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    Senior Member Horncastle's Avatar
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    This was a professionally produced piece - great lighting, camera moves, ramping, etc. Apart from a few small acting flaws already mentioned it all works OK, but... it just feels a little bit flat and unsurprising. When it comes down to it, I think I don't really feel this film is "yours" in the same way as Aetas and Ossian - it feels as though you are making what you think you ought to be making rather than really having your heart in it.

    What you say here seems to confirm this:
    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn Philip Nelson View Post
    I appreciate that you like Aetas and Ossian better, as that's ultimately more 'me', but it seems more people like this one better, go figure. It's a continual sore spot with me how poorly received Aetas and Ossian were, hence why I wont do another one like that on here, ever.
    I scratched my head a little when I read this. I actually went back to look at the threads of both of them: Aetas was a finalist (in my personal top 5 I believe) and both had lots of really good reviews - so I would hardly say they were poorly received. They were both beautiful (and to my mind more personal) films, although Aetas was perhaps rather an epic trying to be a short while Ossian was a "small" film, a single scene really (nothing wrong with that, it worked really well, but it probably put it at a disadvantage in the scoring). And I'm sure your heart was in them both. So I think and hope that sooner or later you will go back to making Aetases and Ossians (and, as an aside, they will probably be all the better for your experience making films like Learning to Prey).


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    Senior Member Sprocketboy's Avatar
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    There is a lot of nice work in this short. DP work, as usual in all your films, is great. The ADR is still noticeable even though you did a damn good job hiding it under the music. Nate's ADR is not working too well and made his performance sub par to the actors around him. The only other thing I will point out that I didn't care much for... is the reaction of the vampire's apprentice in the closet during the attack scene. Its too cute. Overall, the editing is tight and paces nicely throughout. A big thumbs up on the music and sound design work. Your actresses come across confident and convincing. A job well done.



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    Senior Member Shawn Philip Nelson's Avatar
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    Usually I dont comment post-fest but thought this entry is unusual enough for me to warrant it (for whoever cares).

    Two things hurt this the most. First, my writing. I really like my overall idea but I failed to properly integrate the argument as well as it needed to be. I'm proud of my actors and thought they suffered because I was trying to make the argument more high key for their demo reel purposes instead of trying harder to make it work for the overall story. Sometimes gumbo soup doesnt work. Incidentally the idea for the whole short is based off of Proverbs 5:3-5.

    The second thing that really hurt us was the destruction of all audio. There was a gear mistake day-of wherein the input of audio was set to mic in when it should have been line in, as a result every single line clipped horribly, necessitating a 100% ADR. I tried my best and so did the actors but it just doesnt work and really hurts everything. Some ADR'd better than others (though I wont go further on that). This worsened the melodramatic feel of it.

    Im extremely proud of the production quality of the image.

    I think I also miscalculated the audience and not making it "bad" enough. All the top 3 end with a sort of sucker-punch "doesnt that suck ass?" sort of ending, I think that's more the ticket. It should have been rated R instead of the tame pg13 that it was.

    Well, thus ends that experiment. Cheerio.

    Lastly a BIG shoutout to my sound crew of Ryan Frias, Alex Orion and Herman Witkam for saving this piece and getting us into finals.
    Last edited by Shawn Philip Nelson; 11-23-2009 at 11:37 AM.
    Formerly user 'shawneous'.

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    Mod v2.0 Noel Evans's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn Philip Nelson View Post
    as a result every single line clipped horribly, necessitating a 100% ADR.
    Holey crap! Well Im going to add to my comment - best ADR in a fest ever. Whilst the emotion may have changed from what you intended, this matched beautifully in all except one spot. Really well done.
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    Admin Jason Ramsey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn Philip Nelson View Post
    Usually I dont comment post-fest but thought this entry is unusual enough for me to warrant it (for whoever cares).

    Two things hurt this the most. First, my writing. I really like my overall idea but I failed to properly integrate the argument as well as it needed to be. I'm proud of my actors and thought they suffered because I was trying to make the argument more high key for their demo reel purposes instead of trying harder to make it work for the overall story. Sometimes gumbo soup doesnt work. Incidentally the idea for the whole short is based off of Proverbs 5:3-5.

    The second thing that really hurt us was the destruction of all audio. There was a gear mistake day-of wherein the input of audio was set to mic in when it should have been line in, as a result every single line clipped horribly, necessitating a 100% ADR. I tried my best and so did the actors but it just doesnt work and really hurts everything. Some ADR'd better than others (though I wont go further on that). This worsened the melodramatic feel of it.

    I think I also miscalculated the audience and not making it "bad" enough. All the top 3 end with a sort of sucker-punch "doesnt that suck ass?" sort of ending, I think that's more the ticket. It should have been rated R instead of the tame pg13 that it was.

    Well, thus ends that experiment. Cheerio.

    Lastly a BIG shoutout to my sound crew of Ryan Frias, Alex Orion and Herman Witkam for saving this piece and getting us into finals.
    If I may.... I think your biggest problem was in trying to make what you thought was a "winner" (at least that is how it came across to me), rather than just making the film you wanted to make, the way you wanted to make it and letting the chips fall where they may. As a result, I think it may have ended up coming across as less than original. Not trying to sound harsh. Just dont' have the proper words I'm looking for.

    It felt a bit to me like perhaps you were trying to pander to what you thought was going to "win the fest" or whatever, and your creative voice may have gotten lost in there. But, regardless of how the results turn out in the end, you really never do know what can or will win. Sure, there are patterns here or there, but I've seen every last one of them shattered at one time or another.

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    Senior Member Shawn Philip Nelson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Ramsey View Post
    If I may.... I think your biggest problem was in trying to make what you thought was a "winner" (at least that is how it came across to me), rather than just making the film you wanted to make, the way you wanted to make it and letting the chips fall where they may. As a result, I think it may have ended up coming across as less than original. Not trying to sound harsh. Just dont' have the proper words I'm looking for.

    It felt a bit to me like perhaps you were trying to pander to what you thought was going to "win the fest" or whatever, and your creative voice may have gotten lost in there. But, regardless of how the results turn out in the end, you really never do know what can or will win. Sure, there are patterns here or there, but I've seen every last one of them shattered at one time or another.

    Later,
    Jason
    A reasonable accusation, but I would somewhat disagree. My normal stuff is pretty heavily disliked here, so in that regard I was trying something different ( I dont need to get pissed on a third time for the same thing). I was just trying to be do something totally unlike what i've done, deliberate practice of my weak points. I think my writing choice is what sunk me and that my overall premise would still work if treated differently.

    I already have something else in the can (and actually was going to submit it since i shot it mid-October but ran out of time for post) that's massively different from this piece or anything else I've gone. I'll keep varying it until I am satisfied.
    Formerly user 'shawneous'.

    "Every great idea is on the verge of being stupid."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn Philip Nelson View Post
    I was just trying to be do something totally unlike what i've done, deliberate practice of my weak points.
    You should. Stretching your boundaries and stepping outside your comfort zone is the way to grow. And, in many ways, that's what DVXFest is all about.

    I think my writing choice is what sunk me and that my overall premise would still work if treated differently
    I don't really think so, not for this fest. As for my watching, there was no mystery in your original premise at all. A glance at the title, and especially at the poster, gave it away and I knew exactly what to expect.

    Had this been entered in LoveFest, or something like that, where there was a good chance at some surprise (and with a different poster that didn't give it away) perhaps it would have worked. But for MonsterFest, I saw the ending coming from a hundred miles away. And that's something that doesn't even reflect on the quality of the picture itself, it's just the combination of this premise, placed within the existing expectations of "MonsterFest". No matter how well-acted or well-shot, it still would have been completely predictable based on the particular requirements of the fest it was entered in, and the clues given in the poster and the title.

    Matching or meeting or exceeding an audience's expectations is a tricky thing, but succeeding at doing that is key towards having the audience enjoy your film.

    Which is frankly a worry I have for betrayalfest -- because right now, I have to say, if people enter that fest with the idea of "ooh, I'm gonna set up this film and then surprise, at the end, there's a betrayal!" then I think we're going to have a lot of disappointed audience members.

    My take, anyway.


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    Still Alive Mod Jack Daniel Stanley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Ramsey View Post
    If I may.... I think your biggest problem was in trying to make what you thought was a "winner" (at least that is how it came across to me), ....
    It felt a bit to me like perhaps you were trying to pander to what you thought was going to "win the fest" or whatever, and your creative voice may have gotten lost in there. ...
    This has been my biggest struggle as a filmmaker.

    It's valid to some degree. I mean filmmaking is communication and definitely the point of it is "how will this be received" "how can I craft this to get such and such effect to server the story."

    And it's also typical of young filmmakers, to start by emulating others work that they admire. Not saying necessarily that you are doing this Shawn, just that lots of people do. Including myself to a large degree initially and some still.

    When I started on DVXuser with a couple decent placings, I was forever studying the films that won and trying to reverse engineer them. Not to copy them per se, but after Zombie Fest, for example, I thought "my film was OK/did OK but I don't think it's the kind of film that will play as well as the 1st place film did for such a guy forum/genre contest." Mine lacked action and was about family devotion. The winning film had cool cowboys and some good scares. So I said - I want to do something more like that the next time. My next film was much more a "guy" film.

    But I think you reach greater successes to kind of take that stuff in and then "chase your own demons" as one writing teacher of mine put it. He said, "writers chase their demons" meaning, there's some kind of thematic wellspring particular to you that gives you juice / makes you interesting. So it's worthwhile to consider how certain kinds of films play and certain kinds of effects and production value, but always go back to yourself.

    Now I don't mean to be preaching. This is a struggle for me. I started trying to make films like me, then Sam Balcomb and Jesse Soff, then Macgregor, and now, I just did a web series pilot and Fat Monster was in the back of my head "I have to have THAT kind of production value". I'm also trying to make work more like Zak Forsman now with a certain kind of depth. Every time I write and ending I think of Mark Harris and our ongoing discussiona about what makes a good ending. Maybe one can't help but think like that, but make sure YOU would want to see it YOU are passionate about not just the film but the ideas and themes in the film on the most personal level. I think when you find when you are working on something and you have no choice but to veer away from how so-and-so would have done it, that it feels like it has to be done this other way, then you are on the right path.

    Again, not saying you are going through the same thing exactly, but I think a lot of our members go through this "trying to think of a winner" or "what plays on DVXuser", and its still something I struggle with.

    One thing that's def. helped - getting away from User and playing real world fests / a mix of straight and genre festivals, and learning more and more that there is no winning formula that goes over everywhere, there's only making the movie you'd want to see, which, ironically I think, is the most sure fire, or as sure fire as any other strategy for making a good one / one that others will be drawn to. IMHO.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Daniel Stanley View Post
    Mine lacked action and was about family devotion. The winning film had cool cowboys and some good scares. So I said - I want to do something more like that the next time. My next film was much more a "guy" film.
    And yet, Ramsey nearly won LoveFest with probably the most action-less film ever submitted. A locked-down shot of two folks sitting on the back porch. My wife still thinks that's the best film ever on DVXFest, and she still asks me when there's gonna be a feature version of it.

    And, that action-less zombie film of yours is what first marked you in my book as a guy to watch.

    Point being, you can't ever predict what audiences are actually going to want. There is no "formula" -- if there was, there never would have been an "Ishtar".

    I still say "production value" is probably the least important of the values. If I care what's happening to the characters, and it's not some predictable boring cliche rehash retread... then as long as it's in focus and you can hear the dialogue, man, that's just about all you need...
    Last edited by Barry_Green; 11-23-2009 at 01:50 AM.


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    Still Alive Mod Jack Daniel Stanley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry_Green View Post
    And yet, Ramsey nearly won LoveFest with probably the most action-less film ever submitted. A locked-down shot of two folks sitting on the back porch. My wife still thinks that's the best film ever on DVXFest, and she still asks me when there's gonna be a feature version of it.
    Because that was 100% heart from Jason. Which was my point, which I know you know, that something that the filmmaker is connected to on a profound level is the surest formula for success.

    And, that action-less zombie film of yours is what first marked you in my book as a guy to watch.

    Point being, you can't ever predict what audiences are actually going to want. There is no "formula" -- if there was, there never would have been an "Ishtar".

    I still say "production value" is probably the least important of the values. If I care what's happening to the characters, and it's not some predictable boring cliche rehash retread... then as long as it's in focus and you can hear the dialogue, man, that's just about all you need...
    Yes as I go around to the "real world" fests now, production value is getting less and less impressive. If it's used to create original draws-you-in atmosphere and mood or a unique world, then yes it's worth something. 4 years ago the fact that guys like us could make movies like these was really noteworthy. Now there are just tens of thousands of folks out there with JDS/Barry, Fat Monster, Bits and Pieces production value. It's almost as underwhelming as taking off the lens cap now.
    Last edited by Barry_Green; 11-23-2009 at 01:50 AM.
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