INTERVIEW WITH FRED J. BROWN, SUPERVISING SOUND EDITOR

 

Sadly, I've had to include an afterword to the interview. Not long after receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the MPSE, Fred's health began to fail and he died in November of 2003. I was asked by his wife and longtime collaborator Michele Sharp to give a eulogy dealing with Fred's contributions to the art of film sound. A slightly revised version of that talk is given here as a coda to the interview and as a final tribute to a remarkable man and career.

PREFACE TO THE INTERVIEW

THE INTERVIEW:

Beginnings -- Early Influences

Early Sound Effects Work

Mentors & Contemporaries

Sam Peckinpah films

John Milius films

The "Rambo" films: First Blood, (Part 1) ; Rambo II; Rambo III

Foley for "The Deep"

PICTURE GALLERY

AFTERWORD TO THE INTERVIEW: Remembering Fred Brown 

PREFACE TO THE INTERVIEW

Fred Brown has a kind of Legendary Status among sound editors. Not only was his work of a caliber that formed a kind of benchmark for others to aim for, but during a period in which most sound supervisors increasingly hired large crews and "farmed out" the actual time-consuming work of choosing and editing effects, Fred persisted in doing vast amounts of the work himself. And these were not "light" shows with relatively simple demands that he tackled. Take a look at some of his credits: "1941", "Conan", the "Rambo" films -- these are big, busy action movies that require major effects work.

In 1988 I was lucky enough to work for Fred Brown, thanks to the recommendation of Jay Wilkinson who had worked with Fred on a number of films. Although I'd done a season and a half of "Miami Vice" by that point, I'd only worked on a few feature films, and I was really a bit too green to be working on a Fred Brown show -- let alone two simultaneously! ("Rambo III" and "Red Heat.") Still, it was an experience I treasure because, if nothing else, by watching Fred I got to learn a lot about "grace under pressure."

Fred has recently retired from sound editing, but he has not retired his sense of grace and I was able to gently pressure him into submitting to an interview. This mostly took the form of an exchange of e-mailed queries and responses.

Fred has made my job as an interviewer/editor embarassingly easy -- to my most vague and mundane questions he has given detailed, witty answers. Although these are written responses, Fred is equally articulate in person; when he chooses to describe something as "perfidious" he means just that. I've also chosen to leave in a few of Fred's self-deprecating asides to the reader. And so this account captures a lot of the personality of the man.

About that: even a quick glance through his credits shows a kind of pattern. Hmm -- an awful lot of tough guy action movies here...and look at these directors who have worked with him again and again: Walter Hill...John Milius...Sam Peckinpah. These aren't filmmakers known for their sensitive side. So you might well expect Fred Brown to be a fairly tough, gruff customer.

Well, he is an ex-Marine, and he's definitely no softie or he couldn't have churned out the workload he handled for many years. But gruff? Not one bit. Fred Brown is one of the most unfailingly polite, gracious men I've ever met. (Incidentally, he's consistently employed more women on his crews than any other supervisor that comes to mind.)

One last thing -- on his desk Fred would often display a simple brass plate that read:
"Nobody listens" -- Fred J. Brown.

I should point out that in the world of motion picture sound professionals, when it's coming from Fred Brown, everybody listens.

 

INTERVIEW WITH FRED BROWN  

Q: Could you fill in just a bit of biographical information?

FB: I was raised in Glendale, Ca, the original white bread capital of the Western U.S. My entire formal education was spent in that bucolic system. Only a fair student, my main interests lay in literature, history and some sciences. All this took a distant second to sports in general and football in particular. I did edit the sports page on the school paper in my senior year.

My parents divorced when I was 16 and it took a while before I reestablished a decent relationship with my father. It was fortunate that I did since he was a legal consultant at Universal/International Studio. It was through him that I got my first industry job upon my graduation in 1953. Technicolor Labs would never be the same.

I suffered near terminal boredom in the lab until February of 1954 when the mother of my best friend called and asked if I would be interested in a change of profession (if what I had at that time was, indeed, a profession). Serendipitously, the lady was a secretary in the Film Editors Union. I leapt at the chance and ended up as a Sound Effects Apprentice at Columbia Pictures....

Q: Was there anything in your early life that sparked some interest in film sound? For instance, do you have any strong memories about radio shows or particular movies that impressed you?

FB: I'll...demonstrate what made Sound Effects a natural marriage for me. As a child of radio, "The Lone Ranger", "Jack Armstrong" and "The Green Hornet" remain in my mind as sound-driven programs. I used to drive my parents to distraction with my own versions of the sounds that made these shows so intriguing to me. Dinners were rarely tranquil or peaceful while I reenacted the plots of that day's episodes. So imagine the delight upon my first days at Columbia hearing the whoops of Indians, gunshots and thundering hooves issuing from editing rooms. (Universal use of earphones was still in the future). A match made in Heaven!

From there it was a quick rise to Sound Effects assistant and some picture assisting until I left the Studio for independent sound editing.

My first editing job was for a small company run by the friendly curmudgeon Dick Currier. It was there that I met Don Hall who was also just starting out. Our friendship has endured to this date, some 45 years.

I survived the cheap films and cheaper producers until 1957 when the industry took a giant dump. Lack of Union seniority dumped me onto the streets about the same time as I received my Draft Notice. Rather than risk being sent to scenic Biloxi, Mississippi under the aegis of the U.S. Army, I enlisted in the Marine Corps as had my father before me. Armed with a letter of recommendation from our Union in hope of being eventually assigned to the film division at Camp Pendelton, I was forthwith sent to Teletype School after graduating from Boot Camp. (All military branches share the common belief that whatever you were trained for in civilian life has no bearing on what you will do while under the control of Uncle Sam's forces.)

The upside of my training landed me at El Toro Air Station near Laguna Beach where I spent the duration of my duty battling suntans and dodging sea gull bombings. Further, the proximity of Laguna to Los Angeles allowed me to work in the industry while on leave.....

This takes us, roughly to Query #5. Since it is past my bedtime at present, I'll continue with your list in my next writing....

I hope this is helpful in some way. Forgive my lack of conciseness.

Regards, Fred.

 

FB: Here's part II of my meandering through my past. Patience, while not truly a virtue, does keep us from ripping our hair out by the roots. Here goes....

Q: Did you have any particular mentors or inspirational figures along the way?

FB: My earliest mentors were a group of now faceless and nearly forgotten editors from the early '50's. Men like Dick Brummel, Morrie Opper, Joe Henry and Frank Cleverly. Since Columbia did not see fit to give screen credits for Sound Editors (until mine on Elmer Gantry, heh heh heh...) those hard working, diligent craftsmen went largely unknown. It was from them that I learned the MOST IMPORTANT facet of a superior Sound Editor: Patience!...Everything worthwhile takes time so it's up to the individual to go the extra mile, or hour, or whatever, to elevate one's craft.

Q: Is there anyone's sound work that you particularly admire? Some specific films maybe?

FB: There are many whose work I admire and early on was influenced by: Don Hall, Jimmy Richards, Jimmy Nelson, Kay Rose, Gene Corso and Ross Taylor. I'm sure I've omitted some of us graybeards but those are the ones that come easily to this fragile and perfidious memory.

Contemporarily, it is harder to separate the artists and creative ones from the Technicians and Generic Duplicators. Confused? Well, we all know the Technician: One who has all the up to date tools and library CD's and can whip out a reel as if time was standing still. But the Duplicators live by the credo that, "it worked in such and such film, it'll work in this one." Their key to success is, "if I can't make it better, I'll make it LOUDER!"

They might as well be working at a punch press turning out hex nuts!

All of this is my way of saying that the majority of today's Editors rely too heavily on the tools and not enough on creativity. I am not a technophobe in any sense of the word but I believe without the brain and heart, the tools become the masters.

Editor's Note: I can vouch for this last point. When I met Fred back in 1988 I was quite impressed by his use of a customized computer database for his sound library and foley spotting as well as his choices in all kinds of interesting outboard audio gear. Wisely staying safely away from the "bleeding edge" he was nonetheless well ahead of the curve of his contemporaries.

FB: With that rant behind me and lying gasping in the dirt, let me return to some of the contemporary Editors whom I admire and applaud: Jay Wilkinson, a fearless and tireless editor. He knows no hourly bounds for his labors. He is truly creative despite having attended the USC film school.

Leslie Schatz...a gifted artist.

Other Sound Editors with style and grace in my mind are Marshall Winn, Richard Anderson, the late Gordon Davidson, and many others whose names escape me currently.

Q: Of the film's you've worked on, which are the ones you're proudest of? What problem did you solve or effect did you achieve with them?

FB: The films that fill me with the most pride:

RAMBO, PART II. This is a fairly obvious choice. The work load was tremendous and seemingly never ending. But what makes me happiest about it is that most of the decisions in the mix were made by yours truly and effects mixer Kevin O'Connell. The director, George Cosmatos, was more an obstacle than a help. Andy Vajna, Producer and owner of Carolco, saw the problem early on and told us to pretty much listen to Cosmatos but do what we felt best for the film. With the marvelous score by Jerry Goldsmith and his encouragement, we managed to accomplish a mix of action and quiet. Nice "peaks and valleys."

A point of interest: Michele Sharp and I edited all the sound effects. With the exception of myself, the entire small crew was [made up of] women. ADR, Dialog and Assisting...

EDITOR'S NOTE: ""Rambo II" received an Academy Award nomination for best Sound Editing.

THE EXORCIST is another obvious choice. Much of the credit due... can be laid at the feet of Billy Friedkin, editor Bud Smith and Jimmy Nelson. Billy was exceptionally demanding and exacting about the track. (Of course what he wanted before lunch often differed mightily from what he wanted after lunch.) The late Bob Glass mixed the sounds beautifully... Best example of peaks and valleys.

EDITOR'S NOTE: "The Exorcist" received an Academy Award for Best Sound. (Specifically, this was awarded for sound mixing, but it should be obvious that a good mix cannot be achieved without good material.)

THE DEEP. (See the Foley section.) Again, we were give tremendous latitude in our approach and execution. An excellent score, mixing crew and tasteful input by Peter Yates and editor Bob Wolf made our job a pleasure. I must add that the Production Mixer, Robin Gregory recorded hours of Wild Sound Effects, most of them taped on his own time, that were invaluable --i.e., mopeds, vans, boats and those marvelous tree frog and surf backgrounds.

EXTREME PREJUDICE. A truly fun film to do. Walter Hill, a real gentleman, gave us carte blanche on the sounds and approach. A small film by many standards, it remains as an example of mixing delicacy. Again, Goldsmith's score was nothing less than superb in it's color and depth. (Jerry and I have collaborated, the only word that fits, on many films and he was without exception sensitive to the balance of Effects and Music. I wish he'd done the score on every film I did.)

Further, Extreme Prejudice in another example of dramatic peaks and valleys.

I guess by now you can see the importance I place on these contrasts.

STRAW DOGS. My first but certainly not last experience with the master, Sam Peckinpah. (A word of explanation. Straw Dogs was an Edie Plan film in which the British editors worked on the picture in the U.S. and received screen credit. Garth Craven is the Sound Editor of record but the film was largely done by Ross Taylor and myself. This is in no way of denigrating Garth's contribution, which was tremendous.) Another interesting byproduct of this film was that Garth eventually became Sam's editor on most of his remaining films.

An amusing sidelight (to me) was that the Brits quailed before Peckinpah's presence whether in person or on the phone. Ross and I had not been exposed to Sam's tantrums or bizarre humor prior to this film. In our innocence, we accepted his behavior as normal. We spotted his humor immediately and got along famously with him.

KILLER ELITE. Another Peckinpah fun-fest. Garth Craven was the film editor and we were housed at MGM as it was known then and FOREVER in my mind. This was Sam at his best.

Michele and I were dispatched to San Francisco, the locale of the film, to record tons of sounds. I really should not have taken their money since it was so much fun. We were given an itinerary of places to go, things to record and people to contact to accomplish this. Included were such rough locations as the Golden Gate Yacht Club, Suisun Bay naval mothball fleet, China Town, the steel loading wharf, the houseboat atmosphere at Sausalito and the interiors of several of Sam's favorite bars. We accomplished our missions with elan and dedication.

(Sidebar: We were supplied with a purple Porsche Carrera to record for one small sequence. Three weeks after taking delivery of the car, the production manager called wanting to know where the car was. I told him we needed it a while longer since we were having trouble with the car because it was the wrong color. The production manager bit on it and we kept the car for two additional weeks. Peckinpah thought the affair hysterically funny.)

Later on, Ross Taylor and I recorded the automatic weapons supplied for the first time by Sid Stembridge but certainly not the last time. Further Ross and Kitty Malone performed flawless Foley tracks.

Under Sam's carefree supervision, the freewheeling mix was thrust upon Goldwyn's stage A. Patience became the battle cry as Sam was much inclined to view the mix through the bottom of a bottle of Scotch. Suffice it to say, this was not unusual in any Peckinpah venture but by that time Garth Craven and I were veterans and were not perplexed or diverted. I must say in Sam's defense, not than any is needed, in his most handicapped and self inflicted impediments, he knew more about film and drama/humor than any director I've had the pleasure to serve. Peckinpah is my wild-angel hero.

THUNDERHEART. A sadly unseen film by most movie goers. Excellent performances, story and direction. Film editor Ian Crafford and director Michael Apted were exacting and very supportive. As usual, Kevin O'Connell brought his extraordinary talent and energy to the final product. The Navajo context was especially fascinating and allowed us latitude to experiment with subtle approaches. Lots of valleys and a few peaks but a very satisfying mix.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN. This was my first John Milius experience. Buzz Feitschans and Rafaella DiLaurentiis brought me to Spain for 9 weeks to record sounds but basically to learn what Milius was all about and how to get along with him. Almaria, Spain is where I also met Tim O'Meara and we forged a lasting and warm friendship from that time forward. Conan was mixed in mono, Dolby A format despite everyone's protestation that Stereo was the only way to go. Universal purse strings were stranglingly tight on that film. Basil Poledouris... score was wonderful and we traded prominence sequence to sequence. (I think I won more than I lost.) For a mono mix there were lots of peaks, only a few valleys.

RED DAWN. Another Milius epic, another produced by Buzz Feitschans. Total freedom, the hardest element of the film was to get John to come to the stage to approve the reels.

THE FLIGHT OF THE INTRUDER. My last experience with John Milius. A huge effects job wherein I was forced to abandon my normal work routine [and work with] a large crew of editors. The risk in large numbers is loss of control but fortunately everyone involved remained focussed. I spent as much time in my home studio creating and combining effects as on any film I've ever worked on. Again, the production mixer made extensive recordings of the A6 Intruder taking off and landing from the carrier.

I spent 4 days at the Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island in the Sound off Seattle, Washington recording that formidable A6 aircraft. (I was denied permission to ride inside the plane. The officer in charge said it was forbidden for civilians but in my heart I knew it was because of my corpulence!) I was allowed inside a training mockup to record the actual radar warning buzzers, beeps and whines. We also had a superb retired naval captain as technical advisor. Sorry, I don't recall his name but he did love beer.

Milius left us totally alone on the mix, much to the agony of composer Basil Poledouris. The choices and design were left up to your humble servant, effects mixer Greg Russel, and film editor Tim O'Meara. Despite Paramount's Paul Haggar, it turned out to be a fine mix.

THE DREAM TEAM. A non-sound effects film but one which still amuses me to this date. It bears listing as a film in which I am proud because aside from supplying the Foley and Effects, I actually just sat back and enjoyed. All valleys, no peaks.

1941. My one and only Steven Spielberg film. Though he never used us again, I have a nice signed poster from him. On 1941, Steven was pretty much of a "I'm not sure of what I want, but I'll know it when I hear it" kind of input. As a result much time was spent previewing sounds for him in his trailer and subsequently on his KEM. Universal's purse strings were noticeably looser here than on Conan. As a result of that looseness, Michele and I recorded most of the vintage cars, the Beechcraft plane, etc. Again the large crew syndrome raised its ugly head and again the teamwork was amazing. Eddie Sandlin and Alex Bamatre supervised the vast Foley with care and humor.

RED HEAT. This was another journey with Walter Hill and was one of the very few films I worked on in tandem with another. In this case, "RAMBO Part Three" necessitated the splitting of my time. Mercifully, both films were for Carlolco and Andy Vajna, allowing me to meddle in each project. Jay Wilkinson, Michele Sharp and Rodger Pardee carried the day to day load. Jay and Rodger recording the overwhelming amount of recording and Michele, as usual, overseeing the Dialog work. Because of the two films mixing at identical times at Goldwyn Studios on two different stages, I really needed to learn to roller skate. Fortunately, Jay had formed a bond with Walter and editor Freeman Davies which made the best of a messy situation.

FIRST BLOOD. This was the beginning of my relationship with Andy Vajna and Carolco. Buzz Feitschans produced and called on me because of our relationship on Conan and the many films from the old AIP days. Once more the crew was tiny, Fred Stafford, Ed Sandlin, Bub Asman and myself edited all the effects, dialog, ADR and Foley. An interesting side bar was that while predubbing Effects and Dialog on Stage C at Goldwyn's, Andy Vajna was making temp dubbs on Stage B for preview purposes. I'm sure that Andy's Rolls Royce trunk was filled with reels that he would show to any audience he could to get reactions. As usual, his inclinations were on the money because the film launched Carolco into the Independent Big Time. Jerry Goldsmith again provided the haunting and dramatic score. Jerry and Fred, a team made in heaven.

Here's a brief list of other films that I worked on that deserve mentioning.

RISKY BUSINESS. Much ado about very little for sound effects but fun recording Porsches. Good music, funny film.

THE HOSPITAL. Not much in the way of sound effects but nice to be associated with a truly class film. George Scott was magnificent. Got to go to NY for a week and screen with Arthur Hiller, another true gentleman and fine director. I did two other less notable films for Arthur, POPI and the silly MAN OF LA MANCHA.

COBRA. Another busy film, another Stallone performance. Sly was the final word in the mix -- thank God because the number two film editor was a total miscreant who wanted to play the car chase through Venice as a musical. On playback, Sly leaned over to me and muttered, "You got no effects here?" When reassured that they existed, Sly rose and corrected the thrust of the mix. Miscreant editor was dispatched back to the cutting room for the duration.

RAMBO, PART III. Notable that it dubbed at all, given the schedule, the fact that we were dubbing Red Heat simultaneously and most notably, the "number two editor miscreant" was the NUMBER ONE editor on Rambo III. Sometimes I do believe that God is dead. Taste -- and the fact that the editor probably can't find work anywhere -- prevent me from naming this little weasel. But I did get a nice trip to the garden spot of the west, Yuma, Arizona to record tanks, horses, helicopters and Russian weapons, courtesy of Sid Stembridge.

[And] we did manage to execute a very good mix.

NIGHTHAWKS. Another Stallone film wherein he wielded the true power. It was my first Sly experience. It must be some flaw in my nature that I get along so well with the Stallones and Peckinpahs of this world and yet get provoked to distraction by others. Go figure.

ELMER GANTRY. As I mentioned before this was the first film [on which] Columbia Studios gave screen credit to a sound editor. Well, actually, it wasn't Columbia. It was Richard Brooks who broke that barrier. I was quite young at the time, recently discharged from the Marines and reemployed at Columbia and only got the opportunity to work for Mr. Brooks, as I always referred to him, [because] I supplied a handful of sound effects to Marge Fowler, the film editor. As chance would have it, Mr. Brooks thought the effects were spot on. From there is was a small step and sweaty palmed interview and voila, I was the sole sound editor on "Elmer Gantry."

Looking back on the film, my youth, inexperience and caution are glaringly apparent. If I knew then what I know now! But I mention the film because it was a personal milestone.

Q: Are there any "tricks of the trade" that you've used a bit differently than other people?

FB: "Tricks of the Trade" -- Yes, there is one trick but it is impossible to carry out. DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF! Unless someone comes up with a 30-hour day or a 10-day week, that is an insurmountable goal. At 2 in the morning, staring at the screen wondering if anyone sees the scene as you do, you realize you cannot do it all! To overcome that I employed the next best system. Consistency! Write your cue notes as if the editor who was going to use them was a mouth breather or made out his cue sheets with a crayon.

Of course, the best trick is to surround yourself with a small cadre of like-minded and talented editors that you can find. I consider myself blessed to have found just such a stalwart group. The majority of us hung together until the end. I remember even the arguments and fights between us fondly.

The next step in my bag of tricks was to pick out each and every sound effect myself, limiting the choices to what I knew would work thereby reducing the odds of embarrassment on the stage. I spent literally weeks in my home studio creating, manipulating and overlaying sounds for every film. That way, I felt reasonably confident, barring sync, that what would be heard on the stage is what I envisioned.

I hope I'm not coming off too "epic" here but there were somethings I felt very strongly about. I could never bring myself to just open the Library book and snatch an effect without thinking, can I do better?

Q: Is there anything about the way you do foley that is distinctly your own approach?

Speaking directly to the art of Foley in it's current status would again need a bit of background. (Sigh, here we go again). When I began editing sound effects, Foley, at least at Columbia Studios, was a rare venture. Harry Cohn was not known for freely spending a dollar and as a result, only the most dire circumstances allowed us to use the Foley system and then only for the exact scene necessary. Since my experience at the time was solely at Columbia, I can but guess that this was fairly consistent throughout the industry.

Given that, when Foley became commonly used, it was performed by Sound Editors, assistants, apprentices and even secretaries. Foley artists per se were still somewhere down the road. The same held true for Loop Groups. When the time came for such sessions, we'd grab a bunch of bodies and hurry to the stage and perform. Out of this confusion rose such people as Ross Taylor and Bob Henderson. Since neither of them could be accused of being dancers or particularly light on their feet, their accomplishments are all the more remarkable.

Ross and I subsequently became partners in 1969 in our company, Edit International Ltd. A rather lofty title for a tiny collection of bodies but it seemed to work at the time. I learned all I know about Foley from Ross. Remember that this predates the specialization of the Foley artist.

As you know, later in his career, he gave up Sound Editing and concentrated solely on Foley. I'm convinced that it was he who elevated the craft to its current state. People like Dan O'Connell, Sarah Jacobs, Robin Harlan and Margie Denecke perfected and refined the form. I take special pride in having trained Margie. From Spielberg's 1941 until she moved to Northern California, Margie worked on every film we did.

But the finest and most challenging Foley I ever had a roll in was "The Deep". And I'm yet to be convinced that it was not the best Foley ever.

Because 75 to 80% of the film took place underwater, and the director, Peter Yates, knew exactly what it sounded like, (he became a scuba diver for the film) he was demanded authenticity.

I'll try to be as brief as possible regarding the lash-up making his demands a reality but it won't be easy. After taking our problem to the Warner Bros. Studio engineers it was found that no recording stage was suitable for our needs. Those needs being: an above ground pool, over a ton of sand on the bottom, a pool filter, and dressing rooms. The substantial weight of the environment alone precluded use of existing facilities.

In his infinite wisdom the producer, Peter Guber, rented a massive shooting stage on the lot. The pool was delivered, sand deposited, filter hooked up and a platform to hold the TV monitor installed. (With no little trepidation on Ross's and my part, the monitor hovered inches above the surface of the water. Grisly images of electrocution followed us through the course of recording.)

At this point, enter resident sound genius, Dana Woods. It's one thing for Ross and me to perform the Foley in a tank but an entirely different one to record our efforts beneath the water. Dana hauled in a trailer replete with Nagras and Dolby equipment. He contacted the Navy and Coast Guard, bringing their experts on board. The result was a sound loop of water proof speakers and microphones allowing him to directly pass the sound through the Nagra and be fed back into the pool, amplified by the speaker and finally recorded back onto the Nagra resulting in true underwater sounds. (I may have the lash-up wrong, but you get the idea.)

And that was only the beginning. The water in the pool was too cold for sustained immersion. We were then supplied with wet suits to alleviate the problem which in turn led to a second problem. Circulation. After an hour or so, we had none. Peter Guber solved that one by installing a pool heater. It could only run when we were not recording despite moving it as far as possible from the pool and baffling it. Still, the water was livable so we proceeded.

A second frame was built so we could suspend and move the aqua-lung tank in and out of position. The sucker was too clumsy to manhandle otherwise. Then Ross had Warner's install a compressed air hose and nozzle by which he could control and sync the bubbles. (It was one of Peter Yates's caveats that NO sound of bubbles breaking the surface be heard.)

We were eventually supplied with dummy ordinance for the appropriate scenes, spear guns, hundreds of "morphine- containing" ampules, underwater fuses, and what became our Famous Foley Rocks.

There remained only one minor task to overcome. We had the sounds of the bubbles, the hoses being dragged, the tanks clanging against rock and the ship's hull, the ampules doing their little waltz, etc. etc. What we did not have was the vocals -- the sounds of the divers inhaling. Dana Woods was way ahead of us on that one.

We would Foley the inhales out of the water and those sounds would follow Dana's magic loop through the pool and onto tape. Thus, realistic, underwater breathing!!! Ross took the roll of Robert Shaw, Michele Sharp as Jackie Bissett and I as Nick Nolte.

Michele also created Bissett's gasps and struggles with the giant eel in the movie's beginning and other undersea vocals later in the film.

Once the underwater Foley was completed, I returned to my editing room to begin cutting the Foley while Ross and Kitty Malone continued the recording of the "Land" Foley.

All in all, I will take to my grave the pride of having participated in a landmark Foley enterprise.

Q: I'll have to look at "The Deep" again because it's not quite clear to me what kinds of sounds you actually performed and miked underwater, and how much was recorded "dry" and then re-played through the underwater speakers.

FB: ALL underwater sounds were recorded "live" in the tank: bubbles, scrapes, clanks, hoses, etc. The only underwater sounds recorded outside the tank and fed back were the vocals, breathing etc.

Editor's Note: This "underwater worldizing" technique has been used a number of times since it was developed for "The Deep". Fairly recently it was used on "Alien Resurrection".  

Copyright © 2002 by Fred Brown & Rodger Pardee

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