Film: Actors of Sound

Filmmaking is not an easy task. There are a variety of people that are needed, and if you’ve ever watched the end credits you understand that this list is not minute. Each and every one of these creative people are immensely talented and are needed to bring a film to life. One art that doesn’t get enough recognition is the art of Foley Sound, in which an individual brings sound to life on film using random objects and their craft of sound. 

Foley is the recording of sound and sound effects to a film after the film has been shot. These are additional sound elements included in the film’s sound tracks to add a fullness to the picture and may include anything from a filing cabinet being hit to a person walking into a room to the sound of someone getting hit by an object or in a fight.

Thanks to the new documentary film Actors of Sound film lovers can get an in-depth look at this vital piece of moviemaking. The audience can journey with veterans in the industry as they explain what its like to paint pictures with sound.

Foley Artist Catherine Harper

Foley Artist Catherine Harper

From the very beginning, the world of sound is presented in an interesting way, a way that opens our perspectives to the way these artists view sound. The distinction between “listening” and “hearing” is an important one, it allows the audience to realize that sometimes what we hear is not the whole picture. Actors of Sound is not just an awareness film as it quickly moves into an educational film.

We are speeding towards a full digital age, and some may argue we are already there, and with that comes unlimited access to Foley Sound for the masses. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as indie filmmakers can have inexpensive tools to make their films shine, but Actors of Sound showcase the downside to this technological advantage. True, this may be more of a biased idea since it’s their livelihood, but they make a sound argument. If sound is replaced by computers, you take the emotion and the humanity out of it. 

The film does a great job venturing into the history of Foley and a film trade, one that I was fascinated to learn about. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine a world without the modern requirements of film, when in reality the beginning of the film industry was not really that long ago in our overall history. The film is full of examples of Foley in classic films, pulling the curtain away to reveal the tricks that were used in beloved films.

This might be a downside to some. Films have a way of embedding themselves into our souls, and when we find out the processes that made those films, it takes the magic away. There are moments that one will have to be able to push aside when watching the film later, but that’s an ability film fans have to be engrained with if they are wanting to know trade secrets. The audience might have to be more on guard when viewing this film as to not have anything else but an education linger in their mind.

Foley Artist Martin Langenbach

Foley Artist Martin Langenbach

On the contrary, however, showing these unique techniques in creating sound on films that have little or no soundtracks/music playing throughout makes this profession’s importance shine brilliantly. It’s in this that one realizes that Foley is not just around to add finishing touches, but it adds a dimension of the spirit of the film. Our world is not silent, with the sounds all around us adding to the moment and situation we find ourselves in. In those moments, the moments that Foley artist thrive in that create the connection between what is on screen and the audience in the theater.

The film has it’s moments of leisure, and the less interested might lose connection for a moment, but it’s not long before the reconnection occurs with a stronger bond. At times I feared that those who are not into the technical aspects of filmmaking may lose interest, but then I realized it doesn’t matter. Like the art itself, this film is for the film and sound lovers, the ones who find exhilaration in the moviemaking process.

Beyond who watches this film, Actors of Sound is a significant film and one that was long overdue. These talented sound engineers are the men and women behind the curtain, and they deserve their moment in the spotlight.

Actors of Sound  will be available February 27th via Freestyle Digital Media.


Written by Lisa Mejia
Images provided by Freestyle Digital Media