“Cloverfield” terrorizes theaters January 18th. Creating the sounds of rampage and mayhem are co-supervising sound editors Douglas Murray and Will Files. Both Skywalker Sound mainstays, Douglas “Owned the Night” this past fall, while Files designed sounds for a rat chef, a bee movie, and santa’s little helper. “Cloverfield” mixed on the Howard Hawks Stage at Fox with Andy Nelson and Anna Behlmer wrangling the human screams and monster roars; both coming off a big 2007 with an animated rock block of “The Simpsons” and “Bee Movie”. Ed White, a second unit mixer on Abrams’ last feature length venture “Mission Impossible 3”, handled production sound. Here’s the unique part: there is no composer for “Cloverfield”. There is no composer because there is no score, the film is based on the premise that the footage is “found”. So other then the end titles cue composed by Michael Giacchino the film’s 73min run time is sans music other than source.
THANKS TO EFFECTS RE-RECORDING MIXER ANNA BEHLMER FOR TAKING TIME FOR THIS Q AND A!
DS: Since the film takes place exclusively in-camera, are the effects filtered as if recorded with an on-camera mic?
AB: We did not do a lot of filtering on the effects; we didn’t want to lose intensity or momentum. The dialog is more filtered and is doing some interesting things spatially. I think the effects at full range and the dialog treatment gives the viewer the feeling of being behind the camera.
DS: Seems that there is a lot of tape and camera related sound effects you guys got to play with on the stage?
AB: We tried not to over do it. There were so many areas we could have used camera sounds. We ended up using it on deliberate camera moves or when the camera fell to the ground. Some of the camera effects were recorded in quad which gave it an enhanced sense of realism.
DS: Were there any parallels between “Cloverfield” and your mixing experience on “War of the Worlds”, both, films in which large entities attack cities?
AB: Yes, there were parallels. I actually used a similar low end enhancing treatment on “Cloverfield” as I did on “War of the Worlds”. Both films possessed such great sound opportunities. They were both very challenging and fun to mix.
DS: “Cloverfield” is being described as a landmark genre film. What in the creature sound design helped warrant such praise?
AB: The creature vocals were designed by Will Files, the sound designer. He went to great lengths to give the creature a personality. The vocals express the creature’s emotions and make him a real character in the film.
DS: Much like “No Country for Old Men”, “Cloverfield’s” sound effects take the brunt of emotional and thematic aural responsibility in the storytelling with a lack of score. Did this help and/or hinder your work?
AB: It definitely helped. It is very difficult to mix a large action movie with an equally large score. In many cases the sound effects become compromised. That was not the case with “Cloverfield” and it was a very refreshing experience.
DS: What was your first gig like?
AB: I started at the bottom as a film loader. My job included cleaning 35 mm film stock in the vaults.
HOWARD HAWKS STAGE
SUPERVISING SOUND EDITOR: Douglas Murray
SOUND DESIGNER: Will Files
RE-RECORDING MIXER: Andy Nelson
RE-RECORDING MIXER: Anna Behlmer
PRODUCTION SOUND MIXER: Ed White