Okay, well first things first, it's good to see clever narrative strategy at work from you guys.
I'm a big fan of the film Déjà Vu, and the whole 'catching a glimpse of yourself changing things' is a nice concept, and you pulled it off well. That being said, there are three things that bring this down a lot, and make it almost uncomfortable to sit through. Here goes:Kids playing adults. Just don't do it.
Unless they've got facial hair, it's going to seem really
bad. I've done it before, and it didn't really work, but at least I pulled off the facial hair
motif. Especially when you've got an 'old shopkeeper' - you need someone old
I know it can be tough to find people, let alone convince them to act, but if you write such a part into your story, it is a necessity that an adult play the role
. If you don't have anyone to play the role, you've got to cut it out of the film
. Sometimes it doesn't seem like a big deal, especially when you're filming it, but it is
. What would otherwise have been a solid end-product comes off as trite and mostly cheesy; and it's pretty much solely because of this element.The grading as it pertains to the lighting and time is off. Big time.
This was a big deal to me - why the blue grading, when you so clearly state someone is about to go on vacation? I'm all for doing whatever grading looks the coolest, but when you need to convey a 'summer' atmosphere - and, to really make the Hawaii story 'click', you do
need to - bright, harsh yellows work better than crunched blues. My film 'Pages' has blues in it, but on the whole it's veeery yellow, resulting in a distinctly hot, sweaty 'summer' feel. I'm aware you probably live in a colder climate than Texas (
) but Kuleshov's geography dictates that you need to emphasis aspects of your location even if they aren't obvious. So summer = warm grading almost all the time, especially
when outdoors, which is most of the film.I don't think you understand cinematography, really. At least, not yet.
I don't say this to be rude or overly harsh, but I just don't think you understand cinematography, or why certain shots are important in certain places. You cross the line more than fifteen times by my count, and it's obvious and it looks sloppy. Normally I don't subscribe to cinematographical 'rules' as much, but when you're crossing the 180 degree line so much it's hard to tell where the person is: that's a problem. Cuts would be made to the person walking in a different location than the last, and it would look awkward. Sometimes I wouldn't even know if they were still walking in the same direction or not. Follow-along shots are intermixed with follow-alongs from a slightly similar angle. Not a fan.
When I watched this film, most of it was walking randomly. That's fine, my favorite film I've made is about walking randomly ('Pages', 'Marathon' to an extent) but from the shots I see it just seems evident: you don't really know what you're doing. Some shots are in there just because they're a shot, not because they matter, show anything, or look necessarily good. I hope you realize: I'm criticizing you here because I care about your development as a filmmaking crew, not because I want to tear you down.
There's also an issue with shaky shots: yeah, 'floaty cam' is fine, it's a personal favorite of mine. But a simple pan should be a simple pan, not a 'move a little, pause for a second to frame properly, move a little more, pause again to correct framing'. Pans are easy, come on! Use a tripod if need be.
I think, too often in student productions, people have big ideas about shots and then aren't able to adequately execute them to the best of their ability. Here, at least from what I've seen and can gather from my own recollection, I truly think you didn't really have
a great idea of what you wanted, and proceeded to shoot just anything. Sometimes that works to great effect, especially in a time crunch, but here it just didn't. You might have to come to accept that you might not have the most natural talent in cinematography. That's alright, it's just something you're going to have to hone over time. But there's something I want to stress, and I really want you to pay attention to it: have a reason
to shoot what you shoot, even if that reason is as simple as 'I think this will look cool'. The fundamental error here, to me, is that your visual aesthetics are naturally that great, and your lack of attention to relational editing pulls them down further.
In cinematography, relational editing in terms of aesthetics is a HUGE deal - and that tends to be a big pullback in your productions. When shooting a shot, think about how it relates to other shots you've gotten, and how well they'll go together. You don't have to 'edit' the whole movie in your head, but think 'am I getting this shot just to get a shot, or does it fit with what I need'. To me, after the follow-along and wide shots of the walking, the next obvious shot, relationally would be a telephoto front from the front, roughly 100 feet away from the actor. This would add depth, give more meaning to the walking, and pique visual interest.
Now you might think to yourself 'well, we do this stuff already, so what gives?' - if that's the case, then you need to figure out where you're going wrong; because not all the visual pieces fit together appropriately at the moment.
I know this is going to sound taxing and derogatory, but as mentioned, I am only saying it to be constructive. I'm sorry that my last two reviews of your films have been more criticism than compliments, but I wouldn't say these things if I did not honestly believe you could benefit from them.
3/5, and a solid effort in terms of narrative concepts.