After a solid year in the works, I’m pleased to share with you the pilot episode of The Graveyard Shift web-series. I spent two of the three days on location recording dialogue, but I’m especially proud of my contribution to the post-production side.
On the third day of shooting — the day I couldn’t work — there was conveniently no dialogue, so they decided to go without rolling sound altogether. What this meant was that the entire second half of the actual episode lacked any recorded, or diagetic sound — the sound we hear, or expect to hear, from actors’ actions and the environment itself, implied or seen, on screen or off-screen. (This therefore does not include the score, voice-over narration, and dramatic sound design embellishments.)
In the process of creating the final mix, I had to reconstruct, from scratch, a sizable portion of the physical soundscape. An extensive sound effects library helped and a few hours spent with director Thomas Dunn recording the location itself a month before shooting paid huge dividends in Post. 40 gigs of sound effects is great, but sometimes it doesn’t come close to the real thing.
What ensued for me was weeks of meticulously adding footsteps on a variety of floors and surfaces, unnerving machine drones, clothing rustle, girl breaths, and cold reverb effects to match the rooms and hallways. I relied on the technique of Foley — the process of recreating/enhancing aurally what you see on screen, through whatever objects at your disposal, be it the exact objects themselves or something randomly different — to make it work. (For example, how do you get the sound of someone sliding a bookbag over their shoulder to keep it from sliding down as they walk? You record it yourself.)
It’s important to thank composer Sam Tyndall for his contribution to the episode. The score, in my opinion, overlaps greatly into sound design territory for it’s creepily evocative ambient quality. Haunting dissonances and harsh drones combine skillfully to put the audience directly inside Emily’s experience through the hallways of a defunct psychiatric hospital.
Creators Tim Covell and Alexander Lane, I am told, have over a dozen future episodes written. The pilot episode has been building up some buzz in on the web thanks to http://bestwebseries.tumblr.com/ and I’m psyched to see what comes next for them.