3 things you can do to save yourself from horrors in post

(Alex Le May) #1

This is a weekly column behind the scenes of Alex LeMay’s latest project, DARK JOEY. DARK JOEY is a collaboration between LeMay and writer Jim Uhls, who wrote the major motion picture, FIGHT CLUB, as well as his writing partner Ric Krause. Follow along here: #Film-School:lemay-makes-a-series

They say a film is made three times: once when you’re writing it, once when you’re shooting it, and finally, once when your editing it. Our pilot is no different. As we head into post, we will now see just what that 20-hour shoot got us.


When you’re shooting 7 pages in one day with a number of people you’ve never worked with before, it puts a lot of pressure on the director, which in this case, is me. The DP, Wesley Johnson, was a pro and an amazing partner on this film so no worries there, but I needed to keep a bit of an eye on the other department heads. I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus, but as the day wore on past 15 hours, it’s always time for the director to stay ever more aware of what his crew is doing to avoid mistakes.

As we dig through our media, we are missing a crucial piece of audio. It’s totally understandable as people were dropping like flies at that point. But, having been baptized by fire where production is concerned, one needs to always be ready to improvise. In this case, we’ll unfortunately need to ADR (Automatic Dialog Replacement. Also known as “looping.” A process of re-recording dialog in the studio in synchronization with the picture). That means calling a union actor into the studio to loop a very small piece of dialogue. Not cheap. But even in well-funded projects, this stuff happens, and as we move forward, I’m sure we’ll need to deal with a few more hiccups. However, so far, we’re pretty well put together.

So, what is the takeaway? What do you as a producer or director need to do to set yourself up for success on your next 15+ hour production on a budget?

  1. Always monitor audio. Every take, every time. Spend the extra $30 on renting an IFB (wireless audio monitor)
  2. Take 30 seconds to do “last looks” before every shot. Last looks are checking background for misplaced objects, double checking critical focus (most cameras have a feature that lets you check focus by blowing up a section of your frame).
  3. Don’t be afraid to play back audio or picture if you have even the smallest doubt. It takes seconds and can save you hours in post.

In the end, post-production is the puzzle that truly makes one’s picture come to life, so make sure your production always has the edit process in mind when shooting.

We’ll be in the edit bay for a bit, but I’m going to give the Stareable community an exclusive sneak peak in a couple weeks.

(Kallum Weyman) #2

Great advise I have suffered from not doing simple steps like this.

(Alex Le May) #3

Glad it helped. It’s not always easy to foresee what’s coming in post, I’m curious, what issues have you come up against? I ask because I’m rolling around an idea and I want to find out what producers and directors struggle with most.

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(Kallum Weyman) #5

Ahh all my problems can basically be narrowed down to I tried to do a 5 man crew shoot with no crew.

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(Alex Le May) #6

Well that’ll do it. I think we’ve all found ourselves there at one point. I know I’m being nose-y, but where do you want to take your filmmaking career. How do you get your work out there?

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(Kallum Weyman) #7

Well at the moment I really don’t have work out I am getting to the point of doing it this year. I currently have a YouTube presence on podcast and friends gaming content. But I want to be making original content. I also do some work here and there for people I know or where I work where I am helpings to write a feature film.
I want to make create works for a living it’d the dream. I want to focus on new exciting platforms like web series, I am not the traditional fit for main stream telly and movies. But it would be nice. Realistically create stuff people love that is new and deverse my ultimate goal is to make a full feature length film that is from my life experience and views.
Long answer but it was big question.

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(Alex Le May) #8

Really great answer, thank you. I hear this a lot. So many filmmakers find themselves making stuff to pay the bills at the expense of creating the things they would love to make.

Besides hoping that the right person sees your work and gives you money or having a breakout viral hit on YouTube which is getting increasingly tougher, how do you plan to achieve your dream of creating your own work and getting known for it? I’m not judging, I’m genuinly interested.

I have a request. Would you be willing to let me interview you for a project I’m working on? It would go along way to helping people in your situation get a solid roadmap to succeeding in this industry.

If you’re up for it, go to my Instagram account and follow me and and I can give you my contact info through DM. @Lemay_Makes

I hope to hear from you and wish you the best in your work.

(Bri Castellini) #9

Issues I’ve come up against: not having a dedicated sound person and having to run sound myself, while also acting and producing and ADing. For my series, we couldn’t use a boom because it was found footage and had multiple people constantly running around in frame so we used these Rode lav mics that hooked up to iPhones as individual mixers, so we had to start and stop each individual person’s iPhone app to do new takes. If you forgot to restart even one person’s mic, it was a disaster in post, and our ADR sessions were often about an hour long per actor, which was rough.

Also, not usually having a dedicated scripty hurts continuity and there’s really nothing in post you can do to fix that sometimes.

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(Kallum Weyman) #10

Sounds good.

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(Jonathan Hardesty) #11

So much of what I end up working around in my editor-day-job involves cutting around problems that having a scripty or a “good” sound person would have solved. It usually boils down to them having way too much broll for one element of the video and hardly any for the parts that really need cutaways. Example: we were doing a showcase of a particular brand of truck with special cameras when you back up. Because we didn’t have a scripty or someone keeping track of what was needed, they never ACTUALLY filmed the computer screen that showed the view from the camera, so we had to push in about 200% in the shots we did have and raise the exposure to be able to see it…which meant lots of noise and grain where there shouldn’t be.

In another example, we had a sound guy lav the guests and not the host of the show so our host ended up sounding quieter versus everyone else. It added about a day of fine-tuning to get him up to par with the others and not sounding robotic in the process.

Having experienced all this, I will gladly devote most of my show budget to both sound person and scripty to save time in post. I’d rather all that time in post be spent on cool edits/special fx, than trying to fix big oopses that could have been solved on set.

Now, my bias is editing, so I get that things on set are never as simple…and half of the fun of editing is problem-solving. But it certainly has shaped my priorities going into my own projects. :slight_smile:

(Alex Le May) #12

Ahhh Jonathan - You are soooo right. A scripty. How did I forget that. We usually have one so I think I take it for granted. But that is massively important. Save a TON of a headache. Thanks for bringing that up.