Sunday planet5D poll: What ruins a movie for you?

by planetmitch16 Comments

This morning, I was reviewing some movies to possibly add to our planet5D cinema and got to thinking about the different skills required to make movies; you know, cameras, actors, editors, sound guys, etc. So I wondered what the most vital of skills was (and I'm betting everyone has a different opinion here!) to you when you watch a completed movie?

You know, if there's just one thing that you most often look for that if it is wrong, ruins the movie for you.

This is just for fun, you won't fail the test for picking the wrong answer HA! I'm just curious what others think. Don't be afraid to comment either… that's down at the bottom of the page.

Poll Question:

[poll id=”20″]


I know it is a very tough question that depends on a lot of factors!

For me, it is sound (foley / sound editors etc.) — when I see an actor walking and the footstep sounds don't match the timing – ugh!

(cover photo credit: snap from this flickr photo which has a creative commons lisc.)


  1. Oh man, THE most important thing, a good story. A close 2nd is good actors. Give me a great writer and I’ll make great movies.

    1. Author

      Thanks Eric. There’s a lot to be said for your answer! And maybe I’m just too caught up in some of the tech aspects of movie making. Like I said, even if the story is good, if the sound scape is bad, I just can’t stick with the story. Maybe it is just me :)

  2. For me it had to be the director followed by actors and script.
    Mitch in response to your choice of sound here what I think. I can forgive sound glitches and watch a movie if it is well directed and has a good narrative but I absolutely cannot watch something with bad direction and story even if it has the most flawless and beautiful sound!!

  3. impossible to pick just one…I agree starting with a great story backed up by an appropriate soundtrack that both supports and drives the story are core…but as a photographer visual continuity (DP, Edit, Colorist, set etc) can make or break anything for me…

  4. Filmmaking is such a collaborative process and I agree with the old adage that “story is king”, and you need a good director to bring the story to life, but if your editor is subpar then the final product will suffer. Its hard to pick out one thing, but IMHO a good editor can be the determining factor between a good film and a mediocre one.

  5. FOCUS by far because every other aspect in the list can be compensated by rest of the departments to not “ruin” it for me. The popular choice so far, the script department, isn’t my choice because even while watching a badly scripted movie, I don’t think anyone will feel nearly as annoyed as when the focus is not what it’s intended to be in a frame. If the focus or the stability of camera is off quite often, it can very quickly ruin the experience for anyone. I am really surprised that only one other in 63 voters has selected this choice so far.

  6. i tried to post my comment three times because the first two times when I posted from mobile site on my cell phone, it said comment posted successfully. I understood the moderation aspect of it after trying from laptop. Sorry if that caused inconvenience. Now I couldn’t find feedback link on the site so I have to post here. Sorry about that again :). But since I used another fake email ID, I am guessing that you will have to moderate it first and hence can delete it after taking the feedback. Thanks.

  7. Never work with what you have, wait until you have everything.

    Make sure your camera looks great, have it fully rigged to impress.

    Lots and lots do shallow depth for that filmic look.

    Don’t start any projects until conditions are perfect.

    Use a slider for every shot to impress.

    Color grade so it looks unnatural with pretty colors.

  8. Hey, the description inverts the actual poll question!

    The answer to what is most important to make it good is not the same as the answer to what will ruin it.

    I routinely depend on a known director to ensure a movie is good. But a bad story is what ruins a movie. I rarely know who directs Hollywood movies, but they often die from bad writing. That’s why writers are so well paid ;-)

  9. Yeah, you gotta have a good script/story to start out with. Rocky wasn’t good because of it’s camera angles or over-the-top acting.

  10. Hollywood has great directors, actors, camera operators, special effects and CGI but none of these have great success with a bad script. It’s all in the story.

  11. Why can’t I vote “Graft”?

    I’m a huge believer in story is king, but I have to vote acting – as it’s the major conduit or filter of any story.

    You can have a great story, but it will be absolutely AWFUL without decent acting, and you will likely no longer even recognise it is a good story at all.

    Whereas you can actually have a poor or average story, within which actors may find something genuine and powerful inside the limited script, that can actually transform it into a good or even great film through incredible performances.

    Everything is important. But the only thing which there is absolutely no getting around that I can see is performance.
    Though a cunning editor certainly my help :))

    Also thought management/producing side of things should have been represented in the poll.

    As to Rocky, I think there are some terrific performances in Rocky that took the script to another level.

  12. You left out 3d. That ruins it for me. But still the most important I story. 2nd is acting. All the rest can be saved by those 2 aspects…not the other way around.

  13. I’m late to this party but…

    I think script is the best choice because of all the options available it’s the one that is hardest to get right.

    There are a lot of technicians, directors and actors that can execute well consistently. But even the very best screenwriters are hit and miss.

    The combination of concept, character, structure, dialog, genre etc. is hard for one person to get right.

    My guess is most filmmakers will follow the path I did. I focused mostly on the technical stuff for a few years until I could actually shoot professional looking and sounding stuff. Then I saw all the “cool” in the world wasn’t saving a bad stories. Yeah, sounds obvious – and I guess I knew it… but after you shoot stuff and you start hearing “it was beautiful!” over and over it really hits home.

    So I started studying screenwriting and acting to go along with my DP skills. Well, hundreds of scripts and meetings with writers has convinced me finding a good writer is way tougher than finding decent Directors, DP’s and actors.

    I think the only way you’re going to break out as a Director is to be able to fix weak scripts or write them yourself. Or your best buddy is a Nicholl finalist.

    It is true that if the technical stuff like focus or sound isn’t there then that’s a FAIL too.

    But ya know, if there’s stuff on screen that gets you to laugh or cry or think you’ll forgive a lot. Have you ever reacted strongly to a crappy quality youtube video and shared it with friends? Story for the win.

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