Binge-watching the latest movies and television series from streaming services has become a part of the work- and study-from-home routine for many Americans. Students in CSUN’s Department of Cinema and Television Arts (CTVA) recently got a glimpse into how these titles make it from the studio to millions of screens around the world.
On Oct. 16, Netflix post-production pros Nancy Valle and Bill Fiala led a master class for CTVA students over Zoom. The guest lecture, “Post-Production 101,” was an introduction to the ins and outs of the post-production process — from editing footage to completing the sound mix — for every in-house project the streaming giant produces.
Valle, who has more than 20 years of experience in post-production through studios including New Line Cinema, became the manager of post-production for Netflix original studio feature films after working as the post supervisor on Marvel’s “Black Panther.” Fiala, the director of post-production for Netflix original independent films, has worked on movies including “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” and its sequels, “Private Life” and “Set It Up.” Before Netflix, Fiala was the vice president of post-production for Fox Searchlight Pictures, contributing to films such as “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Black Swan” and “127 Hours.”
“Calling it ‘post’ is actually a misnomer,” Fiala said. He and Valle broke down the breadth of their team’s process, which begins as early as pre-production, when they contribute to discussions on the project’s budget and schedule, technical specifications and crew hiring.
Valle and Fiala explained how, during filming, the post team also plays a roll in viewing dailies (the footage that has been filmed during the shooting day) when their fresh eyes are imperative in spotting continuity errors, audio issues and more.
Then, the “real heavy lifting” begins,” Fiala said, as the editing team assembles the raw footage into a complete cut.
“You know what they say,” Fiala said, “‘You write a movie three times — once on the page, once on the camera and once in the cut.'”
With its goal to offer subscribers the best at-home viewing experience, Netflix has become a “driving force of new technology” in how it sets itself apart from studios focused only on theatrical releases, Fiala said.
Fiala and Valle talked about the technology Netflix uses to optimize for 4K screens and sound systems that range from movie theater systems to TVs to laptops, as well enabling dubbing dialogue in multiple languages.
“Remember, tech specs don’t dictate the merit of a movie,” Fiala said to the students in attendance. “At the end of the day, the most important thing about movies is story.”
Valle described her journey to the career she has built in post-production, and she discussed viable pathways that students can take to rewarding careers of their own.
“One of our recent graduates, Arielle Kilker ’11 (Film Production), took home an Emmy Award this season as part of the post-production team for Netflix reality series ‘Cheer,’ said CTVA Department Chair Dianah Wynter. “Netflix is an integral part of our lives and culture. This department primes our students to become valued assets to the industry at large. That Netflix sought out our department and proposed this exclusive master class is a testament to the work of our faculty and the sweat, passion and talent of our students.”