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For those of you who have seen it, feel free to talk about it here. If you know me. you know I have thick skin and I can take it. C'mon. Ask questions, leave comments. I honestly think we can all learn something from it.
Btw, the very first draft I wrote back in -11 was posted here and I got some great feedback from a bunch of you. The script that was used is on the SS home page.
If you know me. you know I have thick skin and I can take it. C'mon. Ask questions, leave comments. I honestly think we can all learn something from it.
I respect your honesty anytime you read something of mine and always try to return the favor on anything of yours I read. I guess this was a little harder to be honest about because it is such a great accomplishment. With that being said, I had issues with it.
I remember reading the first 20-25 of this back in 2011 and planned to finish because I liked what I saw, but then it dissapeared.
The things I didn't like mostly had to do with the film making. I think I saw you comment on the overuse of Fbombs that weren't written in. They were way overused.
If none of these people really never acted before, I think I saw that somewhere, I think most of them did okay, but you could see a lot of that acting and not reacting.
The opening credits were quite good, and very long. And whoa, those ending credits crawl so slow, it felt as though they were trying to fill space. At just over an hour, how long was the script? Was a great deal cut?
The main question I would like to ask you is why the robbers just let these kids go in the middle of the woods and then 30 seconds later decide to chase them again? That made zero sense to me.
I never felt a main protag here, which the screenwriting gurus will lambast you for, but after the ending, which I won't spoil, I'm glad you didn't have one.
I felt the climactic chase scene pretty anti climactic. The one robber thought his brother was dead without even really checking him and then ran through the woods screaming YOU BITCH at least 15x.
There were some good still shots in transition, and I know they can't set up dolly tracks in the woods, but the hand held camera work actually wasn't as bad as I expected (mainly based on trailer which was very shaky).
I did enjoy meeting our gang after the heist. Had the feel of a traditional thriller and I thought the dialogue around scenes like the camp fire were well done. It was a nice set up to the impending doom we know that awaits them.
My biggest issues were directing and editing. The pace felt off and it didn't seem like the director knew how to set the tone for this story. Then again, wtf do I know. Sorry Tim, if you're around.
Hope you don't find this harsh, but I am a paying customer. I am jealous, but I'm still being honest. I expect the same when So Dark hits the grid.
You know what's said about grabbing readers by ten pages? I think it also holds true for films. The first ten to fifteen minutes of any movie sets a tone for that movie. You heard me mention it in the FB comments, but I believe if the director let you and/or your writing partner actually write the heist and the planning of it, it might not have been so bad of a start. As it turns out, you and your writing partner did not write that opening. I honestly belive 95 percent of it was ad-libbed and the other 5 percent was scribbled on dirty napkins with felt tip pens.
The heist itself would have been fine if it was tighter, without every character demanding "where's the f'n money", and then repeat it. The "reverse camera" and "forward camera" flashback/speedup were horrible directing choices. Having a mircro-budget isn't an excuse for that.
It ishould be pointed out that "too much profanity" has little (if anything) to do with being "offended" by potty mouths. Rather, it is the way it is said and repeated..
I gave up on the film about halfway in (or should I say, twenty some minutes left in the picture?). It strayed from your script a bit too much. Your work (which I'll admit to reading after I seen most of the film) was better that what I seen.
> I despise shaky camera work. >
Stock footage of Owls they can get. But no alligators? Odd. In any case, the stock didn't match the rest of the film...but, if I hadn't said it before Pia, I believe that if the director made this more Grindhouse style, this might have been a different verdict.
Thank you Janet for starting this thread. This is been a big learning experience for me. As a lot of you already know, I wrote this script in the early fall of 2010. Together with 2 guys here in town, we intended to shoot this film ourselves in the spring of 2011. In March of 2011, my husband was in a plane crash so that derailed those plans. I 1st posted the 1st draft here in 2010 and a bunch of you guys read it and gave me lots of comments which was fantastic as always. I brought on a writer friend of mine, Todd Gordon to help me with the rewrites because the script needed work and I was busy with preproduction. We probably ended up with almost 20 different drafts of this one. I think the longest draft was 96 pages or something. This draft that is posted here is 86 I think. Finders Keepers
In short, this story is basically about 2 couples that headed out into the woods for a weekend camping trip. The 2 guys are brothers and one of them has been together with his girlfriend for a longer period of time. So the 2nd girl is sort of the newcomer. An outsider. After they set up camp, the outsider girl, Sierra leaves the campsite to go to the bathroom. She finds a duffel bag with $2 million in it. Since she isn't really that close to the other 3 yet, she decides to hide the bag and come back and fetch it later. The money belongs to to hunters who come looking for the money at night. Things go to hell when they don't find their money. One by one everyone but the outsider girl dies during this night. She is the only one that survives. However, she does not get to keep the money. The money ends up with a hitchhiker who steals her car. He does not know it has a battle money in it. This is why this film was titled Finders Keepers. The hunters find the money while out hunting. They hide the money from their buddies to come back and get it later. Then this girl finds the money and then the hippie finds it. Everyone gets hurt or dies but no one gets to keep the money. In the script we never mentioned where the money originally came from. We thought that was irrelevant to the story because that's not what the story was about. Obviously, the director felt differently and that is fine. Whenever you make a film you have to make it the way you see it. Not necessarily how the writer saw it.
I have had over 20 shorts made by now. They all vary in quality. Some have been really great others not so great. Some have followed my script to a T, others have been drastically different. The point is, whoever makes the film will have to try to make it the closest to how they saw the film in their head. They will also work with the resources they have available. If you write a script that takes place in the winter with lots of snow but the director/producer that wants to shoot your film lives in Florida, unless they have a huge budget, there ain't going to be any snow in your film. That's just how it goes.
I have read thousands of scripts by now and I don't know how many I've read that take place in the woods, but there's been a bunch! Probably one of the biggest things I've learned with this is that it is HARD to shoot in the woods, especially at night. I chose the location, which was supposed to be the Ocala national Forest because I was thinking, being in the woods is free! LOL! Well, it might be free, but it causes lots of production issues. Again, especially if you plan on shooting at night. Shooting outdoors in general at night is tricky. I learned this big time when I was shooting Bert's Them That's Dead last summer. For the camera us to be able to pick up any of the surroundings outside of the immediate area is impossible unless you have these really HUGE HUGE lights. But not only do you need those lights, you need generators to power those lights. Do you see where I'm going with this? In other words this gets costly fast. Also, when you shoot that night your cast and crew tend to get really tired and cranky when you're getting near 4-5 a clock in the morning. If you want to write low-budget this is something to keep in mind. The location might be free, but what you need to make that location look good cost a lot of money.
In this case, the budget was pretty low. They had a small crew and then of course the cast. They head out into the woods for 8 days. That's all they had. So, a lot of shots needed to tell the story better with details never happened. The cast was largely non-actors. They tried to shoot the film with the dialogue that was in the script, but the director told me it didn't work at all. It all felt very false and did not come naturally. So he left them say what they felt worked for them. I personally, did not have a problem with the actors at all. I thought they did a pretty good job. In fact, some of the lines they said, I wish I could take credit for. Anyway, when it came time for editing there was not enough media there to make a 90 min film. That wouldn't really have been a problem had it not been for Timothy getting that distribution deal. The minimum length for a feature film is 70 min. so that is why it got filled with stock footage and lengthy credits.
I have also learned a lot about distribution lately. I know quite a few people who have had their features filmed. Some of them look really good and had decent budgets. Unfortunately, once the film is finished it goes to and a few festivals and that's it. For Timothy to have landed this distribution deal is bigger than I think a lot of you realize. I am super mega impressed he managed to swing that one. It's not easy to get. And as far as distribution goes, I have also learned that it is easier for a film to get distribution if the filmmaker has more than one film to offer. Reason being, if people like your film they are more likely to seek out other films made by the same company. I was also told that 90% of indie films that don't get distribution is because they have moments that really drag. They do not like that. That of course does not mean that the film has to be action packed. It can still be a drama, but it needs to keep the audience attention.
This is a teaser trailer that I made when I was going to shoot this. it is much lower in quality and different in tone. so you see how differently people can see the same script. https://vimeo.com/21045693
Hi Pia - yeah, really well done on this front. Never mind just for SS, but for anyone to get two features up and running is quite a feat. Interesting that you make a note of distribution ... and I agree that it's something that few people really seem to know about, in particular the film festivals, and then the power that the exhibitors have in the final say - it's just a never ending challenge, so for you and your people to have successfully clambered all of these is something of an achievement - and an inspiration to the rest of us. Congrats all the way.
I read blackout a while ago - took part in that WC. Downloaded Finders Keepers - this one happened before I joined the site probably. Would be awesome to watch it some day. If it was on Itunes I could - that's the only thing that streams here.
But, yes, what others say - it's so great to know that you have two movies already made! And in such a short time.
I can't wait to get a copy! To me, it is good enough that you have two films produced and amazing distribution. Whether it's perfect or not, you are going to make bank and your name is going to make the rounds. That's what is such an accomplishment in my eyes. You never know what a producer will do with your work. You hope for the best. Some do outstanding and some well, not so good. But you are OUT there and you have the killer distribution set up! SUPER CONGRATS! Jon and I would love to come down and go out for a celebration with you anytime!!! Or meet up in St Auggie!!! Rock on Pia...write hard...live happy...enjoy success!
Rented this through Amazon and got around to watching it the other night. I had started it earlier in the week, but it was late so I didn't get to far into it before I zonked out on the couch.
I enjoyed it for the most part, but did find the beginning to be a bit jumpy. Maybe that was the intention. Hectic goings on with hectic shots. Acting was decent. I wouldn't have guessed they were first timers if I didn't hear that beforehand.
One thing that I noticed...
Near the beginning, there are some stock footage shots for location establishment, and I swear one of them was of the water tower in Chicago. Am I right, or is there another building out there that resembles it?
Mike, I commented to Timothy that some of those stock footage things were kind of funny. Establishing shots are supposed to give the audience an idea of where we are. Here we had snow capped mountains. Grass covered mountains. Forrested mountains and even desert mountains in the beginning.
I wouldn't be surprised if water tower in Chicago was used.
Note to all filmmakers, make sure you hold long enough on each shot so you have enough media.
On a different note, the film's starmeter at imdb is 1200+ this week. I hear that's pretty big!!
"The point is, whoever makes the film will have to try to make it the closest to how they saw the film in their head. They will also work with the resources they have available. If you write a script that takes place in the winter with lots of snow but the director/producer that wants to shoot your film lives in Florida, unless they have a huge budget, there ain't going to be any snow in your film. That's just how it goes." LMAO! Yup! Write good bones because soooooo much is gonna change from script to screen depending upon the director/producer's available resources.
"I have also learned a lot about distribution lately. I know quite a few people who have had their features filmed. Some of them look really good and had decent budgets. Unfortunately, once the film is finished it goes to and a few festivals and that's it. For Timothy to have landed this distribution deal is bigger than I think a lot of you realize. I am super mega impressed he managed to swing that one. It's not easy to get." Pfft. YEAH! There's a LOT to learn about distro & marketing. It's fair to say it's easier to produce the film (spend money) than it is to market and distribute it (make money), and producing a film is a PITA.
Yeah, Timothy landed a pretty sweet deal with Gravitas. Kudos to all involved.