Jeff Pullman on Rachel Getting Married

Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married is a story told with long takes, multiple moving cameras, simultaneous dialog and music and a lot of improvisation and action in a small space a worthy test for any sound mixer, but Jeff Pullman took it on and pulled it off. Chris Newman, Academy Award-winning sound mixer and no stranger to the challenges of mixing a Jonathan Demme film himself, chatted with Jeff about the experience.

Jeff Pullman on set.

Chris: Let me say, by the way, at the outset, that the movie is a triumph. But the sound is amazing. Absolutely amazing. And when I looked at the movie in the theatre and then again in the last couple of days, I thought, "Jesus Christ, how did he do that?" Before we even talk about the job, tell us something about your background.

Jeff: Oh, God. I knew that was going to happen and then I never know where to begin.

I was a musician in my high school days, so I was doing the clubs in the late '60s, early '70s, [but] from a very early age, I always thought I'd end up in TV or television film. I became very interested in animation and the visual image, so when I got out of high school, I was definitely directed in to film.

I started going to Hunter College [where] I was investigating music theory, but then I transferred to SUNY Purchase to investigate the idea of visual music. I was creating these animated, abstract films that were representational of musical ideas. Initially, it was geometric shapes put into rhythmic patterns done on an animation stand and standing for the idea of music. So I was literally writing symphonies and sonatas in those forms. I came up with my own visual notation to be able to express size, shape, color on a music staff and then transposed that into a giant image on the screen that somehow might be experienced as music.

Chris: That sounds wonderful. Then what happened after that? Because, clearly you made yet another transition.

Jeff: Well, I was always interested in sound and I was the one who got suckered in film school to be everyone's sound person, but I became very interested in it. So in line with all the sound, music and visual ideas that I really wanted to express, the sound aspect of it really became something for me.

Hal Hartley

Chris: Then you went on to do features? How did that happen?

Jeff: I left school having worked with some people who were starting to do things: Hal Hartley, Nick Gomez. We all just kind of hung out together and Hal was the one who really took the lead, writing some short films that he would fund himself. Really, the gang came together to help him out.

And then he got some funding to do a very low budget feature which was the new thing back then. The studios seemed to say, “You can't make a feature for no money.” But there were artists out there who were saying, “Yes, we can.” And they did and I think that's actually changed the business.

Rachel Getting Married

Chris: Let's talk about Rachel Getting Married. How did you get the job?

Jeff: I think it was because of you, actually. I think because you turned it down, as well as some other mixers I know, and then they called me.

Chris: There was a giant misunderstanding on who was supposed to do the job. It's a long story, but it had to do with a couple of fucked up phone calls.

I took the job, I committed to the job and I said to Jonathan and one of the producers, where do we go from here? And the response was ‘we're just putting Anne [Hathaway’s] deal together and give a call in about six weeks or a month or whatever the time frame was. So I called several times and I didn't get any calls back. And perhaps I should have been more proactive, but I assumed that it had been pushed. So then another picture came out, and I committed to that. And then, several months later, in the middle of a meal, my cell phone rang and it was Carol, one of the line producers, “OK, we're starting!” and my fork froze in my hand.

And I said, well there's a giant misunderstanding here, and I tried to go back to the other people and they wouldn't let me go. And then I recommended a bunch of people, some of who were not suitable. How did they settle on you?

Jeff: I got a call. I think they were kind of getting desperate; it was getting close I think. I got the call and went in for a meeting. They initially said, "We had people who didn't want to do it." I don't remember exactly how that went, but it started out with them laying out the parameters of the way Jonathan was thinking about the movie.

Chris: Which were?

A still from Laws of Gravity.
Directed by Nick Gomez.

Jeff: Which were documentaryesque, handheld cameras, digital HD, multi-camera and camera-to-go-anywhere kind of situation, as well as live music being recorded simultaneously with dialogue. Of course that would put any soundman on edge but I actually embraced it right then and there. It sounded very exciting to me, and very challenging. I thought this could be a really interesting thing, and this is what I am looking for, [like] Laws of Gravity, which was one film that I am very proud of in terms of what we were able to do, but also very much in line of the way I thought about doing Rachel Getting Married.

Chris: Did you and Jonathan discuss multiple tracks?

Jeff: Jonathan was not there at the interview. [I spoke to] Carol Cuddy and Neda Armian about many possibilities. I explained how I did Laws of Gravity and Hal Hartley's Trust. Trust was a film about off screen dialog. The actor’s image on screen was really just sitting right there looking at you, but we had people passing through backgrounds, and the off screen stuff was what we boomed. All of those things, including my documentary experience and music were really going to come into play here and I had a few thoughts of how to approach the movie.

If the cameras were going to be all over the place, we’ll need to cover that perspective, but how would we be able to be everywhere at once?

My initial thoughts were that documentary idea with having a separate sound unit with each camera. However, there were going to be other cameras around and then there was going to be live music at the same time with the dialog which might happen on and off screen somewhere else. Now I am thinking, "Well, multitrack is going to be vital here, but I will try to mix it."

Then I had the idea that miking this like an orchestra might be more appropriate, or maybe a combination of the two. In each scenario, I might set up a stereo mic in the room in the area where the cameras are really going to be focusing and then embellish that with some closer [plant] mics or wireless or a boom, but have a general ambience of the room and then fill that in somehow. It turned out in the end that the combination of the two became the approach.

Right off the bat from day one, we tested the waters and got a sense of the way it was going to shoot. There were no rehearsals. We didn't rehearse because Jonathan wanted this to be a documentary; he wanted us to walk in and just make it happen somehow, with the idea that you have to carry a narrative perspective without making it so literally documentary because it is a narrative. And that is always the thing; I think people are afraid of crossing that line. The documentary experience came in handy; the music experience came in handy with everything that was going on – how to mic the music that is happening when we are doing the dialog at the same time. It all happened at once.

Day One

Chris: What were your feelings on day one?

Jonathan Demme

Jeff: I was nervous as hell. Here I am with an Academy Award winning director who kind of knows what he wants and is being very loose about what he is saying we are going to do. He didn't literally come out and say documentary, so in my mind we are not doing a documentary. Of course, we are making a narrative film, but we are kind of approaching it as a documentary.

“The cameras can move wherever they want.” They said that, but in reality I think they were reasonably confined, because of where the action is going to be, the camera is going to be there, so you had an idea.

And from there I was able to assess how I wanted to really approach it in my mind. From day one I was very nervous because on day one we shot the biggest shot of the whole movie, right off.

Chris: Which one?

Jeff: The opening scene, the car pulls up the driveway. Three actors are in the car arriving from the hospital. They pull up the driveway. They get out of the car.

The camera is in the car. I can't be in the car, so we had the boom guy running along side of the car with – I can't even remember, so much going on the first day, but I do believe we had mics planted in the car. The camera pulls up a 200 foot driveway, gets to the back of the house.

We have five actors outside that are there talking non-scripted dialog there, so we let that play wide. Go in the house, the camera is following [Anne Hathaway’s character, Kym] into the house. We walk through the dining room, [where] we have three people talking. As we are progressing in, we hear an oud, a Greek stringed instrument, that's playing.

Chris: The perspective on [the oud], however, never changed regardless of what happens in the shot. She goes up the stairs, if I remember, but it never goes off mic.

Jeff: It never goes off mic because I had a spot mic on the musician-actor. Of course, we did everything on wireless. We had no wired mics, including the booms. Our boom guy, Dave Pastecchi, is following the camera in, of course, getting that perspective. I'm watching monitors and trying to mix to perspective.

Chris: What are you mixing now?

Jeff: I was mixing all the mics that I had out.

Chris: But aren't you also doing a multitrack?

Jeff: Yes, at the same time, right.

Debra Winger, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Anne Hathaway

Chris: We go up the stairs with [Kym]. She greets her sister, another hug, and then we go to a group hug, where we have Jonathan's friends and actors, so we have real people and actors. Many of these people were people who come up to [appear in] all of the films. Some are actors; one was his teacher at the University of Florida. Wireless plus boom?

Jeff: I do believe we did have wireless and boom. We had booms everywhere; wherever the camera was, there was always going to be a boom no matter what.


Chris: Where was the movie shot? How long were the days, and how long was the schedule?

Jeff: The movie was shot in Stanford, Connecticut. The schedule was 39 days; it came in at 33 days.

The days were insanely short. Jonathan would walk in and occasionally say, "We're out of here by lunch." You probably know his methodology…

Chris: I can tell that in working with him over 20 years, only once were we ever out of there by lunch. We didn't work long days, but we didn't leave at lunch.

Jeff: Well, I think the circumstances of this film allowed for that.

Chris: Perhaps Sidney [Lumet’s] influence also.

Jeff: Maybe. [laughs] We didn't really do nights. We did one all-nighter, and he gave us the day off after.

Chris: It sounds very civilized.

Jeff: It was incredibly civilized.

Chris: How were the actors?

Jeff: They were all very approachable and pretty amazing. Jonathan really kept a very loose, fun set.

Chris: If you had to have an adjustment for sound – say someone was wired, for example, and they kept hitting the lav – were you able to do an intervention and say, "Please don't hit your mic when you talk?" Were you allowed to do that?

Jeff: Well, certainly not during the takes, of course. The problem was we did 50 minute takes. There was one day we did a 50 minute take, a 40 minute take, a 30 minute take, and then we went home. But because it was run that way, you couldn't really run in. The actors are in the improv of it. Yes, I could go to Jonathan and say, "Can I tell the actor..." and he was, of course, open to that. And he would say, "Yes, of course, tell her.” or he'd yell in, "Anne, don't hit your mic!"

Chris: How about, "Talk louder"? Was that ever germane to a scene?

Jeff: It never was a problem.

Chris: Even with all the improv and so forth?

Jeff: Yeah, a lot of the scenes, they're really talking to each other and they're getting angry and there's an intensity to it.

Chris: Was [Jonathan] complimentary to you? Did he acknowledge your work?

Jeff: I think he did, and I say that because I was very nervous in the first week. And the reason was because here we are trying to do something that is very unusual with the music and the dialog and all of that. I would go to him pretty frequently – but not on the hour – and say, "Jonathan, how is it going, is it right? Because we were doing the music thing and this is crazy."

And he was like, "Yes, we are doing insanity here." You know how Jonathan is, he was like, "No, it is insane, but it is great!" I don't know if he was lying. I don't think so.

It was all very positive. He sets a very positive tone and I think that brings out 150 percent in everybody to do better. And it of course reinforced what I was doing, and I knew I was on the right track, and now I know how to approach it. I could think way ahead about what we were going to do in the upcoming scenes.

Chris: When we did "The Manchurian Candidate," I waited six weeks to ask Jonathan that question: "Are you happy with the tracks?" Finally, after six weeks, he hadn't said anything to me. And I remember, he didn't say no, and he didn't say yes. He said, "I'm sure I'll be very, very pleased when I get to the mix."

And I thought to myself, "Fuck you."

I didn't say that. Give a little bit, will you, pal? And he was very pleased, [laughs] because they were great tracks. They were great tracks.


Jeff: My approach is actually running two machines simultaneously. I used a Fostex PD-6 as a two-track [for the live mix] and a Fostex 824 to multitrack.

Chris: So how many tracks were you running at one time?

" I can't imagine a job with more pressure, unless somebody was shooting at you at the same time."

Jeff: On the first day, eight. By day two or three, we were running up to 12. And that's because Jonathan wanted a unit, or me, to run off and get the musicians while they were rehearsing, even between when we were setting up. I can't be in two places at once, so we hired another guy to do an over the shoulder rig, Roger Phenix, who recorded on a [Sound Devices] 744T. At times, he actually brought two 744T’s. Basically over the shoulder all the time, so he was able to run off and do music recording tracks. Roger also recorded a lot of the music during the takes with a stereo recorder and additional tracks which were sometimes fed to the main mix. The extra music was mainly archival; I don't know how much of that they really used.

Chris: Does it ever worry you that when you make a mix on the fly with all of these pressures, particularly a job like this? I can't imagine a job with more pressure, unless somebody was shooting at you at the same time. You make this mix and you do the best you can possibly do, which seems to me is pretty goddamn good, but not perfect, not what you would have done if you had had time to really work to picture with the cuts and cutting power. Does it ever worry you that they might just use your mix and disregard the individual tracks?

Jeff: Does it worry me? I am concerned. I mean, I would hope the mix is right. I'm a very meticulous notetaker, so I'm very specific about the problems that I thought happened in the take.

Chris: Did you call the cutting room and discuss it?

Jeff: I was on the phone with the assistant [editor] daily, who I will acknowledge here and you should name him, because he was amazing: Mike Fay, who got it to Tim [Squyres, the film editor,] in terms of the sound possibilities for post that I was seeing on the set. We would have lengthy discussions about the day’s work and idea of hos to use the diegetic sound.

Chris: When you were on the set, at lunch time if there was a lunch time, did you take the time to play stuff back and reevaluate and improve your notes? Or did you not have time to do that?

Jeff: Didn't have time. I didn't really have time, because we were constantly on the move, really, because there were so many cameras.

Chris: How did you make it possible, given all of this equipment that you have to carry, to be on the move with such facility? Did you have rolling carts?

Jeff: Certainly had rolling carts. A follow cart and a main recording cart. We had a DIT, a digital imaging technician, who was getting feed from the cameras, and we were all tethered together, so we really always had to be in one little corner somewhere.

Chris: That was advantageous, actually, because if they wouldn't give you the time and the focus, they certainly would give the digital technician the focus. [laughs]

Jeff: Right, right. I mean, Jonathan was giving us time to do what we had to do, communicating as best he could along with the DP, [Declan Quinn]. Jonathan [would tell the camera operators where he] kind of felt they should be but left a lot of it to the cameras to figure out where they wanted to be.

Chris Did you have situations where they panned around and there's your boom operator?

Jeff: That happened a few times.

Chris: What did they do? Did they cut?

Jeff: No, no, kept going because there were other cameras and other possibilities and you knew there probably was going to be another take.

It really wasn't a nightmare, for the most part. Dave Pastecchi, [the boom operator] really was all over, observing. He was really right behind the cameras. So, if he got in [the shot], more than likely the other camera got in, too.

The biggest obstacle for us was the minimal lighting that was allowed, because we were seeing everywhere. The 360 in the room, so the lighting really was this, unless he carved out a little niche and could do 270, but put a light in the corner.

Chris: When you were booming that presented perhaps a shadow issue?

Jeff: Yes, it pushed the mic back, and that was something certainly I knew I was going to embrace right off the bat, that the microphone was not going to be literally perspective and the choice of mics was based on that.

Chris: What mics did you use?

Jeff: Schoeps as plants and Neumann 81's. The lighting was the thing, but reasonably friendly, not a major shadow problem. I think Dave did a great job. He really somehow was there with the camera, got the perspective, watched what they were doing and really dove in and out as necessary.

[The wireless were] Lectrosonics with a Venue system and Sanken, Countryman, and B6 lavs.

Chris: [Regarding the live music in the film,] did you set up a PA system so that whole thing could be PA'd as well?

Jeff: We had a PA system. I generally had it as low as possible. Jonathan wanted it [loud], but I was like, it's going to ruin...

Chris: You just keep turning it down.

Jeff: That's basically where I was. I'd sneak in and go a little more, a little more.

Chris: And then Jonathan would come running over and say, "Did you turn that down?"

Jeff: [laughs]

Chris: When we first talked about this film and I think I had read Jenny [Lumet's] version of the script that wasn't made into the movie, [Jonathan] said, "Let's do it eighttrack." I said sure. You know how the multitrack started with them. (See sidebar below for more on Chris and the development of Demme’s Multitracking process)

Usually I know how to do other people's films. In this case, the way you did it was so ingenious, I'm in awe of it.

I mean, I would not have done it that way. I would have used many more wires. I would have gone to an 8 track right off the bat. Maybe 12, or maybe even 16, somehow.

Jeff: [Rachel] proved a lot of things to me, in terms of how I can approach movies. In certain movies, you can have pre-knowledge of what the director's going to do and how we're going to do it.

I had that experience on Rachel because Jonathan wanted to handle it a certain way. The producers, in their initial thoughts, and Jonathan had even brought it up because he wanted Roger Phenix, who was doing documentary work for Jonathan, to actually be the sound guy. They had actually discussed that, because in Jonathan's mind, in the early concepts of the movie, it was that, "We are not making a documentary but it is documentaryesque. We maybe need two or three documentary guys running around getting the sound that way." Roger declined. He said, "No, I can't really imagine doing this movie. It is not really documentary. It is not my thing." He was realistic about it.

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Jonathan Demme and Multitracking

Chris Newman has mixed sound for Jonathan Demme on many movies, refining an intuitive and effective multitrack process. Here Chris speaks on its development.

Chris: On "Married to the Mob," which is the first movie that I did with [Jonathan], I did a lot in mono, but I had a two track machine, and occasionally we would split the tracks, observing that convention that I stick to, which is: if the wires work, we don't make it better. [Silence of the] Lambs we did two track also. The scenes between Lector and Jodie in the jail, I did those all in mono. I wanted to see if I could do it. There were just two wires.

Jonathan Demme on the set of Silence of the Lambs.

I tried all kinds of mics in that space: eight, 16, 416’s, Schoeps with the hypercardiod capsule. I could not get any definition. They wouldn't let me hang drop cords or do any ceiling treatment there because of the way it was lit. Finally I elected to go with two wires.

I didn't split them. I did them in mono and I just did the fades. I did full fades. I didn't even cheat the fades. Some days I would come out and my hands would be shaking.

He started on that movie to say, "Listen. That guy over there is going to talk," or, "Listen. A friend of mine just came in. He is going to talk," just in a very limited way. I thought, "OK." I knew I had to do that. We could put them on another track.

We were in analog. We weren't in digital. After that [was] Philadelphia. I got the Nagra-D for Philadelphia. On the very first day of shooting, it had crapped out. It wouldn't record.

It was a small problem. It had to do with the capstan being hit by something inside. And, of course, when I spoke to Nagra, they said, "Oh yes. It is very simple." I said, "Yeah, well the fucking machine doesn't work."

I sent it back and I continued on Philadelphia with two tracks in analog. When they sent me a replacement Nagra, I didn't trust it. So he didn't see me and the Nagra until Manchurian Candidate because that was the next movie that I did with him.

I didn't do Beloved. I did second unit on Beloved, but I had made a commitment to do Primary Colors. The Truth About Charlie he did in France. We had lots of discussions about how to handle it, but I didn't do it.

But Philadelphia was where he introduced "This person speaks. That person speaks." I had my hands full even with two tracks.

Jeff: And that was improv?

Chris: Yeah, somewhat improv. It wasn't so bad. It had some predictability, but we had three people, and clunk, clunk, clunk – we just do it. Then he started doing group discussions. The zenith was in the Manchurian Candidate. There's a scene in the green room on the night of the convention when Meryl [Streep] comes in and they don't want to nominate her son. They want to nominate someone else. And there are eight actors, including at least two friends of Jonathan and Roger Cohen, who plays the president. He became the secretary of state in post, but he was the president in the shooting.

And the way Jonathan would work then – and I'm pretty sure it's similar now – is people just get up and talk. Nobody knew what was going on.

Finally I would run out, because I knew all these people over the years, like Jim, the guy from Florida who used to be Jonathan's teacher. And I'd say, "Jim, did you just say something?" He said, "Yeah." "Well, when did you say it?" And on take two, he'd be open! [laughs] But on take one, he was totally off mic. He might have been wired, but I wouldn't have opened him, because remember, I was fading into four tracks.

In the end, those are the most satisfying scenes of all. •

Scene by Scene

Jeff: There are some interesting aspects to the way I approached that whole rehearsal dinner. I literally miked that like an orchestra. It was an interesting thing. We had a Schoeps stereo pair overhead.

We had some outriggers, so probably either omni or cardioids on the sides of that. I even had two PZM’s on the back wall. And then we had two booms and then I think one of the actors was wired.

Chris: There's a cutaway of Anne and the best man in the crowd and they speak as we pan past them. We never hear them. Did we ever hear them in your recording? Was that a rerecording choice?

Jeff: I do believe that was a rerecording choice because we probably heard it.

Chris: Because it's shocking, that's one of the few times in the movie where they're on, but they ain't.

Jeff: The story actually is she wasn’t wired because she wasn’t supposed to speak!

Chris: The scene [where] they are trying on the saris?

Jeff: The hardest scene we had and it is not really that apparent in the film.

Chris: Good, that means you did a good job.

Kym (Anne Hathaway) and Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt).

Jeff: I lucked out. There were mirrors that in that edit aren't so visible. It was mirrors and shadows.

Chris: They trimmed the headroom; at least there was some place to hide them.

Jeff: It was very difficult. It really was not a big room. The way it was with all these pin lights.

Chris: Did [you] have wires on the saris also?

Jeff: That was another thing. I do remember that was the one scene that we were really trying to dodge clothing noise. We were playing around with lavs like crazy.

Chris: Now, we go to the kitchen, and there's an improv in the kitchen with lots of physical action, before the dishwashing contest. People are all over each other. How did you do all of those improvs in the kitchen with all of the physical – the hugging and stuff like that?

Jeff: We planted a mic in the kitchen – I do believe it was a cardioid – at some strategic point overhead. Then, Dave was in there as best he could with the boom. We had one or two actors wired.

Chris: [What about] the dishwashing contest, which is this mad scene in which these two guys compete in how many dishes you can get in a dishwasher.

Jeff: That mad scene was booms. Two booms and that overhead, again, in the kitchen.

Chris: And no wires...

Jeff: No wires. Too much physicality.

Chris: And then we see music being performed on the porch. How is that done?

Jeff: That was probably Roger on the stereo mic and maybe one or two other plant mics. [He’d record] onto the 744T, and he might very well have thrown that back to me as a monomix on another track if I wanted to mix it in.

Chris: How would he do that?

Jeff: Transmit it. Everything's wireless – no hard wire other than to DIT.

Chris: [There’s] a scene with [Debra] Winger and Hathaway. It's raining in the background. Was the rain made?

Jeff: No, it was real.

Chris: It was really raining. How did you do that? Do you do anything special about the rain? Did you close mic them with radios and put the actresses on the radio?

Jeff: They were probably wired and boomed, but I think what's in the film is boom.

Chris: In a situation like that when they're both wired, the wires are working well and you have good signal to noise, why do you use the boom?

Jeff: I guess I'm not a believer in completely eliminating the background sometimes. I think the way it was shot and the intimacy of it played that way. I think you can allow the rain to work. I think you don't have to eliminate it all the time.

Chris: Would you have given the same answer if you weren't dealing with a real time film? Essentially, this is a film that's done in real time. Suppose the film was a film that was done more traditionally. Would you feel the same way?

Jeff: No. Certainly if we didn't have multitrack, and were able to offer the other alternative, I would be more meticulous about it and probably try to eliminate it.

Chris: The backgrounds are going to be all over the place. Even natural rain will fluctuate, especially if you're booming it. If the boom makes the cue, the background changes. If you use two booms, the background doesn't change, but that's twice as much noise, potentially.

If the wires are working successfully and you've got good signal to noise, what's the purpose of adding the boom?

Jeff: Well, certainly when we walked in and it was raining, we were concerned. Then, they wanted the door open at the same time so we had to live with that. It was my aesthetic choice to go with [the boom]. We recorded a wild track of the rain, and post probably laid that back. I think that worked.

Chris: Now, Kym is involved in an automobile accident. Just prior to the accident, she's speeding along high speed and talking to herself. It's really quite a marvelous shot. How?

Jeff: Two plant mics in the car. One is kind of a visortype, probably Shoeps. Then, we had one in the back to get some additional ambiance in the car and to spread it out a little bit.

Chris: Then, we come to one of my favorite scenes. I'm sure it was a favorite of yours, too. The drum corps comes in and the samba.

Jeff: [sigh] Yes. Oh my God.

The samba scene

Chris: Another difficult scene. Tell us about how you did the samba scene.

Jeff: We had to mic that whole tent. Again, because of where the stage was, we had an MS stereo pair middle with some outrigger mics for the musicians.

We had live mics on the stage, and one or two lavs on certain musicians to bring out the piano/violin.

Chris: Then the booms were for the dancers and the whistle guy.

Jeff: Right, and then we had some other [Schoeps] omni mics up top.

Jeff: The catastrophe of that was what I had rigged for my recording was overloading like crazy from the drums. We didn't have any prep time or anything to set it, so, I underestimated what it would be.

Of course, Roger was there with the over the shoulder rig. He had, probably, the stereo mic overhead and the two outrigger mics.

Chris: But the levels were just phenomenal. They were like line levels.

Jeff: Yeah, so I'd have to say that Roger saved the day on that. His mics worked, mine didn't.

Chris: During that samba thing, we see all the people are mashed together. Rachel and all of the others are all kind of pushed together. Just boomed?

Jeff: Right.

Chris: Then finally, Kym looks out. This is the ending of the film into a very wide shot. The musicians are playing quite far away. I presume that there's some kind of plant or something on them.

Jeff: Yes. How would you guess that, Chris? [laughs] Yeah, exactly. We had it in a bush. I do believe I even wired [the musicians] for that.

Jeff: There is one more fun, interesting scene. Anne is lying in bed with Kieran, the guy she meets. They're talking but the camera's really wide in that low-ceilinged basement.

We really couldn't boom it. So, we had an 81 behind the pillar aiming at them with a reasonable reach. Then I planted mics all around, just little tiny Sennheiser switchable capsules ME2 lavs under the sheets.

So, I put a couple of those in and another mic somewhere. The boom guy was way back. I went in and said, "Anne, here's where the mics are. So, you've just got to be careful with what you're going to do here."

The minute the scene started, she went and hit every one of them. It was hilarious because it was one after the other. I'm sure it was not intentional, but because of the moment that she was in, she just ended up nailing every one of them. It was very funny.

Chris: Years and years ago, I worked on Klute with Jane Fonda. It was a very primitive time in moviemaking and certainly a primitive time in sound. We were in this big church. She and [Donald] Sutherland are walking [past] a big white hat. I'm way the hell in the back, so I've got three plants. As they stop at a chef's hat, she managed to put her hand over the chef's hat and every fucking mic...

So then, after that first take – because it was [Alan] Pakula and he would do a zillion takes – I switched to radio. I couldn't get one on her, but I could get one on Sutherland. So, she pulls the antenna out. She pulled the antenna out of the transmitter.

On Working Multi-Camera

"Well, you're very lucky because, in another part of the movie world, they would have killed you."

Chris: There's no discrepancy anymore between TV and movies. That's the sad part.

Jeff: Well, I'm not 100 percent on that. And I think every movie is different, of course, but I find myself wiring more than I ever did. But for the most part, I'm still working on booms, but it's a mix now. And it's a fight, you're right, because of the lighting and...

Chris: And multiple cameras and things like that.

Jeff: Sure, absolutely. Even films now, they just keep throwing in a second camera and you're always yelling at them, "Why are you shooting a wide and a tight?"

Chris: But what you're really saying is, "Why are you forcing me to use a technique I don't like?"

Jeff: Well, I went to Phil[lip Seymour Hoffman] on this last job and I said, "Listen, we're on a stage. We're not outside anymore. I know we've got to get the film done. I know we're over and blah blah blah. But, if we're going to shoot this way for the next week, and this is really one contiguous scene over the next week, even though it's 20 different scenes, it's really one. And if I'm going to wire now, we're going to run into problems all the way through."

Jeff: Why? The costume, the actors, inexperience, physical action, [having to] ask them to tone down effects over dialog, and basically, they're shooting a wide and a tight at the same time.

Chris: What would you have done if he said, "Fuck you"?

Jeff: Then I said, "Well, might have to dub. I don't know. But I'm going to do the best I can, if that's what you're going to do." But to really try to protect it and make it work, I'm going to go to him and say, "Listen, I have an answer."

Chris: Did he kill the other camera?

Jeff: He killed the other camera.

Chris: Well, you're very lucky because, in another part of the movie world, they would have killed you.

Jeff: I've seen it on both sides. And of course, we play the political game. We know who to approach for what, or not to approach. And that's a big part of it.

I've taken to wiring a lot more. I will mix wires and boom, depending on the boom. I have a really good boom guy now, who's really all over that and really can tell me, "I can't get that one line," and I'll tweak in and play that game, if we can really boom most of it.

Final Thoughts

Chris: I could not have done this job the way you did it, and I think the way you did it was so remarkably inventive, remarkably so, so clever to understand that it was in many ways not even about the dialogue; that it was a musical event, totally. The soundtrack is a piece of music. And, sure, the dialogue is important for the narrative and for people to understand what's going on, but in fact, if you dumped all the dialogue and just looked at the just silent film acting, you can get one hell of a lot out of it.

The way you did it was the perfect, perfect way to solve it. It probably took years off your life, but it's a brilliant, brilliant solution. I could not have done it this way. I would have done it differently.

Jeff: Chris, it's amazing to hear that. I have to say, I really appreciate your comments and it's... wow! Thank you! I consider your acknowledgement a huge complement.

I also need to acknowledge the crew: Dave Pastecchi, boom operator, Teferra McKenzie, sound utility; Neil Danziger, additional boom op; and Roger Phenix, additional sound mixer. They were a huge part of this. •

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