New York, NY (August 13, 2020)—When the coronavirus outbreak erupted, Goldcrest Post in New York had to quickly set up a remote workflow that allowed its mixers to complete psychological thriller She Dies Tomorrow — ironically, about a contagious illness — in their employees’ home studios.
Described as “one of the most prescient films of the decade,” She Dies Tomorrow, from Neon and writer/director Amy Seimetz, centers on a woman who believes she is about to die from a mysterious, highly contagious illness. Goldcrest Post’s team included colorist Nat Jencks, sound designer/supervising sound editor Mary Ellen Porto, re-recording mixer Ryan M. Price, sound editor/re-recording mixer Tim Obzud, Foley artist Rachel Chancey and dialog editor Alexa Zimmerman.
Goldcrest set up a remote workflow that allowed Price and Obzud to finish a nearfield home theater mix from their respective home studios, with Porto monitoring from a third location. Seimetz and picture editor Kate Brokaw, locked down in Los Angeles, received regular updates and communicated with the mix team via remote collaboration technology.
Seimetz was intent on using sound design, color and other post-production tools to enhance the story’s unusual mood. She talked with Porto about the film’s sound needs during pre-production, particularly how she wanted sound to accentuate certain critical moments when characters struggle with their fate.
Porto says that coming up with the right sound to signal virus transmission was challenging because it needed to suggest that the process was happening, not physically, but emotionally. “It started with wind noise from the last scene in the film, which we combined with low bass notes created by the composers, the Mondo Boys,” she recalls. “The scene was shot in the desert and the wind has a low, guttural rumble. We used that to represent Amy’s emotions as they form inside her and migrate to people she meets.”
Chancey augmented the sound design through Foley effects created through her company, Props and Pits Foley. “There are long sequences where there is no dialogue and so the sound takes on added significance in establishing the environment and advancing the story,” says Chancey.
As the story progresses, infected characters hear sounds and voices in their heads. Price completed the haunting effect during the final mix. “Mary Ellen and Amy created a palate of sounds using clips of dialogue. I selectively panned and processed each one, using surround slap delay and reverb, creating ‘sonic breadcrumbs’ that move around the room with the characters following behind. It eventually builds to swirling soundscapes,” Price recalls.
“The room at Goldcrest translated very well to our home environments,” he says. “During lockdown, we could all watch the film on our respective monitors and listen in on headphones and hear all the subtlety. We didn’t miss a beat.”
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