Stunning new road-trip film from director Ben Perry
We’re entirely thrilled to reveal the work we’ve been slaving away on for director Ben Perry’s latest short film Offline Someday. We were commissioned to produce full original music score as well as top to bottom sound-design, audio-post and final mix.
The film for BMW and M & C Saatchi Los Angeles, tells the story of Shawn, a young guy living in downtown LA shackled to his phone and the constant, never ending demands of incoming messages. In an attempt to ‘rescue’ her brother from the merry-go-round of being online 24 hours a day, Shawn’s sister insists he come on a road-trip with her to re-find himself.
We spoke at length with the director about what the music should bring to the project and one of the over-riding emotions we kept coming back to was a sense of liberation and the music growing and awakening – mirroring the freedom the lead character gains by switching the phone off, getting off the grid and getting out into the world, throwing the weight off his shoulders.
Alongside this, we wanted the music to evoke that humbling feeling of the great outdoors – the classic American road-trip, without falling into tried and tested pastiche territory. So, as we often do, we looked for interesting ways to re-invent that sense of space and size.
We did this by building organic sounding instruments that would provide the simplistic yet very ‘real’ live-sounding ‘back to basics’ sort of feel we were looking for. We discussed the idea of the music sounding like a modern ‘players in a room’ vibe, not instruments on a computer. And we manifested this idea further by having no click track to record against – just simple one take performances – of the moment, again echoing the return to simplicity of the story, without too much studio trickery or the need for gridded quantization.
Below are some of the unusual instrumentation choices we used to achieve this, including percussion parts performed on an old unused shower tray, some vintage apple crates, a felt-backed office chair, a cat toy and a Bolivian charango amongst other things. These combined would create a beautifully unique, rich and engaging sound.
We also added size and drive, to underpin the motorbikes facilitating the freedom, via the use of a big electric guitar part in drop-D tuning, recorded through our lovely 1966 Westwood National combo amplifier. And for the big playout, we enlisted the help of senior producer Keith Bayley, on lap steel slide guitar to elicit just the right amount of ‘big country’ lift, coupled with an earthy string trio.
We discussed with the client a preference that we should also be able to tell the story through the sound design too. The advantages (aside of packaging the overall audio cost together) of one company looking after both music and sound are many, especially in terms of workflow and process, but moreover having a handle on both elements allows us to tailor each with the other in mind. So for example, we would be able to leave space in the musical arrangement in the bass, where we knew there would be big thrusty low engine sounds and likewise, where the sound design was less prevalent, we knew we could open the music up and bring it firmly to the fore. Working holistically with the overall bigger picture in this way allows a much more fluid and dynamic overall final mix. It allows us to lead and focus the listener’s ear where it’s important at any given moment in the story, whilst maintaining the greatest sense of volume and still space in the overall tracklay.
We delivered not only the full edit, but a series of cut downs including short form online mixes of 15, 30 and 60 seconds.
Director: Ben Perry
Director Rep: Jonathan Ker (Hobnob)
Production Company: York Productions, LA
Editor: James Demetriou @ Amuse The Butcher
Music: The Futz Butler . London
Sound-Design & Final Mix: The Futz Butler . London