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Riverbank - Short Film

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Luke Johnson, Jun 29, 2018.

  1. I've just finished writing the music for a short film called Riverbank and thought it would be fun to post it here to see what anyone thinks and if anyone has any advice to make it better!

    I did this as a favour for a friend and there wasn't enough budget to record any orchestral players. Because of this, I have had to rely on using Sample Libraries (and various things I have played/recorded) and although the director loves it, I am very aware that I have so much to learn so apologise in advance if it offends anyone's ears with my use/misuse of VIs!

    I could have chosen not to use any Orchestral VIs but I really wanted to use what I felt would work for the film and to try some new (to me) things out. And obviously for practise. I'm going to start mocking up existing pieces to get better at using VI's (and obviously trying to study composition and orchestration which is no doubt going to take years and years to become any good at) but I just sort of "went with it" on this short and did what ever I like the sound of at the time.

    On top of the music, I also went out and recorded all the Foley FX which was great fun and made the whole thing feel more "ours". Would definitely recommend getting "out there" and trying out a bit of field recording!

    Thanks for watching/listening


  2. #2 Alexander Schiborr, Jun 29, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2018
    Hey Luke, thanks for sharing! Cool movie!
    Well I went through the short movie, and hm. I feel you completely over-dramatized the whole thing. You are constantly doing al those imo random sounds all over the place and they have no merit for me especially those tension cluster and risers to serve the drama. Actually a foreshadowing was the first few seconds where you bring in that big cluster moment, where I am not sure why? You have to think that you gain and creat expectation with your music. While I like the first scenes with the music things, I feel also there is too much music overall.

    Music can only be effective imho when used in dose, but not in overdose. Imo that is a common mistake in to fill everything out just that there is something. Your theme at 3:42 starting is nice though but also very clichee, which means sad moment = sad music, next moment..those out of the place zimmer spiccato patterns..that makes no sense to me. You have to keep consistency. The last music part is nice though. Take this all with a grain of salt, I am no super expert in scoring to film. But these are my thoughts. I would say in restrospective: Less is more. But sure that is also a decision by the director and your friend and I am sure that he told you his vision, so I guess thats done right. It is just my personal view here. Thanks for sharing.

    Edit: Of course just my opinion, so I am interested how the other guys see that.
  3. Thanks for checking it out.
    As for too much music, well, it was attempting to do something bold and give a kind of 70's detective feel at points. You say the theme is cliche'd and sad, well, the idea at that point is for there to be a very emotive and yet romantically sick feeling between dead body and detective. I guess I could go onto explain why things are a certain way or why the spiccato stuff is there but there's not really any point because the only thing that matters is how the overall experience makes someone feel and if it didn't make much sense to you then I'll take your criticisms and try to bear them in mind on my next short. I guess it's always a tricky thing writing for a directors vision and a short like this is more "arthouse" than something you'd find in a cinema so I guess he wanted more music for whatever reasons he did. Fear probably. Anyway, thanks so much for taking the time checking it out. I knew posting it here would yield constructive criticisms and feedback rather than on VI-C.
    Alexander Schiborr likes this.
  4. But let me add: My comments are just general things and nothing against your work. I appreciate your work there and happy you shared it. Hopefully other members here can also give some opinions.
  5. Well, sharing things here is both a joy and a very depressing state of affairs. On one hand, I love having other people critique the work as it's so important and on the other, I get depressed just realising how little I know about anything. Still, I can take it. It only makes for needing to get better.
  6. Hey Luke,

    Great job. Things I noticed, but keep in mind I and imagine all of us on the forum don't know the conversations you had with the director(s) or producer(s). However, I hope our comments can still help you for future projects.

    In the beginning you set the tone of the short film. Perfectly fine in doing this. However when the detective brings the letter out you come in with this heavy dark music like we're supposed to know this is a bad letter. I felt you should've played it more mysterious/lighter and less horror/evil/creepy until we were able to read the letter. Remember you can come before a hit point, on a hit point, or after... and in this case I would've hit it after to let the audience understand first rather then telling us how to intrepret when we're not even sure what the film is about yet other than the intro "scary feeling".

    Min 3:08 is a missed hit point you could've done something with. Remember a close up, push-in, or they're looking right at the camera is a sign that the director is trying to say something here. You could've easily just done a crescendo not necessarily a bang or crash, but something elevated.

    I felt the sad dead girl music should've been accompanied by a creepier tone. Perhaps with harmonic or string glisses, or wind harmonics, even muted brass idk... something because you set us up for this style this whole time it for me (and ultimately this is just because the film is so short) wasn't a strong tension and then release as it was supposed to be. Once again though, the film is a short and its hard to grab an emotion like this in 4 minutes where I have no care in the world for this dead girl if you get my point lol. Just something to think about as an overall moment, tension/release or changing moods suddenly.

    End credits, bring back the dead girls theme over top of the bouncy strings would've been nice to hear especially since it was the only melodic thing we heard in the short. It's the only thing we could attach our ears too as the audience.

    Great job man, looking forward to your next film.
    Luke Johnson likes this.
  7. Thanks for sharing Luke. Great work man!

    These are my thoughts based on my limited experience (take all of this with a grain of salt):
    -I feel like the ending would have a better pay off if the music didn't start off right away with the horror vibe. Keep it eerie/suspenseful in the beginning. We don't really know who this guy is or what he is up to. When he says "as soon as I find her head", that is the moment we really know this guy is a deviant. The close up at 3:08, as Dillon mentioned, would be a perfect spot to introduce the horror vibe and start to crescendo from there, building tension until he says "and warm". The ostinato you have there is great. It makes him sound like an evil villain. It reminds me of the Evil Queen's theme in Once Upon a Time.
    -It seems like you are trying to hit the cuts at 3:24 through 3:46 ish, but it sounds a little jagged. A couple of the cuts jump suddenly and mess with the flow, especially at 3:39 and 3:43. I would mess with the tempo there to smooth it out.

    The production value sounds great. I'm looking forward to hearing more from you! I found this short very interesting, and it left me wanting to see more. Hopefully this turns into a feature film and you get to write the score. Keep it up!

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