How Music Helped to Motivate This DIY Coronavirus Documentary
Affected Interview Cover.jpg

A chat with the filmmakers at Affected: The Story of Us about how they could put the soundtrack first to convey their emotions. Immerse yourself!

No matter how dark the world feels at times, it is good to know that there are ambitious young filmmakers who care about telling the stories of those around them. With the novel coronavirus by far one of the biggest problems of our time, it's interesting to see how filmmakers around the world have been affected – and how they chose to respond to it.

Two of these filmmakers are Artem Koker and Nathan Cushing, who run a production company called Arazo Media. Like many film and video professionals, they were hit by the initial coronavirus shutdowns trying to decide what to do. Instead of crouching, however, they decided to turn on their cameras to find out how they – and their community – had been affected.

We spoke to Koker about the production and editing of her feature film Affected. You can check out the trailer below, which garnered over 50,000 views on YouTube. Arazo Media also exclusively used PremiumBeat tracks for the soundtrack for their film and trailer. They talked about this process and how they could use music to inform and guide their emotional film.

How does the editing process for such a project begin?

The Arazo Media Team on the set. Image via Arazomedia.

Everything starts with music. It all starts with a really good promotional track. What I'm always looking for is a piece that in a certain way impresses me emotionally. And I can usually hear that for the first few seconds when I hear a track – all I know is that it is.

When it came to recording and editing Affected, the Arazo Media team had to make many difficult decisions, from the camera they recorded on (the Canon C200) to putting together the hundreds of hours of footage they recorded into a concise narrative documentation.

Ultimately, they settled on a format that combined documentary interviews with their own narrative, and also looked at how the pandemic affected them and their production company. As Koker mentioned above, his methodology for editing was to put the music first. By finding the right emotional song and tone, they built the narrative using music as the backbone of their plot.

Will you guide us through your decision to use PremiumBeat?

Artem Koker cutIt is important that the music you choose creates an emotional response. Image via IMDb.

Since we started Arazo Media, we've been using PremiumBeat for pretty much all of our videos. The main reason for this is that PremiumBeat only offers the best sounds out of all of the different websites we browsed. And again, I'm going back to my search for those sounds that really make you feel something – a really strong emotion that can empower you to do whatever the video is about.

When Koker talks about her soundtrack decision-making process and searches for those perfect tracks, he mentions that in the end it all came down to the curation for him. When working on documentary projects or corporate, promotional, or narrative features, you want to know that you are looking for the best tracks available and the ones that are hardest to hit you in terms of emotional response.

In addition to looking at overall curation in terms of the quality of an audio library, Koker highlighted how they would look through expert picks, as well as the many playlist collections (like this documentary collection) to pinpoint the exact tone and mood they were looking for.

How was your editing process with PremiumBeat music?

Affected: The story of us interviewFor Koker, his understanding of music helps throughout the creative process. Image via IMDb.

I can't imagine anything without music, so I really want to have the tracks ready so I can feel what I'm creating. For using PremiumBeat tracks, I generally prefer to download the entire track as a whole and put it under the section we are currently working on. When the sections come together, I'll cut up the track myself to mix it up as our narrative takes shape.

For those just starting their careers in film and video production, there are numerous challenges moving from corporate and promotional videos to long-form documentaries. According to Koker, this was her first project that lasted more than five minutes. However, as they quickly found out, they had numerous tools at their disposal to help them work with projects and files that were much larger than ever before.

Eventually, while editing in Final Cut, they were able to develop a two-computer system to organize and process all of the 4K and RAW footage before moving it to an actual editing timeline. At this point, Koker brought in the PremiumBeat audio track to put under each section or sequence.

What did this production ultimately teach you as a filmmaker when you started your journey?

Affected film interviewStarting your own business is a great way to develop your own technique. Image via Arazomedia.

To really be successful and find opportunities, you first have to be open and always try new and different things when it comes to innovation. And I actually speak of this in the documentation as one of the conclusions we come to when we look at ourselves and how the pandemic is affecting our business and our sales. I would say just because you see everyone walking in one direction in a crisis doesn't mean you can't look the other direction and see it as an opportunity to do something new or try something different and make a difference .

As you can only see from the trailer for Affected, it really is a story that is very emotional and personal for both filmmakers and people around the world. However, it's refreshing to see so many people also finding new and creative ways to deviate from their traditional backgrounds and models of video production and explore new styles and formats.

These filmmakers use music as a foundation to build a stark and meaningful documentary narrative and explore some of the greatest subjects of our time. This is a promising example of the possibilities of the future.

To find out more about the project, visit Arazo Media and the official Affected page.

Dive further into curated playlists and advice on working with audio and soundtracks:

Cover photo via Arazo Media.


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