In Netflix’s new movie “The Guilty”, Jack Gillenhall plays Joe, who happened to be on duty at a street police desk. We meet him in the morning when California falls into another wildfire and Joe is limited to responding to the 9-1-1 call. When he gets a call from a kidnapped woman named Emily (Riley Someone), Joe jumps into action. As the film’s action is performed through Joe’s headset, the sound design of the film is placed at the front and center, which acts as the driving force of the story.
Director Antoine Foucault assigned his longtime collaborators to create his sound team, which included recording mixer and sound designer David Esparza and Mandel Winter as supervising sound editor.
Winter explains, “It started with Jake and the cast of the set, but the callers were all distant. It was designed that way because of the epidemic. We came up with a conference call that was piped directly into Jack’s headset so he could listen and act against the actors.” .
Providing voice work like Keough, Peter Sarsgaard, Ethan Hawke, and Paul Dano, sound designer David Esparza was tasked with creating a sonic element surrounding the vocal performance so that listeners believe the call is coming from the streets of Los Angeles rather than an actor’s home.
The epidemic meant the actors were working from home, the production audio of being on a set could not be captured in a common way. Esparza says everything had to be created from scratch, with no audio tracks and just voice. “The shaking of the phone, the cradling of the phone, the moving of it from one hand to the other, even that small subtle movement or the movement of someone on the bed, all of these little details helped create this illusion that these people existed in this environment. And this movement It actually happened on the other side of the phone.
Achieving that familiar obscure scratch of an activity performed over a telephone requires extensive testing and error, multiple passes, and expert manipulation of sonic bandwidth.
Esparza added, “We had to walk through realistic listening on the phone, and despite being visceral enough, it was necessary to tell that story in detail on the other end of the phone.”
In order to create a rich and textured sound design for the film, every element present was considered in detail. Outside of the technology, from the point of view of storytelling, the team tried to jest as much excitement as possible to convey the idea of chaos, with obvious things like the siren going off in the background and the presence of wind. Esperza said there are more subconscious things in it, such as the low roar of the van giving that feeling of fear, choosing the right engine for the emotional quality of the danger or the mesmerizing nature of the windshield wipers.
An important part of word design was also exploring Joe’s emotional state through the words around him.
“Antoine wanted to give the impression that the city was getting out of control. And that feeling permeates the film in general with what happens to the character that speaks to Joe and his own mentality, ”Winter said.
As the story progresses, Joe becomes more fascinated with his mysterious caller and is determined to save him. Excitement is created – which began with soft words becoming sharper, more visual and more appealing, which was designed in the winter to increase the emotion in performance.
“The word gives us a chance to get inside Joe’s head. It represents this huge pressure that he is under. We used instruments like ringing in the ears, or the absence of sound to give a subtle, thematic weight at the moment, ”Esparza said.