"When you hear what we've done, Nick... Just you wait--"
That was Devin's voice on the phone to me last week as I went to visit him and Mike on one of their final sound editing sessions before our mix. He was referring to the last few minutes of the film -- the ending. An ending that, in order to be pulled off right, requires the perfect combination of performances, music and sound design. I had been waiting two years to hear the last few minutes of the film the way I did last week and all I can say at this stage is... Mike and Devin were right. It packs a seriously powerful punch. I am so proud of the work and bravery every one has put forth to make this ending (and the entirety of the film) such an intricate and layered piece, and I hope it will churn many discussions amongst audience members as the end credits roll, set to a song I am so proud and honoured to be including in this film (more on that... later!)
I am so incredibly impressed with the work these two gentlemen have done. The care and thought they have put into every sound and every edit is incredible and truly shows as the intensity and rate or your heart rises over the course of William's Lullaby. Sound Design has always been an important factor for me with this film, along with music. It is the missing layer -- the layer of story that brings it all together and truly makes it click for an audience. Mike and Devin have gone above and beyond what is written in the script and have added a layer of subtext and subliminal foreshadowing into the film that will take multiple viewings to unravel. That's Sound Design with purpose and I love it. One of my early talks with Mike discussed how Sound Design was done on The Sixth Sense, a film I have mentioned on here in the past. For those of you that do not know (and I hope this isn't giving anything away), The Sixth Sense follows a young boy who has the ability to speak to the dead. What the sound designers did on that film was brilliant. If you strip the dialogue, strip the foley, strip the music and leave only the ambience -- crank it up, what you are hearing; that hum, that buzz, is the sound of hundreds of people breathing. Of course, this would be next to impossible to figure it out if it weren't for the filmmakers saying it in interviews, but it is chilling to know that even in scenes where Bruce Willis or Haley Joel Osment are alone, you are hearing multiple breaths along with theirs -- there is an added presence. And it adds a layer of sophistication to that movie. Similar to how Hans Zimmer used a switch-blade dragging across the strings of a Cello to compose his theme for the Joker in The Dark Knight. Using this as inspiration, Mike and Devin have added original and unique, subtle details to their sound design. I can't tell you more without giving away crucial plot points. But when the time comes and you are sitting in a theatre, viewing our film -- listen carefully!
We will be heading in to our final mix session next week, and as we do, I find myself reflecting back on this process. The end is near -- or is it really the beginning? True, I would probably compare this process more to the birth than anything else. It's just been a really long labour. While work is still being done on colour and minor touch-ups happening here and there, Mike and Devin will be done their work on William's Lullaby by the end of the month. For Mike this is a big deal especially as he has, in a way, been a part of this journey since its conception - back when I emailed him a 140 page script called Ducklings and Swans.
William's Lullaby has always been there. For the last two years, it's been sitting here, waiting for me while I'm at work, stirring in my mind as I sleep. It's always been that 'unfinished symphony.' It's been incredible watching people grow over the course of this adventure, watching friendships strengthen, talents develop, and watching the film itself take shape. We've learned a lot and there is certainly much more to learn in our journey as artists. William's Lullaby is just a stepping stone, for all of us -- but we'd like to think it's a big one.
Patiently, and methodically, we will continue our work over the next few weeks -- perfecting what we have designed and built over the last two years so that it is the best it can possibly be within our ability. And when the time comes for us to sit back and close the book on this chapter, expect an even sappier post from me here. From there, we will breathe life into the film -- a project in and of itself, one that could take another two years to reach its maximum potential. Who knows? That's why I tend to compare filmmaking to having a child (like I could even begin to know what that's like!) but there are similarities. If these next few weeks are the birth, then the next two years are going to be the most crucial as we help the film grow and develop into the piece of cinema it is going to be.
Stay tuned! It's about to get exciting!
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