Directed by: Lalo Molina
Starring: Gregg Barbanell, Elisha Birnbaum, Leslie Bloome, Charles L. Campbell
The Actors of Sound is a documentary that pulls back the curtain on the magic that makes films sound so good. The film focuses on a group of Foley artists that have created sounds for Hollywood blockbusters for many years. Some examples are Apocalypse Now, Gangs of New York, Silence of the Lambs, and many more. The film does a great job of explaining the history of Foley art without getting bogged down in bullet points.
The key to a successful documentary is to tell a few stories that are interconnected. A story like this requires a substantial amount of talking head style interviews, which can get boring if there aren’t other things happening to give the eye a break from stiff interview shots. This film follows the closing of one of the largest and most successful Foley studios in New York. As we learn about Foley, and see several very entertaining examples of how the sounds are recorded, we also learn that technology has been attempting to encroach on the most definitely low-fi world of Foley sound design. So as we meet some of the stars of the art form and learn how they work, and learn the history of the art, we are also privy to the possible end of the art as well. There’s a lot of story here and it runs the emotional gamut from fascinating to funny, and from dramatic to hopeful.
The Actors of Sound is a must see for filmmakers and true cinephiles, but the film is so well balanced that I believe everyone can find entertainment in this story. It’s refreshing to see that at least one part of old Hollywood is still impacting film and TV today. These sound artists don’t just find ways to make cool sounds, they interpret the emotion happening on screen, and that’s something a computer still can’t do. After watching this film you’ll experience sound in film in a new way. It’s truly fascinating to learn just how simply some sounds come together. One artist references how up-and-comers in the art are focused on bombastic sounds such as explosions but he prefers the more subtle intimate sounds. I’d agree with him because you just don’t think about sounds like sipping soup requiring Foley art but sure enough, we see it happen.
The actors of Sound is an education of sound in film but it’s also funny, dramatic, and heartwarming. These people love what they do and you’ll love hearing their story.