'Boxes' by Stormdrain Films

Cast Mark Morris, Samantha Storey and the voice of Sara Dee. Music "Middle earth" Pierre Langer Unique tracks Production music library. Email: info@uniquetracks.com Produced and Directed by Mark Morris (Stormdrain films) - for "FIFTY KISSES" feature film.

Third edit

First Cut Comments... have YOUR say!

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Comments: 18
  • #1

    Michael W. Penny (Thursday, 08 November 2012 00:31)

    I liked this overall, but I've got a couple further suggestions.

    My one note is that there were a few particular places where you can hear the levels drop and increase between lines of the man's dialogue, and you can really hear the static because you NOTICE the change from static to none. I'd give it a try leaving the levels flat across the scenes and see if hearing the static all the time feels worse for you than noticing the static coming in and out. Not sure, but could work.

    The other thing that didn't play well for me was the ending, you flash to white off the woman, then you fade into a shot of him lying on the floor near the attic door, then you flash to white really quickly again to end the film. I vaguely remember the original script and if I recall correctly, he's supposed to have died from the box hitting him on the head...? I feel that if I hadn't known that from reading the script, I wouldn't have gotten your ending. I mean, I know his dialogue of "I'm ready" signifies he's going, but that last shot just moves so quick I'm not sure of what I see before the film ends. Maybe stretch out that last shot of him dead on the ground if you've got the footage to try it?

    Contrary to others, I actually liked the soundtrack. It was the best part of this piece for me. It was perhaps still burning a little too loudly especially near the end, but I liked it's mysterious feeling. I think the producers notes of the music "dominating" your first cut could potentially be lessened by lowering the levels a tad further. Even if it falls below nominal soundtrack levels, it may still give it a softer feeling. Give it a try and see if you agree?

    Overall nice second effort.

  • #2

    Mark Morris (Thursday, 08 November 2012 12:00)

    Thank you so much Michael for the notes which are relevent to what you saw and constructive in as helpful way as you could and I really do appreciate that..

    Reviewing films is easy we all do it whenever we watch a film But I'm wondering how people who are reviewing the films are approaching this.

    These are some thoughts.
    1) A reviewer will ideally have little fore knowledge of what the film is about.
    2) Try not to read scrips or read comments Especially producers comments.These can influence you even subconsciously. IE if someone else spotted it then shouldn't you?
    3) Settle back and watch the film as you would normally. IE don't make a conscious effort to find faults.
    4) If anything brings you out or flags your attention make a mental note and carry on. Write notes immediantly the film ends and then write the review.
    5) You don't have to write something.
    6) Highlight the bits that are good as well.

    Michael be aware of your comment "I seem to remember the story saying he died when the boxes fell on him." You must try to forget a story you only vaguely remember I know thats difficult.- After the boxes hit we don't know what happened until he stands up holding his head and then we know he is alive. Therefore the viewer has to think he didn't die. Thats part of the twist of the tale and also sell the ghost as it poses a question. Why is his mums ghost there? There must be a reason. Suspicions are hopefully aroused? Questions asked? If not When she says "Time to go2 I think thats another broad hint. When she then says "Come to me" and then he says "Im ready" I think we are there ready for his departure.

    What I need to sell you is the idea the blow could have been hard enough to kill for when the viewr thinks back to the moment the boxes fell. Difficult as we have already been shown it was only enough to give him a head ache. It would be nice if I had something that should have killed him. Like a grand piano or mssive boxes in a warhouse falling from a height. (Rhys Howells first draft) I can only sell it with the confines of a low ceilinged loft and the sound effect. Hopefully on the second edit where I've expanded the effect it is enough. If not it is born out by the fact he clearly died. Maybe unsatisfactory but what else can I do? If anyone can help here I'm interested.

    Only some I may get where he is lying on the floor is where he would have fallen when the boxes hit. From tests I've done one person thought he was lying in his coffin. Is that important though. It may leave a slightly disconcerting feel that it was not understood and thats okay as it helps sell the mystery of being taken.

    I will look at the edit re the sound and come back to you with probably a new upload.

    Thank you again for your comments.

  • #3

    Michale W. Penny (Thursday, 08 November 2012 19:18)

    I don't think there was any issue selling me on the boxes falling could hurt him, nor on the misdirection re: the vision, etc. All that played well for me and if I made it seem that's what I meant, I apologize for not being more clear.

    I'll try to reiterate in that I just felt the final two flashes to white came too quickly within one another, and I didn't get a good look at the final shot of him lying on the ground to soak the end of the film all in. It just finished too quickly and I wasn't sure of what I was looking at. That was the item that "flags my attention" while I was watching it the first time.

    I believe you state above that you meant for it to be like this, as it "helps sell the mystery of being taken" in which case if you like it, I say stick with it! Film is art, not science, so don't let a guy you don't know strong-arm you into making a cut that you don't believe fits :)

  • #4

    Mark Morris (Thursday, 08 November 2012 20:16)

    Michale Sorry I spelt your name wrong previously.

    I can see your point if I have this right, You think I should hold the time he is lying on the floor for maybe another second before the flash?

    Also. Did I read this right from your first post, if you hadn't known from the script the boxes killed him then you wouldn't have understood the story? But then how would you know you wouldn't have known the story if you already knew the story? Confusing? Perhaps.

    I believe the reason you may not have got the story comes from the scene where he is killed and if you or anyone knows a better way I can sell the death short of landing a grand piano on him so the feeling is why didn't he die instead of Oh he got a bump on the head from a large box I'd love to hear.

    Thanks again!

  • #5

    Michael W. Penny (Thursday, 08 November 2012 22:31)

    Sorry, I spelt my OWN name wrong haha. It is indeed Michael.

    Exactly, I think it could use an extra second or so holding on him on the floor before the second white flash to allow me time to digest that he's dead. I'd just test how it feels. If it doesn't work for you, revert back, no big deal.

    My references to knowing the script before hand all had to do with explaining my reasoning for this. I gave too much info behind WHY I thought what I did and shouldn't have. Sorry. It's nothing to do with selling the fall. Your sound effects do the job of telling us the box is really heavy, and he's an old man susceptible to a fall injury. I buy it. No problem.

  • #6

    Mark (Thursday, 08 November 2012 22:42)

    Thanks Michael Will work on what you have said.

  • #7

    Rob Burke (Thursday, 08 November 2012 22:47)

    Hi Mark:

    I have a couple suggestions that may or may not work - might be worth looking at though (this in regards to the questions you pose above).

    What if you cut the time down between when he falls and when he gets up? Make it two seconds or less (I think it's 5 or 6 seconds right now). Also, what if you cut mum's first line of dialogue completely (or moved it) - so that the first time we hear her voice is after his startled reaction? I might also look at cutting the music out of this piece for the first :59 and starting it where it comes in now at 1:00. Maybe that'll make a nicer transition between the two worlds in this piece - and yet won't reveal the big twist that he's dead. Also - maybe at the very end you could hold on him a second or two longer - I'm not sure it's really working at the end where we're supposed to find out he's dead. Maybe it requires a reshoot where the main character is lying there dead with his eyes frozen open.

    Anyway - appreciate the hard work you are putting into this. Nice job!


  • #8

    Mark Morris (Thursday, 08 November 2012 23:12)

    Good suggestions. I'll toy with the editing and see if I think it sharpens it without losing anything. It might well do.

  • #9

    Mark Morris (Thursday, 08 November 2012 23:39)

    Rob Just had a look and losing the shot where she gets up does work. It's an alternative. I'll take another look tomorrow (Getting tired) and see which way I prefer. Had a look at taking the music away from the first part and I think to be consistant the music needs to be there. I also want to have the opening as a build up to his death. I can see how it would work without the music but I think it loses part of what I'm trying to do. In the end I don't think there is no right or wrong way to do this but its down to personal choice and preference on the way the story is put over.

  • #10

    Rob Burke (Thursday, 08 November 2012 23:46)

    Good luck with the editing. In the end - sometimes you just have to go with what feels/looks right to you.

  • #11

    Mark Morris (Saturday, 10 November 2012 11:35)

    New film should be coming online soon and mostly addresses sound issues raised by Michael Well spotted. You must have been listening through headphones? I have lowered the music volume. I've also extended the shot of the character at the end. Rob, in the end I decided your edit suggestion just didn't work. But it was very observant of you to suggest it. I might also put a mask around his torch as in some areas its too hot and might look bad if on a big screen.

  • #12

    Mark (Sunday, 11 November 2012 17:03)

    Even newer version should be online soon with the score cut from the first minute and NEW Special effects put in at the end. The torch highlights in one shot now fixed. Score now builds more subtly to the end.

  • #13

    Mark Morris (Tuesday, 13 November 2012 15:21)

    New film on this link with many changes!

  • #14

    Evan (Thursday, 15 November 2012)

    Really liked this version much more. The entrance of the music is just right, and builds as it should. Well done. Visually beautiful. There is one shot of her before her glowing that isn't necessarily and isn't on par with the other shots, so I'd remove. Consider adding a little bit of him yelping in pain as the boxes hit him, just to convince us fully he's been injured.
    My biggest concern is his vocal track. His part has too much noise, and when it isn't playing there is silence. I'd clean up his track (you can use a noise removal software like audacity, which I think has a free trial), and then add a little room tone between his lines to give a nice even flow.
    You're well on your way to greatness here.

  • #15

    Mark Morris (Thursday, 15 November 2012 19:51)

    Hey Evan Fantastic to get positive feedback! I've added some extra boxes that fall on him. Hopefully that will help. If I make a feature I'd like to call on some of you guys for feedback :)

  • #16

    Mark (Saturday, 17 November 2012 14:41)


    I've uploaded a new film with the dialogue cleaned and new background ambience.

  • #17

    Mark (Sunday, 18 November 2012 21:12)

    Also added the character back after his spirit leaves him. Not sure if it works better the other way though.

  • #18

    sarah (Monday, 24 February 2014 12:03)

    Its pretty crap but I like his pyjamas

First Edit

Read 'Boxes' HERE


First cut: Producers notes for the filmmakers

  • The music feels too big and dominating.
  • Trim, trim, trim… for instance, you could easily trim 5 seconds of him climbing the ladder. Drop a whole minute by doing this.
  • Loose dissolve at 40 seconds, you don’t need it and dissolves lack confidence.
  • Bigger sound effect for his fall, to sell the ‘death’
  • Again try without dissolves
  • Try music that is not so dominating

First Cut Comments... have YOUR say!

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Comments: 8
  • #1

    Mark Morris (Friday, 02 November 2012 11:16)

    It's GREAT to get feedback so thank you. New film that takes on board your points uploaded.

  • #2

    Adolf El Assal (Sunday, 04 November 2012 15:03)

    the music is way too loud and takes all the attention. take out the still frame with the tracking towards the lady.

  • #3

    Evan (Sunday, 04 November 2012 16:04)

    I thought the blue colorizing is a nice look, and his performance was endearing (though a tad overboard). I agree with the above that the music detracts. It's a great score, but it doesn't fit here; this is a small intimate moment in an attic, and the music is for spaceships. It's overstated, and deflates the intrigue by telegraphing the supernatural themes. I'd be curious to see how this plays tightened up and with no score.

  • #4

    Mark P (Sunday, 04 November 2012 17:40)

    Hi, This looks great. Well done. I agree about the music. I think it might be better with nothing at all. At the moment, I feel that it's lacking some pace. I'd like it to get faster and faster towards the end, so moments like seeing her pass him the hanky and then seeing him take the hanky really slow it down. The other thing is the disparity between the voices: one is very close and clean and the man's voice is much more realistic. Maybe this is to help us understand that the mum is a ghost, but I think it might be better if the Mum's voice was more realistic. It could confuse us in a nice way, giving more impetus to the moment when we realise she's dead. My final point is whether it might be interesting to give her a more vicious, scary tone at the end... It depends on the overall mood you're going for, but darker might make it a bit more interesting. Maybe if you cut a bit of his dialogue you could even imply that he doesn't want to die yet...

    Hope this is helpful. with best wishes

  • #5

    Mark Morris (Monday, 05 November 2012 14:50)

    I read a few scripts but this one stuck out for me. My intention here was an ominous opening and then a reversal So I open with dread and fear of death and end with hope and joy in his crossing over. The fear then joy of being reunited with his Mum.

    We all fear death. That is a basic instinct. This screenplay stuck out to me because it is looking to address the biggest fear we have. Much bigger than a film can do justice to. And of the hope it might offer. But it has been done many times before it has to have a new slant. Without it would be an imitation. Maybe I or anyone is naive in thinking this can even be shot. The hankie sequence shows him in tears and mum doing her mum thing by handing him a hankie and him taking it as if he was transported childhood. This is a part of that slant. This is is an important part of this human story because its trying to give the same in a new way. This is what attracted me to it. We are all still kids at heart and in the scheme of things, is part of the message of hope.

    When I read the script I already had in mind the music as it gives the richness and spirituality Don't forget this is a revelation of the highest most pondered question of all..The enormousness of it cannot be underestimated but how do you get a jaded audience to realise this. To see the mystery and fear of God, heaven and hell. How big is that? Well it's flippin enormous as it's into the unknown and death. ENORMOUS for all of us. How on earth can this be a small intimate moment when the character is crossing to a new unknown world. To lost relatives, friends, and to maybe meet God. Somehow that needs to be shown in a BIG way. It would be hard to show with effects as its unknown and best served with imagination. Will there be angels Will there be judgement day will heaven be a paradise. Will your pets be waiting at the rainbow bridge. In order to try to make her a spirit without being cheesy Seeing a ghost at this level of clarity is something that is HUGE. And if I can show it to be so without distracting cheesy SFX to show something odd or strange about her I made subtle questionable differences. Trying to establish a character who represents each and everyone of us, has to somehow have heart within the edit.

    I may have failed in that regard. Probably it is just to big to overcome.

    I feel to make any more changes from the ones already made I would need to reshoot the film with a bigger budget and a composer. So rather than take the music away and cut out key sequences like the Hankie. I feel the film must stand or fall as it is now. I have watched really excellent work here. Some of which is more worthy. If my film does not make it into the cut I will be happy in knowing this is one more lesson learned in gaining a better understanding of what people want and what I want to do.

    Thank you for the comments!

  • #6

    Evan (Monday, 05 November 2012 16:18)

    I understand your sense of attachment to the piece as I've felt that way about my own work at times. But I believe the intent of this competition is to foster cooperation among writers and filmmakers so that we can all learn and improve. If the consensus told me I was missing the mark, I'd want personally to know about this so that I could more effectively communicate my vision. The choice is ultimately yours but it seems to me you'd have little to lose by making minor revisions and leaning how your audience reponds to them.

  • #7

    Mark Morris (Monday, 05 November 2012 16:34)


    Yes when I got the original producers comments (This was before any others) I went back and did everything asked but Instead of sending in a new link I reuploaded the original file. So it looks as if the original producers comments were still applying.

    For arguments sake I tried to cut the edit down further and different Music and no music. I am satisfied that the film is what I want as the maker and am willing to stand or fall by that now.

    I would like to thing I have been cooperative in every way and made changes. However I believe there comes a point where we all have to have belief in what we do.

  • #8

    Stephen Cooper (Monday, 05 November 2012 22:37)

    Personally I really quite like it. Its an odd little film that has a very strange feel to it through-out and that works for me. The music is loud but it works in adding to the wierdness. The blue tint really helps. I think you've done a good job, well done.