Web Site: http://www.aerieproductions.com
Bio: Filmmaker, multimedia producer, and Chesterton enthusiast based in Southern California
Posts by Andrew Wahlquist:
I’m looking for help with Sound Effects editing – the work is being completed in Adobe Audition, which would be the easiest way to collaborate. Open to ProTools artists, however, it will be more difficult to collaborate.
The project is in a rough edit stage, with all the pieces in place, but it needs a lot of detailed work to add in sound effects and begin to pre-mix all the dialog elements. If you have access to FX libraries, even better. This is a volunteer production, done for the love of audio drama, great literature and creatively fulfilling projects. The performances in the piece are excellent, and its a joy to listen to.
If you’re here visiting, and you’re interested in this piece, reach out and help – email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrew Wahlquist (Director/Producer)
P.S. – Unrelated to my project, there is now a film out there in film festivals, a contemporary adaptation of the book, staring Francois Arnaud. The trailer can be found here: https://youtu.be/wKyVyrYWP6k
As Sean Fitzpatrick points out in his insightful article in Crisis Magazine, GK Chesterton pulls a reversal on one of the detective genre’s most common tropes. Whereas most mysteries in the end unveil the seemingly good person to be the evil murderer, The Man Who Was Thursday instead “tore away the mask of hell only to reveal the face of heaven.”
Without giving away the plot, there are a number of dark fears that Gabriel Syme must face in this nightmare, the fear of miracles, the fear of science, the fear of nature, the fear of the masses, the fear of death. What he discovers is that much of that which we feared was out of ignorance, and once its true nature is revealed it, it is not our enemy, but an ally.
Read the full article at the link below:
I made an important discovery recently, one that will turn upside down my initial conception about how to control who speaks from where along the stereo spectrum. Meaning, how far to the left or to the right a character speaks from in the stereo mix.
But first an update. If you have checked back to this website over the past couple years, you’ve seen that the blog has been dormant. It is true, what they say, that you can’t serve two masters. I serve four myself. The one that takes up most of my online time is the Downey Arts Coalition, an effort I’ve taken on to revitalize the arts and culture scene in my hometown. The others being work and family.
That’s not to say that The Man Who Was Thursday isn’t going anywhere, it is. Working with other (unpaid) editors did not turn into anything productive. After all, it is my creative ambition to tell this story, and thus is my burden to do the work, in the absence of paying professionals.
In small increments the project continues to move forward a little bit at a time, and in another year there may be some better news that includes releasing some episodes.
Back to the stereo soundscape. The entire project was “blocked” for audio, to borrow a theatre term. Blocking is the way that actors move about the room during a scene. Actors who are entering or exiting, or talking from across the room, are recorded further away from the microphone. The actors move throughout the stereo spectrum left to right depending on the action of the scene.
My initial conception about an audio play is that it might work similar to shooting a film. Where you place the actors in relation to the camera, as well as where in the frame they land conveys certain subtle cues to the audience as to how they feel about a character or a situation. For example, if you want a character to feel trapped, you place them in the center of frame with two others around them, blocking them visually from the left and right sides of the screen.
It’s also suggested that each side of the screen frame has an assigned emotion to it. Because our culture reads from the left to the right, the eyes will often start scanning the filmed image from left to right. The left side therefore may have an instable feeling, and the right side of screen has more strength or confidence, because your eyes naturally land and rest there.
Going on this, I would do the same for stereo audio. The characters would either be on the left or right based on their ability to be in control of the situation in the scene. If Gabriel is challenging someone, he begins on the left ear, then slowly ends up more on the right ear as he gains the upper hand.
I often listen to what scenes I’ve put together in the car, as I spend a lot of time commuting, and a car is the primary venue for listening to podcast audio. What I realized is that listening to an audio podcast is often a solitary, personal experience. Your subconscious can handle the driving and allow your mind to become absorbed in what you are listening to on the radio. This works for The Man Who Was Thursday because the audience literally is in the head of Gabriel Syme from the first moment, as he tells the story from his perspective.
Point of view or perspective in this case becomes the overriding language of how the audience listens. In your gut, at least in America, I think that we put ourselves in the shoes of the character on the left. That’s obvious in the car, as the driver’s side is on the left. Putting the sound of the main character on the left helps the audience feel like they’re in his shoes. A person approaching on the right sounds foreign, especially in the car, as we’re used to the left speaker dominating over the right.
This will take some careful consideration at the mixing stage, where my initial plan is to listen to how the characters move across the stereo spectrum as we recorded it, then match it as I add in the two shotgun microphones (typical film-shoot boom mics) that help isolate the individual voices.
If I want someone to sound further away, I raise the volume of the stereo room mics, and lower the shotgun mics. If a close, intimate scene is needed, I can drop out the room mics and stay with the shotgun mics.
I’ll post some examples soon to illustrate.
Thanks for sticking with the project!
It’s no secret this project had a rough 2011 with little progress, but now a new small team of editors have asked to join the team and help get this done, an unexpected new year’s gift. Time to get organized!
There is a lot to do still.
I hope you has a wonderful Easter. This weekend I celebrated with a long time friend of mine who was officially received into the Catholic Church. Like myself he was raised Baptist and generally moves in Protestant circles, though recently we have formed relationships with some like-minded Catholics.
The schisms between Christian churches has long fascinated me, especially as I see many of my generation get tired of dogmatic and doctrinal arguments that get away from the central message and purpose of the church. The friends I see most often don’t pay a lot of attention to these divisions. Perhaps there are changing attitudes among my generation. We were raised on stereotypes and generalizations about competing denominations or sects, but when you take the time to enter into friendship and community with people of other churches we’ve discovered how blinded we were by our pride.
GK Chesterton famously “converted” (an imprecise term) from the Anglican Church and was received into the Catholic Church in 1922. He wrote a book about it, as well as this poem that he came up with after receiving his first Communion.
After one moment when I bowed my head
And the whole world turned over and came upright,
And I came out where the old road shone white,
I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
Being not unlovable but strange and light;
Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
But softly, as men smile about the dead.
The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live.
–G. K. Chesterton–
When I first started adapting The Man Who Was Thursday it was in 2002, and my original notion was that the story was “ripe” for updating into a contemporary settings, especially since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the world was wondering the same question: Why does God allow things to randomly blow up? Plus, I could recast the “anarchist” into our modern term for it: “Terrorist.” Of course, it also had to be a movie, since I’m a filmmaker. So the screenplay contemporary adaptation began.
However, two things happened: First, I fell in love with Chesterton’s witty banter. Second, I’m not that good of an adapter, judging by the fact that when I can’t think of anything original to add, I simply transcribe what dialog and action is in the book into screenplay format. What I ended up with was an unusual hybrid: an old-fashioned story with old-fashioned dialog that was trying to exist in today’s world. Another thing happened while I did that, however. I was still attempting to change the way people talk in the book to be a little more fluid and use phrases and words that we’re a little more used to today. So there were a number of things in the dialog I changed in the name of “updating” it.
As the years passed, I couldn’t let go of the original period setting in turn-of-the-century London. Plus I like the way the characters spoke, and I wanted to keep all of that great Chesterton dialog. As I approached the book to become this radio play, I started from two sources that I kept open on my computer as I wrote: The text of the book, and my contemporary film adaptation. I decided to meld the two, taking what I liked about my adaptation, and bringing it back into the original time setting.
Here is a line that I decided to keep in the radio script, even though it was modern usage of the words, and would never have been spoken at the time: Lucien Gregory says, “You have pissed me off, and I don’t usually get pissed!” “Really?” asks Gabriel. “Not too often,” replies Gregory, timidly.
“You have pissed me off” [click to listen]
Needless to say, this line caused a minor mutiny in the recording session. They didn’t buy it, and said it pulled them out of the time period. I argued for it. To me, anachronistic language doesn’t matter a whole lot. The purpose of the piece of art we’re making is to entertain the people of today, not to impress some historians with our accuracy. You see this approach all the time. My wife and I watched a wonderful translation of Moliere’s Tartuffe by Richard Wilbur that used all kinds of modern references an plays on words in order to make the English translation rhyme properly. Though for the record, my wife agrees with Jacob and Eric (who play the parts). “Pissed off” is just too colloquial slang to make it work in this case.
Here is what it became, and I do think it has a laugh of it’s own:
“You have irritated me” [click to listen]
Chime in in the comments below if you like the “before” or “after.” Oh, and you might be wondering what the original Chesterton dialog was. Here it is:
“Mr. Syme,” he said, “this evening you succeeded in doing something rather remarkable. You did something to me that no man born of woman has ever succeeded in doing before.”
“Now I remember,” resumed Gregory reflectively, “one other person succeeded in doing it. The captain of a penny steamer (if I remember correctly) at Southend. You have irritated me.”
“I am very sorry,” replied Syme with gravity.
There is still quite a bit of editing to go, so I apologize for those who are waiting to hear something. Stay tuned.
I’m not much for making blog excuses, so I often opt for silence rather than reveal that there isn’t a lot of news to report.
Where have I been since October? Well, on November 7th my 2nd baby boy was born– which triggered a long-standing agreement between my wife and I that I would set aside the project for the first couple months of our child’s life. This has been very necessary, and well worth it. Though as a creative person it feels like I’ve decided not to use one of my arms for a couple months. I also started a new job in the film business as chief technologist at Local Hero Post, which has me commuting longer and working harder than I have for several years. But it’s nice to be back in the feature film business.
Things are just now beginning to normalize, however. This is a volunteer effort, so things happen only in the off-hours, when there are any to be had. But look for more to come soon, and I apologize for the absence. In the meantime, here is a smile:
Not too long ago we had our final “official” recording session, with most all of our anarchist council present for the occasion. We finished the duel with the Marquis, followed by the madcap chase through the French countryside and the confrontation on th pier. We had a lot of fun and moved very quickly. I’ve been extremely pleased with the caliber of work that our cast brought to the table. It’s not easy staying in character when the recording sessions are spread out as we were forced to do.
I’ll be writing a more detailed post about our recording process, and hopefully we’ll move quickly through all the editing work that now needs to be done. I imagine that the project will take several more months– especially since my wife and I are having baby #2 very quickly here.
Check out the right rail of the website, I re-booted our donation box into Paypal’s new widget system. It’s pretty neat– if you’d like to support the project financially, it should be fairly easy. In fact, I just gave myself $10.
By now if you’ve been following the project, you may have noticed that the part of the French Marquis is played by a woman– the inimitable Lisa Wolpe. Among many things, Lisa is the artistic director of the Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company, and has made her mark locally by playing some of Shakespeare’s most powerful men as if she were a man. It all stems from a very studied technique in which she is able to embody the essence of the male persona. I won’t begin to describe her approach, my wife gave me an overview and I quickly knew it was out of my realm of comprehension.
I wanted to bring one aspect into Chesterton’s narrative and themes that I felt he left out. Each tyrant on the high council of anarchy, the Council of Days, represents an aspect of life in this world that strikes fear into the heart of the Christian everyman. As I elaborated in the post about Dr. Bull and the Professor, a couple of these aspects include science, accidents of nature, unexplainable miracles, or even death itself. The sword fight between the Marquis and Gabriel is very clearly his battle with the fear of death, or put more nobly: martyrdom.
However, I saw an opportunity with the Marquis for another long-time fear of man. The book describes the Frenchman as the only man who looks like he belongs in his fashionable clothes. So I chose to explore our fear of femininity. There are several aspects that play out in society. Most obvious is when a man displays feminine qualities, whether that man is homosexual or not. Also throughout history is men’s fear of the strong woman, or the woman in power. Many men, and even conservative women have problems with female leadership. Then I would even go so far to say that some men and women fear female femininity in its natural state in women. This evidences itself in different ways, such as the medical system’s attempt to take birth out of the hands of women (an institution which historically has always been the sole domain of femininity). Also society’s angst and battles over feminine sexuality.
Now you might guess what tweaks I made to the story to fit this in there. I didn’t change any scenes or make much of a change to the lines of dialog, just a simple act of gender-bending that I won’t specifically outline. But remember what happens thematically to each of these “fears of man”: they turn out not to be the enemy, but an ally after all.
We had a lot of fun recording with Lisa. Unfortunately, time didn’t allow for everyone to get in a room together to do some of the bigger, explosive scenes that she is in, but even with having only her and Jacob Sidney as Gabriel in the room, we got some great stuff on tape.