheek comeback about the guy who was going to make a short film with his girlfriend cast as a cigarette smoking, conflicted artist, with lots of inner demons who was going to commit suicide with a handgun in the last scene.




Also, sorry, I searched on DUMPS not d.u.m.p.s. try to do better next time.

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Old June 28th, 2004, 05:05 PM   #6
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Heath, don't know if you've seen it, but there's a neat book called "The Artist's Way" - I forget the author. It deals solely with the subject of releasing the creativity within, etc. Sort of a self-help book but not really. I hate self-help books - but this is more of a guide to help you stop sabotaging yourself, and to stop others from sabotaging you - with the specific subject of creativity (and what relates to it).

Neat stuff.
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Old June 28th, 2004, 06:38 PM   #7
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Well, you can't teach creativity, that's for sure, just the tools to do art! I learned that as a film school teacher.

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Old June 30th, 2004, 06:00 PM   #8
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<<<-- Originally posted by Imran Zaidi : You can take any of these repetitions and turn them into some kind of unhelpful though mildly amusing list. But why? -->>>

Because, as stated in the list, "enough is enough". I have to say I agree on most of the points presented on that site; I'm no expert, but I know what I like, and much of the clichés touched upon are endlessly aggravating.

It's akin to people forwarding you the dancing baby in an email (or raving about Hampster Dance, or screaming "All your base are belong to us!" like it's so damned clever): it's been done to death, and is no longer funny. Get over it. Honestly, I think such lists CAN be helpful; just like the emails about stupid websites, the person is probably just unaware that it's washed up, and wouldn't be sending it to all their friends if they knew how annoying it was.

I really don't think any particular point of his--aside from the one about bad audio--is immediate grounds for a vote of "bad filmmaking". If it really works, go for it. The problem is that so many short filmmakers (read that however you like...:P) use these shots/stories/actors/techniques simply because THEY think it's cool, completely ignoring the fact that the audience has seen it a thousand times already.

"Being cynical kills creativity" - Nonsense! One could go so far as to say that if you do ANY of the things on that list, you're being "creatively lazy", and merely taking the path of least resistance. I wouldn't personally go that far, but the principle's the same. If you stop being cynical, and fall into the trap of using the same shots, camera angles, and storylines that everyone else uses, aren't you preventing yourself from being creative by coming up with new ways to do things?

"But you can't tell an original story anymore! Everything's been done already!" - First I'd ask you, isn't that a cynical attitude in its own right? Second, I'd say that I agree, but I'm not talking about reinventing your entire movie, just the way you approach it. Do you really need to have the guy smoke a cigarette to show he's pensive? Is walking into the camera (something I've done before...twice in a matter of minutes) the best way to transition to the next scene? Is that star wipe so important?

You could point out that I'M being cynical, and have also never started--let alone finished--anything. Fair enough, and this does lend some credence to your "Cynical = Bad" argument, at first glance. But consider that I also have no talent, and use cynicism to compensate for the fact that I'm simply too lazy to do anything. The cynicism itself is a red herring, therefore your argument falls apart.


In any event, I'd like to add a few more points I feel are missing from the list:

1.) This is actually less of an issue for low-budget, independent, student filmmakers, and more a quirk of the larger productions. Computer screens so bright they project text and images onto the user's face. If you could actually crank a display up that high, you'd be squinting, if not turning away. At best, you see a blue glow that gets somewhat brighter or darker when the content of the screen changes drastically. You will not see flickering as a result of moving text, and you will most certainly not see the letters on whomever's using the thing.

2.) Kids with guns. I'm not particularly politically correct, easily offended, pro-/anti- guns, or aged and wise, but this trend annoys me nevertheless. So much of the stuff I see online, and on public access, concerns people my age and younger playing with toy guns. A round of "duck duck goose" that ends with the goose getting shot in the head on one such program, for example. Aside from being unconvincing (recoil never looks right, sound effects are all wrong), and a bad idea (running around in public with anything that looks like a real gun, well, you know how that is), it's just plain goofy. "Look at us, we look cool 'cause we have guns!" I'll grant that a character holding a weapon in the correct fashion can appear particularly badass, but it just doesn't work with a teenager in a t-shirt and shorts, you know?

3.) Something that happens a lot in Star Wars fanfilms, but crops up elsewhere too often for my tastes, is people running around and/or fighting in the woods. Dude. Come on.

4.) Finally, two points in one, since they are fairly alike. The first is constantly referring to people whom you don't like as "f*gs", or some variation thereof. Once again, I'm not really PC, or easily offended, but this gets old quick. There are so many other ways to insult someone that are far more creative and hurtful than that. Take the high road. Do something different. Second is good old fasioned swearing. Every other word out of my mouth is a curse, but oftentimes in short films it feels unnatural. Out of place. There for its own sake. If a character gets hit in the crotch, one expects to hear more than "Shucks, that hurt", but flinging the things around like they're part of most people's everyday speech doesn't do it for me. They have more punch when used sparingly.


I had one about people being jerked backwards when shot with handguns (more often than not, I've come to understand, you won't do that, and won't even feel pain right away), but that's not so much a problem with the smaller films.
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