Reflections On Being An Indie Film Producer #9

The Director’s cut
Sound, part 1

Production Sound
We decided to purchase our own sound equipment and hire a boom operator to use in conjunction with wireless mics to capture the actors and all ambient sound during the shoots. We bought a Tascam DR-70D 4 channel recorder and 4 wireless mics and transmitters on Amazon from some off brand sound company in China. The total cost for the equipment came in at less than $1,000, including the boom setup and mic.

I would not use this configuration again. Although the sound quality was decent but certainly not comparable to say a Sennheiser system, the biggest issue became reliability.

By the end of the shoot, we had no working wireless mics and a channel failed on the Tascam recorder. Wireless transmitters take a beating during shoots, especially during physical scenes! The channel loss was not an issue as we were only using 3 channels, but we had to keep track of the lost channel so it was not inadvertently used during the shoot.

Fortunately for us, Janet Place, the producer, brought her Tascam recorder as well as 2 wireless mics, so we managed to finish Blood Pledge with the bare minimum.

Post Sound
They say in Hollywood an audience will forgive for poor footage but not poor sound. Psychologically, that’s definitely true. Fortunately for us, Gib Jaffe, our editor, also had years of experience as a sound editor. We had about 10 clips where the sound was simply unusable. He came up with a great plan–have the actors re-record their lines using their cell phones and email the recordings.

The results were surprisingly good. Once edited into the clip, it was hard to distinguish between the source and rerecorded sound. After Gib had completed the edit, he gave me several recommendations for the studios that specialized in sound mix, foleys and sound design. The estimates came in at $15,000 to $35,000! Post production sound is expensive, and we did not have that kind of budget… What to do?

In next week’s blog, I’ll discuss how we solved this major hurdle.

You can hear the results here: Blood Pledge