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Making Open Water

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By Scott Essman
Last summer’s thriller Open Water had requisite terror, suspense, chills and unnerving underwater photography. Remarkably, the film was made with just a handful of personnel: shot by writer-director-editor Chris Kentis and his wife, Laura Lau, who also produced. Period. The scant other crew members include a boating captain and producer; with the remainder of the credits going to the remarkable sound department who created the film’s realism in post-production.
A story of two divers, accidentally stranded in shark-infested ocean after their tour boat has abandoned them, the movie was shot entirely on high-resolution mini-DV. Despite the low-budget shooting format, the principal photography was able to capture both the intimacy of the story and the grandeur of surroundings.
Because of the mobility of mini-DV, a lot of spontaneous footage was shot using the Mini-DV’s mounted mic as the only audio source. It introduced some unique audio challenges, according to supervising sound editor Glenn T. Morgan of Soundelux.
“My biggest challenge was to take a single audio track concept and turn it into a 5.1 Surround Sound movie soundscape,” says Morgan. “To make it big, full and wonderful, but still keep it small, intimate and real.”
The mix for Open Water was done at Todd-AO Vine Street Studios by re-recording mixers Marc Fishman and Tony Lamberti.

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