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Beast short film — 24 hour production with GH5


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Happy new year all!

I’ve finally (finally!) made my first short narrative film.

I’ve been a full time videographer for 8 years now, writing on and off in my spare time, but never actually got out and turned my writing into a film.

So I decided enough was enough and asked my brother if he was up for the challenge of making something in our home village over Christmas.

8 hours writing and pre-production, a single 8 hour day of filming, and 8 hours of editing.

Loved the process. Lots of lessons learned. Here’s the result, and would love your feedback.




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  • 1 year later...

Hi! I liked the music/sound effects. The audio seemed very crisp but seemed too much the focus, as if to give away that the character was wearing a mic. Perhaps increase location audio and reduce crispbess of character mic. I liked the acting given the film's restraints and what it seems like you set out to do. The main actor (you or your brother?) Seems like they have a lot of potential and could have possibly been even more emotional. I liked the subtle panning at the headstone as the character walked away. I liked the artistic incorporation of horse, use of forest. I liked the location choice. I wished the grave were not so old looking since it seems the death was more recent. The rope seems to suggest suicide attempt but could use more clarity. The story seemed disjointed to me (or just lacked clarity)... Is it a horror movie about a beast that kills anyone who has the token item (toy panther)? Interesting theme and I want to see more of the theme/story come through. The lead-up to the beast attack is sort of nonexistent, so more lead up could be good there, like the camera 'running' towards the character. And/or the character reacting with surprise. This might not have been your goal, but I still think that scene left me scratching my head for a moment. Through this process of actually making the short film, you get to see how your concept plays out. To me, it is a good concept-design kick-off sort of film which shows that you can make something and helps you see an idea play out. I would get together with a few more people, get a script, and read it together, asking questions of every line and direction such as: "who cares?" "Why is this important?" "How does this scene help the film?" Work the script over and refine it, eliminating things that don't really serve to tell the story. You set aside 8 hrs for preproduction, 8 hrs filming and 8 hrs editing. Alright. Try setting aside 10 hrs for writing only, including criticizing the script with a friend or two. Then, keep production simple with 2 hrs production planning, 1 hr location audio capture, 2-3 hrs shooting, and finally 8-9 hrs editing. It seems to me that this plan could force you into a different way of filmmaking and help develop some additional film-making muscle. Also, if you really want a challenge, try 5 hrs writing, and limit the filming to one hr. Then 2 hrs to edit. It will force you to work efficiently and probably be helpful. 8 hr challenge!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Nice! I think the first shot was great. The mysterious references to past events made me want to find out what the mystery was. I think that after that first shot, I would have liked to get a little more story and for it to reveal a little more about who died, what they were doing that made them "stupid," etc.

I agree with the comments above, it was a little too obvious the character was wearing a mic, especially when the rope was rubbing against the jacket. And then one yell was badly distorted. One option for better sound is to use a boom mic and strategically mix that with the lav, for example using the boom exclusively for those effects. If you don't have a boom mic but do have the time, then you can even just go back and re-record some of those sounds with the mic placed somewhere to better capture those effects.

But great job for a first narrative short with a limited production time/resources! I'd love to see whatever you make next.

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Guys, thanks so much for taking the time to watch the film and post your thoughts! Awesome. I posted this over a year ago so it's a nice surprise to see these today.

@Displayhd - great feedback on audio! I have very little experience with sound design but since releasing it it was the thing that struck me most when watching other people's more accomplished shorts. I barely used any location or foley sound and relied heavily on the music and the character's audio. Big learning point there!

Yes, my bro was actor. He definitely has some natural talent and we're hoping to get together and make some more shorts together soon. He'll appreciate that feedback, and agree we could have leveraged more emotion, particularly if the script was more fleshed out.

Given the time we had we were relatively happy with the script, but yes sooooo much more we would have liked to have done with it. I don't mind that it poses a few questions, leaves some things a little mysterious, but I don't think we drew the story our strongly enough.

hehe, it's funny, we recorded a number of panther approaching shots, with me running, jumping out of the bushes and growling at him, and it was so difficult pulling focus while running and jumping and landing the framing on his face (I was having to shoot close to wide open with the Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 as the light faded) and then we decided we had to record something more simple for backup. I was wide open at iso3200/6400 at the end, retaking the shot trying to get something that would at least make sense! Strangely in the edit we started by using one of these running takes, but it felt a bit "b-movie' which wasn't quite the right vibe.

There are some "outtakes" here showing some of the failed attempts haha: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPqztHFSLPc&t=1s

Love the idea of 8 hour production with most time on script! I think limiting time, giving yourself boundaries, is great for creativity.

@KnightsFan - thanks man!! I was really pleased with first shot too. Actually, I think it was my favourite shot and then went down hill from there haha

Again, great feedback on audio! Would have loved to use boom mic, but it was just me and my bro doing everything so we had to go with lavalier. Great idea going out and re-recording some of the audio. I think with better planning I would have definitely made time for this because of the value it would have added!

Agreed, there could definitely be a little more background on who died. We wanted it to be somewhat ambiguous so people could draw their own conclusions, but it's a little too loose.

Thanks so much again for your comments, it's great motivation to start thinking about the next one.

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10 hours ago, Jimbo said:

Great idea going out and re-recording some of the audio. I think with better planning I would have definitely made time for this because of the value it would have added!

When I started making movies with my friends in middle school and all we had was a camcorder with no external mic at all, we would re-record our lines with the actual camera, just holding it close to our faces usually with the lens cap on. We'd have hours of "footage" just for ADR, lol.

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@Jimbo Great stuff!

My criticisms are more general in nature, and to a certain extent everything about it could have been "better", but I think there are a couple of huge caveats that need to be talked about.

The first is limited time.  8/8/8 hours is a huge restriction on something like this, and everything about the final result was of a good standard.  Not great, but solid.  The editing could have been tighter, the shots could have been more varied, camera angles refined, sound more natural, VFX improved, etc, but for such an extremely short process these are all things that I'm sure you could improve given a lot more time.  With the time limits involved I think you did very well.

The second is that this is not an easy piece to shoot.  What I mean is that the acting skill required was significant.  I thought your brothers performance was quite good, but not great, but this is a world away from an easy role.  It called for the main character to be distraught, drunk, partly incoherent, (literally) suicidal, and completely overwhelmed with grief.  These are the emotions that separate the great actors from the spectacular award-winning actors, so combining the fact that there wasn't a month of rehearsals followed by a month of shooting I think you did very well.  
I've been on shoots where the main actor absolutely nailed the monologue on take 27 and that's the one that ended up as the crown clip in their showreel.  Of course, this occurred at 3am when we'd been shooting for 6 hours and they'd also worked that day in their day job and part of the emotional delivery was sheer exhaustion on their part.

We can always do better, but one of the main things you achieved was actually finishing it and publishing it.  That's harder than it sounds :) 

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@kye great feedback, thanks man!

Yes, the time limit hampered every element so was very interesting way of working. I think it was a case of wanting to limit the time so I finally (finally!) completed something from end to end and published it without getting overly precious. I overthink everything so it was a great way for me to "break my duck" so to speak.

Great feedback on the acting. I think my bro did a phenomenal job given the time constraints, but sure he would also agree that we could have delivered so much more with better writing, more rehearsal, more prep time for me to fully understand the character and be able to communicate that etc.

Seriously considering setting my self a short film challenge during this Covid lockdown madness. But the only problem is my girlfriend does not want to be in front of camera so I'm left with the cats... 🙂

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