About the Foley
Normally Foley Artists create the sound effects for a film using all kinds of props and record them in a studio for use on the soundtrack of the film. When you hear the pounding of horses hooves in a movie, it is more often than not, a manufactured sound created by a Foley artist using all manner of coconut shells, shoes on various surfaces or other inventive contraptions, that, when recorded, sound like anything from a familiar sound to a fantasy vibration in outer space! With the live production of BRAND UPON THE BRAIN! the sound effects are created in front of the live audience right on stage!
Andy Malcolm's Footsteps Studios created the Foley (sound effects) for Guy Maddin's latest film, BRAND UPON THE BRAIN! in their laboratory in Toronto, Canada. Performing the effects live is a whole other story. Inspired by a 1929 photo taken of the Oxbridge sound crew (Foley team) at NBC radio that hangs in Malcolm's studio, his team dons white lab coats as costumes for the stage production. "We normally wear old clothes," he explains, "because we get dirty throwing stuff around." The Foleys of 1929 apparently wore ties under their lab coats to protect their clothing from smashed fruit, mud and water flying around a Foley stage. "We have to be careful that we don't spray the audience or the orchestra with water or broken glass," says Malcolm. Although they use a 'crash box' they have had some glass fly when they create the effects for the film onstage.
Since the film has an overall vintage look, the sound effects had to be organic (nothing digitally created), so the team researched old radio Foley props and built what they needed. For the wind on the remote island setting, they built a wind machine and Goro Koyama made an Australian Digeridoo instrument to create the foghorn sound (see photo above). They also built "creakers" with dowels and a thunder drum. An Ocean Drum (a percussion instrument which is skinned on both sides with 300 –400 bebes rolling around in it) replicates the sounds of crashing waves, while a 150 gallon water tank is employed for other effects. A vintage grape crusher from the turn of the last century on an old film trim bin (a metal bin used in editing film) became the sound associated with "Mother's" lamp chair when she is spying on the kids and spins around. Grapefruit and celery stands in for sucking nectar from the necks of orphans in "Father's" diabolical laboratory. Koyama also creates the sound of a seagull with the whistling part of the tea kettle. The sound of adult Guy Maddin painting the lighthouse is created by a wet chamois (Malcolm proclaims a chamois as one of a Foley person's most useful tools).
The effects they are most proud of are the seagull and the digeridoo effects that help to create the harbor atmosphere.
Director Guy Maddin's initial direction to the Foley artists was to knock themselves out creatively, but he did leave them with one specific request. He wanted a "Neddie bell" to jingle every time a specific orphan boy shakes (he is the boy who is eaten at the end of the film). When they had worked out the effects he came into the studio for a twelve hour session to fine tune everything. According to Malcolm, "Guy loved everything, but he told us to tone it down in parts where he just wanted music to play."
The 3 Foley artists have 350 cues for effects that have to be performed live (in low light) on stage without fail! Each has his or her own TV monitor with time code and a stage manager calls out cues. Koyama comments that the timing is tricky because of the way the film is shot with all the jump and fast cuts and also the use of slow and fast motion photography.
Malcolm comments that everyone wants to give all the credit to the Foley artists, but he points out that the Foley mixing and stage managing is crucial to the success of the performance. Don White is the mixer and it is his job to mix 8 different microphones (in this case in a live mix) at the desired level and to prevent feedback and phasing. The stage manager (Anna Malkin) is busy providing cues and written notes to keep everything in sync, despite the fact that Maddin is a fan of live performance mistakes, commenting, "That's what theatre is all about!"
Back in the days of radio when they were recording with optical sound you could not stop and start the recording. The conductor wore headphones and they went straight through. The live performance mirrors those old live radio broadcasts in many ways. Today's Foley artists commit their work to one perfect recording that will be married forever to the film print, here Footsteps Studios gets a chance to do it again and again and to share the applause of a live audience!
Original Foley Artists
The original foley troupe developed the effects and performed at the Festivals
Andy Malcolm has been mastering the art of foley since his footsteps hit the soundstage in the 1970's. Andy has worked continuously with the finest directors of today in numerous films such as; Moonstruck directed by Norman Jewison, As Good as it Gets directed by James L. Brooks, Meet the Fockers directed by Jay Roach and A History of Violence directed by David Cronenberg. Andy's passion for his art is appreciated by all that work with him. He has inspired many over the years through his work and his teaching. Always looking for an interesting project, Andy is currently performing a live foley show for Canadian director Guy Maddin's critically acclaimed Brand Upon the Brain! which is currently touring Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Berlin. Andy has won numerous awards over the years for his foley work. IMDB entry
Since landing in the art of foley in 1994, Goro has participated in numerous projects as a foley artist in Canada, Japan, Ireland and the United States. Today, at Footsteps Studios, this 3 time Genie award winner's passionate walk across sound tracks keeps accelerating. IMDB entry
Caoimhe is an internationally renowned foley artist who began her career in 1997, in her native Ireland in the cutting rooms of Ardmore Studios. She has worked extensively on many feature films on both sides of the Atlantic with such great directors as Robert Altman, Neil Jordan and Guy Maddin. Caoimhe joined Footsteps Studios in 2006. IMDB entry
After joining the audio field in the 1970's Don has won numerous awards for his recording and mixing abilities. After being the Director of Mixing Services at deluxe Toronto for many years he joined Footsteps in 2000 and continues to "try to make a difference" in the recording industry. IMDB entry
A cranky Indie filmmaker from the get go, Anna Bananna was hatched from art school in the 80's, learned to cook and cut dialogue in the 90's and landed at Footsteps in the early 2000's. She is now the resident Mac head and Pro Tools Op.. Her other habits include video editing and AFX animation. IMDB entry
U.S Tour Foley Troupe
Performing in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles in Spring/Summer 2007)
Caoimhe is an internationally renowned Foley artist who began her career in 1997, in her native Ireland in the cutting rooms of Ardmore Studios. She has worked extensively on many feature films on both sides of the Atlantic with such great directors as Robert Altman, Neil Jordan and Guy Maddin. Caoimhe joined Footsteps Studios, Ontario, Canada in 2006. IMDB entry
Since 2002, Stefan Fraticelli has worked with virtually every Foley studio in Toronto and the surrounding area. With film credits ranging from mainstream hits like Dodgeball, independent works such as Me and You and Everyone We Know, and documentary films like the internationally acclaimed Sharkwater, Stefan employs a dedicated and creative approach to his work.IMDB entry
Marilee has trained and performed along side Canada's premier Foley artists, learning to blend her incisive ear, with the spontaneity of performance. Over the years Marilee has participated in multiple critically acclaimed productions such as Curious George, Monkey Warfare and Prison Break. Currently she can be found performing amidst the Foley community, dedicated to preserving the art of sound for film. IMDB entry
Foley Stage Manager
Jenna Dalla Riva
Following a B.A in Communications, Jenna discovered her love of film sound and the art of Foley. Since 2006, she has worked as both Foley assistant and Foley recording assistant at Footsteps Studios, Ontario, Canada. Recent credits include: The Tudors, Knocked Up, We Own the Night and The Kingdom.
Ron Mellegers has worked in the film industry for over 15 years, specializing in film sound. He has worked on numerous movies, recording live Foley with Canada's top Foley artists, such as Pursuit of Happyness, Meet the Parents and Austin Powers Goldmember. IMDB entry