Filmmaker Showcase - THE DUEL



can't stand it anymore...
it is my firm belief as an artist that to improve your art... it is best to take the constructive (and sometimes not so constructive) criticism from any & all who wish to opine on your art...

I therefore ask your opinion on my short film... "THE DUEL"

and to stave off one particular remark that I know I will recieve...
the location for this film, commonly thought of as an inside joke, is absolutely and completely the result of a nearly empty bank account, and a lack of any "real" location near by... so, I settled with a visually dynamic location instead...
I've had my piece about location... I spent my money on the costumes...
now... please, pretty please... with sugar & a cherry on top... critique the HECK out of my film.

Any & all comments welcome.

Thanks ahead of time from the whole crew & me!


New member
The majority of films that I worked on college were directed with the mentality that the combination of juxtaposed "interesting" shots made for an overall interesting film. Basically, they chose shots not for meaning, but because they thought they looked "cool". Your film is really a breath of fresh air for me because you told the entire story with your shots and you told it well. Not a word needed to be spoken and no meaning was lost in the translation to film. I would be proud to have my name on a film like that, rather than a select few I am credited on (You'd probably never stop laughing if you saw them lol ). I really liked it.


Very nice film. well photographed and well written. My only complaint is that some of the editing needs to be tighter. To build that suspense, you need to quicken the cuts, even though you want to slow the pace of the sequence. It's hard for me to explain what I"m talking about, but it just seemed that some of the shots lingered a bit too long. I did, however, love the smirking shots. those were great! And the gunshot over the credits was a good touch.


New member
Hey Derek,
I actually would never have noticed the location issue if you hadn't pointed it out. I pick up on some types of flaws but not others, so this one, if you would call it one, is really pretty subtle. I agree a bit with what Filmosity said although I completely see the feeling you were trying to get. My favorite part was the good music choice.

Jared Isham

The Duel,
Well, to tell you the truth. The short didn't really do it for me. Other than the fact that it was a duel, was there any story to it? You said to critic the heck out of it so I guess I will do so as nicely as possible.

There were a few times where you broke the line in you cinematography but they might be considered justified. The biggest complaint that I had was the story - it didn't really go anywhere. I never felt attached to anyone character, which I believe is imparitive in drawing your audience into the story. We have to feel something for the character before we care if they die or not. The huge thing that, I believe I failed at many times, is developint a coherent character arc, the character has to start at one place and then end up somewhere else, there needs to be a change in their character for the story to go anywhere - this is especially hard in a short though.

One of the things that I think hurt you the most was who you casted in the roles. Being someone who grew up on westerns and researched the time period quite a bit you did not seem to capture the essence of a gun slinger the way it should have been. Your costumes were good but I don't think they fit the characters age very well. They are also part of a wild crowd, right? They're gunslingers aren't they? They seemed a little timid and clean cut for that.

Just a quick question. Did you hold auditions for this short or are the actors your friends?

Anyway, on a good note. The viewer does not get lost in the way it is shot, it is easy to follow what is happening - that is good. I think it would have been better if you framed things differently to tell the story from only one of the characters point of view. It seemed to me that you were attempting to tell the story from both characters point of view at the same time. Doesn't really work in a short, at least in my opinion.

The two biggest things I have to say about the short is, you need a character arc - that is huge. Second a different cast - that is also huge in telling your story - a big part of saving yourself from frustrations on set is in how you cast the film.

Those are my two cents worth, not that I can do any better.


New member
I agree to some extent. It lacked a story driving any point home. I feel like a film is an outlet to express beliefs, make a point, or just make people laugh, but to do any of those things, there needs to be a strong story. I thought the costumes were terrific, location did not bother me, cinematography terrific, acting good for what it was worth, pace good, editing pretty good, but story.... Can't make a film without one. A great film technically. Just proves technology can't make the film.

P.S. Sorry for being so brutal. Just my opinion, I'm no professional or anything.

P.P.S I've noticed that in general these forums tend to go more towards the technology part than the story part. Nothing wrong with that, we all have questions, but I don't think we should forget where that technology needs to be placed to mean something.


New member
I agree with the last posts. It's a good first outting and loved the idea of the clock and sound but otherwise, it was really nothing and too simple. There was nothing expressed or shown or anything the description on IMDB said. The only thing that annoyed me more was the use of the word "film" for such an obvious video project.

I really think a better location, shot on 16mm Tri-X/Plus-X and better, older looking actors would change this short immensely. Think gritty. Right now we don't know why this is happening, nor a reason to care. Okay, I guess somebody died but I had no one to root for from the get go.

I could care less about the location, especially if there was a story conveyed more than "will these two men shoot each other?" The location wasn't that visually dynamic to begin with, it's mostly washed out. I basically just thought how big of a pain it was to frame and shoot without any modern technology to find a spot. Maybe the woods near a cabin? Who knows. This was a good first try, definitely has some promise. I would still keep it simple though.


New member
I thought it was shot very well. Edited well, and the location and actors didn't bother me that much. Whether or not it is "gritty" or not is really a directorial call. What bothered me primarily was the lack of a point. Or I should say, a point of interst. True, it establishes the VERY basic relationship of good vs. evil with the black vs. white, but that is pretty much the MOST basic film can possibly get, and the film didn't hold my attention. Moreover, (I know its a short), but character developement was non-existent. While there are some films that can get away with that (Koyaanitsqatsi's and the others are the only ones I can think of at the moment) many more cannot. Technically speaking I was quite impressed, everything was smooth. It lacked substance.