“Once Upon A Time In Bolivia”

I’m only a few short days away from finishing the sound design and final mix of Patrick Cordova’s micro-budget feature “Erase Una Vez En Bolivia”, (see translation above). It will be my first feature-length film as a sound designer/post mixer, and I’m proud to have been a key part of it.

Shot entirely in Bolivia two years ago, and independently financed in the UK, the film recounts a strange and life-threatening road-trip of two half-brothers during the infamous 2003 protests. In an attempt to escape the country for a safer, more prosperous life in neighboring Chile, the older brother hijacks his younger brother’s borrowed car and they set off into the unknown.

They fail miserably, narrowly escape death numerous times, and end up profoundly changed. (Of course, there is a beautiful twist at the end.) It’s not merely an action film, however. In between the suspense is the eternal fight of the two extremes — power and virtue — played out in the tense quasi-brotherhood of Rocky and Nene. The older brother, Rocky, is ruthlessly selfish, dark and cynical, and values nothing but wealth and security. The younger brother, Nene, is sheepish, innocent, and devout. He tirelessly believes in his heritage, his people, and his God, and cannot fathom leaving Bolivia, for leaving would be the ultimate act of selfishness and betrayal.

Oh, and it’s entirely in Spanish. I had to get my chops back, and of course, refer to the translated screenplay (and to Patrick himself, who was exceptionally patient in guiding me through the subtleties of the story.)

Here is the (unmixed) teaser:

It was an excellent learning experience as a sound designer. As my first feature film, it was, without a doubt, a challenge simply because of it’s length. The most notable quirk of working in Post Sound is having to be tirelessly meticulous while constantly heeding the big-picture. That sounds completely self-contradictory, but that’s really how mixing works, even on a 5-minute short.

I had a great time finding the right ambiences for the desert-like, mountainous exteriors, and adding foley to sweeten the hits to the fight scenes. My extensive sound library helped too. Of course, 90% of my time was cleaning up dialogue, but even that has its own satisfaction, for therein lies the story.

Thanks for checking in!

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