Angelo Bell: Fore-thoughts and after-thoughts (I screwed up…but I did good!)


by Angelo Bell

I’ve been trying to avoid it, but it’s no use. I screwed up. I screwed up and now I’m paying for it.

Back during pre-production of BROKEN HEARTS CLUB  I should have spent more time with the schedule and location prep. I should have hired a 1st AD to take care of those things for me. I didn’t. Now I’m paying for it.

As a result of not properly preparing for our grueling 16-day shoot, we lost 2 1/2 days of shooting, equal to over five scenes. Five VERY important scenes. Now, as opposed to shooting reshoots and exteriors I’ve got to do pickups of scenes we missed. These scenes are pivotal to the development of three of the man characters.

And as a result of not planning properly I’m spending an extra $15,000 for these pickups. This money could have been used for a post sound mix, ADR, and sound design. Instead I’m spending more money on that.

So — that’s al the afterthought shit. All the hindsight that makes me want to kick my own butt. But — you live, you learn and you keep making films.

The thing I did exponentially well was hire my composer, Rob Gokee, before a page of the script was ever finalized. This is something I did much better than many indie filmmakers out there. For many folks, the score for their film is an afterthought. I am not saying this is the case for everyone, so don’t misquote me. But I know what I’ve seen and heard. Too many filmmakers budget for everything — except the music for their film. Then they are left to beg, borrow and steal, or accept substandard music. Their dilemma often gives them the chutzpah to ask a professional composer to do the work for free (see many-a-craigslist ad to verify).  What they are missing out on is a personal relationship with people like a Rob Gokee, who’s willing to work with them and their budget (as long as it’s fair).

The filmmaker/composer relationship should be a win/win situation. The composer gets paid to do what he/she does best while perhaps securing future work, and the filmmaker gets an original score for his/her film. Details can be negotiated. I was lucky because two years ago when we met Rob believed that I’d continue making films. He believed that there were other opportunities for us to work together so he was very flexible with pricing. We ended up working together on six films. He created 86 minutes of distinct original music for Broken Hearts Club. And more than that, he’s also now a good friend.

So while I screwed up in the production planning phase, I hit a home run in hiring a composer to create an original score for my film. But you filmmakers reading this can learn from my mistake and my good luck.  If your cousin isn’t a film composer don’t let him write music for your film. Treat your film professionally. Hire a composer. Don’t let music for your film be an afterthought.