on Post-production

on Post-production

Shortly after completing principle photography in December, and after taking a well-deserved and much-needed break from work, I started to think about the workflow for post-production. Having never edited something so large, I had no idea what to expect, or even if we had the right tools for the job. I started scouring the internet for ideas and expectations for editing a feature-length film with Final Cut Pro X (fcpx). I didn’t see many people doing that, so in the same spirit as my lengthy post on directing my first feature in Africa, I offer you my nerdy narrative on our post-production process. Maybe it can come in useful to others who are considering FCPX as an editing platform. Why Final Cut X? Over a year ago, I directed our first project that we edited in FCPX. We had been undecided up until that point whether we would jump ship (from Final Cut Studio) to Adobe Premiere, but figured the free trial for FCPX was worth giving it a chance. We were blown away by how quickly we were able to take 6 hours of unlogged footage and assemble it into a finished video package. Normally this process would have taken 2 weeks for the logging alone. FCPX and its range-based keywording and scrubbable event library allowed us to do this in a day. The trackless, magnetic timeline, with auditions and compound clips helped us to very quickly assemble a rough-cut. It did take us a few weeks to really learn the ins-and-outs of using FCPX efficiently, but by the end we understood the unconventional but clever choices Apple...
Finishing the movie

Finishing the movie

The events of the past week have had a rippling effect in our movie release plans. Last week was to be filled with media interviews and showing our trailer on TV and gearing up for a huge pastor’s conference about this movie. Now those pastors are officiating funerals and counseling grieving families. They also decided it wasn’t best to advertise too publicly that thousands of Kenya’s missions-minded pastors would all be together in one place at a certain day and time. They’ve delayed their conference a few weeks, and we’ve delayed our release to be closer to their dates. Things are finally coming together, though. After spending the past 2 months writing about 54 minutes of underscore, working with some of Kenya’s best musicians in licensing their music for the film, and pulling a couple of 80+ hour weeks in sound design and mixing, the movie is almost ready for release. Just last week we went to a major cinema in Nairobi to test our DCP, which is a special video format for the large, expensive digital projection systems that most theaters own. We decided to make our own DCP instead of sending a hard drive to LA and paying thousands of dollars to have one made for us. We honestly weren’t sure we could do it. But after a lot of trial-and-error we were able to make it work, and were totally blown away by the quality of the picture and sound. It really looked like a movie. And sounded like one. Also, if you haven’t seen the new Distant Boat website, please check that out. And the...
Scoring the Distant Boat

Scoring the Distant Boat

Below you can listen to my orchestral underscore to “The Distant Boat“, which opens in a month. The biggest music project I’ve ever taken on… about 50 minutes of music in a 2 hour movie… about 2 months of work for me. (c) 2013 Andy Brown Click here to see more about The Distant Boat and the past 18 months of my life in producing this film for the African...
On directing

On directing

I used to do a fair amount of mountain climbing. When Robbie was born, Lesa and I lived in Denver, which is a good place to live for that kind of thing. By the time we moved from Colorado, I’d bagged 12 of the 14,000 ft peaks (called “fourteeners”… Colorado has 53 of them). And last year, about the time that the seeds of an idea to make our first feature-length movie were taking root, I hiked 16,000 ft Mt Kenya with Robbie. It was about 3 months later that the OFM team, and Ted Rurup (producer) in particular, tasked me with directing it. And we were about to leave on furlough for 2 months. While being up for the challenge, I realized I was woefully unprepared for what lay ahead. I wasn’t even sure what it was that lay ahead, but only that it was big. Too big to wrap my mind around. Like standing on the Colorado plains, looking west toward the mountains, it’s very hard to judge scale. I’ve done it enough times to know that something that looks from a distance like a quick scurry up a hill is actually an arduous, strenuous, lengthy climb up a huge pile of rocks. It takes preparation and forethought, planning and training. Once you start climbing, you realize how slowly the peak seems to grow, and often disappears behind smaller peaks in the foreground. You feel light headed as you pass the tree-line. A headache, or nausea might follow. Half-way up the final stretch of mountain you wonder if this will really be worth it. From the top,...
Movie update: 2 weeks, 25%, exhausted and exhilarated

Movie update: 2 weeks, 25%, exhausted and exhilarated

Since last Tuesday, our first day of filming, we’ve completed filming on about 25% of our movie, the Distant Boat. It’s exhausting work, requiring 12+ hour days (or nights) on our feet, loading in/out dozens of cases of equipment, a dolly, crane, and coordinating a cast of crew of around 15. Tomorrow, we film our climax scene, to take place in a church in Nairobi, with a couple hundred extras on set. I’m very thankful, as the director, to have a highly competent Assistant Director and Production Manager, who manages the logistics so I can focus on the acting and the creative aspects of such a large shoot. I wanted to take a quick moment to share some prayer requests and some behind-the-scenes videos and photos with you all. Please pray for the health and endurance of our crew, particularly, and our families who sacrifice a lot when we are this busy. Pray for Lesa and her grad school thesis completion, and her play which is coming up. Pray for more funding to come in, as things are constantly popping up that need addressed and we can’t account for in our limited budget. And pray for this film, that in the acting, the filming, the editing, the entire production would bear much fruit to God’s glory, and mobilize a new generation of African...
Stories from Egypt and Iraq

Stories from Egypt and Iraq

In May I had the opportunity to travel to Egypt and Iraq with International Christian Concern, an organizing dedicated to advocacy for the persecuted church. I was tagging along with a friend of mine, Aidan Clay, who is the North Africa/Middle East regional manager for the organization. My task was to capture photography and videography of the stories from persecuted Christians in both these countries. The Arab Spring brought some freedom and democracy to North Africa and the Middle East. However, the western view of “democracy” with a separation of church and state doesn’t work as well in these highly religious countries. While the west hoped secular governments would arise to rule these countries in the void left by dictators, in every case an Islamist party was elected. Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, and now Syria looks fall the same direction Most of these countries have an ancient Christian population. Sizable populations (10 million Coptic Christians in Egypt for example), but still a minority. In Baghdad, Iraq, before the 2003 war, there were 60 churches. Today there are only 6. A dictator was removed, yes, but the situation on the ground got much worse for Christians under democracy. Many Christians fled the country completely, if they had the means, or fled to Northern Iraq where the Kurdish government allows some religious freedom and more importantly, some protection. I talked to pastors there from Mosul and Kirkuk, cities that were too dangerous for us to visit as high-value-target-westerners, who told stories of car bombings and threats and terrible persecution in their community. Pastors who had patiently endured without fleeing like most of their...
Our first feature-length movie…

Our first feature-length movie…

OFM is pretty good at making documentaries. Over the past 5 years we’ve made documentaries in a dozen African countries, bringing light to unreached people groups and bringing prayer and support to ministries. Most of the media we produce is for a western audience, the church largely. Connecting the church around the world with what God is doing in Africa. But a few months ago we were presented with an opportunity to do something totally different. Something almost crazy. Something so far outside our comfort zone, on a scale so large, that God had to be behind it. The challenge was presented to us to create a film that would “bend the heart of the African church to missions.” The church in Africa is big. It’s strong in many ways. But it has traditionally been lacking in mission vision, in seeing its role in finishing the task of the great commission among Africa’s 900 unreached people groups. As our team brainstormed how to do this, we realized we needed to do it through the form of a drama. Presenting information only goes so far, and in Africa, particularly, story-telling is the primary form of communicating values and mores. And as we discussed what this drama would look like, we realized that a 20-minute short film wouldn’t have much effect or opportunity to spread. A truly African story, for an african audience, told in an entertaining and dramatic way, that could end up in every church in subsaharan Africa or satellite TV, or theatres. This would have to be feature length. Our writer sequestered himself away, and with an outline of...
Telling the story of the persecuted church in Iraq

Telling the story of the persecuted church in Iraq

Canon Andrew White, the “Vicar of Baghdad”, said recently: We Christians in Iraq feel that we have been left behind, and that we have nothing… from the day the US military left, Christians felt themselves in total disarray. Violence related to religious sectarianism increased. Our people have been slaughtered, massacred, and murdered, and we have nowhere to turn.” A friend of mine works for International Christian Concern (persecution.org) and has worked on behalf of persecuted Christians in Afghanistan and Egypt and throughout the middle east. He’s asked me to accompany him on a trip next month to Iraq, as a videographer, to tell the stories of these believers, and why nearly 2/3 of Iraq’s Christians have fled the country since the war on terror. I’ve been asked to produce videos that will end up being used for advocacy in congressional offices and for the ICC organization. While not part of my official duties with Africa Inland Mission, I feel these are important stories to be told. The same kind of stories I feel called to tell from Africa. Just not in Africa this time. Canon Andrew White is working to secure my visas, and the date of the trip is rapidly approaching. In the meantime, I’m looking for donations for my expenses during this trip, which will probably be less than $2000. If you’d like to be part of helping bring awareness through video of the plight of the Iraqi church, please contact me. And please be praying for my visa to come through in time for this...
Bound to the Past

Bound to the Past

After 3 months of post-production, I finally finished “Bound to the Past”, our short film from Madagascar, based on the true stories of 2 of Madagascar’s least reach people groups. Read more about this trip, the craziest OFM trip ever,...