Who’s That Tramping Over My Bridge?

Terry Pratchett is one of those truly gifted authors—someone who just “gets it”. With a few words he can make the most cutting and incisive comment on modern life. And all of his Discworld stories are set in a fantasy realm. I don’t think he’s as widely known in America as he is in England and Australia. The typical response I give to the inevitable query “Who’s that?” is that he Douglas Adams of fantasy novels.

Unfortunately even that leads to another question by the lesser informed of my countrymen. “Oh. Who’s Douglas Adams?”

“You know, ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’?”

“Oh yeah! Never read it.”

“Well, it’s satire of modern life and pop culture told in science fiction novels. Douglas Adams, that is. Terry Pratchett does a similar thing with fantasy. Kind of a literary Monty Python.”

Thankfully most Americans are at least passingly familiar with Monty Python.

A little over a year ago, I was delighted to read about a intrepid group of Australians who decided to make a live-action version of one of Terry’s short stories, “Troll Bridge”. After a little investigation I found their website and starting reading about their undertaking.

As it turns out they got in touch with Terry and he agreed to allow them to make the movie. Terry’s stories have been turned into plays, mostly in England, and there are even two cartoons available on DVD and VHS of “Wyrd Sisters” and “Soul Music”. But there hasn’t been a live action version. Until now.

My immediate reaction was “Wow! Wouldn’t it be great to work on a Discworld film?!” So I sat down a wrote an email to Daniel Knight, the director, offering my services as a post-production sound guy. For some unknown reason, he was actually impressed with my resume and said “Sure.”

And for the better part of a year that’s been it. This is a mostly volunteer movie. People offering their services because they, like me, wanted to work on a Terry Pratchett movie. Or they just wanted to work on a movie period. But most of us have day jobs. The things that pay the bills. So it’s taken time.

About 2 weeks ago, I got an email from Daniel asking if I could help him out with some sound. Terry himself was going to be sitting down to watch some scenes and he wanted to make it as cool as possible. Of course I agreed and that’s what I’ve been working on in my spare time. This weekend has been the big editing session for me. They’re meeting with Terry Pratchett on Thursday. Work for me seems to have gotten extra busy recently. And Daniel is 19 hours ahead of me in Australia so this weekend is really my last chance to get the majority of the work done.

It’s been a lot of fun. I’m continually amazed at what I can accomplish on my laptop with an Mbox, Pro Tools LE, Soundminer and a good sound effects library. Of course this isn’t even really a temp dub. When it comes time to really do the sound, I’ll be working on my full-blown Pro Tools system because there will be a lot more sounds to carry and I’ll try to work out a deal with a local dub stage for mixing.

But with that little setup, a fast internet connection, some online storage space, email and instant messaging, we’ve been able to make this happen. It’s been an exciting time.