Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Researching the Foot Chase

I've recently been conducting some research for some film shorts I'm producing with some film-making friends. One of these films would consist of a intense foot chase through varying locations, which of course lends various expectations and possibilities for the soundtrack if the film gets produced. I will be keeping a diary of my research for these films here on the blog, so you can get an idea of all the processes that I consider when thinking about sound design for film.

For this particular film, the director and myself have been routing back through our film collections to find the pictures that have those classic chase moments - and we've come across some classics. One of my favourite foot chase scenes occurs in the first ten minutes of 'The French Connection', where two New York cops, played by Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider, chase a criminal through the streets. The soundtrack consists literally of footsteps, clothes moving and heavy breaths. Their is no music, so the pace of the scene and the tension for the audience is created solely through these very close up effects, drawing the viewer into the desperation of the chased to escape, and the hunger of the chasers to catch him, even though we view the action from a relatively wide angle. The French Connection also features one of the greatest car chases ever commited to celluloid, which you can watch here:

Next up, we headed straight for 'Tell No One'. For anyone who hasn't seen this film, it has quite possibly the most dramatic sequence of someone accessing their email you will ever see! We headed straight for our favourite sequence though; a foot chase which takes us across a busy motorway, through a street market, before culminating in the Parisian projects. The sound design, foley work and editing in this sequence is incredible; the way it cuts between scenes as we travel through the busy street markets and through restaurants, and the intense dynamics as the protaganist escapes the police and causes a multiple pile up on the motorway in the process. The attention to detail is superb ( just check out the sound of the police bike skidding on the floor!); and one of my favourite pieces of sound editing in films in recent times. The film itself is also exceptional; catch it before the penned American remake comes along in 2010. These two films have certainly wetted my appetite for working on a chase scene, and I look forward to any suggestions I recieve on what other source material I should check out. I shall leave you now with the sequence from 'Tell No One'; but only watch this if you don't want to spoil the film!

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