Crit Feedback and Reflections

LMD08120 Documentary Film

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NAME: Callum Booth-Lewis
PROJECT: Faith in Family
DATE OF CRITIQUE: 9/4/19
TUTOR(S): Sana Bilgrami, Holger Mohaupt
VERBATIM TRANSCRIPT OF FEEDBACK:

Sana: I’ve seen this film after two weeks and it’s just completely transformed. The structure is just completely transformed in a very positive way. The way it’s structured, the way the information is revealed is very powerful so I think you’ve done very well with that. I agree that some of the recreations are a bit clunky but I like the way you’ve used a combination of ways of telling the story. I think the opening, all the way to the point where he speaks about the party, it all goes by too quickly, you really need to have breathing space in there. It’s too much to take in, especially right at the beginning, that’s when we need to be pulled into the story. I don’t know if it’s because I know the characters that I can follow everything but you really need someone who doesn’t know to be able to follow everything. Towards the end, there needs to be a bit of clarification about who’s saying what, especially the last thing we’re left with, that “family is the most important” – I know who says it but I think it needs to be clearer in your film who says that because it’s really key. I think you did the brothers’ character transformation really beautifully, all the kind of ups and downs in their relationship. To have captured all that in eight minutes is quite something, there’s a lot of narrative in there and really powerful. So I think space, you need space. Obviously you need to sort out your sound, the sound effects were way too loud. And there’s something about the animation that’s a bit clunky in places. And also with the reconstruction of the boy, I think it works really well later in the film but the first couple of times we see him I think you could work a little bit more with that. I’ll have to watch the film again to give you precise feedback on that but maybe Holger has a perspective on that. But I think that character, that child works really well later but the first two times I thought maybe it was too soon or cut too short or something about it wasn’t right.

Holger: I agree with what Sana said. I really enjoyed your film, I have to say, I was really with you on their journey. Although, after a couple of minutes in, I thought ‘God, what’s the story?’ ‘Cos I’m getting so much talk and of course I know the story from the tutorials and the way you presented it and I thought ‘which line are they taking?’ but I stayed with it because I think you managed to create a very unique way of telling the story visually. I think nothing fell out for me strongly, there are a couple of things you could tweak. But you kept going with that particular style and I really enjoyed that journey. There were so many moving parts, where they talk about his dad passing away, I was almost weeping myself I have to say, it was really strong. And also the way you decided to have the mouth first and then towards the end we reveal them as kind of full size. And all the animation journeys are great, the visual language when you have, I don’t know if it’s a school hall or whatever it is along the chairs and then towards the end you’re reversing it or going in then you’re returning. I think that works really well. I thought ‘what could’ve helped me?’ I thought something at the very beginning that sets it up like ‘This is Ian, this is Eddie”, just a little introduction and then I’m happy to go along with it. Whereas, when I was watching it, I was listening to them and there’s a lot in what they’re saying and I couldn’t really find a thread in it.

Sana: I think that until the point where they talk about parties, in a way it didn’t really matter if we knew which one was talking because they’re not contradicting each other, they’re telling the same story right? Yeah. Which is why it didn’t bother me too much knowing who’s here.

Holger: I don’t need to know who’s saying what, it’s the whole narrative, what’s the film about? That’s what I was struggling with, what is the story here or the things that’re trying to be resolved or presented to us. But individually what they said was really interesting, it was interesting enough to hold me with it so I think there was kind of magic in it and I think the animation helped and your rhythm and also you made the extra effort to have little sounds attached to the animation and I think that really lifted it as well. Towards the end when they’re sitting on the wall, I could’ve had more of these kind of things, little breathing spaces. And there were a couple of clips, you know when they open the door, when we see them first. Again because the structure works really well, you have them individually and then they’re kind of reunited, knocking on the door. And then he opens the door with a little joke – I think the joke is slightly clipped because you have the voiceover and then you hear the location sound, a little tweak – but I thought that was really fantastic. And then in the kitchen when he says ‘I’m a bit of a, you know, out there’ and you could see him doing that and that was really lovely. So you captured so many really beautiful things and it’s all so close, it just needs a little bit of space.

Sana: I would say in this case, I mean you’ve done what you had to do for the module and you stuck to the eight minutes, you could just gently expand this into about ten or nine minutes.

Kirsty: I think that’s our plan.

Sana: Yeah, just to give it the space that it needs so that things like that sequence where you’re opening the door, you can stay with that for a moment.

Holger: …or you can separate it, you can have them saying it then you can have the voice. Yeah, just give it a bit more space.

Sana: …and all the way at the beginning, like I said, you just need to let it breath because there’s so much information that it’s really hard for it to sink in. At a certain point, where they start talking about parties, the pace picks up. Well I think actually the pace stayed the same, I would keep the pace at that pace and have it build up to that pace because at that point we get it and then it’s just little bits of information about how they felt and the details and so on. And some clarity at the end, I think your end needs a bit more work.

Holger: But yeah, the second half, when he starts talking about what turned him to god, all this is really well told. I’m really with you in it, this kind of emotional lifetime experiences and then he turns to it and you have the great shots in the car in the rain. Maybe I should turn to the class and give you an opportunity to respond as well.

Calum G: I really liked the story of it, I thought it was a really good depiction of what it was but although I really liked the story I found it quite hard to follow visually because I thought there was so much in it that it just couldn’t find the focus. And if it had more of the animation it would’ve been great but then combining that with, well with the interviews was good, but then combining with all these different things like with the archive of the black and white and then these dolly movements I just found it couldn’t find a focus, but that’s just me.

Callum BL: Yep, that’s fair.

Jude: I thought it was going to be more Jehovah’s Witness based when I talked to you about it in the edit and stuff but actually I’m really happy with the way that this handled it in the end. Like it discussed it in a really sensitive way, built around the story of these brothers.

Amy: Our aim was never to make it about that [JW].

Kirsty: We had a lot of meetings trying to pinpoint exactly what we wanted like the whole theme of the film to be and we really wanted to avoid focusing more on religion and more on the brothers and stuff.

Callum BL: I was quite worried that in the interviews Ian would just sort of go off on a rant about

Kirsty: He did a wee bit…

Callum BL: He did at points but I think Amy did a really good job of keeping him focused, I was really impressed with the interviews.

Jude: In terms of the camera work, I think all of the parts were really nicely done. Like the dolly stuff maybe if that had been graded in the same way that the flashback stuff had been, like black and white. That stuff all felt quite lovely, it felt like it had a real place in the film maybe more so than the animation. I agree with what you’re saying about the fact that it comes in quite quickly so maybe mimicking some of the interview-style stuff that you see so where you’re only seeing a cropped frame of them, maybe we get the same sort of thing with the younger character and then work that into it as it becomes more clear that reflects their childhood.

Sana: That’s a nice way of thinking about it.

MAIN POINTS GLEANED FROM FEEDBACK:

–          Animation/inserts are a bit rushed and clunky

–          Whole film needs more breathing space, especially at the start

–          We need a stronger introduction to set up the premise

–          Emotional story was conveyed very well

–          Unique visual style was effective but also made it lose focus at points

–          Sound effects work well but too loud at points

–          Good that it focused on brothers’ relationship rather than Jehovah’s Witnesses

–          Reconstruction of boy needs more of a focus at the start

–          Good that it didn’t reveal Ian and Eddie’s faces until later in film

 

REFLECTION:

I’m very happy with this feedback. It was great to see such a huge improvement in everyone’s films from the documentary module last year, particularly in the range of creative styles.

I think our film was very successful in showing the emotional story between the two brothers and I think we can work from this successful starting point to implement some of the changes suggested. Particularly I think we should space out the edit more to give the viewer more time to understand what is happening.

The range of visual styles was somewhat divisive and I agree that at times it seemed to lack focus. However, I still think it was an effective and creative way of telling a story that was based in memories.

ACTION PLAN:

Our group seems eager to improve the film with the advice from the crit before we share it. In particular, we plan to revisit the edit and give the opening sequence more breathing space. This re-edit will also require revisiting the sound edit and colour grade – although we were mainly happy with these, there were a few minor points noted which could be improved. I may also revisit some of the animations to tidy them up although I don’t think this is so essential for the film to be successful.

Overall, I am very happy with the feedback we received and I think that, once we implement these few minor changes, we will have a very successful film.

 

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