Temp Love, Tempitis, Scratch Track Fever…there are many names for it, but in filmmaking it’s a singular, fascinating and potentially debilitating condition that effects 8 out of 10 filmmakers.
Joking aside, Temp Love occurs when Temporary sound effects or music are used in the picture edit phase of a film by the Director or Editor.
While the edit is coming together, these sounds are used to help inform editorial decisions and allow the film to feel more alive and fleshed out. It can also be helpful for early screening purposes for review and investment. In a lot of ways it proves how crucial sound is to tell a story effectively…but that’s a topic for another time.
Similar to Stockholm Syndrome, a filmmaker may set-out with the intention of these sounds being temporary, but, after time passes, becomes fond of, familiar and even dependent on the specific sounds that were used. More than not, this typically causes issues by the time said film begins post-production with the sound team and composer.
A composer might forever be working in the shadow of Hand Covers Bruise from The Social Network soundtrack used in temp, unable to create something freely inspired by the film itself. A Sound Designer might have labored over creative conversations, conceptual agreements, or even asset approval, only to be overruled because “It’s not the same as the one I used”.
When it comes to the creative/most-important part of filmmaking, this poses a problem because it limits both creativity and the film’s potential. In essence, you’re hiring someone who specializes in this art form, who loves their craft, is inspired by the work you created, and is driven to elevate the parts they’re responsible for to the highest level possible. Preventing that from happening, at it’s worse, is restricting what the audience gets to experience.
A good sound person or composer will consider if 1) a sound being used is best fitted to the film/a precise moment within and 2) how the the sound will make the audience feel.
The audience has zero knowledge of who placed a bad temp sound and why, there’s a chance they might not have consciously heard the sound – but I guarantee you, the will certainly feel that something was off.
Now, this is not to say that good things can’t come from Temp Love!
There have been many films I’ve worked on where the director and I actually agree that we both want to keep a temp sound item. Even weirder is when I solely request that we use an item heard in temp. Perhaps it’s that one weird combination, out of endless possibilities, that happened to create something magical and transform a moment.
The difference is collaboration and intent.
Side by side, you discover something that inspires and excites both of you. That, at its core, is the beauty of film.