finest at work
(EvenHand's esteemed editor) and I had the weirdest
experience yesterday. We were walking down Queen Street in Toronto and
suddenly Alex jabbed me in the ribs and gestured toward a parking lot
we were approaching. There in the middle of the tarmac was a shirtless
guy with a cinderblock on his shoulder. He was a real-life Old
Man with Brick! Insane. This guy didn't have his cinderblock tied
to his ankle, but he clearly wasn't afraid to innovate; he had stuffed
the holes in his cinderblock with little pieces of broken cinderblock.
I guess he didn't want anyone to think he was carrying it just because
it had holes in it and would be lighter, no sir. As we watched he put
it down, carefully rearranged the fragments in their notches, and
perched on it, looking very pleased with himself.
right, what the hell are Alex and I doing in Canada? It's a long story
which I'll abbreviate to its essentials. Cypress has had a
longstanding business and personal relationship with the founders of
Atlantis Films, a Toronto-based television production company (now a
Film & TV empire called Alliance
Atlantis). We first met the Atlantis boys when we were pitching A
Child's Christmas in Wales. They loved the idea and said if we
were able to find a U.S. broadcaster they would finance 50% of the
production costs from Canadian and foreign pre-sales. After we
succeeded in corralling a PBS station (WTTW in Chicago), they were
true to their word and our first co-production with Atlantis was off
the years we have co-produced several TV MOWs and a couple of
miniseries with Atlantis. As our business relationship grew, so did
our friendship. So, when one of the guys was in New York several
months ago we had dinner together. I mentioned that we were hoping to
raise post-production funds for EvenHand and would probably
start showing scenes to potential distributors. He offered to give us
a deal if we used the post facilities they own in Toronto: Tattersall/Casablanca.
I couldn't say "No," so here we are.
street from our hotel
kind of looks like an American city and the people kind of look like
Americans but you soon realize that it's different. Their money is
multi-colored and they have a $2 coin (huge pain in the ass; they
weigh about four pounds and seem to accumulate in one's pocket
alarmingly fast). Plus, the dominant graphic on their cigarette packs
is a big box that says stuff like: SMOKING CAN KILL YOU. As if that's
not weird enough, they use the metric system. I suppose we arrogant
Americans will persist in measuring ourselves in inches and pounds and
gallons until some alien force makes us stop.
spent the last week and a half mixing the film. The mixers, Dino
(dialogue and music) and Eric (sound effects), sit at a huge console
with faders and lots of buttons and tiny glowing LEDs. Alex and
Garrett (Supervising Sound Editor) and I sit at a desk in the back
making arch comments. Tom, the sound effects editor, pops in
occasionally when we need some new cool effect. Elliott stays in some
mysterious dark room in the back with even more equipment and gets the
tapes rolling and fixes things when various machines cease to function
Eric work their magic
each reel of the film plays, Dino and Eric start to balance the
numerous sound elements which consist of several tracks of production
(or "synch") dialogue; special effects and sounds (dogs
barking, birds chirping, lawn mowers mowing); foley (footsteps,
clothes rustling - all that stuff that you think is real but is not);
ADR (added or replacement dialogue from both loop group and principal
actors, including the police dispatcher (me)); music (score and
source) and ambient room or street sound (added to smooth transitions
from one cut to the next). All of these elements are combined together
to create the soundscape. EvenHand is by no means a complicated
film in terms of effects or sound design, but most scenes still
combine dozens of separate tracks that all add up to a realistic
or so lines spoken in the film by the Bills were replaced with ADR ,
although you'd never know it (and almost always for technical reasons
-- low sound level or excessive background noise). Both actors were
extremely adept at fitting the words perfectly into their on-screen
mouths. Loop group added ambient dialogue for the background of many
scenes or new voices for inexperienced actors. Much of the sound work
was devoted to enhancing scenes with different effects: when Mather
punches Francis the sound of the punch is entirely artificial and
composed of three different elements. After the punch when Morning
starts yelling "Unlatch that door, motherfucker!" we have a
couple of dogs in the neighborhood start barking. When Donald
complains about Mather we have a lawnmower droning in the background.
And birds sweetly chirp everywhere in San Lovisa, even when Morning is
cursing and roughing up some hapless criminal.
a time consuming process, but the reward is a film that sounds great
-- especially the more stylized moments (the
Carol scene and the climax of
hotel lobby features fake salmon
swimming amongst the small change
each day of steady progress on the mix, Alex and I roam around Toronto
attempting to find a restaurant (it's harder than you'd think). We
then return to our respective rooms at the Comfort Suites Hotel and
collapse. When I mention where our hotel is (Jarvis and Dundas)
various Toronto natives delightedly remark that we're in the heart of
Toronto's red light district or "hooker central." As I drift
off to sleep I hear them squabbling outside. It's hardly Times Square
in the good old days, but this is Canada after all.
I give up
-- what the hell is "Golf Leafs Golf"?
Some kind of naked hockey/golf hybrid?
- Joseph Pierson
To buy our original September 11th memorial
All profits go to charity.
IN BLOODY ACTION
© 2002 Cypress
Films, Inc. All rights reserved.