This is the last in a series of articles about the making of And Then I Woke Up from writer-director Christopher J. Aran covering the post production process of editing, color correction, and composing the music and sound design to complete the film.
One we had finished production, it was time to turn to post-production, that long and sometimes arduous process of actually putting everything together. Fortunately, I have a few friends I knew would come to the rescue!
Editing And Then I Woke Up
I’ll start this by saying, I really don’t enjoy editing. Not the process itself, but actually cutting things myself. So I knew from the start I wouldn’t be editing this movie.
I reached out to an incredibly talented editor who also directs his own films, George Manatos. We’d met on the set of a movie called Moonlight Sonata years ago in San Francisco and he was such a nice guy it was a no brainer to keep in touch.
George eventually moved to New York City, which was fortunate for me! The guy loves film and he didn’t think twice about cutting my work.
I handed him a hard drive full of material, gave him a few notes and walked away with a time to return and see what he’d done. By the time we met up again, i saw a movie taking shape. He’d done a fantastic job blending all the right moments with imperceptible edits that just made the movie really flow.
As the process continued, the film just got tighter and tighter. It was great to have a fellow director on board, not only to have someone so highly skilled, but who I could talk to about creative choices for edits – not just cuts because they match action or because they look good. It was more about pacing, performance and sometimes what to leave out of the film to make it work.
He delivered an aamazing cut, and I was fortunate to have a trusted voice to bounce ideas with to complete the film.
And Then I Woke Up | Color Correction
More post challenges, with Guillermo Tuñon to the rescue. He and George went to the same school in San Francisco and knew each other, yet I’d met them independently.
Guillermo came on as a Digital Image Tech for James Franco’s, As I Lay Dying. We’d done a few jobs together before that, but I really got to know him well on James’ feature.
He knew about my project and offered to help with the post color work once we got to that step. I’d seen some of the magic he’d pulled off on various projects so I took him up on the offer. When pro’s offer help, you can’t say no.
But Guillermo was challenged by And Then I Woke Up. Mostly because we were frequently limited during shooting only to available light without additional lighting setups. So Guillermo put in a lot of hours performing surgery on the edit to make details pop, bringing hot spots down and making edits with completely inconsistent sun patterns match.
I watched him pull his hair out on a scene or two but he did some amazing work. Once all the maintenance was done, we were able to talk about color and style creatively for each time period in the film. His ideas were great and his work got even better!
And of course all the time we spent waiting for things to render (which was a lot of time) we spent eating great takeout, and returning to our childhood playing some old school video games. He’s a pretty huge gaming fan which I loved.
And Then I Woke Up as a Musical Instrument
So I walk into Martin Bayless‘ living room with a smile and he says “Oh God, what!?”
He knew I had another film and I was going to rope him into doing music “one more time” after scoring my previous, One Day In January. Thats one of the things I love about the guy. We work together on a variety of writing and production projects so he knows when I’ve got trouble for him on my mind.
Martin is one of those people who is easy to speak with creatively too. He’s not afraid to try new ideas and experiment with words or music. When I showed him a cut of the film, he asked me about doing a minimalist score and possibly using some of the environmental sounds and blending them into the music. I loved it. I wanted something more atmospheric and as usual, Martin took it a step further.
He spent days playing with sounds to get them to morph in and out of music. I would get phone calls talking about how much fun he was having blending cicada noises into an actual electronic instrument he was creating for the opening of the film. Lots of somewhat abstract ideas but when it all came together the result was incredible.
He’d managed to create a score that was riding the line of ambient sound and music at the same time that supported and propelled emotional moments in scenes without dialogue. Sometimes you aren’t even aware thats its there. But if it were removed you would notice the dead space. He worked some serious magic on yet another of my projects.
The Completion of And Then I Woke Up
I finally had a completed project. Months and months of hard work, dedicated professionals who came out and gave their time and incredible skills, and a few fortunate days of weather that held up long enough to let us shoot outside almost all the time, left me with a great film.
I would be impossible to thank the people who were involved in this project enough. Without them, no film would be possible. The ideas we put on paper as writers with the intention to make it to the screen, are worthless without support and other ‘creatives’ who are just as passionate about their craft.
I’ feel fortunate not just to have another film to showcase, but more importantly, to have the friendship and support of so many wonderful and talented people who share a love for the art of filmmaking. The projects that succeed begin with a great story, and a great team behind it. But it’s the people who always make the difference. So I give many, many thanks to the people who made a difference – who made my job easier and my vision possible, and who created And Then I Woke Up of themselves.
This little project belongs to all of us.