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Brian Sepanik Cuts 'Happy Hour'

October 28, 2015, 03:57 PM

The Colonie teamed up with 71 Degrees North to provide editorial, finishing and design services for ‘Happy Hour,’ a short film written, directed and co-produced by Martin Rodahl.  The film, which premiered at the Little Rock Film Festival, is the most recent of a diverse mix of commercials, documentaries and films that editor Brian Sepanik has collaborated on with 
Rodahl and his production company over the years.

Adapted from a short story written by Jim Thompson, ‘Happy Hour’ opens with an advertising executive tasked with firing several people from his company. As the protagonist recounts the day’s events with a buddy over drinks it triggers a painful memory from his childhood that profoundly impacts how he relates to the employees and their loss. The 15-minute short spans 30-years, weaving together present day scenes with flashbacks to the seminal childhood incident. 

“Martin shot the film over eight days, and we immediately began processing and prepping the footage so I could start cutting as soon as possible,” says editor Brian Sepanik. “Martin, Jim and myself spent a considerable amount of time discussing the themes and how to best convey the message that we were trying to get across. Once I completed the first cut we met again and they really finessed the narration.” 

“The biggest challenge of this project was keeping the length down to 15-mintues, which required honing the film’s story down to the essential elements and cutting some great footage,” says Sepanik, who edited the short on Media Composer 8.0. “The first cut came in at 24 minutes. We then cut it to 22-minutes, then 20-minutes and finally 15-minutes. It’s always a surprise to everyone how paring down a story – and cutting out some of the bits we love - ultimately heightens the impact of a film and makes it more compelling.”

This seeds were sown for Rodahl, Thompson and Sepanik’s collaboration on ‘Happy Hour’ in 2012, while they were working on the feature length documentary and TV Mini-Series, “Our 
Longest Drive.”  During that time Martin read some of Jim’s short stories and thought it would make a great film - and Sepanik jumped at the chance to edit the project.

“Over the years I’ve worked with Martin on a mix of feature films, documentaries, shorts, commercials, branded content and emerging media – and each time it’s always been a great experience,” says Sepanik. “Jim and Martin’s original concepts and scripts are compelling and beautifully crafted, and their experience developing and producing film projects brings a unique perspective to their commercial work. As an editor I always bring my ‘A’ game to every project, but collaborating with them really pushes me creatively and forces me to think about different ways to tell a story.”

The film also gave The Colonie an opportunity to work with the entire team from ‘Our Longest Drive,’ which included DP Jason Chiu, Company 3 colorist Tyler Roth, Cory Coken, the supervising sound editor for NoiseFloor and Audiocastle’s Adam Robl and Shawn Sutta, the composers of the original soundtrack.  

“It was wonderful to have that shorthand between all of us,” adds Sepanik.  â€œIt really allowed everyone to do their finest work and deliver a final product we’re all proud of.”

‘Happy Hour’s’ score echoes the pensive inner tension of the story. Rodahl, a pianist and composer in his own right, sent Robl and Sutta a piano piece that he had composed, and they took their cues from it. Written for orchestral instruments, it mirrors the aesthetic tone of the beautiful cinematography with a minimalistic approach, immersing the viewer in the film’s contemplative and emotional journey.

“This project really demanded an editor who’s able to sculpt the best possible sequence from a large, non-linear narrative,” say Rodahl. “The truth is, Jim Thompson’s writing is so rich that there were probably three or four different directions that could’ve worked, but Brian expertly cut to the chase and made us focus on what ultimately became the most compelling part of the story.”

Following its premiere at Little Rock Film Festival, additional screenings for ‘Happy Hour’ include the Breckenridge Film Festival, the LA Shorts Fest, the Montreal World Film Festival, the Bali International Film Festival, the Raindance Film Festival in the UK, the Midwest Independent Film Festival, and the Austin Film Festival.

CREDITS:  Client: 71 Degrees North / Chicago
Title: ‘Happy Hour’ Length: 15min
Type: Short Film  

Production Company: 71 Degrees North /Chicago 
    Director/Writer/Producer: Martin Rodahl
    Written and based on a short story by Jim Thompson
    Executive Producers: Martin Rodahl and Jim Thompson  
    DP and Producer: Jason Chiu       

Editorial Company: The Colonie / Chicago
      Creative Editor: Brian Sepanik
      Assistant Editor: Lauren Malis       
      Finishing: Tom Dernulc       
      Titles: Lyndsay McCully 
      Executive Producer: Mary Caddy

Visual FX/Design/Animation Company: Legion VFX / Los Angeles           
            Designer: Nathan Matsuda
  Audio: Sound Design Company: NoiseFloor / Chicago   
             Supervising Sound Editor: Cory Coken
             Re-Recording Mixer:  Jamie Vanadia             
             Sound Designer: Stosh Tuszynski
             Audio Post Supervisors: Katie Hovan, Gretchen Pitluck
             Sound Editor: Kelsey Lynch

Music Company: Audio Castle / Miami, FL            
            Composer: Adam Robl, Shawn Sutta      

Color Correction Company: Company 3 / Chicago            
             Colorist: Tyler Roth

The Colonie editor Brian Sepanik and his team recently joined forces with 71 Degrees North to provide editorial, finishing and design services for ‘Happy Hour,’ a short film written, directed and co-produced by Martin Rodahl. The film, which premiered at the Little RockFilm Festival, is the most recent of a diverse mix of commercials, documentaries and films that editor Brian Sepanik has collaborated on with Rodahl and his production company over the years.

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