Film Critique of “Echoes” by Dan Chan

Dan Chan is a native New Yorker with an eye for the city. As an avid filmmaker Dan’s films often take an explorative look into the “core” of the Big Apple. His short film Echoes is no different. Echoes is a short film that basis its grounding in the rapid ghost like movement of cars and people while keeping the objects around them remaining still and silent. This is to give the effect of the title, and the purpose of the film, which seems to indicate the rapid movement of time and the fragments of memory created during those short bursts of excited movement. Simply put, the film attempts to demonstrate object and place “memories.”

The issue however, is the film becomes muddled in what it is trying to say, it is not specifically clear on what the filmmaker wants the audience to take away. While an interesting concept, it is suffice to say that the way it is displayed makes the film rather hard to pay attention too, it all becomes a bit bland and uninteresting after witnessing the same thing over and over again. It is rather sad because all of Dan’s other short films offer a more profound sense of place and time using a variety of unusual techniques that actually tell a story. The Issue in Echoes is that there is no clear or concise story. As I stated before, I am not sure what the Idea is behind the film that the Filmmaker wants me to take from the experience.

The first thing that struck me about the film is the dated feeling of the footage, and the technique used in scene and camera placement. While the technique and editing is a bit contrived (or should I say “overused”) today, I have seen the same kind of style used in many exciting ways (Garden State is one that has popped into my head). However, with Echoes, it felt as if it were comprised of film stock a studio had taken meant for an intro to a 1970s or 80s sitcom. It was missing something to keep the viewers attention; a little variation can go a long way. Perhaps what I am getting at is that the film was missing that balance of focus and variation which can create that unique experience that makes it memorable to a viewer.

The other aspect of this film is of course the Music. The piece used is Be Comfortable, Creature by Explosions In The Sky. While I generally liked the song, and thought it did give meaning to the piece, I was still unsure of “how” I was supposed to feel. The grey look of the film, with the solemn tone of the music gave an almost sad feeling, but was more of a feeling of nothingness. It was like an uncompleted sentence, or an incomplete thought. Which when thinking on it may be well be the point, but it doesn’t come across like that, it comes across as unfinished or a work in progress.

I find it overall interesting that this piece is so weak, especially when compared to some of his other works like City Streets and Midnight in NYC. These films really gave an interesting look into the city, breaking it up into different pieces, using a unique variation of technique and music that made them memorable, while telling a story of community and the interwoven fabric that makes New York, New York.

As we have seen in other films made by Dan Chan, he has a solid grasp on delivering meaning through atmosphere and technique. However, Echoes is just not quite there. That being said, I am looking forward to seeing what Dan will do next with this technique, and how he may already be expanding on it. Echoes may not be the best piece in my mind, but it is definitely going to be a great stepping stone in the development of Dan’s technique and his overall skill set.

Learn more about Dan Chan on his website.
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Check him out on Behance.

Article Edited by Chris Prince

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Eric Swain

A graduate of Boston University, majoring in English and Creative Writing and has spent significant time studying story structure and theory in the mediums of books, film and video games. His articles offer unique perspective on deep game development and design through his eclectic prose. you can find his critical analysis on www.thegamecritique.com.

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