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Author Topic: McKinley! - a film by yours truly  (Read 4429 times)
The Peacemaker
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« on: April 13, 2011, 10:29:50 PM »

Hello all! Recently I have been working with my film team on a short comedy that we entered into Campus Movie Fest, the nation's leading college film festival. We won Best Comedy at my school, as well as Best Actor for the role of the villain, and a secondary prize, plus we get to move onto the international level.  Cool

Anyhows, I have posted a link to the full version of the movie below rather than the shorter (and I feel slightly inferior) version currently competing in the festival. I would certainly appreciate some comments, thoughts and suggestions regarding the film. It is titled "McKinley!"


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6GNeXD6mh4

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cigar joe
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« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2011, 06:08:03 AM »

Great work  Afro, looks like you filmed at the Mohonk Mountain House grounds, that was the Paltz Point tower filling in for the villain's  hide out, lol.

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« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2011, 12:00:49 PM »

I love that bird!

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« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2011, 12:56:42 PM »

Anyhows, I have posted a link to the full version of the movie below rather than the shorter (and I feel slightly inferior) version currently competing in the festival.
Been there, bro. It sucks, but in some cases it also helps to kill your darlings.

I loved the movie. For some reason I was expecting something more serious but it was hilariously goofy. The McKinley robot, the bird, the flag used as a spear, not to mention some awesome dialogue - all in all wonderful Afro

BTW, what camera did you use?

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« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2011, 01:02:31 PM »

I love that bird!
I loved that babe! Well, to each his own . . .

You and your crew certainly got several chuckles out of me. Good work! And if there's ever a Rise of the Daleks: The Movie, you guys will be a shoe-in for the job.

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« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2011, 06:36:39 PM »

The short films I have been doing in college have been very serious so far, so with this movie we wanted to go all-out comedy. Glad the movie was enjoyed, it certainly is not expected to be taken seriously, we just want people to have a good time watching it and that's all.

And yes Cigar Joe, all the scenes were shot just below the summit of Mohonk Mountain. The first scene was shot in an open field beside Mohonk Road and the climax was shot in the Mohonk Mountain Preserve (about 50 feet away from the resort). Originally the plan was for the Mohonk Mountain House to be the villain's lair and we were to get the shot from atop the tower in the film which now serves as his lair. (This is what the shot would have looked like: http://www.rockhillridge.com/images/hayes/Mohonk_I.jpg )   However, on three separate occasions my film crew and I tried to buy visitor's passes to the resort and all three times we were given different excuses as to why we could not go up there. I am very upset because we were turned away, my assumption is they discriminated against us seeing as we are a bunch of college kids going onto a prestigious hotel resort's grounds.

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The Peacemaker
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« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2011, 06:44:10 PM »

Oh and the camera we used belongs to my D.P. (who I must say is amazingly talented). I believe it's a Canon 60d.

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cigar joe
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« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2011, 12:10:50 AM »

The short films I have been doing in college have been very serious so far, so with this movie we wanted to go all-out comedy. Glad the movie was enjoyed, it certainly is not expected to be taken seriously, we just want people to have a good time watching it and that's all.

And yes Cigar Joe, all the scenes were shot just below the summit of Mohonk Mountain. The first scene was shot in an open field beside Mohonk Road and the climax was shot in the Mohonk Mountain Preserve (about 50 feet away from the resort). Originally the plan was for the Mohonk Mountain House to be the villain's lair and we were to get the shot from atop the tower in the film which now serves as his lair. (This is what the shot would have looked like: http://www.rockhillridge.com/images/hayes/Mohonk_I.jpg )   However, on three separate occasions my film crew and I tried to buy visitor's passes to the resort and all three times we were given different excuses as to why we could not go up there. I am very upset because we were turned away, my assumption is they discriminated against us seeing as we are a bunch of college kids going onto a prestigious hotel resort's grounds.

yea they can be picky

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« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2011, 08:02:27 AM »

Very nice job Peace. I laughed really hard at the "Where are they now" montage at the end. Your leading lady is quite attractive. Afro Afro Afro

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« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2011, 12:06:38 AM »

I expected this to be like your super serious previous film but boy was I wrong!
This was a lot of fun.
Got some good laughs out of it which great considering that it's difficult to find anything humorous in today's two and a half hour comedies.
I'd like to hear details on how the robot McKinley prop was constructed.

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« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2011, 10:40:56 PM »

I expected this to be like your super serious previous film but boy was I wrong!
This was a lot of fun.
Got some good laughs out of it which great considering that it's difficult to find anything humorous in today's two and a half hour comedies.
I'd like to hear details on how the robot McKinley prop was constructed.

Glad you enjoyed it! Yeah, I definitely wanted to do something much lighter this time around but still make a historical film. The four central characters in the movie are actual people who were involved in the McKinley assassination in one way or another (we have side-by-side comparisons of the of the actors in costume and their real-life counterparts here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/fbx/?set=a.193899427318909.42156.100434516665401).


As for the robot, we built the entire thing in three long, grueling weeks with numerous trips to Home Depot. The torso is basically a metallic trash can which we banged out the distinctive ridges. The neck is an air vent joiner, the head is a plastic bowl which contains a brain made of clay and uncolored jello for the liquid inside. The arms were claw reaching devices that they sell at CVS. The wheels were old-styled bicycle wheels (two large wheels for the drive wheels and training wheels for it's trailing wheels which you don't really see in most of the shots). We basically moved the robot by pulling it on fishing wire. We also used fishing line to motion his arms.

For the exhaust pipes on his back trunk (a piece made of sheet metal) we just used pvc pipe but we sealed off the bottoms with a plug and some caulk. To create the smoke we chipped off pieces of a 50 pound block of dry ice, then dropped them down the pvc pipes. Then we took heated water and poured it down the pipes to create a smoke-like vapor which travelled up and out of the "exhaust" pipes.

The robot body was spray painted with metallic black paint to make it look like early 20th century iron and other sections like the arms and shoulders were painted copper.

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« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2011, 01:27:09 AM »

We also used fishing line to motion his arms.
You don't say! Grin

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« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2011, 03:45:40 AM »

Very funny, very well done, very creative. Your anarchist plays pretty well and has an interesting face. I remember him from your western.
Now some technical criticisms: I'd fasten up the editing qt some places. I'm not talking about fasten up the pacing, I know you don't want to, I'm talking about some shots that would work much better if you remove some useless photograms. Also, be careful when playing with depth of field. The shot where he takes the gun is very"wow look at what I can do with my camera I can blur out everything above the first 3 centimeters!". Same with the long traveling at the anarchist HQ toward the begining: it looks very pro and works very well but the depth of field is a bit too shallow, it's distracting and gives a kind of strange dream feeling to the scene.
I would also change some settings in color correction, the whole thing is a bit too bright for me. I would actually darken just a little bit dark and middle tons.
Last, and probably the less important, when playing in HD, especially full screen, the fishing lines get pretty noticeable. That could easily be fixed in after effect. Actually, if you could find someone who knows AE, most moves from the robot could be done by CGI (as long as the robot itself isnot CGI). By the way you probably have someone for AE, the opening sequence is done with it, right? Or is it just Photoshop+your editing software?

Anyway, I had a great time watching this, made me laugh, and I didn't see that bloodshot coming when he dies!

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« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2011, 10:14:54 AM »

Last, and probably the less important, when playing in HD, especially full screen, the fishing lines get pretty noticeable. That could easily be fixed in after effect.

You didn't think it was intentional?

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« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2011, 12:02:52 PM »

Very funny, very well done, very creative. Your anarchist plays pretty well and has an interesting face. I remember him from your western.
Now some technical criticisms: I'd fasten up the editing qt some places. I'm not talking about fasten up the pacing, I know you don't want to, I'm talking about some shots that would work much better if you remove some useless photograms. Also, be careful when playing with depth of field. The shot where he takes the gun is very"wow look at what I can do with my camera I can blur out everything above the first 3 centimeters!". Same with the long traveling at the anarchist HQ toward the begining: it looks very pro and works very well but the depth of field is a bit too shallow, it's distracting and gives a kind of strange dream feeling to the scene.
I would also change some settings in color correction, the whole thing is a bit too bright for me. I would actually darken just a little bit dark and middle tons.
Last, and probably the less important, when playing in HD, especially full screen, the fishing lines get pretty noticeable. That could easily be fixed in after effect. Actually, if you could find someone who knows AE, most moves from the robot could be done by CGI (as long as the robot itself isnot CGI). By the way you probably have someone for AE, the opening sequence is done with it, right? Or is it just Photoshop+your editing software?

Anyway, I had a great time watching this, made me laugh, and I didn't see that bloodshot coming when he dies!

Glad you liked it. Here is my response to some of the critiques listed.

1) I somewhat agree with the editing pace. There are a few shots where I'd like to cut out just a few frames, however because this is the director's cut I wanted to flesh out the movie as much as possible. For the future student film festivals I intend on "trimming some of the fat" as some editor's would say. However I do not think the editing pace is sluggish. Just needs a slight trim, but it's not really necessary.

2) I also agree with you about the gun shot. My DP wanted to go ultra-ultra shallow which wasn't my original intention. However, as you said, it's sort of a "wow, look how cool this shot is!" kind of thing. Our target audience is college students at student film festivals, so I let him do the shot simply to show-off a bit (worked well cos I heard several students in the campus movie fest audience say "oh wow" and "awesome shot").

3) We will be doing color correction for future festivals. We were going to for the youtube cut but I wanted to put it up around the same time as the shortened CMF cut (so that more people would watch the good version) so we had no time to. Color correction will be worked on next week.

4) We deliberately purchased the thickest fishing line so it would be noticeable. We made most of the movie cheesy for comedic effect, so as Groggy mentioned, the whole thing was intentional.

In fact, as a bit of trivia, we place an inside-joke during the bird scene: the Polish subtitles that appear when the bird squawks is roughly translated to "The special effects in this film are questionable at best."

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