The Glove Box - The Screening

So there it is, The Glove Box was screened last night at the Valley Art Theatre, one of 24 entries in the Phoenix Film Project 2004 Fall Film Challenge. We didn't win any awards, but it was cool to see the film on the big screen. The audience reaction was pretty good. Who knows, if Gabe and I had actually voted for our own film, we might have won something.

The other films demonstrated that there are a lot of creative people making films in Phoenix. I tend to always see the effort and creativity that goes into the work, even if the end result is not stellar. Bearing that in mind, I liked about 75% of the films screened. "Manscare" stood out as the most memorable film of the evening, a close-up night-vision of sheer terror in the face of banal activities, such as making coffee, and opening the fridge, with a highly original piano score. This film was totally unexpected and instantly lovable. "The Netherbeast of Berm-Tech Industries" won the competition, and was indeed the best directed, written, and acted piece of the night.

The other films showed a lot of creativity in the selection and composition of shots, overall looks, and others complex editing, some of them packing in scores to hundreds of shots in the three-minute format. It really brought into perspective areas that we need to improve on in the future, which I'll touch on later.

I got to catch (and Tivo) the piece that was done on the Arizona News Channel. Yes, there were John and I standing in line, and I walked behind an interview. Having been there to see what was behind the news coverage highlights just how out of touch and watered down local news really is. On the up side, they showed clips of a few films, and I was struck by the image quality of them all. The projector in the theatre really mangled the images, resizing and causing all sorts of weird banding effects. At times it didn't seem the films were even running at full frame rate.

OK, so on to some constructive self-criticism. That's self-crticism, because even though this was Gabe's movie, I was there for the duration and could have provided more constructive input throughout. I'm sure Gabe can take it in the best way. We can only get better at this by being honest with ourselves. Seeing our film side-by-side with others highlighted areas we can improve in. So, here goes.
  • Look - The look of The Glove Box was the absence of any kind of look. We shot with the goal of getting the best possible pictures, consistent and lit as well as we could. Other than that, it was pretty straightforward, no special effects or filters. I think we achieved what we set out for, the finished product looks very good, the look is consistent, just not very interesting. There is a lot of room for creativity, and most of the other films did indeed have unique looks that had to be planned out and thoughtfully executed.
  • Shot Selection - Again, we stayed fairly conservative in this regard. The shots we did told the story effectively, but nothing really jumps out as very agressive, creative, mind-blowing, etc. The time lapse got a decent reaction, but it was subtle enough that you might not have noticed it. Perhaps it could have been accentuated by a sound effect? The slow zoom back and forth between Gabe and The Glove Box was nice and the switch to handheld for the climactic scene were effective, but very subtle.
  • Editing - The editing was very natural. The performance flowed and was consistent from shot to shot, such as the interior car scenes. However, the editing wasn't really out of the ordinary or agressive. The "Homocide: Life on the Streets" homage during the first scene, in which Gabe pulls the door handle a number of times from a number of angles was actually so fast, I don't know that anyone could catch what was going on. The final scene with Gabe in the car was timed and executed well, and that was probably the most important scene. The rest of the film could have been better, but only with more source material to work with, which would have require much additional forethought to shoot.
  • Wardrobe - This is one of those areas where attention to detail can really set the production apart and create that elusive suspension of disbelief. In this case, I think if we had stuck to our guns and had Gabe dressed up in a real smart looking shirt and tie, very go-getter executive type, it would have been a very different production. Guys in t-shirts are a dime a dozen, sorry Gabe.
  • Locations - Another key area. Some of the other films stood out because of the interesting locations or the lengths they must have gone to get a shot. The dunes in "Tempus Fugit", the lake in "I'm Dead", the carnival in "Lost Dreams" come to mind. Much like the last point, people's livingrooms, cars, and parking lots are a dime a dozen. When we do get to an good location, across from the airport, the whole scene is more interesting. Our parking lot was good for what we wanted to do, but if there were other things going on in the distance, it could have been a lot better.
  • Music - We had some good music, and it fit well and enhanced the film. However, it wasn't a score per se, so didn't really hit all the points we would have wanted it to in a perfect world. The switch halfway through from one style to another seems a little drastic in retrospect. Maybe we could have faded up The Casket Lottery song a little slower.
  • Acting - I saved the best for last. Gabe's acting is probably what stands out the most. Having just a single line of dialogue, he uses subtle physical acting throughout to convey the mounting frustration and tension. It's a thing of beauty. He pounds a glove box like no one else.

Don't get me wrong, I'm really pleased with our film. I just wanted to illustrate that there is room to improve and really kick it up a notch on a lot of fronts. If we do this again, and I hope we do (we should each direct a short for the Spring challenge!), we should really be open to collaborating and encouraging each other to make every shot, every cut, every stitch of clothing, and every prop, the best it can be. Let's get crazy!


Gabe said...

Believe me, I also feel that we can do better. But it all begins with starting out. It's hard to visualize what you can do when you have one, or less, films under your belt. After having gone through the experience, and being on one of Brock's sets, I have the drive and vision to do much better. Being in San Fran has given me some inspiration as well. I'm already hashing out ideas for scripts. I have a goal to write a few 3 minute scripts now, months away from the next competition. One of the biggest mistakes I had, was not having a shot list before the film. Our next film(s) will rock hard!!!

Brock said...

A few weeks back I was in my Pre-Production teacher’s office discussing short films, and as we were chatting, we got on the subject of how hard it is to nail a short film the first few times you try it. We also commented on how much of a difference there is between a filmmaker’s first few works, and his defining ones. Take Alfred Hitchcock for example: Before he came to America and made films like Rope, Psycho and Rebecca, he made films like The 21 Steps in Britain. While his earliest works had an astounding sense of production value, they were unquestionably below par with his later works. The same could be said of Stanley Kubrick. In fact, I believe that Kubrick banned screenings of one of his first films simply because it couldn’t compare to his masterwork, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
I think Gabe is right on the money when he says, “it all begins with starting out”. You have to take those first few steps before you can paint a masterpiece. Take the winning film, “The Netherbeast of Berm-Tech Industries”, for example. I can certainly tell you it wasn’t their first film. Like Gabe said, it’s hard to visualize what you can do until you’ve done a couple of films. The more you do, the better you’ll get. I think the best thing about making movies lies in the fact that digital cameras are readily at your disposal. Scriptwriting is no longer some mythical “writers only” Hollywood club. You guys have the luxury of not having to worry about needing a camera. With technical considerations out of your mind (save for the things you want) you’re free to perfect your craft.

And I thought “The Glove Box” was a good flick.

Gabe said...

Oh, and the acting...could've been much better as well. That was included in my "could've been better" list. Thanks for the kind words, though.

Anonymous said...

Good Morning All,

I posted anonymous cause I'm too lazy to sign up. My name is Brian Ronalds with JuSpan Productions. I produced and starred in The Netherbeast of Berm-Tech Industries, Inc. It is true indeed. This wasn't our first BBQ however we are not working professionals either. Dean and I have been making short films independently for the past 5 years and feel that each one has been a stepping-stone to the next. But your both right. Right in saying, "it's just a matter of doing it." How else are we suppose to get better as filmmakers?? Talking about it???? Wrong!! That's the biggest downfall we see with Indie filmmakers. They're so wrapped up in talking about making movies when they should be shooting it!! It was truly a treat to be able to have our material screened with the other creative and innovative films.

The Netherbeast is on to the 2004 Los Angeles DV Film Festival as an official selection. We leave today to go to LA and support the film.

Main thing here: Keep on Keeping On-If you want it bad enough than nothing can get in your way.


Brian Ronalds