Tag Archives: Indie film

“Visions” is Sororal’s NEW teaser

25 Sep

Here is the latest teaser for Nakatomi Pictures’ neo-giallo thriller Sororal.  This clip is both an introduction to Cassie and her horrible curse.  If you like what you see then please show your support on the Sororal Facebook page.  Click the image to check it out via our good friends at Twitch.

Nakatomi Profile: Benjamin Morris, Sound Designer

25 Oct

Nakatomi Profile is a section featuring interviews with collaborators and artists we have worked with.

Who are you? What is your background?

I’ve been an audio engineer for nearly 10 years, I come from a background in music recording and live engineering. My two greatest passions are sound and film, but it’s taken many years to realize that I can combine those two loves by working as a sound designer. Esoterica is the first feature film that I’ve worked on.

What attracted you to Esoterica?

It’s a great little film – beautifully shot, intriguing story. It’s not often that a film of this calibre gets made in Perth, so it’s a pleasure to be involved with it.

Do you have a process?

Layers – it’s all about the layers! When working on a project as large as this it’s important to concentrate on one element at a time, so you don’t miss some of the finer details. It’s tempting when you’re first handed a film to start working on all the sexier stuff first! Esoterica is full of sexy stuff – chainsaws, gunshots, and eerie atmospheres – stuff that every sound designer loves to work on. I had to restrain myself while working on this film; I got all the technicalities out of the way first so that I had a strong base to build on, and then got down to all the fun stuff!

I always start working on the dialogue first, which is the most important aspect of any sound design. Story is told through dialogue, so you have to ensure that an audience can clearly understand everything that is being communicated. Once you have the dialogue right, everything else just falls into place.

How did you approach the sound design of the film?

I snuck up on it from behind.

What is good sound design?

Sound design should be an invisible art. If you do it right, it should never draw attention to itself. The minute an audience member notices the sound design of a film, the illusion has been broken and they get taken out of the film experience. Sound design should draw an audience into a story, enhance it (and sometimes, explain it).

What is your favourite scene in terms of sound?

A few scenes spring to mind. There’s a scene in an art gallery I’m really happy with, and a scene in an alleyway that sounds great. On the whole though, I really enjoy the scenes where I was able to cut sick with the music! The score for this film is amazing, there’s a few scenes later in the film where I just pumped the music up and let it do all the talking. Those scenes still give me goose bumps even though I’ve seen them hundreds of times.

What were the biggest challenges?

Coming on board quite late in the game was tricky, I would really have liked to have spent a few more months with the film. Also, much of the film was shot in the middle of the night around Perth, when the city is almost silent. I spent a lot of time trying to create the illusion that the city in the film is a lot bigger and badder than sleepy old Perth.

What is the relationship between composer and sound designer?  Are there overlaps?

The relationship between composer and sound designer should always be a close one, good communication between the two is vital. It is important that they are on the same page in terms of the tone of a film. A composer basically acts as sound designer for most of the non-diegetic sound of the film, sound that doesn’t come directly from things we see on the screen. They write music to create mood in a film.

The overlap occurs when music is not present in a film. It’s then up to the sound designer to maintain the mood of a film by using atmospheres and other sound design elements.

Give us your top ten films from a sound perspective and why.

1. Apocalypse Now


The soundtrack of this film is sublime, everything from the voiceover to the effects editing is masterful. The term “sound designer” was coined because of Walter Murchs’ work on this film. He pioneered techniques in this film that still seem fresh today. The opening sequence is amazing; I love the way Murch ties together the sound with the vision.

2. Barton Fink


A great example of a film where sound design is integral to the narrative, and not just there to reinforce the visuals. The Coen brothers worked very closely with sound designer Skip Lievsay to create a soundscape that helps explain the subjective viewpoint of the main character. The most amazing use of atmos I have ever heard in film.

3. The Empire Strikes Back


Ben Burtts’ contribution to film sound is immeasurable. After designing the sound effects for Star Wars, George Lucas made him sound designer on Empire, and it’s the best example of his work. This film still sounds flawless by today’s standards.

4. Alien


Another great example how atmosphere is used to create mood. I love the self-destruct countdown sequence at the end of the film, the way the tension is built up without the use of music. It worked so well that James Cameron ripped off the idea for the sequel!

5. No Country For Old Men


The sound is so immersive that I didn’t even realise the lack of music until my friend pointed it out to me towards the end of the film.

6. Saving Private Ryan


Speaking of immersive, the opening scenes of this film are incredible. The use of subjective sound techniques really takes you into the reality of the battle in the most brutal way, and makes the scenes that much harder to watch.

7. Seven


All of Fincher’s films sound amazing, but this is a personal favourite. Count the number of police sirens used in the atmos – it’s relentless.

8. King Kong


Most big budget films these days have great sound design, this is a step above though. The sound effects editing is amazing, great creature sounds too.

9. Eraserhead


Alan Splet was the king of abstract atmosphere. The industrial sounding drones in this film are hypnotic, I could watch this film with my eyes closed.

10. Animal Kingdom


I thought I’d mention this one because it’s the best sounding Australian film I’ve seen in a long time. Great score, great naturalistic sound design. And a voiceover that sounds nearly as good as the one in Apocalypse Now.