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    #81
    Pain in the ass Mark Harris's Avatar
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    I am still getting around to commenting on some, though voting is closed.

    I thought this was overall very well done. I see what you say about the up close shots, but at times there seemed to be too many which were not always motivated to my eye.

    I felt like your actors were good, though I think they could've used a lot more rehearsal time to really settle into this and not work so hard. I got the feeling they were working really hard at it.

    But I like the story, and overall thought the writing was all right. I do feel like it was a little forced Mamet-style, where characters are saying many disjointed things, and supposedly communicating subtext. Maybe if the actors felt more settled into it, it would have worked better for me. I don't think it's bad writing, just hard-hard-hard to do.

    But nice, and the thing with the kid's hand MIGHT have brushed the edge of too much but didn't. You handled that amazingly well, I thought.

    One more minor technical thing that is very hard to get away from in an apartment, is at times the light seemed kind of harsh. Not like intentionally so, just a hair blasted on them. Not a huge deal, but a tad bit noticeable.

    But nice work overall!!

    You know what, I just went back and looked at something. The lighting in the opening shots had a lot more...character, for lack of a better word - than the lighting inside, and particularly in the wide shots. Again, tough to do in a small space, but it was noticeable.


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    #82
    Bronze Member Cynic821's Avatar
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    Im commenting on these in the order i watched them, you were lucky number 1:

    I didnt like the direction, i felt it was too close and was distracted by it. I noticed your direction and had to find myself distracted by it. Direction and screen composition should go unnoticed. I also felt this , like many others as those who chose to read my comments will see, was just too long. I feel like this time around the 6 minutes was too long of a timeline. Like everyone was shooting to make it 6 min long instead of just making a short.

    Again like many of the shorts again, i felt the acting really hurt this. very unbeleivable. Also felt the cuts were taking too long and the dailouge was going in circles. It could have been wrapped up alot quicker.

    I thought the ending was wrapped up at 5:09. Felt like a good time to close then i got the extra minute.

    Thats it.

    maybe i should give a disclaimer before i get warned? ( i had to stop reviewing horrorfest because i wasnt being that positive, this is how i feel and i guess ill just post until im stopped again)
    Last edited by Cynic821; 02-11-2007 at 01:34 AM.


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    Mark Harris feedbackl
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    Thanks for the feedback Mark - you're dead-on with the Mamet observation. We weren't consciously trying for that vibe, but I think that's what we got in the screenplay. I don't think we have the same kind of delivery that Mamet folks give (thinking Rebecca Pidgeon here) except at the beginning - which has led many to interpret "bad/unbelievable" acting. Also, rather than the subtext Mamet often hints at, we were more plot-focused...i

    For this project and these characters, it was the "unspoken" thing that led to the disjointed approach rather than characters trying to communicate *more* than what their words actually mean (as Mamet usu. does). 100% agreement that more prep time - the holy grail of independent film - would have made it better.

    I see what you mean about the lighting difference - and what an earlier post said about the difference in lighting of "Eric" vs. "Sarah." I'd have to defer to my better 2/3 to see what they think about that.

    Thanks for the comments!


    For myth is alive at once and in all its parts, and dies before it can be dissected * He is a man, and that, for him and many, is sufficient tragedy.


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    #84
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    Cynic: No flak from me about giving your honest opinion in the same terms you critique your own stuff! I've also been either too blunt or misunderstood (here and in the non-online world).

    I find that - being very objective at this point about the film - I disagre with most of your comments...not because they are "critical," but just in terms of 2 filmmakers having a discussion of ideas.

    Since your reply echoes things that others have said, I'll use it as the occasion to respond to some of the general criticism of "Bailey"....

    The direction in this piece is right in line with the very, very stylized approach. Direction and composition are not always supposed to go unnoticed. Sometimes you create emphasis by creating strange composition within a larger context of conventional looks - sometimes your whole piece is best communicated with very a very stylized approach. That's what we intended from the beginning: so the screenplay, the pre-production lighting and camera tests, the shoot, the editing, the music. The end product here is almost exactly what we intended it to be from Day 1.

    Re: the length...well, it's pretty jam-packed with character information, exposition, and story/character dvlpmt (or reveals). I don't think there's a way to tell this story in less than 6 min. Ending the film at 5:09 would cut out the 2 most important moments of the film: the big "reveal" of the unspoken issue and the quasi-resolution of the dramatic tension b/t husband and wife. You'd cut the film right at the end of the rising action/tension...so I don't follow you at all. If you mean that you'd get to the ending we have by 5:09, I don't see (having been involved in the editing of this) where you would find an unnecessary 51 seconds...but maybe there's a lot that you consider unimportant that we thought was necessary, so...fair enough.

    Dialogue: I addressed this above. It doesn't really go in circles...but it certainly is disjointed with characters talking past or even ignoring each other as they both pursue what they want in the moment.

    Re: the acting - I've avoided responding to the comments about acting, but I'll say a little here (so this isn't directed specifically at Cynic).

    First: There are two lines/moments that don't work for me in "Bailey" and we've discussed using different takes. I think that these somewhat off-key moments influenced a lot of people who then either didn't want to (their fault) or couldn't (our fault) view the bulk of the acting objectively.
    It's possible that these moments "took them out of the film" - which is deadly for any film trying to deal with extreme emotions and characters at the limits of their abilities to cope.

    Second: However, I remain satisfied with the acting in this piece and balance some of the comments here with the reactions and comments we've gotten from test audiences (and with other comments on DVXuser). Still think we can make it better...just unwilling to grant much authority to anyone who gives a blanket label of "bad" or "unbelievable" to the net effect of the acting.

    Third: I believe that some people have a very narrow exposure to acting in general and that this limits their vocabulary when trying to describe or evaluate acting. For example - older styles of American film acting would not be tolerated for a second in modern movies...much less non-American styles.

    This is not to say that you aren't entitled to dislike some or most of the acting you see - but to call it "bad," "unbelievable," or, even worse, to flippantly compare it to a genre known for bad acting is might - *might* - sometimes just be a function of a very narrow exposure to the way actors try to communicate truth in different stories, styles, and contexts.

    NOTE - I am not discrediting opinions by saying "You don't know enough" or "You just didn't get it." I'm just trying to find an explanation for the wide disparity in comments about the acting in "Bailey."

    So, back to Cynic: yes, I am saying essentially that I disagree with all of your comments and wouldn't take any of your suggestions!

    But we all reach a point with our films where we realize that the best you can do is to imagine, articulate, and create a clear vision of a story - - and then, when it's done, evaluate how close you came to achieving the execution of that vision.

    So I'm not at all offended by your critique! I welcome it as a sign of respect that you took the time to watch and to comment on our film - I would do the same and in much the same direct way for your film. We are MUCH harsher critics of ourselves, so no offense taken.

    We're incredibly happy with "Bailey" despite what some here have said and despite the shortcomings that we see in the film...because it is very, very close to what we imagined and planned from the beginning.

    We don't hold ourselves in such high esteem to ask for any more than that...


    For myth is alive at once and in all its parts, and dies before it can be dissected * He is a man, and that, for him and many, is sufficient tragedy.


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    #85
    Pain in the ass Mark Harris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmbassadorTex
    Thanks for the feedback Mark - you're dead-on with the Mamet observation. We weren't consciously trying for that vibe, but I think that's what we got in the screenplay. I don't think we have the same kind of delivery that Mamet folks give (thinking Rebecca Pidgeon here) except at the beginning - which has led many to interpret "bad/unbelievable" acting. Also, rather than the subtext Mamet often hints at, we were more plot-focused...i
    Well, i think if your writing continues to go that direction, you would do well to put together a group of actors you work with on a consistent basis. To this day, I feel like the best people to do Mamet are Macy and Mantegna, both of whom I've seen do his work on stage. But the point is, they are both intertwined with his whole philosophy about acting and writing. And they became known as "Mamet" actors, precisely because they got it and understood how to play him.


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    A little late, but thanks
    #86
    Junior Member Kurdt's Avatar
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    A little late, but thanks to all for the feedback on "bailey". This is our first DVX contest entry and it has proved to be a very challenging and rewarding experience for Sea Shanty Films. Some amazing films and ideas and DPs and filmmakers on this site-- we have learned a great deal from your feedback.

    Big CONGRATS to Geoff for his beautiful film "Heritage". And thanks, Geoff, for noticing our art/experimental film stylings on "bailey"-- we wanted to push the style and mood a bit and maybe (hopefully?) bump up against a more "European" tone and aesthetic. Which I believe we captured and expressed fairly well in the opening and ending, but maybe wavered on in the middle section. As mentioned in earlier posts, Cassavetes and Bergman were influences as was the school shooting in Bailey, Colorado and the idea of "aftermath".

    A BIG shout out to DP David Brigham and writer/actor David Wilmington and actress Dellany Peace. As the director of the film, I stand by our choices and our actors and our story-- we came pretty darn close to getting what we wanted with this film and it feels good. But, we can always improve and learn as filmmakers, and this contest and community has aided us along this path of growth.

    Thanks, again, for the feedback. We'll keep at it, as I know y'all will, too.
    Kurdt


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    #87
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    Looks like this is a ghost town thread now...but I'll post a very self-indulgent Behind-the-Scenes still and thank everyone again for watching "Bailey."

    I think you can still download the films, so I welcome anyone who hasn't seen and commented yet to view our film and let us know what you think via personal message or whatever.

    We are preparing "Bailey" for submission to festivals and hope that we might find that we're showing alongside (and have the opportunity to support) some of the great short dramas created for this contest.

    Here's "Daniel" checking out the set in an un-Photoshopped still with a poster for our feature looming menacingly in the background...




    For myth is alive at once and in all its parts, and dies before it can be dissected * He is a man, and that, for him and many, is sufficient tragedy.


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    #88
    Bronze Member Pen Cap Chew's Avatar
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    Just got around to seeing this. Some very nice shots. I like the color scheme / mood you set. Congratulations on getting out there and making this. I really admire everyone in dramafest and the other fests who got off their butts and made something. You all are amazing in this regard. And bailey was a pretty good effort for your first DVX entry. As far as the acting ... not too good. Good acting is probably the hardest thing to get for any filmmaker. Many dramafest entries were hurt by poor acting. Bad acting has a very distinct, unnatural tone -- it has its own sound. Go to any high school play and you'll hear it. Poor acting all sounds the same; a cat is a cat, and bad acting is bad acting. Bad acting is created by being self-consciousness and too focused on what the next line is. Your actors are not living and breathing the story, they are conscious of themselves acting and their lines are being delivered very unnaturally. There are many awkward moments. This is not to say these actors don't have potential, I just think they need to work on their delivery and try to think of the moment as being real instead of a script memorized. I do see potential in both of them and wish them the best in developing their craft.

    When you work on a project and see it over and over I think it can be hard to see things objectively. After watching or hearing anything over and over, it starts to sound better after a while, the more you get familiar with it. It's a trick of the mind. Same thing with writing -- you spend a year writing a novel, you think it is great, you put it away for a few months and then re-read it and ...OMG! it's not as good as I remember LOL. So it is those with fresh eyes and ears, who see a short for the first time, that their instincts are more intune to what works and what doesn't. If you put your short away for a few months without watching it, then come back and take a look at it again, I think the acting shortcomings and awkward moments will be more obvious to you. Anyway, don't be offended; I think having people's honest opinions / reviews is always a good thing. Looking forward to seeing your other shorts in future fests...


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    #89
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    EDITED: My original response here was screwed up when I tried to post it...said I wasn't logged in or that an Admin had blocked it or something...will modify later in this space...

    OK - trying again. Thanks for the time viewing and commenting Pen Cap. No offense at all from me because of an honest opinion. Your opinion is your opinion - informed and delineated and articulated by your experience and taste and honest judgement.
    However, and let's face it, you probably knew there would be a 'however' based on the content and phrasing of your post, your post also assumes to explain your reaction by making pretty harsh assertions about the actors - that "Bailey" has, in your words: "self-conscious...unnatural...bad acting" which led you to reference "any high school play" and actors performing a "script memorized" while "too focused on what the next line is" rather than "living and breathing the story" instead of thinking of "the moment as being real."

    Those are pretty serious claims and bold assumptions...even if they are in service of unassailable opinions (which, as I've said, are yours to have and to express).
    The simple and equally unassailable answer is to say: these actors were not thinking of the next line, were not self-conscious, and were very, very much living in the moment during this very difficult and draining shoot. I know because I was one of them. More on our minds were the people whose real stories inspired our fictional one and the various threads of our own lives (loss, anger, hopelessness, helplessness, and the possibility of hope) which guided us to connect with these characters.

    Much of the awkwardness was built in, written in, directed in, and rehearsed and edited in as part of the very specific style we aimed for. Since at least 50% of what's going on here is unknown until the 3rd act, we counted on dramatic dissonance (a reverse dramatic irony felt as unnatural-ness?) to build tension for the climax/reveal and limited resolution.

    This has nothing to say against your opinion! What we aimed for did not come across to you, some of the unnaturalness is probably unintended and should be fixed (I've already mentioned that I strongly advocate using 2 different takes), so it doesn't matter what we intended. It didn't work for you - period - and our intentions aren't worth a pair of fetid dingo's kidneys (R.I.P. Douglas Adams). I'm simply responding to the claims/assumptions you made about the actors in your explanation of why it felt unnatural and bad to you.
    Last edited by AmbassadorTex; 02-26-2007 at 07:14 PM.


    For myth is alive at once and in all its parts, and dies before it can be dissected * He is a man, and that, for him and many, is sufficient tragedy.


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    Well, there doesn't appear to be a forum dedicated to Acting (much less to acting theory), so I'll just post this here to be done with it...some of this came up in response to Pen Cap Chew anyway, even though it's directed to anyone who has an interest in acting...

    I have serious problems with a definition of "good acting" that is so reliant on (what I consider to be) the self-indulgent method theories of the mid-20th century. Not all bad acting sounds the same - - and not all good acting sounds the same...which I think is the unexamined assumption of many, if not most, people. A cat is certainly a cat - one way to tell is that no sane, honest person would disagree? But since sane, honest people regularly disagree about which acting is bad, I think your analogy fails you here. More of that is for another thread (acting theory?) and another time.

    Put the performance of the concubine in "Ran," Toshiro Mifune in "Seven Samurai," Cary Grant in "Arsenic and Old Lace," many people in many Bergman films, Diane Wiest in "Bullets Over Broadway," etc., etc. into almost any modern, mainstream, Western movie or TV show - and it would be bad acting. Context and the specific truth of that scene and that film is everything. Neither of us in "Bailey" are like any of those actors, of course, but the point is that good acting equals a fulfillment of the vision of the writer, director, and actors. We've been greatly encouraged by very positive feedback from diverse sources.

    We're 100% with you about objectivity and have learned it the hard way with our previous films (especially during the 2 years working on our 1st feature). Just as you have, I'm sure, we've looked with new eyes at something that seemed great - it was perfect! - and sliced it up because it didn't fit once the pacing of the whole took on a life of its own...or the score changed things...etc. It sucked, but we did it, and the film moved better because of it.

    As almost every master has said - you follow your vision as best you can, it will click with some people and not with others. "Bailey" has had feedback like yours, moderately positive feedback, and very strongly positive feedback. Objectivity lessons having been learned as filmmakers, musicians, writers, artists, athletes, etc. who have been far more brutal to themselves and each other than anyone here...we're pleased that a well-executed vision has clicked with some people and hope to do better next time with the others.

    Obviously, I love talking about this stuff - so I hope it's also obvious that I'm not offended despite my defense of the (our) acting in this piece. Love having the chance to discuss it - thanks for the opportunity to do so.


    For myth is alive at once and in all its parts, and dies before it can be dissected * He is a man, and that, for him and many, is sufficient tragedy.


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