John's Studio News, Part 2

I'm back with part 2 of my look behind the scenes at what goes in to making an independent animated feature.  Last time I talked about getting grant money and running a successful Kickstarter campaign, but what comes after that?  What happens after some production money comes in?  

I think most people might be familiar with the plot of "The Producers", where a Broadway impresario and his nebbishy accountant raise a ton of money to produce a play, then realize they'd be better off in making the worst play ever, and keeping all the money when it fails.  As tempting as that may seem, thankfully the world of filmmaking is not like that.  I imagine that there's more of a responsibility to spend the money wisely, because now that there's a community that has expressed interest in contributing to a film's success, the real-life producers now have a renewed determination to make the best film that they can. 

Some of the Kickstarter rewards packed up and ready for mailing...

Some of the Kickstarter rewards packed up and ready for mailing...

The first few months after the Kickstarter campaign were spent mailing out as many of the rewards as possible.  I've seen other campaigns take months or even a year to start sending out rewards, but Signe wanted to get going on that right away.  So some of the pledge money that came from Kickstarter went to creating the reward items and buying mailing supplies and postage.  Then it was time to focus on production, getting things into a higher gear.  

The "LOVE CARDS" that were part of the Kickstarter Rewards sent to backers.

The "LOVE CARDS" that were part of the Kickstarter Rewards sent to backers.

Most of the money raised on Kickstarter was spent on recording the film's soundtrack, which will be a combination of spoken dialogue and songs.  So there were costs for recording studios, sound engineers, the composer's fee for creating the songs, and then the actors' fees. Some of the cast members were based in Los Angeles, so that meant travel expenses for Signe and Sturgis to supervise the recording of their parts, as well as the costs of a second studio and recording engineer in California.  

Signe Baumane and Sturgis Warner during the West Coast actor recording sessions.

Signe Baumane and Sturgis Warner during the West Coast actor recording sessions.

The production went through the Screen Actors Guild to secure the best possible voice talent for "My Love Affair With Marriage". (I could probably write an entire blog post about dealing with SAG, that should probably be my next topic...) And part of hiring union actors means payroll taxes, contributions to pension funds, workers compensation insurance, and so on.  I'll get into more detail on this next time.

Sound designer Jeffrey Roy during the voice recording session at 3rd St. ADR in Santa Monica.

Sound designer Jeffrey Roy during the voice recording session at 3rd St. ADR in Santa Monica.

18 actors recorded their roles in April 2017 in New York, another 6 were recorded in May in California, and the last two in June and August.  Signe and Sturgis were on hand for the entire sessions, to give the performers direction and the background information about the story to get all of these pieces of dialogue right, and then came the task of assembling all of these pieces into a soundtrack, much like a giant jigsaw puzzle. 

It took several weeks of working with editor Arjun Sheth to select the best takes and put them together with the temporary versions of the songs composed by Kristian Sensini (who also created music for "Rocks in My Pockets") but as a result, it seems that the film's English soundtrack is nearly complete. (A Latvian version will come later...)  

Editor Arjun Sheth putting the best dialogue takes together at Final Frame.

Editor Arjun Sheth putting the best dialogue takes together at Final Frame.

It's a little strange to think that right now, you could listen to the whole film of "My Love Affair With Marriage", and not see anything.  Film is a visual medium first, but the sound also plays an important role, and I guess you've got to start somewhere, right?.  Now the arduous task of creating images to go with all of these sounds can begin, but that's a good thing to talk about next time.