Tuesday, August 27, 2013

So You Want to Make a Movie - The Sound Edit

You’ve caught the bug, and you’ve decided to make a movie. But where do you start? The good news is today there are fewer barriers to overcome in order to produce a film. Thanks to digital filmmaking, the costs have dropped dramatically. In reality, practically anybody can become a filmmaker. There is no shortage of books, videos, and online resources to help get you started. No one article can answer all of your questions or take you through the entire process; however, I want to offer you 20 key steps that will at least steer you in the right direction. Think of these steps as the big picture or the 30,000 foot view.

Step 18 - The Sound Edit

The sound edit is one of the major areas of the entire filmmaking process that is often overlooked by first time filmmakers. What makes a movie “a movie” is the sound track and sound effects. Without it you don’t have a film. Most editors are good at editing pictures but are not experts in sound; therefore, you need a sound editor. The sound editor is responsible for editing a soundtrack that includes dialogue, sound effects, and music score. The process involves creating multiple sound tracks layered on top of each other. The mix is essential in developing a dimentional sound and direction.

Chances are the sound you captured in the production process will not be sufficient. That means you will have someone to do foley, which is the process of creating sound effects. For example, when someone walks across the floor, we expect to hear the footsteps. During production, no matter how hard you try, you will never capture this sound effectively. It must be created in the post-production process. Just remember this, usable sound isn’t recorded, it must be manufactured.

You also are going to need a composer to create a sound score for your film. Music is essential for creating the emotional impact for each scene of your movie. Can you imagine watching a movie without music? It would be unwatchable, boring, and devoid of emotion. Most large churches have music directors who are capable of composing music. More than likely, they would love to have an opportunity to write a music score for your movie. The key to being a good producer is finding alternatives to the expensive process of making a movie, and that no truer than in the post-production phase.

Editing is a tough process with a lot of hard decisions. You are going to have to trust your editor. Knowing where to cut is essential. A frame here or a frame there can make all the difference. Whether you’re the producer, director, or writer of your film, sometimes you have to be willing to have your favorite scene to be left on the cutting room floor. Just because you shot 130 minutes of footage, you don’t have to use all of it. Your editor should be good at knowing what kind of pace and rhythm your film needs to be successful.

Based on the money you have, you can’t hire a fulltime editor. That means that your film editor and sound editor will have day jobs. They will have to work on your film during the evening or on weekends. For good or bad, this is going to extend the amount of time it will take you to get a finished edit. This could be as long as 12 months. I highly suggest if at all possible do not allow your edit to go longer than a year. You don’t want to lose your momentum nor do you want your investors to start to think that they made a bad decision. The longer the process goes the more the pressure builds.

On a lighter note, you’re hiring a freelancer who has a day job. That usually means that he/she will have access to editing facilities. So in essence you’re getting a two for one deal—the editor and the edit bay. 

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