November 30, 2022

Nice Shoes helped directors Dawn Mikkelson and Keri Pickett tell the story of the incredible women who are changing the rhythm of Taiko’s male-dominated art in the new independent documentary Finding Her Beat. The facility provided post-production services for the film — showing at this month’s DOC NYC festival — with senior colorist Oscar Oboza working directly with the two filmmakers in applying the final grade.

In Finding Her Beat, drummers Tiffany Tamanbuchi and Jennifer Weir take center stage as they stage some of the world’s best Taiko performers for a winter evening concert in St. Paul, Minnesota. The group undergoes hours of intense rehearsals as they work to blend their disparate styles, while sharing the pain, obstacles and joys they have experienced in pursuing an art form where women have traditionally been excluded.

“This is a cinema verité, fly-on-the-wall documentary that follows these gifted women for months as they live in the same house and prepare for this momentous concert,” said Dawn, whose previous films include Risking Light and The Red Tail. . “There’s a lot of drama and wonderfully powerful performances.”

Like the cast of the film, most of the crew were female/non-binary and Asian, and their passion for the project is reflected in the colorful, exuberant spirit. “They reflected and deepened what was happening in front of the camera,” emphasizes Keri (First Daughter and the Black Snake, The Fabulous Ice Age), who was also the film’s main cinematographer.

During post-production sessions at Nice Shoes, Oscar worked with Dawn and Keri to create a consistent look of images captured in the US and Japan with a variety of cameras. “I filmed in C_LOG format, which when you first see it looks flat and uninteresting, but offers the most leeway during the judging process,” explains Keri, noting that additional footage was shot by cinematographer Caroline Stucky , Shiho Fukuda and Nanne Sörvold. “Sometimes in the field I changed the lighting to match where it needed to be. It was fluid and moving. So Oscar had to deal with a lot of changes and movements in the real world. This wasn’t a Hollywood movie where everything is set and ready to go.”

Oscar adds that his role was to make the disparate material appear both seamless and natural. “The overall look had to be cohesive so viewers don’t see it as hopping from one place to another,” he says. “And yet it had to be done in a way that goes unnoticed. This is a documentary and you want people to be focused on the story.”

Still, there is a lot of visual variation in the film. “The look when they’re on stage is very daring,” Oscar notes. “It has a lot of color and light shifts. But other parts are very different. When they’re by the sea in Japan, the look has a lush, blue quality. When we’re at the house in Minneapolis, it’s more neutral.”

Despite the challenges, Keri says the assessment sessions were fun and fast-paced. “For Oscar it was clear what had to be done; he found his groove right away,” she recalls. “We wanted to keep it in the spectrum of reality, except when they were playing on stage, where it’s punchy and saturated.”

Dawn says the film’s finished look captures Taiko’s energy and drama, as well as the spirit of the women who relentlessly insist on their right to be a part of it. “I worked with Oscar on my first film, This Obedience, and have admired his work ever since. He knows his trade and is a generous person,” she says. “Everyone involved in this project shared that quality. It had an unstoppable momentum from the start that continued throughout. It was exciting to see it come together.”

Finding Her Beat receives rave reviews in festival screenings. After its premiere at the Mill Valley Film Festival, the San Francisco Examiner called it “exciting” and CBS Bay Area called it a “crowd pleaser,” while ABC 10 Sacramento said it “won Oscar hits.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *