• What are the topics in your focus when working for a thriller love story happening in the woods?

From the very beginning I knew this project was very special. It merges mystery and love story and every detail is important and performed very precisely. Watching previous films by Florin Șerban, I learned (and loved) his attention to presence of characters and environment. There aren’t many dialogue lines in the film and just a few music cues, so we needed to enhance both presence and environment in sound. 

The movie has very special pacing and our work was to take the audience into the forest, dive in its sound and accompany film characters, experiencing the nature. I collected a lot of recordings from similar places that the film was shot. We are always recording new sounds for every project and for this movie I did a few recording sessions in Polish mountains, to expand palette of sounds. It takes place in the fall, so from the very beginning we knew we don’t want to use a lot of wildlife sounds, there won’t be many “entertaining” sounds and all sound narration should be performed in very delicate way. 

For this project we were lucky to have an amazing Finnish Foley artist Heikki Kossi on board, who performed the part of Foley recordings. His contribution was very important because we needed to hear and understand emotional intention of characters walking, especially on off-screen parts, which he did in an absolutely amazing way. It is a very important part of sound for “Love 1. Dog”.

  • What were your creative challenges for this collaboration? 

Since the movie was shot on master shots, being in one place for longer periods of time needed the sound to point focus and lead the audience in unconscious way. There are a few great, extreme wide shots, where sound works as a camera focus puller, telling the story one event after another, so the audience discovers what’s happening in planned order. It was a very interesting approach what Florin together with the great Polish DOP Marcin Koszałka performed on the set, which we continued in sound designing and mix. 

Another important sound element, was the title dog. His relation with the main characters Simion and Irina (amazingly performed by Valeriu Andriuță and Cosmina Stratan) is very different and it evolves over time. We needed to build that in sound. Florin loves dogs (and so am I) and we put a lot of care to record or find right, emotional vocalizations for every scene. 

We also performed one session where we took studio ADR recordings of character’s screams and re-recorded them in the forest played back by the speaker, to pick this very special acoustics being surrounded by tress. We tried doing it by software reverbs, but it didn’t sound good enough, whereas worldizing them in real acoustics worked great.

Working on “Love 1. Dog”, we were adding emotional character to sounds but caring not to cross the suspension of disbelief line, especially since it’s not a genre movie.

  • How do you document your work in general and what are your inspiration resources? 

The biggest inspiration for me is just listening to the world we are surrounded with. Working of “Love 1. Dog” I found out how important it was to just know what bonfire, empty forest and all hiking related sounds are. I spent a lot of my childhood hiking in mountains and I still love it and try, as time allows. All those small details have tons of variations which can be used as storytelling elements. Now, when I’m working in film sound, I always try to have even a small recorder with me, or to take bigger set of microphones for my vacations, to keep all those memories in my sound library.  

Sometimes sounds taken out of context and placed in very different scenes work very emotionally. For example, there’s a scene in “Love 1. Dog” where I used the sound of geysers as a layer of wind, which added emotional character to the shot of the misty mountains.

  • Tell me about a specific scene in the movie that you enjoyed the most from your work perspective?

There are many scenes in the movie that I love and had a lot of fun working on, but to not make any spoilers I shouldn’t mention them. I loved cutting sounds for all scenes with the dog, of course. But I also enjoyed a lot even the simple scenes by the bonfire. We did a special recording session of embers, to pick up details and the joy of sitting by the fire in the evening. It’s something very small, but it puts you in the place and time with the character. Later in the film there is a more dramatic scene by the bonfire, where camera is sliding on a dolly, panning characters. We worked on it to enhance the temperature of the scene with the sound of fire, which allows to recept it emotionally in a subconscious way.