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Alchemy Pedals After Authentic Foley on The Climb

Challenges with the film included capturing the sounds of high-end bicycles and dealing with an unusually long take with no cuts.

Westchester, NY (September 4, 2019)—Getting the bicycle sounds right was a central challenge for the Foley team at Alchemy Post Sound when working on The Climb, the directorial debut by Michael Angelo Covino.

The movie centers on the complex friendship between two men, Michael and Kyle, played by Covino and real-life friend Kyle Martin. Slated for international release by Sony Pictures Classics, the film made its world premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, winning the Heart Prize in the festival’s Un Certain Regard track.

The film’s first act centers on a bike ride that Michael and Kyle take in France prior to Kyle’s wedding. As the two men ascend a long hill, Michael makes a stunning admission regarding his friend’s fiancé. The results are disastrous with the men ultimately becoming involved in a violent confrontation with a passing motorist. Adding to the tension, the whole scene is captured in a single, intricately choreographed Steadicam shot.

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Foley sound included the idiosyncratic mechanics of the two men’s high-priced bicycles. Alchemy Post Sound principal and Foley artist Leslie Bloome notes that Covino provided his team with one of the actual bikes used in the film so that they could accurately capture the workings of its gears, shifters, tires and other features. The Foley team worked under supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer Ryan Billia.

“Bicycles are notoriously difficult to get right,” says Bloome. “They sound completely different when the rider is pedaling and when the wheels are spinning freely. And these bikes were high performance models; they don’t rattle. They don’t sound at all like the bike in The Wizard of Oz or something you’d rent on the streets in Amsterdam.”

Because the scene has no cuts and is presented from the point of view of a single camera, the Foley sound also had to be continuous and seamless. Achieving that was especially tricky at the end of the scene, when Michael and Kyle vent their anger on a driver who dangerously cuts them off. “We had to cover the sounds of the bikes as they speed up in pursuit of the car,” explains Bloome. “Ultimately, one of the guys drops his bike and gets into a fight with the driver. That required different Foley sounds that had to sit perfectly with the dialogue and background ambience.”

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Covino personally attended the Foley sessions to offer feedback. “Each bike had to have personality and authenticity and that wasn’t something I could leave to chance,” the director explains. “It was crucial that the Foley felt real and organic, and added texture to the film and what the audience is experiencing.”

Alchemy Post Sound •