Friday, June 26, 2015

Parting thoughts (on editing...)

It's been a long fucking road, but I've reached the end.  I've locked reels(rather, hard drives) on MAD.  Close to 8 months of editing, and it kind of flew by.  I'm not sure I learned very much, but I can say that I was able to make observations that may or may not benefit me down the road.  But first, some reminiscing on the journey...

I had an ambition to make a comedy-drama, but not one that settled for paltry laughs or skin-deep drama - I wanted the whole kit and kabootle.  I strived to make something with real, unrelenting moments of sheer hilarity AND something with a desperately humane sense of human-scaled drama and sadness.  I tried, and while an audience will decide whether I was successful or not, I'm proud of what we laid down.  I think it's an underrated feat to strive to make ends meet on the comedy-drama spectrum the way we attempted to.  For that, I feel the need to thank both my editor, Ben, and my performers who frequently went to places that might have seemed odd or out of place.  With a film like this, you really have to throw a lot at the wall to see what sticks, which is why it took us so long to whittle this film down over the last eight months.  We started just south of a 2 hour trt, and by making ourselves vulnerable throughout the editing process, we were able to see what we could get away with.  Ultimately, close to 30 minutes were cut over those 8 months.

I've been all over the place with this film emotionally, as I assume most first time feature filmmakers feel.  I've hated it at times, been perplexed, angry, wish-washy, but alas, I've arrived at a place where I love every frame.  Isn't that nice?

I don't think my next film, if I'm lucky enough to make one, will attempt to combine these type of laughs with that type of drama.  It's such a tall order, and subjectivity is hard enough on one genre or the other, but to combine both is to walk such a narrow tightrope, that there is such a room for error where you alienate everybody.  While walking that tightrope, sometimes you are forced to shed some weight, figuratively... I've actually, in reality, gained about 10 lbs over the last 8 months... you lose some of what you feel makes the film uniquely you.  Some of the more out-there stuff.  You need to balance out just to make it across.  To say we cut 30 minutes and I didn't lose a single joke I loved would be a total lie.  But, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.  The film is better overall for it.

I really hope I nailed it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Scoring MAD

I've known Philip Hirzel for a while, and I've used his music in my short films Mouthful and Dad's Dead, but I've always wanted to work with him on original music.  I knew I'd be able to hire whoever I wanted for my first feature, so the choice was obvious to me.

Philip comes from kind of this indie-garage-folk-rock place, and what I noticed about him, and responded to, was that his compositions have this dichotomy where they're deceptively complex.  This allows his music to take on a life of it's own as you burrow down through the various layers - it gives you a lot to savor, while being wrapped up in a neat, shiny(fashionably catchy) bow.  Maybe more than anything, this reminded me of Jon Brion.  I could see it, that if given the chance, he could bring this sensibility to a film score.

I'm super happy with what Philip has done - and not only are his demos excellent so far, calling to mind the scores of Funny People and This is 40(Jason Schwartzman and Jon Brion, respectively), he's also incredibly easy to work with.

Music has always been important to me both in song and score.  I've always been a big BIG fan of the way Apatow, O. Russell and Cameron Crowe use music in their films in a way unlike the classical scores of say (obligatory reference) John Williams.  I think it's really easy to neglect the score on a film of this scale and scope, because I've seen it done.  I need all the help I can muster to make this the best film it can be, and having a delicate, interesting score can and will go a long way.  Philip is a great ally, and he's doing uncommon work here.

Here are a couple of the demo's, and obviously note, these are not necessarily final versions:
"Psych Ward"

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