Before moving out to Los Angeles, I had the same day job for eleven years. For most of it I had the same shift, 7am to 3pm. Some people were there for the entire time and some were only there for a few months, but you feel this bond when you work with someone. They become friends, and can be close to you in a way that friends of your choosing are not because you see them everyday. When I left, I felt a profound sadness that these relationships would never quite be the same. How could you duplicate a bond of months or years in weeks or sometimes days?
Well kind reader, I can report that film is different. Even in my brief experience on film sets, I learned that I can feel a bond with people in a matter of days, and when you get a call sheet and see a familiar name, you get genuinely excited. It's like when you come into the restaurant and see your work-bestie has the same shift. A few months back I had the pleasure of doing sound on two different shorts, and between the two there was a lot of carry over in the crews. The worries I had previously, over these two shorts was wiped away.
The first of the films to shoot was "Peephole" which was directed by Masha Gerasymiuk. One of the first people I saw when walking on set was Kevin Roy, who I worked with on "The Snooty Mass Murderer." We caught up quickly, before I went around introducing myself and setting up my kit. The shoot was great, and it gave me the opportunity to shoot on my first sound stage. When it was done, only four days later, I had that feeling again: these people are friends now, and I'm going to miss not working with them for longer.
In my short time in LA I have been very lucky to work with such skilled artists and incredible talents. Even luckier though I have had the chance of being surrounded by nice, genuine, and lovely people as well. One of those people was Meng Yu who was working in production design and was about to shoot her own short, and asked if I would do sound for her as well.
On Meng's shoot "Mea Culpa," I worked with a lot of the same people I had with on Masha's set: Kevin Roy was back as AD, Sierra Barton was doing hair and make-up, Josh Chan was producing, and Masha was on set script supervising. It just feels so wonderful to see everyone, and the bond that you feel on set is just incredible.
To deviate for just a second, I would like to get a little wonky about sound because I feel like this could be valuable advice to any sound mixers who may be reading this. The location we were shooting on was a small grocery store. When we arrived there the first day, I was told that all the fridges could be unplugged during shooting. Soon though, we found that only some would be able to be unplugged, and some would have to remain on. For the sound guy, this can be a big problem; but not every project has the means to shoot in a perfectly quiet set. This is when it's important to roll with the punches. Figure out what can be done to minimize the noise as much as humanly possible, and trust the numbers. There were times when this one fridge would kick on and it sounded loud on set, but I would monitor the lavs and find that they only were picking up to -30db. It gave me confidence to explain a low pass filter could help hide that, and keep us moving through out the day.
Another thing I got to try with this shoot was an idea I had for the lav placement on the two actors who were our robbers. I wanted to try and get clean vocals while still getting the sound of the mask so I positioned the mics and the packs inside the masks. When I was listening on set, I really liked how it came across, and was very curious how it would play in the final version.
Coming full circle, last night was the premiere for five of these shorts, all produced by New York Film Academy Masters of Fine Arts students. In addition to "Peephole" and "Mea Culpa," my friend Motaz was screening his film "Heavy Rain," and a couple people I had worked with on other projects were working on "Cowboy." Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed by the final products all of these filmmakers were able to create. "Mea Culpa" was showed first, and I was excited to hear it sounding so great! Even with so many variables on set, like the fridges and my lav experiment; the final product sounds just fantastic. The whole film turned out wonderful (not just the sound) and I am so excited to share it with you all at some point in the future.
The next film that showed was "Peephole" so I got to see both of my contributions right up front. Again, I was so happy with how the whole thing sounded and was stoked that I was able to add to the team effort that was these flicks. Both of these films mean a lot to me, and I'm proud that they both turned out so well. When you are in the trenches with people that you like, working long 12 hour days to create something enjoyable; there is really nothing better.
Speaking of relationships that you develop, it was a great joy to be there to see my dear friend Motaz screen his film as well. There are blogs going back to 2013 where I talk about my friendship with Motaz. He is a joyous man, and he always brings smiles where ever he goes. His film "Heavy Rain" was much darker than his radiant personality, but it was beautiful. I told him afterwards, I look back on the places we have been and the improvements we have made as filmmakers and get excited at the potential for the future.
At the end of the night there were many hugs, and exclamations of mutual admiration for the ability and generous nature of others. I couldn't have imagined a moment in time like the one I got to experience last night a year ago. I am just so happy to be making films and being a part of so many wonderful projects. No matter what heights my career takes from here, I sincerely hope I see your names on my call sheet once again.