Archive for April 2009

About the Name Change

April 25, 2009

Guest Post by Jamie Thompson, Chief Operating Officer, Quantum Management Associates

Hi everyone.  Just wanted to log on and say the feedback so far about the name change from “Way of the Dolphin” to “Beneath the Blue” has been extremely positive — so much so that we’re wondering, quite frankly, why we agonized as long about it as we did.  It seems to be universally perceived as a positive change.   In the midst of all the favorable comments there was one nervous query by one of the film’s investors who was concerned that the name change might have some implication for the ownership structure and might in some way be affecting his position — and the answer to that is absolutely not. The only thing that has changed is the title.  Titles change all the time — in fact something that may be worth remembering is that before Eye of the Dolphin was Eye of the Dolphin, it was “Blue 14”, and before it was “Blue 14”  it was “Spirit of Paradise”.    In that case, as in this, same sort of testing was done and in each case the testing and focus groups supported the final changes that were decided on, but the business structure remained constant thoroughout.  So there’s nothing to worry about on that score.

As for the film itself, we are extremely excited about getting it into the marketplace.  The new trailer is a huge step toward success, as is  the poster and key art.  We will be starting the process of unveiling it in Cannes en route to what is projected now to be a late August US release.  We will be coming online here on Michael’s blog now and again to update about that, and will also be posting information on our blog at www.quantumgroup.typepad.com.

Post Production Update as of April 23

April 23, 2009

We’re deep into post production and there’s not quite as much to write about in terms of behind the scenes activity — it’s basically two or three of us locked up in a room with computer screens and speakers and lots of coffee. But we’re progressing through the edit and feeling better and better as we get deeper into it.

One thing that I know I’ve blogged about in the past but maybe some of you haven’t seen it, is to explain the steps in post production.  And anyway — this time it’s a little different since we shot on the red camera, which has it’s own post production workflow.  So here are some bullet points:

  • Director’s Cut:  Normally if you have the entire film in the can, the director is given about 10 weeks to do his cut.  If it’s a DGA (Director’s Guild) film, the director is mandated those 10 weeks.  In indieland, it might be a bit less. In the old days before Final Cut Pro and Avid Express, the director’s cut always involved having a fulltime editor simply to work the machines.  Nowadays many younger directors (or young at heart anyway) have their own editing equipment and in some cases the editor isn’t brought on fulltime until the director has had his whack at it.  Anyway — April 15 was 10 weeks past the end of our shoot so that gives you a sense of where we are.
  • After the Director’s cut, there are producer revisions.  In my case, since I’m a director and a producer, what happens is that I try to follow two different thought patterns.  During the Director’s cut phase, I try to make sure that everything I was trying to do at every step of the way in the film at least gets tried out.  I also try to shape the story the way I was shaping it when I directed the scenes–thus if I felt there were three or four particular “moments” in a given scene that were important, I emphasize that.  Or if it’s more from one character’s point of view, I skew it that way.  And I just basically plow through the film trying to get the most out of I can based upon the script, the shooting plan, and the directorial “vision”.
  • After that, though, it’s time to look at the film differently.  Invariably, films shift and change during the making.  They are not just a carbon copy of what the director wanted — they in some fashion take on a life of their own and it becomes important to “listen” to the film and what it’s trying to say, and begin to make changes that are more responsive to the film.  In our situation, the editor and Susan Johnson are the ones who take the director’s cut and then have their wicked way with it.  I go away and wash my head of it.  Then — after 2-3 weeks of that, I’ll come back in and we’ll work our way to the finish line of the EDIT (which is a long long way from the finish line of Post Production.)
  • When we get to a finished edit, what we have is something that’s pretty watchable — it’s got temp music, maybe some effects, perhaps some effort has been made to equalize the sound and get rid of any really offensive production sound elements.  But all of this is just temp stuff done in the service of trying to make the cut watchable enough that it can be judged.  Now, with the cut decided on (at least provisionally), the post moves on to the next stages which involve:
    • Building up the sound.  The dialogue must be cleaned up and isolated, the foley added (foley is natural sounds you make on a stage by replicating the sound you should hear on the screen — a glass getting placed down, the rustle of clothing, footsteps).  The reason you need to foley eveyrthing is that eventually your sound track has to be compartmented in souch a way that the dialogue can be removed for foreign language dubs without removing all the other sounds that are attached to it on the production recording.  So that’s why you “re-record” the sound — through foley and hard effects you try to recreate and enhance the naturally recorded production sound, making it more expressive and compartmenting it.
    • Special Effects Shots.  Some of this can be one while the first round of editing is happening, but most of the SFX shots happen later in the game, replacing temp effect shots that were dropped in during the edit.
    • Music–The composer in indie films usually doesn’t start until the edit is complete, although he or she might start ‘noodling’ with some themes before the cut is done.
    • Eventually the sound is locked (6 weeks is about normal for sound) and so now we have locked picture and locked sound, with special effects shots in place.
    • With the RED camera, at this point we have to do a conform which is really pretty easy.  The RED gathers so much information that for editing purposes, we only use a “reference movie” that has 1/4 the info on each digital frame that the “real” Red frame has.  So now before doing color grading and final visuals, we rebuild the film using the full resolution of the red.
    • We then go on to color grading and finalizing the picture, adding titles, and getting all of the SFX shots in place so that we can finish the film.

Anyway, if that sounds complicated first of all I’ve simplified it a bit so apologies to any techies out there — I know I didn’t describe that well enough to satisfy you.  But it’s actually a bit easier and more streamlined than the traditional film system, wherein as soon as the edit was “locked” you would then have editors go and physically start cutting and assembling negative.  Plus you would have to do “opticals” for things like dissolves and fadeouts and so on.  Then build an “Answer Print”.  Not so anymore.

BENEATHTHEBLUE.NET is up (with trailer)!

April 23, 2009

As we make the switchover in title from Way of the Dolphin to Beneath the Blue, there’s a good bit of plumbing that needs to be put in place. For starters, a clean, elegant, not too cluttered website is now up at beneaththeblue.net.

It will grow in coming weeks into something VERY nice.  As it is now, it’s got the poster, trailer, stills, and a cast page.  Like I said, it will grow.

Here’s the link to the BENEATHTHEBLUETRAILER

Welcome: BENEATH THE BLUE

April 17, 2009

As I think many of you know, it’s not uncommon for the original working title of a movie to be changed as it gets closer to time for it to come out on the market. There can be many reasons for this. In our case, we originally selected “Way of the Dolphin” in part because our gut instinct was that “dolphin” was a net positive to have in the title for many reasons — worldwide fascination with dolphins, linkage to Eye of the Dolphin,and so on. However even before we tentatively selected Way of the Dolphin as our working title, we were also aware that there might be advantages to using another title, one that did not have the word “Dolphin” in the title. This was based on feedback we were getting that Quantum Releasing was getting from a number of international buyers (not all, by any means, but more than a few), as well as from some US film bookers and theater reps. There was a general sense that having the word “dolphin” in the title might be limiting the audience rather than expanding it.

So, quietly, over the last several months Quantum’s marketing team under Jessica Kelley have been conducting quite a bit of title research including focus group sessions and communication with distributors, buyers, and theater owners. This has yielded some very interesting information and has led us to make the decision to make a change.

Following is an email that came to me from our head of marketing, Jessica Kelley, summarizing the process and making a recommendation:

After conducting focus groups and speaking with international distributorsover the course of the past month, I am now ready to make the firm recommendation that we change the title fromWay of the Dolphin to Beneath the Blue. Through a variety of means we have established ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that  Beneath the Blue offers more adventure and resonates very strongly in a positive way with our key demographic. Below, I summarize the data that supports this conclusion.

First, after narrowing down alternative title choices, we conducted focus groups of the demographic (females 11-17) as well as people who fell outside of the demographic. A total of 132 participants were informed about the movie and read a synopsis, leaving the film nameless. They were then asked to rank 9 titles (one being Way of the Dolphin). Of the 92 participants that fell into the key demographic, the top three choices were Beneath the Blue, Surfacing, and Smith Point. Of the remaining people ranging from age 18-55, BENEATH THE BLUE made far and away the biggest splash – 34% of the group thought that this was the most exciting title. In addition, they claimed that they were more likely to go see a film with this title than the others presented.

Digging deeper, one of the reasons why BENEATH THE BLUE is so well liked is that it not only lends itself to being an adventure, but also the title builds an association with two blockbuster hits which also targeted much the same demographic – Into the Blue and Blue Crush. Both of these films did extremely well pulling in over $400M worldwide from theatrical and DVD sales.  Creating this association within the same demographic can only boost our film’s sales.

Third, from the conversations with various international buyers, many are looking for a family adventure. Presenting them BENEATH THE BLUE has lead to much intrigue.

In conclusion, the title BENEATH THE BLUE is not only well perceived by our demographic, but also the general population and prospective distributors. In addition, the title creates a great association with two films that did quite well. Therefore, I strongly suggest that we change the name of the film to BENEATH THE BLUE.

So, there you have it. We’ve held off pulling the trigger on this until now so that we could continue testing and making sure that all the data adds up to support the decision to make the change. And the data does just that. In one carefully considered stroke the film’s appeal to the target demographic has been strengthened and its stance in the marketplace has been widened.

Welcome — BENEATH THE BLUE
Beneath the Blue