Brace yourself for a serious dose of adorable—Troy Gronseth’s short film “Breakfast with a Princess” won our Creative Rewards Challenge by chronicling the cuteness of two siblings during their morning routine. Watch Gronseth’s winning vignette about the adventures of childhood, featuring stock audio from our library.
A Telly Award-winning producer with a passion for documentaries and “relational” stories, Gronseth recently started his own production company, 12th Avenue Productions. One of the first short films to come out of his company is his winning entry, “Breakfast with a Princess.”We interviewed Gronseth to find out more about his work as a filmmaker, and to hear what advice he has for fellow AudioBlocks members.
Filmmaker (and AudioBlocks member) Troy Gronseth of 12th Avenue Productions
AudioBlocks: What excites you most about filmmaking and sound editing?
Gronseth: Most elements of the creative process are enough to get me out of bed in the morning. It’s an absolute privilege to do this work—and yet in every production, there are surprises that change the persona of a project. And for the myriad details and elements I want or need to control in a production, it’s great life practice to maintain a certain malleable mindset.
Music plays such a big part of that. One track all but changes the composition of a scene over another. It’s what can make a project feel utterly out of sync or leave you tapping your toe and thinking of Disney World the rest of the day. Part of the fun of each production is the unknown of where it will finally land. There is adventure in this work and it’s energizing.
AudioBlocks: What is the most important thing that you’ve learned about filmmaking so far?
Gronseth: Don’t rush the track. If your job is to match the picture to the tone and character of the project with a piece of music, don’t rush it. As a writer/shooter/editor type of producer, I can get impatient wanting to get a rough cut out the door. But, I’ve found if I audition a small ‘favorites’ list—not just one track I mentally married, rashly—in different places in the project, cut to a smaller sample, and then have others speak into a rough cut, I’ve created space for the project to breathe and ultimately find the ideal audio pairing.
AudioBlocks: What was your inspiration for “Breakfast with a Princess”?
Gronseth: I am inspired by the simple yet profound stories surrounding us daily. So many are painful, but some are simply beautiful. I wanted to capture a seemingly mundane, oft-taken-for-granted daily experience—breakfast—and unveil a bit of the profound and whimsy in it. I mean, how often do we remember the privilege it is to simply wake up and have breakfast?
As to my storytelling philosophy, Frederick Buechner is one of my favorite authors and he writes:
It is important to tell at least from time to time the secret of who we truly and fully are—even if we tell it only to ourselves- because otherwise we run the risk of losing track of who we truly and fully are and little by little come to accept instead the highly edited version which we put forth in hope that the world will find it more acceptable than the real thing. (Telling Secrets pp. 2-3)
Troy Gronseth filming on location
AudioBlocks: What’s the next project you’re working on?
Gronseth: I worked as the video producer for a large non-profit organization for seven years and am now opening the doors to 12th Avenue Productions. A lot of what I produced was short-form documentary, so that’s now something that comes relatively naturally. Currently, I’m working with a couple organizations to help tell their stories of life transformation—a lot of short-form human interest type producing. I love storytelling and the learning experience that comes with every single project and am excited to have the flexibility now to work in some genres that I haven’t had the chance to for a while.
AudioBlocks: How do you use our content to create your projects?
Gronseth: When I create a project, I have a tone I want to convey—not only through the moving pictures, but through the play between sound effects, silence and music tracks. Searching tracks on AudioBlocks is straightforward and scrubbing through them is intuitive.
Typically, I search for tracks multiple times through post-production as my vision for the project changes and evolves. I’ll download as many as a dozen tracks. I then audition on the timeline until I’ve matched what I think is the best complement to the picture. Sometimes (rarely) I hit it the first time because the vision is clear; with others I really have to play with the interaction until it becomes ‘right.’
AudioBlocks: What do you like most about working with our footage libraries?
Gronseth: Having just opened my own shop, I knew how important it was out of the gates to get access to great music for any type of production. And unless you’ve got an artist scoring each of your productions, choosing music is an integral part of visual storytelling. I was referred to AudioBlocks and when I first started a search it felt like walking into an all-you-can-eat musical buffet!
I really enjoy the freedom and flexibility of not having to worry about how much budget is coming out of my pocket if I grab one, two, or six tracks. Removing that stressor really makes the searching process much more enjoyable. I’ve been impressed with the quality products AudioBlocks is attracting.
To find out more about Troy Gronseth’s work, check out his production company’s website, 12th Avenue Productions.
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