Last year a good friend of mine, Doug Cook (Compositor for Mr. X and VES Award Nominee in 2014) approached me with an opportunity to score his first independent film; a horror/thriller entitled “P.O.W.” This would also be my first film project ever, as my audio background thus far has been comprised of producing bands and music artists. The timing could not have been better as I have been curious about working in this medium for some time and had already begun researching the basics.
The gig started out as the musical score only, but has evolved into undertaking all sound responsibilities with the exception of location recordings during filming. It’s been a great crash course on all the different sound tasks of a film, which has proved to be both fun and frustrating. Shortly after beginning work on the film, a longtime friend and collaborator Jason McLaughlin joined me in the project as he shared the same curiosity of film sound. Having played music together for more than 10 years without any formal musical training, our scoring style has turned out to be more instinctual, much like the way we approached our music in the past.
The resulting vibe of the score is musically minimalistic, but offers some unique soundscapes and crescendos. Anytime we tried to get too melodic, it just felt out of place. I’m a huge fan of LFE (low-frequency effects), so certain scenes have adopted a huge bottom end. This kind of stuff isn’t really audible on a laptop or ear buds, but is apparent in a theatre/home theatre environment. With the location recordings being hissy and thin, it really helped round out the sound. We also employed different atmospheric sounds and reverbs to further fill the environments.
“On a small budget production it made the most sense for me to handle all of the audio, giving me the utmost flexibility when mixing it all together.”
I have been using Pro Tools to produce music since 2008 so it has been an easy transition into a film workflow (especially running HD). The film’s running time is 27 minutes and we broke the movie into small sessions, averaging 4-5 minutes in length. This taxes the system far less when you start running a lot of instances of VI’s and really helps keep each scene in focus. After finishing a scene, we bounce it to a stereo stem for reference and start a fresh session. On a small budget production it made the most sense for me to handle all of the audio, doing so gave me the utmost flexibility when mixing it all together. The micro sessions provide a healthy amount of computer resources per scene, allowing for score, environmental, dialogue and Foley sounds to be all handled effectively inside of one session.
As I write this, we have completed the score. Work has now begun on environmental and dialogue clean up and additional Foley recordings. We hope to have the final mix ready soon. In the meantime, I invite you to watch the trailer of ‘P.O.W’:
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