Other than these being amongst the hundreds of credits that roll by a film’s end (if you stay to watch them), you probably have no idea what they do.
You will now.
“The Secret World of Foley,” made in association with Pinewood Studios, the film and television center that has served as home to most of the James Bond movies, gives you a behind-the-scenes look at two of these most interesting sound technicians. Peter Burgis and Sue Harding, no doubt the first time they have appeared in front of the camera, are experts in reproducing everyday sound effects. They’ve worked on hundreds of films and tv episodes. And Daniel Jewel, a London-born producer over the last dozen years, has directed and written his second short, after 2012’s “The Gardening Club.” It’s part of the AFI DOCS “Shorts Program: Gone Hollywood.”
This day-in-their-life approach follows Peter and Sue as they rummage through their storeroom. He’s in waterproof boots. She’s pulling knives from the shelves. Their booty is spread out on a work table. Yes, that’s a banana on top of a few newspaper sections. And some plain wrapping paper. Plenty of water in various containers, too. What the heck?
Their workday puts them in front of a movie screen, their tools at an arm’s (or leg’s) distance. The projected scene—a modern-day seaside fishing village (Clovelly Village, Devon)—shot just for the foley artists to interpret, takes over the full frame, then retracts back to show the duo matching the sounds they are creating with the images (waves, fish, boats, waterfalls) on the screen. Cloth, paper, water, rope, wagons, wood blocks, crustacean shells, feathers, etc. all get maneuvered, tossed, and slapped about, while a sound editor (Glen Gathard) records it.
Subtle, clean, and fun. Magnificently scored by Christopher Sarantis.
“The Secret World of Foley” pulls the curtain back from one aspect of filmmaking, and showcases two artists who love to put the sound of magic into the movies.