A gentle shoreline sweeps past a pier where seagulls squawk and flutter. The camera rests on a quaint village caressed by the coastal shore, where chimney smoke welcomes the morning air. Footsteps on cobbled ground scrape from the distance to reveal a fisherman entering his workspace clutching a paper bag. Newspaper crinkles down upon a wooden surface with a fish slapped onto the print. Slithering a sharpened knife through the scales, the fish is cut and pierced with a steeled hook. Aged hands wash, water streams downward. The boat is prepared, ropes groan, crab pots shunt. The fisherman goes out to sea.
Giving life to this scene is The Secret World of Foley. This is a documentary that sheds light on the invisible artist and an unseen craft. A craft that director Daniel Jewel was introduced to when completing work on a previous short film; "I was chatting to the sound post-production team and they said "We are going to get the Foley done next." I had no idea what Foley was and when they explained to me that a 2-person team goes into a Foley studio and brings the film to life with sound effects timed to the movements of the actors, it just struck me as something inherently cinematic and magical and I wanted to know more." Even for those who are film enthusiasts, many of the roles in this multifaceted industry are left unknown or misunderstood. Who are those that are heard but not seen? That are voice but not speech? Texture but imperceivable?
Focusing on practitioners Peter Burgis and Sue Harding at Pinewood Studios, we peer behind the curtain revealing the tricks of cinema. It is credit to Daniel Jewel's craftsmanship as a filmmaker in his approach toward the content. Not crippled by the simplicity of interviews and verbal explanation, we are left in awe by the meticulous technique and overall passion both Peter and Sue display for their work. One that Daniel showcases with great care and affection in allowing the camera to record the feelings that unfold.
A Secret World of Foley feels more likened to a love letter of artistry than a documentation of topic whose spirit ascends throughout. A process that was handled with care as Daniel explained, "we filmed for 2 days in the fishing village in Clovelly in Devon in the U.K. and then cut it into rough cut film and then took it into the Foley studio for the Foley Artists to time their sound effects to. We then filmed for 2 days at Pinewood in the Foley studio making sure we covered all the tiny sound details they brought to the film. We then had a long post-production process to bring the two films to life and show off Pete, Sue and Glen's skills in the best way possible."
The oscillation between foley artist and fisherman is where the piece finds its strength in creating a perfect marriage of image and substance. Similarly, the fishermen begin their day much like Peter and Sue and this relationship continues to provoke a likeness between the two. It perhaps conveys a deeper concept of crucial roles within the constructs of a world, be it real or cinematic.
Exuding similar emotions toward their work emphasises this perspective even more so, and is credited to the Director of Photography. "The idea of the fishing village came from our DOP James Watson who is from Devon. He suggested Clovelly village as a great location to film in and we thought we would film a documentary about 'one day in the life of a fishing village' and that their work would give us lots of great sound opportunities for the Foley Artist to work with."
We find it a progressive way of connecting everyday life to the mystery of film. This is an important factor when creating content reflecting the industry toward an audience, where for many such a film could leave the feeling of disconnect and alienation. Already it is has proven to be a useful method where it has gathered a wide audience, most of which comment on their not knowing such a skill ever existed.
Daniel Jewel has managed to captivate our attention with an informative yet inventive film; stripping the documentary genre of all dialogue and having the confidence in granting the film to speak for itself. A road Daniel has walked down before with his narrative film Drone; leaving it to the audience to interpret the story through the use of overall atmosphere, aesthetics and cinema language. Such films can provide a tangible experience in an era where spectacle reigns supreme.
It was a joy to engage with a film where less was more and we all come away with a little more insight into the cinematic world we view from the outside.