Whizz, bang, crash!!!!!

A forum for sharing views on the art of film, video and AV sequence making as well as on competitions, judging and festivals.
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ned c
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Whizz, bang, crash!!!!!

Post by ned c » Sun Jan 27, 2008 7:16 pm

The other day I viewed "Solyaris", the Tarkovsky version. This was the second time I have seen this film, last time some years ago. It is over 3 hours long, a genuine SciFi film, not the whizz, bang crash stuff of Star Wars. As I watched I concluded that if this film has been viewed by amateur film world judges it would have been well and truly panned for being slow. It is however thoght provoking, the viewer has to bring something to the experience rather than sitting back as another predictable SciFi offering, essentially a western set in a space, rolls undemandingly on.

Here is my point, it is almost impossible to make a slow paced film for the amateur world. One can visualise the restive judges, "get to the point so that we can see the next one"! Characters are under developed, motives inadequately explained even in documentaries and this is perpetuated by the time limit applied to Festivals. All praise to the BIAFF for not having a time limit.

I read that the average running time for amateur films in festivals is about 12 minutes, is this because of the limited attention span of the judges or the makers can't sustain a longer format?

ned c

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FILM THURSO
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Post by FILM THURSO » Sun Jan 27, 2008 9:30 pm

It is possible to make a slow paced film for the amateur world, just ignore judges!
It's sad that competitions limit film length. Reality speaks volumes that films shouldn't be tied to a short length. A programme of short films can be interesting but we all want that bit more that the feature films offer. I love films regardless of length and that's why there is no limit in our festival, "The Big Gig". :D

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Dave Watterson
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Post by Dave Watterson » Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:32 am

The first time I attended an animation festival with scores of short movies - it was an exhausting experience. Each movie tried to take me on a narrative arc from A to B, grabbing my attention, manipulating my emotions ... so each one felt like a whole movie experience. It felt like watching a feature length work instead of a few minutes.

Certainly at non-commercial festivals and competitions we settle in to a certain pace of movie - and yes, usually these average 11 or 12 minutes. That means anything of 20, 30 or 60 minutes feels relatively much longer.

There are exceptions. Many of us have seen A Rather Different Year by Bernhard and Karin Hausberger. The version shown in Britain and the USA is 30 minutes long, the German version is longer. Neither version feels more than a typical 12 minute movie.

Some of us know the work of the Spanish director Jan Baca whose story films may run up to 50 minutes. When his How To Write Love Letters won the Daily Mail Trophy for best film in the IAC competition some years ago I doubt if most of the audience realised it was three times the average length. A couple of years ago the IAC finalists included a 75 minute drama - though very much action-packed rather than slow and contemplative.

But a slow pace for its own sake is something else.

Film society audiences (i.e. members of film appreciation groups) are used to 2 and even 3 hour professional movies. But many of them find Tarkovsky's movies slow going.

I have seen amateur movies up to 2 hours long - but do not recommend the experience. The longest screening I have attended was an all-day show of Abel Gance's Napoleon with live orchestra - but that included breaks. The longest single movie was a 4 hour Portuguese historical epic ... sitting with Portuguese embassy staff on hard lecture room seats ...

Dave

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FILM THURSO
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Post by FILM THURSO » Mon Jan 28, 2008 1:06 am

The trick is to sustain both plot and pace at the same time so that the audience don't feel their knuckles are hitting the floor!

Chrisbitz
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Post by Chrisbitz » Fri Feb 15, 2008 3:27 pm

the thought of amateur films longer than 20 mins strikes me with terror!

There's a skill to making films you know, and a lot of amateurs have less skills than spielberg or lucas. So if I'm gonna sit politely through their "experimental" film about red things merging with yellow things, I'd like it to be limited to a lot less than 3 hours! :-)

Seriously, if someone makes a genuinely superb film, thats genuinely worthy of 1.5 hours, then great, but the majority of us amateurs are NOT! (in my experience)

in fact, a lot of long films I see at shows are rambly, or self-indulgent, and could be cut easily by 25% or even 50%, but the maker falls into the old trap of "that shot took me half a day to set up, so I'm gonna get my money's worth, and include all 3 minutes in the film.... for each of the 3 cameras that filmed it too!"
when all it shows is an incidental actor falling off a roof in surprise or something like that.

please, issue licenses for people "allowed" to make films longer than 10 minutes or something, so that I only have to sit through 10 minutes (at the most) of some blokes grand daughter dancing round the garden in circles!! :-)
I like to make films, this is- my Youtube account. What's yours?

"all of the above is nothing more than nonsensical ramblings, and definately should NOT be misconstrued as anyone's official policy"

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Dave Watterson
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Post by Dave Watterson » Fri Feb 15, 2008 5:53 pm

I do know what you mean, Chrisbitz, but the worry is that our attention span gets shorter. That means we get impatient at anything more than the usual 10-15 minutes ... no matter how good it is.

I think it is part of the reason Joss Whedon's Firefly series did not command huge tv audiences. The shows worked at a slower pace than Buffy or Angel.

Dave (browncoat) W

ned c
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Post by ned c » Fri Feb 15, 2008 8:41 pm

The pace of a film is largely determined by the subject and the events being shown, so there is no standard pacing across all films. If you can get through the first few minutes of the "Bourne Ultimatum" it's quite a good movie but the average shot length is less than 3 seconds!!!

If you want to check comparisons then try the arcane world of www.cinemetrics.lv where there are detailed analyses of shot lengths and a connection with a data base of camera movements and their duration.

Shot lengths are getting shorter, partly because the audience is well trained by TV and movies to rapidly absorb information and partly because, as is suggested here, audiences are quickly bored. Leisuredly paced films are often beautifully shot e.g. "Days of Heaven" "Lawrence of Arabia" "Reds". But this style of film making is vanishing to be replaced by a comic book style for the attention challenged.

We should be making LONGER films not these stripped down shorts for the easily bored. Part of the problem, particularly for judges is the sheer number of films to be viewed and watching film after film numbs the senses. There are films that need to be watched in isolation and comfort, savoured rather than gulped down like some fast food offering.

ned c

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Dave Watterson
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Post by Dave Watterson » Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:12 am

I'm in broad agreement with Ned ... but must point out that the Lord of the Rings trilogy is almost all told in 3 second chunks.

Either there is a cut, the camera moves to a different position or a character steps out of close-up to reveal something else in the background. However it is done a new image comes to the eye within 3 seconds throughout most of that amazing group of movies.

Dave

Peter Copestake
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Whizz, Bang, crash

Post by Peter Copestake » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:33 pm

Seems to me the length of a film is as long as a piece of string.
I tend to go into detail so that at the end viewers know significantly more about the subject than they did before. This may be able to be done in 10 minutes, often takes longer. I actually got a version of this year's film to 16 and a half minutes only to find that the Cotswold maximum is 16 minutes. Do I leave off the credits or hope they will be happybecause it isn't 17? I really thought I could leave out a whole sequence but I feel it adds to the film and don't want to.
Of course that leaves the question - what to do where the limit is 15! Sorry, chaps, you won't see my masterpiece!
Peter Copestake
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