It’s pretty easy to envisage a film scorer at work. I imagine a composer, sitting at his keyboard and watching a soundless film roll by, hammering out harmonies to match the intended moods. But what about all those other sounds? The newspaper crinkles and crunchy tread of a person walking on gravel. You ask: Aren’t those just recorded with boom mics? Logical to think that, until you realize there aren’t any microphones hanging out next to that newspaper on the other side of the room, and there aren’t any attached to the walker’s shoes as we watch her depart into the sunset, either. All those sounds are actually being created off-screen by the under-appreciated, uber-creative Foley Artists.
This week, Vimeo’s “Short of the Week” is The Secret World of Foley, a 13-minute film that, fittingly, lets the sounds do all of the talking (there’s no dialogue). The short follows a fisherman through his daily routine, oscillating between Foley Artists Pete Burgis and Sue Harding at work and the actual film clips for which they’re creating the sounds. From inside a sound studio, the pair thump towels for birds’ wings, toy with fake fishing pole reels, and slap play doh to recreate the sounds of a flopping fish.
Burgis and Harding wear looks of intent concentration, mindful that they must create sounds that inarguably replicate the sounds we expect the images to create. It’s a fascinating vignette and a creative examination of a little known art form, one that’s sure to add new layers of depth to your movie-watching experiences. Is that real fish flop or Play-Doh? Hopefully you won’t be able to tell.
IMAGE: Third Man Films