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February 2018

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ound is a valuable and economical storytelling tool that can bring a lot to a budget-conscious indie film. Through creative sound, directors can help tell their stories without having to show the audience what's happening. For example, in The Ballad of Lefty Brown, di- rector Jared Moshe relies on sound to create an off-screen saloon fight. He didn't need to outfit an entire bar with glasses and bottles, tables and chairs, a piano and piano player, or hire extras as saloon patrons, who would all require costumes let's not forget. He didn't need to choreograph a brawl or use special effects. That whole scene he achieved through sound. Here Post goes behind-the-scenes of an array of indie films — Generation Wealth, The Ballad of Lefty Brown, Beirut and eHero, to find out how sound was used to help tell the story. GENERATION WEALTH What started as a photojournalistic observation of America's fixation on wealth and status has grown into a multi-national, multi-platform narra- tive, which includes museum exhibitions, a book and now a documentary film. It's a project that photographer/filmmaker Lauren Greenfield has been working on since 2008. In the documentary, Generation Wealth — which had its world premiere at Sundance in January — Greenfield explores how the values of materialism, celebrity and social status have spread across the globe. She travels from Los Angeles to places like Moscow, Iceland, Dubai and China to uncover the consequences of an insatiable desire to be wealthy. Supervising sound editor/sound designer Peter Albrechtsen, MPSE, at Offscreen in Copenhagen, Denmark ( says the first time he watched Greenfield's Generation Wealth he was stunned by the proj- ect's scope and content alike. "It's a multicultural documentation of the world's growing and scary obsession with wealth and materialism. Lauren [Greenfield] interviewed widely different peo- ple — celebrities, billionaires, authors, professors, bankers, strippers, musicians, fishermen, you name it. She has an amazing ability to get a hold of fascinating people with fascinating stories." According to Albrechtsen, Generation Wealth is told through Greenfield's still photography in combination with interviews. Albrechtsen helped the still images to come alive by adding in subtle, tasteful sounds as it was very important that the film felt real and naturalistic. There's also material that Greenfield recorded nearly a decade ago, which has "a very rough texture but also a special lo-fi charm," says Albrechtsen. "Lauren wanted to use that dynamic in the sound — going from something that's very gritty and dusty to some- thing that's big and flashy. In a couple of places, it's almost dreamlike in its abstract textures." Early on, Albrechtsen worked with assistant sound designer Mikkel Nielsen to find sounds for the still images. Since the film explores locations all around the world, they needed very specific ambiences from different countries. Albrechtsen and Nielsen were able to track those down through their many international connections. "The Internet has made it possible to get a hold of exotic recordings from pretty much anywhere on the globe," says Albrechtsen. He also worked with Foley artist Heikki Kossi at H5 Film Sound in Kokkola, Finland (, who performed sounds that gave the different characters a special identity and brought focus to small, intimate details in the images. Albrechtsen says, "It's amazing how a few touches of subtle Foley gets you so much closer to the characters. Foley is magic." During the mix at Skywalker Sound in Marin County, CA (, Greenfield, re-recording mixer Pete Horner, and Albrechtsen made the decision to forgo sound on some of the images, but designing sound for every image S Generation Wealth is a documentary that looks at America's fascination with wealth and status. Albrechtsen brought the photos in Generation Wealth (below and right) to life through sound. Peter Albrechtsen

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