Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Sound Design blog
Remember, I had promised to try and blog the MA production I am involved in? I have finally found something to write about.
We are right now well into pre-production due to go into production in a matter of weeks, so this is the time to thrash out "issues".
Now as my course is designed, there are six major roles in each of the films: Producer, Director, Cinematographer, Production Designer, Editor and Sound Designer. Now I am Sound Designer; and on paper, my role has as much importance as any of the other ones, but reality is slightly different. You see, in the history of filmmaking, the role of Sound Designer is fairly new. In my case, it combines the roles of two technicians: the sound recordist and the sound editor, plus, to give it an air of respect, I am to take on the creative aspects of sound, which originally used to be in the domain of the director.
Now, understandably this is something that is very difficult for a director to come to terms with. After all, the director envisages the sound as one aspect of the film to work in synch with the rest of the storytelling. But if that role is given to another person, the fear of losing aesthetic and narrative "unity" is not unfounded. (Well this is apart from the "ego" issue of losing creative control)
Naturally, my director, in order to avoid that problem chooses to instruct me on what sound I should use where, and how, in very good detail. And consequently, I get very pissed off, because deciding on the sounds is my job to do. After all, aren't we all supposed to be "equal" members of crew? With "equal" importance and "equal" responsibility?
Somehow in these situations, a deep breath does the trick. By the time the air slowly rushes in and out of your lungs, your mind has had enough time to reflect on things pragmatically. It is only obvious for each one of us to think that the other person is a complete arsehole, and therefore try and pre-empt that by making our own ideas prominent. This is because we do not respect each other's intelligences enough. We have a strange feeling that the other person can only fuck things up for us by doing something that is going to stick out like a sore thumb while consequently making the film lack "unity".
How to overcome this? The key here is trust. If we trusted each other's abilities and intelligence enough to know that he or she is not going to fuck things up, then we are not going to step out of line to throw instructions at the other person. So if I went ahead and told my director to shut up and let me do my work, I would actually confirm the fact that I am untrustworthy arsehole. This would make "interference" even more pronounced. Especially in the case of the Sound Designer, where the tendency is still to consider the person merely as a technician who carries out the director's creative decisions.
Contrary to that, if I let my director say whatever she wants, and then I go ahead and do my thing and show her (effectively prove to her that I perfectly understand what she has in mind), then the hope is that she will finally respect my abilities and let me do my job in peace. One can definitely argue Why should I go out of the way to struggle and "earn" the respect I rightfully deserve? (I did, initially). I also thought Would she not want to finally take credit for an idea that is rightfully mine to have come up with?. While the second argument is something that is rather touchy, it is also extremely childish. After all, a film is the most collaborative of all creative products. And this confluence of ideas is what gives most film professionals the kicks.
So by the end of my deep breath, I think I am wiser and certainly more professional. On a flippant note, I can now take the argument to the next logical level: I can attempt to show others how I am more mature and humble than they are :p
Comments to Sound Design blog
In my world it works slightly different. I just take my algorithms into levels of complexity and detail that the person I report to does not have a choice - but trust me ;)
posted by Nilu12:20 am, April 06, 2005
that is exactly the reason why i like anand's world compared to nilu's.
posted by prasad12:12 am, April 09, 2005
Anand, I am just thinking aloud here. Everyone knows (and Mani has said this in an interview also) that he wanted to work under Bharatiraja, Mahendran etc. as an assistant but they could not accommodate him at that time and so he started out in direction himself. How much is that of a reality today for another person? I mean can someone in Kollywood start out today with a script and direct it (if he gets lucky enough to have a set of people who believe in him and join in his crew) without having to be an Assistant Director? With your experience in this line, what do you think of it? Thanks in advance.
posted by thennavan6:35 am, April 10, 2005
Nilu and Prasad: Guess what happened next? Check the next post.
Mukund: When people point to Mani Ratnam as an example for a director who never apprenticed under anybody, we have to understand that Mani Ratnam comes from a family of film producers. In reality today, any 'assistant' director, is in no way better off compared to a film school graduate. As there are NO film schools in India, the only way to learn the medium has been the tedious tradition of apprencticeship. I too did my quota under Mr. Balu Mahendra.
As for your other question of credibility with film producers, it is a tough one. Most of these chaps do not know filmmaking and do not know how to read a script, so they rely on past experience to make project judgements. This plainly explains Indian cinema quickly.
posted by Anand8:24 pm, April 16, 2005
References to Sound Design blog
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