New Project: The Bystander Effect

MatthiasClaflin Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
edited January 2014 in Practical Filmmaking
Hey everyone! This is the concept poster for my new project, "The Bystander Effect." This is an action short film based on the quote by Edmund Burke, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." This short focuses on a homeless man who gets harrassed, while people do nothing, and what he does when he sees someone else in trouble.
This picture was taken during a shoot with the main actor to show the concept of the short. We plan on filming this Sunday in Philadelphia, PA. We will be shooting with a Canon XA10, which although not my first choice for shooting a short film, was at my disposal this particular weekend and decided, "why not?" We have been working on this for a little while now and just announced it on our youtube page earlier this week.
In this video we present the poster and a conceptual teaser for the first time. If you want to just watch the conceptual teaser, you can do so here.


  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,244 Ambassador
    Love that poster, title and tagline.
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,448 Enthusiast
    Really like the poster and the cool, clean, almost clinical visual style. If you can maintain that style throughout you'll have an attractive (in a disconcerting way) film.
    I'm not superkeen on the title myself, though. 'Effect' seems unnecessary - 'The Bystander' is more intriguing and feels less clumsy to me. That said, in the context of the full short film 'The Bystander Effect' could work just fine.
  • MatthiasClaflin
    MatthiasClaflin Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
    edited January 2014
    Thanks Triem23 for the kind words and thank you too Simon. I am not sure I'll maintain the cool, clean visual style, but that is the intention. It wasn't hard to achieve such a look/style on the T3i (with the wonderful 50mm f/1.4) but using a Canon XA10 will present some challenges as it is a completely different beast.
    As far as the title goes, it comes from this. I originally read this article, thought to mysefl this kind of applies to our short and then presented the title to the writer (my brother) and our mutual friend and producer of the short. They all liked the idea of calling it "The Bystander Effect" but as I let the name sit for a day or so, I thought it sounded too scifi for our short. I had already created the poster, announced the project on youtube and facebook, and figured it was too late to change it. But I too am not a huge fan of the word "effect" in there. The rest of the group loves it though.
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,244 Ambassador
    edited December 2013
    You can change the title. *Shrug* "Return of the Jedi was initially announced as" Revenge of the Jedi."
    For me after reading your previous posts, I liked "Effect," not because it sounds sci-fi, but because "The Bystander Effect" implies consequence of action--how what we do (or don't do) effects others. And your tagline in conjunction with the title is what takes me there. "The Bystander" Sounds like it is just a film about a dude, if you see what I mean.
    So, if the film is intended as social commentary, keep "Bystander Effect," if it's a character study, go with "The Bystander."
    Have a good shoot. We use that particular Canon as B-cameras at one of my gigs. They aren't bad, except the snaller sensor does make it harder to get shallow depth of focus. Remember, the telephoto end of the zoom gives more blur. If it's a day shoot get some ND filters and see if you can get your iris to f2.8 and see if you can stage shots to shoot at a higher zoom. You can't get the shallow depth of field a DSLR with that wonder 50-prime,but your colors should look crisp. Canon camcorders have great color response.
  • MatthiasClaflin
    MatthiasClaflin Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
    Heh, thanks Triem.
    Shallow DOF is not a huge part of this particular short. Only one or two shots really require it and, trying to use a DSLR for action, can be rough. I think in the short time I've used the Canon XA10, I like the picture quality much better than that of the T3i. It is much better when it comes to dynamic range (but I've never used magic lantern so I can't say for sure.)
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,244 Ambassador
    edited December 2013
    Hey, I edited my above post while you were posting, so a re-read may be in order. Although, yeah, if you don't need shallow dof, the xa10 will serve well.
    Besides, the xa10 is built for nothing but video, so you won't get the line-skipping, moire and softness DSLR'S are prone to. Handheld and focus racks will be easier on the xa10,and,of course, a zoom is now a feasible shot.
    And, better audio control.
    I still prefer a dedicated video camera to a DSLR unless I am shooting dramatic form and need to get shallow DOF in a smaller space.
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    Triem23 Posts: 20,244 Ambassador
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  • KirstieT
    KirstieT Posts: 1,086 Staff
    An interesting topic to develop a short on, as by default your protagonist and the character on which your action and interest hangs on, "does nothing".
    I really want to see what you produce on this theme. 
    As per the article you linked, it claimed that the bystander effect is most prevalent when there are lots of people as it provokes feelings of ambiguity and diffused responsibility - is your protagonist going to be part of a crowd or does he stand by alone? 
    I also really like the cleanness of the poster, like Simon - but from reading about the bystander effect, it actually would make more sense to me to have a disjointed short as opposed to a 'clean' one.
    For example, if this IS a character study and you're including first person shots, then presenting it in a very clean way, I feel, would be almost the opposite of what you need to do as a "good man's" decision to witness a crime and not do anything wouldn't be 'easy' or pure - he would be experiencing a hundred different emotions. I think more of a disjointed look would better reflect his struggle as something cleaner would suggest to me the character was at ease with the situation he was witnessing.
    However, there's a fine line between being artistic with disjointedness and affecting the filmmaking negatively, so feel free to ignore my comments! 
    I digress! You have only posted the teaser so far :P Please do put it up when it's complete.
  • MatthiasClaflin
    MatthiasClaflin Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
    Thanks for the responses everyone.
    @ Triem, I love the Canon XA10. The more I play with it, the more I love it. I will be shooting a concert video this Saturday, which is why I rented two XA10s in the first place, but since I have it all weekend, I wanted to shoot this short with it as well. I find the image quality to surpass the T3i (even with a nice prime like the 50mm f/1.4) in my opinion. Which is the other camera/lens combo I thought about using. I am very happy with how everything has panned out so far. I don't know how much of a social commentary this short is, but we will be keeping the word "effect" simply because everyone involved loves it, and I'm the only one on the fence.
    @Kristie, I was a bit vague on the subject matter of the film, and I think I gave you the wrong idea. Our protagonist is a victim who becomes a bystander, and what he will or won't do differently as he witnesses a crime. As I said above, "This short focuses on a homeless man who gets harrassed, while people do nothing, and what he does when he sees someone else in trouble."
    Also as far as the "Bystander Effect" goes, it also works in reverse. According to the theory, the less people there are watching, the more likely someone would be to jump in and help. So we will be focusing more on the inverse than the actual effect. That being said, this short is not exactly "story driven". It definitely has story, and something of a moral lesson to be learned, but all in all, it is an action short. It is not going to have long winded monologues, or thought provoking speaches. Just a simple message. There is a lot to be explored, I think in this topic, but we chose to keep it fairly shallow in the interest of getting this project off the ground.
  • Personally i like the "effect" as it is referring to something, but the title would work just as well if it wasn't there.
  • MichaelJames
    MichaelJames Posts: 2,034 Enthusiast
    I think the title works. There is kind of a reason why  a lot of directors negotiate for final say in a project.  Would you have picked starwars as the title if George lucas came to you asking for advice 30+ years ago?  probably not. Someone would of said "well is it a war between stars?  How about space wars?  You know because its a war in space." 
    Its pretty difficult to provide great feedback for art because there's a tendency to alter the concept while providing feedback. I pitched my idea for a short to a friend who I was working with and his feedback pretty much took the characters and ran them completely differently.  At the end of his suggestion, I told him well that's a different story entirely. I was looking for help to strengthen the plot and certain subplots and he came back with a completely different story.
    In the end I think if you have a concept or title some people will be a fan or not until they get a glimpse of the premise.  The teaser shows almost has me... I just think it needs something to pique interest at the end.  So maybe an example of this bystander effect going on.