Second Chance - Short film

edited September 2015 in Filmmaking

I entered a film fest with this film but sadly didn't make the shortlist.

The film fest:

^Check out the guys who made the shortlist ^

Here is the video. Any tips on how to improve it? I'm gonna try and do some editing to it so that it is longer and better pacing since the film fest rules was it had to be 90 seconds or less. But any feedback or tips would be great.


  • Considering the time limit the pacing on this wasn't bad at all.

    If I'm interpreting this correctly, the scene on the beach is a sort of life flashing before your eyes combination dream type sequence? I think I would try and make it not so rigid in presentation. Perhaps mask out the edges of the video clips and feather them medium to heavy feathering. Or you could take a whole other approach and have the main character turn to see the next 'memory' rather than having them all in a line. That would require more filming though I suppose.

    The only other thing is what wakes him at the end? Just before he awakens, while on the beach, it looks like he's going to pass out and then wakes up where we left him in the bedroom. Something to explain more definitively what's happening there would help. Was it a sensation of falling or eminent death?

    This is just me being silly, at the end write,"The wourld is a better place with U in it." But seriously, this is a nice solid short with a great message.Thank you for posting!


  • Just checked no u that I can see. Ok so he shoots himself and the glass falls onto the ground smashed. He wakes up in like a heavenly place where he sees all of his good memorys and what he has to live for. He then snaps back to reality where he is back before he shoots himself. He gets a second chance. And the final look is back to the glass. Totaly unbroken to show that time has gone back.

  • I liked the concept and the color grading.  It looks like that a bit of attention is placed on the water glass.   Possibly, the glass can fall in slow motion with the sound of the gun in slow motion.  The Beach can be a bit more hyper real and the flash back can possibly be in a semi circle  semi transparent Holographic format with some dramatic sounds with reverb  laughter giggling etc. etc. The beach scene fades to black and he is returned to his bed.    Just my opinion.

  • Something that may have influenced the judges was the gun.   Society is so hyper focused on firearms that 7 and 8 year old  kids have been suspended for pointing at each other and saying pow.     I imaging that the judges  were  more than a little distressed by a young man putting a .45 to his head and pulling the trigger after receiving an F on a math test.  A change of methods and reason might improve you chances of selection.

  • We wanted to develop it a bit more to show that there were lots of things piling up to make him commit suicide. Sadly with the 90 seconds rule we went able to do that. I'm not sure if I should re edit it or if I should move on and make a new better film. Any thoughts? I often hear film riot saying about how you must push your old films behind you and start the next film and make it better and learn from your old films and don't make the mistakes in your next films.

  • Always nice to see someone's work, and I'm sure the 90 second rule was quite a challenge.

    Pacing was tough, especially the 'falling asleep' before picking up the test again.  Not sure if some establishing shot of the failed exam with the loud parent voiceover (even if muffled)  might set that up, vs. abrupt entrance into the room.

    Cutting away to the glass falling is good, but perhaps tighter on the glass, and slow its fall.  Even skip the sound of the shot, and just use the sound of the trigger, and a bright flash transition to the falling glass?

    To claw back some time, to establish the good reasons for living, or why he 'awakens' I'd consider having him find himself on that shore in a standing position, i.e. when he's shielding his eyes.  Skip the lying down and standing up and use that 8 seconds or so to let the scene breathe a bit more.   I agree the memories could have softer edges, perhaps not evenly spaced, and even show some older ones?

    Also, when he is called after 'waking up' perhaps you could cut to the gun being put down on the dresser (or just the clip?), then pan horizontally to the unbroken glass, might again give you a bit of time to use elsewhere.

    Anyway, these are just some thoughts.  The fact you finished this, and submitted it speaks volumes already.  I wouldn't be afraid to see how the tone or clarity of the message can be changed by tweaking a few things.

    Thanks again for sharing.

  • While there comes a point at which you have to put a film behind you, this isn't it. Go ahead and re-edit one more time. Shooting and pacing for story can be difficult with a rigid time limit, and if you re-cut this film you might find that you have a really good 3-minute film instead of an ok 90 second film.

    But right now you're having basic concepts being questioned by the audience, so it does need that extended re-edit.

    THEN move on.

    I was in a similar situation with a film I did for a contest a couple of years ago. We had a four minute time limit and the film just... didn't quite work. As I said to my co-producer at the time "This is a five minute film we're trying to cut to four." Also, with the original edit there were basic plot points people were missing. So I recut the film. It's final length ended up being 4 minutes, 58 seconds, 20 frames. (TOLD ya it was a five minute film!). And the re-edit took the film from something I wasn't happy with to something I WAS happy with. Audience suddenly understood the story, AND I sold the five minute cut to a compilation project!

    Then I put it behind me.

  • edited September 2015

    @Filmtech firstly I can only imagine the frustration at not getting shortlisted. I checked out some of those shortlisted and a few were very good but others were ok, better or worse than yours, well that's subjective. With 90secs you don't have long, so I'm guessing you need to let the viewer use thier imagination to fill in the blanks. The video with the Panic Attack was a great example, why was this man panicing, then slowly we learn why, and with a few hints and sounds we quickly fill in the blanks in the footage. Yours was paced well, I think the sound could be improved, plus the believability factor was not their for me. Let me explain, he shots himself over one F grade. Maybe a whole bunch of papers showing fails then pan up to a poster of YALE or someother well known high profile university or even job (Astronaught). Give the viewer to understand why it meant so much to pass. Now the Gun, maybe where you live you can get one really easy, but not so here. Hanging to me is much more common and dramatic, plus your story realies on me accepting the beach scene was a dream, how else did he survive? Where as the pull back from the beach could of been the robe slips undone? This then explains the sudden revival and your title I think would fit better. - anyway enough from me. Good work.

  • The pacing seemed pretty good. I hate to say it, but loaded guns and suicide will always come off as a make you break you for judges. All it would take is one judge to REALLY be against them.

    But how to improve with your vision: I think the glass is significant enough to be the last thing we see before he wakes up in the heavenly place. We should see it before the end either half filled with water, the gun is gone from the drawer, he pick up the glass and drinks from it etc. It's tight to fit everything you want in 90 seconds but being that it was a second chance it would feel comforting to know he's definitely moved on and not simply "interrupted" 

    I did like the color grading and other's comments as well. Keep it up though and never get discouraged only decide to get better. 

  • FilmTech - "Just checked no u that I can see." Sorry- I suppose my joke was a little vague. British English uses the letter 'u' in some words i.e. colour, that American English doesn't. Thus, the wourld needs U in it....I don't really see you changing it to that as I was really just going for the pun. ;^) I'll shut up now.

  • Lol its ok also thanks everyone for the feedback im in the middle of editing it again. And this time im also going in depth with foley. I will also be using your sugestions.

  • Looking forward to the re-edit. Do you have time to do some re-shoots while you're at it? Andy, in particular, had a few good stories about raising the stakes and building motivation by expanding the initial premise beyond the one "F" grade (Although, man, that's a harsh teacher with that huge-ass "F" scribbled in with aggressive strokes and circled. Believe it or not, the way you drew the "F" on the prop test opens up some possibilities here, BECAUSE it's so huge and harshly drawn. This to me indicates a student who is consistently underperforming--who's teacher has reached a point of frustration with him, and maybe even has given up! This loss of support from an educator and authority figure could be a huge deal, assuming your protagonist is basically a great guy who wants to do well. The other option that this opens up is that your protagonist has almost always succeeded in school, and that this "F" is a surprise aberration, and maybe the first time this boy has failed. In this case, while suicide is still an over-reaction, it's a bit more understandable. I know the actual reason the "F" is so huge is to make it instantly jump out to the viewer and read quickly on screen, but, in any film, always try to be open to anything and everything informing the story and the background. Sometimes something you do as a small background detail, or for practical reasons can jump out and really inform the world of the story. Just a few random thoughts here. )

  • Like @Triem23 said re the F grade, here is an idea, why not re-shoot that bit with normal F size on an test paper. Shot 1 - Actor picking up the paper and looking down at it. Shot 2 - Close up of paper and heading (Say " End of Year grade Paper") then pan down to the bottom corner of page and we see a big (but not too big) fat red 'F'. Shot 3 - Actor throwing the paper back down. From this shot list I think you only need to add the close up work?. Hope that helps.

  • Yeah it might be hard to add that in now because our messy bedroom scene is now tidy and happy. Also our actor has grown. He also has a new haircut style...

    I was hoping not to need to do a re shoot

  • @Film Tech, well you might be able to do some close up shots? That don't need to see all of the actor. Blue out the background?

  • Here it is- We decided not to film anymore extra footage but here it is.

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