The shorcomings of a film

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John Simpson
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The shorcomings of a film

Post by John Simpson »

The maker of a film often knows what's wrong with it. Sometimes a judge may suggest a re-edit, and sometimes that may be possible if the film maker has a mind to do so.

But, what-if, the film-maker does not have a mind to modify the film? Should they go away and hide under a stone and file the film away in a drawer labeled failed? Or keep putting in for assesment hoping for a more like minded judge?

I try to hold the philosophy that such a film is of value as it is, made at that particular time, almost by a person who was me, but may not be me now, and any remake would would somehow be false. I wonder is the Filmaking perfection which it could be said we are attempting, really that good? A technically perfect film can sometimes seem bland. Remembering the old Benny Hill, Monty Python & Marty Feldman sketches, they were a long way from perfect and half of the fun was the imperfections and continuity failures, but some of them were really good.

As amateur film makers we have a different thing to offer to the multi million pound film industry - originality!
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TimStannard
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by TimStannard »

Totally agree, John. In fact I'd go one further than
John Simpson wrote: Tue Sep 28, 2021 12:12 pm The maker of a film often knows what's wrong with it.
and suggest only a film maker knows what's wrong with it. Others might suggest faults or fixes, but only the film maker knows whether those fixes are in line with their own intent/philosphy for the film.
John Simpson wrote: Tue Sep 28, 2021 12:12 pm But, what-if, the film-maker does not have a mind to modify the film? Should they go away and hide under a stone and file the film away in a drawer labeled failed? Or keep putting in for assesment hoping for a more like minded judge?
This is both down to the personality of the film maker and the purpose/importance of the film. I'm one for tweaking and tweaking a film way beyond what my wife thinks is a perfectly good edit, but once it's released, by which I mean made public on the 'net or entered into a festival, that's it. I'll very rarely go back, even if people point out a whole bunch of faults with which I agree. I want to learn from the experience and move on.

Yet, I can understand others who will continually edit and re-edit as they see their films through different eyes.

I do wonder what I might do if I made a film about an issue I considered important. I imagine I might keep re-editing if I thought I could make stronger, more succinct arguments - but I also wonder whether I'd leave it as is and make another film.
Tim
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Jameela M Boardman
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by Jameela M Boardman »

I totally agree with John's statement...
As amateur film makers we have a different thing to offer to the multi million pound film industry - originality!

I too am now in a dilemma between content and technical quality, having spent much of the last two years making an experimental practise film on an issue important to myself but never intended for public viewing, rather a more polished remake was intended for public viewing. However, I do feel that the original experimental practice video has a brightness and authenticity regardless of its 'home-made-ness', that maybe would be flattened in a remake!

If we take several 'Takes' of the same clip, often only one seems to capture the actors/presenters at their full authenticity, so too I feel concerned now about doing a remake. Some of the scenes were self-recordings of me alone in the room, and a deep authenticity came out which I doubt would happen if a camera/sound/lighting crew was also present in the room!

So I am left wondering what to do over this 'Content Quality' - 'Technical Quality' dilemma.
ned c
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by ned c »

I shot a series of interviews with local artists; one was too far away and he offered to shoot a "video selfie" with his cell phone. The only advice I gave him was to hold his cell phone sideways. The result had a great sense of immediacy, it was "amateurish" but captured him and his art. Sometimes we can overdo the skill stuff and lose the heart.
ned c
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TimStannard
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by TimStannard »

The same is surely true in all art - indeed I'd go as far as to say in all forms of communication. So long as there is no MIScommunication, often the first attempt or first few attempts capture the spirit best.
How often do we hear of a particularly good rendition of a song by a band and when questioned discover it was one of the first takes? Indeed, in the controlled environment of a recording studio, where take after take can be recorded in order to get the best performance from a musician, we often hear with the most celebrated peces that it was the first or second take of the guitar solo (example) that ended up on the recording - even if there were fluffs in it.
I can't remember who, but I do recall reading an interview with at least one film director who avoids rehearsing his actors much for this reason.
BUT we need to be careful not to use this as an excuse to be sloppy, and not bother about such mundane issues as composition, focus, lighting, audio quality.
Tim
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Michael Slowe
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by Michael Slowe »

What an interesting and relevant thread this is!

There are those who endlessly re edit and others who never do. I'm very much in the latter category, preferring to move on and perhaps do better next time. Mind you, I show rough cuts to selected people to gain an insight of how it looks to fresh eyes because we can easily get too closely involved and miss the obvious. These references to judges puzzle me because surely we are making the film that we want to make, not to conform to what we imagine a competition judge may require. If judges for a competition or festival like the film and reward it, then so much the better but I would never re cut merely in response to comments, it's far too late in the production process for me.
I'm very much of the opinion that content is so much more important than the technical aspect, that's not to say the one should be sloppy in the shooting or recording. I am however a great believer that improvisation and a relaxed approach can provide far better material than carefully rehearsed and repeated takes can ever do.

I have often commented that we are so very lucky to be able to work with a free hand and produce what we want without any constraints. If others (and judges!), like our films, so much the better and much pleasure can be taken by success, but be your own person, just like any other artist making art.
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Dave Watterson
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by Dave Watterson »

Glad to see you have been able to return to these pages - despite some technical issues, Michael.
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Jameela M Boardman
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by Jameela M Boardman »

I think there is a distinction between what can be put right afterwards, and what can't...

When someone gives an emotive or artistic performance of any kind, the best take is the best take regarding content, as any other take would be flatter. So we are stuck with what we've got.

However, regarding editing and adjustments; there is no excuse for complacency. Also it has been said, correctly I think, that audio is more important than video to get right. So particularly annoying audio faults that could be dubbed over in editing, or even borrowed audio from one take to insert in another take which is visually better, should be done.

That which is fixable should be, but that special character performance albeit with technical flaws, does remain a dilemma -- accept as is, or attempt to re-shoot.
ned c
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by ned c »

https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/630551349

I have put up two clips; first a traditional interview clip which I lit (at a low level) this a part of an interview followed by Greg's video selfie.
What do you think?
ned c
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Jameela M Boardman
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by Jameela M Boardman »

I think in the first interview with the woman, the dark does draw you in to what she is speaking, though perhaps a little too dark - but this is adjustable in editing.

The second interview with the guy doing his selfie is natural and authentic, but could you not use 'Shake Reduction' on your editing software to smooth it up a bit? ...I know doing this would crop the frame a bit, but you might be able to improve it somewhat.
ned c
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by ned c »

Hi Jameela thanks for your comments; what is interesting is that they are typical "judges evaluations" that address perceived technical "faults" in both clips and offer technical solutions; the implication being that these were unintended. In the case of the formal style clip the darkness is intended although judges may not like it it is what I set out to achieve, there is a reason; the artist works in glass so her art is very bright and multicolored.

The point I wonder about the second clip is to what extent could that be developed as an intentional style? OK we have the awful "wobbly cam"; but what about a moving interviewee? I don't think I have seen that; I dislike the use of two cameras for an interview where the cameras are at right angles to each other and the edit delivers a weird effect where the interviewee is intercut from front and side; irritating. Interviews are not easy to do but I find them fascinating; perhaps Michael could give us some thoughts as most of his films are based on extended interviews.
Thanks Jameela.
ned c
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Dave Watterson
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by Dave Watterson »

The relative darkness of the first one did not trouble me. The artist was clearly visible and her words were fairly interesting (though I dislike the American way of intellectualising their personal history.) The background was intrusive - what was that ladder-like thing at top right? Of course in this extract what we lacked was a good look at some of her work.

The wobble-factor did put me off the second one. Yes, it made the talk seem personalised and he notes that he would never be in the running for a cinematography award. I think it ought to be possible to do such interviews or monologues, but perhaps with a stabilising gimball. In the film 'Buena Vista Social Club' there are some interviews with an obsessively moving camera ... more of them on the DVD extras too. These work fairly well but like any gimmic they become tiresome when you see too much of it.
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Jameela M Boardman
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by Jameela M Boardman »

To see a short clip is quite different to seeing the whole production with the context everything is in.

Some of what is communicated in a film are the words spoken, and some is visual.

Only the film's creator knows what was intended - for everyone else; some may get it and others not.
:D
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TimStannard
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by TimStannard »

ned c wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 11:12 pm Hi Jameela thanks for your comments; what is interesting is that they are typical "judges evaluations" that address perceived technical "faults" in both clips and offer technical solutions; the implication being that these were unintended. In the case of the formal style clip the darkness is intended although judges may not like it it is what I set out to achieve, there is a reason; the artist works in glass so her art is very bright and multicolored.
Even allowing forJameela's comments about seeing the clip out of context, I don't see this as "just" a technical fault. The eye is drawn to the brighter part of the screen and that is where I kept noticing I was looking. This, of course would be fine if what my eye was drawn to was illustrating (or even contradicting) what the interviewee was saying (like good b-roll footage might) but this doesn't appear to be the case here.

In this particular shot the effect is pronounced because he artist is looking away from the leading space rather than into it. So - she's not looking towards the area which includes what I presume is her art and she's not looking into the frame. Therefore I do not feel she is speaking to me, neither do I feel she is speaking about her art (or at least in a manner that suggests she cares about it).
The long depth of field doesn't help as we can see the background in crystal clarity.
Aside from that, and back to the original post, it feels staged, rehearsed and unconvincing.
ned c wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 11:12 pm The point I wonder about the second clip is to what extent could that be developed as an intentional style? OK we have the awful "wobbly cam"; but what about a moving interviewee? I don't think I have seen that;
This looks just like millions of "vlogger" type videos. OK, it's not great quality, but people will happily accept that (at least I will), especially after numerous self shot items on major network news items. It feels totally natural. If it could have been shot "properly" then so much the better, but it's fine as it is. I suspect software stabilisation, in this instance, would result in what the Americans call a "jello" effect (indeed there's some evidence of this as is, so wise not to treat further)
ned c wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 11:12 pm I dislike the use of two cameras for an interview where the cameras are at right angles to each other and the edit delivers a weird effect where the interviewee is intercut from front and side; irritating.
Ahhh. It's not just me then. Totally agree, Ned. I suspect someone once filmed an interview using this technique to achieve a very specific effect, which may have woked very well in that instance. Now it seems it's just thrown in to (a) try to add variety (b) to cover jump cuts (although these too are de rigeur) and/or (c) due to lack of suitable b-roll.
ned c wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 11:12 pm Interviews are not easy to do but I find them fascinating; perhaps Michael could give us some thoughts as most of his films are based on extended interviews.
Indeed, I don't recall ever seeing a film of Michael's where the interviewee doesn't hold the viewers' attention.
Tim
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John Simpson
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Re: The shorcomings of a film

Post by John Simpson »

I think both the clips Ned has put up are of the particular genre Tim mentioned. They are of value as they are, and they could be used as a small part of a long film. Home Movie, or Selfie genre sections are often used in feature length films, but human attension span is limited and too much of anything soon turns people off.
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