This week, we’re celebrating the Steem-only exclusive week-long premier of our short film “Poster Grrl”, created by the @fringelifesquad. This film initially premiered locally in Columbus, Ohio at Gateway Cinema in August of last year. Until now, this film was completely unavailable to be seen unless you were A) at that premier or B) of the handful of people responsible for this film who have no doubt watched it a trillion times in getting it ready for public presentation. I was responsible for both the sound-designing in this film as well as the artwork for the film cover & poster. Before I dive into these contributions, you can watch the film below, read up on exactly what this film is about, and check out some early press. You can watch the short film ALL WEEK LONG EXCLUSIVELY ON STEEM!
“Before I get started I want to talk about the different online premieres for this. On June 20th (today) we will be posting an unlisted YouTube link here on Steem for anyone who finds it to watch for free. This will only be available for 7 days, after that we will be taking the film down for 1 month. After that we will be putting it on Amazon Prime and other VOD services. If you have an Amazon Prime account you will be welcome to stream the film. Otherwise you'll have to rent it (which we encourage jaja). So make sure you follow @fringelifesquad so you get your chance to see the movie for free. Or click on the play button above, just don't forget to follow my teams steemit blog. Ok on to the behind the scenes.”
Also, before I dive in, I recommend reading up fully on @asonintrigue’s “Poster Grrl” write-up HERE, and be on the look-out for full write-ups from creator Chelsea Anders (@cranders74) and cinematographer/VFX/editor Keenan Parry (@thelocomotive).
What is Poster Grrl?
In August of 2017, the Columbus, Ohio-based filmmaker group @fringelifesquad presented their first independent short film, Poster Grrl at the Gateway Film Center. Shot in Columbus, Poster Grrl explores the boundaries of addiction’s subsistence. The film follows Renée as she navigates life in a haze of substance abuse and the constant dialogue she is expected to engage in from the same lot of people who always seem to enter her life. Renée is fully aware her way of functioning is outside the norm, but she doesn’t see where she’s at- homeless, alone, in and out of treatment and people’s lives- as a bad thing. She has found that in her addiction she feels shielded from the ever lurking interference of the real world. In fact, the constant barrage of “Don’t you want to get better?” makes her question just what the benefits of being sober are.
Poster Grrl’s History and Creators
Poster Grrl is based on writer and co-director Chelsea Anders' life on the streets in her 20s and her inability to figure out the mass appeal for a sober, clean way of living. Though Poster Grrl touches on addiction, sexual abuse, homosexuality, and homelessness, it also reaches into the depths of what it takes to make one lose interest in reality and the all too common and hushed events in life that knock us out spiritually, mentally and physically. The film stars Danielle Talbott as Renée in a performance worthy of praise, and was assembled by Fringe Life’s small group of filmmakers. It is co-directed, scored, edited, and produced by Ason Intrigue and cinematographed by Keenan Perry, both of whom have worked with Columbus artists like Blueprint, RJD2 and Ill Poetic, and released their own short films, 2011’s The Enemies You Keep and 2016’s I Am The Decimal.
Movie Poster and Cover Art Design
Before any scene of the film had been shot, the creator, Chelsea, reached out to me about designing the artwork used for the film’s poster, future DVD cover, etc. Both in music and art, I’m a big fan of juxtaposing beautiful and ugly. After a few failed attempts at trying this out, Chelsea and I were able to find an aesthetic that fit the tone of the yet-to-be-shot film. What you see above is meant to be the graceful but smokey silhouette of a woman emerging from a meth pipe. We ran through various versions of this idea that played with different smoke treatments and hairstyles, but ultimately landed at the one above. I was pretty excited about the results of this design, as I was trying some things out in Photoshop that I’d never tried before. The closer was finding a unique font that felt grungy and punk, but not cliche. After a few tries, we landed on (), which would go on to be used for all promotional materials of the film as well.
Sound-Designing Poster Grrl
Sound-Designing is a pain in the ass. Not sound-designing as in synthesizers and designing saw-tooth waves, but sound-designing as in building a collection of sounds that move in perfect motion with their accompanying visuals; basically a movie. I imagine for someone who has built their career solely for the purpose of sound-designing film, this may not be the case. But even then, I imagine they must often stare at the screen and rub their temples with their fingers. So I’ll restate confidently that sound-designing is a pain in the ass.
SPOILER ALERT - Only read about sound-design if you’re ok being taken out of the ‘world’ of the movie. By talking about the mechanics of the film, it may be tough for you to re-watch it without dissecting it down to it’s components.
Every piece of sound in this film was taken from somewhere else. For music producer friends, imagine collaging hundreds of samples to create a 30 minute song - just with no melody or rhythm, only sounds. And each of those sounds must drop perfectly in place, down to the milisecond. This is sound-designing. If, as a producer you get your kicks from creating melodies, rhythms and overall just making shit knock, this may not be for you. But, if you’re more excited about the atmosphere you can create in someone’s head, something that connects their audio/visual senses together, you may really get into sound-design. I will mention though, that sound-design isn’t to be confused with scoring, which is creating the moods, melodies and pacing that soundtracks a film (more my thing).
My first step in the process is to watch the film over and over again, noting what sounds need to go where. This starts as a general organizational process and then moves into a more molecular place, as I typically start noticing the smaller sound-details in a scene. It’s not until I dump the film and basic effects into Ableton that I get extremely meticulous.
My sound-design organization is messy...at least for me. Above is a screen shot of the main Ableton session for this project. I’m not passionate enough in sound-designing to build a Foley studio, so what you will be seeing here is what one might call the bootlegger’s edition of sound-design. For those interested in the breakdown, after creating markers for each scene, I separated sounds into groups by score, dialog, various atmospheres (environment), ethereal (surreal sound-design effects and sounds) and various effects I knew I’d need; a track for steps, a track for stairs, a track for gulps, screws, unscrews, zips, coin drops, door locks, chair movements, etc etc etc. It really is never ending.
It’s at this point that I was able to flex a little artistically by using some of mine and Ason Intrigue’s existing music to either provide background music in a scene or score a scene as well. Especially with Ason’s music. Though I definitely didn’t create the music, his style lends well to accompanying visuals and it was fun to find ways to incorporate his music within the film. At one point, I had his music running through the film in such a way that it might also be viewed as a long-form music video. That idea was vetoed by like, everyone else though, so no dice.
Once I’ve established all my sounds are in place and roughly mixed (levels, pans, light natural reverbs, etc), I render each group into single stems of sounds, atmosphere, ethereal, dialog and score. From there, I open a nice, clean session and dump them in. From here, I can really hone in levels, compressors, and more than anything, just getting the psychology of a fresh screen for my ears and eyes to experience the film. At this point, issues poke out at me that I may not have noticed in the original, messy session.
Once wrapped, I render this audio and Keenan applies it to his latest video render. The film is rendered for review and edit notes are taken. This happens approximately 5-6000 more times and even then we still leave wishing we could do more. Once the audio is given the thumbs up, my job is done and I can rest comfortably with the rest of you and actually watch the film.
Oh, almost forgot. My bonus job on this film was cutting the trailer 2 days before it was set to premier. I’m not typically a video editor, but our real editors were deep at work on the film and when working on a team, you find yourself wearing whatever hat you may have to wear to get the job done. This was that. All in all, I was really proud of the cut. All praise due to the actual footage that was shot for being the real MVP in this mini-project.
Unfortunately I couldn’t get a flight out to Columbus, Ohio from San Diego to see this film premier on the big screen. However, I recommend hopping over to Ason’s post to get a complete and vivid description of how it went down. Beyond that you can read up on some great local press the film received back in Columbus right HERE.
Future Plans for Poster Grrl
After their Gateway premiere and this exclusive Steem Premiere, Fringe Life plans to enter Poster Grrl into the film festival circuit. Shortly after this Steem Premiere, our multimedia platform @definitionmusic will be assisting with a very-soon-to-be public release of the film and score.
In Case You Missed Last Week...Tetralume
Last week, @asonintrigue and I shared our experience soundtracking an amazing LED tetrahedron in a project titled “Tetralume”. If you dig these kind of write-ups, I definitely recommend checking out my recount of our story HERE as well as Ason’s HERE.
Lastly, you can catch up on the many projects and events we've been a part of these past few years via the @definitionmusic blog at www.definitionmusic.tumblr.com