INTERLUDE Confidential #5 – the latest CHATTER!

Now, THIS is a cool idea…just till you hear it!!!

But first, I need to update you on where my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE stands at the moment. As I mentioned in my previous Interlude Confidential, we’re nearly finished with principal photography (shooting the live action scenes) plus creating the VFX shots and voice-overs…and have recently started assembling the “puzzle pieces” into a rough cut.

JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX warned me not to expect too much “excitement” from the initial rough cut. It’s also known as a “wide” cut because the takes are purposefully cut to be a little longer (meaning they have a bit more at the beginning and end of the lines). Later on, the wide cut is “tightened” into shorter takes as the timing and pacing of the scenes are refined.

Also, there’s a lot missing from a rough cut. The music isn’t there, for one thing, and that will eventually add a lot of excitement and richness. But right now, it’s all just people speaking their lines on an otherwise quiet set—no red alert klaxon, no explosion sounds, not even the pressing of buttons and the beeps they make. As they said, don’t expect much yet…and I didn’t.

Instead, I used my imagination to fill in what was missing. As I watched the rough cut, I mentally added in the explosions, the red alert, the music, and the camera shake. And in my head, it was MUCH more exciting! But even in my mind’s eye (or rather, ear), it felt like something was still missing.

And almost immediately I knew exactly what it was!

When I started telling Victoria and Josh about my suggestion during our next production meeting, it turned out that Victoria had the exact same idea! And since they’re both actual industry professionals, if I think of something that they’ve thought of, too, then I know we’re in good shape.

So what’s this great idea already??? You’ve been so patient, let me tell you…

The thing that was missing from our battle scenes was—drum roll, please—BRIDGE CHATTER!

Remember how, in TOS, when the Enterprise would be at red alert, you’d often hear a cacophony of voices calling up to the bridge from the lower decks? Most of it was unintelligible background chatter because the director didn’t want to distract from the main dialog. But that “bridge chatter” was an essential part of conveying the fact that this was a huge starship filled with battle-tested crew members all doing their jobs and keeping their heads during red alert.

All too often in Star Trek fan films, there isn’t any bridge chatter, despite there being countless battle scenes across hundreds (yep hundreds!) of fan productions. And it’s totally understandable. To do bridge chatter properly, you need a large number of different voices so it doesn’t sound like the same two or three people saying all the lines. And those voices can’t (or shouldn’t) be recognizable as any of the main cast either.

Victoria even took my idea one step further. Our sickbay scene focuses primarily on one medical bed where Ramirez has been injured—and thanks to Victoria’s make-up skills, the wounded admiral looks amazing! (And no, you can’t see him yet.) There’s Ramirez, a doctor, and an orderly. But the USS Ares has been taking a pounding from the Klingons, and sickbay would obviously be filled with emergency medical personnel treating wounded crew members. How do we convey that without being able to actually show it? You guessed it: sickbay chatter!

Of course, the challenge for us was the same as for other fan films: how do we find enough people to do chatter voice-overs who aren’t already in our cast? Then it hit me.

I reached out to the many, many fan film show-runners whom I’ve interviewed over the years! Ultimately, I came up with a list of 25 people on three continents (plus a dear friend of mine who does voice-over and desperately wanted to be in Interlude, but I didn’t have a role for her…but now I do).

And as of right now, all but three of them have gotten back in touch with with interest in participating, and half a dozen have already recorded their lines. Some have their own sound equipment, while others I’ve simply recorded over the phone the same way I do my audio interviews.

I wrote 36 separate items for people to say, things like:

  • “Reading a 12% drop in antimatter intake valve 3.
  • “Engineering, can you confirm?”
  • “Rerouting power to atmospheric containment.”
  • “Bridge, requesting emergency assistance to Deck 7, section A-2.”
  • “Life support systems damaged, repairs underway.”
  • “Casualties coming in too fast. We need to triage.”

There’s a combination of short and longer sentences for a variety of chatter. (One of the lines is so long and techno-babbly that most people are struggling to get it right…but they’re sure determined to!) Two-thirds of the lines are intended for the bridge chatter, and the others are for sickbay. The people reading are a combination of male and female, although admittedly, there are way more male show-runners in Trek fan films than female ones, so I did cast a slightly wider net to get more women involved.

When all of the readings are completed, I am going to combine them all into downloadable MP3 files for any fan filmmaker to use in their films (all the participants are on board with that plan, by the way). All of the voice-0ver files will be full readings, meaning that each fan film can mix-and-match who says which line. In that way, no two fan films would likely ever have the same combination of background chatter!

Sounds pretty cool, huh?

17 thoughts on “INTERLUDE Confidential #5 – the latest CHATTER!”

  1. Hi Jonathan, that’s amazing and thank you very much to you and to all involved to make the chatter free to download and use. It’s very kind of you all.
    It will be very useful in audio productions as well.

  2. What a clever idea, and how generous to save the results in a format that others can make use of, too! If this were a Facebook post, I’d be “liking” it a couple of dozen times, if I could!

  3. Want a mild but moderately polished Australian accent? ─ I would be happy to contribute.

    But otherwise the soundscape of a movie is a fascinating topic. There are sounds that need to be there, sounds like general background noises, with bridge-chatter being part of this. Then there are the sound effects, everything from the faint sound of a chair being dragged away from a table to the powerful sound of an explosion ; and explosions in particular are interesting as so often (but certainly not always) a film-maker revels in the sound of big explosions even though there are no sounds in space; it’s a case of the viewer expecting it!

    Then there’s the one thing we don’t hear in reality but is essential, and that’s the music. Yet music can make or break a film. There have been cases where a mediocre movie was successful because it had a brilliant score. But even there, the importance of the creative use of silence must not be ignored. A frequent flaw in fan films can be wall-to-wall music. The positive value of using silence creatively has never been demonstrated more tellingly than in ‘2001’.

    ‘2001’ has prompted much commentary on the way music ─ and silence ─ were used to great effect, including the highly controversial use of mainly familiar ‘classical’ music instead of an original score. So very many years later, ‘2001’ remains a most important reference study for the creative use of sound, and of silence, for all film makers.

    1. Thanks for the voice-over offer, Bryan, but I do have an Aussie in the mix…along with more than 20 others (most of them male). I’d welcome more female voices, but I think we’re good on guys at the moment.

      As for music, we’ll likely be scored stem-to-stern because it’s looking like Interlude is going to time out under 10 minutes (not counting credits). With that short of a run time–plus an Emmy-winning composer providing the music–there’s no reason not to feature a music bed under just about everything…except two places where the silence will be particularly impactful.

      1. Hi Jonathan,

        Great idea with the chatter and thank you and all the others for providing it for others to use. 🙂
        Do you really need more female voices? I would be happy to help.

        I’m very much looking forward to Interlude! 🙂

  4. Well, DUH! How did everyone miss this over all the years? Congratulations on catching the (should have been to us all) obvious and being creative enough to come up with a solution. Wow!

    1. Every so often, I have a really good idea that seems like it should have been obvious all along…like the time I thought, “Why not turn phones into cameras?” (Oh, wait…that was Steve Jobs.) 🙂

  5. It is cool. There’s a great word that fits perfectly into what you’re doing: verisimilitude, “the appearance of being true or real”.

    Congratulations on the realization. I hope others pick it up.

  6. Although it’s quite noble that you note you’re “…nearly finished with principle photography”, I think you’ll more likely get a fan-film Nobel for having “principal” photography complete. 😉

  7. Having worked in radio, I’m all too familiar with the audio world. 🙂 Adding that “Bridge Chatter” is definitely an AWESOME idea! Making the chatter available just doubles-down on “Awesome”. 🙂 Major kudos. 🙂

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