Post for a short film in NYC

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Posted · Report post

Hi,

 

I'm a boom operator in L.A. and post sound is outside of my experience. A friend in NYC recently shot a 20 minute short for about $30k. She was able to get an excellent cast of well known NYC television and theater actors and got a good DP who brought his crew on so things went well on the 3-4 day shoot which was in one location.

 

The picture is locked and now she needs to post the sound. She had budgeted $1000 and asked me if it was possible to get an experienced person for that budget. Frankly I have no idea. Any advice that I can pass on to her would be much appreciated.

 

Thanks,

Richard Bullock

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Posted · Report post

All she has to do is find a capable, experienced freelance post sound person with their own foley and mix stage who'll work three months for $2 an hour.

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It's unlikely you'll find a professional who would touch it for $1000. I don't know that you'll even find a competent amateur. At this level of filmmaking you're looking for someone who doesn't make a living doing it professionally. It's someone who will reap personal rewards and potentially some career benefits by doing post audio for your project. This is a stepping stone project.

 

I did location and post audio for a 16 minute short that a friend who wrote, directed, and picture-edited it. Over a month's time on-and-off I edited, recorded sfx, and mixed the sound. It turned out well and played at Raindance Film Festival in London last fall.

 

Shoot budget: $0

Post budget: $0

Time well spent: definitely

 

I'm happy with the results, proud of my work, and it has reaped rewards for me beyond monetary. I got to work with friends and had a great time at the film festival. That doesn't mean you shouldn't pay for good work, or even that $1000 is enough of a budget, because it's not. Sometimes it's all about finding the right person who will do it for what it is worth to them.

 

Good luck with your project and be sure to post back in this thread with the progress,

 

Mark O.

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Posted · Report post

Short answer... no.

 

Depending on the quality of production sound and her needs sound FX wise, she would need at least 3x that for just the dialogue/FX edit.  Another $1000-$1500 for foley/ADR, and $1000-$1500 for a full 5.1 mix.  And all of that would be done in home studios.  Double that if she wants it done at a real audio post facility.

 

Now, if she goes around on craigslist with that budget, she will get a ton of responses... but not an "experienced" person.

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Posted · Report post

What pedantic said.

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As Mark said, it may be possible to find an experienced pro, with facility, who's got some time and loves the project (or the filmmaker) and is willing to work for bargain-basement prices. I've certainly done my share of those. 

 

Yes, don't expect full foley or ADR, or tremendously detailed sfx sweetening. But if the dialog is recorded decently and not XXd up in the edit and the picture is fully locked, then doing a dialog edit, premix, sfx sweeps, and mix on a 20 minute film isn't impossible for that price... IF you find that pro who's willing to contribute a big chunk. It can happen.

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She needs to find a small-time solo-operator with some time on their hands, who likes the film and sees its possibilities.  A fair amount of networking will be required to find this person, but in NYC it should be able to happen.  She should expect to have to be patient (the soundie will have to do other work to keep the lights on) and her expectations of mixing in a real dubstage should be mitigated.  They should realize that what they are paying (if the soundie has any experience at all) is kind of a thank you gift, not part of a real business deal.

 

philp

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Mark wrote:

> I got to work with friends...

 

I'll help out friends for free on their passion projects, but I'm much less likely to work for free or super-cheap for someone I don't know. If she can't find a friend who's willing to help (or an interested, experienced, and willing stranger), maybe she could try to raise a little more money. If picture is locked, then should could try showing it to friends, having a fundraising house party, appeal to individual donors (but not the cast & crew...they've already given enough, presumably). Maybe apply for finishing funds, but that could take a long while.

 

Here's some basic fundraising info on the site of Women Make Movies (a NYC-based group that I hear good things about, btw):

 

http://www.wmm.com/filmmakers/members/sponsored_fundraising.shtml

 

I mean, if she could get $5,000 she'll have a better shot at a mix that does justice to everyone's hard work.

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Posted · Report post

Sorry, I missed the fact that it was only a 20 minute film. So, my calculations above are way off. She needs to find someone who'll work a month for about $6/hour.

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I personally still don't up understand propel who make movies without any money. I really don't.

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Because they want to make movies, and they don't have any money.

 

Other people put on plays for no money, or write poems, or paint...

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Because they want to make movies, and they don't have any money.

Other people put on plays for no money, or write poems, or paint...

Yes, but they don't expect to get a major theater for free to put on their play, or get free paper to write their poems on, or go to a paint store and ask for free canvasses, paint and paint brushes.

I have hobbies. But I don't expect other people to foot the bill for me.

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Agreed, Mr Henchman. They don't expect a major theater or free paper. But they do get together with other unpaid actors / directors / decorators, raise enough money to rent the lights and print a program, and put their show on in a church basement. Or they pay for their paper and dictionary, but gather with other unpaid poets at a coffeehouse for mutual criticism and review, and maybe raise enough money to photocopy a small quarterly magazine.

 

And there's nothing in that formula saying their play or poem is necessarily worse than some of the stuff that makes it to Broadway or the pages of the New Yorker. Odds are the better playwrights and actors and poets are getting paid, once they paid their dues and learned their skills. And odds are they've hooked up with other professionals who have also paid their dues, and expect to get paid, who will do a great job with with the lighting or magazine design. Or sound editing.  But there's nothing inherent in the process that says the amateur stuff must be bad just because it's not paying full freight.

 

 

So if some filmmakers raise just enough to pay for the stuff that can't be contributed, and have managed to put together a good story and good actors, and shoot and record it well, and cut it in a way that makes sense... why shouldn't they look for someone who'll mix it at a cut rate?

 

It's not like they're forcing you or anybody else to accept that rate. And maybe they'll find a newbie who'll hone their skills on this job, and eventually become a pro with something to contribute to the art. Maybe, even, they'll find an experienced pro who's got some downtime and likes their film, and wants to give them a break.

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There are times when making less money is a better option than making no money at all.

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I'm not saying they shouldn't. But then they shouldn't expect more than an inexperienced amateur to finish the job.
And shooting is the least of time needed when filming no budget shorts.
Doing a proper sound edit, sounddesign, dialog edit and mix of a 20 minute short is more than a couple of days work, as you know.

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The only time I've seen these LOL (labor of love) films turn out any good is when the film maker is a jack of all trades and is willing to put in the time him or her self and use there contacts and favors wisely to get them over the rough spots they can't figure out and do themselves. Even then the movie will be less than professionally polished. Hopefully for them they told a story worth telling well enough to keep the audience involved until the end credits roll. I'm all for people trying to make something,  but they need to be realistic about what can be done for little or no money. Doc's are the easiest to make for the least money and man power IMO.

CrewC

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I find the posts in this thread so interesting. It seems there is a huge difference in the budget expectations of film making between the US and Australia (which is no secret), especially in the indie market which we're talking about.

I've worked on over 20 short films in my very limited career so far, usually doing the location and post sound work all myself. Not one of the films I've worked on had a budget anywhere near to $30k and of course a lot of them leave a lot to be desired once finished! However a lot of them are also amazing films and have played in festivals across the world.

Budget isn't everything and certainly isn't required to produce a professional quality film, especially if you have a passionate and committed crew.

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> if you have a passionate and committed crew. 

 

Sounds like in this case, there isn't anyone on the crew with solid audio post experience. If the filmmaker can't find someone to provide that service for free, she's going to need to pay. And this thread has provided some useful thoughts on dealing with that.

 

 

But again, filmmaking is the new rock-and-roll. When people form bands, or post notices that they need a drummer, they expect respondents to provide craft and equipment for free. That same approach is now pervasive in the indie film world. That's all fine; like with most bands, that sort of filmmaking is a passionate hobby. I have nothing against passionate hobbies, but I have bills to pay and a family to raise. I can't work every free gig that comes my way (though as I said, I do work a few gratis gigs). 

 

Budget isn't everything, but it is something.

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> if you have a passionate and committed crew. 

 

Sounds like in this case, there isn't anyone on the crew with solid audio post experience. If the filmmaker can't find someone to provide that service for free, she's going to need to pay. And this thread has provided some useful thoughts on dealing with that.

 

 

But again, filmmaking is the new rock-and-roll. When people form bands, or post notices that they need a drummer, they expect respondents to provide craft and equipment for free. That same approach is now pervasive in the indie film world. That's all fine; like with most bands, that sort of filmmaking is a passionate hobby. I have nothing against passionate hobbies, but I have bills to pay and a family to raise. I can't work every free gig that comes my way (though as I said, I do work a few gratis gigs). 

 

Budget isn't everything, but it is something.

Agreed on all points :)

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> if you have a passionate and committed crew. 

 

Sounds like in this case, there isn't anyone on the crew with solid audio post experience. If the filmmaker can't find someone to provide that service for free, she's going to need to pay. And this thread has provided some useful thoughts on dealing with that.

 

 

But again, filmmaking is the new rock-and-roll. When people form bands, or post notices that they need a drummer, they expect respondents to provide craft and equipment for free. That same approach is now pervasive in the indie film world. That's all fine; like with most bands, that sort of filmmaking is a passionate hobby. I have nothing against passionate hobbies, but I have bills to pay and a family to raise. I can't work every free gig that comes my way (though as I said, I do work a few gratis gigs). 

 

Budget isn't everything, but it is something.

There is a very important distinction between a band in the traditional rock and roll sense and a film crew.  On a film there is a director (and producer)--the film is considered "their" film.  A band is still supposed to be some kind of democracy, with all voices taken seriously during discussion (and argument).   The music the band makes is "our" music made by "our" band.  In practice most bands are run by two central people, but the culture of bands still supports the idea of a democratic process.  That kind of process has never existed in filmmaking, with a few notable exceptions (SLORN, CineManifest etc). The organization of indie film projects pretty much reflects those of more commercial Hollywood style projects.  IE, the sound guy doesn't get to be involved in script, casting, art direction etc discussions.  This is the source of our amusement when confronted with famous indie-producer lines during the interview like "we're all doing this for the love of cinema" etc etc..

 

philp

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Clearly Phil has better luck with lead vocalists than I had :-)

 

I certainly agree about difference between a band and a film crew. 

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I'd like to add more to this, but for the moment there's something that I was more bothered about - those with the same "love and awards" attitude but in the context of producing features (sorry if it's a bit off topic). It would help if somebody could make a further distinction here.

Firstly, like jdutaillis, I'm from Australia (Sydney). What I don't understand is when I come across the odd 'audio job' post online (they're so rare that it's fine to call them that), I may read into it how great the producers are and what magnificent work they've done, you know, winning awards and counting films, all the wonderful recognition. Then read the job description - yes there's plenty to do. Then at the bottom 'This is unpaid however...'.

Maybe this isn't as common as it seems, but it just shocks me that such companies can get so far in the industry and still think there's no need to pay for sound, maybe even a score too.

Doesn't help when I, too, would like to get an idea of any consensus in budgets and charging people. Even when people have a budget, by US' perspective it's not even worth anything, but besides that I have no room to even think about how many hours spent on edit vs design vs mix etc. Basically just do what you have to. Sorry to say.

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You could find a college with a stellar production/audio program and contact the department chair.  Talk about your project and see if they could suggest the "best" students, both technically and craft-wise.  There are over-achievers out there who are passionate about working on something, and money is a bonus at the college level.  When I was in college there were a group of audio and film students (15 of us total out of about 2000 students) who actually planned on working in the industry and not just wasting there money on tuition and partying.  We all got hired at mid-senior level positions while in our senior semesters at high end production houses and recording studios.  So its possible to find someone, maybe, but for $1000 you really get what you pay for.   

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What I don't understand is when... how great the producers are and what magnificent work they've done, you know, winning awards and counting films, all the wonderful recognition...
 it just shocks me that such companies can get so far in the industry and still think there's no need to pay for sound,

 

The ones I've seen, the 'awards' and 'recognition' are definitely minor (small college film festival, exhibited on local cable, hundreds of hits on their own website...)

 

They actually haven't gotten very far in the industry. But really really want to, and know this one unfunded film will be their ticket to success!

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" So if some filmmakers raise just enough to pay for the stuff that can't
be contributed, and have managed to put together a good story and good
actors, and shoot and record it well, and cut it in a way that makes
sense... why shouldn't they look for someone who'll mix it at a cut
rate?
"

well, OK, as long as they shot it on a RED

 

actually Crew said it well...

 

" I may read into it how great the producers are and what magnificent
work they've done, you know, winning awards and counting films, all the
wonderful recognition. Then read the job description - yes there's
plenty to do. Then at the bottom 'This is unpaid however...'.
"

if their movies were so good they won awards, then they should be able to start paying to make them...;

" it just shocks me that such companies can get so far in the industry and
still think there's no need to pay for sound, maybe even a score too.
"

me too...

" They actually haven't gotten very far in the industry. But really really want to, and know this one unfunded film will be their ticket to success! "

serial crew abusers!

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