We finished post-production three weeks ago. A half hour later, when it was at last safe to, I got sick. Sprawl-on-the-couch-for-weeks, hack-up-a-lung sick. The doctor called it a bacterial sinus infection. I call it giving everything you have to a film for years, so there’s nothing left to hold you up when it’s over.
Some people like to talk about having skin in the game. I have skin in this game. And bones. And other assorted body parts, or their metaphorical equivalents. That’s how important it was for me to make The Wasting.
Back a few Septembers ago, when I decided to stop waiting for permission to make my film, and just make it, I wasn’t even sure why I’d waited so long, except that it was The Way Things Are Done. Suddenly, that seemed dumb. The Way Things Are Done isn’t a good model for a lot of people – filmmakers or otherwise - and it definitely wasn’t working for me.
People, including the permission-givers, liked my script. But between the hemming and the hawing over this being my first crack at directing a feature (despite all the related stuff I’d done) it looked like it might take 400 years to get the cameras rolling. Who has 400 years? Not me. I’d already put in the time upfront to create a solid script with the principles of low-budget filmmaking in mind. It was time to pull the trigger.
So I did. I’m happy I did, because now I have a finished film, and it’s quite beautiful and we are all very proud of it. But I’ll tell you, I had to put so much skin in this game that I’m holding myself together with binder twine and tight dresses.
I sold half my worldly goods to pay to shoot a trailer that helped to raise private financing. I can’t say enough good things about those investors/exec producers. I ran a crowdfunding campaign, a job that consumed four months of my life. I can’t say enough good things about our supporters, but man, I hope I never have to crowdfund again. What a tough slog! I spent two years giving 18-hour days to this film. If you do the maths, you’ll know that left six hours for sleep. I gave up other work to focus on this, I gave up my house, I slept on couches for months, all to make this work.
This isn’t particularly unusual, by the way. This is how indie films get made. (Useful knowledge to have if you are right now 20 years old and trying to choose between film school and accounting.)
I wasn’t alone. I had two super producing partners who are still working hard so that you, gentle reader, can see The Wasting on the big screen. I had a crew that went to the wall for this film, an editor that dug in and dug in and dug in till we had it right, an online post team that worked overtime to make it look and sound gorgeous.
Without them, I might be dead, rather than just skinless.
And you know what? I would do it
all again. And when you see
The Wasting, you’ll know why. It
was worth every
scraped-away dermal layer. And
I can’t wait to start my next film.
Somebody hand me the potato peeler.
…she ends up with a film that looks awesome.
That's right. The film is finished.
I just spent two weeks at Rev 13 Films with our rather amazing colourist Tony Manolikakis, throwing in my two cents as he created the last piece of the beautiful puzzle that’s consumed my life for three years. We screened the final version last Friday, and I’m over-the-moon happy.
The colour enhances everything. It takes us on the emotional journey through the film. It defines the story in all its stages. It is integral and stunning. It isn’t just about Tony’s technical skill, it’s about his understanding of the film, his creativity and his collaboration with me and our DOP, Michal Wisniowksi.
I’m so pleased with the whole experience, I made a dorky little journal of what my those lazy crazy colour-grading days in Montreal looked like:
• DOP weighs in. He’s in Poland, but his ideas carry weight all the way across the wide Sargasso Sea.
• VFX guy Nick Fodor does a cool thing for a scene with Sophie and Liam that makes us want to stand up and cheer.
• DOP says “hey, about the final scene! Do this!”
• We do. It is good. No, great.
• Screen final version. High five Tony.
• Take exactly four seconds to think “wow, we did it!”
• Go back to House of Rosé and sprawl on the couch, too overwhelmingly exhausted from this journey to move, speak or comprehend the enormity of what we’ve done, let alone drink wine.
• Get over it. Drink wine.
Who knew sound mattered so much? Okay, probably anyone who saw Valhalla Rising, but really, I’ve been bowled over by the latest development from the murky and mysterious land of post-production.
Our sound mix is done! And it’s brilliant!
When we sat in playback last week and I got to hear what they’d done, I realized that all this time, half my movie had been missing. Jam Post found it, and everything is elevated. Whole scenes have taken on a deeper meaning because of Mark Shnuriwsky’s clever sound design and Steph Carrier’s delicate hand on the mix. (I’m talking to you, anorexic girl dancing scene)
Sound effects, dialogue, music, and foley have solidified the tone of the film and given an immutable shape to this thing that once only existed as an amorphous blob of words on my laptop screen.
Along with Steph and co-owners Janice Ierulli (supervising sound editor) and the aforementioned Mark, there’s a whole big crew that had a hand in our post audio and it looks like this:
Nadya Hanlon ... sound effects editor
Heather Kirby ... dialogue and music editor
Vladimir Borissov ... sound effects editor
Matthew Hussey ... dialogue editor
Dave Johnson ... dialogue editor
John Sievert ... foley artist
Clive Turner ... sound effects editor
Brandon Bak ... foley mixer/recordist
Thank you, gang. We are most pleased.
So here we are, deep in the heart of post-production. So much to tell, but so little time because…post-production.
Everybody keeps asking “when is that movie of yours going to be done?” It’s like when you’re nine months pregnant and everybody keeps asking when that baby’s going to pop. The answer is “Pass me a sandwich, and one of those nice pickles. Oh, and a bucket of coffee, please. Because I haven’t had time to eat or sleep this week."
Been busy looking at stuff like this (eyes right)
So here’s what you need to know about how we're doing...
Yes, post-production takes long time. So do babies. But in the end, they’re both worth it. And unlike babies, The Wasting won’t throw up on you.
I love my crew. I keep saying it, and everybody wants to know why. So I’ll tell you, one blog at a time.
Anna’s Greatest Challenge: That time she arrived by train and there was a problem with the car picking her up and she sat for an hour in the dark at a tiny deserted station in the middle of nowhere, with nobody around except probably whatever bit the American Werewolf in London and turned him into a werewolf, lo, those many years ago. Like everything, Anna took it all in stride.
Anna’s Hidden Talent: Taking pictures. She took the most gorgeous behind-the-scenes photos, and we didn’t even know she was doing it.
What Anna is Always Game For: Pretty much anything. Fishing props out of a river in the rain. Scary things in scary cellars. Getting her hands dirty. And my favourite - Zombie attack on the director’s car.
I'm the writer-director and more or less the mother of this film.