Breathing Out During Post

Ayana (Mina Vesper Gokal) and Chris (MacLeod Andrews) share a rare laugh in the field.

Next week I’ll be working with Quentin Chiappetta (sound designer) on the mix for the film. He’ll be mixing, I’ll be gulping ice coffee and requesting minor changes. Bring this up, take this down, that sort of thing. With luck and hard work on the part of the team, the mix will be done by next Saturday, and then I’ll be sitting down with Vickie Lazos (VFX) and Verne Mattson (color/conform) to match up the locked sound with the corrected picture. Then I’ll be making festival screeners!

The End Of The Beginning

My role at this point is somewhat more managerial – I’m working with a group of very talented professionals who have good taste, so I’m there to help each of them with whatever they need, and lend a critical eye to the results of their efforts. At this point, it’s not really possible to fundamentally change the nature of the film, so I feel like my job is to reinforce the strengths. On a more practical level, I’m making sure that:

  • The sound and video stay in sync during the mix, color correction and VFX creation
  • Shooting an insert shot that we’ve needed, inserting it into the locked picture, without changing the total picture length
  • Finishing and outputting the end credits
  • Coordinating between Vickie and Verne
  • Creating new Quicktimes for Quentin that include the insert shot and the end credits, so he can score and sound design them
  • Approving the VFX shots as Vickie finishes them up
  • Grabbing Quicktimes of the color-corrected reels from Verne so we can check sync before we go into the mix
  • Getting the festival applications ready
  • Preparing a bare-bones DVD

While that may sound like a fair amount of work, it’s not really – especially since it’s spread over several weeks. And with a little help from a post schedule I created in Excel, Dropbox.com, and frequent emails, it’s actually pretty painless.

Next Steps

The current strategy is to submit Found In Time to a couple of top-tier festivals, and send one or two screeners to producers and agents as a calling card for my next project. While waiting to hear back from all these sources, the next step is to build up the promotion machine. While social media is an important component of that, it’s not the whole story. A good, well-placed "how-to" article (either in print or online) is sometimes worth more than upping the Facebook friend count.

I’m currently putting together a revamped website for the film. Found In Time currently lives in two places on the web (three if you count the Facebook page): here on Blogger, and as a section on the ChaoticSequence.com site. I set it up this way so I could focus on the more pressing job of getting the film together, but now I have to figure out how to retain the domain but migrate the content to another platform. On the coding side, I’m looking at Joomla, WordPress, Drupal, and my own PHP code (which I’ve used with minor modifications on about a half-dozen sites so far). For design guidance I’m looking at tons of film websites.

Most film sites have the same structure (story/about/cast/crew/buy it here/press/images/trailer/contacts), but employ a wide variety of approaches. Some use Flash and Quicktime extensively; others are fairly bell-and-whistle free. Some are super-slick, while others stick to the familiar blog format. The biggest challenge in web design, as I see it, is how to communicate information effectively. Generally, people hit up websites to find out things, rather than to engage in a ‘rich, multimedia experience.’ Look at the design of Craigslist, Google, Gmail, Mandy, Wikipedia… even Facebook. Words are primary; pictures support the text.

Having said that, there is a way to make a film’s site more attractive, without relying too heavily on Flash. After developing with Flash for two years, I was very happy to leave it behind and go back to more traditional tools (though I still use it for animation, logo design, and video). Also, for the first time in a while, I’m thinking about smaller screens – designing pages for phones and tablets.

In the next series of entries, I’ll start talking about the marketing process. This is critical to a film’s success, but is often a bit of a challenge for filmmakers. You almost have to start from the beginning again.

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