Production Sound & Video

Fall 2018

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37 Ron (John David Washington) gives Flip (Adam Driver) his official member card of the KKK. mixed cleanly, Kunin dropped the song to capture the dialog and used a thumper to aid the beat. Music is a big part of Lee's storytelling. Besides the musical soundtrack that includes "Too Late to Turn Back Now" by Eddie Cornelius and "Oh Happy Day" by Edwin Hawkins, the director tapped Terence Blanchard (Malcom X, 25th Hour) for its score. "When it comes to writing music, I let the film tell the story," says Blanchard. "The first thing I thought about when I saw a cut was Jimi Hendrix playing the National Anthem on guitar. Being an African-American, you're constantly bombarded with issue of bigotry every day. This story is a reaffirmation of what we're going though. Jimi was a primal scream for all of us, so it's why the electric guitar plays a prominent role in the sound of the score." Flip, now deep in the local Klan chapter, attends meetings at the home of Felix (Jasper Pääkkönen), a follower who wants to put words into action. It's here the undercover detectives learn Felix is planning a plot to spoil another activists meet- ing; one that involves a character played by Harry Belafonte, an icon of the Civil Rights movement. Felix's residence, a practical location found upstate in Ossining, New York, was small and scenes were filled with multiple actors and multiple cameras. At times, squeezing in a boom operator was not possible, especially when Felix puts Flip through a lie detector test in a broom closet of a room. It meant sound had to rely on plant mics and lavs to cover the dialog. In other tight locations, gaps in the wall allowed to place the boom in the room but not Goodermote. Leading up to the climax of the movie, picture intercuts two different story plots. On one side, you have Flip being initiated into the Ku Klux Klan, where a crowd gleefully cheers during a screening of 1915's The Birth of a Nation. On the other, a group from Patrice's African-American student union peace- fully sits around Belafonte as he delivers the most galvanizing moment in the movie; a recounting of the lynching of Jesse Washington he witnessed as a young man. "To see him was a very powerful moment," says Kunin. "Working on that scene had so much gravity to it, we took extra precaution in our approach." In recording Belafonte's dialog, sound let the cam- eras set up its shots, then they strategically placed an extra in front of a plant mic for additional recording. Though backdropped in the mid-'70s, the film is not only about the past but about the state of how we're living today. Nothing couldn't be more evident than the film's final sequence; a col- lection of uncensored videos from the Charlottesville protests. Lee left the material untouched. "What you hear is the sound straight out of the smartphones and online videos. There's no foley or effects added," says Fleischman. "We only mixed in the score and it plays against the raw sound really strongly." Blanchard notes, "That's classic Spike. He makes a statement about what's going on in our country and leaves you there to think about it." Left: David Duke (Topher Grace) welcomes a new chapter of members. Above: Ron (John David Washington) spies on Felix's residence.

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