×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘BlacKkKlansman’ Dialogue Mix Strove for Accuracy

Veteran ADR mixer David Boulton has some 225 film and TV credits, including such high-profile projects as “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Life of Pi,” “Planet of the Apes” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” but it’s his long-running collaboration with Spike Lee that’s arguably his most impressive accomplishment.

Boulton began working with Lee back in the ’80s on “School Daze” and has worked with the director ever since. Their latest collaboration, Cannes Grand Prix winner “BlacKkKlansman,” about an African-American detective who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan, is set for release Aug. 10 by Focus Features.

“We’re both about the same age, and we’re both from New York,” says Boulton of their relationship. “We’re like a well-oiled machine by now. I love working on his projects because he loves sound and really understands it.”

Lee says sound is “hugely important” in all his films. “I’m very involved, and I always put as much as emphasis on sound and music as I do on the acting and editing and cinematography and so on,” he says. “It’s absolutely crucial, and ADR is a big part of that.”

Automated dialogue replacement, the practice of re-recording dialogue in a studio in synchronization with the picture, isn’t something actors love doing. Boulton points out that ADR can occur six months after the shoot. “And you’re not that character anymore,” he explains. “You’re not on set with all that adrenaline, yet you’re trying to match the original performance — and make it even better if possible.”

The director’s coaching helped the process. “Spike was at all the sessions, directing the actors and making it all as fun and easy as possible for them,” says Boulton.

The sessions were mainly held at C5 Sound in New York. For the handful that had to be completed in Los Angeles, the director sometimes traveled
but sometimes stayed in his home
base of New York and collaborated remotely, listening in and monitoring the work. Lee, says Boulton, took his trademark passionate approach to the film’s material.

“One of the big challenges was keeping dialogue topical, as it’s set in the ’70s,” says Boulton. “We had to pay very close attention to the language and phrases that people used back then, including all the slang. And Spike finds humor in stuff you wouldn’t expect him to, like racial slurs.”

Boulton notes that the film’s outdoor scenes needed more ADR than did the indoor ones. “You usually have problems with production sound because of traffic and other noise,” he says. “And crowd scenes, like those outside the courtroom, needed work.”

Another challenge was just keeping it simple, he adds. “You want to maintain the original performance, and depending on the angles and shots in a scene, you can go in and
work on just a phrase or even a word,” he says. “ADR is a necessary evil of the movie business, and it’s been around forever. In the old days we’d redo entire scenes, but we’re far better at it now. When it comes to ADR, less is definitely more.”

More Artisans

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • ILM John Kroll Star Wars VFX

    Sci-Tech Awards Honored After Effects, Photoshop Developers' Major Impact on VFX

    On Feb. 9, two weeks and a day before the Oscars, the Motion Picture Academy held its annual Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards — sometimes referred to as the nerd Academy Awards — honoring achievements in motion picture technology.  The ceremony included no surprise winners — Sci-Tech kudos are announced in advance, and the achievements [...]

  • Steven Spielberg Lee Orloff Mary Jo

    Cinema Audio Society Honors Steven Spielberg, Lee Orloff and Mary Jo Lang

    At the Cinema Audio Society Awards on Feb. 16, CAS is honoring a trio of artists. The event take place at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown hotel.   Steven Spielberg, Filmmaker Award It’s hard to overestimate the influence of the three-time Oscar winner, a towering figure in Hollywood for decades. A prolific director-producer-screenwriter, who also co-founded [...]

  • Alex Honnold being interviewed in El

    Cinema Audio Society Nominees Added Audio Realism to Film Action

    As the Cinema Audio Society heads toward the 55th CAS Awards, its nominees, who have created immersive and intoxicating work, agree that sound is becoming the new frontier in storytelling. “Today’s directors understand the importance of sound from the start,” says Doc Kane, nominated for “Black Panther,” “Incredibles 2” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” “Looping [...]

  • American Society of Cinematographers

    Cinematographers Blast Academy Response on Oscar Telecast Exclusions

    Cinematographers opposing the decision to curtail four Oscar presentations on the telecast have blasted the Academy’s latest attempt to assuage concerns about the move. The group responded Thursday to officers of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ board of governors, sending a letter Wednesday night to its membership, asserting that no award category [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content