Posts Tagged ‘post production’

Sound and Music

March 17, 2013

I had a meeting with composer Zach Abramson and sound designer Greg Sextro today. I love meetings like this. Two people who are working on very different aspects of the movie had to plan out together what each one of them was going to do so that they can be working in synch.

We watched the movie twice. First Zach and I went through it scene by scene and planned out where we think there should be music cues (not including the songs of course). Then Greg watched it with us. Zach and I presented our ideas for music cues, and Greg asked all sorts of questions as to our stylistic choices for the music. As you will eventually see once this movie is finally finished, it’s an odd thing, and it takes some talking through for everyone to understand exactly how we want to play out. There are places where sound design can do the heavy lifting, while in others music will be in the forefront. And in others still, the sound design and the music will be working together to create specific effects.

Sound and music are crucial elements for any movie. But for a movie musical with fantastical elements, they’re even more crucial. So sound and music really have to communicate well throughout post production to make sure they’re on the same page. Of course as the writer and director, I’m the arbiter of this, but I want to make sure that Greg’s and Zach’s impulses are also integrated. I chose them both for this movie because I know their work quite well and want to bring their sensibilities to the finished product.

On top of all of this, the movie is a comedy. I have specific ideas of how I want moments to play out for laughs, but comedy is very subjective. The way I see the jokes landing may not be the same as Zach or Greg. And who knows how an audience will really respond to this movie. So we also have to navigate that. One thing I really like about both Greg and Zach is that they’re open to just trying things. So we may go through several versions of moments before we find out exactly what works.

This is just one of the reasons why it’s taken me nearly two years to finish post production on this movie. We have to get everything exactly right, or at least as right as we’re able to get it given the circumstances and our resources.

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The Middle Stage

February 27, 2012

A few weeks ago I completed the first edit of The Adventures of Paul and Marian.  It’s a full edit of the movie, more than just an assembly or a rough cut, because I was working meticulously as I went, and also because we shot much of the film in long takes so there’s not a lot of finessing to do beyond finding the best combination of shots based on performance, technical quality, and continuity.

Now we’re in an odd part of the filmmaking stage.  The film is edited and we’re not quite ready to start working on the effects, music and sound, because we’re a few steps away from locking the picture.

There’s a bunch of nipping and tucking to do, but besides that – what?  Is the movie working?  How much tinkering do we need to do?  Should we try some creative restructuring, in effect tear the movie apart and build it back up again to make sure everything is as strong as possible?  Or should we decide to leave well enough alone?  At what point should we decide that?

This middle stage of editing is the hardest because we’re far enough along to feel satisfied and confident, but the movie is still untested and not yet finely honed.  Middles are the hardest parts of all creative processes; writing the second act of a movie script for example, is usually the biggest challenge. [That may be because for some reason producers and writers are under the false impression that good movies operate under a simplified three act structure, and what they call the “second act” constitutes more than half of the movie and should be broken down into multiple acts in order to make any sense of it.  But I digress.]

I’m taking a little time off of the editing so I can return to the movie with fresh eyes.  Then I’ll tinker with it a bit until it’s as tight and short as I can comfortably make it.  Once that’s done I’ll be able to show the work to a few fellow film people who haven’t read the script or seen the footage and get some expert opinions about it.

Right now is the most delicate time of post production; between making decisions about what to keep and what to cut and integrating the first stages of feedback, we’ll have to find the balance between realizing how what we’ve ended up with differs from the movie in our heads and adjust accordingly.  It’s so exciting to see the work in an edited form — it’s really feeling like a movie now — but it’s easy to get caught up in that and not see what its shortcomings may be.  So it’s time to bury my ego and look at the movie as objectively as possible.  And if you think that’s easy, just try developing a project for two years, writing and rewriting the screenplay, casting and rehearsing it, scraping through production with just 10 days to shoot and minimal resources, doing your best not to compromise in any significant way on quality or the ambitious vision for the project, spend six months living with and editing the footage, and see if you can step away from it and view the resulting edit objectively.

Being in the middle of it is really hard.