Chad Haufschild began writing film scripts as a teenager in Nebraska. Then he had the epiphany about the LA studio system that many young screenwriters do - that the most direct route to seeing his stories realized would be to make them himself. So he picked up a camera and started learning how to make films.
It wasn’t long before Chad was in the process of his first volunteer-run, micro-budget feature film, ‘Declaration of Independents’ (2007), which he wrote, directed and co-produced. He now works as a commercial editor for a local television station in Nebraska, and on weekends makes feature-length horror films under the banner of Unfiltered Entertainment.
With the impending release of ‘Blood Rites’ his third feature as Producer/Editor/Cinematographer, Chad still uses the micro-budget, mini-crew, DIY approach to filmmaking, and is the kind of innovator who often pushes the boundaries of his gear and his team.
‘Wake the Witch’, the 2010 inaugural feature for Unfiltered Ent, was shot with local actors, crew and locations, over several weekends between rent-paying day jobs. Because of their modest resources, all audio was recorded in-camera on the JVC GY-HD250 camcorder, on two channels, using a combination of boom and lavaliere microphones. This meant the camera operator was responsible for monitoring audio quality since all controls are on the camera body. The resulting audio was useable, but not stellar.
Film trailer for 'Wake the Witch'
When it came time to begin production on ‘Blood Rites’ the producers wanted to improve audio quality. Chad’s modus operandi is to always progress beyond his previous production. He says, “If you really want to take a step up in production, picture is great, but it's true that 80% of your visual experience at a movie is the sound; and if you can get into dual system audio, bump up your sound quality for as little money as it takes to purchase the Singular Software product, do it!”
The ‘Blood Rites’ crew list contains no more than nine names, which is phenomenally efficient for a feature film production. Chad repeated his role as Director of Photography, and brought on a dedicated audio recordist. The upshot of having audio separated from picture is that the camera work also improved since Chad’s focus wasn’t being split.
The production used an Edirol R-4 four track digital recorder, forgoing jam sync timecode capabilities to accommodate their budget. This allowed them to record four tracks of audio at a higher quality than the 16-bit of a normal camera.
“It just made sense, why not record dual system this time? We have a piece of software [DualEyes] that will allow us to save time in post, just do that sync automatically without having to line it up manually, which is a long, ugly, dirty process that nobody wants to do.”
The post-production team on ‘Blood Rites’ is as modest as the production team was. Chad serves as lead Editor and has a few helpers for visual effects and sound design, but the crew doesn’t often swell beyond four bodies. His primary tool is Adobe Premiere Pro from the Adobe Creative Suite 5.
Chad began the edit using a scratch track that had been recorded directly to camera, while the first wave of audio sweetening was happening on the dual system audio. Because he had finished the edit before syncing the audio, he got in touch with Bruce Sharpe directly through the Singular Software forums, and ended up taking the advice to use DualEyes.
“It really worked great. I was able to replace the audio and basically create a whole new video clip. Rename my clips, open my Premiere project and, boom, it was all there just ready to go. And Bruce was quite instrumental during the process, the customer service was outstanding.”
Chad admits part of the fun of guerrilla filmmaking is using software and technology in ways they might not have been designed for. For character POV footage on ‘Blood Rites’ he employed a GoPro helmet camera, designed for extreme sports. The GoPro’s tiny microphone picks up ambient sound of a very low quality, and so Chad was extremely impressed when DualEyes was still sensitive enough to sync up the track with his timeline.
‘Blood Rites’ is scheduled for release in the fall of 2011, with a distribution model that will build on the success of ‘Wake the Witch’. In that case, the visibility of their Video On Demand streaming attracted a distributor who helped to secure a traditional DVD distribution deal.
Film trailer for ' Blood Rites' (warning: contains graphic images)
Unfiltered Entertainment also employs the power of social media to engage fans by blogging and sharing video clips throughout their production process. This spirit of community and collaboration seems to permeate all levels of company’s activities.
“Collaboration is really necessary to be able to pull off what we can pull off for the amount of money we have available. People think we've had much larger budgets than we've had, and the only way you do that is with the right people.
... Some people golf, we make movies. And I don't mean that what we're doing is a hobby, what I mean is we really love what we do. There are people who are incredibly passionate about other things. We're really passionate about moving pictures.”
Watch for news about 'Blood Rites' on the Unfiltered Entertainment website.