UWOL 18 - The Falling Leaves - Mat Thompson at DVinfo.net

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Old November 22nd, 2010, 04:47 PM   #1
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UWOL 18 - The Falling Leaves - Mat Thompson

Hey guys

Ok then....I told you I was going to do something different this time around. To be honest I don't really know where this film came from, it wasn't something I particularly had in mind at the outset. Anyway...

Firstly - If it is deemed to be outside of the uwol remit then please remove it from the judging process. I have no problem with that at all. Although I'd still like some critique off you guys as always :-) !

Background -The Falling Leaves is a poem written by Margaret Postgate-Cole in 1915 against World War 1. After reading it I found the analogy of the falling leaves to be a very strong one and began to formulate an abstract story about a girl who goes out into some Autumnal woodland as a sign of remembrance. Maybe she's just read the poem, or maybe she's a modern day Margaret Postgate-Cole, who knows!



Last edited by Mat Thompson; November 23rd, 2010 at 03:03 AM.
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 06:12 PM   #2
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I don’t think this falls outside of the UWOL warrant at all. I do wish you had concealed the nature of the photographs a bit longer as I figured out where you were headed a bit earlier than I think I should have done. You may have seen in an earlier post that I became inspired by your slider work in UWOL16 and built a slider from 8020 and a Dayton motor. This leaves me wondering- is your slider powered? It takes considerable skill, I think, to push the carriage that smoothly up the 45 degree manually. Very nice. I would have liked to see an extreme close up of the paper poppies at the end as many young folks don’t know what those are anymore.
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 07:34 PM   #3
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That slider work is great. Very sad film. The young ages of the fallen on the plaque. And it's still going on. A bit of symbolic with the peaceful and colorful autumn nature and the stark black and white of war photos.
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Old November 23rd, 2010, 03:25 AM   #4
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Hi Mat,

As usual a well thought out and beautifuly filmed entry.
Being new here I don't think I am in a postion to comment as to if the content fits the criteria.
But I liked it a lot

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Old November 23rd, 2010, 03:39 AM   #5
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A well produced film Mat... not really a UWOL film, it's a "cross genre" film... I think. Like mine... it's about us living in nature, not just about the wild.

I liked the move when the tree pass between camera and girl.

well done Mat!
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Old November 24th, 2010, 04:42 AM   #6
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Mat, a very moving piece. It touched me. I think the way you composed each scene, the girl walking, leaving pictures that you could just barely make out, the walk to the church, all told this moving story of incredable loose. Yet, who was he? Husband, brother, lover?
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Old November 24th, 2010, 04:56 AM   #7
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Hi Mat,

Yes this was different! A touching and well made video you have!
Maybe the pictures were identified a bit too early, as Mike also mentioned, but that's just a detail.
Your music was a good match for the story and mood.
Maybe a very close up shots of the girl's (sad) eyes as she put down the photos could have been an idea?

Well done!!
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Old November 24th, 2010, 09:57 AM   #8
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I am a gluton for punishment, I had to watch it twice. Let me explain. I do not ever go to remembrance day ceremonies, having served in the Marines in combat in the 60's these things just cut to deep. I certainly need no poppy to remember, I still smell it.

So, as I was watching it and becoming rather over emotional I lost all sense of looking at it criticly!

I think that in itself says it all about your film!!!!

The second time through I could appreciate the slider/dolly style shots, and all the fantastic technique you displayed in this piece.

I'd like to say it gave me inspiration, but rather it gave me perspiration.

This film would have been marvolous for the dv/uwol challenge!!

Do not know if I liked it or not!!
Dale W. Guthormsen
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Old November 24th, 2010, 11:58 AM   #9
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Oh, oh... the naturalist filmmaker is going narrative..... watch out film making world.

I have to admit that this was stretching the theme a bit, but the film itself was well conceived, the theme of the film well carried out, and the photography was wonderful. I was a bit confused about the connection of the pretty lady, to the fallen, but it was nice to see her anyway.

Only comment I have on the shallow depth of field shots was the one about 1/4 way through the film, in which she steps into frame and puts her hand up to a leaf. I think she should have come into frame in focus, and with her hand reaching to the leaf, the focus would shift in rack focus to the leaf.

Great job once again Mat.
Chris J. Barcellos
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Old November 24th, 2010, 12:22 PM   #10
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A nicely filmed effort. The music was well chosen. The scene that starts at about 1:39 (with the leaves and picture rotating) did not work too well for me. It looks like you may have places the leaves and picture on some kind of turntable that you were rotating by hand - it seems not too smooth.

The concept was very well conceived (although a Chris mentioned is perhaps stretching the theme a bit); never the less I have watched it (along with all of the entries) three times. One thing to point out is that the meaning of the Poppy is largely lost on the USA population. I understand it's meaning and significance but I'm not sure if the general population here would. Of course, in the UK and Canada the meaning is very well known.
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Old November 24th, 2010, 04:08 PM   #11
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Mat, this was totally different of what you have showed us earlier. The haunting, sad music put me in the mood I think you was planning your viewer to be in when he watched your film!

Your technical skill is excellent. The slider work was breathtaking (I have to try this out one day!)

I have a impression of that this is shot with two different camcorders, or should I say a videocamera and a DSLR? The sequences from 0:25 - 1:00 looks like the kind of narrow DOF you got with DSLR, while other shots was more like shooting with a 1/3 inch camcorder.

I agree with Chris, you might stretch the theme a bit here, but boy, this was a Mat Thompson quality film!
- Per Johan
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Old November 24th, 2010, 10:44 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Dale Guthormsen View Post
I do not ever go to remembrance day ceremonies, having served in the Marines in combat in the 60's these things just cut to deep. I certainly need no poppy to remember, I still smell it.
What a staggering and somber statement, Dale. I am humbled. I couldn't even imagine what it must have been like.

Hey Mat:

You amaze me. This is a weighty film indeed. It bucks the UWOL forum in the key respect that it is not wildlife film and I respect your sentiment that it shouldn't be included in the judging. But that being established... who cares. You run with the spirit of UWOL by pushing your own dimensions and breaking your own boundaries. This is inspiration.

You ask for critical feedback, and I know how important this is to you. You have established yourself as one that can critically analyze a film and cut right to the nuts and bolts of what might work better or what technique failed to deliver. Your technical skill brings you to a level to be able to do this, and we all benefit from your keen eye. For me, this is a more difficult thing... almost like you the teacher inquiring of the pupil how you can improve. But in my deepest respect for who you are I will attempt to share my impressions and hope that you can decipher for yourself a translation to an equation of technical application.

I found nothing that I didn't like about this film and was filled with the mastery of it. I know this in itself will disappoint. I can only share what worked for me.

The shooting in black and white in the first scene of the falling leaves was extremely effective in instantly setting the mood and pacing of the film. The music couldn't have been more appropriately selected. From the first second, the viewer anticipates a melancholy and mysterious story.

Switching to color in the very next scene is almost like switching from the past to the future. The black and white footage of the falling leaves in the beginning is now linked to the only other images that are set in black and white... the war photos. I found this to be a stroke of brilliance.

Also striking was the sense of slow, methodical and constant movement. Everything moves in this piece! The transitions are seamless and unremarkable. Nothing is linear and you shoot in angles and tangents with a real command of how light accentuates the scenes. It all adds to the mystery and the intrigue!

Kudos to your girlfriend (?) who walked her part beautifully. You made her (and she was) captivating.

Anyway, I could say some more, but I'll leave it at that. Sorry I couldn't do better for ya Mat!

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Old November 26th, 2010, 10:30 AM   #13
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Mat you are a master at telling a story without uttering a single word. Your 'Fisher King' is to me still one of the most outstanding films on UWOL. I have not yet been able to get my mind thinking this way but I believe it is an invaluable skill and one that should be learned. I believe that if you can tell a powerful story without using words then you can better manage a film that actually needs some words – which most of necessity do. The starting point becomes visual rather than verbal (like mine) when constructing the story.

Your camera work is excellent and the concept intriguing. You have created a mysterious mood; almost gloomy. The ending – the combination of visuals and message - uses light and shadow expertly. In fact the quality of light throughout plays a significant role in creating the atmosphere for this film.

I think Cat’s appraisal of your film is outstanding - I can't improve on what she has said.

Some of the problems I had with your film on a purely personal level:

The intriguing story kept my interest but I confess it began to wane three quarters of the way through when it seemed it wasn’t going anywhere – all is revealed at the end but it seemed to drag on a bit too slowly for me.

Your actress seemed a bit too detached and unemotional for the subject. I would have liked to have seen a little more emotion coming through in view of the fact that this is advocating the remembrance of the fallen. When she studies the leaf (an excellent shot BTW) we are not given any clues as to what she could be thinking or feeling. She could have been wondering what insect made the hole for all we know. She seemed to do that rather aimlessly. Based on the subject I interpreted the hole in the leaf as probably being symbolic of a bullet hole but then again she did not show despair, frustration or anger or anything so I am probably way off the mark. When pinning on the poppy there was no hint of emotion.

One thing I did not like at all was the music – I turned it off before the end.

You can take these personal observations as you please Mat because they do not concur with the general feelings expressed here.

In conclusion – overall an excellent film and definitely an asset to your portfolio!

I know you never come back to your own thread to respond but I really would like to know how the second-hand raincoat fitted in – or have I missed something?!
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Old November 26th, 2010, 12:20 PM   #14
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Hi guys, well thank you for all the praise and critiques. Some great suggestions here and as always its interesting to see how other folks read your work. It's certainly interesting to hear some folks say I gave it away to early, it's always difficult to know how much to reveal and how much to hold back.

Sorry to disappoint everyone, but there isn't one slider shot in this piece :-) just jib !

Hey Mike - Sounds like a great bit of kit, I look forward to seeing the results.

Bob - Thanks. I didn't actually think about who she was. As I said in the blurb, maybe someone who's read the peom and just wants to remember the fallen, maybe its a modern day Margaret Cole. I actually wanted it to be quite abstract and open to interpretation.

Dale - Thanks for your response. It's good to know someone of your experiences found something in this little film. I guess it is hard to 'like' something like this. Thanks

Chris - I have to say any wildlife film maker should be as narrative as any other film maker. Story is what drives all the best films.

Rich - Yep the turntable was hand turned and to be honest is rubbish. That said apart from the last shot I thought it held up ok.

Per - All 7d fella. Either hand held, on the jib or tripod mounted.

Cat - Well thank you (Greenie! ;-) ! - You are always such a positive beacon, whether player or controller ! It is nice you have picked out certain things I intended (like the B&W intro) because it shows me people are reading things the way I hope. This helps a lot so thank you muchly !

Marj - Wow thank you for this extensive critique. This is what I like :-)

I agree the main body went on too long. This was dictated unfortunately by the music track. Yep that track you disliked so much :-/ ! I would have probably shaved 20 secs with some bespoke score.

Music - This is purely subjective, what can I say to me it fit the mood. Hey...the track was actually called 'War Poem' !

Actress - To be honest, I really didn't want her to be down or too sad although I know the general mood is a sombre one. I don't think we should all be crying when we remember these souls. I'm sure they wouldn't want that either. That said its a difficult line to tread. To much the other way and it may look as if I was poking fun at it. The poppy shot at the end for instance. I actually went for this take because she almost looked 'uplifted' walking away. As if it were a positive process that she'd 'remembered' the fallen. Thanks for bringing this up though and looking at it now I think I'd have gone for a little more emotion in the wood and then contrasted it slightly more in the church, however it is a difficult thing to deal with.
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Old November 26th, 2010, 05:59 PM   #15
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>Sorry to disappoint everyone, but there isn't one slider shot in this piece :-) just jib ! <

Ah-ha! This shows the danger of locking yourself into only one way of looking at things. In and of itself, a valuable lesson to learn. Thank-you Mat!
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