Premiering February 26, New Doc Showcases Audio Studio Talents In The True Crime Genre
Last Updated: February 27, 2018 7:17 pm GMT
(New York, NY--February 27, 2018) A powerful two-hour special “Jonestown: The Women Behind The Massacre,” which aired Monday, February 26 on A&E, (and repeats on March 5 and 6) focuses on the four women in Jim Jones’ inner circle who helped plan the 1978 Jonestown Massacre, one of the largest murder-suicide events in modern history -- and helping tell the story sonically was creative audio boutique HOBO who handled the film’s complex audio post and sound design.
The special explores the influence that Jones’ wife Marceline Jones and mistresses Carolyn Layton, Maria Katsaris and Annie Moore had on The People’s Temple and its tragic end.
Go-To Studio For True Crime:
Creatively, HOBO has made a name for itself in recent years as the go-to studio for documentaries in the true crime genre, having recently worked on the acclaimed Netflix docs “Voyeur” and “Amanda Knox,” as well as multiple series on the Investigation Discovery channel including “Evil Lives Here” and “My Dirty Little Secret.” Senior Engineer Chris Stangroom, who handled the project’s complex audio mix, says that true crime documentaries, an incredibly popular genre in film and TV currently, uniquely challenges sound designers and audio engineers to think about sound differently.
“True crime stories force you to realize that sometimes removing sounds is just as powerful as adding them,” Stangroom says. “These stories can be dark and simply hearing someone tell you something about it can be more impactful then if we added some dramatic audio hits. Sometimes less is more, but it takes talent and experience to know when to let the words tell the story simply, or when to push viewers emotions through music, sound design or other audio elements.”
Stangroom notes that one of those moments in this film occurs when the people involved with Jim Jones and his movement talk about how the parents at Jonestown were asked to bring their children to drink the cyanide Kool-Aid first. “I can’t even imagine that feeling,” he said, “so I decided to let that moment stand on its own without any audio flourishes. The words alone scare you like nothing else could. Less is very much more in that scene.”
Stangroom also noted that audio was an important creative consideration at the outset of production with Stangroom and HOBO Producer Mary Valentino meeting with Executive Producer Nicole Rittenmeyer and Post Supervisor Cole Metcalf of production company Every Hill Films, New York, early in the process to discuss the audio challenges.
Their specific concerns centered on one of the film’s story-telling conceits of found archival audio recordings of the three women at the center of the documentary that helped Jones carry out the mass suicide. Those “recordings” were actually created in the HOBO studios, with Valentino heading the casting of both 4 voiceover and 5 on-camera actors seen in the dramatic reenactments.
Stangroom adds he recorded the VO at full frequency and then went about making it sound degraded, like the audio was coming from a cassette tape recorded over 40 years ago. “For each separate character I did something a little different,” he says. “I even took one of the main voiceovers and recorded it down onto a physical cassette tape from an old boom box. The goal was to make the voices feel like they were actual recordings of these women telling their most intimate thoughts.”
Adding to the overall audio ambience was the intricately layered sound design composed by HOBO’s Senior Sound Designer Diego Jimenez, who created a dynamic bed of droning tones and synth sounds that add and lessen tension throughout the film.
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About HOBO Audio: HOBO is an audio post production company dedicated to creating an exceptional listening experience. With a growing staff and client list, HOBO has earned the trust of some of the most iconic brands and companies in the world. Make yourself at HOBO. https://www.hoboaudio.com/