We all remember the beginning stages of our filmmaking endeavours. For most of us, it began with nothing but our imaginations and a cheap DSLR. You were able to edit the footage probably on cheap or free editing software. Then you were able to show it to the world which meant your friends and family. From that moment on you were hooked and every project forced you to grow as a filmmaker.
The Initial Stages of Growth
There were very definitive moments in my growth that stand out. Moments where my work was brought to a noticeably higher level. First was when I started to understand my gear: lenses, cameras, stabilization, etc. I became aware of how these tools worked, and when was appropriate to use them. The second stage in my growth was when I realized that great video work requires collaboration. This was when my director of photography became my best friend on set, constantly working to make every shot look amazing, but also complimenting the story.
Bring Your Film To Life
I’m here to talk about the third stage of my growth. The reason being, it’s a stage that is constantly overlooked, and under-appreciated. In fact, I see plenty of experienced filmmakers (way out of my league), who still don’t seem to have fully grasped this stage. What I’m talking about is Post Sound. This may be an entire team of people filling this department or possibly even one person wearing many hats. But one thing is for sure; they are 50% of the film. I could talk all day about how great sound designers and sound editors are and what they bring to the table, but let me keep it short.
THEY BRING YOUR FILM TO LIFE.
They will multiply every emotion you intended the audience to feel. They can be your best friend when you get to post, and at times can even pull you out of a bind you may find yourself in when something doesn’t cut together as planned.
For those of you who may be uneasy about trusting another chef to join you in the kitchen; let me tell you about my first experience working with a post sound guy.
I was 18 years old, busting my ass through film school. I was directing a short film for a class project called City Mart Dice. This film was an experiment for me to try out shooting an action piece. It included an on-foot chase scene running through traffic and ended with a choreographed fistfight. Filming went well, but when we got into post-production it fell apart. The chase scene was awkward and lacked the excitement and energy I imagined. The fight scene was very awkward and felt forced / fake.
This was when my buddy Luke stepped in. Luke was a classmate of mine with an obsession for post sound. I never worked with him before and didn’t know what to expect, but at this point, I was looking for anyone to make this piece work. We discussed what the film was lacking and what my original vision was, and within a few days, I was awestruck. I got a sound file emailed to me from Luke and dropped it into my timeline. As I played back the video, I suddenly felt like I was watching a real movie. The production value seemed to skyrocket. As the characters chase each other, I can hear the keys jingling as they hang from their pants, their feet grinding into the cement, and their heavy breathing. As one character runs in front of a car, I hear the loud screeching of brakes and the fight scene was a game changer. I felt every punch - I could hear the gurgling as one character puts the other into a chokehold and the wishes of their clothing as they wrestle each other to the ground. The video came to life.
That was it, my third stage of growth. I instantly knew I would never work on another project again without someone heading up post sound. I’ve worked with Luke on numerous projects over the years since then. As I grow and become a better filmmaker, he grows and becomes a better Sound Designer/ Editor. We both join forces to create two halves of the pie required to make great content.
Call To Action
I challenge any of you who haven't worked with someone that does post sound to take the jump and see your creative abilities stretch into unexplored territory. Moral of the story - Don’t be afraid of post sound, be friends with it.
(Thanks to friend and director Pat Graham for telling your story and encouraging filmmakers)
Pat Graham - Filmmaker & Entrepreneur