Monthly Archives: June 2011

Film School Rant #489

I an totally amused by a filmmaker who posts a bunch of bullshit filmmaking rules on his blog as gospel, and then when I call him on them, he deletes my post and writes me personally to tell me my comment was offensive. (I called his rules “horseshit” because, well, they were “horseshit.”)

What I find “offensive” is the lack of fucking balls children filmmakers have today. Especially when called on the bullshit they learn in film school. (These slackers wouldn’t last half a day on one of my sets.) So instead of trying to defend the indefensible, he deletes my post and whines privately.

Seriously…children like this are offensive…especially when they call themselves “filmmakers.”

(And the funny thing…I’m actually in a good mood tonight.)

HA!

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Filmmaking 101

Filmmakers, listen up. The three-act structure exists for a reason. Ignore it and your film will SUCK. There are NO exceptions to this rule. (Really, take even the most indie of indie no-budget films, and guess what, if it’s any good, it’s following the three act structure.) If you think there are films that work outside of the three-act structure, you are a fucking MORON and should have your filmmaking license revoked. (I am so sick of seeing great ideas destroyed by bad filmmakers and editors, especially you documentary filmmakers out there who have amazing footage and an amazing subject, and you haven’t a fucking clue as to what to do with it.) The three-act structure is the very foundation of story-telling. Embrace it, or SUCK.

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The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 29

After watching the film through, Matt and I compare notes…

I should point out first that he began the day telling me he found three albums from The Replacements that I’d given him at the end of the FWB mix. “Let It Be, Tim, and Pleased To Meet Me?” I venture. He replies in the affirmative. And that he began playing them non-stop since working on the film. I promise him that I’ll complete his collection once we’re done.

Back to mix notes: they’re pretty much the same. A few spots are driving us crazy. And honestly I won’t mention them because I think that Matt and the HM3K did such and amazing job of smoothing them out, that Matt and I (and the HM3K) are really the only two people (and machine) in the world who would ever know what they were.

Volumes are adjusted in a few spots. One word playing just a little too loud. A few a little too soft. The background feedback and noise (from Dean Falcone) likewise a little too loud in spots, too quiet in others, and let’s swap out a few of the non-tunings with better choices from the tracks I brought with me.

By around 2 PM the tweaking is over. There’s nothing more left to do, except output the film, which is done in real time. So, I get to watch it again. Proud at what we’ve done. Hell, what Matt and the HM3K have done. My sound no longer requires apologies.

The mix is transferred to the drives I brought with me. Two drives, so I have two separate copies. Yeah, I’m anal that way. (And yes, I hear people who know me quoting Woody Allen, “Anal is a nice word for what you are.”)

And we’re done. I thank Matt and Carmen and tell them about the next projects, PIZZA, A LOVE STORY, my doc on the history of Sally’s, Pepe’s, and Modern, the three greatest pizza (appiza!) joints in the galaxy, and parts two and three of my Alone Trilogy: the horror film ONE NIGHT STAND and the dark road drama BROKEN SIDE OF TIME. Which will see the darkness of DuArt’s mixing suite and the genius of Matt Gundy next is anyone’s guess.

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The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 28

We have four days for the mix. Nothing by comparison to Hollywood comparisons. But then our entire film budget is probably the food budget for two weeks on your average Hollywood film. And from what Matt and Carmen tell me, so many micro-budget films nowadays are bypassing the mix altogether, because they just can’t afford it. So, our four days are a luxury by what should be our standards. But I firmly believe bad sound can kill a film, just as easily as boring cinematography, amateuristic acting, bad writing, etc and so on. It’s an essential part.

We’ll break the four days down as such…30 to 35 minutes or so on the first day, as Matt gets the rhythm of the film, and begins to better understand the horrors of my sound recording. Also, as he gets a perfect setting for an interview, say Husker Du drummer Grant Hart in the basement of 7th Street Entry, he can reuse the setting every time Grant pops back up on the screen.

The rest of the film, we’ll split between days two and three. And yes, we hit the 80 minute mark by the end of Wednesday, leaving us 43 minutes for Thursday, which is a breeze. Except for Dave Foley. (I begin to think he’s just fucking with us.)

Matt Gundy and Gorman Bechard at DuArt mixing COLOR ME OBSESSED

Day four begins as it has every time we’ve mixed. We watch the film from start to finish, to see what needs work, or polish, or a slight tweak. It’s also the first time I get to see the film projected on a screen from start to finish. So, notebook in hand, I wander down to the front, take a seat, and watch…

Damn, I love this film even more with good sound.

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The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 27

(Another flight, another bunch of blogs ready to post.)

It’s probably only an hour or so into the first day of mixing when some of my bad sound, in this case the AC units behind Husker Du bassist Greg Norton and Twin/Tone co-founder Paul Stark, both recorded upstairs at First Avenue, proves too much for the board and its collection of filters and knobs. Time (already) to roll in the big guns. Matt says he’ll be right back, returning with what honestly looks like an old fashioned computer from the early 80s, sitting on a metal cart with wheels. He calls it the Cambridge something or other. That its main use is to remove the pops and hiss from the optical soundtracks of old films which the folks at DuArt are restoring. I immediately know anything with such a name will be no match for a bunch of Mats fanatics, so I re-christen the machine the HissMaster3000 (herein HM3K). And we’re ready to rock and roll.

The HM3K is an awesome little contraption. As we move through all 123 minutes of the film, Matt uses it, and the aforementioned knobs and filters to level everything out beautifully, yet allow each location, and there are about 125 different locations in the film, to have its own unique sound. It’s really not until we get to comedian Dave Foley that we really run into issues. The street sounds, in this case downtown Los Angeles, are ferocious. The struggle monumental. It’s like an ultimate fighting match. And as Matt so bluntly put it, “Dave Foley crashed the HM3K.”

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