Archive for May 2008

How not to use a soundtrack…

May 13, 2008

As an independent film maker, I am also a student of film and the techniques used to create it.  Subscription based video rental is one of the most useful tools I’ve ever seen for this, like Blockbuster Online or NetFlix.

I use NetFlix for one simple reason: instant online movie watching. Granted, it’s not their entire catalog, and many of the selections are old, but there’s still plenty there to keep my second monitor at work buzzing with distractions.

Today, I watched 9 1/2 Weeks. Not a bad little erotic/romantic romp. If Mickey Rourke being an asshole is your thing, you’ll be in heaven, although I was a little disappointed to find out that all of Kim Basinger’s nude scenes were performed by a body double.

If I had one real complaint about the movie, though, it’s the soundtrack, and if you’re a budding sound designer I’d strongly suggest you watch it to find out how NOT to create one.



May 13, 2008

Three things an aspiring movie maker needs to know about writing:

  1. Each movie operates by its own set of rules.
  2. You can’t make up the rules as you go, but you can make them up.
  3. The rules don’t have to be explained, but the audience does need to know what they are.

In today’s installment, we’re going to examine rule #3: The rules don’t have to be explained, but the audience does need to know what they are. Of the three, this one is the hardest to grasp, and the one that is most easily messed with.

When you were a kid, did you ever get caught with your hand in a cookie jar? Your mom, glowering down at you over her horn-rims, demanded, “Explain yourself!” And the best you could reply was, “I dunno…” Your audience is like, in this over-stretched analogy, your mom.

The audience wants to know what the rules are. They need to know, deep down, what the rules are. Knowing the rules gives the audience something to stand on while they watch the rest of the movie. That’s why movies like Jacob’s Ladder and Donnie Darko are so tough to watch: those movies operate with their own set of rules (see #1) mostly made up (see#2) but the audience is not told what they are (as in DD) until the end (as in JL). It takes a skillful director and/or writer to carry that off. Me? Probably not yet.