Cons: Subjectivity is off cue
Unmotivated camera work
Relies too heavily on acceptable, but flawed visuals
I'll open by saying this director is not a complete "tear down." We've got some "good bones" to build on. A good foundation. Are these construction metaphors working for anyone?
The biggest issue is the script. Some might call it "ambitious" to write a six minute script about God, visions, trying to get people to follow you, make a statement on religion as a whole, parents died, wrapped up in a meta-reality of film-making, self-reflection on the film-making process, like some twist, a character taking destiny into their own hands....did I miss anything? I don't call this "ambitious," I call it a mess. Doing too much, means you aren't giving anything the time and energy it needs. Which is what happened here. Nothing gets any real attention, story-wise, and nothing is fully fleshed out, worked out or has any impact on me as the viewer. I'd recommend picking like, ONE of those things and really trying to dig deep.
All of the issues with the film are borne from the script, so I want to touch on just a couple of the big ones.
Is this a film about the girl? Because if it is, the camera work should be reinforcing this and building the narrative around that experience. The camera work is objective for the most part so I don't feel her, I don't connect with the parts of the story that affect her. Even most, if not all of the coverage is in wide two's or dirty OTS. So I am kept outside of the experience of the lead. I don't feel her or care about what she cares about. It also makes me very aware of the camera and the camera work, which takes me out of story. Objectivity and camera awareness has its place, certainly, but not this film and not this script.
This leads me to my second note. I never feel like the camera reinforces or elevates the scenes or story. Maybe when she gets the phone call about her parents when the camera does a slow push in.
(SIDE NOTE: Never write the most important scene in a short film to take place on a phone unless absolutely necessary. Is that the friend from the tree house? Why aren't they talking in person? So wait, she went to the "big city" so she's so far away she can't get home? Am I suppose to ignore common sense and logic? What am I watching? Oh, I know why, you didn't have an ambulance or crushed cars or cops uniforms. Well, get creative!)
Maybe friends and family were like 'Wow that dolly move in the Buddhist temple was amazing.' Was it? I didn't think so. Because if a camera movement does not connect with the scene, what's taking place in the scene, where the character is emotionally in the scene , the conflict of the scene, ect... it's masturbation. I wouldn't want to take a blacklight to this short film because it's covered in this director's self-pleasuring DNA. Build your moves from a place of precision. Study scenes and really understand why they work. Don't move the camera if you don't absolutely have to. It took Hitchcock an entire movie to make the Vertigo shot impact the audience. He had to build to it. I should watch that movie again... I wonder what it was called.
Clearly, the director didn't give a shit about the performances. Look I know you don't have professional actors. I also have very mixed feelings on modern performances, but for the love of Pete, help those poor poor people. It was painful to watch. Performances matter and the director would do well with trying to make working with actors a priority. I know what you are saying 'Well, we didn't cast because, there wasn't enough time or I don't know how to or we didn't have enough time on set, or we had a tight schedule or BLAH BLAH BLAH.' Make the time you need, actually cast someone, learn by doing, make sure you have time in the schedule. The horrendous performances tell me the director's priorities were trying to get that "amazing dolly shot" instead of connecting with the real purpose of the scenes; to share a human experience with the audience.
The director seems capable. I commend them for putting their work out to people who will be extremely critical and help identify weaknesses instead of encouraging that superficial nonsense we can all get caught up in sometimes. I am looking forward to seeing future work and watching for improvements.
As always these are one persons opinions, and as any of my classmates would attest, not unlike the critiques i give (and receive) nearly everyday. i believe strongly that steel sharpens steel and a compliment NEVER makes work better, it only serves to feed the ego; to encourage the destroyer.