Media Production Mentoring

Free online film school designed with beginning filmmakers in mind.


24th - So They Say

If you don't already know, "Flowers" ended up 24th out of 71 films. That puts us in the upper third. But, honestly, it's hard to believe we scored so low. Here's the official ranking:

24th for "Flowers"

A total score of 15.5 out of 30. Just over half the total points. Let's walk through each of these and try to figure out where we went wrong.

Story 4 / 10
Was our story amazing? No, but we certainly had one. In fact, it's a story that "we can all relate to" (according to one comment). We spent a couple days hashing out this story.

Granted, it was a tad choppy at the start, bits didn't completely fit, but in the end I smile. Everyone I know who's seen it smiles. You can't help but smile at the end. That means that our story, for all it's shortcomings, works. I disagree that it's a 4; sub par.

Cinematography 3.5 / 5
Some of our shots would have been improved by a motion control camera. We don't own one, so for the hand-held shots we rock. Our dolly worked quite well.

Sure, the shot of the front yard was washed out and poorly framed. But that's the only shot in the film that really was not good. Everything else was awesome. For how great our images, color, framing, and visual storytelling were, we probably could have had a higher rank.

Sound 2.5 /5
Our sound was good. It was easy to hear everything, all the pieces were there. We were not just hanging in the middle with sound quality. We boomed most of our shoot, recorded our own music, and mixed everything together. That is way better than the others who used the audio off their camera's on-board mic and didn't bother mixing it at all.

People have pointed out that there were a few places where the audio was too loud (the gate and the "ding"). True. Also, I wanted to get rid of the airplane noise, but didn't have time. But for those few issues, I think we deserved a few more points in the sound category.

Performance 2 / 5
The acting was pretty good. We recorded the VO at 5am, so little wonder it doesn't sparkle. And some of the moments lacked real life, but a 2?

Editing 3.5 / 5
A couple imperfect cuts. Otherwise the movie flowed, moved, and fit the length it should have been. That's cutting. Here, perhaps, is where the choppy nature of our story made the editing look bad.

So, sure, they were correct, a little harsh, in pointing out our flaws. But when you compare these elements with the other films, that's when it really starts to hurt. And that is the problem with a 5 star ranking system.

I use Flixster so I can keep tabs on what I think about movies. But since there are only 5 stars, I give a lot of movies 3. If the movie was fine, it gets a 3. If I hated the flick, I give it a 1 or a 2. Great movies get 4. But very few movies get 5. So, the difference between a movie I love and a film I hate is as little as 1.5 stars (4 to 2.5).

To make matters worse, you are comparing a movie made by filmmakers and some 14 year old girl. With ranking card in hand they ask: How was her sound? Well, since it was a home camcorder, obviously pretty bad, but we could hear everything, so we'll give it a 3. Then they watch our flick. How was the sound? Well, the airplane overhead was a bit much, as was the ding. 2.5.

Our sound was, from a realistic standpoint, several times better than the girl's. That's not surprising. We used a boom mic and mixed it. She pointed her camera at her dog. But with a 5 star rating system, her film almost has to be ranked higher than ours because it is based in the quality of the production itself, not compared to the other films. Thus, we score really low because the bar was so high for us.

Last, any ranking system is completely arbitrary and flawed. Back in High School I did Duo Interp. After each round you get feedback from the three judges in the room. One judge said that she loved our introduction. The second judge complained that we didn't have an introduction. And the third judge said nothing about an introduction at all. What do you do with such things?

You laugh, and move on.

Which I will try to now do.

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

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