BOY is Taika Waititis second feature film, and opens in New Zealand cinemas on March 24th. My cohorts and I worked on the sound design for the film during October & November last year, and mixed at Park Road Post in December, with a print ready in time for screening in competition at Sundance, and soon after at the Berlin Film festival where it won the Grand Prix of the Deutsche Kinderhilfswerk for the Best Feature Film.
The film is set in the 1980s in Waihau Bay, East Cape, & here is what the Berlin Festival Jury had to say about it: “With a genuine voice and a remarkable spirit, the winner is a film with bold direction, a fearless risk-taker. It tackles difficult subject matter not with preaching, sentimentality or self-pity but with humour, often treating tragedy and comedy simultaneously. Because it’s so enjoyable it is easy to underestimate the depth of this film. It is a rich mix of ideas which strike and collide to create poetic moments that speak, despite the remote location, to all of us today. With fantastic charismatic performances all around, including a striking moustache on the director.”
One of the best aspects of being confirmed on a project early is it means you can start thinking about the creative challenges & what will be required long before officially starting work. When I first read the script I tagged one location as critical for sound, a corn field, as I knew by the time we were working on the film the corn would have been harvested & long gone. So I decided to visit Waihau Bay while they were shooting, and I am so glad I did. It is such a beautiful part of the country and while I have driven through there before I never had time to stop & explore it. And while my primary intention was to record ambiences I soon realised it made sense to try & capture as many of the vehicles in the film as possible, since they would all be there, available for the shoot.
Another bonus of visiting the shoot was getting to sit beside Ken Saville, the production sound recordist, and listen as he & his boom swinger Jo Fraser worked. After seeing some of the difficulties they have to overcome to record good sound I said to him, “Everyone in sound post should have to come visit the set & see what you guys go through” and he smiled wryly and replied “I think everyone in production should do the same with post!” Ken did a brilliant job on this film, recording genius multitrack coverage to a Fostex 8 track and also providing a huge range of ambiences & FX. I was so impressed when I listened to a dawn chorus he recorded, and about six minutes into it I heard the rooster wake up & start crowing. I surmised this was no accident, he knew what time the rooster started crowing & planned to get both a clean dawn chorus AND the rooster in one go!
Anyway here are some photos from my recording mission to Waihau Bay, definitely go see the film when its released – it is a film I am very proud to have worked on!
This bridge & riverbed were a location in the film, so I did quite a bit of recording here, from many different perspectives & also walked up the riverbed to get near rapids… Later when I edited the ambiences for these scenes I of course used recordings from a dozen different rivers, but one wide recording I did at this river I really liked for its ‘thin-ness’ and used it in wide shots & as layers in the surrounds, have a listen:
I also did some recording close up by this small stream in the river, and noticed that quiet, still pool off to the right in the photo, so I jumped the stream, set up mic and started lobbing big boulders into the pool
Way further up the river I came cross this stand of Toitois so I recorded a lovely ambience of rustles & crickets
Ah the corn! It was unreal to walk 100m into this corn paddock – the corn was 8 foot high, and when there was a wind gust you could hear it travelling through the corn….. I must have spent an hour or two in this paddock – it was like an ocean of rustles & this recording doesn’t do it justice…
What do you do for a living? Me? I record the sound of empty paddocks, the sound of one cricket chirping, well maybe not one…
Another paddock so you can appreciate how each empty paddock is unique
This was a location in the film where the kids play – I did record some nice roof iron rattling in the wind but didn’t end up using it in the film as the scene played as a montage driven by music….
This beautiful old church wasn’t in the film but I just had to take this photo as it was so beautiful as the sun set…
Now the above car was one of the meanest sounding V8s I have recorded & I would have liked to record for hours with it & get complete coverage for future use, but this car only featured in one shot in the film and it had over heating problems so the vehicle wrangler wasn’t keen for us to use it too much before they got the scene shot…. but just listen to it:
This valiant Charger V8 did appear in the film a lot, so I did quite a bit of recording with it – you can see my exhaust mic gaffer taped to the rear bumper…. It was a far more ‘normal’ sounding V8…
And this is the kids Nans Humber 80, a classic 4 cylinder car in great condition. It made me smile to hop in & drive it after roaring around in those two V8s!