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Don't Forget Me Calvary

eward · 11 · 2858

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eward

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on: November 16, 2018, 11:43:24 PM
I shot this back in February and am just about to finish up post (sound mix is still being tweaked, but in good enough shape to start showing cherished comrades, and the final shot needs some very subtle touching up as well, yadda yadda). I'd be thrilled and humbled to get anyone's thoughts, suggestions, enthusiasms, criticisms, cuts, whatever ya got, hit me - before officially sending it out into the world at as-of-yet untold expense.

Underwent a very anxious, months-long process of writing, rehearsing with the actors, improvising, re-writing, rehearsing, re-writing, ad-nauseam, before finally shooting a rough version of it guerrilla-style on stolen locations in order to get a sense of what was going to doable on the day and what was going to have to be modified. What we wound up shooting a month or so later (on still stolen locations under the gun of time and uncertainty and unpredictable security guards) was an incredibly stripped-down but ultimately more focused and engrossing (I hope) version of the overstuffed craziness that we had started out with.

The very earliest, vaguest iteration of this material all began a year and change ago with a Chris Marker quote glimpsed on a wall in the lobby of Anthology Film Archives following a double 35mm feature of Julien-Donkey Boy and Dancer In the Dark:

"I will have spent my life trying to understand the function of remembering, which is not the opposite of forgetting, but rather its lining. We do not remember. We rewrite memory much as history is rewritten. How can one remember thirst?"

We wound up straying quite far from what this quote initially inspired my imagination to concoct, but I feel it's still relevant, in a way I can no longer quite put my finger on.

The lead actors are two of my closest friends - "Danny" has been my bestie since 4th grade, he's a great writer, and we're currently on our fourth draft of what we've become fond of referring to as a comedy desperate to claw its way out of a horror film, called American Carnage - and we're all playing vague versions of ourselves (I'm the guy in the pictures) and what this will mean to us in years to come remains to be seen...

So, yes, please watch and if you're so inclined, critique/encourage/complain/whatever you feel like doing. Your opinions mean quite a lot to me.

https://vimeo.com/301315915

"Do you laugh at jealousy?"

"No, I don't even laugh at seasickness! I happen to regard jealousy as the seasickness of passion."


WorldForgot

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Reply #1 on: November 17, 2018, 02:29:25 AM
We need a password tho  :)


eward

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Reply #2 on: November 17, 2018, 08:40:22 AM
Silly me: Calvary18
"Do you laugh at jealousy?"

"No, I don't even laugh at seasickness! I happen to regard jealousy as the seasickness of passion."


wilder

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Reply #3 on: November 17, 2018, 08:01:13 PM
Congratulations on getting the whole thing in the can! Watched it twice. I really like your premise of these two friends journeying to their friend’s gravesite, and the story becoming about their relationship to each other and how absolutely self-involved they are. The whole thing gave me Last Detail vibes. Dan, the driver, has a very strong screen presence. He kind of reminds me of Richard E. Grant. There are really funny moments between the two, which work most successfully when we have enough breathing room to take in the difference between them, and specifically when that breathing room lets us differentiate their differing reactions.

This said, I had a hard time with the first couple minutes, because we’re in the midst of getting to know the characters, but it becomes difficult to when they’re talking over each other and require additional effort to understand. If their dynamic with one another (which we do get, partially, from the opening photographs) was already well-established and afterward we saw them bickering to the point of unintelligibility, it would communicate more, but we’re right at the outset when they’re strangers to the audience.

If you’re open to going this direction, I think this can be remedied by cutting out about 30 seconds, a few 10 second chunks, from the opening driving scene — the parts where they’re repeating themselves and talking over each other, which would give us a more discernible linearity in the opening thread:

Quote
From 1:27 - “You always do this, you always do this…” - 1:36. and begin with “The whole reason why I got the ticket…

From 1:40 “I give you time for special things…” - 1:50 and begin with “We got the the ticket because…

From 2:01 “I already feel like a failure” - 2:06 and begin with “The laws are there for a reason.

These are my suggestions based on the shots that I know are there. If you ran full takes of each angle in the driving scene, I'm sure you could finesse it in different ways.


Throughout, there are some really hilarious lines:

Quote
You don’t think we…eclipsed…the funeral, do you? You don’t think that people were paying attention to the fact that we weren’t there and not, you know, the funeral?

A lot of the humor stems from each character's ability to see the flaws in one another, but their blindness to the same qualities in themselves. For me, these comedic moments work best in your short when cut like the above exchange: One character’s absurd statement, followed by the other’s momentary, quiet indignation, underlining it, before responding. I think these brief pauses that acknowledge the ridiculousness of each other’s personalities help ground the tone of the thing, whereas the speedier rhythm makes them run a bit too fleetingly. The areas where there’s a defined statement and defined response (without overlap) sound better, to my ear, not least because it’s easier to attribute separate attitudes to Jack and Dan.

This kind of great comedic exchange happens again, later, when they’re standing at the actual grave site @ 6:36:

Quote
Eric……your kind….smile….and….loving....disposition…was never lost…on your dear friends…Jack and Danny, respectively. Though you likely died screaming, gasping for air….” (Dan turns his head incredulously)

and

Quote
I like to think that...for a moment...somewhere between the frantic calls to loved ones, dangling air masks, unbuckled children…rocketing about the cabin, that at some point in that abject chaos you thought about us, and you thought about how much we mean to you.

It’s fun to watch Dan’s face judging every word of Jack’s attempt at elegant public speaking, especially after it was set up on the opening drive that he’s vehemently opposed to it. They’re not even in the presence of other people at the funeral as they were initially supposed to be, at this point, haha, the whole thing becomes purely performative, for one another. 

Given how well this worked, Jack painfully reciting his off-the-cuff eulogy juxtaposed with Dan’s reaction, I also wanted to see Jack responding to Dan in the same way, with his attempt. The close up of Dan definitely breaks it up, but I also wanted at least a few inserts of Jack’s face taking in Dan’s own shortcomings, as well.

I appreciated the contrast in pace between the first and second half: the anticipatory anxiety of visiting their friend’s gravesite necessitating a snappier, ramped up rhythm on the drive there, and then the reality of the situation settling in and the characters assuming a more somber tone once they arrive. I think even if you cut some of the argumentative overlap from the beginning, you would still maintain this later contrast, because the opening is just that: argumentative, and the later section is their attempt to cooperate with each other out of respect for their friend, which just results in more hilarity because of both their inabilities to get out of their own heads.

I actually lost it when the plane started flying overhead. Your shot of it somehow gave the jet personality, as if it were anthropomorphized and doing it on purpose. Literally laughed out loud. This moment felt very Hal Ashby to me, too, going along with the Last Detail feeling of your beginning. It’s a great high note that your short finishes on.





eward

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Reply #4 on: November 18, 2018, 06:23:48 AM
Wow, terrific notes man, thank you so much for taking the time to watch and respond! You made a lot of excellent points and I will definitely be putting them to use.
"Do you laugh at jealousy?"

"No, I don't even laugh at seasickness! I happen to regard jealousy as the seasickness of passion."


jenkins

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Reply #5 on: November 18, 2018, 04:56:01 PM
i laughed at ~"yep, this is where the new graves are" before feeling inescapably heavy at the grave. this tone was maintained through the remainder of the short and that's good work.

i'm also a fan of wilder's reply.


eward

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Reply #6 on: November 18, 2018, 05:56:37 PM
Thanks man! I appreciate you taking a look!
"Do you laugh at jealousy?"

"No, I don't even laugh at seasickness! I happen to regard jealousy as the seasickness of passion."


eward

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Reply #7 on: November 20, 2018, 10:20:27 AM
Will be tinkering for another week or so, if anyone else cares to chime in! Thanks to anyone/everyone who’s watched so far.
"Do you laugh at jealousy?"

"No, I don't even laugh at seasickness! I happen to regard jealousy as the seasickness of passion."


WorldForgot

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Reply #8 on: November 20, 2018, 11:48:23 AM
Gotta say, wilder covered all the bases!
Your cast is so good, too. Ashby + Linklater vibez for sure, wasn't ever bored by the dialogue. Makes me hype for American Carnage, dude!

Weird note maybe for what’s already a rough cut, but I’d say push your opening credits in closer to the center and maybe chose an outer stroke or drop-shadow on the text. Not that they're tough to read, but the font combined with how close to the frame’s edge, I think they could be easier to read.

 


eward

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Reply #9 on: November 20, 2018, 09:38:26 PM
Great suggestions, thanks!
"Do you laugh at jealousy?"

"No, I don't even laugh at seasickness! I happen to regard jealousy as the seasickness of passion."


eward

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Reply #10 on: December 26, 2018, 10:45:31 PM
New, Slightly Shorter/Better Cut now up for viewing, if anyone wishes to further indulge me. I'm giving myself until January 1 before locking it for good and sending it out into the harsh and all-too-indifferent world.

Note: 4 quick inserts have recently been added which are not yet color-matched to the rest of the cut - this will be remedied within a week - you'll know them when you see them, please forgive.

Password: Calvary18

https://vimeo.com/308018243




"Do you laugh at jealousy?"

"No, I don't even laugh at seasickness! I happen to regard jealousy as the seasickness of passion."