By Ted Hope | Hope for Film July 26, 2011 at 3:00AM
We are really in this together. As never before, we know no barriers. I met Mihar Desai virtually, over the internet, and have been impressed with his passion, innovative ways, commitment, and collaborative instincts. Possessed with such qualities, it is no surprise that he has come up with a simple solution to solve some problems.
I am very interested how the issues of micro-budgeted filmmaking are being addressed around the world. We face a set of common problems. Solutions will come from all over. Adopting transparency and openness, a commitment to share, we will make better films. With his first guest post here, Mihar is stepping forward and offering some solutions. Who will be next?
You must have heard of the phrase "Filmmaking is a collaborative process." Does that apply to every kind of filmmaker? What about DIY filmmakers who probably just make films with a two to three person crew? It becomes really difficult to manage a lot of things when making a DIY film: Skeleton crew, constrained budget, lack of equipments and definitely no studio backing!
We may have our scripts ready, DSLRs set up with no lights to shoot with but what about sound equipment? One of the few drawbacks of shooting with DSLRs is lack of great sound. You can't really monitor sound, visually or with headphones. There are no XLR inputs in the camera to record sound directly. Your best bet would be to invest in an additional piece of equipment like the Zoom H4N or else rely on post to improve sound. The latter is what most low budget filmmakers do. We try our best to clean up or use sound effects (SFX) to figure out a way to enhance the emotions in our films.
I’ve always believed that sound design is the third dimension in films. It’s very crucial to have good sound design. Even if we use silence a good ambient noise helps add a lot of depth. 2001: A Space Odyssey and the recent Sundance winner Ballast are great examples when it comes to use of silence in films. As mentioned earlier most DIY filmmakers don’t even have great equipment to wait for an extra 30mins after the shoot to record sounds. Unless you are in film school where you don’t have to pay for equipment and you can just download sounds from the school’s SFX library.
Times have changed, we are always on the Internet and don’t have to be physically available everywhere to collaborate. The internet has now become a very important resource for filmmakers. New media tools and various free websites have made it so easy to create, share and promote!
Taking this into account, through my DIY production company Auteur Mark (@AuteurMark) I’ve started the Auteur Mark Sound Bank. It is India’s first free SFX library. During the past couple of months in Chicago, along with my editor friend, Vernon McCombs, I decided to dedicate some time recording SFX. This includes wind, train, waves, beach ambience, birds, stove, water dripping, shower curtain, footsteps and various other diagetic and non-diagetic SFX. These are all universal and not really country specific. Footsteps, wind, traffic sounds, for example are similar everywhere. The sole purpose of this endeavor is to offer sound resources for filmmakers to use in an unrestricted manner. Other than helping filmmakers enhance the quality of their films with better sound effects, our idea is to create a community of like minded film people who believe in creating, sharing and cross promoting each other’s work. It is our duty as DIY filmmakers to help this community grow. Imagine the creative possibilities if ten filmmakers the world over started a similar resourceful platform for other filmmakers to use. Best part about new media tools like YouTube, Vimeo, Sound Cloud, DropBox is that there is no financial investment. I can sign up for free, upload media for free and let others download the same for free!
“Auteur Mark Sound Bank” is free as well. You don’t need to register to download SFX. Just visit our Sound Cloud page: www.soundcloud.com/auteurmarksoundbank search for the SFX you are looking for and click download! These are listed under Creative Commons. All we ask for is an on screen credit. The Auteur Mark Sound Bank will always grow. We plan to record SFX every few weeks and upload. We also invite other filmmakers to submit SFX of their choice. Just email a high quality WAV or AIFF file to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll upload it for you. Once again, all credit will be given to the creator.
That’s how easy collaboration is now. As a progressive step forward we at “Auteur Mark” plan to start a stock footage library as well. If incorporated in the story wisely one can use footage from overseas without even traveling all the way, yet increasing the production value of the film.
DIY filmmaking and distribution is slowly becoming a global movement and the only way I see it succeeding is if we contribute to build a strong community. We still get to tell the story we want to without compromising on quality. There is an audience for the kind of films we make and building the community will only help this audience base grow wider and eventually global.
Filmmaking still is a collaborative process and will always remain that way. How we collaborate will continue to change, we must embrace change and experiment with new forms and styles. Now that the Internet has made things so much easier for us, who knows, there will come a time, when the end credits of films will display the crew’s Twitter handles!
- Mihir Desai
Born and raised in India, filmmaker Mihir Desai got his undergraduate degree at Columbia College Chicago. Right out of college Mihir started his own production company Auteur Mark which is India's first DIY production company. Mihir believes in keeping an individual identity by not compromising on the creativity and hopes to create a similar environment for fellow DIY filmmakers in India. He is currently editing his documentary Common Thread.