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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!


Related Posts

  1. 1. Write the Feature. 2. Make a Short. 3. Get the Feature Made. (Coming Soon: a MANCHILD Short)
  2. In NYC? Want to Work with Award-Winning Filmmakers? We're Looking for an Intern or Two on MANCHILD.
  3. My Entire Life Has Been Leading Up to This. Will You Help Me Make My First Feature Film?


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

  • 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 didn’t make the “no drama” comment.

          • Wow, I totally got confused, my bad. These autogenerated avatars all look the same! :)

            (reason #239480193 why our commenting system needs an overhaul)

    • 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

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