Forgiveness: A Time To Love and a Time To Hate is a two-part film by acclaimed writer, producer and director Helen Whitney that examines the concept of forgiveness through the lens of personal and global experience. For the audio post-production of this film, Whitney returned to NYC’s Flavorlab to work with mixer/sound designer Brian Quill.
The first installment delves into personal stories and the second takes a wider look at global events such as the Rwandan genocide and the Holocaust. Working closely with Whitney and editor Ted Winterburn, Quill provided sonic depth and balance to this probing film, which comprises interviews with survivors and witnesses, reenactments, location views, and news footage.
“Brian has perfect pitch for sound levels between dialogue and music, remarkable creativity with sound design, an unusual respect for the power of silence, a fierce intellect that allows him to ‘get’ the content of the film and exceptional mastery of all the technical skills required to execute his vision of what each scene requires,” says Whitney. “Sitting with him during a session, watching him ‘ride’ the controls at breathtaking speed and efficiency was pure pleasure.”
Quill sound designed and mixed broadcast, theatrical and Director’s Cut versions of Forgiveness in stereo and 5.1 surround sound. Granted the creative freedom to underscore the film’s heavy themes with creative sound design, Quill helped to further deepen the impact of each account.
Whitney describes: “A ‘Brian’ moment in the film, emblematic of so many of his grace notes that enhanced the series, occurs in the Amish act. Here the film portrays the Amish community grieving over the killing and wounding of 11 of their young children by their non Amish neighbor. We explore the Amish unconditional forgiveness of the killer – and the Jewish response to this immediate forgiveness.
“One of the challenges in this act is to give a visceral sense of the shattering of their peaceful world. TV crews swarmed into the Amish community along with police and their helicopters. And it was Brian’s use of the helicopters, sharply juxtaposed with the silence of the Amish waiting by the road that heightened this scene. But in Brian’s sound design, it wasn’t just one blaring loud, brutal sound of the propellers, but a true symphony of helicopter wings, each with subtle gradations in volume and texture.”
From Forgiveness Part I to Part II, Quill calibrated his approach to the subtle change in tone. “I tried to give each night its own sound, since it goes from these very personal stories of people like Terri Jentz and Kathy Power to these different points of view on these much larger experiences in Part II,” he describes. “I wanted that intimacy to come across in the first night, and a sense of universal or global magnitude on the second night. So it feels like a progression of the concept, which is what the film does – contemplates the idea of forgiveness.”
Whitney adds, “I have produced, directed and written documentaries and dramatic features over the last 40 years and during this period have had the opportunity to work with a variety of mixers. Some had a great deal of experience, a few were at the beginning of their careers. Many of them were good, some very good but Brian was superb, truly in a class by himself.
“His independence was also a blessing on this project. Unlike many of my post production experiences where I stayed in the mix room every minute of the day, I felt free to leave knowing that Brian would execute my directions – and take them to a different level.”