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the making of Compton: The Antwon Ross Story

I get a lot of questions about the making of the teaser trailer... how I got the aerials etc. In this post I set out to demystify the process. Once again this film is not yet complete. I made the teaser in order to get collaborators on the project and also to practice simulating flight with aerials.... The following is how it was put together. More info is in the podcast.

and so I flew... the teaser trailer script

This film is about a kid who escapes the pressures in his through aviation. Therefore flight in the film is used as an allegory for perseverance in life. My goal was for the teaser to communicate these ideas over everything else. In the teaser you get more theme and less plot. You get a feel for the type of journey you will go on with Antwon. 

the music

The music acts to place us in Antwon's world. It's dark and ominous and gears us up for what we'll see. It's represents despair and bondage. I pulled it to use for another project but it worked perfectly for this one. It's a rock, electric, metal, guitar tune for a film about Compton... It just works. I licensed the track from the OPUS1 Music Library

the visuals

The first visual you see is that of a bird flying. It's a peaceful image that plays emotionally against the music you hear. In the film, birds play an important role... I won't ruin it here but when the film comes out pay attention when you notice Antwon looking at a bird. I mention it only to give you guys a pre Easter egg clue. Next is the all too familiar image of Antwon in handcuffs. We don't see any police officers but feel their presence with the sound design of the helicopter circling and sirens. Next we see Antwon escaping his bondage by looking toward the sky as a jetliner streaks above. This image is the one I used for the poster because in one image, it captures the essence of the film. The airplane above is an effects shot that I added to the live action shot in post. It's actually the same shot as the close up of the airplane that you see in the subsequent shot.

Next are a series of aerials leading to the iconic fly over of the Compton courthouse at sunset. The last shots are Antwon at the airport and footage of a BT-13 flying over the courthouse. I talk about how we pulled off these shots in the podcast but it's basically a mix of helicopter, drone and plane to plane cinematography. For the plane to plane shots we flew a Cessna 170 with the window open and I shot from the window handheld. The helicopter shots were similar except I was hanging out of the helicopter with the door off. The drone shots were with an inspire. All of the shots for the entire piece I shot myself except of the close up of the commercial airplane.

the sound design/voice over

The voiceover was done by Kabir and it was meant to portray Antown's innocence over anything else. The sound design is heavy in the beginning to set up the mood and environment... police sirens, helicopter circling etc. Toward the end it's used for the set the environment of the airport and plane in flight.

the takeaway

There's a lot of layers in this project and I'm excited to share. More coming soon!


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