Foley Artist
Leslie Bloome has created subtle sound effects for scores of documentaries,
including Heidi Brandenburg Sierralta and Matthew Orzel’s award-winning film
about environmental degradation in Peru.

Westchester, New
York—When Two Worlds
, winner of the World Cinema documentary prize for Best First
Feature at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, focuses on the alarming and sad
conflict between indigenous people of the Peruvian rainforest and corporations
bent on exploiting the region through mining, drilling and clear cutting. First
time directors Heidi Brandenburg Sierralta and Matthew Orzel tell the story of
a local leader, forced into exile for resisting the destruction of Amazonian
land, and shed light on a crisis that has implications for the entire world. The
film screens this month in DC as part of AFI film festival and will have
its World  theatrical premiere at Film Forum in New York City on August
17, released by First Run Features. 
The realism, immediacy and emotional power of the film
benefit from a studio caliber soundtrack that includes inspired Foley work from
New York’s Alchemy Post Sound. Foley Artist Leslie Bloome, Mixer Ryan Collison,
Second Foley Artist Jonathan Fang, and Foley Editor Nick Seaman produced a host
of intricately crafted sounds to add realism to rainforest environments, street
demonstrations, oil pipelines and other scenes.

Alchemy Post Sound has provided Foley services for dozens of
documentaries. It’s work that requires a keen ear and a soft touch, and, if
it’s done right, it should pass unnoticed by the audience. “You want the Foley
to sit in the mix like natural sound elements,” explains Bloome. “On an action
film, Foley is often loud and proud. We recreate every movement the actors
make…everything they touch or grab, every footstep. But on a doc, while you
still want to bring the scene to life, you want to do it in a way that’s
transparent. That’s very difficult.”

For When Two World’s
, Bloome’s first step was
to review the film with notes provided by the supervising sound editor
detailing scenes that needed Foley enhancement. The film includes scenes of public
demonstrations and environmentalists working deep in the jungle that were shot
quickly under challenging conditions. Production sound was often of poor
quality or missing.
Bloome points to a scene showing police firing tear gas
canisters at indigenous protesters. The sounds of the tear gas guns were
missing from the production footage so Bloome worked with the film’s sound
effects editor to recreate them. “It was obvious that the effects editor should
do the actual gun shots, but it wasn’t so clear how to make the sounds of the
canisters hitting the ground and rolling,” he recalls. “When the can stops
rolling, it spins and so the sound of the spray has a Doppler effect.  There needed to be movement in the spray.”
Both Bloome’s crew and the effects editor created sounds for
the spinning tear gas canisters. They were blended together during the mix to
produce the final effects.
Although realism is the goal, the actual work of producing
natural sound often requires creative imagination. Bloome notes that while he
has not visited the Peruvian jungle, he was able to draw from his personal
experience in reimagining its rich and exotic soundscape. “I’ve done a lot of
hiking and mountain biking, and I’ve been to the rainforest in Mexico,” he
observes. “You get a good sense for how things should sound by going through
life and listening to your natural environment. I store sounds in my head and
use them when I’m recreating something I see in a picture.”
One scene that required special sound treatment shows oil
workers traipsing through a shallow riverbed to investigate a leaky pipeline.
The oil mixed with river water had turned to the ground into a thick ooze.
“There is a moment when one of the workers is using a stick
to poke at the crude oil, which was topped with leaves and other bio matter,”
Bloome recalls. “When I look at a scene like that, I use my imagination to
break it down into layers of sound. One sound wouldn’t work. It needed layers
of leaves and tree branches. The squish of the oil. Then another layer of
sweetening with heaviness to make it work. At that point, we’re not just
selling the scene, we’re selling the idea of the damage to the rainforest. That’s
when our job becomes interesting.”
In the finished soundtrack, Bloome’s sounds of muck sit below
the dialogue and narration. Yet they help to subliminally shape the audience’s
view of the events and story. “The textures we create help bring those moments
into reality,” Bloome says. “Documentaries are reality. They are true stories
of what is going on in the human world. To create sounds that fit those stories
is amazing…and a lot of fun.”
About Alchemy Post
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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