Foley Artist
Leslie Bloome recreates the knock-down-drag-out sound of the golden age of
stuntmen for Jesse Moss’ new documentary.

Westchester, New York—Alchemy Post Sound
provided Foley services for The Bandit,
director Jesse Moss’ exhilarating documentary about Burt Reynolds, the late
director and stuntman Hal Needham and the making of the iconic 1977
action-comedy Smokey and the Bandit. Working
under the direction of Supervising Sound Editor/Re-Recording Mixer Tom Paul,
Foley Artist Leslie Bloome and his crew recreated the sounds of brawling
stuntmen, a rocket-propelled car and 100-foot body falls to accompany the
film’s mind-blowing stunts and action scenes. The Bandit made its world premiere to glowing reviews at this
year’s SXSW Film Festival.

Alchemy has collaborated with Paul on a numerous projects,
including Cartel Land, Weiner and The E-Team.   “Every time I book Leslie and his
team on a show, I breathe a sigh of relief, because I know I’ve secured a solid
element for my mix,” Paul says. “If my next thought about Foley is to push the
fader up at the mix, I can trust that it will be just right.    They
are truly a well-oiled, and very experienced machine.”    
For most documentaries, Bloome aims to make the Foley effects
as realistic as possible, and subtle enough to blend seamlessly with production
sound.  The subject matter of The Bandit, however, cried out for a bit
more creative license. “It’s a story about stuntmen,” notes Bloome. “It ought
to sound bigger than life. There are moments where stuntmen are taking brutal
hits and we thought, ‘let’s make them a little harder than they would have been
in real life.’ When stuntmen are flying through windows, it should sound
painful. When a guy jumps off a building aiming for a horse…and misses, it’s
got to hurt. We took it a little over the top.”
Bloome, who works his magic in a
purpose-built Foley stage at Alchemy’s facility in New York, points to a
scene depicting a classic Hal Needham stunt. Needham falls over the side of a
hill, rolls down an embankment, drops into a river and floats away. “That scene
was all MOS (shot without synchronous audio),” he recalls. “We had to recreate
each moment: breaking through the trees; rolling down the hill;  rocks, sand, dirt and other debris; the big
splash when he lands in the water; the water lapping against the body as it
floats downstream.”
Bloome, Recordist Ryan Collison and Second Foley Artist Jonathan
Fang also recreated the sound of one of Needham’s most famous non-movie stunts:
his 1979 attempt to break the sound barrier in a rocket-propelled car dubbed
the H.M.I. Motivator. When braking, the car’s parachute failed to deploy,
leaving Needham skittering across the mud lake desert at 350 mph. In this
instance, the roar of the engine and the rush of the tires serve to underscore
Needham’s outsized personality. “Imagine the adrenalin rush,” Bloome says. “It
was awesome.”
Not all of the Foley work for the film was quite so raucous.
Bloome also produced atmospheric elements for interview segments and archival
scenes.  Those moments required a more
nuanced sound treatment. “There’s a scene where Burt Reynolds is teaching an
acting class,” he recalls. “And, there was a need for footsteps as the actors
walk around the stage, but it couldn’t distract the audience. They need to sit
deep in the mix, feel right and be in the right perspective.”
“Creating perspective is a big part of our job,” he adds.
“It’s about understanding mic placement and, on the engineering side,
understanding how to blend mics.”
Paul says that Alchemy not only brought skill to the
project, but also great taste. “They bring the invaluable ingredients of
passion and true enthusiasm to every project,” Paul says. “That’s the creative
genius of their work.”
The Bandit not
only tells the tale of one of the most successful movies ever made, it also
pays tribute to the bravado stuntmen like Needham brought to the screen in an
era before digital effects. “It was a great film to work on…outright fun,” says
Bloome. “Smokey and the Bandit was
one of the movies I grew up with…long before I knew what Foley was…and to be
walking footsteps for that film…that was excellent!”
About Alchemy Post Sound
Alchemy Post Sound is a 3,500 square foot, dedicated Foley
studio designed specifically for Foley by resident Foley Artist Leslie Bloome.
The company’s Emmy Award-winning staff has created sound for numerous major
feature films, long-running television series, independent films and popular
games. Alchemy’s services also include music recording, live performance, video
production, ADR, and sound design.
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