Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Voicing the End

One of the slightly comical things about this whole experience is that while, yes I got to make a movie (a real movie, folks!); it's been anything but glamorous.

Our budget was tight to say the least.  The first time I walked into my house at the Flats the production manager asked me if I'd brought my own towels.

For the record my travel, hotel, and food were all paid for - and I was provided with bathroom towels as well.  I have to say, however, that before I went to Greenwood I was promised that there would be someone to powder me in between scenes.  In the end this amounted to David tossing something akin to tack cloth on a table and instructing Raymond to tell me, my mom, and Vera to blot ourselves if we got too shiny.

Last week David called to tell me that I would need to do a voice over for the film. Saturday morning I got an email from Raymond with a list of three questions and two topics that I would need to respond to in the recording.  I needed to write the content and then send it to Raymond for editing.  Then he'd send it back to me so that I could practice.  This sounds very simple and would've been if both my husband and son didn't just have birthdays.  So, between the circus, birthday parties, birthday luncheons, a sleepover, a soccer game, and volunteering to help with extra stuff at church - I also needed to create some magnificent copy for the film.

Does it sound like I'm complaining?  I'm not.  To be clear, I feel incredibly lucky to have something so fun, meaningful, and exciting dropped into my life. Every now and then I just wish I had a little more control over where and when it landed.  But I've loved every bit of this experience and I'd take it any way it comes.  I would do it over again in a heartbeat - even the painful stuff.

I'm going on a tangent now, bear with me.  That "painful stuff" entry was an intense post and a very painful couple of weeks - lots of crying and lots of calls to my best friends.  Thank you for ladies for helping me through it.  As hurtful as it all was, I have to say I learned a valuable lesson from it all.  Razor-wielding tornadoes cannot be contained in a box.  They need to be avoided at all costs.  Luckily, the only people that got hurt this time around were adults.  It could have been my children who got tangled up in the fray.  So, as painful as all of that was, it served as a much needed wake up call.

Back to my voice over copy:  Despite a few challenges and missed deadlines, the content was written, and the voice over experience was fabulous.  It was one of the few times in this process when I've actually felt a little glam.

The studio was gorgeous.  Everything about it said high end.  The furniture, the snacks, the flooring, all of it was top of the line.  When I went into the recording booth the technician and his assistant set me up with everything I could possibly need.

They gave me a headset and then got Raymond and George on the line.  In the voice over session I had three different scripts, all of which were written in my own words (mostly).  I needed to "read" them in a way that would sound like I was just having a conversation with Raymond.

This was harder than it sounds.

I was trying to sound natural, but I was trying too hard, so I sounded like I was presenting an Oscar to someone or announcing a war or something.  It's times like these that I really, truly love working with Raymond De Felitta.

At one point during the voice over he gave me some direction in an effort to get me to read a section a little differently.  After rereading it I heard silence.  I asked if I'd completely messed it up.  He quickly said, "No, no I think I may have given you the wrong direction."  Raymond is truly kind.  He's always helping me without ever alluding to my lack of experience in the industry.

In the booth that I was in I sat on a stool and faced a window that had a rolled up shade at the top of it.  Beyond that window was a room with tons of devices and machines and a technician who was moving buttons around while I talked.  In my headset I could hear Raymond's voice.  He kept telling me to pretend like he was right there with me.  I felt self-conscious because I knew the technician could see me.  To properly pretend that Raymond was there I would need to "look" at him and gesture with my hands.

So, in true Hollywood fashion, I stopped the recording and asked the technician if he would come in and pull the shade down so that he wouldn't see me.  I know, I was being a baby and maybe even a little prima donna-ish, but it worked.  Instead of redoing everything five times I was able to do some sections only once.

Alas, my "Hollywood" moment didn't last long.  When the recording session was over I turned into a true fan and asked the technician's assistant to take a photo of me with my iPhone - hence, the blur.  Then when I went to the parking lot - which is completely visible from the studio lobby, I was met by my husband who was there to give my truck a jump.  Back to reality.

I keep writing about how the making of the film is over for me.  In Oxford, the last day of the final trip, I sat down with my laptop and wrote several hundred words about what I thought had been my last on-camera moment. I was trying to capture the feeling of my movie-making experience coming to an end.

While I was writing it, the production manager came in to tell me that I was needed on-camera for Margurite's interview.  It wasn't over after all.  That was a fantastic way to end the trip, by the way.  She and I are deeply connected by a love for a man she knew only as a girl and who I never knew at all.

Unfortunately, the interview almost didn't happen.  One week before the last trip my Razor-wielding Tornado gave my relationship with Margurite a serious blow. As a result, Margurite wasn't sure if she could trust me. She'd been made to believe that it was my goal to destroy Booker Wright's legacy, so she almost didn't come to Oxford at all.

Thankfully, she did come.  After what she was told about me, it was clear that our relationship was still a little tenuous.  I could tell that she wasn't quite sure about me.  It hurt that she so easily believed what she'd heard from my Tornado, but I know that she was just caught in the middle.

When she got to Oxford Raymond spent some time with her and made her feel more comfortable - he is so good at disarming people. In the end, Margurite was able to trust us enough to go on camera and share her memories of Booker Wright.

What's so amazing about her is that she, just like Vera, talks about my grandfather as if he were dipped in magic.  It dripped from him and anyone he loved got drenched in it.  When Margurite and Vera talk about Booker, they bring the magic.

I hope that one day when she finally sees this film, she'll know without a doubt that my intentions were always true.

I thought my Margurite interview marked the end.  Then yesterday I recorded the voice over.  Maybe that was the last recorded thing I'll do for this film, but maybe not.  Either way, it's been an amazing ride.

It doesn't really matter which event marks the end of my movie-making experience - what matters is that I was brave enough to get on the ride at all.


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