“An exceptional drama-comedy that will leave no one unaffected”. Heart-touching comments about my dramedy "The Locationist" coming from a jury member of the Cleveland Film Festival, rating my 37-minute debut movie with 8 stars out of 10.
This jury member’s entire comment regarding my 2021 Romanian drama comedy in English language felt incredibly good not because it means the world for any film author at their debut, but mainly because I felt that another someone (besides the people I know, my friends and the friends of friends) understood perfectly what I tried to do with this concept and hybrid format and what I wanted to say.
Cleveland Film Festival is a big-league festival, being in Top 100 Best Reviewed, Oscar Academy, and Canadian Screen Award Qualifying, so every word counts for a debutant, especially if she is a woman director and producer and she's one becoming a filmmaker at 40 via Romania route.
For a fair piece of news, the other two jury members were not so impressed, rating “The Locationist” drama comedy with 4 stars overall, higher at some chapters and lower at others.
For the time being “The Locationist” 2021 dramedy is making the world festivals tour, getting by know the laurels as an official selection from IPIFF 15th Edition-2021 in the category “Best Producer for a Short Film” (the Film Festival of Independent Producers in Romania organized by UPFAR-ARGOA (Union of Romanian Film and Audiovisual Producers and the Romanian Association of Audiovisual Works Management).
Having the film’s premiere at home, in Romania, to start recovering its production costs (meaning all my savings plus some funny debts!) I decided to open my first drama comedy to the public on vimeo VoD with geoblocking - Romania territory, unlocking more territories on the go.
Thanks to the Cleveland Film Festival model that makes the effort to give the filmmakers a piece of feedback from its jury members, here it is our ratings matrix, very polarizing as you’ll see (a thing that I find to be very good news as no one, indeed, left the movie unaffected).
I'll start with the bad news - the lowest ratings:
Film festival jury member 1: Overall rating 4/10 (I cut out the spoilers parts of the comments, descriptive fragments of the film)
”I think the purpose of this drama comedy was to show you never know what someone’s going through. Appearances can be deceiving, and most people can relate to having a hard-to-meet deadline hanging over their heads professionally. My favorite scene was the algae-covered pond, and the reverence shown there. The cinematography was intense. I disliked the lack of dialogue, there weren’t any words for the first 11,5 minutes of the film. The ending was surprising and felt like a nod to ”Thelma and Louise”.
Originality and Creativity: 6/10
Film directing: 5/10
Actors Performances: 4/10
Production Value: 4/10
Sound and Music: 5/10
My take: For me, this feedback has significant discrepancies between comments and ratings. Even though that might not be true, it left me with the feeling that the viewer only knows life through movies. Disliking so much the nature moment of the opening scene that’s setting the lead female character and her world and lifestyle, it makes me feel that this is someone who can’t stay alone with herself/himself or s/he doesn't like nature's sounds and silence or that s/he is open to watch only the movies that follow a certain formula/structure. I feel too much bias. Following the line of thought and logic of this viewer, I would have rated the film with at least 7 points. The difference between thoughts and actions is too extreme in my view.
Film festival jury member 2: Overall rating 4/10
”The Locationist” is a film that needs more clues as to the motive, methods, ideas, and concepts. The cinematography and color usage is certainly creative. The writing is unclear. The performances are somewhat credible but without knowing what is really going on, one cannot assume anything. The film is well-paced as it moves from situation to situation. This being said as a viewer I have no idea the motive, background story, or purpose of any of the individuals. The soundtrack works well for this film. The film lacks focus or at least a clue as to focus for the viewer. This is a shame as the colorful presentations and the clever use of objects real, pretend, necessary, or imagined are really quite intriguing. The sudden appearance of people or items challenges one’s mind with regard to reality. I especially enjoyed the first 15 minutes of this film watching her engage in the environment and conger up items from thin air. The use of nature is especially graceful. The film viewer is just not given enough clues to become totally engaged in this experience. The film is well-edited and the change of items or scenery or people moves seamlessly throughout.
Originality and Creativity: 8/10
Film directing: 4/10
Actors Performances: 4/10
Production Value: 3/10
Sound and Music: 7/10
My take: For me, this is an inconsistent viewer. This viewer's entire comment praises the directing, from the words directing section should have got at least 7-8 points.
The frustration of some of the viewers, as it is also this case, regarding my choice (as a writer) of not giving out too much about the characters backgrounds and in-the-face motives is something I was aware of when I decided to force the typical short format and turn it into a proof-of-concept for a pilot series. My purpose was to set up the characters and their worlds with this first short in an organic, natural manner. In this case, in the name of balance, fewer points should have been given to writing and structure, not to directing.
The viewer says s/he likes the pacing. However, s/he noted it with 3/10 – this is a highly confusing action, saying one thing and doing another. It would have been a much helpful feedback, if the comment was as ”negative” as the rating, at least it made some sense and offered me something to learn.
Overall, both 4-stars viewers have great and encourging comments. If people don’t see the ratings and consider them reviews from other viewers, I’m 100% sure that many will consider my dramedy ”The Locationist” worth watching.
The good news now. Film festival jury member 2: Overall rating 8/10
”An exceptional dramedy that will leave no one unaffected. The scenario keeps developing in such a way that is fascinating to see what would happen next. I enjoyed the dialogues between the main characters that cleverly give insights into their lives and emotional world in its richness of emotions and feelings. I found it great that their conversations were not only about personal matters but also touched upon general topics about life, love, and staying true to one’s beliefs. In addition, I liked how each scene leads into another building up until the very climax when the whole situation becomes clear in its complexity. Very good choice of the main actors contributes to the overall favorable impression."
Originality and Creativity: 7/10
Film directing: 8/10
Actors Performances: 9/10
Production Value: 8/10
Sound and Music: 8/10
My overall self-rating for this movie is 8/10, the same it received also in the scriptwriting competitions.
For a debutant film author with an entrepreneurship, innovation, executive and film production background, but no directing, writing or art-related academic background, I think it’s a great start both for me as a filmmaker and for the series that ”The Locationist” drama comedy will become.
Knowing that despite the rough production conditions, nano budget, and pandemics, I managed to "download" this dramedy out of my head and make it out of thin air with 99% accuracy as I envisioned it, it’s a great feeling. I know that’s a very hard thing to do and the consensus is that if you, as a filmmaker, manage to bring to life 50% of your vision that’s something to be proud of. So, I’m glad to know that my sense of reality and balance is sharp and precise enough.
Nevertheless, learning and unlearning process is a fascinating experience and by giving feedback to each other we uplift each other more than we think, not only as professionals, but also as human beings.
Writer/Director/Producer: Georgia Mihalcea
Co-director: Ela Gavrila
Casting: Marcela Motoc, Mirela Cretan, Ela Gavrila, Bianca Codroiu
Cinematographer: Albert Radu
Edit: Georgia Mihalcea, Monica Hauler Szasz
I would love to know how you find it. I will be glad to send you a private or group preview link with English, French and Romanian captions in exchange for your and your friends' reviews. Whether you are an avid movie-watcher, an industry professional, a passionate blogger who loves cinema, or a film critic, reach me out. Film's IMDB reviews page.