Fonic provides Dolby Atmos to Christine Molloy & Joe Lawlor’s new film Baltimore.

Fonic audio post-production studio has been working closely with film makers, Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor on their new feature film Baltimore. The film is based on real events that took place on the 26 April 1974 when English heiress, Rose Dugdale and three comrades carried out an audacious armed art raid on Russborough House, Wicklow, during which 19 masterpieces were stolen in an effort to support the IRA’s armed struggle. The film plays out over the course of the days following the raid, when Rose is in hiding in a remote cottage with the works of art.

Barnaby Templer sound supervisor and director at Fonic worked with Christine and Joe during the development and writing stage of the project to provide an audio perspective of what could be achieved aurally with the storytelling as well as the capabilities offered by Dolby Atmos. Templer notes “To have the opportunity to work with Christine and Joe so early on in the process was a privilege. They both have a deep understanding of sound and the importance it has on their films. When I first read an early draft of the script. I was bowled over by how much descriptive sound was incorporated, it is quite an art to articulate sound in the written form! It was thoroughly enjoyable to be involved in the sound process from conception to completion, applying the subtle nuances and subliminal tonal elements of Baltimore’s sound world and helping drive the emotional and narrative journey of Rose Dugdale. It was decided early on that Baltimore would be perfect for Fonic to mix in our Dolby Atmos Room. The film demanded an immersive experience helping engage the internalization and subjectivity of Rose Dugdale to the audience. The creative use of Dolby Atmos further extenuated in contrasting the claustrophobic environment with vast exterior landscapes exposed to the elements.”

Baltimore used the full extent of what Fonic is able to offer a large feature production. The  vocal booth was used for ADR and voice over work and the facility’s dedicated foley studio, with support from award-winning foley artist Sue Harding, provided a wide range of sounds from the guns and bomb making equipment to the soft silk dresses worn by debutants.

Once all the elements were gathered together, re-recording mixer, Christopher Swaine then began work on premixing the film.  “Barnaby and I have worked closely with Christine and Joe on their films over the years, including their feature Rose Plays Julie, and have formed a strong collaborative working relationship. We created an early mix for Baltimore based on the palette Barnaby had worked on during the initial writing stages and as a consequence the mix required minimal tweaking after we presented it. We played about with the position of elements in the 3D space and experimented with the balance of the music composed by Stephen McKeon, when and where necessary. Stephen provided a vast array of stems giving us plenty of flexibility during the mixing process. Christine and Joe were very particular about how the sound was used to create drama, tension, pace and emotional elements subtly throughout the film. When we were happy with the balance of the mix at Fonic, we then took our session to Point1Posts large format mix stage for the final mix session. Point1Post is a leader in the latest offerings from Dolby Atmos, which was a significant advantage when it came to mastering the film, especially as this was the first feature film that Fonic has worked on using Dolby Atmos. I think it certainly helped to work with Christine and Joe right from the beginning as it ensured we were all on the same page from the start.”

Being able to work with talented filmmakers is a joy that Fonic regularly experiences. Building and maintaining relationships is positive for the creative process, clients and creatives trust Fonic as a source of knowledge and expertise, and as Baltimore demonstrates, ensures the highest level of creative audio storytelling. Even though Fonic are a post-production facility being involved early on during pre-production can have great benefits, especially as new technology and capabilities become available, and the post-production sound process becomes more and more advanced and complex. Both Christine and Joe noted the advantages of working with Fonic in this way.Having worked with Barnaby, Chris and the talents at Fonic in the past we knew we were in safe hands. Collaboration is at the heart of the filmmaking process and we value the relationship we have built up with Fonic over the years, from first working with the team on our debut feature Helen (2008) straight through to Baltimore (2023). Being able to work with them before we started shooting helped clarify the world of the film and the approach to storytelling in relation to sound and saved time when it came to the final mix. Dolby Atmos really is an exciting resource and we feel Baltimore shows how it can be used to manipulate sound in a subtle way even though we normally associate this technology with blockbuster superhero franchises.”

Baltimore had its World Premiere at the renowned and celebrated Telluride Film Festival 2023. It has also been chosen as one of 11 films in the Official Competition at this year’s BFI London Film Festival. The Best Film Award recognises “inspiring, inventive and distinctive filmmaking”. Showing on 6 October 2023, this will also be the film’s UK Premiere.

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Fonic’s audio post on Baltimore