Understanding Audio Production for Film With The Atlanta Cutters

I belong to a film group here in Atlanta called Georgia Production Partnership and let me tell you, it’s never a dull moment with them.  For those who are new to film or even those who are not, they provide great networking and great learning opportunities within the greater Atlanta film community.  One such learning opportunity that was provided through them was with a group called Atlanta Cutters.  A little over a week ago, I attended an event with them and boy was it a treat!

I am an aspiring screenwriter and before attending this event my attitude was “I just want to write, nothing else.”  But let me tell you, in the world of film, that can be a huge mistake to feel that way.   The Atlanta Cutters deal with the post-production side of film – the sounds that we hear on screen.  At the event, I saw all kinds of sound gadgets and listened to them go on at length about what they do long after the writer has written the screenplay; long after the actors have played their roles; and long after the director has done the final take.  This is when the real magic happens, magic that opened my eyes to another world.

Let me be the first to say that aspiring screenwriters definitely need to come out of their comfort zone and interact with others involved in the filmmaking process because you can learn so much.  Just from this one meeting with them, I learned that my screenplay should not just be a document for actors to read.  It is practically a technical instruction guide that communicates different things to different people at various stages of production.  So when they say “this is a well-written screenplay” people aren’t talking about the astetic quality of a script only.  If that is the case, one can write books and be done with it.  I now see that a well-written screenplay communicates and resonates with everyone who is a part of the film production team from me as the writer all the way through production, post-production, and to the audiences lined up at the box office.  Talk about a paradigm shift and it all came from this one meeting!

I won’t go into all the details of what they discussed because after all, it is an organization and if you want to know what they talk about, you should join.  But I will say that I saw some pretty cool equipment and learned a lot more about sound quality than I could ever imagine.  I also learned that even the most simple sound that we hear on screen may not be a natural part of production but actually some sound production member’s creative genius at work.  For instance, one panel speaker mentioned that the sound of boots hitting the pavement in his film was a sound that he created himself, not the actual footsteps of the actors.  Another panelist made an important point saying that most filmmakers and writers think about audio as a post-production accoutrement; however the sooner audio technicians and composers can get involved in the project, the better.  That made me think that I need to start networking with a whole lot of post-production people so that I can use their creative ears to ensure that I write superb quality screenplays going forward.

On a final note, they mentioned that they will include a workshop in an upcoming meeting to delve further into the topic of audio production but they didn’t mention any further details.  To find out more about this workshop and other upcoming events, visit the Atlanta Cutters website at http://www.atlantacutters.com/.

Cutter 1
Someone showing some audio equipment.
cutter 3
Member of Izotope discussing their audio equipment.
Cutter 4
Panelist discussing details of altering sound quality for film scenes.
Cutter 5
Intermission period in which a panelist shows audience members his sound equipment including this nifty gadget in his hand resembling a clapperboard.
Cutter 6
A panelist discussing the infusion of music into film.
Cutter 7
A panelist sharing with the audience the difference sound can make in a film.

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