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Exam in Session

by Seal


Several high school girls enter dreamland and fantasize about what they would do if they could live out their dreams rather than having to go through a mindnumbing exam that none of them have really prepared for.

The good = framing, camerawork, edit, lighting, sound outside of the songs. Technically pretty damn solid.

What needed improvement in my opinion = piecing together the individual's thoughts to create a cohesive theme to the narrative. It was almost there in terms of a meta commentary on forced academia but just needed some sort of glue to bring it all together and bring out an emotional response. Could there have been a dramatic question asked earlier? Was it a final exam, life theoretically depended on it ie, it was make or break? Or had there been societal or family pressure to take a subject the ladies really didn't want to do?
Knowing what led up to this with a couple of minor shows or tells could have really driven the narrative arc, in my opinion.

Musicals are farcking hard so fair play to going all out with the singing and dancing. Personally wasn't my cup of tea sonically but genuinely appreciate giving it a go.

Story: 2/5
Technical: 3.5/5
Elements: 2/5
Overall: 2/5

A team from Marlborough Girls' College that has competed before giving the musical genre a fair crack in "Exam in Session". I really think your concept is a smart one - students drifting off into a musical fantasy during an exam with varying consequences. A lot of potential with it that got my mind ticking. It's obvious that you put a heap of effort into the musical numbers but they're probably not strong or catchy enough to really grab an audience. Some of the lyrics stand out, especially in the third number but I would have really liked to see the personality or fears etc of the characters really come out from their songs. On the technical side of things, I thought it was a quality short. The tracking shot worked well and your match cuts were awesome. Overall, it probably could have been a bit quicker paced but then you might have needed more music! I usual dislike school films set in schools but this works great because the set-up made sense.

The musical is a real chore of a genre but you did a great job with this. I'm in for a rewatch.

I think you guys did a great job at re-creating the anxiety of taking an exam. The first tracking shot of the classroom is great and I wish it’d kept going a little longer to reveal the characters. I liked being introduced to the concept of the film and the first song. I think having the song in the background works really well at conveying the song as the character’s internal thoughts. I think it would have been cool to see this concept used consistently with the other songs as well. That way I would feel more like I’m inside their heads rather than them just performing to me. Loved that fish tank scene too!

Awesome opening moments of this film, high production value, good camera work, teenagers playing teenagers and an adult playing an adult - all of these things are delightful to see in a school team. Putting the gum on the sign that doubles as the title card - very classy.

Unfortunately, the rest of the film struggles to live up to this strong opening, and it all comes down to the team's approach to musical, a genre I suspect ya'll weren't ready for.

I think the concept really lends itself to a musical - 3 different students expressing their exam time woes through song - but the execution of these songs is underwhelming at best, and rhythmically mind numbing at worst. I'm no musician, but it feels as though the lyrics, the vocals and the musical accompaniment were devised or selected separately from one another; the vocals speed up and slow down to match the lyrics, the music has a completely different beat to the singing - and the singing itself sounds oddly reserved, like you recorded them late at night in the computer room and didn't want to wake your sleeping parents next door.

Again, this film has a lot to offer structurally in terms of musical, but the same thorough filmmaking that applied to the concept and opening shots, melted away after the poorly mixed songs arrived. We also don't progress through these songs in a way that would add to the tension, I'd have loved to see the songs ramp up with excitement with each one, and possibly land us on a cool final story beat.

So a bit of a mixed bag - some great ideas and some great execution, but not-so-great execution when it came to the music.

Challenge for next year: Keep having teenagers play teenagers, keep telling stories which express the teenage experience - all of that stuff is great and I highly encourage it.

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