Jump to content


Photo

Shooting Guns In Church?


  • Please log in to reply
11 replies to this topic

#1 KevinNikkel

KevinNikkel

    Member

  • New User
  • 8 posts

Posted 14 July 2003 - 10:56 PM

Anyone out there have opportunity to see my film "Shooting Guns in Church" at Flickerings last week and willing to comment?

Kevin Nikkel

#2 Overstreet

Overstreet

    Sometimes, there's a man.

  • Member
  • 17,065 posts

Posted 14 July 2003 - 11:04 PM

Kevin, I just sent you an e-mail! (And it's kinda urgent.)

As I told you in person, I found it to be an impressive piece for a new filmmaker.

Your cast was well-selected, and convinced me that they were an unfortunate match in a dismaying circumstance.

I would liked to have had a bit more visual hints as to what was going on in the priest's mind when he, uh... (should I avoid spoilers)... made his big move (oh, THAT'S going to give people the wrong idea!)

The locations were convincing.

And the final shot turned the film toward heavy metaphor.

As nicely as that last tracking shot moved, it almost felt too heavy for such a short film. I think if we had just a moment, with him standing there looking at his choice, and then a quick cut to black, with a few moments of silence before the credits... or something like that... it might have had a greater effect. The lingering, long last shot felt like you were underlining the moment, and then underlining it again.

Anyway... I have to dig to find much to say about short films because I'm only just becoming familiar with the format. But I certainly enjoyed it and am looking forward to what you do next. Any teasers on your new ideas?

#3 Persona

Persona

    You said you'd wait... 'Til the end of the world.

  • Member
  • 7,454 posts

Posted 14 July 2003 - 11:38 PM

Hi Kevin! I saw your film as well. I think, however, that i wouldn't be able to make a critical comment on it without seeing it once or twice more. In a matter of a four or five minute film, everything just flies by too fast. Not to mention that on that last day of Flickerings we saw five films like that, and unfortunatley yours got things started.

I saw your name in Bevan's film, as well. Are you guys friends? How did that come about?

Next year i hope to meet you.

-s.

#4 M. Dale Prins

M. Dale Prins

    Stop! Do a drum solo instead!

  • Member
  • 1,420 posts

Posted 15 July 2003 - 08:25 AM

Um. So my plan was to just e-mail Kevin a few more thoughts on the film than those I had mentioned in the filmmakers' trailer, but given that I disagree with every freakin' thing Jeffrey just wrote, Kevin gets a initial public response.

: As I told you in person, I found it to be an impressive piece for a new
: filmmaker.

Impressive, yes, but I'm not sure Kevin qualifies as a new filmmaker anymore, not with (I'm guessing) a dozen completed films.

: Your cast was well-selected, and convinced me that they were an
: unfortunate match in a dismaying circumstance.

I liked their look, I liked their nonverbal behavior (the awkwardness with which both protags held the child, for example), but -- as I think I mentioned earlier -- there was a Mamet-esque manneredness to both the dialogue and their recitation of it that didn’t work for me in what appeared otherwise as a relatively naturalistic piece.

: I would liked to have had a bit more visual hints as to what
: was going on in the priest's mind when he, uh... (should I avoid
: spoilers)... made his big move (oh, THAT'S going to give people
: the wrong idea!)

I suppose you wanted Egoyan to explain the end of Exotica to you, too. “You see, my father is abusing me, and...” That scene -- my favorite in the “Shooting Guns” -- parceled out exactly as much information as necessary, and no more. Good for Kevin.

: The locations were convincing.

Dang. I can’t disagree with this statement.

: And the final shot turned the film toward heavy metaphor.

Um, any heavy metaphor in "Shooting Guns" was already set in place the moment the priest did you-know-what and this-and-that didn’t happen the way the priest (or the male protag) expected. The tracking shot did nothing except vaguely expand on what was already there. In fact, if there’s one bit of the film I unequivocally liked following the you-know-what, it’s that specific shot.

: I think if we had just a moment, with him standing there
: looking at his choice, and then a quick cut to black, with
: a few moments of silence before the credits...The lingering,
: long last shot felt like you were underlining the moment, and
: then underlining it again.

I don’t see how this is underlining the moment any more than cutting to black and giving the audience "reflection time"; the long pauses in In the Bedroom certainly underlined the moments following the Big Spoiler.

I have a few other comments on the film, but there’s a start.

Dale

#5 Overstreet

Overstreet

    Sometimes, there's a man.

  • Member
  • 17,065 posts

Posted 15 July 2003 - 10:08 AM

I suppose you wanted Egoyan to explain the end of Exotica to you, too. “You see, my father is abusing me, and...”



No, no, no. I LOVE Egoyan's ambiguities.

What bothers me about the priest's ambiguity is that I didn't feel I had enough time with him, or enough details, for his drastic action to be even surprising. I was still in "collecting some details" mode, so it struck me as bizarre rather than disturbing or surprising. (Does that make sense?)

When I chatted with Kevin afterwards, he gave me a few tips as to what *he* was thinking about when he developed the character of the priest. I think if a little more of what he was thinking came across, it would make that big moment much more interesting.

But hey, I'm glad you're taking me on, Prins. It's been a long time since the board's had a good smackdown. :argue:

#6 M. Dale Prins

M. Dale Prins

    Stop! Do a drum solo instead!

  • Member
  • 1,420 posts

Posted 15 July 2003 - 11:06 AM

I can no longer talk about Kevin's film without giving away the climactic moment and the events that lead into it, so SPOILERS AHOY FOR "SHOOTING GUNS IN CHURCH."

: What bothers me about the priest's ambiguity is that I didn't feel I had
: enough time with him, or enough details, for his drastic action to be
: even surprising. I was still in "collecting some details" mode, so it struck
: me as bizarre rather than disturbing or surprising. (Does that make
: sense?)

We are talking about when the priest tries to shoot the guy, not when he gives the gun back to the guy, right? They're both "drastic action[s]" in my book, so I'm just ensuring we're discussing the former.

I honestly don't know what further details you're looking for to make this scene work for you. Kevin implicitly gives us the motivation for the priest's action -- "This is the guy you were telling me about?" -- without giving us an unnecessary backstory about what specifically the husband's doing to her (a la Exotica). Further, the shooting is based on a common enough narrative conceit -- man sees wrong done, man has opportunity to fix wrong through immoral means, man takes opportunity -- that while the shooting wasn't much of a surprise to me, neither was it at all bizarre. (A. Christie's Ten Little Indians is a much stranger take on the same idea, I'd argue.) If anything, I’d argue that the shooting idea was slightly prosaic; I might have suggested trying to subvert the genre more than he already does (the sedition-against-type being the husband not getting shot).

: When I chatted with Kevin afterwards, he gave me a few tips as to what
: *he* was thinking about when he developed the character of the priest.

And those would be? I am now curious.

Dale

#7 M. Leary

M. Leary

    Member

  • Member
  • 5,427 posts

Posted 15 July 2003 - 11:42 AM

When I chatted with Kevin afterwards, he gave me a few tips as to what *he* was thinking about when he developed the character of the priest. I think if a little more of what he was thinking came across, it would make that big moment much more interesting.



I assumed that to be true, so I was perfectly fine with the priest as an abstraction of this thought process. Prins pointed out all the cues that allowed that scene to be satisfactory in a narrative sense to me. I like the ability of short film to flirt with the idea of narrative as something that can be evocative even if we only come to the edges of it.

I wish I had a copy of the film to see that final tracking shot again. I don't recall it in detail. But I remember really enjoying some of the camerawork. Nice crisp lines across the planes of action. (pace JO.) I actually liked the way its languid nature worked with the cool tones of the film set against the immediately under-the-surface tensions that comprise the storyline.

Can I say this? Is this allowed? It felt very Canadian (Possible Worlds came to mind during the screening). Emotionally precise and visually contemplative.

#8 KevinNikkel

KevinNikkel

    Member

  • New User
  • 8 posts

Posted 15 July 2003 - 04:29 PM

I must say that I'm flattered by the above discussion. Seems rather high-brow for my typical flight path... but that might be my lack of film-criticism-type-background.

I'm very interested in how this film is seen to be "Canadian". If anyone else sensed that, please elaborate as to how (Mike... please explain your statement).

I'm also a huge Egoyan fan... and am flattered by his name surfacing in the context of a discussion of my film. Leaving some things more cryptic or unresolved was my intention.

In regards to the priest character: My funding proposal for the initial project included the following quote from Flannery O'Connor: "To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures."

I attempted to make the priest someone who has been through a lot in life... similar to the priest in "On the Waterfront". Perhaps he is someone who lived through Vietnam or other types of traumatic events. This type of person is not your typical "Simpsons" type clergyman. Our first intro to him is him lighting a smoke... or hestitating over lighting the cigarette. He then proceeds to dump half of his morning mail into the trash then immediately discards his smoldering butt into the same can. He isn't bothered by consequences but rather does what needs doing according to him at the time.

When he discovers the husband... he is not intimidated by someone with a gun about to urinate on his church. In my mind, he knows this type of character.

His suspicions are later confirmed when the wife shows up. He knows that this guy won't change unless something drastic happens. Shooting him is the best thing that could happen to him at this moment (with apologies here to O'Connor). The priest is fully aware of his actions and attempts to wound him (a la the wounding in "Ghost Dog")

Perhaps this is explaining too much info that the film itself should explain. I believe there is enough there to get what I've intended to say. Frequent viewings would obviously help. I've seen it far too many times myself.

Kevin[/quote]

#9 M. Leary

M. Leary

    Member

  • Member
  • 5,427 posts

Posted 16 July 2003 - 10:53 AM

The observation concerning "Canadiana" I suppose was more personal than critical. But it was striking to me. I am not trying to make a genre statement about Canadian films, and I suppose some of the films that came to mind were from Quebec anyway. But take films like: The Five Senses, Possible Worlds, When Night is Falling, Egoyan's films, etc...
The commonality seems to be a certain visual reservation that thinly veils the intense emotions under the surface. There is a lot of complex emotion in Shooting Guns.... But the filming is pristine.

I didn't want to dig a hole for myself there. Telefilm is not a genre. It was just an observation. I thought that is what worked so well about Shooting Guns...

Any more scripts influenced by O'Connor in the future?

#10 M. Dale Prins

M. Dale Prins

    Stop! Do a drum solo instead!

  • Member
  • 1,420 posts

Posted 16 July 2003 - 11:45 AM

: I'm also a huge Egoyan fan... and am flattered by his name surfacing in
: the context of a discussion of my film.

If you promise not to get a big head, I will tell you that I gave "Shooting Guns in Church" a higher grade (B-) then I gave Egoyan's worst[1] film, The Adjuster (C+). In the event you do get a big head, I will immediate mention a certain Kate Hudson/Matthew McConaughey vehicle that is nearly universally disliked but to which I gave a higher grade than "Shooting Guns."

: I attempted to make the priest someone who has been through a lot in
: life... similar to the priest in "On the Waterfront".

I thought that came through well without you having to be didactic about it.

: The priest is fully aware of his actions and attempts to wound him (a la
: the wounding in "Ghost Dog")

Only wound him? Not kill him? Hmm. That, ahem, shoots some holes in my interpretation of the film (not that people can't have legitimate interpretations of films that disagree with the directors', mind).

Dale

---
1 By which I mean "least pleasing to me," because of course a film cannot objectively be described as "worse."

#11 Overstreet

Overstreet

    Sometimes, there's a man.

  • Member
  • 17,065 posts

Posted 16 July 2003 - 11:51 AM

: The priest is fully aware of his actions and attempts to wound him (a la
: the wounding in "Ghost Dog")

Only wound him? Not kill him? Hmm. That, ahem, shoots some holes in my interpretation of the film (not that people can't have legitimate interpretations of films that disagree with the directors', mind).



And see... this gets at the heart of my own confusion with the film. I really thought he was trying to kill him too, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why. Wounding him makes a whole lot more sense, but we need a clearer angle that makes it obvious he's aiming for the shoulder, or the knee, or something....

#12 M. Leary

M. Leary

    Member

  • Member
  • 5,427 posts

Posted 16 July 2003 - 12:00 PM

Either way though, the act is irrational. Sure it has a narrative context, the cues of which we pick up very quickly (hopefully), but we do know that the priest is about to enact an "object lesson" a la O'Connor. A bold and often inexplicable act of "meaning" like Parker getting Jesus tattooed on his back in Parker's Back. (But you may have a point with that establishing angle idea.)

I am curious though as to something. This film obviously breaks a few Flickering dogmas. BUT it feels nothing like the "steeped in Christian language/codes" films that the Dogma attempt to avoid. So obviously Flickering Dogma films that utilize some Christian language can be wildly successful.

(We should have a Flickering Dogma thread, there is still a lot to talk about there.)