Birdland Diaries: Its Over
by Katrina G
Just yesterday, I posted about our final day of shooting and the fact that it’s “over”.
Over is, of course, a big overstatement. Now we have three to six months of post production work ahead of us. Our (brilliant!) editor has already started assembling the dozens (if not hundreds) of hours of footage that we shot over sixteen long days into something resembling a movie. The first version we’ll see is probably going to be twice as long as the final film, and the process of whittling it down will take time.
There’s also sound mixing to be done, and sound design. Our (very talented) composer has to layer on a soundtrack. The film has to be colour graded*, too. All of this will take time.
So, as I’m sure you understand, it’s far from “over”.
I will still have lots to do in the days and weeks to come. The funding paperwork will descend upon me like an avalanche, because cost reports and contracts and all sorts of other documents are now required by the folks who gave us money.
What is “over” is the nerve-wracking, panic-attack-inducing, exhilarating actually-shooting-the-movie phase of the process. And, fun as it was, I am greatly relieved that it is behind us. Even more relieved that we have all the footage we need to make a great film.
If we’d failed to get it all in the can during our ambitious 16 day schedule, we would have been in huge trouble. The costs of trying to make up for it outside of this month of production would have been astronomical. Two of our lead actors live on the west coast. We dyed two actors’ hair and they probably aren’t going to keep it that way forever. Half our cast was jumping straight from this project into others, because they’re in demand and their time is tightly booked. The locations we used were only available to us for a certain period of time. Many of the props and costumes were rentals and have to be returned.
Orchestrating an extra day of pickups during our three week window (which we did – originally the shoot was going to be 15 days, but we ended up doing 16) was only a matter of extending everything by a few days – slightly challenging and somewhat costly but very doable.
Trying to pull it all back together for a day of pickups in, say, July, would have been … I mean, I’m no pessimist, but “impossible” is a word that comes to mind. Impossible unless we raised another hundred grand between now and then, I mean. Nothing’s impossible in the movies if you have enough money.
The pressure to get all the footage that we’ll ever need during that 16 day window was extremely intense, and now that it’s done I feel wildly relieved. The work that is to come is going to be stressful, but the pace will feel less pressure-cooker-esque. Even more importantly, for the next few weeks the bulk of the work will be on someone else’s shoulders, so I’m going to get a tiny bit of time off from Birdland. I’ll be right there if anyone needs me, but I will also have time now to shift to other projects, which is a blessing as I feel like I’ve been neglecting a whole lot of stuff.
I have shiny new draft of a script to read for the project that I’m taking to Frontières this July, for example. I have been ignoring The Royal and REEL CANADA for so long I’m starting to feel guilty. I have a backlog of about a dozen scripts to read and several screeners to watch because people are waiting for me to get back to them about stuff. I feel like I’ve been away in some parallel universe for a few weeks. I had a great time there, but it’s good to be back.
*Aside: colour grading is the part of the post-production process that I’ve been most fascinated over the past few years because it feels the most like pure magic. I could wrap my head around what editors and sound designers do, but what a colourist does was harder to understand until we got a friend (not totally coincidentally the same colourist who will be working on Birdland) to help us do some colour work on The Demon’s Rook before the film’s premiere. In some scenes, the change was so dramatic it was as if he went back in time and changed the lighting on set. As I said: magic.