Casey: Sound is the Most Underrated Tool for Filmmakers

Ok, before you go on with the rest of this article I need you to stop what you’re doing for a few seconds and just listen to whats going on around you. Don’t think. Just listen. I’ll wait.

Alright cool now that those of you who actually cared enough to stop reading are back, let’s get to it. No matter where you are right now, the sound is one of the main things that sets the mood and feeling. Whether that be the low murmur of the COM Lounge or the loud thinking of angry Boston drivers as you read this on your phone walking down Comm Ave. Sound creates the world around you more than you notice day-to-day. And that’s why I think it is the most underrated tool when it comes to storytelling- in particular in filmmaking.

At this year’s Oscars, Dunkirk took home both the Sound Design and Sound Editing awards (yes, I was the only person I know who cared about those two awards) and is a perfect example to drive home my point. The movie begins with a small group of soldiers moves along a street. Throughout the beginning of this scene, there is an eerie silence. So much that you can hear the sound of the soldiers’ equipment ruffling and footsteps on the cobblestone paths, in addition to the fluttering of German leaflets, demanding surrender, to the ground. It creates a sense of calm and peace for the viewer, making them believe that the town the soldiers are in is abandoned, but that is shattered in a heartbeat with the quick but deafening sound of gunshots. Suddenly the previously steady music I noted scene has become louder and quicker, and the soldiers are running. 

Although there is a multitude of gunshots heard, very few bullets are seen. But they don’t need to be. The audience knows what that deafening sound is, and more importantly, what it means.

ImageNow you may think I’m thinking way too into this, but think about if Christopher Nolan had decided to do something different. What if the music had been ramped up from the beginning, creating tension from the very start. Then, change the gunshots a bit so that they are a little softer, and a little more spread out. Suddenly, they sound farther away, almost like warning shots, as opposed to an attempt on the soldiers’ lives. This gives a slightly different motivation as to why the soldiers are running, as now instead of the thought that they could die any second running through their head, they now simply believe that they should get out of the town as quickly as possible before they’re found. In addition, now the audience has less of a sense of tension and dread, and more one of thrill, feeling almost anxious about whether the soldiers will make it out of the town, on the edge of their seats.

That is the power of sound. It gives life to the things you see and creates the world around them. It changes the way you feel and experience a moment, whether you know it or not. So don’t just watch movies. Listen to them, too.

 

Casey: Boston is Not the Midwest

Seeing as this is college decision time for high school seniors, I thought I might share my experience.

I went to school and spent most of my time in Noblesville, Indiana, just north of Indianapolis. Noblesville (and all of Indiana, really) is a lot like Sacramento is described in Lady Bird. It was a great place to grow up, I made some of my closest friends, and I learned a lot. But for much of my life, it also felt like a cage and left me feeling like I was missing out on the world and life, while many of my classmates were completely settled on the idea of staying there their whole lives.

But luckily, I found a way out early on. My mom was a BU grad, and told me a lot of her experience going to school here, of all the people she met, great things she learned and did that she could never have in the small city outside of St. Louis she grew up in. From the first time I heard of it, I knew BU was where I wanted to be. So as trapped as I felt, I always had a way out in sight.

About a year and a half ago, as I began to decide which schools to apply to, I only visited two colleges: BU, and DePaul in Chicago. To comfort my parents and guidance counselor, I applied to a couple other schools, of course, but anyone who knew me knew where I wanted to be.

Now, I arrive at the present. My gamble paid off, and I now have nearly a year under my belt at the school I’ve wanted to go to since I was 4. BU has been all I hoped it would be. I’ve gotten to meet amazing people from all over (the best ones being in COM, obviously), experienced great things, and learned a lot about myself.

Looking back, this entire story and experience that occurred across 15 years of my life taught me some of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned and will be invaluable to me as I continue my college career.

First, trust your heart. It knows what you want and where you want to go, even when you don’t. I just knew deep down in my gut that BU was the right place for me, and would get me where I wanted to go in life. My heart knew it, so I never questioned it. College involves making a lot of decisions, and it can be extremely stressful trying to figure everything out, and it can be difficult to see what you truly want. But even if you don’t know, your heart does. Try listening.

Second, remember where you came from. I know I just spent this article ripping apart my home state, but its true. As I said, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many people this year at BU from all over the world, and have learned a lot from them. But that’s what you have to remember, just as you learn a lot by meeting all these great people, they also have a lot to learn from you. Where you come from shaped you and made you who you are. Embrace it. In the end, where you came from and how you grew from there is what will set you apart in college, and later, the world.