Friday, November 11, 2011

Student films again

From Maddin's film, "The Dead Father".

There are a lot of "student films" on You Tube. Film students should take a good look at them and see what not to do. Most of them are terrible. Many of them now try to make a joke of how bad student films are.

I bought someone's student film on eBay years ago. It was apparently shot on video and they made a crude transfer to celluloid. It...well...it wasn't very good.

But I can't blame the film students. It would appear that making a short film that's any good is harder than making a feature film. You're taking some beginners---students, in fact---and asking them to make a short film, a form that few people could do well.

Look at the ones that are good. Robert Rodriguez's student film "Bedhead" was excellent, and I just watched Guy Maddin's film, "The Dead Father", both available on You Tube.

I don't know what role one's student film plays in your future success. But it looks like, if you make one that's really good, you won't have much competition. Instead of watching feature films, instead of dreaming about making features, film students might be well advised to put all their thought and focus on making decent short films.

Both "Bedhead" and "The Dead Father", by the way, were black and white and mostly silent with voice over narration. I think they each had a line or two of synchronized dialog. That probably helped them a lot. Scripted dialog and acting aren't a strong point in student cinema.

I watched a documentary on Maddin, part of the bonus material on the DVD. One of the actors in "The Dead Father" said that it was silent, so there wasn't much acting in it. I don't know what he defines as "acting" here, but I know what he means.

Guy Maddin and Robert Rodriguez were geniuses. Watch their movies to see what you could do, and watch the other student films to see how horribly wrong things can go.

Maddin and Rodriguez both made family films in their way. Maddin's was a surreal story made not long after the death of his own father. Rodriquez starred his little brother and sisters and a cousin in his movie.

It's hard to imagine that good grades in film school are going to be your ticket to success. The connections you make and your award-winning student film are the only things that will get you anywhere, and even then you're probably doomed to failure.

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