I didn’t graduate from film school. Not that I discredit the institutions, it just wasn’t the path I chose. So, when I’d earned enough money to produce & direct my first short film in 2000, I justified the expense as ‘my film school.’ Yes, I shared the aspirations of every other short filmmaker that it might break through the masses and reach the coveted accolade ‘Academy Award Winning Short Film,’ but I also hoped it would provide me some insight on filmmaking.
I learned that I had a lot to learn. I began to learn on-set protocol. I began to understand the art of strategic scheduling and how to earn confidence from your cast and crew. But MOST importantly, I learned the value of post production sound.
Prior to this shoot, I suspect I associated post sound with mixing the dialogue against the music. This changed with an enlightening opportunity to work with my friend, Dave Barnaby, who was beginning his career as a post production sound designer. He opened my ears to an element of cinema that most low budget filmmakers aren’t privy to. This was more than adding sound effects. More than dialogue clean up and ADR recording. This was about telling the story, reinforcing themes, building a better film…with sound.
In the eleven years since Dave and I first collaborated in the corner of his employer’s storage room, he has been a staple of all my work. One of my favorite collaborators, I often say that Dave is the most talented filmmaker I know, and in our circle, will most likely be the first to win an Oscar.
As Dave and I continue to grow, he has introduced me to other talented individuals who’ve helped make my projects sound great. Durand Trench has been my location sound recordist for the past 3 years (peace of mind that’s worth it’s weight in gold), and Dave’s regular mixer, Ethan Biegel, mixed my short documentary, The [ahr-tuh-zen] Project: Dave Lefner, and has consulted Dave on many of his own mixes of my work. And Kent Verderico flat out blew me away with his recording of USC’s marching band for the Hawaii Five-O promo last October.
Last week, I had the opportunity to work with mixer, Paul Robie, for the first time on my recent comedy, SWALLOW. I was introduced to Paul through a mutual friend and we’d hoped to collaborate. Paul did an phenomenal job with the mix, and it filled me with great joy to know he and Dave were now connected on a creative level. But as I sat in the mix session, I couldn’t help but smile when I realized it wasn’t the first time Paul, Dave and I had collaborated. Over a year ago (before having met him), Paul mixed a Criminal Minds’ Superbowl spot that I produced & edited (and hired Dave to Sound Design). The spot was directed by Bill Brown.
And the music in that spot? Well, it’s Quiet Lights, the band of my close high school friend, Marcus Smith. Coincidentally, it was also Marcus’ music that Dave was “mixing against dialogue” back in 2000.
Hear that? It’s the beautiful sound of collaboration.