More sound pros from top TV dramas talk about creating the quiet American West in 'Godless' and making the sounds of a bustling Russian train station in 'Homeland.'
Set in the American West during the 1880s, Godless was shot on location outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. For supervising sound editors/designers Wylie Stateman and Eric Hoehn, the work started with an overnight trip. "We slept in the sets, so we were there 24 hours a day. It really built our understanding of the place, to make this a dust bowl-like experience. It's a very harsh climate," says Stateman. "We recorded in the canyon where the town was built to get the echoes. We also fired guns and recorded wind and other atmospheric conditions." Adds Hoehn: "The most interesting thing was realizing how much silence dominates much of the day. It became our goal to record how much wind would interact with the structure; for instance, the banging of windows."
What does a baby monster from the Upside Down sound like? Sound designer Craig Henighan (who won the Emmy in 2017 for Stranger Things' first season) was tasked with figuring that out for season two. Dart is an infant monster adopted by Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo). "Initially, he's cute. I ended up using my own voice for the majority of his sound, recording though different plug-in programs," says Henighan. "I'd perform gurgles, grunts, roars and then go cherry-pick the performance." As the monster got older, Henighan started to do a mashup with the Demogorgon from season one and some howler monkeys. "Dart is a cousin of the Demogorgon, so it needed to sound [like] the same language," he adds. For the show's other creature, the Shadow Monster, he used sounds from insects, bugs and even a tornado: "The idea was to make it ominous and also fit in the landscape of the show."
Homeland's globe-trotting created the biggest challenge for the sound team. "They are in Washington, then Virginia, then a train station in Russia. You are starting from a blank slate each time," explains supervising sound editor Craig A. Dellinger. The scene set at a train station in Russia was actually filmed in Budapest, which added to the work. "You can't use any of the production sound in the station because it's the wrong language. And the dialogue, you have Hungarian PA announcements in the background, so we had to create all of that," he says, adding that they had to research everything — including the train noise and sirens — for authenticity and then used the sound library at Sony Pictures. "We recorded Russian speakers on an ADR stage as well as the crowds," adds Dellinger, noting that the final mix was accomplished at Technicolor.
This story first appeared in a June stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.