Comments Made During the Contest
Ayal Pinkus (Level 5)
The main problem I see is with the camera work. It looks like a home-made video. Lighting:Daylight shines into a dark area and is over-exposed. Everything inside is underexposed. Last shot, addict #2, the scene is back-lit! The background is over-exposed, his face under-exposed. The addict just a mere dark silhouette, with nothing else of importance in view. It gives him a halo, an angelic feel. That is not what you are trying to convey, I think, drug addicts as angels.How I would have done it:I'd have chosen to do it all indoors, underexposed. It would all feel gritty, noir. A single light source lights the dealer. Then have the drug addicts come out of the darkness. The dealer dominates the scene visually.Staging:You're shooting from a low angle as you see the addicts. This makes them look tall, powerful. Furthermore, eye height is above the dealer, so you are making the dealer look small, visually, and the addict look tall and powerful. Visually, the addict is towering over the dealer, whereas socially, it is the other way around. I'd shoot that differently, take the camera shots high when you only see the addict (thus making them look small), the dealer alone shot from a low angle to make him look grand, and when you have both the dealer and the addict, shoot from behind the dealer upward so that visually the dealer towers over the addict even though he's sitting down.Composition:You have the tall straight lines of the doorpost near the drug addicts. These vertical lines give a feeling of strength, stability, awe. In contrast, the background of the drug dealer is messy. I'd have at least done that the other way around.You have various still-life shots that refer to their childhoods. That in itself is the visual equivalent of exposition. I think "Tell mom to stay away from my stash." is clear enough. The stills are actually confusing as I don't realize what I am looking at and why. The shots are quirky. First one is of the toys in the garden, and we're looking at toys that are cut off by the frame left and right so it isn't exactly clear what we're looking at. Moreover, there isn't really a focal point in these compositions, a point your eye is supposed to converge to. In stead, the viewer's eye is pushed to the side and out of the frame in an attempt to understand what he is looking at. Inside that goes on. You take shots of toys from strange alienating angles. Also the portrait of the two brothers, arms around shoulders, is taken at an odd angle. It is all very jarring, which is odd, because it refers back to the time when things were calm and peaceful.How I would have done it:These stills are supposed to hint at a peaceful past, when the brothers were still pals, and not drug addicts/dealers.I'd put a shot at the end where you see the picture of the brothers, in the middle of the frame, camera almost at the same height. The table edges form horizontal lines that suggest calm, peace, tranquility. I'd toss around props and play with the composition for hours first until it was right).Then have the dealer's hand smash the picture off the table with one swipe. A big crash. Picture ends up in a corner (between children's toys possibly, messily stacked), broken frame, in a corner so the lines of the walls meeting each other and the floor point at the heap of mess.And fade out.You were on a low budget. These suggestions cost nothing; close a door, turn on a light bulb, rearrange props, position the camera properly. "Quality, budget, schedule, choose any two". Go for quality and low budget, and then take your time to get the compositions right.I think you also need to clean up the audio a bit in a studio if possible (I think I hear clipping, in that case there isn't much you can do...)
Bill Clar (Level 5)
Script: Why does the first addict ask if there's a problem? This scene happens too quickly to register the dealer's hesitation.Great script. It's very sad, but touching. Acting: Fair. The dealer needs to enunciate when he says "Dad." That line is powerful and I had to read the script to verify what was said.Cinematography: Outdoor scenes are a bit dark. Are you attempting day-for-night?The garage needs more light. It's drowning in shadows. You always want to see the actors' face.Sound: A bit of distortion in the voices, probably from the mic levels being too high.Editing: Too quick. Let the shots linger for a second longer. The baggie thrown on the floor for example. It lasts maybe .5 seconds. Lengthen it. Maybe extend the shot by cutting to the baggie skidding across the floor to the addict's feet.Score: I like the acoustic guitar.Direction: I like the visual of the little boy. Just let it linger for a few second longer.Dad and dealer appear to be the same age.
Bill Sarre (Level 5)
Packs a punch for a one page script and a short film!At first i wasn't sure what type of film this was going to be. Not living in the US it seemed a normal street, kids toys in the garden but then seemed to have a dealer working from a garage. Was that meant to be a front room?The twist with the father was interesting but something niggles me about it. One to ponder.The footage seemed a little fuzzy at times and the sound likewise. Otherwise good effort.all the best
Brian Wind (Level 5)
The score and dialogue seem uneven. I had to adjust my volume several times.The first guy buying drugs could really stand to polish his skills. Maybe feed that dude a couple beers before you start shooting to loosen him up a little. The other two actors looked like they were about the same age so it was a real shock when we learn that it's his dad. Too big of a shock. In fact, I didn't buy it. The acting was clearly amateur. I think I recognize that neighborhood. Did you shoot this on the east side?Some of the lighting could be improved.The story here would have been fine except that the two actors being roughly the same age totally blew any chance the twist had at being effective.Overall, nice job Zach. Next time I suggest posting a casting ad on craigslist. You'll get a pretty good response in the St. Paul area. I had over 30 people respond to a casting ad for a no budget, no pay film. We should shoot something sometime.
Byron Matthews (Level 4)
You had a great story to work with, and I thought the execution was pretty good for the most part. I liked the music and shots of the kid's toys.The sound, lighting, and the look of the film was a bit rough. The performances were okay; I would've loved to see Addict #1 look much more like an addict instead of a guy in a poor suit. I just wished the lighting was better, because you really can't read the subtext on the actors faces in certain situations. When the
Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)
I'm afraid on my machine the visual and sound quality is very poor - I could hardly hear the dialogue. This may be my machine's fault but other films have worked okay...I found it very choppy to watch with the cutting from shot to shot.I remember this script so well and it lost none of the impact in the filming despite my difficulties with the seeing and the hearing.
Chris Keaton (Level 5)
Did the guy that ran away have a mic pack on his back? :) Wait that guy is supposed to be that other guys dad, but they are the same age? And who deals out of storage unit?
Chris Messineo (Founder)
SCRIPT: I reread the script. In hindsight, I think I might of been a little too harsh with my review. The story is clever, but I think it is also incredibly powerful. It is definitely also a very hard story to pull off as it demands so much from the actors.PERFORMANCES: I like the actors, but I don't love them. This script demands so much from each look. Every moment should be full of nuance and subtext and while these actors aren't bad, I don't know that they are capturing the depth that is needed.CINEMATOGRAPHY: Most of the compositions are actually very good. I like the angles chosen. The lighting is hit or miss, some shots are perfect, while others are under or over-exposed.SOUND: Unfortunately, this is the weakest element. In particular you need might want to try recording "room tone" and using it to create a consistent ambient sound so it doesn't feel like the sound is constantly coming on or going off.EDITING: I thought the editing was pretty good. Too many shots of the home and the toys at the beginning, but I LOVE that shot of the child when the father turns around. That was brilliant!SCORE: I loved the little plaintive score here. I thought it worked perfectly.DIRECTION: Overall, I thought this was a really good job. Mostly I would suggest focusing on sound and lighting in the future.OVERALL: I liked this even more than I thought I would. As I said, it's a better story than I originally gave it credit for. And if I'm being honest, I have to say, it actually moved me (that damn shot of the child). Well done.
Chris Setten (Level 4)
I thought this was an intriguing story, full of dark, dark emotion. The contrast of feelings across multiple dimensions truly resonated for me. The time dimension was especially powerful where the innocence and promise of children clashes violently with the stark realities of the street. A superb twist ending, in my view, that feels like a mallet to the solar plexus. The execution was passable but didn't do enough justice to a good story.
Chris Westfield (Level 3)
Audio issues as the mics were running a bit hot, I think you used lav's. Did the dealer say Dad or Dan? I think he said Dad, they looked more like brothers as far as age. I liked your opening shot selection and use of close-ups. Music worked too. Short and sweet.
Christopher Castle (Level 4)
Title was okay, maybe could be more imaginative. Atmosphere with the music was good. It reminded me of the movie CATFISh, with a lot of realism. I saw the mic pac in the trouser pocket of the first addict who ran away, which spoilt it a little. Script seemed good with concise words but not giving too much away. Maybe there was an opportunity for more character to show through in the dialogue and actions. Only thing I feel disappointed in was whether the dealer was the father and husband, or brother. Actors seemed close in age, more like brothers. And the photo at the end did not make it any clearer. But good job in getting the film made and shows real potential is most areas.Just read the script and found the dealer was the son. So the father did not look old enough to work for me.
Christopher Pedersen Cook (Level 3)
I liked the music a lot. I think it best translates the mood the film wants to convey, which is a kind of bleak sadness. However, if you as the audience are to get caught up in a mood the editing needs to be much less choppy than it is here. The illusion is constantly broken and you find yourself on the outside looking in.
David M Troop (Level 5)
man of the houseTHE SCRIPT by Erich VonHeeder is heart-breaking and poignant. I read the original after watching the film. It was a brilliant idea to include quick shots of the toys and the quick flashback of the Dealer as a child. It added a larger emotional tug and a slight feeling of sympathy to the situation. The author (wisely) expanded very little beyond the original one page script. As a result, a very powerful screenplay.THE ACTING was excellent. Aaron Huotari as the Dealer was impressive. He had the tricky job of portraying a prick but still having love for his father. You could see the emotion in his eyes when he glanced at his old toys - wishing things could be different, but, hey, business is business. Andy Anderson was very good as Dad. His face conveyed the shame of a junkie and the regret of a father who "lost" his son. Cole Meyer as the Addict played the role, I thought, for laughs. I wasn't sure if it was totally intentional, but what was with that run?THE SCORE which was uncredited, was both simple and effective without being distractive. It set a mood of sadness without being mushy.The rest of the film rests on the shoulders of Zach Jansen.THE DIRECTING was top notch. Jansen got his actors to speak more words with their eyes and bodies than with their voices. I could read their minds and feel their pain. Brilliant job of using subtext. I only had two problems with the entire film and I believe they both fall under this category. First was the odd casting choice of Anderson. The part of Dad should had been played by someone who looked much older. The father and son looked more like brothers. I thought Anderson's acting was very good, but the role was miscast.Secondly, the final shot of the photograph showed two people who I assumed were the main charachters, but had no resemblance to either actor. A pictre of the Dad holding his infant son or throwing a baseball to his ten-year-old son might have worked better. THE EDITING was very good. As I mentioned before, the quick cuts to the toys on the lawn and in the garage added emotional punch.THE CINEMATOGRAPHY was too bright outside and too dark inside in spots. I'm sure that was done for effect, but some of the acting was lost in blinding light or in darkness.THE SOUND was adequate. The score was very clear. The dialogue sounded a slight muffled in spots. I thought I heard birds chirping.OVERALL - VERY GOOD job by all involved.
David Serra (Level 4)
Although you have a few glitches with how it's filmed. I found the story to be interestisng, surprising, and heartbreaking. I liked how you made it unpredictable and simple in its way of showing visuals.Overall, Good
Dawn Calvin (Level 5)
This was interesting. The pace was good. What I didn't get was the "dad" comment and I had to replay it. I think the actor on the couch could have been much younger for that to work. Also, I just didn't get the toys that we kept looking at. I missed something.But the location was great, the music fit and that pace was good!
Debra Johnson (Level 3)
Wow. Very powerful. Would never have guess to be a family thing. I like the shots of old kid stuff on the garage floor. Sent a clear message without uttering a word. Very good film here.
Denise Jewell (Level 4)
Great script and great film. The pace and the feel are almost perfect - my only complaint is the music being a little too morose. The story is sort of an american horror story and as I figure out what's going on here, my heart is breaking. I don't need the music to get the emotion.Dialogue is perfect. Just enough so we know the story, and so it plays out and gives us the twist surprize. Nice job.
Donnetta Williams (Level 3)
The direction of the film was insightful. Showing the memories of the two character's as they were before. I liked the scene where the dad turns around and see's his son as a child. Overall the characters connected and the plot was strong enough to hold it all together.
Elias Farnum (Level 5)
I really don't understand what was going on in the story. Were they all family? Was this a dark comedy? A statement about both sides of the coin? I see the script got an honorable mention - I must be missing something.The camera work was great, and the clarity was good. Lots of angles and shots of toys in the yard gave this a somewhat sentimental feel.The acting was good, nothing there took me out of the film.Score, simple yet effective. Sound is very hard to work with, you did a good job although the beginning was a little low and I couldn't hear one of the lines. You can fix it without a problem. I'm going to have to do the same thing with mine. Sound is a killer.Overall this was good! Thank you for entering, I like the work done here.After watching this again, along with a couple other friends, they thought it was sad. The line I didn't hear was when he said "Dad" the first time. Yeah then, I get it now, (I thought he said, Dan) and it is a very good hook for more of a story. I once did some yard work for a lady whose grandson was a teenage crack dealer. I remember one time the grandson came in very upset, practically yelling for the crack his father and a friend had, after finding the stash, stole from him. Shoe on the other foot, and very entertaining as the kid started accusing everybody in the house except his Grandma. You've certainly captured the severe sadness of a very real circumstance. The whole situation is horrible, and btw, the woman's grandson is dead by shotgun blast to the chest, a tragic lifestyle.
Faith Friese Nelson (Level 5)
The audio sounded brash. The photography was fine but the acting did not seem believable.
Felipe D. Machado (Level 4)
I'm very confused. Was the dealer actually that guy's son? It did not look believable at all. You need to hire actors with significant age difference if you want to make it believable.I didn't really see a real theme to the story either. Was the script that short? I haven't been able to open the file.Although the camera wasn't the greatest, that doesn't really matter. Your angles and visual choices got the job done. I am just a little confused about where this was trying to go.
Gary Rademan (Level 5)
I liked the touches added like the long uncut grass, kid's toys, picture of the guy and dad, and of course Mr. Cuteness, the little boy. The garage was a real shithole. Kudos.What was this story about? Is the man liteally the dealer's dad? Or is he a younger dad hallucinating what his addiction will do to his son? I prefer the latter. My favorite line was "Tell mom..." The actors were okay though a bit stiff. Audio was okay. Transitions and inserts were okay. Pacing was a little fast. GOOD.
Greg Tonnon (Level 5)
I like the twist in the meaning of the title. The story itself, I hope, is a dark comedy. At least that's how I saw it. The acting was fine as was the camera work. The sound though seemed to be a bit muffled.
Heidtmann Oppong (Level 4)
Was dealer the son of the (ADDICT 2)? If that's the case, then i hold back my comment. Still i'm a lil bit confused, well let's say, maybe i have to read everything again.But i still got the point, (ADDICT 2) takes care of his family through his illegal deals, isn't it? "You tell Mom she hits my stash again,she's back on the street. Serious." That's what he said to the dealer. Anyway, if i am right then i think the story plus the video was not bad. Good job!
Jeannie Sconzo (Level 5)
I like the conciseness of it. You didn't draw it out like many seem to do. I do wish the acting was stronger. Very hard to manage light when shooting indoors with a door open to the outside.
JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator)
AUDIO: Jumped all over the place. I could here the wind-noise change every time you cut or did a specific action that you wanted to emphasize. Like when the guy threw the bag of drugs on the ground. DIALOGUE: Was great. Really liked it. DIRECTION: I understood everything that happened, I just with it wasn't so on the nose. The cut to the little boy's face when the father turned around was a bit much. You should have just stuck to the slow zoom on the picture at the end. That was good. ACTING: This was okay. Could have been better, but I understand you probably just got some friends and said let's shoot this. OVERALL: I enjoyed seeing the wonderful script come to life.
John Kelley (Level 1)
Okay, compelling short you've got here to say the least, tugs on the heart strings certainly. In terms of reviewing this, I'm coming here from Triggersreet and I haven't done a whole lot of short film reviews, so I'm going to follow the suggestions page pretty closely with my review here.Script: Very goodYou're concise with your words, which is always a key and you keep any sort of extraneous dialogue or action out of the equation, which is appreciated, definitely an economy of word choice, very nice. The characters here aren't really too differentiated in that they don't have individualistic voices, however a lack of dialogue contributes to that more than any reflection on the writer's ability.Performances: FairAs with any independent short film, finding quality actors is difficult and that was the case here, as the performances weren't always believable. That said, your protagonist was solid in his portrayal.Cinematography: FairI'm struggling to decipher what sort of camera this was shot on, however, the picture was very grainy and less than ideal. That said, the choice of shots was such that, with nicer equipment, I could see this being quite beautiful.Sound: PoorBackground noise was rampant here and I often had trouble hearing certain lines, requiring me to re-watch a number of times.Editing: GoodThe necessary jump cuts were done well here, quite impressive. Outside of that, however, not much about the editing stood out to garner anything above "good."Score: Very GoodThe song choice was fantastic, but my critique here is that, at times, the score actually drowned out bits of dialogue and background noise, pulling me out of the story and hurting any sort of mood you were trying to establish, which is obviously the opposite of what you want your score to do.Direction: Very GoodI thought the way the material was handled was excellent and the shot selection and execution were done quite well. However, some more coaching of the actors and focus on sound does fall under the head of a "director's duties."Overall: Good
John Padgett (Level 2)
Really need to work on audio. It became quite distracting during the film.The acting was not very good. The dealer was ok.The colorization was not very good either. Total quality of the movie looked cheap.Direction was just average.Cinematography was pretty good. OVERALL: Poor. Work on fixing all the tedious details and I would enjoy it much more.
Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)
The sound - the music is good and fits.Their voices - if you seen my movie, it's just like the voices and voice overs in my movie. It's just mine is longer and actors talk more, so some of them is original, some is detached and added. Your dealer - you worked on his voice, I can tell. Probably it's not even his voice, someone else read the lines for the actor - wondering if I'm right here. So you need to work on that. The cinematography - good job, but I think that some of the shots are too blue, may be go easy on saturation.The shot with the Addict #1 running away - I'd redo it. Maybe you could cut the frame and show only his shoulders - I watch him run away and it doesn't work for me for some reason.I cut a lot of frame in mine - in one shot the actor goes to his mother and I had to cut the frame - the full shot didn't work. I wonder if things like that are just my imagination...I think you did a good job on your movie! You should keep it up...:)
Kirk White (Level 5)
i remember liking this script a lot...and you add some nice touches with the visuals of the car seat revealing the relationship. I don't think you need ALL of the visuals--the picture, the flash of the kid and the truck and car seat--but overall this is a nicely acted, well paced and effective short filmgiving a very good...
Kisha King (Level 4)
This is well put together. I love the story, the visuals and the music. I think it all works great together. Really like how the actors are discreet with references to the addiction and toys presented in the room.
KP Mackie (Level 5)
Powerful story. Like the interspersing of kids toys and the adorable little boy.While the actors did a good job, there may not be enough age difference between the Dealer and Dad. The Addict is distinctive in a suit, so it's okay that he seems around the same age too. Not sure that Dad's arrival at the door in the first scene is needed. Was a little confused about who he was in that white tee since the next scene is the Dealer and Addict and neither of them is wearing a white tee shirt. Perhaps Dad shouldn't nod after the Dealer mentions "Mom." The reference to her is so strong that, maybe, Dad should hear it and absorb it without acknowledgment.Music choice was perfect. Just enough scattered throughout to serve as punctuation.Well done. Congratulations.
Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5)
I was impressed by this film overall. Although the film quality was a bit grainy and the sound a bit fuzzy, the amount of love and care that went into the production were evident.I thought the actor who played the Dad should have been older and more bleary-eyed.The quick shot of showing the dealer as a young boy: perfection. That was very well conceived.
Lee Lyons (Level 2)
I didn't think this was awful. I just thought that the casting made the premise a little unbelievable. The dealer and the dad looked pretty close in age. I also understand the purpose of showing the children's toys but I feel like a little less of that and a little more of the actual drug dealing or the father's longing for more drugs would have gone farther.
Margaret Ricke (Level 5)
Wow! I'm impressed with this. I remember being impressed with the script, too... Love the story.Nice job of editing, and the choice of music is good. The vocal audio is funky, though. It's garbled and indistinct, and it's painfully obvious that the different voices were recorded separately. Record with the best microphone you can afford. There's programming out there that can do wonders with funky sound, too. Sound is really important. So is resolution. I don't know what you used to film this, but it needs to be much more crisp and in focus. I think better lighting would be really helpful. It almost looks like you used natural light for the garage scenes. Whatever, it doesn't work, and that's a shame because the story and the acting were up to it. Shoot light and crisp and then darken and smudge in editing. I learned that the really hard way... The important thing to remember is to record both the audio and visuals at the highest quality you can. You can't pull detail from muddy footage, but you can mess all you want with the crisp stuff.An observation, possibly of little importance - You open with the buyer going to the front door and then cut to the garage. Open with the garage and play it... You could use effects to make the open garage look darker from the outside as the guy walks up to it. He could falter, like he's not sure about whether it's a good idea to go in... The guy on the couch could be highlighted with an ethereal glow or something... I think it would work better, but it might just be a personal opinion... I'm not always sure about that when it comes to editing... Nice work.
Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5)
I thought everything was good except for the age of the actor playing the addict. He looked like he was the same age as his son. I had to stop and reread the screenplay because I got confused and thought I had remembered it wrong. Other than that issue I thought it was a nice effort.
Martin Jensen (Level 5)
I don't know if it's a problem with the lighting or the exposure, but there was a lot of noise in the picture and some of the shots got out of focus. There was one shot where the camera zoomed in and jerked up and down a few times. Some of the eyelines didn't quite match up. The performances were good, the camera angles and editing were solid. The music was subtle and well-chosen. Good.
Martin Lancaster (Level 4)
I like this script. It's a strong, simple concept and the actors do it justice. I think the lighting could have been better and the audio is a bit patchy, but overall this is a well made film.I enjoyed it. Well done
Michael Hughes (Level 4)
I very much liked the idea for the story. I was thinking about how the film-makers were trying to show "sadness / regret" on both the parts of the father and the son. I think there might have been more impact if this emotional point of view was limited to only one of the characters. It would have worked either way - but would mean the other character would not be shown "considering" the situation but rather simply playing the part. (Son = hardened drug dealer, or Father = strung out addict.)
Mike Senkpiel (Level 4)
Script:I thought this was an amazing one-page script.Performances:These were pretty good. The dealer did especially good.Cinematography:There were some backlighting issues, but otherwise ok.Sound:The dialog was hard to understand. I think this could use some improvement.Editing:Nice job. The shots fit together nicely, and the cuts to the toys were a nice touch. Score:I thought the mood of the guitar was appropriate and fitting - simple and to the point.Direction:Excellent. I appreciate the effect that you achieved on your budget.
Moldovan Alexandru (Level 3)
This was pretty good,the family relations have all but evaporated,there's the dealer brother,junkie brother.The house is filled with toys which they played when they we're kids.I liked the flashback when the dealer brother sees his junkie brother little again as he turns back it was a nice touch.Good job:).
Nelson Bagsby (Level 1)
I found the meaning difficult to grasp. Was it about a son displacing a father as "Man of the House?" If so, I would rate the concept a excellent. The father viewing the son as a toddler was a nice touch. The execution (not the filming) was poor due to less than two and a half minutes of footage. More developement of the concept is needed. I feel that the establishing scene was too long for a movie of this length. If that were remedied and using all the alloted time to flesh out the concept I would give it a much higher score.
Olga Tremaine (Level 4)
I think this one was much better on paper. ( I decided to read it after watching)I thought actors were not very articulate, it's either that or the sound (the microphones) wasn't very polished. I had hard time hearing what they were saying. Nice work overall.
Paul De Vrijer (Level 5)
00:00Man those insert titles made me jump.00:20Bad ISO values on the camera. Too much noise.00:30Audio unintelligable. Very weird composition, the set doesn't seem like a crackhouse and the open door has been badly overlighted.01:25Did I just see a shot of some kid?Overall:This is an amazing script, and this has not been a good movie. Camera operation is bad, composition is bad, acting is bad, just the overall presentation is just not good. I think the editing is okay though, the audio fits with the images presented at the right moment. Overlighting, underlighting, bad framing. You need someone who has experience filming. Audio recording could be way better too.
Paul Williams (Level 5)
My preamble: For the first time, I produced and directed my first short-film this year, so now I approach the reviewing process with a new perspective. I never thought it was easy, but now I know it's not.Hi Zach,It seems you were essentially a one-man crew on this, so my praise to you on that. Seriously.Choosing an Erich Von Heeder script to produce was a wise executive decision.I like the tone/atmosphere and pacing of the film.I thought the actor playing the dealer was well cast and did a good job.Is a wireless mic receiver visible on the pants of the addict as he runs out? I think it was. It happens.The toys strewn across the ground, while a nice visual touch, felt a little forced. Would these really be here this many years later?Some of the audio sounded a little hollow and distant. I know sound can be a bitch.I like the minimal use of dialogue.In the part when the father's at the doorway, the background is very blown out. It's almost hard to see his face and eyes.The score, i.e.- the guitar, enters very loud and abruptly. I'm not sure if that was by design or not. Perhaps play with the audio levels a bit on that.My biggest critique, and I don't think I'll be the only reviewer to say this, is that I feel the father was mis-cast. He doesn't appear that much older than his son. Originally, I thought this was going a different direction that the script, but it didn't and I was surprised that we were to believe this was his dad.Again, congratulations of producing and directing a short-film. It's no small fete.Good.
Pete Barry (Level 5)
The original script was a killer, and it'd be hard to live up to. You give it a good shot, but I think your budget might have hindered you. You make good choices that help: the quick cut to the photograph, the dealer's troubled look to the stuff in the garage. This shows some good directorial instincts.At the same time, the audio quality is the first thing that needs work. The shots are very quick and seem a little haphazard in composition; that might be because the sunlight blows out the actors. They didn't seem to be different in age enough to be father/son, but again, the sunlight made it hard to see the older man. The muddled audio and lack of close shots made the existence of the first addict incomprehensible.It definitely has its good points, and I think you were working with what you had. Maybe a somewhat more coherent visual throughline would help, still, it was enjoyable.
Peter Tolosa (Level 3)
I definitely like the concept, like the drugs, like the annoyed dope dealer, all in all I think the initial purchase with the customer in yellow only serves to instill a sense of danger and tension between the dealer and his customers, maybe could have been chopped out, what I mean is that with the references to "my stash" and the baggies being thrown we get the idea that he's a drug dealer, but you had to stick to the script, I'm sure. Good job, perhaps a little over acted, or maybe there was too much time spent focusing on facial expressions that didn't come rapidly enough for me, but I'm not an actor myself so I couldn't tell you to encourage your people to do anything in particular to enhance their performance. Very real and coldly businesslike dialogue delivery by the man of the house, so coarse and unfeeling that I want to see this mother now and find out how bad she really is.
Philip Whitcroft (Level 5)
This works pretty well. I like the tension that is set up and the editing works well in keeping this moving along. The story pays off effectively and you've kept it to the right kind of length.For me it looks like you could have filmed this with a bit more light, because it seemed like the image quality faded when it was in the low light setting.
Pia Cook (Level 5)
Thought the story was good, but the video quality and audio brought it down some. I also thought there should have been a more significant age difference.All in all, pretty decent work Zack. A Good from me. Good luck!
Reginald McGhee (Level 0)
Screenplay: I liked the surprise twist at the end of “Man of the House.” The story reads smooth. I will rate this section as 4/5.The performance was compelling. The actors did a good job communicating their feeling to each other. I don’t see anything that needs improvement in this section, 5/5.The Cinematography is brilliant. I haven’t found any errors regarding the lens of the camera, 5/5.The sound is clear in my head and nothing about it jumped in or out when I watched this movie, 5/5.Editing: The camera shots were too fast and it could be slowed down. I think with some more editing, it will be better in the end, 3/5.Score: I enjoyed the tone as it is Drama. The music in the background matched the overall structure of the movie, 5/5.Direction: The film contains a few scenes inside and out of the dealers’ home. I don’t see any unnecessary scenes or dialogue in the film, 5/5.
Rich Keel (Level 4)
Story - This was too short. I wanted to see more. Maybe what caused the parents to go down the road of being addicts? Was it the son dealing that caused it or was it the parents first and the son followedd in their footsteps, that is my guess. But it should be clear...not a guess. Acting wasn't too bad.Video - pretty rough(my first couple looked pretty grainy too - it's learning). If you get some lighting(maybe spend about $100 at your local hardware store) you can increase the quiclity imenssly.Audio - you can tell you recorded with an on board mic...which a lot of people do and that is fine. The issue I had is everyone's dialog was in my right ear...except for the Son...it was in my left? That just made the experience seem odd.Overall - nice little story, could've been longer and the total quality can come up a couple notches. But this is the fun part. Seeing where you start and doing another film to see where you are heading.Good luck to you this month.
Richard Buckley (Level 4)
Congratulations on a good effort,I get a strong sense of style with this film, it was a pity the sound and the casting took me out of it. I felt the two actors looked about the same age so the impact of that final line was undermined. The most important thing is that you have a sense of timing though, which is good.Well done.
Robert L McBride (Level 2)
Good plot. THe sound and the quality, just hindered the emotion that should of come across in this film. I had to watch it, then read the script and then watch it again because in the closing line it sounded like he said "Dan, tell mom...." not "Dad, tell mom...."
Rustom Irani (Moderator)
This has the right ideas for execution but falls a bit short because of technical aspects marring the narrative pacing.The writing was and is solid. The actors fit the physicality though the dad could be a bit older and much, much scruffier looking, think Bubbles from "the Wire"The music works rather well and supports the camera moves which are motivated and revelatory.A few of the camera compositions and blocking is sloppy, with heads being cut-off or too much head-room, but you'll learn the finer points by making more shorts like these one-pagers.I also wish, you'd used older, broken toys bought from thrift stores or junkyards, wwhich would add great production value to the film.Is the video noise something you achieved in post? If so, then get rid of that effect and the underexposed look of the backyard.Also, add room tone throughout the interior of the garage underneath your dialogs and then adjust levels to make the dialogs sound smooth without all those silent spaces in between. It gets jarring and is a common mistake to make.The easy fixes to enhance this can be achieved via color correction, dialog levels and room tone and some tighter pacing.LOVE the cutaway to flashback of the kid. Brilliant! Think along those lines and you're only gonna improve. The technical asides can be mastered over time.Good job!
Sally Meyer (Moderator)
This was a strong story and I remember reading (and I think seeing) this before. Was it made into a short film for last year also?With such a strong story, I felt like the film didn't match up in quality to the script. The lighting behind the dad was really glaring and detracted. He also didn't look old enough to be the dad to me. I wish you'd gone with a younger son or older dad, to make them look like they could be father and son.I also felt like the setting could have been stronger. Darker, where they come and get their drugs. Maybe an alley or something?I love the story and the script. I think the film itself needed some work. However, making a film is not an easy task and anyone who gets in there and does it, has my utmost respect.
Steven Gulotta (Level 3)
Script: I simply enjoyed the writing. The dialogue was good, and it brought about a unique story. I can say that I've never seen something like this before. The only flaw, however, is that the drug dealing son, who is supposed to have a disconnection to his parents, still refers to them as mom and dad. It would've been better if he referred to them by their first names to better show that disconnection. Performances: The drug dealing son and the first druggy were not too good in my eyes. They felt a little plain, and 2D-ish. The father, however, made a pretty good character. I saw how he still saw his son in what is now a drug dealer. Cinematography: Camera quality wasn't the best, but I still saw everything that was needed. Sound: Not the best, again, but I still heard everything that was needed. Editing: Good enough for me. The flashes to the child, though, is still my favorite part of this whole film. Makes it more sensational. Score: The music was alright. Albeit, I did not think it was the best in choice. It was too sad for a more dark period, and really didn't reflect the situation all too well. Direction: I think there may have been a few too many angles for this short of a film. But, that's just my preference. I enjoy having one angle for a duration of a time, with the camera panning alongside the characters. This is hard to do as it requires more equipment, but the direction was still fine.
William Bienes (Mod Emeritus)
I very much enjoyed the script when I read it several years ago. I don't think the film lives up to the script due to the following reasons:The sound level is very high, or at least sounds high due to distortion, especially when the dealer speaks.The picture quality lacks - it's a bit grainy and appears that you are relying on natural light for most, if not all of these shots.The addict is dressed in a nice suit and looks as if he stumbled upon your set. He does not at all have the appearance of an addict at all, which squashes the authenticity of the character.Addict number two, the dad, needs to be older. He almost looks younger than his son which presents believability issues and shoots down the film and the impact of the dealer's cold line.Focusing on the picture of father and son - doesn't look like the characters of the film so it appears that it is a stock picture.Two things that stood out in the film that I thought were very good - the dealer, I thought he played the part very well and the shots of the toys. They added subtext and emotion to the film and the reveal. Having said that, I'm not sure I'd have the father look at more than one - I think the truck will do just fine, adding the swing steps on the moment a bit.
William D. Prystauk (Level 5)
It's a good start to what could be a pretty wild story. Right now, however, we only become intrigued when the credits roll.
Comments Made After the Contest
Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 1/1/2012 12:25 AM
@Brian Wind:I tried a few times with craigslist, but some actor out there must not have liked the idea of working for free and had the ad flagged. I've been getting to know actors, though, so it'll be nice to have some learned individuals to work with.I was supposed to have a camera/lighting operator and sound guy for this, but both had to cut out at the last minute, so I ended up using a camera and sound equipment I was not comfortable using (and practical lighting). Also, the actor who was supposed to play the dad never showed up. True to life, he's into drugs, so I had to call a buddy in to play the part. I tried to keep his face dark -- hence the significant backlighting on his character -- because, yeah, he's only six years older than the son.As for the shot composition, I tried to throw in unusual, awkward angles to give a sense of unease. I may have went overboard with the number of shots -- again, trying to create that unease and to hide the dad's age -- but the intent was to create discomfort.Oh, and the music that was commented upon so much: I wrote that myself. I read Erich's script and let it linger in my head while I played around on my guitar. I started playing what would become the opening theme and felt I should take a whack at the script.I know it's not the greatest film -- first one I've made in five years -- but I learned a lot (like who not to hire/work with) and look forward to making more films this year.
Erich VonHeeder (Level 4) ~ 1/1/2012 11:10 PM
Thanks for making this, Zach. I hope you had fun.I think some of the common comments regarding the sound and casting are pretty accurate, but that's all fixable stuff in the long run.What's ten times more important at this stage of the game, in my artsy-fartsy opinion, is that you displayed the ability to identify the emotional hot-spots of a script and deliver them on a platter. The shots of the toys, and the insert of the young boy, were absolutely outstanding...signs of a promising future, I reckon. Nice job, Zach.
Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 1/2/2012 3:01 PM
Ah, the good ol' craigslist police. Yeah, I guess now that you mention it, I had a ad or two flagged down before I got one to stick on there too. What neighborhood did you guys film this? It looks like east side of St. Paul.
Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 1/2/2012 4:05 PM
It was Dayton's Bluff, just a few blocks from the old Harding High School on 3rd St. I keep trying with craiglist, but the longest I've had anything up is maybe a day. I think next time I'll jsut fudge the pay so the ad can at least get seen.
Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 1/2/2012 4:19 PM
Have you guys tried www.mandy.comSometimes you get really lucky with it.
Erich VonHeeder (Level 4) ~ 1/2/2012 10:33 PM
I don't get it.Back in MY day, getting paid to act was a daydream.Copy and credit...something for your reel...get your SAG card before you expect pay...Is it that different now?!?
Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 1/2/2012 11:35 PM
I don't know what's up, but seems actors in the Twin Cities want a paycheck more than anything. I've posted a few times and each time was flagged. When I inquired, I was told, "No pay, no stay."But, yeah, you'd think being able to work, meet new people would be good enough.
Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 1/2/2012 11:37 PM
Thanks for the link, Rustom -- looks more promising than other avenues I've tried.
Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 1/3/2012 1:29 AM
Are you posting in jobs or gigs? Jobs = pay. Gigs can be no pay I think. I see mctc student films on there without pay all the time.
Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 1/3/2012 4:22 AM
You're most welcome, Zach!You could also try your local theater scene. Those actors look down on most filmmakers but if you can cajole them and let them know you're a stickler for rehearsals, they can be convinced and often bring something really special to your film.