The American film ‘Free Solo’, nominated this year for the Oscar for Best Documentary, counts on the technical file with two Portuguese names: Joana Niza Braga and Nuno Bento, from the sound team.
Joana Niza Braga and Nuno Bento, both 27, respectively, are foley mixer and foley artist for the National Geographic documentary, in which the directors Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi accompany the American climber Alex Honnold in climbing, without ropes or protections, of the El Capitan granite wall, 900 meters high, located in Yosemite Park in the United States.
The work of Joana Niza Braga and Nuno Bento was “all done remotely“, from Lisbon, in the post-production company Loudness Films, where there is a “big foley studio“, said the professional.
Foley allows you to create sounds that are sometimes not picked up at the shoot. “Many times what we are seeing in the movies in terms of sound is not there, it does not exist or it is very badly recorded, especially in ‘Free Solo’, where we have Alex climbing a giant mountain,” said Joana, considering that “it must have been very difficult to capture some decent sound” in the filming of that documentary.
With Foley, you can “create the illusion that there is such a closeness to the characters on the screen.”
“For example, we have Alex climbing and we can hear the wall and all his stuff, when in fact it’s all false. It’s all created by us: the foley artist and the foley mixer. to be able to make that sound true to what we are seeing, ” he said.
The process is done with the ‘foley mixer’ in the régie and the ‘foley artist’ in a studio next door, with the two separated by glass.
“I say, for example, ‘now I need you to do his footsteps in this wooden house while he wears tennis. My colleague has a television and when I load’ play ‘, to record, he has to look at the image and repeat exactly what is happening, ” he said.
“The ‘foley artist’ does the steps within a certain type of floor – in Loudness there are various types of floors and ‘props’, such as pens, books, bottles, glasses, computer keyboards – and recreate themselves all that sound that is created by the character. ”
“We have to look at the image again, in a synchronous way, to stick with the image. And when people are watching the movie it seems that what they are hearing is what is there, when it is false. my colleague was making the noise, alone, it gets recorded and then edited and it looks like the real sound of the scene, ” he explained.
As a duo, Joana Niza Braga and Nuno Bento made “countless projects together, Portuguese and North American“.
“Foley artists, who are playing the noise, often say, according to Joana, that ‘foley mixers’ are the ears, because the sound picked up by the microphone is different, a bit, from normal auditory perception. ”
Three years after finishing the Cinema course, in the Som strand of the Higher School of Theater and Cinema, Joana Niza Braga has the name of the technical file of an Oscar-nominated film, something that “is a bit surreal.”
“For me, it’s still a bit surreal to be happening, I’ve not been working like this for so long. Of course, one person always says ‘my dream is one day to work on a film that is nominated for the Oscars’, but we never think that, especially in Portugal, this can happen, “he shared.
“Free Solo” is also nominated for the Cinema Audio Society (CAS) awards and the Golden Real, the Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE) awards.
At the age of 27, Joana Niza Braga is featured in the film with an award-winning film. In “Ballad of a Batrachians” by Leonor Teles, winner of the Golden Bear Short Film at the Berlin Film Festival in 2016, was responsible for the sound assembly.
It was through this film, of course, colleague Leonor Teles, who arrived at Loudness Films, where he graduated and where he remains until today. Nuno Bento started working in the post-production company after studying Production and Technologies of Music in ETIC / EPI and Sound for Audiovisuals and New Media in Restart.
The 91st Oscars Awards ceremony is scheduled for February 24 in Los Angeles.