I just watched this via the Screening Room, and thought I would make some quick comments. First up, I really liked the premise for this film, with the chemical leak giving a decent setup for our characters to be stuck in their place of work. It’s also interesting to consider the consequences of a workplace crush in a life-or-death situation, and how such feelings might make a person do irrational things. So yeah, a good platform to start from.
Opening (and closing) on black with a radio news broadcast was a clever way to quickly convey some important exposition, although I did wonder whether more immediacy might have been gained by having this news announced to characters within the film itself. For example, a manager could have told the employees about it in a team meeting or something, and this way we could have seen our characters reacting emotionally to the news. Because as it was, we were never really shown how serious this was, and how the characters actually felt about it. As far as I could tell, it was just another boring day at work for these guys.
Anyway, the scene in the kitchen was nice, and fairly well paced. We got a few good moments of character interaction, and this scene pretty much set up the rest of the film. The main guy filming his crush on his camera phone was a bit creepy though, and I pretty much lost all sympathy for him as a character at that point, which was a shame, since we were stuck with him. And speaking of the phone, I really have no idea what that was all about – why was he filming the whole time? I presume the other, chosen genre of this film was Found Footage, is that right? If so, then by the conventions of that genre we should have really been watching the camera-phone footage itself. As it was, he was just walking around holding up his phone for no apparent reason.
And then came the really really really really really long walk sequence. Basically, nothing happened onscreen for a very long time. A number of elements made this an odd viewing experience: the mobile phone held up and filming, the bizarrely slow walking pace of the character, some uncertainty about what his motivation was (why was he peering around corners? was he nervous about going outside? afraid he might get caught?), and an outrageously over-the-top music cue playing through it all. The music chosen was surely designed originally for some epic action sequence, and felt overblown in this context. If you were trying to capture a sense of tension, of unease, then something subtler, more edgy and perhaps dissonant, would have done the job more effectively.
Lastly, our protagonist reaches the main doors, goes outside and quickly starts feeling the effects of the poison gas. He goes to the car, stands by it for a few moments, then heads back to the door, which has closed by this point, locking him out. So yeah, again I was puzzled by his motivation – he didn’t even try to get into the car, so had he instead just realised that he was about to get knocked out? I guess I wanted to see more of an emotional response from him, anything, along his journey: lust, determination, fear, panic, regret, and so on. Onscreen, the guy just looked rather resigned, emotionally inert, by the end.
Furthermore, the whole film had set us up to assume that he would go outside to try and get the girl’s phone, and the assumption was that if he went outside he would die. Therefore, after the extended walking sequence, it’s unfortunate that precisely what we had expected to happen did in fact happen. Sometimes it can be nice to consider what the audience would expect to happen next, then instead do something completely different, surprise them.
One Shot as a genre makes some things really easy for you, and others a lot harder (I know this because my team got it too). The most obvious time-saver is in the production stages, where you can film all of your footage in, well, pretty much as long as it takes to play the film (although of course multiple takes are generally necessary). However, on the flipside, One Shot demands some good planning, because there’s very little room for fixing mistakes of performance or storytelling in post-production (although the old Green Wing-style ‘fast-forward’ trick is a good device for getting past tedious travelling sequences).
I’m sorry, these “quick thoughts” have become rather protracted. And despite this litany of complaints, I thought there were some great ideas simmering under the surface here, it’s just that I felt they weren’t followed-through-on in a satisfying way. I hope you guys have another go at this next year, and if you do, I would say try to focus on making the motivations of your characters as clear as you possibly can, and consider the overall structure and pacing of your film. But anyway, I think One Shot was a tricky genre to get right, especially for a first-time team, so well done for putting this together.