1 April 2011 | BCRice
Give 'em a break....
I think this movie begs the question, "Should points be given for effort?" The verdict's still out.
But let's start with the good -- Understanding that this script started as a treatment for a Halloween remake, I'll forgive the similarities and say that the script and dialog is actually pretty well executed. Sure there are a few issues with line delivery in spots, but the script as a separate entity isn't horrible.
Second, the music was all completely on cue and built the scenes nicely. It wasn't overused and it never detracted from any of the scenes.
Third, I mean -- talk about indie, talk about zero budget. This is what it looks like, folks. A film like "Ink" (which is certainly a class well above this), was made for $250,000. There's a huge difference between zero and $250,000.
Where this movie really misses the mark are with issues related to budget but also some missteps by the director.
Without using any real camera lenses the framing had a lot of issues. This would have been an easy solve for a few hundred bucks by slapping a 35mm adapter on whatever consumer HD cam he used for the project. I'm assuming it was in the realm of an HV20 or some lesser model. Had this been shot on any kind of DSLR or something with an adapter, some of the framing issues would have been solved. I saw attempts by the director to set up interesting shots, but when you're using a jitty camcorder with no lenses, it's nearly impossible unless you're manufacturing a DOF by having objects or talent always in the foreground, which isn't possible throughout an entire film.
Lighting was another huge issue, and being that lighting can be solved using foam board and halogen work lights, I'm going to have to stick it to the director on this one. There are some basics of lighting that need to be studied before this guy's next feature (or fan) film.
"Crossing the line" -- that's what it's called when you move your talent from one side of the screen to the other mid-scene. This happened too many times. It's a rookie mistake and it's utterly confusing to the audience when it happens. So, to the director: If your actor is on the right side of the frame in a scene, that actor must stay on the right side of the frame throughout. If you want to move between two mid-range shots but don't want to cut from one mid-range shot to the next, then do a quick wide shot and then come back to your second shot.
Next is color correction. This, of course, can still be linked to budget. But something as cheap as Magic Bullet Mojo ($99) would have given your scenes a more cohesive blending and would have given your camcorder footage a more filmic appearance.
Location colors. This is probably the easiest thing to slip by the indie filmmaker. While you're probably going to have to use friends and family's locations to shoot your film, you CANNOT allow white walls to be in your film. Obviously the hospital is a different animal and most of that will have a blue tint when your color correction is done anyway (assuming you go the Blockbuster route), but when you're indoors you have to paint those walls. If it's a friend's house, paint the walls and then re-paint them white again if that's what they need. Go watch Amelie with the sound off. Watch the frames. Aim there.
Last...I know it sucks and I know the director knows it...but sound was a big issue. Not sure what kind of mic was used. At times it sounded like the mic was on-camera which is just the worst thing I can possible imagine for a narrative piece.
I can see how much work and effort was put into this film. There was some decent acting, a workable script, good pacing and at times some real effort went into framing certain scenes. But having lackluster audio, an amateurish understanding of talent placement in a scene (as it pertains to audience clarity) and a camcorder with no added glass for DOF, the director left us with a highschool-level product performed and written by adults.
I want this director to get better because he has passion for all levels of filmmaking. I gave the movie 5 stars for potential.
So, to the no-budget director of this film: 1) Pick yourself up a DSLR or HFS100 w/ JAG35pro or better (Panny and Sony just came out with 5K cams that are game changers) 2) Get some Sanken COS11D lavs and an NTG3 with an Edirol44 or Fostex FR2LE w/ Y XLR splitter cable 3) Grab a PRO AM 250 crane/jib 4) Magic Bullet Looks (or Mojo) And if you can, try to find someone who wouldn't mind training as your sound guy/girl. You're gonna need one.
But kudos on your first effort. Your gal was completely solid in the lead role.