Hopefully by now you’re aware of ‘Big Shorts‘, Stillmotion’s Filmmaking Challenge. In a nutshell, Stillmotion is hosting a great competition to create a 60-120 second short film with certain criteria and will be awarding the best films with a whack of great prizes. You can check out full details over at the Big Shorts contest page.
In the past I’ve considered entering several different film contests but given the time constraints I usually give up from lack of idea or pure laziness. Chris McKenchnie (aka ‘RedEpicGuy’ of theepicguy.com) did just the opposite, turning out an extremely polished and touching short film. This is the first entry I’ve seen for Big Shorts and I think Chris has set the bar pretty high in the Professional category.
I sent Chris an email to see if he’d mind us sharing the piece and he happily replied along with some insight into the shoot, including coming up with the idea and executing it in a very limited amount of time. Check out his comments, and some BTS pics, below;
“When I heard about the Still Motion Big Short Contest, I knew that I wanted to enter since I have never entered a video competition before and I have been a long time follower of the Stillmotion crew. This was my first short film, normally I do a lot of high end corporate/commercials, so I was a little nervous if it would even turn out.
I spent about 1 day conceptualizing ideas. Having to stay within the theme of Home wasn’t difficult, having a family of my own. I just wanted to think of a horrific event (I figured most submitters would focus on the “happy home life,” and I wanted to stand out), so a loss of a child was one I stuck with. Having 1 boy (well 2 if you count the one on the way) of my own, I could never imagine what it would be like to lose a child. I wanted to capture the raw emotion while being true to the given circumstance. After settling on the idea, a day of scriptwriting followed.
The shoot lasted 1.5 days. I storyboarded out all of the shots I wanted to get, knowing that I was going to overshoot the project so I could have enough options in post if something wasn’t cutting together the way I originally thought in the edit. I think today, cinematographers/editors are given so much creative license, we limit our own imagination, so I knew that if I wanted to cut to a shot of “trees” for example, it would be a creative decision, and thought of as “Wow, that was a nice transition to go outside.” I was a one-man-band on this one. No AC, LD, grip, gaffer, audio, etc. The actors helped me lug around gear, but that’s about all the support I had for this film. In terms of capturing the film, I knew I wanted to use my RED Epic. Having all that latitude, resolution, etc, to play with in post is AMAZING! Canon L series primes were mounted to the front, mostly the 24, 50, and 85 were used, though there are a few shots with the Tokina 11-16 (fridge shot) and the Canon 70-200 IS II (memory shots). Obviously there were A LOT of slider shots and I used my Atlas 200 5′ to pull these off. This slider is a beast, but it gives butter smooth shots every time. I used 2 end tables the home had to elevate the slider a bit as well as setting it up on the kitchen counter and table, to make it more comfortable for cooking and I also got the best utensils and knifes from this knife review. I also used a steadicam system and a wooden camera shoulder mount. The camera was NEVER on a tripod because I always feel that movement is so organic, and it gives a more life-like feel to the piece as opposed to being locked off on sticks.
Post lasted 2 days. I used CS6 Premier Pro for the edit even though I’ve been a long-time FCP editor, being able to edit natively with the R3D’s really speeds up that process. I do have a RED Rocket, but why transcode when editing natively is so much more fun? Once the edit was locked, I exported an XML and sent that to Davinci Resolve version 9. The power you have with resolve is astonishing, especially when given RAW files to work with. I exported a 4K master file, then did compression from there.
All-in-all I’m incredibly happy with the way the film turned out. I think each and every viewer will have a different interpretation of what they thought the film meant, which is exactly what I was going for.”
I think Chris hit the right notes with this one. I similarly like to tug on the ole heartstrings in my shorts and he pulled it off for sure. What do you think? Or better yet, think you can do better? There’s still time left to enter the Big Shorts contest. So what are you waiting for?