Sunday, February 26, 2006

Paging Audio Experts

We're in the final stages of post on the film, and the main issue right now is audio. We're using no ADR -- in part because we don't have access to the actors anymore, unless we want to fly them in or go to them (neither of which we have the money for). The other reason I'm avoiding ADR is that is sounds so artificial unless you have access to real professionals, and since this is a mock doc, I really don't want to heighten the artificiality any more than I have to.

So -- we're trying to geet audio done. And at this point, I'm just frustrated. Part of the problem is that I'm not an audio expert, so I don't have the right vocabulary to even discuss this. But I still know when the audi isn't up to snuff.

After the first 'cleanup' (noise reduction and etc.), everyone sounded like they were in tunnels or holding their hands over their mouths!

We started from scratch with the original audio, and after the second cleanup, the audio was muffled, like I was listening to the actors speak with my head on their chests. Sounds like an EQ problem to me, but I know there's a fine balance between noise reduction and vocal quality.

We just flat-out don't have the money for a professional sound mix, and I don’t know what to do. And now that we’re in our first fest, we’re ‘on the clock’ so to speak.

So if anyone has any advice, or knows a good sound person who would work for very little money, or has access to a wish-granting genie... let me know.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Calling All Mock Doc Filmmakers

So I made one mock documentary and suddenly I'm an expert?

Well, no, not exactly. But I am putting together a filmmakers' roundtable discussion for Film & History's 2006 Conference on 'The Documentary Tradition,' for their section on mock docs. There was a request for papers and presentations (from the academic/critical perspective), and I thought it might be worth hearing from filmmakers as well.

It's scheduled for 8-12 November 2006 in Dallas, TX. Check out the Film & History 2006 Conference site. The proposal below has already received provisional approval, pending recruitment of a panel of filmmakers. So contact me via email if you think you might be interested in participating. The proposal details are below...

Roundtable Proposal:
Making Meaning with Mockery: Why Serious Filmmakers Make Funny Films

The mock documentary format, by its very nature, lends itself easily to comedic treatment of whatever subject matter is being ‘mocked.’ From This is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 1984) to the recent filmography of Christopher Guest (Waiting for Guffman (1996), Best in Show (2000), A Mighty Wind (2003), For Your Consideration (2006)), mock documentaries clearly have a comedic emphasis (though not exclusively so).

So what draws filmmakers to the mock doc genre, and what are they trying to say?

As a filmmaker who has recently made a mock documentary feature, I am often asked why I chose that particular form and genre. The question is an interesting and valid one, and while I have my own answers to it, I believe other filmmakers might have different and varied answers.

I would like to propose a panel discussion, a ‘Filmmakers Roundtable’ on the mock documentary genre, why and how it is used, if it is an effective genre for filmmakers with a serious message or point to their work (aside from just trying to be funny), and what films in this genre have to say about changes in the true documentary genre and about changes in fiction film audiences.

Monday, February 20, 2006

(Good) Festival News!

At long last, I have a festival ACCEPTANCE to report. The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah will screen at the inaugural Cosmos Internat'l Film and Video Game Festival. Admittedly, this is a new fest, and I know nothing about it, but I am pleased to have gotten over this hump.

The other nice thing is that it's in Gainesville, Florida, which is my wife's hometown and home to the University of Florida. Since my in-laws are nearly lifelong residents of G-ville, I already have a place to stay at no cost!

I'll add more to this info as I get more to report. I have to run to class now... but WOO-HOO.

Script Update

Well, I sent the final draft of JONESING to Agent this morning (but really, can any draft be called 'final' til the movie is shot?). So, we'll see how things go.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Going out with a script: chronicling the process

So, my latest screenplay news is this: the newest draft of my screenplay JONESING is going to be going out to select production companies and actors at the end of the month.

I have a manager working with me, and he helped get an agent on board (I'm not technically a client of this agent -- he's hip pocketing me at this point). The agent (who will remain nameless for now; if he ends up being "my agent" in the future, I'll be more forthcoming with details) really liked the script and had just a few minor notes, which have now been executed.

I'm a 'new writer' in Hollywood terms, and JONESING isn't really high concept, so it's not going to go out 'wide' to the industry. I believe the agent will be targeting specific companies who have done similar material (the script is a very dark comedy). And we worked up a list of actors who would be fantastic in the lead role (some of these were bigger stars, and some were lower-profile character actors who would be a dream to have in this role). The best person for the part? Well, that depends on who makes the film. If it's done as a moderately-budgeted 'big production company' project, a bigger star would be needed. If it's done as a lower-budget indie ($5 million or less), we could go with one of those 'perfect for the part' character actors.

I'll post updates as things happen. Right now, I am proofing the final draft and will send it to the agent in the next few days.

Blogging about my new film

So, I'm Chris Hansen, a filmmaker in Texas. The feature I shot last summer is still in post but it out to festivals now: The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah.

The film is a mock documentary about "Brian B.," a guy who thinks he's a messiah. He doesn't think he's THE messiah, but rather a local, regional messiah for his own hometown. The film follows his quest to determine his God-given 'special purpose' in life (which he believes he'll find by holding a big 'messiah rally' at the local civic center). Of course, he'll need to raise a little money to rent the civic center, and the film chronicles his efforts.

It was shot over a three-week shooting period (18 shooting days) in Waco, Texas (and yes, I'm aware of the irony of shooting a film about a guy who thinks he's a messiah in WACO). We shot on HD, with two actors from New York (Dustin Olson and Ellen Dolan) and one from Mississippi (Joseph Frost). Dustin and Ellen are also in a short film that just got into Tribeca (After June).

I teach production and screenwriting at Baylor University (Dept of Comm Studies), so we used about 30 students from our program as crew members, and we hired a professional DP and sound recordist (and the producer was a pro, too).

So, check out the website, and you'll hopefully be seeing the film soon at a festival near you.

There are also some reviews to read:

Film Threat
Chuck Tryon (the chutry experiment)
Sujewa Ekayanake (Filmmaking for the Poor)

And I'm also blogging at a group blog called Indie Features 06, so check that out as well.