I received an interesting article from actor and aspiring film maker John Montana from No Title Productions. Feel free to check it out and give feedback…and be sure to visit his site: let’s support independent film!
The Importance of Sound in Film!
By John Montana
Making a short film, or any film for that matter, can be a lot of fun. I recently made a short film called “HUNGRY”, a wicked, humorous tale of the greed that is rampant at Christmas. Here is how I came up with and developed the sound and music in the film.
So the way I work is that in the very beginning of preparing to shoot the film, when I am still writing the script actually, I start to listen to music that I like. I listen with the sole purpose of getting a feel for how this particular song will go with the film. I use each song that I like, or think might go well, and imagine how it will tell my story. Here is an example…in “HUNGRY” the story takes place at Christmas, so I was constantly listening to holiday songs, wild versions, old-fashioned ones, newer versions, etc. The one I came up with was of a children’s choir singing “Carol of the Bells”. This song was important in setting up the beginning of the film in 3 ways:
1. It is a beautiful innocent rendition of this song
2. It lulls the audience into the sweetness of the Christmas season
3. It also didn’t telegraph what was coming to the audience
One example of how much music played a part in my film is when the main character walks into a shop and the owner is listening to 1930’s jazz. The story’s background was that this woman has been alive for several hundreds of years, and this is her favorite music. Now you don’t actually see a 500 -year old woman on screen: that was just the back-story. But this music really helped the actress get the feel for what I wanted, and her performance made the film.
Another example of how important sound is was when the main character was being eaten alive: sounds were vitally important in conveying the horror of what was happening to him. At the end of the film, when it is clear that the owner is in cahoots with the creature, or the creature is almost her mate, I added a wild and crazy piece that still makes me giggle whenever I hear it!
Sound is also very important during editing. Since my film is a horror film , I had a small creature, but because I was on a small budget, I couldn’t really afford to build a creature that could move in every way I wanted. I searched a couple of free sound sites for sci-fi sounds, for example dinosaur roars and such. It took me weeks to get it the way I wanted because to make the creature look realistic, I had to use different sounds for each 2-second piece of footage that had the little guy in it! Each different sound conveyed a different want and emotion in the creature. It was incredibly grueling and difficult work.
I cannot overemphasize how important music and sound is when setting up your story or film. If you do it right, the whole film falls into place. If you are preparing for a film shoot, or if you are already in editing, then always keep in mind the importance of taking your time and getting the music and sound right. If you have the right style of music that brings your audience into your film, and the right sound effects for a horror film, then this will improve the odds of your film being a success. If nothing else, it helps your audience into your film, and it help in keeping them there. If you don’t believe me, go and watch the movie Brooklyn. The music in this film will bring you instantly into this world, and it keeps you there. Whether you like the movie or not!
About The Author:
John Montana is an actor living with his wife in L.A. and has begun to make short films. His most recent film, “Hungry” has been accepted into 24 film festivals all over the world. Check out his short film – HUNGRY at No Title Production Films.