Ten Decibel 100th Issue Show Questions With David Hall

** Today, November 1st, 2013, is an auspicious day. Decibel’s 100th Issue Show: The Movie DVD is out today, exclusively through Decibel’s kick-ass webstore (click HERE). To celebrate we’ve nailed down Handshake, Inc. proprietor David Hall. Who is Mr. Hall? He and crew were responsible for lensing the entire 100th Issue Show. So, let’s get down to brass tacks and Academy Award-style editing.
How’d you end up with the unenviable task of filming the Decibel 100th Issue show?
David Hall: [Laughs] Albert Mudrian wrote me an email and asked if I’d like to do it, and I was totally honored and stoked. This was one of the first projects someone actually asked me to do, as opposed to something I was producing myself to release myself. He probably wanted Sam Dunn but a) couldn’t afford him and b) was too shy to ask.

Is there anything you did differently—operationally, creatively, or otherwise—with Decibel 100th Issue show from previous festivals?
David Hall: A couple things. The first being, I absolutely insisted on us getting someone or a company to multi-track record the bands. Recording good live audio has become an obsession for me because it really makes or breaks a live concert film/DVD and it sucks to put all the effort into filming and editing something only to have the sound come out like garbage, plus it sets you apart from the Youtube videos. Luckily, Dan from Brutal Truth and Total Fucking Destruction put me in touch with Chris Post of The Post Productions. He has a killer multi-track audio recording rig and captured the event perfectly. I’ve been using him on projects ever since http://www.thepostproductions.com/ Another difference, and this was not intentional, but ended up being a plus, was that we did not have a barrier or ‘photo pit’ set up at the concert. This was something both Albert and I battled with the venue over leading up to the shoot—they didn’t want it, we did (Albert was following my lead.) The night of the show, as people started filing in to the venue I saw no barrier was set up. I freaked out a bit, because I didn’t know where the hell the shooters would film from, but they ended up working it out and the result is some of the most insane mosh action I’ve seen caught on film. There are literally people jumping—cannonballing—from the stage into the mosh, so good on the folks at Union Transfer for making me see the errors of my shameful, Canadian ways.

What kind of equipment did you use? Curious if it was a mix of high, middle and low quality gear to give you a few different sources to pull from.
David Hall: We used mid and high quality gear—since MDF 10 I have been fortunate enough to work with filmmaker/camera-operator Aaron Shirely. He has a RED camera, which is über-high quality. The rest of the crew had a variety of Digital SLR cameras. The source footage is amazingly high quality. I burnt a Blu-ray of the film for screening at the Housecore Horror fest and it looked super awesome plus good. We did, however, end up using some Youtube, and “prosumer” camcorder footage because for some reason, the shooters (and I’m only pointing this out to bust their chops and stressed me the fuck out) decided to NOT film Albert’s introduction of Repulsion. I mean, he’s the editor in chief, you know—anyway, our savior came in the form of Matt Olivo’s (of Repulsion) Daughter. She filmed the set including Albert’s intro with Matt’s HD camcorder.

Outline some of the challenges videographers face when filming an event like the Decibel 100th Issue show.
David Hall: The biggest challenge, as I see it, is not getting bored with shooting stable, straightforward footage that covers an entire set. It’s easy when filming to wanna zoom and do lots of creative moves and play with exposure, when really, as a shooter of a multi-cam event, you kind of need to just keep it simple. That’s my biggest challenge, personally, which is why I don’t shoot stuff myself that often. Other challenges include filming/capturing an environment you’re not in control of: lighting, a frontman that moves around a lot, security or fans standing in front of your lens, battery life, enough room on your memory cards— remembering to hit ‘record’… There’s a lot going on a gig, especially if you are a fan of the band, and you have to keep a mental check-list going.

What’s more fun? Filming bands performing, interviewing people, or watching the crowd react when cameras turn to them?
David Hall: I guess it depends on the gig. If there’s a band playing that you really love, it can be totally fun and rewarding to be on stage or in the photo pit, inches away, capturing all the action of a band you know all the songs of…it feels special. Same with interviewing…again, it depends on the subject, it’s rewarding to interview someone you respect and get awesome quotes out of them, it’s tough when you get someone who doesn’t really wanna talk, but you learn how to deal with that and get some good stuff. Filming a crowd is pretty voyeuristic and can get awkward at times, but I’ve learned the more I do this that bands and labels love seeing crowd shots, so I increasingly ask my shooters to get that kind of stuff.

Was there a highlight moment for you during or after filming?
David Hall: Professionally: I think the biggest highlight was that we—the crew—pulled it off; we filmed and recorded the show and did interviews and got everything we needed to make a cool film. Like I said before, this was one of my first paid gigs, so being able to get shit done just overall felt great. It was also awesome to work with a crew and be able to pay them and, and know we were creating something together that would be seen by people and enjoyed. I’m a fan of the magazine so it was cool to meet so many of the people responsible and interview them. Personally: hanging out with Scott Hull and Dave Witte in a room backstage sampling all these insane craft beers Witte had brought for the event, and hanging out with Richard Johnson and Rich Hoak who are two of my favorite people in the world.

Explain how you pieced the footage together. Editing film is unfun, from my point of view.
David Hall: Editing can be unfun if you’re unorganized, but having edited three Marlyand Deathfest films—literally 100s of hours of footage—I’ve come to get my system and style down fairly pat. A couple years ago I got a killer new computer and started using new editing software that allows one to use seamless “multi-camera editing” which is basically like watching the event you’ve filmed through all angles of the cameras that filmed them. You know when you see on TV some director at a control booth, saying “gimme number one, gimme number two’—that’s live editing for broadcast, and that’s how I edit now, except you line up all your footage and the computer plays it back in sync, etc. I mean, it’s never that exactly perfect, but pretty darn close and when you can marry technology with your creative impulses, it’s a good feeling. Nerd shit makes me happy sometimes.

Did Albert give you much direction on assembly or organization of the source material?
David Hall: Albert had a big hand in refining things and getting the final structure and plotting of the film in place. Basically, I would edit the band footage together, upload it and he would pick songs and give me notes. With the interviews, I uploaded the raw footage and he picked out the clips he wanted. When all that was done, he gave me a final outline and I worked from there. It was a great experience working back and forth like that – I learned a lot.

The DVD is a limited release. What do think fans of the bands and magazine will walk away with after viewing it?
David Hall: I think fans of the bands will dig the intimate access we had in terms of filming the bands, and feel the overall celebratory vibe of the sets. All the bands were happy with their performances, and the crowd is totally into so it’s a lot of fun to check out the songs. Fans of the magazine will dig the chance to hear/see some of the contributors talk about the magazine, the process of writing it and how they got started, and getting some insight into how the magazine got its start and what goes into it. Overall the DVD is a great representation of the night, which was a big party.

Would you do it again? Our 200th issue is coming up soonish, you know.
David Hall: Hell yeah, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I love Philly now, met a lot of people I know consider friends, and I love the magazine, love the venue, love all of it. I hope they invite me back!