The Ghost Hunters

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fraught
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The Ghost Hunters

Post by fraught » Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:00 am

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8lGAX5GAdI[/youtube]

Ok, my turn.

This is a film I made about a local group of Paranormal Investigators. My aim was to try and create tension and suspense during their adventures, hence the reason for holding shots a little bit longer than I would for a normal film. This got a 2 Star Award at BIAFF 2011, personally I thought it was better than that... but what do I know?! ;-)

The film is 33 mins long, so I appreciate anyone that takes the time to watch it and review it. :-)

Be gentle. ;-)
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Jill Lampert
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Re: The Ghost Hunters

Post by Jill Lampert » Wed Apr 27, 2011 7:57 pm

You have chosen a really interesting subject, and one about which many people, including me, know little. So that’s a good start.

You have put an enormous amount of work into this video. There aren’t that many non-commercial film makers around in our IAC affiliated clubs making ambitious documentaries of this type. Most are less ambitious, being based on one visit to an interesting place or event. Yours includes at least three outings and it includes several interviews with Pete Sugden.

Your film is also hugely ambitious in another way: you have attempted to film something which presents enormous technological difficulties. Almost all the action takes place in very, very low light. I don’t know how you managed to film that? Perhaps with infra red light? It was often difficult for you to use a tripod, and the circumstances, which were beyond your control, provided you with great challenges with regard to capturing all the sound you wanted and leaving out all the sounds you didn’t want to include.

And you have created the whole film relying on words taken from the interviews or other footage to tell the story without any commentary from you. I know from experience that this is a very difficult thing to do.

Am I right in thinking that the music was especially written for the film?

I can see that it would be very disappointing to be awarded only 2 stars after all that effort.

I’m not a BIAFF judge, and, indeed I have only ever judged two competitions: one at club level, and one with competitors from a group of about six clubs. So what I say is really just one film maker to another. Like you, I like making documentaries.

My response to your film is that I found the topic interesting. The interview with Pete Sugden was excellent and there were some remarkable shots: for example the sequence at the first venue where the medium appears to be talking to spirits, and the moment when the medium falls off his chair at the last venue. But I am afraid there were quite a lot of times when I didn’t really understand what was happening or why I was being shown particular scenes.

I think that the film could be made much easier to understand and more compelling if you were to cut out anything which is not essential, and link the various parts with a carefully composed commentary which would provide any necessary explanation and would help to move the film along.

Some examples of things I found confusing or puzzling: What is an EVP? It was talked about, but I don’t think there was any explanation. What was all that about the fellow who thought he saw stars? What is it called when you sit at a board and put your finger on a glass, and what is the point of it? Why were we shown this same thing three times, or was it four times – sometimes at great length? By the last time, I was wondering why we were watching it yet again, when suddenly something absolutely dramatic happened. That was exciting, and I would like to have heard more about it – a commentary could analyse it perhaps.

For me, what I would like to come away being clear about is (a) What are ghost hunters aiming to do? (b) how do they go about it? (c) how successful are they? and (d) why do they bother? You have all the ingredients there. The whole package just needs to be spelled out very simply and clearly and anything extraneous or repetitious dropped.

I would love to see a revised version of this film with a commentary and more focus.

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Re: The Ghost Hunters

Post by fraught » Tue May 03, 2011 11:18 am

Hi Jill,

Thanks SO much for your response. I really appreciate that you have taken the time to watch and to comment on my film.

I do agree with your comments, perhaps (as always) I'm too close to the subject to see its flaws. I think this film was more aimed at people who already know a bit about Paranormal Investigation, rather than to teach something to those that don't know much about it. I think this is where things need to be more clear cut from me. My intention was to never explain to the user about what Paranormal Investigators do, but it was more about following this team on their adventure.

On the music front, it wasn't specifically written for the film, but the composer did adapt it to fit for me. :-)

Maybe one day I'll go back and take another look, although that might be a while! I'm only just starting to look at re-editing my documentary 'So What Do You Think of The Hot Dogs?' from 1991!

Thanks again Jill!
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Storyteller
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Re: The Ghost Hunters

Post by Storyteller » Sat Jul 02, 2011 4:09 pm

Hi

I, too, submitted a film to BIAFF this year and achieved 2 Stars. I'm hoping with a new film I'm on the point of shooting, I'll do better next time, and I think that's the good thing about the 'Stars' awards - unless you're up with the top film-makers, 5 Stars and Diamond awards - they can spur one on to better things, and I'm pleased to see that you are looking ahead as well as trying to analyse the past.

Regarding this film, I find myself in complete accord with Jill's critique.

There are one or two points I could make, however.

1. The opening titles state that several cameras were used "and therefore picture quality varies". I think you would be well advised to ensure that, if you must use more than one camera, they all operate to the same standard - i.e. don't mix 4:3 and 16:9, and if possible, work in HD. The version on YouTube looks to be SD, and coupled with the difficulties focussing in low light, much of the film's appearance is 'soft' to the point of fuzziness. Maybe that's just the uploading limitations.

2. I'm all for scripting films, whether dramas or documentaries. As Jill says, the film would be improved by trimming it of anything that isn't directly aimed at the objective, and in my view that should include explaining the process of 'ghost hunting' to those of us for whom this isn't familiar territory. Whilst I accept that group discussions don't necessarily need - or even work well with - scripting, the narration supplied by the gentleman 'host' could have benefitted from a script, in my view.

3. As a small matter of technique, it is really annoying to a viewer to have someone in a group speaking [about seeing stars round his head] and the camera not picking him up. Cutaways of people listening are not sufficient: we want to see the speaker. If shooting a group with one camera, you need to position both it and the group members so you can easily pan from one to the other as each joins the discussion.

4. Finally, when the scenes are not of necessity being shot in low light, such as the meetings, in homes/pubs/wherever, they would have benefitted from good lighting: some relies on ambient lights, and they are rarely adequate for filming. Filming in low light causes the camcorder to crank up the video gain, which results in grainy images. Camcorders can 'see' infrared black lights, and infrared lights with the power of good floods do exist, though I have never had the need of one and don't know of a supplier. But if you're making a lot of 'ghost hunter' type films, it might be worth clubbing together to buy at least one, and preferably two I/R floods.

Anyhow, a valiant effort. Good luck with the next one.

Peter

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Re: The Ghost Hunters

Post by fraught » Mon Jul 18, 2011 2:32 pm

Hi Peter,

Firstly, thanks so much for taking the time to watch the film and to sit and write your critique. I really do appreciate it.

It's good to hear that people are seeing the same faults/issues with the film, gives me something to look at.

In answer to your points;

1) The idea of using various cameras was purely from a practical point of view as i only had a Sony 8mm camera that could do the Night Vision work. Then i had my own MiniDV camera for the PTC stuff, and to be used where the light was good enough. I also borrowed clips from the teams involved to grab what i could. So all in all, it was full of various different ratio's and resolutions... but from a film making point of view, i found this quite interesting, and hoped it would add a more documentary feel to it.
2) As for scripting, maybe i'm a documentary film maker novice, but i don't like the idea of telling the people i'm watching what to say. I shot the film as an observer with no preconceptions as to what was going to happen. I guess a voice over would help, and this is something i need to take another look at.
3) The sequence you refer to, i totally agree to. The problem was that i really liked what the guy was saying but i wasn't in a position to film him. So i made the decision to have people listening to him instead. Wish i could have recorded his face, because his speech was quite long and really creepy! :-)
4) As for lighting, i would agree if i was making a feature film or something, but my intention was never to impose myself or the camera... i wanted them to not notice me at all whilst i was filming.

I do think the film needs a thorough good going over... i think when i get some spare time i shall give it another go and take everyone's comments on board. May take a while though... ;-)
Only Boring People Get Bored
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