Here we are for another review on the contestants for the narrative short film category at the VIMEO Awards 2012.
Tonight we’ll discuss Webcam, by Zbros Productions:
We have a good setup here, girl recently moved to a new apartment to live by herself at university and is giving a house tour to her mother by the webcam. That’s a lot of information for a single take and makes a great short film introduction, hopefully we can set our stakes higher with this one! Then we have some of her routine, after shower, applying some cream, another webcam pops up for a second. Is she being spied? This might get interesting. But it doesn’t, we stay on her everyday, waiting for something to happen. This is like a lost minute, but after that, a boy joins her in the bedroom, they make out. She puts some music. He lays on top of her and fondles her thighs then…it cuts to her thanking for a plushie dog she gained, by phone. Around the 3 and half minutes mark, she realizes that her webcam seems to be always turned on.
— Besides that half second pop-up from the beginning, and i have some sure thoughts that was the same guy that went to bed with her, so it might be a skype chat, or just a director’s cameo, since it makes no sense having a pop-up window in your webcam if you’re spying someone.
— Credibility is the keyword here. You can’t promise a real story if you don’t have real characters and even the dumbest chick from the worst slasher franchise wouldn’t be as stupid as our main character. Until the event at the 3½ minutes we don’t know if she’s actually being spied. Some people simply leave their webcam controllable, there’s even a subreddit about it. Yet, no, someone is watching her. Just like we were doing.
She calls support and complains. Another day. Someone, possibly unexpected, rings the doorbell. She checks out, but finds no one. After that she is afraid of the webcam, closes the notebook to avoid being seen. Still, it doesn’t seem to make any difference and we can still spy her life, but through different angles, like from the feet. Tarantino would be happier this way. 2:58 AM, the computer plays a music and wakes her up. More everyday, it seems. Afterwards, the computer starts playing a video with some really disturbing voices, the main character freaks out and closes the notebook. But then in the next frame we can again watch her sleeping. The screen flashes and exposes a man entering in her bedroom. He puts down the webcam. Then we have the information about a 31 year-old man from California whom was arrested for spying on a young woman through her webcam.
— Let’s check the plausability. She realizes that her webcam has a problem, she is afraid of someone watching her. Then she goes to bed with the webcam pointed right at her boobs. HER COMPUTER PLAYS WEIRD NOISES AND RECORDINGS and she goes to bed the same way. Girl, just close your freaking computer if you believe you’re being spied. Or if you don’t want to do that because you have a Diablo 3 marathon coming, just put some DUCK TAPE over the webcam. Problem solved. That’s the reason why you must develop your characters and think about all the possible reactions for a problem, then you don’t pick up the best solution, you choose what your character would do. Mostly main character should surprise us in a good way, we think they’re doing one way, but they get a shortcut and it is much better. It is only great because even surprising it also feels logical.
— This character just seems disappointing. She gets scared twice and doesn’t do a thing to solve the problem besides calling support, but hey, imagine that after the weird noises scene she actually puts some duck tape in the webcam, but in the next morning, the tape is gone. Much more thrilling than ‘someone rings the doorbell but there’s no one there’. She closes her macbook, but finds it open later on. She throws it through the window or simply breaks it in a thousand pieces. She’s relieved and lays down her bed, however we can only see that because there’s a hidden camera between her books… Seems like a better film or is it only my impression?
— The problem of Webcam is that it relies on characters and depends on their depth, meanwhile it uses its character solely as tool, working exclusively for the benefit of the narrative. Story is all about what would our characters do in the life-changing situations we present. We, as writers, are allowed to throw any crazy twists into our characters’ way, but we can’t make up their mind. They must live in our story, otherwise they will neither do it in our public’s imagination.
19/05: The Ghosts, by Eddie O’Keefe; (read)
20/05: Prologue, by Bradley W. Ragland; (read)
21/05: Webcam, by Zbros Productions;
22/05: A Bitch, by Matthew Miller;
23/05: Left Right, by Tom Willems;
24/05: The Hive, by Blind Aura Pictures;
25/05: Hooked, by Stuart Howe;
26/05: Pothound, by Christopher Guiness;
27/05: The Division of Gravity, by Rob Chiu;
28/05: Blinky™, by Ruairi Robinson;
29/05: Human Beings, by Jonathan Entwistle;
30/05: Ham Sandwich, by Dave Green.