Short Film Research – Rapid Eye Movement Film Festival (January 2012)

So it’s been a while since I went to this, as the screening was in late January. The R.E.M festival was showing a variety of talent from around the local Warwickshire area – this time, it included some works of the Warwick University students as well. Generally, there was a lot of engaging material on show, with plenty for me and my friends to ponder over.

One that had us divided was called ‘The Dance’, which was a seven minute documentary about French aeroplane pilots. Before they take off, they perform ‘the dance’ as a way of preparing themselves for complete orientation in the sky. The set-up was simple – the film maker introduced what the artefact was about, and then there was three minutes of ‘the dance’ (perhaps a little too long), and then three minutes of the flight. The interesting thing was that you could see how the pilot had implemented disorientating himself on the ground before takeoff, to being fully orientated immediately after take off.

My friends criticized the piece, saying that not enough explanation was given, and that the pilot should have been interviewed to add more depth to the piece. This was something I noted, and yet the simplicity was really the big selling point for me. The artefact had no real narrative – it was more of a spectacle, and that made it all the more mesmerising to watch. Not particularly all that educational, but it certainly had a visual aesthetic.

Another film shown at the festival was ‘Date Night’, which one my friends helping me with my FMP had actually helped to film!

Date Night was made by one of the members of Call The Shots (which we’ll get to later on), and was in my eyes of pretty solid attempt at telling a rather simple narrative. Codes and conventions were followed really well, although this made the film’s denouement a little obvious (I was a goth once, and I know the stereotype pretty well!)

Everyone seemed to like the film – it was well-shot, and the standard of visuals and audio was high. This was actually one of the film that ultimately made my decide to use Canon 5Ds for my own FMP shoot – I don’t know whether that was the actual camera the used, but I knew I wanted the visuals to look like this film.

I wasn’t overly convinced that the scene where the two girls meet in the bedroom was needed. It was there to add depth to the characters, but the film was generally a comedy, which simply needed a set-up and a punch line (not unlike my own short film last year). Two people getting ready to go out on a date, only for the girl to find her male counterpart murdered at the door would have been sufficient to get the laughs, and would have cut two minutes off the total running time (though in all honesty, it may have been more quirky to show the friends of the killer instead – bad guys are frequently the more interesting characters in things like this!)

The Call The Shots productions didn’t end there. ‘The Killing Game’ was a big production for CTS, and featured one of the more prominent members as the hitman.

Now, I really liked this one. I liked it because, unlike a lot of films, I didn’t actually see the ending coming. There were obvious nods to Tarantino in the film, as well as several ‘Gangster’ genre stereotypes. To say how much story is conveyed in the short running time though, this was a prime example of making every shot / line of dialogue relevant to the plot. The acting and the script were of a higher standard throughout as a result. Importantly, it also made everybody laugh and squirm during the final twist, which is always a good reaction!

One of the final films to be shown was by another of my crew members, named ‘Clown Vs. Society’.

This was one of the more experimental films of the evening, and certainly made an impression, although people didn’t quite know what to make of it. For the first half, people were unsure as to whether the clown in it was actually genuinely telling his story, or whether he was just an actor filling a role (all kudos to him in that case!). Again, it was shot beautifully, and again, it was probable the Canon 5D was to answer for. It caught the close-ups beautifully, and confirmed why I wanted director Bidu to help with my own FMP.

I understood the meaning of film (at least I think I do), where it would seem technology has made us lose touch with traditional values. However as a media student, I am inclined to move with the times. Several previously shown comedy shorts demonstrated abilities of the ‘clowns’ of today – namely, making a comedy and allowing it to be accessed by the masses through technological platforms (which can still boost a profit if you know how to distribute). The world is ever-changing, so you change with it, or you become like the character in this film. ‘Metaphorically’, it was quite sad. ‘Literally’, I had little sympathy… does that make me a bad person?!

Overall it was (as always) an interesting night. This marked the third R.E.M event I’d been to. But crucially, tonight, just as any other night, there had been little in the way of anything gothic or alternative. One of the reasons I chose to do my FMP about a fallen angel was because I felt the gothic sub-genre was an overlooked approach in short film production. It was nice to see a goth / emo in Date Night, but it was only used to convey that a character was dark and suspicious. So much more can be done with mise-en-scene and whacky characterization if this sub genre is utilized – something I aimed to explore more in my own FMP.

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