Dialogue as temp music

Listening to the current Filmspotting podcast (web/iTunes), I heard an interview with Guy Maddin. He was talking about an impressionistic documentary that he was commissioned to make about the town he grew up in: ‘My Winnipeg.’ At 18:25, he starts to describe how he constructed the film. He didn’t know how to structure the film, so he took his inspiration from the way his editor is sometimes inspired by temp music. He went into a recording studio and started to extemporise on the theme of his home town. Sometimes he would prepare a few words, sometimes he would go off on tangents. These recordings he gave to his editor:

My editor treated that as ‘temp music’ – temp narration. He would cut it up – sometimes space it out more and rearrange the words… Before we finally fixed it up, there would be inconsistencies with verb tenses and grammatical things because he was making a collage out of my narration just the way he would hack up some Mahler when we use it as temp music… So that a piece of action would happen on a cymbal crash or something like that. … I didn’t re-record much more than a couple of sentences to smooth out some inconsistencies…


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