Filminute 2012 critics

Filminute is the International One-Minute Film Festival and for its 2012 edition (like for its 2011 edition), I’ve got a deal with them: writing twentyfive “short but tweet” sized reviews, one for each candidate.

My rules to find my candidate are:

  1. Don’t mess with the seven pillars: story, acting, directing, editing, cinematography, sound and music.
  2. Be humble: don’t try to do things your budget can’t afford.
  3. Be original: don’t use third-party works; plot/sound/music/dialogues/whatever must be yours.
  4. Be impressive: writing, directing and editing are the core of Filminute.
  5. (optional) Show me a bit of love: violence is not surprising anymore.

These are the reviews:

  • A HERO’S TALE A stop motion short with great editing, rich photography and camera movements. Great voice: it grabs the audience!
  • A LITTLE UNCOMFORTABLE In a sand-made world, a woman takes a rest on the sea, using her air mattress. No more kids around. :)
  • BARGIRL A doc about sadness on both sides: a bargirl and customers. Her child needs to be fed and the greedy city is there.
  • BROTHERS The most narrative so far. I also liked its grain, color, editing, sound, VFX and the dragonfly. Go Eastern Europe!
  • CANDY CRIME A strong DOP and a good script: crane, compositing, lenses, trunk shot, whatever and even a smile. :)
  • CHOP CHOP A watch during the 18th Century? :) The hero was late while his watch was too early: a short with time issues. :)
  • CIUDAD HELSING Filmakers: we all love Cello Suites but its plenty of good composers just waiting for a call!
  • COLLOQUE SENTIMENTAL The whole thing seems to me just a MacGuffin made of jump cuts while the idea is a one minute loop. Nice.
  • CUT! Very “European” short… it’s hard do be void and stay empty while you have a gem still burning down inside your heart.
  • FLIP BOOK Good idea! Unfortunately, lights, make-up, costumes and sound are worse than the script.
  • FOLKLORE We all love to use a slider :) and to have some good footage but the last shot turns the whole thing into a cliché trailer.
  • HOL VS RUS When I wrote that there are many good directors from Belgium, I wasn’t aware that Piet Sonck was admitted once again!
  • INDIAN MYSTERY The first clearly non-narrative short I met this year and it’s a kind of 60″ short which is worth trying to shoot.
  • LADY I – Ageing, there’s something you can miss more than your lost youth. Acting, finally! :) Is the singer really useful?
  • LIGHT It has a good lighting :) Intentional jump cut? ’cause the bathroom is opposite to the dark room. Still, I didn’t get it.
  • MACROMOUSE Is the pun between mouse/economy & freedom/freelunch? The real story is less than 60″ and they needed a quote.
  • M|W 9|11 Turning from an average clerk to a survivor in less than 60″ because you’re an upcoming dad. It works even w/o 9/11.
  • OEHOE Mice are popular, this year. :) I thought the mouse used only road signs to say “I’m poisoned” but it was just “beware”!
  • SARINA Summarizing a life in 60″: it could be even an interesting subsection of Filminute. :) Loved it.
  • SCHNITZELS Already watched somewhere. A lovely wife hammering your own flesh from early in the morning. Would you ask for more?
  • STILL HERE Maybe it’s me but the only meaning I get is “still here” as “our relationship doesn’t evolve” but I’m not sure.
  • TAKE A REST Taking pictures all the time is easier than living here and now. So true: well done and quite funny.
  • THE END A dialogue on the grass quickly turns to… the end. :) Good idea. Raw footage, counting out VFXs.
  • THE KEY A very good short. Why did you stand up while your teacher told you to lie down? :) Ain’t it a thriller, right? :)
  • WILDEBEEST A gnu is teaching all of us one of the well known “rules” of cinema: show, don’t tell. :)

It’s plenty of Top5s out there so this is my Top4 :)

  • CUT!

It has been very hard to choose my winner and I’d be very happy to be able to complete a one minute short of their level. My winner is BROTHERS and I want to mention CUT! too. Congratulations to Anton Mironovich. :)

A few notes: last month I had a talk with a few directors, after having watched together my shorts (yes, even the not-already-completed) one of them, which is not Italian, said that – even though there is a great enhancement in my path, my shorts are too “European”. In his opinion, stories should be direct, simple, without flashbacks or unusual editing of any kind, with just one clear meaning, no hidden levels, light usage of colors in a narrative way and so forth: a very conservative approach to the whole universe of possibilities that cinematography offers. Well, I was admitted to a few international festivals while he won many of them so maybe I should blindly agree with him, trying to change my “European” nature but, frankly, I can’t. Of course I’m already in a “more narrative” path but directing is much more than doing a favour to the screenwriter! :) There are so many emotions you can arouse in your audience which can’t be found in a script and you know why? Because they are strictly related to cinematography! I don’t want to write too much about a winner of one minute but you should have already grasped my point of view. :)

Simple hints for novice directors (Part 2)

So you want to shoot a short in a weekend, right? :) Good! Even though my experience is limited to two shorts (*), let me list here a few cautious hints you should look upon before turning your script into a breakdown and try to keep ’em away from your set. :)

  • action scenes (car chases, fighting, sex and the like);
  • “big” cast (I mean more than three people);
  • kids (or animals);
  • many locations (no more than two locations for a total of five sets);
  • outdoor nightly scenes;
  • rain (or particular weather).

A well known rule states that, using the standard format, one page of screenplay is – more or less – one minute on the big screen so avoiding the points of the previous list and according to my small experience, I could say that, on average, one minute of the final cut requires something in between two hours and two hours and a half of principal photography so you can do the math for your short. :)

Extra note: you can read also the first post of this “series”.

(*) 2nd at the end of its post production.

Top films are not “social”

According to the last edition (2002, update below) of the well known Sight & Sound lists, just five directors/films are in all four groups:

  • directors’ top ten films;
  • critics’ top ten films;
  • directors’ top ten directors;
  • critics’ top ten directors.

and they are:

  • Welles – Citizen Kane;
  • Coppola – The Godfather and The Godfather part II;
  • Fellini – 8½;
  • Renoir – La Règle du jeu.

Long story short: we shouldn’t care that much when film festival directors bother all of us about being “social” or the like.

Update (2012-08-02): according to the new, 2012 list

  • directors’ top ten films;
  • critics’ top ten films;

the union is

  • Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
  • Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
  • Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
  • 8 ½ (Federico Fellini, 1963)

and the “long story short” remains the same.

Editing must be a player

According to Wikipedia, Kubrick once said:

If I wanted to be frivolous, I might say that everything that precedes editing is merely a way of producing film to edit.

A few months ago I started to think that it is worth turning a script into a film only if your story can’t be told without editing, that is much harder than translating the plot in the best sequence of sounds and images.

Notes about festivals and Withoutabox

I’ll try to write here some notes about festivals and Withoutabox – having used it many times – as suggested by John Harrigan after a twitter conversation.

Withoutabox is the leader of its market so, as usual, its service/software is not at the state of the art and the prices are not so low but you can really reach a good number of festivals and you can avoid sending DVDs, which is very important for me… so this is my “must have” list to choose a festival on WAB – or on other services of its kind – based on what I learnt by trial and error:

  • check if it accepts Secure Online Screener: I don’t want to send DVDs outside Italy; their private streaming service for festivals, or other equivalent services, should be the standard way of screening candidates. We are in 2012! Streaming is cheaper, safer, faster and simpler than sending a DVD… unfortunately, many festivals in Italy and abroad still require DVDs even for the first step: asking for a DVD/Blu-Ray/File is fine for the real projection during the festival, but nowadays asking for a DVD just to be selected is simply annoying;
  • search information about a festival before submitting to it: googling about websites that point to it might be a good step; does this festival has some kind of “ranking”? Is its level too low for your short/feature film or, the other way around, is it over your head: ask yourself questions of this kind;
  • check if they have a good website: I’m not talking about web design :) I’m talking about information about the current and the previous editions – learning something about their admission rate and numbers is good to know if it is worth submitting. AFAIK, 5% is the most common admission percentage.

By the way: at the moment (Updated to August 2012), my short film Déjà Vu is going through its “festival period” and it has been admitted to the NYC Filmmaker’s Festival – USA; Corona Fastnet Short Film Festival – Ireland; Pentedattilo Film Festival – Italy; Salento International Film Festival – Italy; VideoFestival City of Imperia – Italy; Muuh Film Festival – Italy and it has been screened on Coming Soon Television (Italy)…. touch wood. :)

Milano calibro 9

I watched this film as requested by a friend of mine so let me add a few notes here while you can read real reviews on IMDB:

  • the lap dance scene performed by Barbara Bouchet is still sexy forty years later: in 1972 it must have blasted the audience… there are even two very interesting and unexpected rotated shots showing the floor on the vertical left side of the screen;
  • about camera movements, zooming is quite rare nowadays but they used it a couple of times at least;
  • lines regarding connections between crime and finance from a political/systemic point of view is quite rare too and, though a bit outdated, that’s very good;
  • unfortunately, very few, small cars and “navigli” canals are something you can hardly find in Milan nowadays.