Thursday, June 07, 2007

On the Lot - Episode 2

Okay... for the 3rd week in a row, they've changed up the format of the show with no explanation (however, it's obvious that because of the disastrous ratings, they are going to continue to tweak the show until something hopefully clicks with the viewing public). So this week, instead of seeing a short film from each of the 15 remaining contestants, we are only going to see five, with one going home next week. I'm guessing they'll do this same format for the next two weeks, with five filmmakers getting put up for vote each week. I wouldn't be surprised to see the format change again three weeks from now.

Anyway, on to the films.

On the whole, the films were 1000% better than last week's efforts. Which is odd, because last time, they had a whole week to do a one minute film, and this week, they only had five days to produce a three minute film.

Film up was Sam with "Broken Pipe Dreams", a comedy about a guy who has to retrieve an engagement ring from the toilet where it had just fallen. It was okay, decently staged and shot. It didn't seem to know what kind of comedy it wanted to be, though. From that perspective, it was a bit aimless. I'd place it number three for the night, though.

Next was "Teri" by Trever. It was a typical blind date film where the guy's fears of who this person might turn out to be are manifested before him. Nothing at all original about this in any way. However, the lead actor is a British guy who could probably stand in as a young Christian Bale. I'd put it fourth for the night.

Poor Hilary. This show has been an absolute nightmare for her since the first episode. She can't do anything right. I'd be shocked if she doesn't go home this week, and I'd be even more shocked if she was just as relieved to go as the rest of America is to see her leave. The judges were again vicious about her film, and for good reason. "The First Time I Met the Finklesteins" was cliche, typical, boring, poorly acted, poorly written, poorly directed. She just doesn't get what connects with viewers.

"Dough:The Musical" was next in line, and it was the best of the night, in my opinion. It was a story about a man and a woman, both consumed with dough, she money, and he bread. The song was clever at times, and well-performed overall. The visuals were all relatively interesting (despite what guest judge Michael Bay had to say).

The final film of the night was a documentary by Shalini called "Laughing Out Loud: A Comic Journey" about a gay Indian (from India) comedian. It was a serious look at this person, and was well made overall. It's obvious that this is her comfort zone. I'd put this number two.

Overall, the one problem that each film had was that they were all too long. They each took every second of their three minute maximum time. As such, most of them dragged badly in places. If they had to fit the same films in a two minute span, I think they all would have benefited.

But as I said, much better this time around. If Hilary doesn't go home next week, then the voting system for this show is broken.

Monday, June 04, 2007

48 Hour Film Project 2007 - The Awards

The Judges Awards were handed out last night, and while we did win the Best Writing award, that's all we got. The film that won Houston's overall award, "Morning Sickness" by XLAJ (I'll post a link when one becomes available) was very well done, and very deserving of representing Houston nationally. I have no problem with losing to that film.


Many of the other individual awards, such as editing and cinematography, left us scratching our heads. After watching all of the other films, we're not sure how we didn't capture one or both of those awards (all humility aside). There were a couple of others that I wouldn't have minded losing those two awards to, but the ones that DID win weren't as deserving. And the award for best soundtrack (one we weren't expecting to be in the running for), went to a film who's entire soundtrack was a loud, three-note tone, repeated over and over.

Bottom line is, that it's driven home again how arbitrary and silly these sorts of contests are. We have no idea who the judges are or what their qualifications are for judging a contest such as this. In the past, after having lost at numerous advertising awards shows for a long time, then finally winning, I remember how pointless it was when we finally won. It was external validation for work we did that we knew was good before we entered it into this awards process. This is the first real experience with that sort of awards frustration in the Film Industry, and I'm having to relearn this all over again.

The result of this realization is that it's silly and pointless to enter these contests expecting or hoping to win. They don't allow for you to produce your best work, and in order to win, you have to appeal to a very narrow spectrum (i.e., the more disgusting your film, the more laughs it will get). The one important thing we all got out of the 48 Hour Film project (and entering any sort of contest like this) is validation that we CAN do this. We CAN make well-written, well-directed, good-looking films. We can do it in 48 Hours under amazing stress. And while we more or less like our films, we know that they have serious flaws that are entirely the result of only having one crack at writing, shooting and editing it. We can look at our films and we know what the problems were.

So what we need to do now is stop 'practicing' with contests such as this. It's time to just start making films where we can put the time and care into them that will allow us to (hopefully) avoid most of the problems experienced in those contests.

Ultimately, I think I'm glad that we didn't do better in the judging portion of this contest, as I think that would have encouraged us to continue to put our efforts into projects such as these contests, rather than into something more substantial.

We're ready.

Let's get busy.