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  • Writer's pictureBen Anstruther

Short Films #2

In this post I am going to cover the second group of films that we watched and discussed in class. The main purpose of this post is to for me to think about what I can incorporate into my own work.

Night Swim

I did enjoy this film despite some of my classmates having quite disparaging views about the story and its credibility. This not really my kind of film because it was so formal and had an impotence on realism - there was nothing that inspired me about the film-making or narrative. I thought the dialogue was ok too. With that said, I did think the film was successful in portraying the insecurity that adolescents have, especially over their friendships. I thought, despite its severity, that it was realistic that the protagonist would abandon her friend’s friend like that in order to preserve her relationship and I also thought it was realistic that she would return to the gymnasium the next day.

People will of course have differing views but what I can take from this film is how convincing the central character’s motivations were - all of which were communicated visually. I don’t know how likely that I will be to achieve that in my film given the nature of it but it’s something that I will aim to do in the script writing stage where I’m at currently.


I also enjoyed this film with some caveats, I particularly enjoyed how much ground they covered in time they had. Of course the cinematography was a highlight - really beautiful stuff. The moment where the characters project the car lights on to themselves was especially magical. Everything looks better on film however I don’t know how applicable the techniques used here are to my film as they are almost complete opposites.

There is of course that moment. There was a discussion in the class about whether people laughed or were horrified by the sudden arrival of the boat. I’ll confess I did laugh - not to be psychotic. We watched another one of the directors’ work involving an encounter on a train which similarly had an unexpected surprise and again people were unsure whether to laugh or be horrified.

The biggest takeaway for me is how to they were able to effectively compact a lot of information and time into a 10 minute film. I particularly liked the scene where they visited the old man and a past was alluded to without going into detail - a lovely bit of screenwriting and performance.

In Crystal Skin

I don’t have a lot to say about this film - I thought it was really good and effective, easily my favourite of these films. There was some talks about the ethics of the film, I don’t subscribe to that, you have to show all sides of the story regardless of how uncomfortable it makes people.

One thing I did think watching it was even though it didn’t have a proper crew or an amazing camera, it was still a great film and also a successful one. I know that is in part because it was operating within the documentary genre and so that gives me hope for the personal projects that I developing alongside my studies.

Strange Men

Like Hail Mary Country this was viewed by many, including me, as a categorical error of narrative and filmmaking judgment and instincts. Granted the opening shot was amazing and set up the character well but it went nowhere. The diner scene is the crux of the film and was done very poorly - and it all stems from the script. The dialogue was risible and the whole cow story/analogy was such a badly conceived idea.

Dialogue is one of my favourite parts of watching films - especially when it’s great. It’s also obvious when dialogue is trying to hard to clever or replicate the Tarantino style, so it’s really important that I make sure when I write then it’s not self-consciously clever but appropriately smart and serves the characters, their world and world views and the story/theme of the film.


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