It is not surprising most of The Filmsupply Challenge indie filmmaking winners had poor sound. This contest was all about using stock footage – visuals. Though I did find the quality of the stock footage collection very good, it was lacking in volume. This will probably work its way out as the service grows its inventory.
It is also not surprising the Best Sound Design project “Imagine Heaven” by Stephen Gray was just that – best sound – though the picture editing was very good. Once again, great visual inventory from which to choose.
Indie filmmakers tend to spend most of their time shooting and editing picture, with only sound as an afterthought.
Picture is 50% of filmmaking and Sound is 50% of filmmaking.
The number one reason I see distributors reject, or not make an offer to, indie filmmaker projects is because of poor sound. The production dialogue is poorly cut. The Effects tracks are not fully-filled. The Music tracks are poorly mixed. All this makes the overall mix poor in quality.
Most of these issues stem from inexperience and what I would opine is the ‘sound problem’ with film schools today. It is much easier to teach editing and manipulation of visuals than it is teaching sound editing and mixing.
Picking up a digital camera and shooting something, to get immediate visual feedback, all you have to do is playback the imagery. With sound, you can do the same, however, how many indie filmmakers actually listen to whether or not their production dialogue is being recorded properly?
Yeah, yeah, being a cinematographer is akin to being the lead guitarist in the band. The sound guy, sound dude, sound doll, sound dudette, is really the drummer.
As a filmmaker, you can have great, visually-stunning images and cinematography with poor sound, and distributors will not take your project.
Spend as much time planning your sound design as you do your cinematography and your project will benefit from it.
Stanley B. Gill
Founder & Editor-in-Chief