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watch Debut Feature Film

Hey guys,

I'm new to the forum and wanted to use this as a chance to introduce myself. I recently completed an independent feature film shot in London all for a budget of under £10k. Worked with a cast and crew of 41 people, most of whom had full time jobs and children to take care of over the course of principal photography. Would love to know what you all think, and hopefully will be connecting with you all again in future posts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaTTdQqUGU4

The film was recently submitted to Sundance Film Festival so fingers crossed!

Cheers!
 
Well done on completing a feature! An amazing feat, especially on that budget. For me, I didn't like the look of it. Super drab colours, very 'ungraded' looking - if you know what I mean. Also the trailer was cut very oddly, the end didnt really seem to flow with anything else with what was going on. Also I've no idea what the story is about based off of the trailer.
 
The trailer is a bit too long and I'm not sure we're seeing the best stuff. I do like the London locations, though.

Don't dwell on Sundance -- keep submitting, working your way from the top down to the bottom tiers, otherwise you're setting yourself up for major disappointment if you don't get in.

Good luck.
 
Looking good Jack, really impressive for the price tag.

The desaturated look really emphasises how grey London can, at times, be! Can you give us any more details about your filming/fundraising process?
 
Interesting to read that you think the trailer might be a bit long. This was part of a big debate I had with the co-producer and eventually we settled on the length that we have. I would have to agree that the 'best stuff' isn't necessarily reserved for the trailer but unfortunately given the nature of the script that was a deliberate move to protect the twist. Just so happens that all of the best stuff is surrounding that twist which makes it fantastically difficult to show without ruining the whole story. Sundance was indeed step one. I have already made plans to filter down through the other festivals as I am very well aware that Sundance is a hugely ambitious target.

Thanks Nick, glad you liked it. The desaturated and 'ungraded' look mentioned previously were intentional. Partly because, as you say, London is grey and miserable at the best of times, but also because it suits the mood of the film. With regards to funding, £10k is actually a bit of an exaggeration. Going into day one of principal photography the budget was actually £0. An exercise in exploiting my naivity at the time perhaps, but what ensued was 2 long years of me subsidizing the project with money earned from corporate work and all post production being carried out by the composer and myself (the credit roll really isn't very long).
 
Hey guys,

I'm new to the forum and wanted to use this as a chance to introduce myself. I recently completed an independent feature film shot in London all for a budget of under £10k. Worked with a cast and crew of 41 people, most of whom had full time jobs and children to take care of over the course of principal photography. Would love to know what you all think, and hopefully will be connecting with you all again in future posts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaTTdQqUGU4

The film was recently submitted to Sundance Film Festival so fingers crossed!

Cheers!

Congrats on the feature! Do you have a website for the film? Also listen to GA on this "Don't dwell on Sundance -- keep submitting, working your way from the top down to the bottom tiers, otherwise you're setting yourself up for major disappointment if you don't get in." Sundance has really turn into a money base connection festival
 
Length and look didn't bother me too much - is there a reason there isn't any information in the trailer about the film? It doesn't even have the title, the only information provided is the 'a film by' credit. As a marketing/promotional tool the trailer should stand on it's own, because you never know where it will be shared, etc and you can't always count on having the information you've added to the youtube page shared along with it. At a minimum it should have the film's title and links to where more information can be found at the end.
 
Congratulations!

When I read £10k, I was surprised at how good it looked! The outdoor scenes were all great but the indoor ones were a tad too neat for my liking, given the tone.

I hate to pass a negative comment on your outstanding achievement, but you were open to discuss any criticisms, and aside from ItDonnedOnMe's incredibly valid point of the film being untitled (I wondered about that too), and of how the final dialogue exchange distracted and detracted from all before it, I'd say that it was nicely put together (and losing that last little bit would likely get you down to around that 1:40 mark most Hollywood trailers run for).

As for "too little information", I didn't get that. I was actually intrigued as to whether or not the dark-haired girl was dead or would turn out to be the killer/prime suspect, so liked that it was left to the viewer's imagination. In my opinion, too many trailers nowadays tell audiences exactly what the film's about and what to expect, to the point of almost creating a plot-point breakdown... which, kind of defeats the puropse of watching a film!

I'd also be interested in how you went about submitting to Sundance. I read a few years back that some film-maker was suing them for basically taking people's money and never reviewing entries, as well as some "hidden" clause in the submission contract that specified Sundance can own all rights to films submitted or some nonsense... which apparently wasn't, because his and others' work was being screened on some Amazon Netflix-style site without their knowledge, let alone consent!

I'm not trying to make you paranoid, I'm just assuming that you did your homework and as I originally posed, am curious as of how you went about making your submission (ex: posters? Synopsis? Stills? Or just credit card number and upload?).

Best of luck with the film, by the way; if you don't get a major distribution deal, it looked to be of a high enough quality to sell to Channel 5 or something, which should recoup your expenses, as a minimum, so don't go giving it away to YouTube should the 5 major festivals reject it.
 
I liked the pacing and energy, too many no/lo budget indie filmmakers just don't get the pacing of their trailer (or the actual film itself) right. On the negative side, the actual content of the trailer is weak. I understand you not wanting to give the twist away but you've ended up with a trailer which doesn't actually tell me what your film is about which is largely the point of a trailer in the first place!

I also understand why you've gone for the desaturated look but it doesn't quite work for me. Regardless of your intent, my initial reaction was that it was a filmmaking error and that reaction precludes your decision from working as intended. As an audience member, if I were to see something similar in a commercial setting, say I'd bought a ticket for the cinema to see a studio film (by a top director), my initial reaction would likely be different because I wouldn't be expecting serious filmmaking errors. That's not my default assumption when watching lo/no budget films though! It's a difficult situation for talented amateur no/lo budget indie filmmakers. IMHO, you've desaturated too much and while I understand your intent to paint a drab/nearly monochrome picture of London, I'm not sure painting your characters as drab is such a good idea in a no/lo budget indie, especially for a trailer.

... and all post production being carried out by the composer and myself (the credit roll really isn't very long).

Hope you don't mind me asking but I'm curious as to how you/your composer managed to make a 5.1 theatrical sound mix?

G
 
Some great advice. I plan to take the trailer back to the NLE and sort out some sort of title. I hadn't anticipated it being shared somewhere that wouldn't have the title directly written beneath, ie on YouTube; so that's a good bit of advice there.

I see the grading has been mentioned a few times now, but I stand by my decision for a desaturated look on the film. In an ideal world where I had been able to afford a colourist to collaborate with I would have had very strong ideas about the design of the shots. There are a number of factors which contributed to my decision to a desaturated look for the film which include but are not limited to:

No budget for experienced Colourist
No prior experience of colour grading prior to this project
Insufficient equipment to attempt an accurate grade bound by perfectly calibrated monitoring
No control over set design at any part of the project, external or internal
Continuity between scenes/seasons changing rapidly between scenes. (Londoners wearing bright red tank tops in what is supposed to be the middle of winter).

Also, the very last clip at the end of the trailer is proving to be the "marmite moment" as I've had mixed reviews about that. I think those who know the film best know that it is very in-keeping with the style/humour of the film but perhaps in the context of the way the trailer looks it may not be necessary. I may swap that out for a film title instead.

A question was raised about submitting to Sundance, and the potential risk posed there. I think the process was pretty straight forward and it went via Withoutabox which is a super low quality upload of about 480p. I have absolutely no fear of it getting shared beyond my consent as the quality they request is horrific any way.

The film was mixed in Stereo 2.1 and is actually still with the re-recording mixer for final leveling.

I appreciate all of your comments and advice. I will be taking another look at the cut shortly to consider ways I can make the story slightly clearer, together with drumming the title into the cut somehow.
 
but are not limited to:

No budget for experienced Colourist
No prior experience of colour grading prior to this project
Insufficient equipment to attempt an accurate grade bound by perfectly calibrated monitoring

Any decent editor ought to be able to ballpark it and the vast majority of the people watching the film won't notice a thing if the story is compelling.
 
The film was mixed in Stereo 2.1 and is actually still with the re-recording mixer for final leveling.

That's a rather bizarre format to mix in, why choose it, what is your re-recording mixer's logic? How are you going to distribute a 2.1 mix?

There's a much bigger problem here, stereo (2.0 or 2.1) is a video format, NOT a film format! The low tier film festivals are not really film festivals, they're video festivals. The high tier film festivals are all actual film festivals though; Sundance, Cannes, etc. While the high tier festivals all require a video for entry/submission, if accepted they will require an actual film for exhibition. If your film is accepted by Sundance, what are you going to do?

G
 
That's a rather bizarre format to mix in, why choose it, what is your re-recording mixer's logic? How are you going to distribute a 2.1 mix?
If your film is accepted by Sundance, what are you going to do?

G

To my best knowledge they will be requesting DCP for their accepted entries. My research leads me to believe that the minimum requirements for DCP includes 3 audio channels (L,R, Centre). If this is incorrect it would be great to know now. In any case the latest update of PrPro CC has DCP export. Something I am definitely going to have to look into. Does that sound about accurate?
 
My research leads me to believe that the minimum requirements for DCP includes 3 audio channels (L,R, Centre). If this is incorrect it would be great to know now.

No, that's not incorrect. I think you just made a mistake with the nomenclature in your previous post: The ".1" in audio formats always refers to the Low Frequency Effects (LFE) channel, the channel which feeds the sub-woofers in 5.1, 7.1, etc., systems. So the 2.1 format you mentioned is standard stereo + an LFE channel (L, R, LFE). L, R, C is therefore a 3.0 audio format not 2.1. Also, the term "stereophonic" technically applies to virtually all systems with two or more speakers, so 2.0, 3.0, 5.1 and 7.1 are all technically stereophonic but in normal/common usage "stereo" refers to only 2.0 (L, R) or 2.1 (L, R, LFE). In other words, if the mix being made by your re-recording mixer has Left, Right & Centre channels, it is neither a stereo mix nor a 2.1 mix, it's a 3.0 mix!

In practice, the 3.0 format is very rarely used and virtually no re-recording mixers/mix rooms are equipped with a 3.0 system. Pretty much all mix rooms are either just stereo or a minimum of 5.1 and making a 3.0 mix in effect means mixing with a 5.1 system but ignoring the surround and LFE channels. In practice; the facilities and cost required to create a 3.0 mix is therefore not much different to a full 5.1 mix. For this reason and due to the fact that 5.1 is the minimum commercial requirement, pretty much all the features exhibited at Sundance, Cannes, etc., will have at least a 5.1 mix and quite a few will be in 7.1. So while a 3.0 audio mix is technically acceptable and will not preclude you from being selected for exhibition at one of the high tier festivals, it will put you at a disadvantage.

G
 
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Making a feature on a micro budget is tough. You did good.

Imagine what you could have done if you actually had a decent budget!

Keep filming. :)
 
Wow looks really good for that low of a budget. I did not get a good idea of what the film was about from watching the trailer but the quality of the film was good enough I would consider watching. The actors seemed decent from wataching the trailer. Anyways, good luck. The color grading of the film did not bother me. I get that it sets the mood of the film.
 
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