Duplicate: A New Film from De-Evolution Studios

Hey Guys,
So, I've been kind of MIA since the transition from FxHome.com to Hitfilm.com took place, but I've decided to drop in as I've completed a new film.

When an unassuming man is mugged, he must face his choices. And himself.
Created for NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, 2010 Intermediate Narrative Production.
I hope you guys enjoy it - this was filmed way back a year and a few months ago, and post-production went well into the summer of 2011, because it's hard to convince people to do things for free. I think it turned out pretty well considering, and it's definitely my most "put together" film yet. I'll have a ton of new stuff coming out soon, so keep your eyes peeled to my youtube channel and my Facebook (listed below).
Let me know what you guys think!


  • Andrew
    Andrew Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    I liked this!
    It's simple but clever and effective, and has a real distinct growth cinematically and technically on your part. Really pleased as well to see the De-Evolution Studios moniker back in full force, made me feel nostalgic for a moment.
    More to specifics- editing is tight and well-paced, sound design clean and strong. Cinematography isn't necessarily inventive or terribly inspired, but it's efficiently solid and a welcome support to what used to be the weakest aspect of what I saw in your filmmaking efforts. I like the music used in this, too, and felt it was appropriate if not a little uneven. Sound design trumps the tones of it more often than not in this, but that's alright for the short length and closed narrative story.
    For me this is strongest in it's directorial execution and solid acting of a good idea by the lead actor. New York City is a beautifully disheveled backdrop for really any short film, but you make good use of it in the scope and 'world' of yours. The actor seems naturally fit to it, the pizza shop an appropriate place of employ, and the stereotypical 'dirty, forgotten alleyway' feels honest and real, and the actor 'fits' in it, if that makes sense. There's a world-weariness in his eyes that I rarely see in short films that really works well, notably in noticing the second mugging and walking confidently towards the mugger in the last few frames- all felt very moment-of-truth-y, and I smirked at that a little bit. Good filmmaking moment, there.
    What confuses me slightly, however, though doesn't at all take away from my viewing, is how this took so long to edit and post-produce. To me, at least as a viewer and looking at the filmmaking from an 'after-the-fact' sort of view, it seems like the work would largely be in figuring out the appropriate way to shoot the story, and then production itself. Could you give some background on why that aspect took longer (perhaps than anticipated, as well?) and what you experience shooting in the city on something, well, with a 'serious' feel that requires less/is less forgiving of inconsistency in the shooting environment was like?
    This is good stuff man, nice to see you grow as a filmmaker.
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,448 Enthusiast
    Really good, excellent to see you return in force. :)
    I'm with Andrew on pretty much all his points. Editing was really good, particularly in the fighting which was sold very convincingly (props to your stunt guy), and the cinematography was unshowy but served the story appropriately, which is always the main thing.
    There's a noticeable and large improvement in the technical aspects over previous work from you that I've seen. Previously the ideas are what pushed the films, whereas here the idea is matched to equally solid technicals. Which, of course, serves to make the idea all the more effective.
    I want to mention the music in particular. Again, unshowy and subtle but does exactly what it needs to do. I think your composer really found exactly the right tone.
    From the brilliant opening shot onwards you use New York superbly. I think perhaps my favourite thing about the short is that it felt like it was in a very real place. Was it difficult shooting in the city? I don't know what kind of permissions and hoops you'd have to jump through to do that - I noticed you thanked the mayor's office, so presumably you did it 'by the book'?
    I'd also be intrigued to know what took so long in post, though I do understand how these things can just run and run.
    Good stuff, and make the next one more quickly. ;)
  • Evman
    Evman Posts: 19
    Thanks for watching guys. The lack of FxHome branding around makes me feel like a noobie! :)
    Glad to hear you responding positively to the technicals... I mostly have an actual crew to thank for that - turns out that's all it takes! :P  The only way this came together was with a LOT of prep work with my Producer and AD. The Burrito place was the result of me asking the owner. We shot it out before they opened at like 11 in the morning. The alleyway location is one of the only publicly owned alleys in NY, so I was able to purchase a permit to film there. Because of the stunt work, we actually had to have an NYPD Officer on call to block traffic for us. Very fun. Only problem is that it's huge. And I do mean huge. I tried to push the characters up against the walls and be specific with the framing, to compress it, but it still looks huge on camera to me because I know it was wide enough for at least 2 if not 3 cars to fit through side by side. Hopefully it doesn't feel that way to an outside observer.
    All the alleyway stuff was filmed on that one day. It's actually kind of amazing, as some was filmed in the wee hours of the morning, some at noon, and some in the dwindling hours of sunset, and it all cuts together seamlessly. Fight scenes mixed up with dramatic scenes, mixed up with walking on the street nearby, all shot out of order. The alley obscures the light so it always looks like roughly the same time. The closeups of the duplicates looking at each other were filmed like 8 hours apart. Enough cannot be spoken about how AWESOME my AD was. He was really on top of everything and we worked extremely well together, so that we were able to cover something insane like 40-50 setups in that one day. We used every single second of daylight.
    Cinematography-wise, I didn't end up choosing the best DP. His work is definitely sufficient, but he and I never hit it off the way we sort of needed to for it all to gel. In my forthcoming projects I've got a different person lined up who I've hit a strong creative cord with.
    I'm glad the world felt realistic and hopefully gritty. I wish I'd spent a bit more time dirtying up the costumes (they look quite pristine), and paid more attention to makeup effects (consistency of bruises, cuts, and making him look beaten up more).
    The music was something that I was incredibly pleased with as well. Scored by a guy named Martin that I've never actually met, as he lives in Germany. He answered a call for my last film, HomoRobotic, and ended up doing such a damn good job on that movie that I tapped him for this one as well. He's great with themes, and I love the theme he created and progressed in Duplicate.
    There are a few reasons why this took so long in post. The main one was I was really tired of it by the end of shooting. One of the annoying things about NYU now is insurance related stuff. A kid died on a set a few years ago, and this was the first intermediate class to happen after all that, so things were unbelievably strict and demanding in terms of paperwork, multiple backup locations, safety procedures, and set visits by production supervisors, etc. It was frankly a mess, and by the time we wrapped in November of 2010, I couldn't start thinking about this movie again until 2011 rolled around.
    Then a lot happened in the cutting room. We went through several edits, getting the fights just right, and restructuring the opening of the film (the main character's co-worker originally had a prominent role that I later felt distracted from the main story). By the time we had picture lock, it went off to sound design. There was a ton of work to do here as a lot of the on-set recorded audio was unusable due to incessant noise from traffic and voices on the street - making it sound like a not so desolate alleyway. There was a lot of foley that needed to be recorded for the fight. And my sound editor was working for free in the midst of paid gigs, so this film obviously got put on his back burner.
    By the time the sound edit came back, the mixing facilities at NYU were on a summer hiatus, and I couldn't get in there until August to do the final mix. In the meantime, I finished up VFX/Titles and handed over the film to a color corrector. Come August, we mixed the film out, and it was ready to go. I didn't put it online until now due to film festival restrictions and "premiere" requirements - which is the most frustrating thing in the world. Ultimately I just said f*ck it, and released it. Believe it or not, I'm a rare exception to have completely finished my Intermediate. Most kid's never get past a "picture lock". The process is so long and painstaking, I'm convinced it's designed to weed out people who don't actually want to make movies, because this one took almost all the fun out of the process, with the exception of the actual shooting days. Therefore most people just start on their Advanced rather than try to salvage their sinking ship Intermediates.
    Hopefully that at least somewhat explains what took so long. I've been working with some friends under a new moniker, and we're preparing to launch a site within the next month or so, so this may very well be the last official De-Evolution production. Only time shall tell. Our big push with the new group is getting more shorts done faster - without bullsh*t NYU restrictions.
    Expect it all soon.
    (Wow, that certainly was a novel, wasn't it?)
  • Andrew
    Andrew Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    bullsh*t NYU restrictions
    Pretty much what I figured was the holdup. At least you go to a film school where the works are at least somewhat legitimate and it isn't crushingly-embarrassing how restrictive your school is for how truthfully un-prestigious and of poor quality the student output and program is. ;)
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,448 Enthusiast
    Interesting read! Sounds like a frustrating process. There's one thing for hold-ups to be due to technical or creative challenges; it's a whole other thing for delays to be caused by, essentially, politics.
    Funny to see that you've kinda had enough of festival restrictions, too - I recall Max Swinton expressing similar sentiments in the Lover Boy topic a little while back.
    Finding out a way to regularly produce content is the main trick, I find, especially if you're not able to do it as the 'day job'. I'm still figuring that side of things out with my production crew here in Norwich. We're getting increasingly better at it, but still aren't able to put stuff out as regularly as we'd like.