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Wonderland Productions Takes Center Court For Spike TV?Hardwood Dreams: Ten Years Later? already taking festival circuit by storm (November 09, 2004)
Filmmaker Bill McCullough of Wonderland Productions recently co-produced, cut and scored ?Hardwood Dreams: Ten Years Later, a documentary which revisits the basketball champs chronicled in ?Hardwood Dreams a decade ago. Producer/director/writer Fredric Golding reunited with McCullough once again, calling upon his mix of award-winning talents for the film, which is already enjoying numerous accolades: Its received a Crystal Heart Award at this years Heartland Film Festival, is one of just five documentary films invited to participate in Long Islands upcoming The Hamptons Film Festival and was accepted into Californias Mill Valley Film Festival.
Part of the first wave of documentaries and specials slated for cables Spike TV, ?Hardwood Dreams: Ten Years Later was produced by Fredric Golding Productions in association with Tollin/Robbins Productions. Michael Tollin had produced the original ?Hardwood Dreams, a revealing look at the role basketball played in the lives of the Morningside High School team, the defending state champions whose school was located in a crime-riddled Los Angeles neighborhood. Now, a decade later, the documentary sequel explores what has happened to the starting five, three of whom had signed with Division One teams before graduating.
Multi award-winning producer Fred Golding is a great fan of McCullough and his Soho-based production companys comprehensive approach to the production, editing, scoring, mixing and finishing of films. The pair had teamed up in 2001 for the Peabody Award-nominated MSNBC documentary, ?Saving Bella, which followed the emotional journey of a child facing double-transplant surgery. They also worked together on HBOs ?John Leguizamo: Behind the Curtain, a behind-the-scenes look at John Leguizamos ?Sexaholix theater piece, which McCullough co-produced, edited, and scored. Golding was also honored with a Peabody and Academy Award nomination for the Tollin/Robbins documentary, ?Hank Aaron: Chasing The Dream.
?Hardwood Dreams: Ten Years Later follows the lives of the Morningside High starting five for a year, bringing the viewer up to date with in-depth character studies of the former teammates none of whom -- despite promising beginnings -- ever made it in professional basketball.
?The challenge was that these men really arent together as a group anymore; they lead five separate lives, notes McCullough. ?We had to fill viewers in -- who are these people and why are we watching them? We had to make it relevant from ten years ago and, in the end, we succeeded wildly. The 70-minute doc wraps with the wedding of one of the starting five, which serves as a reunion with three of his fellow players.
Wonderland Productions Online Editor/Colorist, Santiago Gutierrez, met a unique set of challenges when finishing and color correcting the project. Gutierrez worked long hours matching up new scenes with old footage from the first Hardwood documentary. Having worked on a long list of documentaries (including Spike TVs ?Untold series currently in postproduction, ?Latham Entertainment Presents The Kings and Queens of Comedy, ESPNs 12-part documentary series ?Down Low: Life in the D-League, Simmons Lathans ?The Industry, IFCs ?Pulp Fiction on the Dime, MSNBCs ?Saving Bella, HBOs ?John Leguizamo Behind the Curtain, as well as a long list of commercials for Spike DDB, Gutierrez had the experience and keen eye needed to finish and color correct ?Hardwood Dreams: Ten Years Later.
?This project was difficult because of the numerous problems in the source footage, Gutierrez notes. ?Some of them related to the condition of the original footage that was full of tape dropouts and tearing in the image. Also, there were a lot of underexposed shots that needed to be heavily processed to be visible. A lot of color correcting was necessary to try and balance the scenes as much as possible.?
McCulloughs big-picture perspective was particularly helpful in shaping ?Hardwood Dreams: Ten Years Later because he and Golding had 500 hours of footage to cull from, including material they needed to reprise from the first documentary a decade ago. ?Bill is the most talented editor Ive worked with in my more than 20 years in the business, says Golding. ?As co-producer, he brings a conceptual editorial outlook to the whole film. Whenever I bring Bill a show, its a true creative collaboration.
The synergy among Wonderland Productions and its affiliates No Wonder Music and Wonderland Sound was also instrumental in the smooth and efficient crafting of the documentary. ?Working with No Wonder Music meant we could cut to final tracks early on, instead of the music being an end process, Golding points out. ?For me, the music set the tone and mood of the whole documentary.
For this project No Wonder co-owners/co-composers, McCullough and John Wiggins, opted for orchestral pieces with harp instrumentation and cool drum beats, instead of the more customary hip-hop riffs. With GRM plug ins for Pro Tools they morphed some of the orchestral tracks into moody sound beds that were extremely effective for certain scenes.
?Bill and I tend to think a little outside the box, and that carried over to the unique musical score, Golding says.
John Wiggins, who heads Wonderland Sound, also handled the docs sound design and audio mix. ?Freds audio from the recent Sony PD150 shoot was pretty clean, but the big challenge was dealing with the Hi8 footage from ten years ago, McCullough reports. ?John had to clean up a lot of the old material.
?Once we began cutting to time with the narration, the rest of the process was like a waterfall: It flowed naturally, Golding notes. ?I didnt have to worry about the color correction or mixing. All the services were taken care of at Wonderland where the technology is not only state-of-the-art but where Bill and John are more than cutting-edge themselves!
?When you spend a year of your life working on a project, you want to know its in good hands, Golding concludes. ?You want to feel a certain sense of protection and added value. At Wonderland, every project is a new work of art instead of just another television show.
?Hardwood Dreams: Ten Years Later is narrated by Wesley Snipes, who also narrated the first doc ten years ago. It is tentatively scheduled for broadcast on Spike TV in November.
About Wonderland Productions
Four-time Emmy Award-winner, Bill McCullough launched Wonderland Productions in 1998 as a full-service resource for documentary and broadcast filmmaking. Along with affiliate companies, No Wonder Music and Wonderland Sound, it offers an open-architecture, creative environment with a collaborative approach to production, editing, post production, finishing, original music, sound design and audio post services.
For additional information about Wonderland Productions contact Managing Director, Vanessa McCullough at 212-966-9049 or go to www.wonderlandnyc.com.
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