The Cloud - discuss?

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TimStannard
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The Cloud - discuss?

Post by TimStannard »

Just trying to maintain inertia, here's a film made six years ago. It didn't do particularly well at BIAFF, but I think the star rating it received is perfectly valid as were the comments received. I know what I think about it - how about you?!

https://vimeo.com/87520351
Tim
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ned c
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Re: The Cloud - discuss?

Post by ned c »

Thanks Tim. Let's get some things out of the way quickly; technically well done; good images, generally well framed, good sound. Very well cast; everyone looked the part and the quality of the acting good which in turn reflects on the quality of the direction. Smooth edit with good transitions.

I enjoyed the film but felt there are two weaknesses; the opening sequence up to the lawnmower gives far too much away and so derives the film of the suspense which should be its strength, to me this removed the value of the tension which then built. The second problem is the launderette exposition; a headline in the paper would have been enough here and the talking head quite at odds with the rest of the film. A minor point is that the following of the accountant was clunky. I liked the coda of the revenue arriving.

Thanks; enjoyable good idea.

ned c
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TimStannard
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Re: The Cloud - discuss?

Post by TimStannard »

Thanks Ned. It's very intresteing that you see the opening as a weakness. Our intention was to grab the viewer's attention immediately with the opening line (even the word "Murder") and the accompanying possibly violent footage.

The whole idea behind the second scene (the talking head) clearly failed here. It was meant to mislead the audience into thinking he's being questioned in a police station (and the end of the film reveals he's simply talking to someone in the laundrette). We'd made a gobo to cast the shadow of a cell window on the wall behind him and it (sort of) worked on set. Big lesson learned - check your shots on a monitor on set: We'd used an LED panel as the light source and to our adjusted eyes this shadow looked fine. When I got the footage into the editor, it became apparent some sort of interference pattern had been generated and the light/shade behind him looked more like curtains than the shadow cast by a cell window! I had to do a lot in post just to make it look like he wasn't in the soft furnishing section of a department store!

I think it feels dialogue heavy. We worked very hard to reduce dialogue to what we felt was essential. Graham, the writer, was quite happy to blue pencil line after line. However, a lot of the dialogue was essential for what was - right up until the edit - a character based film. When we came to edit, it was evident that some of the acting/direction/filming was not really up to scratch and vast swathes of the film were cut and we took the decision that character would be subservient to plot.

(One side effect is that the characters seem to swear a lot more than they did in the earlier versions of the scripts).

So, a film which was meant to be about how, given the right set of circumstances, anyone might be driven to crime (be it blackmail or manslaughter), it became a somewhat lesser, plot driven, film about a blackmail and a murder - and I'm inclined to agree with the weaknesses you identify.

I know you've only mentioned it as a minor point, but to what are you referring "A minor point is that the following of the accountant was clunky."?
Tim
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ned c
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Re: The Cloud - discuss?

Post by ned c »

I feel that an opening with the groundsmen and their problem with the fertiliser is strong enough to keep the viewers attention. It certainly requires a "wonder where this is going?" from the viewer. Regarding the "follow the accountant" scene the shot when they were in view of the house they should have behaved normally; not like conspirators and the fortuitous arrival of the newspaper does push credulity.

Regarding dialog; it is an essential part of any film but particularly narrative non-violent films. Obviously to be effective dialog must be well written and convincingly presented by the actors; I think this is why amateurs are so concerned about dialog. We are currently watching two Brit programs; "Unforgotten" and "Last Tango in Halifax" which are loaded with dialog; in fact all talk in different locations. Superbly written, acted and directed.

This doesn't mean amateurs should avoid dialog but we all need help and guidance. Many years ago there were instructional weekend meetings at Wansfell College in Essex where I was introduced to editing and basic cinematography. An opportunity for the IAC to sponsor instruction in this area? (darn; I said I would not go there again!)

Any more for us Tim? Where is everyone else; we don't bite and love to discuss films so post a link here and many of us are housebound and this is much more fun than most other things.

ned c
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TimStannard
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Re: The Cloud - discuss?

Post by TimStannard »

Thanks Ned. I agree about the following the blackmailer scene (not the accountant - that's what threw me). It's far too cartoony. As for the newpaper - again, I agree, but Danny needs to discover they were not responsible for the death somehow so it was either that or a radio report. I'd do it differently in retrospect.

I'll defend the opening though, in intention if not in execution: The first shot with the attack and opening word "Murder" as an attention grabber and the second shot being a confessional, necessary for the "reveal" in the laundrette. Both misdirect the audience into believeing murder has been committed.

I've seen all series of both "Unforgotten" and "Last Tango". Indeed there were a couple of years when it was impossible to avoid the excellent Nicola Walker on British TV. I don't recall so much about "Unforgotten", but "Last Tango" was very much character based (the plots were fairly weak) which would explain (to me) the need for a fair amount of dialogue. It doesn't only need to be natural, it needs to be devered (and received) in a very natural way ... and we, as amateurs, arent't always so good at that.

Unfortunately I have nothing else to offer in the way of "serious" drama. I'd love to make more - indeed that's my film making ambition, but struggle to come up with or find any sort of plot which isn't hackneyed or beyond belief. Martine and I spend most of our TV drama watching time pointing out flaws and loopholes.
Tim
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TimStannard
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Re: The Cloud - discuss?

Post by TimStannard »

ned c wrote: Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:12 pm Where is everyone else; we don't bite and love to discuss films so post a link here and many of us are housebound and this is much more fun than most other things.
Calling Howard Smith!!!!
Tim
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Jameela M Boardman
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Re: The Cloud - discuss?

Post by Jameela M Boardman »

I found it a nice story but the emotion build-up for the audience was not quite right... Where was the climax supposed to be; the assault with the monkey wrench, the reversal with the newspaper article, or when we learn in the launderette that Danny stopped him murdering the blackmailer but a violent event did happen needing blood to be washed off the clothes?

There needs to be build-up to a clear unanticipated dramatic peak... Like an audience needs to be lead to assume something is going to happen, but then an unpredicted twist happens.

The blackmailer who was in financial difficulties seemed to be introduced to the story too suddenly using a nice match-cut of the pouring herbicide to the pouring beer, but there should have been some previous build-up to this side of the story.

Technically, there is an audio issue... When we see the groundsman speak inside -- room reverberation is expected, but when he speaks as Narrator using a 'Voice-Over', his voice must not have any room reverberation, rather it needs to be quite flat.

But besides our assessment of the finished product, there must have been a great deal of fun for you all in making it!

Jameela
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TimStannard
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Re: The Cloud - discuss?

Post by TimStannard »

Thanks for wtaching and for your comments, Jameela.

For me the climax is clear - Danny chasing Eddie into the blackmailer's house, leaving the audience guessing as to whether he prevents the attack. Clearly we failed if that's not what you got from it.

I'd not sure what you mean about introducing the blackmailer too suddenly unless you mean we get to the point rather quickly. In the original script, there was a lot more dialogue in the pub between the accountant and the blackmailer which told a slightly more sympathetic tale of how his life had gradually gone downhill. We cut all that when re-cut the film as more plot based as whilst it rounded out the character a little, it didn't really move the plot on. Is that what you meant?

The "voiceover" is Eddie's confession in the police cell (which turns out to be the laundrette) so room noise is intentional. If you didn't get that from the film, then that's another instance where we failed.

I'm not sure it was "fun" to make as such. Getting the actord to agree to dates and times was problematic enough! Despite being merely a drama and having no emotional investment to either of us beyond that, we did take it very seriously. It was certainly a worthwhile learning experience: the primary lesson being we probably should have allocated more time to rehearsal and production on set. The film could have been much closer to what we'd developed if we'd demanded and checked the shots on set rather than discovering the odd glance or incorrect inflection in post. I'd love to do another.
Tim
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Jameela M Boardman
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Re: The Cloud - discuss?

Post by Jameela M Boardman »

Actually I watched it through twise, and I did enjoy it, but as I said the emotional build-up was not quite right... well that is what I felt.

I think when things get changed, it becomes awfully difficult, as some parts which are changed were gradual lead-ins for significant parts of the story later. So even though it was a really nice match-cut to the accountant scene in the pub, I was still left wondering where did this part of the story suddenly come from.

I know the feeling about trying to get suitable actors in the right place at the right time! ...but you succeeded, alas I am still trying.
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TimStannard
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Re: The Cloud - discuss?

Post by TimStannard »

Jameela M Boardman wrote: Wed Jun 10, 2020 8:45 pm Actually I watched it through twise, and I did enjoy it, but as I said the emotional build-up was not quite right... well that is what I felt.
And I'm perfectly OK with that. You comment caused me to question it - which is good - and decide I was happy with it how it is - which is equally good :)

Thanks again for watching and commenting.
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it
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