Friday, April 2, 2010

SWEATS & ICE CREAM: commuting and meeting LIVE with the computer

We're smack dab in the middle of editing. That's right, I said "smack dab." I have no idea what that really means or where it comes from, but it gets the point across. More than seven minutes edited, three key effects scenes in progress, listening to loads of music, long conversations with the music composer, weekly editing & effects meetings, and starting last night, my very first official Final Cut Pro class courtesy of Zack at Petaluma Community Access TV.

The class was long enough to get some real info, but short enough so my brain didn't short circuit. It's just enough to send me to the edge, but not quite over it... to work all day, come home for an hour, head to a class for 2 hours, spend another hour visiting Bunka (Vidal's cat, who I'm caring for while he's gone in Texas - who bit me by the way. Twice!), and then come home to hear that the cat poop needs to get cleaned up.... but that's another story. I did manage to listen to 10 new tracks I'm considering to license. And  yes, that was my Thursday. And now I'm up at 4:30 am. I have no idea why except that I had this weird audio-visual dream.

On Monday, Matt and I met for 2+ hours going over some effects he had done, and throughout I realize that I'm very bad at communicating in technical language. I'm a writer and musician, so I use a lot of metaphors, movie references, and general "music type" language about pacing. Sometimes, usually while I'm even talking, I will think "well, that's just darn inarticulate." Not like me at all. Yesterday in fact I realized that I had lost some of my mojo... Anyway, Matt, as gracious and positive as ever, got my rambling ideas and sent me a reassuring email. I like his new changes to the effects... just a little tweaking and I think we'll be ready to lay them on.

They always ask... what do you want it to look like? Sometimes I explain with strange-sounding adjectives and long-winded mini stories. Most often, I just refer to another film as an example. For the hallucination sequence, I've always appreciated the simplicity and humor from the scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Thanks to Matt for digging that out. You can see it here.

Also viewed some sequences with Scott, who's managed to tighten up the key patio scene. We both agreed to break it up into three parts -- it's important, but at the same time, it's just darn long. The impact will be greater and at the same time we won't bore the audience to death. 

This week, we also finally caught up with our music composer, Douglas Pipes. Since his role in this production happens later in the process he's just getting up to speed. I spent nearly two hours going over the story, the vibe, what music I wanted, and what pieces we needed from him. He's the only one we'll be allowing to see the rough cuts and sequences that we're editing. He'll need to know what it looks like and what feel it should have. (Sorry folks, but to those of you who were waiting to see something, the trailer will be posted sometime early this summer.)

The amazing part about these meetings is that all of them have taken place with me in my sweats, usually with a bowl of ice cream, sitting at my desk, or even lying on my bed. With iChat, we've been able to talk live, person to person, listen to music, and watch clips together at the same time. Pausing them, refining them, and viewing shots to model after. This is real 21st century film-making and we're so lucky to be able to do this. Imagine how challenging it was 20, 30, even 50 years ago. Rolls and rolls of film, synching sound, huge editing stations. I've been a part of that early production process -- with a huge analog editing system, the dial and everything -- and it would literally just kill my enthusiasm, or as least drop a huge bucket of water on it. It's mostly all a good time now, except for this Final Cut Pro learning process, which is... I promise (to myself)... only temporary.

Although these "sweats and ice cream" visuals might blow my director image... I will tell you it's been efficient, comfortable and simply easier. Matt and Scott are 45 and 60 minutes away. Douglas is 400 miles away. But we are all on the same team, working on the same project, and heading for the same goal.

And yes, it's moving along splendidly, thank you very much. May the force be with you.


  1. Eagerly awaiting the trailer and, of course, the finished product! Thanks for the update!

  2. Thanks for following Mike. Sometimes a brain dump in the AM is good...