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I’m Zoë Kissel, the director, editor, and writer of the short film, Juice.
Juice is a short neo-noir, science fiction film following a young addict’s growing withdrawal and the fatal decision she makes to get high once more. The film takes place in the futuristic world of CityComInfo (CCI). In response to the government-halted heroin epidemic, the black market manufactures a new drug to satisfy the junkies’ enduring hunger to feel that same high. Juice is a drug that hooks people with a single injection. The high itself is much more deadly than the heroin of the past.
For returning readers, thanks for sticking around! Enjoy Juice Production Newsletter #10.
Watch Juice now!
We announced Juice’s completion and released the screening link and password to the public on Friday, March 23rd. In the short time, we have received great responses from viewers. For those of you who have taken the time to watch Juice, thank you. It means the world to us.
Since Juice is now available for screening, please share the Vimeo link and password with friends and family.
Vimeo Link: www.vimeo.com/zoekissel/juice
Vimeo Password (case-sensitive): Juice31818
In case you missed it, we also released another short teaser for Juice, featuring the ComBox prop. You can watch the teaser here: https://vimeo.com/261317494
Now that everyone has had a chance to watch Juice, I want to feature Dylan Kissel (sound designer/lead sound editor) and Christian Kolo (composer) talking about their own experiences while working on Juice.
Dylan Kissel on Juice’s Soundscape
How was the experience of working on Juice?
Working on Juice was a big learning experience for me. I had done a lot of the work before, but this time it was on a much larger scale that took more planning and forethought before I could even dive into post-production.
How do you decide to make your own sounds rather than using already existing sounds?
A good example would be the gunshot in the film. In this case, I made my own sound because it needed to be very stylized and special to the world of Juice, yet still recognizable as a gunshot. When I was making the gunshot I used a combination of a handgun sound, a shotgun sound, and a laser noise. I took each sound apart and messed with them through lengthening, shortening, interesting EQ... and then I combined them to create the gunshot that you hear in the film.
How does being given a setting within a film influence the way that you create sound?
For Juice, the biggest thing is really making it so that the viewer has the experience that they would expect to have if they were to visit the CCI alley themselves. You need the viewer to hear everything that they should hear, whether it be beeping sounds from the ComBox or the ambient sound of a standard environment. As a sound designer, to make an environment convincing you have to be constantly researching, even if that is just being aware of the sounds happening around your life. Juice is a futuristic film, so technology also comes into play. Electricity in the U.S. generates a 60-cycle hum. 60Hz became a big number for me in Juice because everything was electrical-based. The gun’s energy hum was made from two sine waves that were generated at 60Hz and 120Hz.
What about the atmospheric sounds of Juice?
I tried to keep the ambience more natural. I used recordings from the day of filming combined with the sounds of a coal plant generating electricity to bring an industrial feeling to the atmosphere. My goal was to make an ambience that acknowledged the life of a natural environment, like crickets and wind noise, but also the constant construction, motor sounds, power, technology of a future world. I wanted to make it feel like there was life, but that the life was from machines and electricity. The very natural, and least machine-like, feelings of the ambience only come through when Violet loses consciousness.
How do you balance moments when there is dialogue, music, and sound all at once?
For the most part, people have come to expect dialogue to be the most prevalent sound in a film. In Juice however, I took more of a route where I tried to highlight the dialogue as much as possible but since there is such little dialogue I let the music and sound effects take over and tell the story for certain scenes. During the confrontation between Holder 2371 and Violet’s Brother, the dialogue exists, but because of the rise in the music and commotion that is happening, the viewer does not need to know exactly what is being said. You still get the vibe.
Can you give me an example of how you built a particular sound for Juice?
In Juice, there is a scene where Holder 2371 scans Violet’s ComCard. The holder takes the ComCard, inserts it into his wrist, the card scans with a readout on his goggles, and then is ejected. In the scene, the major sounds are the insertion of the card, the scanning, and ejection of the card, as well as a small 60-cycle electrical hum that is projected from the goggles. The scanning noise was made recording using of an old Super 8mm camera. I recorded the sound of the camera at various frame rates which gave me various speeds of the scanning noise. The ejection of the ComCard was actually the starting and stopping of the Super 8mm camera. There wasn’t any film inside of the camera and it made a really unique sound when trying to load the non-existent film.
Why does sound design matter?
Sound design, or rather all of the audio, is at least 50% of a film. Many directors have said that they would much rather have a film that has good sound and poor picture than have a good looking picture and poor sound. The audio experience is a very large part of a film.
Christian Kolo on The Music Behind Juice
What was it like working on Juice?
I had not had the opportunity before to score a fully electronic soundtrack, so it was definitely a fun experience. Since the movie had a lot of opportunity for music, it was very cool to also write such a large score for a relatively short film. I think almost 75% of the film has music.
Is writing an electronic film score different than writing for orchestra?
The music itself is not different at all, to me at least. Even though the opening scene to Juice is all synthesizers and pads sustaining the main melody, it is still relatively orchestral. Of course, the logistics are different because you do have to take into account for all of the sound effects, dialogue, mood, tone… whereas in an orchestral setting you don’t have to worry about matching an already existing picture. In a film, you have to stick with what the film is trying to emote.
What is the key to telling a good story through music?
Development. Obviously there are a lot of important things, like mood, the right instrument... but with any film, a good melody needs to be transformed and developed with the character. You look for a character arc in stories and try to find a way to tell that through music. While you choose to stay within a certain “sound world” for the film, you find different ways to express it in order to match how the characters and their stories evolve over time. As a film composer, I try to take the story as my own. I need to be able to understand the film’s story from my own perspective before I even begin to figure out the musical sound, idea, or melody. I have to understand the story as if I have lived it. Once you understand it, you can then try to impose your own creativity through the music.
What kind of writing approach did you take for the score to Juice?
After watching the film with the sound effects, I knew that the score was going to be electronic so a lot of the work was finding the right sounds. The entire first day was spent finding the sounds that I wanted to use and then deciding how I could manipulate them and make them fit, depending on their color. I had to decide what the best sound for the melody was and which synth lead would be the strongest for the opening. A lot of the film was deciding what would be “best”. Especially with an electronic score, you have more at your fingertips in terms of exploiting foreign sounds whereas in an orchestral setting you have the same set of instruments every time, generally. I wanted to make Juice sound alien and futuristic through synthesizers.
Talk me through how you wrote for a certain moment in Juice.
The most difficult and detailed scenes are right before Violet shoots the gun and while she is crying over her dead brother. It’s the last track of the film and the most difficult because the sounds for these moments were weird morph-voice grunts and groans. They weren’t necessarily pitched and it wasn’t clear that a C was a C and a B was a B. To try and find the pitches for the chords that I was looking for was slightly difficult, but in the end it was cool because some of the atonality of the non-pitch notes worked well. The key to the morph-voice sound was the sustainability. Originally, when I would press a key without the sustain it would be a short grunt. I held the sustain pedal of the synth to give the note a tail and applied a reverse reverb effect so that that tail would be crescendo-ed to. The reverb would still ring, but for not as long. I ended up getting a very unnatural sucking in- like a grunt coming back into your mouth sound.
Why does film scoring matter?
It’s the moment when the film comes to life. So much of a movie is about emotion and music and I think, more than anything, music is the purest form of emotion. When a sad scene is sad and you add music to it, it truly becomes sad. When a scene is exciting and you add music to it, it truly becomes exciting. There is something about music that adds a level of fantasy to film that we don’t experience in our own lives, but would want to.
Juice has officially gained an IMDb credit!
Check it out here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt8160726/
For those of you who do not know, IMDb stands for Internet Movie Database. It’s an online database of film, television, and video information, ranging from the huge blockbusters to low-budget independent films.
Having an IMDb credit is a big deal – not everyone gets one. Your production has to be reviewed in order to gain its IMDb status. For our cast and crew, congratulations. You now have an IMDb credit for Juice!
Find your name below and click on the corresponding link to view your personal IMDb page with Juice credit.
Adam Giammarusti - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm9708742/
Ann Kissel - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm9708734/
Anthony Picciuto - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm9708735/
Arianna Kissel - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm9708744/
Arnie Feldsher - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm9708737/
Christian Kolo - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm8945005/
Durk Dunham - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm9708740/
Dylan Kissel - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm9308488/
Jennifer Garcia - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm9708741/
Jeremiah Kissel - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm9708733/
John Garcia - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm9708736/
Leila Kissel - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm9708739/
Marcia Kissel - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm9708738/
R.J. Kissel - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm9708745/
Russ Kissel - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm9708743/
Zoe Kissel - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm9421808/
We want to give another huge thank you to everyone who has supported Juice!
With film patrons like you, we were able to bring the world of Juice to life. We will always appreciate your support and interest in our work. It is what keeps us motivated and creating!
A Very Special Thank You To:
Mom and Dad
John and Jennifer Garcia
Russ and Marcia Kissel
Dan and Denise Murphy
If you have any questions about Juice or the film’s production, please feel free to send them in an email to email@example.com with the subject “QUESTION SUBMISSION”. Unless requested otherwise, I will answer the questions publicly within the next newsletter.
Until next time,