“We’ll fix it in post” Although shooting is the most stressful part of making a movie post comes with its own complications. The best way to make it easy on yourself is to edit as you go. If your pretty much the entire shooting crew as well as the post team this can be difficult but it does make the shooting process easier in many ways as you can see what you have missed much quicker.
Being able to edit as you go is definitely an advantage in shooting only in weekends as you can see more of what was shot previously in-between and see how the film is coming together. For us this meant a lot of rewriting the script as we went, something that is not necessarily recommend but sometimes necessary as the story forms itself in different unpredictable ways while your shooting and your plot holes become exposed. Of course, especially when there are budgetary constraints, you can’t fix everything but there are a number of things that can be done to fix certain plot issues.
One of the biggest issues we faced while we were in post (and I am sure we are not alone) was deciding when the movie was done. When your as close to the movie as we were there are a number of things that contribute to this – firstly you know the story inside and out so what makes sense to you may not make sense to the audience and secondly when you’ve shot all the footage yourself you are all too aware of the different shots that you have and there are multiple ways that they can be cut together.
Ultimately the decision of when you have reached final cut needs to be made at somepoint. Ideally this would come after a good nights sleep and distance from the film so you are able to view with as fresh eyes are you are likely to get and after many arguments (sorry discussions) with the key creative’s involved about the cut.
Unfortunately our post-production woes did not stop there. For us the journey was just beginning as there were two other major factors to consider – the visual effect and sound.
As previously mentioned the visual effect was well tested before we started shooting and ever evolving. One of the main things that we discovered was the computing power required to process such a long film with all the elements required took more than our computer could handle. Once we upgraded things started going smoother.
Sound is an issue that plagues many low budget productions. We were no exception. I can remember saying in our final weeks of shooting that it was more important to lock the picture as sound was already an on going issue for us, but without finishing shooting we would never be finished. Famous last words for some. Luckily for us we had a chance meeting with a couple of enthusiastic sound people at a gig for the amazing band then called Remains of the Day who had already agreed to give us a couple of songs for the movie.
Andrew and Nathan’s contribution to the movie was enormous and along with their coconspirators their help was what enabled us to finish our film. What we undertook together was a journey to recreate the entire soundtrack of the film through ADR, sound design and music to create the finished product that we have today.
For any film, low budget or not, I believe that ADR can be grueling. Especially when you are undertaking the process of redoing the audio for the entire film. Each of our actors needed to be called back individually to stand in a stand booth and go over every line of dialogue, every breath, every slight noise that they had made in the original recording and then some.
In terms of doing ADR I believe that the preparations we went through are crucial if you need your actors to stand in the booth. We transcribed the entire film recording word for what is said (and it is always surprising how much that differs from the original script). Along with the transcribed pages we supplied all our actors with an audio CD containing files of every scene they were in and video files of the same. This allowed them to rehearse not only with the lines in front of them, but with the timing of the lines they had already delivered.
ADR is always difficult. Some actors are able to do it easily, others need more time to get it right. I personally can remember being in the booth for hours listening to the feedback from Lance, Andy and Nate as they tried to coax the performance they wanted from me. It is at times frustrating for all involved but the end result can be so rewarding. It is amazing what a slight difference in the tone of delivery can do to change an entire scene and the delivery of dialogue on set is something we will all watch more carefully after this experience.
We went through more than four straight months with at least three evenings a week in the sound booth in order to complete this. The work that then had to go into sound effects and music was also mammoth. Add to this the issues that we had with the computers and it all adds up to a very stressful post production period that took over six months to complete.
Luckily we did make it to the end but then there is the problem of getting your film out there…