That was a bad wording choice on my end. I just meant of the student shorts I've seen, many of them don't know how to or completely don't think about the use of foreground and background as a juxtaposing technique. A lot of the student shorts I've seen tend to keep events squarely in the foreground, squandering the advantages of creating meaning and suspense through depth and so I was just impressed that you clearly have interest in and have a good handle on taking full advantage of your frame (as Monotreme has mentioned further with your framing techniques within the frame).
A lot of first-time shorts simply use the camera to "point and shoot" their story, taking the obvious/conventional staging route. I was pleasantly surprised to see that you've thought out how the framing of each shot would affect the tone of the piece.
And in the case of the second short and your choice to do it in one take, good choice. Definitely creates a more suspenseful atmosphere.
For sound on the first one, definitely build all the sounds you can. Background/atmosphere, footsteps, door creaks, punch sounds, everything - it'll make your short come alive - right now it feels like a silent film that just has a few lines of dialogue that come out of nowhere. If it's going to have sound, you need to go all the way. Unfortunately, sound always seems to get the shaft cause people generally don't think about it while watching a movie - but it's actually incredibly important to get you to buy into what is going on.
I also agree with Monotreme that the scoring on the first one is too much - it's so in-your-face and with so little contrast (just a steady upwards build), that you actually lose a lot of the tension you're trying to create. If you want to use some kind of sounds to drive things forward, I would recommend stripping it down to pulsing beats or drones rather than something with a more musical element to it.
For silences - I'd have to think a bit about how to approach the first half of the short but I can tell you that I would strongly consider eliminating all music and utilizing silence or something very minimal in the section after they've been given the orders to kill Chad, especially
in the shot where the assassin has a gun trained on Chad while he's eating. This is the kind of moment that could be very tense through a silent atmosphere with all the sounds of his actions heightened (setting the fork down, wiping his face, etc) to create that build-up. Or you could simply use an increasing rumble, or a pulsing drone or something else to get that tension to build. What you want here is for us to feel
the tension in the waiting, feel the expansion of time as Chad unconcernedly goes through the motions of setting his fork down and wiping his face with the gun to his head. Music, especially very melodic stuff generally does the opposite, it makes things feel like they go by faster which destroys the tension that you want to build. Repetitive droning or regularly spaced beats on the other hand are like hearing a clock tick - they make you notice the time dragging on which is what you want here.
Right now, the song goes to new heights of intensity exactly at that point, even changing keys - this actually distracts and takes the focus away from the scene itself. If you're making something big and bombastic and fast-moving, then it makes sense to use a score of the same type. But generally with shorts, which, by the predefined limit on length will rarely feel epic, that kind of scoring simply isn't earned - and the audience can feel that - the swell of that kind of music when not appropriate can actually diminish the scene itself, making it feel smaller and cheaper by contrast. You want something that will underline your scenes and your film, not take them over. I'm not saying it's a rule but I'd generally lean towards minimal scoring or no scoring at all, beats, drones, or ambient minimalist stuff when you're making something relatively small-scale.
Also, think about how you can contrast and vary the tone of your sounds in each sequence. Let's say you use the slow silence in that shot we just talked about along with the sounds of him setting his fork down and wiping his face (and maybe the gun click and a ticking clock or beat). When Chad makes his move and efficiently finishes off the guy right after, you can then really build up those punching and kicking sounds (with whoosh sounds maybe for the motions of his arms moving, etc) to create something that releases all that tension in a big kind of bang. You want this part to sound, fast, loud, efficient, and clean/clear as that's how your protagonist is portrayed.
ETA: Think about the precision, efficiency and clarity of the sound for example in this scene from Kill Bill: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKQNkcSGFes Also notice how the repetitive whirring of GoGo's ball and chain create a kind of tension and suspense, similar to the ticking clock effect I just mentioned.
If I was going further with my thought process here, my step for the next part would be to eliminate all non-diegetic sounds (so the beat that was pulsing earlier would have stopped as we got into the actual fight). After the assassin goes down, I'd take out everything except for the sounds from the scene itself (i.e. background noise, footsteps, kicking sounds). Then as the guy is walking away, it's like that moment of calm, that peace into which you can splice an ear piercingly loud gunshot sound - to create that climactic moment of violence. And then if you want, you could try adding in a sudden ominous tone or something as he grips the door and falls to create a kind of punchline to your piece as credits are about to roll. Or you could go for the droning sound to come creeping back in instead - or something else. It would depend on what you want your audience to get out of the ending. If it was an ominous violent tone for example, it would give the sense of a punchline, an implied end
. But if you had a repetitive drone come back in and continue over the credits, it would probably impart the audience with the impression of "...and so the cycle of violence goes on..."
You don't have to go with any of these ideas I said, but the important thing to take out of this is to think about how everything affects the tone of what you see onscreen and what you're saying to the audience and to choose carefully to create the effect you want.
Hope that helps.