Thursday, August 18, 2011

Getting Wild


          After a film is shot, some folks may be surprised to learn the drama, in fact, continues.  It’s called “post production”, but it might as well be called “A Nightmare on Film Street”.  This is because it’s the phase where all those miles of footage have to be sewn together to (hopefully) make an awe-inspiring Frankenstein monster; a coherent, engaging story with the sounds and visuals working together to create movie magic.  It’s where you discover all the missing links, the bumps, the flaws…and painstakingly toil to make it all into a work of art. 

          One of the more common issues is finding that the take with the perfect visuals doesn’t have the best sound.  That’s when ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) happens.  Actors are brought back to re-record the lines that need to be cleaner.  It’s a little like lip-synching.  Think of those drag queens in “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” moving their lips to Gloria Gaynor singing “I Will Survive”.   It’s just like that that, only in reverse.  And without scary wigs.  The footage is played and you say the lines while your screen image moves his mouth. 

          Now that’s for re-recording lines that were already in the film.  Sometimes, you record new lines:  lines that help make a scene feel more fleshed out and realistic, lines that help close a lapse in exposition, lines that just bump up a joke or something.  These are called “wild” lines.  I did a whole slew of these for “Camp Virginovich”, a teen sex comedy in the vein of the “American Pie” movies.  I sat with the director and editor as we recorded handfuls of lines for various reasons.  They were all funny lines, but I noticed some of them augmented my character’s slightly inappropriate horn-dog behavior.  While my character may have had a wandering eye or hand, now and then, he was still basically a nice guy.  Now, even if they only use half of what we recorded, my character may go from goofy to creepy!  The great thing is, both actually suit the script, since my son’s a horn-dog as well, so it’s a win either way. 

          But that’s a hint of the magic of post production:  your character can change, scenes can disappear…all kinds of surprises for the cast at the premier.  I’ve had my share; it’s all part of the fun. 

          So keep your eyes open for “Camp Virginovich”.  It’ll be amusing to see what I’ve become; what the entire movie has become.   Just be warned:  it’s gonna be wild!