C47Houston Flix Review:

"The Prank"

 

 

A group of high school friends from Joseph McBride High School meet for a more intimate and informal party after their 15th-year class reunion. But, for Doug Smith hard feelings still haunt him ever since Kevin Chambers sleeps with Doug's sweetheart after the Prom.  Now, the time has come for some pay-back.

Written by actor and first time director Marcus Freeman, the story follows Doug Smith (played by Gregory Malonson) and Kevin Chambers (played by Kedrin Birdwell). Both used to be good friends and both have been invited to an informal after party for their 15th year class reunion for a group of their close friends and classmates. 

Kevin Chambers, has been having problems in his life ever since losing his grand-mother, experiencing some medical issues and cumulating in emotional distress and, being under pressure, gets hold of a gun.  And, Doug has never really bounced back from the loss of his high school sweetheart and the love of his life,  Dawn McAfee (played by: Greta Jordan-Williams), after an alleged affair she had with Kevin after the prom, that eventually broke them up. Now he is holds a grudge.  

A night before the party, Kevin meets Francesca Hampton (played by Jelessa Robinson) at a hotel bar and after several  drinks and drunk, they have an indiscriminate and an intimate night together at his hotel room. 

The next day and at the party, Doug and Dawn meet for the first time in 15 years and things didn't go very well and may be described as bitter. With the gang there sans Kevin, Doug has invited another classmate, Francesca, to the party but, no one know who she is or remembers her. However Doug assures everyone at the party that Francesca graduated from Joseph McBride High School but, at the time, was Franklin Garred (aka: High Heel Franky) . Doug's ulterior motives start to rise up at the expense of Kevin.

When Kevin arrives to the party, he is surprised to see Francesca there. Doug, being the kind of guy he is and holding a grudge, pushes Kevin and Francesca to recall their intimate details, the night before, in front of their classmates and friends. Doug's diabolical plan flushes to its full glory. Angered by deception, Kevin storms out with Doug following. Shots are fired. With more twists and turns is Doug's resentment toward Kevin justified? Did Dawn and Kevin really have an affair at prom night? Is Francesca really High Heel Franky? Why have shots been fired? What are Kevin's medical issues? AND, what are the consequences of playing a prank?

The Story: 

Written by Mr. Freeman "The Prank" is an intelligently written story containing twists and turns, several back stories, a beginning, middle and an end. The story is basically about the consequences as the direct result of someone's actions and inactions.  Consequences that are not all fun and games but that, sometime, lead to irrevocable harm.  Because this is a short story, the writer has to compress a lot of information but in a way where it does not overwhelm the viewing audience. We think Mr. Freeman did a great job in conveying enough information, to adequately move the audience from one plot scene to another.  In all, "The Prank" was a very good story.

The Movie: 

Taking the script and adapting it to the screen is a triumph for any moviemaker.  It takes a lot of time and energy to come out of post-production with a completed movie for the entertainment of an audience. The trick for any movie maker is to make a move that captures the audience and keeps them seated and wondering what is coming up next.  "The Prank" did just that. However, our job is to dissect.  To be honest, the opening sequence in "the Prank"  was a bit slow and, in our opinion, a bit confusing. We believe that the movie should have started with the table full of high school memorabilia as the establishing shot instead of showing a group of 4 vehicles traveling together down a road.  We think this would have made for a better opening.   Also, act one of the movie was a bit sluggish and disassociated. We were not really sure what was going on or who were the major players. The movie actually came together only after the host of the party approached Doug Smith. The movie flowed nicely after that point.  With 16 minutes of running time, "The Prank" was a good move to watch. It unfolded, presented problems, escalated in plot, presented a climax and twisted the audience and concluded with something different. By the end of the movie we were happy to see the efforts of the team well received as it should be.  

The Technical Side:

This is the first movie venture by Marcus Freeman. We are sure he took great pains in making sure that this movie was well constructed and using standard movie making techniques and practices. Technically, "The Prank" is a standard independent short motion picture.  It has a very good story but the movie could have been better constructed. One of our pet peeves in watching any movie is SOUND.  The sound can make a big difference in the way the viewer sees the movie. There was a lot of missing sound, as in foley sound, interaction/dialogue sound. There was a lot of echo in many of the scenes. The sound should be deep and rich. There was a lot of unbalanced and unleveled sound between scenes and between characters.  

Another fault with independent moviemakers is lighting, or rather the lack of it. Although, Mr. Freeman did an adequate job in the construction of this movie, however, the majority of it was flat and didn't really "pop" or have that 3D type of lighting that you will see in some higher budgeted ventures. This, of course could be due to that lack of equipment as most low/no budget indie moviemaker experience and ultimately make due with what they have.  

One of the better things to say about this movie is that the cinematographer did a great job in composing the movie.  Sure, there were a couple of awkward blocking issues and scenes, but overall the camera was fluid, steady and focused. Camera angles were creative and interesting to see. NOW, do we blame the cinematographer for the lack of light? Is it his/her responsibility? After all the cinematographer is behind the camera lens and with the director it is his/her job to make sure that a picture is being painted. Lighting can make or break a movie. Basic 3-point lighting is a standard in any movie.  missing from the majority of this movie is the 3 dimensional lighting consistent with good filmmaking practices it was flat and that effects the composition of this movie. 

Regardless of the tech side, the actors did a great job in their performances in front of a camera. There performances felt natural and not strained or stressed.

Editing could have been a little tighter. There were several areas where there was some lengthy pauses between the dialogue between characters. However, cuts and wipes were seamless and unremarkable...as it should be. 

Despite some of the technical flaws, which comes with most indie projects in one form or another, Mr. Freeman did a great job in directing and presenting his vision of what this story ought to look like on the big screen.  Putting this movie together is a challenge in the first place for any first time director. WE think Mr. Freeman has talent as a director and we hope that he continues to hone his skills in presenting his vision of a story. With practice make perfect. 

 Our Overall Assessment:

Our personal impression of "The Prank" is positive.  Looking back is 20/20 and I respect the fact that anyone is able to write, produce, take a lot of time and effort to present a story to an audience on the big screen. It's always an accomplishment to be able to say that you made a movie. And, it is even more of an accomplishment to say that you made a good movie that "looks" like a movie. 

Aside from the opening shot, we were happy to see an interesting story unfold and come to a thoughtful conclusion. We think that Mr. Freeman did a great job in creating a visually adaptation of a complex story containing several twists and turns. As we watched the movie we admit that we did empathize with the characters and enjoyed the forethought of knowing what was about to happen as the story progressed.  WE were really amazed that the concluding twist was hidden so well that it surprised a skeptic like me. LoL.  Very well done Mr. Freeman. 

In all, we enjoyed the movie. it was entertaining, both visually and with the story it had to tell AND we it contained a universal theme that was filled with humor but for this story leads to unforeseen consequences.  We expect Mr. Freeman is a good filmmaker and we have no doubt that he will construct another movie. WE can't wait to see his next movie and we know that improvements will be a thing of the past for director Marcus Freeman. 

C47Houston rated this movie using the TSIRS rating standard and rated "The Prank" as a 4.3 out of 5 stars on the TSIRS. 

Director Marcus Freeman talked about his movie and about his transition from Actor to Filmmaker in our 40th issue of C47Houston WEEKLY. You can order that issue at:

http://www.c47houston.com/C47Weeklys2015E40.htm 

Title: The Prank

Running time: 16min 18sec

Premiere: Friday, August 28th, 2015 at The Furniture Management Group screening room.

A Popi Marx Production

Produced by: Darion Ceo Nelson, Charnele Brown, Lionel Hilliard and Marcus Freeman

Written by: Marcus Freeman

Directed by: Marcus Freeman

Assistant Director: Toni Womack

Cinematographer: Yus G. Marto

Music by:  Marcus Collett

Camera Operator: Michael Chhay and Christopher Decoteau

Gaffer: Chad Moten

Sound Mixer/Boom Operator:  Chris Mullins

Key Grip: Juan Carlos Rivera

Edited by: Yus G. Marto

Color Editor: Melelani Petersen

Sound Editor: Diego Rivera

Additional Editor: Laura Aguilar

Production Coordinator/Casting: Charnele Brown

Production Designer: Marcus Freeman

Hair and Makeup by: D'Kendra Griffin

Ballistics by: Christopher Blue

Cast: Kedrin Birdwell as Kevin Chambers, Gregory Malonson as Doug Smith, Greta Jordan-Williams as Dawn McAfee, Jelessa Robinson as Francesca Hampton, Felecha Addison-Williams as Fee Wycloff, Mae Banks as Sharon Robinson, Deidra Turnak, Tedman Brown, Darion Ceo Nelson, Swantia Smith, Toni Womack, Karen Davis, Travis Wethers, Tiffany Thomas, Charnele Brown

Websites:

https://www.facebook.com/prankshortfilm 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3887270/ 

http://popimarx34.wix.com/popimarx-prod 

Review written by: H.Luna, Producer at C47Houston News & Entertainment Magazine Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

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