Ty Powell, with a computer software based background a confusing journey. He is tested on every level from his intelligence to his will. What he thinks is his first day of university turns into a life altering situation.
Written By: Ben Feuerstein
Directed By: Kevin Ferreira,
"LL041" was an interesting little diversion with a lot going for it. An good concept, although not completely original, was still enough to get those curiosity juices flowing. Starting off in a university, "LL041" quickly switches gears and ends up leaving us, cliff-hanger style in the bowels of some secret Government facility. As I wrote above, the set-up is interesting enough, and "LL041" really has the potential to become an entertaining, ongoing series. Right now however, issues exist both in the writing and execution of this short film. We'll get into that below.
Visually, "LL041" seems to suffer slightly from split personality. We have some really great elements wrapped within this package. We also have some clear cut indie hallmarks, most of which could be removed with very little effort. We, the viewers are treated to beautiful sweeping shots, followed immediately by a seemingly handheld tornado, a-la-Blair Witch. The drama, attempted by the director gets completely lost in a shaky, jittery mess. Thankfully, the choice of shot styles is not the main issue with "LL041" and I didn't need a Gravol to enjoy the show. The hand-held mayhem isn't the main attraction here, just a benched player making noise on the sidelines. The bulk of the technical issues were about 40 percent color and 60 percent audio. Coloring problems are common with indie productions but in this case, a few tweaks in post could have repaired them. Pretty much all video editing software comes with color correct tools so why not use them? It sure beats having one shot blue and the very next shot, in the same room... a different hue or saturation level. The audio problems? A little more severe but not by much. A few adjustments may not have made the audio perfect, but easily could have improved it. Again, most editors are capable of slight audio adjustments. A few scenes, especially in the classroom, could have been outright repaired simply by increasing the midtones. Why was this not done?
Now that we've touched on the technical elements, let's ask some questions regarding the plot: Why the drugs/bathroom scene? Having our lead character drugged and missing class brings up a few story issues such as: Why was he drugged? Was it so he missed class? If so... why? It serves no point in the narrative. If he actually "was" drugged so he would miss class, than why show the classroom scene at all? How about asking why our hero was knocked out and "bagged" late in the film. Why the bag? The reason given is to ensure a "secure meeting" but let's face it ladies and gents... our hero was out cold and wasn't taking notes on his location. I should also ask: Secure from who? A bag doesn't make a person invisible. If our hero was already knocked out, was the bag supposed to make nobody see him being transported? Like I said... a bag over the head doesn't make a person invisible.
I imagine this was all done with us, the viewers in mind, to add some dramatic effect. The simple fact is that this stuff only works when it makes sense. The bag, in this case, does not. Maybe if our hero was awake... that would be another story.
Finally, to the writer. The exposition, especially in the last act was not needed. Having a play-by-play seems like a good idea to increase the run-time... but man, it is boring and not needed at all. If we, the viewers, are still watching by this point... we know what happened. We just watched it! Having the entire short film summed up in a dark room feels pointless. It also makes us, the viewers think either that the director thinks we're stupid, since we just watched all this happen... and don't need a recap, or, that they are not confident in their writing, and want to make sure the point got across. It's like the old saying goes: If it's not needed, scrap it. If I've just watched the first 2 acts of your film, I don't need a recap in act 3.
"LL041" is not a bad piece of work. Visually, save a few technical flaws, it looks great. With a few tweaks in post, the onscreen parts of this film would be so much better. It wouldn't take much! The writing elements could be corrected with a few snips in the editing room as well. Why not do it?
It's easy to brush these things off by saying this was a student film, but in reality nobody cares. If John Smith happens across your movie and decides to give it a "view", he doesn't care if you're a student. He doesn't care if you had no money. He either likes it or he doesn't. It's for this very reason that you should always put your best foot forward. Have a color issue? Fix it. Audio problems? Do your best to repair them. If you "know" there is something wrong... so does everyone else. As it sits, "LL041" was easy to watch straight through till the end. In the sea of indie productions, that in itself is a compliment... since a lot of them are unwatchable. I just can't help think that it "could" be so much more, with a little more work.
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