Behold, El Engaño!

 Here it is, Tiny Explosions best (?) film yet, El Engaño!

Made as part of the pandemic version of the Des Moines 48 Hour Film Project 2020, I am really proud of this film. It's the best shot film we've made, it is paced really well, there's no over-the-top acting, no gross out humor, it is a stand alone story not a sketch, it has actual visual effects (an explosion...), And oh yeah, it won the award for best editing. Plus I was told it was the runner up audience award for our screening group, always cool.

It was nice to win an award that I felt the film was worthy of, and truth be told, this online release is an even better edit on all accounts. To repeat my annual refrain, these awards are almost always mystifying and quasi-meaningless outside of winning it all. And once again there are some head scratchers in the final awards. One difference this year is 48HFP shared their scoring criteria: Artistic Merit 45%, Technical Merit 30%, and Adherence to the Assignment 25%. As someone who judges short films for work, I appreciate a system like this but it is near futile to me as so much judging is done on personal taste, whims, and judge deliberations can sometimes spread awards out in the name of including more people in the fun, no way around it. I mean we're talking about "art."

Excluding our film (because, don't be that guy) My top five films from this year are:

  1. Illustrate "Fuchsia" - horror
  2. Negative Space "Alstromeria" - Film De Femme
  3. One Genome Short "In The Weeds" - Climate Film
    If I may take one moment to say it was absurd this film wasn't in Best of City. It was definitely one of the top eight films and I was shocked at it's exclusion. 
  4. Retro Neon Films "Sanity" - Mystery
  5. Working for Exposure "Lucky Lilly" - Sci-fi

Using this rubric and the paradigm of 48, here's my pass at scoring the 48 cut of El Engaño! (I am guessing at the subcategories.)

Creative - 35/45

Acting - Even, no real reaching or over acting serviceable. Fits the story

Writing - Some of our most creative and clever stuff. Warrants repeat viewing. Some telling, but mostly showing. Nothing in the narrative feels rushed, off tone, or left-field. Third act might be distracting with some of the jokes or references that might be interpreted as cheap gags. Trump joke... Something that will cause some people to groan or tune out but given the disposition of our time traveler, I think it is funny his alternate timeline resulted in something he'd love.

"Creativity" - Full marks

Production design - Full Marks

Score & Sound - Even, fitting, nothing special. The online cut is better and more interesting.

Technical - 28/30

Cinematography - Damn near full marks. Things could be improved but you're really stretching to tell me where.

Editing - Above Average. I see some mistakes but We won the award so I'm going with pretty much full marks

Visual Effects - Above Average for 48.

Adherence to Assignment - 25/25

Full marks. I mean we hit our genre. Used all the required elements in ways that are meaningful to the story. I have no idea what would be a demerit for us here.

This brings my scoring to 88. Probably not the score the actual judges gave us, but we'll never know. That's a fun exercise I might do it for our previous work.

Even with the pandemic concerns, this was a fun year. I need to thank the Segovia-Schultz family for offering their entire Saturday to our silly project, The Hogan household for being our props house and the gas to our creative fire, Craig Bahnsen for being our second lead and driving our ridiculous time machine around in his truck, and Jon Hoffmann for being my production equal and willing to man the sound. We had a much smaller team and cast than usual but still a great time. Add on top of that we wrote faster than we ever have, spent maybe five hours total shooting, and the film was submitted seven hours before the deadline... We really liked it.

Look, the reason for the short shoot was due to; 

  • 1/4 for covid safety 
  • 1/4 the material 
  • 1/4 me not wanting to spend too much time away from my third trimester pregnant wife and 3yo 
  • 1/4 knowing I was alone on the edit.

If there were no pandemic and my wife wasn't pregnant I think we would have made a few different choices and we'd be presenting a different film. Sunday, I submitted WAY early because I liked the cut and I needed to spend the day being a good father and husband. So I decided after the deadline passed I would take time and make the online cut incrementally superior without altering the plot of film.

My final thoughts, I really like this film. Going forward it is either my first or second film to recommend from our catalog. It's a bit of a bummer it didn't receive greater recognition but in the long run I think people are likely to enjoy it and find it unique outside of my circle of influence. That's where real success lies, your opinion and that which is completely divorced of bias and prejudgement. Looking forward to next year when we blow everyone's mind again.


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