One Take Film Lets Students Witness Once In A Lifetime Score
With one last call to go, a unique event is taking place for a local film production.
Coming back to Windsor, Gavin Michael Booth is offering an educational experience for secondary and post-secondary students. Taking place on Wednesday, February 13th at the Chrysler Theatre those interested can witness a live scoring session for his upcoming film, Last Call.
Partnering with composer Adrian Ellis, the music will be recorded in a single take like the movie itself.
“The live recording idea was born out of the fact that we shot the film in a single-take, meaning that the camera never shuts off from the beginning of the film until the end,” said the director. “Given that, when discussing the music for the film, the idea sparked of recording the music in the same manor. Chrysler Theatre is perfect for a few reasons. One, we have a relationship with St. Clair College because the MediaPlex was one of our major locations in Last Call. They were incredibly accommodating and the film wouldn’t have been possible without their assistance. The second reason is that when we thought of the live music concept, I immediately wanted to offer it to Essex County secondary and post-secondary students that have an interest in music, drama or film technology programs.”
Keeping that in mind, Booth felt the venue would have enough room to accommodate field trips for the free event. Worrying less about acoustics of the room and more about close microphone placement to capture instruments clearly, the decision was made to facilitate others.
The director and Ellis plan to discuss creating films, making movies in Windsor and the process of scoring Last Call. Behind the scenes photos, videos and a muted version of the film will also be shown as music is recorded at the same time.
Having collaborated with Ellis repeatedly, the composer is usually Booth’s choice for films unless he’s unavailable. Developing a friendship and trust over time, the director mostly leaves the music in his hands. This ranges from selecting players to helping find the right emotion for scenes.
Experiencing the process from films like The Scarehouse, both know where it will take them.
“Generally when the film has an edit completed, the composer will get involved,” said Booth. “Due to our single-take approach, we had no editing and were ready to go immediately after wrapping the film’s production. As a writer and director, I’ll often have a sense of music or where I might want music when writing the script or working on set — the real work begins with a spotting session though. That’s when the director and composer watch through the film together and discuss where music might work and what style of music it should be. For me as the director, not being much of a musician myself, I talk to [Ellis] in terms of what emotion I want conveyed scene to scene or how I want the audience to feel in any given moment. It’s his job and his craft to translate that into musical expression.”
Given the precision needed and challenges that come with a single take, that level of trust is even more important in this case.
“I believe the biggest difference for [Ellis] this time is knowing that what we record is what we are committing to right then and there verse having the option to ponder it, make revisions and change it for future sessions,” said the director. “In terms of figuring out the music from a storytelling perspective, it’s been interesting. In traditional films you have scene endings, scene transitions and often that gives you a good sense of where to begin and end music cues. With Last Call, because it is all one long scene playing out,, it was a challenge to rethink things.”
Dealing with two main characters, the idea was to shift perspectives between both of them with music. It was designed as a way to convey their emotions along with the back and forth they provide one another.
It’s also something that could go very wrong if mishandled.
“Music is everything,” said Booth. “I say it all the time. Music is the glue that holds a film together. Try to imagine Luke [Skywalker] staring off to the duel sunsets over his desert planet longing for more out of life without that cue. How less scary would the Joker be in The Dark Knight without that nerve-grating single note sustaining through many moments? It is one of my favourite parts of filmmaking – working on the score and finding the songs that will drive the story forward. I grew up with a collection of hundreds of film scores CDs and have always had a passion for film music.”
Booth’s reasons for paying it forward also come from growing up in the area. Influenced heavily by his teachers at General Amherst high school, he’s always ready to provide new opportunities.
“My drama teacher Donna Mancini and media arts teacher Keith Harrick were instrumental in my career choices, my decision to push myself creatively back then and still to this day,” he said. “If there is even one chance my work can pay it forward and inspire another local area student to pursue their dreams, then I have to do it. We actually had a student from Essex District High School on set for Last Call who was getting his first taste of feature filmmaking and when i was in high school, I would have jumped at an opportunity like that.”
Beyond providing Windsor-Essex County students with a learning experience, Booth wanted to finish his film where it started as well. Keeping it as local as possible, the Amherstburg native is also hoping to host its premiere at the Chrysler Theatre upon completion.
Although Last Call has kept the director busy, Booth has many projects in production. Recently in Windsor, he filmed a new video for frequent collaborator SYML. Afterwards, another was scheduled for Tim Hicks. A feature film is also on the horizon, but Booth is unable to make an announcement just yet.
Despite the event being for secondary and post-secondary students, some extra seats may go public. Those interested in film-making can ask about limited availability by e-mailing Booth.
For a sneak peek at Last Call, people can also view a behind the scenes video put together for gear company Zacuto: It focuses on filming the movie in a split-screen/one take format.
Photos by: Vy Nguyen