Report by M.D. Young
Drawing on a tradition of childhood fairy tales, and adult renderings of such as illustrated in the writings of authors like Angela Carter (The Bloody Chamber, etc) H4C (Horses for Courses), has competently supplanted an imagined landscape into an ostensibly modern urban setting. In referring to the grinding monotony of 9-5 life, office politics, petty bureaucracy and faceless corporate culture it provides an accessible platform for wide audience appeal, particularly amongst white collar workers in administrative environments. It prompts associations with other cultural texts in the same vein such as Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times and John Schlesinger’s Billy Liar. Though the polemic is less starkly stated its pro-humanist lilt is clear through references (albeit stated in prose and not visually) antagonistic to corporatism with references such as the “…Windows blue screen of death.”
A heavy reliance on computer graphics, justifiable in a web only product, places acute pressure on the technical prowess of the designer / programmer. If in a low budget product, such as this, guarantees cannot be made regarding quality of SFX, some thought should be given to finding a viable alternative, although I realise as your advertisement stated this piece is intended to showcase just such technology.
Pan is largely mute and with minimal dialogue a physical performer with strength in mime, dance and movement should take precedence over actors not possessing these skills. Star Wars’ C3PO, Anthony Daniels, although inhabiting a body suit precluding the opportunity of facial expression, was cast for just this reason and gave the character depth and an appropriate (for the character) humanity and pomposity.
The Coca-Cola Corporation will not, without substantial financial remuneration, consent to its corporate identity or logo being used for commercial exploitation. I therefore suggest a generic alternative such as a tea/coffee machine or other non-branded drink manufacturer
All characters aside from Pan are subsidiary and dance to his merry tune. The meanderings of the original Greek legend bear no relation to his utterances, though the concession made to his environment are consistent his reputation as a mischief maker. It should be borne in mind that his mythology was as a presage of doom to mariners and not personal liberation of office workers. The fairground barker –isms such as “Come on. Don’t be shy. It’s all tax deductible…” amuse if performed with conviction and speed, though the fruit machine truisms like “Do your worst – make your best.” grate like fatuous proverbs.
I realise that naturalism is not an issue here and generally the dialogue takes second place to the visual effects and whimsical manner of the story. A greater accentuation of the monotony of office life would point up the contrast with the fantastical about to explode around the white collars, would assist.
With a script this brief, I find little to criticise on this score, finding the balance of action and incident generally satisfactory. The major flaw of short films is an excess of dialogue and here I have already made reference above to areas for improvement. Its virtually real-time setting and running time affords little chance for drift and structural tightening are minimal.
The only partially developed character is Pan and, as with most shorts, an over-reliance on stereotypes is less a bind than a practical necessity. The office workers never rise above the level of mindless automatons (not a negative criticism) and afford the opportunity for match cuts of domestic animals, such as sheep or cattle. The Boss is drawn effectively as a barking authoritarian, and Larry, Barry, and Harry as indistinguishable be-suited commuters reminiscent of junkies as they prod his tummy TV. I can only advise accentuating this to the maximum extent with stylised performance. It reminded me of the 1970s children’s programme Rent-a-ghost, always with both feet planted firmly in the fantasy element with mere nods to reality to connect each phantom skit to the next. Avoid any dissension into realism!
Somewhat laboured, as I would not describe H4C as out-and-out comedy, more a fantastical adult fairy tale. The "…Sorry, pardon me!” skit in scene 2 ceases to amuse after the first rendering, whilst the physical comedy of the bowler landing on Larry’s head (scene 9) simply misfires without the chuckle always available for this running gag in Bond films. The Boss’s barking orders are effective however and his quizzical reappearance in scene 16 hits the button. The fact he runs the place (authority, order, and reliability) yet consorts with Imps (chaos, mischief, and magic) sets up a humorous juxtaposition
Workplace culture is not restricted to the office and too many scripts ignore the variety of places people earn their living in. This grates in the same way that setting many films in middle-class, professional London does, but probably reflects my tastes and prejudices more than anything else does… that aside.
Fairy tales are eternal and as such are infinitely malleable. Hence this project has broad appeal within the corporate culture of Western territories. If cultural identity is narrowly defined to meaning the manner one earns ones living by, this project will inevitably have less personal resonance for those working in manufacturing, the service and leisure sector or caring / domestic sectors. Office life is however such a staple of broadcast television drama, that the audience is pre-trained in the clichés of such environments, e.g. office gossip, unreliable PCs, the queue at the coffee machine, broken photocopiers, nasty bosses, etc.
Most of the staples of a modern western culture are made reference to: corporatism, consumerism, capitalism allied with the wish for freedom from drudgery, fulfilment and the unrealistic National Lottery fantasy (in the guise of a fruit machine) for liberation via good fortune.
Report by J. Christian
I read your script and my overall felling is that it needed to be sexyer, what I mean by that is that the bosses voice should be a womens. Pan might allsaw be gliding up and down the office in a micro-scooter. When he tries to impres Sally he should give her a wink. I dont think you need the banquet bit, stay in the office only. At the end instead of the office being in the woods have it on a cloud that passes over some of the most important citys in the world, and have the staff enjoying there work and working well toghether infront of a computer.
Report by T. Rushton
I think it's a great concept, although I'd prefer the set up to be something slightly more anarchic for Pan. In order to set up the later fact that this business world can harm a sprite in Pan's world, it might be better if Pan isn't hired by the Boss, but is instead disturbed by something, and then looks through the picture frame, and then clambers out to find out what's happening, and then stop it. I just think it works better, rather than him being hired. Perhaps you might also think about expanding the frame so that Pan interacts with the screen more - like the chameleon slurping on the screen (why a chameleon??)
Try and break down the fourth wall as much as possible. You're starting to do it, and I think that's what will make this site different from the others (as well as its -in some ways - anti-technology theme)
Report by T. Clague
In very general and overall terms (ask if you want specific feedback) here are my initial thoughts. It is lacking a level of either interpretation or angle or detail. The overall idea of the 'funster' Pan coming into an office is a good one but quickly starts to wear thin. I can see that the film has a lot of visual interest, in fact it is very strong in all areas of the visual area - characters, SFX, sets / locations. But I think if step back from it for one more draft and ask - what is it I am trying to say - what does it mean - why? Take these questions and move them into the front. Maybe, like me, you will want to explore the answers to your questions. Some film makers dont like answers - this is ok - but at least explore the questions. Now the excellent images will have a solid structure to be built upon. Please don't take this criticism as negative - I think that it could be an unusal project. As for the interactive element. At the moment this is to small and would need to be increased. What about if you break up the scenes into stand alone seactions so that the viewer can see how Pan effects the different people in whatever order they want?
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