View Full Version : Question about indie films and Duct Tape

09-02-2005, 12:15 AM
I am no expert but about half of the indie films I've seen or worked on seem to require one of the following things:

- An intergation scene
- Someone tied up and duct tape across the mouth
- Guns with cg flashes
- Someone waking up with an alarm clock
- Light sabers
- Poker games
- talks about college being hard
- etc.

If I am describing an indie film you have seen recently please lend your opinion on why these things keep reoccuring. I am making a point not include any of things in the next film I write.

*I am at fault to shorts including many of these things :undecided

09-02-2005, 12:30 AM
Nah...what you are seeing are only Indy films that got distributed. There are plenty of Indies that don't contain those things...

...gathering dust on a shelf somewhere.

Used to be, you'd target your audience when made something. Now it's targeting the distributors - who think they know the audience.

Or did you mean here? Pretty much the same problem, actually.

09-02-2005, 01:05 AM
- An intergation scene -
Any scriptwriter who can't spell interrogation is forced by the Screen Writers Guild to put one of these in.
- Someone tied up and duct tape across the mouth
That's just the usual P.A. who thinks they know more than the D.P. and won't keep their big mouth shut
- Guns with cg flashes
That's the result of not actually listening to that P.A. who really did know more than the D.P.
- Someone waking up with an alarm clock
That's just the last audience member in the theatre who came to see your film.
- Light sabers
Cheaper to rent than kino flos and part of the new hand held "lighting veritee" movement
- Poker games
That's the producer engaged in more creative financing
- talks about college being hard
Hey, you try getting a decent hotel booking for spring break!
- etc.
That's because after spending six months writing that first page you need 89 more pages

David G. Smith
09-02-2005, 01:58 AM
-interrogation scene: How the heck are we gonna know what's going on? Most interrogation scenes are the result of lazy writting. They can not think of any better way to tell major parts of the story, except by dialogue, which is usually boring. Now, interrogation scenes can be very dramatic (look at Homicide, Life on the Streets), but in most low budget films, they take the place of action.

Duct Tape:Quentin Tarantino did it in Reservoir Dogs. So, I gotta do it.

Guns with CG flashes: It is cheaper than blanks. Since we can't make movies about real humanity, we need guns.

Alarm clocks: It is a cliche to show your characters when they wake up. It is assumed that alot of character exposition can be shown without a lot dialogue. This best example of this is Paul Newman in the 1966 movie "Harper". Newman, playing a down and out PI is seen waking up, and preparing coffee from grounds salvaged from the garbage. This mode of exposition was copied and parodied in the 1973 film "Shamus" starring Burt Reynolds, who we see waking up on the pool table he calls a bed.

Light Sabres: Come on, they are the coolest thing to come out of SCI-FI since forever.....

Poker games: Of all card games, the most dramatic and easy to show on screen. (See
The Cincinnati Kid ).

Talk about college being hard: It is hard and is the environment that is most familiar for a vast majority of today's screenwritters. There are not a lot of guys (or girls) in professional school that are writting screenplays.

If you see something in at least two movies, it is a cliche. Do not include it in your movie.

09-02-2005, 08:52 AM
Add to that list:
Everyone in it being the same age as the filmmaker.

Neil Rowe
09-02-2005, 09:14 AM
..you guys should read the D.U.M.P.S. list


09-02-2005, 10:16 AM
Yeah, I remember the D.U.M.P.S. list. My goal is to make a film that includes the entire list in a two-minute sequence. :grin:

09-02-2005, 11:55 AM
Ah, the D.U.M.P.S. list, I had a couple of items from that list in my first screenplay that I never had a chance to shoot. Seriously, why does everyone have to use guns in their shorts?

09-02-2005, 07:00 PM
I wrote this thread (minus spellzle check) without seeing DUMPS and I am relieved that I have come to similar conclusions on my own.

more upsetting however was finding several things in my next treatment on the DUMPS list. shit...

I'm still going to shoot what I'm going to shoot, however. Taking the rationalization of getting these shots out of my system.

I'll repost the finished video in this thread as well as in the clips forum. I guess the next video will be an embracing of the dumps and hopefully some other less DUMPY elements.

David G. Smith
09-02-2005, 08:32 PM
What a minute. Cliches become Cliches because they work (or have worked). I personally think that the dumps list is a great outline for a very good movie. What the filmmaker that understands this has to do is take the cliches down to their basic element of human nature. Cliches are truth, in the hands of a talented filmmaker.

09-03-2005, 01:16 AM
Seriously, why does everyone have to use guns in their shorts?

Maybe they're just happy to see you...

09-03-2005, 12:56 PM
I'm having problem's with character development right now for my next short film so I need something to "spice it up" a bit, so do you think I should go with a .45 magnum or a nice little 9mm? :)

09-03-2005, 02:25 PM
Just make sure it's being held by a 19-year-old white guy wearing sunglasses, and you'll be good. At least, that seems to be an *extremely* popular choice among indies...

Chance White
09-03-2005, 07:26 PM
Here's a different one:

Over use of Magic Bullet, especially White Diffusion. Why does EVERYONE have to use this?

09-03-2005, 08:38 PM
Or how about including mobsters or the moffia+guns+Magic Bullet. Do you guys think I will make it to hollywood with this combination, huh huh do ya'. Please leave the mobster's to Marti'.

09-04-2005, 09:46 AM
You know why most short films on DVXUser and pretty much the internet in general suck?

cause they have little to no character development. It is harder to write a good short film than a feature film screenplay. You have far less time to get your story across, and must have scenes that have the most bang for your buck.

Why do I bring this up? Cause that list are a bunch of techniques used to divert attention away from story problems. Whether the filmmaker is aware of it or not.

obviously this is not always the case.. but I haven't seen too many great short films..

09-04-2005, 11:32 AM
As far as the short film format goes I think shorts like these are the most effective. They are "SHORT" and work with consistant concepts and are executed in creative ways.

I know it's a commercial and on top of that CG but look at it story wise. Also each shot, due to the amount of work needed, are concise and well thought out. More than I can say for most shorts out there. (rant :lipsrseal )


You need to register to view these but its worth it.

Chance White
09-05-2005, 09:03 PM
Well done animated shorts are a great thing to look at for those trying to make successful shorts. With animation, every shot obviously is previsualized, has to be preplanned and well thought out, something to think about...

Now that I've done a feature the only reason I consider doing shorts is to play around with new concepts and ideas and technical experimentation, and to focus on areas to improve on.

Loki makes a great point... about not petting sweaty things, I mean, that thing he said pertaining to the thread, that was good too, something about substance, content, story- oh hey, a shiny thing!

09-06-2005, 06:55 AM
Check this site- pretty funny.

Jeff Patnaude

09-06-2005, 11:37 AM

And here I thought I had all the skinny on cliches already! Thanks, JP. :grin: