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The 10 Commandments of Movie Viewing

(Article Source)
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(Editor’s note [and by "editor" I mean "me" (Josh Porter)]: Though the over-arching message of this rant is sincere, the curmudgeonliness and vitriol exist for comedic purposes only. In other words: I’m not actually angry. It’s supposed to be funny. Because this is the internet, I have to specify.)

10. Thou shalt leave thy phone at the door

As we will further illustrate along the way, a movie cannot be experienced if you are not watching it. If you are checking in on social media and drafting texts throughout the film, you are not watching the film.

Is your attention span so horrifically decrepit that dedicating an hour and a half to flashing images and loud noises is simply too much to bear? Is one screen simply not enough to satisfy your insatiable lust for media? Or has your life shriveled to such a depressing state of emptiness that the running time of a movie is unendurable without a peek at Instagram or Facebook?

Turn your phone off and put it down! Any life and death matter that can only come to you via your smartphone will be there when you turn it back on. It can wait a couple of hours. If you expect that your phone may absolutely demand your attention, what are you doing watching a movie?

A film is often a complicated and nuanced thing, even a lot of the bad ones. The fifteen seconds you spend staring down at twitter may provide a pivotal glimpse into the plot that drastically alters the trajectory of the entire story, but you just missed it because you needed to see a photo of your friend’s latté? You don’t care about this movie. Why are you watching it?

Not to mention the fact that your glowing screen and the twitching blur of your thumbs is distracting me. Now I can’t enjoy the movie. I’m no longer fully immersed because of your carelessness! Turn off your phone!

09. Thou shalt not commentate

I bypassed the commentary track from the director himself, why in the world do I need a running commentary from you? Virtually all the information in the world is available to me (after the movie) via this thing called the Internet. I don’t care how exciting it is for you to possess the inside knowledge, I don’t want director cameos pointed out by you, I don’t need to hear the urban myth about the light that fell on the grip, I don’t want to know about how it’s different from the book, I just want to watch the dang movie.

My suspension of disbelief is upheld by a magical—albeit fragile—thread when I come before the silver screen. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I probably indulge in pointless movie trivia more than a dozen of the average joes, but I don’t do it while the movie is playing.

Be quiet! There’s a movie on!

And for the love of God, don’t recite your favorite lines in tandem with the actors.

08. Thou shalt not critique

I don’t even care what professional critics have to say in major publications about movies, why should I hear from you? Every time you point out how fake a visual effect looks, every time you groan and grunt at what you perceive to be holes in the plot, every time you laugh at scenes intended to scare, you shatter the illusion the movie is meant to create!

I know it’s not real dangit. I’m trying to, in a sense, pretend like it is in order to immerse myself in the movie’s story. I want to be scared when the movie wants me to be scared and I want to be caught up in the plot when the movie aims to make it so. That’s what enjoying fiction is all about! I’m almost thirty years old, it’s hard enough to get my mode going good enough to believe the Avengers can communicate with one another when there are clearly no comm devices in their ears, I sure as heck can’t pretend when you sigh dramatically and point it out to me.

07. Thou shalt not forsake the viewing

Oh, you have to pee? Really? You didn’t realize this when we hit play? You can’t possibly last another half hour? Please, by all means, get up and walk past me at the most dramatic, crucial and/or terrifying moment in the film. And wait, what’s that? You don’t want us to pause it for you? Why the heck not? Because you don’t care about movies.

Use the bathroom, changeover your laundry, get a glass of water, etc. before or after the movie has ended but never during it. If you don’t watch the movie, you don’t watch the movie. I know you aren’t answering your phone, because you turned it off before the movie started, right?

06. Thou shalt not conversate

Shut up. Both of you. The movie requires silence to cast its wonderful illusory magic spell on us. Your audible conversation reminds me that it is not actually a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It’s actually here and now, next to two yahoos talking about where they’re going for dinner.

05. Thou shalt not divide thy focus

I thought mentioning the phone would be enough, but clearly it was not. If you are reading a book, poking around on your laptop, thumbing through a magazine or doing anything other than watching the movie, then you are—by definition—not watching the movie. And if you’re not watching the movie, what the heck are you doing here?

04. Thou shalt react respectfully

That scene was funny, so go ahead and laugh. And yes, this scene is terrifying, so a gasp is appropriate. You know what, I appreciate that you’re invested in the movie. Okay… That’s enough. Wait, what did that character just say? I couldn’t hear because the chump next to me is still laughing.

03. Remember the viewing atmosphere, to keep it holy

Ahhh the movie atmopshere. What a wonderful thing. The lights go down, all distractions are put away, the volume is turned up, and everyone sits still and stops talking while we venture into the fictional world that the movie creates.

If only it were always so.

When you get up, walk around, fidget, make a sandwich in the kitchen, switch on a lamp, etc. you destroy the magic. You destroy it. And maybe the magic isn’t important to you, buster, but it sure as heck is important to me.

02. If the movie has not been properly viewed, thou waiveth thy right to any opinion on said movie

So you didn’t like the movie? Is that what you’re saying? I’m curious about this assessment, because, if I recall, while the movie was playing you were looking at your phone, conversing with your friends and getting up to pee. Why, you didn’t really see the movie at all. As such, you are allowed no opinion about the movie whatsoever.

After all, the film’s important twist was revealed while you were staring down at Instagram. You missed the funniest line because you were talking over it, and you didn’t see that one guy die because you were in the bathroom. You didn’t see the movie.

Oh, you saw most of it, you say? You got the gist, you say? Hilarious. I’d like to see you skim a handful of chapters from Crime and Punishment and then pass a test on it.

01. All thoughts on the movie from someone who has seen the movie are spoilers. THOU SHALT NEVER EVER SPEAK SPOILERS.

“The ending blew my mind!”

“It was actually really sad.”

“I didn’t like the way it ended.”

I am perpetually flabbergasted by not only the lack of sensitivity so many folks have toward what we call “spoilers”—informative tidbits that spoil the plot and/or experience of a film—but also the understanding of what constitutes a spoiler in the first place. There are two types: direct and indirect. A direct spoiler is obvious, “The protagonist dies at the end.” An indirect spoiler however, is much broader, “It was actually really sad.” If you tell me the movie is “actually really sad” then I enter into the experience anticipating something tragic, the movie can’t possibly surprise me with it. As a result, the emotional reaction the movie intends to evoke is forever lost.

“Oh come on!” they groan. “I didn’t say anything!” they whine.

“You’ll never see the ending coming!” Actually, now I will. I’ll sit through the entire movie fully prepared for some twist, fighting the urge to unravel it in my mind as it approaches, and the surprise falls flat. A twist ending depends on the impact, not just the ramifications of the impact. If I’m told that the ending is a surprise, even if the contents of said surprise are not thoroughly unpacked, the surprise ceases to be a surprise at all. It becomes an inevitability.

Imagine, if you will, that I’m attending a wedding ceremony. The mood is thick. The lighting, decor, ambience are all perfectly in place. Just as the vows are about to be exchanged, I stand up and begin to shout gibberish at the top of my lungs for about fifteen seconds. After the initial shock begins to fade, the ceremony continues. That specific moment in time and what it means for everyone involved will be forever marked by the idiot who stood up and shouted for no good reason. They could hold another ceremony if they so desired, but it’s really too late, that important occasion can never be recreated. Now, imagine that when the offended parties approach me in regards to my strange behavior I simply say, “So what? You still got married. After all, it’s just a party, it’s not like it’s the end of the world.”

Not every movie is magical, but even bad movies require a certain level of investment to even allow for the possibility of magic to take place. Most people think of themselves as movie fans, but in reality, they treat movies the way most casual listeners treat music: as something to be enjoyed in passing, perhaps even in the background, with no serious commitment. After all, they think, it’s just a movie. So who in the world are you to care so much if they don’t?

For others, movies are an incredible doorway to inspiration, humanity, philosophy, theology, art, culture… Movies, though only stories created with actors and cameras, can offer a once in a lifetime experience that may resonate with us for as long as we live. We realize that life doesn’t begin and end with movies. We could live without them. We don’t get our identity from movies, we just like them a lot. They matter to us.

And they matter to all who keep these commandments.
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(Article Source)


Creating Authentic Marketing 

(This is an excerpt from The Music Bed Blog.)

Tom Aiello and Daniel Chesnut (otherwise known as Process Creative) are breaking a lot of rules. While most marketers would tell you people have just 30-second attention spans, Tom and Daniel are creating branded narratives that are often 10 times that long. And while most marketers would tell you it’s all about the product, Tom and Daniel say it’s all about the story. “Mostly we try to create marketing that would work on us,” Daniel told us. “And for us, we want marketing that feels like a gift.”

We recently sat down with Tom and Daniel to talk about their video The Encounter Collection, their creative process, and what it means for marketing to have a soul.

Here’s Tom and Daniel.

TMB: So, together you guys are Process Creative?

TA: Dan and I started the company. Originally it was just a passion project. A friend of ours, Stephen Kenn, designs furniture, and we wanted to tell an authentic story about it. So we did a passion project, not really thinking anything of it, and it turned out really well. We got a big response from it. We decided maybe we could start a company doing this. Actually, we didn’t want to start a company, more of a collective — just a way to tell cool stories — and then it developed into a business. We’ve been riding that wave ever since.

TMB: What’s your guys’ background?

TA: We’ve been doing films, separately and together, for six or seven years now.

DC: We met while we were working at Hurley and Nike. Back in the day, we worked on their production teams doing in-house commercial stuff, telling stories about their athletes, a little bit of everything. Then I went freelance, and Tom stayed and did tons of awesome documentary-style stories. We reconnected a couple years later on that piece Tom mentioned earlier. It was just a good time to come back together, and it blossomed.

TMB: How did The Encounter Collection piece come about?

TA: Actually, that was Stephen Kenn again — the guy we did that original passion project for. He’s one of the most inspirational dudes you’ll ever meet. Every conversation with him turns into a story. That “live life to the fullest” idea just oozes out of him. The Encounter Collection film was inspired by him. It’s very much about who Steve is and who his dad was and who his grandfather was. Each generation took each kid on a trip to become a man. We took that idea and wrote a rough treatment. We always leave a lot of room in our treatments to be creative later though.

TMB: I’m curious to know your process — how you arrive at a treatment in the first place.

DC: It’s different with every client and every project. The Encounter Collection project was unique because Steve has a story behind every single product he makes. He literally won’t start a project unless he has a purpose behind it. He comes to us and expresses that purpose.

So our process for The Encounter Collection was basically Steve coming to us and saying, “Hey, I’m going to do a bag collection and here’s why.” And that purpose for this particular project was to leave a lineage for your child. He wanted to create something that was worth passing on, something you could build memories with. You could share stories of your time holding that bag, taking that bag on a trip, what you put in that bag, what you use your bag for. He wanted to create a product that was worth keeping.

The three of us literally sat in a room for half a day, talking about our relationships with our fathers, our memories, our stories. Those conversations turned into five different concepts, which turned into five more, which we then boiled down to one.

TA: Usually with our treatments, we try to create a story around an individual. We write a story without even knowing if it’s true or not. And then we’ll call up the person and say, “Hey, would you ever do this? Is this true?” A lot of times they’ll be like, “Yeah, I actually do that,” or sometimes they’ll say, “No, that’s not really what I do, I actually do this.” So we rewrite the treatment to fit that.

We like to create emotive stories around someone’s daily life, but stories that are also intentional about showing why people live the way they do and why this certain product fits what they’re doing.

DC: One thing we take pride in is being able to create a narrative feel within a documentary environment....Read the full article here.

10 Tips from Editors to Directors 

Jonny Elwyn follows-up his popular article on what editors want camera operators to do to help out the process with an equally illuminating piece, this time focusing on the director/editor relationship.

My first article on Redshark News, 11 Things Editors Wish Camera Operators Always Did, seemed to have resonated with quite a few folks, so I thought I'd put down a few more thoughts on the complex creative marriage that occurs when directors are working with editors.

As with any close creative collaboration, personality, experience and personal idiosyncrasies all play a role in shaping how successful the union will be. Sometimes those differences create insurmountable conflict; other times, cinematic magic. But it is the professional editor's role to be what the director needs them to be at any given moment, and although the editor does have the opportunity to shape the final product in momentous ways, his-or-her work should ultimately all be in service of the director’s vision and producing the best possible end result.

With that in mind, here are 10 suggestions for directors on how to get the best from their editors.

1. It's a collaborative effort.
That means I want to bring all that I have to contribute to the project. I want to engage you in lively debate about the best way to shape the project. I want you to be open to trying new ideas and new approaches. I don't want to you to see me as only a button monkey.

2. What you have isn't what you had.
The editor is the one who has to stand in the gap between what the director thinks they have or wishes they had, and what they really have. We can only cut the footage you shot. Our job is to bridge that gap as much as we can.

3. Don't tell me when to cut.
No clicks, claps, points, taps or shouts please.

4. Leave me alone.
I need time to get on with things without you in the room. To get organized, watch through the footage, find the takes I like, try things my way, try crazy things that just might work but probably won't and to have the freedom to take a crack at things without wasting your time.

5. Be available.
If you're on the phone all the time, it's hard to collaborate. I'll need some quality time with you, at the right time, to help get your feedback, thoughts and collaborative energies in a focused way. You're the director after all - it's your project.

6. Be specifically general.
When working with actors it is common practice not to tell them you hated it when they said this word in that way. You'd say "once more with feeling." With an editor, if you say "the scene feels like it lacks energy," then I can go away and do things to amp it up a bit. If you say shave 5 frames off this shot and cut in here rather than there, things tend not to work out so well. Let me fix the note in the spirit of the note.

7. Be generally specific.
Towards the end of a project, it's OK to get more specific and granular with the details of your feedback. We want to make sure you get what you want and sometimes it's easier just to sit with you and give you that, especially if either option is a viable one.

8. Do not touch the screen.

9. Share Your Wisdom.
As an editor I've learnt much of what I know about filmmaking, narrative structure and creative ju-jitsu from the directors I've worked with. Your patient sharing of hard-won wisdom is gratefully received.

10. We sometimes get things wrong.
Usually spelling. I also think my most frequent fault as an editor, when collaborating with a director, is to dismiss an idea as one that "I've already tried and it didn't work…" Instead, I would be wiser to walk through the director's version of the idea once again – either to put to rest that it really won't work, or to be pleasantly surprised that it does.
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(Article Source)



How to Make Your Editor Happier

11 things video editors wish they could say to camera operators and DOPs

RedShark welcomes editor and blogger Jonny Elwyn to its growing ranks of writers. He responds with this handy list for shooters and camera ops, of ways to keep their editors happy.

As any experienced editor will tell you, after years of sifting through hours and hours of footage (some of it good, some of it bad, some of it very ugly), there are a few key things that anyone working behind the camera can do that make our lives much easier, the project far better, and the final result something we can all be proud of. 

Of course, it's very easy for editors to turn into armchair critics. They didn't get up at 5 am to make the sunrise or drag heavy gear half way up a mountain, battling the elements just to get the perfect shot. But we do have the benefit of the perspective gained by leisurely skimming through the results of your hard graft. So here are 11 suggestions for things every editor wishes every camera operator always did, and hopefully they'll improve what you get in the can, and improve the life of editors everywhere. 

The first and last suggestions are probably the most important!

  1. Shoot for the edit  - Think in terms of sequences and storytelling. Make sure you've got an establishing wide, an interesting reveal, close ups, movement etc. If an interviewee mentioned a specific location, item, or view, try to grab that if you can. Also think in terms of triplets. Three shots most often make for a nice sequence of cutaways - two, not so much.
  2. Always roll  - It's the 'bad bits' that we often use - re-focuses, lens whacking, snippets of background audio for filling in silences, etc. - so please don't wave your hand in front of the camera to say that it's no good. We might have a use for it anyway.
  3. Don't always roll  - Editors don't love it when they have to copy, ingest, transcode and organise lots of footage that then turns out to be someone's feet, the inside of a car door, lens caps or other random things. Obviously, this isn't intentional, but if you know it's happened, please weed out the clip if you can. 
  4. Metadata matters  - Make sure that the reel names and timecode on your camera are set correctly and that they increment with each new card, tape or disc. The more information you can supply us the better. If you're keeping logging sheets or camera reports, please know we do actually look at them!
  5. Fix it in Camera  - Ensuring your white balance and colour temperature are set correctly is extremely helpful. Not only is this a pretty basic element for a professional cameraman to get right, it can be sometimes very difficult to fix in the grade later on (if the project is lucky enough to have a grade), especially under more exotic lighting conditions, for example inside a factory or under-ground parking garage. And if you want to really go wild, actually shoot a colour chart.

...(Read More)


Production Design

(This is an excerpt from The Music Bed Blog.)

If you’ve seen anything Khalid Mohtaseb has ever done, you know that his work is consistently, mind-blowingly beautiful. The guy is practically a legend. So we were surprised to hear that his secret isn’t some obscure lighting technique or a particular piece of equipment, but rather a person — Joseph Sciacca to be specific: a production designer.

After he started working with Joseph, Khalid hardly needed to light anything at all. Because Joseph was creating such beautiful environments, Khalid just had to point the camera and start shooting. The secret, it turned out, was creating something beautiful to shoot in the first place.

Khalid and Joseph have collaborated on projects for clients like National Geographic, Everlast, and Toyota — just to name a few. But even after all these years and high-profile projects, both of them insist they are still just learning. “Every job is homework for the next job,” Joseph told us. “Life is homework.”

Check out what Khalid and Joseph have to say about production design, lighting, and how $20 of tar paper can change everything.

KM: One of the first things a cinematographer should ask themselves when they walk into a space is, “How do I create contrast?”

 I learned this four or five years ago when I sat in on an interview with Jack Green, an AFC DP who’s shot for Clint Eastwood. I asked him what the most useful advice he’d ever gotten about cinematography was. He said that when you first walk into a space, the first question you have to ask yourself is, “How do I create black?”

I didn’t totally understand what he meant [at the time], but he was essentially talking about contrast. How do you create contrast? It’s the concept of negative fill: putting black into spaces. So if you’re shooting in an all-white room, find the edges of your frame and put black there so light doesn’t bounce everywhere. What a lot of beginning cinematographers don’t realize is that light is bouncing everywhere all the time, and you don’t realize it until you start trying to create black.

For this Everlast scene, we were in this all-white room, and there was no way to create black.

JS: The quickest solution for finding black in that location was to black out the floor so we didn’t have all that light bouncing off the tile. I drove to Home Depot and grabbed some roofing material. It’s like tar paper. It’s got this fantastic non-reflective surface and it’s relatively seamless. That’s where having experience with hands-on work — masonry, carpentry, things like that — really pays off for a production designer. You need to know what tools you have out there.

KM: We put this stuff on the ground, and when we looked at the scene again, it was the most drastic difference ever. We weren’t getting any bounce off the floor. It created this moodier look, and the actor’s face was almost silhouetted. The lighting was coming from one side but didn’t bounce; there was no fill whatsoever. And that was it. That’s what we ended up going with. We just put a small light through a window, which created a really interesting look. I think the whole fix cost us $20.

(Read More)


Useful Tools for Editors

By Scott Simmons | March 13, 2014

If you read my Notes From the 2014 Editors Retreat post then you might have seen the mention of a session called Gearheads. This was a fun session where attendees were asked to submit some piece of gear they like or find useful. This could be hardware, software, an app, anything really. I though the Gearheads submissions would make for a great Useful Tools for Editors entry. Here’s some that I made note of.

Read the full article here!

I highly recommend checking out this list, I've used several of the suggestions myself!


Creation Proclaims

In June I had the privilege to produce and direct the filming of the next Creation Proclaims series with Dr. Jobe Martin and his family. I was able to take a crew of five crew members with me to California where we were filming at an animal sanctuary with the Martins and Dan Breeding. It was a growing and stretching experience in many ways, but God was very good to us and answered many prayers during the week!

We used two Canon C-100s along with my Canon 60D as a 3rd cam for animal close-ups. Alex Lerma, Andrew Garcia, and Micah Austin did a fantastic job as the camera ops.

We rented a small lighting package from a local company for the project. I was super excited to have Philip Bolzeman as the Gaffer/Grip along with Micah Austin who pulled double duty between grip and cam op.

Joseph Santoyo was our on-set sound man, and did a great job even amids the squawking birds, howling coyotes, and planes/helicopters flying around!

Due to the heat and wind in the afternoons and staying ahead of schedule, we were only filmed in the mornings after the first day. On one free afternoon we were able to take advantage of being on the west coast and took a trip to the Cayucos beach! However it was rather windy and the water was super cold...but we had a relaxing and enjoyable afternoon!

We also had some seafood at a local restaurant which had been recommended by some friends.

It was indeed incredible!

During the week we also had some fun with Lemurs!

Here are a few still images from the footage we captured!

When the videos are released DVDs will be available at the Creation Proclaims website. They also have other resources and episodes already in the series.


Serve India Ministries

This summer I had the opportunity to oversee the post-production of a series of web videos for Serve India Ministries. We had a team of 9 people (plus siblings) all working together in one location for a week to finish 7 videos. To start the week we all worked on editing and for the last coupld of days a few of the team members transitioned over to sound, color correction, music, and motion graphics. It was a great time of film-making, fun, food, and fellowship!

Check out the trailer for the series and visit the website to see all the videos!

The people of India sit in darkness. They face incredible difficulties – socially, physically, and economically. No matter the difficulty, the Gospel is the answer. When the Gospel comes to these people, it truly changes everything.


Kendrick - Movie 5 Update

Over the past six months, the Kendrick Brothers team has been busy in production on Movie Five (our working title). Many of you have been keeping up with our progress through our Facebook page or on the site. For others, here’s a quick update:

After the release of Courageous, we began praying about producing a fifth feature film. Last summer, while serving at a ministry event, God confirmed with Alex and Stephen the direction for a new storyline. Research and writing began and continued until the screenplay was completed in the spring of 2014.

As we prayed, God opened the doors for production in the Charlotte, North Carolina area over June and July. Multiple business owners and churches offered support and encouragement. We set up a production office, conducted online and live casting sessions, and scouted shooting locations. In answer to prayer, the needed partners and funding were provided.

It was exciting to watch God "make straight our paths" as we trusted in Him. A cast of strong, Christian actors was assembled. Some were new faces to us; others you may recognize from our previous films. Still others were "discovered" out of the ministry world. The Lord also provided an excellent, God-honoring crew of 85 hard-working filmmakers including 20 interns and production assistants who arrived eager to learn and serve. Over 80 local churches in the Concord/Charlotte area graciously stepped up to support the effort. From shuttle buses and parking lots to potluck dinners, these congregations worked in unity across denominational lines to provide facilities and volunteers.

At 10:00 AM on June 10th, the first "Action!" was called in the beautiful kitchen of a historic Concord, North Carolina home - provided by a local pastor. The new production launched full throttle. Over the next two months, we experienced powerful team devotions and prayer times, growing friendships, and a cast who kept hitting their marks on camera. After thirty shooting days, "That's a wrap!" was shouted after an all-nighter in a downtown Charlotte restaurant. The team paused to thank God for what He had done.

Currently, we are editing the scenes, and the exciting phase of post-production is underway. Release of the movie title will come soon, but in the meantime, please pray for us and this movie. We need God’s continued blessing, favor, protection, and guidance to cover this entire process - down to the last frame. Our goal is to release this movie in the fall of 2015, and we’re asking God to bless and reign over everything related to it, and for Him to receive all honor and glory for what has and will be accomplished.

Watch for updates on our site and Facebook page as we continue in post-production. And if you haven't seen this, here’s a great press release about the movie:


Polycarp - The Music

 It was a great privilege to work with the talented composer, Benjamin Botkin.  We can't stress enough how important it is to have the right music to bring new life and great emotional depth to the story.  Ben nailed it with Polycarp, and we think you're really going to like the music! 

We took some time to interview Ben so you folks can get an inside glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes in making music for film.  

Polycarp Team: How did you get into music and composing music for films?

Ben: For as long as I can remember, I have always been interested in music to one degree or another. My first attempts at composing however, came in 2005, when I was sixteen. My dad was creating a documentary and encouraged me and my two older sisters to try our hand at writing the music. We had never done anything like that before, but we got some music software and over the space of a few months, we cobbled together something that resembled a crude documentary score. It was through that process that I was introduced to composition and film scoring, and developed a keen interest in both. As I spent time learning the tools and the trade I got various opportunities to score for various projects.

Fast forward nine years, and I still feel like I am at the beginning of my musical journey, but I am very grateful for the things I've learned, the opportunities I've had, and that I can be supporting my family doing something I love this much.

Polycarp Team: Some people may be curious about the process you go through to create music for a film. Would you describe that process for us?

Ben: The creative process usually begins with preliminary discussions with the director about this vision for the film--story arc, tone, style, mood, etc. Before I start scoring to picture, I like to have some time to conduct preliminary research on the style of film music needed [and] I like to create musical "sketches" wherein I experiment with different melodies, instrumentation and mood. These are rough, but they give the director an idea of where I'm planning to go with the music, and it gives a reference point for creative discussions. I also use this time to purchase any new software or hardware tools that I may need for the project (you really don't want to have to make any substantial upgrade or changes to your studio mid-project if you can help it).

When a locked edit of the film is created, the director and composer will have a "spotting session." During the spotting session we decide which spots in the film need music, which music, why, and exactly where it starts and stops. When this session is over I have a cuesheet with notes for every cue (individual piece of music) that needs to be written, and as I finish a cue I send it to the director for his feedback. It's very common for the director to have suggestions for changes (or even request whole re-writes on some cues), so it's important when I budget my time to set some aside for those inevitable change requests. As soon as he gives the cue a thumbs up, I will prepare the final audio files for whoever is doing the final mix of the film.

Polycarp Team: Is it challenging creating music for a period film?

Ben: It's definitely different from creating music for a modern day film, which is usually much more understated and minimal. It is often the case that period films have more strongly dramatic situations and you can justify creating more musically rich and dramatic music than usual.

Polycarp Team: With a story like Polycarp's, there is a big temptation to make it epic, bigger than life, yet this is really a story that focuses on the characters – it's a character drama. How do you avoid the temptation to make the music sound overly epic?

Ben: Joe [the director] was very good about reminding me that, though there are some epic parts in this film, the focus is primarily on the characters and what they're feeling. There were a couple occasions where I'd made the music for a scene very big and dramatic, and Joe would remind me "this is a tender moment--a quiet moment."

Polycarp Team: What drives you toward excellence?

Ben: There's a lot that could be said in answer to this, but I'll answer with a couple of verses that have been important to me:

Colossians 3:23,24 "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ."

1 Corinthians 10:31 "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

Polycarp Team: Where do you find inspiration for your music?

Ben: All sorts of places! Contrary to what some musicians and artists want to believe, I don't think that anyone can or does create in a vacuum. Human creativity is derivative in nature. On Polycarp, Joe Henline and I often referenced and discussed dozens of soundtracks or pieces of music that may inspire the creative direction of our project.

But ultimately, since God is the first and perfect Creator (and from whom is every good and perfect gift), all creative inspiration comes from Him. I have found that prayer and focusing on the Word sustains and inspires my creative energy like nothing else really does (whenever I get "too busy with work" to meditate on the Word or pray, my music suffers). On every project there are instances where I've prayed for a specific idea or breakthrough that I've needed and every time I can recall, the solution becomes clear soon after. There have been many times where I've looked back over those spots later and thought "wow... that music is a lot better than I'm able to write. That didn't come from me."

I think about Psalm 127:1 a lot when I'm working on projects: "Except the LORD build the house (or score), they labour in vain that build it."

Music Preview

Not many people have heard a sneak peek from the Polycarp soundtrack yet, so we decided to share a small sample of what you'll hear in the movie.  Enjoy!

If you missed the Kickstarter campaign and would like to support the production of Polycarp, you can still do so here.

-Official movie website
-Facebook page