A key selling point for November is its 15-day production schedule, and though budgeted at less than half a million, it straddles the border between low budget and micro-budget filmmaking. Part of that's due to the involvement of InDigEnt Films - a small company that's gained significant attention for producing a series of well-received, digital video features, such as Tadpole , Pieces of April , Tape , and Personal Velocity . A number of high-profile actors appeared in these films, and like November , the productions benefit from a greater level of technical finesse, though November is blessed by the major talents of director Greg Harrison, cinematographer Nancy Schreiber, and visual designer/composer Lew Baldwin.
November is an elegantly conceived film that embraces the technological assets of digital video (here captured through the lens of a Panasonic DVX100, with a smooth 24p process), and some inventive editing by director Harrison (himself a former editor, and writer/director of the cult film Groove ). The Dolby 5.1 mix is very dense, and special attention went into constructing layers of sound for the shifting, jagged dimensions of Cox' troubled character. The technical feats are admittedly the sexiest aspects of the film, and although the actual meaning of the story is still a bit of a muddle (a simple conceit is given a heady treatment via shifting narrative replays of a tragic event), it's a very clever film that admirers of experimental-styled filmmaking will enjoy.
The non-stop commentary between director and writer reveal the difficulties in constructing a non-linear story, and the major alterations done during editing are very similar to the constant re-examinations The Usual Suspects underwent: sequences carefully plotted out on paper simply didn't work in the assembly of the film, but the solutions are both natural, and sometimes electrifying. November 's conceit has been used many times before in short and much longer feature films, and the resolution won't sit well for viewers expecting a straightforward suspense. (Both writer and director admit in their commentary how the Q&A sessions are various film festivals often yielded a few baffled and determined cinemagoers who wanted a clear-cut answer.)
The DVD's second commentary track is more technical, and offers the kind of practical how-to info that's often given short-shrift by filmmakers; Harrison apparently came armed with his own list of topics for the DVD, and he exploits the opportunity to both clear up viewer confusion, and provide a running lecture on how to make a film using available tech, and film-savvy smarts. A short featurette with Lew Baldwin also furthers the lecture's scope, covering both sound and picture effects, which involved a Sony Handycam and Baldwin's texture-obsessed eye. Over the film's ludicrously slow End Credits (and admitted effort to extend November past the 70-minute mark) Harrison closes with a detailed, aural flowchart of each production stage, and the immense benefits from the recent tech leaps in affordable hardware and film stocks designed for the exhibition of DV-originated movies.
© 2005 Mark R. Hasan