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The Prequel to My Feature Film MANCHILD is Here: Watch AMATEUR

04.17.13 @ 10:47AM Tags : , , ,

AMATEUR is a short prequel demonstrating my vision for MANCHILD, the feature film we’re making next. I’ve never been so excited to release something, so I hope you like it! If you like the short and want to see the feature, please head over to our just-launched website for MANCHILD and share it. I’m releasing this directly online, and that’s how this short will spread — every tweet, facebook like, and share makes a BIG difference. Thank you!

I’ll be back later with an in-depth post detailing how we made this (what we shot on, what I edited on, etc.) — and please feel free to ask any questions you have — but for now I’d like to focus on the work itself. The writing, directing, performances, and story — these are the chief concerns of any filmmaker, and I hope they drew you in whether you’re a basketball fan or not.

A few things to note:

This was the first time my name has ever been on a slate — that’s how DIY my film career has been. However, despite this being more of a “real” production than I’m used to, there was no shortage of work, and I’ve basically done nothing but work on this (and run this website) for the last few months. I believe as AMATEUR gets out there that it will all have been worth it, but please — if you appreciate the hard work and the resulting film, take a minute to tweet and/or facebook I’ve talked in the past about the strategy of making a short, and now that you’ve seen it I hope the approach is much clearer as the story ties in directly to the feature. This short focuses on an encounter between a street agent and a high school basketball player — played by Lionel Pina and Curtiss Cook Jr., respectively — but as a result of what you see here, the recruiter goes on to pursue younger, more naïve players — including TJ, the 13 year-old protagonist of MANCHILD.

In addition to writing, directing, producing (with Chip Hourihan) and editing this myself, there was no shortage of jobs that I did but that you won’t see my name alongside in the credits. Editing the short myself was a great way to save on the post-production budget, but it’s also a great way to forget there is a sun — and people — outside.

To get this finished in post last week I flew back from NAB on a redeye flight, during which I finished working with my composer Tim Kvasnovsky thanks to the combination of in-flight Wi-Fi, Google Chat, and noise-canceling headphones. I landed in New York in the morning, took a taxi straight to Goldcrest Post for the sound mix, brought my luggage home after an all-day mixing session, and finally slept after being up for 36 hours straight…. and then came straight back to Goldcrest for the color grading session with DP Greg Wilson. You might recognize Greg’s work from the amazing cheetah video and Phantom Flex4K posts here on NFS. I’ll be back later with a post thanking everyone who worked on the short, and sharing all the details of the shoot, when I have some time to put it together properly!

The other thing I should note: we did not spend a dime of the Kickstarter funds on this short, but the short is very much inspired by the outpouring of support that happened during the Kickstarter campaign. So many of the Kickstarter backers came from this website that I’d like to thank you again here (in addition to the Kickstarter update) for your support.

I called in a LOT of favors, as did my producer and DP, to get this made on a tight budget. And that was one of the other rewarding aspects of this production: finding and working with talented people who read the feature script and wanted to be involved.

There is not a single visual effect in this short and it’s basically an eight-minute conversation between two people, so there won’t be a wondrous VFX demo to show… but feel free to ask any questions! If I don’t answer them right away here I will do my best in forthcoming posts. We’re using this short to launch a website for the feature, so please take a minute to share that around — especially with anyone you know in the sports/basketball world. Thanks for watching!



We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 256 COMMENTS

  • I liked it! Solid acting, nice images, polished short. How many days to shoot? All the best with your feature.

    • A weekend shoot (one day and one night) — all of the scenes in the gym were shot in a day and that’s at least 7 minutes of screen time, so… we were hustling. As indies always do!

  • Great stuff Koo. It played on a cliche well to fool us (and the recruiter). Great execution too. Makes me proud to be a (small) backer of your feature!

  • Congratulations on doing this! Looking great!

  • looks awesome. your hard work is paying off!

  • Nice short! loved the ending! Solid solid!

    Good luck Ryan!on the next steps! Sure deserve it.

  • Brent Gooden on 04.17.13 @ 11:15AM

    Very amazing work. A clever story. Great acting and smooth cinematography. I enjoyed it! I hope the short film helps with the upcoming feature!

  • Loved it.
    Didn’t see that coming :) Sadly as a backer and a fellow filmmaker I was analyzing it side by side but at around 3:00 mark I said let me sit back and take this in. Thumbs Up!

  • Raoni Franco on 04.17.13 @ 11:22AM

    Niiiice man!! Congratulations for this one more step! Sure I’m gonna spread the word. Well I think you guys pretty much nailed it, can’t think of anything that pushed me out of the atmosphere of the short. The first seconds of the appearance of the recruiter I was kindda “hmm…..I don’t know”….but a few seconds later I got his approach to the acting, something naturalistic thats very interesting, and everything ran smoothly. Photography and direction are spot on I think, precise, discreet, serving the drama.
    About Manchild, I have to say that, after reading your posts about it, I still don’t get what got you excited about doing it. I know, you can’t just deliver detalis about the script and so on, but it would be nice the read sincere koo-style post about the story or the scope, or something that got you by the balls and made you do it. Don’t get me wrong, you already have curious about the feature, mainly because of your background and the trajectory you are treading. If you already wrote something like that, sorry for my slip. Peace and good luck!

    • Koo did write a couple times about his personal background growing up playing basketball, so it’s something that’s always been with him.

    • Thanks Raoni, I’ve definitely written about why I’m making the feature — there are a lot of posts (too many?) here:

      But yes, as Jonathan notes, the big thing is I’ve been a basketball player and general hoops junkie all my life, so it makes sense that the feature I’m pushing up the hill is a passion project!

      Glad you felt the direction and photography is both spot on and discreet — all in service of the characters and story. Thanks!

  • Solid overall, though I would have liked to have seen a little more variety in coverage- seemed like we lived on medium tight shots for most of the film.

    • Feel you there! One of those wides is actually a shot I tacked onto the Martini at the end of a very long day. Coverage is one of the first things to go when you’re on a tight schedule, and all of the scenes in the gym were shot in one day, so… a lof of numbers on my shotlists are scratched out. I would have liked to have seen that too :)

      • I noticed lack of coverage as well. Just don’t rush on the production of the feature, ok?! ;)

        • At this pace, we’d shoot the feature in 12 days. Definitely not doing that…

          While this was all about keeping you in there with the characters, it would’ve been nice to have 2-3 more wides. “Nice to have” is the first thing to go on a tight schedule/budget though.

  • Good short, can’t wait to read the behind the scenes article on it. Looks great.

  • Amazing. That’s a fantastic short that focuses on telling a story rather than trying to impress with fancy VFX. I’m very confident that your film will find an audience. Now, I’m even more happy to be a backer of the project. Keep up the great work!

  • Great stuff.
    Hope it helps you get to where you want to be with MANCHILD

  • I felt the frame format is not appropriate to cover the sport actions. I think in 16:9 would play out more naturally.
    If you would found a way to play with the crop between the two format (in play, off play or on court, off court)
    You could juxtaposition the two faces of the game (enjoyment vs. bushiness).
    Just an idea. Let us know what you think.

    • This format is very deliberate, but I did think about the things you mention. The feature is very much about on-court/off-court differences and I’ve thought long and hard about how we treat those differently on screen; we’ll see what we do once we’re shooting the feature.

      Overall I felt there is so much 16:9 HD basketball in the world nowadays that I wanted to explicitly differentiate this as cinema.

  • great lighting. good acting. very good storytelling. it does what scenes should do. it makes me want more.

    was the quivering lip added in post?

  • Nice job! There’s this great performance moment where the kid’s lip is quivering while the rest of his face maintains its composure. Smart idea to put the pitch in the credits, too!

  • did you do research for this film? why did you chose this subject matter?

    “how about off the court, are you undefeated there too” haha.

    the way the scene builds is far too direct….whats your intention to get at? how hard this kids life is?….It feels very false too me even the cut from him shooting to then sitting down on the bleachers….as if there was a time passage? seems you were thinking too much about camera setups and not enoguh about the truth of the scene and the dynamic of the two people.

    • Seems like you may have missed the point. Also thought the time cut worked really nicely. I personally love editing like that. It’s called ellipsis.

      • Indeed, thanks Will. chimski, the entire short is about “the truth of the scene and the dynamic of the two people” — the camera setups etc. call very little attention to themselves for exactly that reason. The answer to your other questions should be obvious…

        • people dont speak in the way this was written. this is hollywood cinema. your making movies to make movies, not for emotional reason and it shows. I think the gear you are you using and the time your spending shooting this is outweighing greatly the time your spending developing characters and creating real important moments of cinema. The dynamic between these two people depicted is shallow and obvious which is why this film felt like it did. In 30 seconds of hoop dreams I get more truth then I did in 9mins of your film. I think you need to deepen the work you are doing if it is your hope to really impact an audience and do something of merit.

          yes it looks nice, the sound is great, the acting well…. people are going to be yes men when you can make something that appeals to a mainstream audience and is professionally made, but if you wish to be an artist I hope you can do more.

          • To be fair…i skimmed through the film. which is i probably missed your elipse…. ITS THE INTERNET AGE YOU NEED TO GRAB MY ATTENTION
            hahaha noooo. that was a joke

            im just saying mannn dont make movies for the sake of movies. dont make movies for filmmakers to praise you on your own blog. take risks….tell stories that are true…. and I do not mean that in a journalistic sense….dont feed my bullshit with stereotypical characters. As an artist be a purveyor of ideas….make me think different. dont be fulfilled in making a film that works be fulfilled in doing something that is important . I dont need a stripped down “he got game” or hoop dreams those films both worked and were trying things. DO SOMETHINGGGGG

          • what an embarrassing series of comments by chimski. great work ryan.

          • YES MEN!

          • Honest question… do you proofread what you write? Constructive criticism is really good, however you seem to be confused at a fundamental level about cinema in general, and how short story narratives should be constructed. This was surprisingly well done and the editing was actually quite on point. Those transitions are common and Koo was able to show temporal discontinuity a very nice way.

            I honestly didn’t think the short would be this good, but it was.

  • Will Gilbey on 04.17.13 @ 12:12PM

    Really impressed. Great directing and acting. Photography and grading top notch. Loved the twist. Never saw it coming. Great moment as the score kicked in and the car drove off. Can’t wait to see Manchild.

    • Thanks Will, I’ve always felt a short is a hard sell without a payoff and I think this one has it. Glad you liked that moment too.

  • Badass. The ending was beautifully set up, didn’t see it coming at all. I immediately wanted to know more about the characters; is it only the coach who returns in Manchild? I understand if you don’t want to give away any spoilers. Will definitely pump this up to my 72 (!) followers on twitter.

  • Shouldn’t the prequel to your feature just be called “CHILD”?? ;)

  • Ryan could you please talk a bit about the light setup, lenses? Perhaps an BTS post? Loved how clean it was on the last part outside… The image is really clean! Really curious on the light setup outside! And by the way, another good example on how good skin tones can be on Red if proper treated. thanks!

  • Fantastic. Great casting, acting, script, etc. Love how the cinematography and editing doesn’t come across as showy…just moves the story forward. Didn’t notice the music, which is a good thing. Of course, nice twist at the end.

    Could you share how the lighting was handled? Gyms are generally pretty poorly lit via practicals, yet this one looks good. Also the outdoor-at-night scene looks good. How was that lit?

    • Basically just said the same thing to Alex — we’ll share all that. The gym’s lights were pretty awful (very different color temperatures light to light) so we killed most of them. There’s one pic on my Twitter profile but I’ll post a bunch more in the future.

  • Skinny Pete on 04.17.13 @ 1:05PM

    That was edited really well. I really felt like i was playing the game with them. The casting for the recruiter was kinda meh, you should have made it a white guy or something. And the cropping is odd for a sports film but somehow it worked.

    • Personally, I liked the recruiter. I thought I could see an inner drama playing out nicely: building confidence in his own game.

  • Well done. You are off to a great start, Ryan. So, would you like one random viewer’s reaction? First and strongest impression: I loved the work of the actors – it felt real – the mannerisms and everything — I felt like I was back in Queens/Brooklyn (NY is the only big US city I know). I loved the silence of the pauses in the dialogue, which made it more intense. Thanks for going easy on the background soundtrack — for my taste you could go even lighter/ more subliminal. I admire your restraint in not adding any artistic shots that cry out “beautiful cinematography” — because it meant that I, the viewer, can’t run away from the intense interaction going on and hide out in “cinematography”. Personal taste — I’d like others’ opinion– does the camera move a bit too much or am I in the minority on this? Or is this a problem with seeing it on the laptop rather than a cinema or big screen? I’m trying to describe my reaction as a viewer–not give you advice, which you don’t need. I’ll watch it on the big tv later. Congratulations, man.

    • You know I saw it on the big screen and I didn’t notice the handheld nearly as much — obviously I was going for a handheld look, but I think what it is is the refresh rate of online video/computer monitors somehow exaggerates it. It’s silky smooth on my (homemade) Bluray. Thanks for the comments Taylor.

      • I noticed the handheld but it felt like it was hand held on the player and tripod/jib on the recruiter. I’m not saying it was this way round but if it was I think it’s a genius way of applying status, handheld is a little out of control so its great for showing who has control or higher status in the scene.

        Great work overall! Most importantly, it cuts and the performances are great!

  • Shamus McGee on 04.17.13 @ 1:19PM

    Do yo thing mang!

  • To quote a famous line from Blazing Saddles “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!” If independent filmmakers are Hollywood’s outlaws, you are proving that quality films do not need to be part of the Hollywood approved process to stand shoulder to shoulder with big budgets and the inbred politics. that goes with it.

    Really nice work in both story and execution. Best of luck on the feature!

  • thadon calico on 04.17.13 @ 1:23PM

    I still got a bone to pick with you mr. Koo! Im still vexed you didnt cast actors or extras from your NFS family & when I see you IT’S ON!

    Couple questions: What did you mean by a sound mix @ Goldcrest Post. cos from the sentence it was not clear if you were following up the composers score sentence and mixing the composer’s score or you mean the final & overall sound mix of the film! Also, how was the process for you? did u do specific tweaks to voices based on the scripts emotional componenet? how long did it take you to do the sound mix for the 8 min film? U paid by the hour or was it a favor?

    I gotta commend you on the great job with the film!

    • Final sound mix meaning all the elements were in there — Tim K, the composer, sent me separate stems (on the airplane) and I brought those to Goldcrest. We did postproduction in two days, Thursday (sound mix) and Friday (grade) last week. More details to follow!

  • Hats off to the crew Ryan, they did a great job.

    I know your plan is for a feature but I couldn’t shake off the feeling all throughout the short that this could be great as a TV series.

    Given any thought to it?

    • thadon calico on 04.17.13 @ 1:37PM

      I think so too…many folks want to go the feature route although the tv route is difficult to break into

    • Thanks Ed — yes it could be a TV series, certainly (The White Shadow being the foremost example of a basketball TV series). It would probably be much easier to do a TV show with high school aged kids though… but we’ll see what happens after the feature :)

  • Great work, you definitely walk the walk!

  • Awesome short, I love the ending!

  • Nice work. The production value is great. I did miss the one moment where we see the kid decide to play the recruiter. That “Sixth Sense” moment, where I can go back and say THERE: how’d I miss this clue? Here, I went back and you have a moment, in close up of the kid thinking- the home/life question- but you have the kid walk AWAY from the guy.

    Instead, since this is where the kid decides to play the recruiter, perhaps the kid should have walked TOWARDS HIM, as if HE (the kid) has decided to take the next step– showing that he’s in control.

    Upon first view, this would not matter to the viewer, but watching it again (like Sixth Sense) the viewer says, “it was all right there, look– the kid is in control.” But as it is now, it’s YOU the filmmaker pulling a “trick” or “twist” at the end of the film that doesn’t flow from the story, just a desire to trick the viewer.

    • I actually feel the opposite, that Anton walking away is exactly in character — he is literally drawing him in. He’s bait.

      It’s a 15-second shot without a line. The beat is there and his gears are grinding. You can of course interpret it differently, but I was conscious of walking the line between “earning it” and “giving it away” and felt we earned it. Free country to feel differently though!

      • Obviously you “feel” the opposite. I think this is also why some have pointed to this exact moment- from standing to the bleachers (I agree with you that a time shift/cut in this fashion is perfectly fine). But I think if you allow yourself to hear this criticism, which is what an artist must do, you might see that aside from the production praise, which you deserve, the one story point folks are pointing to is this moment– and this is the critical moment of the film.

        YOU the writer/director see the gears grinding, but I didn’t. Yes. I “interpreted” it differently, but as a director you cannot have your viewer seeing a different film that you intended.

        And your “free country” comment is odd. I hope as you hear from folks in the industry who offer notes, this isn’t your response. Again, exceptional production value, but take a step back and ask others about this moment.

        • +1

          I enjoyed it though.

        • You are just one viewer and not representative of all. Had he done it your way someone would have criticised that choice as well.

        • To conduct an orchestra, one must turn his back to the audience.

        • Chriss,

          I was not defensive in my response to you, yet you feel the need to tell me “what an artist must do?”

          Me responding IS me hearing the criticism… How many filmmakers post their work on their own site and get 300 comments (between here and Vimeo) to take into account? That’s about as “hearing” the criticism as it gets for a short film. You would never “hear” that many reactions even after a year long run on the festival circuit.

          “As a director you cannot have your viewer seeing a different film that you intended.” I would argue that every viewer is going to see a different film and that is the nature of filmmaking. And quite frankly I take issue with your tone. “As I hear from folks in the industry?” That’s all I’ve been doing for the past few years, and ask any of them how I respond to criticism. Hint: it’s different than how I respond to someone on my website telling me what I “cannot” do. I would never tell another filmmaker what they can’t do.

  • The audio in this is fantastic, what gear did you use?

    • Will share all of that when I get ahold of the list. But really it was the people — Dave did great location sound and Mike at Goldcrest is a pro. I guess Mike’s gear list is more straightforward — Pro Tools (+plugins).

  • I think this short accomplishes what it needs to. It proves that the feature will be in good hands and nobody’s time or money will be wasted. Congrats.
    To the point about wearing many hats and never seeing the sun, don’t hold out for that to change later on in your career. The hours and pressures on multi-million dollar feature films are absurd regardless of how many jobs you’re doing. Consider this and everything that came before it to be basic training.

  • AWESOME JOB RYAN!!!!!!! Yes please tell us what you did for sound……it’s big studio quality for sure!!!
    Actors,lighting,camera work and plot twist all first rate!!!! I was worried you latched on to the tired story of kid gets out of the slums by being a basketball star. We have seen that story 100 times but you flipped it around….I dig it!!!! Seriously…what did you use for sound and the lighting. You gotta tell us now….it’s why you have this blog!!!

  • Did you fog the gym at all? It looks like it in the bleacher shot above. Has that 80′s WHITE SHADOW look to it.

    • Post coming once I check in with the DP to make sure I’m getting everything right… when you’re working with the actors you might miss the details :)

      And yes, that was the story I wanted to play off of… glad you got it marky mark.

      We did fog the gym. Anything that references the White Shadow is fine by me :)

  • smitty iproduce on 04.17.13 @ 4:03PM


  • It took me a little while to figure out what happened with the surprise ending, but I like it.
    Great job, Koo!
    This looks very professional and inspires me in my filmmaking career.
    Keep it up!
    I look forward to seeing MANCHILD when it is released.

  • Really well done. This looks to be a festival film I would actually watch.

  • Just in time for playoff season. Everyone tweet those bbal players!

  • Very much enjoyed watching the parts that I did. Acting sold it and the picture and sound supported them well. Personally feel like the slight vignetting (or maybe it was the encode?) wasn’t contributing, but that’s a look that I feel is a bit tired for me.

    I have to agree with chimski on one item — the time cut from “how about your family?” to him sitting down on the bleachers felt false. I was with the short up until here. Maybe it was his performance, or maybe it was the “ellipses” as someone else wrote, but there wouldn’t be a time break in that situation. There couldn’t be. The recruiter is a few yards away and nothing really changed, so it just feels like a technique that you wanted to try out, but didn’t work for the scene.

    Coverage-wise, this felt very TV to me. Competently done, but played mostly in mediums and close ups. Again, personal taste so for me I would have liked to see more wides and more played in the wide (and the one you do use earlier in the short is very welcome)

    I do think you have a solid building block for your feature. Not trying to be negative and as much as I understand you had limited time and had to cut shots (as is always the case) none of that really matters in the end.

    • I agree on the ellipse cut. It seemed strange in the flow of the conversation. That said, the shots looked amazing. Great job on the cinematography.

      AMATEUR shows some great potential for MANCHILD. Congrats Ryan ;)

    • I agree as well. I watched it twice to give it a fair shake but, a few things don’t work for me:

      shaky/handheld; while it may be a style I didn’t see a need for it, so it came across as artificial to me and not organic to the story

      I don’t buy the story at all; the “scout” must be the worse in the business if he never noticed well dressed parents and a well dressed bball player at the times he saw the other games, nor apparently did he do any homework on the kid, even if the “scout” was lying you can’t miss the kid isn’t destitute and looks well kept. So the twist (a good one) didn’t resonate with me because the kid was never seeing hard times in my mind.

      There’s no conflict in the entire piece, no drama, nothing to really engage me, it just came across as a long conversation with some stretches of the imagination required – which I guess is fine if you’re experimenting but, it just lacked appeal for me.

      I do think the piece is well put together, solid production value, decent cast, obviously excellent crew, good lighting, sound, editing, grade and a thoughtful producer and director. But, it wasn’t working for me.

      I don’t think the things that didn’t work for me would be as distracting in a feature though, so I don’t see any reason the feature couldn’t be good.

      Just my 2c.

      • The comments about the editing, the time break, ellipsis… that I totally get. I’ll talk more about that in our BTS post as to why that is the case, and while I do feel the end product works, there is a particular reason for those issues and I hear you on that. In an ideal world I would do some things differently there too… as is the case with every film. Especially films that were (mostly) shot in a day.

        But “There’s no conflict in the entire piece, no drama…” That’s a clown comment bro.

        • I stand by my comments; I didn’t buy the logic of your story so it didn’t work for me. How about you indicate why you disagree with my reaction – which is valid criticism because I am an audience member – in reply, instead of some dumb “that’s a clown comment”. Criticism comes every filmmakers way, how about some maturity? I can understand if you’re defensive about your work but, nothing I said was rude. We can disagree yet have a meaningful dialogue.

          • Nah, I agree with Koo…

            “Thats a clown comment brotha”

          • Krys,

            Two characters meet. Each wants something different. Only one can get what he wants. “No drama?” That’s drama 101.

            Sorry for referencing a meme.

          • To be honest, I share some of the criticism from Krys, admittedly the ‘clown comment’ being the most important one. After appr. 2 minutes I only kept watching because the short was from Ryan.

          • Ryan,

            According to Urban Dictionary which you reference: Clown Question – An inappropriate question, typically dripping with either intentional or moronic douchebaggery, and usually posed by an actual douchebag.

            On the surface this looks like you are calling Krys a douchebag simply for expressing his reaction to the movie you made. A reaction that happened to be negative.

            And you’ve defined drama for us. Under your definition. Your scene has the same amount of drama as the scene where Sunday enters Daniel Plainview’s home near the end of “There Will be Blood”. “I drink your milkshake. I drink it up.” Now there are situations that ‘inherently’ have drama, and there are situations where that drama actually plays itself out it a real tangible way. It appears to me (as I don’t want to put words in his mount) that Krys’s opinion is that in “Amature” that drama doesn’t play out. From my perspective that seems to be a valid reaction, that he didn’t express in a particularly douchebaggery way.

            Anyway, good look with all this. I’m excited for all the opportunities you have coming down the line. Make the most of them.

        • Seriously Ryan? That’s your response to constructive criticism you don’t agree with? Very nasty. Seems very self indulgent of you to respond that way, I’m surprised. God forbid you get negative criticism from the public then.

      • This pretty much sums up how I felt about the story. Great effort and certainly a talented crew but the story and script right now are definitely lacking any real tension, interest or reason to keep watching. I was unable to finish.

  • Eric Jolley on 04.17.13 @ 4:58PM

    Very nice. I love the idea of using a short as a prequel. I hope it generates the buzz you’re looking for. I thought the acting was quite good and nicely understated. It got me interested in the characters and wanting to see more of them, which seems like the whole point.

  • Hussain Al-Khalil on 04.17.13 @ 5:01PM

    Amazing. Really inspiring storytelling. Gonna go write myself for my own projects. Always great to be inspired by things like this. I’m a young guy just turning 20 so thank you Ryan for giving out that extra motivation for people like me! I shared the link, I’ll try and help spread the word.

    • Thanks Hussain, that’s great to hear. I won my first flimmaking award right around that age and it’s taken me this long to get to this point, so… #STICKWITHIT

      • Hussain Al-Khalil on 04.18.13 @ 1:15AM

        Definately! Cosistency is key. And I live in right Jersey if you ever need another extra hands with anything, like a NFS intern.

  • Ewan Thomas on 04.17.13 @ 5:25PM

    Thanks for posting Koo, you’ve done this super fast as well! Seems like only yesterday you were talking about doing it. It’s great and proof positive that you can direct a great feature film. It’s beautifully shot, acted and the sound is top notch. More-over I just enjoyed the story and the punchline was great!

    I liked the handheld nature, didn’t think it was TV at all, and didn’t think you needed more coverage. I think it’s really exciting what you’ve pulled off in a short period of time and would advise any of your readers (myself included!) to get out there and do the same!

    Well done! Look forward to the feature even more. I’m assuming it’s not about either of these characters though right? Shame! Would love to know what he spends the 300 bucks on!

    • The recruiter is in the feature… you can imagine after seeing this short why he might want to start going after younger kids.

      Whether or not Anton Lyles (player) is in the feature, you may very well see Curtiss Cook Jr. (actor) in a different role. We’ll see!

  • Ryan, I’ve been obsessively visiting this site for months now, totally inspired by your enthusiasm and your work ethic. This is the first time I felt like I just has to comment. What a great short! I thought the pacing and coverage were great. The looks is what a highschool gym looks like in my memory. The twist was perfectly executed, a great and satisfying ending. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to MANCHILD.

    (also can’t wait for the making of posts about this short. really really wanna know what camera you were using and see the rig, etc…)

    now I’m off to share on my social networks…

  • Awesome Koo! So clean!

  • I really tried to like this and perhaps I’m analyzing it too much but I thought it was very slow and sloppy. I don’t mean this as an attack on your work but just my honest opinion which may or may not be of use to you.

    I thought the pace of the editing did not keep up with the dialogue and I thought the dialogue itself was weak in a lot of places. I don’t think Lionel pulls of the character very well. Some jarring cuts at and 1:44 and 2:39. I don’t understand the fade at 03.33. This suggests time has passed. Has it? Was anything said during this time? The camera movement was a little sloppy, for example at 06:13 where you can see the camera sway from side to side as you stop, plus you can also hear your two feet stop. Then the camera follow the money back to Curtiss’ face too slowly and you loose Dominguez at 06:32? Also, with regards to sound I can hear a whine through most of it which sounds a lot like the whine of a RED fan, most likely from the scarlet?

    On the positive side I like the lighting and grading. I think the dialogue works well in places and I think Curtiss is a great actor. I like the twist but still leaned towards the lame side for me personally.

    Anyway, those are just a few of my initial thoughts which are offered as constructive criticism. I feel all too often people just compliment work but it only from criticism that we learn to look at our work more closely. Looking forward to Manchild.


  • I loved the ending, and working this a prequel is smart. The pacing was good, and the misdirection at the end was superb. I deff thought it was going to be a straight forward piece and I’m happy it wasn’t. I can’t wait for the feature.

  • Loved it! Well done Ryan, can’t wait to see the feature :)

  • You played to the Scarlet’s strengths. :-) Good work.

  • what camera and lenses did you use on the shoot?

  • at the beginning I thought I was seeing bad acting from Curtis; i was starting to think his reactions seemed exaggerated until after the reveal at the end where it became clear what all that was all about.

    Using performance to sort of foreshadow is great stuff I think.

  • Hey Ryan,

    Looks fantastic, really well framed and cut.
    I thoroughly enjoyed the story as well. All the best on the feature!

    Kind Regards,

  • that was great…congrats

  • I thought this project sounded bad, but after seeing this “prequel” know it will be far worse than anticipated. Making content for youtube, and for theatrical release are two different things, so let’s not confuse the two. As other commenters stated, the acting is bad. The direction is bad. The cinematography is bad. The “phillip bloomtard” music is bad. It has no saving grace. Even as “short form” it’s far longer than it should be for such a tacky story arch. Let’s look at what you do well, Mr. Koo, running a website. You’ve created a great resource run-by-and-for wannabe filmmakers (or fantasist gear freaks, etc). You can take pride in that. This video illustrates the nofilmschool ethos, though, which is that “Holywood won’t let me make the good movies I want” when in reality the person lacks the talent to tell a story people would pay to watch. When studios show no interest in distributing your “feature film” you can cry that they just don’t understand the artistic vision. Too closed minded. Not innovative enough. You’ll show them! Put it on Distrify! Revolution!

    • Ninja, you are bad.

      And you have poor taste.

    • Joe Ninja,

      I mean this from the bottom of my heart, and I sincerely hope you don’t take it the wrong way, but:


    • Who pissed in your cheerios this morning?

      I mean, sure, it has its issues- every film does, even the good ones. And maybe it’s not for everybody, no film is. But your comment is pure spite & bile. Do you feel better now? Is your world less miserable? I suspect it isn’t.

    • dude, there’s criticism that is meant to be helpful – the willingness to be honest when it’s hard because you genuinely care about the other person. And then there’s criticism that is meant to tear down – a desire to simply make the person feel like a failure and never attempt to try again. This second kind of criticism only serves you, not the person you’re criticizing. It may make you feel better because you felt “honest” or superior in some way. But next time try to remember, when you decide to offer criticism, make sure it’s out of an attitude of respect and a desire to see the other person succeed. Not out of an attitude of pride.

    • john jeffries on 04.19.13 @ 3:52PM

      I laughed so hard at this.

  • This is great, looks and sounds sooo pro! :) Whats the last track’s name btw? :)

  • Mahmoud Samir on 04.17.13 @ 11:52PM

    Congrats Ryan!!! Decent short and I was surprised with the production values. Really want to know what camera was used & the audio gear.

    Congrats bro & the music in the end is so coooooool!

  • Hi Ryan, normally I don’t comment just read and review after watching your short I had to post to give you props on your short. Good story line with a twist. I can totally relate where people have some concept of who you are only to find out things aren’t always what they seem. Just like everyone thinks I’m in the Military when they find out I live in Japan and shock that I work in the film and video industry. Anyway looking forward to how you play out the story line in Manchild. Oh and great sound this is coming from a post sound guy of 15 years!

  • Ryan, great first effort. Disregard Joe Ninja. Good production values but directing and editing could be better. This is a feature, you had a B camera but didn’t use it enough. This is not TV. The recruiter was weak. Head tilting, lack of self confidence. At the end when he realized he got screwed… nothing in his head. The stronger you make the bad guy, the strong the pay off with the hero. Pacing was off with two big time gaps. You could almost have filmed the whole short in one shot with a steadicam.

    You knew you were going to get comments both good and bad so drive on. When the going gets tough… the tough get going–

  • The internet is a mouthpiece for a lot of idiots but its so sad to see how the online film community is especially full of bitter, jealous, no talent haters. A lot of you guys on here need a t-shirt that says “I’m a real pro on the message boards.” I would dare anyone on here that’s posting their ‘professional criticism’ to post something they have done. Seriously, just one of you. JUST ONE. This is a good short. Good luck on the feature. You’re an inspiration to a lot of people.

  • Anthony Marino on 04.18.13 @ 1:19AM

    Beautiful piece all across the board. Congrats

  • Great little short Ryan. Also great that you’ve gotten such a wide-spectrum of feedback already. I’m a critical bastard but, quite frankly, I liked it. I think some people might be comparing it too much to a feature script. Kris has made some good points and is entitled to his opinion, but it sounds like he’s taking things a bit out of context. This is a SHORT FILM and for it’s length, I think it accomplished what it was supposed to. Beginning, Middle and End…with a twist. It looks fantastic. Pretty solid actors, high production values etc, etc. A lot more than most shorts you will see and I’ve seen a lot. Sure the stakes could have been higher, but you run the risk of “pushing” the drama, which almost always fails. I liked the “lighter touch”. Again, this is a short, so I would suggest people give credit where credit is due. If you all haven’t seen “The SIx Dollar-Fifty Man” on VImeo, one of my favorite shorts, it too is a great example of a “lighter touch” and it is a fantastic film.

    • That is a terrific short. The kid who gets hit in the head with the (pot? what is that?) makes me laugh out loud. I think that’s an excellent comparison simply because anything approaching being a character study is a tough sell online — but that doesn’t mean you should cut down every shot in the name of short attention spans.

      When The West Side came out (a 7-minute debut episode) I remember being criticized for it not being No Country for Old Men. When this came out (9 minutes) I’m told it’s not dramatic like the end of There Will Be Blood, when a guy kills another guy after two hours of buildup. Well, yeah…

      Usually when I snip at someone I regret it but leave it up for posterity’s sake. I’ve played sports all my life so there is definitely a competitive side… on the basketball court you’re expected to respond someone talking trash, but in an online forum there is no such thing as draining a three in a guy’s face and letting that do the talking. Actually, I guess the short itself is the equivalent of that!

      • Ryan,

        I never said your short should have been like the end of ‘There Will Be Blood’. In fact I never said anything about your short at all. Other than that I wished you good luck.

        My reference to “There Will Be Blood” was used as an acute example of a time when the drama is felt. Of course this short can’t ultimately be compared to that rather lengthy well made feature. That would be completely unfair. They are completely different films. Maybe a more appropriate example would be the horror short ‘Mama’, where the drama and tension was acutely felt in the short form. I never intended to say “Amature” should have the weight of a feature. I’m sorry if you saw it that way.

        My only intent was to discuss your reaction to Krys’ comment:

        “There’s no conflict in the entire piece, no drama, nothing to really engage me, it just came across as a long conversation with some stretches of the imagination required – which I guess is fine if you’re experimenting but, it just lacked appeal for me.”

        You singled out the ‘no drama’ part of the statement and used a strict definition of the phrase to discount his entire statement. That’s not fair. It’s perfectly legitimate, and fairly widely accepted, to say ‘there was no drama’ when meaning “I never felt tension/conflict/drama/excitement/ as the French say that Ju ne se quoi”. Which is clear by the rest of his statement, particularly ‘nothing to really engage me” or “it just lacked appeal for me”. This was his opinion. Did he deliver his opinion in a harsh way? I would say it was very direct and had tinges of judgement rather than observation, so I would say it is on the harsh side of neutral, but not overly harsh, like some of the other negative comments.

        I certainly don’t envy you the position of being a focused target of people’s internet released jealous/vitriolic/brazen type speech. And I would definitely get aggravated and fed up and want to spout back. I likely couldn’t stop myself. But then again I haven’t put myself in that position, yet. I just always find it interested when people jump on others about the ‘tone of their arguments’ by calling them ‘douchebags’ through clever memetic means.

        As I said before, good luck with this and the feature. Make the most of this opportunity. I wish you the best with it.


  • Jennifer Lopez on 04.18.13 @ 3:14AM

    wait I don’t get it. He lied just so he could get 300 bucks?

    • haha that’s what i was wondering. and how did he know he was gonna throw him 300 bucks in the first place? and don’t tell me recruiters do that all the time..his parents drive a bmw, why does he need to try that hard to dshkjghskda i’m done. that was weird

    • Really………REALLY?

      • Think about it guys. It’s the Game WITHIN the Game. The recruiter thought he was “playing” the kid, when the kid was “playing” him all along. The recruiter knew he was getting the better end of the deal until the very end, when he realized he’d been played all along for trying to take advantage of the kid.

        • Indeed, to me, it’s not just the $300 — put yourself in the shoes of a hyper-competitive athlete. It’s about coming away with the W.

          • I think the short was a really professional work, indistinguishable from a high-budget Hollywood production. I really liked the atmosphere and the acting was incredibly sincere. I would probably make the whole conversation between them shorter, it plays for way too long. You could tell there was a deep interaction between the two characters, even without making it so long, I was very close to skipping forward to see what happens next. Just a thought :)

  • Nice one. The ending was great. The guy’s expression at the end when he realises that he is cheated is great.

    I wonder why you did it handheld? I looked it in my Macbook Pro and it looked a bit too much shaky for my taste. I hope you would have seen it projected in a large screen. I wonder why you didn’t use tripod/steadicam.

    All the best for your final feature. I hope you would have learned a ton from this short as well as get the required funding for completing the feature.

  • Peter Nylund on 04.18.13 @ 4:10AM

    Loved it! :)

    Like many others before, me too would like to see some more in-depth info on the lights and setup. I really thought the cinematography helped tell this story. It has this “more serious” look to it, telling that some grander scheme is coming up than a personal misfortune. However, this plays so well to the twist, as I was totally fooled by the bait.
    I kind of liked the closed framing on the action in the beginning, in contrast to some earlier commenters. It really shows that this is about the people, rather than the ball.

    The only thing I would work more on if this was a piece of mine, would be the quick dip to the main character opening up. For a moment there i had the fourth wall down.. It got back up again when the recruiter took charge again. Can’t really put a finger on what made this happen, but there’s definitely something there that catches my eye at least.

    Keep it up Ryan!

  • Ryan, I’m a big fan of your website and I have to say Im a fan of your work. Your short film was great! Good dialogue and it created anticipation for your feature film.

    I’m shooting my first film later this summer in LA. What’s the best way to build a fan base besides short films and film festivals for new filmmakers?

    • TWITTER!!!!! Get on it and post your stuff or just talk about what you plan to do and someone will ask questions. Same with youtube.

  • This is what it is a competent student film from first time director. Don’t be discouraged koo but you’ll need to put a lot more work into script before attempting a feature. Perhaps get a seasoned writer to help out?

    • What an ignorant statement JIM! You have no idea what he has done in the feature script…..why? Cause you haven’t read it! I don’t care that you don’t like the short…thats fine………. but to tell someone their script isn’t ready when you haven’t even seenit yet is just a FXXXING dumb arrogant guess!!!!

  • One of the things I was glad to see that most indie films over do now is….you didnt go crazy on the shallow depth of field. Most entire indie films look like your first shot above with everything out of focus except for the actor in the closeup. People want to see surroundings. Most filmmakers today create a closterfobic sense of space because they think every shot should have a constant shallow depth of field. It screams….LOOK MOM I CAN MAKE THINGS OUT OF FOCUS JUST LIKE HOLLYWOOD CAN! Thank you for not doing that!!!!
    BTW…I dig the Kubrick style locker room scene…even if that wasn’t what you were going for. The bleacher shot above also tells me the kid has the upper hand here by his higher postion. Nice!

  • Jef-Aram Van Gorp on 04.18.13 @ 7:45AM

    Very nice short film! At first I thought it was going to be very cliche, but I loved the twist at the end. Great performances too by the way and I liked the atmosphere as well.

  • Very good job Ryan! I kept wondering where the short was going and I really enjoyed the payoff. Looking forward to your feature debuting.

  • Well done, I loved it! Great story and pacing. Hope all goes well for the feature.

  • Firstly I found it engaging the first time I watched it, even if I felt like it was a little bit too long for the story it told. Other times I may have stopped watching it part way through. The ending worked and was a good example of a short film narrative. I liked the handheld camera work and the sound was well done.

    The main issue I had was the dialogue, especially when they are sitting on the benches. It felt a bit blunt and straight to the point. For two people that have only just met they entered a fairly personal conversation straight of the bat and I think a bit more resistance to getting into that conversation would have worked better.

  • Watched it today. Albeit on my phone… the quality still came through. Really liked the ending. Thought “I’m watching something really good” after about 10 – 20 seconds. Nice job and goodluck

  • I really liked it it was tastefully done. The dialogue was ok and it was really well cast. The actors seemed intimate with the script and it felt real, the acting was solid. The aesthetics reminded me more of a Ken Loach film or a similar British understated style. If id say anything I’d say it was maybe a bit sparse in the audio department? They’re in an echoey basket ball arena but their audio sounded too “close” if that makes sense? Maybe some more atmospheric sounds like the ventilation or buzzing lights, etc? Janitor buffing the floors in the background might add more to the sense of place. I always think of the location as part of the leading cast along with the camera and “actor” of course ;-) and it’s nice to give it a voice

  • Like a lot of people on here, I’m jealous of what you’ve accomplished. We all sit around thinking about writing that script or shooting the script we’ve already written…but we never do. So when someone finally does, we’re quick to tell everyone why it’s no good, or where you could have done something better. Well, that’s bullshit and I’m done being that sad sack person who exists to hate.

    This short is amazing. The acting is great, as is the writing/directing (and the sound, good lord!). I love the twist with the title at the beginning and end. Genius. I got exactly what you were going for there, and I think you nailed it.

    I think your idea with this is going to work. That’s why I’m done hating (I wasn’t hating on you, just being a sour-puss in general to those who actually accomplish things, because I just haven’t been lately). I see what’s possible when you cut out the garbage excuses and just do the work. I, for one, congratulate you on a job well done. Instead of vocalizing my envy in a form of critique, I’m using this as motivation to get my own short going. Thanks, Ryan! Can’t wait to see the tech breakdown!

    • Thank you Matthew that’s great to hear! That’s the reason NFS doesn’t do criticism/reviews… filmmakers at this level are usually subject to an enormous number of limitations, and often the criticism they get is coming from an “if you did this in the ideal world you should’ve…” perspective. So, yes, as you say, “do the work.” All else is secondary! BTS on the way.

  • Obviously well done – looks great, sounds even better. I just have a couple of issues; when the recruiter is rebounding for the kid I think there was a missed opportunity. The kid is draining shots as he’s boasting about his play and his undefeated team, etc. When the recruiter asks about his home life the kid ought to shoot and miss before he walks away. This would help sell it. I dunno – just a thought.

    Separately, the recruiter hasn’t done his homework on the kid’s home life? Isn’t the viewer just a bit confused with the twist ending because we’re thinking that the recruiter knows about the kid’s wrecked home life when he asks him on the court. I thought the recruiter was asking a leading, rhetorical question when he says with an attitude ” how about off the court -you undefeated there too?” He asks a pointed follow up ” how’s everything with your family?” Isn’t the viewer thinking ‘ he knows his Achilles heel ‘ ?

    Also, in the middle it just drags a tad-like there’s an extra pause on a couple of beats.

    Anyway, it’s very good and I think you’ve got “it” !

    • That’s a good point Jim. The very fact that you ask the question is a good thing. It shows that there is doubt about what is happening. I like when a film makes you ask questions. It’s not just spoon-fed to you. All of these questions can be covered in three words:
      Suspension of Disbelief.
      The implication is that the neighborhood is probably not the best, hence the “how about off the court…” statement. It is a stereotype, but regardless, we go along with it. We say “Okay, I have that information” and await the next interaction, which “confirms”(through the kid playing into what the recruiter wants to hear) the setup. Deftly done, in my opinion. The payoff at the end is great because we played along with him.

    • Nice note, Jim. In the script that’s exactly when he misses… ended up being different on the day. Sometimes there’s a light stand where the ball goes and you have to use a different take. :)

      • I had the same thought when I watched it, but after thinking about it, I like it better without the miss. Especially after you get the payoff at the end and realize it was all a game for him. He didn’t HAVE to shoot and miss, he just had to walk away without shooting – it got the same message across to the recruiter (a feigned point of insecurity), but he didn’t have to compromise his ego or standards or excellence (remember, he’s 13). I think it worked out for the best without the miss!

        Congrats Ryan, very well done, can’t wait to see more of this story in the future and I’m also looking forward to the tech breakdown.

  • Why is it that when someone feels a particular part didn’t work, or something doesn’t ring true, they are automatically considered a “hater”, “jealous” or worse, “a douchebag”. I really don’t get it. Additionally, the fact that I have given money to the project gives me the right to speak on this, not whether or not I have produced or directed anything.

    The story is what matters here, first and foremost

    I don’t understand why the recruiter in the story would ask the player, “How’s everything with your family.” I mean this guy, even if he was an “amateur recruiter”, didn’t hear a basketball bouncing in a gym as he was walking by outside, and then decide to go in an see if he could recruit. He knew the kids name, he said he was at previous games. So, what then motivated him to ask, especially in an almost rhetorical way, as if he knew something, “How’s everything with your family?” The answer is, there is no motivation. It was put in as a plot device, to make the twist at the end justified. A trick. Not really the best writing.

    That’s my opinion as a financial backer on the project. The fact that it is filmed nicely, has good audio, etc. doesn’t change the story.

    • No Kickstarter funds were used to make the short, so technically you were not a backer. I think that’s an important point to clarify as all Kickstarter funds are still being used for the feature.

    • I had a track coach come to my house when my parents weren’t home and try to recruit me. He had only heard about me through a friend I went to school with who was on the porch with him. That coach didn’t know anything about my home life or anything else other than I could run fast. I wasn’t interested in organized sports and kindly turned him down.

      • Right, but I’m sure he didn’t allude to the fact that he knew everything about your family life either.

        • I didn’t give him the chance. Then again, he was at my house so, although it didn’t come up in conversation, I’m sure he came to some conclusions about my socio-economic status. I think the coach in the film was making an “educated” guess about an overly cocky kid that most of the audience was willing to believe once Anton played along.

        • I hear ya Jeff. My beef was with the statement “there is no drama.” Questions and comments are great, that’s why this site exists, but there is a way to make criticism constructively and there is a way to do it dismissively. The kid is opening up to a stranger (seemingly), who is trying to change his life out of dubiously-motivated self-interest. For seven minutes of conversation, that’s about as much as you can expect from a realistic encounter. So if you say, “it didn’t hold my attention because I found it slow” — that’s totally cool! “There is no drama” is just a factually incorrect dismissal by the very definition of drama. An offer is drama. A reversal is drama.

          As for the recruiter, one could infer that his M.O. is to pretend he’s everyone’s friend and that he’s been to more of the player’s games than he really has.

          Thanks for backing the project and sorry I took exception to your choice of words. I hope you can see things from my perspective — again, it is not my objective to have everyone love everything about the film. If it didn’t work for you, that’s fine. But that’s three months of my life in eight minutes, so all I ask is you keep your comments constructive.

    • I repeat….Questions Are Good!

      How do we even KNOW that the people at the end are the kid’s PARENTS? It is never stated that they are.They could be his sister and brother-in-law, or foster parents, or step-dad and mother. Maybe all he was saying about his ex-con dad and dead mother was true and his situation has improved in the last 6 months and he’s kept a low-profile about it because of the neighborhood he’s going to school in.
      Yes, if the recruiter was “on his game” he should have known. Maybe he was a fill-in for the regular guy.
      We can quibble about details and perceived “holes in the script” or we can go along with what the story has presented. No, it’s not The Godfather or Apocalypse Now but it is, in my opinion, a well-crafted short film and a lot better than most.

      • Drew – true enough, it is better than most and Koo ought to be proud – it’s a very good effort. That said, I disagree that ‘questions’ in and of themselves are good. This film has a lot to offer but confusing the viewer is not, in my mind, a result that the filmmaker wants. Also, I do make a distinction between a surprise ending and confusion.

      • I could’ve gone all ham-fisted and had him say, “hi, mom.” But to me it’s better if you have to do a little legwork as the viewer. I have faith the audience infers everything they need from the kiss on the cheek, the ring on her hand, the fact that she has similar features, the way Anton responds…. and even if she was a stepmom or someone else, clearly, he’s cared for and it was a put-on.

        • Absolutely agree.

        • The only part I have a problem with is the way in which the kid draws him into the charade. I think it ought to come from something other than a line of ‘questioning’ by the recruiter in which the viewer is lead to believe that he ‘ knows ‘ of the kid’s plight. The recruiter’s attitude is one of “we’ll what about your home life champ”?

          At the end of the day it doesn’t ruin it – as I’ve said it’s very good. I just watch with a very critical eye – not because I can do better, I cannot!

          I congratulate you and i think you realize you are better off for any of these minor criticisms

        • The only part I have a problem with is the way in which the kid draws him into the charade. I think it ought to come from something other than a line of ‘questioning’ by the recruiter in which the viewer is lead to believe that he ‘ knows ‘ of the kid’s plight. The recruiter’s attitude is one of “we’ll what about your home life champ”? That, I think, leads to some confusion at the well-executed ending.

          At the end of the day it doesn’t ruin it – as I’ve said it’s very good. I just watch with a very critical eye – not because I can do better, I cannot!

          I congratulate you and i think you realize you are better off for any of these minor criticisms

      • The untruthfulness, for me, caused a LOSS of the suspension of disbelief.

        And if in fact those were not his parents, then the whole thing falls flat because the kids states at the end,
        “I won”, and that would not have been the case if it was his uncle or whomever.

        • I disagree Jeff. If,in fact, all he said about his ex-con dad and mother being dead were TRUE, for me it would make it even more poignant. The kid would have “risen-up” out of adverse circumstances and still prevailed over a manipulative, self-interested recruiter. But that is mere speculation on just one possible subtext of the story.

  • I don’t think some people understand the dynamic between recruiters and players. I know first-hand recruiters try to avoid tension. They’re hyper-accommodating and full of promises. Those people saying there wasn’t enough tension in this movie have probably seen one too many shoot ‘em ups. The last thing recruiters want to do is antagonize the person they’re trying to woo.

    I agree there was something weird about the cut to the shot of Anton on the bleachers in his warm-ups on the first viewing. On subsequent viewings I’m willing to assume Dominguez gave him a little space once he thought he struck a nerve.

    It’s not always necessary to to be able to go back and spot the moment when a decision was made to take a certain action, especially when you’re talking about a con. This may not be the first recruiter to come after Anton. We also don’t know if the decision was made to “play” the next recruiter to come around trying to run the “poor, inner city, minority youth with the bad home life” routine when he was sitting around with his friends some time in the past. On the other hand, to think he wouldn’t be able to come up with this on the spot is to underestimate him as much as the recruiter did. What I did like is right after Anton says thank you and shakes his hand, you see the self-satisfied smile on Dominguez’ face when he thinks THAT was the moment HE got Anton. His approach is insulting, plays on stereotypes and seems more suitable to younger players (i.e. shoes) but we don’t know it hasn’t worked before.

    If you want foreshadowing, Ryan gave it to you big time. Right after Dominguez introduces himself, Anton sizes him up and the big ass “AMATEUR” gets stamped across the screen. For good measure, that moment is bookended at the end where Dominguez looks dumbfounded.

    The movie you end up with is almost never the exact movie you set out to make and you have to work with what you have.

    • Thank you Brian, for picking up on all these beats!

    • If we are to believe the stereotype argument, and choose to believe the recruiter just figured this was a underprivileged young man living in the ghetto, then we have to stick with that line of thought. The obvious, upper-middle class portrayal of the boy’s parents at the end, undermine that. Was it really a “ghetto school?”

      So then, if he was underprivileged and did live in the ghetto, and his parents just happened to be rockin’ a Beamer, then, once again, why did he state “I won”? And then why did the look on the recruiters face indicate that he was had?

      We are supposed to believe, at the end, that the kid is from an upper-middle class family and all the things he stated earlier were a con to get over on the recruiter, for whatever reason. But there is nothing in the script that indicates or gives cause for the recruiter to have felt that way about that boy, especially in the way he did, like he really knew. That is played that way to make us feel something which is not part of the characters or story, but just a device to get the end to gel.

      • No one said anything about it being a ghetto school. I think you may have a warped view of what constitutes lower income and what constitutes ghetto. My middle school and high school had less fortunate kids and some of the most affluent kids. If you know even a little about the statistics, you know a single parent home is quite common. Anton could’ve easily went with working-class mom/dead dad and it would’ve had the same outcome because the recruiter wanted to believe there was something amiss at home.

        • The point I am trying to make is, what gave cause for the recruiter to make the assumptions he did, and initially deliver them to us (the viewer) in a way as if to indicate he really knew the kids plight. That’s it.

          I’m not arguing what constitutes ghetto or low income or whatever.

          • Indeed. I think the word you’re searching for is prejudice, or maybe racial profiling. I don’t mean to say Dominguez is a racist or a bigot, but he’s definitely pre-judging. Which may also be why Ryan made Dominguez Latino and not your average white guy. It keeps the assumptions made about Anton less overtly about race and more about stereotypes in general. The question you’re asking is one for all humankind. Exactly why do we make assumptions based on little to no real evidence or actual experience. Hell, that’s a good question for NFS and attitudes about various cameras.

        • Brian, not sure why I couldn’t reply directly to your last comment, about prejudice, but that is my point exactly. The recruiter doesn’t really come off as prejudice. When he delivers his line, “how’s everything with your family”, it is delivered in a way that indicates he has some true inside information on this kid. So that is what we believe, not that he is being a bigot or pre-judging. But it is a trick, on us, he really has no such info. We would have to see something else, to show that he was a bigot, or at the very least, have that line delivered in more of a nasty or prejudicial way. Heck, make the guy a bigot or a “stereotyper”, at least then in the end, it would be very clear who the unsympathetic and sympathetic characters were.

          • I think Dominguez is “playing the odds” based on what he thinks he knows. He’s trying to work an angle so he makes a judgement call on what he feels is very likely to be true. That’s what I meant by prejudging or profiling, not that he was prejudiced in the classic “racist” sense of the word. All cons, manipulations, profiling or handling requires certain assumptions to be made about a person’s character or situation. That’s my interpretation of his motives. Ryan is, of course, the authority.

          • Who says the recruiter had specific personal information on the kid? It is implied, but it is never confirmed. Again, I say, the film makes us ASSUME a lot, which may or not be true. The possibility that the kid’s story about his ex-con dad and dead mother being true is just as likely as the recruiter having personal information on the kid. I’m not saying that’s the case(I didn’t write the script or back story), but I would say that the mere fact that it’s causing so much discussion says a lot about how the script affects us. Was it confusing? Not for me, but that’s not to say that it isn’t for others. Discussion=Good.

  • Impressive! I have been watching the web site for a couple or more years and was a small contributor to your kickstarter campaign ages and ages ago. Loved the short. Looking forward to the feature.

  • Ryan,
    Great short. I watched it, carefully reviewed the comments here and watched it again. Solid production! While I disagree with a couple points of criticism here, I hope in the face of such criticism that you and the the NFS community avoid being defensive. Not because the film doesn’t deserve to be defended… it definitely does. But more because it conveys unapproachability. It prevents you as a filmmaker and those of us participating from learning why that viewer struggled through it. Ask questions, consider opinions.
    I’m excited to see the feature, and if it reflects the same level as this short, it will do very well.
    Thanks for your VALUABLE contribution to the film community!

    • Thanks Stephen. That is of course my goal, but… we all miss shots. :) The BTS post(s) will hopefully embody the spirit of sharing that is this site’s raison d’etre.

  • Brilliant Ryan, I was totally captivated by the story and characters. Looking forward to MANCHILD, keep us all posted on your big project as it unfolds.

  • I love it. It’s a simple but well told story that most of us can relate to because for me it really is a metaphor about life itself: half the world is out there trying to hustle the other half… sometimes you play, sometimes you get played. It has a nice pace, it’s well written, the performances are solid and it’s visually quite good (i love both the cinematography and the locations). Well done, congratulations Ryan!!!

    • Re: “sometimes you play, sometimes you get played” — exactly, it brings a smile to my face when people really get it. Thanks Fernando!

      • Speaking of playing; Ryan when and where can we read about the gear you shot with, what your production schedule entailed etc? I ,and I’m sure others, would be interested to know the technical details of your shoot.

        • Gonna post that in a few days! Need to promo this in the sports world and then check with DP, DIT etc. to make sure I don’t get something.

  • VinceGortho on 04.18.13 @ 3:58PM

    Well done! Nice twist ending.
    The shots were fine. Hopefully your write up involves budget.
    I’m also curious to know what you used for Audio.

  • Some of the criticism raised here has been constructive and true imo and I’m a bit disappointed how the whole community including Ryan himself reacted to that.

  • Great short Ryan! Even if I can see minor things that I would have done differently (a tiny bit faster) I really believe it’s great, and better than anything I have done so far. I am thrilled to follow your work with your feature. You are an inspiration for many of us (at least me!)

  • Great work Ryan! Felt very cinematic, and felt like I was already watching a feature. Cinematography was great, audio was pristine, and the actors were very solid. That should definitely set the tone with future investors, so they’ll know they’ll be getting involved with a quality production.

    The only thing that I felt could have been useful was some more visual dynamic. Something to help tell the story other than just words (which is hard to do when your story is based around verbal manipulation). Anything that might contradict with either of the stories that either actor is doing. Personally, I couldn’t help feel a bit of tension just from the fact this dude who could just as easily be from the mafia is approaching some kid outside of school hours, with nobody else alone. But his whole tone was so soothing, albeit a bit slimy, that I lost that feeling of tension and pretty quickly accepted that he just had an agenda.

    I love the small parallel between the one on one game at the start, and how that sets the tone for how Anton plays Dominguez later in the film. The ducking and weaving, the taunting. The gloating afterwards – very nice.

    Also, I can’t help but wonder, is there any level of personal ironic statement in your title, about the position you find yourself in? (Wanting more funding, but essentially having to prove you’re a capable director first)

  • Before watching the film, I was apprehensive as I don’t usually like sports movies but I found it to be a solid, concise little film.

    The performances were excellent, always the thing that makes or breaks a small film. I would like to read more articles about directing actors on NFS.

    Congratulations on getting a film made, it is a long and often arduous process. I am in Post Production for my own short film ‘WATERCOOLER’ at the moment, here are some stills if you are interested:

  • Way to go. Looking forward to the future when I can say we used to read Koo’s blog before he became a hot shot Hollywood director! (Used to be in the same screenwiting class as Chris Columbus at an actual film school -NYU- before he directed Home Alone, Mrs Doubtfire, Harry Potter(s) and became a mini-mogul…) …and can probably drop about 10 other famous names from that period…Film making is all about always learning new things so NFS is a great daily read and am sure there are many other NFS readers who will go on to make great films.

  • Ryan & crew
    Nice work! You produced something that has me intrigued for the next chapter. I’m excited to see how everything plays out. I’m also interested to see how your model of producing a short to create buzz for the feature works as well. So far, it looks like you are on the right track.

    One little thing jumped out at me. Dominguez’s audio got really tight which was odd because they were in a gym. It needed some ambiance or space.

    It’s interesting reading all the comments to see different forms of criticism from viewers. Everybody is going to have their own opinion on how it should be done. The most important thing, is you got it done and have something out there…and its pretty damn good. There’s a lot of people who wished they could have gotten that far. As for me, your project gives me inspiration to get out from behind the computer and go get out behind the camera and produce something.

    Absorb all the all the criticism, try not to take it personally and use it to make the next feature even better.

    Keep up the great work!

  • How many times have you directed really? I can’t believe that this was actually your “first”. Anyway, you should continue to focus on getting your feature as tight as this short. Don’t stress yourself out and worry about the money. I have a feeling that it’s sure to come. All the best.

  • Bravo! That threw me off. i was expecting the recruiter to throw in some terrible spin on the kid. That little spin left me wanting more. lol awesome

  • Peter Kelly on 04.20.13 @ 2:31PM

    really liked it koo.

    One small thing, the guys suit looked awful, scruffy and badly fitted, a small detail but worth paying attention to i would say.

    well done on it

      • Peter Kelly on 04.21.13 @ 5:19AM

        Ok, well in that case that didn’t come across really in my opinion.

        It looked like bad wardrobe, rather then a character who was dressed badly

        • I will take that up with the wardrobe department. But actually there was no wardrobe department — one of the many things that doesn’t exist on a low-budget short. If someone’s main issue with this film is one character’s ill-fitting suit didn’t come across as ill-fitting enough — or was too ill-fitting, I can’t tell which — I’m 100% fine with that. :)

          • Peter Kelly on 04.21.13 @ 6:31PM

            Like I said, I really liked the piece Koo, that was my main issue, and for me it was an issue (small but had an impact on my viewing of the film). I found it distracting.

            If he was meant to be scruffily dressed maybe its more of a directorial issue then a wardrobe issue?

            I think sometimes you could take constructive criticism/conversation better.

            Once again I really liked the piece, just offering my observation.

            • I think we’re both being totally constructive but the lack of tone in a text box is making it seem like we’re at odds or something… I’m not taking your comment the wrong way at all! “There was no wardrobe department” is not me being defensive, it’s just me saying… there was no wardrobe department. In fact, in the film the players are wearing my own shirts, socks, shorts, shoes, pants, duffel bag…

          • shaun wilson on 04.21.13 @ 9:00PM

            To me the scruffiness of that character worked really well, makes it have an emotion that suggests the struggle of the young basketball player. Nice touch. The worst thing to do is to make it polished and slick, creates a world for the film that is mirrored in the plot. Am hoping manchild has the same rugged look, grittyness would work well from the synopsis I’ve read. Love to see more.

          • Juan J Nevarez on 04.28.13 @ 1:57AM

            Great work, specially considering the fact that it is a low budget, the main thing is doing the best with the little that you have.

  • Nice so far! What camera are you shooting with?

  • Nice, and really like the short!!

    You really nailed the casting too.

  • Excellent short. Loved it. WIsh you guys success!!!

  • That was fucking brilliant. Loved the concept; fantastic actors; beautifully lensed; subtle and gorgeous color; low-key and engaging sound.

    One question: Where do all the self-appointed Pauline Kaels come from on this site? Film criticism is not about nitpicking in a vacuum. Generally it requires some type credential, or at least a firm grasp of the craft you’re attempting to critique. This filmmaker has put forth his art, and instead of really taking it in, you douches pixel-peep it like you’ve been tapped for a test-market focus group. Some of you clearly didn’t even pay attention to the short. (Really? You don’t see why the guy’s suit is baggy? And seriously? You don’t get why a guy wold lie for $300?)

    Just because you have a free forum to talk to an artist, doesn’t mean you have anything worth saying.

    • Actually Shawn, film criticism requires NO credentials, and no “grasp” of the craft (how many times has a critic mixed up a tilt with a pan?). Here, you have folks who LOVE film, they watch it, talk about it, its history, its makers, its style and creation– I’d say many folks writing and reading here are as much an “expert” as most film “critic.”

      And criticism should never be written off so easy. For it is often in those questions, that an artist grows.

      RE: wardrobe, I remember Chris Carter saying that they initially tried clothes from JC Penny for Mulder and Scully on the X-Files, because that’s where those agents would shop. BUT the close looked like shit. So they went with designer suits. So the comment about the suit is valid, and Ryan’s answer left me more confused.

      As I wrote earlier, the movie is technically wonderful, but the story has problems. And when pointed out, Ryan comes off as defensive, which felt unexpected and well, amateurish.

      • It’s true , you don’t need credentials to place a critique, just don’t expect people to take it seriously. Some people like to spit anything and expect creators to take it as constructive criticism for the simple fact he’s using proper words.
        Without credentials whatever you are saying should be taken as your personal opinion and that’s it. Or else the same comment is stated by a lot more people then it’s taken as an audience test.

      • Chriss, you’re certainly right that there are professional film critics who fall down on their jobs. But why set the bar at the lowest common denominator? The greats, such as Kael, Anthony Lane and Roger Ebert, did and do have a very firm grasp of the craft. Moreover, and more to my point, they had something meaningful to say. A movie buff with a keyboard and an internet connection might also add value to a discussion, but shouldn’t get a carte blanche just because he “loves” films.

        Among the many wonderful insights in the comments, there’s a wealth of syntactically-deficient nitpicking that’s predicated on half-baked presumptions. My wish, really, is that people would think before typing. Take in the film. Let its impression swirl around and marinate before volleying up something like, “The fourth cut in Act II was .467 seconds too long. That’s really distracting for me, Koo.”

        As for the suit comment: So you watch someone’s finished film, which many agree is damn good. And when it’s done, you reach out to the director on his forum and your big reaction is: You didn’t like one of the character’s outfits. I fail to see the merit in that. It’s quite silly, in fact.

        This filmmaker is presenting a finished work here, not crowd sourcing a script. If you’re going to take the time to weigh in on it, make it meaningful. Be the signal, not the noise.

        • Peter Kelly on 04.22.13 @ 5:53PM

          I don’t think making an observation about the film is silly. Ryan is inviting observation by sharing his film.

          My suit comment is valid because it was my opinion. Wheter anyone cares or not what I think is up to them but when I look at a film I am entitled to re-act and respond same as anyone else.

          I thought the suit looked like bad wardrobe. It was distracting from the story. He was supposed to e scruffy, to me that wasn’t clear.

          I would say the error is that Ryan didn’t have a wardrobe / costume department. (Ryan with your stature I’m sure you could have got someone to do it for little/nothing) and I my opinion it would have improved the film. Whether Ryan listens is up to him. Disagree with me, that’s fine, but tell me my comment is naive, not picky or silly and your naive and ignorant about what art is

          • Peter, let me see if I understand your point. You are free to make comments deriding the itty bitty nuances of others’ work as you please, and they should deal with that because your opinion is valid. And it’s validity stems from the fact that it’s, well, your opinion. BUT, if someone critiques your observation, you have a problem with it. That sounds even sillier than your nitpicking.

          • “Ryan is inviting observation by sharing his film. ”
            for me he is inviting us to watch it and to like it or not. observations is a plus.

            “My suit comment is valid because it was my opinion”
            every opinion is valid, therefore, all opinion have the same value, therefore, no opinion really matters. In the end is all about: did you like or did you dislike the movie? When we like we create an opinion explaining why we liked it. When we dislike we create an opinion explaining why we disliked, and when we disliked and want to be civilized we go around finding little “problems” to justify our position.

            “Disagree with me, that’s fine, but tell me my comment is naive, not picky or silly and your naive and ignorant about what art is”

            what is naive in the end is to pretend that a comment is objective and that also we can objectively analyze a work of art. Even “pro” critics in the end are funny, for example, Roger Ebert gave 3 stars to “Clockwork Orange” the same way he gave 3 stars to “Van Helsing”. For me that is funny, but it´s his right to have this king of “art filtering” in his reality tunnel.

            Now, I liked Ryan Koo´ short movie.

            For me what you see as a wardrobe problem is part of the solution for the character. The character is a sloppy guy, not even did his research in the teenager player well enough, so why not let his dressing habits to express his sloppiness? ;)

            See? it depends on how you see things in the end… as RAW (Robert Anton Wilson) used to say, the sad man sees a sad world, the happy man, a happy world, the angry man, an angry world, so on and on and on… when we like a movie, we “get it right” the small pieces that makes the whole, when we don´t like it, we decide where it should be fixed… we all do that, you and, again, even roger ebert, in his review for Kubrick´s Eyes wide shut, said the movie should be less enigmatic, with less double meaning in some parts -because he did not like it so much. Those who liked it got it, it´s a dream state what the move evoke, so being enigmatic and full of double meaning is part of the whole piece… in the end, be you a “qualified” critic or an amateur one, the emotional part always comes first. The rational part is there just to justify the emotional output to the art we contemplate.

    • Bravo, Shawn, agreed! We here in Brazil also prefer to watch and enjoy a short, rather than “pixel-peep” (loved!) it… – those who do it maybe do so out of angst ’cause it wasn’t ‘em doing the thing? Probably not… ;)

      For Koo: outstanding work fellow! It transpires through the whole thing all your passion and effort, in fact, how all your passion and leadership inspired everyone to give their best in order to accomplish such a fine art! I undertand quite well what you’ve been/are through, being and “independent filmmaker” (nice term)/”do the whole f***** thing yourself” (real term) myself, as many others here.

      In their name, I do not congratulate “you” Koo – for as a person you’re just another passionate dreamer as we all are; I congratulate what you REPRESENT – for many of us, quite an EXAMPLE to follow!

      Pardom my broken English, cheers from all the Brazilian guys down here.

  • Great tone, nice twist, well shot, cool acting.. excellent work Koo, will spread this as much as I can.. congrats you should be proud!

  • Ryan, well done, awesome film. Thank so much for the inspiration. You have given way more to this community than what you have received. Thus, your efforts are sustainable. That’s what it is all about right? Moving forward.

    I know this effort marks just a taste of things to come for you. I thought your film showed high production values, solid acting, and a good grasp of pacing and storytelling. In my opinion you hit all the right beats for a 9 minute piece. Congratulations Ryan.

    Also posted a short article my blog about your film and shared it on social media:

  • Great job again Koo.

    Very good sound. In 5.07 I can see a lavalier (at the neck) on the main actor. Wath did you use to capture this amazing sound?

    Thank so much Koo!

    • Congratulations Crisstian, you are the first commenter to catch this! Yes, that drove me crazy in the late stages of editing but A) I didn’t notice it for the first several (dozen) passes so I thought it unlikely anyone else would, and B) when I asked people they thought it could have played as a piece of jewelry or something. I’m not sure about the lavs, I will find out for our BTS post.

      • Thank again you Koo.
        Any release date for the BTS post?

        I wish you all the succes with this movie Koo!

        • Yes, initially I thought so myself: it can be chain with pendant or something but when you said you did not use boom then the only option was Lavalier, so I looked carefully to see any trace of Lavalier; ))

          Successes KOO!

          • We did use a boom, definitely! (I don’t think I said anywhere that we didn’t use a boom?) A good approach is to get audio from both sources.

  • My 2 cents: very nicely done in all respects. Actors performed wonderfully. Best of luck with the feature. Now for a few more cents in the form of a suggestion to the moderators and friends of this site… Perhaps in the future, rather than engaging the dissenters who enjoy aimlessly nitpicking, simply offering a “thank you for your input” would suffice. I literally couldn’t get past reading the first 4 or 5 comments due to the lengthy rebuttals in Ryan’s defense. The ensuing verbal sparring between posters amounts to graffiti cluttering up the positive space and just encourages more of the same.

  • I liked it alot the pacing was great, the mood and tone felt right and the ending was hysterical. Definitely interested in the feature. If people have to nitpick about the wardrobe in a short than you must be doing something right lol.

  • Hi there,

    Really nice website, really nice film. I must say I found weird the line of the “thanks man” when he gives him the money but afterwards, knowing the end, completely justified. The beginning is nicely shot, love the editing. I think some more work can be done on the colors when they go outside (it seem a bit blueish) but I am being picky. Very good work, wish you the best for the feature !

  • Nice mood, good camera work, excellent acting – I was with you all most till the end. You have a nice middle income, loving mom and dad, caring enough to come pick up their young son, and they show no concern to who their pride and joy was talking to.
    I think the recruiter dogged bullet; he might have had a pathological lair on this team.

  • Great interesting short with atmosphere and intrigue.Well written script with great camera work .You deserve to get funded for a bigger project.Well done

  • Hey Ryan, great short. I’ve already posted on my facebook page, and I’m following AMATEUR on Twitter. BTW when you start producing MANCHILD, you can count on me for your poster design. That would be my support to Manchild.
    Good luck!


  • Russell Steen on 04.26.13 @ 11:22AM

    I chuckled because I knew the comments would have a bunch of criticism, and sure enough. People who are into the craft of filmmaking can’t help themselves. Let’s see… I prefer not to go handheld when the subjects aren’t moving, and I might have sped up the pace of the conversation, bit of a continuity color shift when they go outside. . .
    Here’s what I like: Some nice shots, and no tech flaws that would take me out of the story. The basketball player could act and really play basketball. How rare is that? I can’t remember watching a basketball movie where I didn’t think I could play better than everyone on the screen. It seems most directors obviously can’t see how badly their cast and extras are mauling the game of basketball, even though they are supposed to be great players.
    I didn’t see the hit coming. Just when I was about to throw up my hands and accuse you of using every stereotypical convention. . . inner city black kid. . . needs rent money. . . recruiter pulls out some cash. . .
    Boom. You got me. I love when a story makes you go “What?”
    I like the comment above about the kid being a pathological liar. I guess we know he can act.

  • Russell Steen on 04.26.13 @ 11:54AM

    Went back to look at the walk out the double doors. I think what I “saw” the first time was this cut as a continuation in real time and not a compression of time. That’s why the light level and color shift hit me. On the second look I got it, but perhaps cutting out of the scene at the end of their conversation in the locker room sooner would prevent dummies like me from missing that they have moved out of the locker room and are now at the exit. Hey, you guys put the text box here. :)

  • Gaurav Sharma on 04.29.13 @ 2:54AM

    Great work Ryan… look forward to your feature! Please do post a BTS of this film soon!

  • Have to say I too noticed the ill fitted suit which took me out of the story a bit as I didn’t believe the guy was legit and by the end it seems as the kid sized him up as well! Lol… some nice camera work with the one on one play…my only suggestion is you might consider cutting the dialog a little quicker. There seemed to be too much time between. Best of luck to you!

  • Meh….

    I could not watch more than a minute of this, because I don’t like sport and have zero interest in it. (sorry)
    However, that does not take away anything from Koo’s work. One thing I really, really loved is the SOUND!
    It wasn’t second rate as most low budget ones. That alone will make the movie more credible as a pro-movie.

    Without seeing the whole movie one can not critic it as many of you did. It’s like looking at your shoes and make a character judgment or something like that :) It’s just a small part of the movie shown and we have no clue what the rest looks like.
    Movies are art, either you like it or not.
    H-wood turns out a bunch of shit and people love most of it.

  • Jamie Barge on 09.25.13 @ 12:40AM

    Hi Ryan….I so loved it!!!! It was a fabulous job. Even tho the prequel was considred “Low Budget” that was the best low budget work I’ve ever seen in life. It had such great quality. I reposted it on my facebook and wanted others to chime in….but I guess my FB people were to busy for the forum. Loved the twist. Keep up the fabulous work.