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Hi, I'm Michael.
This is Lessons from the Screenplay.
(monster lands)
Sound always plays a particularly important role in the horror genre,
whether it's a hair-raising score, a terrifying effect,
or just a noise that gives away a character's location.
But “A Quiet Place” takes this a step further,
making sound itself a key element of the story.
(noise on roof)
As writer/director John Krasinski said:
“The sound design is a main character in the movie...
The guys designing the sound, Ethan and Erik,
they're the most talented guys in the world.
You really got to see the art form of sound design at the highest level."
“Alright. Ethan, take one.”
“Hi, I'm Ethan Van der Ryn.”
“My name is Erik Aadahl.
I'm one of the supervising sound editor-…
…sound designers on 'A Quiet Place.'"
Through my friend, Michael Coleman over at SoundWorks Collection,
I actually had a chance to visit the Warner Brothers lot
and sit down with Ethan and Erik to discuss the sound design process.
So today, I'll be asking for their input
as we look at the ways sound can be used to affect the emotion of a story…
Why thinking about sound during the screenwriting stage is so important...
And how contrast and dynamics can make or break a film.
Let's take a listen to “A Quiet Place.”
In his book, “Screenplay,” Syd Field says of writing sound into a script...
...almost nothing.
He all but dismisses it as something that will be added after the movie is finished.
In fact, most screenwriting material has very little to say on the subject of sound.
So when Scott Beck and Bryan Woods set out to start writing “A Quiet Place,”
they knew they had a challenging and unusual task ahead of them.
In a blog the duo wrote for Indiewire, they said of the process:
“Writing a silent movie isn't easy.
You can't use dialogue as a crutch.
And you can't bore the reader with blocks of description…
This process forced us to take an unorthodox approach to screenwriting,
in which we threw formatting styles to the wind.”
In a normal screenplay, sound is often just written plainly in the action lines,
or sometimes it may be in all caps.
But one glance at the original script for “A Quiet Place” immediately shows
how far Beck and Woods took their experimental formatting,
which includes handwritten words, pictures of props,
and even charts and facts which may be fun for the reader
but are pretty useless to a filmmaker.
This screenplay breaks almost all the formatting rules,
but I will admit that the stylized nature is particularly effective
in its representation of sound.
Looking at the first two pages,
certain words are underlined to draw focus to the silence of the environment.
These underlined words stand out and give us a clear sense
that silence plays an important role in this family's life.
Similarly, Beck and Woods play with caps, font size, and word placement
to communicate silence, tension, and pacing.
In an especially tense moment, as the monster stands between the father and his family,
the script goes so far as to limit each page to a few words.
With each page the font size increases, highlighting the tension and need for absolute silence.
Ethan: “I love it when there's sound directions written into the script.
I think that it's so important for screenwriters when they're when they're writing
to actually be thinking about what is happening sonically in the world,
because it's a big part of the storytelling.”
In many ways sound is one of the most under-appreciated
and under-utilized storytelling tools.
Erik: “We experience movies with two senses: our sight and our hearing.
I believe strongly that the hearing part of it is half of the experience.”
We tend not to notice how important sound is until it's absent,
and it's precisely because it affects us in this unconscious way that it is so powerful.
Erik: “Walter Murch had this great saying, he said:
'Images come in through the front door but sound comes in through the back door.'
So you can be a lot sneakier with manipulation."
(creature sound)
Erik: "You can dig into that reptilian part of the human senses
and in a way with sound become kind of in a puppet master of emotions.”
When writing, one of the most important goals
is to make the audience empathize with your characters,
and the same is true of the the sound design process.
Ethan: “Within every storytelling process there's going to be moments
where we want to experience what the characters are experiencing in a visceral way
and I think sound is really one of the key tools that we have as filmmakers
to help create that experience.”
An example of this is found in the original screenplay for “A Quiet Place.”
There is a moment that is written in such a way
that the reader perceives the action from a single characters perspective because the sound.
“Exterior: woods.
Path, afternoon.
April gets very still.
She turns up the volume on her hearing aid.
Just faintly, through the high frequency static, we hear the baby crying in the distance.
April stifles her breathing.
The sound of something else continues breathing behind her.
Out of focus, just ten feet away, we see it move slowly towards the sounds.”
Writing the moment this way makes the audience experience the story events
through the point of view of the character,
and this technique was utilized several times in the final film.
Erik: “There's a number of different sonic points of view in the film from the creatures
and the family members…”
(monster's perspective of clock ticking)
Erik: “One of the central ones for us, design-wise, was for the daughter
Regan played by Millicent Simmonds,
who, in real life she's deaf.
And in the film her character is deaf as well.
So for a film that is so much about sound,
we felt it was really important to right from the beginning sequence
put the audience into her shoes and what it's like to live with a cochlear implant.”
(toy beeping)
Erik: “So we get these shifts in the sound..."
(toy beeping)
(sound cuts out)
"...that I think helped connect the audience to her character.”
Experiencing the film from the sonic perspective of Regan
helps the audience empathize with her character,
but it's also the fact that these shifts are so stark that helps make them so powerful.
Erik: “We wanted to do really nice, hard cuts into it.
So you could really feel the shift of contrast between:
'here's atmospheric sounds that the other characters would be hearing, and woosh—
now we go into her head and there's this sort of low tone going under it.' ”
This underscores the idea
that whether you're designing the sound for a film, or the plot of a film,
it's important to remember the need for dynamics.
When Beck and Woods began working on “A Quiet Place,”
it didn't take them long to realize it couldn't just be a movie devoid of sound.
Scott Beck said of the process,
“You had to figure out the pacing,
because you couldn't constantly have silence permeate the entire film.
You had to envision where there might be sound design moments."
But why?
Why was that such a crucial part of the development of the story?
Ethan: “Imagine a wavelength, of little difference between the top amplitude and the
lowest amplitude.
Everything starts to flatten out,
and what that does is it starts to flatten the experience out for the audience.
You start to disengage, and you push back from the screen,
and you push back from the experience.”
If every sound in a movie was played at a loud volume from beginning to end,
not only would it be really annoying,
it would prevent any particular loud moment from being impactful.
So in “A Quiet Place,” the sound is designed to be dynamic.
Sequences often begin at a low volume, and increase over time.
What's important to note is that this mirrors the plot design of these sequences as well.
As tension builds, the sound builds...
...until they both reach the climactic breaking point...
(screaming / explosions)
But even then, neither the plot or sound stays at 100% for long…
(explosions trail off)
as the volume drops low again as the tension is reset.
This dynamic flow can play out not only over the course of an entire sequence,
but within a few moments of a scene.
Erik: “My favorite moment there is at the very end of the film where
the two kids are in this pickup truck.
Regan's hearing aids starts 'fritzing' and she switches it off.
Complete digital silence.
She's looking at her brother, who's looking past her,
and his face just blossoms into this look of sheer terror…
(crash / snarling)
…and that counterpoint—having this incredible performance, this really intense situation,
but just nothing supporting you, sound-wise it's just…
To me, that's like the most terrifying thing I've ever experienced.
So that was really fun.”
This is a good reminder that sometimes silence is the best way to create suspense,
but after a long period of tension,
it's good to give the audience some catharsis before they're ready for more.
(muffled hoot)
Erik: “I think the best movies are scripted with sound in mind.
If you can build sound into the into the DNA of your script
then you're just gonna have a better movie every time.”
Scott Beck and Bryan Woods's unconventional approach to screenwriting
may not supplant the decades-old formatting we're used to,
but it is a good example of what storytellers can do
when they appreciate the importance of sound.
It can connect us to a character in an emotional way,
making us immediately empathize with their situation.
And just like any element of filmmaking,
sound is most effective when it's utilized in dynamic ways to create moments of contrast.
And it underscores the power of dynamics—
reminding us that the plot of a film should flow between emotional states,
and that the loudest sound can only come
from a quiet place.
When I sit down to watch a movie,
it's often hard to turn off the analytical part of my brain and just enjoy it.
But when I listen to a story,
the emotion bypasses my conscious self and is often a much more moving experience.
Which is why I love listening to Audible.
Audible has the largest selection of audiobooks on the planet,
and since I just released a video on No Country for Old Men,
I think its the perfect time to recommend checking out the book.
While the film is fantastic for many reasons,
the amazing story all came from Cormac McCarthy's book.
And you can get the audiobook for No Country for Old Men for free
when you start a thirty-day trial by going to audible.com/lfts
or texting “lfts” to 500500.
Once again that's audible.com/lfts or text “lfts” to 500500
to start a thirty-day free trial.
Thanks to Audible for sponsoring this video.
Hey guys, hope you enjoyed the video.
I want to say a big thank you to Ethan and Erik for taking time out of their very busy
schedules to talk about the importance of sound.
I also want to thank my friend Michael Coleman for connecting me with Ethan and Erik.
If you want to learn more about sound for film, you should definitely check out this
website, soundworkscollection.com.
He has a ton of awesome blog articles, and an audio podcast, and video profiles—
all filled with great information about sound for film.
Thank you, as always to my patrons on Patreon and supporters here on YouTube
for making this channel possible.
If you enjoyed the interviews consider supporting the channel on Patreon so I can do more,
and as extra content, I'll be sharing the full interview with Ethan and Erik
with all my supporters and patrons.
Thank you for watching, and I'll see you next time.


《噤界》—用音效說故事 (A Quiet Place - Telling a Story with Sound)

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irene Hu 發佈於 2018 年 9 月 28 日    irene Hu 翻譯    Evangeline 審核
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