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The Magic of Storytelling in Film

Writer/director/producer Shawna Baca is a self-taught filmmaker, with experience in short films, spec commercials, and webisode development. She leveraged that experience into wider exposure and success, ultimately putting together her own production company.

We asked Baca what an emerging writer needs in order to become an effective storyteller. “When I became a filmmaker,” Baca says, “I considered myself as a storyteller, not necessarily a writer. Even though I wrote my own material, what I gravitated to more than the material was the intention or purpose of the story and how we were all emotionally influenced by that story. I didn’t go to school for screenwriting but what I was good at was strumming up the creative imagination to sit around, make up stories in front of small audiences, mostly family and friends, that would engage and hook them in.”

Baca’s appreciation for storytelling has deep roots. “I was raised by my Yaqui/Apache grandmother for the first four years of my life before going to live with my mother. Storytelling was always an important way for me to learn about our history, or things going on in the world around me. I used to love sitting around waiting for my mother or grandmother to tell me a great story. It always whisked my imagination to a wonderful place of make believe and that place is where I felt emotionally invested, fulfilled, happy or aware.

“Since I am a filmmaker I consider the overall process as a way of creating magic to make your story come to life. I believe that my grandmother’s early influence helped me shape my life. I had no idea that I was so culturally downloaded with her indigenous richness, which later my mother helped solidify.”

For Baca, “… writing a good story is key but then knowing how to make that story breathe life is the magical part that makes each filmmaker unique in his or her own right. You can give ten filmmakers the same script and I guarantee you they will all have their own artistic value and uniqueness. No two films will be exactly alike when you add in color palettes, tones, editing, score, etc.”


The Magic of Storytelling in Film Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Jun 19, 2012 at 11:51:26 pm

Seducing Your Film Audience with Sound

In Part One, audio post-production pro Greg Malcangi talked to us about optimizing audio in filmmaking, and about hiring a Production Audio Manager (PSM).

Here Malcangi discusses the potential force of sound in film, its “ability to seduce.”

There’s a statement on your website, a quote from Randy Thom, known for his work on, among others, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and The Incredibles: “Sound may be the most powerful tool in the filmmaker’s arsenal in terms of its ability to seduce. That’s because ‘sound,’ as the great sound editor Alan Splet once said, ‘is a heart thing.’ We, the audience, interpret sound with our emotions, not our intellect.”

This is something which “…in my opinion cuts to the heart of high quality audio post.”

Malcangi says, “Many directors and producers make the effort to convince me of how important they believe sound to be but often their actions contradict their words. It would appear they're either lying or fooling themselves. To be brutally honest, I believe it's the latter.”

“This attitude is entirely understandable if you fully appreciate the meaning behind Randy's and Alan's words. When we watch a film, even a relatively slow paced film, the brain is presented with far more information than it is able to process consciously. Eyesight is the dominant sense so we consciously process a high percentage of the picture. Likewise the dialogue is usually essential to our understanding, so most of that is consciously processed. So too are the most obvious sound effect (SFX).”

“However,” Malcangi says, “there's another layer to the dialogue and obvious SFX, plus at least one or more layers of additional SFX (room tone, background and ambient SFX) which are processed by the brain but of which we are not consciously aware and that's where their power lies!”

Seducing Your Film Audience with Sound Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Jun 11, 2012 at 1:58:53 pm

Greg Malcangi on Good Audio for Your Film

Audio post-production pro Greg Malcangi talked to us about optimizing audio in filmmaking. London born and trained, Malcangi now owns Darkside Audio, based in Macedonia. Depending on budget, filmmakers can hire a Production Audio Manager (PSM) to deal with audio on set, or do the audio management themselves.

Working with a Dedicated PSM
What steps can be taken on set during filmmaking to avoid problems later in post-production? Malcangi replies, “In a word, ‘consideration’! Many filmmakers, at all levels, seem fixated on the image until they get to post-production, when it's already too late.”

He goes on to say, “Most audio problems can be fixed in audio post but almost without exception, the fix results in more cost and compromised quality. So ‘consideration’ of audio is needed throughout the filmmaking process.”

“For instance,” Malcangi says, “as soon as you've completed the shooting script go through it with the Production Sound Mixer (PSM). The PSM should be able to identify many potential problems and suggest a range of possible solutions before you get anywhere near the set. For example, an extreme solution may be to change the filming location, a potentially viable option if proffered at an early stage of pre-production but much less viable if you're already on set.”

There’s another aspect to Malcangi’s “consideration.” “Give your PSM the respect and authority he/she deserves on set as a department head and which he/she needs to help you make the best film possible.”

Malcangi stresses, “It's such a shame to see a good acting performance captured on film, only to be destroyed by lifeless ADR.”


Posted by: Bob Gillen on Jun 5, 2012 at 12:49:40 pm

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