My First Short Film - My Brother's Keeper

MatthiasClaflinMatthiasClaflin Website User Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
edited June 2013 in Practical Filmmaking
First I'd like to say, I've made quite a few tests in the pasts, but this is my first proper short film with a story of some sort.
A little background on this project.
My older brother has been trying to get me to go down to the Philadelphia area (specifically Chester) where he has friends from college to make a short film. I finally found the time/money to go down with him to visit so we wrote a short two page short. We got a late start that day and ended up with 2 hours of daylight to film. We put it together the best we could. We tried to keep it under a minute to qualify for the FIlmRiot VFX competition even though there are only two vfx shots in the entire short.
Thanks for watching.


  • StormyKnightStormyKnight Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,726 Ambassador
    Nice job. It came out pretty good considering the low light level which actually adds to the atmosphere. Did you adjust any light levels in post?
  • MatthiasClaflinMatthiasClaflin Website User Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
    The first bit with dialogue, was shot darker than that, I had to lighten it a bit in post. Other than that, I didn't do a whole lot to the light levels other than adjusting to add contrast.
  • DanielMorganDanielMorgan Website User Posts: 324 Just Starting Out
    Okay, you've made a nice short action sequence there. The problem for me is, well summed in your description of the project,  "first proper short film with a story of some sort.". It's the lack of story that, for me at least, means that this film just doesn't stand out. It's a nice action sequence, but there's no real story behind it, for me at least. Therefore I have no reason to care about these characters. It also means it falls in with the 1000's of other action shorts there are. I understand you had a ONE minute duration limit, in order to qualify for that competition, and it is incredibly tough to tell stories in such short time, but I feel like this piece was missing maybe just a scene to lead into the meet up. 
    Anyway, on a more praise worthy note, I do like the way it was shot, the (glide cam?) motion to it all was interesting :)
    Nice work.
  • RodyPolisRodyPolis Website User Posts: 613
    Did you use a steadicam for those shots? Looked really nice. My main criticism for this is the sound. It really takes away from the overall quality of the short. It's good to see you doing longer stuff though!
  • MatthiasClaflinMatthiasClaflin Website User Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
    The sound was a problem I knew I was going to have. I used a very cheap shotgun mic I got years ago, (Azden ECZ-990) which I did have boomed, and sounded much better than the camcorder audio. There was a huge lack in story and after planning/filming it I realized that I needed a scene to connect everything together, but I ran out of time to film. So instead of just throwing away the entire project, I threw it together and posted it anyway.
    When I was posting this, I wanted to distinguish this from my past tests that I have done that had no story at all. I did attempt a story in this one even though it fell through. I learned a lot and in the end that is what matters to me. I came away with a lot of insight and knowledge that hopefully I can use in future projects. 
    As far as how I shot it, no glidecam was used. I actually forgot my tripod that day, which is why there isn't a single straight shot the entire video. I used my camera's image stabilization and a lot of rehearsed moves to get it as smooth as it was. I honestly thought it was too shaky at times and almost used some stabilization in AE but decided against it.
    Thanks for the comments guys!
  • BenBen Website User Posts: 51
    Somehow I only just caught this on the forums. I haven't had a chance to watch yet -- terrible internet where I am -- but I will give it a watch within the next few days and get back to you with commentary. Excited to see your first short.
  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 4,450 Enthusiast
    I think the issue here is that the structure and time restriction means that the story never quite takes hold, and almost ends up getting in the way of the action. The action itself is fairly well paced and edited - better sound would tie it together even more.
    With regards to the story elements, there's an awful lot of the characters walking from one place to another. By cutting those out you could have focused in more quickly on the dialogue and action. Maybe even just started with the main guy finding the body of his brother, then cut straight to the revenge action. In a running time as tight as this, you really don't have time for transition stuff of people walking around.
    Transition shots in general can really kill the pace of a movie. The quality of a Star Wars movie can be directly judged by the number of shots of spaceships landing and taking off, for example. It's the sci-fi equivalent of seeing a car arrive into a parking space. 
  • MatthiasClaflinMatthiasClaflin Website User Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
    edited June 2013
    Thanks Simon. I agree with you. The transition shots were pretty meaningless. I should have cut them. Thanks for the comments. Honestly, after shooting it and looking at the footage, although I'm fairly happy with the action scene, I find my efforts to be pretty bad. I have plans to film a more "proper" short film later this summer. One without a time limit so I can develop characters correctly.
  • DanielMorganDanielMorgan Website User Posts: 324 Just Starting Out
    edited June 2013
    I would actually give your self a time limit (perhaps a more lenient one however). For example, say that you are going to set out to make a 5 Minute film. My reasons for this are simple;
    1) As a director working in the industry, your rarely going to have a completely free running time.
    2) Giving your self a time restriction means that you will be forced to cut ruthlessly, the benefits of which mean that you wont have time to put in any shots that aren't ABSOLUTELY beneficial in telling the story of the film. 
    That's my take on it at least.
  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 4,450 Enthusiast
    I agree with Daniel. Edit down to the absolute bare minimum required to tell your story. If something isn't directly furthering the story, cut it. It's often surprising how much you can cut out.
    In the original Arms Race short, it originally came in a whole minute longer than the released version. Then Marco gave me a bunch of feedback and I cut out a whole minute - which is a lot when your video is only 4-5 minutes long! The end result was much better, even though it cut out some nice dialogue stuff. But that dialogue wasn't relevant to the specific story being told in the short.
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