Sounds and Colors

It's been a marathon of a weekend here in New York for the final push to finish Blumenthal. The past two months I've been relatively hands off with sound and color doing their thing and working away. It's thrilling to get back into the city and see/hear all the work that's been done. I was hoping to blog throughout the trip, but that didn't quite happen. I leave tomorrow and there's still a ton to do tonight, but here is a quick run down of the weekend's work thus far... Friday started early with good coffee and a good meeting at Kaffe 1668 in Tribeca. From there, I shot up to Postworks on 44th Street where Josh Berger, Alex, and Ryan were ready to start the mixing session. All the mixing and sound-editing is being done in a Dolby certified theater and doing a 5.1 surround mix. Right away, I was floored to hear the first reel come on. Over the past six weeks, Josh and his team have been editing the dialogue audio, music, and sound effects. The biggest surprises to me were the foley effects and the orchestration of the score. We trudged through the first two reels for about 12 hours and then called it a night.

Saturday was an early start at 9am. St. Patrick's Day in New York is actually the best day to be locked up in a dark theatre for 15 hours. First up was my own ADR work. We spent the first half of the day in the ADR studio recording both dialogue and voice-overs. Nicole Ansari then joined us for some last-minute ADR for one of her scenes. The day was a revolving door of producers with Garrett, Jesse, and Jason all swinging by to hear the progress. After ADR, we jumped back into the mixing stage with Ryan Dann editing in new sound effects as we went. Editor Alex Kopit joined the process as well.

At around 5pm, Ryan, Kopit, and myself rolled down to Soho for some color work. There we met up with my cinematographer Zak, colorist Seth, and VFX editor Conrad. After a boost of powerful Nespresso coffee and a general meeting, we crammed into the coloring suite to get started. We went through the movie from top to bottom at double speed to take notes. After the pass, Zak and I began a lengthy discourse on contrast ratios and our overall "look" for the film. After Zak and I put everyone else in the room to sleep, we went through all the tricky shots that needed some specific work/discussion. We ended the night at around 1:30am.

Sunday we got to sleep in and started at Postworks at noon. Josh and Ryan Dann had spent the previous evening laying in all of the VOs and ADR dialogue. I was amazed at how much work they had done. Two scenes in particular were completely rebuilt from the ground up in terms of sound. We mixed until 5pm and then moved down to Buck where we colored and tweaked the picture edit of one small scene. Color work was a more relaxing workload as there were only a few scenes we really needed to discuss as a group with Seth and Zak. Otherwise, Seth is just painting each scene from top to bottom. Seth was still there when we left at 12:30am.

This afternoon, we are picking up the rendered reels from Seth and bringing them up to the sound studio to see how the finished picture affects our sound decisions. We'll start at the top and work our way through the whole mix one last time before I leave tomorrow.

Movie Music

Although we are nowhere near having a locked picture edit, I have begun to explore possibilities for music. This is fun stuff. With original music, the film will really begin to define its tone and hone its ultimate effect on an audience. I like the idea of building a soundtrack of popular music, or at least already-produced music. This would be the soundtrack that I had in my head all along. But such a soundtrack can be limiting, and in some cases impossible. Licensing rights to well-known music can be insanely expensive so it really wasn't/isn't an option. Now, the idea of an original score gives me an opportunity to tailor the music to my film. Not only can I tailor it to the moments and the edit of the picture, but also the orchestration, the vibe, the vocals, etc. Each track can serve a specific purpose to what I need in the edit.

Music tends to be at the forefront of my mind in all stages of the filmmaking process. When I write, I listen to music or at least have specific songs in my head. I can even remember times when  I would be listening to my iPod while walking the streets of New York, get an idea, go home and write a new scene. On set, there were particular songs that I would play for actors and our cinematographer before certain scenes. Some of these songs became a means to direct the action without needing to articulate anything myself.  It can set the tone for a performance or the tempo of a camera move.

A while back,  I began talking with my longtime friends and fellow Kickstarter crowd-funders, Noah and Josh Lit. They are the talented team behind the former Oliver Future and the up-and-coming Noah and the MegaFauna. Noah and I have been kicking ideas back and forth for a few weeks now and are starting to move into laying down some demo tracks for us to test against the current cut of the film. Ultimately, the music will be orchestrated and mixed to the locked picture edit. For now, we are exploring possibilities, tones, sounds, instruments, etc.

While Noah and Josh have distinct tastes and styles, they are very eager to explore a wide range of genres to adequately cover all the bases of the film's musical needs. I'm not even sure what I want the music to sound like. It could go many different ways, but I'll certainly know it when I hear it (What a "bad director" thing to say.... "Bring me ideas and I shall choose!")

Noah recently sent me a little theme that I'm particularly excited about. It's the first idea that's been floated, so I'm  looking forward to what else they might have in store.  More on the music to come!