Since we launched The Terrace Club a couple of months ago we have received incredible support on it. Our member base is amazing and we wanted to share the stories of some of the Terrace Club members.
First up is Brent Kiser. Brent is based in Los Angeles and in addition to being a big soccer fan, his day job is pretty amazing. We sat down with him to hear a little bit more about what he does, who his favorite soccer player is and about what it’s like to get to create some fart sounds for his job.
My name is Brent Kiser and I am the owner and operator of Unbridled Sound. We are a post sound company. We do sound effects. Most people think I do music, I do not. I go out and record farts and explosions and put them into movies.
How did you get into sound effects?
When I was in high school I was a DJ. I loved being a DJ. I loved scratching and battling and shit like that. But I realized quickly that it was moving away from just mixing two songs together and more about being a producer. That really didn’t appeal to me. I was going to school at the Savannah College of Art & Design and they offered a sound design major. They said you could blow shit up and record it.
“I was like word? This is a thing? OK. I’m in.”
So I went through that program and started working for a bunch of other guys when I got out of school. One of the guys I worked for was Dane Davis who did all The Matrix stuff. He was a big inspiration and really taught me how to “cut wide.”
What does “cut wide” mean?
When we cut a door for example, you don’t just go and get one sound effect and lop that in. I have to cut in the sound of the latch. The handle being moved. I gotta cut in the actual material of the door opening. So if it’s a wood material, you hear the wood sound and then you hear the hinge creak coming out to match the motion of the door opening . If they open the door and let it go quickly I need to make sure the sound of it hitting the wall is right. So these are the little details that I have to put in to make you believe that it was an actual door and not just a movie set door making that sound.
Are you involved during the filming portion or do you get everything handed to you after the fact?
Well, in an ideal world I get a script before they shoot. Because I want to do the breakdown of the script of where interesting sounds could be picked up. To save money and budget and for artistic purposes, sometimes I go out on set to record audio. If there is a jet or a boat or something like that I need to get those sound. Otherwise I would have to go and spend crazy amounts of money to get my hands on those things. Usually what happens is once shooting is done, all assets are given to the picture editor and ideally I come on to things at this point. I’ll feed the picture editor sound effects and sound design ideas while they are in the editorial.
Do you play a role in when music comes into the film and when it fades out? Is that part of what you do with the sound?
A lot of that will be picked out in the picture editorial. They’ll start roughing out their ideas. They will put temporary music in there because they need music to be in those spots. They need that in there to see how the edit will breathe and feel and move. Sometimes I’ll get in at this point and offer some ideas about how to bring the music in or fade it out and let it breathe. Sometimes I’m a little bit like a Sherpa helping them up the sound mountain.
So you worked on “Swiss Army Man” that was just released can you talk a little bit about that?
Yeah Swiss Army Man is the most ridiculous and amazing project I have ever worked on. The directors Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan are some of the most creative and sweetest people. I would work for them the rest of my life and I would be a happy camper. They are really team oriented. It felt like a team. It felt like back in the day when you played ball. Everybody got along. We did the sound editorial for this movie in three weeks. And the mix in two weeks. Usually on big feature films you get a couple months for editorial and a couple months for mixing. So we did it in no time at all.
They were very involved in the sounds. They were the ones that right after shoot and right before picture editorial – me, Andrew Twite, and the directors did a six hour fart recording session to build a fart library for the picture editorial team to have so they knew which sound to put in and which farts were working timing wise. They didn’t want comedic farts. I mean they wanted the farts to be funny but not like whoopee cushion sounds. We needed like airy farts and underwater farts for the butt jet.
Our big thing is we’re an invisible art. If you notice us we’ve done it wrong most of the time.
Which means a lot of times we have to figure out how to push the story and push the audience into a direction that the director wants. Take for example – There is a little girl standing out in a field. And we hear all these nice sounding pretty birds that I have put in there. That makes you think it’s going to be a sweet thing with this little girl and these birds. If I take those birds out and put in one or two crows, you will be like “girl run, something is coming!” Nothing has changed except for the birds. That’s how I’m subverting you into thinking about what is coming in the movie.
So sound helps drive the narrative?
Exactly. Were the bastard child of film but we still really help move those things around. We help you focus in certain situations. Which is actually a big conversation taking place right now that revolves around how to put narratives into virtual reality and how were going to get people to focus in on certain things and that is going to be directed through sound.
As a sound person, do you think the sound of the crowd in a soccer stadium helps drive the narrative and overall feel of the game?
Oh yeah. Take that example of the little girl. If I showed you a soccer field and I inserted boos or hisses versus inserting songs or cheers or even the silence you get before someone takes a penalty, it would change things quite a bit. That’s one of the beautiful things about going to a live soccer event. You feel that energy and you get immersed in the game in a different way. That’s what sound does for you, it immerses you in a situation. If it’s just coming out of a TV in front of you the experience is different.
Lets talk about when Messi walked up to take that penalty and the quiet of the stadium just makes the hair stand up on the back of the neck. And then him missing and the agony of defeat and at that moment you don’t hear a thing. That’s how the narrative is driven.
Sound is basically seeing the game with people. Without people it’s very one dimensional. But with people it becomes very three dimensional in space. And that’s what sound does.
I grew up playing soccer. I didn’t play high school soccer because being a good Kentucky boy you have to play basketball. But going to art school was great because there were so many international students and that’s when I really started to love international leagues besides just following the Premier League or watching the World Cup every four years. I had a lot of German friends so I started following the Bundesliga. I’m one of those guys that is a big Bayern fan – so deal with it. I love Bayern. I am a Germany and Bayern fan.
I’m still trying to find my heart in Germany a little bit because Klose left. And Klose was my dude. My one soccer jersey that I will wear everywhere is my Klose Germany jersey. You can walk into any bar anywhere with that jersey. Even if people hate Germany, nobody hates Klose. They see the Klose Germany and I’m good.
Any new upcoming projects you can talk about?
Yeah I have two new projects coming up quickly. One is Lake Bells feature “What’s the Point.” It’s a film about marriage. Given that I have been married for ten years she gets a lot of things dead on. We’re really excited about that one.
The other one that is just going to be strange and weird and just amazing and is called Dream Corp LLC that is coming out on Adult Swim. The director is Daniel Stessen the EP’s are Stephen Merchant and John Krasinski and those guys are hysterical. This is literally like next level, jaw dropping amazing stuff. It’s half live action and half waking life animation.
Is this type of project present different scenarios for what you do?
Yeah. The cool thing it does is gives a lot more freedom. It creates a lot more work because when were in the dream we have to replace every thing and we have to reimagine the physics of the world. The voice doesn’t sound normal, it needs to sound a certain way. When somebody is outside of the universe and they are talking into these animated dream sequences the voice has to be modulated. So we have to be very mindful. All the dialogue in the dreams has to get re-recorded so they can be manipulated and treated without any problems.
So kind of like when people use a filter on Instagram to alter their look or the feel of the photo?
Hahaha! Exactly. If there was an Instagram filter for sound, that’s what we do.
As a young dude you won an Emmy Award.
Oh yeah. When I was 25 I won an Emmy for my work with Ridley Scott and Tony Scott for my work on the History Channels “Gettysburg.” And that was ridiculous. Mama is happy I went to art school now. It was completely out of the blue because I’m out of the studio system. I do a lot of indie work. This was seven years ago and that award opened the door for me to be a sound supervisor on projects at 25 years old and people didn’t think it was just cute or a novelty. Most sound supervisors are in the ier late 30s, or 40s or 50s. They are not in their 20s. So that was really great and made me bonafide.
Isn’t there Oscar chat about Swiss Army Man ?
Daniel Radcliffe has brought that up. He thinks it should be nominated. He said he feels the original music should be nominated.
And this is our first big theatrical feature. Like this is the one that will be released where anybody can go see it.
We’ve recently been getting in this niche of odd, weird comedy projects and if I could do this work for the rest of my life, I would be so good. Life’s about giggles and having a good time and being a little strange and I’ve been lucky enough to fall into that.