- May 27th, 2012
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Since I started acting as the sound recordist on the shorts we made in FilmTV 1 and 2, everyone started to assume that sound would be my thing. I was a little surprised at first. I never imagined myself becoming a soundy on film sets, but I have – whether it’s a boom operator, sound assistant, or ‘Head of Sound’ as I was once credited as. And I’m cool with this. Sound is often something that people forget about until they have to do it, and then they realise how important it is to a film. There’s not a lot that can be done to cover bad sound.
Before the advanced skills workshop with David Chesworth, I was mostly concerned with making sure the sound I recorded on location was as clean and clear as possible. One of the first things David did was to close his eyes and describe all the sounds that he could hear. Sound makes up such a large part of our world and life, is so inherent in daily existence that we sometimes forget it’s there. Every now and then, I think it’d be a good thing to do what David did at the start of the workshop, to remind myself.
Of course, I had interest in sound design in film, but never really had any in depth input into the sound design. It has always been a collaborative effort (and collaboration is of course, a key thing in filmmaking). This time around however, I would like to go a bit further and really think about how the sound design will affect the mood of the script we choose to produce.
One of the key things that David said to us (and this may not be an exact quote) was: “Sound is there for a reason. It may not be your reason, but it’s there…” We can’t control every little sound that happens on a film set. Maybe some people say differently, but at this point in my life I don’t believe so. I can cover it with atmos, with music, with sound fx and other things, but sounds always happen whether we mean them to or not. We have to work around them, or make them work for us. Something entirely incidental may be the key to an awesome moment in a film.
I think some of the most interesting aspects of the workshop for me where listening to David’s creative work such as ‘The Masters Voice’ and ‘5000 Calls’ (all of which can be heard on his website). Again, the creative use of sound is something that I find has been overlooked a lot in film and television. While projects such as these weren’t created to subsidise the visual, I still feel that I have been given a lot to think about in terms of the creative use of sounds in our film. Depending on what script we choose, could I use sound to startle people? Will it be sad or melancholy? What types of sounds can I use? Will a particular scene benefit from the absence of sound? (This is part of the reason that I will be doing a course on the Modern Soundtrack in film next semester – I want another opportunity to answer these questions).
Overall, I think I fully agree with a lot of what David said. ‘Sound seeks you out’ is another quote that I wrote down (paraphrased), and it’s true. Even films of the silent era were accompanied by live musicians. The introduction of ‘talkies’ was a Hollywood revolution. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences gives away Oscars every year for sound effects and sound mixing. This year, I’m going to try and put as much thought into sound as I possibly can.