Award-winning director and producer Natalie Metzger explores the dark, surreal side of human nature with her “visually rich and thoughtful work”, which has been showcased in over 50 festivals around the world, receiving 15 awards! Metzger holds a Master of Fine Arts from California Institute of the Arts and a Bachelor of Arts from Emory University.
Robert Allaire is a Los Angeles based composer whose work at the intersection of music and sound design has garnered accolades from LA Weekly and The New York Times. His style fuses dark electronics, contemporary experimental techniques, and bold orchestral writing into a unique voice.
What’s your origin story? How did you get started in this crazy industry?
I had a circuitous path into the industry. My background was in theater and dance, and I was directing and producing dance/theater works for the stage. I would create these intricate gesture sequences or facial ticks, but because of the distance between the performer and the audience, a lot of it was getting lost. I started creating interactive performances where the audience moves around the performers, but many theaters were worried about liability issues with those shows, so I decided to start filming my choreography so that I could place the audience wherever I wanted. I submitted those dance films to festivals, and they started to get attention and awards, so I did more of them. From there, it was an easy hop into music videos and commercials, and then to more narrative shorts, and eventually features and series.
When I was a kid, a classmate of mine played the piano, and when my class heard him play one day, all the other kids thought he was the coolest. I was so jealous that I told my mom I wanted to learn piano, too. I started taking lessons that summer and never quit. The film connection really started in earnest while I was studying composition at CalArts. There are so many talented animators and filmmakers there that it made sense to collaborate on projects. By the time I left I was scoring three or four short films a semester. Once I’d gotten a taste for film scoring, I started chasing down feature and television gigs.
Natalie, I love the name of your production company ‘Rare & Potentially Fatal’. How did you come up with that?
Thanks! It technically comes from my feature documentary Special Blood which focuses on a rare and potentially fatal disease, but I really liked the sound of it, and it fit the kind of dark and strange material that I tend to make, so it just kind of clicked in place. 🙂
Bob, how did you and Natalie first meet?
We met while we were students and started collaborating on projects right away. At first I would compose music for her dance pieces, then her films. Over time we began creating and writing projects together, so a lot of our relationship centers on art and making work together.
Natalie, we noticed you liked exploring the dark and surreal side of things. What inspires that?
Yeah. I always find myself attracted to things that are a little strange or bizarre. My father painted surrealist art before I was born, and I always loved his paintings and crazy doodles, so I’m sure that probably influenced me a bit (I now have his art hanging all around my office). I also think my background in dance gave me a fascination with the human body: how it moves, how it interacts with other bodies, how it functions and breaks down, which also plays into a lot of my work.
Bob, what inspires your music? I noticed you have some really unique instruments in your house.
I’m very interested in finding unique sounds and pushing the boundaries of what an instrument can do. I like to make acoustic instruments sound like electronic instruments and blend those worlds together. Changing the position of a violin bow on the string can have a similar effect to turning a knob on a synthesizer. To me it’s all about finding those exciting sonic possibilities that make even a single note sound interesting or new.
I’m always on the lookout for new instruments. I have some hand-made synthesizers that are some of my favorites. Some of the most surprising finds are inexpensive gifts from friends that at first seem like they won’t have much use, but after sitting on the shelf for a year will work their way into one of my scores. Those are the best.
What’s next for you both?
I’m currently producing a new series for Fullscreen, and I’m in the middle of post on a feature documentary that I’m producing and co-directing. We also have a sci-fi script that we wrote together that we are working on developing.
I’m just wrapping up a narrative feature called Shooting In Vain and after that will be diving into scoring Natalie’s documentary. Somehow in the midst of all that I’m also writing an adventure script that I’m very excited about.
What’s it like marrying another industry person? Do you both have ‘ground rules’ for what can or cannot be talked about once you’re done with work for the day, or is it a constant discussion?
It’s a constant discussion. For us, work is fun, so it’s part of our lives at all times. Life and work are interwoven in a cool way.
Even though we’re both in the industry, our area of focus is different with some overlap in the middle. It’s great because we’re able to make connections for each other within our respective networks and help link each other with new opportunities.
What are some of the benefits of listing and booking with Wrapal?
As a producer who often ends up being the location manager for most of my projects, Wrapal has made my life so much easier. I search for what I’m looking for within the budget range that I need and then I can easily share lots of options with the director or client.
Your house is also listed on Wrapal. What makes it such a popular one?
We have an open floor plan which makes it easy to set up shots, move equipment, and recreate the space however you need. We also have a large fenced off backyard which is perfect for crafty, catering, equipment storage, and is great for any backyard scenes. Our garage also provides additional storage space, or if you need a completely different look that is creepy and dark, our garage is the place for you. Our house has been shot to play as a large mansion as well as a cramped NY apartment. It’s really flexible. And since we are also filmmakers, we know what a production needs. The last production that shot at our house needed recommendations on an AD and a last minute tripod that I helped them with.
Check out their Wrapal listing HERE
If someone give you a billion dollars to make a film, what kind of film would it be?
It would be a sci-fi film exploring the possibilities of life extension, but we would probably just purchase the labs and apartment buildings needed to make it, if we had that kind of budget. We currently have a $1 Million version of this project, and it won the Gold Prize at the Page International Screenwriting Awards.