This week we talk to Jack Gravina, director, composer, producer, editor, writer, actor and he’s just set up Gravina Films with his filmmaker wife, Diliana. We’ve got a lot to talk about!
First off, tell us a little bit about Gravina Films. I set up Gravina Films with my Wife, Diliana as a way to create our own films and short films. We also use the company to produce commercials and promos. Basically my wife is an extremely talented producer/director, so between the two us we are a full service Production/Post-Production team.
So, if we tried to pin you down, would you consider yourself foremost, a composer, producer, director or all of the above? Well, I went school for music and moved out to Los Angeles over 8 years ago to become a film composer. However, my path has constantly been evolving. Now, I’d like to consider myself a director, but as far as earning a living—editing and composing for non-fiction television is my bread and butter.
I was lucky enough to watch The Sound, a short you directed. I loved it, and it actually made me jump – which is quite the achievement! Can you explain the premise and where the idea came from? I’m really glad you enjoyed The Sound. We had a blast making that film!
I’ve always been fascinated with the idea that a sound can be infectious, so I kind of ran with that. There are some strange real-life phenomenons with sound that I also drew from, like the mysterious “Windsor Hum” —a low frequency sound that is torturing a community in Windsor, Ontario causing headaches and anxiety—or the “Dyatlov Pass Incident” — One theory of how 9 Russian campers had inexplicably died is that an Infrasound created by wind whipping around the mountain drove them all mad. Even the US military has experimented with using sound as a weapon to drive enemies crazy.
Anyway, I wanted to take those concepts a step further and say; what if you heard a sound and became infected, and then part of that infection was that you now transmit the sound? A zombie sound (if you will). We sort of scratched the surface of that concept in our short, but I’m definitely interested in diving deeper into that idea.
If we can talk about your work as a composer for a moment, how do you approach a job – do you sit down with the director to find out what he/she needs or do you take the footage and work up some ideas – what’s the process? As a composer, the first job is to figure out where music can help the story. A lot of times directors/editors put in temp music themselves to help figure out the pace of the edit. That can be a blessing or a burden depending on the musical taste of the director. The first thing I do is ask for 2 cuts, one with music, and one without, then I can start experimenting to try and see what is needed elevate the story. Once we agree on an idea, then the writing begins.
Exit 6 Film Festival is probably the best (I know I’m biased) short film festival in the UK and we hope it acts as a launch pad for up and coming talent – what advice would give people going into their first short movie? Keep it simple. A lot of new filmmakers feel like their story has to be complex in order to be compelling. That’s just not true. Also, watch a lot of films!
You’re also an editor, which is one of the most important parts of the film making process – can you tell us a little bit about the process you go through when taking the rough cut of a film and shaping it into the final product? Once you have the rough cut assembled, it’s very important to determine what each scene is trying to accomplish, and what the goal of that scene is. With that in mind, you can begin shaping the scenes. If anything is working against the goal, remove it. If something can be done to strengthen the intention of the scene, do it.
Can you tell us about any projects you are currently working on at the moment? At the moment I’m editing a true crime series for Investigation Discovery called Deadly Recall. That will be airing in early March.
As far as passion projects go, I’m editing a short film that my wife directed, called “Sweetheart”. We’re just about to put the finishing touches on it, so hopefully we’ll have a new short for you soon! I’m also in pre-production for another short film that I will be directing this year, and I’m writing and developing 2 feature films.
You can follow Jack on Twitter: @JackGravina