Fernanda RossiFernanda Rossi collaborates with filmmakers in all areas of storytelling, from development to fine cut. As an author, international speaker and story analyst she has doctored over 300 documentaries, fiction scripts and fundraising samples, including two nominated for an Academy Award®. Author of Trailer Mechanics: How to Make Your Documentary Fundraising Demo. More info at documentarydoctor.com. Follow Fernanda at facebook.com/storydoctoring.

Film Anatomy: Lost and Sound

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Fernanda Rossi dissects Lost and Sound with director Lindsey Dryden to reveal the successes and failures of the making the documentary.

Lindsey Dryden attended a lecture I gave in London, and soon afterward she called me. “The film is almost there, but not quite, you know what I mean?” Oh, do I! Once in session, she could visualize right away the core structural issues I was bringing up. Her happy positive attitude just added a nice buzz to our early morning Skype meetings. Later, when I saw the finished film, I could see that same grace and beauty in each frame.

Lost and Sound
Director: Lindsey Dryden
Producers: Lindsey Dryden, Kat Mansoor
Length: 75 min.
URL: http://www.lostandsound.org

Film Vitals

Logline:
Imagine waking up in the morning to find that the world sounds utterly different and music is suddenly unrecognizable. Could you find a way to get music back again… and could music find you? Made by a partially deaf filmmaker, this award-winning creative documentary follows three extraordinary people as they rediscover music after deafness.

Select Festivals, Screenings & Awards

  • SXSW 2012 (world premiere)
  • Sheffield Doc/Fest 2012 (UK premiere)
  • Open City Docs London
  • Docs DF Mexico, as well as Napa Valley, Byron Bay, Mostly British SF, Hong Kong Deaf Film Festival and still going around.
  • Special Jury Prize at DORF Music Documentary Festival Croatia
  • Nominated, Best Female-Directed Film at Sheffield Doc/Fest
  • Nominated, Best New UK Filmmaker at London Open City Docs
  • Nominated, Best International Documentary at Byron Bay Film Festival
  • New York City Film Society of Lincoln Center’s “Art of the Real”
  • Sold-out dates at Picturehouse Cinemas
  • Vibrant sign language Q&As and discussions.

Shooting Locations:
It was shot in the UK and the United States and features animation and world-class music.

Production Timeline:

  • 4 years total, from development starting in 2008 to the premiere in March 2012.
  • 2 1/2 years shooting.
  • 10 weeks editing at the end of production.
  • 4 weeks away from the cutting room thinking, spent some days working on the structure (with Fernanda) and locked picture right after.
  • 18 months (and counting) screening at festivals.

Money Talk:

  • Lost and Sound was made on an extremely modest budget, but it’s full of expensive and ambitious elements.
  • Total budget: £73,000 GBP (about $113,700 USD).
  • Financed by Welcome Trust, Screen South and personal contributions from Animal Monday and Little By Little Films.
  • £63,000 raised before and during production (Years 1-4).
  • £10,000 still to raise to enable full release (Year 5).
  • The producers devised a hybrid distribution strategy in consultation with Peter Broderick. Educational and TV distributors are coming on board now that the film is complete.
  • The award-winning crew were generous with their time and rates, and director/producer Dryden worked for many months unpaid to complete and then distribute the film.

The Filmmaker

Film School:
No.

Other Studies:
BA (Honors) in Media and Communications, Goldsmiths College (University of London).

“I didn’t study filmmaking at all during my degree. For me it was all about swimming in cultural theory and making radio. But I ate up independent and world film in London’s hundreds of cinemas and knew once I finished studying that I had to be involved in making stories somehow. Documentary was where I decided to start.”

For a Living:
Dryden works on several projects at the same time as a producer and sometimes director – sometimes to pay bills, sometimes to help some particular story reach its unique audience. She also proofreads books from time to time and occasionally assists producing films by other directors. Before filmmaking, she worked on whale-watching boats in the Canary Islands as a bilingual guide and researcher and as a dolphin researcher in Florida.

Survival Strategy:
Survival strategies included making short docs for arts organizations and charities and eating mostly rice.

Previous Films:
Close Your Eyes And Look At Me (doc short, 2009)
Making Sense Of My Senses (doc short, 2010)

Lindsey’s Smart Move

“Taking time out to work on the film’s structure — outside of the edit — was a scary decision, but the best move for the film,” said Dryden. It was early 2012, after a really tough 2011, and everyone working on Lost and Sound was exhausted. So, too, was its budget. The edit had been scheduled to end by Christmas, but… “the film simply wasn’t finished,” she recalled.

Dryden went back into the edit with editor Adam Lavis, who was still infectiously enthusiastic about the film, not to mention generous with his time and skills, and working together with producer Kat Mansoor and executive producer Tom Roberts, they soon had a final cut that was promptly delivered to SXSW, where it premiered.

Never Again

Lindsey Dryden said, “If I’d known how hard it would be to make Lost and Sound on such a limited budget, I probably wouldn’t have started making it. So, I’m glad I didn’t know!” Her other regret was having too tight an edit schedule to allow for playfulness and exploration. Now Dryden adds breaks into new film schedules so the director (whether it’s herself or someone she’s producing for) can think and regroup after shooting and after a first cut. “Finally, do I wish I hadn’t got into debt for this film? Yes. But, I’m incredibly proud of Lost and Sound, and I wouldn’t be without it.”

Memorable Moments

“There are many,” said Dryden. “Filming in the hospital when the doctor told Nick they might be able to reduce his deafness, and we were all floored, no-one more so than Nick himself,” she recalled.

“Or, crouching on the floor as we filmed Nick at home with his favorite music, knowing that a piece we were listening to had been played just days before at my grandfather’s beautiful funeral.”

Also, Janet Pierson’s introduction at the SXSW screening: “Since I saw it I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s on my mind every day.”

Dryden is also thrilled when “the entire auditorium gasps gently at a particularly beautiful moment in the film,” and loves the many moving emails from people who’ve gotten comfort or inspiration from the film. “That means more than anything,” she said.

Will She Relapse and Make Another Film?

“Yes,” she said without missing a beat. Currently Dryden is working on four films — two feature docs in development as director, one short doc as producer and one short animation as producer of outreach — and continuing to work on Lost and Sound‘s outreach and distribution. She’s also in the very early stages of writing a new non-fiction project and longing to make some more music films.

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Fernanda Rossi
Fernanda Rossi
Fernanda Rossi collaborates with filmmakers in all areas of storytelling, from development to fine cut. As an author, international speaker and story analyst she has doctored over 300 documentaries, fiction scripts and fundraising samples, including two nominated for an Academy Award®. Author of Trailer Mechanics: How to Make Your Documentary Fundraising Demo. More info at www.documentarydoctor.com. Follow Fernanda at facebook.com/storydoctoring.