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Brianruns10
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10 Nov 2012, 12:54 am

So I spent five months earlier this year making a short claymation I was really proud of, for a contest. To my intense shock, it didn't even make it past the first round (though a f*****g napoleon dynamite parody did). Five wasted months on a labor of love no one loved.

So I said f**k it. I found another contest to enter, the AVClub parameter competition, and created something completely personal and raw and dark. I have to fervently hope some judge will see it's merit, and give it a chance to be seen. But I fear it'll be dismissed like all the rest. But I'm going to keep making films, until either I make a masterpiece that people will love, or I die in the process.
I don't think this film anywhere near approaches what I'm capable of. It's a first stab at something bigger I know I'm capable of, if only I have the talent.

Anyways here it is:

2:55 AM: A short film



compcuanol
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10 Nov 2012, 1:31 am

Hi stranger ! I just watched it. I thought it was great and felt very honest. I can definitely relate and see myself in your video. I particularly liked how you chose to end it. Well done !



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10 Nov 2012, 1:45 am

Wow, that's an incredible amount of effort! Very well done.
I can say the set, the camera angles, and the sound effects were all superb. Very clean and used well.


Suggestions:

Not everyone likes straight-up monologue, maybe go for a bit more of a subtle message while keeping the story on top for people who just like to watch new things?

I liked the ending too, but I must admit that just seeing one character mumble to himself for the whole video lost my attention after a while.



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10 Nov 2012, 2:59 am

I thought there was lots to like and the production quality was excellent.
But the character (which seems autobiographical) spent his time self-pitying - complaining in fact - which is a trait that really turns a lot of people off, and as it was a monologue not much further was developed or insite was gained by the character in the process.

Its a completely valid thing to express - but maybe not that good material for a film as an artform that people want to go and see. The cinematography, lighting, colours, I loved all that, and it did have a eerie feeling.

Have you thought about doing a specific Genre for a short film?

Perhaps you should also think about collaborating, its really hard to do it all by yourself and you don't get that feedback/bouncing ideas off another person happening by yourself.



Brianruns10
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10 Nov 2012, 9:45 am

Make no bones about it, it's a mediocre film by my standards. I didn't have a whole lot of time to make it before the deadline, and so I opted to do something personal about my thoughts, fears and anxieties. My hopes are the judges will see it's heart, and give it a shot, but most likely they'll go for the other s**t entries, which are the usual motley mix of badly shot hipster bullshit. My film strives for some kind of honesty, even if it's not packaged a traditional genre film.

As for collaborating, I do collaborate. I use the same composer for the music. As for other collaborators,I'm open to it, but I have yet to meet another filmmaker with the same level of commitment and dedication to craft and originality. Most filmmakers (and people, for that matter), I hold in low regard because film is not what they strive for. They strive for the trappings of film success. They want fame, money, to f**k hot actresses. They are unwilling to put in the time to do this kind of work, and the few I met who have, I honestly don't respect their ideas much. They have no curiosity, no ingenuity, no willingness to challenge their comfort zones. They're just content to make horror film s**t, or indie film rom-com twaddle that feigns profundity. And I refuse to compromise my work to lesser people. It will lower my work, when I want to raise up my audience, and hopefully get them thinking about something beyond.

So like I said, this film is way beneath what I know I'm capable of, but it took a lot of hard work and hart all the same, so I hope people see it for it is.

And I'll keep on trying until I've made a masterpiece, or kill myself in the process.



jagatai
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12 Nov 2012, 12:37 pm

Very good!

This film is the best thing you've posted thus far. I think you are the kind of film maker that needs to focus on very personal projects. Unfortunately it means your audience will be small, but if you work on things that are central to your view of the world and you don't try to pander to what a broader audience wants to see, I think you have a chance of doing some really good work.

I get the impression your style may be closer to the look and tone of the Quays rather than that of Aardman. It'll never be as popular, but there is definitely a small but passionate audience for that kind of work.

Good luck and keep making films. I'm looking forward to more of them.


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Brianruns10
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12 Nov 2012, 6:09 pm

I hope so, but we'll see. If this film doesn't win SOMETHING in this contest, I may just hang it up. I mean, what good is it to do anything if it doesn't matter? I fear this film will be more of the same...a lot of work spent on nothing.



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12 Nov 2012, 7:05 pm

Brianruns10 wrote:
I hope so, but we'll see. If this film doesn't win SOMETHING in this contest, I may just hang it up. I mean, what good is it to do anything if it doesn't matter? I fear this film will be more of the same...a lot of work spent on nothing.


If you keep trying, you will do better work. If you give up, your best work will be behind you.

Does the work you do not matter just because few people recognize its value? Do you not care about your own work because no one gave it an award? If so, then give up now and stop driving yourself crazy. But if you are drawn to do the work regardless of what people say, then find a way to do it.

I can see the hints of something that could turn into a very real talent in your film making. You are not there yet. You need to let go of a lot of flawed assumptions about being an artist and you need to work at finding something real to say. It may take until you are 40 or 50 or it may never happen. Or you might discover something valuable and really learn your own voice in the next year.

Being an artist is an ongoing process. An artist struggles to learn their craft until they die. Every work, however successful, is a failure at some level. Every new project is started from scratch. Every artistic act is a courageous look into the blackness of failure. Every time we try to do something good, we risk failing. That's the life of an artist. It is not winning awards. It is not personal gratification. It's hard work and it rarely feels like it is worth the pain. But you do it because that's all you can do.

You have some potential. But you are also too concerned with recognition and not enough concerned with doing good work. This is the thing that will stop you from doing real art. Until you can put more importance upon doing good work than you put on getting awards, you will never do work that people will feel is worthy of an award.

Find something to say and then say it as well as you can. Find a creative way of communicating something real. Forget about perfection. Forget about approval. If you want trophies, it's easy enough to have a few made at a trophy store. But if you want to communicate something you have to focus on communicating, not on winning an award.

Maybe you'll win an award with this film. Maybe you won't. I hope the experience gives you the motivation to keep working because I think you could be a good film maker one day. But you've got a long road ahead of you. I've been exactly where you are now. I can't predict what course your creative life will take, but I will say if you can learn to keep going despite the many disappointments you will no doubt face in your life, you just might have a chance.

Good luck.


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Brianruns10
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12 Nov 2012, 9:05 pm

I've been making films for ten years now. I've worked on a feature every year since I was twenty one, and I've made twice as many shorts. It's what I love doing, but I just don't think I'm any good at it. Or what I try to convey gets misunderstood. I fear that I'm gonna die, and no one will care, and worse, they' ll just throw away all my films into the garbage can. I need some kind of sign that this what I'm supposed to do; otherwise I've got nothing, and it's time to start shopping for a good exit.

If only you could see the films I have in my head. They're works of real beauty and truth. But when they get made, they are mediocre crap. I mean I thought I was trying to say something with this film about craft and art, and it seems I failed utterly. Believe me I'm obsessed with doing good work, but I think I've just been endowed with nothing but weakness. Whenever I see something I could've done better, I just want to smack myself, and beg my audience for forgiveness for having wasted their time. I mean, what good am I, if I'm unable to communicate anything to my audience, or they're unwilling to listen? I feel like I've got something....really special in me, to give back to people, but what good was it all if no one cares, because it's simply. not. good. enough?



jagatai
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14 Nov 2012, 2:19 pm

Brianruns10 wrote:
I've been making films for ten years now. I've worked on a feature every year since I was twenty one, and I've made twice as many shorts. It's what I love doing, but I just don't think I'm any good at it. Or what I try to convey gets misunderstood. I fear that I'm gonna die, and no one will care, and worse, they' ll just throw away all my films into the garbage can. I need some kind of sign that this what I'm supposed to do; otherwise I've got nothing, and it's time to start shopping for a good exit.

If only you could see the films I have in my head. They're works of real beauty and truth. But when they get made, they are mediocre crap. I mean I thought I was trying to say something with this film about craft and art, and it seems I failed utterly. Believe me I'm obsessed with doing good work, but I think I've just been endowed with nothing but weakness. Whenever I see something I could've done better, I just want to smack myself, and beg my audience for forgiveness for having wasted their time. I mean, what good am I, if I'm unable to communicate anything to my audience, or they're unwilling to listen? I feel like I've got something....really special in me, to give back to people, but what good was it all if no one cares, because it's simply. not. good. enough?

I think it would be helpful for you to do some thinking about getting some perspective on the work you do and life in general.

The work that most people in this world do will be forgotten within a generation or two of their deaths. And the people who remember their work will be comprised of mostly their immediate families. How much do you know of the work and lives of your grand parents or of your great grand parents? Chances are, the same will happen to you. You will do some work in your life and you will strive for significance and in the end little will change. If you are both lucky and extraordinarily driven, your work might achieve some kind of lasting fame and your name will be remembered. But so what? Given a few hundred years, even that fame will likely fade. A relatively small number of artists are remembered. Only if the actual creative work you do has value to YOU will it be worth while.

But there is something critical you have to understand here... The artists are not remembered for who they were. They are remembered for their work. There is very little known about Shakespeare as a person. What is remembered are the plays. There might be more biographical information about Leonardo da Vinci, but if you ask the average person, they could tell you nothing about who he was, but could readily identify some of his paintings.

If you truly want to leave valuable, memorable work that survives your death, you need to set aside any desire for fame and instead do the best work you can as a film maker. Fame might come after the fact and that might help establish a legacy, but it certainly will not come if all you struggle for is fame and not for good work.

Unfortunately there is no sign or road map that can show you what you must do. I suspect this was the core idea behind the Coen Brother's "Barton Fink" Wanting to do something great is not good enough. It's easy to talk about how you have great ambitions and how deeply passionate about your art you are. But the thing that really separates good artists from the pretenders is how much they are willing to sacrifice their ego and simply do the work necessary to make good art.

I believe you work hard. I've worked hard too. I also wanted to rise to greatness without actually having to do the boring work of learning the craft. I wasted a lot of time trying to construct scenarios that were sufficiently “artistic” for my tastes, while not worrying about the practical realities of communicating those ideas in a tangible form. As a result I made some shoddy films that only showed me to be a sloppy, inconsistent film maker. Lacking much skill in the craft, I could not get across the lofty concepts I had in mind and I was too impatient to take the time to learn what was necessary to do the job right.

I'm still like this. I often quickly glance through instructions, being too impatient to read them carefully, before I launch into playing with the tool. I have the dual advantage and disadvantage of being intelligent so I can often figure out how to use the tool to get adequate results, but because I get some kind of result, I often don't take the time to learn how to get really good results. Does this sound familiar? I suspect you might do the same thing.

As usual, I suspect it might seem like I am beating up on you. I mean well, but I also feel it is important not to pull my punches because frankly, I think you have a chance to be a good film maker, but you are going down a path that will waste a great deal of your time. You probably don't want to end up at 50 thinking “if only I had learned the fundamentals of art when I was younger, I might be much farther ahead by now.”

Here's the problem with the “beautiful films” that are in your head. They don't do anyone a bit of good so long as you lack the skill to put them on film so that others can see them. I too have seen really great films in my head and have been appalled at how badly they were executed when I tried to film them.

But the solution to that problem is not self denigration or bemoaning your mediocrity. The solution is to learn to be a better film maker.

One thing you may be doing that I certainly did way too much... I demanded complete originality from myself. If something that I worked on seemed derivative of another film, I became very self critical and frequently sabotaged my own work. Originality is important, but there can be too much of a good thing.

Sometimes the better option is to limit your originality to one or two areas and let the rest be influenced and informed by conventional film technique. Most people have to learn by taking small steps. First they learn to get an image on film. Then they learn to sequence events into a story, then they try to tell a better story.

Orson Wells is one of the worst examples for film makers to aspire to. But his arc as a film maker can be very informative. His first film “Hearts of Age” was so unbelievably bad, I suspect it shocked him and he made an effort to make his next film better. I've heard he watched “Stagecoach” over and over to understand the dramatic structure and storytelling. Obviously this paid off for “Citizen Kane” but “Kane” was so innovative and so creatively successful (even if the critics of the time did not think so) that Wells could never live up to that success again.

Kenneth Bragnah was often compared to Orson Wells, at least in the late 80's or so and I think it hurt his career. While he has remained a fairly good actor, the demands put on him to produce something wonderful became a burden he couldn't live up to. Again, I encourage you to watch “Barton Fink” Probably the most terrifying line in the film is when Jack Lipnick says “We're expecting great things from you”

Well, I'm digressing as I often do...

Here's how you stop making mediocre crap: Lower your standards.

It sounds facetious and I do mean it somewhat tongue in cheek, but there is a grain of truth that I think is very important.

In trying to do something great, it is easy to focus all your attention on the wonderful concept that is in your head at the expense of doing the practical work of communicating that concept to an audience that cannot look into your brain. You need to spend less time worrying about the significance of the idea you have and spend more time making sure your fundamental skills are at a level where you are able to actually get that idea across.

And you can't trust the “works of real beauty and truth” that you see in your head. Have you ever had a dream where you are trying to read some text on a page only to discover that the more you try to read it, the less clear it becomes? That's what your ideas are. They are indistinct ghosts of a final work and like ghosts, they don't exist in reality. The fact that you are unable to execute them in reality they way they appear in your head suggests that they are actually rather unclear and unformulated in your head.

The teaching process provides a good analogy. If you understand a concept well, you can usually articulate it well. But if you don't actually understand the concept, you will find yourself getting lost and confused as you try to explain the idea to another person. As a film maker, if the concept in your head is truly well formed, assuming you have the physical resources, you will be able to communicate that story to an audience. But if you find that the beautiful ideas in your head just can't come out, you need to consider that maybe you really haven't thought it out anywhere near as well as you think you have.

If you are a bad film maker, become a better one. If every time you try to communicate, you fail, then perhaps you should learn to communicate more effectively. Complaining that you are a failure does not change anything. Denigrating yourself does not relieve you of the responsibility of doing a good job.

You claim that you are obsessed with doing good work, but I don't think you are. From practically every post I've read by you, you seem more interested in getting approval and not particularly interested in improving your ability to make a good film. There is nothing wrong with wanting approval and there is nothing wrong with not wanting to make an effort to be a better film maker. But if you want approval for the films you make, the only way you are going to get there is to actually become a better film maker. Complaining that people don't like your work will not make your films better and won't make people like your work.

If when you have finished a film, you feel like you have wasted the audience's time, then yes, you should be ashamed. But the answer isn't to keep running yourself down. The answer is do better work next time. When a person apologizes, but then keeps doing the same bad behavior, the apology doesn't ring true. It's only when a person actually changes their behavior that the apology has any meaning.

Sorry for being so blunt, but the way I see it is if you are to achieve some recognition for the films you make, you absolutely have to learn this lesson. There is no nice and easy way to get it across. I feel I have to slap you upside the head to make the point and even still I have little hope of actually getting this concept across to you. This is a hard concept to learn. It's one of the things that stops most artists dead in their tracks. I've only really begun to understand it in the past 5 years. I wasted a great deal of time that I will never get back. If you can learn this lesson earlier, you might have a chance at some kind of career. If you don't learn this lesson, I really don't think you can succeed.

One unfortunate thing about how people learn; people can give you advice and describe their experiences over and over. They can be painfully honest. They can have the best of intentions. They can try to provide the best information they know how to give. But you will never truly understand what they are talking about until you have lived through that experience yourself.

What I mean is this; you may read what I have written here and honestly believe it has no relevance to you. You might not recognize much of the experiences I am referring to. You might believe that I am just blathering on about my own issues and that I cannot possibly understand your unique situation. But maybe one day, 10 or 20 years from now, when you have lived through more of the problems of creative work, you will recognize exactly what I am referring to. By then you will be 10 or 20 years older and your options will have grown more and more limited.

Think about what I am writing here even if you don't agree with me. Save the text of this post and read it a few times. There is a good chance that I am wrong about some of the issues, but there is also a good chance I am right about many of them.

I would like to see you succeed, but there is nothing I can do to make you successful. All I can do is relate some of my experience and hope I have the skill to communicate it well enough and that you have to wisdom to use what is valuable and ignore what is irrelevant.

Here's the thing about creative work. You do it, not because people praise you, but because it's what you need to do to feel wholly yourself. You keep working to be better because that's the way you get closer to your own image of reality. Art is a process of examining yourself and making sense of what you find. It is not a thing you do to get praise.

You want a sign for what you are supposed to do? Sorry, you'll never get it. Life doesn't give you answers. That's what art is for. It is a process that you use to dig out an answer from the chaos around you. There is nothing life says you have to do except to eat, to s**t and to die. Any other goal is something you create for yourself and either you are willing to do it or you are not.


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Brianruns10
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15 Nov 2012, 1:01 am

You are wrong with one point merely. I AM obsessed with doing good work. I spent six months designing and building a complex camera motion rig so I could have perfect, fluid camera moves for my claymation. I read everything I can, and study films to improve my craft. I'm all about craft, because that's what I have. I was not blessed with talent or originality. But If I can create a unique vision based around my skilled, the perhaps I can transcend the more talented, the more original, who aren't as interested in technique.

I'm interested in reaching people. Film is the only way I've been able to, because as a person, I'm not someone people much like. But through films, I could suddenly be funny, witty, intelligent, outgoing, convey things I never could say myself. I want to educated, enlighten, inspire. And if I can't make just one film that really grabs somebody, then my life is a failure. And I fear I never will reach anyone. Because it's all I've got, and if I'm not any good at it, then what good am I as a person?

I'm starting work on a new claymation. And next year a new documentary. I'm going to keep making films until something I do makes some kind of....positive impact in the world. Something that can stand as my gift to the world, since it is doubtful I'll ever marry or have progeny, or be wealthy enough to donate money to some good cause. I want to do one really special thing in this world for people to cherish. And I will do it...or destroy myself in the process.



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15 Nov 2012, 1:11 am

well done. :)



Brianruns10
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15 Nov 2012, 9:43 am

I should say I am grateful that you all seem to like the film. I'm really desperate for someone to enjoy the work I make. I'm just praying now that the contest people will give it a shot to advance to a wider audience. I think the message is a worthwhile one, and my film has more to say, more value that most of the other entries, which are utterly meaningless, potboiler shorts about time travel or heists, and worthless s**t.