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George Scoufaras

Would love some feedback on my short film.

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Hello Everyone,

I just released my latest short film, POKERS, that I wrote, directed, and co-starred in, along with my producing partner and DP (who is also a member of this forum). It's a 9 minute short about four men sharing their perspectives on their shared occupation during a game of poker. It was shot on 16MM Fujifilm Eterna 250 via Arri HR3 HS in Super 16.

I would love it hear any feedback and criticism. I am still very new to filmmaking and look forward to learning and growing. I hope you enjoy it:

 

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First of all, thanks for not thanking anyone in the end credits.

In my opinion, the acting, editing and direction were fine. Good sound.

The lighting might be considered controversial; I liked the apparent fact that you weren't afraid to point a light at someone but others might find it too bright and shiny.

I found the script and setting (I assume it took place in Hell) to be a bit on the cliche-y side, with nothing striking me as especially profound (with one exception, see below), but the script held interest, gave each actor their time and did its job.

I much appreciated the segment in red - its was short and sweet, didn't beat the viewer over the head and once it was over you let it be and didn't mindlessly repeat that motif.

Excellent, and also elevated many many notches for viewablilty due to the use of 16mm. Thanks.

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Posted (edited)

Hi Charles,

Thanks for taking the time to watch and give feedback.

I am a bit confused by your first comment. Was I supposed to directly thank people during the end credits? I am very grateful to the entire crew for making this possible, however it did not occur to me to directly give thanks in the credits.

I can definitely understand how the script could be viewed as cliche. I consciously wrote it to not sound profound because I wanted the characters to sound average and somewhat casual to maintain a level of relatability in the manner in which they speak.I was hoping that would come through more.

I appreciate your feedback and I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it, overall.  

 

Edited by George Scoufaras

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, charles pappas said:

First of all, thanks for not thanking anyone in the end credits.

 

It's a compliment- one sees too many overlong credits in which the director's dog's hairdresser's shampoo supplier gets a mention.

Your co-contributors can just put a clip in their showreels.

Edited by Mark Dunn

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I was writing the long clarification below but Mark Dunn put it more succinctly, and it was definitely a compliment and not sarcasm:

 

The first comment was meant to be jokey, because it seems that most filmmakers, after listing their crew, and in the case of major projects, listing hundreds of crew members, also feel obligated to add a "Thanks," section to the credits which would typically list from 15-20 people to sometimes several hundred thanked souls.  (Additionally, there are sometimes also "Special Thanks," sections in the credits.)    

In the case of your project, you could have thanked your parents,  siblings, wives/girlfriends, people who looked at the script and commented, people who looked at the project at various stages of completion and commented, the providers of the cards, cigarettes, bottles, cups and glasses, etc., providers of the table and chairs,  other people who gave you moral support and encouragement for this project or in general, providers of the space you shot in ...    

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You might thank someone if the film simply wouldn't have happened without them, but it'd have to be something more than a card table and a garage. Maybe if they lent you an airliner or  a battleship or something.

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Posted (edited)

Hello everyone!

First, I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to watch the film =D 

 

I worked along side George in producing this film. George and I wore many hats in bringing this film from dream to reality, and I believe I speak for both of us when I say that we are proud, and happy with the results. That being said, we are always open to learning where we could improve, as well as the specific ways we can grow.

 

Charles,

Since I had the role of cinematographer on this film, I hoped you could elaborate for me the statement "The lighting might be considered controversial."  As the DP I felt the choice in lighting was appropriate to the subject matter and environment. Being in my own mind, and having my own reasons, I may be missing other interpretations and hope you could fill those in!  Thank you!

Edited by Evan Samaras

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Again, this was meant as a compliment not a denigration.

I agree that the lightning was appropriate to the subject matter and environment in that it appeared to be hard and aimed directly at the set of actors who were portraying cruel murderers giving each other the "third degree," interrogation. 

I only call it controversial because on the film sets I've seen lit every light lamp is bounced off a wall, a ceiling, a beadboard or foil or a reflector unless it is aimed directly through scads of gel or scrim or is a tiny eyelight. Of course I exaggerate for effect but I do suspect many DP's would be on the verge of a heart attack if they walked on a set and saw a bunch of lights aimed directly at a set, even if they knew the subject matter and environment and the intent of the director.  

Having said all that, I could be wrong about what I remarked about DP's finding it "controversial," (it is based on very limited experience) and more significantly I could be wrong that you used direct lighting - it could all have been bounced for all I know.  

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Hey Charles!

I did not take the feedback as a denigration! I actually appreciate the time you have taken to provide feedback, and I just hoped to pick your brain on the statement. I have not had a chance to work on many projects as DP, and am thoroughly interested in other's thoughts, feelings and opinions about the work. I am only hoping to continue to learn and grow. Thank you again!

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Thank you Evan and let me say that I think you guys as a team of craftsmen (actors, director, DP, lighting, sound, editing, etc.) have the techniques down well enough that your success in the conventional narrative feature film sense, if that is a goal of yours, will depend on the stories you choose to tell and how well you tell them. 

Technically, I think your team is ready.

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Well, I'm very glad you shot film and looks like you had a good time making it. 

Few notes... 

First thing; students in general have this obsession with talking movies. Telling the story though dialog, vs imagery. This is very hard to do with pro's, it's 10 times harder to do as students. It's hard to write good entertaining dialog and it's even harder for younger non-pro's to perform it. Where SOME people get away with it, honestly I find it a problem. I spent two years teaching film and my students were very abstract in their stories, some of them were really great but the moment dialog would start, things would fall apart. I've experienced this in my own films as well, it's not easy writing dialog that has to move a story forward without supporting visuals. 

Second, it was uninteresting to watch. There was nothing visual to drive the image. Black background, somewhat uninteresting lighting and composition that didn't help drive the story. With a single overhead light smack dab over the table and some black wrap, you could have created a lot of contrast between the table and their faces. An overhead kicker could have highlighted their hair and then a smoke machine given a bit of ambience. You could have made them in shadow, rather than perfectly exposed. That would have been far more interesting to look at. 

There were other more technical things to think about as well. One of them was the sound mix, it needed a finishing EQ and compressor at the tail end of the chain. Some of the dialog was illegible on my iphone and computer speakers, for sure not a mic issue, just a mix issue. My students had the same problem, they'd put all their energy into the sound editing, but nothing into the sound mixing. Compressing the mix at the end is what makes it sound good, that's the trick and most programs, have some sort of finishing plugin for audio. I do all of my sound work in Avid and they have the same tools as Protools for sound mixing, so I simply throw a tube sounding finishing compressor on the final output and render it out, makes everything sound wonderful. 

Finally, too many credits. I think 1/4 of the movie are credits! EH?!?!  

I hope my thoughts don't come off as overly harsh, I'm just giving you feedback and what I'd do differently. Thanks for sharing the project! 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Hi Tyler,

Thank you for taking the time to watch and review. Evan and I aren't students, we are entirely self-taught, so any and all feedback is very much appreciated.

I am a big fan of dialogue driven films, which is why I chose to write a short that is comprised mostly of dialogue. I agree that it is difficult to write gripping dialogue. I am a big believer in learning for experience and trial & error. I would much rather spend time working on writing good dialogue than abandoning it simply because it's difficult. I plan on continuing to write scripts and make shorts with dialogue as the main driver because I want to improve and get feedback (just like now).

Evan and I spent a lot of time working together on how to light the scene to get it to look how I wanted, and I think we got pretty close. I can definitely see how your suggestion would have made the scene more dynamic. We are working with very little experience so we hope to learn from hearing feedback from our work as we go forward.

We did EQ and compress the sound. Perhaps we could have done a better job. Although, I must say,  that I don't think it's so bad it's intelligible. Compared to our previous short, the sound is leaps and bounds better in every regard, so I take that as a sign that we are moving in the right direction. I know how important good sound is, so if it truly came off as poorly as you say, then maybe more time should be put into the mixing process.

Thanks again for taking the time to give feedback. This is very helpful and I hope to do better with every film I make.

 

 

 

Edited by George Scoufaras

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Posted (edited)

Nice film and film work!. 

Somewhat interesting script. Nice acting. If you wanted to make it more interesting you could have had the argument escalate and someone getting blown away or knifed. But all that stuff has been done before. Hard to do much that has not been done, but it would add something to the dialogue only mix. But it is your film, if you wanted dialogue only, then do it as you like. 'Just talk' reminds me of these guys...

I watched it on large screen computer with stereo speakers. Sound was OK for me. (But I didn't listen critically and am no expert. I manage an old film archive and some of the sound films I get there are terrible.) 

When these critiques come up it would be good to hears costs and time that was required to make the film. Always interested in hearing something of the production costs, lighting and film tests, backstory, problems making, rental issues, etc. 

Why did you make the film? Practice? Or are you making up a portfolio of work for jobs? What are your goals?

Keep at it...you got talent!

PS...I like the lighting! But my own work is controversial, so don't go by me.

civil war LR CENSORED.jpg

 

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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Posted (edited)

Timed out for edits...

Forgot to say, the intro with projector is excellent!

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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Posted (edited)

Hi Daniel,

Thanks for watching and enjoying. I considered having it end in a brawl or someone being killed but I decided to end it on a somewhat comedic note instead.

The budget for the film was small. It ended up costing just under $2K. This cost mainly comprised of the price of the film stock and the developing, processing, and scanning. Equipment (camera, lights, etc...) is not factored into the budget as those are already owned and were used, and will be used, in past, and future, projects. The cast and crew were all passionate about film so they were more than willing to work for food, experience, and credit (which is something we won't be able to get away with for much longer).

The purpose for making this film (or any short we have planned) is for the desire to make films and learn and build experience.

Haha! Glad to hear you like our little intro. We use that for all our shorts.

Thanks for taking the time to respond have give feedback!

Edited by George Scoufaras

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