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Sounds of Solitude: The Final Mix

Heart of Now continued mixing at Snap Sound – with weeks of meticulous sound design and mixing coming to a close in time for the private December cast and crew screening. The attention to detail and the meticulous nature of a final 5.1 mix requires patience, collaboration, and love of the process.  Zach and Justin possess the qualities and integrity that any filmmaker who is passionate about their project wishes for in their mixers.

Zach Seivers in the driver’s seat behind the computer, with J. M. Davey as his co-pilot at the mixing board.  Editor Jamie Cobb and writer/director Zak Forsman were behind them in the sweet spot, accompanied by producer Kevin K. Shah with actor Marion Kerr (on screen).

The last two reels contain the close of the film, key elements of the third act – arguably the most important part of any film.  Given that we shot the last few reels of the film deep in the heart of a desert landscape, there is a unique “near perfect” nature to the sound and dialogue that was captured in the absolute stillness of the vast desert.  But to re-create this sense of space once more in the mixing bay – the collaborators had to trust their ears and be careful not to over-broadcast feelings and emotions to the audience through an over-designed soundscape (something we see too often in films and TV). Truly great cinema requires attention, and typically these gimmicks are designed to focus our attention in films that are lack any ability to do so. In the case of Heart of Now, the culmination of the film itself is what holds our focus, so these four collaborators worked tirelessly to find the right tones in the language of nature – something that could be felt instead of consciously registered.

Sound design and a final mix can be incredibly complex, but ultimately to the ears it must sound honest, and resonate in tune to what is happening (rather than what we as filmmakers want an audience member to feel). Solitude and desolation calls for a very meticulous ambient design (one that is present but not forced, or “constructed”).  To create a heightened sense of the moment – Zach and Justin experimented with different spatial sounds of silence, as well as countless subtle recorded wind and ambience effects – first building, then deconstructing a bed of sounds – ultimately leaving a haunting sonic experience that is in its purest form. A hard-to-describe bed of sound waves that resonate and recede deeply within the viewer (without beating them over the head with it).

The above describes simply one example of the hundreds of choices and decisions these collaborators have had to pursue in the last few weeks at Snap Sound. With Zak and Jamie’s guidance in motivating sounds through the intentions and emotions of the characters and moments – combined with Zach and Justin’s artistic and professional sensibilities throughout the process – the four collaborators broke what this filmmaker considers is new ground in transcendent dramatic storytelling with the ending of Heart of Now.

Having Zach Sievers on set in the desert capturing the sounds and dialogue as it happened, and later in the mixing bay at Snap Sound with his partner Justin, has benefited this film immeasurably. Sabi Pictures is excited to have our friends at Snap Sound bringing the creative process on Heart of Now to a close, and are grateful for what they are bringing to the film.  

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