They are there in nearly every film we watch. In the flap of a bird’s wings as it flies through the air, behind the thump of a closed door, and hidden within the rustle of the morning newspaper as the movie’s protagonist reads the daily news. But the artists who create these sound effects, which are so crucial to giving a film its sense of realism, still operate under an air of mystery.
Now a new documentary titled “The Secret World of Foley” by filmmaker Daniel Jewel goes behind the scenes to show just how varied and talented these artists are.
Traditionally referred to as “Foley Artists”, these artists recreate sound effects for film, television and radio productions. They use a variety of props, including various shoes, glasses, chairs, paper and knives – anything that will ultimately convey the right sound. The role of the Foley Artist is to replace original sound completely or to augment existing sounds to create a richer soundtrack.
During filming, sound recordists focus on recording the dialogue between actors, and try to muffle out any background noise. However, for the final product, these background noises are crucial to avoid a film or show appearing unnaturally quiet.
Foley Artists get their name from Jack Donovan Foley, a filmmaker from the early 20th century who was working in films when sound was first introduced. He perfected the art of layering music and sound effects underneath dialogue in post production.
While many of these sound effects are undoubtedly created by digitial means today, there still remains an artistry in what goes behind making sounds for films.
Watch this insightful documentary extract below.