October 28, 2014 at 2:04PM

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What do you think of our $150 Holocaust Short?

Hello NFSers!

I was going to keep this short private, but I'm pretty confident in this community to bring great feedback to our work.

I made this for Project Greenlight this year, and made it to the top 200. Seems they're looking for a comedy this year, as most of those who advanced were in the comedy category.

Nonetheless, I'm very happy with how it came out. Would love to hear your thoughts! I'd be glad to talk shop and answer any questions...

A Couple Notes:
-All actors were paid with pizza! (The Great Motivator) And this was the first film shoot for all of them.
-Nazi Costumes were rented from a theatrical company, the rest were handmade.
-Shot in my basement over 4 hours time.
-There is only 1 line in the whole piece, created to tell an entire story with almost no words spoken.
-Shot on C100, graded with FilmConvert.
-Almost all sound is Foley, with the exception of the lake flashback.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIRW3Uxm9Fg

Thanks for viewing!
Jordan

16 Comments

loved it

October 28, 2014 at 8:31PM

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Michael Militscher
Director / Commercial Producer
2548

The idea is good. I love the illumination :D

October 29, 2014 at 3:48AM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7572

Thanks guys, good to hear.

October 29, 2014 at 10:29AM

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Jordan Mederich
Documentarian / Filmmaker
1330

Very good! Only criticism is that the line is delivered in a pretty noticeable American accent, but that just a minor quibble.

October 29, 2014 at 3:37PM

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Brian Healy
Director/Cinematographer/Editor
111

Great work bro! Do you have anymore footage online?

October 29, 2014 at 8:46PM

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Jonathan Figaro
Screenwriter, Filmmaker, Entrepreneur
86

Hey Jonathan,

Do you mean raw footage from this piece, or other work we've done?

Up to this point it's mostly been commercial work, this is the first fiction piece I've made, and actually it was the first thing I shot on the C100 when I got it (yes, I actually just bought it, and love it).

Jordan Mederich

October 30, 2014 at 12:28PM

For me, the end was very powerful and is what made me love this. It could have used more of a buildup I think, which I am unsure of a specific way to go about that besides more clean-cut cinematography and camera work.

The overhead lighting was effective when used on the nazis. Beyond that though I have some qualms. Which I know won't really make a difference because the film is already made, but here goes.

At the beginning I think it would have been good to start out with the entire room dimly lit by that one candle. With the overhead light, the candle going out didn't have as much an effect as it could have. If we moved through a dark room, able to make out shadowy figures asleep on the bunks, then ended with the little girl's face illuminated as she gazes at the candle, I think it would have been better.

Also I think some more grading might've helped the look. Can't quite put my finger on it though...

Then camera and sound- excellent foley. If you hadn't mentioned it I wouldn't have figured it out. Mostly because I'm not very sound-oriented yet, but you still fooled me. I think there were too many instances where the action went stale because there was no sound and there was no action in the frame. I'll be honest, I almost clicked away because of this- I just lost interest. If there's not much going on, do some unique framing, like closeup of the eyes or something, to keep it moving.

Also the pistol. I know this probably couldn't have been easily done, but it would have been good to get a WWII- era german pistol. You almost got that by me but my dad's the gun nut who calls this stuff out when we watch movies... I think I got it from him.

But all in all, fantastic. I'm glad I stuck it out to the end, I was surprised how powerfully it touched me.

October 30, 2014 at 1:23AM

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Torsten Pearson
Writer-Director-Editor
355

Thanks Torsten for the thoughtful response.

Indeed, it's no perfect film. We considered using music to fill those voids you mentioned, but found that (while music can evoke strong emotion as well) music in this piece can be comforting, something to remind you you're watching fiction. I wanted it to seem as realistic as possible, though you're right, the availability of a WWII gun was a significant eye sore in trying to stay authentic.

Lighting is always subjective, a hundred directors would light it a hundred different ways. We still needed light in the scene, so the candle wasn't intended to remain as a light source, more of a metaphor for 'warmth'... as in, when it goes out, they're all alone, and very cold.

Again, thanks for your response, very glad it made an impact on you!

Jordan Mederich

October 30, 2014 at 12:26PM

Very good! Which lenses/rig/lights did you use?

October 30, 2014 at 2:05PM, Edited October 30, 2:05PM

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Simone Salvatore
Filmmaker / Recording Engineer / Musician
228

Hi Simone,

Actually you'd be shocked (or maybe you wouldn't) how ghetto our set up was. No rigs, just a dolly track made out of PVC, LED lighting with an exterior 650W outside the window. All shot on the 24-105L. Because of our time constraints, we needed to limit multiple lighting set ups and lens changes.

Jordan Mederich

October 30, 2014 at 3:14PM

This is really good, the 2:04 is the only thing I did not like, I feel like it's a little bit over acted. But I loved the "shhh" thing between them, for 150 bucks this is a brilliant job mate.

October 30, 2014 at 11:54PM

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Tommy Plesky
Director / D.P / Editor
1927

I'm glad you mentioned that, actually. Like I mentioned, everyone in this short was either from the theater world (where you have to act BIG) or had never acted before. The main little girl and the hero Nazi are father/daughter, they'd never acted before. So it was pretty important to either get new actors to break out a bit, or pull the theatrical actors back and find that balance.

Jordan Mederich

October 31, 2014 at 12:26PM, Edited October 31, 12:26PM

I enjoyed it. Great use of your basement. The candle going out was my favorite shot. For the amount you spent on this, I think it is excellent!

October 31, 2014 at 1:45PM

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Jonathan Goossen
International Videographer
120

Awesome.. Great work

October 31, 2014 at 4:49PM

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R A
Indie Film Maker
86

You chose a subject matter that will be difficult to criticize but here goes it.

The story is pretty safe and pretentious. For a Nazi period piece where there could be high stakes drama no matter which direction you are interested in, this film has no actual conflict, risk, or intensity. A Nazi officer who bares no consequence for letting a young jewish girl live after an offense has no backbone, no honesty.

You need to push yourself further, find deeper complex characters and tell stories about real tribulations not melodrama. And no one cares about the $150 budget, you will only be judged on the end project. That should be your focus.

I just envision many of the same compositions with real characters being very impactful, minus the dream sequence.

November 1, 2014 at 11:37PM

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Indie Guy
1305

I'd have to pretty strongly disagree with you...

If you actually watched in detail, the answers would surface for you. It takes place in 1939, before Holocaust death camps became what we all know they became, especially Dachau. It was a very clean and orderly place. This story aims to show one of the FIRST attempted murders at the Dachau camp.

The Nazi General turned away and exited before the shot was heard, he would have no idea the guard didn't actually follow through.

And of course we don't parade that we only spent $150, only here where filmmakers like to know that kind of stuff. So, clearly this piece doesn't mean anything to YOU, the viewer's mood entirely affects the viewing of a piece. And perhaps seeing many positive comments before viewing it set you up for disappointment.

I'll accept your opinion, but next time try actually watching with purposeful intent before throwing around "what nobody cares about".

Jordan Mederich

November 6, 2014 at 11:53AM

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