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watch The Bridge

http://vimeo.com/14866982

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The Vision:

Back in October of 2009, I set out to make a film that would push my talents as both a storyteller and a filmmaker. I wanted to create a film that would challenge myself and my audience, meshing both classical and experimental storytelling techniques from music, books, & films that have inspired me in one way or another. I wanted to make a film that didn’t do any spoon-feeding, where my audience would leave with questions as well as answers. It was a long a difficult road to get to this point and there were days where I felt that I was in way over my head but eight months later, I can proudly say I’ve finally completed my film “The Bridge” and it was an experience I would never forget.

The Inspiration:

The story of The Bridge was a story a cousin had told me when I was eight years old. It was a ghost story about two siblings on a bridge. I remember it haunting me for weeks and causing many sleepless nights under my sheets. Obviously, it had a lasting influence in my life. It had always been one of those stories that I wanted to adapt into a short film so when the opportunity finally came one day, I decided to pull to trigger.

When I was in film school, I would constantly fantasize about making some sort of epic period piece, especially one that took place during WW2. So when I decided I was going to make The Bridge, I instantly followed it up with “hell, why not make it into a WW2 movie”? I could have easily made this film as a contemporary piece but where would the fun be in that? I never do things because it’s easy; I do it because it’s hard. I love a challenge. I figured I could keep the same characters, themes, motifs, style, and wrap it around a WW2 setting. So I did.

Pre-production:

So it began. After a quick outline, I started writing the screenplay and, being a one-man crew at the time, I also started doing work on costumes and props. I lived and breathed WW2 24/7. I watched every WW2 movie and documentary I could get my hands on. I even got my hands some real WW2 letters to get a grasp on the era’s language. I felt like a student again and I loved it. I scoured eBay for every WW2 field gear I could afford to buy and the stuff I couldn’t get, I had them custom made cheaply in China. I wanted it to be detailed and authentic as possible while keeping my almost non-existing budget down. I remember coming home one day and having almost a couple dozen eBay packages on front door. It looked like the front door of the post office.

Casting:

The casting of The Bridge was actually one of the smoothest aspects of the entire process. I first went to my good friend Amy and asked her if she would like to help me produce the film. Having worked with each other before, I didn’t really have to ask twice. She was happy to be my first recruit.

For the leading role, I asked my good friend Pablo Soriano to take the part. Having worked with him before, we have a good understanding of each other. He is just a naturally gifted actor and he makes my job as a director so much easier. Plus, his puppy dog eyes make him a perfect protagonist.

For the leading female role, I went looking for a girl who had beautiful, almost hypnotic eyes. That’s when I spotted Leah in one my good friend’s music video. I called up Carlos and basically told him, “I need to have that girl for movie”. A few days later, she was on board.

I owe the discovery of Mike, the character who plays James Connolly, to my producer Amy. She had read the script and recommended him. I remember her telling me “Mike IS James”. Words that any director would love to hear and as usual, Amy was right.

So a couple months later, the script was complete, the costumes and props were ready, and the cast was cast. We were ready to shoot!

Production:

With our extremely limited budget, I knew right from day one that we were going to shoot “The Bridge” on DSLRs, specifically the Canon 7D and 5D Mark II. With this in mind, I knew (as also the DP of the film), I was going to push these cameras to its limits. I wasn’t going to let my equipment limit my vision of the film. I knew at the very beginning that I may or may not have a crappy movie in the end but hell, it’s gonna look damn good! We all know about the camera’s limitations but I wasn’t going to bitch and moan about it, I was going to work around it. I took it as a personal challenge to make these cameras work and I did.

About 75% of the film was shot with the 7D and the rest with the 5DM2. The main reason I shot with the 7D more was the 24p firmware update wasn’t available for the 5DM2 during the bulk of the shooting. I prefer the 5DM2’s full frame sensor the 7D cropped sensor.

Production, like any other shoot, had its ups and downs. Ours was mainly San Francisco’s unpredictable weather. You can blink and the bay area can go from miserable foggy weather (which is what I wanted for the film) to perfect summer beach party weather.

Also, being a guerilla production also has its own set of problems. I remember an actor and I almost getting arrested at a national park because a tourist reported seeing “some soldier carrying a rifle”. We got patted down and escorted off the premises. Before the ranger let us go, she handed me a business card for film permits. I thought that was hilarious.

Post-production:

There wasn’t really a “post-production” for The Bridge. I did post simultaneously during production. I would shoot on a weekend and then do visual effects or picture and sound editing on the weekdays. It was a very indie film workflow. The upside was I always had very polished dailies to show my cast and that kept them motivated to give me their best.

I spent my first two years out of film school as a CG artist. Being able to do my own 3d animation, modeling, surfacing, lighting, and rendering definitely upped the production value of my film. CG artists aren’t cheap and I calculated that if I had paid someone else to do my visual effects, it would have been double the entire budget of the film.

I hate ADR and foleying but if you don’t have a budget, you have to do it yourself. We had two whole scenes where sound was completely unusable (the tunnel scenes) so we had to redo it from scratch. I remember ADR sessions inside automobiles and 2 A.M. foley when my neighborhood is quiet and I don’t have to deal with traffic and barking dogs.

I discovered my composer Justin browsing through some filmmaking forums. He is such a talented musician. He added so much emotion to my film. Being a super control-freak, it’s very difficult for me to hand off any aspect of my film to someone else unless I have 100 percent confidence in that person. Justin is one of those people. In fact, Justin was the only other person who had a hand in post aside from me.

It was tough being a “one man studio” for this film. I acted as DP and director on Sunday, editor on Monday, sound editor on Tuesday, visual effects artist on Wednesday and Thursday, and compositor on Friday. I got some rest on Saturday (while my two computer farm renders). But in the end, when it all comes together… nothing feels more rewarding than seeing the art you’ve created. I can safely say that I created something I’m very proud of.

Full Circle:

So here it is. 8 months work compressed into a 30-minute narrative short. The film I set out to create back in October of 2009. I would like to thank everyone who was a part of it. I couldn’t have done it without you. To my viewers, I hope this film challenges you like it challenged me. Enjoy.

Cast:
Henry Sullivan - Pablo Soriano
James Connelly - Mike French
Leah Thompson - Samantha Johnson
Mitchell Walker - Mitch Walker

Music by:
Justin R. Durban

Produced by:
Amy Ng

Written, Directed, Shot, and Edited by:
Marlon Torres

Tech Specs:

Camera: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 7D
Lenses: Canon 35mm f2, 50mm f1.4, 85mm 1.8, 100mm f2.8, 24-105mm f4L, 70-200 f4L
Running Time: 30 minutes
Format: 1.85:1 H.264 HD

For more information about the filmmaker, please visit: torresstudios.com

Or email him at: contact@torresstudios.com

IMDB: imdb.com/​title/​tt1679300/​
 
Congratulations, Marlon. Excellent work.

Strong performances, both the score and cinematography were beautiful. My only critique- do know this is minor, and nothing more than a solitary mild-handed observation-

I found the dialogue at times to be forced, as if, perhaps, given the era, that it was teetering on the surface instead of delving into the tongue with both hands.

This was great work, kudos too, for your extensive research. Now get yourself some well earned rest!
 
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Wow, I wake up this morning and see I'm the featured video on Vimeo. :blush:

http://vimeo.com/staffpicks

Congrats!

Hey, are you sure having it up for public viewing is a good idea, at this stage? I'm under the impression that the bigger festivals prefer a movie that hasn't been seen by a million people online, and I assume you're going to be submitting to festivals. I mean, it's not like the internet is going anywhere, you can always come back to it.
 
I don't really think its good enough for the big festivals. I'm very happy and proud of my film but I'm also realistic. No way this thing can make it into Sundance, etc...
 
I don't really think its good enough for the big festivals. I'm very happy and proud of my film but I'm also realistic. No way this thing can make it into Sundance, etc...

Sundance, probably not, but there are plenty of prestigious festivals that it might be good enough to get into, say, Seattle International Film Festival, for example. Only one way to find out.
 
lol what do you have to lose?

How much does it cost to get into one of those festivals?

Chump change.

My offer to give you advice on sound is still out there, Mr. Torres.

P.S. A good friend of mine did ADR recording on Saving Private Ryan, another good friend of mine was IN the movie, and I know the sound editors of The Pacific. Plus, my favorite genre of movie is Epic WW2. Let me know.
 
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Ok cool.

Don't get me wrong. I liked it a lot.

Do you mind if I post it here anyway just because I think others can learn from it as well. I understand though -

Check your PMs.
 
Welcome Marlon! I look forward to viewing your work.


In regards to Roc's offer: I, as well as the rest of the forum, would like to see his critique. We are all here to improve and we value the time another takes to offer their expertise and opinion. :)
 
Sound Design Critique of "The Bridge".

Preface: My favorite genre of film is Epic WW2 Drama. My favorite movie of all time is Saving Private Ryan. I am infatuated with that era and style of filmmaking. I actually wish I could have sound designed this project because I see the huge potential in it.

That said, I have a few notes regarding the Sound Design of "The Bridge".

I absolutely love the introduction with the music playing.

When I heard the guttural growl of a P52 Mustang in the air I got excited.

That opening shot of the convoy and the planes over them was awesome by the way.

On the first voice-over: I'd make it larger. I'd make it so close and in-your-face because it's not part of the scene you're looking at. Add an extremely soft and slight verb to it - I use a Stereo Chamber with -3 ms of pre-delay. It makes the voice bigger and more intimate. It also separates the voice-over from the ambience and FX in that scene - contrast.

As an overall note, I'd like to hear way more ambience detail and foley-work.

Reference is the Radio Station Siege scene in Saving Private Ryan. The French countryside is full of bugs, critters, birds, etc. etc. I'd like to hear that in the opening scene with your main characters. You don't have to have them full volume throughout the whole scene, but when Connel is looking out at the countryside you could hear a bit more of those. Then as he walks into the bunker, relax it a bit. But establish it. Ambiences are established in the beginning of the scene, but brought down for dialogue, and this keeps the ambience feeling like it's still there but then you can hear the dialogue more clearly.

Footsteps and foley. Make it thicker and heavier. The footsteps and foley sometimes sounded out of sync to me. The footsteps in the tunnel for the protagonist sound a little too light. These are army boots. Plus, make the footsteps of the protagonist different than Connels - Connel is heavier and beefier. The protagonist is a bit more tentative and soft. Make their foley resemble that. You can go very deep and further with foley and make the character come to life.

The gun foley. The gun has the same cocking sound each time he cocks it. It also sounds to me like the wrong mechanism for that type of gun from WW2. The gun if I'm not mistaken is a Grand - sounds way different than what you've got in there - what is in there sounds kind of like a Shotgun.

@14:22 the sidearm drop sounds like it's plastic hitting grass.

@14:35 the scuffle sounds are a bit off. The foley has a jingle that's about 10 dB too loud. I suppose you took that sound from Saving Private Ryan - the jingle is way less in volume from that movie. I'd like to hear more of the olive-drab cloth and boots than a jingle. Make them beefier and heavier. Fill them out more.

I absolutely love that you don't have sound for the shots of the girl on the beach - running from the camera, running from the waves, etc.

The beach sequence could have a bit crisper surf and a bit more wind. Right now it sounds like 2 separate files to me. Also, are the waves in Mono? If so, find a stereo, crisp and present Wave track.

I don't understand the presence of the bomb-raid alarm. It sounds too present to be right on the beach (maybe I'm wrong) but it should be coming from the sea-side town - so roll off a bit of that top end and make it distant.

I like the sequence on the bridge and maybe you wanted it like this without foley at all but I'd add foley for him getting up and walking off of it.

There is also no footsteps for him walking up to the nurse.

I'd ADR the nurse's lines when she has the cloth over her mouth. It's a bit indistinct and I'd ADR it like any other line and just roll off the high-end or futz it so it sounds like it's through a piece of cloth. I've gone as far as taking a speaker and put cloth or a mask over it to get the right sound.

ADR. You mentioned you recorded the ADR in your car. I'd stress trying to get into a studio or even a closet to get a better sound. Outside, there are no distinct quick reverbs like you get in a car. In a car, you are surrounded by reflective glass and acrylic plastic and possibly leather - not dead. All of Connel's lines have a distinct quick echo that I can hear and when I hear those echoes it drives me crazy. It sounds like he's in a glass box. I'd either do the ADR outside in a backyard or in a studio with no early reflections. Also, if you used a rifle mic inside the car, this is a bit no-no. Early reflections on a shotgun/rifle mic are death on voice quality.

ADR. Breaths. I am missing the breaths. Breath is possibly the easiest way of showing how a character feels without using actual dialogue. It is imperative to keep the breaths in there - and this short film was missing many of them - right from the beginning. Watch this short BTS feature on King Kong ADR - it goes over how important breaths are and even the actors whine about having to do breaths but it is so worth it - it puts the presence of the characters there.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwZwTP52aIc

For Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg did not want music at all during the fight scenes. Only sound effects. I think this added immensely to the realism of the movie. I like the music that was placed for this movie, but I think it could've done without it for the fighting scenes.

The reverb you chose sounded too "Stock" i.e. I don't think a lot of thought went into the reverbs that were used in your mix. It sounded just tacked on. Reverb is a tool like icing on a cake - you add it to add to the story and the communication - not just reverb for the sake of reverb. For music, I sit and cycle through all of the presets of my reverb devices to find the one that best suits that particular instrument, and I'd do the exact same thing for the girls line "Do you wanna tell me something?". I think a breathier, softer reverb with a larger decay would suit her better.

That's all I could write during my lunch-break. Now it's back to editing/mixing for me.

I'll try to add more later on, but I did like the film and I see great potential in it and I just wish I could have gotten to you sooner because I love the genre and style of film. Very well done. The posters look amazing by the way. Very professional.

Talk to you, soon.
 
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