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Monday, 3.21.05: Ghosts Revisited

A couple years ago I entered two of my early movies into the contest. It's one of those dog-eat-dog competitions where everyone reviews everyone else in a mad scramble to come out on top. Quickly, I saw that The Valentine 1955 had great potential and Ghosts didn't fit what they were looking for. After a few frantic days of reviewing others and hoping they'd review me, I abandoned the project.

Much to my surprise I discovered today that my little videos have persisted on the site and collect new reviews now and then.

Ghosts was truly one of the very first projects I attempted -- a mix of some old 8mm footage of my family, some sound from old family recordings, and music loops. I made a one-minute upbeat version, then decided to see if I could reverse the mood by sound alone in minute number two. It worked out pretty well as an experiment and was popular with my family.

I posted it on Triggerstreet with the following intro:

World War II. My mother's family lost 5 boys but danced and sang their way through the sorrow. Their images and voices haunt me. They are silly, but their vitality shines through the decades.

The reviews are mixed, as expected, but I'm reproducing them here so I can ponder them and learn. Every once in a while I think about pulling out that production, adding to it, and entering it into a more "artsy" short film festival. I've highlighted some ideas.


This is not really a short film. However, I do agree that there is something rather unnerving is seeing old films of long dead people. The music works well, especially in the transition to something more creepy and disturbing. The ghosting and other Post-production effects you add also add to the atmosphere. I would suggest that you take this footage and incorporate it into a new narrative film, possibly exploring the same theme of haunting. This was an interesting exercise... -- March 19, 2005 - 7:39 AM

Hiding the sorrow

As I read in the production notes that this film is a huge emotional experience for the maker and sharing it was a bold move. The music was very nice changing in the right place from ecstasy to remorse and i think this was covered well. Viewing this makes you appreciate life, but it was hard to watch the smiles knowing behind that are the minds of sorrow, perhaps this could have been covered more with an interview or voice over, that of course depended very much on the director's intentions, weather you wanted that or not. Only qualm would have been with not knowing who people were, and obviously not knowing them personally always makes that connection hard, but that's where the personal message from Madinpursuit puts that right. Along with the synopsis and the title it works well and proves to be an emotional piece, especially if you know of people who died not just the great war, but any. -- June 16, 2004 - 9:00 AM

it is haunting

At first I felt like I had been invited to a great party, but as the soundscape and the editing changed I suddenly felt like I was intruding on a deeply personal moment. The use of the stock footage was quite eerie, lending an emotional element to this piece that is difficult to fabricate. It was an interesting idea, and I believe reached its desired effect. -- November 10, 2003 - 3:12 PM

Coulda Been A Contender

Jeeze, I wanted to love this short. The synopsis set it up with both pathos and mystery. The film was a disappointment because there was nothing connecting me with the family. All I saw were people dancing and drinking. Ok, so maybe that's all Ms. Price had to work with in 8mm, but surely there were B&W stills of the lost boys. As created, there's no sense of loss except the "Danny Boy" song which wasn't strong enuf glue to hold it together. I would have mixed stills and film together so the viewer has a sense of context. Ms. Price could have added a narration at the top. Wouldn't need much ... a graph would do it and it would help the film tremendously. -- July 25, 2003 - 9:57 AM

Missed Opportunity

I recently watched some of my own families 8mm film from the 40's and i was as moved by it as I was by the footage in this film. However, as far as what was done with the footage is concerned, I can only describe it as a missed opportunity. It would have had no emotional impact at all if I hadn't read the production notes. There is more than just images and sound here. There is a real story to be told. I don't know if it's with titles or voice over or just a different editing scheme but there is definitely more potential in the footage than you found. -- July 22, 2003 - 12:29 AM

Uniquely Derivative

I was touched by the rare old footage that accompanied the sad Irish songs of grief and loss. The music that played above all this was very engaging, and showed the spirit of these people who were only trying to survive through the war, in the best way they knew how to. If it's possible, a re-edit of the voice on top of this all would be was hard to understand what that male voice was saying and if it seemed necessary to put him in, then it should be redone so everyone can hear exactly what he is saying. I thought the black and white footage and the more modern dance music, was quite a unique choice. And the more classic songs of loss that were underneath, gave the paradoxical feeling of sorrow mixed with a desire to live. -- July 16, 2003 - 11:13 AM 

Memories for a family....

I found this interesting with the score mix and the visuals. The footage seemed to convey the moments of experiencing some fun while the lyrics kept suggesting the sorrow hidden. I do think this was more personal to the filmmaker than the viewer in general, as the execution was slightly too eclectic. However, I would never want to downgrade another's art. I say pass on this as a short film submission, but not as Price's way of expressing memories. i am sure to this family, it was worth a LOT more consideration. -- March 19, 2003 - 12:00 AM

has potential

I think that this concept has a potential. Maybe you should re-edit it a little bit, add some cool voice over (even if you read what you wrote in your synopsis), make it a little more accessible. Currently it doesn't stand alone without the synopsis. I think that's a problem because a film needs to be a self-sufficient work of art. -- February 13, 2003 - 3:55 PM

Music Video

I think you should have used this time to actually document your mother's feelings instead of just splicing together bits of old footage. Granted, this was done very well, it fit the music, and was interesting to watch, but there was no real story here, and I would have liked to have seen one. -- February 3, 2003 - 6:17 PM

Bits of old footage

And interesting bit of historical footage, made interesting by the title of the film, and the use of strobing that occurs later. Not really a short film, more an experimental piece. Nice to look at but can't really judge based on what's here, and doesn't qualify as a short film by Trigger Street standards. -- January 6, 2003 - 3:57 PM


As I reflect, I wonder whether the power of this for me is about the World War II heroes I never knew or about the vanished aunts, uncles, family friends and grandparents I did know. A project for later...


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