Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

I had already decided to take some vacation time from my full-time job this weekend- what surprised me (quite pleasantly) was how I was able to use that time towards my OTHER full-time job here at Sonic Cinema. Two recording times for the Sonic Cinema Podcast were already lined up, but, through a chance post on Facebook by another filmmaker with whom I’ve gotten to know over the years, I was able to not only meet them in person, but also get an exclusive look at the post-production process on their next short film. The filmmaker is Cindy Maples, whom I’d already interviewed for the Podcast, and the film is her upcoming horror comedy short, “E-Bowla.”

If you’d like, you can go back into the Sonic Cinema archives and search out production diaries I wrote about my own adventures in filmmaking, and my process with it, for “Unwinnable Hand” and “Baron Wasteland.” This was my first chance to really see a filmmaker I’d come to know through their work they’ve sent to me, though, and I wasn’t going to let this rare opportunity pass me by, especially since it was happening right down the road, it seemed like. And so, for a couple of hours between other commitments, I met Cindy at the studio she was doing her work at- along with her DP and editor, Jim Dougherty, and her husband and one of her actors, Rusty James, as they went through the process of giving shape to “E-Bowla,” which she was in the middle of a crowdfunding campaign for when we spoke in September.

The first thing I need to say is this: based solely on the first couple of minutes I witnessed in rough cut form, if you have a chance to watch “E-Bowla” after it’s ready, and begins to hit the festival circuit, I would highly recommend doing so. Her first three films- “Random”, “Out of My Mind” and “Moving In”– were all moody and evocative dramatic works, but it’s easy to see, based on what I got a chance to watch this afternoon of “E-Bowla,” that Maples has some legit chops when it comes to writing and directing comedy, because just the intro of this film is going to be a fun one. The way Maples and Dougherty worked together on this first assembly of the film was quite informative to the creative process, and made me realize how much technology has evolved the creative process, and filmmaking, in general. (For instance, if you don’t have enough money to buy a physical clapping board to mark takes, guess what? Apple’s got an app for that, apparently.) In a way, seeing them go between takes, figuring out which ones they liked and which ones they didn’t, and making sure continuity worked, took me back to editing “Unwinnable Hand,” especially, but it also made me realize that I wasn’t working on the same level, let alone with the same quality of tools. Seeing them layer sound and shots if they had to do different takes, pull in on the shot, if need be, shows just how much flexibility digital offers a filmmaker, before you even bring coloration and digital grading into the equation. It was interesting watching them work, making sure that, even in rough form, a joke or sequence worked, even as they knew it would likely be massaged further on later cuts.

Between the hour spent in the editing room, and the hour spent eating at a nearby restaurant, we didn’t do a formal question-and-answer period like we did on the podcast, but we did talk about the process of making “E-Bowla,” and some plans for it. I don’t know how I missed the fact that the film was shot in less than two days when she was filming in October, but I was surprised that she was able to film what she hopes will result in a 10-minute short film in that amount of time; of course, that was coming from the perspective of a glacial pace I ended up taking with my own films. I asked her about how many cuts she could probably expect before she got to the final one (which she hopes to have by April); she anticipated 4, and we discussed what type of music she might have in mind for one, particular moment I was able to watch today. Her plans after locking down that final cut included submitting it to film festivals, and I could tell that she was excited about being able to expand the process to include comedy festivals, as well. The film, though billed as a horror comedy, was considered, first and foremost, as a comedy, and you definitely get that idea in the 3 minutes I saw today.

One of the things that was so striking to me about Cindy’s previous films was that she had a distinct color scheme focusing on particular colors in both “Random” (red) and “Out of My Mind” (blue), and she brought up that this time out, green would be the color of choice, a clear one given the subject (at least gleamed from the tongue-in-cheek title) and the opening shot of the exterior of the bowling alley. She talked about how the idea of this story, initially coming into being from her husband, blossomed into the story it became, and how the film became an oddly-timely tribute to female empowerment given the current climate of discussion in Hollywood, and that the poster of the film (and some of the content of it) may not seem like that, at first. (One of the reasons I’m really anxious to see the finished product.) She also talked about how she watched “The Big Lebowski” for inspiration for how to shoot in a bowling alley, and about how certain parts of the movie, from what I had seen, were playing, and how some of the moments they were working on were “working” within the film. The fact that I was laughing proved to be a good sign.

A special thanks to Cindy, Jim and Rusty for giving me the opportunity to watch them, in the early stages, put together this film. One of the things I’ve been most grateful for in the past couple of years has been the chance to get to know filmmakers by talking to them for the podcast, and really to start to dig into their creative process. This was a rare opportunity to dig further, and it makes me even more excited for the work Cindy and her collaborators are doing.

Thanks for listening,

Brian Skutle

Categories: News, News - General

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