Blizzard Short Shot with Canon 7D Deserves to Win Oscar, Says Ebert

“Man in a Blizzard” is a short film shot by Jamie Stuart during the recent NYC blizzard that film critic Roger Ebert believes to be deserving of an Oscar.

Ebert writes,

This film deserves to win the Academy Award for best live-action short subject. (1) Because of its wonderful quality. (2) Because of its role as homage. It is directly inspired by Dziga Vertov’s 1929 silent classic “Man With a Movie Camera.” (3) Because it represents an almost unbelievable technical proficiency.

Ebert also asked Stuart to describe how it was created, and received the following response:

I started shooting around 1pm for about 30 minutes outside. Went out for another 15 minutes around 3pm. Meanwhile, I intermittently grabbed shots through my apartment window. (Lunch occurred around 2:30. Dinner was around 7:30. Can’t remember what I ate. Maybe pasta.) Then, the main nighttime shoot began at 9pm and lasted until about 10:30 […]

Because the 7D shoots H.264, which is a web format and not meant for editing, I made selects from the footage and converted the selects into ProRes 422. I started it that night, but it takes a while to do. Went to bed my normal time around 1:30 am. Got up my normal time around 10am. Finished converting the footage. Then, I edited until I finished around 5pm. (I took a regular lunch break at around 2:30 — chicken noodle and Saltines.)

The final shot, where the camera pulls back from the window, was done around 1pm.

I uploaded the video just after 5pm, after I finished burning a Quicktime, and sent the link around.

If you’re wondering about the “Man with a Movie Camera” film that Ebert mentions, here it is:

What are your thoughts on this short? Does it deserve an Oscar?

“Man in a Blizzard,” by Jamie Stuart (via Photography Bay)

  • Steve

    Nice film, but I don’t think it’s even close to Oscar quality. I too shot a 2min short film in the UK when the snow fell incredibly hard last month. I also turned the film around in 24 hours.

    But it isn’t in NY, it’s just a sleepy little fishing town in East Yorkshire (UK). I filmed it on a 5 year old Sony Z1 camera, and edited it on an equally as old Final Cut Pro system.

    I just wish that someone would discover MY films and cause them explode on the net like Ebert has done with this film. You could argue the my film isn’t as good, but the fact is there are countless filmmakers submitting films online, as good if not better, everyday.

    All I wanna know is what qualifies ‘Idiot’ to be so ahead of the pack? We filmmakers, from all over the world, are trying to make a name for ourselves, and Eberts ravings are almost like a kick in the guts for the rest of us…

    What are we supposed to strive for now in order to get recognised? This whole episode is almost telling me “don’t try so hard”.

    So, that being said, I would humbly appreciate any support and interest you have in viewing ‘Let it Snow':

    Now I’m not saying that I think my film is Oscar worthy either, I’m just saying…


  • Anonymous
  • Ranger9

    It’s a nice little film, although a bit lacking in what, back when I was a theater critic, I used to call “delta” (the quality of feeling differently at the end of the thing than one did at the beginning.)

    As Steve acidly but justly points out, though, it’s likely that it would have sunk fairly quickly back into the ocean of noise that is online video, if a big-name print reviewer hadn’t singled it out. And I doubt very much that Ebert would have singled it out if it hadn’t been such a studied homage to a 1929 film that Ebert previously had anointed as “great.”

  • Ricardo Tomasi

    As already said, it’s very well executed. But it doesn’t touch the toes of great cinema. He might be en-route to that though.

  • WriterWriter

    What a bunch of curmudgeons! It’s a great little film. Well done Jamie Stuart.

  • Photosophy

    It’s interesting…but not that compelling.
    Sad thing is, compared to most of what Hollywood excretes, this actually is Oscar material.

  • Alessandro Casagli

    Seriously? an Oscar? gimmieabreak.

  • Michael

    Seriously? There are some nice shots in the film, but I was bored after a minute and gave up watching. It’s a good self promo clip, but thats about it.

  • Article19

    If that risible drivel is worthy of an Oscar then Steve’s is worthy of a lifetime achievement award (mainly because it serves the purpose of illustration far better). The film makers not at fault though, it’s the critic pointing the spotlight on a fairly average piece of camera work. “Unbelievable technical proficiency”! Where is that in evidence in that film?

  • Gybp

    for an oscar you need a story… nothing but nice images here…

  • Jackie

    Oscar really!? Because it reminds you of something that has already been done. Gee, I wonder why people just keep making re-makes.

  • allanwhite

    This film is a nice short piece, but I think hardly Oscar-worthy. Perhaps Ebert was overly excited about the aspect of homage to “Man With Movie Camera (1929)”.

    This makes me think Ebert – a critic I highly respect – needs to stroll through Vimeo more often. There are many, many excellent short films there that show greater artistic merit than this one.

  • Cynthia

    Did Jamie Stuart actually SAY that he was citing Dziga Vertov’s 1929 silent film…? Or did Mr. Ebert make that connection all on his own? I watched both short pieces, and while I saw what looked like some similar shots, or types of shots, it seems to me like this could be totally accidental; I think in a span of 70+ years it’s possible that elements of a visual language could be repeated – purely by coincidence… (Guess I’ll have to go to Ebert’s site to read his original post.)

    I think Jamie Stuart’s video is a nice little piece, but I’m not yet convinced that he was (1) knowingly citing Vertov, or (2) that it’s Oscar-worthy. (3) Methinks perhaps Mr. Ebert (whom I adore, by the way!) experienced a bout of hyperbole. Or maybe Jamie Stuart is his godchild. ;)

  • fernida

    Steve, seriously, your movie is as good as Jamie’s, if not better. Of course, neither of you guys could get oscars out of this, let’s be reasonable. But it’s a very nice start and one can easily recognize that there’s been a tremendous job done right here. Anyway, film critics are soooo full of themselves.

  • Adam Troup

    I quickly became hooked while I watched it, the excellent music by Trent Reznor is a big help but just as the music of Philip Glass was so important to koyaanisqatsi, it builds the energy of the film and obviously the film was edited to the music so they go together very well. I loved the clever editing with those strange black spaces and the grouping of similiar shots and then I thought it was amusing the three shots being cuts between at the end, not sure what the relevance of the car being pushed, the scooter trying to get free and the dog peeing were, maybe its normal things are so different in the snow. Anyway there were some great shots in there, very creative with the patterns etc. I thought it was great and yes it does stand out from the crowd, I watched Steve’s video who posted at the top and although there are some great shots in there and some really nice timelapse which I am a fan of it really just didn’t captivate me, and I admit I started to skip little parts like with the animals, just repetitive and combined with the chilled music I quickly was aware I felt bored something that didn’t happen once with Jamie Stuart’s film. Does it deserve and oscar? I don’t know but I do feel its worth pointing out to my friends to watch as I really enjoyed it.

  • Arena Creative Stock Imagery

    That recent blizzard was no joke, we had 3 foot snow drifts here in CT just a few hours east of NYC. Ready for Spring already? I know I am!

  • Pingback: HPC Daily Digest for Wednesday, January 5, 2011 | Henry's Photo Club()

  • Roger Ebert

    Wow, he managed a dolly shot and a fade to BW at the same time. This man is a GENIUS!

    This video totally sucks. Did Ebert just recently discover the internet?

  • Cynthia

    By the way Steve B., I really liked your short film!

    P.S. I don’t think Jamie’s random and generally inexplicable [internet] ‘success’ should make you give up or even try any less hard; just keep making your art. And if you’re both good AND lucky, hopefully someday it’ll get noticed.

  • HowardG

    Go to B&H, spend up, charge the battery, point your purchase at everything you can, go back home get warm again, put all the pointed material together like news footage of the last 20 years, use somebody’s recent, trendy, twitty, cutesy music and add your name to it. Yeah good fun, regular mainstream quality – nice enough… then Roger Ebert messes up everything!
    The only thing missing is an Oscar quote: “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” – Oscar Wilde

    Try THIS short film : MANKIND IS NO ISLAND” for Oscar quality. 2008 NY Tropfest winner. Shot on a crappy cell phone!

  • HowardG

    And final words from the prescient Mr V:

    ā€œEverybody who cares for his art, seeks the essence of his own technique.ā€
    ā€” Dziga Vertov (1922)

  • kari_marie

    I didn’t think Stuart’s video was anything amazingly unique either, but your total sour-grapes reaction means I won’t be clicking on your link for your video anytime soon, and if yours won an Oscar, I still wouldn’t watch it. Way to be a diva and tear down other filmmakers rather than looking for the things he did well (or at least proficiently) and being happy for him that he was able to get the recognition that clearly eludes you.

    “Humbly appreciate any support” my @ss… What a whiner. Get over yourself.

  • Yelped

    Roger Ebert’s comments spoiled a charming little snippet. Or did I miss something?

  • Magaret

    This is a nice piece of impromptu filmmaking that Mr. Stuart should be proud of, but I think it’s assinine to say it deserves to win the Academy Award. I’m not sure why the fact that it pays homage to Vertov’s film is so important. Basically any footage of locations and people could be edited into a “Man With a Movie Camera”-type film, and the fact that the filmmaker has seen the Vertov film doesn’t make him any more credible or his art any more sincere. For me, the allusion took away from the film, which was effective on its own merit.

    I know it was probably just an expression, but saying it deserves to win the Academy Award for these two reasons presumes that there are no other shorts that have an even greater “wonderful quality” or pay homage in a more organic and interesting way or, God forbid, actually take a complex stance on some issue or fundamental human question. It just strikes me as a hasty comment wireless camera with receiver that suggests hypocritical ideas about the craft of filmmaking. Many of Michael Bay’s pre-Transformers films also displayed “unbelievable technical profiency” and he and the crew most likely were shooting with a strong idea of how they would edit and use sound, but he sure didn’t deserve any Academy Awards for them.

    Then again, the Academy selections are usually awful, so maybe this will be just as deserving as the other mediocre shorts selected this year.

  • Yourmoviesucked

    that sucked