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Flavorlab Sound Sends Two Films to SXSW

Poster for the South By Southwest (SXSW) Music Film Interactive. Flavorlab Sound provided audio post f two films in the festival in
Official Poster for SXSW Music Film Interactive 2016

What draws us into a movie so much that we cry, laugh and feel touched by what we are seeing? What about films gives us an experience so immersive that we share the emotions of the characters? Many aspects of the filmmaking craft are dedicated to this end. Sound is one of the most highly effective, yet, most commonly unnoticed ways filmmakers achieve this. The sound mixer’s tedious and precise adjustments of the elements in the sound track; dialogue, music, and sound effects. The way that they rise and fall in concert with the emotional context of each scene moves us to feel. Sadness, anger, fear, and empathy. We feel without a hint we’re being manipulated by the hand of a skillful master.

“The most powerful tools I use as a re-recording engineer are my emotions and my ears.

If I’m not feeling something while I’m riding the levels and fades of the music, dialogue, and FX, then the audience won’t either,” says Supervising Sound Editor and Re-Recording Mixer, Brian Quill.

As the holidays wound down, Flavorlab Sound wrapped audio post on two films heading to South by Southwest (SXSW). Jack Goes Home is a dark psychological thriller. Long Nights Short Mornings is a romantic drama about a young man’s, sometimes profound, personal journey as he dates and beds numerous women in New York City. These two films have obvious stark differences in their audio needs and aesthetics.

Director Thomas Dekker wanted the film to feel quiet, empty, and awkward. This meant keeping the sound focused on specifics like prop movements and foley while leaving ambient noise as controlled as possible. As a result of this approach, the film instills an anxious anticipation. As the audience watches, they feel the layers of psychological darkness peeled back to the main character’s internal struggle. For Long Nights Short Mornings, Brian and his team took an almost entirely opposite approach. Director Chadd Harbold told them:

New York City is loud and the movie should sound authentic.”

“We focused mostly on ambiences and less foley type movements. We played with slipping out of the New York city cacophony, in and out of diegetic sound and score. This brought us in mentally to share moments with the lead character on his journey,” Brian notes.

This connection with the lead character helps to create empathy. The audience feels as though they have shared in the evolution of the character and relate to him subconsciously. For Brian and the Flavorlab team, these were two very different films and two different approaches to the craft. Ultimately, they achieved the same result of immersing the audience and allowing them to share an emotional journey. Catch both films at the South by Southwest media festival (SXSW) in Austin, TX.

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