Director’s Journal, Postproduction, Part 3

Looking forward

As we approach the end of the summer (nooooooooo!), I reflect back across the last three summers, and the long road that has been the making of Triumph67.  I have been in a working relationship with some wonderful people over the course of these last few years, and wouldn’t trade the experience for any amount of success.  There are so many challenges that we have hurdled up to this point, and everyone who has lasted this long is as excited as me about the project.  This excitement increases with the impending completion of the film itself, as we wrap up the postproduction stage, and prepare to enter the part of the process where we reap the rewards, people throw money at us, and we achieve levels of fame and success unimaginable to modest folks such as ourselves.  Thoughts of hundreds of thousands of dollars course through my mind.  Dare I say millions?  Stacks of money.  Suitcases full of dough.  Enough to finance my next big picture.  A moment goes by and the opposite scenario runs through my mind.  Mediocre reviews.  Slander, a whimper of a response.  Bankruptcy.  My brother’s friend’s dad is a famous bankruptcy lawyer in Minneapolis.  I used to baby sit for his kids.  I shun the negative thoughts out of my mind.

The reality is, most films don’t make money.  The other reality is, this film was made with the noblest of goals: to make a good film.  It wasn’t made to sell cereal.

So here I am, about to go back to my teaching job, and about to let go of my baby’s hand.  After all this writing, scheduling, rehearsing, fund raising, shooting, editing, coloring, music making, sound tweaking, planning, and fretting, I am about to do what is the equivalent of sending my teenager off to college:  shove the film in the mailbox and send it to Sundance.  And Dubai.  And SXSW, and Slamdance, and others…

The last couple months has involved a whirlwind of work, both scheduling and creative, to accomplish the feat of nearly being ready to send off this film.  When I last wrote, I was sitting down to watch color correction happen at Crash and Sues.  This was a gratifying process.  Their facilities are beautiful, and every shot started to look the way they should.  Consistency of appearance was achieved, as well as bringing colors to life the way I had wanted to see them.  Sue was wonderful, and really listened to what we wanted as we proceeded through each shot.  Several shots that I disliked before suddenly became among my favorites.  The film is so visual, and so much time and effort was placed into making every shot just right, that it was wonderful to see it being treated so nicely in post.  Meanwhile, I had finished overseeing the musical score development, and felt good about how the film had found a matching voice through the talents of Reid Kruger at Waterbury Music and Sound.  The music making process happened in a fraction of the time that was spent on editing, but Reid was wonderful and a hard worker.  I love the music in the film, and believe that it matches our visual style in tone, mood, and color.

All of this was going swimmingly, and the other element of postproduction had been happening outside of my everyday participation.  This was the sound design.  The producers had decided that we would give the film to one of our interns to work on sound design, mixing, etc.  He had been at it for a few weeks, and I had met with him a couple times to talk about what I had in mind.  So with about three weeks to deadline left, I paid him a visit to check on the progress.  He said that he was wrapping it up, and I came over to his house expecting to be blown away by solid sound treatment of dialogue and even room tone.

As I watched the film (over the sound of his roommate’s TV blasting), I began to question to myself how this fellow had been able to hear the intricacies of the film well enough to address the hundred’s of major issues that I knew needed to be fixed.  As I watched scene after scene, it slowly dawned on my that he had put a lot of effort into this project, but the dialogue was still very uneven, and room tone was distracting and scratchy as the day we recorded it.  When I heard tropical birds begin to sing (and they weren’t the ones floating around my head), I realized we were in serious trouble.  To make matters more ridiculous, the upcoming weekend happened to be my wedding to my girlfriend of six years, followed by our honeymoon to the North Shore.  How was I going to make this happen?  Breathe… Repeat.

As I drove home, I counted the days till the deadlines for festival application submission.  We had around three weeks.  Three weeks to find someone to completely re-do the sound, mix it with the music, put it all together with the color-corrected picture, and press copies to mail to the festivals.  And all of this with how much money?  I wondered where my bank account was at.

After talking with Producers, Jeremy Wilker and Mohannad Ghawanmeh on the phone and trying not to sound too panic stricken, I called my buddy Reid Kruger at Waterbury Music and Sound.  Miraculously, Reid had four days open the following week, and agreed to do our sound design and mix for a somewhat reasonable amount of money (though I had to put my big plans of having my house painted onto the back burner).

So I tried to put everything out of my mind except the wedding, and the weekend came, and I got married to my wonderful girlfriend… I mean wife, Lisa.  Then I tried to keep everything out of my mind for a few more days while we went on our wonderful honeymoon to Tofte, MN, where we rented a beautiful little cabin on the lakefront.

When we returned it was back to Crash and Sues, and then to Reid’s to make sure everything was okay.  As the week went by the sound was completed to standard, and the color was looking great.  Mohannad had left town for a three week trip to Europe, and Jeremy had gotten very booked.  So by myself at Crash and Sues, I reviewed the film with Mark Anderson, the online editor who had put the picture together with the sound.  It looked good, but needed a couple more tweaks in sound (a thunder roll here, a bump in dialogue there), and I realized I needed to add one more shot toward the end.  So I scrambled, and got what I needed, and met with Jeremy on the weekend to start the application process for the film festivals.  I paid the fees, filled out the forms, and scheduled one more day to bring the updated film changes to Crash and Sues where they would put it all together and give us a DVD for festival release.

Which brings me to this afternoon.  It is my last day of summer vacation.  Three summers ago I had the idea to make Triumph67.  Tomorrow (if all goes according to plan), I’ll go to Crash and Sues during my lunch hour and give them the data that they need to, in turn, hand me a DVD for the festival applications. We’ll have to review the DVD to make sure there aren’t any issues, and then follow the rest of the directions for submission on the festival websites.  I’m not sure when this will happen (Jeremy’s on a photo shoot all week, I’m back at school, and Mohannad is gallivanting in Europe), but one way or another, it has to get done.

As I prepare for another school year of due process and high standards, I’ll dream of flickering film.  Dream with me.

avatarBy Dan on
Posted in Journal, Postproduction
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