And Here We Go!

This film has been in the works for years. Don’t believe me? Well, check out this blog’s first entry… from February 2nd, 2013.

That’s right (or… write?)! I have been working on this movie, in one way or another, for five years now. So much has happened since then: the birth of my son, a number of film scripts written for hire, even two moves which includes-

STOP. There is no time to reminisce.

Because our film is about to have its World Premiere!

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Here we go!

That’s right, on February 17th all of our work comes to the next stage of development, which is BRINGING IT TO THE PEOPLE in the D.C. Independent Film Festival. And while I’d love to reminisce about everything that has happened in the past years, all the struggles and rejections and triumphs and little victories that make up this journey, I don’t have time.

Because we still have to finish this movie.

Wait, what?

Audio Post. And color correction! And VFX! And the final credit roll. And we are less than four weeks from premiere. I mean, tickets are already on sale. So what do we do?

Four weeks is long enough to get it all done (after all, we did shoot most of this movie over two weeks.

First, the final audio mix. This past Friday Beau, Katie and I watched the entire film with the sound team and attacked the few trouble spots. Now we are immersed in the world of color, and there’s so much to do still, but-

-but take a minute. Scroll back to the top of the post. Look at those laurels! Actually, don’t scroll back, I’ll put them here again so you don’t strain your scrolling finger:

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It’s important, after five years of hard work, from writing to developing to fund raising to everything else, we now have the wonderful opportunity to look at time differently…

…a milestone time:

Saturday, February 17th
7:45pm
Burke Theater
Naval Heritage Center
Washington D.C.

And here we go!

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…Bring the Jazz

I had a vision. An audio vision, if you will.

As we were gearing up to shoot the movie I thought about the music that would become basically an additional character to the film. Since this movie is a detective story, and we would be paying homage to some film noir traits, I wanted to have a jazz score.

But how to do that on a limited budget? In his excellent book about ultra low budget filmmaking Rebel Without a Crew, Robert Rodriguez says the answer is simple: write your own music.

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Robert Rodriguez: a one man band.

One problem. My six years of piano and five years of saxophone in my formative years did not translate into actually being able to WRITE music. Unless I want the score to be REALLY minimalist (and out of tune), I had to think elsewhere.

Enter Zak Shelby-Szyszko. He lives and breathes jazz. He works or has worked for jazz-dominated record labels such as Resonance Records and is a consultant for the Angel City Jazz Festival. I came to him with a crazy idea: does he know any up-and-coming jazz artists who would be willing to place their original compositions in our movie for… ahem… VERY cheap? And the emphasis on original compositions. We can get an artist to donate their music for free, but if they are recording a John Coltrane song, we’d still have to negotiate with and pay the Coltrane estate. Zak watched our rough cut, said he could certainly help, and so we hired him.

Very soon I spent hours listening to dozens of recommended musicians. All VERY talented. And fairly quickly we were able to pick songs that reflected the tone of scenes. Some songs were clearly just temporary tracks, like we’re not really going to use this Miles Davis song for the climactic fight scene. But the tone was right. After a few months we had filled our rough cut with dozens of songs, about half from artists who might be willing to license their music for very cheap.

As for the rest, enter Jamie Christopherson, a talented and seasoned composer who had worked with our producer Beau before. He, Zak and I watched a cut together and discussed the music arc, including various tracks and themes for different characters. It was very easy to figure out what would be scored and what would be placed music.

Fast forward a few months. The score is finished and beautiful. Jamie recorded in his home studio, bringing in a jazz guitarist and horn section to round out some tracks. As for the placed music, we are still in negotiations with some of the artists but I am optimistic that we have our music.

We might not have a finished movie yet, but for now, the soundtrack exists on my computer. And if all goes well, it can grow up into a soundtrack album someday.

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Can’t publicly share the songs yet, but if you want to come over for a drink some evening I’d be happy to play the soundtrack for you.

Next up: color correction, visual effects, and a VERY BIG EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT!