Film Courage: Are you able to tell us how you found financing for DANGER ONE?
Tom Oesch, Filmmaker: It was pretty straightforward. Once we had the sizzle done…let me rewind. When Stephen the writer and I started working on the script and the sizzle, I had lunch with a producer friend of mine and I just briefly gave him the log line and he’s like “Oh my gosh! That’s awesome. When you’re done, let me see it.” We’re good friends and go back a few years. Also someone I met through a friend that I went to school with obviously.
But when we were all done, my managers sent it out to people and a few companies and I sent it to my producer friend and he loved it. Because he had produced THE PYRAMID for FOX. So he was in Lebanon at the time that I sent him the stuff because it was the Middle Eastern premiere of THE PYRAMID. And at the same time he was there another movie called POCKET LISTING also premiered in Lebanon. That one was produced by the people who ended up financing DANGER ONE. And so Chady (my producer friend) was in Lebanon at the time he was set to go to the premiere of POCKET LISTING. And at time he met the financiers and they had just finished a movie and they were looking for something new and I told them what they were looking for and Chady was like “Oh my gosh. You should check this out. I’ve got a sizzle and a script.” At that point things moved pretty fast. We probably spent two months rewriting the script and five months later we were on set.
Film Courage: So you put your own money in for the sizzle reel and in the end you got someone to finance the film?
Tom: Yes, I wouldn’t be able to finance the film. On an editor’s salary I would be able to finance a film this size. Our budget wasn’t high especially for a movie this ambitious and it was a full union shoot but we got it done.
Film Courage: Do you think because it was mostly interior or in that one warehouse or whatever with the ambulance that this saved so much money?
Tom: Oh yes. I mean honestly I don’t know how we got this done with the time we had and the budget, it’s a bit of a miracle. And in hindsight I do think it would be good if we had (and I know every director will tell you that) a little bit more. But we still had a whole lot of locations (we had to cover 23 days) so for us to be able to spend the first two weeks of those 23 days in that warehouse basically covering everything that happens in the warehouse and also inside the ambulance was the only way to get that done. The last two weeks that’s when we headed out but we still had so many locations where you have a company move in the middle of the day doing one scene here and then everyone gets in their cars and their trucks and you travel somewhere else.
But a lot of the scenes we sort of shot around that warehouse. The funny thing is there is a scene in the movie where they are getting rid of the firefighters in the manhole and we were looking for a location for that. So when we were in the warehouse we used it as a sound stage and it should not be used as a sound stage. Sound stages are sound proof, that’s what makes them a sound stage. This was actually an old warehouse but what’s worse is literally right next to that warehouse was a recycling plant. So we’re shooting inside this warehouse and all night long/all day long you’ve got these trucks pushing containers with metal cans and bottles against our wall which was why a lot of the sound was unusable and we had to ADR a lot of it.
But we were like “Can we take a look at this recycling plant? Maybe we can shoot there?” And we eventually ended up shooting a whole scene in there literally just next door.
Film Courage: So when you found out that most of the sound wasn’t usable how shocking was this? Maybe you knew that was coming?
Tom: Well we knew it was coming because we heard it on set. This was not a good situation to be in, especially on a low-budget film you don’t want to have to ADR half your movie. A lot of the stuff that happened in there we had to ADR in post. We had a long ADR schedule on this movie.
Film Courage: How long did that set you back? Because you probably had an idea that it was going to be released by a certain time.
Tom: Just because certain things didn’t go according to planned during the production (this happens on movies a lot), the post production budget kind of moved into production. So when you get to post production you have to be really smart. Things will just take longer because there now is less money to get it done than there was before. So our post…how long was that? Because we shot in 2016 in March and April and I were we in post for like a year…probably? Because also actors are out of town shooting things and you have to start scheduling around their availability. The further removed from principal photography the harder it gets.
We finished toward the fall of 2017, so yes post was a year.
Film Courage: Did you have all the actors come back for ADR? All the major players?
Tom: I think so? Tom Everrett Scott was in for like 4 days. Yes Dennis O’Hare we had to come in from New York. We even had some ADR done in Lebanon because the actor was in Lebanon. So we had to visit a studio there and do a Skype call. So yes, pretty much all the major players were in for a day (half a day) and some of the smaller ones.
Film Courage: How does this work? So you’ve gone through the entire movie and you know from this time mark to this the sound is horrible and this line needs to be redone. So you’re charting all of this?
Tom: I wasn’t but the post sound department they were. And that was the first time I’d done this. They basically just gave me a long list of here’s the time code, here’s the line, get the line. The good thing about this is it actually allows you to tweak the performance. I know a lot of actors don’t like ADR and I get it because you’re in a booth and it doesn’t feel…you know being on set there is the environment and the other actor is in front of you and you can really get into it, you’re having an actual interaction. It allows you to get out of your head and really just be in that moment.
ADR you are in tiny padded booth by yourself and the acting experience becomes very artificial. You’re just saying the line over and over again. Because a lot of actors hate doing it.
As a director and for the post crew it allowed us to tweak certain performances to even out the tone a little bit, to take certain things down a notch. Also to be writing certain likes that were actually off camera because scenes might have gotten cut. There are a couple of scenes that may not have even shot. We some how had to get that content in where ADR was the best. So it wasn’t just replacing the crappy production audio it was also replacing the story.
Film Courage: So how do you get that to match the bad sound that’s in Vernon [where they shot the film] that probably has a very distinct feel and then you have this pristine both? How is that working?
Tom: During the mix there is an ADR editor so they already do some filtering on it and then during the mix you try to make it sound as much as possible as during production. Sometimes they just advise you to ADR the whole scene because they are just like we’re never going to be able to match this. If you know what lines are ADR you can tell. When I watch it I’m like “There’s an ADR right there.” I don’t know if audiences can telT, but it’s not easy.
Film Courage: So you know it because you hear there is more reverb or whatever, you can just hear more of an echo or something and this was too crisp but most of the time the audience won’t know?
Tom: Well now having done it I can actually hear it in other movies, even on like big movies it’s like “There’s an ADR line right there.”
Film Courage: You have an editor’s ear.
Tom: Well in reality TV, I guess we do some of that but it’s not on this level. ADR in reality TV is talent will say it in their iPhone and record it and then like text it over. It’s not quite on the same level as on a feature.
Film Courage: But then too with a lot of reality TV there is music playing the entire time under the [dialogue] so that would probably filter a lot.
Tom: But reality TV you do quite a bit of wild nights with dialogue cheated that people record on their iPhones during interviews and we make it sound like it’s actually happening. Like I said, not a lot of reality in reality TV.
Film Courage: iPhone audio can sound excellent.
Tom: Well audio on reality TV is already kind of crappy so the audio from the iPhone is going to fit in nice (it’s not going to stand out that much).
Questions For The Viewers: How much did you spend in post on your last movie?
WATCH THE TRAILER TO ‘DANGER ONE’
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