DOMINICK TAVELLA with H5 Film Sound
Chronicle by Heikki Kossi, H5 Film Sound
Last autumn we were doing the foley effects for the Finnish musical feature film called “If You Love”. Quite often we have faced the problem of using foleys together with musical performances.
And same time I have really admired the sound design for the films like Moulin Rouge and Chicago. We started to look for the answers from the professionals who has been involved with these films. After sending e-mails for couple of people we got also answers. The sound re-recording mixer Dominick Tavella was one of them. Dominick was also awarded Oscar from the film called Chicago, best sound and has worked with films like The Wrestler, most of the Jim Jarmusch films and with film called Winters Bone which was awarded in Sundance this year.
I continued our conversation and the result was that Dominick spend one week with us as a consultant for H5 Film Sound. This consultancy was also supported by Film Arc. In the beginning of this January it looked like this won’t happen cause of Dominick’s and ours schedule but then just 2 weeks ago schedules changed so I took a challenge to fix Tavellas visit in Kokkola, Finland in the end of January. I’m still quite happy we made it happen. And of course thankful for FilmArc.
H5 Film Sound’s main focus is in foley effects and that’s the reason why I was wondering if Tavella is the right person for us. I mean why we don’t want to look for professional such like foley artist or foley editor. Same time I noticed that I’m always looking for feedback from the people who puts the whole soundtrack together and recognizes same time through the mixing and sound design process which sounds works and which doesn’t. The second reason was I noticed that Dominick has quite a reputation as a re-recording mixer cause of his artistic value and skills. And the third was that Dominick is coming from New York what means that he is dealing quite a lot with independent films, which means that his point of views are quite close with European films.
We were able to listen carefully the dialog tracks, just the foleys or the spot effects and backgrounds and the music mix of the examples with Dominick. The sounds was technically edited just like we do in Finland but still the films were sounding different. Hmmm. Somebody asked if it is question of using plug-ins or some “magic” processors. No, it’s not. It is a way of storytelling and doing things according to the story. First thing what Dominick said was that whatever they do they do it for the story. How the hell you can teach that? The main thing is that you need to make it again and again and live with the story. There is days where you drink water of dirt and there is moments for a glass of champagne. We shared together with Dominick the feeling that every film we’ve been working with takes something away from us and same time gives something for us.
We spent one week analyzing works we have done and Dominick showed his films and told and showed us the methods they are using. There wasn’t any technical surprises. We are using exactly the same protools and mics than they are. What Dominick told that the key thing is planning.
Istill want to believe that it’s not the question of money. I have a strong feeling that the main thing is concentrating and focusing on small details in every levels of film making process. That means sound but also the script, props on the set, directing, acting, lighting, etc. Of course you can say in this point that this means more time and more money. Maybe… It’s very easy to hide behind that statement. But the awareness of taking care of these things is the first step. As a foley artist I want to take it.