Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

It’s been too long (October actually), and there’ve been many a weeks with no work done at all, but a lot has happened since last I wrote about working on this short film. This won’t be the last time, either; things are just getting started for 2007.

This week, post-production on the first half of this “Thriller in Two Movements” began to hit full stride- the first time since December any real work has happened with the film. I’ve put off editing the film as I wanted to be able to devote as much uninterrupted time as possible to it, originally meaning the recording of at least two compositions before I commit the time to it. With an awful lot of footage shot over the six days we filmed in 2006- read the past blogs through the links below- I thought I was in for quite a road as editor.

As it turns out, though, editing the trailer will be the trickiest part of the process, because “Movement I” came together pretty effortlessly from an editorial standpoint (first cut runtime- with opening credits: 10’38”). I’d already done some preliminary editing on the first day’s footage shortly after that day, and it proved to be a smart move, giving me a taste of what I was up against. Using the same basic philosophy figured out that day, everything seemed to just fall into place. It’s hard to mask the no-budget type of filmmaking we’re doing here with as few resources as we had available “on set,” but gotta say, it doesn’t suck. It’s not “Citizen Kane,” either, but honestly, it’s not an embarrassment. Hell, once everything’s in place, it might even be- dare I say?- good (maybe even festival worthy?). If some of the hand-held is shaky, it’s because we don’t have a steady-cam to work with. If some of the coverage around the table looks as though it was just point-and-shoot, it might be because there wasn’t someone back there working the camera as we were in front of it. And if some shot choices seem odd, it’s likely because those were the only choices available…or at least the best ones. Even the continuity between shots is, well, pretty consistent (or pretty hidden, as the case may be)- remarkable given the 7-plus months between our first shooting day and our last. My one disappointment- realizing we lacked one shot that will help establish stronger continuity and narrative flow. But with one more day of shooting to be had at Ron’s parent’s house for scenes in “Movement II,” we’ll have the chance to get it.

On that note, the first draft of “Movement II” was written in November, and read by the other principles- Ronnie Haynes, David Miles, and Michael Caudle- in December. The response was encouraging, although the resolution still has some rough spots to be smoothed out, although I knew as much when I sent it out to them. Some ideas have already come to me, and rewrites will be taking place in the not-too-distant future (hopefully in time for the Oscars, which is when Ron, Dave, and Mike will get their first look at the rough cut). Once rewrites are done, the script will be going out to some of the friends I’ve got in mind for the other roles in “Movement II” (six new characters are introduced), with filming hopefully to commence this summer. Location for the majority of filming for “Movement II” is still up in the air, but there are some options available to us.

In the coming weeks, expect a lot to happen on the “Unwinnable Hand” front. Along with a rough cut of the film, I hope to have a trailer available online soon, as well as a Filmmakers MySpace site for Cinema Nouveau Productions, our “production company” we’ve established in producing “Hand.” Unfortunately, the trailer will be the only thing many people will have to watch of the film, as I’m wanting to hold off making the film available until the entire story is told. In addition to the editing, much thought has gone into the music for the film, even if pencil hasn’t been laid to paper yet. When it is, I hope to have some excerpts available for your listening pleasure. As for the when the finished film will be ready for the public, I’m aiming for a release no later than December 2007.

The subtitle of this production diary has a couple of different meanings. I wrote the first draft of “Movement I” in September 2005. It’s coming on a year since our first day of shooting. To say I didn’t expect to spend so long on this film is to put it lightly, but what an experience it has been. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. As the shot on “Movement I” moved along, I feel as though I’ve gotten more comfortable in my idea of what being a director entails, and more confident in what I need to do to get things done quickly (the last three days of shooting seemed to fly by and get more productive). And the extended time period from first day to locking a first cut allowed me to look more judiciously at what I had to work with, and sometimes go against first impulses to get what I wanted out of the material; it’s also given me the perspective to find that even I didn’t quite realize how clever thematically the story was laid out as I was writing it…if I do say so myself. (I’ve tried to avoid self-congratulation in this blog, but when you read the script, I’m sorry, themes and ideas do crystallize pretty effortlessly through structure and events within the story…how it took me so long to really realize how much that was true is beyond me.)

But not only has a lot happened with this film, and how I see it, but a lot has happened in my life from the first time I wrote “Movement I.” The idea to tell a larger story than just a poker game between three friends came to me early on, as did the idea I wanted to get across in telling such a story. But time was important in getting to the outlook on the material I now have. It became more than just a simple film project for me; it became something more personal, and subsequently, more interesting. One of the things Ron said to me early on when we were talking about the film in its’ early stages was how it felt like a heightened version of how we really are, albeit told within an entirely fictional storyline. That wasn’t an accident, and it’s those personal touches (with many more spread throughout “Movement II”) that I think will eventually make this film- in its’ finished form- an exciting experience for its’ viewers. It’s already become a greatly rewarding one for me…I can’t wait to share it.

Thank you to everyone who’s participated so far; I hope this has been as fun for you as it has for me.

Thanks for listening,

Brian Skutle

Click here to download or watch Brian’s first video diary after the first day of shooting.
Click here to read my sixth “Unwinnable Hand” Production Diary.
Click here to read my fifth “Unwinnable Hand” Production Diary.
Click here to read my fourth “Unwinnable Hand” Production Diary.
Click here to read my third “Unwinnable Hand” Production Diary.
Click here to read my second “Unwinnable Hand” Production Diary.
Click here to read my first “Unwinnable Hand” Production Diary.

Click here to read “Red Cup Mafia,” another short script I wrote in November 2006- inspired by some recent happenings at work- that I hope to film in the future through Cinema Nouveau Productions.

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