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The Director's Chair Issue #74 – Feb. 27, 2007 (A Sound Mixer: Notes for Directors)

Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

February 27, 2007                  Scene 8 – Take 2

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Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
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1. Introduction
2. The Art and Craft of the Director Audio Seminar
3. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion
4. Subscriber Links of Interest
5. Feature Article – A Sound Mixer: Notes for Directors
6. Business and Entertainment Law Tips
7. Filmmaking Websites, Events and Festivals
8. Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
9. Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information
10. Copyright Information


Welcome to Issue #74 of The Director’s Chair (February 27/07)

like to say hello to all my subscribers from around the
world. If your country is not represented here, please let
me know and I will add it to this ever growing list.

Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Australia, Bahamas,
Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
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Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden,
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Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, USA,
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a personal family issue, I had to postpone the March 30, 31,
April 1 workshop for a few months. I will let you know when
I plan to present the next workshop. Thanks again to all
those subscribers who were interested in attending this 3
day event in Vancouver, Canada.

3) FEATURE ARTICLE – This month’s Feature Article is called
“A Sound Mixer: Notes for Directors” by Rob Young. Rob has
has over 35 years experience as a production sound mixer and
has won, or been been nominated for, many awards, including
an Academy Award for “Unforgiven.” What he talks about in
his article is a must read for all directors. (see below to
read article…)

to time I will contact you by email to inform you of certain
filmmaking workshops or film products that I feel are
beneficial to filmmakers like yourself. Of course, you are
under no obligation to purchase anything. I only offer this
information as a service to subscribers of this free ezine.

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Peter D. Marshall

2. The Art and Craft of the Director Audio Seminar

A film set can be scary place if you don’t have much
production experience and if you don’t understand “the
business.” The Art and Craft of the Director Audio Seminar
is a comprehensive, 10-day Online audio/email course
that reveals the tips, techniques and secrets a working film
and television director needs to survive today.

All the information about the 10 Day “The Art and Craft of
the Director Audio Seminar,” including the content list,
audio files, support materials, free bonuses and how to
order, is available now. Just click on the link below.


Each month, I give two subscribers an opportunity to promote
themselves, their company or their productions in this
section. If you are interested, send an email to

Please limit your promotion to less than 200 words. I also
reserve the right to edit the promotion for length, spelling
and formatting.

1) Bright Eye Films (Chris Vallone) – Bright Eye Films is an
Indie Production Company founded by 29 year old Chris
Vallone. Chris has completed ten films to date and has been
working at this industry for 8 years.  His feature film
“THE AGENT” was shot with no budget and was distributed
internationally by Creative Light Worldwide. His latest
films and shorts can be seen on his webpage
http://www.brighteyefilms.com – just go to the films section
to watch.  His latest film (documentary) “Breaking All
Records” has piqued interest with the Discovery Channel,
Spike TV, ESPN, and TLC.  You can see clips of the doc in
the films section, it is in Post-Production.

2) Eye-Q Films (Suuresh Ramachandran) – At Mumbai based
Eye-Q Films, we are dedicated to offering personalized
service, focusing on the needs and concerns of your
businesses. It is our goal to help you create a film or
video, which highlights the attractiveness and benefits of
your clients’ products, while presenting their strengths to
prospective customers and investors. Please contact us at
mailto:eyeqfilms@gmail.com or +919820137890


“Subscriber Links of Interest” is where you can further
promote yourself, your company or your productions by having
your information displayed on a special links page at:

If you are a subscriber to this ezine and you want me to put
your self-promotion on this page, just send an email to:

Again, I also reserve the right to edit the promotion for
length and formatting.

5. FEATURE ARTICLE – A Sound Mixer: Notes for Directors

“A Sound Mixer: Notes for Directors” – by Rob Young

In my 35 or so years working in sound for films I have
worked for many directors, the good, the bad and the ugly
but probably the most memorable were the six films with
veteran director George Schaefer. Two of these were with
Katherine Hepburn and one with Betty Davis but what made
these films memorable and unique where that all six of them
were 100% production sound. Not one word was looped and
every word was recorded on a practical location. How was
this possible? It can be summed up in one word:

It all starts in the initial interview were a good director
will be honest with the sound mixer and lay out his
priorities. Is sound important to him? Would he do another
take for sound? Of course this can all change when ‘the
unstoppable snowball rolling down the hill’ known as
production starts. I have actually worked on films with as
many as three directors before it was finished.

My first big American feature was ‘First Blood’. I left the
interview with the producer with mixed feelings. Buzz
Feitchans, a veteran of several action films told me they
expected a good guide track. My only response was ‘I have
never been hired to record a guide track and would really
like to try for good production sound.’ I told no one that I
had been hired to record a guide track. Three weeks into
production Buzz came to me and said ‘the post people love
your sound, forget what I said about a guide track’. I
should also point out that we had a wild but sound friendly

Step Two is the location survey. I have always attended the
location survey although I have been told that some
productions consider it a waste of money. If the sound mixer
can save one scene as a result of the survey his salary is
more than covered. A good director will include the mixer as
part of his film making team. If the location is perfect in
every way except for the road or river in the background,
consider including it in at least one angle to justify the
background sound. This simple shot could save looping a
perfectly acted scene that might be impossible to reproduce
four months later in a studio.

This is also the time to get to know your crew, the people
that will be supporting you for the next three months. It is
much better to get to know the key members of your crew in a
less stressful atmosphere than that of a busy film set.

The next step of course is production when fifty people are
asking you questions all day. The crew is watching the
director regarding his attitude toward things like sound. I
have noticed it time and again. If the director cares about
sound so will the crew. Sadly, the reverse is also true. If
the director says “we’ll loop it” then it is not long before
the forth grip is repeating it as he drops equipment in the
middle of takes.

As director you have the power to control all of these
things. Remember you are the leader of the most efficient
form of government, a dictatorship. When training new people
one of the first things I tell them is ‘the director is
always right even when he is wrong’.

I have not always followed my own advice regarding this. One
of my early mixing jobs was on an American movie of the
week. These were in the days when they always brought in a
sound mixer. The producer had looked at footage from a
series I had worked on to the check out the work of a local
camera operator. He didn’t get the job but the producer
wanted to know who the sound mixer was.

During the interview he told me he was going out on a limb
by hiring me because the network wanted and American sound
mixer. The first week was in the bowels of Robson Square.
During the survey we were told that the people there would
need at least three to five minutes warning in order to shut
down the exhaust fans. The first day the 1st A.D. gave them
one minute warning and yelled roll. I refused to roll
thinking that I could not hand in such a noisy track. When
the noise stopped I rolled. This happened several times and
the 1st AD and the director were very annoyed. I thought my
first day was going to be my last day. At lunchtime the
producer who had gone out on the limb arrived and wanted to
talk to me. I was mentally packing up my equipment and
looking at unemployment. He took me aside and said ‘I heard
about what happened this morning.’ Pause. ‘You did the right
thing. You are definitely going to finish this movie but
this director probably will not.’ As it turned out we both
finished the movie and the director turned into a sound
friendly one.

If I could stress one thing to a director it would be this:
You have looked at the resumes, hired the best crew possible
so why not utilize their experience and skills during
shooting. Any suggestions from your team are made only to
give you a better film. Don’t reject their ideas because you
didn’t think of it first. You have enough to do, leave the
sound to the sound mixer. My personal theory is not to
bother the director with trivial things; most of these can
be worked out between departments. I only approach the
director when the problem is serious and it is something
only he can solve.

Let’s look at a couple of these. First the multiple camera
situation. When I started in the business you know when we
rode to the set on Woolly Mammoths and not crew vans. In
those days the film was shot with one camera although a
second one would be brought in for big stunts, car crashes
etc. Today two or more cameras are the norm. Since it is
impossible to turn the clock back lets look at the best way
to shoot with two cameras. Having more than one camera means
a compromise in lighting, camera angle and sound quality.

Simply put, when a shot is too wide for a boom microphone
the mixer has to resort to radio microphones. When two
cameras are used as in a wide and tight radio mics are also
used. I find nothing more frustrating than the wide and
tight and then the next setup is one tight for the coverage.
Why not do the wide and then two tights? I have managed to
persuade several new directors to shoot with this method so
that their tight shots are big fat boom microphone tracks.
These close tracks can also be pulled and used over the wide
shots so the whole scene is beautiful rich seamless sound.

This is just one example of how a bit of communication can
give you have a much better soundtrack with no time lost. By
the way, George Schaefer would never use a second camera.

Rob Young C.A.S. is a veteran of over 35 years recording
sound for motion pictures. Starting in documentaries in the
early seventies he moved into feature and television sound
about 1975 working as a boom operator for American feature
films. As a production sound mixer Rob has worked with
directors such as Clint Eastwood, Edward Zwick, Sean Penn
and Bryan Singer. He as an Oscar nomination and two British
Academy Award nominations as well as one for the Genie
Awards, Cinema Audio Society and two MPSE Golden Reel
nominations. He is the subject of a one act play, ‘The Sound
Man’ which premiered in New York in 1999. Most of his work
is in Vancouver, Canada where he lives.


“Music Rights in Film (Part 2): Hiring a Composer”
by Jindra Rajwans, Business & Entertainment Lawyer

NOTE:  The information contained in this article is of a
general nature and not intended to be legal advice.  Consult
a lawyer for advice for any specific situation.

“Music Rights in Film (Part 2): Hiring a Composer”

Filmmakers who would like to create an original score for
their films often engage the services of a composer to
write, compose, arrange, perform and produce the master
recording of the score.

One of the main issues, amongst others, that will have to be
determined is who owns the copyright in the music.  Another
important point that needs to be determined is the deemed
“author” of the music for copyright purposes.

Under Canadian copyright law, in the case where a filmmaker
hires the composer as an employee, then unless stated
otherwise in a written agreement, the employer (i.e. the
filmmaker) will be the first copyright owner of the music.
In the case where the composer is hired as an independent
contractor, then the composer will be presumed to be the
first copyright owner of the music and then will have to
grant, assign, transfer or license the rights in the music
to the filmmaker in a written agreement.  In Canada, whether
the composer is being hired as an employee or an independent
contractor, the deemed author for copyright purposes is the

U.S. copyright law differs from Canadian copyright law in an
important way in that in the U.S., the “work made for hire”
doctrine applies to:

(i) works prepared by an employee within the scope or his
or her employment; or

(ii) a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as
a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work if the
parties expressly agree in writing signed by them that the
work shall be considered a work made for hire.

The key point is that, unless stated otherwise in a written
agreement, the “author” under a work made for hire is the
employer or the person for whom the work was prepared.  This
makes a difference in not only how the copyright
registration forms are filled out in the U.S. and Canadian
copyright offices, but it can also affect how a filmmaker or
composer may enforce his or her rights in the music.

The information in this article is not intended to be legal
advice and is of a general nature. Consult a lawyer for
advice for any specific situation.

Jindra Rajwans is a business and entertainment lawyer in
Toronto, Canada. The entertainment area of his practice
focuses on providing legal services to writers, directors,
producers, actors, musicians or other professionals, and
companies in the entertainment industry.


1) Frozen Film Festival

Check out the Independent, International San Francisco
Frozen Film Festival taking place July 12-15 2007 in San
Francisco, California!  http://www.frozenfilmfestival.com/
Alexandra Mangan
San Francisco Frozen Film Festival

2) Playback Production Innovations Forum – March 8, 2007

Toronto, Canada – The Production Innovations Forum will be a
one-day conference bringing together independent producers,
in-house broadcast producers, programmers, directors,
cinematographers and post-production executives to discuss
issues around the latest advancements in the production
process. Topics include: The Myth of Film vs. Digital, The
New World of Broadcasting and Multiplatform Distribution,
Documentary Production: The Real Deal in HD, Digital post:
The revolution continues, HD Today, Gone Tomorrow.

3) Studentfilmmakers.com

StudentFilmmakers.com is for aspiring filmmakers, and its
primary goal is to encourage and support new and independent
film and video makers of all ages and levels around the
world. http://www.studentfilmmakers.com


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