My New Short Film - "Good Morning"

Adam Lawson
Adam Lawson Website User Posts: 18
Hello chaps,
I used to post quite frequently over at FXhome and the constructive feedback I used to receive was fantastic and very useful. I assume a lot of the old guys are still lurking around here so I figured it would be a good time to post. I did intend to migrate to this community over a year ago, but got distracted at University and also had a brief hiatus from film production.
Anyway....
I finally finished post production on a film shot back in September. It was a slow process as ultimately I wasn't particularly happy with what we had in the can due to a few squabbles and issues on set that tarnished the whole process. Those problems, however, taught me a lot for future productions, and I am still rather proud of the pre-production, especially the set building and the like. Because of my mixed feelings on the film and the issues I have with it, I had planned to finish it just for the crew, but after some discussion with a few people, I feel it is worth showing it round rather than just sitting on it. Feedback has always served me well in the past, so I should just swallow my pride and get some eyes on it rather than changing my name to Alan Smithee....
Sorry guys, I know lengthy director notes bundled with disclaimers and self doubt doesn't make for a fun read, I just had to be honest. Nonetheless I welcome your feedback, and it feels great to be posting again.
So, with an odd mix of trepidation and excitement, I present "Good morning".

Thanks guys. :D

Comments

  • MjlnerVFX
    MjlnerVFX Website User Posts: 184
    WOW! Really great work :D
  • ESPictures
    ESPictures Website User Posts: 533 Just Starting Out
    It's a little confusing to me what exactly was happening, story wise.
    But I liked the clock ticking and the dark overtone of everything.  The blood on her face looked a little too chocolate syrupy. 
    It reminded me very much of Tarantino's style overall.
  • Adam Lawson
    Adam Lawson Website User Posts: 18
    It's a little confusing to me what exactly was happening, story wise.
    But I liked the clock ticking and the dark overtone of everything.  The blood on her face looked a little too chocolate syrupy. 
    It reminded me very much of Tarantino's style overall.


    Thanks for the comment! 
    I'm glad you liked the dark overtone. It was a bit of an excercise in atmosphere for me....
    The blood on her face is in fact supposed to be some kind of black bile or some other putrid visceral liquid. A lot of people think it is blood, and I can see why. I don't really signpost what exactly it is, and to an extent, it is intentionally open.
     

  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 4,450 Enthusiast
    Yikes. That one caught me unawares. Really, really loved this, Adam!
    Going to encase my thoughts in spoiler tags....
    The slow burn pacing of this is a risk and around the halfway point I was getting a little twitchy. This is perhaps due to some of the line delivery, which isn't quite there. It's not terrible, but it's not entirely convincing, although both actors definitely look the part. I almost wish there was no actual dialogue in the entire piece - the lines slightly spoil the atmosphere for me, if anything.
    However, I stuck with it past the mid-way lull and was very glad I did. I was absolutely not expecting that ending and it rather floored me.
    It's ambiguous to just the right level. My own reading is that this is a zombie movie in disguise, she's been infected, they're waiting for the inevitable, and he's promised to take care of her until she turns. Is that what you were going for, or am I way off?
    Regardless, there's deft genre manipulation and misdirection at work here.
    You start off with what appears to be a classic "man with dead body" setup. The assumption is that he's murdered her, or something went wrong, and he's now disposing of the evidence.
    You go to a flashback, we assume we're going to see the murder/event. He's portrayed as a loner, so we assume serial killer or some such. He shows up at the house, seemingly unannounced. Feels like something terrible is about to happen. Then it turns out they know each other, negating the murder possibility. So maybe it's a domestic accident or an argument or something? Except they're both calm and he's looking after her.
    Then she dies of seemingly natural (but unexplained) causes. Which is unexpected in itself. It suggests that perhaps there's not much more to the story other than she had a terminal illness and he's a kind, if a bit weird, fellow. So it's a domestic tragedy/drama. Maybe it's about right-to-die?
    We go back to the tree. Unexpectedly sun-drenched. He looks relaxed for the first time, almost.
    Then there's the blood/goo. She appears to be breathing still.
    Then the lunge, and the spade to the head. And suddenly the genre rotates around again and clicks into place again: this is a fricking zombie movie.
    I rewatched key bits, noting how there's nobody else in the movie. Lights are all out on the apartment blocks. No other cars in the car park. Apocalyptic.

    Genius! Would love to know more about the troubled production, if you're able to share, as the end result is fantastic.
  • B3NB4IL
    B3NB4IL Website User Posts: 74
    I really enjoyed this piece, very twisted and dark.
    You certainly set the dark atmosphere with the correct lighting, shot compositions, and colour grading. I particularly liked the TV screen lighting, made the scene more intense and freaky. Although I did feel the pacing was somewhat lagging. The start was great, as it was just a wonderfully composed shot and dragged on to a sense of wonder and speculation. After that though, about halfway through I started to want to skip ahead, but refused to do so.
    I did like the acting, they looked the part, suited the part and played the part well. I really got a sense of confusion about the guy due to his various attitudes throughout. From the start I assumed him to be a murderer, then the car shots, when he looked down to the soup and smiled, I sensed he was perhaps a partner to someone and was on the way home from work. However it was at the house where I began to get suspicious about him and his motive. From the moment he walked into the house, I was still sure he was a boyfriend/husband, then I started to wonder if he was a friendly but creepy neighbour, it wasn't until he sat next to her that I started to wonder if he abuses her and she's stuck in this "Be happy and smile for him otherwise he'll beat me up" relationship. It was never really clear what his role was until he kissed her on the top of the head portraying that sense of affection where I realised they are a couple.
    It was the ending that threw me off though, like Simon said, it turned into a zombie short. However, I have to admit, it played out differently for me in my head going by the title and a line that was uttered earlier on. "You know, you don't have to keep doing this" It was here that I started to wonder if this had taken a turn into the fantasy genre and this woman dies every night, or every now and again, and her boyfriend is left to take her to this hill by a tree, lay her down and come morning when the sun shines on her, she revives again. 
    That wasn't the case clearly, but that's how I linked the title and a bit of dialogue together. My main criticisms are  that the audio could have been louder, I was listening to this through headphones and had to boost my volume up nearly full in order to hear the ambient clutter and dialoge. My other criticism is that this could have worked and been more powerful had they never said anything to one another, and had the soup making scene been cut down a tiny bit to increase the pacing.

    I really enjoyed this though, and as one of the first short films I've watched properly since god knows when, I was impressed, and now that I have time to myself these days, I am going to start watching more short films! 
    Great work!
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 4,450 Enthusiast
    Stylistically it reminded me of a subtler Arrenofsky Requiem For A Dream, perhaps mainly due to the TV and the woman trapped in an apartment. 
  • Adam Lawson
    Adam Lawson Website User Posts: 18
    Wow! Thank you so much for the comments guys. You've been really thorough! I don't think I've had criticism like this before. It makes it feel like a 'proper film', if that makes sense. I love people sending me questions on the technicals, or pulling me up on some below par sound design or misplaced shot, but it is really great to have people read it as a piece of cinema rather than a practical exercise. I'm very flattered! 

     

    My own reading is that this is a zombie movie in disguise, she's been infected, they're waiting for the inevitable, and he's promised to take care of her until she turns. Is that what you were going for, or am I way off?


    Simon, you're spot on and you are the first  person to get it 'right'. Saying that, I enjoy hearing people's interpretations and readings that differ from mine just as much, but it is nice to see my original ideas were conveyed. 
    In terms of the troubled production, we basically had one of those shoots where everything went wrong from the word go. I hope the following production log isn't too rambly.
    We always shoot very quickly, mainly because we tend to shoot everything in one concentrated period because of conflicting schedules. If we dedicate a set period to shooting everything then it decreases the chance of having a half shot film because of other commitments.
    Our schedule consisted of waking up at sunrise to shoot everything at the tree, then straight onto the house that was 20 miles away to shoot there. Travelling on the train with all our kit and the entire crew was very funny.....
    http://twitter.yfrog.com/gvbeqbzfyadcentcehkasynfz
    When we arrived at the tree, Lucy's eyes were very dry and she couldn't get the blackout contact lenses I wanted in. Originally we also had a moment where he removes a crucifix from her neck, in a sort of 'god is no good to her now' moment. The prop was a family heirloom and it fell off her neck after the second take and we had to spend a good hour traipsing the field in grids trying to find it. The sunrise just didn't happen. It was one of those mornings that lacked those pretty celestial beams. Instead it just was grey. Then out of nowhere everything turned golden. In the end, we reshot some bits and it worked out for the better to have that contrasting pallet, but the general feeling of consistently cocking up tainted the shoot a little. 
    After that we moved on. 
    Luckily we had a few days set dressing prior to the shoot, so we arrived in the early afternoon to a dressed set where the cast and crew could sit and relax and talk about the night ahead. Ideally we should have broken off and all slept, but we all thought it best to stick together to 'stay in the zone'. The house is dank, but massive with plenty of space to chill out and maybe grab a nap. Wouldn't be the first time after many 48 hour film challenges. Instead, I think the lull just tired out more, and I spent the entire time unnecessarily tinkering with lights and wiring (our red heads were being particularly unruly attached to rickety damp electrics in the house), so by the time the sun eventually set, we were a little tired and grumpy. This caused me and Nathaniel to have a little falling out (the first in 3 years of working together) delaying the shoot even more. When we finally got the first shot in the can, the atmosphere was all wrong, hence some of the improper delivery. I made some silly mistakes in composition and direction so editing became a salvaging exercise rather than picking the best take. 
    We went from an all night shoot in that house to catch the first train back to Canterbury to meet the owner of the boxy red car to shoot the boot scene. By this point, we wanted to either kill each other, or sleep. Or both. We then headed back to the house to tear down the set to be out by midday to return the keys to the owner. So the brunt of the film was shot over that chaotic 24 hour period and by the end I just felt completely demoralised by the whole project. We had a night shooting the building exteriors and the car park a few evenings later, but after that, I abandoned the project for about 5 months. Saying that, I am very glad it is done now and you're comments make it all worth it.
     

     

    You certainly set the dark atmosphere with the correct lighting, shot compositions, and colour grading. I particularly liked the TV screen lighting, made the scene more intense and freaky. Although I did feel the pacing was somewhat lagging. The start was great, as it was just a wonderfully composed shot and dragged on to a sense of wonder and speculation. After that though, about halfway through I started to want to skip ahead, but refused to do so.


    I'm glad you liked the TV. It was composited in afterwards, so onset we fashioned a sort of 'Edward Gel Hands' glove that my friend flickered in front of a small light to create that effect. Also, I am trying to master that 'slow burn' pacing, creating a balance between intrigue and frustration so thank you for your comments on that.

     

    It was here that I started to wonder if this had taken a turn into the fantasy genre and this woman dies every night, or every now and again, and her boyfriend is left to take her to this hill by a tree, lay her down and come morning when the sun shines on her, she revives again. 


    I love that reading! So different, but really interesting to hear. 
     

     

    My main criticisms are  that the audio could have been louder, I was listening to this through headphones and had to boost my volume up nearly full in order to hear the ambient clutter and dialoge. My other criticism is that this could have worked and been more powerful had they never said anything to one another, and had the soup making scene been cut down a tiny bit to increase the pacing.


    Sound design is still the bane of my life, but I definitely learnt a little this time around. I completely agree about keeping it dialogue free. I wish I could have realised before. Alas! I think the pacing is particularly clunky because of the problems mentioned above. 

     

    Stylistically it reminded me of a subtler Arrenofsky Requiem For A Dream, perhaps mainly due to the TV and the woman trapped in an apartment. 


    It wasn't an intentional inspiration, but I am extremely flattered. I am an Arrenofsky fan!  :D 
    Once again, apologies for such a long one. I wanted to be as thorough as I could be, especially as you all gave the film so much time!
    Thanks guys,
    Adam 

     

  • jma
    jma Website User Posts: 84
    Would you mind if I showed this to my Media class? We're looking at challenging Genre expectations at the moment and this would be a great text for them to study
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