For five months, director Peter Nicks embedded himself and his crew in the emergency room of Highland Hospital, a large public hospital located in Oakland, Calif., and filmed the hundreds of patients who entered the facility every day in need of care, as well as the overburdened staff of nurses and doctors attempting to deliver quality treatment in difficult conditions. The Waiting Room turns Highland’s ER into its own self-contained universe and keeps its focus entirely on the men and women who populate it. It’s a small-scale story that -- captured through Nick's intimate and transparent lens -- speaks volumes about the larger problems facing American healthcare. The emergency room is understaffed and underfunded but the film is remarkably policy-free. There are no title cards or celebrity voice overs, no calls for action, no heavy-handed visual or musical cues suggesting the audience laugh or cry. The footage alone is enough.
For original soundtrack composition, Nicks chose an up-and-coming film composer and producer William Ryan Fritch, Fritch, an Oakland resident, has composed for dozens of award-winning Independent narrative and documentary films (The Myth of the American Sleepover, Leave Me Like you Found Me, The Stinking Ship, Days Together, etc.), released several records under his own name and the moniker Vieo Abiungo, and arranges and produces music for a cadre of other artists. The common thread running throughout these diverse projects is their high-altitude clarity: singing upper registers, buzzing lows, and natural reverberations.
Fritch’s Waiting Room soundtrack is the ideal complement, with persistent gravities and thudding tempos that are keenly aware of the passing hours. The crawl of time is transcribed to sound with prolonged string notes, potent repetition and exquisite silences between topographies. While the singsong melodies, diverse instrumentation, and acoustic nuance parallel the colorful and multi-faceted community the film surrounds. The soundtrack is textured and resonant, cinematic in both senses of the word: its impact is visual as well as aural, and the impact is pulse-quickening, exhilarating. But the duality of homogenous and heterogeneous is the most striking: Fritch’s uncountable instruments begin to resemble a sea of faces, like those Nicks has documented, waiting for emergency care. Diverse when viewed from up close, but cohesive in the end, their colors and timbres spilling together when seen as a whole.
As of press time, Peter Nick was awarded the Independent Spirit Awards “Truer Than Fiction” filmmaking grant for his work on The Waiting Room, and the film has received more than its share of awards and recognition, the San Francisco Film Critics Circle award for Best Documentary, and a place on the Academy Awards shortlist for Best Documentary. NPR listed The Waiting Room among their “10 Films Worth Going Out Of Your Way For,” and the Washington Post named it “one of the 10 best films of 2012”. Lost Tribe Sound is proud to play so crucial a role in this important documentary, and to help give lend a sublime pitch to the name of the film, and those patients who endure it, the hours upon hours of waiting.
released 18 March 2013
Composed, Performed, and Mixed by William Ryan Fritch
Mastered by Jonathan Burnside
Produced by Lost Tribe Sound, LLC
Film by Pete Nicks
More info on the flim here: Whatruwaitingfor.com
Images and likeness used with permission from Open Hood, Inc.
William Ryan Fritch is a composer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer currently based in Oakland, California.
His compositions are characterized by his unique range as a multi-instrumentalist and audio engineer, allowing him to realize large ensemble arrangements found in folk, Indie-rock, electronica, Hip-hop, World and orchestral music as a solo endeavor....more