At long last we have finished Terminal Device. I took delivery of the finalized DCP* with 5:1 surround sound just last week. This is more welcome than I can describe; it is a great relief.
As I mentioned previously I found an able co-editor in our daughter-in-law, Meg Remy (she of U.S. Girls fame). We engaged a fine young sound designer, Michèle Deslauriers (still a student at York University), who worked over the summer months and in particular spent a long time cleaning up the voices. Maximilian Ross Turnbull, our firstborn, composed a wonderful score; it evinces his usual sensitivity to visual material, excellent ear and high professionalism. Orest Sushko, a highly experienced sound tech (most notably on numerous David Cronenberg films) did the excellent sound re-recording mix. LuLu Hazel Turnbull designed the gorgeous poster featured above.
The film eschews talking heads and instead emphasizes the voices of the people we interviewed. Against the weave of that sonic backdrop plays a collage of footage from the many mainstream films we critique, archival footage, re-created scenes, family photos, and documented coverage of visits to a prosthetic clinic as well as an American Civil War battle and field hospital simulation. It corresponds surprisingly closely to our original vision of what the film might be. The cut makes an obvious plea for commercial cinema to give up lazy stereotyping (I know, tilt against windmills much?). Terminal Device is playful, there’s a laugh or two and here and there, it’s a bit gory (hey, in part at least, it’s a film about amputation…). It lands in short-feature-film territory, just south of 70 minutes long.
I’m delighted with it. We screened it privately in December and were bowled over by the lengthy, interesting discussions the film generated; as a conversation-starter, it’s first-rate. More than one viewer told me it was a story they certainly had not heard before.
Thanks to the weighty music-world connections mentioned above, the film will play the Megaphono Music Festival in Ottawa in early February (presented in conjunction with The Lost Dominion Screening Collective). It will have its film festival debut at the Kingston Canadian Film Festival later that month.
*DCP stands for Digital Cinema Package, which has become the digital mastering format of choice for festival and theatrical exhibition. In practical terms, the DCP is a hard drive, the contents of which producers and distributors can choose to encrypt as a hedge against copying or unauthorized playback. In any case, as I understand it the film’s visual and audio streams are encoded in such a way that they can only be played on a DCP-enabled playback system.