View Full Version : CLARA by Defcon aka Matt Harris

Matt Harris
02-13-2008, 06:47 PM

Hi everyone, I'm way late with the thread but better late than never
considering viewing starts... now.

I didn't quite get CLARA to where it needs to be, but i managed to
get a solid edit uploaded for compete.

That being said, I will be completing the Director's cut within the next 2 weeks
so all your feedback will really help (although i have a laundry list of stuff that
i KNOW i gotta fix.)

I have been following this fest very close for the past few months and i am
very excited to be a part of this with everyone.

CLARA Behind The Scenes
(Or How Much Does Matt Look Like A Tool When He's Working With Actors)




Ted Arabian
02-13-2008, 07:10 PM
Wow, Matt.... Sweet looking work! Glad you are getting this in!

Congrats and good luck!


02-13-2008, 07:54 PM
I love these grabs. Looking forward to watching this and to the director's cut

Michael Anthony Horrigan
02-13-2008, 07:59 PM

Very cool! Loved the idea....
The movie looked great! The effects were pretty good as well. I also really liked the main actor, he was great. Loved all the cool posters in his apartment...
Blade Runner, Alien, Close Encounters, Flash, can't remember them all... :D

The ending was pretty cool as well but I really wondered how long she had until the police showed up. And why she wasn't preparing for that... but that's nitpicking.

Nice work!


02-13-2008, 08:01 PM
I really want to go on a date with Clara. Great work, I loved the perspective you were able to give on the storytelling element. Cheers.

02-14-2008, 07:07 AM
Hey Defcon!

Really well done. Again the visuals were great. Good story and script. Your lead actor did a great job. I think you handled the problem of near future production design really well. Things don't change that much.
Loved the poster!:)

Mark Harris
02-14-2008, 08:22 AM
Wow, if only my girlfriend had a logic board to remove...

Good spin on the love theme. I liked seeing a sci-fi idea put in the mix, and this is what I like about moving to themes in the fests. You can apply any genre to the theme.

The only comment I would make is that the music was a tad overbearing and "carpenter-esque." Works in his cheesier films, but this one seemed to be staying away from the cheese, and I think it might work pretty well with no music at all, and maybe the sound design "inside Clara's head" providing the "music."

Good work.

Dustin R. Rogan
02-14-2008, 08:23 AM

Hhmmm when the robo first said he had feelings for him, I though...Gay Robo? Then i said no its definatily a Hot tempting lady robo. I kinda laughed when i saw someone in the shower when he went to the bathroom. Made me laugh. Over all Loved it, loved the idea, great work!

Matt Harris
02-14-2008, 05:07 PM
Hi guys, thanks for watching and commenting!

Mark, you are so right on the music, I'm a huge early Carpenter fan and i always compose stuff to sound like him just for fun.
But youre right, a tad cheese and it goes on too long. That was a deadline issue for me, i need to rework the music and much of the sound design as well. And you're right, the short actually plays fairly well with no music. I should probably leave some
scenes with no music.

Dustin, you caught me in the shower, yup, too many mirrors and no place to hide.

02-14-2008, 06:05 PM
Defcon, this was a cool short. Loved the production design and visual effects. Nice job. I wish you had the sexy lady computer voice though.

"System meltdown in 90 seconds...."

Matt Harris
02-14-2008, 06:16 PM
Have no fear mentatDUKE, a sexy computer voice is definitely going to replace my tranny voice!

Chris Messineo
02-14-2008, 07:57 PM
I liked this a lot.

I thought the editing and look of it was great. I especially liked the "Clara POV".

I wish her voice had been a little more feminine and sexual though. I think it would have worked better.

Overall, good story - well told.

Jason Ramsey
02-15-2008, 11:58 AM
Hey, man.

I enjoyed this. It was probably one of the more unique takes on the theme of Love.

It was well shot, and you had some interesting set dressings that helped to show off the time period that you put us in. It can be difficult to do a period piece (in particular a futuristic one) on a shoestring budget. But, you were also smart in setting it in a time in the not so distant future, so some more modern things mixed with other elements played pretty well together.

Story worked well for the time limit, and didn't feel too rushed. It was also probably a nice thing with the little glitches and cuts and fades and such from CLARA's perspective, as it also allowed you to cut where you needed to for time purposes without distorting continuity, etc.

I enjoyed the color palette that you gave us.

Your lead actor was very good as well.

About the comments on her voice... Honestly, I kinda don't mind the man-bot voice :) It works for me... It is after all a robot, and it contrasts well with the physical appearance of CLARA that you gave us at the end.

All in all, I enjoyed this piece, and I'm glad you shared it with us.



Cliff Wildman
02-15-2008, 12:11 PM
really interesting take on the AI love story. i liked the effects here, and the set dressing. your lead did really - especially considering that he was the focus and had to carry things from scene to scene.

i really dug the set dressing - like jason said right above here - good mix of now and 'future' to put us there.

good job!

02-16-2008, 12:24 AM
CLARA -- Shockingly great conceptual matter. Pun Intended. And so was that small spoiler.

Hey Matt! Really good concept you chose to go with. This specific take on Artificial Intelligence is always an interesting one. What makes it shockingly great is the perspective from which it's told: First Android.

I would hate to say this and be completely off base but I thought it was pretty hilarious. "I know you slept with that woman." The second I heard that, I cracked up so hard. I'm very sorry if that was not the intent. I think it was because the Android prattled off these amazing facts then IMMEDIATELY became human.

And, then, the Android powered down then powered back up, creeping to the bedroom door. This thing is really a female, man.

The beginning, the bathroom and the ending-- while okay separately-- all feel non congruent to the rest of the footage. I would've been completely fine remaining with the Android's point of view the entire time but that's probably just me.

I love the Android POV. The Wide Angle really bow and the graphics add a lot visually. It's also not a huge story at all, I think revisiting it with time to execute carefully would really be nice.

Thanks for showing! And, again, I'm sorry if those parts weren't supposed to be funny.

Matt Harris
02-16-2008, 12:39 AM
Kholi, great comments man, and you are spot on with a lot of stuff.

Good call on CLARA not showing enough transition, i plan on adding
some CLARA dialogue before the "I know you slept..." to make a more gradual transition.

It is supposed to be slightly spoofy and funny, so im glad you got a laugh,
we were having a blast making this.

This is my nod to early 90's near future sci-fi movies like Robocop, Fortress, Total Recall and No Escape.

The Intro, bathroom and ending were all handeheld while CLARA's scenes were on a dolly which i think works when comparing humans to robots visually. does that make sense? But i can totally see why those scenes might not be cohesive.

I'm really gonna try and work it all out on the director's cut. Thanks for posting!

J.R. Hudson
02-16-2008, 01:30 PM
I really enjoyed this one !

I was so caught up in the short and felt in the future, so to speak. I loved the POV approach and can barely summon any Hudson .02.

Subjectively ?

Perhaps more set design to really give us a sort of futuristic world ? Would have loved to have seen some exterior shots from within the apartment showing us a world

I only say this to enhance the idea of the future

Overall, wonderfully done and creepy good.


In using POV's, I would love to have seen the robot look at the answering machine when the woman called !

Changing to a womans voice for the robot is mandatory !


Very fun and well shot !

Brian Parker
02-16-2008, 04:18 PM
Great short. Fun cool concept and superbly executed.

The look was crisp and sterile yet visually rich and colorful at the same time. Liked the apartment, especially the "retro" movie posters. It really felt like near future setting. Everything was tight and well put together.

I gotta agree though that Man-Bot 2000 voice was kinda creepy but it doesn't detract from the film. Great job.

02-16-2008, 07:52 PM
wish her voice had been a little more feminine and sexual though. I think it would have worked better.Gotta agree with Chris here. It would have upped the ante on CLARA'S new found love for him.

Beyond that, though, I liked this one. This fest has brought out entries in many different genres. I love that fact that you tackled sci-fi. Good job.

Matt Harris
02-17-2008, 12:29 AM
Thanks Blaine, I'm in the process of trying to pitch up my voice to sound more feminine.
If that doesnt do the trick i'll probably re-record it with a sexy chick, and run her vocal through a vocoder.

02-17-2008, 02:04 AM

Hey Matt,

This was a cool concept. The opening crawl of the film screamed JOHN CARPENTER at me -- and intentional or not, I totally dug that... gave the film a very 80s-90s sci-fi vibe.

There's some nice vfx work in it... the POV look was pretty neat although I didn't particularly like the electrocution at the end. Did you use AE's lightning for that?

I had a lot of fun with this one overall. Nice way of weaving together a sci-fi concept and love -- definitely felt like a throwback to not only the films you mentioned but also an episode of Outer Limits!!

Good job!

02-17-2008, 06:18 PM

where is that logic board, ehem, located on the Clara? I liked this as a future apocalyptic fantasy tale. The POV works well in the 6 minute form. I think I was hoping for more from the reveal though, as to make up and wardrobe; more hot futuristic. The lead actor was good, it isn't easy to play directly into the camera. Having seen your spyfest and hallowsfest shorts as well, I see a real signature developing and it is a really cool one.



02-17-2008, 06:29 PM
Having seen your spyfest and hallowsfest shorts as well, I see a real signature developing and it is a really cool one.Oh wow. I forgot about Cabin! You have come a long way with this one. :thumbsup:

Matt Harris
02-17-2008, 08:19 PM
Thanks Blaine, your verbal whiplash on CABIN was the tough love that got me working hard to tell a cohesive story for this fest. ;)

Ted Arabian
02-18-2008, 10:50 AM
Hey Matt, I enjoyed this film.

I think that you overcame some really challenging elements here... specifically, the main character working pretty much solely with a POV camera.

I did find myself wanted to have some other shots in this film... like Michael and CLARA in a two-shot. But then I was thinking that you were never going to show CLARA and leave "her" a mystery. However, you ended up showing us CLARA by the end.

I have a sense that your eventual reveal of CLARA was supposed to be an "Oh, wow!" moment but I didn't get that. I was more wowed by the fact that CLARA had killed her mate and now was going to play with it. All this to say, that I think you had some great opportunities to show us something other than Michael from CLARA's POV. Just my opinion.

I loved the art direction here. Very nice for a low budget film. You really created a futurist world that was cohesive and believable.

There seemed to be jump cuts where you didn't really need them. I felt that you could have continued the action in a section without the jumps.

The static wipes didn't always make sense to me. Some seemed appropriate while others didn't.

You actor did a commendable job! Not an easy task to perform directly to a camera.

Overall, I think that you did a great job on this film. You ventured into the future and delivered something that was believable and interesting.

Finally, congrats on your version of "love." An interesting take on the theme!

btw, the logic board...? Very funny placement.

Congrats to you!


Matt Harris
02-18-2008, 09:58 PM
Ted we actually shot B cam macro footage which i plan to incorporate into the CLARA Director's Cut.
Im hoping this "non-CLARA-POV" footage helps expand the scope and should also
help me patch up some of my jump cuts.

Although I do think jump cutting gets a bad rap. Michael Clayton, one of my favs of this year utilizes jump cuts beautifully.

In terms of the CLARA reveal, i like my intentions, but i know i didn't execute a
"holy crap" moment, i guess its more subtle.

Thanks for watching and posting!

Ted Arabian
02-19-2008, 08:21 AM
hey Matt, don't get me wrong... I don't mind jump cuts. There was just one scene where I felt they were out of place.

Matt Harris
02-19-2008, 08:47 AM
I gotcha, tell me which scene because im currently re-editing.
is it the bathrooom scene?

Anthony Pierce
02-19-2008, 11:32 AM

Very imaginative film. The subjective camera shots worked nice. I liked the story and the acting was money. Maybe the robot could have sounded more feminine? Loved to see what you come up with next.

Shawn Philip Nelson
02-19-2008, 07:08 PM
Interesting short, love the concept, and the guts to go for a sci-fi. Using a man's voice for Clara drove me crazy! The ending was a bit silly with him as quasi-vegtable and I didn't get it. Did she lobotomize him?

Bryce A
02-19-2008, 10:46 PM
I wasn't digging the film until I got the John Carpenterishness of it all. I was thinking it was outlandish, but not on purpose... But, on purpose, I've no problem with it. So it works. The Clara-o-vision worked as well.

My only criticism is the length. It felt like I knew where it was going early on and then it took awhile getting there. ...but I don't have any advice on where to trim. Though in some dream, I would have liked to see Clara playing house with the dead/veg michael two months down the road.... creepy.

On a side note: When Michael the photojournalist pulls out his gun, I imagine I felt a bit like how Police officers feel when watching corrupt cop shows like "The Shield." You're giving our profession a bad rap! But once I got the Carpenter thing, the over-doneness of it made sense. So... forgiven.

02-20-2008, 05:48 PM
Very interesting take on the theme. I really enjoyed this one!

The only places I felt the jump cuts were out of place was in the opening car ride. It felt like you were cutting out mistakes, rather than for effect.

I didn't even notice the camera op in the shower until someone here mentioned it.

Jack Daniel Stanley
02-22-2008, 11:59 AM
Of course this looks great and is really slick. Top notch CC and FX. Everything down to the end credits is pretty polished.

Really dig the John Carpenter-esque score and scrolling text and opening city shots with the credits. Nice … is this Miami?

Maybe a slight misstep to have his name be Michael … since that’s Hasselhoff’s name in Knight Rider and the voice reminded me of Kitt. Also not sure why we didn’t have a silky smooth chick voice … I mean if tech has advanced to the point where we can make a totally lifelike on the outside woman … seems like we could master the voice, especially since computers can actually do that now … so that seemed like a bigger misstep.

Whoever’s apartment that is is pretty sweet.

The computer POV and overly looks great and works well throughout.

Your kind of mining some archetypical sci-fi territory … the robot that develops feelings and goes bad, but it felt pretty fresh and it did seem like your own spin.

Not much to say other than that … as with your Hallows fest entry, it looked great and I enjoyed it. :beer:

Matt Harris
02-23-2008, 09:00 PM
Guys thanks so much for the comments.

I shot this at the last minute so i know its rough around the edges,
but the director's cut is coming and will be much tighter.

shawneous: good call! you solved my ending; he was supposed to be dead but
lobotomized is even better. I'll play that up when i re-edit.

jmc: jump cuts in the car, yup, gotta fix that. and i will!

jack: not miami, those are shots of LA from my roof, i live
across from the viper room on the sunset strip so thats really
LA. And yes thats my studio, so i did'nt really set dress it all that much,
but enough to give it a retro-futuristic look. if that makes sense.

Naming the main character michael was a huge subliminal mistake,
I was going for the kit voice and clearly had Knight Rider on the brain.

Clara's voice will be swapped out with a sexy chick on the director's cut,
it's driving me crazy.

Thanks for watching and thanks for a great fest!

Michael Anthony Horrigan
02-23-2008, 09:11 PM
shawneous: good call! you solved my ending; he was supposed to be dead but
lobotomized is even better. I'll play that up when i re-edit.

That's funny. I thought the same thing as well.
I thought he just had his frontal lobe fried via a little harsh electro shock therapy. :D

03-01-2008, 08:01 AM
Clara's voice will be swapped out with a sexy chick on the director's cut,
it's driving me crazy.
I was thinking there must have been some message I wasn't understanding as to why CLARA has a male voice, lol. CLARA's voice was I thought well acted but obviously didn't fit.

I really enjoyed this one, it moved fast enough I thought.

Well done.