For months I have been working around the clock to secure the right pieces of music and to acquire the appropiate sound required for my film ‘A bit about Angie’. This means emailing artists, companies, looking online and making sure our own recorded dialogue and sound were up to scratch. As we are nearing the completion of the editing stage for my film I thought this would be an appropriate time to update you on everything sound related in my project.
For the opening scene when the kids (Billy and Daniel) are playing in the park I wanted to use Fleetwood Mac’s hit single ‘Everywhere‘. I had always loved and heard the song on various adverts like 3’s pony advert for example. Due to the songs popularity I knew that using it would be strenuous and costly but my heart was set on it. So for a long time during the development stages of that scene I heard the song playing in my head over and over again. The importance of using great pieces of music in your film can not be stressed further. ‘Soundtracks help to build the tone and mood of a film or series’ (‘The importance’ 2014). I first tried to get in contact with the label who the band are currently with and then I got referred to their former label. After weeks of trying to find out who the song was owned by I stumbled across a site called PRS for music. They ‘license organisations to play, perform or make available copyright music on behalf of our members and those of overseas societies, distributing the royalties to them fairly and efficiently’ (PRS 2016) in addition to this they also pointed me in the right direction of Universal music U.K, the label who currently hold the rights to Fleetwood Mac’s Everywhere. I then engaged in conversation with a certain Claire Hayes who works for universal. She assisted me in the negotiation stages of acquiring the rights to use the song in my film. I told her that I was a student in the hopes that the cost of the song would be significantly cheaper, but it wasn’t. They charged me a ridiculous fee, which quite frankly we didn’t have room for in the films budget. The conditions were also flawed for us on the receiving end. The conditions were as followed; we were not able to play the film abroad and we did not have the right to enter it into any festivals or use it in any commercial standing. This was hugely frustrating and was a biter pill to swallow. However this experience has taught me a lot about this process and how difficult acquiring music can be. In the future I will leave myself more time to negotiate and I will also try to use a less popular song in the aim to help reduce costs.
For the actual soundtrack of the film we managed to get permission to use a song called ‘Estate’ by U.K urban group ‘UnkoNWn’. They are relatively underground but they are on the rise and most importantly they make good music. This song will help to encapsulate some of the feelings, and themes which take place during the film. We will also use it for the trailer of the film, in addition to this we also made a short documentary about the making of the song which you can see in the next post. Before we chose this song as our soundtrack we also researched similar films to ours to see what sort of soundtracks they used. Cass (2008) one of the main inspirations for my film ‘A bit about Angie’ used Desmond Dekker & The Aces – ‘Israelites’ as their soundtrack. This song has a cultural reference as it first came out in 1969 just a decade after the first ever Notting hill carnival in London in 1959. This popular event was a celebration for the afro and Caribbean’s in the capital and ignited a rapid rise in the popularity of reggae and calypso music in the 60’s and 70’s. ‘Since the 60s and 70s, Reggae music has spread and developed in many different ways around the world’ (‘History’ 2016). After the progression of Reggae music in the U.K we began to see this shift occur in T.V too with hit shows like Desmond’s in (1989). So using a song like this made sense in this particular situation it was more than just a song, it had a cultural standing. For us we didn’t want to go down this route as a similar song may have been too overwhelming for our film and would also have cost us a lot of money similarly to Fleetwood Mac’s – Everywhere. Our film is also not set as far back as ‘Cass’, so using vintage music will not be as effective or nostalgic.
Adulthood (2008) is a more contemporary film, it was directed by Noel Clark and then distributed by Pathe Pictures. The soundtrack for this film is really tough, hard and edgy reflecting the feel of the movie. The grime sound is in direct correlation with the themes of the film making it a good match. This is what we want to achieve, I wanted the main theme song to be ‘Parallel’ (Using sound in film) with the film. This will be through the explanation of some of the films content via the lyrics in the song. So as my film ‘A bit about Angie’ is based around an estate this song was very fitting.
Just the other day we were able to get a couple of emotional songs from an up and coming female soloist called Sienna Hamilton. I spoke to her about the concept of my film and why her songs would be important to the emotional climax of the narrative and she was on board. We struck a deal where we will help to promote her brand by putting her out there and giving her credit, in a trade to use her music in the film. The song is entitled ‘Falling in love’. The song really highlights the feeling and disappear towards the end of the film, and it also really compliments Angie’s narration.
On set of the film ‘A bit about Angie’ my main focus was on directing the actors, and making sure that the team achieved it’s goals although I did keep a firm eye on the sound recording as this a fundamental part to any films success. ‘Sound is undoubtedly a vital element of film production’ (The importance of sound). At times sound is overlooked due to the fact that film is predominantly a visual medium, but for this film we made sure our sound was as crisp as possible. At times we had issues with faulty XLR’s. We also had an issue with proximity at times because the sound engineer could not always get close to the subjects as he wanted due to fear of being caught in shot. We also had to deal with some external sounds which were out of our control like construction noise in the hospital scene with Billy and the doctor. Apart from this we also recorded ambiance sound to play underneath certain sections of the film to help create a realistic atmosphere like in the pub scene which stars Jonathon and Melisa who play Billy and Denise. We will also add external sound effects to help dramatise and emphasis certain significant moments in the film to draw a reaction out of the audience, for example in the hospital scene we will add a pulse effect to represent Billy’s heart rate before he dies. ‘Sound techniques are often used to convey the mood of a scene and manipulate the audience’s emotional reaction’ (Brooks institute). We will also use a number of different West ham chants and crowd cheers to accentuate the roar and patriotic emotions which coincide with the backdrop of this film. So for this I took inspiration from a scene in Green street (2005) where ‘Bover’ a rogue member of the West ham firm runs over towards the away end of the stadium to antagonise the fuming Birmingham fans. In this scene there is a tremendous amount of roaring and chanting which we will attempt to emulate in ‘A bit about Angie’. I think this use of ‘non-digetic sound‘ (film sound) will be engaging and if it is balanced right it could help to take our audience by surprise.
To recap our main theme song / Official soundtrack for the the film is UnkoNWn – Estate.
To conclude the importance of good quality sound can not be denied. I’m also realise that well constructed sound/ music helps to drive the narrative and also helps to highlight certain moods and feelings within a text making it a critical part of the entire production process. The inspirations that I have received from the relevant films can not be under stated, as the score would not be as well thought out as it is currently without this new found knowledge. Our sound score for the film is still a working process, we are also working against the clock to finish the final edit for the film. In my edit post I will go into detail about some of the other issues we faced with sound during the editing process.
rw .dj (2014) Fleetwood Mac everywhere. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsglRLoUdtc (Accessed: 3 March 2016).
Three UK (2013) Three – the pony #DancePonyDance. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ekr05T9Iaio (Accessed: 3 March 2016).
Leigh, M. (2014) The importance of a good soundtrack: The mood is in the music. Available at: http://pop-verse.com/2014/04/04/the-importance-of-a-good-soundtrack-the-mood-is-in-the-music/ (Accessed: 3 March 2016).
For music, P. (2016) Music copyright, royalties and licensing. Available at: https://www.prsformusic.com/Pages/default.aspx (Accessed: 3 March 2016).
Music, U. (2016) The official home of universal music UK. Available at: http://www.umusic.co.uk (Accessed: 3 March 2016).
Trojan Records Official (2014) Desmond Dekker & the aces – ‘Israelites’ (official audio). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxtfdH3-TQ4 (Accessed: 3 March 2016).
Reggaskas (2016) History of reggae. Available at: http://thereggaskas.com/useful-information/history-of-reggae/ (Accessed: 3 March 2016).
Desmond’s. U.K: Trix Worrel, Channel 4. 1989. T.V.
Adulthood. U.K: Noel Clark. 2008. film.
ponczeky (2009) Skrein – reach (adULTHOOD the soundtrack). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpzc5qByvhQ (Accessed: 3 March 2016).
Film, L. about (2013) Using sound in your film. Available at: http://learnaboutfilm.com/film-language/sound/ (Accessed: 3 March 2016).
2015, F. (2015) The importance of sound. Available at: http://filmbase.ie/the-importance-of-sound/#.VygeG-lEC_s (Accessed: 3 March 2016).
Institute, B. (2016) Importance of sound in film: Why sound editing and design are key to successful filmmaking – Brooks Institute. Available at: https://www.brooks.edu/student-life/brooks-blog/january-2015/importance-of-sound-in-film/ (Accessed: 3 March 2016).
Green street. U.K: Lexi Alexander. 2005. film.
Carlsson, S.E. (2016) Diegetic and non-diegetic sounds. Available at: http://filmsound.org/terminology/diegetic.htm (Accessed: 3 March 2016).