Burbank facility
provides a full package of finishing services for independently-produced,
documentary feature.

BURBANK—Post-production finishing for Parrott Heads, a new feature length
documentary about dedicated fans of singer Jimmy Buffett, was completed recently
at Roundabout Entertainment. The Burbank facility provided editorial
conforming, color grading, sound mixing and DVD authoring services for the
film, currently streaming on Amazon, iTunes and elsewhere.

Directed by Bryce Wagoner, Parrott Heads casts an affectionate eye on the passionate subculture
that has grown up around Buffett and his signature blend of breezy, good-time
music known as “trop rock.” It focuses in particular on Scott Nickerson, a fan
of Buffett since the 1980s and founder of a worldwide organization known as
Parrot Heads in Paradise. Its members not only attend concerts dressed in
outlandish Caribbean-themed attire but have created a unique sense of community
and carry out on a range of philanthropic activities.

Production spanned two years and more than 30 cities across
the United States and as far away as Paris. The finished documentary mixes
concert footage, interviews, behind-the-scenes material, and story segments
about Parrot Head goodwill efforts. “The Parrot Heads came together through
their love of music, but they are more than a group of fans,” says Crystal
Angel, one of the film’s executive producers. She points to a section of the
film where the group comes to the aid of a member after she suffers a life-threatening
accident. “They’ve done a lot of good and helped a lot of people,” she notes.
“It’s what they call ‘party with a purpose.’”

Such thoughtful moments provide a counterpoint to the Parrot
Heads’ favorite activity: partying to Buffett’s music. “Jimmy’s annual concert
in Paris draws fans from around the globe,” says Angel. “They build a Pirate
Island in the median of one of the city’s main streets—filled with men in coconut
bras.” Roundabout Entertainment founder and CEO Craig Clark is also among the
executive producers of the film.
The project began as
a labor of love by Wagoner and its story crystalized as it moved from
production to post. “Bryce and his crew traveled the country, following Jimmy
on tour and shooting Parrot Head events,” recalls Kathryn Robson, the film’s
editor. “As we started to cut it, he had a loose idea of the story and it soon
became clear that Scott Nickerson would be the focal point. That gave us a
strong framework and allowed us to build a narrative taking in the history and
the charity work, as well as the wackier things.”
Roundabout Re-Recording Mixer Teddy Salas mixed the final
soundtrack which included material from virtually every imaginable source
ranging from festival style concerts to fan videos from the 1980s. A lot of the
interview segments were shot run-and-gun style outside concert venues or in
other informal settings under wildly divergent recording conditions. “The live
concert and party scenes were especially challenging as we were trying to dig
out individual lines of dialogues from background noise,” Salas recalls.
The aim was to retain the atmosphere and spontaneity of
events happening on the screen. “The film not only includes Jimmy’s music but
also music from bands that he inspired,” Salas notes. “Working on those scenes
was a lot of fun, but it often meant we were dealing with music that was
recorded in a bar through a single mic. We had to do a lot of clean up to make
it play well and keep the energy of the live performance.”
Colorist Michael Smollin faced similar issues in bringing
consistency to the diverse production material. Smollin, whose documentary
experience includes 2012 Oscar winner Undefeated,
says that his objective was to subtly smooth out differences in format to avoid
distracting the audience. “You want to keep people focused on the story,” he
says. “My approach was to do a first pass to even everything out and make it
all look great, and then go back and work on the nuances.”
In one of his final
touches, Smollin created distinct looks for individual interview subjects as a
way of anchoring them in the minds of the audience. “Everybody has a certain
look,” he explains. “For example, one woman appears in a nighttime exterior
outside her home. We neutralized the color to give it more of an evening look
and added a character vignette to make her standout from the background.”
The documentary climaxes with an outdoor concert where
Nickerson is given an opportunity to play drums with Buffett’s band. It’s a
quintessential moment that captures the exuberance and likeability of Buffett
and his fans, and the mutual love affair that’s been going on for 40 years. “Jimmy’s
music has a wonderful, feel-good vibe; it takes you to the beach…with a buzz,”
says Angel. “And the Parrot Heads are very cool and chill. They’re the greatest.”
About Roundabout
Roundabout Entertainment is a full-service post production
facility serving all sectors of the entertainment industry. It features the
latest technology for editorial finishing, color correction, sound editorial,
sound mixing, restoration and more, and a staff of more than 80 post production
operators who are among the best and most dedicated in the industry. The
facility’s technical infrastructure includes secure servers and a 40GB,
fiber-base LAN network.
Founded in 1992, Roundabout remains a youthful, growing company
with a startup mentality. Its mission is to solve problems and produce great
work. It is committed to remaining at the forefront of technology and building
mutually fruitful, long-term relationships with it clients.
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