The Story Beyond The Still

To continue or not to continue...that is the question

Ryan Neil Postas

Ryan Neil Postas Plus

Not taking anything away from the Top 5 videos- I'd like to know why all of a sudden completely random entries are now able to get into the semifinals. It was pretty clear from the 1st three chapters that a continuous story was what the judges were looking for, as well as a direct interpretation of the previous end still.

A couple of the top 5's for this round looked like side projects that were slightly adjusted to 'work' as entries for this contest.

People are investing a lot of time and money into these entries, I think it's only fair to know if we should 'directly' continue the story or not.

Jeff Turick

Jeff Turick Plus

Hey Ryan,
I have to respectfully disagree with your thesis on this. For one thing, I don't think it was "clear" that the judges were looking for story continuation. I think it's more accurate to say that they felt that the story-continuing pieces were, in their opinions, the best of what anyone had to offer for each of those round. But secondly, it seems to me that each of the final five in this round IS a direct continuation of the story, perhaps not quite as linearly, but certainly with the same forward momentum.

I've always been taught, and have embraced the notion, that one of the biggest mistakes any artist can make is to pursue some (mis)conception of what they THINK the audience will want to see. Just make what you love, what inspires you. If you put quality in to its entire being, chances are someone will recognize its worth. And if they don't, the filmmaker shouldn't take it personally. there are so many factors that can affect someone's judgment at any given time. you know how many giant-budget films with A-list actors and academy award winning writers, directors, et al, get trashed by the public? It's a fickle industry. hell, george-freakin-romero's son with Tom Sizemore as the lead didn't even make the final five this round! that's gotta say something. (it's too bad too, imho, cus i really liked his piece, far better than a couple of the films that did make it)

I was just talking with another person on Vim about this... using myself as an example, i got hit by people because my film looked good. that's bollocks. it really is. Story, Acting, Direction, Sound Design, Production Design & Cinematography... NONE of them is mutually exclusive to making a good film. it's an absolute IMPERATIVE that every one of those components are done with as much attention to detail and quality as possible. If someone didn't like my story, or felt that the acting failed, that's FINE! but to then undermine my film BECAUSE the cinematography was nice is just bitter and immature.

Personally, I think that in most of the entries in each chapter of this contest, the acting suffers the most. Then the cinematography. But the lion's share of the stories are actually remarkably good! But a good story doesn't directly translate to having a good film. If the viewer is distracted because the acting sucks or the cinematographer (and director) didn't bother to pay attention to what was in front of the lens, then the final product is still a failure.

So stop wasting your time thinking about what you think others want to see. i can guarantee you that 9 times out of 10, trying to make a film with that approach is going to lead to failure. just concentrate on making the BEST film you can... on every level. EVERY level. there should be NO detail that you haven't considered in depth. Everything else after that is up to everyone else's whim and fancy.

Sean T. McCoy

Sean T. McCoy

And even when you nail everything, including acting, you should still expect to lose. Different judges, different opinions. There's no way to guess what's going to happen with each chapter.

I may be off base here, but I think what Ryan was getting at, was that the last three winners were, unfortunately, direct continuations with the same characters running around. So it was a pretty safe bet to go ahead and rinse repeat for Chapter 5.

I don't think the choices were necessarily the best out of all the entries last chapter. Best of the continuation pieces, perhaps. But alas, the judges' feedback dried up like a bucket of sand, so only one of the top 5 Chapter 4 entries has received comments from the judges.

And Jeff, your Chapter was solid. Sure it had its problems, but nothing as crazy as the buried bear at the end of the Beach (another well executed Chapter), so story ain't everything. It also has to look good, and be well executed. Yours did both without a doubt.

We were blown away when Buried made Top 5 in Chapter 3, as were a lot of other people, but we really expected to make top 5 this Chapter. We didn't. Them's the breaks. Chin up.

I think a lot of the frustration, however, is coming from the fact that this contest isn't transparent. No voting results, or responses to requests for same. This go round, one Top Five finalist does not open from your final still. It looks like they pulled a frame from before your still froze. Should have been DQ'd for that. One entry either doesn't try to interpret the still, or does it really poorly. Should have been DQ'd as well, or at least bumped out of Top 5. (IMOO)

I still think The Auctioneers was Top 5 and probably Top 2. But had it made it in, it would have owned the popular vote. I think the judges took that into consideration.

Two Chapter submissions left...get out there and kill it!

Jeff Turick

Jeff Turick Plus

Sean, I just sent Mark a msg an hour ago that i was bummed that Dilate didn't make it to the top 5. That was a solid entry to be sure. I thought it was the best of the three you guys did.

Sean T. McCoy

Sean T. McCoy

Thanks man. I know everyone involved in Dilate really put everything they had into it. One thing's for sure, we keep, and can only, get better!

Charles Frisby

Charles Frisby PRO

I'm still pissed about The Hard Road and Edgar's Sorrow not making it into the Chapter 4 finals. I was upset about chapter 3's top 5 to a degree, but Chapter 4 totally was a mishap (IMO). I found nothing of interest in the Ch 5 top 5, to be honest, and am pretty bummed with the contest overall.

Kris Koster

Kris Koster

I have to agree with Sean that the contest is entirely unpredictable. In some cases, it's possible to predict a top 5 (I wrote 'Fate' as a continuation of 'The Beach' before Beach even made it into the top 5 I was so convinced) -

But then other times, you think one or two entries certainly belonged in that top 5 and never made it - Makes you wonder why the hell not.

So as Jeff says, just make the best film you can, but Sean's comment is true also - don't expect it to win, even if it proves to be very popular. The outcome from judge's scores when totted up can produce bewildering winners and unexpected losers.

One thing to add myself though - I don't think it's confined just to this contest. The same appears to go elsewhere. Like Abe, I entered one of the Mofilms ad-making contest - Made it to finalist stage but no further. Having seen the winners, I'm left confused and bewildered as some 1st place winning entries, apart from being appauling films, didn't even meet the original brief contestants were instructed to follow -

And let me tell you, I was making UK ads for years and I know first hand that agency briefs MUST to be followed to the letter, strictly no allowance for interpretation - So beats me how winning entries were permitted to diverge so far from it.

Filmmaking is an artform and like all artforms, completely open to (often absurd) creative interpretation. It doesn't matter how much money you throw at it, or if you have the best actor in the world - Create with your heart, not with your head, you may just reach someone better that way.

Lew Fraga

Lew Fraga

You'll go insane trying to please everyone else. And as William Goldman keeps saying about people in Hollywood, no one knows anything. They talk a big game about what will sell (which then flops), someone takes a chance thinking they'll have a write-off at the end of the year and it's well received and financially successful.

There have been a handful I was SURE would make it to the top5 the last coupla rounds, but didn't. Woulda shoulda coulda, here we are.

I'm still enjoying the storyline as it's going. I wouldn't mind a little divergence, but more and more I'm hoping it'll stay consistent as a whole when it's all over.

I WOULD like to see judges comments for each of the top 5 in each chapter. I am actually curious - not for any jealous or angry reasons - everyone loves different things for different reasons, and I'm curious what struck them, whether it was a single element that stood out, or some felt everything merged into one cohesive viewing experience above the others, etc.

-Lew

Adrian Langford

Adrian Langford

Lewis,

I totally agree with you that it would be very interesting to see some judges comments on at least the top 5 of each chapter and some of the other entries as well.

Regards,

Adrian.

Jeff Turick

Jeff Turick Plus

True across the board, Lew. And with this recent news from V, i'll again put my personal plug in for continuing the story. After all, imagine sitting in a film festival, watching 25 minutes of an ongoing story, and then all of sudden, Chapter 6 departs completely into something else. Weird, no?

Adrian Langford

Adrian Langford

Jeff, 100% agree with you that on balance a continuance of the story is best. However, isn't it an aspect of creative filmmaking and story-telling that a complete departure can be depicted that then totally wraps back into the original storyline. A lot to ask in 4 minutes but hey!

Great competition isn't it (apart from US entries only!) and well done again on your chapter win. Do remember who tipped you for a win very early on ;)

Regards,

Adrian.

Jeff Turick

Jeff Turick Plus

I'm with you all the way Adrian. If someone can seem to depart and then it wrap it back in to the main story, i think that would be utterly brilliant. Even better would be if said departure ended up giving us key info that best explains what the craziness of the core story has been all about!

thanks very much for the compliments. perhaps the next contest will be opened up worldwide. would be somethin else to see a Bollywood entry, or Japanimation!

Maladaahn

Maladaahn

You guys said it best. The story should be tied up now that we're this far in, but that can still be accomplished in a creative way that takes the next chapters outside the box.

Charles Frisby

Charles Frisby PRO

Yes, I have to agree that it is now too late to attempt to move away from the story and expect to get in the top 5.

Jacob Snyder

Jacob Snyder Plus

Personally, I think everyone is getting WAY too held up by the familiar (ie everyday Hollywood linear narrative, dialogue driven, plot driven, familiar dramatic tone, etc. etc.). I read a literary article long ago (can't remember who wrote it, but it was some French author / critic) that emphasized the fact that new form always first appears as lack of form. When Igor Stravinsky first premiered "The Rite of Spring," people didn't exactly sit comfortably in their seats with smug smiles of familiarity; instead they rioted. The next year it played, they hoisted Stravinsky up on their shoulders and marched him around Paris.

Vincent has mentioned again and again that this contest is an experiment. And this contest is an unbelievable opportunity to create something new and fresh in terms of vision and form. However, we're all handed this gem of opportunity, and many (entrants and voters) continue to confine themselves to the tiny vision of "must create a predictable linear narrative as we see in the movies, and must make it feel like most previous entries," and they completely take for granted and waste the unique quality of the gift they've been given. As I understand it, true innovation requires DEPARTURE -- it requires risk. This contest is a prime opportunity to do just that! But so far, as this story has progressed, I don't see a lot of risk happening.

Layla

Layla Plus

I do quite like how the last entry played out tho, suddenly dawning on the fact that the story was always about the little girl - who died and came back somehow? I think that was defintely a cool plot twist. So taking it from this on to the last chapter should be fun!

Sean T. McCoy

Sean T. McCoy

Jacob, glad to hear your voice in this. While I agree in spirit 100%, this is a contest and we want to win. That does not mean you and say Mal don't have quality pieces that should be well regarded (Top 5?) on their own merits, but alas, they have not been. After four segments, I think it's pretty clear.

The problem is thus, if the point was to go out and create something completely unrelated and on our own, which my crew wants to do badly, we would do it under our own terms and our own limitations. Not the four minute commercial break that's due in four weeks.

To put hundreds of hours into another Chapter, we want to win or at least think we have a chance at winning. Sadly, anything but a direct continuation doesn't seem to stand a chance.

Jacob Snyder

Jacob Snyder Plus

Hey everyone,

Sorry it's taken me so long to respond but I've been preoccupied for a couple of weeks.

Layla, I do agree with you. The last winner had a unique spin on the story, except that the story is already so convoluted--with plot twists twisted around other plot twists--that any unique spin only muddies the water even more.

Sean and Kris, your points are well taken as well. I think this contest has placed upon budding filmmakers a pressure to conform to a specific kind of narrative (kind of like Hollywood, I guess?). However, at the same time, this contest could have created seven unique artistic experiences.

One thing I need to get out there -- I really feel that the winning filmmakers for all the chapters are immensely creative, skilled, talented people. They all have what it takes, and that's why they've won. However, the narrow avenue this contest has been traveling (that of "literally continue the story" over "be inspired by the still and be unique") has limited them all in making something truly them.

That's how I feel about it personally. But I understand that many, with much more skill than I, have very different tastes. I'm sure there's some right and some wrong mixed in there.

Kris Koster

Kris Koster

The problem you have, Jacob, is that even if diverging totally from the established story thread, an entry makes it into the top 5. The populist vote will likely choose the one that follows and therefore supports the linear narrative.

I went into detail about why this is so in some other thread a couple of months ago, but people in general demand linear narrative in that traditional Hollywood sense.

Heck, Hollywood studios have been putting millions of dollars on the line for each movie they make for years - If they thought anything else worked (like a random break in a narrative half way through), they would probably be producing those by now, don't you think?

But ignore the advice, follow your heart and produce a different story from the still. If it won, imagine the accomplishment that would be?

The 'safe' option, however, is 100% follow the narrative.

Mark Weaver

Mark Weaver

Or do what Jeff said and "seem to depart and then it wrap it back in to the main story"...which is what Job Security and Miracle did.

Lew Fraga

Lew Fraga

I seem to recall the original movie Halloween - the thought behind it being that each movie would be a DIFFERENT story and characters each time, to be released on... Well, Halloween. The Mike Meyers storyline was SO popular they followed it up - now there was no going back which is why Season of the Witch was confusing to audiences.

I have several ideas of where I could go, in totally different directions, but yeah - it's pretty solid in my mind that if I don't actually follow the general story in some way I'll never have a chance at winning one.

So, yeah, I'm a sheep in that respect - going with the herd. But more and more I'm liking where the herd is going, so I'm okay with that.

Miracle did a pretty good job at expanding out, then reeling it back in. Some things don't line up right, but hey, par for the course and that's fine with me, too.

Blair Dog

Blair Dog Plus

Ya i was extremely surprised that leverage didn't take the win. That being said I think it's clear that there will be no changes in the storyline.....

Mark Weaver

Mark Weaver

How could you be that surprised? I knew the winning entry was going to be in the same style as the rest of the winners and Leverage was just V.O. so if that won it would be really different than the rest

Corrupt Frame, Inc.

Corrupt Frame, Inc. Plus

And that mark is when I lost interest in taking part in this contest. When it became clear beyond a doubt that being different or unique would not be tolerated by the public. And that is what happened when Leverage (one of the most unique and beautifully crafted films to be entered in ANY chapter) lost.

Go watch some other multi-director collaborative multi-chapter films like "Four Rooms" and "The Animatrix" and "Batman Gotham Knights" and "Heavy Metal". And then tell me that having a different style is bad.

And back to what Lewis said I've always thought the original concept behind Halloween was MUCH cooler than having a ton of Michael Myers movies (even though I do love Michael Myers)

That was the beautiful potential behind this contest. Seeing all the differences in approach. All the diversity in style. And most of all seeing a complex and unpredictable evolution of story.

But sadly when the public is given the choice the reptilian brain takes over and rewards homogeneity. To a mediocre end.

So far not a single real surprise in the democratically approved story line. Just linear predictability.

I still however enjoy very much watching all the films that loose.

Blair Dog

Blair Dog Plus

As angus said leverage was a well executed short and I would have to say one of my hands down favorites the entire contest. It veered from the path and did so amazingly in every category. It sucks that people voted it down. Ithink it's funny people are trying to follow e storyline yet they add in so many plot twists the average viewer loses interest because it's tainted with too many twists and in reality no one is following the story because the plot is so muddled with irrelevant story lines. That's why I'm surprised because to me leverage was a breath of fresh air and very well done.

Lew Fraga

Lew Fraga

ARGH! Well, I'm not gonna be in this round - bummer! Too much work right now - I'll never get anything competent done. And yeah, I would have continued the storyline in a way as well.

Well, I get to relax, sit back, watch all the entries and simply cast my vote. I definitely want to be in the last round - hopefully work will die down a bit in the coming weeks.
'
Good luck folks - I'll be watching your shorts!

-Lew

This conversation is missing your voice. Please join Vimeo or log in.

This is a Vimeo Group. Groups allow you to create mini communities around the things you like. Check out other interesting groups. Groups