Been a week or so dedicating my time to Georgia’s Angel, the short film I made last year. The completion process picked up quite radically in November when Larry Anderson and LIAP Media Corp. from Canada came on board, providnig some completion funding for the film, which had until that time been on hold due to lack of money.
Larry contacted me originally through this blog and I got back in touch with him in October. He was willing to fund the completion of the film, including soundtrack and promotion at festivals in return for a credit and for the opportunity to utilise the film in his own work.
One of the things I’ve had the chance to do in recent weeks is get the “look” of the film right. I blogged earlier how I had been grading and colorizing the picture to give it the look I wanted but during that process what became apparent was the limitations of the Sony Z1 camera in low light conditions such as those we filmed in. The Z1 leaves a lot of noise on the image and it gave the film a kind of “dirty” look that I didn’t think did it any credit. I was also seeing alot of blocking in the various renders I did and needed to do something about it.
Looking back over the grading effects I’d applied in After Effects I re-set the black and white outputs to their respective extremes and tweaked the curves a little, which more or less did the trick to reducing the blocking, especially at the darker sides of the image.
I then came across a brilliant noise reduction and de-artefacting tool from Neat Video that did a fabulous job of clean up the picture quality. Have a look at the “before” and “after” shots below (the left is “before”, the right “after”):
I really cannot praise this little plug-in enough – it was so easy to use and the results were really impressive. It gave the kind of noise reduction you’d expect to have to pay big bucks for and yet it was relatively inexpensive at just £80. Definitely a must have tool for me now particular shooting with the Z1.
Testing the waters
Just before I completed this final grading of the film I put it to a test audience of about 40 or so people, some of whom I knew well, some of whom I knew a little, and some of whom I knew not at all. Larry Anderson, the associate producer from Canada, also gave the link to the film to some of his contacts. Basically we uploaded a 720p copy of the film to YouTube as an unlisted entry and sent the link to people. I then set up a survey using Survey Monkey to ask the viewers what they thought about the film, what they thought about the acting and production values and so on. The point of it was to spot an glaring failures in the film that I couldn’t see by virtue of being blinded somewhat by my own creation. It’s also been useful in finding out any common opinions of Georgia’s Angel that can be used to promote the film at festivals.
The majority of the feedback was positive about the film, with just over 80% of the viewers enjoying it. It scored highly in questions about the cinematic “look” of the film, and also in the acting stakes with half of the people questioned feeling that the film and the actors deserved some recognition for the role. Sophie Platts was postively rated in almost all of the feedback with comments from some reviewers such as “Sophie was stunning”, “despite being new to the filming industry, managed to give an innocent, but firm and confident performance” and “Sophie has a great career ahead as a budding young actress.”
Wayne Russell’s turn as Clarence also drew plaudits, with a massive 60%+ of the audience instantly identifying with the character and recognising someone in their own lives as like him. “Wayne was just right as Clarence. You hoped he was what he appeared and were not disappointed” and “the strong lighting on Clarence immediately changed my view on him, from a possible antagonist to the possible ‘angel’ Very well done altogether” were typical of the comments left by reviewers.
Dave Walker’s sound design and incidental music also received plaudits with people saying it was just right and helped set the pace nicely.
There was some criticism of the film, almost exclusively from outside of the UK, which in itself is something I find unusual. A handful of commentators (literally 4) suggested that the dialogue was difficult to understand and hard to grasp; and criticised the general direction of the plot and story as unoriginal or not realistic. I can take on board some of what people were saying – but Georgia’s Angel is not a social lesson about running away from home. It was made purely as entertainment, an up-to-date interpretation of It’s A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. In that sense it was never going to be original, just a different take on an old idea.
Either way, the criticism has made be aware of two things: 1) the need to think about how to promote this film in North America; and 2) it focussed me on the positive responses, which far outweighed the negative!
As part of promoting the film I’ve designed a promotional poster and also finished the DVD disk cover. I’ll be getting some duplicates done this week for film festivals, and sending off for some A1 posters of the promo poster.