Moonshine Post-Production, a full-service post house in Atlanta, helped create a total post pipeline for the film, St. Agatha, directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II, Saw III, Saw IV, Repo the Genetic Opera), from dailies to finishing. The film made its U.S. premiere last month in Los Angeles. The project was brought to Atlanta by producers Seth and Sara Michaels, for production, and returned for a producer’s cut, which was co-edited by Gerhardt Slawitschka and Patrick Perry, and colored by John Peterson, all from Moonshine Post.
St. Agatha is a horror film that shot in the town of Madison, Georgia. “The house we needed for the convent was perfect, as the area was one of the few places that had not burned down during the Civil War,” explained Seth Michaels. “It was our first time shooting in Atlanta, and the number one reason was because of the tax incentive. But we also knew Georgia had an infrastructure that could handle our production.”
What the producers didn’t know during production was that Moonshine Post could handle all aspects of post, and were initially brought in only for dailies. With the opportunity to do a producer’s cut, they returned to Moonshine Post.
Time and budget dictated everything, and Moonshine Post was able to offer two editors working in tandem to edit a final cut. “Why not cut in collaboration?” suggested Drew Sawyer, founder of Moonshine Post and executive producer. “It will cut the time in half, and you can explore different ideas faster.”
“We quite literally split the movie in half,” said Perry. “It’s a 90-minute film, and there was a clear break. It’s a little unusual, I will admit, but almost always when we are working on something, we don’t have a lot of time, so splitting it in half works.”
“The editors, Patrick and Gerhardt, were great,” said Sara Michaels. “They watched every single second of footage we had, so when we recut the movie, they knew exactly what we had and how to use it.”
“We have the same sensibilities,” explained Slawitschka. “On long form projects we take a feature in tandem, maybe split it in half, or in reels. Or, on a TV series, each of us takes a few episodes, compare notes, and arrive at a ‘group mind,’ our language of how a project is working. On St. Agatha, Patrick and I took a bit of a risk and generated a four-page document of proposed thoughts and changes. Some very macro, some very micro.”
“They were able to elevate the cut we already had, proving to us they are the best in town,” said Sara Michaels. As for infrastructure, “I’ve suggested them to a lot of people, not only for indies, but for bigger projects. They have the experience to handle bigger budget movies.”
Colorist John Peterson, partner at Moonshine Post, worked closely with the director on final color. “From day one, the first looks we got from camera raw were beautiful.” Typically, projects shot in Atlanta ship back to a post house in a bigger city, “and maybe you see it and maybe you don’t. This one became a local win, we processed dailies, and it came back to us for a chance to finish it here,” said Peterson.
On working with Bousman, Peterson related, “I enjoyed having him in session because he’s an artist. He knew what he was looking for. On the flashbacks, we played with a variety of looks to define which one we liked. We added a certain amount of film grain, and stylistically, for some scenes, we used heavy vignetting, and heavy keys with isolation windows. Darren is a director, but he also knows the terminology, which gave me the opportunity to take his words and put it on the screen for him. At the end of the week, we had a successful film.”
The recent expansion of Moonshine Post, which included a partnership with the audio company Bare Knuckles and a visual effects company Crafty Apes, “was necessary, so we could take on the kind of movies and series we wanted to work with,” explained Sawyer. “But we were very careful about what we took and how we expanded.” They recently secured two AMC series, along with projects from Netflix. “We are not trying to do all the post in town, but we want to foster and grow the postproduction scene here so that we can continue to win people’s trust and solidify the Atlanta market.”
Seth Michaels agreed. “I have seen the quality grow and that reflects the type of jobs they are getting. Companies are choosing to stay in Atlanta, which speaks to the growth and quality of what Atlanta can do. From a producer’s standpoint, if I can get the same quality here as anywhere else, I would stay here.”
St. Agatha is available in theaters and On Demand from Uncork’d Entertainment. It can be found on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, Fandango Now, Xbox, Dish Network and local cable providers.