I'm going to spend some time over the next few days and comment on every single submission to the 24 Hour Video Contest. I've made it through page 2 of 8. It's a difficult process.
I have found that I tend to have the same advice for many people.
1. Don't use copyrighted material. And not just for legal reasons. When you use a song as the background for your movie, you will often make your movie fit the song, rather than the other way around. This makes your flick far too long, you lose your story, and the mix of quality of production (professional recording versus home camera) makes your film work look even worse.
2. Watch headroom. People frequently have their characters far too low in the screen with too much space over their head.
3. You can make your movie shorter. Please make your movie shorter. Shorter is better. Really. Your movie will make more sense, be more humorous, and work better if you make it the appropriate length. A three minute maximum length rule means that your movie must be shorter than three minutes... not equal to three minutes.
4. Don't preach. I've talked about this before, but it's even worse when it is a "Christian" film festival. It's hard to help people figure out how to show rather than tell, and say without saying.
The other thing that is really hard is when you run into a film that is just plain bad. And I don't mean poorly lit, a missing tripod, a script that could have been better, or acting that won't win Oscars. I mean, a movie that just doesn't work at all. A film that looks like a slideshow your grandmother shows you with her narrating (assuming that your grandmother rambles with long pauses as she gathers her thoughts to tell you every detail of the way her broach was pinned to her shawl at Aunt Mayble's country picnic on June 2, 1831; constantly correcting herself in details that don't matter at all, like the exact temperature outside that day: 72 or 73? 72... no... wait... 73... no...).
I want to be encouraging, to help people grow in their craft, but if they don't show any interest (other than posting a video online) in making movies, I don't know what to say. It's also bad when they seem to unintentionally mocking what they are trying to promote. How do you tell someone, "I admire your attempt, but never do that again"?
We haven't received that much feedback yet for "Flowers", which is sad. Thus far I've heard "Your video was kind of funny" from the people at ChristianFilmmakers.org. ...I'm not sure how to read that.
That's all for now. I need to take a break from watching these things. I may only be able to do twenty a day. It's not easy.
Your Media Production Mentor