For discussion

A warm welcome to all. Here we talk about films, which people put onto YouTube or Vimeo and embed here. The idea is to allow useful, friendly discussion.
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ned c
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For discussion

Post by ned c »

https://vimeo.com/172229531

I am not a religious person but am fascinated by religions and how they get started. This film was authored by a local writer with whom I produced, it and then photographed and edited. It did very badly at BIAFF. What do you think?

ned c
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TimStannard
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Re: For discussion

Post by TimStannard »

My reaction on first viewing was that this falls somewhere between a comedy and an honest satirical look at the start of cultish religions. Of course, there is no reason why something cannot be both. It really needs more gags to qualify as a comedy, but I was relieved you did not fall back on lazy schizophrenia jokes which are not only rather dated, but politically incorrect. As a satire it also doesn’t quite work though it looked like it might for a while. A religion needs believers and disciples and, come the end of the film, there are none – Paddy having killed them!

Generally, I found the film very dialogue heavy – and unnecessarily so. The exposition is told entirely in two-person dialogue, most of which did not contribute to the story or the characters. It takes a full three minutes to learn our protagonist believes he’s found God in the Mormon religion and the priest disapproves. The opening of this scene is excellent. The priest holding out his hand to silence Paddy until he’s finished studying his passage from the bible is a good VISUAL way of establishing who holds the power at the beginning of the scene. Unfortunately, the OTS shots which follow do not work so well. As Patrick is taller than the Priest, the camera looking up at the priest (presumably to show power) is positioned unnaturally low and looks rather awkward. It’s easy to see it in retrospect, but if the priest had been on a raised platform or dais of some sort, shots could appear more natural with the priest still exuding power.

I found the initial scene with Paddy in Utah rather confusing. By then I’d forgotten the textual intro and there was not enough distinction between his two personalities. The dialogue did not really add anything to the plot or characters. It may be that in the US “Deseret Industries” is well known, but to me it is no,t and even though it was explained in the dialogue it was rather thrown away such that when the scene ended with the name I was left feeling that I really should have been paying more attention. (I’m still unsure whether it was significant)

The scene breaking into the garage felt rather long.

The door opening when Paddy threw a bucket was a real laugh out loud moment for me – and I laughed on second and third viewing. Well handled!
The close up shots in the garage are much better than earlier shots. Faces are well lit, beautifully clear and well framed. Contrast the excellent OTS shots of Paddy and Brick here with the earlier shots in the church which are flat in comparison. The wider (mid) shots are not so good, mostly requiring levelling (the angles aren’t extreme enough to feel like deliberate “Dutch tilt”). There are one or two more basic technical/continuity errors but nothing too distracting (apart from the sudden unexplained appearance of a shopping trolley).

But my main problem is with the very wordy script. A lot of what is going through the characters mind is explained in dialogue. In a novel we’d read these thoughts. In a stage play a monologue often serves. In a film we need action and expression to show us. Too much dialogue kills pace.
Tim
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ned c
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Re: For discussion

Post by ned c »

Tim; thanks for your comments; an excellent explanation why we should have our films viewed by an audience before we lock them off. This was intended as an absurdist fantasy with black comedy undertones which to some degree we succeeded in getting across. The original script was an entry in the TSB screenwriting contest where it did not win but fascinated me. The writer; a local surgeon; has a couple of medical novels published and tried his hand at a screenplay. The intention was that the two sides of Paddy communicate via the dog a compliant intermediary. Brick and Sheila were intended as a temptation and a challenge to Paddy. Sheila offering herself and being rejected; Brick a physical danger and controlling the food and drink. Paddy interpreting the actions of the door as being divine and him its appointed prophet. He had to be free of Sheila and Brick to begin his ministry. We should really have ended with a circle of converts praying in front of the "mother door". Editing was a challenge as we had a number of continuity problems and two editors produced four versions; what you see is the shortest synthesis of these. Thanks again Tim.

ned c
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TimStannard
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Re: For discussion

Post by TimStannard »

Thanks for the explanations, Ned. I'd certainly intrepreted Moses as the compliant intermediary and Sheila as a temptation but Brick's presence wasn't quite so clear to me. Whilst the main purpose of Sheila was clear, I didn't get the impression that he was in the slightest tempted and I took from it the message "don't even bother trying to tempt me", rather than Paddy overcoming temptation. (Not sure what the intention was here).

Anyway, thanks for taking my comments as intended and not as just a criticism. All too rarely do we get to learn the film maker's intentions and purpose and it's very useful to be able to check our own interpretation.

Well done for being so open and honest.
Tim
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Jameela M Boardman
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Re: For discussion

Post by Jameela M Boardman »

From my perspective, I found the film to be well made, but 'not my cup of tea' as I am mostly on the opposite side of the argument regarding spiritual issues.

That aside, the photography, audio and editing were great. The story had beginning, middle and end with the pace quickening as the story progressed. Nothing caused any distraction to take me out of the story.

However, one issue right at the beginning did throw me... on the introductory text frame, it says: "...off the juice at the time". This made me expect a slapstick humour type film, and I was waiting for the slapstick to start, when latter I realised the film was more dark humour. So if you are still able to edit this film, perhaps consider amending that text frame slightly.

Regarding star rating... I would say it depends entirely upon viewpoint. If it is the technical issues of film creation, then it has to be high star rating. Whereas if it is a religious organisation doing the judging, then I would expect a very low rating. But if it is an atheist organisation, then I would expect a very high star rating!

It is therefore a good film, but not one of those rare films that cross-over borders.

I also think this film does highlight that a film's rating says more about the viewpoint of the Judges, than it does about what is being judged!

Hope that helps, Jameela
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TimStannard
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Re: For discussion

Post by TimStannard »

Jameela M Boardman wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:03 am Regarding star rating... I would say it depends entirely upon viewpoint.
Jameela M Boardman wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:03 am I also think this film does highlight that a film's rating says more about the viewpoint of the Judges, than it does about what is being judged!
Hope that helps, Jameela
A panel's personal preferences/prejudices don't (or shouldn't) come into it. The star rating is all about how well the message is delivered, not what the message is.
This is entirely different from whether a film is one's cup of tea or not.

You have had no problem highlighting some of the films stronger and weaker points despite, I think, disagreeing with the message. If you had been asked to judge, your star rating should reflect those, not whether or not you agree with it, and that is the standard we expect of all judges.
Tim
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Jameela M Boardman
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Re: For discussion

Post by Jameela M Boardman »

True, but if I represented an award giving organisation, the "Star Rating" would reflect my organisation's views -- most probably subliminally... But this film highlights the extreme divide between valid religious and atheist viewpoints.

So would not all judging inevitably have some prejudice to it, even when the Judges think they are trying not to?

Perhaps I too have my prejudices, that of being too fiercely independent!!
ned c
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Re: For discussion

Post by ned c »

Hi Jameela; thanks for your comments. I take your point regarding the opening statement; this does set up the story and creates an expectation which is different from what follows. Between you and Tim I am grateful for your input which has revealed a number of points. I do agree with you that it is impossible to eliminate personal/institutional bias from the selection process. We are screeners for our local documentary festival which plays to packed houses of the local populace so I feel we have a responsibility to them. This year we have several long ethnographic films which I tend to reject on the basis that they are often very academic and will not appeal to a general audience. Obviously unfair to the entrants and a bias on my part.

I look for additional films for review here and the extension of the discussion.

Tim & jameela, thanks!

ned c
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TimStannard
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Re: For discussion

Post by TimStannard »

Jameela M Boardman wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:24 am True, but if I represented an award giving organisation, the "Star Rating" would reflect my organisation's views
As far as I'm aware the IAC has no views regarding content so long as it is legal. Any self respecting judge doesn't even need to set their personal views aside as the message/theme is not what is being judged. For example, I've worked with (Canon) John Howdon, who wears his Anglican beliefs on his sleeve, several times and I can honestly say his beliefs have never influenced his opinion as to how well the film is put together.
Jameela M Boardman wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:24 am -- most probably subliminally.
I don't dispute that there will be some prejudice, but most sensible people are aware of their prejudice and comensate for it.
Jameela M Boardman wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:24 am .. But this film highlights the extreme divide between valid religious and atheist viewpoints.
And if you believe that is the intention of the film, then you can complement the makers on having suceeded, whether you agree with the message or not.

My own take on it was not that it was highlighting the differences between valid spiritual and athiest viewpoints, rather it is lampooning the way a crackpot cults might come about. It offers no criticism of either atheism or religion/spiritualism in general.
Tim
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TimStannard
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Re: For discussion

Post by TimStannard »

ned c wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 3:22 pm I look for additional films for review here and the extension of the discussion.
So do I. this is one way in which I learn so much about telling a story and film making in general.

Just for fun, I'll pop one up made a few years back.
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Jameela M Boardman
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Re: For discussion

Post by Jameela M Boardman »

Ned, at the top of this thread, you said: "It did very badly at BIAFF. What do you think?"

Considering our positive regards for the film, did you learn why they marked you down?
ned c
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Re: For discussion

Post by ned c »

Jameela; I tried to find the original BIAFF judge's report but cannot so this is from memory. There are clearly continuity problems and these were highlighted and the lighting levels in the garage. From what I recall the concentration was on the technology rather than the content. For your entertainment I have also made a one star film at BIAFF which won the Audience Appreciation recognition at our local Guerilla Festival; I never take Festival ratings/awards too seriously.

ned c
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