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Rare chicken rescue

By John Willsteed


Sound design for documentary is an under-researched field. The specific context of representation of emotional or mental states is particularly open to clichéd treatment. Such treatment in the media often ‘perpetuates inaccurate or negative assumptions about mental health issues in the wider community’ (Francis et al 2005: 11) by employing, for example, either jarring sound/music combinations to signify ‘madness’ or overtly saccharine music to educe sympathy. This project adopted a practice-based approach to discovering a considered aesthetic treatment designed to elicit a more empathetic audience response.\ud \ud A more discriminating engagement with the intentions of the film was cultivated by abandoning both the ‘representational naturalism’ and the ‘distilled, evocative realism’ of documentary sound design (Davies 2007: 18) in favour of a more lyrical or musical approach. To achieve this we manipulated perspective, tonal character and perceptions of space in the final mixing stage.\ud \ud The project was funded by the Film Australia National Interest Program, ABC TV and the Pacific Film and Television Commission. As a crucial contributor to the aesthetic of the project I was nominated in the funding application, and ultimately received an AFI Award for Best Sound in a Documentary in 2008. The film was honoured by The Film Critics Circle of Australia, The Slamdance Film Festival in Utah and The Sydney Film Festival. It has been favourably reviewed in national and international print media (The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, among others) as well as online film/culture zines and blogs

Year: 2008
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