A writer observes the making of her friend's movie: watching Moze Mossanen's Canadian dance film, Roxana, come to life.

Location: Ontario, Canada

A Canadian writer, story editor and teacher of film and theology. Looking to integrate spirituality and the arts in a celebration and love of visual and written language.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

a new year and a new phase

The tree is down, the last of the turkey soup is in the freezer, the new year is here and a new phase of production is underway for Roxana. Post-production has officially begun. After the adrenalin rush of the 13 day shoot in December, most of the principals slipped away into the holiday rush, whether here or on neighbouring farms, or off onto new projects or in the case of both Roberto and Greta separately - to Italy! The intensity of the shoot has played itself out against the festival haze of the holiday season. Suddenly, January is here and time to get back to the important work that awaits.

The footage has all been viewed by Moze and Jeff Bessner, the editor, and shipped off to Alexina Louie and Alex Pauk who are completing their work on the scoring for the film. Some time in the future Moze and Roberto and Jeff and Stephen will meet to discuss what the film will now look like, how it will hang together. Although the script is still the firm guide, each phase of a movie production involves a new stage of revisioning. Did the story get captured? Has the camera found the emotional line of the film? What should the pacing be? The answers to these fundamental questions are all known and also ready for reinvention.

I checked in with Moze on Tuesday to hear his thoughts. Meanwhile, partly as a nod to nostalgia (nostalgia after three weeks?) and also to keep a sense of connectedness to the whole process of the movie making, I've decided to put up here some of the pix I took during rehearsal and production that never made it into the blog.

Here's Moze:
The next stage will be, in fact, quite interesting as Alexina and Alex will be writing new music based on all the tracks we used for rehearsals and shooting. There’s likely going to be a great deal of adjustment through trial and error for everybody but given how well this process has gone in the past for me, I’m confident it’ll all turn out OK. Once the final music is recorded, Jeff will cut the dances to the new music. It’s a highly unusual and unorthodox way of working, as almost every film has the final music recorded or at least composed before shooting the dances. After this is over, I can really say “well, I’ve done it ALL!” Well…, not quite.

Editing will continue through January and February and the first half of March before the sound designer, Alan Geldart takes over. Alan will be responsible for re-recording all the dialogue (ADR) spoken in the film as is the custom these days and creating all the sound effects such as doors opening and closing, phones ringing, street noises, cars passing as well as other more abstract sound elements (distortions in ambient noises) that will create the unique soundscape that is Roxana’s alone.

Some of this work will also be shared by our Foley artist who will work on the foot sounds, including all those made by the dancers during their dancing. I’ve made a promise to myself to attend one of these sessions as I can’t imagine what that would look like – a man, most likely a non-dancer – looking at the screen and trying to duplicate the precise brushes, slides and staccato like noises of the dancers’ feet! At this time Alexina and Alex will also start composing all the interconnecting music which ties the dramatic and musical sequences together. This is a somewhat daunting task as they will have to find seamless ways of integrating all the dramatic music with the dance sections, an undertaking even more impressive when you realize the entire film is supported by music, much like a symphony. Eventually, all the sound elements – dialogue, music and sound effects – will get mixed to one master track and then married to the onlined, colour-corrected master of the picture. Our delivery date is scheduled for the middle of April 2006. And this will be the first year in a long, long time where the film hasn’t been directly broadcast after delivery which will give me the chance to enter it, hopefully, in some festivals. (As you may know, most festivals in Canada don’t screen material that have already been broadcast.).

So,... first up: the dramatic sequences. These mostly small scenes in which characters engage each other in corridors, bedrooms, sidewalks, are like little bridges holding the islands of the dance narrative together. They can be cut together without music and so can happen now. I can only imagine what it will be like after that to have the music suddenly fill the frame and the same characters animate and come more viscerally and physically to life. It won't likely happen til February - but I can't wait!


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