Monday, October 17, 2011

Yellow Rock: Interpreting the Spirit

As Yellow Rock quickly approaches its final days of mixing at Monkeyland Audio, I would like to take a few moments to share some of the philosophy regarding the approach to creating the film's soundscape.

I must first say that it was an absolute pleasure getting to know and work with Lenore Andriel, the film's producer and one of the film's many stars.  She is a collaborative, inventive, and unique individual whose passion for Yellow Rock is highly contagious.  Thank you for trusting us with your film!

After our spotting session this summer, it became apparent that we'd have lots of maneuverability with regard to devising our sound approach.  Since the film takes place during the final age of the Black Paw tribe, the sonic landscape of Yellow Rock needed to reflect a sense of loss (or impending loss) and desolation (both real and symbolic).  That sense of  doom had to ring true not just for the Black Paw, but also carry across for all characters in the film, as each one suffers from these ailments to some degree.  We were allowed full poetic license in order to weave a nice interpretive sonic tapestry for Yellow Rock.

Part of our challenge called for tastefully weaving the natural environments with those of the ethereal and spiritual world, and balancing the big "cinematic moments" with subtleties and nuances.  There are many places throughout the film where we'd hit full force with sound effects, and other spots where we'd pull back and let the film's wonderful score (by Randy Miller) take the lead.

On the sound effects and Foley front, the task set before us was to build and enhance the realistic elements found in the visuals.  This would include all the heavy boots, weaponry, tools, horse movements, fighting, impacts, etc...  As hoped, these elements really provided adequate color for our cast of characters, bringing forth nuances to their already well-nuanced performances.

The approach to backgrounds involved a two-tiered process.  The first step was to build for the realistic:  Trees rustling, grass blowing in the breeze, dry wind blustering, birds, insects, night creatures, etc...  The second tier required adding elements that would not only further help to sell the film's locations, but also assist in creating the mood and overall feeling the filmmakers wished to convey.  For this step, I hooked into the concept of loneliness.

Music was one of my main sources of inspiration in trying to devise a lonely tone, and I listened to much of the poignant and beautiful music by Coyote Oldman (“Rainbird”), Bodhi (“Shamanic Flute 1”), William Hoshal (“A Rumor of the Sun”) and Kelvin Mockingbird (“Sacred Fire”).  I also listening to early tracks of the Yellow Rock score in order to gauge which direction composer Randy Miller was headed.

The poetic and ethereal layer of backgrounds prepped the stage for our sound designer Steven Avila to step in and create layers of specific and intentional design work.  In many cases, he was able to implement and process some of the recordings made at Monkeyland of our Native American cast members, anchoring the Native design into something organic and real.

You'll have plenty of opportunity to experience the full realm of design we've created for Yellow Rock at this year's Red Nation Film Festival, as our film has been chosen to screen during opening night.  Please also visit Yellow Rock's Facebook page for up-to-the-minute festival information, pictures and other information.

Again, a big thank you goes out to Lenore and all the folks involved in making this film a reality.  I am proud to have been able to share in the experience and look forward to seeing Yellow Rock succeed.

Many blessings!
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