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Turtle Hero (Funny Short Film Series)

February 2, 2010

A real turtle (no animation this time!) is the hero of this great little short film series. Life starts out pretty tough for a turtle in the city… he seems to be a “born loser.” But in the last two videos, he finds his way out of town, and out of trouble, with a happy ending at last in number five. This series was shot entirely on the Canon 5D Mark II DSLR, using fast-aperture lenses. Great humor and visuals, well worth your time to watch!

“Overcoming Tough Times,” Parts 1-V, by Donald Kilgore:

What I really like about this series is the great story arc…

Each video has its own beginning, middle and end, and each one sticks to the theme “Overcoming Tough Times,” either as an ironic statement or as the fulfillment of the promise in the later episodes. Not only are the pieces well shot, well edited and color graded, but they also have a great charm and genuine humor grounded in adversity. The viewer really develops empathy for the poor turtle, and the first few episodes begin to remind you of the old SNL animated “Mr. Bill” short films, where the title character ended up expiring in the most creative ways, only to be back the next week for another unfortunate accident. But the turtle videos, we see a sort of “hero’s journey” played out, with a very satisfying finish.

Most short films I am finding stand on their own, but I sort of like the multi-part series. It’s sort of like popcorn, you can’t stop with just one. For the viewer, as long as there is progress and different content from piece to piece, there’s a promise of seeing something new that keeps them clicking on each successive video. For the creator, it’s a great way to get your content published in a form that fits the internet paradigm: 2-3 minutes max, with a punch line or emotional hook. Videos like this are things people want to share with friends, another good thing for content creators.

After you watch these videos, take a look at my “compelling content” checklist on the right side of this web page. You’ll notice these videos have many of the ingredients: interesting characters, great visuals, surprises, good editing and universal story structure: beginning, middle and end. I find myself watching a lot of cool internet videos that don’t make it onto this blog, because they don’t share some of the most important components of compelling content — something I define as content that you can’t not watch and you can’t not share. Videos with great visuals and no story don’t make the cut. Videos with a story but bad sound, lousy editing or shooting, little or contrived humor, weak endings, and no punch line don’t make the cut.

Many of the videos I click “Like” on Vimeo have something appealing, but unless I can confidently hold a film up as a model of compelling content with a significant majority of the items on my checklist, I just won’t post it. It’s a matter of holding up certain standards for creative content: without that, you get junk, which is mostly what you find on TV. The great thing about the internet is, there’s immediate feedback, and you have to be good to get noticed. Quality matters, and it is rewarded in the free market of viewers.

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