|MANY PEOPLE don't realize that even after the actual filming of a motion picture is over, it's still only half completed. The world of post production involves many long hours and much hard work that, if the work is done well, ultimately appears "invisible" to the audience who sees the final film. Here are some of the talented people who gave Foreign Correspondents its highly professional polish.|
STEP 1: EDITING
One of the most enjoyable parts of the filmmaking process for me was quietly sitting with editor Jay Woelfel at a rented computer in his apartment, cutting the film over a couple of weeks. Because our shooting ratio was low - that is, we only shot about 4 times as much footage as we planned to use, in terms of multiple takes and multiple camera angles - editing was mostly a breeze. But the best thing about editing is that it gives you immediate results to your creative decisions - unlike filming, where you sometimes have to wait several days before you can see what the footage looks like. Here you can see right away if your decisions work, and you have so much time, room, and footage to play with.
STEP 2: SOUND EDITING
A very complicated process, involving another computer and lots of very tedious work such as synching the audio of the film with the picture, digitally removing unwanted background noises, rerecording actors wherever the production audio was too quiet or messy, and creating "atmosphere" and special sound effects from a huge bank of pre-recorded sounds as well as new sounds recorded out in the field. Our supervising sound editor, James Christopher, who's worked as sound editor on major productions such as RoboCop, The Lion King, The Color Purple, Daylight and Edward Scissorhands, was our man. He worked alone, basically, only needing to confer with me once a week or so - which, due to the complex process, was fine with me!
STEP 3: FOLEY WORK
Surprise: whenever you see an actor in a movie walking across a floor and fixing himself a drink, or opening a window, or cracking his knuckles... The sounds you hear were not made by that actor! Welcome to the wonderful world of Foley, which is "live" sound effects recorded by actual human beings to be synchronized with specific actions in the film. Vanessa Theme Ament, our Foley artist, has a list of credits as long as your arm: Dolores Claiborne, Beauty and the Beast, Die Hard, sex lies & videotape... just to name a few. I was astonished at the difference Foley makes in a scene. All of a sudden plain footsteps become menacing ones. A wimpy hand slap turns powerful. Ice cubes clink audibly in a glass. We lucked out twice with Vanessa: a talented singer, she also recorded a '40s-style song especially for the ForCor soundtrack.
STEP 4: NEGATIVE CUTTING
Some things you just can't do with computers. Cutting the 35mm negative is one of them. One of the scariest parts of the entire filmmaking process, if a negative is scratched or broken then that's the end of it, you can't replace the film. ForCor wound up in the very trustworthy hands of the Mischel family - Larry, Sue and their son Matt. Together the Mischels have worked on over 8 Oscar-winning films, including Sling Blade and the influential documentaries Harlan County, U.S.A., From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China, and I Am a Promise. Recently they cut High Art, Bring It On and The Specials.
STEP 5: FINAL MIXING
This is where everybody gets together with all the sounds - music, dialogue, atmosphere, effects, Foley - and adjusts the audio levels to create the right mood for each scene in the movie. Not nearly as easy as you'd think, this is a days-long process where everything is mixed just right - voices are "futzed" to sound like they're coming over a phone, a little extra echo is put on a slamming door, the tweeting of birds fades out nicely while the chirping of crickets fades in. There is plenty of creativity at this stage - new effects are thrown in, extra voices are laid down in the background for flavor, on and on. You could mix forever - and some have: our lead mixer Joe Zappala, at whose own Zap Studios we mixed the film, got his start on a little movie called Apocalypse Now, which took nine months to finish mixing. Ours only took four days!
STEP 6: TITLES
"A Film By Mark Tapio Kines." Somebody's got to create the text for this, so I turned to my dear friend William Lebeda to do it. I've known Bill since college; he has the honor of having starred in two of my first short films. Lucky for him he decided to pursue a career as an animator instead, designing the titles for Anchorman, Panic Room, The Day After Tomorrow, Signs, The Village, The Sixth Sense, Hollow Man and even my second feature Claustrophobia. What he created for ForCor was remarkable. Many who see the film declare it's one of the best things about it! I don't know if I appreciate the comment, but I can't deny that they're the most gorgeous titles I've ever seen. Click here and see for yourself.