Right from the start I had a soft spot in my heart for this film, just not for the reasons you probably think. "The Raven's Prey" from writer director Jeffrey Tenney, reminded me so much of my first two stabs at filmmaking it was uncanny. This production however, unlike mine, was a massive endeavor for a low budget indie. A medieval fiction complete with all the costuming needs, prop requirements and fancy, chirpy dialog you can imagine. I can think of very few indie productions that have went "full out" attempting a film of this scale. Very few indeed. The plot elements are all in place, familiar and ambitious simply waiting for some eyes to take it all in as our lead character, simply known as the Principal, begins his journey to a far off province on the orders of his Queen. I was a little surprised after reading our main character was to be a non violent man, since right from the start his sword is drawn in battle and continues through the film. Not a problem. What's not to like when it comes to a sword fight? Between walking, some scuffles and a massive cast of characters, one thing I really did enjoy in "The Raven's Prey" was the dialog itself. Sure, it does, at times feel long winded and awkward on the tongue... but that's really the beauty of it. Throughout the film, we're treated to some really lyrical dialog. It just goes through the ears and rings in the brain. By no means is this a constant charm in the movie, but when it rings, it really does. So buckle in for a long running adventure back in time, way back in time, which brings me to one of the two biggest problems this film faces. The length. "The Raven's Prey" clocks in at just under two hours. That's a hefty run-time for a studio film, never mind an independent. When you consider there's really no massive, sweeping visual effects or elaborate sets, a two hour length can feel more like three to four. As a low budget film, the goal is not to cram every single thing into the production. Only the most important, the best of the best. This story could have been told within a seventy to seventy four minute time frame. No problems. So why the length? I don't know for sure, but if I were to guess, I would assume that like most indie flicks, one man wears many hats. In this case quite possibly Jeffrey Tenney himself. The problem here is that since he created this story, there was no buffer in the editing room. What goes and what stays? When you like everything? The simple fact is this: "The Raven's Prey" has such a long length, without any buzz elements such as massive effects, that you literally begin to tune things out and forget past scenes. It all jumbles into one long montage of walking, talking and a little fighting. The trick to a good indie film is a good edit. Keep the pace up by only using whats absolutely needed. Trim the fat. What's maddening here is that enough "really good stuff" exists to have made a kick-ass, feature length movie... that clocked in around, or just under an hour and a half. There's a reason "blockbusters" get independent editors to edit their films. With that said, if forced to edit yourself, make the tough choices and leave some on the cutting room floor. Another production element that kept coming up was the audio. However, again, not in the way you're probably thinking. This is an indie production so audio is expected to be less than perfect. It was the attempt to "cover up" the indie sounding dialog, that ended up bringing it more into the light. The massive use of background audio, birds and wind and chirps, to hide the recording itself, was like pointing a finger straight at "said" audio. The real problem was that on my television, the background audio actually hurt my ears. The high pitch outdoor sounds was like sticking needles into my brain. And still, I could hear when the audio was edited out of the scene, and back in when someone was about to speak. So you end up asking what the point was? At the start of this write-up I mentioned "The Raven's Prey" reminded me a lot of my first productions. Everything discussed so far... I did the same, and more. The use of filters and vignettes here were really over the top, and right from the opening scenes, screamed independent. The unusual filter choices, such as a purple haze, really brought the look of this production down a few pegs. Less is more, especially when it comes to things like this. Here's where things get interesting. The actors themselves, who took the time and spewed out some really cool sounding dialog, were awesome. As I wrote above, the main charm of this production is the lyrical, poetic quality of the dialog. Most of the massive cast didn't shy away from the task, that I could tell anyway, and did splendid jobs. We have some real silver tongued folks delivering what I can only imagine was tough dialog... at times I wondered just how they managed to pull off such unusual lines. Trying to repeat a few myself ended in a twisty mess rolling out of my mouth. In the film however, it all comes together and is a true high point of the movie. When it's all said and done I was just left with one question for myself. Did I enjoy the movie? Short answer? Yes. Yes I did. Sure, it has some production issues, mainly stemming from being a low budget piece, but that's all good in my books. It's an indie film! No matter how you slice it however, it also contains some really good moments. Considering it's such a massive endeavor for an indie film, and a first feature for Jeffrey Tenney... it's truly amazing that I enjoyed it as much as I did. "The Raven's Prey" may not be the next fantasy blockbuster, but it doesn't need to be to get the job done. It managed to entertain me, and kept my eyes on the screen. For a massive two hours at that! Many indie films can't hook me for even twenty minutes, never mind one twenty. Although not perfect, Jeffrey Tenney, and his talented cast kept me entertained. After the credits have rolled, that's really all that matters.