‘It was thrilling to watch it, you know, because it frightened me, and filled me with a kind of sense of joy at the same time‘ …
This is how the artist Peter Howson describes watching a film, as a youngster. And that’s the reaction i hope, as the films sound Re Recording Mixer, the audience will have, being immersed in the soundscape of ‘Prophecy’.
Howson works in a ‘studio’ built directly under a flyover in Glasgow. The constant low end rumble of the traffic, coupled with Peters need to listen to classical music several hours a day whilst working, severely restricted any sound recording on location. Therefore, during the several months of filming the creation of the painting ‘Prophecy’, Charlie Paul the director, a one man band of camera and sound, could only record snippets of location sound and conversation. The usable snippets of location recorded conversational dialogue were painstakingly put together by Joby Gee, the films editor, to create the films narrative.
Given that only a small amount of location sound could be used, the entire soundscape of the Documentary had to be reconstructed in Post production. From the beginning of the film, as we witness the building of the canvas, to the final scene of the film, when we sweep through an office window to reveal Canary Wharf. The Documentary has aurally three strong characters; Peter, who with the help of sound design, lets the audience into the light and very dark areas of his mind; the ‘studio’ that’s grindingly oppressive with its constant low rubble of traffic, thats then sporadically lightened with beautiful inspirational music. And lastly the painting ‘Prophecy’, from its beginnings as a blank canvas, to its future life on a corporate wall.
As Peter paints, we hear his every movement, building the layers of paint that create ‘Prophecy’. All the sound of the different size brushes, indeed all the handling of the tubes of paint, the mixing of the palette, the cleaning of the brushes, were all post recorded, in a sound studio, after the film was edited, and then fitted to every precise movement the artist makes. We hear Peter walk across his studio, move his old and trusty step ladder, we hear his dogs run around, all this sound has been recreated from scratch. Several hundred individually crafted noises. And then to help draw the eye aurally to Peters movements, especially when he’s painting, the ’post’ sound effects have all been ‘panned’, moved spatially, across the screen. Using this technique, allows the audience, for the first time, to experience the cinema screen as the artists canvas, following each brush stroke, building layers of light, to create ‘Prophecy’. The cinema screen no longer has a projected image of the painting, it has become the painting.
Director Charlie Paul Producer Lucy Paul
Cinematography Editor Charlie Paul Joby Gee
Exec Producers Lucy Paul Alistair Currie
Ewan Angus for BBC Scotland Mark Thomas for Creative Scotland
Music Supervisor Ed Bailie @ Leland
Music Peteris Vasks
Post Production Molinare Supported by Filmlight
Grade Asa Shoul
Audio Re-record Mixer George Foulgham
VFX Artist Daniel Mark Miller
Production Company Itch Film