There's always an electricity in the air at the rakontur office during the final six weeks before we have to deliver a film. It's a mixture of stress, anticipation and satisfaction knowing that a project we've been creating for the past 12-18 months is about to receive its public unveiling.
The U will premiere on ESPN on Saturday, December 12th at 9PM EST, right after the presentation of the Heisman Trophy. The fact that The U is the only 30 for 30 film that's feature length and has an unbeatable live lead-in only adds to the tension. That, and that the film still isn't finished.
Today John and Arunima, our producing partners at ESPN, arrived to screen the final cut of the film and to suggest some last minute cuts to shave the running time from 105 minutes to around 102. Like Cocaine Cowboys, there is so much good material here -- we did 42 interviews -- that a lot of fascinating segments will end up on the cutting room floor. I guess that's what DVD extras are for, but making these final cuts is always the toughest part. We're aiming to lock picture tomorrow.
Dave is still working 20 hour days trying to finish all the graphics, which we hope will be done by next Friday the 13th. While Dave finishes animating the photo stills and creating f/x, Billy is working with Read Fasse and Nick Scapa at Honor Roll to finish the score. Uncle Luke is coming into the studio tonight to record an original track for the opening credits.
Evan and Lindsey are working on getting the final clean archival footage from all the sources we used in the film. Each source (NBC, CBS, Florida Moving Image Archive, etc) has their own policies and curious ways of doing things, so we've hired a rights and clearances supervisor to handle the paperwork and requests. Once the graphics are finished and the clean archival footage is cut in, we start color correcting the picture and begin the sound design and sound mix.
Since the film is divided into six segments, we've budgeted about a day per segment for the picture and sound work. That puts us finishing the sound mix on Monday the 23rd, the start of Thanksgiving week. I'm guessing that work will bleed into that week, but that gives us a good buffer before we head to Elements Post in Stamford, CT on Monday the 30th to assemble all the pieces, master to D5 tape and deliver the film that ESPN commissioned from us almost 20 months ago.
The plan is to be back at ESPN HQ the following week for a staff screening on Monday, December 7th and then to do a full slate of back-to-back ESPN tv and radio shows (ESPN refers to this process as the "car wash") on Tuesday the 8th. We'll do the Miami premiere on Wednesday December 9th.
If we can hold to that schedule, we'll be ok. But I've been through this enough times to know that never happens.
Today I'm working on end credits, which is always tough becuase you invaribly forget someone who really helped you when you needed it. Always happens. I apologize in advance to whoever that will be on The U.
Later I'll be firming up the plans for the Miami premiere with Jenna before heading off to the studio to hear what Uncle Luke cooked up for us.