This month the student films I got to see were primarily short enough. In fact, it was refreshing to see them. ...very unlike the films from my last address.
There were, unfortunately, two films that dragged on far too long. The biggest offender was far, far too long. The problem was, I'm sure, that the producers had procured many locations, costumes, and props from the myriad of people who agreed to support their film. This lead them to the erroneous belief that their movie needed to be long enough to showcase all of it. They should have cut it down.
My favorites were two movies that worked because their characters totally fit within the worlds they created. Both movies were quirky and the people within those worlds matched them exactly.
One of the "cool looking" films rocked, but I didn't understand it. Talking with a couple of the guys who worked on the film after the show I was told that they never shot what was supposed to be the last shot of the movie. Had they done so, I think the movie would have made more sense. Perhaps not, but the lesson is important: If you've got an element that is pivotal to your story, get that shot. Removing it greatly increases the chances that your movie will end up incomprehensible.
So, the lessons:
1. Realize that movies take a lot of resources to make, and let your movie fit the scale and length of your story, not your effort and budget. If you stretch it beyond your story you cheapen your whole film, no matter how intricate your sets.
2. If you can get all the elements--especially the characters--to fit within your world, you are setting yourself up for gold.
3. Story trumps cinematography... unless you're a cinematography guy. If you are, make sure you have someone working with you who will make you shoot all your story elements.
In other news, I'm going on vacation for a week to spend time with my in-laws, so see you in a week-ish. The holidays really make it hard to keep up on everything, so things will likely be spotty until the New Year.
Until then: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! And God bless us, every one! (I just watch the Muppet Christmas Carol <smile>)
Your Media Production Mentor